31 July 2006


It’s very hot these days. One digital thermometer in town lists 102 degrees and another records only 100 degrees. I’m ok, but I pity the working person. I walk slowly, try to stay in cooler places, and start drinking a bit earlier. They have to move about productively. I saw two men tearing up a roof on a house, only to have to suffer shingling it later.

I’ve felt lost lately, unable to focus clearly. There are books all about me, but in fact, I don’t have a question for which any of the books might hold any answer. I remember learning (from Adam Phillips) that boredom is a state in which we await a push into a certain direction—a new pursuit. I experience boredom when I don’t know what to do next and I am awaiting something that will impel into action. And all about me are books holding all kinds of possibility, but none right now for me.

Emma returns from Israel tomorrow. I will be relieved.

So, it’s a return to random activity, ceaseless moving with no direction, awaiting some cosmic push.

23 July 2006

Cleaning Out and Up

Thoreau tells us he had one chair for solitude, two for company and three for society. I cleaned out Walden today and removed a chair or three. This event represents both a cleaning out: I removed the clutter which has obstructed the work. And this event represents also a cleaning up: I have prepared the space for the work to continue. Actually, I have always hated that word—work—because it represents something separate from play. Work has come to mean all that opposes pleasure, self-fulfillment, growth, play and fun. Yet, I am happiest when I am immersed in texts and thoughts. (Okay, okay, I experience other moments of happiness which equal such scholarly immersions, but except for the absolute love for my children, these other moments are not regular nor in my control, nor do I care to elaborate upon the nature of them here and now with any specificity at all. And besides, except for the love my children which knows neither time nor bounds, as I get older and older . . . those other pleasures . . . well, you know! They change!)

So, today I cleaned out and up. It’s a neater space, and I’ve started studying again. Lately, I’ve been reading voluminously but solely, and now I’ve returned to the study and writing phase of the play. I always feel so alive when this occurs. I once published a piece on my experience of the writing process. If you're interested and you ask nicely, I'll send you the piece. You know, I'm not too hard convinced.

I’ve never moved far from this place in my love of writing. Sometimes, I‘ve changed the Place, but never the Space. But every once in a while, I’ve had to clean it up and out.

17 July 2006

Dog Days

My daughter doesn’t understand how we can be so backwards as not to have an air conditioner. I admit it has been warm here in Wisconsin (!) this summer; the lack of rain troubles my farmer friends (though I acknowledge it has kept the grass from growing and needing mowing). Temperatures over the past week have often exceeded ninety degrees, and there seems little relief in sight. I inform my daughter that in about five months she will urge me to turn up the heat, and complain that our house is always so cold, but she doesn’t appreciate the irony.

I relish the heat. All winter, in the absence of positive degrees, I wait for these days, and I will not let any air conditioner deny me the comfort of every sun-baked degree. I move more slowly, but I move; I run earlier, but I run. I eat less, and I drink more. I am privileged to appreciate without too much discomfort these dog days of summer.

The dog dogs of summer derive their name not from the lethargy of the furred four legged canine, but from the ancient Romans, who named a certain constellation of stars Canis Major and Minor, and who thought the brightest star in Canis Major was Sirius. The star was so bright that the ancient Romans believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun. Hence, the stretch of heat during July and August, when Sirius rises and sets with the sun, are referred to as the dog days of summer.

I told that story to my daughter. Ugh, she said, can’t we get an air conditioner.

06 July 2006

Class of 1965

In the past several weeks a whirlwind organizing campaign has taken place to stage a reunion for the 1965-66 graduating classes of Jericho High School. I am a member of the former, and due to prior commitments which I wouldn’t consider forgoing for a minute, I will not be able to attend.

Every day, names from the distant past cross my desktop. People I have not thought about in forty years, stand suddenly before me. Sometimes they even talk to me. Of course, I can’t see them except as seventeen year olds, but they keep mentioning their grandchildren and their retirement homes, and there seems to exist a serious divide between my memory and the reality about which I read. Nevertheless, these people are occupying my dreams and disturbing my days.

What’s going on? The search for graduates indicates that some of these people have kept in touch over the years. Someone seems to know where someone else is presently living. They even seem to know about those who are no longer living. And I am gazing back over this huge expanse of time and I see nothing except the other side of forty one years across the chasm. There is nothing alive between those two points, no companions, no landmarks, no sounds. And this awareness is causing me discomfort. I’m disoriented as forty-one years imposes itself on me unawares and unbidden. There are emotions I am experiencing which I had seriously repressed, and there is something about the conversation on line which is reproducing some of my adolescent angst and insecurities and terrors. I am suddenly thrust back there, but I thought that I had moved on, dammit. And this great chasm also isolates my high school years, as if they occurred in a vacuum. A basement window with no egress.

What would I do at a reunion with people I have not seen in forty-one years? Why haven’t I seen them in forty-one years? Ah, there’s the rub, isn’t it?

I am used to leaking and being leaked upon; I’ve grown unskilled at small talk, and I don’t carry pictures. Maybe I’ll send my books in my stead. It's where I’ve been.

That said, its been a great joy to find you again, Randy.