Wednesday, November 05, 2014

been working like crazy on my poetry, because it matches my present lifestyle of teach-a-lot, watch kids-a-lot, do errands-a-lot. in my head i can be someplace, like south dakota, and maybe late at night i can look up a little of south dakota, and combine that with what i know, and think of stuff to say in seventeen syllables. altogether i have about 920 now but the whole work is replete with repetetive ones, cases where i'd really like to just drop out one or the other because two are so similar, or have the same season word, or rely on the same image of some famous place. a leaner version would have 1000 but make each state complete, with about 16-20 each, relatively spread out so that there's more than one for each season but no more than two for the new year, and none of that repetetive crap. i'm working on it. at the moment i'm in florida. in my mind, that is; outside, it's cold, and windy, and cloudy, with occasional rain.

the girlies aren't too shrewd about getting along with boys, but the boys aren't so good at getting along with them either. everyone tattles, and pinches, and takes liberties with each other's stuff, or maybe their dog. i feel like i have to be a policeman sometimes, but what i really like is when i can back off and let young children just have a childhood, not worry about stuff. their imaginations are really lively, and i think the boys pick up on this and run with it sometimes. i catch them saying weird stuff about their father, and it turns out they are in a fantasy world, not saying anything about me so much as some construct their barbie has, who is a bad father maybe, or in jail like their father. i call out and say, "i'm not a bad father" and they say, "it's not you, daddy, it's pretend." in this way we try to work out what's going on. sometimes in their stories they talk about their "real father" and i have to remind them that i'm good and real, though i might not be their biological father. they can't even pronounce "biological" though, so it's an uphill battle.

the dogs love them, and have decided that they should watch out for all the children, no matter what, even if the children put them in leashes and march them around the house, up and down the steps. dogs are patient and faithful that way. i myself am not so eager to do whatever they request, though i will get them a bowl of cereal, or help them find their shoes.

slowly i've found people who are like me, they publish a little here and there, they try to publicize, they find this world where they're kind of an author but not quite. amazon has made legions of us, self-published, purgatory writers, i think souls' day was made for us, because we live in a world where we can think we are authors on a good day, but on a day when the car needs a new muffler, we know we're not a real author. we're lucky to have time to sit down and write anything, because we have a day job, and we're trying to think of ourselves as writers but really we're fathers, cooks, or teachers, or whatever, anything but the writing we don't have time to finish. in fact i'm stuck on my novel; i haven't done a thing on it in months, though i have some time this weekend, so i'm trying to figure out whether to haul it out and start slogging through it again, one chapter at a time, livening it up, making it consistent with itself, finishing it. the question now is, if it's about st. louis, whether i should incorporate anything about ferguson in it. this is partly because i'm aware that ferguson is ground zero for a reawakening of some kind, a kind of new round of insistence on human dignity and equality, and i'm wondering if i can incorporate that somehow into what is basically a simple murder plot. one of my problems all along is that i haven't really had a purpose, a drive, a reason to write a simple murder-plot novel, though i have a lot to say, and i'm not bad and making things happen quickly and in an entertaining way, and tying them all together in a way. where i'm weak is making real characters, 3-d people who you want to read more about, people who want stuff, so that you read in order to find out if they get what they want. slowly, i'll pick it up. with a story, it's more like a city bus. you get on, then you get off. maybe you remember part of it, maybe not.

for some reason, nobody's on screens this afternoon. they got off school at noon, played a little, came home, but for some reason, it just didn't occur to them. this could be because their brother stayed at school, i don't know. but for whatever reason, they can have the downstairs, have their fantasy, play out some of this violent feeling, these fears, etc., and i just sit here and type away, blog, in peace. outside the dog barks, somebody let her out and forgot to let her back in. that would be me.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

to me the all saints' day/all souls' day/dia de los muertos holidays are the high holy holidays, the best of them all, but i say that mostly because of the weather, as opposed to say, really knowing their history or their origins. i read an article tonight about all saints' day and all souls' day, but the comments were full of harshly worded rants by pagans who are apparently still mad that the christians moved the christian holidays on top of what was originally a pagan holiday. my impression had been the opposite, that hallowe'en had turned a christian all saints' day holiday into a wild chocolate orgy, much in the same way carnival had changed the nature of lent. but humans being humans, you'll have all of everything in each one, anyway.

tonight is the big texas game here in lubbock, and because both texas and texas tech are lower-order teams, reeling from terrible seasons, it's mostly a texas-pride kind of drinking holiday; what matters here is that the game is in the evening, so people can drink all day, go to the game, and then drink all night regardless of who wins. as i write it's 20-13 longhorns, but i know mostly because the heartbeat of the neighborhood, the lifeblood, the very air is permeated with the game. i take out the garbage and i can hear the game from the alley, coming from people's radios or televisions. the nature of the traffic will change according to who wins. i'll know when the game is over. football is a religion around here; the fact that all saints' day and the texas game fall on the same day is nothing short of very ironic.

now to me, immersed as i am in making my own holidays, and giving them their own interpretations, i'm mostly interested in this fact: the fall back inception of daylight savings time is falling this year on the cusp of all saints' day and all souls' day. of the two, i consider all souls' day far more serious; we pray for all souls, especially the ones who are caught between, and for the little children, the angelitos, in the case of dia de los muertos which is really a kind of celebration and a time to decorate skulls and make fantastic art. all souls, though, i'm much more into that than just glorifying these old catholic guys like john paul or whoever they make into a saint. i don't want to get caught up in whether some old pope should still be a saint even if he let the nazis do their thing during his reign, or he oversaw an empire that was responsible for hundreds of pedophiles getting away with it and even being protected. i'm not catholic. i just want to take in this beautiful cool weather and pray for all souls, especially the ones who are caught between.

businesses write off thousands of dollars of tax breaks bringing whole kegs down to the campus on football saturday, and then they're in the uncomfortable position of turning down minors who happen to be there looking for some fun, and wearing the tech black and red in order to fit in and have a good time. i saw one guy wearing a texas burnt-orange, and i almost told him, wrong shirt, but he was friendly, as everyone is, and besides, texas has a fairly wide following all over the place. another guy was scalping tickets on university. traffic was compulsive, maybe people were already drunk. police were all over the neighborhood because people like to park illegally and i think they wanted us homeowners to see them and know they were out there watching out for us. by game-time they're gone, watching the game like everyone else. it's all people care about, besides maybe the cowboys. i hate pointing out that football kills people, particularly boys, that kind of puts a needle in their balloon, so mostly i just shut up and sometimes i even talk football because i'm a man and how can you avoid it? fortunately we're kind of lousy because if we were any good, people would get more arrogant and probably expect me to actually know something about it.

hallowe'en, election day, sadie hawkins day, and guy fawkes day all share this little window of holidays, along with all saints' day/all souls' day/dia de los muertos/daylight savings time. but hey, the most incredible thing is the weather and nature itself. nationwide, if you watch the trees, you will see things change from a brilliant, show-your-colors display, absolutely stunning in the northern woodlands, to a kind of burnt-orange brownish color, steadily turning into the earthy brown that they will spend the winter in. some, like the pin oaks, never fully change or hold out well into january. evergreens hold out all winter. sometimes you'll be walking by and some leaf will take it upon itself to just fall, but not fall straight down, rather in that kind of back-and-forth, esoteric gentle way dancing in front of your nose as you walk. high holy days, that's what i call them. this year they're giving us that extra hour, at midnight tonight, though i'll probably be sound asleep, and the occurrence of that hour on the cusp of all saints'/all souls' is i think what makes this the holiday of all holidays. better even than thanksgiving, which, delicious as all that traditional food is, is full of family angst and people trying to drive on ice-covered northern roads. these holidays, hardly anyone even notices. they're all at the game, and they call this weather football weather. they're celebrating a pagan ritual involving concussions and massive amounts of alcohol.

i'm just getting used to dia de los muertos, which involves decorating skulls, and hanging around cemeteries with picnic lunches celebrating and praying for ancestors and the dead. the idea roughly is that death is not to be feared, or hated, or portrayed as dark, evil or controlled by witches and such. these souls are real people, and we need to reach out and join them as they are closer to us than ever. and it's not morbid, or dark, or bloody. one puts roses or other flowers around the skulls and paints them in different colors and the kids get involved, everyone reaches out. not that i have a clue, of course, i just got here. in some border towns or hispanic-dominated areas the anglos have taken to it with a passion. but it seems one has to unravel some of our own twisted ideas before one can have a healthier view of the whole thing. it's not easy, and the candy-bath store-boughten witch holiday just kind of mucks it up.

heard a story about "windy man" the other day. the city of lubbock doesn't go in much for sculpture, or art, or spending public money making things beautiful, but at one point they bought a couple of sculptures of "windy man" and put one of them up in a prominent place. letters poured in to the local newspaper, the avalanche-journal, decrying "windy man" as pagan. in fact, he did look a little like those old decorated-up art figures of god himself blowing the wind, but because it was clearly god-like, but not christian, it must be pagan, and people said it had to go. finally in the middle of the night somebody destroyed windy man with a sledgehammer. maybe they were mad that the city wasn't faster to just give up the thousand-dollar (or whatever) commission on the art, and just throw it away on their own. they're really quite cheap with public money here, and they didn't want to spend it and then leave "windy man" in some city warehouse garage. but in any case, the vandalism, probably caused by someone who had plenty of other problems, affected everyone. lubbock has changed a lot, people say, in the intervening ten years. now they can have art, they say. i'm not sure i believe them, but, fortunately, i'm not putting up any statues. i see a lot of decorative suns around. ok, i guess you can call them graven images, but, they're just suns, too.

sorry to bore you with religion, which nobody really wants to hear, but which always makes for a good fight. out in the alley, cats skittered away as i took out the garbage and put the cars in the garage out of harm's reach. put the bicycle away, too, and i'll lock the doors before it's all over. we live on a busy corner, and all kinds of things happen. and eventually i'll go to bed, the noise on the streets, cars going by, actually comforting me and not keeping me awake in any way. middle of the night, it's one deserted intersection out there, and i kind of like that, it's kind of like christmas break, when we might even get some snow, and it all lies there nice and soft and peaceful, and the students are gone. there are lots of stars here, more even than the small town i moved here from, but there are a lot of medivac helicopters as we live in close proximity to the hospitals. and the police and fire, if they ever get going, we hear them a lot too, and just get used to it. it's game night, and saturday night, and it's a wild college town, things are going to happen. and then, they'll clean it all up in the morning.