Friday, May 25, 2012

so i was minding my own business, hauling stuff out of the shed to put out for the sale, when it became very hot and muggy and i had to start drinking water by the bucketful and i had a number of things put a damper on my enthusiasm. one, my wife told me of the brown recluse spiders living in the shed. two, it began to look like rain which made it seem quite futile to keep putting things on the driveway. three, she's trying to show the house, even have people over to clean it, so my pulling out & sorting of things is actually getting in her way; and, finally, though we got some signs posted on telephone poles in the area, even that was hot & muggy, and difficult, and i began to feel it might be better to wait until night when i have help from an older son, and it might ease up a little on the hot & muggy thing. actually this is pretty normal for southern illinois, and i'd like to say texas might be only half as bad, since the muggy part is just not there. but who knows? i can't speak for texas, yet. i'll let you know when i arrive.

one son said, he'd been waiting so long for the end of school, so looking forward to it, so counting down the days, even the minutes, that now that it's here, he's experienced a complete mental reversal and doesn't know what to do with himself. doesn't know what to do with his mind, actually, since laying around and playing stuff is not against his nature. it's the looking forward to stuff that he's really missing.

so these old telephone poles around town, they had these rustic metal staples put in them, and a few tacks, and a few nails, and i realized i'd driven by a few of them so many times, it was nice to grace them with a poster. they're pretty rustic fellows, standing tall as they do at prominent corners, holding "lost" posters and other kinds of things. as i sit here i notice, it's caused a few people to drive by already. sale's not until tomorrow morning at seven, but you can bet a certain crowd will be here at 6:30 giving it the once-over. it's actually a heap of junk we're selling; it's been filling our garage for years; it's hard to get out of there, and there isn't much point, since it might rain and all the area under the eaves, in front of the house, is already full. i'm taking a break, blogging, because i can't keep up the hot hot hauling all day long.

in a sense it's like cleaning out your past history, all your frustrations and desires, at least as they took shape in material things that somebody bought and maybe even used for a little while, at one point. some of it, i'm not even sure how i got it, and this is true at the office as well; we end up with it; we don't want to keep it; we're hoping someone will take it off our hands. maybe they will, maybe they won't. it could be a huge dump run.

on the other hand, bringing things out in front of the kids, actually makes them interested again, and gives some toy at least a minute of new life, while they skirt off into another room with the toy, and maintain that this is something they couldn't give away, that they wanted to keep all along. i myself, having just come from the desert, have got some sense of the enormity of trying to actually carry boxes and bins of junk down there, it's time to travel light, and unload this stuff as well as possible, so that someone here can actually use it. the clouds gather above; it's muggy. i feel the frustration of having, what, hundreds of pounds of unsorted stuff around the house, this is all stuff i intended to get out there, one way or the other. i don't know, now, what will happen. i'll drink my coffee, then, have to go to work for a spell, later. ah, friday. it makes me nervous.

Monday, May 21, 2012

thought i'd write a quick piece while i was on a dallas to st. louis flight, window seat, toward the back, with a baby shrieking behind me. fields and rivers passed below me; i guess this was arkansas or maybe we are in missouri already since they've already served peanuts and a ginger ale and it's really only about a what, hour and a half flight or something like that. there's supposed to be an eclipse tonight but i forgot and got on the wrong side of the plane; i'm not sure i could have taken the time to calculate that out and figure out which side to get on, based on which way the plane will be going, when you've got a b52 boarding pass number and people are taking all the good seats in front of you. i saw this window seat and grabbed it and forgot all about the eclipse, nobody had mentioned it. when we started up the pilot mentioned something but by then it was too late; every seat was taken, we were about ta take off. in fact they had sold one seat too many and had to beg someone to take a later flight in return for the price of a one-way ticket and a hundred dollar bonus; some guy took them up on it and i couldn't help but wonder if his luggage would arrive in st. louis at the same time he did.

so my question about a solar eclipse is this: isn't it true that an eerie glow comes over the world as we know it during an eclipse, and scientists and everyone else advise you not to look directly at the sun, because that will always hurt you even if a big honking moon is sitting there blocking part of it. but an eclipse is just that, right? and i can see, flying with some turbulence over some eerie orangish clouds down to my right, that we could be settling in for a time of eerie glow and genuine half-dusk. the baby is keeping up with his or her merciless wailing, it could be that a baby's ears hurt during an entire plane flight, and he/she just has to let us know how hard it is to maintain, while flying over arkansas. or wherever.

the pilot now says that we are but sixty miles from saint louis, but we have encountered some storms which are the cause for our turbulence. above the clouds to my right, the sky was a heavenly blue but has now turned to a dullish gray; the clouds were a bright orange but have now turned to a dullish pink, and the world below, which is now presumably missouri, is a dull blue. the question is really whether all this is due to a storm or whether it is due to an eclipse; try as i might i can't get a glimpse of the sun out the windows across the aisle, though i can see it cast a glow on the seats over there and i can also see that glow turn to a dull color as everything on my side has done. it's becoming dark, and becoming dark rapidly as the sun is apparently going down, eclipsed or not. the baby has for some reason given up his crying though not without a fight; he was quite adamant there for a while.

on the last flight, el paso to dallas, i sat with a british woman who now lived in denton texas and was quite happy to see her lakes below as we circled dallas and came down upon it. all of wide dry texas splayed out beneath us but as we came into dallas certain lakes came into view and she seemed to know which they were. now, coming into st. louis, it's actually raining, and the memory of a hot dry trip to texas and new mexico, where even a drop of rain causes all kinds of cacti to burst forth, now everything is hidden, you can't even see the sun, or moon, or anything else. the rain is everywhere; i'll miss it, when i move.
nights it'd be cool & dry & i'd set out from my parents in southern las cruces and walk until i'd come to some wild open desert, where the mesquite would grow out of the pure sand and there'd be cacti springing up as you walked out into it. one night i headed out toward what is called "a" mountain, but out there there were gravel trucks coming and going at a fast clip and it wasn't until i'd got out past the farm and ranch museum, before the sky opened up, i saw some stars, and the rumbe of the gravel trucks faded into the distance. another night took don roser, only as it goes south, and i might have the name wrong here, but it cuts south out of las cruces right at university there and follows down along the interstate, interstate 25, until you can cut off toward the desert there and there are a few houses out there, but you can climb up again and see the whole valley, and once again the stars relax a little and show themselves, once you're out of the city lights. and the last night it was across the interstate, and down into a wild little field across from the university, and then back again across the interstate, it took half an hour it seemed just to cross the interstate because it was so wide and busy. but it was here that i really remembered my days on the road, because it was cool and dry, the rumble of trucks below, and a van with old blue california tags filled up with gas and you could see, folks are out driving the wild west, and waiting til it cools down at night to get out and actually do stuff. and that's how i'd become, since the days were hot, and my parents weren't too mobile, and so once it got cool at night i was really ready to get out and breathe the high desert air. on the road back to el paso i started asking quesitons again and sure enough the driver was from lubbock, knew a little about texas and el paso, and knew some of why things were the way they were out here in the wild west. turns out the gravel trucks were probably hauling gravel out so that they could redo interstates 25 & 10; they have to keep working on these interstates. we took the back roads over the mountain to avoid this very construction. on the trip out, i peered out the plane at tiny texas towns scattered all over the plain, a little town down there in the middle of a wide dark field and it would have maybe one or two roads lit up in the middle, not much else, and i had trouble imagining what it'd be like growing up in wild west texas in the smallest towns. now, on the shuttle, i could see some of them, and the sun blazed down on the shuttle and on the light-colored houses that basically had no trees, but might have a cactus or mesquite bush here or there. i'd miss the midwest, for sure; i'd live for the nights; i'd get thirsty a lot. aside from that, people live their lives here more or less like they do everywhere. except there seems to be a little more money.

the story of the wild west is that of these guys coming up from mexico, a bunch of other guys moving across the continent from the north, eventually a few women coming around, and finally the technology that made it possible for people to live comfortably. it still amazes me: the sun blazes down; there's no shade, no natural water to speak of, the air absorbs the water right out of your mouth as you walk. yet they've made all the public places airconditioned, and the only time you're hot is when you walk somewhere, and nobody else does that, it seems, besides me; there aren't a whole lot of bipeds out there on the street. lots of nice cars, fast cars, folks going from here to there, but no bicycles, or pedestrians to speak of.

the culture of the original indians, the mimbres, appears on cups and signs and logos, but we talk about this at my parents' house; they aren't sure about these original inhabitants, since they didn't leave behind much evidence. this could also happen to the digital generation, which is leaving all its comments on little bytes depp inside our phones. we, the in between generations, left a lot of stuff in books and such, but that's pretty much doomed too; i have a house full of books and will very likely have a hard time finding anyone to take them, and will end up contributing them all to the prisons, just because i don't want to throw them away. the university will pay thousands to move it all down to texas but my feeling is, we're going to the desert, it's time to pack light, and only replace it as we need it, and leave the rest up in the depressed river valley, where work is hard to come by and they need to share stuff and keep passing it around. the prisons have their obvious advantage too, once you go there you can at least eat, and always have something to read. i'm just hoping to have stuff to live for a while longer. books aren't really doing it for me, though who knows, if i really retire, that could change.

Friday, May 18, 2012

ok ok so it's been a while and i haven't said much, lost my flash drive possibly at home, am now in lambert airport on the way through texas to new mexico, but the big news is, i might be moving to texas real soon so i'm going to be taking a real hard look at it on this trip. the trip though goes through dallas and el paso as usual, and doesn't go near lubbock, where we might move, but it's still of very intense concern all of a sudden, what these texas airports are like, what it's like in may, what are all these rich white guys doing all over the place, that kind of stuff. the flight to dallas is a half hour late; i'm not sure about the flash drive, maybe i left it at home. they couldn't seem to find it in security.

had to give a test this morning in a large auditorium; it was an orientation toefl with 38 new international students coming to siuc. they picked this day above all days to start jackhammering the ramp outside my building, somehow that ramp was outdated, or falling apart, or due to come down for some reason. the jackhammers were there all the time but they seemed to make the listening section actually skip; i was enraged. everyone else seemed to be calm though. maybe they thought this is how it always is, listenings skip, jackhammers all the time, dust all over the place, various fences preventing you from going anywhere.

so the story in a nutshell is this: my wife is chair; her department is getting bled and weakened; everyone is fighting for resources; the state, 85 billion in the red, is making noise like it will make us pay for health insurance, reduce our retirement, make life a little tighter all around. the writing is on the wall, and along comes this wonderful job for her, being chair of a department with resources, and i, spotting the chance to be closer to my folks who have been getting steadily older, agreed to it. it could be a rough adjustment for the kids, 7 & 10, turning into westerners with a southern drawl, they might have to make some adjustments. i myself will change jobs, so that whatever i'm doing, it will be slightly different from what i'm doing now, i'll give a report. there will be no woods, fewer trees, thunderstorms will be scarce. i might be a midwesterner out of water, but i'm girding myself to handle it, i've been to new mexico enough to have some idea of what's in store.

musically there are a lot of possibilities. it's the home of buddy holly, and also natalie maines, whose story is instructive i think because it shows the biggest peril of a deep-south conservative environment. it's not that everyone's the same religion, they can believe what they want. it's more that this causes a collective pressure that makes people a little contentious on our side, just check out her story and you'll see what i mean. a good singer, a good songwriter, but now she'll be more famous for the fights that enveloped her and made half of her own hometown refuse to listen to her. i'll give you a report....maybe i'll meet her. people will surely have an opinion, if nothing else.

the jackhammers for some reason are still in my head. illinois was as usual quite beautiful on the way up here, the mowers out along the highway, the a's are boarding and i'm a b, i'm on my way to dallas, late a little, but it's a fine day, warm, bathed in sun even up here in missouri, and i'd like to work on my novel, but i believe i left it on that flashdrive, which is out there somewhere, who knows. i'll give a report from new mexico, which as usual will be wide open, gentle, warm. it was good to tell my parents the news; they need me, they'll be glad to have family closer than illinois. it might even give my boys a chance to know them a little better. i feel like they've hung on as long as they have, because they still have some wisdom to impart, like i still need to be there, and pick up some of it. that's my job today, no other agenda, really. the planes will be a bit late through texas, but one thing i've noticed, the high dry desert is real nice after the sun goes down, you can actually go outside, unlike illinois, where it's often so steamy you don't even want to, even on a day like today. a little change is not a bad thing i hope. forward, and into the mountain time zone...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New story:
Enjoy! Comments welcome.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

may is here; it's lush and beautiful, flowers popping and grasses going to seed if you but turn the other way. got to my son's school the other day and mulberries were popping everywhere especially out front by the parking lot. they were a little nervous about letting the kids just pick them, because kids were getting stained left and right and there were a lot of purple t-shirts. i myself took my kid out front and we both got the purple hand, ate a dozen and picked a dozen more, left the lunch box out there by the parking lot in the process. with my beautiful purple hand i came into work that morning, and the workers were coming down, office to office, having to get into the pipes that run the heating and cooling. well this required the moving of this big ornery cactus which was really having a great time growing back there by the corner where there's tons of light and it's nice and dry and warm and nobody bugs you. but moving this cactus messed up my purple hand. where it had been purple and sticky, now it had sharp tiny little cacti prickles in it. what a way to start my day. as usual i made pipe-cleaning black coffee and went on my way down the hall. the ten-year-old pointed out rightly that the tooth fairy had neglected to put anything under his pillow when he'd lost a tooth. we'd already teased him that the tooth fairy would be better off giving him apps than money anyway, since he's so into apps and doesn't have any use for money, you need a credit card for apps anyway although he can always con his mom into taking money for the use of her credit card to buy apps. what kinds of apps does he want? i have no idea. they may be doing some game as the ones i saw earlier were doing, but he already knows more about it than i do and i have a vague sense of unease as he goes off with friends to explore, online now, whereas i as a kid used to explore railroad tracks, old wooded patches, creekbeds, etc. the tooth fairy i think is a kind of reverse santa claus, people don't go to much trouble to truly convince anyone that she magically comes by and delivers crisp dollars, or quarters or dimes as it was in my youth, or apps, or whatever. and she forgets, not once, but sometimes several nights in a row, or the parents complain about inflation or simply roll the dollar into some other fund that's being transfered when one is ten. and they disparage her especially if she doesn't have the right change or the dollar bill is old and torn like it didn't come from magic. this is when you just about get to say it out loud directly. hey, you don't deserve a buck for losing a tooth anyway, everyone loses a tooth, there's nothing inherently good about a kid who lives to lose another tooth. it happens, it happens to everyone. i'm sure some kids are hauling in more than a buck, some probably don't even know who the tooth fairy is. that's kind of different from santa, because everyone knows that dude & counts up pretty carefully what they haul in from him. my son wasn't even so upset about the tooth fairy, he figured he'd haul it in sooner or later anyway. more later, it's gotten late, and only the dogs remain waiting for me to give up.