23 june 1999  

wings of mud

Proof that good writing is hard can be found in yesterday's entry. Yesterday's entry stinks.

I've left it up as a shining example of what happens to my brain when it has something to say but tries too hard to say it. I should have known the piece was dead from the get go when the paragraphs were bouncing around like basketballs during the rewrites.

Yeah. Can you believe it? There were rewrites.

I have this idea that good writing shouldn't always be just like talking, even in a journal. I have this idea that prose can give wings to one's thoughts, and it can. But not if you fashion those wings out of mud.

I'd work harder on these entries if I had the time, really I would.

While I'm willing to accept responsibility for the final product, I'm going to dump some of the blame onto others.

Because I can.

First there's Amy. She's been out of school for only a week, yet her interruption skills are at their peak, as if only yesterday it was August, that month of no summer school, no distraction, no extra-curricular activities at all save one -- breaking daddy's day into seven-minute segments. Derailing his train of thought through sheer cuteness. Every. Seven. Minutes.

Next there's Viv. Oh sure, she's swell and all, yeah yeah yeah, but as the breadwinner of this family she is entitled to some respect and comforts, and that means I try to have dinner ready when she gets home. On most nights. True, I have pizza man on speed dial, but we can't all be saints. Hey, I got in trouble once for serving pork 'n beans with tunafish sandwiches, so when the pantry promises little in the way of knock-'em-dead entrees I'm gonna pick up the phone. Besides, it's good for the economy.

But anyway, getting back to blaming others, I do the domestic engineering around here and that means some of those seven minute segments must be spent on things other than the aerodynamics of prose. So good, we agree, guilty party #2: Viv.

Next: The Neighbors. We all get along. This is my doing. The mowing, the fertilizing, the pruning, the place looks nice but am I the one who sees it? No. It's the neighbors who see it. They see the flowers, they see the neatly trimmed edges of the lawn. I give and I give and I give to these people. I'm a giver. Ever try to do yard work in seven minute segments? Not easy, is it?

The Lousy Education System In This Country. This is on every list of what's bad or wrong or in trouble. Something that evil could not possibly escape responsibility when it comes to my own list. Give me a minute, seven tops, and I'll find a good reason why the system has ruined me.

The cat (roll eyes, throw up hands, realize subject too extensive to get handle on).

Ralphs Market. There's one close to the house but its stock is nowhere near as complete nor is its atmosphere as relaxing as the other Ralphs across town. The "good" Ralphs is four miles farther away, but to a guy already on the edge of insanity, it's Valhalla. I need it. I escape into its white white light. Going to the cheese section is like going to Europe, and daddy needs his vacations. These visits take time. Away from writing. And rewriting.

Back to the School System. Here's some blame: Mrs. Lagerquist. Fifth grade. She told me I could write well. Made me want to. Didn't tell me how hard it was. She's dead now.

Okay, I feel better. But not much. Yesterday's entry is still lying there like a dead water buffalo rotting in the sun.

yesterday's lunch

my own past, withered and soaking in its own juices, the stench fouling all that

bullet-riddled signpost, a warning for all who come near to tread with trepidation and not to trust their trembling typewriters to

My seven minutes are up.

today's music:

"Quality Time" -- Susannah McCorkle -- FROM BESSIE TO BRAZIL


today's wisdom:

"I'm forty six... I grew up in a gentler, slower time. When Ike was president, Christmases were years apart, and now it's about five months from one to the next."

- Garrison Keillor

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