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The Paper Arrived! Writing 6

 

                                                 Mud on 101

My paper was there this morning all neatly folded and wrapped with a rubber band.  That was comforting because it seemed to prove the claim, made yesterday, that the freeway, previously blocked for two weeks, is now open for business.  That’s why, as previously indicated, I thought the paper was late.  It’s the LA Times and comes up from LA on the road that was blocked by the recent floods.  So I figured they had to drive the paper up the long way taking about four and a half hours, so by the time the contractor got it to deliver to my place it was necessarily late.  But now things are back in order because the paper was there waiting for me when I opened the door.

Still the headlines were not all that reassuring, and another body was recovered so now officially, I think, 21 people died in the flood.  And at the club, where I work out daily, the flood remains the topic of conversation.  One of the guys there was driven from his home by the flood.  And he can’t get back in because they still have no electricity, or water, or gas.  He goes around spreading paranoia, since, he says, he has talked to experts and other people who have walked the mountain trails, and they say (he says) that the recent fires have destabilized the peaks, and come the next big rain the whole area will be buried in errant boulders the size of Volkswagens.

I discussed this possibility with my wife and we agreed that probably boulders would not get to us since they would have to travel a real long distance, and then they would have to cross a freeway, and then they would have to go through a shopping center and the walls of a Costco before they got to us.  Living as we do about a mile and half from the Pacific, we are in far more danger from a tsunami—a danger that recently increased, when over the last two years, the nine hole golf course behind our place was dug up and replaced by a huge hole—intended to be the site, we have been told, for a bird refuge.  Right now there is water in it—from the flood—and some birds.  But it will make a perfect channel up to our door for the tsunami when it comes.

And, of course, this is California, and there is always the possibility of earthquake.  So while getting the daily paper again in a daily way was somewhat reassuring, I am evidently quite a ways from feeling completely secure in my current circumstances.

                                          Errant Boulder

 

Where’s My Paper?–Writing 5

Well, at this point, my writing experiment or, at least, the attempt to make it a daily practice is not going so well.  I missed yesterday though I am not sure why.  Something got in the way.  I could do it easily, in terms of a daily practice, if I thought of what I am writing here as a diary—a daily record of events.  But I set a higher bar for this experiment.  I want what I write to have some sort of point beyond a mere detailing and recording of how many times I fart in a day (already done in obsessive detail by Samuel Beckett).  Though, I must say, at this point I have no idea what the point of this entry might be except to detail and record my frustration. The idea of having a point would seem to assume that there is some larger point to everything that is.  And I am not sure about that.  What the larger point might be.

Perhaps things like the recent fire and the recent flood rocks the foundations of our daily lives, our stability.  As long as things are stable we assume there is a point.  But when things become unstable, we see through the cracks in the daily routine…and what do we see there.  Nothing.   All of which is a roundabout way of saying I am not getting my daily paper on time.  Before the flood and fires my paper would arrive around 6.  In any case, it would be there when I opened the front door.  That is no longer the case.  I open the door around 730 and there is nothing there but naked concrete.

Usually, when I looked out around 10, the paper is there.  Some person has brought it and left it.  So I do get the paper, but not when I want it.  And this is upsetting.  I have been getting this paper for over twenty years.  Mostly, it appeared when it was supposed to over that time, surprisingly so in fact.  But not now.  I tried to contact the newspaper people about this problem, but I received some sort of generic reply about my contractor having been contacted that did not answer my question:  “is the paper delayed because the freeway is closed?”  I assume the answer to this question would be “yes” if I could ever find a person to answer it.

 

 

A Writing Experiment

Well…  I think I will try to devote a few minutes per day—20 or more—to writing something.  I don’t know why I would bother to do this since I have nothing significant to say and have done or experienced nothing worth reporting.  I continue to exist mostly, and perhaps, at 72 years of age, that is something to report.  Not everybody lives till they are 72.  I note in the daily obits that many people have failed to live till 72.  Though I am not so sure that living to 72 means that one has been successful at anything.  Except existing, that is.

So I continue to exist at least at the moment, though tomorrow I may not.  Perhaps I could be doing something better with the little time I have remaining than this experiment with daily writing.  But I am not sure what that would be.  Eating?  Well, that is always worth doing.  But there’s a fixed limit to that.  One cannot eat continually.  Well, I suppose one could, and probably some people have, but I wouldn’t want to do it.  And doing something else would probably require more energy than I have at the moment.

But the question remains, why should I expend the little energy I do have, when I could be taking a nap, on this writing experiment?  I think a nap might be better.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I have read things that suggest the elderly benefit from creative activity, like taking a class in water colors, or something to that effect.  The theory appears to be that “creative” activity soothes the soul in some manner.  And writing, at least in the past, has served me to some degree and in some instances (not all my any means) this function.  The soothing or straightening out function, I mean.

I saw an ad for a book on this subject: the therapeutic effects, as it were, of neatening and straightening one’s stuff.  I should read it.  But I can’t remember where I saw the ad.  In any case, I know what they mean.  Neatening and straightening can make one feel an iota better.  And at my age and in my current horrible condition, I am looking for iotas.  An iota here and there, damn it, is what I need to get through the day.  At the moment though I don’t have the energy or a sense of purpose sufficient for me to do an actual, in reality, straightening and neatening, as in, imagine: the garage.

That garage is an albatross around my neck.  Every time I open that automatic door and look in, my heart contracts. Junk and crap about to tumble from overfull shelves.  Twenty years of indecision and neglect all piled in one place.  Overflowing with dust, and dirt, and grime.  And I feel a kind of responsibility to clean that place up before I go.  I mean I don’t want somebody else, probably my wife, to have to sort through that junk after I die as my brothers and I had to do through our parents crap: old clothes, napkins, pieces of metal, pictures and adult diapers.

Tacoma?

Where the heck am I?

Tacoma, Washington.  We are here for a wedding.

CIMG1306.JPGView of old downtown Tacoma from our hotel window.

indian.jpgStatue of  indigenous person.

river.jpg

A river runs through it.  Once highly contaminated, now not so much.  Lots of water in Washington.

train.jpg

Train…about a half mile long.  Wonder what is in those container cars?

Last Class Ever

Well, yesterday, Thursday, March 14, 2013, I taught my last class ever at UCSB.  Could well be my last class period.  Been teaching writing since 1973.  Can’t imagine not doing it.  But having used up my call back time, I am officially done.  Oh, wait.  I still have the last batch of papers to grade.  And then I am done.

Below find pics of my last class ever.  A good group, very quiet, though willing and very good natured:
CIMG3471.JPGCIMG3473.JPG Thumbnail image for CIMG3472.JPGBye Guys!

Broken Hearted Melodies: Liner Notes


Though the title might not suggest
it, I had wanted to end “The Tingles,” as we had begun it (Lighthouse
of Love), on a slightly more upbeat note. 
Now looking back, I can’t say where exactly I located that note, the
more upbeat one.  But I think it’s in the
last line of the refrain, “You can lean on me if I can lean
you.”  True, it’s hardly The
Youngbloods calling on us all to smile on each other, but at least there’s a
hint of an exchange of human warmth, though perhaps significantly qualified by
that “if.”  You can lean on me
IF I can lean on you.  I could have
written:  You can lean on me AND I can
lean on you.  But I didn’t because
“and” seems to presume to much, and honestly, you can lean on me only
if I am allowed to do the same.

So that’s the upbeat note as best I can locate it.

As for the rest of the refrain, I must insist on the
pessimism:

“Nothing now anyone can do
Just have to buckle down and try to see it through.”

Sometimes that’s just how things are.  It–whatever it might be (someone dying;
dreams gone up in flames; words spoken that can’t be taken back; really bad
mistakes made)–simply cannot be undone or fixed up or glossed over.  All that you can do–if that–is try to get
though it with whatever dignity you can muster.

The last stanza is perhaps a bit too existential (in the
existentialism sense).  But I just can’t
get Sartre and Heidegger out of my head…with their idea of our having been
flung into a world we did not make.

Somebody’s Body: Liner Notes


Death again.  This
time about dying anonymously, as it were. 
A body pops up in the lake with no I.D. or identifying marks and then
gets buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave. 
That’s a downer.  But maybe
too–given how noisy the song is–it’s about making a joyful noise, in spite
of everything: as in the line:

Somebody’s body
Rise on angel’s wings
Somebody’s body
Sing, Sing, Sing

Maybe, in relation to the whole, we all die
anonymously.  Sure, we all have a smaller
social circle.  But just beyond that the
circle spreads out to those other people we may even share a few moments but pass
by generally in our daily rounds.  I
noticed, one day, at this place where I worked out, that an older guy, who was
usually there all the time, had not been there for some time.  So I asked another guy if he knew anything
about that guy.  “That guy,”
because I couldn’t remember that guy’s name. 
I indicated where that guy usually sat and said that I thought he was
from Wisconsin and had worked for Sears. 
And the guy says, “Oh that guy. 
He died I think.”

So I worked for a while on a song called “That
Guy.  You know, that guy.”  But I never finished it.

Heaven Bound: Liner Notes


 This is Brother Dan’s song from top to bottom.  He plays all the guitars and percussion and
sings it.   I do a little back up.  He also wrote it, some time ago, back in the
80’s, when he and his wife, Kim, had a punk band.  I don’t know what they were calling
themselves at the time.  Goodbye Blue
Monday?  Mr. Pleasant?  I don’t know, as I said, but I always liked
the song from the first I heard it.  And
it mixes well with the overall malaise of the CD.  It’s about a suicide, I think.

3 AM: Liner Notes


If “Around Once” was lugubrious, this one is at
least maudlin.


It’s about insomnia, about suddenly being wide awake at 3 AM
and not being able to get back to sleep again, knowing that you have a long
hard day ahead, and will need every bit of energy you have to get through it,
yet here you are at 3 AM wide awake with the minutes slipping by.  No rest for the wicked, eh?


I hate it.  I have
been insomniac for years.  At one point,
years ago, I used as my soporific cheap wine and was for some time in effect a
situational alcoholic.  But that proved
counter-productive, and  anyway, I
discovered prescription meds.  Before I
couldn’t get to sleep at all.  With the
meds, I got off to sleep OK but started waking up at aberrant hours, like 3
AM.  Now apparently, as a senior citizen,
according to what I have read, I am likely to have only “fragmented”
sleep the rest of my days.


I don’t know why exactly but the song makes me think of a
bit from Freud’s essay on Narcissism:


We should then say:  the sick man withdraws his libidinal
cathexes  back upon his own soul, and
sends them out again when he recovers. 
‘Concentrated is his soul’, says Wilhelm Busch of the poet suffering
from toothache, ‘in his molar’s narrow hole.’


I was aware of something like this, I think.  The first two parts of this song are very much
concentrated in my molar’s narrow hole. 
I tried to break out of the narrow hole in the last part by suggesting
there are other people–poets, lovers, soldiers–doing other things at 3
AM.  But true to form, I return in the
last line to narcissistic grandiosity claiming that, as I lie there, I hear the
world turning round.