Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sometimes I like to look at my archive list, click a month at random, and read all the entries. Because I am somewhat obsessed with the chronology of my experience, I can usually figure out what was really going on in my life at the time, what had led up to the events I was describing, and what events followed that particular point. Tonight, I clicked February 2005.

It didn't take me long to notice a few things: Maybe it's just because I'm the one who wrote it (and therefore share the author's humor), but I think I'm sort of funny. Also, it was clear to me that I was going through a phase of some serious introspection. There is a sort of buzz of anticipation that floats around so much of what I wrote.

It wasn't until I got to the halfway point in the month that I caught on: That was the month that I decided to go to Spain for the summer. While the study abroad experience itself definitely influenced my subsequent perspective, it was the actual decision to turn in my KIIS application that was what they like to call life-changing.

I often look back on that time in my life and accuse it of being a signifcant series of steps that had led me to now. I know; people get sick of hearing about it. But who knew that I actually had an inkling about the importance of those days at the time? To quote myself directly from February 20, 2005:

The past facilitates the future. There would be no present without the past. There would be no future without the present.

...

There are so many aspects of my life that wouldn't be existent if a chunk out of the middle of my past hadn't occurred.

...

Looking back and seeing each slat of the bridge that would carry me across fall into place is easy. Yet another version of "hindsight is 20/20," no doubt. But waiting for that next foothold to come is not easy. And sometimes, it's tempting to believe that it will never come and you'll just have to jump from where you are--no matter how far you are from the other side. But what I'm learning is this: That foothold will come. The best thing for me to do is enjoy the view from where I am until it does.

...

By no means have I met the greatest obstacles of my life or taken the most fearful steps of the journey, but maybe I've learned enough to keep my eyes open a little more.

I surely hope so.

window poem at 9:04 am

While I waited to call the travel agent back this morning, I picked up the copy of Wendell Berry's Collected Poems 1957-1982 that I got when I went through my poetry-buying rash, which also included the purchase of multiple collections from Billy Collins and Deborah Garrison. Today, I opened the book randomly to the Window Poems section. Before I found this larger collection in the bookstore, I nearly bought this originally handprinted, hardbound copy of Window Poems because of the accompanying woodcuts throughout. But I bought the larger collection instead -- more for the money, said conscience at the time -- though I had forgotten the window series was collected in it. So this morning, by chance, I opened to number 6 in the series of poems about windows and was somewhat "inspired" to try my hand at one. After all the most beloved aspect of my room is the, well, windows.

window poem at 9:04 am

I think my two are facing south and west.
I don't have the sense of direction like
These farmers whose land the eyes overlook,
That sense of understanding seen in the
Sun's eye as he does his thing, or as the
Moderns would have it, as we do our thing.
But it's the last day of January,
And who can trust the sun this time of year?

I prefer the one that I think opens
To the south, with the hills rising into
Its second-floor view. Gray trees line the top
Of the slopes, reminding me of that bed
Of pins that, if you push your hand into
Its points, there is a metallic model
Of your topography on the other
Side. Upstretched limbs thus indicate the land.

The white pseudo-panes and faux-wood blinds are
Transparent graph paper: It's an upward
Trend with a slight decline at the moment.
(I imagine Al on that dramatic
Hydraulic thing that lifted him into
The rafters in front of the red-lined screen.)
We are peaking somewhere near the middle
Of the last pane, at about the sixth slat,
Depending on how I hold my head. But
You know, numbers do not ever lie.


Of course, this was before I went back and started reading Window Poems from the beginning, a very good place to start, as it turns out.

"The window has forty
panes, forty clarities
variously wrinkled, streaked
with dried rain, smudged,
dusted. The frame
is a black grid
beyond which the world
flings up the wild
graph of its growth,
tree branch, river,
slope of land,
the river passing
downward, the clouds blowing,
usually, from the west,
the opposite way.
The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild
that is a pattern too,
but dark and flowing,
bearing along the little
shapes of the mind
as the river bears
a sash of some blinded house.
This windy day
on one of the panes
a blown seed, caught
in cobweb, beats and beats."

Wendell Berry
Window Poems, number 3


Well said, Wendell. Well said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What would you do if your mother asked you?

Last Saturday night, I watched my nieces, Victoria and Kathryn, while Sissy and Randy went to a dinner at their church. I spent the night at their house (for the third night that week), and before I left the next morning, I wrote this:

I put on yesterday's clothes. And I put on yesterday's socks, but they were yesterday's socks yesterday. They're all stretched out in the heel and toe, lint clinging inside and out. I unwad them and put them on my feet and set out to find my shoes.

Walking across the living room rug in my sock-feet reminds me that these socks have got to be washed soon. It feels like when I was a kid, sleeping over at a friend's and I've been there for a week, and the morning my mom comes to get me finds me in the same clothes I'd been recycling -- play clothes, pajamas, whatever. And a lot like those friend's-house mornings, I can't find my shoes. I'm looking under couches, under the futon I just made up, behind recliners until I remember Dr. Seuss.

We had a "book party" in Kathryn's room last night -- a regular Seuss marathon. I read Green Eggs and Ham, which I don't think I've ever really read before, and The Cat in the Hat. Victoria joined us on the alphabet rug and got in on the action by reading us the sequel to the Hat Cat's adventures.

It was beautiful.

Kathryn, three, listening with rapturous joy as her sister, twelve, reads her a book. Victoria -- who used to hate to read and still stumbles over some of the Doctor's rhymes, rightfully so -- is volunteering to read with enthusiasm. She hands me the pages with red background because, somehow, that trips her up. But together, reading, listening, looking at the whimsical illustrations, we manage to finish all three books. And with the vigor of the Little Cats and Voooom!, we "clean up" Kathryn's room and retire to the living room for a dose of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and television. When Sissy and Randy return, it appears that we hadn't experienced the simple joy of reading at all, but rather that we are certified Couch Potatoes.

But this morning, the whole family of them has gone to church, and I'm about to leave, except I can't find my shoes. Until I remember our book party, as Kathryn called it. So I went into her room, still and strewn with Pinkness. In front of the miniature kitchen, I find, in this room of little pink things, my shoes -- big and brown and looking as foreign and as wild as Thing One and Thing Two.

A wake-up call



Presenting installment nĂșmero tres, in which I get a wake-up call and realize that I'm up to my old blogging tricks again.

I made this last night, so to update the info: I did get the application mailed, and I did get my shot in the arm. It hurts. Wah-wah. And I slept even later today. Of course, if I want to wake up early in the morning, I probably shouldn't stay up half the night making a silly video blog. Though, I have to say that I am learning so much about revising and editing a "text" through this process. So I'm going to tell myself that this is an exercise in improving my writing. Right.

Possible future topic of discussion: the word adventure. Look out.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Curiosity Killed the Cass, or I'm Nosy

I'm getting excited. Seems everybody's getting that bloggin' feeling again. Now that people are officially being scattered the Four Winds, these crazy things called Blogs almost have a practicality to them. Turns out, we're not all writing about the same experiences anymore. And we have an almost eager -- though meager -- audience of friends. These days, our words might not just be trees falling into an earless forest, to borrow the phrasing of Wallace Stegner.

Here's my humble suggestion: If you're blogging, throw some links up to your friends' blogs so we (me and my 500 cats) can read them, too. If you're not blogging, start so I can see what you're up to. And then I can link your blog so that everyone else can see what you're up to. At the least, check out my "recommended reading" section and stalk my friends for a while. I think they have some pretty interesting things to say. That is, of course, why we're friends.

I know you're on the edge of your seats waiting for the next vlog (sarcasm added), but you might have to wait a day or so.

Friday, January 25, 2008

So do I get a senior citizen discount at Golden Corral?


NOTE TO SELF: Check the middle-of-video screenshot before uploading it to YouTube. You're not flattering yourself at all.

Alright, not to spoil you guys or anything, but I've somehow managed a second...episode? Is that what we'd call it? I don't know.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

washed up goes vlogstyle.

I don't know what exactly I was trying to accomplish with this effort. It came off as a sort of pitiful mix between Reading Rainbow and A Current Affair, which sounds nice, but well. If you watch it, you'll see.

I wouldn't mind keeping this up, but it took nearly an hour just to upload the thing to YouTube. So I would have to come up with something worthy of vlogging to justify the time spent -- which was a LOT, despite the quality level -- on making/editing/uploading. And random books from my bookshelf with accompanying unenlightening discussion and my sort of irreverent reaction to Heath Ledger's death isn't good enough for me.

Suggestions?