It's been thunderstorms and tornadoes here for the past few days. The fields are all flooded. Yesterday I put on a pair of my dad's highboots and walked back through the fields and into the woods, where I used to spend a lot of time when I was little. There's a creek in that woods, with a bridge made of railroad ties my grandfather strung together over fifty years ago. The creek had overflowed with all of the rain, and the bridge was underwater by half a foot. I stood on it anyway, the current moving around my boots, and sort of poked around the place for a while. I used to sit on that bridge when I was a kid and read, or play with the frogs that lived there. I used to dangle my feet in the water and look up at the canopy of the trees, telling myself strange stories. I'm not sure why the place holds such significance for me, but I think it was a place where my imagination took over and the woods would come alive with fantasy creatures. When I sit down to write, I still think of that bridge, and the stories that crossed over it, that are still crossing. And I wonder at moments like this why I've spent so much of the past ten years living anywhere but home.
Meditations in an Emergency
Random thoughts, memories, convoluted therapeutic ramblings, a billboard of love.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
Go read Matthew Cheney's and M. Rickert's stories at Ideomancer. Right. Now. You will be happy and thank me for it later.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Since moving home to the country, I no longer have a nice air conditioned gym to work out in. So I've taken to running down the back road where my parents live. It's interesting landscape to run in. I'll be going down the road and suddenly come across a run-down trailer sitting in the middle of a field, very Bastard Out of Carolina, or I'll be running past trees and trees, thick woods, and suddenly they'll open up and there will be a log cabin nestled in their shadows. Dogs howl and bark as I pass by, straining against their chains. And then sometimes a car or truck will approach me. I'll see it coming for at least a mile, unless I'm behind a hill, and as they pass, everyone waves at me. The men give me salutes like soldiers, and the women wave frantically as if I were a long lost son come home.
I don't recognize any of them, but apparently they recognize me. It makes me feel strange to not know these people any longer. I told my mother about all the people that wave and she can tell me who they are by what kind of car or truck they were driving. She'll mention that someone recently died, and I'll not know who she's talking about. "You know!" she says, and then goes on to tell me all sorts of stories that feature me and said dead people in them from when I was a kid and I just can barely remember these people. I feel like I'm living in a time warp or something.
And on top of that, I watched Peter Pan with my nephew and niece today, the newest version, and got all teary. Freakin Peter Pan, nearly any version, will do that to me every time.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
I am studying up on my hiragana and katakana again. Tonight I bought a workbook, and as soon as I started writing the characters, the sounds began to situate themselves in my mind. There's a connection of some sort between making the symbols and recalling and memorizing the symbols and their sounds. That's how it worked last time I studied this language, and it's how it's working again. I studied French for a while too, but it wasn't the same because it used the same alphabet for the most part. I didn't feel like I was dealing with anything that foreign really. Learning Japanese feels like I really do have to go through a translation process, not just from word to meaning, but before that symbol to sound to word to meaning. As if there's an extra step in there that wasn't with a language like French.
I'm reading David Mitchell's novel, Ghostwritten, which is absolutely mindblowing. I'm asking for other people to pick it up and read it too. I want to talk about this book with people, and also his other novels. After I finish this one, I'm on to his second book, number9dream, which was shortlisted for the Booker. And then I'll probably order his third book, which just came out in England, called Cloud Atlas. This man seems to be able to write a novel with multiple narrators, none of which return, that only have one chapter to speak, but somehow it all feels like a novel and totally threaded together in ways that make it inevitably a novel, but like none I've ever read before. The closest I can think of is China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen McHugh, but in that book, one character returns to keep the thread, his voice is the thread of the book, and that's not the case in Ghostwritten. In fact, the thread of Ghostwritten that ties everyone together is a sort of chaos theory that lies behind our everyday banal lives, bringing us together in a really global way, a small world for sure sort of idea. And he blends genres as well. The mystery, the ghost story, folktales, and mysticism. It's quite amazing stuff. So please, if you've read this book or will read it, drop me a line.
I'm dilly dallying with revising a couple of stories and trying to figure out what to work on next. I have a new novel that I want to start working on, but something is telling me to hold off on beginning it in earnest for a little while longer, to focus on revising these two stories that are nagging at me with their ailments, and then to maybe even write one or two more stories before diving in to another big project like a book.
Has anyone noticed the new proliferation of cool kid literary magazines that are being started up lately? I hope that's good news for the short story.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Well, I am finally settling in to my parents' place here in the wilds of Ohio, and already my mood is changing from what it was, for the most part, in Youngstown. Even with all the moving out/moving in hassle, even with me and my parents sort of unconsciously negotiating our space and "how things will work" while I'm living here, I'm calmer here, more at ease somehow. I guess it really is home, even though I've had a multitude of problems with the place growing up and even afterwards, when I tried living other places, I found that all of the skills and cultural mindsets I had in place didn't work pretty much anywhere else I went. Luckily the one thing I had that was innate and not culturally instilled was a curiousity to know things other than what a small rural town in Ohio had to offer me, and along with that curiousity, a tolerance for uncertainty and not knowing everything I need right off. Those qualities have served me well so far, and hopefully will continue to do so when I'm in Japan.
Initially my mom and Hobbes the cat were unhappy with each other. My mom assumed he was one of those cats that immediately adapt and like everyone. She assumed he was one of those cats that would immediately take to her, jump in her lap, and love her to pieces. He does this with me. He did not do this with her. He hissed at her a couple times and one morning, attacked her leg when she got out of bed. He had been hiding underneath it, waiting to ambush her. I thought this was hilarious, but my mom starting threatening Hobbes, telling him she wasn't sure if he could live here anymore. The next morning he curled around her legs and acted like a sterotypical lover cat and now he has charmed her back into letting him stay. He just really needed a couple of days to adjust to the new place, and all the new people. Not only does he have to get to know my parents, but also my grandparents, my brothers and sisters in law, my nephew and nieces, all of whome come in and out of the house all day long, since they all live on either side of my mom and dad's place like a clan or something. He's doing well though, considering it had only been him and me since January, with only occasional visitors.
Now my computer is all set up and I'm back in the saddle again. I'm studying Japanese again and now I've got to get writing again.
Oh, and the novel has been sent off to an agent who requested to read it. Hopefully that works out.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Haven't done one of these for a while. Thanks to Lisa Deguchi for the cool link.
Grover on Ecstasy
You're funny, you're loveable, you're entertaining,
you like to call yourself "Super
Grover!"--You're obviously on ecstasy.
But that's why we love you. Be careful, ok?
Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yes, yes, I'm back here again. I know, I'm all over the place. My mother says, "Ohio, California, Ohio, Michigan, Ohio, Japan! When will it end?" The same in cyberspace, I guess. Back and forth, that's me. Sorry for the disruption, if anyone feels disrupted. I'll stay put for a while.