Putting a damper on things

I often experience a flush of satisfaction in the middle of a good book, and because I have a mild case of eye-strain, most of the books I read these days are audio books.

I enoy reading and writing at the public library in Brunswick, and I don’t get there enough, I reckon. They have study rooms, nice work areas, and a helpful and cheerful staff (cheerful, at least, by librarian standards). They even have a fire room. That’s right, they even have couches in a great room with rugs and wood working and a high ceiling all centered around a roaring, crackling fire. Outside of Maine, I’ve never seen such a thing.

It was in this room that I felt that warm satisfaction that comes from my lifelong craving for story and appreciation for information. I walked swiftly to the restroom and at the door took out my earbuds and tossed them over my shoulder. This was a mistake.

While standing before the open mouth of the toilet, the earbuds worked themselves down my shoulder, slowly and unnoticed, until they eventually slid off entirely. I have pretty good reflexes, so I caught them, but not before the earbuds passed through my stream of urine.

It took some time to clean things up, but it’s a lesson learned, and after all, I had more of my book to look forward to.

“I came to ruefully and bemusedly understand that once you’re a Catholic, you’re always a Catholic…This was the world where I found the beginnings of my song. In Catholicism, there existed the poetry, danger and darkness that reflected my imagination and my inner self. I found a land of great and harsh beauty, of fantastic stories, of unimaginable punishment and infinite reward.” ~ Bruce Springsteen

It is a bright afternoon: what am I going to do? I am going to work with my mind and with my pen, while the sky is clear and while the soft white clouds are small and sharply defined in it. I am not going to bury myself in books and note taking. I am not going to lose myself in this jungle and come out drunk and bewildered, feeling that bewilderment is a sign that I have done something. I am not going to write as one driven by compulsions but freely, because I am a writer, because for me to write is to think and to live and also in some degree even to pray. ~ Thomas Merton, The Intimate Merton, September 27, 1958

How does love work when we are called to fight?

As you can probably imagine, I’m having a hard time getting back to novel-writing. The hours pass quickly as I read article after article, click share, post thoughts, reply to thoughts, and delete or edit some of those #Ishouldhaveknownbetter replies . So, in lieu of working on my novel, I’m turning to this blog to process. What I mean, specifically, is that at this historic moment of terrible transition, I’m reflecting on my own mind and spirit. Realistically, we will have to fight to beat back the forces of evil or to hold them at bay, and the next few years will likely be violent and chaotic. They will bring out our demons and all the skeletons in the closet of our national history.

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Loaded Words: On writing and revolution

An article, Loaded Words, from a writer and activist who has been very influential to me, Derrick Jensen. One of Derrick’s most quoted and most controversial lines: “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write, or blow up a dam.” (see Actions Speak Lounder than Words, 1998, and/or Derrick’s book, A Language Older than Words, a book very influential to me, personally) Read more

In defense of Facebook minutia

I’m not typically the guy with the Facebook updates sharing what I ate for breakfast. I don’t mind seeing what you or others eat for breakfast, and I certainly don’t have anything against breakfast, per se. Breakfast is a wonderful time of the day, so rich with potential, our bodies are on the verge of great creativity and productivity, if only it were given the fuel necessary to energize it. For my part, I had a bagel with cream cheese. That was my breakfast. And I sprinkled some sugar on it and added cinnamon. That’s not my typical breakfast. Usually it’s just fruit. Fruit and perhaps a handful of almonds. Why is this my normal breakfast? Well, if I told you, then this would start to seem like a story. Read more

Gone like the shadow

We all live with fairly intense blindspots. It is, perhaps, one of those facts about human nature that can be funny, frustrating, and even infuriating. And as our stories tend to go, no one quite seems to know our blindspots like friends, families, and most especially partners, spouses, and boy/girl friends. In a perfect world, our blinspots would be pointed out to us, we would say, “Ah, thanks!” then make a few adjustments to our personality, tweak our persectives, and give ourselves a spiritual tune-up, so to speak. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Read more

Shall that great city Babylon be thrown down

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all…for thy merchants were the great men of the earth…And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. ~ Revelation 18:21 (KJV)

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a novel that never ceases to rattle me, even at the mere mention of the title. Forgive me, as I must use a word wrought with overuse, but there’s no other word I can think of right now, seeing as it’s my writing warm up time and I’ve only had my second sip of coffee, but the novel is haunting, haunting in the sense that a presence hangs over the narrative. There is the most obvious presence, which is the wife of “the man” (these characters have no name, only “the man” or “the boy”). She visits him in dreams and flashbacks and in the questions from “the boy,” who is the man’s son. She is ghostly, a figure loved but whose abandonment of the family makes the misery of their existence seem even more futile than it ordinarily would. The man and the boy go from one desperate situation to another, facing everything from starvation to armed bands of cannibalists. In the hands of a great writer like Cormac McCarthy, we go deeper and deeper into the conflict between despair and love that constantly keeps the characters (and reader) in a state of limbo and uncertainty, torn between instincts to survive and protect loved ones and the reality of a world that has become burned and lifeless.

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