manmaking101's Blurty
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in manmaking101's Blurty:

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    Sunday, January 23rd, 2005
    1:28 am
    bittersweet
    Very early Sunday morning
    Bye, Blurty.

    I know I’ve been trying way too hard. It’s not that I don’t believe what I’ve written or value the way I’ve written it; it’s just that I keep taking the longest ways around the subjects and travelling miles out of my way to get to destinations just down the block. Like right here and righr now. Yeah, I could justify all of it as practice and "voicefinding" and a lot of other stuff that would make it all seem perfectly consistent with my vocation and profession as a writer; I am, after all, making words appear where there was nothing before. But, now, I know I’m just folling myself, and I can’t persist in fucking around when I’ve pierced through the illusion. That’s just too weird—even for me.

    All the Blurty stuff seems way too reminiscent of a self I left behind when I gave-up professoring; it’s just indulgence of old habits and pandering to old ego needs. It’s not that I should know better; it’s that I absolutely do know better. Continuing with this stuff just keeps me trapped in old routines and stuck in old illusions. I knew by my third year of graduate school that I wasn’t right for the academic world—"neither for that place nor for that hour"; I loved teaching with all my heart—what greater proof does anyone need for the fact that I wasn;t right for the university? I was a terrible scholar. I grew weary of the hundreds of pages of carefully reasoned and well-documented lies and distortions. One of my classmates came out and said it as he submitted his dissertation: "Another five hundred pages of intelligent lies." Admired the honesty, and hated the profession that demanded the lies as the price of admission. I’m still grumpy about it. I probably always will be. But I at least must try letting it go.

    Good-bye, Blurty. I cannot really explain exactly why, but I know that you and I just don’t fit one another any more. We both know there’s a really good chance that we never did. Because of the bi-polar, there’s something in me that consistently craves the complicated, dramatic, and intense—probably pumps the endorphins I need to keep my system relatively "normal"…you know, the same sorta equilibrium that everybody else enjoys just by continuing heartbeat and respiration. But my gut knows that it’s all really simple. I’m a writer; that’s all. All the time I spend on Blurty actually distracts and detracts from my "real" writing. We all know I’m not gonna put my best stuff on here, and there’s really no good reason to go public with anything but my best stuff; the rest should be private—really and truly private, not fake-private like here where it just kinda languishes because no fifteen-year-old really gives a good goddam about a "mature" man’s struggle against geezerhood and curmudgeonry. Yeah, I had kinda hoped some sympathetic friend would fall out of the ether and into my world. Didn’t really quite happen. Close. Very close. But not really what I needed.

    I still have faith that a sympathetic, empathetic friend and reality-tester is "out there" somewhere. I think I’m gonna try looking around in the "real" world. Thank you, everybody who has read this stuff; Suzy, I’m still in your debt for your encouragement, and I’m still very happy for the love that flourishes in your life. I’m not really gone. But I am somewhere else. I hope, someday soon, you’ll find me in the bookstores.
    1:14 am
    neighborhood tsunamis
    Saturday morning
    A little iconoclasm; I’ll clean it up later.

    There’s this common misconception that fiction writers traffick in lies. For a long time, I conspired with the misguided notion, saying that I was "a professional liar." I’ve told my share of lies, and I’ve promoted a lot of illusions, but I never turned pro. Meanwhile, in my fiction-writing, I always labored toward some kind of genuine understanding, some kind of purchase and grasp on the truth. I’ll admit that good fiction writers make the plausible seem absolutely real, and they perfect the art of authenticating their imaginations in extremely ralistic details. Still, fiction isn’t lies; the term "fiction" itself derives from the words for making. We make a world and we set it in motion and we work with all our might to make it True—whetyher or not these people lived and whether or not these places ever existed and these events ever happened, nevertheless we go after the Truth… The truth of the human consition, the reality of human feelings. We assemble the words the best we can, hoping that what we reveal will touch and disturb our readers, blast them out of their compacence, activate their consciences, and move them to significant action… Conscientious action. Not just reflection. Not just book talk at Starbucks. Not just a few more talk-show appearances. Real action. Start a 547; better yet, start a 501c3 and share the wealth. Make something good happen.

    Of course, we feel terrible for the tsunami survibors; the apocalypse visited their world. The survivors’ world was ravaged in the most vivid possible way—on a gorgeous holiday with the whole world watching in horror; but what about the little tsunami survivor down the street? The kid whose dad comes homes drunk and washes his bile and vomit over the kid’s seawalls every night? Day by day, that little kid looks and acts so normal; last month, he was citizen of the month at his school; how could he be hurting? That’s where the real lies live—in those pretenses and illusions of "normal." Look to the overachievers; dig behind their certificates and find the holes they’ve punched in their walls. C’mon, boys and girls, don’t we all know that "normal" is the greatest illusion of all? Don’t we all understand the great irony at the heart of "Desperate Housewives"? We feel free to laugh at the fiction, pretending it’s illusion or exaggeration. We could just as easily cry. It’s not a parody or a satire; it’s as real as anything you’ll ever see anywhere, and we watch it because we recognize it.

    I kinda like the word "iconoclasm"; it almost captures the image of some demon-crazed geezer like me running all around and smashing the flase idols to smitherenes. Bring your icons and watch me swing the 23 ounce framing hammer—first blow-off the heads and then bring a crushing blow down on their little decerebrate selves. Kabloom. Little fireworks, the icono-shards catching the light before they hit the floor.

    Current Mood: geeky
    Current Music: elevator music
    1:14 am
    neighborhood tsunamis
    Saturday morning
    A little iconoclasm; I’ll clean it up later.

    There’s this common misconception that fiction writers traffick in lies. For a long time, I conspired with the misguided notion, saying that I was "a professional liar." I’ve told my share of lies, and I’ve promoted a lot of illusions, but I never turned pro. Meanwhile, in my fiction-writing, I always labored toward some kind of genuine understanding, some kind of purchase and grasp on the truth. I’ll admit that good fiction writers make the plausible seem absolutely real, and they perfect the art of authenticating their imaginations in extremely ralistic details. Still, fiction isn’t lies; the term "fiction" itself derives from the words for making. We make a world and we set it in motion and we work with all our might to make it True—whetyher or not these people lived and whether or not these places ever existed and these events ever happened, nevertheless we go after the Truth… The truth of the human consition, the reality of human feelings. We assemble the words the best we can, hoping that what we reveal will touch and disturb our readers, blast them out of their compacence, activate their consciences, and move them to significant action… Conscientious action. Not just reflection. Not just book talk at Starbucks. Not just a few more talk-show appearances. Real action. Start a 547; better yet, start a 501c3 and share the wealth. Make something good happen.

    Of course, we feel terrible for the tsunami survibors; the apocalypse visited their world. The survivors’ world was ravaged in the most vivid possible way—on a gorgeous holiday with the whole world watching in horror; but what about the little tsunami survivor down the street? The kid whose dad comes homes drunk and washes his bile and vomit over the kid’s seawalls every night? Day by day, that little kid looks and acts so normal; last month, he was citizen of the month at his school; how could he be hurting? That’s where the real lies live—in those pretenses and illusions of "normal." Look to the overachievers; dig behind their certificates and find the holes they’ve punched in their walls. C’mon, boys and girls, don’t we all know that "normal" is the greatest illusion of all? Don’t we all understand the great irony at the heart of "Desperate Housewives"? We feel free to laugh at the fiction, pretending it’s illusion or exaggeration. We could just as easily cry. It’s not a parody or a satire; it’s as real as anything you’ll ever see anywhere, and we watch it because we recognize it.

    I kinda like the word "iconoclasm"; it almost captures the image of some demon-crazed geezer like me running all around and smashing the flase idols to smitherenes. Bring your icons and watch me swing the 23 ounce framing hammer—first blow-off the heads and then bring a crushing blow down on their little decerebrate selves. Kabloom. Little fireworks, the icono-shards catching the light before they hit the floor.

    Current Mood: geeky
    Current Music: elevator music
    1:14 am
    neighborhood tsunamis
    Saturday morning
    A little iconoclasm; I’ll clean it up later.

    There’s this common misconception that fiction writers traffick in lies. For a long time, I conspired with the misguided notion, saying that I was "a professional liar." I’ve told my share of lies, and I’ve promoted a lot of illusions, but I never turned pro. Meanwhile, in my fiction-writing, I always labored toward some kind of genuine understanding, some kind of purchase and grasp on the truth. I’ll admit that good fiction writers make the plausible seem absolutely real, and they perfect the art of authenticating their imaginations in extremely ralistic details. Still, fiction isn’t lies; the term "fiction" itself derives from the words for making. We make a world and we set it in motion and we work with all our might to make it True—whetyher or not these people lived and whether or not these places ever existed and these events ever happened, nevertheless we go after the Truth… The truth of the human consition, the reality of human feelings. We assemble the words the best we can, hoping that what we reveal will touch and disturb our readers, blast them out of their compacence, activate their consciences, and move them to significant action… Conscientious action. Not just reflection. Not just book talk at Starbucks. Not just a few more talk-show appearances. Real action. Start a 547; better yet, start a 501c3 and share the wealth. Make something good happen.

    Of course, we feel terrible for the tsunami survibors; the apocalypse visited their world. The survivors’ world was ravaged in the most vivid possible way—on a gorgeous holiday with the whole world watching in horror; but what about the little tsunami survivor down the street? The kid whose dad comes homes drunk and washes his bile and vomit over the kid’s seawalls every night? Day by day, that little kid looks and acts so normal; last month, he was citizen of the month at his school; how could he be hurting? That’s where the real lies live—in those pretenses and illusions of "normal." Look to the overachievers; dig behind their certificates and find the holes they’ve punched in their walls. C’mon, boys and girls, don’t we all know that "normal" is the greatest illusion of all? Don’t we all understand the great irony at the heart of "Desperate Housewives"? We feel free to laugh at the fiction, pretending it’s illusion or exaggeration. We could just as easily cry. It’s not a parody or a satire; it’s as real as anything you’ll ever see anywhere, and we watch it because we recognize it.

    I kinda like the word "iconoclasm"; it almost captures the image of some demon-crazed geezer like me running all around and smashing the flase idols to smitherenes. Bring your icons and watch me swing the 23 ounce framing hammer—first blow-off the heads and then bring a crushing blow down on their little decerebrate selves. Kabloom. Little fireworks, the icono-shards catching the light before they hit the floor.

    Current Mood: geeky
    Current Music: elevator music
    1:14 am
    neighborhood tsunamis
    Saturday morning
    A little iconoclasm; I’ll clean it up later.

    There’s this common misconception that fiction writers traffick in lies. For a long time, I conspired with the misguided notion, saying that I was "a professional liar." I’ve told my share of lies, and I’ve promoted a lot of illusions, but I never turned pro. Meanwhile, in my fiction-writing, I always labored toward some kind of genuine understanding, some kind of purchase and grasp on the truth. I’ll admit that good fiction writers make the plausible seem absolutely real, and they perfect the art of authenticating their imaginations in extremely ralistic details. Still, fiction isn’t lies; the term "fiction" itself derives from the words for making. We make a world and we set it in motion and we work with all our might to make it True—whetyher or not these people lived and whether or not these places ever existed and these events ever happened, nevertheless we go after the Truth… The truth of the human consition, the reality of human feelings. We assemble the words the best we can, hoping that what we reveal will touch and disturb our readers, blast them out of their compacence, activate their consciences, and move them to significant action… Conscientious action. Not just reflection. Not just book talk at Starbucks. Not just a few more talk-show appearances. Real action. Start a 547; better yet, start a 501c3 and share the wealth. Make something good happen.

    Of course, we feel terrible for the tsunami survibors; the apocalypse visited their world. The survivors’ world was ravaged in the most vivid possible way—on a gorgeous holiday with the whole world watching in horror; but what about the little tsunami survivor down the street? The kid whose dad comes homes drunk and washes his bile and vomit over the kid’s seawalls every night? Day by day, that little kid looks and acts so normal; last month, he was citizen of the month at his school; how could he be hurting? That’s where the real lies live—in those pretenses and illusions of "normal." Look to the overachievers; dig behind their certificates and find the holes they’ve punched in their walls. C’mon, boys and girls, don’t we all know that "normal" is the greatest illusion of all? Don’t we all understand the great irony at the heart of "Desperate Housewives"? We feel free to laugh at the fiction, pretending it’s illusion or exaggeration. We could just as easily cry. It’s not a parody or a satire; it’s as real as anything you’ll ever see anywhere, and we watch it because we recognize it.

    I kinda like the word "iconoclasm"; it almost captures the image of some demon-crazed geezer like me running all around and smashing the flase idols to smitherenes. Bring your icons and watch me swing the 23 ounce framing hammer—first blow-off the heads and then bring a crushing blow down on their little decerebrate selves. Kabloom. Little fireworks, the icono-shards catching the light before they hit the floor.

    Current Mood: geeky
    Current Music: elevator music
    1:05 am
    1:05 am
    sacs and cortices
    Friday
    Firing-up the cortices

    Yes, it’s been a long time since I have written in my Blurty. I’ve been too busy having a life to take time for writing about the life I’d wish. Two weeks ago, I unwittingly began a rite-of-passage. Everybody knows I’ve been "starting over again" since the beginning of last summer, when my body rebelled against me, and circumstances colluded to make me face my dreams, demons, and desires…

    But all of that is much too formal and way too fucking intellectual. It probably represents the contents of my over-active, over-working, over-amping brain; but it ain’t nowehere near what my gut says. Not really. My gut has much higher standards for honesty and integrity. I’m a much better person in my gut than I ever could expect to become n my brain. Funny, huh? While they’re just getting to know me, people generally remark my "brilliance" first, and it’s only later that thy realize how "down-to-earth" I really am. Funny, because it’s the opposite of the way I regard and value myself. I really ought to find some way to reverse the presentation and representation, so that my brilliance sort-of gradually overtakes people, and they discover it while they’re commuting, stuck in traffic at the 5/805 merge, listening to a Norah Jones song on the radio, and it just kinda hits them: "Wow, that sumbitch really is one smart motherfucker, huh? Damn, never really noticed, but he is really one smart sumbitch. He got one helluva set of cortices on him, don’t ‘e?"

    You can tell I barely escaped the academic world with my values intact, because it’s those academic assholes who make the tragic, often fatal mistake of confusing cortices and intellects and degreees and diplomas with balls. Sorry, boys and girls, but it just don’t work that way. We see a prime example of the contrast and confusion in this week’s confirmation hearings for sweet little Condie, George’s bitch. Okay, of course, I have the Berkeley bias: For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Berkeley runs on pure principles of democracy whereas Standford runs on some kind of noblesse oblige. For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Barbara Boxer arrives as the avatar of Berkeley, and, of course, Condie represents Stanford. What’s with the hair, Condie? African American women everywhere wanna regard you as a role model, but you gotta do something with that mid-fifties, cleaning lady hair. It’s just too distracting, and it really subverts your credibility, your plausibility as a sterling example for aspiring black women and debutantes. Barbara takes her shot: "You’ve lost your respect for the truth in your zeal to sell the war." Condie responds, "Please, don’t impugn my character." It’s a fucking miracle I even know how to spell "impugn." It’s a GRE word—from the Latin word for "fight," like "pugnacious." Does anybody really care about the Latin root? Most importantly, however, Condie’s response misses the point—the worst thing an esteemed academic can do: I know, because I once was accused of "systematically and deliberately missing the point." Coulda been the story of my life. Barbara was going after the point that zeal in the President’s defense seduced Condie away from the mission of finding and standing up for the Truth. Most of Berkeley’s so-called liberalism has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or left-wing scheming; it has to do with learning and facing the Truth—pragmatic idealism, the lesson I ultimately carried away from six years of painful graduate study; the lesson never taught in a classroom. If, however, you focused too long on Condie and Barbara, you probably missed the point of this paragraph. In the hearing room, one man sat comfortably with his priorities, values, and sac all in order. Watch Joe Biden and see a smart man who knows the difference between intellect and character, cortices and testacles. Watch Joe Biden and see how conscience and intuition can lead and brains can follow; see how pragmatic idealism really can work in everyday life. Face the Truth of Condie Rice learning to face the Truth; then, work with it. Although she’s prone to selling-out for the sake of a good title, we’re pretty confident that Condie does, after all, have a conscience; let’s work toward revealing it.

    I can’t run for office--not even in a blue state. No, I’m not a fellon; I’m just bi-polar, and I just have paid way too high a price for coping with my "disorder." I inhaled and forgot to exhale; I played around with the interns, and I didn’t feel remorse or the compulsion to deny it. I cannot make that little fist gesture, shake it in America’s face, and claim, "I did not…" I did, and I probably would again, because I loved… I’m impeached before I even get an office. I cannot emulate Joe Biden in any literal way, but I seek some meanigful way to emulate his principles

    For a long time, I have advocated intuition’s leadership: intuition leads and intellect follows, adapting all the resources and all the thoughts to reify intuition’s prompting. That’s still way too fucking intellectual, huh? It’s also probably a sophisticated rip-off of some dumb-ass self-help book. It translates to "trust your gut, asshole! Trust your gut." Once ya got that trust goin’, then your brain falls in-line behind your intuition and things go by their own natural processes and sequences; if intuition leads, then things just work-out naturally. The halcyon’s joy came primarily from my spirit’s willingness to follow this mandate, obey this injunction, do what intuition said. In other words, during the halcyon, I was happy because I was learning to follow my gut. You’re really gotta understand that I grow just as weary of my intellectual self as anybody else does, not because I somehow loathe being smart, but because somehow being smart frequently gets in the way of being wise. I know that everybody knows that, but we all also understand the difference between knowing and experiencing. I want to vote for experience; knowledge sometimes carries the electoral vote anyway.
    1:05 am
    sacs and cortices
    Friday
    Firing-up the cortices

    Yes, it’s been a long time since I have written in my Blurty. I’ve been too busy having a life to take time for writing about the life I’d wish. Two weeks ago, I unwittingly began a rite-of-passage. Everybody knows I’ve been "starting over again" since the beginning of last summer, when my body rebelled against me, and circumstances colluded to make me face my dreams, demons, and desires…

    But all of that is much too formal and way too fucking intellectual. It probably represents the contents of my over-active, over-working, over-amping brain; but it ain’t nowehere near what my gut says. Not really. My gut has much higher standards for honesty and integrity. I’m a much better person in my gut than I ever could expect to become n my brain. Funny, huh? While they’re just getting to know me, people generally remark my "brilliance" first, and it’s only later that thy realize how "down-to-earth" I really am. Funny, because it’s the opposite of the way I regard and value myself. I really ought to find some way to reverse the presentation and representation, so that my brilliance sort-of gradually overtakes people, and they discover it while they’re commuting, stuck in traffic at the 5/805 merge, listening to a Norah Jones song on the radio, and it just kinda hits them: "Wow, that sumbitch really is one smart motherfucker, huh? Damn, never really noticed, but he is really one smart sumbitch. He got one helluva set of cortices on him, don’t ‘e?"

    You can tell I barely escaped the academic world with my values intact, because it’s those academic assholes who make the tragic, often fatal mistake of confusing cortices and intellects and degreees and diplomas with balls. Sorry, boys and girls, but it just don’t work that way. We see a prime example of the contrast and confusion in this week’s confirmation hearings for sweet little Condie, George’s bitch. Okay, of course, I have the Berkeley bias: For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Berkeley runs on pure principles of democracy whereas Standford runs on some kind of noblesse oblige. For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Barbara Boxer arrives as the avatar of Berkeley, and, of course, Condie represents Stanford. What’s with the hair, Condie? African American women everywhere wanna regard you as a role model, but you gotta do something with that mid-fifties, cleaning lady hair. It’s just too distracting, and it really subverts your credibility, your plausibility as a sterling example for aspiring black women and debutantes. Barbara takes her shot: "You’ve lost your respect for the truth in your zeal to sell the war." Condie responds, "Please, don’t impugn my character." It’s a fucking miracle I even know how to spell "impugn." It’s a GRE word—from the Latin word for "fight," like "pugnacious." Does anybody really care about the Latin root? Most importantly, however, Condie’s response misses the point—the worst thing an esteemed academic can do: I know, because I once was accused of "systematically and deliberately missing the point." Coulda been the story of my life. Barbara was going after the point that zeal in the President’s defense seduced Condie away from the mission of finding and standing up for the Truth. Most of Berkeley’s so-called liberalism has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or left-wing scheming; it has to do with learning and facing the Truth—pragmatic idealism, the lesson I ultimately carried away from six years of painful graduate study; the lesson never taught in a classroom. If, however, you focused too long on Condie and Barbara, you probably missed the point of this paragraph. In the hearing room, one man sat comfortably with his priorities, values, and sac all in order. Watch Joe Biden and see a smart man who knows the difference between intellect and character, cortices and testacles. Watch Joe Biden and see how conscience and intuition can lead and brains can follow; see how pragmatic idealism really can work in everyday life. Face the Truth of Condie Rice learning to face the Truth; then, work with it. Although she’s prone to selling-out for the sake of a good title, we’re pretty confident that Condie does, after all, have a conscience; let’s work toward revealing it.

    I can’t run for office--not even in a blue state. No, I’m not a fellon; I’m just bi-polar, and I just have paid way too high a price for coping with my "disorder." I inhaled and forgot to exhale; I played around with the interns, and I didn’t feel remorse or the compulsion to deny it. I cannot make that little fist gesture, shake it in America’s face, and claim, "I did not…" I did, and I probably would again, because I loved… I’m impeached before I even get an office. I cannot emulate Joe Biden in any literal way, but I seek some meanigful way to emulate his principles

    For a long time, I have advocated intuition’s leadership: intuition leads and intellect follows, adapting all the resources and all the thoughts to reify intuition’s prompting. That’s still way too fucking intellectual, huh? It’s also probably a sophisticated rip-off of some dumb-ass self-help book. It translates to "trust your gut, asshole! Trust your gut." Once ya got that trust goin’, then your brain falls in-line behind your intuition and things go by their own natural processes and sequences; if intuition leads, then things just work-out naturally. The halcyon’s joy came primarily from my spirit’s willingness to follow this mandate, obey this injunction, do what intuition said. In other words, during the halcyon, I was happy because I was learning to follow my gut. You’re really gotta understand that I grow just as weary of my intellectual self as anybody else does, not because I somehow loathe being smart, but because somehow being smart frequently gets in the way of being wise. I know that everybody knows that, but we all also understand the difference between knowing and experiencing. I want to vote for experience; knowledge sometimes carries the electoral vote anyway.
    1:05 am
    sacs and cortices
    Friday
    Firing-up the cortices

    Yes, it’s been a long time since I have written in my Blurty. I’ve been too busy having a life to take time for writing about the life I’d wish. Two weeks ago, I unwittingly began a rite-of-passage. Everybody knows I’ve been "starting over again" since the beginning of last summer, when my body rebelled against me, and circumstances colluded to make me face my dreams, demons, and desires…

    But all of that is much too formal and way too fucking intellectual. It probably represents the contents of my over-active, over-working, over-amping brain; but it ain’t nowehere near what my gut says. Not really. My gut has much higher standards for honesty and integrity. I’m a much better person in my gut than I ever could expect to become n my brain. Funny, huh? While they’re just getting to know me, people generally remark my "brilliance" first, and it’s only later that thy realize how "down-to-earth" I really am. Funny, because it’s the opposite of the way I regard and value myself. I really ought to find some way to reverse the presentation and representation, so that my brilliance sort-of gradually overtakes people, and they discover it while they’re commuting, stuck in traffic at the 5/805 merge, listening to a Norah Jones song on the radio, and it just kinda hits them: "Wow, that sumbitch really is one smart motherfucker, huh? Damn, never really noticed, but he is really one smart sumbitch. He got one helluva set of cortices on him, don’t ‘e?"

    You can tell I barely escaped the academic world with my values intact, because it’s those academic assholes who make the tragic, often fatal mistake of confusing cortices and intellects and degreees and diplomas with balls. Sorry, boys and girls, but it just don’t work that way. We see a prime example of the contrast and confusion in this week’s confirmation hearings for sweet little Condie, George’s bitch. Okay, of course, I have the Berkeley bias: For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Berkeley runs on pure principles of democracy whereas Standford runs on some kind of noblesse oblige. For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Barbara Boxer arrives as the avatar of Berkeley, and, of course, Condie represents Stanford. What’s with the hair, Condie? African American women everywhere wanna regard you as a role model, but you gotta do something with that mid-fifties, cleaning lady hair. It’s just too distracting, and it really subverts your credibility, your plausibility as a sterling example for aspiring black women and debutantes. Barbara takes her shot: "You’ve lost your respect for the truth in your zeal to sell the war." Condie responds, "Please, don’t impugn my character." It’s a fucking miracle I even know how to spell "impugn." It’s a GRE word—from the Latin word for "fight," like "pugnacious." Does anybody really care about the Latin root? Most importantly, however, Condie’s response misses the point—the worst thing an esteemed academic can do: I know, because I once was accused of "systematically and deliberately missing the point." Coulda been the story of my life. Barbara was going after the point that zeal in the President’s defense seduced Condie away from the mission of finding and standing up for the Truth. Most of Berkeley’s so-called liberalism has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or left-wing scheming; it has to do with learning and facing the Truth—pragmatic idealism, the lesson I ultimately carried away from six years of painful graduate study; the lesson never taught in a classroom. If, however, you focused too long on Condie and Barbara, you probably missed the point of this paragraph. In the hearing room, one man sat comfortably with his priorities, values, and sac all in order. Watch Joe Biden and see a smart man who knows the difference between intellect and character, cortices and testacles. Watch Joe Biden and see how conscience and intuition can lead and brains can follow; see how pragmatic idealism really can work in everyday life. Face the Truth of Condie Rice learning to face the Truth; then, work with it. Although she’s prone to selling-out for the sake of a good title, we’re pretty confident that Condie does, after all, have a conscience; let’s work toward revealing it.

    I can’t run for office--not even in a blue state. No, I’m not a fellon; I’m just bi-polar, and I just have paid way too high a price for coping with my "disorder." I inhaled and forgot to exhale; I played around with the interns, and I didn’t feel remorse or the compulsion to deny it. I cannot make that little fist gesture, shake it in America’s face, and claim, "I did not…" I did, and I probably would again, because I loved… I’m impeached before I even get an office. I cannot emulate Joe Biden in any literal way, but I seek some meanigful way to emulate his principles

    For a long time, I have advocated intuition’s leadership: intuition leads and intellect follows, adapting all the resources and all the thoughts to reify intuition’s prompting. That’s still way too fucking intellectual, huh? It’s also probably a sophisticated rip-off of some dumb-ass self-help book. It translates to "trust your gut, asshole! Trust your gut." Once ya got that trust goin’, then your brain falls in-line behind your intuition and things go by their own natural processes and sequences; if intuition leads, then things just work-out naturally. The halcyon’s joy came primarily from my spirit’s willingness to follow this mandate, obey this injunction, do what intuition said. In other words, during the halcyon, I was happy because I was learning to follow my gut. You’re really gotta understand that I grow just as weary of my intellectual self as anybody else does, not because I somehow loathe being smart, but because somehow being smart frequently gets in the way of being wise. I know that everybody knows that, but we all also understand the difference between knowing and experiencing. I want to vote for experience; knowledge sometimes carries the electoral vote anyway.
    1:05 am
    sacs and cortices
    Friday
    Firing-up the cortices

    Yes, it’s been a long time since I have written in my Blurty. I’ve been too busy having a life to take time for writing about the life I’d wish. Two weeks ago, I unwittingly began a rite-of-passage. Everybody knows I’ve been "starting over again" since the beginning of last summer, when my body rebelled against me, and circumstances colluded to make me face my dreams, demons, and desires…

    But all of that is much too formal and way too fucking intellectual. It probably represents the contents of my over-active, over-working, over-amping brain; but it ain’t nowehere near what my gut says. Not really. My gut has much higher standards for honesty and integrity. I’m a much better person in my gut than I ever could expect to become n my brain. Funny, huh? While they’re just getting to know me, people generally remark my "brilliance" first, and it’s only later that thy realize how "down-to-earth" I really am. Funny, because it’s the opposite of the way I regard and value myself. I really ought to find some way to reverse the presentation and representation, so that my brilliance sort-of gradually overtakes people, and they discover it while they’re commuting, stuck in traffic at the 5/805 merge, listening to a Norah Jones song on the radio, and it just kinda hits them: "Wow, that sumbitch really is one smart motherfucker, huh? Damn, never really noticed, but he is really one smart sumbitch. He got one helluva set of cortices on him, don’t ‘e?"

    You can tell I barely escaped the academic world with my values intact, because it’s those academic assholes who make the tragic, often fatal mistake of confusing cortices and intellects and degreees and diplomas with balls. Sorry, boys and girls, but it just don’t work that way. We see a prime example of the contrast and confusion in this week’s confirmation hearings for sweet little Condie, George’s bitch. Okay, of course, I have the Berkeley bias: For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Berkeley runs on pure principles of democracy whereas Standford runs on some kind of noblesse oblige. For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Barbara Boxer arrives as the avatar of Berkeley, and, of course, Condie represents Stanford. What’s with the hair, Condie? African American women everywhere wanna regard you as a role model, but you gotta do something with that mid-fifties, cleaning lady hair. It’s just too distracting, and it really subverts your credibility, your plausibility as a sterling example for aspiring black women and debutantes. Barbara takes her shot: "You’ve lost your respect for the truth in your zeal to sell the war." Condie responds, "Please, don’t impugn my character." It’s a fucking miracle I even know how to spell "impugn." It’s a GRE word—from the Latin word for "fight," like "pugnacious." Does anybody really care about the Latin root? Most importantly, however, Condie’s response misses the point—the worst thing an esteemed academic can do: I know, because I once was accused of "systematically and deliberately missing the point." Coulda been the story of my life. Barbara was going after the point that zeal in the President’s defense seduced Condie away from the mission of finding and standing up for the Truth. Most of Berkeley’s so-called liberalism has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or left-wing scheming; it has to do with learning and facing the Truth—pragmatic idealism, the lesson I ultimately carried away from six years of painful graduate study; the lesson never taught in a classroom. If, however, you focused too long on Condie and Barbara, you probably missed the point of this paragraph. In the hearing room, one man sat comfortably with his priorities, values, and sac all in order. Watch Joe Biden and see a smart man who knows the difference between intellect and character, cortices and testacles. Watch Joe Biden and see how conscience and intuition can lead and brains can follow; see how pragmatic idealism really can work in everyday life. Face the Truth of Condie Rice learning to face the Truth; then, work with it. Although she’s prone to selling-out for the sake of a good title, we’re pretty confident that Condie does, after all, have a conscience; let’s work toward revealing it.

    I can’t run for office--not even in a blue state. No, I’m not a fellon; I’m just bi-polar, and I just have paid way too high a price for coping with my "disorder." I inhaled and forgot to exhale; I played around with the interns, and I didn’t feel remorse or the compulsion to deny it. I cannot make that little fist gesture, shake it in America’s face, and claim, "I did not…" I did, and I probably would again, because I loved… I’m impeached before I even get an office. I cannot emulate Joe Biden in any literal way, but I seek some meanigful way to emulate his principles

    For a long time, I have advocated intuition’s leadership: intuition leads and intellect follows, adapting all the resources and all the thoughts to reify intuition’s prompting. That’s still way too fucking intellectual, huh? It’s also probably a sophisticated rip-off of some dumb-ass self-help book. It translates to "trust your gut, asshole! Trust your gut." Once ya got that trust goin’, then your brain falls in-line behind your intuition and things go by their own natural processes and sequences; if intuition leads, then things just work-out naturally. The halcyon’s joy came primarily from my spirit’s willingness to follow this mandate, obey this injunction, do what intuition said. In other words, during the halcyon, I was happy because I was learning to follow my gut. You’re really gotta understand that I grow just as weary of my intellectual self as anybody else does, not because I somehow loathe being smart, but because somehow being smart frequently gets in the way of being wise. I know that everybody knows that, but we all also understand the difference between knowing and experiencing. I want to vote for experience; knowledge sometimes carries the electoral vote anyway.
    1:05 am
    sacs and cortices
    Friday
    Firing-up the cortices

    Yes, it’s been a long time since I have written in my Blurty. I’ve been too busy having a life to take time for writing about the life I’d wish. Two weeks ago, I unwittingly began a rite-of-passage. Everybody knows I’ve been "starting over again" since the beginning of last summer, when my body rebelled against me, and circumstances colluded to make me face my dreams, demons, and desires…

    But all of that is much too formal and way too fucking intellectual. It probably represents the contents of my over-active, over-working, over-amping brain; but it ain’t nowehere near what my gut says. Not really. My gut has much higher standards for honesty and integrity. I’m a much better person in my gut than I ever could expect to become n my brain. Funny, huh? While they’re just getting to know me, people generally remark my "brilliance" first, and it’s only later that thy realize how "down-to-earth" I really am. Funny, because it’s the opposite of the way I regard and value myself. I really ought to find some way to reverse the presentation and representation, so that my brilliance sort-of gradually overtakes people, and they discover it while they’re commuting, stuck in traffic at the 5/805 merge, listening to a Norah Jones song on the radio, and it just kinda hits them: "Wow, that sumbitch really is one smart motherfucker, huh? Damn, never really noticed, but he is really one smart sumbitch. He got one helluva set of cortices on him, don’t ‘e?"

    You can tell I barely escaped the academic world with my values intact, because it’s those academic assholes who make the tragic, often fatal mistake of confusing cortices and intellects and degreees and diplomas with balls. Sorry, boys and girls, but it just don’t work that way. We see a prime example of the contrast and confusion in this week’s confirmation hearings for sweet little Condie, George’s bitch. Okay, of course, I have the Berkeley bias: For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Berkeley runs on pure principles of democracy whereas Standford runs on some kind of noblesse oblige. For the sake of this discussion, let it be true that Barbara Boxer arrives as the avatar of Berkeley, and, of course, Condie represents Stanford. What’s with the hair, Condie? African American women everywhere wanna regard you as a role model, but you gotta do something with that mid-fifties, cleaning lady hair. It’s just too distracting, and it really subverts your credibility, your plausibility as a sterling example for aspiring black women and debutantes. Barbara takes her shot: "You’ve lost your respect for the truth in your zeal to sell the war." Condie responds, "Please, don’t impugn my character." It’s a fucking miracle I even know how to spell "impugn." It’s a GRE word—from the Latin word for "fight," like "pugnacious." Does anybody really care about the Latin root? Most importantly, however, Condie’s response misses the point—the worst thing an esteemed academic can do: I know, because I once was accused of "systematically and deliberately missing the point." Coulda been the story of my life. Barbara was going after the point that zeal in the President’s defense seduced Condie away from the mission of finding and standing up for the Truth. Most of Berkeley’s so-called liberalism has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or left-wing scheming; it has to do with learning and facing the Truth—pragmatic idealism, the lesson I ultimately carried away from six years of painful graduate study; the lesson never taught in a classroom. If, however, you focused too long on Condie and Barbara, you probably missed the point of this paragraph. In the hearing room, one man sat comfortably with his priorities, values, and sac all in order. Watch Joe Biden and see a smart man who knows the difference between intellect and character, cortices and testacles. Watch Joe Biden and see how conscience and intuition can lead and brains can follow; see how pragmatic idealism really can work in everyday life. Face the Truth of Condie Rice learning to face the Truth; then, work with it. Although she’s prone to selling-out for the sake of a good title, we’re pretty confident that Condie does, after all, have a conscience; let’s work toward revealing it.

    I can’t run for office--not even in a blue state. No, I’m not a fellon; I’m just bi-polar, and I just have paid way too high a price for coping with my "disorder." I inhaled and forgot to exhale; I played around with the interns, and I didn’t feel remorse or the compulsion to deny it. I cannot make that little fist gesture, shake it in America’s face, and claim, "I did not…" I did, and I probably would again, because I loved… I’m impeached before I even get an office. I cannot emulate Joe Biden in any literal way, but I seek some meanigful way to emulate his principles

    For a long time, I have advocated intuition’s leadership: intuition leads and intellect follows, adapting all the resources and all the thoughts to reify intuition’s prompting. That’s still way too fucking intellectual, huh? It’s also probably a sophisticated rip-off of some dumb-ass self-help book. It translates to "trust your gut, asshole! Trust your gut." Once ya got that trust goin’, then your brain falls in-line behind your intuition and things go by their own natural processes and sequences; if intuition leads, then things just work-out naturally. The halcyon’s joy came primarily from my spirit’s willingness to follow this mandate, obey this injunction, do what intuition said. In other words, during the halcyon, I was happy because I was learning to follow my gut. You’re really gotta understand that I grow just as weary of my intellectual self as anybody else does, not because I somehow loathe being smart, but because somehow being smart frequently gets in the way of being wise. I know that everybody knows that, but we all also understand the difference between knowing and experiencing. I want to vote for experience; knowledge sometimes carries the electoral vote anyway.

    Current Mood: pensive
    Current Music: chill jazz
    Wednesday, January 12th, 2005
    1:05 am
    Gillmore Girls and BookBuilders--no connection
    My head is spinning. The voices in my head all sound like "Gilmore Girls," except that I cannot sustain the insight, humor, and relevance they get; Norman Mailer neither sips ice tea in my lunchroom nor writes for my show. The stupid-wonderful show just runs-on in my head—even after I had the good sense and discipline to tear myself away from it before it even got to the good part, it still runs on my head, and I will see visions of Lauren Graham dancing in my head all night long. Lauren, if you ever read Blurties, please read and love this one, because there’s a little writer guy in California who really is just perfect for you. Given the right setting, I could not only radiate awesomeness from the inside out but also could take-on a little radiance or awesomeness from the outside-in, too. I look good in Abercrombies and Ralph Laurens; what else beside that and a great command of language does a guy really need to recommend him? See, the effect just hammers along in my brain like steel mills used to hammer night and day in Gary, Indiana; where do steel mills blast and pound and forge and alloy night and day in these days? Somewhere in China? Does that add romance or detract from it? Did you know that Radio Flyer wagons are now built in China? They were the staples of Dick and Jane; they were as American as the Cubs and hot dogs; and now they’re built in China! Are you gonna drive your American kid around in an ersatz Radio Flyer? I’m not really a jingoist: chances are you’re raising a multi-racial, multi-cultural kid, and it’s really a great thing, so an international wagon ought to complement the rest of the ensemble, but…

    Well, I don’t know yet; just "but" and some ellipsis.

    The Gillmore Girls are spilling over into the stuff I’m doing for the "BookBuilders"—hereinafter referred to as the "BookBuilders," because that’s what we do on Wednesday afternoons, and their parents actually pay good American currency for it, which is another thing that sounds like Jingoism, but it’s actually a complaint, because 100 Euro’s would be a shitload better than 100 dollars, wouldn’t it? Yes, they are BookBuilders; I invented the name, and yes it is copyrighted. Indulge me in a paranoid moment, because I need a new car, and I cannot tempt fate and theft with throwing my cleverest stuff up for grabs. Okay, maybe it’s not all that clever, but it’s the best I got, and it’s kinda catching-on. Like "Wal-Mart" is all that genius?

    Every time I go to the school, I feel like I’m walking onto the set of "Desperate Housewives." If only I had a nice tan, some great abs, and some slightly more telegenic good looks; mothers would sign-up their children for BookBuilders just so that they would have excuses to talk to me in Albertsons and meet me for coffee in spite of my declaration that I have given-up Starbucks so that I can go on paying my gym membership; in truth, I just gave-up paying for Starbucks. If an Eva Longoria look-alike wants to buy me a venti, I think it would just be rude to decline; and, of course, there is so much to discuss about little Rico and Gabriella—whom I just invented. "Your kid’s illiterate in both languages, Eva," I would think to myself as I praised the little bastard to the skies. "El niño magnifico, señora. Verdad." Good thing I’m not a regular classroom teacher. These kids are destined to be the captains of industry and all, and I’d just be a little cloud on their otherwise unblemished horizons. So little truth tolerance in public education. "Yes, Eva, little Rico probably is gay and destined to be a serial killer, but I’m just his writing teacher. If he can punctuate, it’s all good. Does he know any adjectives besides ‘fuckin’?"

    [at this point, the writer went to print all his stuff for the BookBuilders, and he got distracted by discussion with his daughter about whether or not more cleavage would increase her tips enough to make it worth the exposure and risk of degradation and objectification. Then, he got distracted by another conversation about literary theory and the difference between the way a writer reads literature and the way a reader reads literature. Yes, there is a radical difference which six years of post-baccalaureate education barely began to reveal. When these conversations finished, and they took considerably longer than the Gilmore Girls would have taken to deliver the same number of words—how do they do that without tying their tongues in knots?—the writer had pretty much lost his oomph. He set the printer to go on printing all night, and he retired to one last cigarette and the drone of CNN, his personal lullaby.]

    Current Mood: spin-headed
    Current Music: just ringing in my ears
    1:05 am
    Gillmore Girls and BookBuilders--no connection
    My head is spinning. The voices in my head all sound like "Gilmore Girls," except that I cannot sustain the insight, humor, and relevance they get; Norman Mailer neither sips ice tea in my lunchroom nor writes for my show. The stupid-wonderful show just runs-on in my head—even after I had the good sense and discipline to tear myself away from it before it even got to the good part, it still runs on my head, and I will see visions of Lauren Graham dancing in my head all night long. Lauren, if you ever read Blurties, please read and love this one, because there’s a little writer guy in California who really is just perfect for you. Given the right setting, I could not only radiate awesomeness from the inside out but also could take-on a little radiance or awesomeness from the outside-in, too. I look good in Abercrombies and Ralph Laurens; what else beside that and a great command of language does a guy really need to recommend him? See, the effect just hammers along in my brain like steel mills used to hammer night and day in Gary, Indiana; where do steel mills blast and pound and forge and alloy night and day in these days? Somewhere in China? Does that add romance or detract from it? Did you know that Radio Flyer wagons are now built in China? They were the staples of Dick and Jane; they were as American as the Cubs and hot dogs; and now they’re built in China! Are you gonna drive your American kid around in an ersatz Radio Flyer? I’m not really a jingoist: chances are you’re raising a multi-racial, multi-cultural kid, and it’s really a great thing, so an international wagon ought to complement the rest of the ensemble, but…

    Well, I don’t know yet; just "but" and some ellipsis.

    The Gillmore Girls are spilling over into the stuff I’m doing for the "BookBuilders"—hereinafter referred to as the "BookBuilders," because that’s what we do on Wednesday afternoons, and their parents actually pay good American currency for it, which is another thing that sounds like Jingoism, but it’s actually a complaint, because 100 Euro’s would be a shitload better than 100 dollars, wouldn’t it? Yes, they are BookBuilders; I invented the name, and yes it is copyrighted. Indulge me in a paranoid moment, because I need a new car, and I cannot tempt fate and theft with throwing my cleverest stuff up for grabs. Okay, maybe it’s not all that clever, but it’s the best I got, and it’s kinda catching-on. Like "Wal-Mart" is all that genius?

    Every time I go to the school, I feel like I’m walking onto the set of "Desperate Housewives." If only I had a nice tan, some great abs, and some slightly more telegenic good looks; mothers would sign-up their children for BookBuilders just so that they would have excuses to talk to me in Albertsons and meet me for coffee in spite of my declaration that I have given-up Starbucks so that I can go on paying my gym membership; in truth, I just gave-up paying for Starbucks. If an Eva Longoria look-alike wants to buy me a venti, I think it would just be rude to decline; and, of course, there is so much to discuss about little Rico and Gabriella—whom I just invented. "Your kid’s illiterate in both languages, Eva," I would think to myself as I praised the little bastard to the skies. "El niño magnifico, señora. Verdad." Good thing I’m not a regular classroom teacher. These kids are destined to be the captains of industry and all, and I’d just be a little cloud on their otherwise unblemished horizons. So little truth tolerance in public education. "Yes, Eva, little Rico probably is gay and destined to be a serial killer, but I’m just his writing teacher. If he can punctuate, it’s all good. Does he know any adjectives besides ‘fuckin’?"

    [at this point, the writer went to print all his stuff for the BookBuilders, and he got distracted by discussion with his daughter about whether or not more cleavage would increase her tips enough to make it worth the exposure and risk of degradation and objectification. Then, he got distracted by another conversation about literary theory and the difference between the way a writer reads literature and the way a reader reads literature. Yes, there is a radical difference which six years of post-baccalaureate education barely began to reveal. When these conversations finished, and they took considerably longer than the Gilmore Girls would have taken to deliver the same number of words—how do they do that without tying their tongues in knots?—the writer had pretty much lost his oomph. He set the printer to go on printing all night, and he retired to one last cigarette and the drone of CNN, his personal lullaby.]

    Current Mood: spin-headed
    Current Music: just ringing in my ears
    1:05 am
    Gillmore Girls and BookBuilders--no connection
    My head is spinning. The voices in my head all sound like "Gilmore Girls," except that I cannot sustain the insight, humor, and relevance they get; Norman Mailer neither sips ice tea in my lunchroom nor writes for my show. The stupid-wonderful show just runs-on in my head—even after I had the good sense and discipline to tear myself away from it before it even got to the good part, it still runs on my head, and I will see visions of Lauren Graham dancing in my head all night long. Lauren, if you ever read Blurties, please read and love this one, because there’s a little writer guy in California who really is just perfect for you. Given the right setting, I could not only radiate awesomeness from the inside out but also could take-on a little radiance or awesomeness from the outside-in, too. I look good in Abercrombies and Ralph Laurens; what else beside that and a great command of language does a guy really need to recommend him? See, the effect just hammers along in my brain like steel mills used to hammer night and day in Gary, Indiana; where do steel mills blast and pound and forge and alloy night and day in these days? Somewhere in China? Does that add romance or detract from it? Did you know that Radio Flyer wagons are now built in China? They were the staples of Dick and Jane; they were as American as the Cubs and hot dogs; and now they’re built in China! Are you gonna drive your American kid around in an ersatz Radio Flyer? I’m not really a jingoist: chances are you’re raising a multi-racial, multi-cultural kid, and it’s really a great thing, so an international wagon ought to complement the rest of the ensemble, but…

    Well, I don’t know yet; just "but" and some ellipsis.

    The Gillmore Girls are spilling over into the stuff I’m doing for the "BookBuilders"—hereinafter referred to as the "BookBuilders," because that’s what we do on Wednesday afternoons, and their parents actually pay good American currency for it, which is another thing that sounds like Jingoism, but it’s actually a complaint, because 100 Euro’s would be a shitload better than 100 dollars, wouldn’t it? Yes, they are BookBuilders; I invented the name, and yes it is copyrighted. Indulge me in a paranoid moment, because I need a new car, and I cannot tempt fate and theft with throwing my cleverest stuff up for grabs. Okay, maybe it’s not all that clever, but it’s the best I got, and it’s kinda catching-on. Like "Wal-Mart" is all that genius?

    Every time I go to the school, I feel like I’m walking onto the set of "Desperate Housewives." If only I had a nice tan, some great abs, and some slightly more telegenic good looks; mothers would sign-up their children for BookBuilders just so that they would have excuses to talk to me in Albertsons and meet me for coffee in spite of my declaration that I have given-up Starbucks so that I can go on paying my gym membership; in truth, I just gave-up paying for Starbucks. If an Eva Longoria look-alike wants to buy me a venti, I think it would just be rude to decline; and, of course, there is so much to discuss about little Rico and Gabriella—whom I just invented. "Your kid’s illiterate in both languages, Eva," I would think to myself as I praised the little bastard to the skies. "El niño magnifico, señora. Verdad." Good thing I’m not a regular classroom teacher. These kids are destined to be the captains of industry and all, and I’d just be a little cloud on their otherwise unblemished horizons. So little truth tolerance in public education. "Yes, Eva, little Rico probably is gay and destined to be a serial killer, but I’m just his writing teacher. If he can punctuate, it’s all good. Does he know any adjectives besides ‘fuckin’?"

    [at this point, the writer went to print all his stuff for the BookBuilders, and he got distracted by discussion with his daughter about whether or not more cleavage would increase her tips enough to make it worth the exposure and risk of degradation and objectification. Then, he got distracted by another conversation about literary theory and the difference between the way a writer reads literature and the way a reader reads literature. Yes, there is a radical difference which six years of post-baccalaureate education barely began to reveal. When these conversations finished, and they took considerably longer than the Gilmore Girls would have taken to deliver the same number of words—how do they do that without tying their tongues in knots?—the writer had pretty much lost his oomph. He set the printer to go on printing all night, and he retired to one last cigarette and the drone of CNN, his personal lullaby.]

    Current Mood: spin-headed
    Current Music: just ringing in my ears
    Monday, January 10th, 2005
    2:04 am
    halcyon's end
    The Holidays and Halcyon definitely ended today—not with some stunning climax or a beautiful denouement, not with a triumphant "new beginning" or a plaintive, blues-wailing ending, but just with a slow, steady rain and the quiet business of taking-down lights, cutting the trees so that the middle school can have the trunks, and grinding slowly back up the hill for a regular week’s work. Yes, the Spirit shone forth on Epiphany; and, yeah, I feel both that the seasons and calendars have turned pages and that Suzy’s right—I do stand on the cusp of something spectacular. It’s a long cusp, tho, Suz. I’ve got a long-long road to travel and a lotta lotta work to do before all these fine promises come to fruition and fulfillment. It ain’t like Carl Sandburg or Robert Frost or some other American sap stading at the crossroads and brooding on the promises he has to keep; it’s just me standing at the four corners of Lyons Valley Road and Skyline Truck Trail, knowing I’m gonna keep running up and down these hills for quite a few days and nights before I finally can close the pasture gate and retreat to my next house at the beach. Still, I have faith that, when the cusp’s run its course and I’ve done the work, the beach house will be there, and the girls and I will fill it quite satisfactorily.

    It’s okay.

    I’d be lyin’ if I said I don’t get impatient. My blogs probably show that I get cranky and frustrated, I get fearful and I fill-up with loathing, and I fade in and out of my better self. Still, I gotta believe that my blogs also show my determined streak. I keep bloggin’ and sloggin’ away, and stuff gets done. And, yeah, just for the record and mostly for the sake of my own integrity, it does matter not only that stuff gets done but how it gets done. If it ain’t excellent, it ain’t finished. I couldn’t violate that principle if I tried—seven generations of Chicago pedigree have prgrammed it into my genes and jeans.

    The work yields the satisfaction; the journey yields the joy. It really is okay.

    I really am one of those characters who values the journey more than the destination; the roadside attractions typically beguile more than the magic kingdoms, and I frequently prefer singing oldies in the SUV to enduring "It’s A Small World" when we get there. Dorothy Parker wasn’t speaking just about Oakland when she claimed, "There’s no ‘there’ there." Most of Orange County and Los Angeles qualify for that description, too; the trip from here to Phoenix only becomes fun when you the long speedway between Casa Grande and Buckeye; the trip from here to Big Bear is only fun when you hit Highway 18. There’s way too much "not there yet" and not nearly enough "here we go!" Not a complaint; just a fact. And the very best always comes at the end, when a mocha and I fill the front seat, the dashboard lights osftly glowing and jazz playing faintly while the tired little campers fold-down the rear seats and dream dreams of all they didn’t quite do but will claim they did anyway. It’s not only that I don’t mind being sherpa, cabana boy, room service, concierge, fashion advisor, and personal tour guide when the girls and I go adventuring; it’s that I really thrive on knowing that I can do all that stuff for them. If only I had a partner—not to share the burdens or the work, but to share the joys and laughter, the silly inside jokes and the expressions that mean nothing beyond the confines of the car and hotel rooms. If only there were someone in classic 501’s, hair pulled-back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, flashing big, luminous eyes and a beautiful smile, both of which would signal, "Yes, honey, it really is just as wonderful as you think it is." If only…

    But I can hope that, somehow, by some miracle still in the making, I’m on the cusp of that, too.

    Meanwhile, there’s a story to finish, a novel to revise and then press to completion, a bunch of stuff to do for the fourth and fifth graders…and the softball season starts with tryouts next Saturday. Even with all the rain, I seriously doubt you’re gonna find moss on my south side.

    Thank you, new friends who seem like buddies I’ve known forever, for checking in, reading all the way through the wall of words, and quoting the stuff you like, responding with comments, encouragement, and good wishes. I think everybody knows how thrilled and honored I feel that you visit me here; I think you know, too, that I’m devoted to showing my gratitude in the quality of my work—here where you can see, and out there in the big world, where maybe some day you’ll hear about it. Holdiays are over but the year’s young, and I’m looking forward to all the adventures it’ll bring. Thank you, friends, for tagging along with me and letting me tag along with you.

    Current Mood: wistful
    Current Music: soft jazz
    Wednesday, January 5th, 2005
    12:09 pm
    getting real
    Tuesday
    About "the craftsman’s code"

    I know today is pivotal; I know I shouldn’t think about how today is pivotal. I understand how, if I lose today, I end-up losing the whole week because of all that crowds the calendar for the next few days. I feel the pressure. Tons of trivial matters crowd my mind; I know I shouldn’t pay attention to any of them: who cares that Moose needs puppy-pads when he comes back inside? Not even Moose himself really cares; he’ll piss in the usual spots whether or not there’s a pad there for him. Keats understood. Although probably only Keats himself really understood what he was talking about, he nevertheless was right: the best writing depends of "negative capability"—the ability to make nothing of yourself so that you may become the story’s instrument. I repeat this doctrine often enough that I probably can convince other people I believe it; I do believe it, too. It’s just the process that eludes everybody. How, on a rainy Tuesday morning just a couple of days before Epiphany, does a guy just let go of all the things required to sustain life, so that he can become the finely tuned instrument a compelling story will pluck, strum, make scream and wail?

    After idling myself with cleaning-up the office from Kelly’s art-binge, I realize—static-electric epiphany, not the big lightning strike epiphany that takes-down the whole power grid, but the little insight that sparks some new initiative—there is a principle at stake here. Duh. Like there wasn’t always some principle at stake.

    Yes, today is pivotal, but I was too hard on and too oblivious to my own self during the early days of The Halcyon: I was doing my best work, because I matched my natural rhythms to my work, and I produced as body and time empowered—I don’t like that word, because it gets beten to death by political activists who have no idea about power beyond money and political juice; but that’s what was happening during my first Halcyon days. The correspondence of work and personal rhythm empowered some of my greatest accomplishments ever, and when I focused purely on the work, I felt not only my father’s spirit encouraging me but also my own authenticity—I felt I knew and liked myself in the work. If I stayed up until the sun rose, and then slept until afternoon waxed over the hills, fine, because the work stood as testimony to the wisdom of my choice and action. So, why relent and acquiesce in the standard "business" day when neither I nor my business complies with the standard? Who’s keeping score or surveilling my moves with that kind of attention? If my days start at noon, who’s to say I am irresponsible? My world seems more like a cable network with twenty-four hours of "storyhole." The work is my guage and barometer: is the work getting done, and am I doing the work well in the way it deserves—in the way it commands? Remember basic psycho-analysis: we measure or infer your health, your "functionality" by your capacities for work and love, the world’s two meaningful enterprises. I’m a lot better at both when I run on my natural clock, and I have a lot more oomph behind my "meaning it" when I’m not submitting to clock-driven insurgents—even including those who insist simply "be here…now!" I’ll be here when I get here, and I’ll probably stay for a long time; I pretty much guarantee that it’ll be "quality time," too.


    Wednesday morning
    More about the code, but really more about keeping it real

    Has anybody beside me noticed that I am making myself absolutely insane with the pressure I’m putting on myself? Has anybody noticed that I’m obsessing with a whole bunch of things that hardly matter at all? Has anybody else noticed that I struggle to control a whole bunch of little things because the big things seem so far beyond my control? The tiny things with which I obsess have little or nothing to do with my real capacity for love and work; why do I bother? Why should I bother. I exhast myself with trivia, and the writing languishes, the farmwork goes to hell, and my heart atrophies. What a waste!

    I more-than-suspect it’s all a complicated, sophisticated technique for distracting myself from my loneliness and "imprisonment"—a technique probably almost as old as I am. Alphabets and baseball hats and recipes really don’t have very much to do with my development of "Pearls"; whether or not I over-season the gravy is not going to determine whether or not The New Yorker will think my story has the right appeal and sophistication for their well-educated, upscale readers. The Cal hat and the Cubs hat do not determine the "literary" values of my prose; even if I could convince myself that a hat really influences my self-esteem, self-respect, and sense of competence and capacity, I still couldn’t really stretch it to include my verb choices and turns of phrase. I should know better. I do know better. I am better, but no one would notice the "better" from my choices and behavior. Pah-fuckin’-thetic.

    Meanwhile, the loneliness festers as I continue serving what seems like a life-term for crimes I never committed; my only "crime" was a desire to help, an instinct to rescue. Now, and for the last several years, I have lived in a loveless place, filled with lots of obligations and responsibilities, and completely devoid of love, care, reciprocity, genuine consideration; completely devoid of compassion or affection.

    Here I am in this place, fully equipped with my heart that was built for tremednous love, compassion, care, and affection; here I am in this place with this whole system that’s built for sensitivity, deep intuition, profound insight, powerful expression—you know, all that stuff that we sum-up in the word "passion." And here I am in this place where nothing and no one values what I really have to offer. Every minute comes encumbered with something challenging to accomplish, something valuable to do; but no minute comes with any measure of love. No wonder I wear myself out: Where’s the re-charge? Where’s the real incentive? On the one hand, I perfectly underdtand that each task comes with its own immanent standards; on the other had, I feel that working up to the work’s standard just simply for the love of the work…well, I don’t know if it’s really possible. The craftsman’s code implies a closed system, leaving no place for the passion; but it’s actually the passion that drives the guy into the work, sustaining him, pushing him for more and better—and, yes, girls, I apologize, because "him" and "his" really does mean both men and women. Even though I absolutely believe that men and women experience these pains and passions in totally different ways, nevertheless I believe the themes and experiences are exactly the same on some funda mental level. With all due respect, gender issues are not today’s concern—everybody is supposed to know that I loathe other men and revere women; my hard-core feminism is supposed to be above suspicion and beyond reproach.

    If I make it my fault, then I imagine I can cope with it. If I really challenged the suspects to stand-up and take responsibility for all they have not done, they’d just shrug and go right along with their usual vacuuous self-absorbtion. "What? You talkin’ ta me, man? I didn’t do anything? What did I do?" And that’s the point: they didn’t do a goddam thing, but how many people are insightful enough to recognize that doing nothing is only a half-degree away from choosing wrong? If it ain’t afirmative; if it ain’t active and ethical, it ain’t shit. And if it ain’t passionate, loving, and fun, then what the hell good is it? But for these trailer-trahers, the good stuff translates to "way too fuckin’ much work"—not the possibility of joy and satisfaction, but simply "way too fuckin’ much work."

    Imagining that I am responsible for all of it brings the usual power and magnetism of any neurotic little quirk: rational, objective analysis would reveal—in about a split-second, it would reveal—that I take responsibility for about a gazillion things that have little or nthing to do with me, taking the blame or the fault or the initiative just because the losers and bastards all around me don’t have the right stuff to do it, and if I don’t do it, no one will, and the result will be despicable, shameful, reprehensible, and just plain wrong. It ranges all the way from the jelly spot and pee-puddle on the ktichen floor to the completion of the Shakespeare project and significant progress on my own novel and the Bookbuilders’ stories. These people are absolutely indifferent to failure, degradation, dishonor, and shame; they have neither personal honor nor conscience; they hav neither ambition nor their own initiative, and they will continue to suck mine dry as long as I allow it. Rational, objective analysis is gonna reveal really damn quickly that I collude in my own oppression; it’s a little game we play for the sake of surviving another day—laying the foundation for each day on the same miserable plan and frame as the day that came before. I think they’re gonna catch the contagion of my talent and initiative and honor; instead, I catch the viral nastiness of their indifference. I should know better. I do know better. I am better, but what do I do about it? Pah-fuckin’-thetic.

    I’m the one who talks all about being blessed with the opportunity of "the great do-over"; it ain’t no lie. BUT I haven’t… Well, I haven’t summoned the courage to read the writing on the wall. I haven’t grown the juevos to take action. I have reverted to my oldest and favorite habit, numbing myself to the pain instead of experiencing it completely and letting it goad me into doing something about it. I haven’t seen that exploitation of all my good qualities proves I really have them. Setting them in service of others just begins to suggest what I could accomplish if I set my good qualities in service of myself and my art. I haven’t risked the change of heart that would trigger the change of mind that together would make the change of life.

    It’s gotta happen. It’s gotta happen now.
    Monday, January 3rd, 2005
    1:48 pm
    interrupted right at the good part
    Okay, so a couple of things all at once: Yesterday was a little intense and a little insane and definitely over-amped, but it got the story started and it got me over the first threshhold of writing again. The story has begun to take the shape I designed for it, and it has begun to develop a consistent voice and tone—"consistent" meaning both unequivocal, like one woman can tell the whole story in her own way, interrupting herself as circumstances warrant but never really breaking from the flow and never really changing voices or views or even slipping into something omniscient that she never in a million years could begin to see, imagine or understand…you know, the adherence to the old-fashioned "unities". One person tels the whole story from one pretty consistent point of view, and the point of view dictates what she can and cannot see and intuit and understand. Despite all the craziness, that feature began to develop in there. I’ve already established the characters and the bascis of their conflicts, and I;ve already set the stage for the tragedy with which everybody has to deal; I’ve laid the groundwork for the hero to prevail over tragic circumstances. Gotta give myself a little credit, because I managed to do all that in spite of being out of my mind and bascially scared shitless of both failure and success.

    Of course, the only way to manage or cope with either of those fears is just to let them go. The whole idea is to get so immersed in the work itseld that its consequencea just don’t matter; that’s why, after all, I have an agent. Let her worry about the success and its complications. So much for cynicism. The other thing is letting go of all concern about whether or not I "desreve" to be a writer. "For God’s sake," the double meaning of which is not wasted on me, I just am a writer. Why is no surpirsied that I majored in English or became a teacher? Shit, I always and always have been "the" writer.

    (Damn those boardshorts and towel are gonna be cold as I wriggle into them today! I really gotta remember that I do know how to operate the dryer—all its cyles and settings. And I really gotta remember that swimming ain’t so much less than baseball—ya still gotta care for the gear. Time to add both weights and skips to the workout routine; also time to take Moose for walks at sunset. All of us—meaning Moose and me and Mother Nature—we need that quality time for one another and for ourselves.)

    But, yes, it bothers me that yesterday was so crazy. I struggled with and managed almost all the usual compulsions; I struggled with all my pet avoidances and still managed to make some words come out; and I can see and hear and feel the difference in these words from the words I was making at the middle of July when things unravelled. I’d love to justify the five-month freeze as a little moratorium, but let’s get real: I just choked for five months. I just let everything go for five months. I just indulged the fears and avoidances for five months. If there’s growth, it’s serendpity and not from natural consequence and sure as hell jot from design. But, yestersay, all the usual traps were there, and I managed to spring them without getting caught in them…

    I ought to be a better psychologist with myself, remembering that sometimes the digressions are in fact the center of the conversation. I stopped myself from three-metering into professional specualtion, because it was gonna divert my attention from the story, but the professional speculation had its purpose and place. Yes, the "springboard" thing had its purpose, because it challenges me to lay the cornerstone of my "professional" creed. Yeah, what the hell: I think the cornerstone came pre-fabricated, but I still have to set it in place and make sure that it will hold the weight of all that gets built upon it. The cornerstone of my professional writing career comes from our old Berkeley buddy—we claim that affinity from history not from personal acquaintance, which is really too damned bad, because it coulda changed lotsa stuff. Anyway, I rest my professional career on "meaning it"; and I define "meaning it" just as Erik Eriksen does—the perfect combination of the most exquisite sublimation and liberated craftsmanship. How much is that to take on? Both as a concept and as a matter of everyday practice, how much is that to take on?

    Damn! Gotta drag my little self down to the pool, push myself into those boardshorts that are gonna frost my little go-zingees, and push myself through the pool. And why? Because I agree with John Irving that wrting requires not only courage but also stamina. Yeah, that would be enough. But it's deeper and simpler: it's just because I'm an aquatic animal. If I don't get wet and hyper-chlorinated, I'm just gonna get cranky and out-of-sorts...not pretty at all.

    more soon!
    Saturday, January 1st, 2005
    6:58 pm
    work in progress; progress in work
    "Enrique" Americanizes to "Hank," or maybe "Henry." Enrique is neither Hank nor Henry.
    Enrique…

    Girls sheepishly come into the gym, watching Enrique practice gymnastics, quietly marvelling at the muscles in his chest and arms, letting their gazes drift down his torso and wondering how the pommel horse feels in the throes of his masterful grip. Enrique appreciates the girls’ attention, but he directs his gaze at Todd, who not so sheepishly admires Enrique’s every powerful maneuvre. Do the girls imagine they will "rescue" Enrique, do they just not understand, or do they simply not care? These questions perplex Todd, but they bother Enrique not at all. Just as Americans can learn to pronounce his name, girls can learn to accept Enrique’s preferences. Enrique’s world is not automatically hostile to these things.

    Showered, hair still wet, still humid all over, Enrique huddles briefly with Todd. Safe and warm in the cockpit, rapt in one another’s company, Enrique and Todd, sit, innocently enough, in Enrique’s handsome new Corvette. They make plans for the weekend; they imagine plans well beyond Friday and Saturday night. The boys struggle not to think of questions and complications, "the ugliness" they dread or the prohibition they fear. Why must the world groan, grimace, and reject these things?

    Todd gingerly slips Enrique several much-coveted x-tabs; just as gingerly he adds several viagra. How funny: prep-schoolers trafficking in geezers’ and codgers’ drug of choice. Todd and Enrique smile at the irony. "No such thing as too much of a good thing," Todd assures. This is not Todd’s opinion; this is Todd’s doctrine. Enrique willingly, dutifully completes his novitiate under Todd’s skilled guidance. Electricity sparks in their touch, and neither boy recoils. Todd, world wise and affectedly weary of the world’s narrowness, carefully explains cautious escapes into the lands of bliss, places where fieldsful of boys roam free, exploring the wonders of their boyness. Todd navigates these adventures with grace and skill; he assures that Enrique safely may accompany him. They will "practice." Their world can be beautiful.

    With a gentle kiss, Todd slides out the passenger door; he will walk the last block to his house. Todd dreamily drives the Corvette along gentrified streets. Outside, cold November wind threatens early snow, and schoolgirls turn-up the collars of their pea coats, wrapping their mufflers across their tender faces, leaving their tender legs woefully and wonderfully exposed. Inside,… At the gentlest push of a button, the garage door lumbers open, and the Corvette rolls lazily inside, sighing one last throaty sigh as Enrique kills the ignition. Enrique savors the Corvette’s masculine baritone. Enrique savors all things masculine. Si, mas sabor. Si, mas cosmico.



    You struggle with this stuff, don’t you? It all makes you incredibly squeamish, as if understnding that men can find one another beautiful and magnetic somehow is going to make you susceptible to their habits of mind and body, and as if that might be some terrible thing. And as if, despite your own father’s explanation in his coming-out to you, you still failed to understand: Neither Todd nor Enrique chose his preference. Each is just as genuine in his preference as you are in yours. You know so much better, but it still just ties you in knots. You, Dr. BlueState Berkeley guy with degrees in human behavior and a little Smithsonian full of case files showing all the variations on this same theme—you still have to wrestle against your own "homophobia." You don’t even like saying the word—not just because you despise clinical jargon almost as much as you loathe Dr. Phil, but also because huffing-out the h-word might call down exactly the fear you dread. This just kills you, doesn’t it? You’re stweing in your own home-brewed coyote medicine. Because you know better and still your gut recoils, you know you align yourself with this story’s bad guys; the minute your gut wrenches even a little, you betray your own best self in all the ways that you, Dr. BlueState Berkeley relic, just cannot abide. Poor you. Poor-poor you. It just kills you. And it kills you that it kills you. And I could spin-out the paradox and ambivalence like reflections in infinite mirrors. You imagine I’m acting unsympathetic; the little corners of your mouth twist into little overhand knots, telling me you resent my telling you your truth. You feel like I’m playing "the wise one." Honey, it’s not that I don’t understand or empathize. Sweetheart, my heart does go out to you; it really does. But I confess I love the man who not only knows better but also compassionates.
    So, get over it, doc; you’re better than you’re acting.




    There's the writing. And then there's the writing about the writing. In the glory days of critical thinking, I think we called this stuff "metacognition"--a respectable-sounding term for distracting and defending one's paltry little self against the ravages of really writing.

    I think the word count said 355 words. Then, I made some changes and additions. Pretty paltry record for five months of identifying myself as a full-time fiction writer. They words pretty much rolled right out in spite of the fear. Realistically, this is the first hour I have devoted to serious, "professional" writing since the middle of July. How can I explain this abject, mortal fear in some way that will make sense to anybody, everybody, and especially me? How can I go face-to-face with this fear in some way that will give me power and strength to overcome it. At the heart of it, everybody’s favorite question lub-dubs: Do you fear success, or do you fear failure? The fear keeps you even from trying; it assures your failure; it assures your nothingness. You seem pretty comfortable in this fear, failure, and nothingness; your comfort makes it kinda hard to believe that you really fear failure. So, ya gotta take a long, hard look: are you afraid of success? Do you fear that this stuff actually will make it out into the world and people will begin to know you as a writer—you know, a "real" writer, a guy who gets money for playing the stories that strum his imagination? Or is it really true that you’re afraid of investing all you have in these stories and getting rejected anyway? Do you really think that an occasional rejection will make you nothing? Do you really think that some publisher can make or break you as a person? What makes you think that the possibility of a story’s rejection leads directly to the possibility of your rejection as a person? You were supposed to get over or get past shit like this when you were struggling and groping through your twenties. Sure, sure, you value your innocence and ingenuousness and all, but get fuckin’ real: you really are way too old and way too wise to think that a story’s rejection would void you—either as a writer or as a man. You cannot really fear that writing a story with homosexuality as a theme is somehow gonna brand you as less than a complete man? You really and truly cannot fear that?!
    Face the facts: you’ve been over this psychic terrain so damned many times you know it by heart; you could type this bullshit blindfolded, and laying siege to the fear serves as just a powerful defense as any of the other compulsions you can induldge. You know that. You also know that a change of mind yields a change of heart yields a change of behavior. Besides, here in a Blurty, you’re so wonderfully safe you cannot possibly risk anything—except maybe someone’s encouragement and approval. What a terrible experience that would be, huh?

    You are just dying to three-meter springboard yourself off into the land of "professsional" speculation. You’d rather mess with writers’ conundra than keep on writing your story. You know that you’ve written yourself up the point where your story has to resume, and you know you’ve established Susan’s vloice, which is not your own although you channel it awfully damned well, and it’s all making you really uncomfortable, because you actually achived that Keatsean "negative capability" for the sake of getting the story started and now you’re just so damned scared of losing yourself. Jesus, you are just so damned scared of susstaining exactly the thing that will make the story good. You’ve got yourself in exactly your hero’s situation: you know better, and your weaker side still demands attention. Weren’t you the guy who used to pontificate, "the greatest stories require the greatest courage." These were the places where you used to bolt, running to the internet or bars, searching for a woman’s reassurance. You gonna bolt now, writer guy? Maybe you can find some new refuge, some new solace. None of it will hide you or make you feel any better, but it might bring a split-second’s releif, and maybe you’re so desperate that hours’ search for seconds’ relief would somehowsoothe you. Yeah, thought so: you know better.

    At the kitchen table, Aracelli idly eats chicken enchiladas and completes spelling exercises. Aracelli traces her letters carefully, neat and round and properly spaced, because "Sister" demands precision—"precision shows respect for language and one’s readers; precision is a mark of good ettiquette and good character." Brother and sister grunt greetings at one another. The washing machine and diswasher drone. Greyed as if drawn into the family picture with pen and ink wash, the children’s mother does all things doemestic, oblivious to her son and daughter.
    Enrique retreats to his room. At the gentlest keystroke, Enrique’s computer whirrs to life; a window to.. opens at his command. Todd waits for him there. Todd and Enrique "chat."

    Current Mood: uncomfortable
    Current Music: santana, of course
    Wednesday, December 29th, 2004
    2:53 pm
    Starting the Good Red Road
    Finally! After days and days and days of doing all that I must, I finally get an opportunity to do what I choose. Wow! Feels good to exhale…and then breathe normally. Hardly know what to do with my little self. To savor this much freedom and autonomy seems so thoroughly unaccustomed, so heady and intoxicating…well, it’s just a big head-rush. Dangerous. But fun. Gotta savor it while I can, and gotta make some good use of it, too.

    While I labor like Sisyphus, I struggle to control and re-direct my overwhelming urge to vent all my scorn, hoping that it will help me surmount my fate. Remember that stuff, all you Camus fans, all you relics from the late sixties? With everything finished, though, the compulsion to vent the rage and scorn just kinda dissipates, vaporates into the rainy day air. You’d think I really was serving some kind of weird life-sentence, or I was volunteering for some weird pennance, expiating a bunch of sins I never committed; or you’d have to imagine that I have this inescapable martyr complex. But it ain’t nothin’ so dramatic or neurotic or even all that interesting. It’s just all the stuff that goes with sustaining this life in the country. Well, sorta, that’s all it is; not quite that simple, I suppose; but this is neither the time nor the place for all that nonsense. This is the place for "the initiative." This is the place for marking my steps along "The Good Red Road." Sounds like one of the other interstates through Oz, doesn’t it? If Dorothy hadn’t walked the yellow bricks, she mighta taken the good red road. Maybe there’s more to the comparison than first meets the eye: after all, they both leads to fulfillment of wishes and desires, and they probably both lead to completion of the toujours deja—the stuff we always already had it well within our power to complete. Don’t surrender, Dorothy! You keep goin’, girl; and so will I. But just so that everybody understands what little by-way this is that I travel, lemme clarify: "The Good Red Road" is The People’s designation for the path to health and well-being, fulfilment of one’s promise and one’s destiny. It’s the path we walk once we have seen our future in our visions and totems; it’s the path we follow after we have heard the vocation and assented—yes, I will honor the call. Pretty slippery footing and pretty rugged terrain, but generally a nice place. Way better than the "slough of despond" or some dark road toward perdition. I would know. I did the National Geographic explorations of those places, too. No five-star resorts at those destinations; just lotsa "last resorts." Okay, yeah, that was weak, but ya can’t blame a guy for tryin’.

    "My back to the wall, a victim of laughing chance," pressed to confess—"Tell us this Truth or spend the summer in Falujah, yankee pig,"—I’d have to say that I landed with both feet on the Good Red Road on Tuesday, December 14. Not that anyone really needs that kind of precision; it’s not like we’re documenting the evolution of democracy in a once-oppressed nation or tracking half the third world’s recovery from a Christmas apocalypse—all that stuff goes on in the background of my travels along this road. Still, I happen to remember, because I felt the pressure of getting things done for the last session of the BookBuilders’ Give-A-Book Workshops. After days of languishing, sick as a dog, I finally felt half-way like a human being again, and I dragged my sorry little self up out of bed and got busy with "explosion books" and other holiday delights for the fourth and fifth graders. The deadline added some octane to the oomph I felt. I got a little momentum going, and it stuck. I actually got a streak going. Yeah, I was afraid the streak had broken when the oomph fizzled on Christmas night; but some good rest has me right back in the game. I’m still more than a little amazed at the way "Argyle" turned out: I really am learning to illustrate, and I really am learning to bind the books with skill and craft. And, yes, I totally mean it when I acknowledge the presence of my father’s ever-gentle spirit, guiding the pencil and tracing the finer lines when I could not do it myself. Yes, Dad, I feel you close in these special moments at the drawing board; and, yes, Dad, much of your gift lives-on in me—not with the same power, not to the same magnitude, but enough that I must acknowledge and honor it. And, yes, Father and father, I understand how all of this stuff must count as preparation for something bigger and better—still undiscovered, still inchoate, buit waiting out there around one of the treacherous corners on this Good Red Road, at some mighty panorama greater than and far too big for my imagination.

    Damn! That sure is the long way of saying that I’m a rookie on The Good Red Road. It’s all kinda new and overwhelming, and I feel like an ingenue, an innocent abroad on this big highway, traveling in unaccustomed company—all of it totally wonderful, you understand, but totally unaccustomed. I gotta stop from time to time, check the compass and the tire pressure, and basically just keep myself oriented. Keep your hands securely at 10 and 2. Cruise control won’t work here. It’s better that way.

    Among The People, they say that newcomers along the Good Red Road must have A Creed to guide them. The journey tests and elaborates the creed, but traveling creedless is kinda like hitting the interstate without a spare tire and good wiper blades. I’ve gone this far with an intuitive kinda creed, a gut feeling about what I believe; but it’s time to spell-out the basics. So, spirit and heart, please speak to me, and help me put the words to the convictions.

    oI do believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. And I do believe in the Holy Spirit, the Father’s manifestation in all people. Yeah, of course, the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets—and also through the idiot savants, and also through the poets and some of the makers of literature, and maybe even through some car salesmen and crooks. The Holy Spirit has expressed Himself (or more likely Herself) through the chefs and the bakers and the florists and the teachers and the nurses. I doubt the Holy Spirit ever has issued from a priest’s or minister’s lips. I do not believe in Religion. I seriously doubt you’ll ever catch me in church again—unless it’s to admire the glass, the light, the woodworking, the devotional art, the expressions of the Holy Spirit in media other than words.

    oI absolutely believe in Love—all 57 varieties. Allie and Megan have taught me tons about the love between fathers and daughters, and they have shown me the value of my own intuition: I will stand by them, protecting and encouraging them in their enterprises without ever presuming to dictate their choices, courses, or causes. What wonderful women they are becoming! And, in those rare moments when I see my character reflected in theirs, what joy and wonder they bring! I love and admire my sister more than words can capture: what amazing gifts she has, and what great stuff she does out there in the world! I wish she had more time for her own art, but bringing art to others counts a lot, too. I know all about a teacher’s love for his or her students, a nurse’s love for his or her patients, an artist’s love for his or her work—you know, all those kinda beatified loves that genuinely make life worth living. I have a pretty strong intuition about what the love between a man and a woman might become… Some day. Some day.

    oObviously, I believe in hard work. Yeah, the Midwestern kid in me believes in hard work for its own sake; but I cannot really settle just for that. I believe in hard work for the sake of learning and growing. Actually, in this great scheme of beliefs, I’ve gotta subordinate the hard work to the learning and growing. Mine is a young soul, probably taking its first trip around this big universe, and therefore the learning and growing matter really a lot a lot. Although I come close to perfectionism, I also value mistakes—opportunities to find better ways; and I do understand, from experience, how crises present us with opportunities for discovering new, better, and stronger. Crises do combine the best of challenge and opportunity…if we are strong to face them, and disciplined to manage them.

    oOkay, here’s the tough one, because it’s more about me than I really like to own: I have faith that My Great Father has blessed me with a couple of exceptional gifts. He has empowered me with command of language and an irresistable urge to make words appear where there was nothinbg but blank space before. In other words, He made me a writer. He also made me a good dad, a strong swimmer, and an okay cartoonist. Sometimes, the gifts mix together, empowering me to do good stuff with children, and I feel almost as called to work with kids as I feel called to my own writing; I understand how the two things complement and temper one another. Although I cannot explain the balance or complement, I do acknowledge that there isn’t one without the other, and there’s nothing without physical strength and spiritual something-or-other to sustain them.

    Four basic precepts. That’s enough for a personal compass—at least, for now. Father and Spirit. Love. Growth and Learning. And humble, wise use of the gifts with which I’ve been blessed. Yeah, I can see organizing a life around those four poles. I also can look forward to discovering more about me and my purpose as I travel further down the road. For now, though, this is enough for me to manifest in the business of every day luife…tow which I now gotta return.

    Thanks for reading.
    8:56 am
    It Continues Til Twelfth Night!
    I have a lot more respect and admiration for Santa and Nana now that I have done the full-Christmas marathon and paid the price for it. Ho-ho-fuckin'-ho! Who knew really how much work it is to get everybody in the universe gifted, fed, and happy all in about thirty-six hours? I guess I could bitch that I have no elves, but with immigration laws as discriminatory as they are, I imagine only elves seeking political asylum could come to work for me legally...and there's so much INS action in the neighborhood, twelve miles from the border and all. Of course, Nana had one huge advantage as she labored long and hard to make our Christmases wonderful beyond words: love inspired and guided every move; she manifest that love and care in everything she touched, every dish she prepared, every gift she wrapped. God, how I wish I had that advantage! Yes, for Megan and Allie, I felt more than the usual measure of love as I prepared their gifts and did things for them;with all that has happened this year--the close scrapes with death and the joyful opportunities for rebirth--they have enjoyed special chances to value, and to teach, their dad. We know how lucky we are that we're all still here. If only all of it could be that way! If only...

    I'd like to promise that next year we'll all be together in a good place where we know we belong. I don't think it's fair to make a promise like that, though. I have no idea whether or not I could honor the promise--too many things too far beyond my control, and too much reluctance about trying to control circumstances and events when I know that The Great Auithor writes the script as He sees fit...not my job. I'm good with throwing a little prayer, though: "Father, whaddaya say? Do You think that, maybe, next year, the girls and I could all spend Christmas together in some place where we know we all belong?" Meantime, there is a promise for me to make and keep: I will do everything in my power to make certain that the girls see they've got the dad they deserve--the teacher and writer he always promised he would become, the artist and athlete he knew he always could become. I do promise at least that much. At least that much.


    I made a friend today! Dulcinea, I am sooo honored that you read and liked my Blurty! I read some of yours, and I love the way you think and express yourself. I cherish this new friendship a little bit more than you can imagine, and I hope you'll keep checkin' on this writer's progress into full-fledged manhood. You've givben me reason to hope that this Blurty really can change my life for the better, not just because it gives me a reason to seek and dwell in perfect snactuary, but also because it brings me in-touch with wonderful people like you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You gave one of the greatest gifts I got this season!

    I guess that, pretty soon, I'm gonna hafta get more sophisticated with my formatting, finding ways to integrate my artwork into this thing, and generally making in more of a "window into the writer's mind." Some student of Emerson reflected once that Emerson's writing represented "a sterling example of a fine mind at work." Of course, I agree. And I think that gives me another reason for devoting myself a little more faithfully to this Blurty: If it really could provide a workshop or jobsite for development of that fine mind, and if it really could show how a fine mind works, I'd feel that I really had accomplished something more than making my fingers dance the qwertyuiop across the board. The scholar missed the crucial point, though: All that Emerson-gift didn't really originate in the mind. Unh-unh. Sorry. I spent way too many years with way too many gifted kids to persist in that mistake. Giftedness without character's alloy ain't worth...well, you fill-in the ellipsis with your favorite pile of disgusting stuff. In order to deliver a moving picture of a fine mind at work, the writer really has to show the process by which the mind gives shape and texture to the heart's urgings. That's why sitting alone in the silence takes a man only so far in his understading of himself and his place in the world. Sure, perfect self-command and self-control seem wonderful, but they have value only if they turn outward and affect others in good ways. Even if "Silence is the cornerstone of character," it's still the character that matters.

    {another update in just a little while...}

    Current Mood: hopeful
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