Thursday, November 12, 2009

i've moved my own holiday season to the beginning of november; it's now over, with veteran's day in the rearview mirror. i saw the first christmas-decorated house a couple of days ago, but it's on my regular route, so i've already seen it three or four times, and it's beginning to make inroads into my consciousness. before veteran's day? you couldn't wait until veteran's day?

walmart has already announced plans for special hours on 'black friday' though it's already open 24 hours in most places; isn't that already special? it's almost as if, fingers on the pulse of small-town america, it just couldn't contain itself any longer; the halloween costumes are off the shelf, and those empty shelves are just crying for something which can't be turkeys or indian corn; those go bad too quick, and in fact, have been rotting since early september.

what, do i sound cynical? let's just say, now that christmas has been stretched right over the turkey-day holiday like a fitted sheet, being thankful has taken on a different tone. i used to be thankful that they held off until at least thanksgiving, but they don't do that anymore. i used to be thankful that november was by far the most beautiful month, which it is, but now i'm thankful mostly that there will be some free time in the bargain, albeit later, and almost certainly filled up with running around as most of my time has been up to now. thankful that i'm too busy to get mad about it. thankful that i got out of town once or twice this year. thankful that, if i don't post a status on facebook every day, the world will go on and do without it.

i feel pressure, as a content provider, to keep it coming, in a world that is both starved for anything interesting, and at the same time overspent, in its mindless consumerism all for the point of just what? having more consumerism. we are as bad at this as anyone; the whole country is bankrupt, but the country is made up of people like me, who are, in our own ways, also bankrupt. actually having any money would be pointless; that would focus attention on yourself, much as having too many facebook statuses would, or, running down the street naked, as college students used to do. the state of illinois is not paying its bills, and being charged, what, 70 million for being late, or something like that; the union is raising its voice as there has been no agreement with the university, but who cares about voice in this din? and, people click "apply now" to go to siuc, and get a 404; this has been going on for years. i start babbling to myself as i drive through the streets; the lights just put up on the house reflect off a dirty windshield.

some people keep their christmas lights up all year; maybe somebody will do that with the icicle ones, and give a kind of ironic light show, some midsummer night as i'm walking home. i, however, have not been producing stories, and now wonder if i should just go into production with the ones i've already got, pull what i have together, and see what kind of actual paper i can produce with it. geocities crashed its free pages on me, and actually warned me beforehand, but i didn't see it; i wasn't checking my yahoo e-mail at the time, and didn't see it coming. my ancestors were on there, and now they're out in cyberspace somewhere. i can find them; i don't consider them lost permanently; they're only lost if i forget that they were dumped, or don't have time to go chasing after them. the nerve of that geocities, dumping all that useful information. they're like atlantis, setting up a city that the world calls a "lost city" and then can invest their entire imagination in, only to find out that, well, it was all just virtual reality anyway. the rest of it is just dust in the wind, ok, but your ancestors, somebody has to keep track of that, put it on paper, maybe, and tuck it away in a bible somewhere.

i go to a "random picture generator" and, out of idle curiosity, type in my name. this results in a tour of a buddhist peace pagoda in leverett massachusetts, which quite dominates the name these days, although there is also some bird and nature photographer who does justice to the trade, and a few other random rockers, and also, a very interesting death's head gravestone of one of the early dudes, maybe the governor of the colony. but it's mostly the pagoda; peace is just a click away, and i'm thankful now, that my pictures aren't all over flickr, or wherever this generator is pulling them from. more and more, i want to change my route, find different back-roads, and, if i photograph anything, hide it on some disk that i will also lose like so many of the others. i've also been not-producing on the photography front; i just can't bring myself to grab the camera on my way out the door. it's a beautiful time of year, the most beautiful, really, without a doubt. piles of leaves everywhere, and my newest book is called, pile of leaves, and will probably have a big old pile, with its brown and yellow and black textures all over the cover. so what's holding me up? don't know. you have to go where the spirit leads you, sometimes, and if it's leading me to leave the camera on the ledge, then that's where it will stay, for the moment.

the small town, in its relentless anticipation of all major holidays, is probably wiping the dust off its valentines posters already. as for me, i'm preparing my defenses. here's my policy: i'll start seeing decorations all over town, already. i'll see them, whether they are there or not; that way, when they show up, i not only won't be surprised, i'll simply move over the ones i'd already had, in my mind, so as to make an entire city of light, every decoration not only noted, but also expanded, doing double duty, up all year 'round, whether its owner intended it or not. the squirrels will have to walk gingerly across the street, trying not to step on shattered ornaments that have been carelessly tossed aside or dropped when people were trying to decorate entire trees. all streets will be bathed in light, bring it on, baby; it's the season, and the traffic will bear it. sure, everyone's shopping on credit, but that's always been true; it's not anything new, that fewer and fewer people actually work for it anymore. one year, i think it was three or four years ago, but it could have been fourteen years ago for all i know, it actually snowed on christmas, and that was a sight- white snow gently landed on all the yards, making things ghostly white and being clean, white, peaceful, and actually cold, for days on end. seems to me i went shopping that year too, in spite of it, when what i should have done, is take a long walk out to the country, out to the dog improvement, out by the civil war graveyard, a place they might not let you go anymore, except how would they even know, it's so wild and peaceful out there. i kind of need a break, and i'm thinking, once a year isn't quite enough, especially when it falls, as it does, at this time when everyone is crowding the roads around the mall. i'll get in the spirit, i promise. i'll put 'thankful' posts on facebook; i'll buy & cook a turkey; i'll make a calendar, if i can get it together. i'll keep you posted. i'm on the side of life; i put stuff out there, and i keep it coming; this year, we're doing another christmas concert, and it's time to pull out all the old christmas songs, but this time around, pick a bunch of really good ones, ones people haven't necessarily heard for years, but still recognize instantly as part of the genre. it's got whole hymnals of them, a rich tradition, kind of not politically correct, but still, musically, unique, and that's all the more reason to really explore the different cultures, and see what one can turn up. that's what some of my role models did- it is, after all, our job as people, to take what we want of this culture, embrace it and pass it on- and take the rest, or what remains of it, and let the rains wash it down the valley. spring will come again, a new dawn, and when it does, let it find, and light up, a better place.

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