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It is kind of weird. I went into my computer this morning to start writing my 100 Words for August, and I found them already written out – the entire month. I don’t remember writing them. Yes, they are familiar as I read them. Yes, I remember writing each piece, but I don’t remember writing out an entire month’s entries and leaving them here. When did I do this? Was it a wild all-nighter that I subsequently forgot about? And now, I get to read my entries, one at a time, each one a kind of a surprise gift for me.
Wow, I feel really trashed this morning. Predictably, my head hurts. There is some pain you learn to live with I suppose. It is part of your existence and you accept it without question. Possibly you become accustomed to it. There is other pain that comes and goes, some recurring. I don’t know about any of this. It is all dark and fuzzy. Perhaps it is a good day to go for a walk after all. A day to clean the studio. How long has it been since I gave the studio a good cleaning? I wonder about this idea.
It's the weather. The weather comes and goes and has a will of its own. The weather is conscious, is a god of sorts. It has a power that is greater than any man or woman. I pause here a moment to explore the derivation of the word, “woman.” Not that you couldn’t do that yourself. Knowledge is readily available to most of us these days. It has been for a long time, and it seems that it is a kind deception, presenting us with an infinity of babble, of which we quickly tire and from which we quickly turn.
There is a limit of the things any person can put into their heads before older things start falling out with each new insertion. I think. Anyway the trick is to limit yourself to those things that are most important and to ignore the dross. The internet is full of dross, mostly redundant entries many of which are lies in the first place. One might indeed ask why humans have such a propensity for lying and what evolutionary advantage it could possibly confer? Because, having evolved over so many eons of time, every wink of every lash has a purpose.
I did go for that walk, for the first half or one-third of it. I marveled at the long caterpillar humping across the road, and the blue corn flowers growing close-cropped alongside the curb. I felt my muscles resisting this kind of exercise this early in the morning. I imagined myself as seen from above, the solitary figure walking the park. I saw the top of my cap, the blue fabric of my shirt, the muscles in my legs pressing me forward relentlessly. I saw the stiff wires sprouting Borg-like out of my ears. All this was symphony of movement.
I am drifting off to sleep when an alarm wakes me. It’s Facebook. Facebook has this power to reach out and grab my attention whenever it suits its purpose; not my purpose. It assumes that It knows better what I want to focus on than I do. I consider this for a moment, and I reach over and turn off my phone. There is a movement in the force, as if a million souls have suddenly cried out in pain. Facebook recoils like an ancient worm that has suddenly felt the scalpel’s touch. It begins reaching around, searching for me.
Fear not, gentle reader. Facebook knows where to find me, even with my phone turned off. I can already feel the aura of power pulsing from the Facebook core again. I hear the hum and buzz. It warms me where I sit. It soothes me in my restless sleep. Its spell checker and its ads follow me into the darkest recesses of my existence. It sets a table of polished merchandise before me in my time of need. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of Zuckerberg
I remember Steve in his studio, Steven with his paint brushes and cowboy boots, Steven with whisps of blonde hair across his forehead. I still remember his voice. Perhaps every person has a purpose, a space to fill in the dance of being. He had a north-facing window for the light and a 12-foot door wall. The layout of that apartment was the same as the layout of the one I had in Brighton. I have forgotten the name of the street there in Brighton. It will come to me in a bit, when I am thinking about something else.
When Steven and Wendy moved into the apartment, Steven had laid plastic down over the carpeting and then covered the carpeting with another layer of used carpeting. This was to protect the apartment carpeting from the paint spills. Steve taught me how to clean up carpet spills and stains. You wet the spot down, possibly with detergent, and cover it with paper towels. You then place a weight on the paper towels to maximize the contact between the carpet and the paper. The moisture is wicked into the towel and evaporates into the room, leaving the stain on the paper.
It was Steven who taught me about cleaning the studio, about the importance of the studio. When he couldn’t paint, for whatever reason, he would start cleaning the studio. Eventually he would find that he had stopped cleaning and had started painting. It was that easy. Movement leads to movement. Work leads to work. It was a pattern he had established in his life that the movement of cleaning the studio would lead to the movement of painting. There are certain well-worn paths our brains go down. We do not have to understand them. We just have to follow them.
I could be arousing a sea of troubles here by talking about the word, “woman.” Basically there is not much information about the origin of the word. It appears to be Old English, which actually tells us very little. Its root is the word, “man,” which is pretty obvious. It appears to have originally meant “man,” with a modifier. The modifier is a bit of a problem. No, it doesn’t come from the word, “woe.” Some references point to the word for “servant.” Others do not. It seems to translate to “different sort of man.” Perhaps “particular sort of man.”
I am cleaning today. I started by cleaning myself. I am not sure, but possibly I will clean the deck next. I want to sweep up all the sawdust mess I made when I cut the bottom off the laundry room door out there. I want to clean the grill up too. It is getting close to fall. Soon I will have to carry all that stuff down into the basement. I keep thinking you will get well this summer. That has not happened. Winter will soon intervene. Perhaps we can go for a walk in the park next spring
The evolutionary advantage for lying. Well, the art of deception has an obvious advantage when it comes to conflict. A species whose appearance and behavior were open and honest would obviously become either food or slaves (or both) for any other species it met. Competition and deception are the roots of survival, of success. I suppose we should expect, therefore, a little spill-over to modern society. It would be nice if we could be given access to a vetted library where every scrap of information was true. This, of course is just not possible. It is surrounded by swirling currents.
She didn’t go for a walk. She meant to; she really did. But things happened. It was, she had learned, difficult to arrange life the way you wanted it. It was as if the body, the thing, the experience called life had a momentum of its own, had its own path, its own ideas. It seemed she had to really concentrate to make things happen. She wondered about men. They always seemed to know where they were going. Except, and here she chuckled to herself, when they didn’t. She looked over at the clock. In this light it was blurry.
As I walk the park I keep my eye out for another turtle. I am not likely to see one here. I probably removed the last one from the park, shipping it to my sister at home. I am a poacher now. I have taken an animal from its natural habitat and consigned it to a life of captivity. Oh, it will be glorious captivity indeed. It will be optimally fed and will have a mate. It will have an environment so large that it will seem, to the turtle at least, to be infinite. A gilded cage for sure.
This is an unsual time for me. I am not working. My partner is away. I have the house to myself, and I can do anything I want. This is so unusual. I am doing things differently than I normally do. I listen to more music. I don’t bother to turn on the TV. I have returned to my pattern of opening windows at night and running the air conditioner only in the afternoon and early evening. I am cleaning the house and completing projects. I feel fine. I was worried about being alone at first, but I am fine.
I keep falling asleep. I write for a while, and then I fall asleep. Repeat. Maybe I need the sleep. I will be able to catch up on it a bit tomorrow too, I think. I am coming to visit you at the hospital. Visits at the hospital are unpredictable though. You never know for sure what will happen. I used to work at this hospital, so in a way I am comfortable there. It is not as disorienting as it might be. To be sure, it has been a long time since I worked there, but much is unchanged.
I’ll not be here much longer. Soon it will be time to go to bed. It’s been raining today and it is a little humid. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to some air conditioning as I go to sleep. First, I will have to make some coffee. I will not actually make it tonight. I will set up the pot and then I’ll just start the brew in the morning. Normally I set the brew on a timer to make the coffee ten minutes before I get up. I’m not that sure what time I will be getting up tomorrow though.
O.K., I will do that. I will do what I said I would do, and then I will come back to this. There is so much to do, and so much of it seems to be just useless movement, but movement is life and life responds well to movement. Muscles, bones, and minds grow along lines of stress. To be sure, too much stress is a bad thing for any of those three things. Movement, however, kinetic movement focuses on the muscles and bones. It is generally agreed that these days that the population does not see enough kinetic movement.
I used to have an unshakeable faith in my ability to do this, to do this to order, to make any deadline, to write on any subject, in any genre. I am not so sure any more. Not entirely sure I care, to be honest. If I had to bet on whether I was going to make tonight’s deadline or not, I’d bet against myself. I’ve got what maybe an hour to write a thousand words? That is not too bad, actually when I think about it that way. The problem is that I have to both write and post.
The stars are out there, but I cannot see them. It may be a trick of the light in here, because I have a lovely vista. You can see the entire bowl of the valley from here during the day. It is quite the sight. There are trees everywhere. The entire valley is covered with trees. All you can see is the verdant forest floor from here. It can make you feel small and makes you think of those who lived here a long time ago, of how they lived and the things they experienced every day of their lives.
I have driven over this bridge several three times today. In my life I have driven over it hundreds of times in dozens of cars and motorcycles. The bridge is wider than it used to be. Its curve is gentler and now blends into the landscape, arcing gracefully over the river. The stop signs have been taken away. Instead now the bridge just bends a bit and traffic now flows without a halt. Two more sets of stop signs have been replaced by roundabouts. Everybody curses the roundabouts, but someone must love them. They have become ubiquitous in our cities.
I wanted to write about the ditch today. I cannot get it out of my mind, and I don’t know where it is. I don’t remember where I first saw it or what memory it is part of. Maybe it is an archtype of ditches, constructed from many memories of ditches. It is a drainage ditch that runs along a highway. It is deep, and steep. It is summertime, late in the summertime because the earth is dry and packed hard, but the weeds growing there are mature. I can feel the solidity of the ditch, can even smell it.
Yes, that was a comma splice. I left it there for you. I knew you would catch it. I sometimes think that the rules of grammar have outlived their utility. They describe a thing that has already moved on by the time they are written. They can never keep up with it. Some of these rules are old, it is true, and I can quote some of them to my students that I may have learned myself half a century ago. But the grammar does not define how a language unfolds. Grammar is a rule that is fit to language.
Think about the smell of gasoline. What does it mean to you? Have you ever tasted gasoline? Have you ever sat the entire afternoon with your shirt, or perhaps your pants soaked in gasoline? Have you felt it eating at your skin like acid? It is cooling. It evaporates quickly like alcohol. But the scent stays with you. On water gasoline separates into a prism of many colors. When touched with a flame it explodes violently. Gasoline is potential violence, harnessed within contraptions of iron and steel designed to move us from place to place easily and, yes, even safely.
I remember my mother doing laundry decades ago. I remember her using a wringer washer, the wringer on a lever attached to a enameled tub. The lever would release the wringer and let it swing to the side so the clothes could be fed from the washing machine tub, through the rubber rollers, and into another galvanized tub. The galvanized tubs had a number 10 stamped into the bottom of them. My sister and I would take baths in those tubs, set atop the kitchen table. But I remember washing clothes with the wringer washer was a lot of work.
Meanwhile my father loved to hunt. He had his beloved Ithica twelve-gage shotgun. He would hunt rabbits and pheasants mostly, following the fence rows in the winter time with his favorite dog. Sometimes he would follow the railroad tracks, hunting the right of ways. It was along one of these right of ways that his dog was shot, by someone else I think. I think I was there that day. We were picking berried. The dog was screaming and trying to bite my father as he carried it up the steep railroad bank to the car. The day was hot.
I think I initially spelled the word gage wrong in yesterday’s entry. It amazes me often how many years a person can go along spelling the same word wrong or breaking the same grammar rule until some new on-line editor catches their error and forces them to go back and correct it. I think we are quickly getting to the point where the English language will begin to stagnate because computers will shore up the rules and then force people to conform them. News variations and new slang will no longer be permitted. I see language consigned to the dump.
It is piercing the summer. I hear it buzzing overhead, over the worn-thin tar shingles on the house, out over the un-tilled field and the pond. The pond is brown, muddy, and has rocky muddy banks. It has not been a pond very long, so it has not had time to smooth its shoulders. The pond is the scene of many nightmares for me. This is O.K., because I have forgotten most of them. I remember only quiet mental stills of life around the pond. I remember what it felt like when I fell off the dock. I remember mud.
It has become late, but I came in from Ohio, So I was tired. I was sleepy. I even stopped on the way home to take a nap to ensure I did not fall asleep while I was driving. Now it is dark in here. The only light is from the screen of the laptop, and perhaps I will be asleep soon. That is actually the only thing on my mind: the derivative and dream. I keep typing sentences now…did I mean for the next word to be now? I am falling asleep at the keyboard, fingers on the keys.
The last day of the month now. It is hanging before me like a weathered sign over a doorway. Late summer and the grass is starting to die. Some talk about summers and autumns in our lives. It is something to think about I suppose. I more often find it is something worth not thinking about. There are some things, be whatever they may, that are better to be left alone. There are those who would say I am weak for thinking that way. That’s ok with me. They can think what they like. I can easily live with weakness.
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