Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Into May

(More Georgia photos above.)

Before I know it, it's time to pay rent, buy a Fast Pass, make a list of monthly obligations and curse chronology for being so quick-tempered. Before I know it it's time to worry about new flus, new allegations, and the beginnings of collective disillusionment. I'm still reading the Brothers Karamazov, quite slowly, savoring the flow of events it describes as well as the baffling complex political theology it discusses. So much melodrama and it is all so addictive.

And many essays too, including a rediscovery of my old copy of Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag, which is fairly indispensable. It makes literary essay writing seem fun, playful and inspired, unlike a lot of the essays I had to churn out in college. I've also been told by a friend that I need to read Martin Heidegger's Being And Time. We'll see about that. Although I do look at philosophy as a special kind of literature. And it's always nice if a philosopher writes beautifully. I do intend on reading some more poetry next month, if only because I've neglected it for a long time now.

April had some instructive and fun excursions. I like to think of them as experiments in finding better or just different ways to live, even if the ways themselves are only temporary. I like to think some of these experiments might contribute to my hackneyed theory that living as an artist might actually be good for the planet and for our society. At least from the economic point of view. Moreover, that an artist can, in fact, be a good citizen and not just a mad narcissist who fiddles while Rome burns. But maybe I just have guilt? Because if the artist is at home making art, someone is working hard to make the food that feeds him, right? But the artist can't feed the farmer. Well, he can feed his soul I suppose. That's for a longer take.

These instructive trips included one to the local organic farm, Alemany Farm where I worked for 5 hours in the hot sun and got to bring home vegetables I had harvested, like kale and chard. Small farming is the wave of the future, I'm almost certain. And I really, really felt good using my hands for things other than answering phones and collating paper. I enjoyed helping out the kids and using a shovel and sweating to the sound of earth being moved around. And ground cherries are delicious. And the Jerusalem cricket is horrifying.

And then a week later I was in Macon, Georgia and just last weekend, we went camping and kayaking at the Russian River. I'm still a camping novice but trying to get my forest-legs. There's nothing like sweet fire-smoke on your clothes and fresh, hot food under the stars. And being on a river, slowly with nowhere to go except the nearest sandbar that has a rope swing above it. And the tangled trees and thick brush rustling in on you as if the fire pit is the only thing holding dark squirming weirdness at bay.

April was also the usual sporadic work schedule, caffeinated bouts of revising, nights both fun and unfortunate at the Argus and the Broken Record and a great workshop that meets every Sunday (at least until next Sunday) moderated by the local writer and teacher, David Booth. I highly recommend any classes he is offering. I've learned more from him about the hard mechanics of short story writing and revising than from anyone I've had. He's also a damn fine writer.

While working hard at revising and starting some 6-10 short stories, I came up with a division system for them based on what I think are the most pervasive themes. So far I've divided the stories into 3 separate divisions: 1) Haunted Homes (Not Houses) 2) Lovers In Peril 3) Fixations Of The Future. I realized this attempt at categorizing things that are barely written and some only simply outlined was inspired by the short story collection Dangerous Laughter by Stephen Millhauser that is on my shelf and waiting to be read.
He divides his collection into 1) VANISHING ACTS 2) IMPOSSIBLE ARCHITECTURES and 3) HERETICAL HISTORIES. All of which are enviable divisions. I can't wait to read more of the stories therein.

May on the horizon. No predictions. Except more spring. And biking with super-duper tax-refund bike.

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