Eleven Years Down

I seem to be obsessed with numbers lately, which makes sense because I just finished up another November of counting words. As much as I love National Novel Writing Month, it saps so much of my creative energy creating a world, and characters, and interactions, and then keeping track of the words, striving to get over the 50 thousand word threshold that is daunting every year, even after doing it seven years in a row.

And this morning I got an announcement from WordPress that I signed up for an account eleven years ago today. I don’t recall much about 2007 (I had a one-year old back then. You can feel me.) but I do remember wanting to have an escape, a way to get down my feelings. Funny how I didn’t actually start a personal blog back then. I’m guessing it was good enough just to say I had an account.

“So, you writing lately?”

“I got a WordPress account.”

“Cool, man.”

It was the idea of the account, I guess, the chance to say that I was a blogger (even though I wasn’t). But what WordPress did for me back then was it gave me something to come back to, when I was ready to really start a blog. Of course I had to remember my password by then, but I figured that out with time as well.

Yeah, eleven years was a lifetime ago, and I’ve created five blogs since then, with I can’t remember how many blog posts. Continue reading “Eleven Years Down”

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Pipe Dreams

The hood was life. We ate it, slept it, sucked it in like air, but that ain’t leave too much time for nuthin’ else. Hell, me and Ricardo ain’t even know there was no big world out there til we was twelve, and then what good it do us? Ricardo always talkin’ ‘bout movin’ on up, but we ain’t got no ladder, no stairs, not even no step stool cuz Bubba Jones took it last Tuesday and momma said we ain’t gettin’ it back.

“Y’all don’t got no prospect, ‘cept what the hood give y’all,” Seph Mason told me and Ricardo that summer we both grew in our wisdom teeth.

“Momma say sky’s the limit,” Ricardo told Seph. Seph backhanded him upside the head. Ricardo’s ratty Phillies cap flew off.

“Yo momma don’t know no better,” Seph said. “She always smokin’ that crack, make you have them delusions and shit. She wudn’t ever no good.”

Which is what everybody say about Ricardo’s momma, but I stay out of it. ‘Sides, we was gonna get a taste of that Jefferson movement ‘cuz our school got a field trip downtown next week.

“How you think they build them big buildings and stuff?” I asked Seph. He got out his crack pipe and lit up before he got to respondin’.

“They use slave labor, same as always,” Seph said, looking me and Ricardo in the eyes. His was bloodshot. Continue reading “Pipe Dreams”

Day Zero

“The night ends, and the day, it begins.”

I was talking to my students this week about words that are often confused, by them, in their writing. When we got to fewer vs. less they were confused.

Me: So, use fewer when you can quantify it, and less when you can’t. For example, you have fewer calories, because you can count calories. But you have less fat, because you can’t count fat.

Student A: I count fat all the time.

Me: How do you count fat?

Student A: Like 30 grams.

Me: So you count grams.

Student A: Yeah. So.

Me: A gram is a unit of measurement, quite like a calorie, that you can count, specifically because you can’t count things like fat. You have to count something else that can actually be counted.

Student A: Oh…

Approximately 5 minutes later, we were all good, and Student A finally nodded, assured that fat wasn’t something that could be counted without the aid of quantifiable units of measurement. I suddenly felt like a math teacher instead of an English teacher, then things were all well with the world once more. Continue reading “Day Zero”

Back to Kansas

I’m sick.

When I’m sick it’s like the whole world just goes away. It’s just me, and my misery. No, my misery doesn’t love company, though the whole world would have me think so. My misery just wants to be left alone, or in the absence of that, comforted and taken care of, like my mom did when I was little. A cold, wet washcloth on my forehead, some herbal tea, a woven blanket, and at times a novel, at other times not. Maybe some smooth jazz or acoustic record to soothe my jangled nerves.

Yes, my jangled nerves. There’s just something about not having full control of my faculties, about the fevered haze of sickness, that makes me feel less complete, that makes me less sure of myself in pretty much every way possible. It’s harder for me to find the words I want to use, tougher for me to analyze situations when I find myself in them, and more difficult to access the knowledge I know I have. It drives me absolutely insane. I’ve never been a good sick person.

Right now I’m listening to OneRepublic. I was lying down on the chair in the living room, you know, the one that has the ottoman nearby for access’ sake, but I couldn’t get comfortable. So I’m here in my study, this West Canada blanket across my lap, like a spinster getting ready to knit a new rug. But I’m typing instead, these lines on this screen, with Ryan Tedder singing over a thumping beat in the deep background, trying to focus on pretty much anything I can hang onto that doesn’t slip away from me with the pressure I’m exerting to keep it near. Continue reading “Back to Kansas”

Addictive

I would totally be an alcoholic if I didn’t stop myself from drinking. Those times when I had more than a few beers, more than a few cups of wine, more than a few tastes of alcohol, they felt good. And I wanted more, but I’ve held myself back. Because I know something about myself I would prefer weren’t true —  I have an addictive personality. When I find something I’m excited about I immerse myself head and shoulders.

Case in point: music. I heard one song by The Cure when I was 18, one song that blew me away. So the next day I went out and bought six Cure albums. I would have bought them the same day but the store was closed by the time I heard that one song. And it wasn’t just The Cure back then. It was David Bowie, and Sheryl Crow, and pretty much anyone who had one good song on the radio. For me it was all about encasing myself in a warm cocoon of their music and never wanting to leave.

Then there’s reading. When I find an author I like I order every single book they’ve ever produced from the library. And if the library doesn’t have a copy, I do my best to find them all elsewhere. My search knows no bounds because I simply can’t help myself. That’s why, just like with the alcohol, I force myself to have only a little at a time because I know if I let myself go I won’t do anything else but read those books voraciously, to the exclusion of everything else in my life. Continue reading “Addictive”

Not ’95 Anymore

“Our love is like water, pinned down and abused for being strange.” ~Live

It was the summer of ’95 all over again, when Live was on everyone’s lips, when they sold out amphitheaters and arenas seconds from the tickets being available, when they had the rock world by the throat and weren’t easing off. It was taking the ferry across the river knowing that on the other side would be anthems you could sing in your sleep, and a band that truly connected with its fans in a way I hadn’t seen from many bands in live forums before.

But that was 23 years ago, the summer of ’95. That was a simpler time, before digital took over, before CDs went the way of Betamax, before concerts became passe, before rock bands took a back seat to what passes for hip-hop and rap anymore. Yet, for one night, it was easy to believe we were back there because, for one night, it was Live again, doing what they’ve always done better than most — rocking a live show. I guess they were aptly named.

Of course, during the summer of ’95 I hardly ever had good seats to shows. I saw Live about 20 times that summer, and the closest I got was section H in the Spectrum (think nosebleeds — Michael Jordan looked small from that spot). In amphitheaters like the Mann Music Center and the Camden Center for the Performing Arts I was always on the lawn, fighting my way through the crowds to the barrier that separated us from the roofed in portion of the venue. I screamed my lungs out, but we were too far away, even though we were in the same place, at the same time. Continue reading “Not ’95 Anymore”

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