Morose meanderings

I frequently have thoughts that make me laugh, which is something relatively new for me. I’m wondering if I’ve developed a talent for humor or whether I’m just going mad. I’ll laugh out loud in my car now, for instance, like last time when I imagined a dog going grocery shopping, complete with squeaky cart. Perhaps a sign of stress?

Anyway, I dig absurdist humor, eg. when Kafka gets ridiculous, with his singing mice & all.

On a similar note, this morning I woke up with an interesting & grammatically awkward phrase in my head: Slip silently by yourself away, which I think I’d like to use for the title of a book. As well, the sound of it reminds me of J.D. Salinger, eg. Raise High the Roof Beam and such. I was so inspired by it that I changed the URL for this site to slipsilentlyaway.blog.

There’s a glum & hopeless element to the phrase, as well, like dying alone. But thinking about it, the phrase sums up my life succinctly, because for as long as I can remember, my experience has been all about not fitting in and subsequently going off by myself.

I’m at the point where I more or less feel it a chore to seek someone out to hang out with. Does anyone do that anymore? I’d rather just read or go to the park alone or do solo hiking.

Anyway, la-di-da (channeling Annie Hall here.)

In a sense, Thoreau was a homebody

Should i be doing something more valiant with my free time other than sitting in my chair reading all day, occasionally succumbing to a cat nap.

Reading-wise, i’ve been very gymnastic, bouncing between Ovid’s Metamorphoses (the Penguin Classics translation) and Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, as well as Poetry 180, an anthology put together by Billy Collins, and re-reading Great Expectations in an exquisite and sparkly edition put out by Chiltern Publishing (pictured below).

I recently read Henry Thoreau’s Walden and was enamored not really by his lambasting of conformity and his boasts of individuality, but by his exhaustive accounts of certain features of the forest where he lived, most notably Walden Pond, unashamedly leaving no detail unmentioned. Eg., he describes its color through the seasons and different weather conditions, its aquatic life, its dimensions, how townspeople have used it, how it came to be developed and who once resided in the vicinity.

I had the thought of Thoreau as a writer who is anchored to place, as opposed to someone like Allen Ginsburg, whom I admire and whose life and writing were busy with near-constant and often dizzying movement, with rarely a moment of stillness, with the exception of spiritual interludes, such as Sunflower Sutra, or laments like Kaddish.

A few ways of writing

There are multiple ways to write. A few examples: a) you already have the story in your head, pretty much in its entirety (this happens to me sometimes); b) you invent a character, put it somewhere, like a store or a cafe or a gym, and let the character take charge of the story; c) and I just thought of this one, you can discuss a topic that interests you with a friend while recording the conversation. Then listen to it and transcribe your more interesting remarks.

I suppose that last one would be better suited for essay writing.

There’s a documentary on Kenneth Koch on YouTube, and he mentions a technique whereby he just gets behind a typewriter then writes unfiltered. The he goes back and edits — or more like, salvages.

I also read an interview in the book The Essential Allen Ginsberg where Ginsberg advised his writer friends to do like he does if they want to put out a book: go though your journals and pick/choose/edit.

Clouds

As far as I knew, I was lying on the grass, looking at the sky. Come to find out I was staring up at the roof of your mouth and its scattered white clouds. What gave it away were your lips, and how I noticed that they were lips to begin with was when I saw a second sky after you rose for air. I used to think this was my grave, staring up from this distance, like people would come and bury me. And now I realize that your teeth are the trees, towering like delicate aspens and darkened in silhouette, with the sun shining from behind like a new day.

Man on the phone

A man in a bookstore whose friend was in the research phase of opening his own bookshop was on the phone with said friend, describing shelf layouts.

The man on the call was middleaged with a foreign accent and wore a ball cap and a stylish sweat jacket. He had a goatee and reeked of cologne.

The man finished his conversation and sat at the cafe table studying something on his mobile device. No words came from his mouth, but his cologne continued being obtrusive.

One young woman sitting nearby liked the fragrance, thinking it smelled like success, and she found the man’s side of the conversation exciting. She wished she could be in on the plans.

Cold-weather gathering

She had a cocktail in a plastic cup, and I remember her nose was a sort of red.

She wore a blue denim jacket at her house party and didn’t care.

The one thing I remember about her was her curls. I remember their frizziness, like if you washed a doll’s hair and just left it as is.

Her apartment floors had old linoleum, and the rooms were low-lit and looked comfortable. Everyone seemed to be happy.

She had an interest in me, and we both liked the Beatles’ White Album. We had discussed it at the student union. Continue reading “Cold-weather gathering”

Heroine of the hula hoop

A girl in front of her house was doing hula hoop tricks today. She reminded me of a flapper — maybe Josephine Baker, the way she stared dead ahead and smiled — perhaps knowing she had it down and that she would beguile onlookers.

The hula hoop never stopped moving, regardless of where it wound up — seemingly precarious but staying put, like a plate on a stick in a vaudeville act. What kept it gyrating? It reminded me of those yo-yo tricks, where the yo-yo appeared motionless, like a hummingbird probing for pollen. Continue reading “Heroine of the hula hoop”

Doris

Nobody in the congregation could imagine her not moving. Doris had always moved — as if made of rubber or as if a bouncy spirit had inhabited her.

People remembered her swaying across the gymnasium floor during the church’s centennial celebration. She was dancing to My Girl by the Temptations and all the other songs on the DJ’s playlist, all the way up until the finale of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family. People recalled her lips moving while singing, plump with rouge lipstick and her eyes going all expressive. But now they were still, and her lips looked buttoned and had a cinnamon tone that you could barely even notice. Continue reading “Doris”