Sunday, January 19, 2003

I don't know. This is going to be one of those frustrating entries. So read no further. My advice to you is. Because what can you gain? I'm not going to say anything. Nothing comprehensible. I have various unhappinesses about me now and I'm not going to be specific about them. Why? Why why why. Yes, that's the reason. The very reason. The one you've thought of.

Let's say you are a dewdrop. And the sun comes up. What are you going to talk about? What a lovely morning it was before the sun came up, and here's the sun to steal your life away? Praise the sun! Oh thank you, sun, for having peeped over the chill horizon, bringing your drying rays to my evaporatable body. Though the heat feels nice, it is my death! Or rather: my death feels so nice. Fuck life. Ah, but the dewdrop is not alive; it is a manifestation of a process. The cooling of the night that brings the water from the air, the day that warms the air again, water becoming vapor that will, upon the recurrence of darkness and chill, settle once more as dew. This is the daily dew cycle. To say a single dewdrop has an emotional investment in the outcome is one thing, but to insist the dewdrop's emotion is unhappiness, why?

The dew metaphor is all purpose. It has nothing to do with what's going on with me. It's just a way of talking about subjectivity, the feeling that one is experiencing being an unpleasant one, regardless of its cause. If the cause is an injustice, a cruelty, then one may curse it and picture its banishment as the return of happiness. If the cause is undetermined or if the fault is one's own or something else. If what. If in the end of it.

The ifs will make you sneeze.

A teacher once told me that people took snuff because they liked to sneeze.

Which makes me wonder if people smoke because they like to cough.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Kent says, "Alan Watts." Referring to my posting yesterday [though I wrote this Wednesday, blogger was down for maintenance when I tried to post]. "You remind me of a Taoist," he says. "The Buddhist and the Taoist are sitting, meditating. The Taoist gets bored, stretches his legs, scratches his butt, goes his way." Then he says, "The cat watches the bird in the tree intently. Watches it with acute concentration. Then the cat figures out that there's no way he's going to get that bird so goes on to the next thing."

K is down on my lack of discipline. He lectures, this man. He has these firm ideas. And firm ideas always take me aback. Like they must be important because the voice that declares them is certain and knows. I don't know. That's what I am. An I-don't-know, an uncertain. And that's what my voice comes out like. With pauses. Hesitating.

My mother got exercised once about her sister having left some Reader's Digest-like Christian tract in her house after a visit. The little book was held open, face down. I remember my mother showing me the article thus marked. "Demonstrate by your way of living the Truth of Christ's teaching, so that they will be impressed by your serenity, your purpose in daily life and will ask about it." I'm paraphrasing of course. Anyway, Mom was incensed, as though Sister had been proselytizing Mother, had been doing the hard sell. Well, thought I, this seems the softest sell of all. Leaving a book face down. Maybe Sis forgot it? Altogether innocently? And the whole example thing. Means one has to be the example others seek to emulate. Live the life others envy.

Mr Discipline? Hello?

It's always at first I feel inferior. Stupid. OK. That's the way my brain works. After awhile. The accrual of things. I am this. He can think his things. And prescribe, taking out his you-should pen and scratching oughts on my forehead. Which will fade. Or perhaps he will read them once writ. And take them to heart. Take them back. Into his heart. And live in accordance with his precepts.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

OK! I copied all my blog to a Word file. Now blogspot can't just oops away all my precious whatever.

I am not going to write every day on this thing. Not a goal. Not.

I've done the poem-a-day thing. David Lehman has talked about writing a poem each day. I guess he titles them by the date he wrote them. So has Robert Bly. It's not a bad idea exactly. It's an interesting discipline until it's not. And that's the thing. When I've set myself to doing a poem every day getting something on the page is the goal. OK. One has to have writing on paper in order to have written. Otherwise it's dreams, right? No novel ended up bound in covers that hadn't first been word by word put to page. Ditto the poem. Shorter. So my problem is: I resent it. The page becomes a wall. Fine. Throw a stone at it. But that's interesting only a couple times. Goal: every day throw stone at wall. You forget one day. Redouble your determination to make sure you strike wall with stone every day without fail. Another day you forget. Or you think, What the --? I don't want to throw a stone at a wall and that's that.

And that's that. I stop writing the daily poem. I come back to the page when the acquaintance needs renewing. We're interested in each other. The blank page does not intimidate. The blank page is wonderful. It is more interesting than anything put on it. It is a welcoming thing. It does not want or need or dislike, complain, urge, or insist.

One of the ways the yoga teacher tonight was talking about the body: reach out, we're reaching until we're putting our hand through the post office window across the street, he said. The page is where the body ends. But we reach out beyond the body. With the body? Yeah. With the body. So the page is a screen that catches a record of what has reached beyond it. Cloth. Cloth through which smoke has passed, the cloth retaining the color of smoke, the smell of smoke.

Uh oh. Cat on desk. Imminent danger of return of blank page. Friend? Foe?

Monday, January 13, 2003

K's watching Boston Public and here I am with my blog. I'm gonna go to the store and get something at the deli for dinner. I'm not, like, way excited about that, but oh well you know it's better than Corn Pops.

Last night I looked over the Fact manuscript. I printed out the bulk of it some time ago and put it in a loose leaf binder. Last night I put a divider in and hid in the back the poems I came across that I think don't work. Which wasn't many, really. I like these poems. There are a few more I need to print out. It'd make a respectable book. I just have to get over those I-am-not-worthy feelings. You know, because I wrote it it must be stupid. I wrote the poems nearly ten years ago so when I read them I read the words on paper rather than reinsert myself into the memory of the making, the place, the Glenn-specific emotional history. And I think they're good. Hey. Y'know?

Saturday, January 11, 2003

oh yeah? What's the point? Is it that toward which our path recedes as it digs into the horizon?

Called my mother this morning. Dutifully. I was fine with it in a way I haven't been when she's called repeatedly during the week. She wants me to want to call her Saturday morning. I can't remember a thing she said. Except that it made her feel good that I called.

Went last night to the home of Clive Matson and Gail Ford. 2nd Friday of every month they host a Poetry Salon ... they now call it a Poetry Saloon, though there's never been a bar that I've seen ... A nice group of people. You read a couple poems by some poet you've lately been reading. Read a couple of your own. No critiquing. Sometimes applause. I read a short poem by W.B. Yeats and another shortie by Tristan Tzara; read one I'd written about my mother and one I'd written in response to Joan Crawford's Sudden Fear. Nice to have an audience. I got there late. During the break. So I put a teabag in a cup, poured hot water over it, and chatted with a person or two. Martin fumed, as seems to be typical for him, this time about "tourists" (he spat the word) who travel the world and come back exactly the same. "Why bother travelling if you're not going to learn anything?" We were talking about another poet, one neither of us thinks is very good, Martin more willing to listen than I, except, he says, when she reads poems about how great it is to live in Paris or Athens or wherever. "Maybe I'm just bitter because I've never been anywhere," Martin said. He shrugged. "But when I hear poems like that I just tune out." The whole thing about how stupid people are. Sure. "Some people live forever in one place and never learn a thing about it," I said. "They might as well have travelled the world."

Gail read poems that consisted mainly of conversations with her six year old. I liked them. Not sentimental, rather recording what had been said. And they were about death! The death of Gail's mother, the illness of an aged cat. After the boy had said, matter-of-factly it seemed, that it was time for "your" mother to die, "not his grandmother", Gail talks about meeting an older woman in a grocery store. When the woman moves on, Ezra says to Gail, "Why does everyone keep leaving?"

Yes, there was one man who reads in a monotone over-written paragraphs that he seems to think deep and important. After the first sentence I heard nothing.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Gaa. I'm sleeeepy. K just strolled by with cat on his shoulder. The other cat is on the couch where he was sitting on my lap. I pulled myself out from under him, leaving him apparently satisfied with the blanket.

David says he's going to write on his blog every day. And that it's fiction because if it weren't fiction he'd have to write about his friends and some of his friends are CIA hitmen so wouldn't appreciate having their habits exposed to the gleaming light of the world wide web. Then there are the prostitutes, the mafiosi, and various other liers-low. Naturally their names all escape me at the moment. Not that, I'm sure, D has introduced me to many of them. Or, if he has, he's faked me out by calling them software designers and waitresses and comic book artists and suchlike. But we know the truth now, eh? They are skulkers! Although perhaps they think of themselves as living in the plain light of day. The tiger doesn't think of himself as a murderer and he only takes to the shadows cuz otherwise he'd go hungry. Hungry is hungry and not comfortable! One can die of it certainly. And the pre-death wasting is unpleasant as well.

Sadly there are no more tigers. No more tigers in China. No wild ones. And the few in captivity have lost interest in humping so the Chinese zookeepers are going to be sneaking Viagra into their food. Did you know Viagra is a sanskrit word for Tiger? The poet and translator Andrew Schelling said he translated William Blake's "Tyger Tyger" into Sanskrit and got snickers when he declaimed, "Vee Ah Gra, Vee Ah Gra!" Chinese wildlife officials insist that there are tigers in China, really. That the thousands of dollars Japanese will pay for tiger penis has not removed said penis from said tigers in every single corner of China yet. Not really. The Chinese official charged with saving the tiger would be out of a job were there no tiger to save. On the other hand the article I was reading this morning (if it was in the New York Times it's not in the online version) says the Chinese govt is putting together big tracts of land for tiger-friendly parkland. Even if there aren't any tigers I'm sure there are other animals that will appreciate the gesture. Some people, too. And some who will be pissed off, relocated, etc etc.

You know what I wish? I wish every company, every sports team that had a tiger or wildcat as a mascot would tithe a tenth of their income to efforts to keep the animals they so admire and want to bask in the reflected glory of really actually alive and not really actually purely historical. Like the grizzly bear on the California flag. There were grizzlies in California! That's how one got on the flag. Now we all look blankly at the critter like it was a unicorn on an English earl's coat-of-arms. Exxon could pay back the poor tiger for putting him in your tank.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

My brother, David, has started a blog. Skook. Why is it everyone chooses the same damn design? No no, okay, not everyone, all right. But still. I was thinking of changing that nice bold red to a cool sky blue or something. But get around to it? Have I? Blue! I see blue!

And it is a blue hiding stars.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Been seeing movies lately, haven't I? No, haven't gotten to the theater. Home video. The Candidate starring Robert Redford, Traffic for which director Stephen Soderbergh won an academy award, Reefer Madness the prequel to Pleasantville though neither movie is worth seeing really, Sudden Fear a surprisingly effective thriller considering that the damsel in distress (Joan Crawford) is as creepy as the villains who threaten her, and finally last night we saw our first DVD movie, The Count of Monte Cristo. Kent recently finished the original novel, reading it during his lunch breaks. So he was dying to see the latest movie version, the one starring that Memento guy. Was rather surprised to find he was the baddie. The movie was good with popcorn. But K was shaking his head about how little the movie was like the book. We had to watch those DVD extras, you know. The deleted scenes, including the main love interest's best acting. Kinda funny how the pieces were themselves incomplete -- no sound when a metal dish gets knocked to the ground, dialog swallowed. But was the movie the worse for having been so unkindly cut? No! God no. Never knew how glad I was that so much ends up on the cutting room floor. The interview with the screenwriter was weird; after admitting much of the movie he'd invented out of whole cloth he described watching a 16-year-old girl at a screening, his eyes sparkling like pins, as he described her perched on the seat, leaning rapt toward the flickering light -- "That's Dumas!" the screenwriter cried.

We rented The Count of Monte Cristo at a video store on the way to our friends' house in San Francisco. Surprised at the smooth ride over the Bay Bridge. Since when is the Bay Bridge passable? Especially in the early evening. Had a nice dinner with Neil and Jeff. They have a home theater set up. Tiny living space. But even that place has a bigger kitchen that our house.

At work the Technical Services Dept has been moved out of its room into the Electronic Classroom. The storms we had over the last months had snuck water in, which led to mildew. Seems mildew is the new sick building villain. Big money's being paid out to workers claiming incapacitating illnesses brought on by exposure to the stuff. So the admin folks wanted us out of there while the wall was torn open, the mildew dug from its lair, sprayed in the face, and dumped twitching in the dumpster. Two weeks it'll take? Maybe. The Electronic Classroom was intended as a place for teaching computer skills. Big windows. So there's lots of nice light. Very stuffy. We prop the door open. One patron peaks hopefully in at the door, "Are the computers for staff only?"

Saturday, January 04, 2003

We tried to get to The Two Towers today. K wanted to see Gangs of New York. I'm willing but rather more excited about Towers. The theater in downtown Berkeley that's showing Towers is crappy. Crappy! They play a stupid self-promoting slide show, and canned djs hype piped-in pop music. When the lights go down the commercials start. Unlike in Europe where the commercials shown in theaters are clever mini-movies these are the same 30 second time wasters that fatten up skinny television shows. Then the previews. Several. Then the movie! Last time we went we vowed not to go again.

I thought it might be fun to try the new megaplex in Emeryville. No other city around here likes buildings like Emeryville. We left in plenty of time and got lost. Emeryville seems to squeeze itself between freeway and railroad tracks and it's always amazingly hard to figure out how to get from the one side to the other. We spotted the AMC sign but were on the wrong side of the tracks with no obvious way to get where we wanted to go. And when we did find throughway, traffic was way bad. By the time we found the place we were a couple minutes late and K, who was driving, was majorly stressed. I knew he would not be able to get into the movie. So we bailed.

Well. I did hope we could see The Two Towers at Jack London Square. But I thought it would be a nice place to hang out yes or no. At first Kent just wanted to forget the whole thing, go home, but acquiesced, and Jack London Square proved to be a balm. Lovely sky layered in blue and strips of white. At the dock by Scott's two Oakland firemen were handing out fliers asking folks to protest the closing of the Jack London Square fire station. My fireman in his overalls and tshirt was middle aged, some lines on his face, his tan reddish. A ball of a bicep showed under his sleeve, blond hairs on his forearm. "The critical time for a non-breathing victim is 4 to 6 minutes," said the flier. My fireman gestured at the train that was passing, cutting the docks off from the city, and expanded, "That train doesn't always just pass on through. Sometimes it stops or backs up. There's no way to get an emergency vehicle by."

They had to go then. Tromped down to the fireboat, untied it, and pushed out into the estuary. As they got out midstream they turned on three nozzles -- one on the front deck, one at the back, the third on the cabin's roof -- and great jets of water arched in the air.

Pity to lose that, eh?

The fireboat gone, K & I sat for awhile on the slowly heaving concrete dock. Three mallards paddled by. A gray and white gull with black feet and legs and a red-orange beak stopped on a corner of the dock and eyed us, first one eye then the other. The gull was quite pretty, clean and bright.

We ate at Scott's. I had a glass of wine. Seven dollars. And the food was neither inexpensive nor impressive. But the setting was pleasant and we felt taken care of when someone came by and twisted the pepper grinder over our servings of fish.

The theater at the square wasn't showing anything at a convenient time. We decided not to hang around another hour or more. So we came home. I have to go throw laundry in the dryer, I guess. Oh, yeah. I finally resurrected the Poetry & Pizza website.