onsdag, august 16, 2006

7 Randoms Unwinding Towards Unity

My earliest memory is of skipping in the basement of the house in Wonder Lake, a place I lived until just after my fourth birthday. Other memories from there: a girl named Robin; a neighbor who had a pop-up trailer; the water tower out back; and pissing on a rock in the farm field. I recall wanting to hit every inch of surface on that rock.


Yesterday my sister Erin wrote and asked if I wanted to meet up with her and Jim after work. I did. We did. While sitting in the beer garden and having a grand time, especially after what has been a stressful work period, the phone rang. A friend asked, "Aren't you coming?"

This was, I believe, the second time, perhaps the third, I'd neglected to show up at something I should have and which this friend did attend. Jess, my apologies...thin as I'm sure they seem now. (Please know I feel, quite deservedly, like an incredible ass.) My ability for this proves to be something I'm getting better at with age, actually. That's not endearing, I know.


For three years I taught two courses per semester at a university in what was, I think, in comparison to my adopted state, another country. Most of the students have left my mind, and probably did the moment the last bell rang each semester--Did we have bells?--but a number of them live on vividly in my head. I regret, I think, one grade assigned. Maybe. But I feel I didn't teach a few of them well enough. I should have recognized the right ways to reach some of them. I didn't.

Mostly, I remember their personalities and their "memoir" writing, which probably speaks a great deal as to why I left teaching. It was just too personal of an endeavor. Does this make one socially near- or far-sighted?

One student wrote a cute piece about her repeated tardiness to films, classes, parties, weddings, etc., and all the tension and heartache that added to the various degrees of relationships in her life. I should have photocopied that one and filed it. I'd like to reread it now.

Carrie J_________ was a good student, by the way; but, yes, often late. And barefoot. It probably violated some official policy, but no one ever complained and I thought the bare-footedness was almost required given all the jangly bracelets she wore on her wrists and ankles; all the thin, swooping skirts; all the bandana headgear. She was a gypsy, but more in the Luna Lovegood mode. (Sorry. That's a Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix reference that I'm sure bolted over a number of you.)


Big thanks due to Heather for taking time out of her rather adventurous day off to chat with me last night while she and Ty wandered the aisles of a Vegas Target simply for the joy of looking at things. You two are gems.


It is my mother's birthday today. The one good thing I got accomplished yesterday was verification that her gifts will arrive on time in Illinois. But still a little shell-shocked from so many little setbacks yesterday, to think of my mother today is to think of Delmore Schwartz's poem "Baudelaire." It crushes me.


I've been feeling much more like a Minnesotan these days, and have for much of the year, I guess. I feel it right down to the certain doom that awaits the Vikings this season. Nearing the six-year mark here, the deep connection has firmly set in.

Still, many things affect me in ways they can never affect one who is from here (unless that person has been gone a long spell). This morning the girl behind the coffeeshop counter, just prior to burning the soles and toe points of her flip-flop-clad feet with an entire urn of freshly brewed coffee, said the words "oat scone." You have to be from another place but in love with this place to understand how musical and beautiful this accent sounds.

I wish more northerners did not try to bury their voices.


So. Yes. As if anticipating becoming a rather disasterous flake yet again and disappointing people--I'm really not seeking validation, sorry to seem so dour--I've been reading again from Hugo's Triggering Town, a book on writing that I often flee to when feeling a bit knocked about in the head. Specifically, I've been reading the opening two pages of Chapter 8, "Ci Vediamo." Hugo recounts how he was a terrible bomber pilot in WWII, how he missed his targets by as much as 13 miles, and, more importantly, how he returned to Italy 20 years or so after the war in hopes of visiting the starved Italy he remembered, for he'd fallen somewhat in love with it as a ravished land. He writes, "...there is something in me that feeds on the now of things. Of course I want it all better, want poverty gone forever from the world. But I also have the urge to say, 'Stay destitute three more days, just until I finish my poem.'"

Why do some points in life feel like conclusive points? not the end of everything, which year by year seems easier to accept, but the end of some things, which themselves, small as they might be, terrify the heart to let loose? In times like these, it is the end lines I run to.

Today: Carver's story "Fat": "It is August. My life is going to change. I feet it."
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