Archive for October, 2008

Diaries, steno books and phlegm

October 30, 2008

yesterday I was at my grandma’s and I was helping her clean out closets. Grandpa died in April. We’ve been trying to get her to pack everything up and to get ready to move out but it’s like pulling teeth so wanting help cleaning out the closets was welcomed progress. one closet held a bunch of stuff that’s typical of old women. Old little baskets for fake flowers. Plastic junk, trinkets. That foam stuff you cram into flower pots. Bits of cloth. Etc.

The second closet was interesting, though. There was an old yellow pinto and a radio. Greatgrandma, grandma’s mother, owned a real yellow pinto which she bought soon after the brakes in her Chevy went out. The radio was just a radio. Then came a couple of boxes which got placed into a larger box on the floor. And then came the album after album after album. Some were photo albums. Some were scrapbooks. Big things. Old things. With the rope binding at the one end, tied into a knot in front. they go into a box. Grandma pulled the box over and started going through them. I pull more down from the attic. she starts talking about the pictures and scraps pasted in.

Grandma’s talking and I’m leafing through another album. Then I open one of the little boxes and I look inside. Grandma glances over and says,  “Oh, more diaries. I’ll have to pitch them, too.” Some months ago, a year ago maybe when Grandpa was still alive, there was some consternation over finding that Grandma had secretly burned a bunch of her mother’s diaries. These had been hidden away in the cupboard and she had forgotten about them.

Knowing this history, I grabbed them and kept them with me. When it came time to go, they left with me. Grandma glanced at them. I asked if she wanted to look through them and she said no, it was okay. I could read them. So I’ve brought them home and I read them a bit now every day.

They are nothing overly special. Just little notes on the day. Temperture. Something that happened. They only cover the last 15 years or so of her life and take up next to no space. I see my name mentioned occasionally. I wish I had the ones that hadn’t been burned so I could see other names mentioned. But these little notes on the day is really not so different from the poetry I write. I read what she writes and I see in it the familiar. The effort of noting something. Of laying down a mark.

Every once in awhile I keep a little stenopad of poems that I try to work on every day. Fill it up, move on to the next. They probably all suck but they’re really not much different from what great grandma was doing  and I wonder if it’s really different from the majority of poetry-recounting the time in some way. Trying to find that special nugget of existence.

Unfortunately, I appear to have lost a recent notebook. I can’t find it anywhere and it’s already been through so much. It was submerged into a pool and had many of its pages washed clean. It was wrinkled and crackly as I would hold it my hands and a lot of the pages no longer had lines to write along. And I feel like a part of me is just gone now. I’m happy greatgrandma didn’t have to know her daughter would burn her diaries. And I’m fairly certain I will never burn one of my own notebooks, regardless of how embarassing and/or poorly written it might be,

I’m trying to write more. But I’ve been sick lately. Hacking all of the time. I find it hard to write when I’m not feeling well. Blah.

Bending Sinister at 1230am

October 2, 2008

There are nights where I can’t sleep despite how desperately I want to. Everyone probably has these nights. Maybe something happened during the day that has keyed you up to the point where sleep is veritably impossible or maybe there are too many ugly whispers inside your head to shut out and relax.

And then there are nights, like tonight, where you just don’t care to sleep and you find yourself pouring a cup of coffee at thirty after midnight. The caffeine’s not good for you. you’re too old to not be affected by it, it’s not like you’re twenty any more and can shrug the stuff off and collapse into sleep regardless. It’s also not as if you can stay up til four or five, sleep for two hours, and be fine. You won’t be fine at all. you’ll feel like shit. You might even feel physically ill from it.

So why do I do it? Why does the old man not learn? I don’t know. But it was just one of those nights for midnight coffee. It makes me think of the episode of West Wing where they are flying back to Washington at 3 in the morning, having meetings and what not on the plane and someone asks why they couldn’t just go back in the morning. Martin Sheen replies along the line that there’s just something about meeting at 3am that allows you to speak your dreams. Then admits that it’s simply because there isa meeting in the morning that he can’t postpone or something.

While I don’t have a meeting in the morning, maybe tonight is the night to speak dreams.

I hope so. The writing is going slowly. If anyone looks they will see a massive gap between posts here. I sit down and start writing something here or anywhere and it just dies. I have stuff in my head but it just doesn’t want to budge right now, I guess. This isn’t to say that I haven’t pushed a few things across the finish line. A few short stories or prose pieces have gotten done but the larger projects have just gone to pot. I almost feel like putting them aside and working on something else entirely. Nothing like spreading yourself too thin that gives you the illusion of work and progress while actually standing still.

Even with these longer projects I have the ideas in my head, I know what I want to say but I can’t bridge the gap to knowing how to say it. It’s like we’re on opposing sides of a canyon and I keep trying to shout them across but they’re not making it. They just reveberate off the walls of the canyon below, crashing into itself and creating a garbled mess.

Everytime I sit down to work on Green, it feels like a garbled mess. I might be worrying too much about the fact of the history rather than creating a history of facts. It’s largely biographical and I think that’s hanging me up. That and I’m not trusting the narrative that I am establishing. it’s very loose and roaming. It just sort of meanders from connection to connection, time to time. It’s fun in a way but it’s also…odd. It’s almost like walking down a street and every time you bump into someone you follow them for a bit until you bump into someone else. Except after awhile I’ll just be bumping into the same people over and over again and wandering around a clustered group of interrelated stories.

Which could be really cool, if I can get it moving and pull it off. I’ve considered doing an outline. Nothing too exact but just a loose listing of points to hit and places to go. The problem is that every time I have done an outline I haven’t followed it and for a brief moment I end up filled with anxiety over not following it. I feel like I am deviating too much and that I am destined to crash but I always right the ship and keep moving and the worries prove unwarranted.

On a late night side note, I share a birthday not only with Earth Day but with Vladimir Nabokov as well. Go Vladdy Go