7-30-16 (Not for the faint-hearted)

6:00PM Played guitar last night until my fingers were sore. First time I ever played with other people. It was with a couple close friends so it was really comfortable and fun. Got us talking about music, craft, life. Our little ones played around, trying to figure each other out. I delivered guru, sage Dad advice. No, two children would not be easier. It’s not a halving but a doubling. You will be doing a hundred percent more work. Don’t kid yourself.

Woke up like 7:30AM everyone was sleeping in from the late night. I went downstairs tried to wake up. Panic and despair circled the peripheries of my reality. I want to share with you the truth. The “you” of course is myself, but also my wife, my kids, and you random person who has some way found yourself here. I want to be honest with you. Make this a worthwhile exchange, but things are so complex. You try to tell one thing it veers of into a whole history.

Today will honestly go down as one of the worst days in my life. I don’t say that flippantly, or rashly. It was. If I painted the picture for you, which I don’t think I could or would, it would ruin your day too. Still the emotions, and ideas swell, and journaling and writing are my outlets, so I sit in the lab trying to make sense of it. That doesn’t even capture it. Writing is a second self, a second skin, another me. I teetered on that edge as I showered this morning, the edge of disassociation, schizophrenia. Leave yourself behind, the dark side pushed. You aren’t you. You don’t have to care. It made my soul ripple. No, I told it, I will never take that way. I will stare into the abyss. I won’t run or look away.

I think about that a lot, how I wish I could be completely honest on the page, to really capture just how magnificent and terrifying my world is. Probably your world too. I should write, thee world. Why? And how do we endure? Why are we not all screaming at the top of our lungs, why!

Maybe I will tell the true story, one day, when I am braver. Maybe I will tell you about an old woman with shaky hands, that put the glasses on her face crooked, broken like a child, maybe about Jesus’ hands and feet, maybe about the Hittites, maybe about how only the good die young…

I won’t end it like that… I love you. Yes, you. Whoever reads these words. And those that don’t too, I love you as well. I’m sorry too, that I couldn’t be there to help you when you needed it. You know you’re pretty special, and you’ve made me proud with what you’ve done with your life. I know sometimes life can be hard. We all go through it. I just hope next time you’re going through it, you remember that I love you and you’ll make it; we are more than the sum of our parts.

7-28-16 and beyond…

7-28-16

2:35PM In the writing lab. Trying to focus in on the editing. Going to work on Kill the Television. Complicated flashback thing going on in that work. Begin the story with scene framed by a television anchor. Through the perspective of the screen. Weird entry point led me to overuse flashback, which is confusing when you read it. Keep things simple, ordered. Flash back should be brief, not place of main action, I think.

words to eliminate

-could -immediately
-had

 

3:08PM About half an hour, that’s how long I can edit, in sessions. I get way too anxious when I edit, like it’s open heart surgery or something. I start just jumping pages and paragraphs frantically fiddling around with this bit, then that. Realized I had to cut a whole chunk and also copy/cut/paste a large section to eliminate the unnecessary flashback bullshit. Process and coffee get me gritted teeth, slapping at the keyboard and mouse pad thingy. The urgency and anxiety are wholly out of place and problematic. Need to slow down. No reason editing can’t be fun. Having all these works is like being a sculpture getting truckloads of raw uncut stone. The process has just begun.

It is fun too, to see the result, see it start taking a working shape. I can feel it sometimes too, the ripple of future self, purring as it feels a reality, a possibility being created. I hope the energy and efforts lead to something worthwhile for the reader too.

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Started the day off great. Took a family trip to Ledges State Park. It was cloudy, but cool, perfect in my opinion. Probably my favorite park in my immediate area. There are thick woods, sandstone cliffs, and a picturesque stream you can walk around in. The water is moving so its super clear. My gang loved splashing around in it. Picking up rocks throwing them in. I love being out in nature like that, taking a deep breath, realizing how much is out there if you really go looking, and all you got to do is show up, claim it for your own.

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The dream of country exodus is gaining steam everyday. Realizing we need to do it, challenge ourselves, get debt free and create a sustainable life. Walk around barefoot all day. Let the kids stomp around like little Robin Hoods, bows and arrows, forts, fishing, BB guns, carrots as big as your heads, chickens, goats, rabbits. On the drive back from the park we take back country roads, stop for a couple realty signs advertising acreages. Nothing stops us but time and opportunity. We plan and plot, encourage development of the Executive Function. 3:34PM, back to the editing.

7:43PM Went upstairs to get drink of water. Found sugar cookies with purple frosting and green sprinkles in final stages of completion. Devour several. Make roasted veggies for the fish fry later. Dinner. Water the gardens. Back in the lab.

At the Ledges today people have marked the whole place up with rock graffiti. Most of it is what you would suspect, middle school declarations of pairings. It’s everywhere though. You think about the countless lives, carving into the sandstone. All that energy, potential, needing an outlet. Where does the urge to leave our mark come from? Seems primordial, this need to create, imagine, change and shape things into the way we want them.

 

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9:34AM Gang got haircuts this morning. Handsome little devils for sure! They get them from my childhood friend’s Mom. There something awesome about that, growing up and living in the same place, this sort of full spectrum relationship that develops. Mrs. M who cuts their hair was skeptical of me as child and teenager, rightfully so, but even back in the day I knew she liked me, just skeptical was all. Twenty years later she is my three boys regular barber, and they’re best buddies with her granddaughters. What sort of perspective is developed when you see people like that, from children to adults, to parents and beyond. What is like it seeing the doubling, tripling of a person?

Was going to post last night, got called away by sleepy boys who needed attention, books, pajamas, airplane rides to bed. I serenaded them with my guitar practice until they both declared I was giving them a headache. The rhythm can take you over, get inside your head, not let you think of anything else.

Going to focus on editing, that is the game plan. I have the whole day of ahead of me, mostly free to do as I will. Dinner with friends, and possible jam session scheduled at five. My editing goal is one full read through, rewrite of Kill The Television.

Spent the last hour and half examining world through ethereal portal. Things are getting very strange. I could rant about this, but it only adds to the din. So instead I will leave you with some evidence of the madness to consider, as well as an antidote. Would love to hear your reactions and speculations. Good day Artists-Warriors.

 



Snippets #65

The Name of the Wind-Patrick Rothfuss

“Well that’s what you get for not listening to a tinker on the road,” she chided, her eyes drowsy. “Clever boy like you has heard enough stories to know better….” She sat up suddenly, pointing over my shoulder. “Look!”

I turned. “What am I looking for?” I asked. The sky was still thick with clouds, so the surrounding countryside was just a sea of black.

“Just keep looking, Maybe it will….There!”

“I saw it. A flicker of blue light off in the distance.” (539)

7-27-16

11:03AM Morning spent in the writing lab, after breakfast of blueberry pancakes. Half a tankard of coffee in the belly. Sort of editing, in process lead to definition and etymology lesson of the word “imbued” which means to inspire or permeate with a feeling or quality, from the Latin “bibere” to drink, like imbibe. Isn’t it interesting? You are like a drink, something that can be taken in by other people, ingested. You can infect them with your effect. You are hops, hopefully not sour grapes. I like to drink others. What is my effect?

11:35AM Editing. Focus on eliminating filler words, like now, some, that, adverbs. Generally, wordiness is the problem. Wordiness represents the loading screens of the imagination, the human hand-prints of stroke. That’s what editing is, distilling, removing imperfections, focusing in on desired results. Effects.

1:09PM Post lunch, killer naked noodles, hunk of meatloaf, radishes and greens. Reading Ninja book, thematically consistent. Novella and short story I am working on involve ninjas. Interesting to learn that the true essence of the ninja is the spook, the agent. What does it mean I identify with that? Can you be an agent for the Good? Do the ends ever justify the means? Should we make any sort of distinction in the first place?

Listening to this lecture on the tarot, specifically Card 15 The Devil. I study tarot, but don’t really do readings/divinations. I was scared off after my first round of readings, by how accurate the cards were. Scared by either possibility, that the tarots cards were somehow magically focused and connected with the person I was doing the reading of, or I was such a good interpreter (bullshitter) that I could make it seem that way. I know it’s not me though. It’s something I’ve been imbued with by the world, by the subconscious, by all the stories. Maybe a result of the stars, my Virgoan nature. Not sure if you buy into anything like that.

 

Got the new draft of my novella Kill the Television up and running. Going to buckle in here and start the rewriting/editing process on that. Plan to sort of jump back and forth between these stories until they solidify and buff out. Goal was to have both these done by end of vacation, Aug 1. Short story, Arms in Ankeny feels like it is close, but the resistance grows in equal proportions. Tragedies of real life loom, questions of existential meaning and distinction play on a background loop in my mind. I try to focus in on work, that’s what the man in the pilgrim hat instructs us to do, right? 1:25PM

7-25-16

Took a few days to find vacation equilibrium. An existential problem of freedom. Parenthood is strange. You lose your personal identity. You forget what you did before the children. How you would spend your time. There was a restlessness the first few days. Approaching dog days of summer and all that. Our ancestral Northern roots get a little grumpy in the heat, prefer the cabin fever of a cold winter chill. There were moments of the sublime though, no doubt. Swam a bunch, drank a beer in the pool, little buddies thought that was quite the novelty, kept wanting to smell the bottle.

Went to a lake by our house yesterday morning, so Mom could run a lap around the track, about 2 miles. Me and the gang sat next to the lake eating breakfast. It was cool, shady, early morning blue. A wind pushed across the lake. We stood there four in a row, like a constellation and stared at the beauty. I watched it seep into them, color their ideas and their selves. Antidote.

Today we woke up early hit a park and then ran errands as a family. Equilibrium achieved. From a friend, got eight black berries plants and a six-pack of peppers to get in the ground tonight. A little late for the peppers, some would say, but in these odd times and weathers, summer could go to December, so why not give it a shot. That’s what life, gardening, writing, anything is about, just trying, accepting pass or fail with stoic heart, and then trying again.

Read this article, via Reddit and Bloomberg.com, headline: Will Robots Ravage the Developing world? Short answer, yep! Gist of the article was that robots will replace low level manufacturing jobs, removing the dependency on the developing world for these goods, stalling those countries modernization (humanizing?) processes. From the article:

In other words, where poorer countries could once use their cost advantage to lure manufacturers, now all cost advantages are disappearing in the robotics age. A robot costs the same to employ whether in China, the U.S. or Madagascar. That’s why Adidas is now making shoes in Germany — in a largely automated factory, closer to its customers and free from the risks, costs and complexities of a lengthy supply chain.

Stop and think about this, you’re a leader in China or India. You’ve got all these people, this huge manufacturing base, you’ve got the debt based economic systems and ideologies from the U.S and others, and now you realize the base and the debt are actually huge liabilities, and you actually need a bunch of goddamn ROBOTS? And not just robots the article explains, but you also need the costly “best of the best” of the human race, engineers, computer people and artist types and of course bureaucrats, that have a next-generation thinking ability, which are essential to utilize and wield the robot factories. But wait you might ask, or rather I ask, what about computer analytics, and programs that can predict these behaviors and trends better than those artists and bureaucrats can, so really they just need the small handful of engineers to keep the wheels on it and there you go, the seven billion or so rest of us can just go watch some paint dry, anyone seen ol’ Tom Sawyer?

I know that’s a gross over simplification. I know. I know. I’m sorry. It’s an evolutionary process. Did you know Hope, Elpis in the Greek, was the last thing to hang from the lip of Pandora’s box? That’s what Knowledge is, I think, Technology too. All just other names for Pandora’s box. We have to open that abyss. We have to dive in and play, and suffer. We have to grow.

Speaking of suffering, let’s talk about editing. It’s 2:33 PM. I’m in the writing lab. I should be editing…and I’m not. I’m okay with that, but we must either examine the existential question why can I not edit, or examine what is the failure in the editing in itself, that is leading to it being felt in my mind as a drag process.

The issue is psychological, existential. It’s embarrassing to admit. Mommy and Daddy issues, in the critical sense of not being raised with proper validation and support in my efforts, which produced a who really gives a fuck sort of mentality. It’s an insecurity issue. That if I finish my work and it’s no good, that means I’m no good. Sad face.

My personal life is like this too, where I can come on too strong, Luca Brasi style, and seem over-committed, but same time when small issues develop I can just walk away from the project. Even in employment I could always do the job, and would receive promotions and positions of leadership, but then this or that would happen and next thing I knew I was out. I play too nice and then too cut throat; I’m a narcissist; I apologize.

I feel like editing always does this to me, just sends me into right this no-man’s land of self-reflection. It’s awful just give me my paints and canvas and let me make a big fucking mess of it and walk away. Not with words, they insist. These most be ordered and patterned by the rules. Must be made whole and perfect. Except if your Gertrude Stein, or Thomas Pynchon, or someone like that, or a poet of any variety, or just some asshole on a blog…2:53PM

3:11PM Was editing that, lost in these speculations, world came in, kicked me in the face. Younger sister on the phone, death in the family. Soul crushing tragedy. Half to shut full self off to survive. Makes me feel so stupid talking about how hard editing is. The hardest day of writing, editing is a luxury. Take nothing for granted. Waste no time with affected positions. This is your life. Own it. Good luck artist friends.

Snippets #64

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee-Dee Brown

The free Kwahadis wanted no part of a civilization that advanced by exterminating useful animals. At the Comanche sun dance, a Kwahadi prophet named Isatai spoke of a war to save the buffalo. Isatai was a man of great magic; it was said that he could vomit wagonloads of ammunition from his belly, and that he had the power to stop the white men’s bullets in mid-flight. (265)

7-21-16

7:42PM In the lab, sticky neck, dirty. It was hellish outside today, a hundred plus. After dinner watered the garden. Felt like a week or so since I was out there, with all the rain, challenging weather. I love working my garden, watering, pulling weeds, checking everything out. I’d missed it.

Got lost staring into a sunflower, setting sun cooking my back. Two fluffy bumble bees gathered pollen. I felt a kinship with the sunflower, the bees, the sun, the pollen. Realized how we’re all impressions, byproducts of the sun. As I sit here and think of it, I realize something must have imprinted the sun too, to make it like it is and do what it does, classic philosophical none-sense of the chicken and the egg variety. I know it’s heat and mass and gravity like forces, but how can mass, heat and gravity makes all these beautiful things, and self aware things that can note it, see how it all relates, love it until it hurts. Atoms. Molecules. Bubbling primordial proteins. Evolution. I know all that, thank you rationalist. It doesn’t explain a thing.

Just got done reading this exceptional blog post by Lawyer/Adventurer Andreas Moser. He’s the real deal writer-traveler. He reminds me of Hemingway or someone like that. A throwback to when men were still men, and there was epic adventures to be had. A real passion for life and the story comes out in his writing. This current piece had subterranean travels, world history, religious and cultural insight and detail. Even more, he masterfully demonstrates the key role of the writer as an assimilating, comprehensive viewpoint, which includes being entertaining. It’s also so great to see quality blog posts like that. It sort of validates the whole blogging endeavor in my mind.

Domestic bliss is upon us. Britney is on vacation until August 1st. No big plans, which is amazing really. Going to plan and develop some strategy and personal goals for the next week or so tonight. Car needs an oil change, new tire. Truck’s AC went out. Everything needs compost, fertilized in garden. There’s a much needed and imagined bathroom renovation which needs accomplished. And of course the real work, the words, that terrible bastard called editing. And wife, kids, an amusement/water park, hopefully some communion with nature…I need to reflect on these things, so much happening at one time. Need to improve that executive function. What is that glimmer of neon blue, that ripples at the base of my heart chakra? Who am I? What am I here for? How do we destroy the Lord of this world?

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about. What are you thinking about?

Snippets #63

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee-Dee Brown

Captain Jack was hanged on October 3. On the night following the execution, his body was secretly disinterred, carried off to the Yreka, and embalmed. A short time later it appeared in eastern cities as a carnival attraction, admission price ten cents. (240)

7-20-16

7:22PM The dream of the country overtook us the last few days. Started compulsively hunting for properties. This compulsive need once a plan is decided on, to have it all settled is a character flaw. It leads to bad decisions, missteps. As usual, paradox abounds, it’s this same (manic) steadfastness which has lead to some of my greatest achievements, marriage, family, the slush-pile of first drafts. Too bad I can’t lock in on finishing a book…

I warned Britney as we talked about it late one night. If we decide to do this, it’s going to happen fast. You know how I am. The plan, sell nice city house for five acres and a shack in the middle of nowhere. What do you think?

Frankly, my heart is still there, but this morning, woke up with a dark cloud swirling around those parts. It wasn’t about the plan. It was a mixture of morning, routine, and domestic requirements. Now you might think that this would have provoked even more of a frenzy towards New Deal, but the opposite was true. And it wasn’t out of some woe-is-me, I can’t have it my way, but rather from that space of mature self reflection, that it was me, my mind-set which was the problem here. It’s a sobering thought. You are responsible for your state of mind. Not the place, not the agenda, not the dreams, not the failures, just you. Whatever you want to do with it you can.

I bucked up. Took my kids for a drive and a walk through the sculpture garden, before it got ridiculously hot. I say ridiculously because it was already plenty hot, and muggy. Been weird rains lately, bandit rains that sneak in the night. Ground was a lukewarm sponge. Don’t know who exactly picked the pieces for the sculpture garden. All of them are sort of morbid and weird. I like it though. A spider, a gurthy, stubby phallus, a demented thinking-man posed bunny, a White Ghost child. My favorite is a woman, stepping into a tub. The most overtly positive piece is iconic (read easily recognizable) work from Keith Haring, and he tragically died of AIDS (I highly recommend this documentary about him, The Universe of Keith Haring).

Came home, kept house. Made bean salad, brown rice and Tilapia for dinner. Stoked, picky eater Kein actually ate the fish and rice, after making Mom and Dad pick out all the diced carrots. Still a victory. So now I sit, 7:59PM in the lab, after cleaning up, dishes. Can hear family upstairs, going through night time processing, showers, pick up, sibling bickering. Been a lot of that lately between five and three year old. I could write it off as Brother stuff, but that’s the easy way out. Order of arrival in the world means a lot. First child gets total attention, second child a little less, third child a little less. Makes first the boss, second the follower, and third often left behind. Got to focus on team building, human building. That’s why the country dream gets slowed down, paused. We got to play the hand we got, not the one we think we want…

I need to finish these goddamn books. Artists friends, what are your dreams? How are you pursuing them? If not, why? Is everything okay? Would you rather have five acres and a shack or a lovely house in the city? Ever been up to your wrists in dirt? Or eaten a dirty carrot straight from the ground?

P.S. Also wanted to note. Possible source of sour mood, no new words. Tried to focus in on the editing over weekend, but led to existential abyss, wandering, malaise. I am addicted to writing new shit, what do you do with that?

7-16-16

Snippet from yesterday…

I practice stone heart during the dental session, attempting to leave my body, go to the higher plane. I have a little bit of a cold, and they use one of the latex dam things to isolate the area, so 3/4 of the way in I need to clear my throat, and the zingers are just lighting me up, can’t swallow right, feels like I’m on the verge of choking. A Law & Order type show is on the background, they’re talking about domestic terrorists. Neon blue steel heart seems to fail. I can’t get my mind to wholly forget what’s occurring, can’t let the moment pass. Then it does, it always does, and in reflection I realize it did work. It’s not to be free from the zingers that signifies you have acquired steel consciousness, it’s to feel the zingers and remain a step behind/beside the experiencer of the moment.

 

1:12PM Mom and kids on the way to meet up with friends at the park discovered this bug and its recently shed Second Skin, on the front wheel of the tricycle. They deemed it cool enough to come back in and get Dad out of the writing lab to see. I appreciated that. Excitedly I asked for Brit’s phone, snapped a few picture of the thing, laying on the concrete in my pajamas. She called it a locust, but I don’t know if that’s right or not.

 

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Second Skin
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Hello. I am greater than the sum of my parts.

 

Spent the morning, editing that recently posted chapter of Interludes, and Arms in Ankeny draft 7. Editing brings out the scattered, attention jumping vibe in the lab, but I am going with it, not fighting it, celebrating it. I like this sort of editing. Reading for a few pages, go do something else unrelated, come back rewrite/edit some more. Same thing with those heavy bag sessions, think I’m going to get a few rounds of that in today, maybe four or five instead my usual three.

I got little more than a hundred pages left on Patrick Rothfuff’s The Name of the Wind. I’m enjoying this book a lot. Reading Epic Fantasy like this makes me think how magical story-telling, writing is. The escape, time suck quality of reading. What is a Fairy-Tale? What are fairies? You should look into that.

This is when you’re story is done, when it can capture the reader’s attention and transports them to your world. I believe this phenomena applies to quality Non-Fiction as well. We should escape ourselves and the obvious external world, and enter the realm of the piece. This is what we mean by Voice. You assume the writer/narrator’s voice and thought pattern when you read. Here we think of advice that if you want to write well, you have to read well. It’s like learning to walk, you see others do it, you give it a shot yourself, you fall down, you try again.

Also sporadically reading John Man’s Ninja 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior. Introduced to term, Shugendo, which is a name for this ancient Japanese folklore. Going to investigate that some more today independently. I think it’s interesting coming off of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, that in this ancestral Japanese system that people are given names/titles with active tense in them, for example “Idumo the Brave, otherwise known as Many-Clouds-Rising” (17). I’m intrigued and endeared to this way of speaking/thinking.

I have studied the concept some, not sure exactly where, but what intrigues me is this clear difference in ancient speakers use of the active, and modern/English use of the past tense. For us, history is fixed, binary, on and off, you are this or that, forever, end of time. Versus, you are Clouds-Passing-on-a-Summer-Day, Rains-in-Autumn, He-Who-Dances-With Spirits.

It’s not about the poetry though. It’s about the mind itself, the world itself. What sort of people think like this, and what sort of people think like that. What do the differences mean, and how can we account for them?

I played a little poetry, past tense/active tense with my kid’s names. On the surface they are fixed, like my oldest Chay Robert McMulin. But with a little play and etymology, Chay Robert, reversed and explored, is King Bright Fame of the Place of the Fairy Folk. My heart has always known the active principal. That there was no real reason to buy into all these simple dichotomies, binaries, but that paradox abounds, there are limits and no limits, skin and second skins.

I’m going to go back to editing, reading, punching the bag. Hope you found some Art today, and maybe a little loving, a soft, warm body, resting against you peacefully, wind through an open window, setting sun on a worn back porch. Get your words friends. 2:07PM