Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grappling with the Business End of Writing; or, be patient or become a patient

It sucks. But after 10 years or so of writing, reading, and promoting pretty much non-stop (or at least not taking a vacation from it), I feel like I've got a good handle on that end of things. The problem is: so what? Another newspaper article about Matrix doesn't feel like it's doing anything for me or for the org. It's getting "our name" out there, but who cares? Who but other poets cares about the doings and comings and goings of independent, non-MFA poets? Actually strike the MFA thing; they're even more insular. MFAs who care about anything outside of their own writing programs are a rare breed. And that's as it should be. You don't build a reputation by being all-inclusive, although that's pretty much what I am/have been doing with Matrix.

I bitch a lot about not having time to write, right? That's nothing new and it's not going to change, as long as I (in addition to blogging about not having time to, uh, write...) keep involving myself in things that have nothing to do with writing: playing Irish music; announcing for the Flatliners; setting type (oh yeah, my job); being on the NATF board (and hopefully performing/producing at NATF next year); etc., etc., ad nauseam infinitum. I mean I've made my peace with all that stuff, and more. If I were ONLY writing, I think I'd be a pretty boring person and my writing probably would be boring too. I'd just be a skosh more prolific at it. Hell, I'd probably end up in an MFA program to fill the role of a Matrix in my life, and that I think would be a mistake.

Quiet. Solitude. A Clean-Slate Mind. I am lacking these things and I think it's affecting me, has been affecting me. It's subtle and I've tried to convince myself that it's mostly an environmental sea change, i.e., living in B-tizzle as opposed to 40 minutes west thereof in the middle of a state forest. I mean I was SURROUNDED by quiet and solitude, so cleaning out the old brain pan and settling down with my journal was easy. So easy it became routine.

It's not routine anymore. It's becoming "special," and I hate that. Quieting my mind so that I can focus on something long enough to pen ... anything about it ... that's tough. Lately it's been really tough, to the point where I'm having difficulty finishing poems I've started ... something else comes up ... I have to take notes or attend a meeting ... and then I lose the thread ... or re-read what I wrote and become disenchanted.

Writing, for me, is a numbers game: the more poems I write, the better my chances of writing something I'm happy with. "Good" or "bad" don't really apply to that equation, and that's somebody else's job anyway. Keep writing; something satisfactory will eventually come.

Well it does come, finally, and it always does, and will continue to ... and I am happy about that.

The Quiet Mind is elusive to me these days, though. I feel so much more in tune with myself when I can tap into QM often. Used to be daily. Nowadays? Once a week? Maybe? I am definitely fulfilled (in other ways) by all the other things I do, and I still feel like it's all connected ... all part of My Work: bookmaking skillz, spoken word performance, music, sound effects. Lately it's all been performance energy, though, which is essential and yes, I definitely get off on it. But when there's no audience ... then what? Now that Matrix is waning a bit and our smallish crowds at events have dwindled to ... who's left now anyway? Me and Joe?

It's like you paddle and paddle and paddle to get to the other side of the lake, and then you get there and ... nobody's there. There's no prize waiting for you either. It was the traveling, the getting there, that was important to observe, but I was too busy paddling to reflect on ... any of the bajillion things you take note of on still water.

Well, anyway, things are clicking pretty well in all other areas. Why this part -- taking a break from Matrix and promotion and putting on events -- why this is such a chore ... to just set it all aside and fucking write ... why? Hell, I dunno. It's like those old codgers who work forever only to retire ... and then get a job because they can't deal with not having one. I think I have been comforted by the notion that as long as I was doing something with Matrix, I was being "active." But I very rarely get published, or even submit work (I'm embarrassingly behind on my self-imposed quota for 2007), which is what this Summer Vacation from Matrix was supposed to be all about. Drink beer, write, edit, submit. Worry about organizations and readings and promotions later. You know, when you really have something promote, besides a reputation for promoting?

I also think it might help if I could write something substantial once in a while that did not involve divorce and the attendant psychic blowback connected thereto. It's all important, yes yes. Process of ejecting and healing, right sure. Catharsis. Exorcism. Get it out and leave it in the journal, uh huh sounds great.

. . . . . . . .

Jeebus, they used a FILE PHOTO for that H-T article. Have I jumped the poetry shark in the Arnold's Drive-In parking lot of the soul?

. . . . . . . .

All right, whitey, hold on there. Just get hold of your senses and chill out, all right? It'll come. It'll come.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Lifeforce Leaves Me As I Make a Fist

Some Pint-Low-on-a-Tuesday-Afternoon Ramblings:

The worst part about giving blood? Definitely the li'l stick you get in the finger so they can check your iron level. Fuckin' OW! Way worse than the actual needle. But I was told I was "juicy enough" to give today. I find that comforting.

She also punched my card (not a euphemism, fyi) a few extra times and laughed about it. It's supposed to get punched once every time I give. What can I say? I have that kind of power over phlebotomists. Soon that die-cast model of a 1932 Red Cross truck will be mine! MINE! Or maybe a nice RC sun visor....

At this rate it'll be ... a long time before I get my picture on the 10 Gallon Wall.

BP: 116/84, perfectly normal.

The Big Stick was nicely played, and she was talking to the guy in the next chair pretty much the whole time. Total pro. I was #2 or #3 through the door today. Maybe that's the trick for bruise-free donation.

Animal Precinct on the telly while I'm draining. We all agreed that we'd snap at someone or at least act snappy if they were trying to take our food, even if it was a fake hand and even if we were just being "tested" for companionability. I'm eating! I'm large! Come back later--w00f!

Also agreed that Pomeranians are pretty much worthless, just compensating for being small and annoying.

If it were possible, I think I could live on Li'l Debbie Nutty Bars and orange juice alone. (Or was that junior year of college...?)

Why do I always get the Sandwich Artist-in-training at Subway? That or Crackhead Carl. Never fails, and right when I'm all loopy ... is my sub ... supposed to look like French po-mo architecture???

Back at Typesetting Central: Pope Pius XII? Total douche hose. Politically speaking, of course. I'm just sayin'.

Lastly: Aphex Twin? I can't tell if my brain really needs it right now or not, but BRANE AM LURVE!!

That is all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Blind Leading the Stupid

EDIT: This isn't about Mars fyi.

I used to think collaboration was a Big Deal, something that was a Real Asset. Now, with few exceptions, it's become my Biggest Liability. Have I lost my ability to read people? Do I have "Fuck with Me" writ large across my ample fivehead?

Maybe I should just regress to a more reclusive mode. So often I make the mistake of assuming others are using their powers for good instead of evil. And I'm so surprised when I come to the shocking realization to the contrary! I'm such a dolt. But life really would be easier if we all wore black or white hats accordingly. Or dressed like superheroes. Or even just wore name tags:

"Hello, I Am Bent on Destroying You."

"Hello, I Come in Peace."

"Hello, I Am Become Death."

"Hello, child, lay down your cares and ease your mind in the warm glow of my soothing presence. Breathe." (This one prolly needs two tags.)

Please, World, don't grind me down into a fine paste. I like my idealism and I like working with people, despite it all. Don't take that away from me. I'm small potatoes! There are far more important things to be done with/to people far more important than li'l old me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Let's Talk About Footnotes

Dude, I'm sure your magnum opus on Russian music from antiquity to the 19th century required heavy annotation, but footnotes with letters? Note 1A? Note 34C? Upwards of 400 footnotes per chapter?

Put down the grad student and step away from the manuscript. Personally? I think if you need more than 100 notes in a chapter, you might consider adding another volume (or nine) to this 2-volume set. I'm just sayin'.

Footnotes, to me, are functional and important, but they're like hyperlinks: you're essentially leading the reader away from the text to go look at some detail. I love footnotes. I love minutia. I just think they should be used sparingly, and I really appreciate scholars who can get away with just a few or even no notes at all.

That is all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

INSTANT REVIEW: The New Bloomingfoods

Well, let me start by saying that it's nice to be able to walk a couple of blocks to a B-foods for lunch....

Okay, that said: The new place has a distinct "Wild Oats" vibe about it, and you can tell by the angled parking spaces out front filled with SUVs and Lexi -- next to the poor, poor unloved bike rack -- at whom the near-westside store is targeted. No, not necessarily the soccer mom set ... generally the older, childless (some say godless) hippie crowd. NOT, though, I would say, the somewhat surly emo types who work there. Who shall inherit the earth. And Bright Eyes. And a lot of dead iPods.

Oh I don't know. It's fine. It seems under-stocked to me, but a longtime Bloomingtonian I bumped into there said the store sold out of A LOT the first three days it was open. (Some cold cases were completely emptied by the weekend and are just now slowly being restocked.) It'll be a month or more before they figure out how to buy for their customers. It feels so very franchise-y, though. Extremely chain-y. The downtown B-foods has a real distinct character/smell. Ditto the east side. This one? Maybe it just needs breaking in but it seems far more showy and less utilitarian than the other stores -- but there's really not that much to show -- and what's a co-op without utility?

I don't think the cash registers are laid out properly either, and there aren't enough of them. If the single "express register" right next to the hot/salad bar is full you have to walk through the store to get to the other two registers ... then either walk back to sit inside or walk out and halfway around the building to get to the outdoor seating. Which is right in front of said angled parking. Not a terribly appetizing view/smell, especially when said longtime townie s c r a p e s his lovely painted beemer bumper over the curb mere feet from where I'm grazing.

On the positive side:
Hot bar!
Indoor and outdoor seating!
Not walking downtown or driving across town to get to ... Seventh Generation Toilet Paper???

Hmm, well I've not been in a positive frame of mind lately, so that's all I could come up with. I'll try again later.

And regardless, I'll definitely be lunching the shit out of B-foods ... wait, that came out wrong. I shall be eating there often. How's that?

By the by, let me learn you young uns a lesson: If you can sit still for upwards of 4-6 hours getting a half-sleeve tat, you can be civil to this Working Stiff as he's paying for his meager salad during your shift at the local air-conditioned co-op. It's true! I heard it on Oprah read about it in some old fart's blog.

Don't make me have to start handing out demerits.

Maybe I just need to stop caring.

I'm full. Of spinach!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

This may have broken my brain....

I CAN HAS T S ELIOT?

Updatitude

In roughly chronological order:

Gave a reading at a peace and enviro-activism event in Indy on Saturday. Not bad! I busted out some new stuff, which went over pretty well. Mars came with (a reading buddy is always a good thing) and we ate at a good Indian place in Broad Ripple thereafter. No more readings until October. I need a break and I need to get more new stuff penned.

Mowed my ridiculously overgrown yard Sunday.

Saw Seann Sunday night. He's done with basic training and some special training. Now he's just doing the 2 weeks plus one weekend a month or whatever it is the Guard requires. Oh, and they can also call him up at any time and ship him off to Iraq.
Honestly, beyond the obvious physical changes (MUCH better shape, shorter hair, pretty sober), the army doesn't seem to have affected Seann all that much. I think the discipline and rigid structure was probably good for him, but he saw pretty quick just how stupid a lot of it is. I'm worried about him, but supportive. There is a severe shortage of a) able-bodied troops, and b) older, more mature guys who aren't gonna just start blasting away at/abusing the first guy with a beard they see. But Surge 2007 is still in effect, so it's just a waiting game at this point.

I'm towing derby girls in the 4th of July parade tomorrow. That oughta be a hoot.

Mars and I are going to Holiday World/Splashin' Safari on Thurs. It's redneck hell, but it's also a blast. And it's a beautiful drive there. It's a truly Hoosier thing to do, so I'm glad I get an opportunity to expose her to it.

Speaking of roller derby, I'm announcing my first bout in Kalamazoo in a couple of weeks. I'll be working with the K-zoo announcer, not actually "on my own," but it's their first bout too. I'm looking forward to it.

Jogging ... is going ... eh, it's all right. I'm really not a fan of it, so I'll probably just stick to biking. Running is harder on my joints than I care for, and I'm not particularly interested in going to a gym. I want an exercise I can walk out my door and DO, rather than have to get to and do.

I'm busy as hell, as usual. But I'm actually taking a couple of days off work this week -- meaning I am NOT WORKING on Wed, Thurs, or Fri. (Towing hot chicks on skates isn't really work, is it?)

That is all.