There are lots of folks who will complain about the chafing inconvenience of working a retail job, or a food service gig, or any other odd-hours employment.  Having one (and a half) of these jobs myself, I could not disagree more. Today is the odd Saturday afternoon I have off from work, and it is miserable. Warm, sunny, school’s out Saturday makes my preferred manor of being a near impossibility.
To be a Flaneur and not in the french, aristocratic way, but in the way Ned Janeway describes in Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain.” A wish to spend my days with a wandering and a freedom from will or hope. To be one who “has no need of hope” might be a universal aspiration if it weren’t for the typically american irrational fear of vagrancy. Ned argues that a state of being “independently wealthy” is not so much a question of inherited money, wise investments or even of having much money at all. Rather, this state of carefree ease, and peace is much more a question of being one with simple needs and simple designs for answering life’s larger questions.

On a sunny Saturday, the teeming energy of workaday people in the street, and in the coffee shops, and the quainter coastal towns, presupposes the the reflective ease that weekends off ought to mean to those very people. Five days on, two days off, 2.5 kids, day in and day out, one internal combustion engine per working adult, and the rush of the week… it spills lavishly and dangerously into the weekend. Like there were a carnival barker at the door of your mind, “Step RIGHT UP! Two days ONLY. Get your relaxation while its here! WIN A PRIZE!”

I’ll wait till Monday, Thanks.

She Wanted to Smell Like Lilac

I am not ready to call this finished, so let’s call it a teaser. The working title of my forthcoming collection is “Drunk Maimed and In Love” and this poem-shoot (like a plant’s shoots, but slightly more literary) explores some of its primary themes of lost, aimless, love.
“I want to Smell Like Lilac”

She tells me she wants to smell like lilac
And I say “but I’ve been breathing you dandilion”
Pretty and fun, but your roots are invasive
You’ve been springing up sunshine all over my heart.
I was inclined to believe she would just blow away, beautiful.
But the fact of the matter is she makes me want to be better.

I want to smell you, Lilac
I want to play in that garden,
We will jump over waterfalls
I don’t know what’s at the bottom,
But I know that she’s hanging there just past the edge
And I know that the air is perfectly golden
And it smells just like purple
The bruises I know will be coming
So I will ferment you a vintage
I won’t know what to call you.
We’ll drink you light headed and smiling
So you can share in my feeling of the scent from your wanting.
All bottles and labels,
Couldn’t know where we’re going,
Some rivers wander off cliff sides,
But no one ever wondered what the waterfall is doing with its life.
Our stream tracked in slowly and filled up a basin
She’s a pond in my memory, nothing grand or apparent…

Check back for more!

Bearing Down

I’m just back from a short up-state visit to see my brother while he was admitted to the New York State Bar Association. Over the last couple of days I’ve learned two things. First, Rochester’s historic district is inordinately beautiful. Second sleep is again an important thing.
Busy is an odd feeling. There are so many times in a slow season when wasting time comes too easily, too often, and it never feels good. And yet, like any bad habit it will forever recur without a strong and distinct change in circumstance or perspective.

In the spirit of combatting this habit I have picked up a second part time job. It might take me some time to work out the new balance but the old one was none too productive either. With notably less time on my hands each week I am feeling the pressure to use my time more wisely. And indeed, I seem to be closer than ever to making some significant progress. But as I try to steal the last moments before my eyes slip closed to continue studying about HTML and CSS a thought has occurred to me.

Exhaustion is great for motivation, but not so brilliant for quality. I’m thinking back to my college days when I spent a lot of time in class, in rehearsal, in the gym, and every spare moment in-between was time for course work. As a college student there was a sort of pride to be taken in living with just a few hours of sleep, and pushing for deadlines. Busting one’s hump was not just a measure of emotional investment but a question of how willing you were to risk your health. Now, I’m in a place where my major projects have no hard deadlines, but the pressure to spend all available moments productively is returning. And for that I’m grateful.

By injecting more variety into my routines and limiting my available time my inclination is now to carry my work with me everywhere. The big picture idea is to begin building my independent revenue streams, and to stretch for diversity. Diversity should be the easy part because in my customary (and sometimes misguided) fashion I will probably attempt to do this all on my own. I have gotten back to writing almost every morning, but during some sessions I’m distracted by ideas for business card designs, or ebook cover images. There is a new online photo gallery idea I’ve been kicking around but haven’t pinned down, and in pursuit of it I have decided that I should start learning more about building websites. And to accompany eBooks I will want to have performance recordings… still more learning from ground up. The good news is that the more of this I start learning on my own the more I will get back to comfort with feeling stupid. But right now what I’m feeling is the distinct warmth of wrapping myself in a meaningful identity. I have something to do and it is my own.

This DIY kick will help me in the long term as it always does but for now I feel a bit like a freshman at the library around 3 am (most of the semester’s exhaustion has been fun and games, but right now sleep is important). As I get through some learning experiences the exhaustion-quality balance should improve just like my collegiate work. There should be pretty consistent updates on my ebook building endeavor in the coming weeks. Soon I’ll have enough under my belt to call it mine AND know what it looks like. When it reveals itself You will be the first to know ;-).

An Interesting Read

I came across this post from earlier in the week called, “Marriage is for Losers”, and enjoyed it immensely. I’m not married, and I’m certainly no psychology buff, but I think the ideas he writes about here, pertain to any important relationship.  He turns some use of certain words on their ear but the effect is a good one. His final points have reinforced my belief in the importance of the people who surround me and the ways we can better each other. Enjoy.

Thoughts that Summer Nights were Made for

Last night was one of those beautiful cool and breezy summer nights. The ones that make you think it just might rain, but then it never does. It was a night with some destination in mind, though I had none. The kind of night when the most anyone could ask for is a slow and quiet stroll to the water’s edge with an old friend who knows your struggles before you explain them. I was not lucky enough to have such a friend in tow last night but I was listening to Alexi Murdoch’s album, Time Without Consequence. And as the soothing chords of the “Orange Sky” collided with the feelings that the wind had stirred in me, I could feel the distinct pull of clarity.I’ve written a bit in the past about people who have the power to further humanize each other and themselves through communication and art, or through simple shared experience. I will give this song, “Orange Sky” as an example and an explanation. It is a fairly simple song in orchestration and melody, but it points to the greatest meanings of our lives. The song is one about love and family, and the ways we can as brothers and sisters at once absolve and lift each other up. The final hook of the song, “my salvation lies, in your love” has clear religious connotations, but the ache and joy is universal. It is not a song strictly about dearest friendships, or family, or romantic love. Instead it calls directly to a sort of kinship of spirit that does not know these distinctions.
After hearing the song last night I had to call a friend to ask if she knew it. She did, and said it’s one of her current favorites. I thought about our relationship and this song, and how it’s words could help me frame the things I can’t pin down. And this lead me to the ways I believe we can become more human. There is a quiet and darkened part of me which my friend and I seem to share in common. The kind of thing that we have never needed to explain to each other, but rather one we never could. It’s the sort of thing that you can hardly begin to understand in yourself but makes all the sense in the world in someone else. This is a principle by which art works. It is the principle which makes what actors and poets and musicians do seem like magic. It is why what these artists do is so brave, to extend to the world, in good and open faith, a piece of themselves which they cannot fully understand. This is done with the trust that we are all the same and that audience and public and loved ones and friends will see the things they cannot understand more clearly.
Who does this make you think of?

Thanks for reading.

You can find Alexi Murdoch’s Time Without Consequence, on iTunes

Motivational Love Letters

Everyone has had this experience: “I have not been writing as much as I would like to be.” Maybe for you it’s not about writing, but at some point you start feeling that things just aren’t flowing. Lately I’ve buried myself with a genuine mountain of reading material, and my focus has crumbled beneath it. So this morning I threw most of it off.Sometimes it pays to cut back, but my big breakthrough for the morning was shutting up my inner critic (he who cannot do). I did not have anything to write, but I did not let that stop me. What I returned with was something I’m going to call a motivational love letter. Feeling detached from my artistic insights and incisiveness, instead I wrote to myself. Words to illicit action, a little of the why and the why not, the keys to the kingdom of motivation.
I recommend it, when you’re feeling diffuse, and can’t find your first foothold, stop looking up the rock face, and talk to your feet. Give yourself license to drop for a moment your first imagined goal. Then write yourself a love (or tough love) letter, it might help you arrange your priorities and erase your confusion and diffusion.