Do the doing things:
be alive in your body
Find a place to go and go there
to Dar-es-Salaam or Dearborn, Michigan
Sit on the tarmac in the time before up
Think of what you thought up and dreamed up
So many boats in my dreams, this last while. Boats and boats and then again boats. I like boats, always have (particularly those powered by muscle not motor), maybe as the result of having for a father a man who in his youth was a sailor or maybe as the result of my Piscean nature.
Once I woke up with the words “your fried arm” stuck in my brain so I looked up how to say “I love you” in as many languages as possible, to make myself feel better. It worked, too.
It’s still in my head, the image from a lot of years ago, the image that came to me one day when I was sad and angry and roiled with all the awfulness of what had happened, when my worklife had become void, when the job I loved had been lost to me by bad behaviour not my own. Smashworld came and I fell down until the moment I got up and thought to make my own way, which I did and am doing and will do.
What I’m doing right now is I’m writing a thing, a beautiful thing, a bookstory thing. It’s hard going — oh god, it is — and for all the wild-ride moments of outpour, there are many many — many! — ice ages of brainfreeze. When you write a thing as a pen-for-hire, you push through the brainfreeze, because money and somebody else’s deadline are great motivators. But when you make something with joy in your heart and when it’s a collaborative effort to boot — I’m making this thing with James Cook, whose delicious photographs will join up with the words I write — you let the going be slow because you’re waiting for a strange kind of knowledge — epiphany, I guess you’d call it — waiting to see in a way you’ve never seen before, waiting to understand, waiting to make connections.
I love Milton Glaser.
You know how much I love words and the physical act of writing, how much I love the graphemic grace of the thing that is written? Yeah, you do. And you know how much I like holding a pencil in my hand and making marks on a paper with it — marks with meaning, I mean — and also how much I like reading a paper full of writing from someone else’s hand? Well, I like all that very much, you know I do, but I like something else too:
Maybe you’re a creature like me: all loved up by words. Or maybe you’re a creature like me: all loved up by dreamscape derangements.
Nothing makes me wanna go on a homicidal killing spree (as opposed to a homicidal puppy-patting spree) more than people lambasting someone for doing something new to them.
You know what I love? I love “yes”. I love “yes” so much, and so hard, and also its more boisterous adjutants “hell yes” and “fuck yes”.
Butcher’s charts take it all apart.
Sewing patterns put it all together.
The sundering and the reconciling … they interest me, both. I maybe love taxidermy because it requires both; I should maybe love the jigsaw puzzle more than I do, for the same reason.
Often I think of the poetry of objects
about the way a seam is resolved
or the way a spine grows
about the things we make with our bodies
and the bones from out of our bodies
I think I think too much about clothes — mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, whoever’s. Because really? I think an awful lot about them. Like, an AWRFUL lot. Thing is, when the world is being beautiful, I don’t want to be a blight on it and when the world is being unbeautiful, I don’t want to add to the ick, so I end up thinking a lot about my clothes. And in my thinking, I also think this: I think style is an act of generosity. I think fashion is just merchandising. I think one is qualitatively superior to the other, by a lot, and in my mind it’s clear that the superior one is style.
Sometimes I feel like Reepicheep finally arrived at the edge of the world and sometimes I feel like I’m standing way up high on a tall place where I have to make a choice about whether I’ll step off and float away, or not.
The world spins on its axis, on and on and on, no matter who comes here or leaves here, no matter how happy or sad you are, no matter, no matter.
I make playlists on my iPod and they’re often very theme-y because I am nothing if not a theme-y woman — I like to group and organise. I like to find patterns, or, in their absence, make them. Maybe that’s the curatorial urge. Or the librarian’s urge. Anyway, I have a playlist on my iPod called “river” and I listen to the songs on that playlist a lot, especially when I am despairing because those songs are very cathartic to hear and especially when I am all joyed-up because those songs are very cathartic to hear.
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about body hair, especially women and. I am intrigued by the fact that we live in a time where we aspire to near-hairlessness. It’s a lot of fucking pressure, is what it is, to be sufficiently depilated to please that body hair–governing cabal known as They. They are merciless taskmasters, for sure, because They are relentless about pushing the hairlessness agenda and making us feel ashamed if we don’t thread our eyebrows and wax our pits and pussies and pins to perfect glassine smoothness.
Imagine if we could remove the mortar that holds all the disparate elements of our selves together. Remove it and fiddle the bricks of character around a bit and repoint, so that we could be remade. Or maybe that’s too drastic (altho’ I am a woman who likes the grand gesture) — it’s not a complete rebuild that interests me but the jimjummery of a rejig.
I read a blog (very intermittently kept) written by a Korean artist who writes in English, which is not her first language. Her tiny strange observations are often very beautiful and made more so by the flaws in her English, a lot more so, I think, because those flaws can be very illuminatory — that skewing of language can make you look at a thing from a whole different perspective. The accidental nature of some of the beauty she writes makes her observations fresh and astonishing.
Here’s a thing I just realised. Chet Baker had it right: let’s get lost. That’s what running is, for me: a getting lost, the way you can get lost in very few things, maybe only love and sex and music and physical exertion and the way the air smells in the woods in the fall or the way a cold lake feels on your body when you jump in naked and let all that cold swirl across all your bare skin to leave you gasping and shuddering in a strange beautiful release that’s almost like the moment of orgasm, in the pleasure/pain aspect of it and also in the being completely present in your body aspect of it.
Actually … actually … I’m a very bling-averse woman.
Ice is nice. Okay, if you’re me, it’s more than nice.
And here we are in a brand-new decade. I like that, a lot, because I’m much attracted to notions of new beginnings, even tho’ a new decade is no more a new beginning than a new day is and I’m still actually living the same life I’ve been living all along. I mean, the digits 2-0-1-0 don’t in any way change the unfoldment of a life. But the symbolism is juicy and yummy and also the questions posed to me about the last decade and the next decade by the very clever Sheila Killian are juicy and yummy and made me engage in some reflectional brain activity, which is generally a bit hard and scary and also deeply worthwhile.
If you read here fairly regularly, you may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a consciousness kick lately, posting about dream and nightmare, acid and ‘shroom. It’s a subject that’s still very much on my mind and, in my mullings, I have thought mightily about trepanation, not for the first time in my life. Good old trepanation is, as Wiktionary has it, “The practice of drilling a hole in the skull as a physical, mental, or spiritual treatment” and it’s an activity that first crossed my radar close to 30 years ago, when I read the book Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions by John Michell. In that book there is a whole chapter, “The People With Holes in Their Heads”, devoted to the subject. Now I’m not suggesting I’ll be taking the old drill to my own head (or anyone else’s, for that matter) any time soon, or even any time not-soon, but for all it’s absolute crazy, awful grossness, I’m deeply, weirdly compelled by it. I love Cynthia Girard’s poem “There is an insect” because I swear to god it’s about trepanation.
Sometimes I think it might be enough for the wild things of your brain to assert themselves sufficiently that instead of pretending they don’t exist, you have to turn your gaze to them, even if you can’t classify them. Taxonomy is good and useful — delicious, even — but maybe not always necessary. Maybe you don’t always have to be able to assign a clear name or narrative or meaning to a nightmare. Maybe the beast that rises from the deeps when you dream a dream like that doesn’t have to be a beast you recognise. Maybe not being able to speak the creature’s name is not only okay but an important component of baddreaming.