Wednesday, June 25, 2008

About writing vs. living

Writing well takes time, whether you're writing a blog or a news story or a novel or a grocery list. Because even a grocery list can be done well--spelled correctly, organized logically, formatted neatly.
My grocery lists, lately, and sadly, have been something short of great literature.
And my blog posts have been nothing short of, well, empty, which in my mind is better than being poorly written.
As an enthusiastic reader and hackneyed-writer, I love good writing, more than love, I just adore it. I want to jump inside good writing and just wallow around in it. I want to read it and reread it and enjoy it and admire it and be jealous of it and be smarter and better and fuller and different because of it.
When you're a reader who attempts to be a writer, too, you start to expect more out of your own writing. A depth of thought. A polished presentation. An intriguing beginning, a logical middle, a memorable ending. Dead-on description. Good grammar. Always keeping your reader in mind, with a lust to read more.
At least in the print days, when writing seemed ... harder.
Blogs, it seems to me, are the crack candy of writing--so easy to open, so easy to snort out words, so easy to fool yourself you're doing a good thing for yourself, or for "your writing," and even, heaven knows, for "your readers," all eight, God bless you, every one. Blogs let you pretend you're a better writer than you are, or a more serious writer, or a funnier one, or even, a more popular one.
And makes me wonder: is blogging just digital journalling? Public journalling, maybe? Or is it practice writing--practice for some writing more ... substantial? Or is it, indeed, an art form of and by itself?
I'm writing about writing because I've been kind of busy living, and consequently not writing about ... living.
And the reason I feel kind of guilty about it is, I was taught by writing teachers with this as their mantra:
Well crap! Before blogs, I went years not writing every day--my journals and sparse free lance work are inked/printed witnesses to that. But something about the accessibility of, or maybe public nature of, a blog makes me feel I owe it something more than what I gave my notebook-journal.
So that brings me here:
When I don't write (nearly) every day, on any of my blogs, I feel ... guilty. I feel guilty for not partaking of the crack candy of blogging--or for not having the discipline I should.
Maybe if I had some big excuse like "My dog died," or "I had a heart transplant," or "My house floated away in the flood that happened after the tornado, directly after the earthquake" I'd feel better.
Instead, it's "We went to a ballgame," and "We went to the lake," and also "I cleaned my entire house because it was so gross I almost died of untidiness."
Because I'm a grownup, I know that's okay. I'm not going to be wearing the cincture because I neglected writing for awhile.
But because I find myself not only lusting for reading, but also wanting to create good reading myself, I want to lose myself in writing the same way I lose myself in reading ... ah, is it guilt, then, or desire? I'm a little too tired to decide. But could anyone ask for better motivation to write? Guilt and desire?
Maybe I should start a new blog....

Friday, June 20, 2008

About the infinite now of June

June, slow down--I want to freeze you, June, I want to play Superman and you be Lois Lane, and I will fly around the earth and turn back time and turn back and turn back and have you never end.

July is the month of the year I love the most, the month of full-blown summer, yet it's June I want to last forever, for June holds all the promise of July, all the anticipation of fireworks and vacation and boat rides and long days, without the feeling that the end of summer lies around the corner in August with its start of school.

There's a day I always wait for in June--the perfect day. There's always one, in the first half of the month, that I want to preserve for infinity in my head--a day that's warm, but not hot; breezy but not windy; long but not langorous. The trees are finally, fully leafed; flowers have been planted, and are blooming, the threat of frost now long gone; the lilacs are faded, but the peonies are fragrant and full. Tulips trees and dogwoods have passed their prime, but the tall catalapas are full of blooms. That's the perfect June day.

Oh I'm not original in my fondness for June, am I? James Russell Lowell said it more famously in "The Vision of Sir Launfal":

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there ’s never a leaf or a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest....

When I was a kid, June meant the last day of school, a couple fun weeks of Bible School at Fitchville United Methodist (snacks, lots of crafts, games outside), the first trips to the lake for swimming and fishing and picnics, and looking ahead to my dad's two-week July vacation, which was filled with Cedar Point and Toledo Zoo and Lake Erie islands and whatever new expedition he cooked up.

So stop, June! Linger a minute, slow down, let me feel your sun and your warmth and your potential for adventure for a little longer. Stay around as long as January seems to, whose days drag by deep in snow and frigidity. Come on, June, stay awhile. No June no don't go.

Come and linger in the infinite now of June.

Monday, June 16, 2008

About a comatose kind of Monday and the Little River Band

Maybe I should be hugging Mondays as a fresh week, fresh start, new day, whatever, but man I'm not feeling that love. I wake up feeling a little catatonic and can't do much better than to morph into comatose, then to functioning.

So plug away at the things I need to do, from getting up to getting dressed to going to work to being at work and actually working.

And I turn the mp3 up and luckily the song comes on that it just what I need to hear today. Maybe it's what you need, too:


Little River Band: Cool Change

If there's one thing in my life that's missing
It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
There's lots of those friendly people
Showin me ways to go
And I never want to lose your inspiration
Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life
is so pre-arranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Well I was born in the sign of water
And it's there that I feel my best
The albatross and the whales
they are my brothers
It's kind of a special feeling
When you're out on the sea alone
Starin' at the full moon
like a lover
Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life
is so prearranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Well I've never been romantic
And sometimes I don't care
I know it may sound selfish
But let me breathe the air
If there's one thing in my life that's missing
It's the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
It's kind of a special feeling
When you're out on the sea alone
Staring at the full moon like a lover
Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life is so prearranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change

Thursday, June 12, 2008

About the answer to my addiction

I love her too much.
I love her white skin, her bright eye, her soft touch. I love her friendliness, her accessibility, her vast knowledge that has seldom let me down. I love her creativity and her possibilities, and I love the way she'll go anywhere with me. I love her flexibility and her adaptability.
What a good friend she was to me all winter. Those long, slow winter nights, when the evening hours hung heavy on my hands, how quick she was to offer me comfort.
And this seeming spring, when cool days ended with rainy nights and we felt as if winter might never end, how welcoming she's been, always ready to entertain me with something new.
How well she fits on my lap, resting easy, responsive to my touch. I can't keep away from her.
Yet I try, for I know I should. I should just say no to her, I should find something new, I should take control of those many hours spent with her.
Despite my best efforts these last months to turn away, I have not.
That is, until June.
Hello, June. Hello sunshine, hello sunny days and warm nights, hello walks and ballgames and concerts in the evening. Hello gardening and yardwork, hello lake visits and Wizards games.
Hello, summer.

She's quieter now--not gone forever, not even put away, for I need her utility and her usefulness. But something has changed for me, and finally, it's breaking my addiction.
I've been reading a lot about how important vitamin D is to our bodies--maybe that's what did it, as I'm outside more. Or maybe the exercise I've been getting--I hear that's helpful, too. Or maybe rocking on the porch--maybe that relaxed me.
Whatever: I'm finaly recovering from my insatiable need for her every night.
Sorry, Sony laptop! I know you're lonely. But don't worry--if summer comes, can fall be far behind?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

About one funeral too many

People, they are born, they grow up, they live, they go to Starbucks. They get sick, they get better, or not. Get old, or not. Die old, or die young.

It's a two-funeral week that I'm tryin' not to think too much about. Failing miserably at that.

A one-funeral week is one funeral too many--but it's not my funeral, so I shan't complain.

One funeral, for a friend's father, on Monday, was as familiar as a wedding, sad only in a high-school graduation kind of way, comforting for the family who will miss the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather they had loved and honored for so long--he was 89. His life was like so many of the greatest generation, launched by war, but with a strong foundation in small-town life, work, family, and church. Ill for some time, bereft of his beloved wife for a couple years, he was ready to step through the door to his next great adventure. And his family was ready to let him go, so the tears were few, the smiles genuine, and a firm knowledge that Mr. Foster's had been a "life well-lived."

Tomorrow I will attend another funeral Mass, this one for a friend who died at age 44 of Huntington's Disease. Huntington's steals your brain, it steals your speech, it steals your mobility, it steals your intellect, it steals your life. It's a genetic thief that should be jailed for infinity. Yet my friend Mark was as valiant in living with and despite his disease as any soldier in a 100-years war. Strong as a Klingon, and courageous as a samurai, a patient and kind friend, gracious and outgoing as a host, even as he lay in bed, his head and eyes the only body parts he could move, always a smile for visitors, an interest in your lame conversation (until the very end, anyway), he was gently cared for by his mother and brother, both of whom devoted their lives to his care.

He amazed his nurses for a year, outliving most hospice patients by months, attributable to the loving devotion of his family. His favorite foods, his favorite TV, the softest bedclothes, the right medications exactly administered -- all eased his journey, but none so much as as mother's touch, his brother's care.

Mark followed Mr. Foster through the door last week, and now friends from around the country gather to wish him Godspeed in his new-found freedom.

Tomorrow, I think I'll wear something cheerful, for this funeral needs no black grief, just as Mr. Foster needed it not.

Mark will be going back to Hawaii soon, the state he loved, where his remains will rest in warmth and sunshine, surf and sand, where it's summer forever.

Mr. Foster and Mark never met on this earth, that I know of. Perhaps they're acquainted now, the 89-year-old with a full life, the 44-year-old gone too soon. Maybe they're embarking on their next adventure together. Who knows what happens, though that door?