Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing, life

Anna ditched her scooter and followed on foot. "Not riding your scooter?" "I'm the writer, dad," she flashed her notebook and pen.

She does this frequently. She writes articles, newspaper articles--extended questions, descriptions, observations--some she gives to me, some she keeps.

This is a big deal in daddy-daughter relations. I never pretended to be an accountant, per my father, growing up. There is something about writing, being a writer, that holds sway for her. For Christmas she wants a pocket notebook and a camera.

She knows I am a writer. That I do it for a job. But she also knows that I carry a notebook in my pocket wherever I go and get up early to read and write, and that that is something beyond a job.

If I won the lottery, I'd write more than I do now. I'd flush out that big project that is waiting, buried, that I haven't made the time or effort to unearth. The statement. Testament.

Watching Pearl Jam 20, reading Roberto Bolano and Franz Wright, and thinking about legacy, that's when I struggle that I haven't unearthed it. Haven't found it and committed. That I need to start digging deep and make the time.

But I look at our girls, Robin, our life. I look at Anna and her eyes as she makes her thoughts words. And I know commitment

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sleeping under ramps

We slept under skateboard ramps. Two quarter-pipes, six- to eight-feet tall, pushed up against either side of Arcadia Street. It wasn't just the skateboarding or the hardcore music, it was also a chance to do something different, to milk all the day had.

Twenty-five years later and I'm still looking for skateboard ramps to sleep under. Not actual skateboard ramps, mind you--though I wouldn't rule out the right opportunity--but experiences like that. Doing something different and extending the day.

I watched Cameron Crowe's documentary "Pearl Jam 20" Saturday night/Sunday morning. It made me think of the ramps, trail running and the activities that hone the edge for me; that pull what's inside out and manifest it, use it to color a black and white life. Maybe our lives are given to us black and white and it is up to us to add the color.

I got thinking about creativity and art and being able to tap those sources that feel primal, first-hand, unfiltered. Pearl Jam has created albums for 20 years, no two of which sound the same. A bit like Zeppelin in that respect.

It made me think of how I want/try to weave creativity into my life.

First is family. Seeing what our life as a family becomes. To actively help shape or guide or keep it open to possibilities, not have it handed to us already prepared, pre-heated like cafeteria food. To watch and enjoy what our girls do, what Robin does, how we all live.

Second is my own life. Life as a work of art, something we create, where choices are like brushstrokes, painting on an existential canvas.

With family and life first as active, creative works unto themselves, writing as art then comes in as a way to record, document, translate, to give back to it all. This third aspect of creativity, writing in particular, that creating art, that is the part that got stirred up for me watching Pearl Jam 20. Stay tuned for an expanded riff on that subject.

* image above - Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament built a skatepark in his hometown.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two photos

It's probably a good thing I never met Laura Dern. At least not before meeting Robin. There are those famous or glimpsed people you've never met whose look, mannerisms and roles just captivate you.

Her legs in Jurassic Park held equal billing with the dinosaurs. Her character in Wild at Heart (she and David Lynch are practically unstoppable when teamed) swirls you.

Those untouchables--the actresses, rock stars, authors, whoever--that draw you in. Maybe they say something about who we are, what we want, what we are after. Or maybe we just like what we like.

It's the eyes in a photo. Maybe they are windows to the soul. Or maybe they are just crystals unto themselves that don't have to go deeper.

Elizabeth Smart knows something we don't. She knows what she's looking at, sure, but maybe what she is looking for. To go singly after the man she wanted to be with. To have kids (four), raise them and support them, on her own. To embrace art and family and support both. To hold on to and hold up the idea of true love, both in your mind and with your life. To write as she lived--

Is it all there, in the eyes?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bob Wiley

My body is a disguise. A shell I've put on for the last five months. It's me, but it's not. It hasn't moved like me, done the things I do, it's changed, grown.

This disguise has claimed a share of my mind/spirit. By the we-are-what-we-do-repeatedly standard, it has made me someone other than who I've been. I've felt it. It has tunneled away, a depression, an anger that has taken me over at times, though I've tried to own myself most of the time.

Yesterday, mind/spirit began the work to reclaim itself and the body. Maybe it started on Saturday, when Anna and I raced each other to the truck at Ava's soccer game. When I sped up and kept pace, she said, "Dad, I didn't think you could run?"

Yesterday, there was no runnerly pretenses or garb--an Element skateboard shirt, lacrosse shorts, Nationals hat on backwards and Brooks trail shoes. I doubt I struck anyone as a runner, except for the fact that I was running. Slowly. Not sure how my ankle would respond.

Two miles, my first run in months. I wouldn't say that I'm back, but the real work, the reclaiming has begun. It will be done with running. It will be done with push-ups and pull-ups (Herschel Walker-style). It will be done with planks and mountain climbers and dead lifts and squats. The reclaiming will take place on roads, grass, trails, track and at the gym. It will be early morning, lunch breaks and evening when it has to.

It's the Bob Wiley reclamation program. Baby steps. Baby steps to the door. Baby steps out the door.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The "barbarism of reflection," or "it takes a second to wreck it"

"The barbarism of reflection" -Giambattista Vico, The New Science

If the past made one mistake, throw out the baby. What could they know of architecture if they thought the earth was flat AND the center of the universe. Idiots.

Why should we listen to them? What could they possibly teach?

Upon closer inspection, upon further reflection, it all falls down, London Bridge. The center never holds. What a bunch of dolts, we scoff, reading a morning paper we couldn't print, or a computer we couldn't build, drinking coffee we wouldn't know how to make without instruction from someone before us.

Imagine what flaws, what faults, they will find of us. Upon further reflection, we stop creating, and begin to tear down.

If you've got no time for the past, and Vico has nothing to say to you, dig the Beastie Boys, "It takes a second to wreck it, it takes time to build."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beware the Buddy Pass

The Buddy Pass: wherein one lacrosse teammate lobs the ball easily to another, seemingly giving him an easy pass to catch. Seemingly. Because simultaneously, a defender on the opposing team is drooling, smiling, teeing up, as the latter "buddy" eyes the lob pass into his stick, he gets de-cleated, concussed into 2.5 weeks from the present. To borrow from the bumper sticker, friends don't throw friends buddy passes.

Driving home yesterday, I got to thinking about the fact that buddy passes are not relegated to the lacrosse field. We get lobbed shit all the time. "Spoon-fed" is the kissing cousin of the buddy pass, if not its equivalent.

Think fast food. Think pop music. Think produce section of a grocery store. Think Walmart. Anytime we are given something--food, art, gas, music, information--too easily for our own good or appreciation, maybe what is happening seems awesome, "Sweet, how convenient," when in reality, it's the lob of the buddy pass, coming down into our stick, and when we look up in front of us, we are getting ready to be de-cleated, slammed to the ground into the reality of complacency of being spoon-fed everything, all the time.

Maybe we'd be better served catching the quick, line-drive pass, in full stride, heart-pounding, with field awareness, that we've got to work for, but that gives us an open shot at the goal.

There's your sports metaphor meets current culture for this Tuesday. Beware the buddy pass.