Saturday, May 5, 2012

Strolling Is Trolling

This is an exercise based on Joe Brainard’s “I Remember” prompt. I used the same subject/predicate structure, but wondered what might ensue if I used different verbs. I chose verbs at random and took it from there, using the verb to produce a reflection, generally something personal. The first verb was ‘stir.’ The final verb was ‘inspire.’

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I like stirring sugar into my tea. I use a chopstick. The restaurant where we usually go for Chinese food never provides spoons. But they do offer chopsticks. I use the chopstick. It doesn’t do the job as effectively as a spoon, but it works. The sugar dissolves into the tea instead of lying on the bottom.

Whenever I hear the word ‘tumble,’ I think of the Beatles. I had a tumbling class in high school in 1963, when the Beatles were first heard on U.S. radio. We used to mock them. Their sound was so girlish and effervescent. The Beatles committed the cardinal sin of rock ‘n roll: they were cheerful. There is simply no such thing as cheerful rock ‘n roll. But I could be wrong. I was wrong. It wasn’t much longer that I fully embraced the Beatles. But by then they had come out with Rubber Soul and had ceased sounding so cheerful. In fact, a lot of their songs were tinged with malaise. Nowhere Man. Norwegian Wood. Help.

That scene of Tom Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai is enthralling.

Who doesn’t love splashing water? Several days ago, when Roberta and I were out running on the asphalt paved path at Myrtle Edwards Park on the shore of Elliott Bay, it was extremely windy. Waves were being buffeted against the rocks and a flock of seagulls hovered over them in a state of evident excitement. I assumed there must be a school of smelt or salmon beneath the waves. We stopped to watch them and noticed the heads of a number of seals emerge and disappear. The sound of the water is lovely. So quiet. It contrasted wonderfully with the screech of the seagulls, which sounded like insane laughter.

I have never once greased a wheel or an axle in my life. I am simply not given to mechanical things. I chose writing as a profession because it’s relatively clean.

I have never stolen anything from anyone, although I could confess to time theft. There have been many occasions in the past when I shirked work at a job, hung out in a basement reading a book or enjoyed a long, vigorous conversation with a fellow employee instead of doing some actual work.

I have huge respect for fellow poets. There are so few rewards when it comes to writing poetry. People generally regard you as a fool. Though as anyone who has attempted to write a poem knows, it’s hard. It’s really hard to write a good poem. One of those poems that hits the brain like a line of Merck cocaine. Ignites a firework display in your neurons. That’s a lot easier to do with an electric guitar and a good drummer than a handful of words, let me tell you.

I dislike bending over to pick something up. I have to do a lot of bending when I visit Suzzallo library at the University of Washington because in order to pay the guard at the underground parking lot I have to open the door of our Subaru so that I can lean out far enough to get my hand into my back pocket to pull out my wallet. This process must be repeated when I put my wallet back into my back pocket. That constitutes a lot of bending for me.

Hanging from anything is fun. Unless you’re hanging from a rope all night on the side of a cliff. Though I suppose the rigors of the sport would be fun for you in a deeper sense. The thrill of imminent death. The adversities of the weather. The novelty of your position.

There are so many needs in life: food, shelter, sex, companionship. I frequently wonder if art is a need. I know a lot of people who would instantly and vigorously argue yes, of course, art is a need. It’s a spiritual need. It is the need for transcendence. But I’m not so sure. One of the things I like best about art is that it’s not needed. It’s superfluous. It really doesn’t serve any purpose. That appeals to me because, deep down, I’m pissed off at the whole set up. And art is seditious. It says, fuck you forces that be. Fuck you forces that brought me into this life. I’m going to enjoy something that has nothing whatever to do with my survival. Something that is simply exciting. Sensual. Uplifting in a goofy, inexplicable way.

The word ‘progress’ doesn’t do much for me. Either as a noun or a verb. I prefer to say move rather than say progress. I don’t say: I’m  progressing to the store to get some crackers. I say I’m going to the store to get some crackers. Progress has a clunky feeling because of all those dry, textbook articles about so-called human progress. Human progress is destroying the planet.

I love strolling. Just aimlessly ambling along. Looking at things in a detached but absorbed kind of way. Taking the world in at my leisure. Strolling is trolling for abalones of pure amusement.

How often do I feel the need to clutch something? I don’t remember that last time I clutched something. Did I clutch my mug of coffee this morning? I’m not sure that’s clutching. Not clutching in the proper sense of clutching. I held it carefully but not firmly. Firm enough to keep it in my hand, but not so firm that I could say I was clutching it. I’ve never, for instance, clutched a gun. If I had need of a gun, if I was in that sort of situation, I would definitely be clutching it.

I’ve never punched anyone. I’ve been punched, but never even punched back. I blame movies for this. I have the fear that if I ever punched anyone, they would fall and hit their head on a rock or andiron and  die. Then I’d be up for murder. One minute you’re pissed, then next you’re on trial. For fucking murder.

I do a lot of sifting, but this is not the sifting of a gold miner . This is the sifting of research and writing. Sifting details. Sifting words.

I’m fascinated by heat, the way it quickens things, makes them sizzle and bounce, turn brown or black, makes them churn or bubble, boil or simmer. And yet I am not really into cooking. I guess I could be. But I’m not. Couldn’t say why. I’m just not into it.

I am insufficiently inspired. What inspires me is the desire to get high. Stimulated. My mood altered. Euphoria. Buoyancy. Thrills. This is what makes me want to write. Put words by words and see what happens. It’s a great kind of chemistry. The explosions are intellectual. No hands are burned, no glasses broken. Yet control is illusory. There is no actual control. And that’s what makes it so wonderful. You never know what’s going to happen. You don’t even know what’s possible. Or impossible. All the perturbations are glorious.

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