Page 2 of my journal from April of 2009. My comments in italics below.
Page 1 of my journal from April of 2009. My comments in italics below.
I often had nightmares about driving my truck off a cliff in Seattle. Not there really were any cliffs, just some steep hills. Once, while a friend was trying to park, he accidently rolled forward and hit the parked car in front of him, which in turn rolled forward onto the curb and hit a tree. These are memories of another place, possibly another life, or maybe just the wings of beasts and insects flapping by my window:
I drove my black 1992 Ford Ranger to Tacoma to pick up K. She had just started as a freshman at the University of Puget Sound. I don’t remember if she gave me directions or I just looked it up ahead of time. I smoked clove cigarettes while driving, lit by a barbecue lighter I kept in the dashboard console. The city seemed always dark in those first few years. Perhaps I was only awake at night. The days couldn’t have been that grey1. Did she come out to greet me or did I see her dorm room? We talked about her experiences in the Great Northwest, what her experience had been like, compared schools.
Where was my girlfriend? E and her girlfriends often went to frat parties at the University of Washington. Was she there? Maybe this happened during some Spring Break, where I smoked cigarettes freely at the Canal or walked through the graveyard to my favorite willow.
The venue was in an old factory or warehouse space called the SS Marie Antoinette. I don’t remember if Anna had a good time. I remember L being there, I remember $. The band Lillydale opened, but we had gone to see Xiu Xiu play an intimate set. Xiu Xiu complained the whole time about Mars Hill Church (and years later played a show at their venue). We missed the Lillydale set, JD’s band. I hadn’t yet met him, but in another year would. The show was put on by KSPU, where I was in my second year of DJ’ing. We would race each other on office chairs across the linoleum tiles. We played long songs so we could talk with each other. We became jaded with the industry before we knew what that meant.
1 The first night of college I had just finished moving my things into my room. I went down to the common area of our dorm. I was wearing a Pretty Girls Make Graves hoodie. I heard, “Ya fucking like music?” I turned around and there was C, My best friend for the first two years of college. Long, dirty blonde hair and black tee shirt with bright green writing: “BEN KWELLER.” I replied in the affirmative. “Great! Let’s get sushi. I sat in the rear-facing seat of a hatchback, watching the sky and the trees race away.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.
We often act busy when there is no true need, when we need to be still to activate our minds. “To be idle and blessed.”
I have been really loving the work of Alex Katz. Here is a triptych for you to enjoy. Click on any of the images to get sent to more of his work.
Frustrated, she stepped out of the car to pump the gas herself. Curses formed on her lips, what as asshole. He was! The way he spoke down to her and made her feel small. His small mind, but… she loved him and recognized his faults. She knew he recognized hers. Somewhere in the distance she heard water running, the smell of soil gathered with gasoline, and knew she should be the one to apologize. With the pump in the tank, she leaned toward the window, “I’m sorry.”
He was gone. He left the door hanging open, hot air seeping into the air conditioned car.
Speech is a powerful tool, but not as persuasive as silence.