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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

folks are friendly around here, so they ask me if i've had a good weekend, and wish me a great day, and things like that, really friendly. maybe they don't want to know this, but when they ask me what i'm doing this weekend i say, well i adopted two little girls, six and nine, this weekend, and that was a huge ordeal but every weekend is an ordeal anyway, so much so that i'm totally exhausted come monday and ready to go and just teach which i'm comfortable with.

in fact i went to court twice on friday, once to county court in the morning for the adoption and later to the municipal court to finally clear up this speeding ticket i got for going too fast in a school zone, when the sign said speed limit twenty when flashing, but wasn't flashing because it was broken. i'd thought hard about contesting the ticket, and simply telling them if your sign is broken you can't expect people to know the speed limit is twenty. but the day i'd gone into municipal court i got this huge spell of dizziness, walked like a drunk, was barely able to get in the line there at the court, and considered going directly to the hospital but was afraid to even drive. on the spot i decided not to contest the ticket but instead to take the class which allows you to strike it from your record, and now, having taken the class and got my form notarized, was going back to that municipal court to get it cleared up.

in the morning there in the county court, everyone was up early, and we were all dressed up, and the girls were very excited. they had another family in there; i suspect the boys' parent or parents had died or disappeared, and their uncle was taking them in, along with three he already had, and was looking a little haggard and fresh from the night shift. they had a lot of teddy bears for the adoptive family, both adoptees, in this case two boys, and original kids, in this case three others, some younger. the bears disappeared in a hurry. they had to run and get more for our kids. it's not like we don't have enough stuffed bears around, we have millions. they take up corners where space is precious and just sit there being soft and cuddly, and maybe people appreciate them and maybe they don't. i don't.

but anyway the county court was formal, strict, well behaved, and we were all dressed up, though now, having said our vows and told the judge we were all ok with what was happening, we were free to leave. we were parked over by the bail bond place and one of those places had little glass marbles stuck in the building. the kids picked at a few of them and they fell out and glowed in the light. there were others; they were having plenty of trouble, i figure, keeping them on the walls. morning was showing up. the courthouse obviously put the families first to put everyone in a good mood because most of their day was robberies, murders, divorce, etc. we were the diversion, i figure. we were a family who was all ready to say yes, who was charming even when we were noisy, unruly, poorly behaved.

the municipal court, on the other hand, had bars on its windows, and almost everyone who was there, by definition, was a little angry about some ticket they had gotten. one teen had spent a day in jail and she was like, whatever, i'll pay the money, just let me out of here. several were like me. they had sped or somesuch, and taken the course, and the course is a good idea, they want you to take the course, mostly because if you behave for a year everything is ok on your record, but the big thing is, if you behave for a year you get in the habit of behaving, and pretty soon you just behave because that's the habit you've got yourself into. so they say, take this course, oh yeah you still gotta pay a few hundred bucks but whatever, take the course and everything is cool. one guy wanted to pay on installments, twenty bucks at a time, but they wouldn't let him, they'd give him an extension, but they wanted the whole couple hundred bucks or they wouldn't strike it from his record. this time i wasn't dizzy. i had all the paperwork. i wanted to be done with it.

today was all tennis and soccer. the tennis started at eight in the morning, and my son won a lot, so that made it a good day, it all looks better when he wins, even if his opponents are slightly wacko. later in the afternoon it was soccer and swimming. it was a bright blue-sky day, no wonder everyone's in such a darn good mood, late october the weather is stunningly gorgeous, you can go outside day and night, there's an economy, people are busy and happy doing whatever it is that they want to do. they seem to be friendly because they're used to the way things are and things usually aren't so bad, though even the best of us end up in court every once in a while with those speeding tickets, since they're out there pulling over nearly everyone they can. but that's just the way things are. it's still a great place, anyone can tell you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

new story

Not It

enjoy! comments welcome, as usual!
homecoming weekend here, which means that as much traffic pressure that we get, cars on flint, millions of cars on nineteenth, cars on twentieth, people parking on our street, etc., it's bound to be as bad as it'll get this weekend. kansas is coming to town, and this is a team that we are supposed to be able to beat, so people are relatively upbeat about the football possibilities.

i was walking three miles a night barefoot, this was back before the rains, in the summer when there was stickers and dog poop, and then i upped the tempo. i ran half the track, about half-k, every time i caught my breath until i'd been running three or four half-k's a night, then five or six. but at night, middle of the night, i'd get up to use the bathroom, and my feet would be in excruciating pain. every muscle and bone seemed to be contracting and making it difficult to walk to the bathroom. i thought, i'll get over this, i just need more practice. at night again, i'd take off my shoes. it felt wonderful, the grass on my feet. when it was wet i'd confuse patches of mud with dog poop, but i'd take a shower when i got home.

i started running more, barefoot. pretty soon i made it all the way around the track, about 1 k, then i made it 1 1/2, almost two. i was proud of myself. i had a slow pace, but the ground didn't bother me, it felt great on my bare feet.

middle of the night, though, that was different. when i woke up i could hardly even make it to the bathroom. my feet seemed to crumple beneath me in terrible pain. i didn't have this pain when i ran; it was great. but at night, and the following day, it was hell. i was limping everywhere. and it didn't help that i wore shoes in the day. i could hardly go anywhere.

so i gave up. one weekend, i just stopped going out at night. no walking, no running, no shoes, no barefoot. i just went to bed at night, and tried to heal my poor feet. and sure enough, within a couple of days, i'd regained all five pounds that i'd lost in the previous month.

but worse than that, my entire legs started falling apart, and i was still sore. finally though, after a few days of this, i went back out. this time i took shoes, and kept them on. this time, i only walked, and if my knees hurt, i just kept going. i got back into my original equilibrium.

my daughter dropped a "rock chalk jayhawk" sign on my wall, as if to say, go kansas. so i dropped a red raider on hers and said, you let us win the football, we let you win in basketball. which is pretty much true. it's not generally close, so it's not really a rivalry.

calendar time. i'm gearing up, psychologically, to make a good one. i'm using all my dad's photography these days, and it's working well. it takes time, and i don't have time, that's why i'm gearing up, so as to make time, so as to get it done. i have to be awake at night, able to put together twelve months. then, it'll happen. i look forward to it; i'm ready.

The other thing is the poetry. i've become fanatical about it, nearing a thousand, getting a decent show for all fifty states. i now have one in each season for almost every state, i'm closing in on the last few, and i'm trying to make it so i'm no longer relying on the singletons as much; in states like california and pennsylvania, i'm adding easily, effortlessly. the usual suspects are difficult. delaware, new hampshire, maine, hawaii. what am i supposed to do? hang in there; it's looking much better.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

so tonight sir paul mccartney arrived in lubbock for a concert, and that gave me a certain personal feeling, to be only about five blocks away from a beatle, although one could say, for sure, that with tickets being about three hundred, and a major security setup, there was probably no way i could actually meet him, or even see him. i thought, maybe he's the kind of guy who likes to go out for a walk. but if he does, it surely won't be near the arena, where all these huge ticket-holders are lurking and there are thousands more students than there used to be, even last year.

i have this kind of fascination with fame, though a friend pointed out that social media has been the death of celebrity, as there's no such thing as privacy anymore. i think paul is the only one of the beatles who is still actually out there touring, but there are plenty of other old bands that still play once in a while and whet the appetite for the old days. the other day they had blood sweat and tears at the fair, and a friend of mine had tickets to give away. but it turns out the fair gets these ancient bands because the parents will bring the children, and then the children will spend a lot of money and get cotton candy, etc. i missed that one too. i could hardly remember a single blood sweat and tears song, though i knew there were several.

with the beatles though, there are millions of songs, and though sir paul only wrote about half or whatever, he still can get out there and represent the history as it came down through the ages. to me, it's interesting just to be in a town that has concerts; for the most part, these are second-tier concerts, but sir paul requested to play here because he has a thing for buddy holly, and always has. he considers buddy holly to be the man, the guy who got him started, the one who got his hook into the rock-pop genre.

a friend of mine told of a gathering of songwriters, guys who write for george strait or brad paisley or whoever, and then get together themselves, to play their own music, when they have a chance. these friends were talking about small intimate settings as opposed to the united arena, but the idea was to get closer to the creativity itself rather than just the music. it's fair to say that, from my point of view, the most interesting thing was just to hear people's feelings about the whole thing. i have friends who go to every concert, reasoning that life is short, lubbock is small, and if one has money and an opportunity to make a memory, one should. but a much larger percentage of us are holding back, not paying these huge prices, hoping for something better. and i like hearing what they have to say. my sister believes the music industry has tanked, it's finished, you can't make a living like this, but i'm more interested in, when kind of life is it, when you do? are people like sir paul actually having fun? getting drowsy as usual, falling asleep at the keyboard. working on poetry a lot these days, check it out, it's extensive.

Monday, September 29, 2014

last night's bear story

the bear jumps out on the boy in the forest again, and says this time he's going to eat him for sure. but the boy says it's a bad day, because he has an art exhibit at a gallery in town, and he's expected, he's not only expected, but he's the star of the show, inasmuch as he's the main artist. the bear is not thoroughly convinced but once again decides to go along with the boy.

when they get to the gallery, it's a thoroughly modernistic building with glass walls and weird angles everywhere. there's a whole table of hoover-doovers and everyone is standing around eating hoover-doovers and drinking wine. the boy asks the bear if he'd like any hoover-doovers, but the bear, though starving, is more focused on watching people. the walls, however, are empty except for light shining on them. "hey," the bear says, "there's no art on the walls! where is your art?"

"it's imaginary," says the boy. "my art requires a finely developed sense of imagination on the part of the viewer, who must make of it what he imagines," and the boy goes into an explanation of how the art relates to the viewer, and the viewer relates to the art. meanwhile a woman comes up and gives the boy several thousand dollars in cash, for a piece of art that she has taken a liking to, and she seems quite content to carry this picture out into the street even though it's imaginary. the bear is incredulous. he gets the boy to promise to take him to the movie after the art opening.

now the owner of the building comes by and reminds the boy that he owes rent for this fine old building space which is, after all, right downtown. the boy pays him cash with the money in his pocket, and buys an extra month while he's at it, even though he doesn't need it as the exhibit is coming down soon. the man is satisfied and goes to eat more hoover-doovers and drink wine. some people appear to be getting a little tipsy.

but the building manager reminds the bear that you have to wear pants or you're not allowed in the elevator, though the bear says he has no intention of using the elevator, since he's sure that they will make the elevator stuck the minute he gets in it, and he also says that even though elevators are supposed to always go up and down, this one is likely to go sideways since he doesn't trust the management. the building manager says he'll call a tow truck and have the bear towed away if he doesn't behave himself immediately but the boy grabs the bear before it's too late and takes him across the street to the movie theater where "fantasia" is showing and they get in line.

they buy tickets and order a large popcorn, but instead of receiving a giant bowl that is full of buttered popcorn, they receive a single piece of popcorn that is what, several feet wide and several feet tall. they don't know how to cut it because they have nothing to cut with. they take it to their seat and put it between them, but people behind them start yelling, down in front! down in front! but they can't put it down; it's too big. and there are no seats in the back, all the seats are taken.

they start an intense conversation with a woman behind them about the rights of a person who has bought a movie ticket, but people nearby resent the conversation in the middle of the movie and pretty soon there's a commotion of people yelling at them to shut up and the bear finally threw the popcorn over to a little kid, since he wasn't going to use it himself. he began considering the exit door, since he'd already seen the movie maybe nine times, and knew all the songs by heart.

classic bear story

bear stories, in our household, mostly come out when we are camping but are likely to come out any time. they are characterized by a certain absurdity, starting with the fact that the bear always talks. but they are also characterized by a strong relationship between the bear and the boy, who is always in a little danger of being eaten if nothing else. here is the main one:

one day the boy was walking along in the forest when the bear jumped out at him and said he would eat the boy. the boy said, "whoa! don't eat me!" but the bear was determined. finally the boy made the bear an offer. "you should come down into town with me and eat a hamburger. when we get the hamburger, they put it in a bun, and then they have cheese, and relish, and ketchup and mustard, and tomato, and onion, and lettuce..." now the bear doesn't really know what all this stuff is, but he decides to give it a shot, since, if it's not enough to eat, he can always just go on plan a, which is to eat the boy. but as they walk through the forest, they run into a number of other animal friends.

first they run into the dog, and the boy describes the entire hamburger again: cooked well, with cheese, and tomato, and ketchup, and mustard, etcetera. pretty soon the bear is entranced by the sound of this exotic food which he's never tasted, but the dog is not impressed. "i am busy," he said, "chasing a cat." later they run into the cat, and the story is repeated. the boy describes the hamburger in detail, but the cat is busy chasing a mouse. when they get to the raccoon, the raccoon is planning to break into a garbage can, so he's too busy to go to town to get a hamburger.

when they finally get to town, it's just the boy and the bear again. on the restaurant is a sign that says "no shirt no shoes no service." the owner points it out and complains that the bear doesn't even have pants on either. the bear says he'll eat the owner along with the boy, and he doesn't care what anyone is wearing. they are standing outside the restaurant and in fact are pretty close to a parking meter.

so the meter man comes by and starts writing the bear a ticket for not plugging the meter. the bear maintains that he is not a car, so he should not have to plug the meter. the meter man says that it doesn't matter if you wear pants or not, if you are blocking the parking space and not dropping quarters in the meter, he'll give you a ticket. i don't have quarters, said the bear, because i don't have pockets. but i will gladly eat you, and drop some of your quarters into the little slot.

oh no no no no, says the boy, running from the restaurant out into the street to retrieve the bear. he has obtained a seat in the restaurant, after some waiting, and now wants the bear to join him for a dinner of two hamburgers with the works. the bear is stuck on the idea of "the works" but he was quite bored with the meter man, so he walks into the restaurant and joins the boy at the table near the juke box. now people are plugging the juke box with all kinds of quarters, and they are listening to classics of all time which come on repeatedly.

but a tow-truck driver pokes his head into the restaurant and asks if there is a bear in the house. yes, there is i, says the bear. the tow-truck driver says he was asked to come downtown and tow this bear who was blocking the road and refusing to let people park in front of the restaurant. you can't tow me, says the bear, i'm a bear, not a car, so take your tow truck and go tow someone else. they just about start a fight right there in the restaurant and one young child actually hides under the table because he's afraid there will be food and plates flying any minute. but the bear keeps his calm and simply reminds the tow truck driver that he can tow whoever he likes, but he can't fit the bear through the door without the bear's cooperation, or breaking the big window that says "eat" on it, and the tow-truck driver ends up complaining that this bear is not even wearing pants, even when you are supposed to be kicked out for as little as "no shoes no shirt." but it's too late, people have come to like the bear, and they don't like tow truck drivers, and even as he raises his voice they keep singing in french and banging their spoons against their glasses, and he just has to leave. the bear and the boy order apple pie with cream on top, and make a long night of it, telling stories and singing with the crowd. somebody brings out the raspberries, and that makes the bear really happy, but finally he remembers his little home in the woods, and stumbles home, in the middle of the night, glad that there's a large moon to light his way.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

10 years blogging
and i have no idea how to mark the occasion
he looks at the post below, the one in italics, and he says, what a piece a crap, i sure have turned into a lousy writer. going back through the autobiography, which is called just passing through by the way, and in need of a central piece but this is not even a lousy start. it might be of some use if it's rewritten over and over but hey who's got the time. taken up poetry again, you don't have to slave over every sentence or organize which i do for a living.

then the tech team goes up into oklahoma, and apparently t.-boone pickens gave them a few hundred million, a few hundred million for their football team and another few hundred million for their school, and they spent their football money recruiting texans, and doing a few other bawdy things for their visitors which they got caught doing but which someone said, hey, every football team does this kind of stuff they're just the dumb suckers who got caught. so they got their wrists slapped but they got to go ahead and play football and now they beat us every year apparently. and not only that, but they injured our quarterback.

now i should mention that as a lifelong cleveland browns fan all of football has now become a cruel parody to me, a kind of vaudeville entertainment where people who should know better fall into genuine rooting for this team or that team, meanwhile the players fall injured, or get a lot of concussions, or beat their girlfriends or wives, or whatever. we're lucky, in that sense, that we're losing to the big guys because if we were winning them all, then somebody would care too much about the kind of stuff we're getting away with. coach is getting three mil but he's a single guy. girls are trying to figure out how to trip him and land beneath him.

saw a truck waving huge confederate flags as it drove triumphantly down university avenue. but they were paving university avenue and it was all gravel dust and torn up asphalt. this truck, it had been in the mud, obviously. i guess that's a sign of something, the boys like that, when the truck has a fair spattering of red texas clay all over it. it was a victory lap, i'm sure. on the way to town for a friday night.

now i must say, i myself got a ticket the other day, went south out of the cvs on memphis and nineteenth, went past four stop signs in a row, and came to a sign that said, school zone, 20 when flashing, but it was not flashing, so i kept going about 30 which is what it is if it is not flashing. got pulled over for doing 31 in a 20. didn't see it, i told the guy, which was true, because it was broken, so of course i didn't see it. but in the end i went downtown to protest the ticket and got out of the van, and all of a sudden i was tipsy, kind of drunk-feeling, the world spinning beneath me like i could hardly walk. here i am downtown trying to find the municipal court, and i know i'm walking like a drunk, on account of being so dizzy. now it so happened that i'd eaten some fu-fu salad, really nice, with pasta and everything fancy on it, and when i got home i got sick and that salad ended up all over my kitchen floor, but at the time all i knew was that i was about to keel over and when i got to the court, i decided not to fight the ticket, but rather just pay it, since my days might be numbered, and agree to take that drivers safety course that teaches you to follow the speed limit, which i will take and report right here in this spot. i'm beginning to feel like an old duffer. i follow the speed limit now, i don't even do illegal u-turns, and if people have a problem with that, i just flash my ancient white beard at them and let them curse me out.

waited all month to go out to the golf club on the far north part of town, where all the old duffers play bluegrass on the last friday of every month. they were missing a few people this month, but nevertheless played a pretty hot panhandle rag and washington and lee somethingorother. could have been washington and lee swing, but it's kind of bluegrassy, and i'm not sure it's the same song. nevertheless it was good n' hot. unfortunately they won't play in october, inasmuch as everyone goes to amarillo for halloween, then november and december are shot because of the holidays, so it's no more of that until january.

taken to wearing my sandals to work, it's of some concern that when it rains barely an inch there is sometimes as much as a foot of water at the crossing, the one place i need to transverse to get across nineteenth street and into work. i can either walk down nineteenth, cross dangerously at a place where people can't see too well and where i have to get across at least five soggy lanes and even then jump possibly into another pool of water but at least into very wet grass, OR and this one's obviously better, just wear sandals and take my shoes off, and roll up my pans, and walk straight across. this protects me also, if it rains while i'm on campus. in this rainy time anything can happen. i clearly can't read the sky. it can come form anywhere and it can be a deluge, can and often will be.

the other day woke up and there was a wall of trouble off to the west and i thought, here we go, but as the day wore on it drifted around to the north and by soccer practice time it had sprinkled but it didn't really look too bad, i was afraid i'd have to take the girlies to soccer and finally i did. but at soccer we're all standing out in this open field as one kid is playing soccer and the others are doing the bars, and this wall of clouds hooks around up in the northeast and starts trucking on down toward us with lightning in front of it and bearing down pretty hard. we got in the car and went straight home whereupon it rained quarters and flooded down flint, the basement got a few inches in spts, and everyone took a pounding. some cars got stranded in the marsha sharp where a few feet of water just stood down there until it drained, this is the main highway through town, you'd think there'd be drainiage, but no. a couple inches in a couple hours, and it's more than the city can take, and things are going bonkers all over the place. whole cars are being sogged out, pulled over and forced to dry out for a few days.

couple days later, the basement's dried out, the ragweed's a poppin' all over town, things have bloomed and grown, we didn't even know was there. a whole crop of mushrooms for starters. the ragweed is killing me, i've never seen so much of it bloom all at once in one single place in my life. whole lawns overtaken with it, and it's all blooming, going bonkers, and when i tried to pull some out around my own garage, the hay fever got worse. worse, maybe, than any i've ever had, though iowa was especially bad in that regard. iowa had it from an exact time, august 15, to another exact time, october 15, whereas southern illinois had it gradually over a period of four or five months, popping all the time. texas, though, didn't have it at all for my first two years, but this year, had it all in one week, and had it more than the others had it combined.

came out of the grocery store the other day and a new country song was on the radio. it had a boy and a girl falling in love in the back seat of a "cop car." Had a whole story line, where they had this complex relationship with each other and with the law, but i didn't catch that so much, so i turned up the radio. had the window open too, though it occurred to me that's how i got my ticket earlier, driving around with a window open like it's party time. but i came up to this intersection, where i turn onto my own road, and there's the police again, and this time they have this guy in a black pickup, and he's in handcuffs, sitting outside his truck, and they're doing some kind of negotiation with the other passengers in the truck, maybe they're searching the thing. i turned off that radio right away, and turned very gently onto my own street, and went my way, glad to be an old duffer, hoping for a few more rounds of good music.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

just passing through

recently i've recalled one of the most bizarre events that happened to me while i was hitchhiking. it scared me pretty strongly at the time, and i wasn't easily scared, but i'd forgotten about it, more or less, until recently.

the situation was set up when a truck driver gave me a ride going across northern iowa; we were passing through small towns on a two-lane road. i had agreed to go this way, west to east, even though my ultimate destination was some other direction, based on his advice maybe, or someone's advice. for this reason i was somewhat disoriented, when, at a gas station, he got into his truck and left without me. he had not taken any of my stuff, but his leaving, without telling me, still disoriented me. maybe i had said something political to him; it happened that virtually whenever i opened my mouth about politics, i'd offend someone. but nevertheless i was on my own, and didn't really know where i was. iowa was not too complicated, so in that sense, i knew it would all work out. i continued on that same road going east.

but now it had become dark, and it was harder for people to see me; furthermore, i continued walking, instead of waiting under a light where i'd be better off, and that made it even harder yet for people to see me. within minutes i was way out in the country, though only a mile or two from town. to my right, off the road, was a decrepit house, and i could see it clearly from the roadway. run-down houses, also, are not too unusual in iowa. people abandon them; they're a hassle to tear down; they sit there returning to the earth from whence they came.

but a sudden crack of lightning lit up the entire night, quite suddenly, and quite close to where i was. now the house had a completely different image, because it was all lit up. i had the feeling, suddenly, that i wasn't entirely alone in this wide, sweeping field on a lonely highway in the early evening.

ah, but i don't push too hard on such things. in other words, though it's easy enough to sense the presence of unearthly spirits, it's a little harder to define them, or take the liberty of imagining who they might be. i had no idea, and still don't. presuming that it was a viable farmhouse for years, and had all kinds of people attached to it as a symbol of their family, their hopes, their accomplishments etc., i'm sure one could do research and learn a thing or two. but instead, i've chosen to let such things go, since my feeling is that if it was meant to be our business, we would have been told. chasing after the information puts you in the position of intentionally disrupting whatever is going on there, and that wasn't my intention. i was just passing through.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

so what gets me about this ISIS deal is this: here we are again, bombing the heck out of somebody, and presumably we're pretty good at this killing, and we can find the bad guys and get them. they are the guys over there, that we just gave all those guns and bombs to, because we thought they were going to fight assad in syria. we were so surprised, when they turned around, and gathered up part of iraq with the guns we'd given them. and then, WTH, all those shiite guards who were representing the nation of iraq, dropped their guns and fled, couldn't even fight for that country that we'd help them set up.

so now, we're bombing these ISIS guys, and, we're hoping somebody will go in there and clean up after us? maybe those shiite iraqis will go into that sunni territory and pick up all the dead bodies? and rule the place? or maybe some moderate iraqis will appear out of the woodwork, to run the place, and have a democratic government?

it seems, all we know for sure is, we hate ISIS and they cut off people's heads. so we have to bomb them no matter what. we don't really have a plan for what to do after that. maybe the shiite iraqis will come back and this time they'll try to defend the place. maybe iran will move in, after we're done bombing, and just take over. or maybe even assad will come down, and say hey, you wiped out the opposition, so i'm all that's left. or maybe israel will move in.

the problem is, none of those are good options. and it's a territory occupied mostly by sunnis, so the ideal government would be sunni-supported and iraqi. the only sunnis who are willing to fight for iraq are in ISIS. so we have now set ourselves up as a conquering nation, manipulated into trying to find people who will rule over iraqi sunnis who are not sunni, find anyone, give them guns, hope they stay on our side, and turn those guns on ISIS if it should ever pop its head back up.

to me it sounds like throwing a pile of armaments into a gang fight. here, boys, have all the guns you want, hopefully enough of you will die that there won't be any permanent ill effects for the rest of us.

the US is the world's biggest armament-maker. somebody is making lots of money in this deal. it's all borrowed money, borrowed off our future, and the future of our children, but it's money nevertheless. you want drones, you gotta pay for drones. you want to kill these guys, you got to get what it takes.

after that, we'll worry about cleaning it up.

you may have gathered right: i'm against the bombing. i would like to see a plan. i would like to see how this could possibly work out. the only good thing i can see out of the whole mess so far, is the independence of kurdistan. my solution would be, start with that. let the sunnis have whoever they want. make kurdistan free and secure. let religious minorities live in kurdistan. let go of the rest of it, and let people fight their own civil war, including the syrians.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

we fight the ever-encroaching, terminal obsession with screens by having no screens on sunday morning, which is actually pitiful, if it means constant screens every free minute of the rest of the week. we also have no screens if homework isn't done, though, and no screens if for some reason someone is touchy or violent or things are out of kilter. we sometimes say that screens can cause meanness, so if they are mean to each other (and there are three little ones, so this is likely), we hold that over them, as if we'd take them away if they got too mean to each other, which we might.

but, the ironic thing is, they actually enjoy their sunday mornings, in the sense that they actually get on their scooters and go down the block, screeching and yelling and doing all the stuff little kids should do. or they start horsing around in the living room and then go down in the basement where they're free to run and throw the ball and do gymnastics. or they go tearing through the house with some imaginary game, dressed up or yelling at each other or hiding in the rooms. the reason i call it ironic is that, since it's sunday morning, you'd think it would be reserved for quiet contemplation of religious things, and in fact, that is why we have a general prohibition against calling our neighbors on sunday mornings, or making too much noise too early. for me, i'm religious, but can't just take them to church, where they could make as much racket as they wanted, as there isn't really the right church that would suit all of us. for our neighbors, however, sunday morning is the only time they even know for sure that we have kids, because they're making such a racket out there that you can't not hear it, and it's actually pretty easy for me to keep track of them, because their voices bounce off each other and they stay aware of where their brother and sister are, so nobody even wants to get too far away. to me it's kind of the joy of old-time childhood, with lots of kids around, having fun, and the neighbors all kind of watching out for their flower gardens but still generally familiar with them and watchful. they know these kids, they live down in the corner house.

when fresh air is involved, you know they'll sleep better at night, but the main point really is that they get a lot of muscle development in different directions. hopefully each kid will fall off the scooter several times, but not land too hard on the sidewalk, but rather someone's grass and preferably someone who doesn't put nerve gas on theirs, or vole poison, or whatever they use. some lawns here are actually astroturf, but more common is the person who just puts rocks all over their yard so they can save on the massive watering that's required to have anything green. another value i've picked up is that it's really the city's job to provide real grass, and water the parks, so that any citizen can go walk on real grass for a few minutes, even if, as in my case, one is likely to hit stickers and dog poop or do a little caveat emptor or whatever that was that meant buyer beware...though we recognize that anything can happen, we also know that we can get some real grass if we just go to the local park and walk around a little.

football so thoroughly permeates the culture that one can hardly not be aware of when the local football games are happening, even when, as in this last weekend, the raider game was at ten at night. thousands of fans tuned in to watch it; it ruled the televisions and the social life, the raiders and the cowboys, anyway, the cowboys going today. it's ironic, given the intensity of their passion, that the teams are as weak as they are; our university just gave the coach a whopping $3 million/year long-term contract making him easily the richest man in west texas, more even than the oil barons, yet the team floundered around on the field and barely beat el paso. ah, but this isn't about the fumbles, the penalties, the missed opportunities. it's more about how, even at the local grocery store, everyone is wearing red and black, even people who aren't going to the game. the place loves its raiders, or, if you're a little more on the city side, the silver-star on blues.

the sky here is an infinite, ever-changing light show; it's so clear that you can see all the way up through these clouds, so the clouds become multi-dimensional moving bodies that would, well, remind you of tripping, if that were possible. it reminds me of pilots, because those are the guys who get to go up through them regularly, and really experience the different dimensions that we can only get hints of down here, and besides, we're in the city, and one can guess that probably it gets lots more interesting once you really get out over the open plain. and we know, from the few times we fly, that it does. but imagine doing that for a living, going up and through all those intense clouds, diagonally or through these transient storms or turbulent winds that rake the plains. it would be really fun, i think, and i'm really jealous. the best i can do is drive on the roads, and look up occasionally...

and in fact, even the storms are quite geographical in nature, the hail can be damaging out past the loop, but almost nothing in town where we are, or, it can destroy our house and do almost nothing to most of the rest of town. you can note the perimeter of the damage or document the path of the rain, where they got over an inch on a swatch of the city running diagonal through this way, whereas over on the edge, or on the south side, they may have got squat. each little square foot has its own rainfall total, and that's why if you are inclined to go out and stand in it, like a lot of people are, you shouldn't always stand in the same place. you'll rob the ground beneath you of its annual supply.