Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Psych! I'm not talking about navel-gazing this time. I mean the Peter Gabriel album from the early '80s. I haven't listened to this album in forever, and a recent discussion of late-'60s/early-'70s prog-rock bands spurred me on. (A friend wanted to borrow my copy of Dark Side of the Moon, an album I get tired of because it's so ubiquitous -- and yet it's an amazing work, and every once in a while I too want to hear it all the way through.) We also talked Hawkwind, Yes, the Dead (yes, the Dead: sloppy but still proggy), Zappa.

Anyway, lovely evening last night, tooling around the warm spring streets of B-tucky in muh truck with the winders down, listening to "San Jacinto." Man, Genesis sure did suck after PG left.

Early '70s classic Genesis lineup. From left to right: Tony Banks, Phil Collins (above), Peter Gabriel (make-up), Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Clearing the Air Like This Goddamned Monsoon, or, Now For Something Completely Different

I was out at JG's last night for supper and a viewing of the woodcock mating ritual.

Shut up. It's about nature. Jeez.

Anyway, the viewing didn't come off (heh heh). We heard the birds but did not see a one. Well, maybe one or two way up in the air near some low-flying clouds, but none came near the ground. Humph. You have to wait till the light has nearly gone, and it was a gorgeous night. Light wind, about 60-some degrees, Venus rising beneath a Cheshire moon, spring peepers coming on, deer munching stubble nearby.

I really, REALLY missed my land last night. Bird watching and communing with nature on the first day of spring -- I lived that for 10+ years. Bloomington is great and fulfilling in many ways, but it's just not the same. It's harder to find solitude. Mostly it just feels alone. This is definitely connected, I think, to my waning writing habits -- which have picked up a bit, mostly through extreme conscious effort. And that's what it's supposed to be about, right? Not scrying what the universe dictates but making sense of things and filtering that down (or allowing it to percolate up) through my own unique literary substrata.

Regardless, I haven't been out on a pitch-black rural farm night in what feels like forever. Even the house on Arlington Road was too well-lit to be confused with "the country."

This all rekindled one of many internal debates: live in the city or the country? Man, I miss having dirt under my shoes. But I am not in a position to go without commuting to work these days and I'm really down on commuting, for several reasons. Maybe if I ever go completely freelance, I can get a kick-ass Innerwebs connection and e-commute -- only appearing in civilization for provisions and socializing. At the same time, living in the country means leaving a big fat human footprint, and my need for getting into the wild is tempered of late with the knowledge that getting there, with my own creature comforts, really is kind of stupid and counter- . . . a bunch of stuff.

So one of the things I'm doing lately (or trying to) is flense my personal needs to the bone. In some ways I'm living fatter than ever: business trips, vacations, dining out regularly, rich Corinthian leather, a brandy snifter in each hand. (Okay, I made up the leather and brandy.) But my at-home needs are diminishing, and that, I think, is smart. Live simply so that others may simply live. That's what the bumper sticker reads, right? Hey, how about ditching the fucking car attached to the stupid bumper, hippie???

I was talking with a poet friend a while back about "the perfect setup": an office with a small attached apartment in town (smack in the middle of town, like on the Square in B-tizzle), and a well-appointed cabin in the woods on a dozen or so acres within, say, 20 minutes of the office. Work in town 3-4 days a week, spend the rest in my "fortress of solitude." Sounds kind of ideal, but I am still uncertain about staying in B-ton (read: Indiana). I feel sometimes like I'm too attached here. It's basically a biggish small town and sometimes my story is a little too well-known. Too much light. Too many reflective surfaces. Not enough dirt to soak up the monsoon.

I think owning my own domicile (town or country) will alleviate some of this anxiety. Having my former home yanked from under me -- and ultimately sold and clear-cut -- stung and that hasn't entirely gone away. But I have some debt I want to ditch before I acquire a mortgage and I'd rather not spend 30 years paying that off when I can do it sensibly (and realistically) in less than 3.

Oh, all right. Fine. Holding pattern.

Patience, Mr. Woodcock. The weather must be perfect, the air still, and the light fading to deep purple. Only then may you spin around in circles and maybe get some.

Happy Spring, Gentle Readers!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cat-Shaped Hole in My Heart

Mike took Suki to the vet after class today. She had had a stroke and was in bad shape. He had her put to sleep. I didn't get to kiss her, Holly, but she's at peace now.

Fallen on Hard Times

Suki is dying. She was sneezy sick this weekend, and Mike said she hasn't eaten since I think Saturday (I was in Chicago from Fri-Sun). Then she got over the sneezing, which I thought was a cold. But I think she had a stroke or something brain-related. (I thought she had had one earlier this year too.) She doesn't recognize anything and is now walking around the entire house, hugging the outside wall at all times and bumping into anything in her path. She doesn't remember where she just walked. She'll go in circles if she has to cross even the shortest open space. She walked right into and through her water bowl -- several times in a loop -- and then on to the next "obstacle." We couldn't find her for a bit last night, and then I located her behind the kitchen trash can, where she had gotten stuck and couldn't back out. She's listless, head down, tail down, unresponsive to all stimuli. I think she is blind and deaf now. Mike said he force-fed her Sunday. I don't think he's tried since then. He's of a mind that once an animal stops eating, it's the beginning of the end, and I tend to agree. She's 16 or so 18 and has bounced back from A LOT in life. I don't think she's going to bounce back from this. I've also watched a couple of humans go this route in my lifetime and you have to consider quality-of-life issues as well. Maybe put her down? I don't know. She doesn't seem to be suffering or in distress, but I'm not sure she could express it in her current state anyway. And yet she's going to starve to death if she's not eating. I recommended to Mike that he take her to the vet today. She's his cat, but truly she belongs to no one. Given the choice, I don't think she would choose the vet or being put down.

Last night was particularly rough. I held her for a while (mostly just to keep her from walking the circuit) until Mike got home from class, then he held her for a while, but she just didn't react. She's completely disorinented. He brushed her and cleaned her to get the water bowl bits out of her fur. She's so skinny. When I got up this morning, she was standing with her head in a corner. The house feels like a nursing home and it's creeping me out something fierce.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Small, Yappy-type Dog

The next-door neighbor has a Pomeranian. That fact should be enough to insight violence all by itself.

But my neighbor insists on letting the dog out early in the morning and letting him/her run around for a couple of hours off leash (I don't think she has one at all; I'm not even sure the dog has tags or even a collar). How early? Today it was around 5am. Sometimes it's more like 3:30. And a couple of times, I had just drifted off to sleep around 1am when that high-pitched, squeak-toy yipping started in.

The dog, once started, does not stop. Seriously, tiny lungs; lotsa barkin'. It once yipped itself hoarse on one of those sub-zero mornings. And of course, he/she gets the other dogs in the neighborhood going. (I like to imagine they're all either laughing at its ridiculous pip-bark or yowling for it to SHUT THE FUCK UP!) It also likes to parade back and forth on the sidewalk in front of my house whilst making with the barkage, and once or twice has come up on the porch and gotten into a bag of trash.

I've talked to my neighbor on a couple of occasions, once about the barking and once specifically about the trash. She just nodded and said okay and called the dog inside when I informed her of noise ordinances and leash laws. The dog was silent/kept up for a while.

Lately, it's been back. And I've seen it stop traffic by standing in the middle of the road in the middle of the day too. And I've heard it barking in the afternoon if I'm home then. Also, I'm concerned for its safety considering the much larger dogs (albeit on leashes) that are around the 'hood.

So anyway, I called animal control this morning around 6:30, left a message, and they called me back at work after they were in. They sent a truck around the 'hood, said they would give a warning to the dog's owner (or pick up the dog if they saw it running loose), and that I should call them back if there is more trouble.

I'm a dog person. I'm an animal person, a cat whisperer, a bird watcher, a squirrel feeder, and, well, an animal myself. *rowr!* Please take care of your animals, especially in the city. I didn't like dogs roaming around in the country, though there is only the Call of the Wild out there, no "animal control" other than your own bare hands. There was, literally, a pack of dogs in the neighborhood at the Unionville house and another one in Spencer, and all those dogs had homes to go to that did not treat them like pets. It's dangerous, for you, your animals, and anyone who might cross your loose pet.

Woe betide the ankles of anyone on the deep end of 8th Street, for there be a loose wee beastie about! Hopefully I vanquished that fell demon, though. Or at least animal control will give the owner an Official Warning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Shifting Perspectives

So I'm not writing much lately (blogs notwithstanding). Haven't produced anything good (yes, yes, highly subjective and totally untrue in the grand scheme of things, but bear with me) in a long time. I'm not worried about it. It's happened before -- usually two or three times a year I hit a dry patch where I just don't have the will to get anything out. Perhaps there's nothing there to get out. Am I done? I think. No, of course not. At least I don't think so. Come April I'll probably do another "poem-a-day" exercise, which will get the juices flowing again.

Still, I think I'm a little burned out, after last year's book tour and about a bajillion readings, and the dwindling audience for Matrix events, and the rise of other interests and paying gigs that are currently a bit more internally and externally rewarding.

One thing has occurred to me this morning, though, and it explains a lot.

I used to sit at the kitchen table in the mornings in my her the house in the woods west of Spencer and write about what came to me. Great free-writing brain-dump exercises. What came to me? A lot nature poetry, stuff that was definitely a product of my environment. And then eventually some good stuff, pastoral and otherwise.

Then I moved, first to the cottage at V-ron's, then to the Arlington Roadhouse, and I tried to continue my "nature zone-out free-write" practices, and that worked for a while, although the journaling and brain work I was doing then took precedence. But now I'm a city dweller. Right: like Bloomington is any kind of "city." Well, it sure ain't the secluded woods of Owen Co., nor the 2-mile fringe of Monroe Co. I'm in the thick of society now, and I still don't think I quite have my bearings yet. I have always been a writer of and from a place, but I'm definitely feeling rootless now, more than I have any other time in my life, whether it's true or not.

I don't think "going back" to rural living is going to fix anything, though. That whole trip smacks of arrested development to me now -- hiding from reality, self-aggrandizement through diminished expectations, a bellyful of dysfunction, and the continuation of cycles over which I neither had and nor would have any control. Maybe that'll change for me sometime and I'll again feel like saving the world one lowly acre at a time. I think I learned enough lessons to make it work. It also feels like someone else's dream, though, someone else's idea of happiness. Whose? What will make me happy? Where do I need to be to feel as centered as I did "on the farm"?

Freelance projects and 24/7 interwebs are tremendous distractions right now, but I also find that when I do have make time to write ... I'm not sure where to go. I need want to get back into the morning brain-dump again. That will take some of the pressure off: writing for the sake of writing is soothing to me, and it feels like practice, like swinging two bats in the on-deck circle. It's just so hard to prioritize all this stuff and give equal time to everything.

I also think that all the journaling and poetry writing I did in late 2005 through about mid-2006 was cathartic ... but also a little draining. A good poet friend commented sometime that summer that with all the readings and the book, etc., I was pretty hot shit. But he also noted that I hadn't done what a lot of writers do when they split up with a significant other: vent publicly. Is that what I need to do? Beyond the occasional snarking blog post? Jesus, I hope not. Bleah.

Now be advised: I wrote A LOT of poetry and prose alllllllllll about getting divorced, etc., ad naseam infinitum. Most of it, though, sucked and wouldn't mean anything to anyone, at least not until after I'm dead and it can be studied as part of my oeuvre. What did make it out -- and there are a few things, some even published -- I'm happy with.

And that, gentle readers, is where I sit: happy with what little does get out but inwardly concerned (mayhap too much) about the quantity, completely consumed by both paying work and diverting interests, trying desperately to make sense of it all, and finding that, truly, if I step back a little I can see the forest. I planted it a long time ago. It's kind of a nice view from here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

My Most Hoosier Post Evar!

My truck is paid off! I own that sumbitch free and clear, and it's only just now starting to rust a bit around the rocker panels. God bless 'merica!