Thursday, March 20, 2014

Block

If anyone still reads this thing, it should be obvious by now that I suffer, quite frequently, from writer's block.

I'm fighting a bout of it again right now, along with the usual situational stuff that makes up the day to day life of Lincoln. But I'm going to try and do something about it this time. I'm going to try and sit down and write, even if it's just a few words, every day. Today, it was a poem. A bad one, but still, I got words on paper.

I know it's obvious. I know it's sort of basic advice. But you're not in my head and well, I'm going to try it for myself. It won't always be blogs. And most of it probably won't even be shared. But I'm going to try.

We'll see how this works.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Uncommonly uncomfortable

There are too many connections for all of us to make.

I just sat in this coffee shop, decidedly corporate, and tried desperately to fill out a job application. While I was eventually successful, it came at cost. I'm now jittery from too much sugar in my coffee, I still feel as though I don't have any forward motion, and I really, really want to get out of this coffee shop.

I also hate my new laptop.

Beside the point, I don't feel creative. Sure I'm out in a coffee shop, typing. But really, wasn't I just wasting time? I want to be creative and I can't concentrate here.

I'm on the verge of my second panic attack in as many weeks.

I'm just going to go home.

I need my own space, where I can actually work.

I can't find it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Going North

On a train right now, headed to Milwaukee for a visit with my friend Liz. Not sure what we're going to do but it'll be nice to escape the city for the weekend.

We're off. Musical accompaniment by AC/DC.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines

So a lot of people out there, single, like myself, tend to dread this holiday. I'm usually no exception to this rule. It's hard for a single person to avoid reminders that they are, in fact, single. Every store you go into is decked out with pink and red, there are advertisements for jewelry and other romance related items around every corner, and the train is full of people holding hands, carrying balloons and flowers home, gifts from someone who cares.

And for part of the day today, I was fighting my emotions, wallowing in "poor me" self-pity and loneliness.

But why bother? Really, there's no good reason to wallow. If you're happy with yourself, he having another person around shouldn't matter.

And I'm getting a lot better at being happy with myself.

What's the rest of my weekend hold? Well, actually, quite a bit. Tomorrow morning I'm catching a train and going to visit a friend in Milwaukee. It's a short visit but I haven't seen her in ages so it'll be nice to catch up. I'm going to write and read as much as I can this week. I have books that I haven't started and I've had to stop myself from buying more. And I have at least one short story idea to get started on. So that's good.

For now, I guess I'll try to brainstorm a bit of poetry before I go pack and head to bed. Maybe just a haiku.

This entry isn't really worth publishing, but writing, even boring banal stuff like this, is good practice.

Goodnight.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Morning bus ride, 1/14/14

I'm just going to be writing more here, even if the content isn't necessarily interesting to anyone but me. It's good to get one's thoughts down. The main thought right now: why does the guy in front of me smell like dog shit?

I'm on the bus of course.  The usual cast is here, with most of us on our phones. I can't, at this point, imagine how buses used to foster any sense of community.  From anecdotal stories of family this was true.  But now, with headphones, portable gaming and phones, if anyone does make eye contact they quickly pretend they didn't.

I'm going to read when I finish this post. I'm reading at least four books right now but I think today I'll focus on improving my writing skills, care of John Gardner.

These mobile posts lack any direction.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Poetry Filler Post

This is poetry filler. I'm traveling today. I wrote the haiku in question back in November. Enjoy.

Clocks spin backward to
sleep, moon isn’t light or dark.
Once more November.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Resolutions


It's a new year. 2014. I'm going to be 30 this year.
Holy shit.

So in honor of the way life doesn't do that whole....reverse thing, I'm actually going to make some resolutions this year. I know, impressive right?

In no particular order.

I will write and publish a story or poem. I will get back on a more regular creative schedule. Ditto for the sleep schedule. I will lose the fat I've gained in the last few years, eating healthier in the process. I will go on a solo road trip to as many National Parks as I can, filling in my National Parks passport along the way. I will take a climbing class, overcoming a fear of heights. I will take a parkour class. I will become as fit as I can. I will find a new job that uses my degree or in some way fulfills my need to not be bored. I will get a new tattoo. I will practice my guitar more. I will make new friends. I will make preparations to return to school.

I will become more active on this website.

I think most of these are possible. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On Certain Days

Sometimes all you can do is go to sleep.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Late Road

This poem is a work in progress.  Just something I jotted quickly on the bus.

We're all writing ghost stories.
There's no way of knowing,
while they're still spilling out,
what kind they're going to be.
Scary, with blackened eyes and a rocking chair that rights itself in the night,
or sad, unfinished, marked by suicide and sprinkled with the tragedies of unheard voices.
We write them, walk about with a ghost town building around us,
every building we enter haunted with our past, ghosts that drag behind us,
Jacob Marley memories.

Eventually we die.

The stories become ghosts.
Half-remembered things, haunts seen from the corner of memory by those we knew.
They're building their own ghosts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ender's Game: On separating art and artist

After struggling for a couple days with the morality of the entire exercise, I went ahead and saw Ender's Game this morning. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did. Was I bothered by the fact that I was watching a piece of art based on a book created by someone that I find distasteful? A little. Is the cognitive dissonance of the man who wrote such a pivotal, seemingly progressive novel being anti-gay still strong? Definitely. But I watched the film and I enjoyed it.

This is a problem that seems like it should pop up more often. There are a lot of truly reprehensible views held by artists, both past and present. Should I avoid the writing of Lovecraft, an author I enjoy immensely, because he was also a hateful bigot? Does every artist who committed suicide deserve to have their work interpreted through that lens? Do I have to, in other words, agree with every idea I come in contact with?

Of course I don't. That'd be silly.

Separating the art from the artist is something I picked up early. To me, it was amazing that actual human men and women put those words down on the page. When you're young, the suspension of disbelief is so strong that you almost believe as if each novel was written precisely for you, was telling you events that actually happened. I know Tolkien felt that way the first time I read it, turned back to page one and immediately reread it. And I've tried to keep that feeling into adulthood. It's hard, but accepting the fiction you're reading or watching as reality, at least for that moment, is part of the fun.

There's no reason to let that fiction be tainted by the asshole behind it.

Authors Note: I may have had more difficulty justifying the visit to the movies if Orson Scott Card was getting any money from the film. However, due to a poor deal on his part, it appears he gets nothing from the backend. Just my two cents for an emotionally charged debate. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

How do I know I want to be a writer?

This is a question that's easy for me to answer. It's also a question that's usually posed as "Why would you be a writer?" and followed by something like, "You'll never make any money that way." But since I have a higher opinion of my readers, I'm going to assume that you asked the more polite version.

How do I know I want to be a writer? It's because I get excited for new writing. I buy a magazine, I'm all anxious, twitching and clenching hands until i can crack it open and bask in the (surely toxic) fumes and tightly spaced print. A new video game is a fresh written world, coded and acted for my pleasure. A well written film satisfies, hours that fly by. And a book is best of all. There is nothing like time lost in a book. Nothing else can reward you more.

My own writing elicits a similar reaction. Even if I'm just in front of the desk for five minutes, typing hastily into a blog that no one reads (ahem), I feel satisfied at the end. There is something that exists that didn't before, and maybe, just maybe it'll enrich someone's life. It certainly does my own.

So how do I know I want to be a writer? I know because it makes me happy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unsettled: A poem in progress


Unsettled

The old man on the bus smiles at me when I sit down.
You’ve seen him before.

 jacket that fit
when his shoulders were younger, broad.
it settles, at places the memory of strength holding,
wrinkles sinking to bones and knotted skin, stitches arthritic as
the back they rest on.

a tie that was given when his wife was still alive,
blue silver striped, what might be a fish, clipped
hold from back to front,
sunk into a comfortable knot.

fastidious, polished shoes, slightly pigeoned.
once, pairs matched each morning to socks,
shirt,
tie.
now the last ones left, brown wingtips,
at odds against black pants.

baseball cap. it looks brand new.

he smiles at me when I sit down. he remembers
being my age, coasting between two wars, a wife,
 growing belly
hopeful words on a radio.

even into changes he marched bravely. greeted
those that his neighbors shunned, discovered common
ground,
adopted family.
this city sprung, generations changed.

he smiles at me when I sit down. I look away,
headphones in, eyes down.

generations changed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Trying to have fun

Where does someone in the 21st century go?

The driving, the great novels, travelogues, the interviews, they were all written by those who could force themselves up off their asses and out the door. My generation has trouble with that. I have trouble with that.

I want to go. I want to move out, push down the gas pedal or the keyboard, take photographs at 6 am of the sun rising over the mountains or a nameless beach along the coast. But I'm not doing that. Instead, I work 40 hours a week and let other people live. And I write things (like this) that sound like the Livejournal ramblings of someone who's read too much Kerouac.

How do you change?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Summer

I talk a good game on this blog. I have all these goals and plans, things that I want to accomplish. They often fall by the wayside.

That's kind of how this summer went.

I'm not saying that I failed miserably at everything these last months. I managed to get a lot of work in at the magazine. I swam a bit. I moved up in the world at my day job. But I am still stuck in my head on a daily basis. It's incredibly tough to be unable to write a single sentence that I'm happy with.

So I'm sitting here in a library, out of my bedroom office, parked at a one-hour workstation that smells like the stale cigarettes and body odor of the man who was here before me. A city library patron, overdressed for the weather in a hemp hoodie and carrying his world in a rolling suitcase. I should probably feel worse for him than I do, but even in this cavernous space, I'm in myself, no pity but for me.

It's a beautiful room. Lanterns hang from a curved wooden ceiling, calling to mind torii in Japan with their angled crossbeams. Large windows, butchered by shades, hold in my line of sight.

It's a hard room to be angry in.

I need to get angry.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This poem doesn't have a title yet, but probably has something to do with pop-culture maybe

Remember how I sometimes pretend to be a poet? Well here I go again. This one's still a work in progress. And I'm sure as soon as I post it, I'll read it over again, decide it's shit, and hide it from the world. So enjoy while it's up.



I’ve never been able to balance that perfect mix of poor and fashionable.
I look rumpled when I try it, wearing clothes that I’ve had for two years now
while I walk by a woman, two steps out of a thrift shop
and into Vice magazine
soft porn American Apparel advertisements.

These references won’t stand for time.

But really, are we listening to ourselves?
How arrogant; I complain of my shoes, my clothes,
when I can look across this room and see the closet is, at least, full.
And self-centering, I focus back onto my poor-me screed,
typed on a machine that cost more than a grand.
We’re writing our histories,
using Twitter to complain of all the pussy we didn’t get or
omg did you see Jon Hamm’s bulge?
Fuck your anecdote. You won’t make sense in sixty years.

I’ve not yet seen anything on Orion’s shoulder, and
my soliloquy won’t break the crew down in tears.
If this is a film, you’re a piss poor director.
And that reference is better known

for the moment

but

the food we aren’t giving. That food fills shelves
goes bad in the fridge
and we throw it away when we’ve had enough.
My yogurt was only half gone when I decided I was full.
We spend hundreds on a meal we won’t remember in two weeks
and a child dies for an unforgettable bite that would have cost less than a quarter

We breed dogs, make unsustainable mutant creatures with fragile hips
and respiratory systems that sound like Hell’s own ductwork.
Force them to stand in tiny cages, fucking, then throwing them away,
so a woman in Lincoln Park can buy a pug whose face resembles the
skin of a

you know what?
Fuck.
This is entitlement showmanship, well and good,
but I’ve been writing this over the course of a month that left
a town in ruins and a city in lockdown.
And when the murder of twenty children was forgotten in a vote
Barely four months later
poetry pop culture is
nothing but fashionably poor.



Look at that. I totally swore. See how edgy I am?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Corresponding

I'm going to start a new letter writing project. Watch this space.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Haps

There will be more poetry and more early mornings in my life this summer.  That's a goal.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Practice

Forgive any melodrama.  I'm trying to get back into steady writing. Hope everyone is well.

George

That's the name of the street I'm headed for up there.

It's where my barbershop is and it's about a forty minute bus ride. I could have waited; my roommate Sam is headed there later, and he has a car. But hey, I like  the commute.

When I'm on the bus, or the EL or walking in a crowd down Michigan avenue, I'm in the city. There's St. Matthias' over there, wishing me a happy spring with a razor-toothed fence and a touch of green bordering its parking lot. That girl, the one who stopped me to tell me she liked my shirt, we had a ten second love affair that played out the way most of my relationships do;  she walked away first. The trees are budding and I walked to the bus through alternating pot smoked dubstep and curried classical.

I live in this city now but I'm not quite here yet. The dual language signs are inclusive but I'm not included. I'm still just passing.

But I'm still in the city right?

Monday, February 25, 2013

No one else updates; I will

Most of my writing in this blog lately has been on my smartphone. I joined the future back in October, my move to the big city a convenient excuse to snag a piece of technology that I'd been avoiding.

Because of this blogging on the move I hadn't seen the list of friends' blogs recently. And when I logged in tonight to write this, I saw that the most recent update from any of them was five months ago.

I'd say unacceptable but I feel that might be a little bit hypocritical. I'm not exactly timely myself. But this is, once again, an "I promise to get better" post.

Things have been a little hectic. The internship, two jobs, and a lack of funds create a space that isn't really the most motivational for me. I miss my dog and I stress about other people's lives. About things that are so unlikely to come to pass that they might as well be the stuff of Victorian melodrama.

But there are positives too.

Today for example. I held the door for an old man. A girl with a smile in her eyes let it spread to her lips. I did yoga for the first time in a month and felt my heart nearly slip into that old comfortable place.

You just have to sit down and look around. The winter isn't really so bad. And that's a star up there.