Thursday, December 11, 2014

On Procrastination

Whatever you think is important isn't, in the grand scheme of things.  It matters little what you do, but you do it anyway, because it might just affect you or someone you either care about or desire something from.  Or sometimes you mean to do it, really, sincerely, but forces outside you (not you yourself, of course) prevent it from getting done.  Or you feel your mind breaking as you do it, so you do other things that are suddenly, impossibly urgent, giving you a sense of accomplishment that quickly dissipates as the thing again rises from the depths.

But the thing's really not a big deal, though, so why bother with it?  If you put a thing off long enough, you won't have to worry about it, because the thing will resolve itself in one of the following ways:
  1. The thing doesn't really need to be done, so no one notices that the thing isn't done.
  2. The thing happens to not be dependent upon you, so the thing gets done despite your inaction.
  3. The other party to the thing, the one expecting something of you, just gives up on you.
  4. You end up royally screwed, but you can always put off fixing the new thing.
  5. The earth is swallowed by a black hole, putting an end to all things.

Motivation is key.  The labor you put into a project has to be justified by the outcome.  I write, but few people read what I write, a few get upset by what I write, a few disregard what I write, most don't care what I write, so why do I bother announcing myself as a writer?  Why do I slog through perfectionism and self-doubt, blocks and headaches, just to be ignored in the end?  Superficially, there doesn't seem to be much of a reason.  I'll occasionally, very occasionally, get meaningful feedback from readers, which is greatly appreciated but not enough to keep me going.

I write for me almost all the time.  I try to write something I'd like if I revisited it months or years later.  That's the motivation behind this blog, and that's the motivation behind the fruitless attempts at writing my novel.  And here is where my writing process fails.  I know what issues I want my book to address, I know the key characters, I have in my mind a general plot outline, but my mind is too full.  I'm ready for the hard work required, but I'm frustrated by the lack of an immediate outcome.

That's the dark side of this blog.  It becomes the suddenly, impossibly urgent thing that needs to be done, while my novel is neglected.  These posts take work, and they deal with issues that are important to me, but my efforts might be better directed towards achieving my most immediate professional goal, that of producing something publishable, something that will tell a complete story, something that I'll like well enough as I read and reread it.  Oh, and something that might just make me some money, if I'm lucky.

The way to write is to write.  The way to write what you want to write is to ignore all distractions and be patient enough to hate yourself as your process emerges.  Sometimes it's best to procrastinate your procrastination.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Go To Sleep, Dammit!

My housemate has a friend visiting from Arizona for Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is over.  She's the widow of his best friend, and they've known each other since their youth.  They haven't seen each other in many years, but they've talked.  They aren't young now.  They haven't stopped talking.  I can't not hear them from my bedroom.  They're drunk and still drinking, discussing deep matters while watching Snakes on a Plane.  It starts as a loud slur on the arts, how he can use a piano to make the sound of wine bottles falling in a wastebasket, how she wants to take a painting from the wall to incorporate into her weaving.  It progresses, and her head's on his lap while they ramble about their past relationships, his sexual loyalty, her attractiveness, where their relationship goes from here, the value of their creations.  Cheap wine and vodka make nonsense sensical.  They're going to his bedroom.  I'm thankful for desperation.  Now the house is quiet.  They're lonely in there.  Can't they find somewhere else to be lonely?  Can't they be lonely apart?  I'm lonely, and I don't keep others awake with my gibberish.  Instead I share it with you, to be read at your leisure.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Because the Cheese

Because the free cheese
kept him from rotting,
because the cheese
was unbearably bland,
because the cheese
cramped his bowels,
because he had nowhere to go
but his spot in the trees
because of those who kept him 
in the corners of their eyes,
because he had no choice
but to join the line,
because he depended on the cheese,
for he could not live on bread alone,
he broke.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It's that time of the year we celebrate what we are truly thankful for, by watching football and cramming food down our gullets.  I suppose there are things that I'm thankful for.  Maybe I should take some time to think about them.

OK, I'm thinking.  Still thinking.  Thinking some more.  Thinking harder.  Tell you what, why don't I just start listing things?  Maybe it'll help the thinking process.  Maybe I just shouldn't think at all.

  1. I'm alive.
  2. I have a roof over my head.
  3. I have enough to eat.
  4. I have no major physical illnesses.
  5. I appreciate going to church again, however nerve-wracking it may be, if only because it gives me a reason to leave my house once a week.
  6. I like most of the people I've met at church.
  7. I'm starting to think I might be at least a little likable myself.
  8. I'm writing more.
  9. The writing seems to be making an impression on some people.
  10. A negative reaction is better to me than no reaction.
  11. I have a great view here.
  12. It's chilly out.
  13. I know where I stand, despite it all.
  14. I've finally figured out the true value of niceness.
  15. I can still feel compassion.
  16. I've learned a little more about human nature.
  17. I'm away from most of the people who've hurt me.
  18. My housemates can be pleasant to talk to, at least some of the time.
  19. My Aunt Bonnie lives nearby, and she seems to be rather fond of me.
  20. I can still be moved by the arts.
  21. I can still feel anything at all.
  22. I remember sometimes that there are people who love me.
  23. It could all be worse.
  24. My mom thinks I'm cool.

I think that's it.  Everything in the whole world I'm thankful for.  Either that or I'm tired of writing this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing Just to Write

This was written a few years ago.  I never published it.  I think it at least proves that some of the things I've posted recently have been around in my brain for a long time.  It is what it claims to be, unedited, free-writing nonsense.  Some things have changed.  I'm 36 now.  My hair is a little grayer.  My weight has dropped by a huge amount (61 pounds since February, probably even more since I wrote this).  I found my way out of Auburn.  I still have those needs I listed here.  I've given up on any wants for the time being.  I still have social anxiety, but the panic attacks are not currently as frequent as they were a few years ago.  I've been writing a lot for this blog over the past couple of months, so I'm at least producing something, even if I've upset people along the way.  Leonard's still in my life.  So here's me, talking to you from the past.  Don't be scared.

I don't know what to write. I've been suffering from one of my frequent bouts of writer's block. I'll just ramble on for a while until either something good comes from my brain or you get annoyed with me. I'm okay with the latter, by the way, so I'll keep rambling. I'm 33 as I'm typing this. Should I feel so old?  My joints are creaking.  I need to lose weight.  I weigh over 300 pounds.  I need to go outside, but I'm scared.  Dad keeps getting worse, but there's no help to be had.  It makes me physically sick.  I need lots of things, peace, a little money, a hug.  The list of wants could go on for pages, but the biggest wants are out of reach.  There are some people who love me, at least in some sense of the word.  That's okay, but insufficient at this time.  I've got to find something to excite me.  Writing's not doing it.  My brain's broken.  So I ramble on interminably, because it's better than nothing.  My hair is turning gray.  You can see it a little in my beard and around my temples.  It doesn't bother me too much.  I guess that because I feel old, my body's making me look old to catch up.  I'd love to get out of Auburn, but I don't see a way to make that happen.  The stress is a bit much.  There's eczema and patches of baldness on my face.  People just think that's funny.  Then there's the panic attacks, which aren't fun.  I don't tell people I've had them most of the time.  They're exhausting.  I'm not sleeping.  I'm writing at 5:00 AM, not because I'm up early, but because I haven't yet fallen asleep.  It's chilly out.  I like it chilly.  I'm listening to Leonard Cohen.  I listen to him a lot lately.  Various Positions is a great album.  Poetry set to music, like a psalm.  I write poetry, and I post it on this blog.  I don't get much of a reaction, but then I don't get much of a reaction to anything I write.  I think some of the poems are pretty good.  At least there are a few I like.  You might not like them, for whatever reason.  Do you care that I haven't been writing lately?  The day is coming, and I'm still awake.  I guess this nonsense is over.  It's been nice rambling at you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How The Light Gets In

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

-Leonard Cohen, from "Anthem"

What does perfection have that makes it desirable?  The flawless diamond is more expensive.  Symmetry defines human beauty.  The lamb must have no blemish.  It might be admirable to aim for perfection, but there's no such thing in this life, unless you have a very liberal definition of what constitutes perfection.

Beauty is not perfection, perfection is not beauty.  Do you find this painting beautiful?

Still Life With Golden Bream by Francisco Goya, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

I do.  It's a pile of dead fish.  Why should we care about them?  The water is so close.  They almost could have reached it.  Look at their eyes.  They are open wide.  They have suffered.  They are human.

Detail of same painting.
Another detail.

Look at the fish on the bottom right.  Its eye is not dead like the others.  It stares at you, maybe accusingly.  It might still be struggling for oxygen.  The artist has crudely painted pink lines on its lips, like poorly applied makeup.  It's a magical touch.  The fish has a blemish that the lamb was never allowed.  Do you feel pity?  It's just a fish, but I do.

It's a tragic scene.  Does this detract from its beauty?  Not to me.  Beauty can be found in suffering.  You don't have to find that depressing.  Beauty moves you in many ways.  Art makes you feel, sometimes against your will.  All emotions are valid.  The real tragedy is in not letting yourself feel, in losing that ability to feel.  If you're only capable of anger, hold on to that anger until you can forgive.  If you can only feel sorrow, hug that sorrow tight as you seek happiness.  Don't let yourself be dead inside.  Ring the bells that still can ring.

It's a pile of fish.  Where's the beauty in that?  In their imperfection, because we can imagine the coming unpleasant smell, because maybe we could have helped the poor things, because they're God's creations, born with flaws.  Forget your perfect offering.

Goya painted this more than two hundred years ago.  You can see the cracks of age.  Does this detract from its beauty?  Not to me.  There are cracks in everything.

Look for imperfection, not as a fault, but as an enhancer of beauty.  Look for it in yourself.  Look for it in others.  Appreciate it.  Love it.  We should aim for imperfection, because goals should be obtainable, because it's the only way to learn, because it helps us admire the flaws in others, because it's how the light gets in.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Psalm #13

Sometimes I think I'm not made to be happy.  I don't see the good in me, but it must be out there in the desert.  I'd die of thirst before I found it.  I look to the mountains, but they aren't as firm as some say.  They are broken down from years of abuse, wind and water and tectonic shift.  Why don't you tear them down quickly, so that you can build them up?  Why keep opening the wound?  Let it heal.  Where's the peace?  Where are the pieces?  You hold them.  You hold the pieces, and you love your children.  Put them together.  Build them up.  Let them feel loved.  Let not my suffering lead me to look past the suffering of others.  I'm not a good man on my own.  Help me to fake it a little.