Thursday, May 16, 2013

our black cat, edgar, walked out of the house in the middle of the night when the back door blew open and my wife was awake but in the bathroom. because it was the middle of the night, she didn't know what was going on and did not go retrieve him immediately. by now he's gone, and we drive and walk slowly through the alleyways, looking fruitlessly. he was half wild, born wild, and might be able to make it on his own. but life is tough out there. there's at least one fox prowling around. i saw one dead cat just while i was cruising the alleyways looking for him.

the dust has cleared on finals and grading, which means i can now concentrate on personal publications: putting on amazon two sets of stories, pile of leaves and a dozen crime stories; developing my tlevs press site; printing and distributing a volume dedicated to carbondale, boxcars on walnut; possibly updating e pluribus haiku and getting the 2013 volume ready (this i'd like to publish on july 4); possibly getting just passing through ready for publication; and possibly working on my novel. i've become tentative about all this stuff because i know there's only so much time, and also i'm completely exhausted from teaching. but the blood is flowing; i have time in the mornings; the sun shines and leaves me free of mold and rot.

unfortunately a misty rainy morning is supposed to turn to 97 degrees by afternoon, and news comes of six dead in west texas tornadoes. west texas, now, we can call anything west of fort worth starting at about weatherford, which is an interesting mix of total upscale suburb and old west history, but weatherford is where the tornadoes started, that's where they were. i came home and some guy was on a movie explaining how the whole system is going to collapse, the whole economy, the whole kit & kaboodle, though my daughter says she thinks things are picking up. things are not picking up. the weather is going haywire, years of overspending on useless wars is catching up to us in the international market, and though we frack the heck out of every available square foot, that just leaves us with more instability and the need of earthquake insurance. i'm a pessimist, i think we lost it when we invaded iraq and sat there for fifteen years, at a couple billion a day, hoping the place would turn around. we should have declared victory and left, although something is to be said for having an independent kurdistan with the right to free trade and clear skies above it.

another thing i learned upon my arrival home was that scientists believe they have uncovered the white city in the honduran jungle in central america. this immediately brought two interesting memories to me. one, i often tell people about, because it lodged in my brain and wouldn't budge. when i went to peru, arequipa to be specific, they insisted on taking me to a museum which had been established to display the body of a young woman who had been found in the andes mountains, and removed, and preserved, to display modern knowledge about the inca empire. the inca empire stretched up all the way into central america, they explained, and in fact this young woman, about thirteen when she was killed, had come from up there, based on her dna. why had they made this young woman walk all the way down to southern peru, to be the victim of the incas' religious belief that she was part human, part god, born to be sacrificed? well, they didn't know everything, but that was the best they could figure. they displayed the gold and silver that had been buried with her. they told the story of the german archaeologist who got onto her location, and used his considerable power to see that her body be removed, brought to town, displayed. i wondered if anyone objected to the disruption of a religious burial site. sure, they said, lots of people were opposed. but it happened anyway.

now here's the kicker. arequipa was a beautiful town, made in the shadow of these volcanoes that occasionally would blow, but were dormant at the time. it also had occasional earthquakes. it was sixty or seventy miles from the sea, but it was impenetrable jungle and people didn't go there much. the weather was stunning, blue skies every day, never too hot or cool, always crystal clear except in the city center where there was some pollution. it was known as the white city. why? its building had always been created from a whitish volcanic ash, which was kind of like adobe, very practical if you knew how to build with it, because it preserved heat and cool, and gave a better living environment, as well as a whitish hazy beautiful appearance to all the city's buildings.

now you see where i'm going with this. two white cities? the legendary white city in honduras is called that, only by legend, who knows where that legend came from or why it became known that this incredible, buried city in the mosquitia jungle could be a huge ancient empire city. are there any volcanoes around there? well, maybe, i have no idea. are they two edges of the same empire, with the center being machu picchu, or some other place?

i never really got to the bottom of why a woman from way up north, central america, would be proclaimed the goddess of an empire, born to be a sacrifice, and to be brought down to peru, led up into the mountains, killed and buried with gold and silver. i don't think they got to the bottom of it either. it wasn't as if the peruvians had conquered the hondurans and demanded a lowly serf to be payment for losing a battle. she was a goddess, they said; she was told, probably, that she would be treated like a queen from the moment of her birth, and the best they can figure, she ate pretty well. i'd actually like to know more about these ancient civilizations, because my teaching of anthropology and archaeology has stirred up the desire to put it all together a little better. one thing i've learned is that the old people knew a lot more about the stars and the clear sky than we know, and they mapped things out, placed things in ways that reflected knowledge that we're only now coming to grips with.

my wife has gone to illinois leaving me with two fairly pleasant boys finishing the school year, and this hole in our hearts due to the cat walking away from us. the black cat's brother, a portly white cat named casper, is despondent; my older son also is depressed that it would even be possible, that a cat would choose to walk away and not come back. that appears to be what has happened, though, and life is going on. the misty rain is clearing up and the sun is searing, the temperature beginning to rise, and i've shut up the house, turned the fans on, and begun to hunker down to do some kind of work in the house, quick while i can. my bicycle, by the way, was stolen on the same day the cat walked away, this would have been tuesday. with fewer bikes on campus, somebody must have noticed that it wasn't really locked, and just walked away with it. i'm slightly aggravated about that, but i don't especially need it at the moment, and can take my time looking around for another. my wife was even less concerned than i was, since biking is so much more dangerous than walking. she said, basically and correctly, i'm too young to have a bike anyway.

i'll keep you apprised of the publications coming out; i'm not really in a very creative mood. when i can't make new stuff, i just package old stuff, which is ok because i'm way behind on that as well. my goal is to have it all on amazon, all available, and all reasonably packaged, so that the writing stands out on its own, and the legacy and record is there online, where a single broken computer won't do me in. i have the same goal for my pop art, and, this computer being ready to capsize at any moment, another job for this break would be to go through that pop art until i really know what i have, know where it is online and in storage, restore some of the galleries that i had in better times. an siu gallery, for example, would display popart from the siuc campus as a kind of tribute to my eighteen years there. i have enough on castle park to make one of the best castle park galleries ever, but it's all stored away in my dropbox which is kind of like a musty suitcase, and nobody can see it anymore. this has to be corrected, now if not sooner. time to get moving.

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