Friday, November 16, 2012

Chugging Along

Monday, November 12, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Long time no write—for all the usual reasons. Mostly what’s been keeping me away from here has been school. I’m at that point in the semester when things start piling up. I’ve just about dug my myself out a deluge of grading. I have another big pile of stuff coming in next week, though. But once I’m thru that I should have a few weeks of relative calm until finals start rolling in. I’m feeling pretty burnt out at the moment, but not to the point of past semesters. Still, I’m looking forward to winter break, to some time to myself, to write, think, and generally get into grooves that don’t revolve around teaching.

A few interesting things have been going on, though. I’ve just signed on to do a reading in Sacramento at the beginning of January. It’s going to be a combo gig with Myler and Starr, S—‘s band. It’s at some coffee shop/bar, which looks like it could be a good venue. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anywhere (about three years now, not since the demise of Acres of Books). Readings aren’t something that interest me all that much these days (maybe because poetry is not something that interests me all that much), but it will be nice to get out there again. It will of course also be cool to do a gig with S—. I’m also looking forward to getting out of the L.A. Basin. The literary culture here, like most other things, largely because of our urban geography, is so fragmented that it might as well not exist. Smaller communities like Sacramento are where one can really connect with a readers on a level other than book sales. I wish I could move someplace like that, someplace smaller and more graspable. I’ve spent years writing about Southern California, as my way of trying to get a handle on this place. I believe I’ve succeeded in this—and I don’t like what I’ve found: a collection of communities that don’t understand each other, that don’t want to understand each other because their inhabitants are either trying to hide from the other, or because they’re so broke that all they have time to do it to work. The rich-poor divide in other words. I want to live someplace that has actual civic conversations. I’m tired of feeling as if I’m doing battle with nearly everything around me …

Been reading a fair bit. I’ve gone thru most of two volumes on Roman Britain and am currently involved in a popular history based around the journeys, of Posidonius, a Greek philosopher (b. around 130 B.C.E., I think) thru some of the then Celtic regions of Europe. I’m also finishing up Dracula (I got a little burnt out on it and put it away from a bit). The second half of it is definitely not as good as the first. The main problem is that it goes on to long, which causes the tension to slacken (a hundred pages could easily be edited out). It’s still a fun book, though, to the point where it’s gotten me interested in reading some more serious work in that general genre and era. I just ordered a copy of The White People and other Weird Stories, by Arthur Machen. I also got other Machen books on my reading list, as well as a couple books by Lord Dunsanay, which I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. Other projects I have on the back burner include increasing my knowledge on European pagan religions and starting George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series (I dig the cheesy TV series made from them and could really use some fat escapist fiction over winter break).

Thinking about my own writing of late as well. I’m doing a little better in accepting my fallow period. Still I have projects on the horizon. They’re really fuzzy, though, broad outlines or in some cases little more than feelings. I like where they’re going, though—because I know I’m where I should be with them. I’ve been thinking about the third Backwaters book too. But I’m still too burnt out on that world to put any work into it.

On the subject of books … My sister got me a Kindle for my birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole e-book world. But I’m interested in checking it out. I’m a little worried that the rise of that world is tied mostly into convenience—having tons of “books” at your fingertips is certainly easier than having to have a big dusty library. But convenience is not the only criteria for a good reading experience, and I get the feeling that e-books will ultimately take away more than they give. I’m trying to go into things with an open mind, though—there’s nothing to lose by giving this new world a try …

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dracula Musings

Saturday, October 27, 2012—Long Beach

The heat is back, this time courtesy of some moderate Santa Ana winds, which began coming in a few days ago. As usual, as well as cranking up the temperature, they’ve dried everything out (dry skin and chapped lips are the order of these days) and stirred up a bunch of dust and pollen, which has had me sneezing my head off. Still, I don’t mind this weather too much. There’s no humidity, to go with the heat, which means things are still comfortable. Also, unlike summer heat, the desert air coming in cools off at night (it actually can get a bit chilly), so my apartment cools off too and I can get a good night sleep. It wouldn’t surprise me if these winds are with us off and on for much of the next few months. It’s been a decade and a half since we’ve had a heavy Santa Ana winter and we are way overdue.

My school routine goes on, but I’m suddenly ahead of the game, so I’m moving thru it pretty easily. This has left me a little more time than usual to myself. Last night I spent some of that time having dinner with K—, who’s in from Rome. Mostly, though, I’ve been just relaxing at home, taking care of some long-put-off housework and attempting to relax; I’ve been feeling pretty uptight lately and when I start feeling like this I know it’s time to withdraw a bit and recharge. Mostly I’ve been spending my time trying to get caught up on my sleep (which hasn’t been going too well, mainly because I’ve been dealing with a series intense dreams that have also been annoyingly nonsensical). I’ve also been diving into my reading.

I’m still chipping away at the Verlaine poems (I can’t quite get into them, though). I’m still working my way thru Grimm’s complete fairy tales as well. A few days ago I started reading Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a novel (maybe even a book) so much. I tried to read it several years ago but couldn’t get into it. I now have no idea why. It’s simply one of the most fun novels I’ve ever run into. Great ideas, great atmosphere, great imagery—great creepy everything. Well, there’s actually not much in the way of character development, but that’s OK, because that would just slow things down. It’s a book about plot, broad desires: the characters so far seem to be mostly types, or at their higher moments, symbols—who they are is all of us, from different angles, which is a kind of writing I’m coming to greatly appreciate …

I’m seeing a lot of myself in Stoker’s masterpiece. More accurately, I see my goals. With the Backwaters books I’m trying to write this sort of simple mythology, this kind of innocent storytelling. The story fragmentation of our post-modern world seems to me to be coming out of a kind of social dead end. The inwardness, the lack of plot is almost analogous to our giving up on something greater, on forces beyond us. We’ve been everywhere, done everything, disproved the mysteries, so there’s nothing else left but narcissism, cynicism (I know because I’ve been caught up in this as much as anyone). I want books to be about big things—hope, terror, love, death. Most of our literature today is about ennui, in some manner and from some angle. Adventure should not be a dirty word amongst novelists. The trouble is when we think of adventure today we think of crappy Hollywood movies. This is all part of our exhaustion—we expect fake thrills to be pushed upon us because all that’s left for us is exploitation augmented by our delusions ...

Man, this has all got huge somehow (and pretentious?). Wasn’t I just talking about a vampire novel? The point is I want books to be fun! I want life to be fun. These are almost unheard of desires in the art worlds today. I’m becoming more a child of Homer than Hamsun (talk about pretentious!) …

Been rethinking some things. My Greek studies have fallen off. Maybe this is for a reason. I’m thinking of expanding my travels this summer. I still want to head back to the Greek isles, but maybe that should just be part of where I go. Reading Dracula has got me thinking about eastern Europe (there’s a few places there I’ve wanted to see for a while). Last night K— also recommended Croatia as being a place I might like. I’m feeling a bit more of a bounce in my step since I started thinking like this. I tend to get obsessed with things, places, people, and when I do life starts to become a job. This, I think, is because it is my nature not to be tired down. I believe this is why I get obsessed so easily: I’m looking for something more permanent. Because my own nature frightens me a bit? Too much freedom is lonely? I’m on some level trying to fit into broader society (why is hard to say—out guilt, desire to be loved?)? I’ve been writing about how I want to move on in so many ways? Changing my traveling plans could be a part of that ...

Just realized that I started reading Dracula a handful of days before Halloween. Just a coincidence, I think: I've been planning on hitting this book since last summer ...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Moving Forward ... Slowly

Saturday, October 20, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Busy week, but a very productive one. Somehow, for the first time since the beginning of the semester, I’m not only caught up on my teaching work, but I’ve gotten ahead of the game—I’ve written all my upcoming exams and study guides, made the last of my lecture revisions for the entire semester (with the exception of one lecture). I’ve even managed to clean up my house a bit and catch up on some correspondence. On top of all this I proofread all of Backwaters of Beauty this week (I’m going go thru it once more and then get it to some outside proofreaders). I’ve even managed to work out four of the last six days. One result of this, though, is that I’m now exhausted: it’s only 7:15 on a Saturday night and I’m already in bed, for the night.

I’m not out of it just because of this, though. My seemingly endless sinus infection is still existing at a moderate level. One of the worst aspects of a sinus infection, at least for me, is how draining they are; when fighting them I always feel a little run down and at times I’m completely wiped out. This week featured a lot of the latter. In fact this one’s been a particularly annoying infection all around. In addition to being really tired, I’ve been feeling feverish from time to time and there’s been a lot of pressure throughout the lower part of my face (at times). Most annoying is that my teeth are hurting, (though not as bad today as earlier in the week). This sometimes happens when I get a sinus infection. This time around is a little different, though, in that my lower teeth have been hurting as well. If this thing doesn’t start clearing up soon I’m going to have to see a doctor. Luckily I’ve been planning on setting up an appointment for a checkup anyway.

As usual for this time of year there’s not much going on beside work. Still, I’m trying to squeeze some other things into my life. In addition to proofing Backwaters I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and where it’s going. I’ve also been thinking about my life in general. I’m almost sure now I’m going to lose the Irvine job at the end of this semester. This is going to force me to move in some new direction, if for no other reason than I need to replace that income. I’ve also found out that the lit graduate program I have been seriously considering going into has been canceled because of state budget cuts. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I need to shake up my life but maybe yet another degree is not the answer. I love the idea of throwing myself into such a project, and of getting the teaching monkey off my back, but I know I don’t need the degree, on a personal level—intellectually I am not a work in progress. Besides the fun of it, the main reason I’d be doing the degree is to expand my teaching options—for money in other words. I’ve found that whenever I do anything primarily for the money it’s a mistake. My problem is that I’m already who I should be—I have enough degrees—but who I am does not pay. I have many things I want to do, need to do to be happy, to be who I am. But poverty thwarts me. This is the long run could be a good thing. I need to force certain issues in my life, break free from constraints, which are coming from both the outside and from within me. Having few traditional options could be a big benefit—I’ll be forced to cut my own path, a path that could from me from the both kinds of the constraints that hold me. The problem is of course figuring out that path (or perhaps how to continue that path—isn’t this, cutting my own path, something I’ve been doing my whole life) …

Not writing much. The Backwaters stuff has gone fallow. I’ve been playing around with some ideas in my head, but little has made it on paper. The truth is I don’t really want to write much these days. Writing is often about not writing. I’ve found that successful writing comes at the end of things, after certain decisions have been made in one’s life; it’s the finishing touch. Right now things are growing inside me; I’m coming to new conclusions. Any writing I do now (besides here, of course) would just be to fill space, a waste of time, in other words. I think I’ve known this for many months at least, but haven’t been able to admit it. Writers, by which I mean serious writers, have often given up a ton to do what they do—writing is all they have. When the writing stops flowing panic sets it because a writers identity seems to be ebbing with it—and without that identity a writer truly feel to be worthless. I think I’m getting over this fear. If so, this must mean that I’m growing up a bit, that I really understand who I am …

Been reading a book called The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance, by John Hale. Good stuff, a slow and winding take on many topics of that era. Very erudite. I’m also still slowly working thru my big book of Grimm’s fairy tales. Picked up Selected Poems, by Paul Verlaine, from Oxford World’s Classics (I love their books). I grabbed it mainly because the translation looked good. I’ve been interested in getting into Verlaine for a while, but every time I’ve tried crap translations have quickly put me off. I’ve only read a handful of poems so far, but I think I might finally have found the right edition; the translator is ignoring the rhymes and going for the big-picture feel of the work, which is something I almost always approve of in regards to translating poetry.

There’s still not enough people in my life. S— and E— were in town a couple of weeks ago, which was great. Seeing them, though, made me realize, as it always does, how I’d like to have those close to me closer, geographically; I’m just about the last of my friends who has remained in Southern California. K— is in town from Rome. I haven’t seen her yet, but we’re planning on getting together next week. I’m sure seeing her will stoke similar feelings as those I felt with S— and E—. Again, I need to make some changes in my life …

Lots of weird dreams lately. Not bad dreams, for the most part, just odd—strange swirling stuff whose existence I feel the need to note, but don’t interesting enough that I want to spend the time writing them down. I wish I could sleep more soundly. I’m tired of what’s running around in my head at night …

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Old Ground and New

Saturday, October 15, 2012—Long Beach, CA

A warm, mild day, high 70s, a touch of breeze. A nice change after the cold little storm that moved in a couple days ago. It’s supposed to be back up into the high 80s (at least) by the beginning of next week. I’m not looking forward to that, though I prefer those temperatures to having to ride my scooter thru the icy rain, like I had to do on Thursday. Like most Southern Californians I’m never quite happy unless the weather is perfect, which I define as being about between 72-74 degrees with a slight cooling breeze and just enough humidity so one’s sinuses don’t dry out. A lot of people agree with me on this, I assume, based on the facts that we often come at least close to this weather nirvana and that so many people live here.

Feeling scattered lately, (which might be why I haven’t written here in quite a while). I’ve been busy in all the wrong ways and I’ve been feeling very confused as to what should be my next move, in regards to a lot of things—in other words I’m feeling pretty much as I felt for the last year or so at least. I do know that I want to shake up my life. I’m still not sure how I should do this, though. Get an English masters? Move to Greece, their economic collapse be damned? Stay here and just find some other job than teaching? Throw myself hard into publishing and see what happens there? Probably connected to all this is that I’ve been feeling alternately old and that I’m still relatively young, that I still have so many good years ahead of me. I think this means I’m simply at the end of something—I am old in regards to what I’m doing, but I will be reborn once I figure out what’s next. An hopeful, downright enchanting, thought, (which makes me distrust it—we fear decline and death so much that our minds can conjure up all sorts of improbabilities to avoid facing these inevitabilities). Despite my misgivings I’m inclined to think I’m right on this one. I swear I see flashing lights one the horizon, and I’m can’t shake the feeling that they have something to do with me.

On a more down-to-earth note, a lot of my problems I'm seeing more clearly than ever stem from my teaching anthropology: I’m bored to death of it. Because of this, I don’t think I’m doing a particularly good job of it lately, which makes me feel less than thrilled with myself (especially as I know that I’ve got it easy, that the world is filled with people who do things like mining coal, working in slaughter houses, and hauling garbage who’d kill to have as cushy a life as mine). Figuring out how to make enough money to survive, while still having time to write, and not teaching anthropology is the key for me. This is why I’m again thinking seriously about going back to school and getting an English lit masters. I still like teaching, I think—I’m just teaching in the wrong field. (Damn it! I’ve been writing about this kind of stuff for many months—make a change, Rob, do something!)

There’s been little time for much beyond teaching and keeping the basics of my personal life together. But I have been discovering some new music, lots of stuff British acid-folk and related music from the sixties and early seventies I’ve either never heard and had before only explored lightly. So far my favorite of these discovers are the band called Trees, which released two amazing albums before disbanding. They'd fall into the same broad category as Fairport Convention, though with a harder edge. They’re also more consistent songwriters than the former. The best Fairport songs are better than the best Trees songs, but Liege and Lief is the only Fairport album that stands up as a whole to the Trees albums. I’ve also been listening a lot to a far more obscure band from England called Dando Shaft. Their first album is one of the most brilliant and original folk recordings I’ve ever heard—swirling mandolins, wild tunes that both drive and waft at the same time, that are both whimsical and serious, traditional yet totally original. Strange good fun.

Haven’t been able to read much. I keep starting books and then putting them down. Part of this is because my time is too limited to take on books that demand a great of concentration over a long period—I simply lose track of and then interest in such work. There’s also a been-there-done-that feeling that comes over me when I read many books these days—I feel like I’ve figured out the book long before its end, which of course makes going further a drag. This really bothers me because it connects perfectly with how I’m feeling about many aspects of existence. There’s a repeat quality to so much of what I do these days, so much of what passes thru my world—little surprises or thrills me anymore. This obviously ties into what I was discussing earlier and it scared me. For example, I’ve been trying to read Dangerous Liaisons, by Choderlos De Laclos, a classic 18th-century French novel, a majoy classic. It’s a great book—I recognized this in the first few pages. It snaps, sizzles, while deftly diving head first into the human condition—and I got it after about fifty pages—I didn’t feel the need to read anymore, I knew more or less what would happen, what would have to happen. This is definitely my problem, not the book’s, not life’s (so to speak). Again what (if anything) can I do about it? What will make me enjoy experience again? Where is my God damn sense of wonder? (but then again, like I just said, I have been really enjoying some of my musical discoveries—this bodes well for me having a future). Oh well, fuck it. I have been reading and enjoying White Bicycles, by Joe Boyd, a record producer and manager, who worked with a lot of artists I adore, including many in the acid folk world I’ve been exploring. It’s a very well-done memoir of his life in music and I’ve been having trouble putting it down (see my previous parenthetical statement, as it applies here too). So there are some literary places for me to go, to be …

I almost forgot—Edgewater has come out! Or perhaps leaked out is a better term: it’s on the BSP site but not yet available anywhere else. I have little hope that it will sell much (most people would rather have their toenails pulled out than read poetry), but it’s nice to have those poems all in one place. It turned out well too. The cover painting looks great, like its painted right onto the white cover. I’m also happy because it’s simply a good book. I’m so tired of the Bukowskiesque publish-everything-you-got-and-see-what-sticks philosophy—that just sets up a situation where a lot of 2nd and 3rd-rate crap gets put out. I was brutal with my editing, as evidenced by the fact that though the book is subtitled Poems 1992-2009 it’s only seventy-five pages long. I wanted only the best of my poems, the stuff that might have a chance to outlive me. I think I got that: I may never write a better book. Again, I doubt it will sell, but I’m satisfied, and with poetry that’s about all one can hope for …

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Little Dream Post

Wednesday, September 26, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Had another odd dream last night. I was at the beach, at an endless beach, which looked a bit like a wilder, much longer, and more crowded version of Huntington Beach. It’s winter, or at least late fall; I can tell this because the air is cool and there’s a big north swell coming in. I also know this because I’m wearing a full wetsuit. I’m heading up and down the long beach because I’m looking for a place to go out. But there’s nothing but big walled-off surf and nasty rip currents where ever I go. There are surfers in the water, but none of them seem to be having much fun; they’re just continually eating it on the big dangerous waves. There are lots of people on the shore watching them.

At some point in this dream I begin panicking because I realize that I don’t have my surfboard with me; I’m afraid I’ve left it on the beach somewhere and it’s been ripped off. I begin combing the beach looking for it. Then I realize that I have a body board under my arm. But it’s about half the width of a typical body board. I realize that riding that trying to ride the big waves that are coming in on this board would be difficult and dangerous. I also realize at around this point that the board also doesn’t have a leash and that I have no fins with me, making dealing with the dangerous surf even more problematic. I don’t remember clearly what happens after this. I do remember that various events keep keeping me from hitting the water. This doesn’t surprise me. Back when I used to surf regularly I used to have tons of dreams where I’m at the beach, I’m trying to go surfing, and something keeps getting in my way. A common issue is that it’s the evening and I can’t quite make it out before it gets dark. I think that may have occurred in this most recent surf dream too—I have a vague feeling it did—but, like I’ve said, I can’t remember for sure.

Strange restless sleep in general lately, odd, uptight dreams I can mostly remember in just tiny vague fragments. Part of this is because I’m getting up so early for work. It doesn’t matter how early I get to bed when I know I have to get up early I kind of panic on some level and my sleep becomes restless, sometimes debilitating so. My currently erratic sleep patterns are no doubt could be pushing this too. When I become sleep deprived the sleep I do get takes on this panicked quality I just discussed. There are more than these technical issues going on, though. There are some real feeling of frustrations coming out in my dreams (this is based mostly on the feelings I have when I wake up, not direct remembrances of what I’ve been dreaming about, which, like I just said, I’m generally not recalling). I’m not sure exactly what these are, though.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Better Dream

Friday, September 21, 2012—Long Beach

I had an interesting, positive Margo dream last night; I woke up from it feeling almost joyous (though I’m fully sure why—the dream didn’t strike me as being that positive). Unfortunately it’s details have become very sketchy as I’ve moved thru the day. We were together, as a couple, or at least we sort of were—even when I dream her at her most stable she’s a squirrelly flight risk. I’m no longer sure of the “plot” of this dream. Mostly what I have left of it is little fragments of the two of us walking down streets hand-in-hand. As usual our interactions are not going smoothly; she’ll hold my hand for a while, but then feels the need to extricate herself from it as if she’s feeling trapped, only to again seek it out and grip it more tightly than before once she’s got it back. We’re even having trouble walking at times, because we’re alternately rubbing up against and then pulling away from each other (actually she’s instigating most of this; I want nothing more to be as close to her as possible, though not in a wide-eyed way—I understand how little courage she has and how limited she is emotionally and ultimately don’t expect anything from her).

The most striking scene in this dream (of the ones I remember, at least) is one where were lying together wrapped up in a white sheet, or maybe it was a light blanket. We’re entangled in each other. I’m deeply in love, but not a slave, as in so many of my past dreams featuring her; I have a handle on my emotions, they don’t overwhelm and rule me. We’re kissing here and there and she’s actually kissing me back, tentatively, though like she can’t quite decide how she feels about what she’s doing. She’s also running her fingers thru my hair, while telling my not to worry, that she likes bald guys. I protest that I’m not bald and she says that I don’t have that much hair left and what I do have will be gone soon. I remember being very confused by this, because in this dream, as in real life, I have plenty of hair.

This scene in the sheet/blanket seems to go on for a long time. I remember having other conversations with her during this time, but I can’t remember what they were about. I do remember that they were relatively positive and that they were part of the reason I woke up feeling so good about this dream. I also remember that at one point, from the waist down, she was wearing only her panties and that I had my hand just barely down the front of them and was running my fingers thru the top part of her pubic hair. This is significant because in many of my Margo dreams, if things begin getting overtly sexual she usually finds some reason to pull away from me.

I just realized that I forgot to mention the weirdest part of this dream. While Margo and I are in the sheet/blanket we’re lying on a front lawn somewhere, for part of the time. Other times we seem to be under a parked car. At other points we appear to be in a house or apartment or something. In all these places, though, there are lots of people walking by. I also vaguely remember that she and I were shopping together at one point, which was why we were out in public.

Like I’ve said, I woke up feeling really good after this dream, deeply happy to the point where I was kind of upset that I’d woken up and consciously tried to both fall back to sleep and pick up the dream again. Neither of these things happened (sometimes I can pull this off). Again, I don’t know why I felt so good—it wasn’t that good of a dream. I say this not just based on what I remember now. Even right as I woke up, when everything was a fresh as it could be, I knew that the dream’s content and my mood didn’t quite seem to go together. These positive feelings aside, I’m getting very tired of dreaming about this woman—this has been going on for a decade. I long for an experience with a woman that can rival the power of my Margo debacle, that can finally blow her out of my mind (her presence in my heart has long-since diminished). I need to feel that deeply again. I need to love again. I’ve bailing water like this for way too long …

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Secret Garden, A Bad Dream

Monday, September 17, 2011—Irvine, CA

Hanging out on the IVC campus, killing time between my last class and the start of a talk I’m going to be attending this afternoon. The talk is on Andy Warhol as a portrait painter and is being given by Amy Grimm, a friend of mine here in the art history department. I’m really looking forward to it. The four o’clock starting time is a bit awkward (two or six would have been better), but it’s still doable. However, the minor hardship should be worth it: I’m really interested in the topic and Amy really knows her stuff.

The last several days have been a bit quiet and odd; I’ve been quite solitary, even by my loner standards. Part of this is because I’ve still been fighting a cold. It’s also been so hot and unpleasant (it got up to 103 in Long Beach a couple days back) that I haven’t been in the mood to do much other than struggle thru things I have to do for work and basic survival. Still, I’ve added a bit more to the third Backwaters book. I’ve also managed to study a touch more Greek than has been the norm of late. I’ve also been reading some interesting stuff. On a whim I picked up The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, from the Santiago Canyon College library last Thursday. This was perhaps my favorite book I read as a child. I’m about halfway thru it and I’m enjoying nearly as much as I did when I first read it at age seven or eight, (though in somewhat different ways).

In retrospect, I understand exactly why I liked the book so much when I was a kid. The idea of their being a secret place, a place where you an experience and create the beauty and hope that is not in the rest of your life is extremely compelling. But The Secret Garden is more than just that—it's a place where you can understand what beauty and hope are, and why these things matter. For me it was a way to help forget about, and in some small way attempt to transcend, all the things around me that were dragging me down: abandonment, divorce, forced relocation away from most of my family, psychological and emotional abuse (unintended for the most part), lies, raging ego, fear, being unwanted and completely misunderstood (or aunderstood—I don’t think anyone then ever really tried to figure me out) … I felt so much like Mary (the book’s protagonist), starting at about age six. I too was taken from the only place I’d ever known and placed with people who I didn’t really know and didn’t seem to have much interest in me (beyond the surface level at least). I too had to come to my own understandings about life with little in the way of adult help. I too found friendship in odd places, in my case (the occasional housekeeper, with whom I interacted with when my mom and stepdad were at work, sort of like Mary does with Martha). I didn’t find a secret garden, though—just a book about one. The magic of that book meant so much to me because my life had no magic—I just fought thru each day and was happy if nothing scaring happened.

Reading it today I realize that I’m still looking for my secret garden, my place where I can grow and matter and feel pure. In other words, I understand this book differently today because I’m coming at its truths from different angles, not because its truths have changed (by definition “truths” cannot change). In fact, in some ways I still feel like how Mary is first described before her transformation: ugly, plain, sallow, alone, unloved … As I read this book the last couple of days, I realized that the reason I’ve been so unhappy most of my life, am still not anywhere near as happy as I think I can be, is because I’ve thus far failed to fully become myself. I’ve yet to find the key to unlock my secret garden—I’ve found lots of keys and doors, but I never been able to put the right two together …

On a less harrowing note, rereading The Secret Garden has made me realize that I’m not comfortable with the way books are labeled as being for children, “young readers,” or adults. While maybe kids aren’t going get much out of James Joyce or Henry Miller, there is no reason why an adult can’t be enthralled by books like The Secret Garden or, say, A Wrinkle in Time (another one of my childhood favorites I plan on soon rereading). Growing up, by definition, is the process of trying to  come to grip with the wonders of the universe, both those enchanting and terrifying. I think a lot of us get lost emotionally beginning around our early teens and in a sense forget (or never fully learn—that’s probably more accurate) what growing up is—we begin to substitute the fears of those around us for what we know in our hearts to be true. By this I mean that we tie ourselves to notions of survival and leave the wonder of living behind, as if it was some juvenile misconception. I’m coming to believe that readers should return to their favorite childhood books periodically thru life, not as a way of hiding in the past, but as a way of reconnecting with fundamental truths of life. There is nothing to do with life other than live it. And there’s nothing more important in life than the warmth of the sun on your face or the feel earth or water running thru your fingers. Growing up is to take this knowledge thru all your life and use it as the basis from which you grow. Most kids get this, until they get it beaten out of them (sometimes literally) by adults. So to be truly adult is to avoid becoming an “adult.” Good “children’s books” are usually in some sense about this attempt, or at least the preparation for this attempt.

Had a very disturbing dream last night; I woke up at four this morning feeling confused and upset, a little lost. Some of the details are quite fuzzy now, but the dream was centered around what seemed like a kind of horseshoe-shaped set of buildings (where these builders were I can’t say—at one point they seemed to be in Hawai’i, but later I vaguely remember something about them being in New York). Some of the buildings are apartments, but others are businesses, all of which appear to be car repair shops. I’m in an upstairs apartment in one of the buildings. From this apartment I can see my old friends E— and S—. I’m looking down on them as they’re wandering thru the car repair places. I can tell that’s there is something wrong with them—they both seem to be severely mentally disturbed. The images at this point fragment. I remember S— rolling around in a parking lot next to a car that is being worked on. Later I’m talking to E—. I can tell he’s completely gone. I’m not sure about the reasons. He’s working a ridiculous number of hours; he’s so tired and burnt out that he basically work drunk. I remember as I’m noticing this he’s telling me how he’s just gotten another job. He’s also proudly wearing the work shirt from this new job. I’m not sure why I know this, but I’m aware that what’s also causing a lot of his troubles is that his marriage is falling apart. Is he working so much as a way to hide from this?

The situation for S— seems worse. He’s gone completely over the edge. He’s speaking gibberish, while wandering thru the various car repair areas. I somehow know his marriage is falling apart too, and that there are other horrible things going on in his life (what these are I either never knew or don’t remember). Later in the dream he’s basically raving. I’m in a car with him. He’s driving. There’s a roadblock and he immediately swerves the car into a detour that soon has us driving into a lake filled with milky, light-brown water. The car’s sinking and I have to pull him out the driver’s side window and drag him to the shore to save him (how I got out of the car I don’t know). By this point he’s making no sense. Later we’re dry and in some building, a restaurant or coffee shop or something. The cops come in and take him away. They’re treating him like a criminal and I don’t get why—he’s just sick and in need of help. For a moment his wife is in the scene. She looks like she did when they first got married, twenty years ago or whatever it was. She’s in her twenties, still has long hair. I don’t know why she’s there or why she’s so young. Other stuff happens that I don’t remember, which all revolves around the crack up of my two friends. Then I wake up.

What I found/find most disturbing about this dream is that the way E— and S— were cracking up was just how I know it would be with them if it ever happened in really life—I understood every emotion they were having , understood exactly how their issues were interacting with their basic personalities. It was incredibly painful watching these people I love go down like this. I tried to help, but could never seem to get thru to them, which also hurt. Life suddenly seemed very fragile when I first woke up from this dream. More disturbingly, it also seemed preordained—thru this whole dream I felt that I always knew this would happen to them and it had just been a matter of time. I don’t know what any of this means (I did when I woke up, to some degree, but now it’s nearly all gone).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Cold, School, and Thoughts on Some Poets

Tuesday, September 11, 2012—Long Beach, CA

I’m not feeling too hot. Last Friday I felt a cold coming on and it’s been with me ever since. It’s a mild one, though, just bad enough to irritate me, but not bad enough to really slow me down. I’m not surprised I’ve gotten sick. It’s pretty typical for teachers to get colds at the beginning of the fall semester, especially those who haven’t taught summer school. Suddenly being exposed to tons of new people also means that one is being exposed to tons of new microbes. Actually I’m surprised that teachers don’t get sick more often—schools are meeting places for so many different types of people, who come from so many different places, jobs, etc., that campuses are essentially a gathering place for all the illnesses going on in a region. This creates the situation where teachers probably develop more extensive immunities than the general population, but we also get sick more often than most people, just because we’re exposed to so much more—even our gnarly immune systems can’t handle it all.

Speaking of school, I’m having a pretty decent semester so far. I’m ahead of the game, which is nice (the last couple of semesters I’ve been playing extremely stressful games of catch up). I also like my classes; I’ve got a good bunch of students who really seem to be into things. Still, I’m under-employed, which is a drag. My schedule is a bit problematic too, in that it involves a lot of time commuting. I’ve been saying some pretty disparaging things about teaching here, but I’m deciding that I should be a bit more grateful. Though my life’s not where I want it to be, I do have it better than most of the people I know. I basically enjoy my job and on most days I feel like I’m making at least a little difference in the world. There are definitely worse day jobs than mine …

As usual when school kicks into high gear, there hasn’t been too much time for anything else. H— came in from Claremont the other day and we went out for breakfast. That was really nice; we hadn’t seen each other for a long time and it was nice to get caught up. I’ve also been entertaining myself with my fantasy football team and listening to a lot of Angels games (they’re a frustrating team, though—they have so much talent, yet they’ve yet to really gel as a group). I’m keeping up with my Greek studies too, (though I’m not putting as much time into that as I would like). The writing has tapered off a bit, but that’s mostly because I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with the latest Backwaters book—the novel’s main conflict has not made itself apparent to me yet—so I’m just chipping away at it here and there.

On the subject of writing … As I mentioned a couple entries back, I wish I could write poetry these days—my writing life is so much poorer when that’s not happening. I did try reading some poetry recently, Penguin’s reader of Romantic poetry. I couldn’t get too far into it, though. That’s not an era, a group that really moves me much, though I do like some Blake, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. My main problem with the Romantics is that I can’t shake the feeling that their metaphysical bent is a bit of a dodge—I feel that so often their swooning is unhealthy, is a way to avoid confronting the material reality of their days. Reading these folks, though, does make me realize how desperately the Western world needed Walt Whitman to come along. He really was the great broom of Western poetry, sweeping so much of what went before him away. Does Whitman negate Shelley or Keats’ Grecian urn. Of course not. But he does render Longfellow, Bryant, and many other lessor poets unreadable (In my opinion, of course)—he shows how of their time they were, how trapped in their time they are. Still I admit, there is much to laud with the Romantics, their dedication to their art, if nothing else. I also admit one’s taste has a lot do to with this. For example, I really enjoy the Decadents and even the Pre-Raphaelites, both of whom many people loathe.

Though I’m not writing poetry, I did recently unearth and revise and retitle an older poem of mine (from 1995—it’s now called “Suburban Installation”). I’d always liked the piece but I never quite knew what to do with it. With these minor alterations, though, I’m understanding it better. I’m choosing to see this as a good sign, a sign that I’m coming back to poetry, slowly, to at least a small extent …

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Ruminations

Monday, September 3, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Labor Day. I’ve got nothing planned. Sometimes we barbeque at my sister’s, but for whatever reason that’s not going to happen today. That’s OK with me. It’s nice just to have the day off from teaching. Besides, I have plenty to do around here—I want to finish a lecture I’ve been revising, along with a few other work-related things. Not that I plan on working too hard. Most of my day I hope will involve me lounging around and reading. The whole point of having a day off is to have a day off. Sometimes I forget that …

Actually I think that a lot of us in this country have forgotten that; we’ve been battered and brainwashed into thinking our lives’ main purpose is to kill ourselves for our economic masters. Not “working” (I define “work” as “a person giving up their precious time to largely line the pockets of the economic elite for relatively little compensation”—something one enjoys that primarily benefits the individual or that individual’s loved ones is not “work,” which is an inherently negative act, something perpetrated against someone in an unbalanced power relationship), I’m beginning to see, refusing to be part of the big soul-crushing environment-scouring system, can be an important act of defiance against that system.

I’ve been thinking a lot about economics lately, economics and power, in massive terms. I’ve come to the conclusion that since the rise of the first state societies (civilizations) several thousand years ago the overwhelming majority of labor done by people falls into two categories: that which is part of a system which has as its primary purpose to funnel the a huge percentage of that which is produced (wealth) to a small elite, or efforts thru which people eke out a living where much of that produced go to those producing it, but because so much of the available resources are controlled by the elite class that wealth potential for others is so limited that the wealth obtained thru this labor provides little basis for power, or in many case even enough to live anything approaching a full, healthy life. Nothing of course has changed today. Most people I’m sure don’t realize (or if they do they try not to think about it) that the primarily purpose of their job is to in some way help transfer most of the planet’s wealth to a tiny ruling class; any benefit seen by the worker is usually the minimum amount the elites can give to the worker and still have him or her be willing to do the job. In other words, most people’s lives are spent making other people rich at their own expense.

In recent decades it has become apparent that we are now dealing with something more than just a social problem. Due to massive increases in human populations in recent centuries and the rise of more complex technologies, the basic exploitive nature of hierarchical societies is gutting the planet and will soon make it unlivable. In fact, it is already nearing that point for the majority of the world’s population, especially those living in so-called “Third World” countries. Though it’s a complex question as to why some states have more power than others, the fact is that the wealthier parts of the world have gotten that way (or at least stay that way) because of their ability to strip resources and coerce labor from the world’s poorer regions (by which I largely mean those that have little control of their economic, and by extension, social destiny). Leaving aside the horrible direct human costs of this colonialism, it by definition creates an unstable ecological situation that seems to be coming to a tipping point.

The late Roy A. Rappaport, a very influential anthropologist, called this “ecological imperialism,” and pointed out that the power differences between nations creates a transfer of wealth, which creates unstable ecological situations at both ends of the spectrum: poor countrys' ecosystems are essentially destroyed to provide resources for wealthy nations, while these resources allow the wealthy to develop lifestyles that foul the planet (the dependence on fossil fuels would be a prime example). This, if left unchecked, will eventually cause a complete collapse of the biosphere. This shows a direct correlation between hierarchical societies (and especially their current capitalistic systems, which I see simply as a spreading out of the exploitive qualities from a smaller hereditary ruling class to a larger and therefore more destructive business class) and the degradation of the wild ecosystems on which everything alive must ultimately depend.

The reverberations from such an analysis are staggering, for they call into question nothing less the evolutionary viability of hierarchal societies. Human power is ultimately based on the control and exploitation of resources. However, this generally destroys wild ecosystems, which by definition are self-regulating. Human survival again is dependent on these ecosystems. This means that in order to survive as a species power in society must be decentralized—the more spread out this power is the healthier our environment, but also the healthier our society, in that human potential will not be harnessed to the machine of elite accumulation, but to fulfilling the individual’s needs (nutritionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.). Is this a kind of proof of the anarchist dream or a recommendation for the New Paleolithic of the Deep Ecologists (I draw from, respect, and perhaps am of both camps)? I don’t know—but big changes will soon be coming one way or another …

All of this is my way of saying that I never want to “work” again. The machine has had too many of my years and from now on I’m going to fight hard for every minute it tries to wrestle from me. From the chiefdom to the devine ruler to the manor farm to wage slavery the elite classes have attempted to harness the majority of us to help fulfill their own misguided wants. Now not just the people but the planet itself is groaning under this weight. It’s become an ethical duty not to “work.” Personal fulfillment and social responsibility are one and the same—if we don’t all start seeing this soon catastrophe is in evitable.

Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Poetry and Death (Mine!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Haven’t been in the mood to write here much lately. I’ve started back teaching and that’s been eating a lot of time (as well as screwing up my sleep patterns so I’m always a bit tired when I do have some free time). I’ve also been working on the latest Backwaters book and when that’s flowing it will always be given priority over these pages. It’s been going well, slowly; the deliberate pace is fine by me. I see it as turning out much less frenetic than Backwaters of Beauty or Mother Earth and the way I write books tends to reflect their nature, which means I’m probably on the right track. Plus, I’m still a touch burned out on the Backwaters universe and so I can at the moment probably only take this third book in small bites and have it still hold my interest. I’m still feeling like I should be writing other things as well. I’m not sure if this is because I haven’t accepted that this book is simply my lot at the moment or if it should be paired with something I’ve yet discovered. What I wish I could do is write poetry—I’ve been stuck in the world of prose so long that I’ve almost forgotten the rush and then contentment of pulling off a good poem. Poetry is simply more personal and profound than prose. I’m really missing hitting those deeper places …

In regards to my poetry drought, I’m beginning to see that it stopped flowing for me in relation to how much I’ve been teaching. Right before I went back to teaching I’d hit the most productive poetry phase I’ve ever been in; the verses were coming at a sometimes frightening rate. The first year I taught I was very much part time and I still was writing poetry, though not as much as before. When my teaching duties more or less became full time the poetry stopped cold—I have not written a single worthwhile poem since then (the well has gone so dry I haven’t really even turned out many failed ones). Since poetry is in a sense life (or the most telling window into the one's life, in regards to those who practice the art of writing) I can’t help but to ask myself if my teaching has essentially sidetracked my true life, what I should really be doing. I’ve filled more pages here than I like to admit with complaints about teaching. But I’m beginning to see my bitching perhaps hasn’t even scratched the surface. Perhaps what I’m doing for a living really is killing me …

We spend our lives working to increase the material wealth of a very few at the top, while squandering our real riches, which are the days and nights of our lives and the contemplation therefore of. Poets are not respected because they know too much—if they were taken seriously by those in power the whole “civilization” edifice would vanish like chalk in the rain …

I’ve got to get out of this appalling situation before my poetry is gone forever.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Languid Thoughts and Doings

Sunday, August 19, 2012—Long Beach, California

Hot apartment, still (as in both continuing and no movement, of the air). 1:27 AM, lying on sweaty sheets, listening to the Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Volume 8 (live in Binghamton, sometime in 1970—I forget the exact date). I’ve been reading Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, by Peter Marshal. Though I’ve never read it before, at times I feel like I have—many of the threads of thought it discusses are very similar to what I’ve been thinking for a long time. Other than a bit of Emma Goldman, I’ve never read any anarchists thinkers. It’s interesting how I came to such similar conclusions on my own, thru my own hard experience. Back to the Dead. I’ve been listening to a lot of them lately, been reading too Dennis Mcnally’s biography of them, A Long Strange Trip. Rediscovering something special in my life I’d lost touch with. I’d love to go to a Dead show right now … but the long strange trip has fragmented, hasn’t it?

The following afternoon. Early this morning I felt the compulsion to write, but one paragraph in I suddenly became really tired and crashed. I can’t really pick back up on the sweaty languid mood I had going then, though I am feeling a similarly ambivalent. Realizing that I’ve been working too hard for a long time. I want more nights of lounging around listening to music. I’ve neglected myself in recent years. I don’t want to work my way thru life anymore—I want to do something more like dance my way thru it. I define work as doing that which does not fulfill you (in other words, if you enjoy it it can’t possibly be work, though it might involve a great deal of effort). Given that definition, nobody should ever base their life around work—it should be something to be banished from your life. There, I figured it out, said it—now I’m done working forever!

Speaking of not working (writing), I got the new prototype of Edgewater in the mail yesterday. The book has turned out great. The painting looks like its painted right on the cover, which is what I was hoping for. I like the white paper we’ve chosen for the cover; it’s like a snowy version of the old Black Sparrow Press covers. Eric printed the insides on white paper, just because that was what he had, but I think it looks so good with the white cover that I’m going to stick with it instead of the natural colored paper I’d planned on using. I also like that I got rid of the bullshit blurbs on the back (I replaced them with an email to a friend concerning the book). All and all, I couldn’t be happier with it. All we have to do is do a few minor tweaks and print it up. It should be officially released early next month, only a week of two later than originally planned before all the cover issues arose.

Feeling again the urge to paint; I haven’t touch a brush since I finished the cover painting for Edgewater. I have some interesting ideas abound combining abstract images with text. Images of passages from Thoreau (why his work I’m not sure) partially extant thru structures of color, waving, bleeding, chipped—the equivalent of archaeological site in paint: inscription partially worn away, fragmented by time replaced by these emerging colors. I’m not sure if I’m explain this well, but the images are pretty strong in my head, stronger than painting ideas have been in a long time.

Odds and ends. Still not writing much. I’ve got a good opening to the new Backwaters book, but at the moment am lacking the inspiration to continue it—still too burnt out on that series. I also feel like the next move with it is still jelling in my head. My first day back at school starts tomorrow. Not looking forward to it. Not dreading it either. I’ve arrange to buy Greg’s Seagull acoustic guitar from him (how I’m going to get it here from Santa Cruz I’m not sure). I’m really looking forward to playing again—it’s been many years. Though I’m not writing much, I do feel creative at the moment. I think this means I’m in a good place to start relearning the guitar. There must be a reason I’ve decided to pick it up again now … Still working on my Greek, though I’ve lost a little of the intensity lately, mainly, I think, because my apartment has been so hot I can’t concentrate. Missing Greece too. Though I know it was the right decision, I can’t help feeling that I really missed out on something by not going again this summer. Gavdos sunlight calling me from the other side of the world ...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Little Fatigue and Boredom / Margo Dreams

Wednesday, August 15-18 , 2012—Long Beach

Tired. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I’ve been getting up earlier because it’s been so hot in my apartment. I’ve also been doing a fair amount of “mind work,” which always wears me out. I’m dealing with a bit of eye strain as well—too much computer work, too much reading. Because of this I should probably be trying to get some sleep (it’s 12:17 AM), but I’m feeling restless, like I should be writing something. What I should be writing about, though, I’m not sure. Lately I’ve been feeling a little lazy in regards to this diary. There are lots of big ideas rolling around in my head, but they’re not jelling into anything overly coherent. I get the feeling that if I were to try and put them down “on paper” (says the computer addict) that I might be able to make more sense of them. But that just seems like so much work, much more than I can bring myself to take on. Maybe, though, I’m not being lazy. Maybe the reason I’m not pushing myself is that I know that certain things aren’t yet ready to come out. In fact, that’s probably the most likely scenario: when I don’t want to do something there’s usually a good reason for it, whether I’m consciously picking up on it or not …

Feeling restless about more than just writing these days. My routine is starting to bore me. Having to go back to teaching next week isn’t thrilling me either: that routine interests me even less. I’m beginning to realize that I’m thru with teaching anthropology (though it’s not quite thru with me). The years I’ve been teaching have taught me a great deal; they’ve helped me to understand where my writing needed to go after my Heaping Stones/Edgewater break thru. Partially because of my teaching in the social sciences I’ve figured out that my writing needed to begin looking outward. More specifically, teaching helped me get from the previously- mentioned books, which were about me (in the broad emotional sense) to the Backwaters books, which are more about community. But I’ve made that journey and I know it’s time for me to do something else. It’s time to put my new books out and make my way thru them—teaching has gone from a learning experience to one that is becoming increasingly confining, boring.

On another topic, I’ve been thinking about relationships lately, about me maybe again being involved in one. This is a very interesting development. For years I have not allowed myself to get remotely close to anyone: the last time I fell in love—one of only two times in my life this has happened—I was so badly wounded that it’s taken me nearly a decade to … I don’t know, I was going to say “recover,” but that’s not the right word. What’s really happened is that it’s taken me all this time to understand what happened, why it happened, and to integrate what it means into my life (I’ve probably made an overstatement—I do not yet fully understand what went down and probably never will, but I’ve made huge strides in this area). What happened to me with, I’ll call her Margo, completely short-circuited my life and I’ve been rewiring it ever sense. Or to be both more melodramatic and trite (but at least as accurate), there was my life before Margo and my life after her—and they are not quite the same life. My problem is that what happened between Margo and me was so profound (for me), was so powerful that I don’t think I could settle for less than that intensity of feeling again. The question is then can I be moved like that (or in a different way that’s just as absorbing) in a healthy relationship. Recently I’ve begun to ask this question, which could be a good sign …

Speaking of Margo, for ten years now she’s been haunting my dreams (I may have mentioned this in some earlier diary entry). The early dreams were horrid and always pretty much the same. The scene and backing cast would change, but in all of then she was incredibly popular—everyone loved her, despite the fact that she was obviously a completely self-absorbed user, which drove me crazy because no one but me could seem to seem what she was really like—and I was so in love with her that I was desperately trying anything to be with or at least near her. There was usually another guy or guys she preferred, which was something she’d make brutally obvious in my presence. She wouldn’t quite ever let me go free, though—she showed just enough interest in me to keep me around, to keep me thinking there was hope; I sensed she enjoyed being so worshiped. Often in the dreams she’d be sitting on my lap or lying with me in a bed. She’d let me kiss her in and sometimes do a lot more, but she almost always was indifferent to my touches. Or worse she acted like she was doing me the greatest of favors. I woke up from these dreams feeling angry, bitter, broken ... like a complete loser …

Over the last few years, though, my Margo dreams have become less frequent and there’s been a huge change in their tone—mainly because I’m viewing her differently. In these dreams she’s usually as self-involved and before, and sometimes she’s with other men, but I don’t hate her like I do in the earlier dreams. This is because I don’t need her. In these dreams I’ve learned to accept her behavior as that of someone who is deeply frightened and insecure. Since I don’t need her anymore she can’t hurt me. Without this pain of need I’m finding myself seeing a beauty in her cruelty, an understanding that comes thru empathy—I know she’s been deeply hurt in her life as I have and that she’s simply trying to deal with this pain: by trying to control the men in her life as a form of protection. In these dreams, despite our past, I have warm feelings for her and consider her my friend. I’ve also accepted that she doesn’t, can’t love me because of who she is and who I am. I’ve woken up from these kinds of dreams feeling good about things, about my past. The self-loathing that came out of the earlier Margo dreams is nearly gone.

Last night, though, I had a Margo dream that was at least partially a throwback to the earlier ones. I don’t remember the exact scene, but we were in a house. I think there was a party of some sort going on. I was back to needing her (though not as much as in past dreams). I don’t know if she’s with me in this dream, but she’s at least implied that we're together. But she keeps going into this bedroom where she is being fucked by this huge black guy who looks a bit like the actor who stared in The Green Mile. And when I say “fucked” that’s what I mean—she just being bent over by this guy and rammed, while he says abusive things to her and she gets off on it. In between being fucked by this guy she's in the living room sitting on my lap, kissing me, with cold indifferent lips. In this dream I’m feeling something close to the desperation and hate I felt in the old Margo dreams. I woke up feeling deeply hurt, by this dream Margo and myself—I thought I was past such self-tortures.

What interests me is why I went back to this type of Margo dream. Perhaps I just needed to clean out the attic, so to speak—perhaps there’s still some pain lurking around hidden places inside me that I need to flush out. As I’ve said, I’ve recently been considering the possibility of a new relationship and maybe I’m just trying to get everything in order so that can happen. I’m leaning towards this explanation, mainly because the aftermath of this dream was minimal, compared to the past. Back then after a bad Margo dream I’d feel like shit for hours, sometimes all day. Within an hour or so after waking up today, though, I was no longer in pain and could examine the dream analytically. For whatever reason this dream cropped up, largely because of my reation to it, I don’t think it has much to do with backsliding—I think it’s mostly about something new. Another reason I think I’m in someplace different is Margo’s persona has changed. In the other dreams she’d never have allowed herself to be sexually used as she was in this dream (or maybe she was using the guy in some convoluted way?). I’m not sure what this means, but it’s interesting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stupid Hot and Other Stuff

Sunday, August 12, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Stupid hot. Angry hot. Several days in a row of blazing heat with at least that many on the horizon. As usual when it gets like this my apartment becomes all but unbearable (people are always commenting on what a great rent I have, but they don’t seem to understand that I get what I pay for—a uncomfortable crumbling one-bedroom place in a ugly, worsening neighborhood that turns into a furnace at least a couple months of the year and has no heat when winter comes around). What’s bumming me out is that I have a lot I need to be doing now—prepping for, school, BSP stuff etc.—and it’s too hot in here for me to think. I think I’m going to head over to the Downtown Branch of the LB Public Library next week and try and get some work done in its air-conditioned environs. The situation in Chez Rob is ridiculous …

The weather is seeming even worse than it is when I compare it to last weekend, when I went up to my cousin’s wedding in the Lompoc area, which was much cooler than it is down here, especially at night (we even got rained on a little bit on Saturday morning, which is really unusual for August in these parts). Speaking of that trip, I enjoyed it. The wedding was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to (no phony religious crap or tedious traditions to be found). I was a little depressed for a day or so after it, though. My life feels so stuck these days: I feel like I’m more than ready to move onto to something else and I can’t quite put things together enough to make it happen. Watching E— and L— get married, watching them so happily moving into the next phase of their lives, got me really thinking about where I’m at at the moment, which is a significantly different place than I want to be.

Like I just said, this bummed me out for a few days, but I’m feeling better now. Things aren’t quite right with me, but when I look at the big picture I know I’m making the right moves, or mostly right moves at least. My days of making stupid decisions are over. The question is now how much can I recover from my previous wrong moves, my formally faulty vision. I think I still can make some big strides; the game's far from over and I can see a lot of interesting times for me on the horizon.

Since I’ve been back I’ve mostly been fighting the heat and trying to get some prep work done for school (I have my first faculty meeting next week). Greg’s been in town the last few days, though, so I’ve been hanging out with him a bunch and getting less done. Besides that I’ve mostly been reading and doing a bit of writing (on the latest Backwaters book, not in the diary obviously). Eric and I also seem to have finally gotten Edgewater ready for printing. We’re looking at paper samples and we should be able to let that rip by the end of next week. Hopefully it will be officially out by the end of this month.

Getting a little worried that gluten might not be what’s causing my health issues. I did an experiment at the wedding last weekend and ate quite a bit of gluten and had no reaction. Since I’ve been back, though, and gluten free my bloating has returned in a pretty big way. I’m very confused by all this.

Realizing that I’m a little weird as far as diarists go. Most diarists seem to be obsessive about their diaries. I’m not. I do it because I enjoy it and learn from it, because informal writing like this helps me as a writer (it keeps my chops up, if nothing else), and because other people seem to find it interesting. But I don’t stress when I’m not writing. Maybe it’s because this is an internet diary and my options as to what I’m comfortable doing are limited; maybe the aspects of my life that I might be obsessive about are the ones I feel the need to eliminate in this endeavor. I do wish I had more time to write here, though. I feel like I lose the deeper threads when I’m away from this diary too long. Once I’m back at work and trapped on the backside of Orange County with time to kill and work to bitch about I’m sure my focus will return.

Keeping up my Greek studies. I’ve hit a point where the learning curve has gotten a little steep, but I’m chugging along—slowly. It’s really hard studying a language when you’re completely divorced from its day-to-day use. None of the schools around here even teach Modern Greek. My goal is to learn as much about the structure of the language, its grammar as I can and build on that once I’m around Greek speakers again—vocabulary and pronunciation can come later.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Laying Back, Paul Bowles' Travels, a Dream

Monday, July 30, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Feeling a little out of it. I’ve been battling an on-again off-again sinus infection this whole summer and lately it’s been acting up (it can take forever to get rid of those things, sometimes many months). I also have a minor muscle pull under my left shoulder blade, which is just painful enough to be annoying. Other than these issues things are going OK. It’s a bit slow around here: I’ve been doing little besides working out, doing some light school prep, and reading. I’ve also been writing a bit, experimenting with an essay about my days in Hawai’i. I’m very much feeling my thru it, am not sure where it’s going. As I’d mentioned, I’d been playing around with ideas for a novel set in Hawai’i that ultimately didn’t work and in a sense they haves morphed into this essay. Hopefully I’m now on the right track with it.

Like I just said, I’ve been reading a lot. I read a lot of novels in the first half of the summer, but since I’ve been back from up north, it’s been mostly non-fiction, political and economic stuff, history, travel writing. I’ve burned thru a couple of Noam Chomsky books and in the middle of a third one. I’m also reading a history on Vasco de Gama’s Indian voyages well as essays by Orwell and a collection of Paul Bowels travel pieces. The Chomsky stuff I’ve been reading mainly for his perspectives and the massive amounts of information he provides (he’s a pretty lousy writer). With the Orwell’s stuff, though, I’ve been studying his technique. He’s nearly in a class of his own as an essayist. Even in his lesser works the writing and the thought shaping it is always razor sharp; he never wastes a word or goes on any tangent he doesn’t eventually drive right pack to the heart of the piece. I’m perhaps finding the Bowels’ book the most interesting, though. As a novelist he’s very frustrating. His novels start off so promising, but every one I’ve tried to read begins to let me down about halfway thru; it’s as if he’s become bored with his own creation and doesn’t quite have the energy (or the vision, which is partially born from this kind of energy) to see things thru. His travel writing, though, thus far really shines.

The book is simply called Travels and collects a lot of his travel pieces from 1950-1993. Some of the work has appeared in his books, but a lot of it is stuff that was published in magazines and newspapers and has never before been collected. It’s obvious that he’s toned down his style a bit at times for more mainstream audiences (the icy detachment of the narrator of The Sheltering Sky and Let it Come Down would no doubt freak out the readers of magazines such as Holiday), but his voice still comes thru. It’s a voice suited for this kind of writing too. With his novels Bowles always seems burdened by his plots, by having to tell a story—for him, you get the feeling, that the landscape, the climate, the people going about their daily lives is enough. Travel writing allows him to concentrate on just those things and he brings them to life marvelously. So far my favorite pieces have been set in his beloved North Africa and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). There are some that take place in Europe too that are interesting. When I’m done with this book I think I’m going to check out the rest of his non-fiction, including the travels books some of the pieces in Travels came from. He also published a dairy from his time in Tangier I want to track down.

I went to the Lakewood Mall today in search of a shirt to where to a wedding I’m going to in Santa Barbara this weekend (I came home empty handed). Going to malls has become a very weird experience for me. I simply don’t go to places like that very often. I don’t buy things in general. I don’t even watch TV much, which means I don’t see the commercials most Americans allow themselves to be bombarded with. Today I began realizing how disconnected I’ve become from the American capitalist enterprise—I truly don’t understand the mindset of the people who hang out in malls regularly. Nor do I really get why anyone would want to spend their lives selling and making most of the stuff sold in them. People shop, I think, because they’ve largely lost the ability to create their own lives, their own value systems. So they try and buy those things one step removed. It of course doesn’t work. And when it doesn’t they feel bad, which provides the impetus to go off on another buying spree to try and solve that problem (which is really of course just an expression of the first problem). And so on and so on … I’ve reached the point where, except for stuff like food, I hate to buy anything, not because I’m cheap, or even because I usually don’t have that much money, but because I know whatever it is will likely become more baggage in my life, something I have to wash or dust or do an oil change on. Stuff, in other words, equals work. I’m amazed that more people don’t see this. Freedom is a light backpack and a (relatively) full bank account.

I’ve been having lots of weird/bad dreams lately. Most of them are gone soon after I wake up (I mean within seconds) and all I’ve got left of them are the uptight or outright bad feelings they’ve brought out in me. I do remember bits and piece of one of these dreams, though. One which loosely ties into my previous discussion of shopping malls. I can’t recall exactly what was going on, but I was at a beach somewhere and I remember that everything you might to have at the beach had to be bought from vending machines that lined the cliffs above the sand—sunscreen, towels, and even surfboards had to be purchasest like this—you weren’t allowed to bring your own from home. I think there was even someone you had to pay a toll to for each wave you road. It was all just a handful of steps away from ultimate capitalist landscape where there’s a surcharge for breathing …

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weird James Joyce Dream

Friday, July 20, 2012—Long Beach, CA

I had a really weird and (I think) interesting dream last night.

I was in Ireland, lying on the ground outdoors on a mild sunny day. I was reading a large book (physically large—like a coffee-table book) of poetry by James Joyce. The poems weren’t anything he’d written in real life, though—they existed only in my dream. The poems were printed on pictures of the Irish country side. As I was reading I noticed that the photo behind a poem was the exact scene that was before me—a kind of living Impressionist mountain scape, featuring lots of greens of course, but also browns, purples, and whites, under a pale blue sky. As I realize what I’m looking at my sister and I begin holding hands, while getting into to beauty of the poem, the picture, and it’s “real life” counterpart (I’m not sure if my sister was there the whole time or if she just appeared at this point in the dream). At about this point I begin to cry, tears of beauty. But a part of me is faking it; I’m putting on some sort of show, for my sister, for myself, and for others I feel are there somewhere but  where I cannot now recall.

The scene switched after this. I’m watching TV, back in the U.S., I assume. I’m watching the Charlie Rose Show, except that it’s the late 1970s and Rose has long hair (though he’s not looking all that much younger than he does today). He’s interviewing James Joyce, who in my dream universe is still alive at this late date and doesn’t look any older than his early sixties. He also doesn’t quite look like he does in the photo’s I’ve seen of him—he looks like a cross between James Joyce and Tom Waits. Rose is asking him questions about the book of poetry I’d been reading in Ireland. I’m not really hearing the questions or the answers, though (or maybe I just don’t remember them). I do notice, though that Joyce doesn’t really have a septum, that he essentially has one big nostril, which I find really fascinating and only a little gross. Joyce’s movements are very Tom Waits, very stylized semi-phony American hipster. His voice is a bit Wait’s-like too. He’s wearing one of those old-fashioned English bicycle hats, where the brim is short and connected to the top-part of the hat by a snap.

Later that morning I wake up with opening lines for a poem, a big epic poem, rolling around in my head. The poem has nothing to do with the Joyce poems, except that in my groggy state I see Joyce’s dream work having showed me the way back into my poetry, which I’ve lost touch with since 2009. Here are the lines (I think, I’m not sure what I woke up with and what might have morphed in the several hours since I got out of bed):

We have broken the seal completely

Whirl whirl          Californie whirlie whirl

and of course the cattlemen of Stockton

              understand the lumber ships in San Pedro and stacked

up across the horizon

touching Japan (Terminal Island)—

into pink dusk

summer palms

And that’s all I’ve got. I don’t think it’s particularly good. Nor do I know what if anything to do with it. But the way I arrived at it is pretty cool. Worth documenting, I think, if nothing else …

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rain, Relaxation, and Jean Rhys

Friday, July 13, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Rain! Since yesterday we’ve been experiencing a strange tropical depression, which has brought overcast skies, humid heat, and again, rain. This is so strange for Southern California. We can go a decade without summer rain and to have multiple days of it like this is even more odd. While this little intrusion of weather has been interesting, I would like my traditional dry Mediterranean-climate back, please—I don’t like humidity and the last couple days have been like a bad weather patch in Hawai’i. Welcome to Global Warming or just more traditional weirdness? Hard to say, of course …

Not too much going on besides the weather. I’ve been working out a lot—running, bike riding, and lifting weights—and I hit a little wall this afternoon: after going for a run early this afternoon and then eating a late lunch I just kind of collapsed while listening to the Angels game (they’re beating the Yankees 4-2 at the moment), slept hard for an hour or so, and then just vegged out in bed listening to the game, until I decided to write a bit here. The plan for the rest of the evening is to stay in bed, while writing a bit more, studying some Greek, and doing some reading. Every once in a while I get like this—I just need a day (or in this case half a day) where I take it easy. Sometimes I forget how active I am, both physically and mentally—and I’ve finally learned to accept when I need a break. I wish I could get to the point, though, where I plan them into my schedule. As of now I push forward until I drop. It would be healthier if I rested up before that happened …

Speaking of reading … I’m hitting a stretch where I’m stumbling upon some very interesting books. I’ve shelved my Proust redo for the moment (though I do plan on getting back to it) and since before my trip have been tearing thru Jean Rhys novels. Reading her has been a bit of a revelation for me. Her books are so good, so far ahead of her time. She has this simple pared-down style that is paired with an almost post-modern minimalism in regards to plot, which allows the complex emotions and thoughts of her protagonist to flow thru unimpeded. She really has only one story to tell, which she comes at from different angles in each novel. All her tales concern the plight of women who find themselves in the world without means yet strive to live lifes that will give them more than just being someone’s wife, someone’s baby-producing machine. Her characters long for beauty and ask little more than a small amount of fuel to keep their flame up hope alive. But they are trapped in a world where they are dependent on men, mainly for money, mostly because the other woman is the only role society will allow them beyond wifedom; they long to escape being property, but soon find themselves becoming simply a different type of possession. Dark stuff. Claustrophobic. Tense. But beautiful in its execution. Powerful feminist art in everything but name. It’s pretty rare these days that I find a writer who really has something to teach me about writing. But I’m learning a lot from Rhys, a whole lot …

Other reading notes. Still plowing thru a so-so history of the Greek war of independence. Ready to take a break from Jean Rhys and have Dawn Powell’s novel The Wicked Pavilion in the on-deck circle. I’ve never read her before, but I’ve heard so many good things about her stuff that I’m excited and am hopeful that I’ll have found another writer this summer who really works for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sacramento and Other Evaluations

Wednesday, July 11, 2012—Long Beach, CA

I’ve been back in So Cal for a few days now and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Whatever problems I have with the more northerly regions of this state, at least (in most areas) they’re less crowded. As soon as I got off the plane in Long Beach I started to feel a bit hemmed in. Since then I can’t stop noticing the traffic, the dirt, the … pointless busyness everyone seems to be engaged in. More than ever I want out of this place; I simply don’t belong here anymore. I want someplace quieter, slower, more human. Back to my Grecian dreams. The key for me, I’m realizing more than ever, is to build up Burning Shore Press, to have an income that doesn’t come from whatever local economy I find myself in—because I simply can’t make a living most of the places that attract me. Big ideas rolling around in my head. I can see me soon breaking with much of my current life. Big angry realizations about capitalism, about my phony cowardly country. Too big to discuss now—I want them to roll around in my head a bit more …

Contemplating my little trip north. I said some fairly disparaging things about Santa Cruz in the previous entry. Overall, though, I like the place—it’s quiet (in comparison to Southern California) and there are definitely some nice people there. I was feeling pretty uptight there, though. This had a lot more to do with what was going on with the friend I was there to visit. His marriage is going down in an extremely ugly way and being a part of the shambles that is his life at the moment was very stressful and not all that much fun. Still, it was great to see him. I just wish I could do more to help him. But he’s the only one who can work out his problems—any attempt I could make in this area would either be ineffectual or put me in a situation in which I have no place. Later I can be there for him. Right now moral support is pretty much all I can offer.

The Sacramento part of my trip was a very different story, in that I was really able to relax there (I’m so glad I decided to go to Sacramento after Santa Cruz instead of the other way around). Sacramento is a pretty non-descript place in many ways. That, though, is its strength; it’s just a pleasant place with plenty to do (if you know where to look) that doesn’t ask much of a person. In other words, it’s not like Southern California or San Francisco, whose infrastructure and accompanying social dynamics demand the world as soon as you leave the house (and sometimes while you’re still in it!). It was also of course great seeing Steve, my old comrade in arms. We’ve been friends for over thirty years and we still find ways to connect that I don’t happen with me and other people. What makes seeing him so interesting for me is that though we share a ton of history neither of us are ever trapped by that past—we’re both always using it as a springboard into new things. Over the last few years are relationship has been especially interesting to me in that we both seems to be going thru a period where we’re intensely evaluating the past, our past, the history of , well, kind of everything, to see what can stand up to the scrutiny of the wisdom we’ve somehow managed to wrench from our time on this planet. We both seem to be retrenching ourselves, in the personal aspects of our lives, as well as socially, politically, etc. For a decade or so there we seemed to have really diverged. Now, though, we appear to be arriving in similar places, in some respects from radically different angles. I’m not yet sure what any of this means, but it certainly is fascinating. It’s going to be interesting to see where we’re both are ten years from now.

As far as what we actually did in Sacramento goes, it was a nice mix. We hung out in some good pubs (this trip was interesting in that it was the first time I’d had anything to drink since February), went to a nice bookstore, watched some good films/TV, went on a hike in Big Trees State Park (in the Sierra Nevada foothills), and went to the Crocker art museum, which was having a show by Mel Ramos, an artist I’d never dealt with before (the museum also has a nice regular collection, dominated by regional artists). It was a good leisurely time—the perfect antidote to my Santa Cruz stress …

Other notes:

Still pushing my way into the gluten-free world, figuring out what I can and can’t eat. Still feeling good, though my stomach problems are lagging behind the rest of my body in this department. Yesterday I accidental ate some peanut butter that contained a soy base (which contained wheat) and my stomach bloated out like a famine victim. Unpleasant, but good in that it showed me that my stomach problems almost surely have their base in an overall gluten issue, which means that I’m now doing what I need to do to solve the problem.

Back on the wagon after coming home. Drinking as an occasional social activity works for me, but that’s about it; I have no desire to drink to drink. Since I’ve quit I’m noticing how much certain people around me drink. I’m glad I’m off that path. At this point in my life it can lead nowhere good …

Another thing keeping me from drinking is that I can’t drink most beer because it’s loaded with gluten. While in Santa Cruz I tried some sorghum beer. It wasn’t bad. A bit light. Missing something as far as it’s taste goes. It’s not a bad option, but I don’t see myself putting in too much effort to track the stuff down.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Notes from Santa Cruz

Monday, July 2, 2012—Santa Cruz, CA

Day three of my Santa Cruz excursion. My love-hate relationship with this town is in full bloom. The setting is beautiful (not as beautiful, though, as what’s under the concrete of the L.A. Basin), but, like so many other places in coastal California, there far too many cars jammed into the streets, too much noise and hectic feelings in a place that’s reputed to be ultra-laid back. I also have some interesting social problems when I’m here, which are definitely happening this trip. Southern California trains people to live hard and fast; for better or worse we attack whatever we’re doing. Here there’s very little edge to anything. In many ways this is good. But it also drives me sort of crazy, mainly in that I always feel like I’m wasting time when I’m in this town. I don’t doubt that there’s a very good chance that I’m the one with the problem, not Santa Cruz—in the long run their way might be the better one. But like I said, it just run a bit against the grain of my L.A. soul. I’m used to people and moments having a bit of an edge to them and here so much is soft and fuzzy around the corners, which, like I’ve said, makes me a little nuts.

Another factor here that makes me a little uncomfortable is how much money is sloshing around this town. This town has a rep of having this laid-back-hippy-more-progressive-than-thou culture, which it does in a way. But I think a lot of this is the fumes left over from another simpler, cheaper time. I mean, it’s so expensive here that one would almost have to have a big income to do anything other than just scrape by. Mostly of the people I’ve met here who have these kinds of incomes work in the computer industry; Santa Cruz lies near the heart of the Silicon Valley money spout. The underlying flow of cash pumps so much money into this town that I’m sure the income levels here approach those of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is snooty Old California money at its most stereotype: it supports boring old structures of privilege and ethnicity. Here, though, the money seems to be propping up more-recent hippy values that seem to exist now as just a thin surface layer. The problem is that the best of these hippy values were concerned with self-reliance and living lightly on the land (and cheaply). People here, though, are driving SUVs, living in expensive houses, and drinking boutique wines. In other words, I think what’s going on here is a counter-culture fantasy, not the real thing. I think the people here, on many levels, are just kidding themselves.

This really bothers me. As does the fact that so much of the money pushing this place along comes from the computer industry. To be frank, I’ve never trusted the computer world, socially. Those working in that realm seem to be paid an awful lot of money for doing very little (of what I would consider to be) work. Intertwined with this is a sense of privilege that I find unpleasant; I just want to drag a lot of these people off the “campuses” into the real world, hand them a shovel and tell them to start digging, to experience real work for a change. Getting back to my previous points, I think what this all adds up to is that old snooty Santa Barbara and post-hippy Santa Cruz are ending up in a disturbingly similar place, albeit from wildly different angles—I think there’s a false premise at the heart of each of them that numb and dull their residents to the lives most people in this world live.

All that said, it’s nice to be here, to change my routine and see and feel some new things … new, cleaner beaches, redwoods, different plant communities in general, less concrete, cooler breezes. It’s of course great to hang out with Greg again. I have few close friends left in Southern California and I’m not as close with anyone down there are I am with him. Yesterday we drove up the coast, hung out on the beach with his two-year-old daughter, before going for a drive thru a bit of the backcountry and then eating dinner with some friends of his. A nice day, relaxing (despite the fact that his daughter can be a bit of a handful, like all kids that age). Today he’s working so I’m just wandering around town by myself, right now listening to the traffic sounds pouring into the coffeehouse in which I’m sitting and typing on my netbook. Feeling pretty relaxed. My stomach problems, which flared up on the trip down, have mellowed about a bit. Living gluten free on the road is hard, but I’m doing it. Feeling OK overall, a little spooked too, though, by being surrounded by people I don’t quite understand.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bits and Pieces of This and That

Monday, June 26 2012—Long Beach, CA

Nice summer days have arrived. The June gloom is finally mostly gone and we’re getting clear blue skies and weather which is warm but not yet too warm. It would be nice if we could just hold this, have a mellow summer where we never get too scorching (a lot of Southern California summers go down this way, though just as many turn death Africa hot starting in July and stay that way into October). Actually here’s to mellow in general!—now that I’m finally starting to unwind I’m having a harder and harder time accepting the fact that come mid-August I’m going to have to step back into the fast lane again.

Though things are going well overall, I had a really stupid day yesterday. I rode my bike down to the beach to have a run and somehow I lost my keys; I’ve never before in my life lost a set of keys. Since I was just going for a quick run I’d brought nothing besides my clothes and keys—I had no money and no phone. Plus, I couldn’t even use my bike since it was locked to a lifeguard tower and that key went with the rest of them. This meant that I had to walk all the way to my sister’s on the other side of Long Beach State to get the spare set of house keys I leave with her (which I could use to get into my house and get my spare bike-lock key so I could free my bike). Luckily after hiking an hour-plus to her house she was home. Unfortunately she couldn’t figure out where she’d put my keys (she moved to a new house recently and a lot of things got scrambled in the move). So we called Mark and Bonnie, who had a master key, which got me into the house. My sister was also nice enough to drive me back to my house and then the beach, so I didn’t have to do any more walking. Still it was a long stupid sunburned day, which really put a damper on my mood.

Not much else has been going on. I’m getting ready to head up north Friday. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to get up there. I’ll probably decide on that tonight. I’m looking forward to some time out of town, but I’m also a little apprehensive about breaking the current pattern I’m in. I’ve been working hard on my diet and conditioning and I’m feeling better than I have in years. Plus, traveling can be a bit of a pain when you’re not eating dairy or gluten. Still, I’ll figure it out and will have a great time, I’m sure.

Been writing a bit (though not much here obviously). I may have stumbled on a new novel idea, which is based out the time I spent in Hawai’i. I’m a little reluctant to discuss the details, though, for fear of jinxing it; I’ve had a lot of false starts recently. I keep saying I’m in a fallow period, but I also can’t stop from searching for the next project. I’m not sure if this is because I simply don’t know how to relax or because there really is something I should be writing about that I just haven’t found yet (again, maybe I have just found it). I’m suddenly beginning to think the latter is what’s going on. I’m beginning to see a real way thru with this Hawai’i idea.

Odds and ends. Still reading Proust. Picked up Sexus, by Henry Miller the last couple evenings. I haven’t been able to read him for years, but so far this one’s working for me. Reading a book on the Greek war of independence. Tried to read Anais Nin’s early diary. Couldn’t get into it. Still working on my Greek—slowly but surely (“and don’t call me Shirley”). Still putting a lot of time in working on the BSP e-books. What a pain in the ass. The technology Amazon offers is elephantine. It’s impossible to get a book looking good in all their formats at the same time. Plus going from Word to html is a fucking nightmare of bizarre reformatting and other equally frustrating issues. Hoping to have all of them done by late July.

Sat up late last night watching Ride the Wild Surf, a truly dreadful surfsploitation film from the early/mid-sixties. The reason I got hooked on it was because of all the real surfing scenes interspersed with all the hokey crap. The footage they have a Miki Dora riding Sunset, Pipeline, and Waimea is amazing. Apparently that was his first time riding in Hawaii and it’s hard to believe he was able to make the adjustment from being California point rider to those big crazy reef breaks so quickly (and while maintaining so much of his style—he wasn’t called ‘Da Cat” for nothing). It shows how much talent he had. There’s one ride he has at Pipeline that’s amazing. It’s a big day and he’s of course going backside, but he still smoked this long clean barrell, riding as deep into it as was probably possible. Fantastic stuff.