So. How have you been?
I haven't posted here since end of May. Five months, or so. Seems like longer. Anyway.
I am sharing with you-- those who find me. Those who want to read me without me having to chase you down and slap you on the head with a rolled up manuscript. You don't have to pay to read me here; I create an abundance of love and hope with my words. I spring eternal. I share what I've got.
I share with you an ordinary life. With plenty of extraordinary mixed in. I have amazing dreams. But I also do laundry, brush my teeth (sometimes, anyway) and wipe my nose on my sleeve (when I'm wearing a long sleeve shirt, anyway). I breathe in, breathe out, and hope to traverse the unknown expanse between this so called "reality" and my gorgeously imagined hopes and dreams.
Today I got up with my alarm (not an ordinary experience in and of itself) and proceeded to get out in the back yard and water things. It hasn't rained here in about a month, and before that it had been a few months since it rained. There's still a considerable dew in the mornings though, so things do eke out their existence. It's kind of funny, we were out of town for a family wedding the day that it rained here, so we didn't even experience it. Those who were here said it poured for about a half hour, and that was about it. We were in Portland for my brother-in-law's wedding, so we experienced rain there first hand, of course (that's Oregon for ya...).
So since I wrote last... I've done an extremely small amount of work on my memoir project. I've started reading a few books and even finished one that I had been reading over the last year. I've applied for numerous jobs and even had a few interviews, but still no job offer. I've harvested tomatoes that I grew all by myself, and shared with friends and family. I've written a few letters and made some music mixes for friends and family. I've organized the garage a bit, and helped with two garage sales here, making more room to work with. I've started taking pictures of my junk and posting them on Facebook. (I love how that sounds...) I've won a "diet bet" and $46 plus I lost almost 15 lbs. I've been to Portland. I've gotten a new phone and joined the 21st century technology craze. I've enjoyed recollecting drunken stories with several friends in Minneapolis on speaker phone. I've kept a couple hydreangea plants alive (barely). I've harvested seeds from our tomatoes to plant next year's crop. I've planted a pineapple(!) and I've shaved my head for a Halloween costume.
I've even considered just throwing the entire memoir project in the trash and being done with it. What a release that would be! I would be free to continue to not do it, without all the guilt and pressure to do anymore.
I told Suzy that I was considering it. But I realized at the same time that it's something that I want to do, and something that I think I have to do for my own well-being, and for the well-being of others. I know that I'm a writer, and I know that I have a strong ability to communicate, deeply, about the things that trouble me, or that I feel, in general. I feel a need to share my words with the world, with the universe. I've set up my transmitter and I'm spewing out the gospel, spraying the wisdom around the solar system. Enlightenment set to reach Pluto by 2027!
A little more about the costume-- the party was themed around villains, so I found a fabled villain from Sonic the Hedgehog video game that I already had a resemblance with. A few select items, a bit of glue and tape and even some fishing line, and I became Dr. Eggman, aka Dr. Robotnik. A character with an IQ of 300. (Don't I look smart?)
So maybe I will learn something from all of this. Maybe I'm learning that I'm fine. That I'm doing everything that I need to be doing to get things done at the pace that I need to. To be successful and do the things that I want to do, to stay sane, to keep my wife sane, and so forth. Maybe I am doing the best that I can and that is actually perfect. Just maybe.
And maybe I am fucking it all up. But maybe not.
I suppose I should include at least one photo of my junk.
For prosperity's sake.
As always, comments solicited, encouraged, begged for. Let me know what you're thinking. Thanks!
Thursday, May 30, 2013
This was written some 20 years ago. It's the start of my first novel, the start of Thistle Penn. He slid himself up and out of the primordial stew and lit on the edge of the Great Cauldron. And there he stands, even now, observing it all, the swirling galaxy that is the surface of The Stew.
Next stop, identity. We are moving through the experience. Please do not place your hands outside of the lines. We must move rapidly.
The trees to your left are the only ones in existence today. They once prospered in a large meadow which we now call the Mojave Desert. Do not touch them please.
Who cares where you really are? You think if Einstein found it more interesting to think about how to prepare the most efficient hors d'ouvres, perhaps we wouldn't be so obsessed with such a self orientation?
Oh yeah-- think about infinity for a while-- about three minutes.
Feel better? Now. Once upon a time, a writer began a project which only taunted him, played with his every thing a ma bob. It just kept toying with his expression, perching just outside of his vocabulary, tickling the underbelly of his understanding, flirting with comprehension. The word. What a shackle.
Each time an inspiration leaped and the words dived. And missed. The meaning was just, like, ... Well it just wasn't there.
Searching for a pay off, the distraught dangling participle pursued the words to explain itself. But once again, meaning ducked. And vanished.
He looked to his left. The trees were brown. Dry. Brittle. Creaking. Sniffing.
He coughed and sand sifted from his nostrils. Morning now; if only he could push on and through the wall. There would be another land past the clay.
The guide wasn't speaking any longer. He leaned to help them dig.
"Is this your first job?"
He didn't know how to answer. Did he tell him about the con? Did he tell him about the gun? Did I ever tell you about the time I got my head stuck in the stairs and my Uncle Dick had to hold me up and pull me out by my feet?
The crust rustled like a whey leaf on corduroy. Wow. Tastes like toast.
Can't you define your moment?
Developing the story line seemed futile at this point. But I pushed on, not because I really wanted to, but because I had to. The rhythm was starting to shape and I remembered what there was to be said. I didn't care how brief it had been-- I knew what I now needed to do.
Wilson had tried typing before, tried to push himself into not watching the keys. But it just wasn't happening. He practiced diligently, but only for about an hour or two, and then not even regularly in a month. But at least he did that much. He could be like Alann, going for weeks without sleep, snorting crank and no-doze and eating whatever crawled around his apartment slow enough.
So the Beat goes on. The musicians across the world have sounded their opinions and their own personal sound. It just so happened that one such musician had inspired the heart of an individual with a liking for finger blisters and a longing for being published. He started a newsletter.
Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture the Pope. Wilson wrote a book.
After that Dramatic pause signified by the extra blank lines on the page, I feel refreshed, and still every bit as frustrated that I can't seem to nail this style, the plot, the purpose of this exercise. Fortunately, Wilson knew.
Wilson started a pot of coffee in his head. How incredibly stupid this is going to look on paper, he thought. But he didn't stop to worry much-- he could sense an urgency in his breath. It was coming-- the earthquake, the tornado, the hurricane-- whatever it was that would bring his ideas full circle. He saw it off in the distance-- through an ocean of cliches and bad grammar, not to mention tired plot lines-- kept afloat by a thicket-woven raft of rationalization was his Cogito:
"Hey. It's my first novel."
Ah. pace. Yes. That all important element. Automatic transmission preferred over the manual when inexperienced; once you get a few blisters and thirst for action, try the stick. You find that you actually have more control of your vehicle, after a little practice.
My sister still has yet to try the stick. She's kinda conservative that way. Her favorite poem is the road not taken, and yet she chooses the other road in reality. She rides the rational road. She pines to be non conforming but just can't bring herself to color out side the lines. Is it Fear?
The noose tightens. Impending death. We're all terminal. Time? Who has time these days? Time has us. And it wastes us, eventually. Sure you can waste time, but never completely. The body is completely wasted in time, however. All in due time. Is time eternal? Is there anything which lasts forever which is measurable by the finite instrument?
Gary is another person I know. He isn't a writer (of a book or a newsletter or a poem) but he likes to paint. It warms you to watch him paint. There's a focus and centralizing of energy when he approaches the canvas.
He never painted trees before.
The word. What a shackle. There are pictures which are so much more efficient at the art of expression-- a picture is worth a thousand words. The word is inefficient and misinterpretable. Clumsy. And it doesn't always express the right color, the right smell.
John is another person I met.
When I was five, I can remember being young, cold. outside when the sun was going down. Squinting up at the few clouds. Wondering if I would remember.
My mother and father have done well for themselves. They have set goals and worked all of their lives toward achieving them. Every couple years or so the goals change or are modified, but the striving is still there.
Why must I write? Why can't Wilson come to the phone right now? He could do this and I could watch TV. Then I wouldn't have to search so hard for my stimulation. I could just resort to pushing the channel button on the remote control instead of searching for meaning in these assorted symbols of the English language. I am orchestrating a symphony of meaning through the improvisational typing on a keypad. It's not quite as improvisational as it could be, but it is enough of an improvisation to keep my fingers moving and my mind moving forward.
I will someday be able to tie all of my knotted thoughts together in a beautiful afghan or sweater or something perhaps? But for now? I must stop my silly banter.
Ideas like index cards in my mind. What beauty. What beauty?
Take a punch. Make a stab. Understand the voice within.
who is Iacob?
Identity later. Now, the business at hand. I am a large ball of vibrating energy. Electrons, protons, neutrons, positrons; chemicals, enzymes, proteins; organs, cells, systems; physics, chemistry, biology; all organized hypothetical perception. I assume that I am. It's all a matter of opinion.
Descartes: "I think, therefore, I am." Laundry: "I assume myself into existence."
Ball of perception. All words are misrepresentations of meaning. Foreclosure.
Trying too hard? My typing is holding me back. Trust me, the ideas are there. I've got to live more life in order to communicate them. Spend a few experience bucks.
So if I'm just a ball of perception based definitions, can I perceive myself as immortal, universal, colossal, infinite?
One day I was doing some heavy thinking, which at times is more dangerous than heavy drinking (I've done a lot of both), and I imagined myself, my "self" definition, as something larger than what I know. This of course is logical because my body existed before I knew about it; that is, there are parts of my body that I still do not know the names of or what they look like, and yet they are very much in existence. So I can imagine that I am mare than my body-- I am something that is capable of understanding my body as well as it's environment. The really interesting thing is that my self is just as much a concept as a planet that I've never seen is. So What ties me to my body besides my perception of it in context?
I could just as easily be a seven hundred year old woman writing this. Really. If i could just figure out how to preserve my body, i could easily stay around for hundreds of years. Trees can do it. Rocks are really good at it.
I think on that day of heavy thinking i saw the end of my life. I saw myself on my death bed. I saw that I was insane, alone. Wrinkled, grey. And yet, something was still existing. It wasn't me as in my bodily me, it was my consciousness.
Consciousness is immortal. Imagination is infinite. Imagination is creation. Imagination created God.
Imagination is what can create a rock that even the all- powerful being cannot lift. Imagination can also create a God who CAN lift a rock that he can't lift. Imagination is paradoxical. But it doesn't have to be. It can be.
So reality. Huh. Another assumed definition that isn't readily defined. Perhaps undefinable. Except in one's own imagination.
Imagination. That's what it takes. To do anything in any context you must have imagination. Imagination is the energy that fuels the fire and brings forth creation. Creativity. Imagination.
I am cooking old boots? Ignore all communist organic books? What the hell was I thinking when I named this file IACOB? Inordinate allied cobalt on board? It's a cold old book?
I don't think I'll ever be able to remember without going back in time and checking the transcripts. I wonder if I'll get a chance to do that after death.
Death. Sure is scary (is it?) to think about. All the stuff you know about yourself and your environment and still you can't be sure about death. But its just as much a concept as you are. How do you know you're alive? A List of reasons. You can imagine yourself dead. Can you imagine yourself back to life?
Index cards. One man's way to organize thoughts. I suppose I could do that, but the clutter, and the trees. I already waste too much. I'm human after all. Seems to be an obligation these days.
I'm being interrupted by an impulse that i perceive as meaning that I must go to the restroom and relieve myself of waste materials. I don't even think to recycle.
God, What will twenty years do to me and my concepts?
I'm 23 years old. I'm potty- trained. I am well versed in English, my indigenous language. I can dress myself. I know the effects that usually follow the intake of certain substances into my body. For example, eating an apple. Or drinking some water. I never have controlled all other variables, so I don't know the specific effects and the various processes that the apple and water go through. But I assume that they serve certain functions.
I am bored with this exercise. I am Laundry, and I don't want to write like Laundry. I keep fighting it. I want to write like Tom Robbins, or Douglass Adams, or anybody but Laundry. No-- I just want to write faster. Like be able to write a novel in forty- five minutes. Sure, why not. Wouldn't be so hard to avoid interruptions and distractions.
Yeah, I have tons to say. I just spend all my time writing about how much I have to say. This is my curse. I will never be intelligent enough to bring forth the beauty that I feel within. I feel it, but I rarely capture even a piece of it on the page. And yet I just keep on trying. Maybe a part of me knows better and keeps pointing me to the keyboard, saying-- "Stick with it, man. It'll come with time. Before you know it, in ten or fifteen years, you'll have an outline."
Well right now, I know better. I have to take a crap.
How about that Robert Pirsig? I'd like to write like him. What I'd really like is to be able to type a lot faster. Comes with time, I suppose.
So-- Let's see here... I must still be groping.. Something about infinity, death, reincarnation, EVERYTHING...
If you stick and stick and stab at something long enough, you begin to notice an effect. Usually positive. At least from your perspective. Like if you keep at practicing the piano for a month. You notice after a while that you can play a few songs. Or if you stab your dog. After a while, you get the desired effect.
So, the head pop peek a boo cow's canal; Tell me, why did you choose Grinnell?
Some things are just done. Some things just don't have a reason. This exercise, for example. Most of the things I write don't have much reason. Except as practice.
Once I saw a strawberry cheesecake.
If Daniel could fly, why didn't he save the wren? Why did he watch as it plummeted to its death?
Some things just happen. Without any reason.
I assume, therefore, I am. I think.
Four score and seven years ago, I ... I've heard that somewhere before...
Once upon a time, in the black part of the city...
Plenty of beginnings, a few endings. they all come home to roost in the end. Everybody's terminal.
So why me? Why this? Why do I continue? Because I'm insane? What am I trying to accomplish here? Why am I typing aimlessly into the margins, unaware of the perishing thoughts and dreams in my future, all of the images that could be if i chose a different activity, all of them evaporating. All being extinctified by my current lack of focus pocus. All being wasted, lost forever.
Forever is a long ass time.
Almost six full pages of this shit and still no earth dog. still not making the right mixture. watch the toes, mack, or you'll be sucked in too, just like maury and oprah and geraldo. The stew thickens and chokes life out of every fool that eats it. toe jam soup. the stuff of mass interest. Shared experience.
Can't we just start cutting this up yet? Will a proper connection be made when scissors become involved? or must i resort to tearing a witticism from is sarcophagus? One way to get at the truth is to openly defend it to the lay man and define it as your god. Then shake the hand of the devil an thrust him a bone. if he turns purple, you've got yourself a meal partner. If he ascertains your meaning, it's best to turn back for a mint or two. That's the number two that you have to invigorate. or list it elsewhere in the bibliography. cast it inside forget. no meaning no. no literal meaning is worth the paper. freak: acid is axis. spin but filter through. you can taste the brilliance if you eat with your ears. can't ask why; they aren't giving out gifts this year and you'd probably just piss them off. once when I was young, a saw a strawberry shortcake. Damn fools. what of the cross stitching? melting cuff toodle poodle raspy soggy loft, rendering anyone and everyone hopeless, like a spiraling mustard dog with a hankering for cheese. Don't touch that, you fool! You're sure to get moldy now. Haven't you ever heard of plastic wrap for christsake? It's all melting now, some things are sentences but most for the most part weve got absolutely a hundred and fifty two boiling in the pot this damn stew it'll choke ya but the wine was nice. Didn't anybody tell you? No, it's not okay. You understand?
The fleas. kill the fleas. and stop eating your sister's flesh. How many times have I got to tell you to stop steaming up my glasses with that horrendous dog of yours? isn't it romantic? It's just like flipping through the channels on the radio station. or cable. fifty seven channels all at the same time but not for more than one at a time and five second increments to boot. Whoooee Sally! Filet Mignon. So let's dance the last dance tonight. yeah. you can ring my bell. imagine that you can. imagine all of this suddenly making sense. now you're there. you've gone completely to the store for some crackers. you stood in line for over an hour for some goddamn saltines. But you're not crazy. not yet. oh no. you've got bills to pay. work to work. so go pay with bills. and type your little heart out. knock knock but you won't hear this time. the door is closed for good. you've walked pretty far before, but nothing like this. this time you've crossed the line. you can't turn back now. the door is closed and you can't find it. Hungry yet? What time is it? filafel.
At least you're an organ donor. no brain transplants in this society. trust. keep flowing. pour everything into the kettle. go as fast as your can, goddamn it!! fly you sonofabitch!
The wren twirled slowly towards the canyon floor. What a waste of good meat. blood matted feathers. can we eat now, mom? No more Mr. niceguy. you can leave your hat on. and he walked on down the hall... I believe the time has come to cut and taste the stew. I am consciously obliterating braincells.
And then, it happened. Payoff. the rights to the story were immediately negotiated. the story was set in his head. large setting.
You can never be too self aware. You can be too self conscious.
The last laugh. Shooting for the last laugh.
Once upon a time is no way to start a story. Nor a paragraph. Nor a thought. Yet it is still done. Are there really any mistakes?
All mistakes are societally determined. Contextually confined. piecemeal judgements in the life picture.
Woa Woa yay yay. I hate this more than I can say. I seem to focus on tomorrow, oh no. I just can't say what I can say.
Once upon a mind meld an idea was born in the head of an increasingly selfish individual. It had very little to do with his occupation, a lot to do with his percieved hapiness. And so it languished. It heaved and sputtered like a dying fish in a vat of sewage. Every so often, one could witness a glistening brilliance of color and grace as the fish willed itself from the water with a contraction.
Brought back from what is generally accepted as reality, the artist returned to attempts of capturing the glints of color on the dying fish. Weeks had passed since he last weilded his sword; and wouldn't you know-- the phone rings.
He makes short business of the call, feeling some remorse for cutting his sister short; but it is meant to be, the deed is done the die is cast the cliche is written in stone. on with the show.
The chair in which he sits is a distraction; the new dust cover on the keyboard is a distraction; the pains in his back are distracting; the difficulty in expressing himself is a distraction from what he wants to say-- his spelling and punctuation is distracting- so many reasons to evade the moment, the inspiration, the point of creation, the absolute incarnation of untouched, unrationalized, pure quality.
But press on he does. He attempts typing without looking at the keys again. It seems to work sparingly, but he decides to stick with it. Must get closer to the center.
For a moment he ponders meditation and what little he has read of it (looking at the keys again) and wonders if instead of trying to go faster, he should slow down to as near a halt as he can. But by now his back hurts so he has to stop writing completely and adjust.
No. must keep the inertia-- forward movement; mapping this period of unknowingness. The Inquisition. Who is Wilson? who is Gary? who is Laundry?
Wilson is partially fiction, mostly real. Gary is a memory; a third grader with a yellow Star Wars sweatshirt and a strange accent. Laundry is the person that he wishes to be-- that ambiguous crowd pleaser. The clown. the good Samaritan. the stand-up comic who is quicker on his feet than fourth graders on the recess bell.
Alas. The block persists. the impending success evades. What does it take? Who? What? Where? When?
Wilson decided that it would be better to read more and research the ponderings of other writers that he admired before writing anymore. Procrastination? perhaps, but who cares. Besides, a huge distraction was coming through the door.
The Process of meditation is one which endures to put one in touch with his or her true identity. One must filter through the masks to find the identity, beyond the body, beyond the mind.
So don't even think about it.
Who? what? when? where?
The date was February 21, 1993.
"I'm a firm believer in predestination, " Shari had said that day. It made him think about things like mistakes and their context. A mistake that seemed really bad in the past looked better now. In fact there was some gladness in reliving it; he could see the good that grew out of it.
Time which passed put more words on the page, more words in the memory, more words in the experience. More vocabulary.
But could he tell a story?
He knew when one was being told to him-- he knew when he was reading one. He could distinguish between good ones and bad ones. But could he really tell one, start to finish?
Allowing for sophomoric mistakes and endless re writes, typeovers and miskeys, the enigma set out on the task. to tell a story. Hmm.
There was so much to say-- so much already said. and still no definite identity, no definite orator, no definition.
The parameters consisted of English laguage, twentieth century knowledge, bias, American culture and bias, a small liberal arts college pseudo education, 1970's middle-class American upbringing, Californian geographical bias, a predisposed romance with the inordinate and strange, California public school groundwork educational bias, Drug culture sympathy and bias, sleep deprivation.
The thoughts did not require rational sense-- editors did. All that could be worked out later. What needed to be said now was the skeleton. Writing down the bones.
Could an interesting story be born out of this wellspring of bias?
It wasn't his fault that the bias onslaught existed. That was not something he had controlled. Just as he didn't control the fate of his father or mother or sister. He controlled only what he created himself. He controlled the world of his story. The story that he talked endlessly about writing but actually wrote very little about.
Could that be the story? Was that the one idea that all the other shit spun around? One large bullshit axis? A spindle which was revealed only after all the yarn had been unravelled?
What would Wilson think? What would Phyllis Do? What would Thistle Penn think? What would Gary be doing now?
He pressed on, remembering how thousands of times he had given up on this pile of crap; How many times did he declare this futile? Meandering without a purpose? Redundantly unpurposeful?
He decided to break it down. A story. It must have a plot, themes, characters, a setting.
Why? How can something dynamic and new and fresh and artistic sprout from the right column of the third page of the twelfth section of the Sears Catalogue?
The setting was Easy enough-- imagination. Anything goes. The plot? "A cartographer's dream, literally-- mapping the experience and existence of thought and consciousness." There would be so much too write about, so much missed.
But you can't get any closer to the dinner table by sitting on the couch. You can't swallow an elephant but one bite at a time. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
"The story has no point," they could be heard already saying. "I find it hard to imagine anyone who could identify with this... whatever you call it. It's not a story."
So what. I'm alive. I can write. I can write well. I have ideas that bubble up from the sparks and explosions caused by my own unique collection of data and matter. I organize and sort everything through my senses and my culturally assigned filters and come up with this.
If you're not interested, well, fuck you. I don't want you reading my story anyway.
"What a naive, childish ignoramus," sounded the editing voices. "He'll never be a real success. He's too this and too that. Not to mention the abstract biological bias or the cultural taboo and the unsubstantiated rumors. And he's so unspecific."
Whisper words of wisdom: Let it Be.
The work will take on a life of it's own. The foundation is constantly being redone. Can't build a building from the sky down.
Or can you?
A runny nose, a facial itch, and the endeavor is once again smitten. A slight pause kills thousands of potential directions. and yet there still lies outstretched an infinite supply of more.
Gleaning of the fish again. It rises to the surface, and bright, colorful scales begin to show, but a fit of sneezing and the experience is missed. The art as it is truly and originally intended escapes and only a carbon is left behind. A glint of what was there, poised, ready to exist, on the precipice of experience, standing at the door of a twentieth century scientifically classified mind, ready to be labelled, and whoosh! The butterfly escapes the net, the labelling gun sticks it's message on the product that is already sitting just inside the door, and the enigma escapes, once again, into the stew of unconscious.
And that is what Wilson wrote.
So who the fuck is Wilson?