Monday, December 31, 2012
in the groove of break, i've been writing a linguistics book instead of my novel as i'd originally intended. thus we shot a whole week between christmas and now, new years' eve, where i barely blogged at all, or even did facebook, i've kind of fallen out of that too. now, tomorrow, we fly to illinois for a few days, i know i'm not supposed to give this stuff away, on facebook or anywhere else, but the thieves around here, by and large they can't read, or if they can they don't, or if they do they don't generally get down to the second paragraph. i'm counting on my good luck here, and hoping to a certain degree that i can talk freely, and everything will just work out. there are cultures, i realize, where you just don't do that.
traffic has calmed down considerably here, so i've been enjoying a little less street noise, but unfortunately, a neighbor left a dog pretty much outside, days, all week, and this dog has had an unpleasant holiday, and seen fit to bark hours on end. sometimes we provoke it, by going outside or whatever, and that gets it going again, non-stop. tonight i didn't get out of it until i left the house, finally, for the party, but it was a bad day today.
our own dog, a black lab with pretty fur and big brown eyes, has taken to getting right in my face with its big look, and pretty much begging me to go out in the courtyard and throw the toy. so i do. sitting out there, in the cool sun, i check out the weather, which is really quite varied around here, sometimes cloudy, sometimes very sunny. my shoulder has been sore for about a year, so the act of throwing this little toy is actually a little healing; i feel like i'm getting my arm back. our dog is kind of a fanatic with the fetching thing; she lives for it, she'll do it over and over; the neighbor dog, on the contrary, goes bananas and barks even more and louder. this goes on for maybe ten minutes. our dog just about keels over from fanatic fetching.
we've all had time to ruminate, to reminisce, to miss illinois, and wonder what it will be like upon our return. one thing is that they're having a third snowstorm, the first having dropped over a foot of snow. we'll have to see how the second layer and the one coming in tonight will affect the driving; it may be that we do less driving than we'd like. we got a bit of rain last night in texas, and this will be the third snowstorm when it gets up into illinois, but we haven't been down here long enough to miss the stuff seriously, or to forget how to drive in it. i myself love winter, and won't be especially aggravated at our bad luck; to some degree, i enjoy the challenge.
tonight i'm coming home from the party, going about forty in a forty, and a small car flies past me, its back window replaced with plastic that is flapping because of its speed. we both have to stop at a red light a little further ahead, in other words, this person was speeding for no immediate benefit. but when i pull up alongside, it's a young woman, with a baby in the back; the baby is looking at me, from behind its pacifier. the young woman is dialing her cell phone. off to some new year's gig, no doubt. hope they make it; it was only about ten thirty. soon after we arrive home, we hear ambulances again; we actually hear ambulances a lot. the college empties out, the city slows down a little, our neighborhood quiets a lot, but the ambulances don't let up.
these days i've been thinking a lot about chomsky, because of my project, but i've also been thinking a lot about actualism, because i've gotten in touch with an old friend and my impulse is to try to document that era, keep it alive, and report what i remember before it goes away. this may happen on my poetry blog, but it will happen one way or the other, because nobody else is really waving the actualist flag. the story of actualism is as follows. iowa city as a place was a kind of magnet for poets, partly because of the writer's workshop which included a poetry workshop. but this workshop went through periods of intense snobbery, and these sometimes corresponded with periosds of restless regbellion among the street poets, or those who were either left out of the workshop, or for whatever reason just had chosen to live in the area. these poets got together and would have wild conventions, actualist conventions, and would claim that, basically, one didn't have to be a snob to be a poet, and that in fact it was better if one wasn't. one didn't have to know greek mythology to be a poet. the idea of actualism was to shine the light on the day-to-day, the mundane. this blog will show it, if that could be possible. it appears that it is up to me to keep this flame going.
we're in the elevens, the boys and i. we're staying up 'til midnight. we're in it for the long haul. pictures coming.
Monday, December 24, 2012
at the walmart everything was looking pretty picked over and messy, whole shopping carts of stuff blocking aisles because the workers were too busy to reshelve. they had this entire room, maybe a gardening room, given over to christmas stuff, and it smelled pretty good, but it was kind of picked over too, had entire empty shelves, and one frazzled worker said, if you don't see it, we don't have it. i kind of enjoyed that room, i don't know why, some of that stuff was facing its zero hour; after all, it was christmas eve; others, might get stored away for eleven months, and come out again somewhere next thanksgiving.
for me, the entire month is one of going out for a lot of walks, and reflecting. for some reason everyone's garrulous decorations make me do that. i'm not much for going out, drinking, sharing revelry with others, or putting all details about what we have going on here, on facebook, where it becomes a social item. we're going to do illuminaria tonight, which involves putting sand in sacks and little candles, so that it glows up and down the block, but even then i'm not inclined to take pictures, post them, crow, etc. to me the driving force of the season is inward, not outward, and the cold weather encourages me to get out more, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
tonight, the town is quieter than usual; the dog next door has finally let up on his barking. his owners left town for the break and he's been having a rough time of it. we have too, since the traffic on the other side finally let up, and we were prepared for some peace and quiet, and this poor dog took it upon himself to fill our days with his yelping. our own dog occasionally got mad at the relentlessness of it all, but it was mostly me who really objected, because i'm a musician but haven't been able to play music. maybe i should lock myself in a basement and turn up the volume. i'm not sure how to handle the poor thing.
so, late at night, i'm here by the tree; the cats like the tree also. it won't last much longer, this tree; it's already pretty dried out. but it's done its thing, it appeared in some pictures, it smelled good, it gave the cats something to get tangled up in. it wasn't a perfect year, we missed a few things, but we did have illuminaria and cookies, and the kids as usual would get enough. that's all it takes, then you're off for another year.
Friday, December 21, 2012
late at night he's a little charged up, having finished a very long match. his game is called minecraft hunger games, and he had teamed up with a guy to become the last two survivors. then they turned on each other, which is to be expected; although they are friends, that's how the game goes. the friend has a lot of extra armor but no soup. the eleven-year-old has plenty of soup but less armor. the friend's hits do a lot more damage and the friend wins.
some nights i listen to such stories and i realize that he's filled with rage because the guy that beat him was a cheater, or a "hacker"...other times i listen just to listen, and try to figure out what he's going through as he has these battles to the death with people he has come to know. he would, after all, rather be with some other kid on skype, in this world, than in the real one, though he'll participate in that one also. my older boys would argue that they always knew the line between real and imaginary when it came to these video games. but i'm not sure they always knew the difference, or whether anyone really kept track of what the games did to their minds. i'm still mulling that over, but also feel virtually powerless to prevent a kid from going full scale into something he really likes to do.
a cat snores somewhere near me. upstairs, where the boys are asleep, i had to shut the door to keep the kitties from chewing the bay-blade handles all night. down here they get up into the tree and chew on the tree's lights or on the pine branches. the fire is down to embers though it had its moments earlier in the evening. i've gotten so, rather than make a roaring one, i try to see how much warmth i can absorb out of a few dying logs, rather than put new ones in, because i'm cheap and it's too hard to cut them. tree lights, glowing embers, snoring cat, i'll just call it a night and come back tomorrow; the boys have one more day of school before break. the road near our house has calmed down; school is out. snow may come on christmas. the apocalypse day, friday, is working its way our way, and is three minutes from here, but has already hit virtually every other time zone except the ones that are due west. my friends were inquiring about the exact time, but what do i know? i'm thinking, life will probably just keep on keeping on, and that might be a rude shock, especially in places where they've been thinking about it too much. i'll declare december 22 'borrowed time' day and just say, from here on in, don't take anything for granted. if one cycle ends and another one starts, it's time to sort some laundry.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
i still write a lot of christmas cards myself, by hand, in spite of having a long letter that basically explains the state of the household for the year. it's taking a long time this year. i should enjoy a long vacation and some time away from work, but for some reason everything is taking too long and i can barely get started on anything. the tree is up, and has lights on it, but isn't decorated; i haven't shopped for anyone in the family, and i've barely finished with the ones i wanted to send off. yesterday in the dust storm i gave the mailman a stack of cards; i hated to make him carry them, but time is running out and it's good to limit the driving you do in this kind of weather. now i'm thinking, should i get the kids involved in decorating? my wife is even further behind. she wanted to put the finest of decorations up, but we're days into having this tree, and still nothing.
you may sense my impatience; actually it's just exhaustion. some of the things about this house, the busy street we pull out into, the ambulances, the neighborhood, wear me out at different rates and overtake me at unexpected times. the dog next door goes on barking jags and this can last hours; one could move to the country i suppose, but then one would always have a couple of vehicles on hand. a lot of stress is related to just being in a new place - people are just different. it takes time to get used to it.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
the next guy is only like thirty-something; he used to play on our team as quarterback, not more than a few years ago. they've been saying that he's glad to be "back in lubbock" since they wanted a kind of harmony with west texas and they felt that he had it. well, for sure, the press is all about adulation, major 8-inch-high headlines and all, like he's g-d or whatever come back to save us from this mediocrity which can best be characterized as moderate...this guy's going to win, they figure, since he beat texas on his way out of here with a big passing game.
it's hard to figure out what being in harmony with west texas is, but this is a subject that has been rolling around in my mind for a while anyway so i might as well let it fling. it might be unfair to say that folks care more about winning than they do what kind of damage a coach inflicts on his players, but it might be better to say they care a whole lot about winning and this guy better recognize that fast. it's also true that the media swarm is like that of hollywood; he's not likely to get much privacy for a while. this may be a texas thing, though, and the guy is from texas, so maybe he ought to know. but there were some other interesting things i read. one was that people were beginning to feel like this was a stepping-stone for coaches who were on their way to better things, like this last coach, who said, two mil and lubbock, that's nothing when i can have three mil and cincinnati (next thing will be, four mil and california). it's hard, they say, to build a good program when you keep looking over your shoulder. so their idea, i think, was to get some guy in there who would not only win but also want to stick around. did i mention anything about the violence? i honestly don't think that's part of the calculation.
i've learned to talk football because that's part of the landscape, like the weather, you have to talk football in offices as you wait in lines. a certain minimum familiarity with the gods is required of all citizenry. nevertheless as time goes by i begin to wonder if it's wrong to feed into it by even talking about it, let alone actually watching the game or worse yet, paying for tickets and going to the game. i always justified the former by saying, you have to talk about it just to get by and be sociable. but the fact is that football is killing people and young kids are getting sucked into it before they know any better, just like cigarettes. and also like cigarettes, the research clearly shows it's a killer but the culture is a step or two behind; we may know that subconsciously, if we watch the news, but we aren't quite ready to face it yet. sure there was that murder, and that car accident, but that could have been anybody, happens to young kids all the time, especially young kids who just got a lot of money and don't know how to handle a car, or, say, a marriage, where violence doesn't solve the problem. sometimes i wonder if i shouldn't just blurt that out when people start talking about the raiders, or if it's ok to go undercover and just say, yeah, i hope they win, of course i hope they win. hope the win the whatsiz-bowl in houston on new years, i'll probably be in the airport, and then i'll just about have to watch them.
this new coach comes up from a & m, we have an odd relationship with a & m, since they used to be our bitter rival but now have jumped over into another division where we don't play them as often. we can still steal their offensive coach though; it'll stick it to 'em. but it's interesting, what kind of world these guys step into when they arrive fresh at a situation like this. the football world is made up of oc's and dc's, these guys do the main coaching, since they are closer to the field, they only make a mil or two, they are in line for the next coaching job, maybe, if they can break the big league. going from oc to main coach is for this guy undoubtedly breaking into the big leagues. i'll be like everyone, i'll wait patiently to see how things unfold. he has to get right out there and recruit kids, first thing. also, whatever kids he's got on the team already, he's got to win them over, they were loyal to that last guy, but they couldn't follow him to cincinnati as easily as he could just go there.
does that make any sense? i have this lubbock site, where i say to this town, what are you doing, with this idol worship. but here, i'm just rambling, and i'll tell you why. i've come to love tech football, in spite of everything, invested in the area, the people and what they care about, and they care about winning. so it is, and when in rome, get in front of the chariot, like that dude in front of that big tank, in tienanmen square. with his white shirt. so here i ramble, and in fact, i think both ways, i totally agree with both sides. i have hope, i want to win, i like a young kid who is getting his first chance. on the other hand, i see him out in those living rooms, telling those families they should have their sons play football, he could make it, he could go all the way.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
now before you accuse me of weaving a hopi-prophesy story along with a mayan-apocalypse or a ped-mall-hall-mall story, i just want to say that these apocalypses really wear me out, i'm wondering how many times the earth has to just end, before we get tired of it. they actually found the painter of these buffalo, and admitted that they were pretty well preserved under that wells-fargo bank all these years, thirty-six to be exact. and they won't last long; they're due to be torn down so that they can build a fourteen-story building...wait a minute. the jefferson building, about six stories, was supposed to be the tallest one in town by fiat, by statute, they weren't supposed to have fourteen-story buildings. what's up with that? are they trying to build a downtown?
our present town has a couple of fourteen-story buildings; they dominate the skyline. one was supposedly damaged by a tornado in 1970, actually bent; they considered tearing it down, or trying to fix it, but they couldn't fix it and it was still basically stable, so they did nothing. the other one, actually, looks more crooked. it's all a matter of perspective.
speaking of which, it is actually now 12-12-12. this, i guess, is a big deal. for me, though, it's after 12. i'm going to bed.
Monday, December 10, 2012
so everybody drives these huge trucks, unless you're poor in which case you drive a small truck, maybe. most of these trucks have four-wheel drive which is an enormous waste of power, since it's only needed one day of the year. but this was the day. it was icy this morning, and i walked to school, and even then had to balance on ice where it was real slippery and an old guy like me could take a spill. i made it fine though and had a good walk, it was invigorating. took another one tonight; i'm into a few miles every night if i can and slowly get in slightly better shape though i don't lose any weight in the process. so these trucks have their purpose in life, not so much avoiding the ditch as pulling people out who were unable to, or whatever. generally i don't see much in the back of these trucks, it's not like they're hauling stuff around. i'm sure they honestly believe they need the four-wheel drive though. they have big puddles on the streetcorners every time it rains. you might as well be in the jungle.
you don't see many blue vans like ours, but today i saw a blue van, more or less like ours. i was overjoyed. i pointed it out and nobody seemed to share my enthusiasm. it's like seeing an iowa license plate. most people say, so what, or something to that effect. can't blame 'em, i'm sure there's better stuff to see, somewhere. it so happens, i haven't seen it.
such a flat place, with power lines all over the place, and lots of wide open sky, and a big hard wind every once in a while that reminds you: you're on the plains, 3000 feet up; it's flat and the world's spinning fast, and the wind cuts you down and comes down off the rockies every once in a while. i kind of liked it actually, like maybe part of me feels like i'm back on the plains of western iowa or maybe nebraska where my ancestors settled. for a while, 'til the civil war and its rustlers ran 'em out & back to illinois. hope that doesn't happen to us here. we're just getting used to the place.
texas has about twenty, twenty five million, but they expect it to be forty million in the next twnety five years. almost double. and they admit, they don't have the water. they have some vagues sense of impending crisis, doom, might take a few bucks to fix it, but they aren't turning anyone back yet. they didn't turn us back, much to our surprise. i just about wear obama on my face, and my son went to school in an illinois sweater today. people are still polite. especially at the university, they seem to be genuinely hospitable to out-of-towners like myself. i haven't got tired of it yet.
i imagine, if you were a cowpoke, and you rode your horse all day in this cold windy biting kind of weather, if you didn't find that canyon at night you'd be a bit cold, or you'd bear down to see if you could find yourself a warm place to bed up. seems to me the horses would be especially ornery, since there's nothing but hard red clay with stickers on it that stick right up through your shoes and into your feet. the wide sky is real nice and the sun melts the ice, but at night it gets real cold again, and then sure enough i'm sure summer's right around the corner. and when that happens it's that big old sun beating down, day in and day out, daring you to dig a tunnel to find a place to keep your car from burning up. and out of this, everyone's so polite? it's amazing really. I figure they'd purt near kill you just for showing up, at a time like this. but they didn't. chao
Friday, December 07, 2012
just gave my final today, a ten-page whopper which caused one poor woman to say, "i surrender!" i gave up and merely watched them for a couple of hours; by now i know their names, and some were there that i hadn't seen much. thirty nine out of forty in the class actually took the final; i didn't get much else done all day except collect this enormous stack. i won't be teaching american students forever, in fact, next semester may be my last time, except that i have a steady stream of them in the writing lab, and i'm enjoying that. i write myself prolifically now on a number of blogs and come back here mostly for pure rambles, my inner mind, the thoughts rolling around as i come in off the street from my walk, "log on" to the fireplace, sit down and pull out the computer, and "log on" to that too. it's friday night; the world out there is just getting started; we, exhausted, have all pretty much gone down except for me.
and the kitties. one who was skittish for months now lets me pet him occasionally; they watch me warily waiting for me to go to bed, as that's when their fun starts. all day they check out any faint movement of pillows, furniture, laundry, whatever; these are the places they'll settle in and see how the sun comes through some window. at night the sun is no longer an issue and they concentrate on faint noises presumably coming from mice or animals just outside the windows. or, from each other. they wait, bait, pounce, tear around, thinking, it's midnight, time to cut loose.
the ambulances and traffic have died down a little; the traffic is due to die down quite a bit. thirty to forty thousand people due to leave town, more or less, though some live here anyway or choose not to leave. they go home and tell relatives, no doubt, about the wild campus life they're living; i can only imagine. how does it compare? i'm not sure. a couple of young folks were involved in a horrific accident just this week; at least one student was involved, and so was alcohol, and this is probably not unheard of. is texas worse, better or about the same as the others? it's hard to say. there are more trucks here. guess that doesn't say a thing, though.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
unexpectedly i got all my old pop back (see below); what was remarkable about this photo site, called fotopic, in the uk, was that i had actually organized my pop a little, whereas, in the rest of my life it's pretty much wherever. the other remarkable thing was that, though it was a free site, it disappeared from the face of the earth one day (spring 2011?) and it was almost two years before I heard from anyone...but when they did write (i'm glad i kept my siu e-mail) they said, sorry, here are your photos back, if you care to zip them up and take them. which i did. you'll be seeing them, if i get my act together.
back from a walk, which could be as much as three or four miles, my legs are sore and almost don't bend. i sit on my floor but will actually have trouble getting up. i love walking but it's putting pressure on my hips and doing nothing for my shoulders which are about to fall off for failure to swim. something will have to change here.
it is however almost the end of the term. time to get a calendar cranked out, and some birthday presents. time to organize around the commercial possibilities too. it seems i could sell a few books, if i were just a tad more organized. i could also bind and produce a couple more, quick before the holidays and the trip to illinois. i could finally do a calendar, and organize calendar pop from years gone by. and finally, though i've missed a few opportunities, i could fix an instrument or two, and get out and play it, quick before those muscles atrophy also. i'm talking ear and finger here; the arm is already 'bout fallen off. finally, i could work on christmas, though even thinking about it wears me out.
half of west texas takes our street at one time or another, but it does die down once in a while. middle of the night, it dies down, middle of break, might die down then. i'll go out, and inspect the damage. pictures coming, though it's just urban texas. lots of crackly texas oak acorns out there on the red dirt. fall and its leaves, too. but i've done nothing, nothing to document it. time to get started, and see what i can put together.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Saturday, December 01, 2012
at night i go to this big park, almost a mile around, and do a few miles walking. it's the kind of park where people park alongside it in order to be alone, and then get a little nervous when a guy like me walks by. lots of stars out there; on the far side, i look across the wide grassy park, about two or three blocks across, and above, orion rules, him and the full moon and a bunch more that i'm less familiar with. sometimes the dog people occupy the middle of the park, but usually not late at night when i'm there; the dog people often don't clean up after themselves, so the middle of the park is somewhat hazardous for walking. the edges too. as my eyes get accustomed to the dark, i try to watch where i'm going. sometimes i miss. sometimes i miss, right while someone is looking from their car nervously, as if they saw it coming.
had a red raider experience, with the family and some visitors; hundreds of people filled the central campus for some music and a march, and they turned on hundreds of lights, mostly red, all at once, in a stunning display. i had to admit that the marching band playing 'silent night' was a unifying christian experience, though i have no idea how others saw it or what kind of rancor this stirs up in others who happened to be there. i myself have always loved the song; hearing it in the dark, in anticipation of light, with a decent college band, and a bunch of college kids with glow-in-the-dark necklaces, was actually very nice. as traditions go, you have to pick the ones you like; well, i liked this one, reminded me a bit of the lights parade, except it was warm and nice out, nobody was chilled to the bone. we're new to the place, have to admit it, us and a million others, and the way they do it, sometimes we have to just step aside and watch. i'll give you the bigger picture in a little bit.
i get partway around this park, and my legs get tired and sometimes i stop and text my son, or check the news, or whatever. we hear lots of ambulances in our neighborhood also, because we are near two hospitals, and they have to go near us just about wherever they go. i sometimes see them down the street from the park, or hear them in one direction or the other. tonight i checked my phone for the game score; we'd lost big to arizona, this is basketball, a sport which i care about and one in which the coach, as far as i know, is not guilty or even accused in any way of brutalizing his players or coaches. maybe nice guys are more likely to lose, or, the ones with the tempers are always at the top because they have their guys running harder. i'd like to think it's just some game, with young kids playing their best, the finest of amateur competition at the peak of their skill. ha!
i come home a little stiff, almost unable to bend my legs, definitely not in great shape. i fight the body's natural tendency to collapse into a creaky rusted heap of no-moving-parts. i have to get back in the water one of these days, work out those rusty joints, get back into a groove. have to play some music too. the ebb and flow of traffic on flint, coming back from the game, heading up to campus for the light display, or just walking around looking at the place: i'm pretty used to guarding this little corner, i've made my presence known. there's a little cat, a maine coon, belongs to one of the neighbors, saunters by and crosses flint easy as you please, unlike me, who looks both ways several times, on the top of my observationsal skills. this cat seems not to bother hurrying, crosses diagonally even. a friend of mine said she saw a fox near my corner, a gray fox, and first thing i thought was, maybe she saw suzie, the maine coon. but suzie doesn't look like a fox, not even close, though she's gray, and she saunters. next thing i thought was, maybe the fox ate suzie, and took off for other urban neighborhoods where strays can be found. and sure enough, suzie was gone for a couple of days, really left me worried.
but tonight, there she was again, back for more, with an entirely different view of flint. and if there's a fox around, i haven't seen him. the traffic fades a bit, though there's sure to be a slight rush at what, about one thirty. i'll be down by then; with all that fresh air, i don't last long on the pillow.