drafts & inhalations

drawers

draftyThe halls of navelgazer shake off a hanging gloom of mornings, having languished forward through a sloggy season of desaturating monochrome.

spring parkBut out into this early April evening stride Sir Floyd and I, straight into a dozen springing drizzles, I stooping to snag blown bits of litter from the winter-neglected garden’s corners, draggled onward by dog tow…

When the doggone leash snags taut on wayward fork of ornery native fenceline (we’re constantly reconstructing after disassembling kids), and Floyd and I become of an instant equal creatures yanked sideways by momentum.

Senor Floggsbottom so abruptly displaced, dusts off dainty dog dignity, stands stoic, poised frozen til I’ve done my human part with opposable thumbs.

Stretching forth fingers and limbs indeed feels appropriately lively, bending self to touch world with actual hands, to clear away all the rubbish that’s been cluttering up my view.

daffodilsRestoring myself thus by gesture, I walk the park and play a kind of catchup  stewardship. Out in open air I begin again to think outside the frame of house and windows and look around our little park with a discerning eye, noting things throughout that could benefit from Earth Day volunteer attentions–

… benches chipping & mossy & rotten in places…
… pergola marked up with graffiti…
…gardens needing dead leaves and stems cleared out & composted…
… and of course the ever-drifting litter…

Soon enough though I’m sprung delighted from my little list of ills by bursting sprouts of bloom, unseen initially on walking out with a dim squint but suddenly springing into focus–

sneaky pokes of green shot up through trodden brown like hope from rain!
sudden! vivid! daffodils in sunshine brilliant hues freshening all around the sky-grey air!

drawers

Back home I pause, considering, from time to time, the stray homely oddments I’ve gleaned while out dogwalking down alleys and parkway fences, all my little treasure trove of left-behind things reclaimed from scrap– adopted and named and sorted into drawers lettered round things, shiny things, oddorphaned pieces.

In places they’re little more than ragged tatters anymore.

evening lightReclaimed, resituated toys populate my houseplants, performing small scenarios of tropical and interplanetary drama in miniature.

The mourning doves are back out back– just heard one whir in for a landing.

Right before the end of day the house gets drenched with honeyed setting light, and I quite simply couldn’t be happier.

 

 

 

 

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wild potato

Dear Reader,

wild_potatoWhile I’ve lurked here, all underground-like, I’ve been working at last, slap-dash and pell mell through that very multiplicity of media/genre I blahty-blahed about so acedemiciously, so booooringly theoretically for so long.

[–YAWN–]

I had to, by gum, jump up sooner or later and DO my very utmost to make good one way or another.

And ta-da!  here I am, have been, doing writing, of sorts. That is, words is tough at times, poetry done wore ’em out a bit, so I’m shaping stories otherwise and elsehow, shifting about contraptions of construction– all of which to me means writing. Or perhaps composing would be a better term.

cardsEnsnared, I navigate a branching network of passageways hatching like roots between bunches of genre: novel, both graphicky and memoirish, comic strip so-called, picture book, cards for greeting.

I’m practicing not taking it all so damn seriously and succeeding, sometimes, in playing as directed: with drawing + coloring + cutting + stitching together stray bits that enchant or perplex. Unintended and serendipitous connections emerge.

I’m making little books. I’m making sewn dolls and quirky embroidered insignias. I’m building inventory and getting set to cut loose on Etsy.

pandaThe sooner the better in fact. I need to work and get paid for it. As I haven’t collected a steady paycheck in some time, I’m struggling somewhat with my own sense of self-worth. I’m also weighing some overarching questions about worth and value as I go my skint way thrifting and crafting and–well, it’s a tricky time of year.

At a holiday party I found myself recently arguing a case for guerilla knitters as engaged in executing some kind of craft revolution. In retrospect it sounds a little silly and pretentious to my own ears, but I meant it sincerely at the time. And I guess I mean it still, kind of. I’m sensitive to a DIY groundswell sweeping over many of us.

rhhmI’m re-valuing Things as I make things with my hands and eyes and ranging, sometimes rumpusing imagination. I’m experiencing regeneration through craft.

The next logical and necessary step is to make it all pay cash money. Queue Etsy. And I’m fishing for freelance writing and web work, honing skills through projects for the community, wrassling the gnarly beast that will one day emerge a fine, polished portfolio.

Here’s the thing about being a spud: coming out from underground is a strenuous upheaval of a process, preparing for public purview with work of several uncustomary sorts: snipping and buffing off of unseemly bits, tweezing and squeezing what wants to be unshapely and dumpy into snappy and vivid, or at very least -er. It’s tough work for a tater.

Love,
Navelgazer

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Straightening

I’ve spent the last couple of days engaged in some pretty intensive bouts of housekeeping: that is, of the organizational rather than cleaning variety. Sorting and organizing and assessing what all’s squirrelled away here on my giant wall of bookcase, laying out for review all the different types of creative work I’ve been making. Taking stock and as I wrote it on one of the chalkboards mid-whirl through the rooms, “seeking balance through harmonious order.” All of this dervish-like activity, I must admit, has seemed at times little more than some variety of cabin fever breaking out a rash of OCD-grade wrassling with disorder. That ever onward march of entropy assuaged in small domestic gestures.

But it seems worth noting that the shoulder that’s been torqued and paining for longer than I can remember is this morning rolled back into its proper anatomical position. The hip, for that matter, has followed suit and sits square on the chair, ache-free and stable. I am, it’s true, suddenly made aware of the need to strengthen that old “core,” to firm up the marshmellow jelly belly necessary for supporting the whole– but it’s a start.

For the first time in awhile things seem to be coming together.

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quiet work

I’m good at going underground– somnolent and meditative for stretches at a time, drawn to quiet compellingly, as to water for solving itchiness, to bed when harried and jagged, to soothing smoothnesses for the relief of wear of ordinarily days. adrift and too often spinning in my well of leaves and assorted meandering flotsam, odd considerations float to the surface and grow momentarily compulsive– mainly thoughts of people I have known and loved, now distant in various ways, for different reasons. e.m. forster is reminded to me by a facebook acquaintance (the term “friend” exhausted by overuse in this medium):

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.

I believe the work I do in this well of quiet consists in stitching up dispersed fragments of self into a more coherent whole, or at least a larger and more consonant piece– structuring alterations to the suit of self, tucking it here, letting it out there, adjusting so the skin of identity, outgrown or stretched, fits right once more. necessary, centering work. and yet there is an implicit irony in the disconnection seemingly requistite to the process– a pattern that traverses the ground back and forth between states of ragged psychic dispersal on the one hand and on the other isolation and disconnect from the warp and weft of social fabric.

a-spin and muddling, I find generous occasion for nostalgia– that golden retrospect that paints memory the fleeting luminance of dawns and dusks, a gilding inherent to transitional instants but lengthened and rendered more apparently permanent in the construction of the internal narrator. and so I relive momentary occasions of comradeship (themselves, to be sure, tiny islands in the slosh of reality once upon) and imagine almost that I’ve lost or forfeited or mislaid or otherwise squandered some more enduring state of connection. when in fact, perhaps, it is all episodic, inconsistent, occasional, and prone to stretches of drag punctuated by shining, resonant bursts of clear being.

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today

I miss vox. today I deleted the contact for vox blog posts off my cell phone. been awhile since I used it– still the residue of habitude was there.

I’ve been spinning in my solitude and transitional semi-idleness. it’s true, I’m semi-idle. it’s embarrassing to be not-busy– my work ethic throbs– but I am busy honoring an inner compulsion to lie fallow and let something sprout.

tonight I was drooling over letterpress accoutrements on ebay, getting starry-eyed over lead typefaces and the idea of building a shop, working in it all the live long day.

I’ve been spinning, unreconciled to the viability of any vehicle, uncertain of my desired destination– writing or drawing or collage or whatever I trip across seems less than a substantive means of occupation. I imagine what it would take to bump it up to a level that rendered the feeling of viability– and then I throw jacks under my own bare feet, object that I haven’t the nuts to manage it, frankly. stick-to-it-tiveness they used to call it, those field hockey coaches and math dinosaurs, outliving their due extinction long enough to sling final lethal commentaries.

in other news– my single argument thus far against the civil wedding ceremony as an ideal vehicle for accomplishing official bliss: one really shouldn’t have to have bureaucrats handing one any additional necessary paperwork, apart from one’s marriage license of course. I’m the type of bride who feels that’s enough to ask. as it was the groom’s brother spirited that away for safekeeping, and it was conveyed to me securely after the fact in a sturdy plastic bag. when the scolding lady handed me a tiny slip of paper amidst all the chaos, the fact that I happened to be carrying an outfit-matching pink handbag I could slip into this itsy smidgeon of printed matter outlining steps one should take to obtain a legal copy of the marriage certificate– well, suffice to say: I’ve lost it. onto the labyrinth of poorly-designed and -architected civil bureaucracy web pages I go to track down the answer.

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file under: how many metaphors can you hurl at an elusive thing?

aka, hot mess.

“what would be so terrible about not doing the things you’re trying to do?”

indeed at some point the effort seems specious– one has to wonder sooner or later. and yet attempting to address it stumps me.

“what would be so bad about just writing for yourself? no one else to read it– you could write just whatever you want.”

impatience with the process shoulders its way forward through all those shoulds, all the while envying the anatomy model for its detachable head– which saying out loud shows seams and stray threads. nightly reunions with daytime wits neither tidy or methodical.

“maybe you’re just not a writer, in that way.”

ouch. but right. … or simply in process perhaps (whatever that might mean.) wrangling with the judge who sits up top, comparing this and that, busily finding wanting, colorblind to differences betwixt tree fruits. and furious. mean little footstomper, greedy for the next arresting, authentic instance, urging to be convinced and content. only perpetual reinvention complete with throes seems sufficient, if less than entirely tasteful or pleasant for the participants.

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whazup over he-ah

lotta silence in this little corner of the webs, I know.

when the navelly head grows too fraught, as it tends to do in turbulent periodic bouts, otherwise verbal volubility sinks into great morasses of (invisibly thrashing) silence. so this spring has been– and winter before that, and fall before that– a long season underground. some kind of transitional time, creative soil lying fallow and percolating, psychic skies overcast with dark and gruesome (self-generated) cloud cover, blusters howling, life huddled and hunkered down, all a-shiver. in the midst of which the outer world’s floral hoopla and verdant explosion of leaf only serve as insult to the injury of inner drought.

so a coupla weekends back I was poking around an andersonville thrift store while chris got his hair cut, picking up this and that in the perpetual search for, most likely, some existential explanation not to be found in chipped dishware and secondhand bloomers, when lo and behold there on a shelf sat a little red boxed set of audio cassettes for The Artists’ Way.

and it just so happens my vintage car stereo has a cassette tape player– so I’ve been listening to julia cameron during my drives to and from work– and in place of that too-frequent vortex spin of “what am I doing with my life? god, I hate this traffic/the cacophany of signage/the fleets of hermetically sealed strollers/other drivers/the rampant urban dinge”, have been submersing myself instead in sweetly spoken, at times sung, suggestions of hope and possibility. and I’ve picked back up the book itself and begun reading and doing it once again (this’ll be the third time through), beginning with Week 1.

and when I incline to self-flagellation over not being further along some self-realized and productive creative path, the artists’ way reminds me that the road of creative work is a spiral one– naturally so, like whorled seashells and fibonacci’s mystic sequence and musical octaves– and so I circle back over and again addressing familiar themes and slumps and challenges, and it’s all okay– as long as I am writing writing writing those pages every morning I am in motion, and motion is life.

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the love/hate, in all its degrees

I know one day I’ll look back and miss the cute puppyhood, but right now floyd is getting on my every last nerve– and I’m kind of looking forward to the middle-aged lap dog he’ll be.

I expect it to be an occasionally similar thing with kids– not-as-young-as-they-might-be parents kind of daydreaming of one day being emptynesters. I expect kids, if I ever have them, to kick my ass. it’s one ass-kicking I welcome, and it pretty much terrifies me.

ah, that thrill ride of caring a lot, about people, things, the work we do in this world, whatever.

I am absolutely hating being kind-of indifferent to the work I do daily. it’s not even the days that make me crazy that make me crazy– ultimately it’s simply not caring enough. I really miss feeling like I was in a position to effect the way forward in substantive ways. wouldn’t it even be nice to find one’s work meaningful? well, there’s reaching for the stars… but, concretely, I miss the high tech world and working in teams of targeted aptitudes. I miss intelligent organization and management. I miss california and north carolina for those things, and some other things.

which leads to nostalgia and the oh-so-long list of the things missed for various reasons– things, of course, from the past, rendered seemingly tame in retrospect.

the present has these intense pockets of authentic feeling and then stretches of … caring less.

I want to care more, I want more. and I stop myself continually in a hundred different ways out of the fear of change and the unknown. I’m not so much afraid of feeling a lot. I am learning that I fear being and appearing stupid (there is ego in it). and I have a concrete fear of being downright dumb. not trusting myself not to render disasters. I feel I have wrought them. the mistakes I’ve made have been rather doozies. I guess it’s the risk you run.

who wouldn’t like to be smarter and more skillful? better liked? charmed and charming? though I’ve seen those with silver spoons choke themselves with them. the risk they run.

we work with the tools we have– or we muffle our own hands with hesitation.

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M-m-m-move-tastic!

Sunday, 6/28, 6:30 a.m.: the cell phone rings as I’m driving in my car behind Chris in his car as we search for parking spaces for the last time in this wretched neighborhood.

We’ve succeeded in planting the U-Haul truck, at least, smack dab in front of the building, after much angst involving No Parking signs from the alderman’s office, filling them out and putting them up as directed only to have people repeatedly tear down or otherwise simply ignore them. Then, summoning patience, waiting, giving people a chance to do the right thing and move their cars– finally, calling police, who inform us that, as the current time is now later than the start time stated on the signs, they’re unable to assist us. We start phoning in parked cars’ license plates, getting addresses and knocking on owners’ doors– one guy says he’ll be leaving for work at 4 a.m. sharp. Well, okay, fine. So Chris, who’s planning to stay up all night packing anyway, keeps an eye out the window starting at 3:00, goes down and waits by the car starting at 3:45. The guy finally strolls out at 4:30. Chris moves his car into place, and truck parking for 7 a.m. movers arrival is secured. Phew. Now we just need to do something with both of our cars.

“Hello?” I say. At this stage I’m half-hallucinating, exhausted at the tail end of days spent packing boxes and an all too brief three hours of sleep.

“HI! This is DANIEL! from M-M-M-MOVE-TASTIC! How are YOU this fine morning?!”

Laughing, “Hi, Daniel. Ohhh, I’m okay. How are you doing?”

“GREAT! I LOVE STAIRS! If I loved stairs any MORE, I’d be TWINS!!”

At 7 they arrive, three guys, who, true to Daniel’s claim and their glowing yelp reviews, seem indeed to love stairs (we’re moving from 3rd flr walkup to 3rd flr walkup) and RUN back from the truck after each deposit– these guys are athletes, yo.

Unfortunately, the truck’s not big enough for all our stuff, despite the offloading of LOTS over the last several days– by 9 a.m. the truck’s full, and there’s still a bunch left in the apartment. Harumph.

We caravan over to the new place while I feverishly start making calls trying to find a solution: guys from work last minute, something, but it’s a Sunday morning, and nobody’s picking up.

On the other end we wrangle with a narrow alley, briefly consider a move up the front stairs but are quickly discouraged by a suddenly-appearing (Magic Marker still smelly) note from another tenant informing us that “ALL MOVE-INS ON BACK STAIRS”, grumble, deal with it, figure it out, and start unloading up the back– discover that the narrowness of our back deck and screen door opening direction mean that someone has to stand there opening and closing the door as the guys carry stuff in– which totally irks me as a waste of a human being, I try to devise a solution with bungee cords, and Chris immediately disassembles it, which leads to our 237th spat of the morning.

Ah, moving.

A couple of extra guys suddenly show up and start hanging around the truck in the alley with offers of help (there’s an awkward bit once more with another building resident, we surmise the one who wrote the note, who’s hovering and making loud comments about Hispanics).

We briefly consider hiring the new guys for a second round to move the remainder of apartment contents but quickly figure out that ever additional U-Haul hour will run us an extra $50 and say screw it, decide we’ll stick with what we know and hire our same guys to back for the second leg another night.

All week we go to work during the day and then come back to one apartment or the other and work– moving stuff or pulling hardware from walls, painting, cleaning– by Thursday we’re totally out of the old place, my company’s closing early for our annual summer party, and we enter the holiday weekend– Halleluiah.

Bit by bit we unpack boxes, square things away– though there’s still a lot to get settled, we now have a shower curtain up and most of the dishes in accessible cupboards, the bed up off the floor– and a lovely new little back deck area, where we collapse at day’s end with cool beverages and watch fireworks over our neighborhood and speculate about the new neighbors from bits we’ve gleaned glimpsing them in passing in the courtyard or out on their back decks throughout the week– both those who wave across the distance and those who pass without a glance of acknowledgeement.

The L train rumbles by at street level right outside our front windows. during the day the ding-ding-ding of the bells feels like home again and gets hushed at night. we overlook dense treetops, directly across the street from a small park where children play and laugh and there was a free concert on our first night. there’s a little coffee shop and a ballet school downstairs. the river’s about a two block walk away. we’re neither as young as we used to be and are both pretty well exhausted and still recovering. I suspect I’ve given myself Achilles tendonitis. On Friday we made the rounds of shelter dogs, but a puppy may be right for us. We’ll see.

Anyhow, we’re in a good place, together.

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this one’s for the friends

…voxish and otherwise– just a big hello, really– yodelling out confirmation that I’m still here, bumbling along in my navelly way. there are these times when I go to ground– which is unfortunate as the tissues that connect us are altogether too diaphanous as it is. I have a bad habit of being an unreliable correspondent and regret the foundering of friendships as a consequence.

what gives on this end these days? ah, spring– now summer, I suppose, though it’s been far too chilly in chicago to really back up that claim. things I ought to be posting about, perhaps am in some alternate universe: our recent  weekend visit to the far north woods, new (to me) amazing book club!, looking around at apartments, considering possibilities for change.

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