Friday, November 25, 2022

The Physical World

The soul straddles time and the infinite. The soul resides in that untoned flap of upper arm. The soul, your soul, if you believe you have one, exists with all the other souls that have ever and will ever exist. The soul is immeasurable and also changeable. Your soul lives in rain and snails and tree roots. The soul frolics as a rat under straw. The soul dozes like a lowercase l. The soul is yellow, no, red, no, it's the color of that feeling you get when you peel back several layers of wallpaper and find you are holding a handful of palimpsest. The soul, your soul, found mine in all the noise of the world, all the static and yawping, and like two magnetic tricky dogs we snapped together. Even though you don't believe in souls, I sure like yours, and how it insists on the scientific, the known, the physical. The soul is theory. The soul is hypothesis. The soul is part dendrite and mitosis and the bedroom light switch. The soul loves its body and doesn't want to leave it, but when it does please leave a window open or cut a hole in the ceiling, because the soul is not all magic (that word it digests), and is given to clumsiness. This soul isn't a professional soul. It's new in its oldness.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Not One Braided Narrative from Goody Pensmith

Yesterday I rhymed "maneuver" with "leftover" and it was as forced as a piece of sky puzzle piece jammed into the bottom left corner. I have a note on my desk that says "braided narrative," and I have all the interest in writing one that I have in the following suggestion on the same note: 

20 lines where each uses three of the words beautiful, ridiculous, beautiful

Past me, a real Goody Pensmith, wants me to write these ideas out. Current me has all the brain energy of a test pattern. It's past midnight and everyone is asleep.

There are plenty of Goody Pensmiths online, encouraging other hopeful writers, sharing prompts, asking open ended questions so they'll get engagement and follows and fans. The equivalent of carnival barkers, shouting at a public that reads less and scrolls more.

Beautiful, ridiculous, beautiful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Passing By

The greying fence that once wound around the corner of our property is gone now. Every morning I looked out at it, close range, from my writing desk. There was not much reason for it. What was it keeping out? What was it holding in? I decided we'd have more light, and I'd get a better sense of the gardens around the house without it. The wood could be repurposed into a wood shed, and possibly an outhouse. My argument was sound, and so the fence is gone and we have a wood shed. 

My morning view has improved. I see the sunrise slap the sides of trees, the frosty grass of the field across the road, and I wonder who is awake in the neighbors house when there's a light on. I also see traffic up close. Yesterday I saw a driver cut someone else off, and the victim gave the offender a solid middle finger. Not a flash, not a flicker, but a switched-on-for-good fuck you. Some drivers who stop at the corner notice me and my little green lamp. This morning there was the older man in the black pickup who shamelessly stares as he makes the turn. His head is fixed like an owl. Yes, someone lives here, and yes, she can see you passing by on your way to work.

Friday, April 01, 2022

All of a Sudden

This morning I started a sentence in my journal with "All of a sudden," and I remembered a moment when I handed my mother a story I'd written. I used the phrase a lot in my story, but I wrote it "all of the sudden." My mother corrected my usage. "It's all of a sudden, not the." I was stunned, and a little confused. What difference did it make, really? A. The. They were both articles, signifying a noun up ahead. Was sudden a noun? An adjective? I learned the phrase was an idiom, which sounded too close to idiot for me. 

All of a sudden was a favorite phrase of mine, and it still is. As someone who feels like everything in life is happening all at once, it works. All of a sudden, my pen ran out of ink. All of a sudden, the ducks were in the road. All of a sudden, my fake mustache peeled off and fell into my coffee with a fuzzy plorp.

Everything is a surprise with all of a sudden. An unexpected delight (or not).

It turns out we've been using "of a sudden" since Shakespeare first coined it in The Taming of the Shrew. "Is it possible That love should of a sodaine take hold? (antiquated spelling alert!) Sudden has been used as an adjective since the 15th century, and it was once a noun, too, meaning "that which is sudden." Today the noun form is obsolete, except in the phrase "all of a sudden."  

What a gem! 

All of a sudden, the word sudden is no longer a noun.

All of a sudden, thanks to Mom, a memory, and the internet, I know a little more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Crone Bone

I am teaching third graders, over Zoom, how to actively listen. "Make eye contact. Be generous with your attention."

Will they use this skill in their futures?

I am heartbroken today, for a variety of reasons, but the main one is I wish to have conversations, to connect with people in a meaningful way. Even this blog isn't a conversation. It's just me moving my scattered thoughts from head to hand to a public room behind many other public rooms that are discotheques of language paired with images and video. Be witty, be clever, engage with quick quizzes  -- whatever it takes to keep the viewer's (reader's?) attention for a full 30 seconds. Everyone is jumping up and down in those rooms. I feel trampled in them, bumped into, rattled. My head pounds from all the dippy filters and polls. The audio files that everyone uses for their videos homogenizes messages, plays them on repeat, while filters make faces melt into sameness, too.

I will not be a part of wherever this is headed, which is why I keep returning to this quiet space. Eventually I think I will stop writing for this empty room, too. I keep telling myself that this short attention span communication is leading to something new and exciting, that future generations will be prepared for what is needed to survive, to create. But this sort of talk just feels like the happy surface nonsense you say while your gut feels the deep rumblies of doom.

Books may be a thing of the past.

In defiance, I am reading as many books as possible and writing lengthier work no one will ever read. 

I am a chalkboard filled with words everyone just wants to clear off so they can go clap out the erasers.

I am the typewriter that no one knows how to use. 

Where do I feel the heartbreak in my body, no one asks? My jaw, my neck, the weight of my suddenly ponderous legs, my empty gut, a deep tightening in my ribcage. I hold my breath too much. 

No one cares, and self-pity is ugly, so here we are. I mean, here I am, a crone with her bones, trying to divine.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Some Sunday Images

On my way to a friend's house yesterday I saw a porcupine by the side of the road. I've never seen one "in person" before. It was armored, showing off its boundaries. They prefer the safety of forested areas, which I was driving through, but it must have lost its way and been anxious to see cars instead of understory.

While at my friend's house, I spotted a fox in her backyard, twice. She has chickens, and like me with the ducks, is on alert. The second time she went out to shout "like a wild woman," I realized the brownish blur I saw was her neighbor's dog.

So, did I see a porcupine? Or was it a discarded, upturned scrub brush? If I believe I saw a porcupine, did I see a porcupine? Such is the way of thinking for those who wear glasses. Our visions are questionable.

That same drive produced for me a number of images I enjoyed, questionable or not. The first being a sycamore, trimmed to stubbiness for the fault of growing by a powerline. The tree had put its energies into growing a branch that curled around the powerline without touching it. A brilliant and childlike defiance.

Can we talk for a moment about setting words 

v

e

r

t

i

c

a

l

l

y

?

It makes them difficult to read. Still, businesses put up their banners and flags that announce what they are selling inside with each letter stacked on top of the other. I guess it has to do with economy of space, but I wish we'd stop setting words in this way. When read from behind, which is possible with most of these banners since they are printed on thin fabric, the reader has to sort out letterforms that are backwards and up and down. Funhouse signage. In a way, my brain loves it, and rises to the challenge, but does it in ways that can be unsettling and revealing. Yesterday's sign announced a WINERY. Read from behind, and vertically, I saw MISERY. My eyes only caught the last three letters of the word, and filled in the rest of the spaces it saw with MIS.

How many words end in ERY and have three letters at the start that might announce a business? BAKERY. EATERY. Even CELERY would be a better choice than MISERY. The CELERY store.

On my way home I stopped at my daughter's apartment to drop off some Girl Scout cookies. Her apartment had that Sunday quiet about it. A pot of soup gone cold on the stove, books and art supplies on surfaces, cozy slippers cast off on the floor. Her heart wasn't Sunday quiet though. We had a conversation about boundaries, red flags, what we will allow in our lives, what we hope for the most. I told her about the porcupine I saw, or thought I saw. A vision, I see clearly now, of all those things we were going to discuss.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Good Morning

January is all about long shadows and blue light. The bodies of trees, the reflection of light on lingering snow. Lines everywhere. Angles, angles, angles, not that far from angels.

The woman in the room next to me at the dentist had a laugh like a goat calling out. She found the weather hilarious. We'll laugh at anything at the dentist, just to be liked. There's a lot of forced comedy in the dentist's chair -- one of the most vulnerable places for a human -- leaning back with your mouth wide open. The gateway to the body. Anyway, she sounded like a goat, which I found funny, not false.

I don't like wind. I want to be pals with it, but it just messes with my internal equipment. It throws me off balance, makes me eat my own hair, slaps me in the face. I try to find the positive in it the way you try to seek the kindness in a bully. "It spreads seeds," or "It has other moods, like breezes, which you like, and look how it makes the trees dance," but when it's cold and I'm lifting 50 lb. bags of feed, we're not chums. Sorry.

Which brings me to meditation. My hands are in my lap. and I am paying attention to my breath, and then the instructor's voice tells me to let all the negative thoughts go. It's like being faced with a plate full of marshmallows, and being told not to eat any. Marshmallow gorge fest. I don't even like marshmallows, so I'm not sure why I went there with that image.

GMO seeds are "brokenhearted seeds planted by a brokenhearted people." - Rowan White. 

I love the word brokenhearted, because you can turn it inside out and it still means the same thing. Heartbroken. Of course, you have to lop off the -ed ending, but you get the idea. It's like a really disappointing reversible jacket.

Is there anything better than eight puppies for a mood lift? I saw eight puppies with the mother dog yesterday and was so delighted. Everyone at that vet's office was smiling, including the dogs.

Mustard is good brushed on cauliflower if you roast it. I added some dill. That's my recipe for the day.

I wish I had deeper thoughts, but you get what you get.

When I write the word "the" I give up on it after the letter t -- the "he" looks like someone stepped on it.

A book I ordered arrived yesterday from Thriftbooks, so late I forgot I ordered it. "One Hundred Poems From The Chinese." Kenneth Rexroth's translations. I think we had this book at Paper Kite at one time, and sold it. I was never into the Chinese poets when I was younger. Their stark images and humor speak to me now as I hear doors closing behind me.

Coffee is cold. This was worth it.