Monday, January 26, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

my move is only about five blocks - a chess move, i call it, three blocks south, two east, and it's through a peaceful colorful neighborhood of lubbock, very nice. sometimes i have my tail-door open and my flashers on, and this is when i listen to bluegrass, only the best. steadily my back gets tired; i've been doing a lot of books. my wife's back gave out already. now, she's cleaning, i'm moving.

but we're in the second week, and it's getting a little tiring. also, things don't quite fit into the new house; it's not quite big enough. it's like our junk spread out to occupy every living inch of the old house, and we just have fewer inches, less house. that's why she cleans; i think she's better at throwing it out. half the time i look at it, don't know what it is, and just move it.

so it all came down to this doll house, that just wouldn't fit into the back of the van. we were out there on flint, which is a fairly busy street, and we were moving the doll house around hoping to wedge it in there, but it wouldn't wedge. it was just too big. had to take the roof off, right out there on the street. no problem though, i just got out my one remaining phillips-head, i got this on flint itself, i believe, and took off that roof. doll house made it. the remaining big things are: ping-pong table, glass patio table, futon frame. we'll see.

why am i telling you this? it's weighing on me. i've put off my poetry. i've stopped publishing stuff. i don't feel creative. i just make many cups of coffee, one at a time, and move move move. i like the silence of the new house. i've gotten one of my lazy-boy chairs back; i've reclaimed it, and with my coffee, i own this quiet little living room. back at the other house, i'm looking at stairs to fix, basement to redo, stuff to move. what a headache. my wife, however, has done a pretty good job with the upstairs.

lately i've started looking at these monster trucks that people drive around. i call them monster trucks because some of them are wide, some are extra-long and hold 4-6 people, etcetera. one guy told me he stopped bikeriding because the monster-truck drivers just couldn't see him. it wasn't an indictment of the people so much as just a statement of their size; these things dominate, they're everywhere, they're more common than cars, and they're big. anyway, one of the most popular brands is the avalanche. why would you want a truck with that name? i'm not sure. this is the flattest place on earth, the only hills are when they make one to make a ramp to cross one road over another. no hills at all, but you can drive an avalanche around town just in case. the newspaper, also, is called the avalanche-journal, as if it's an ongoing journal about what's coming down the mountain. well i'll tell you, the mountains are about five hours west, so if anything's coming down them, it's probably just that warm dry wind, not a whole bunch of snow. now silverado i could understand, that's a good old-west kind of name, has an image, you like the image, etc. we ourselves drive a sedona which is one of many named after these western mountain towns that have their own mountainy image. santa fe, tahoe, it's a whole genre. but avalanche? i don't get it. people like their truck named after their vaguest fears, maybe.

sons went off to see hobbit, girlies went off to play with a friend. a rare moment of peace, as it warms up a bit out here in south texas. it's quiet at the new house. slowly, boxes of clothes come over, and we put them away. sometimes even a pile of clothes hurts my back. that's when it's time to sit a spell. some of that junk'll just have to wait.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

new house - a chess move away from the old one, three blocks south, two blocks east. slightly smaller, so we have to throw away some old junk that we've collected. i, for one, have trouble throwing away shoes, even though i walk them to death, but it's what, i paid maybe sixty bucks for them, so i just can't throw them away.

my wife buys one of these wastebaskets that you put your foot on it and it opens. but it's broken already. you put your foot on it once and it breaks. same with the battery-operated toothbrush. it was time for a new one. you unscrew it for two days and it's still not open, won't open. finally it opens. i wonder if there's anything a person can buy these days that isn't a worthless piece of crap. i already get my wife to do all the shopping because i can't bear buying the stuff, though i will if i have to. i hold my breath and just waste the money. but if it's plastic, i know where it'll end up.

unfortunately, now both houses are full of this stuff. plastic, broken, worth money, useful in an abstract kind of way, if it worked, yes, it would be a working garbage can, for example. but what do you do, throw it away and start over? the purpose of this kind of closing garbage can is to keep the dog out of it. dogs love greasy paper towels and whatever they can pull out of it, half-eaten hot dogs, etcetera, but dogs can break just about anything we can break, only generally worse, i wonder if they make this kind of stuff out of wood. somebody could make a killing, just coming up with functional things in life that weren't cheap plastic.

so this new house is on a quiet street, it's almost spooky. no constant traffic from nineteenth or flint or anywhere else, just an occasional dog-walker ambling down the street. the reason we did it was that the old house was a little too expensive, a little too prominent, a little too right up there on the main streets. we needed a place to function, a place to bring up kids, breathe, have a back yard, that kind of stuff. big improvement on all those fronts.

it's a quiet neighborhood, except for in the wide park where i usually walk; that one is totally full with students and dogs. i run the van the five or six blocks from the old house to the new one, and there's almost nobody else on the road. that's because it's football day, in this case it's the pros, maybe packers-seahawks, or colts-patriots or both. people don't care, they're into all of them, they're home watching. my wife gets a new bulletin on her phone: seahawks win. these bulletins used to be for big news, like 9-11. now they're for a football game, and it isn't even the super bowl. and, everyone in texas, just about, already knew who won. they all watch. that's why they aren't bombing around town causing trouble.

we have a new venue, place to get away from it all, place to see the world. the three kids are up high now, in the trees, looking down at the neighborhood. i kind of like it up there. lots of pecan trees in the neighborhood, and a few barking dogs in every direction. our own dogs are barking a bit, trying to establish their new territory, letting everyone know they're doing their job, guarding us. both of them bolted within a few days of getting here, maybe they weren't entirely comfortable. but they're getting more comfortable. it's quieter, safer, less traffic. pictures coming.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

went out for my walk tonight - i walk about three miles, mostly around a pretty urban park - and the texas sky was dramatic. a stiff cold wind was coming from the north, or maybe northeast; wild clouds were trucking right across the sky. one time around the park and they were gone, tucked off in a corner of the sky i couldn't see well. the stiff wind bit at my cheeks and dried my skin. it's actually been a little wet - it snowed earlier today - but, it seemed like it was isolated wet clouds in an otherwise dry windy high-plains kind of weather pattern. the moisture, in other words, was an illusion.

now there was a bicycle lying there in the city park, up against one of the signs, but as i walked by i could see that it wasn't locked to the sign. and, strangely enough, it was very similar to one that was stolen from me about a year ago, a kind of mountain bike, but i could tell it was not the same one; in fact, it was more colorful. but, unlocked, city park, nobody anywhere near it, i almost felt like it was being offered back to me. i didn't touch it. i've become accustomed to walking, but, more importantly, it wasn't mine. just 'cause someone leaves it in the park, doesn't mean they're giving it away, does it?

so then, i got into the usual train of thought: my poems. i have over a thousand now; i can easy trim a few and just publish what i've got. there are three states, NC, VT, OK - for which i have not added any poems whatsoever. there are a few more - HI, NH, RI - that i consider woefully inadequate. but i get stuck - i go for long periods of time where i have nothing to say about a given place, and it just doesn't come; this is one of those periods. i can conjure up things to say about other places, maybe, and this is what i worked on; in fact; my present plan is to make this an issue that stays true to the reality of the trip, which would be the hitchhiking, the seventies. now this would bring on a couple of dilemmas. one is that i have been fairly fanatic about capturing the most interesting moments of the trip, though i'm not always true to the geography. but some of the wildest moments were actually in mexico, canada, or in the sea - do i move them across an international border? i'm tempted to capture the essence of the trip, in which case, i should. on the other hand, to really be true to the situation, i shouldn't....i haven't worked this out, to be quite honest. and some states, i was in only at night (DE, SC) - virtually everything i know, i learned from reading or talking to people, but i don't know how much of that was true back in, say, 1975, which is the time we're talking about here. how do i write anything at all? to be true to the trip, write about nighttimes, maybe.

as i read through my old work, trying to glean out what is still usable, etc., i am struck by what a fanatic i've been all along about geography. it's as if one single spot must come through, and if it doesn't, it's a bit general. if we just know the state, that's a bit general. but it's the same with the kigo, or season clue. a lot of those are quite general (he's camping in new york? must be summer...) - too general, in fact, as you could easily come back at me with proof that one can, in fact, do all kinds of things in all seasons. so these poems sometimes have two general clues...general on the place, and general on the time, and now i'm wondering, what about general about the era? is it similarly better to put it in the seventies, as a better option than leaving it timeless, or time-independent, might be a better word. don't know the answer to this. i'm expected to take a stand any day now.

house is full of boxes, unwrapped. my wife is an online shopper; i shop only at local stores that are not owned by far-right-teaparty-nutjobs. but there's only one, that i know of, so most of my gifts are barnes & noble this year, don't tell anyone, or the line between santa & dad will become just that much blurrier. most of the time i sit around and watch them get steadily more excited about the possibility of loot, and i think, one should be a pirate. why bother with these lists? get right on down to that unfettered greed, which is best demonstrated by a good game of monopoly, and everyone just go for what they can get. and why bother with the wrapping? that's something you do to meditate calmly about the preparation and serving over to someone, the presentation, in a colorful paper, of a gift....ah well, another year down the drain. this stuff is going out there in cardboard.

the wind howls off the northern part of the south plains, and i admit i like it. like my son said, let it snow about a foot on christmas day, and then just go away for the rest of the year, so we can have a white christmas, but none of the true inconvenience severe weather really brings. this wind, so far, it's ok, it hasn't knocked down any branches, or damaged a car. it's just out there pressing me as i walk. i have the park to myself - except for the bicycle, of course - not a soul out there, even on the busy street. quiet as a college town without the students, i like to say. because, that's what it is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Years of Semantics

My son's new poetry book...
I'm really proud of him!
Available on on the picture!

Friday, December 12, 2014

ho ha hu

it's a merry ho ho ho kind of year but it's taking longer than usual for me to get in the spirit and just write the letter. i did however finish the calendar and i'm sitting here looking at a stack of them wondering if i should just send a few without the letter, or before the letter. for my sons, surely, i decided, and sent a couple of them off, or at least packaged them. the rest of them are in a kind of limbo. i have the intention to send. it will happen, and, in fact, there's still plenty of time.

so then, in a flurry that involved a leaky furnace, nights of lost sleep, broken dryer, fixing the basement, and beginning to pack up, what i decided was to just type my original collection of stories, unloading, which was paper, and only available through me, so that, if it were typed up well enough, it would go up on createspace/amazon and be available to the public. this i did, the solemn and serious typing was good for me and a welcome break from a frazzling semester. but i gleaned some insights from it too, as i saw my early esl career up close, and i realized how varied were the sources of my inspiration. and i turned around and wrote another story that very night, last night, one that perhaps has been simmering for a while.

there was a really bizarre accident in the community over the thanksgiving break, in which a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 10-year-old brother at a hunting camp where, apparently, a loaded gun was just sitting there. the school was traumatized, though the boy who was killed was one grade above my son, and the boy who shot the gun was one grade above my other son. in other words, the boys knew the kids, or at least knew who they were, as it's a pretty small school. and i have two sets of boys, four years apart each, so my ears came straight up as i listened for the details, but, as it happened, i knew more than most of my fellow parents out on the playground, most of whom were horrified and anti-gun in general. the community, however, is pro-gun, and i think you could say this about texas in general; almost all texas news channels underplayed the incident, touched it briefly, mentioned that it was an accident. a british newspaper, however, played it up, obtained and provided pictures of the family, pictures of the kids, etc. it was like, if you wanted to see what this kid looked like, you had to go to the british rag. i, however, wanted to know if i knew them (i didn't). i also want to know how any of the possible players in it, the 14-year-old, the father, even the mother - can even live with themselves; i certainly couldn't. it was a horrible, unspeakable tragedy.

i have one argument when it comes to gun control, and that is that it would be much easier than we imagine. we have the technology to prevent you from turning on your car when you're drunk, and to make sure the police know where you are at every moment. we now have chips that help us know where our keys are at any moment. we could very easily apply this to guns, so that every owner could find his/her gun at any moment, and know if it was loaded. so that, presumably, a gun hanging around a hunting cabin, if it was loaded but the owner was elsewhere, it would be shining a little light that made that a little obvious. or, so that you'd have to type in a password (as you do on your phone) before you are able to kill someone. we do that with cars, although it's usually in the form of a key, as the first gate.

so i spend my days hanging around the schoolyard, as my kids are fanatic hang-from-the-monkey-bar kind of kids, except the one who gets bored easily, and i talk to these other parents a lot, but because i'm outside a couple of hours every afternoon, and then walk about three miles at night, i'm pretty healthy, and sleep very well. i've been working on my stories a little, as i've said; i may have two sets out pretty quick, one a reprint of the old 2005 unloading, and another new one, not finished yet. a possible boxcars on walnut in storeboughten form; and finally, the 2015 e pluribus which i'm very proud of, and have been working on for a while. i'm also renovating my webpages, and adding a lighthouse tour. this will give a person a tour of my webpages, some of which i'm still proud of.

packing is big. i'm thinking, maybe i can find some old stories in there, to add to my collection. i'm trying to make the new unloading a kind of retrospective, a history of my own story-telling, stretching right on back through my esl years. stay tuned!
new story:
The Pickle
comments welcome...enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2014

new story:
The Other Guy's Fault
enjoy! comments welcome, as usual

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

i have a personal tradition of going to white sands on black friday, but it's mostly just a coincidence based on the fact that the thanksgiving break is one of the good times to head out over the oil fields, up the dry mountain to the sacramentos, down into the tularosa valley, and then over to las cruces where my parents and sister live. this time i took the 9-year-old boy with me, and he wasn't especially up for the what he used to call the white sandy mountain, but he did do the old s-trestle with me.

i saw an IL license plate right away, and eventually saw a few more exotic ones, but usually you don't see much on this trip; it's so far for people to drive just to get from any eastern state to the dry corner of new mexico, that you don't see much more than NM, AZ, TX, maybe CO. this time I saw CA, WA, OR, and a few more. eventually I saw NJ, MO, UT, AL, FL, and even AK. there were a few people out there.

it's been a busy time; we've been worrying about moving as we might move about five blocks, in mid-january. this upcoming move will give us the same size house, but better layout, quieter, closer to school and park, while it's basically the same school and same neighborhood. cheaper, that's the main thing; my wife doesn't want to be chair anymore, and doesn't need the expensive trappings of a chair's house.

high in the mountains there was snow up on the hillsides, but the 9-year-old got altitude sickness at first, and didn't want to play basketball in the mountain air, or do the trestle, even, at first. we sailed by the white sands, even though it was black friday and it's always good to go in there, and we pushed on until we climbed the organs, next mountain chain. when we got down into las cruces it was a fantastic world. the pink sun set on the light-blue organs, and it was actually the peak of their leaf season, and trees in the old downtown area had incredible oranges and browns, imagine a peak of a season at thanksgiving. with the sunset through the organs and all this color, the old part of town was really a little surreal.

but there was another kind of surreal experience. i've always hated malls of all kinds, especially on a black friday of course, when everyone is being unusually greedy or even standing in lines at places like best buy. the las cruces mall is very upscale, a pretty place, and, like ours, has a barnes and noble which, late at night, we decided to go to, in search of a dessert. my son wanted to take a walk around the place; like most of my kids, he's quite a bit more materialist than i am, and this seemed to him to be a good thing to do. the unusual thing about the las cruces mall was that it was quite full, but the white folks in there were less than maybe 5%. there were a few black folks like my son; a few asians, like maybe chinese or vietnamese. the vast majority i suppose you could call mexican-american, but i'm not even sure. they were quite diverse, and they were all acting kind of like people in every mall act. it was the same materialist black-friday kind of evening, but all the people had changed, the white folks weren't around at all, really. maybe they got down there early in the morning, or on thanksgiving.

i like getting away; it gives me a break from intensive grading and parenting which has been overwhelming. lately i go to get the kids at school and i can't help but let them play out there, hanging and swinging and running around, for just about as long as they want. this is almost every day, even when it's cold, and they can't seem to get enough of it, although the boy actually has a few other options that he's interested in. it almost seems like they had none of this, before we got them, and just have a lot of time to make up, to get really used to a new life and play hard and long, directly after school, every day. one thing for sure, they all sleep pretty well, and we like that; but, in the afternoons, i'm spending a lot of time at that playground.

and that's one reason i've become almost fanatic about my poetry. it goes with my lifestyle. i'll be stuck on one state, say washington, or maybe delaware, and squeeze out of my knowledge everything i can, sometimes for days. needless to say it's hardest to conjure up poems about places i've only been at night, or not been to at all, like hawaii. so i do some research when i get the chance, and then, those times when i'm sitting there, i make haiku. i've made about four or five a day for months now; late at night, i add them to the site and to a master list which now is up to almost a thousand. when i get a pure thousand i'll publish the 2015 e pluribus haiku, but my goal is to have a thousand non-repetitive, something in every season for every state, where each state is by itself a full chapter, not heavily weighted toward the ice or the blistering heat or whatever it is i remember so intensely that it permeates every image. so of course there i am, up against the most stubborn of stereotypes, or trying to get some more out of some state that i really don't have much memory of. and then, i get the idea to really put all of my travel experience in there, in whatever form. i don't have to have it be true to the place and time. it's more important, in this case, to have it true to the experience itself, and to represent everything that really happened. this lit a fire and i wrote a bunch more. some of these are places like new york, iowa, illinois, where i already had plenty. but you can't have too many. as i go over a thousand, that gives me more leeway to eliminate ones that have gone stale, or are repetitive.

got back to the turkey, the family, the day of rest, there was no football here. plenty of turkey here, though it was all on sunday, and it's sure to last all week one way or the other. what has really lasted is the desire for a nap. the kids liked the turkey this year, maybe because the girls had enthusiasm for the concept and it just spread around; in earlier years, they wouldn't even try it. we'd make this enormous production and they'd basically run right off and make a huge racket, leaving us a lot of cleaning up. my wife at one point said never again but fortunately this year she came back for at least one repeat performance. and we're good for another year; and, i got my calendar, which was, of course, the reason for traveling, and that calendar will soon be sent around, as i've found my address book. another season, kicked off in only the best fashion. and the days, they're as short as they can get, almost.

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.