Saturday, August 02, 2003

In regards to the Super Nintendo:

I'm not terribly afraid of murdering hours of my already too short life with the machine. The reason is that every time I turn it on, I remember a story from my past.
When I was in high school, I had this horrible teacher named Mr. Milne. He's a prime example of everything I despise about public school teachers. He found his petty little niche in life and used it to break people who disagreed with his world view. And I surely did.
He was my freshman literature teacher and his first assignment was for us to write a paper giving an intelligent argument on a subject. The subject was as follows. We were on a school board. We had to choose between four potential teachers for a public high school. One was a moron with no credentials. One had basic credentials but a bad employment record or a bad attitude or something like that. The third was a lady who had more than adequate credentials but was a Communist who claimed that she would pass on Communist ideals in the classroom. The fourth was overly credentialed and a self proclaimed genius who happened to be a homosexual but swore up and down that he wouldn't bring it up in the classroom if told it was inappropriate.
Mr. Milne was flambe, dig? As a tree full of parrots.
Anyway, at the time I was really into Communism. His use of a knee jerk reaction label (from about fifty years ago) backfired with me. I have nothing against homosexuals. I dabbled myself a few years later. But I wrote the best argument for a Communist teacher as the best hope for our future that you'd ever want to read. So, for the rest of the year, Mr. Milne had a vendetta against me and me alone in the class. I guess I was the only one who had a dissenting opinion on who to hire.
Two thirds of the way through the semester, Mom went in for a meeting with Milne because I was in danger of failing... LITERATURE! ME! Yeah, I know. I did all of the work and had greater insight and quicker comprehension than any of the other students. So, Mom went in and she said that he started by telling her, "I've worked at So and So, at this impressive academy, at this important institution..."
And Mom said she thought, "What, you can't keep a job?"
At that point, Milne had already lost her.
Then he asked a question that's the reason I bring up this whole story. He said, "When Paul comes home from school, does he play video games?"
He had this version of reality set in his mind that he wanted to be self satisfied about. Mom replied, "No, actually he usually comes home and reads for several hours."

At the end, Mom told Milne that he knew as well as her that I was a model student and highly intelligent. If I didn't pass his class, she'd do everything in her power to have his job.

And she wasn't even a communist.

So, every time I turn on the Nintendo, thirteen years later, I think of Milne and I end up reading soon after. I'm not a vengeful man. But I do dream of the day my first book gets published. I plan to hire a detective and hunt down Mr. Milne. Maybe offer to speak to his class as a visiting author. And proceed to turn all of his students against him.
I had a stark realization this morning. I had a bad dream about Nissa getting with another guy and treating me poorly. I woke up upset because she forgot to return my call last night. Then I made the error of looking at the front page of the newspaper over breakfast. By the time I went out to meditate I could not focus. My mind was on Nissa and how much I hate the current regime and so on. Then I had the thought that the panic attacks I had about six months ago were just like the ones I had after I got my wisdom teeth removed. I thought it might be an excess thing (I was a raging alchy around that time and then, six months ago, I was taking benedryl every night because of allergies.) Or maybe it was a chemical thing like manic depression. Or I thought it might be a sinus thing, like they'd screwed up my sinuses in the dental surgery and I was experiencing chronic infections. I gave up meditation and went inside a good ways down the downward spiral.
Then it hit me. "Hey, this is that low self-esteem thing."
I tend to think of self-esteem as, "I'm competent and able. I'm a decent human being." But really it has a lot more to do with treating yourself well. And I was abusing myself this morning. This is why people who care about me are always telling me not to be too hard on myself. Needless to say, just realizing this turned my day completely around.
I also realized that meditation is a tool, but not for overcoming negative head spaces. Negatives must be overcome with positives.

I finished The Screwtape Letters. I also played video games. I worked in the garden. I had the idea to behead the dried sunflowers and put the tops in the hanging terra cotta dish. The birds hang out in the dish picking the seeds out of the sunflowers. They seem to dig it.

Tonight I went out to Ruta's with mom. When we got home we called Pat because it's Faith's birthday. I think she turned five. We sang happy birthday. Pat was very interested in the antique books I got the other day. We talked about that for a while. Mom and I took a walk. I tried to write a poem, but it was labored and I realized that the juices were not flowing.

Maybe I'll hit the Bookman in Huntington tomorrow and pick myself up the next thing to read. Or maybe I'll read "The Sword of the Golem." I don't know. I've been thinking very seriously about reading the Oz books. That is to say the Baum Oz books. I've always wanted to read those.

Friday, August 01, 2003

I forgot to mention last night that I made a large purchase of some quite valuable and especially old books from an old friend. It's my largest purchase of that kind to date and both the previous owner and I are very pleased with the transaction. It's hard for me to minimalize the importance of what I do for a living. I think that's why I've avoided discouragement when others don't understand or make petty remarks about "a real job." It gets me angry, not discouraged. I really feel like what I'm doing is some of the glue that's holding our society together. It's the most important job I've ever had.

Today my father and I put up a ceiling fan. It looks slick and doesn't wobble at all at all.

I also sent out three books and, as usual on Fridays, sold another one after the post office closed.

So very much to report. I've been frightfully busy the past 48 hours. And yet I had time for a nap today. So, here's a quick recap.
Last night I was kept up late by Nissa because she finally saw The Godfather and wanted me to help her out with some of the plot details. It is a lot to absorb in one viewing. This morning I woke up about two hours earlier than normal for no good reason at all at all. Couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and put books online. Took a nap with Boingo. Then I went to the penultimate shrinking. That went well. We talked about the potential Chico move and how I'm doing with Nissa. Then Niss and I went to dinner and to an autoparts store to find a book on how to fix my Buick. She gave me one of the best and worst things she could have given me. A super Nintendo.
I never had video games as a kid, which is probably why I'm the intellectual giant you see before you. We had a Texas Instruments which only played games like Hunt the Wumpus or other games of strategy, skill, intellect. Then we got a pc and only got games like SimCity, Oregon Trail, Gold Rush, and eventually my favorite, SimEarth.
Now I've got the mindless Nintendo that all of the other kids had when I was a child. I shall endeavor to use it as a release and not as a time vacuum.
Oh, and I'm reading the Screwtape Letters. I abandoned Martian Time-Slip because of the "anomalous children" thing. Hit a little too close to home right now. PKD is one of the best writers I know and one of the most disturbing. So, maybe another time.
Okay, gotta run and bathe and try and kick my sleep schedual back into some order. More soon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I bought a rubber ball, some crazy glue, felt, sand paper, and so on. I gathered feathers, aquarium rocks, candle wax, a cd that went through three seconds in a microwave, a quarter, a strip from an aluminum, some sand gathered on a San Francisco beach on a full moon, shells from bird seeds, styofoam (which I learned disintegrates in crazy glue), a piece of fabric cut from a giant fish costume, some bark, and cotton stuffing. I crazy glued all these items onto the rubber ball. That was touch.
Sight was a facimile of the Second Quarto of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's a gorgeous book and probably the most monetarily valuable of the gifts.
Sound was a copy of the cd recording of the Ahmish when we played on Father's Day this year.
Smell was grapefruit tea perfume that I bought at Downtown Disney the other day when Charles and I had the radiator adventure with my car. The perfume really smells like grapefruit. It's lovely.
Taste was dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant. She got to drink coconut milk out of a coconut. We both got to shovel our bellys full.
Then we went to the nickel arcade. So, Nissa's presents took a lot of care this year. I like theme gifts. I set them all out on a table in the backyard and let her open them. They were all in bags and all had a picture of the organ associated with that sense.
Not much else of note happened today. I sat around and watched "Office Space." I've got to go package a few books to send off tomorrow now because I slacked this afternoon.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Oh, and it was a new moon on top of all of that.
I had a terribly productive day today. I rode my bike to the post office first off in the morning. While I was on my way, my backpack started ringing. Or, rather, the cell phone inside my backpack started ringing. Instead of stopping, ripping off my backpack like a gorilla on crack and rummaging under the books to get to the phone in time, I let the voice mail pick up and merrily rode along. That's because years ago I adopted the lifestyle that one doesn't have to pick up the phone every time it rings.
It turned out to be Mark, my old friend from high school who I re-met in a restaurant about a month ago. We chatted about what we're doing with our lives. He's going back to school. He's married. He has a huge record collection. He asked about Rob, who we both knew in high school and I still hear from about twice a month.
After that I decided that today was the day to get things done that I've been putting off. Like Michael Corleone's thing where he settles all of the family's issues in one bloody day. Except nicer.
I worked most of the day on Nissa's b-day presents. Since she reads this, you'll have to wait to hear about what it is. I sent an email to Mindy. I called Dr. Shrinker and told her that I'm thinking about ending my counseling sessions. I put some books online that I've been sitting on. I finally bought some blank cds that I've been needing for to put business info on. I also figured out what I'm going to need to do to fix my car and asked my dad how to get the parts I'll need. All the while I listened to the rest of Dead Set, which I kept putting off because I was just liking listening to the Deal>Space>Fire trilogy of songs.
Also, before all of this, right when I got back from the post office I meditated for about a half hour. I hadn't done that in almost a year. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Dinner was sauerkraut and sausages (did I mention the Mathers' are German? Pennsylvania Dutch, actually.)
After dinner I was spent. I almost nodded off on the porch swing. Maybe it was the humidity or the having worked like a mule all day in the humidity. My mom gave me a plasma rock today, which is kind of like a glass rock that has different colored bolts of electricity when you turn it on that move to where you touch on the rock's surface. It also has a setting that makes it light up to music. I played with that for a while and then went out in the backyard.
I watered the garden, made some peppermint tea and sat down to write another poem.
Now, I've been wanting to write a chant for a long time now. It's a form that appeals to me and my type of spirituality. So, I sat down and opened my notebook to get into this chant and the vaults of heaven separated. I mean like a faucet it rained. I sat under the porch swing's canopy for a minute, delighted, and then realized I needed to run to somewhere with a little more solid ceiling. Boingo followed me. He sat, soaking, on my wet, jean lap on the porch while I hammered out the poem.
I'll post the chant tomorrow. I love it. It's really hard for me to not feel energized about it when that happened when I tried to write it. I think the chant has kind of a King Lear yelling at the elements quality to it.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Not much to report today, so I'll post the ghazal. Now, the ghazal is a form that's evolved a lot through history to become a very freeing form. So, if you're a thousand year old Persian and this doesn't sound like how you remember a ghazal, tha's why. It's a form, as I understand its present incarnation, of couplets, not nessicarily rhymed (thank God) that deal with a philosophical view point at the beginning and end, but spends the middle noticing what's going on around you as you write it. Usually this will illustrate your philosophical point. As opposed to the original form which was rhyming couplets in child like observations about love where the poet works their own name into the final couplet in a clever way.
So, I wrote a modern ghazal. It goes like this:

My biggest fear is of being trapped inside my body.
The cat is looking at how to jump on my lap with a notebook there.

Ten feet ahead and six inches down is a network of roots.
The corpse of a pet rat that bit me many times is almost gone.

There are many bugs glutted with blood this time of year.
The bird on the wire looks for lunch but sees the cat that will eat him.

Windmill makes one turn for every lung fill and release.
A neighbor who smokes in his backyard coughs.

It is easy for the form to fill up on duality.
It takes work to make one's outline dotted.