Motion, less

The Beast looks outside through the window with a bouquet and vase next to him.

What is still?

The Beast poked his head out the open window. There was no glass. There was no screen. There was only a frame for him to rest his head and stick his snout out into the world. There was no barrier between him and the outside.

He sniffed left and right without moving his big, block head. He raised his nostrils one and then the other from the tip of his scent-hound muzzle. He investigated that which was happening downwind, but, the concentration of smells rode the jetstream of air from the north. There was some mowed grass and a hint of the shampoo from the damp hair of the mom jogging by and pushing a massive three wheeled stroller. He was able to also pick out her warmed deodorant.

There was the delicious aroma of whatever was happening in the compost bin. There was some funk and some sweet and some sharp and some fire. It had rained most of the weekend and there was some leftover dampness–wet dirt, wet grass and those mushrooms that just appeared out of nowhere.

The rose bush was blooming one more time, but the sweet fresh fragrance was overshadowed by the base muskiness of the mums that were brought home to brighten the front yard. He smelled both, though.

The flies buzzed around his head and out the open window into the cool air. One or two tried to fly back into the warm house, but were caught in the heat-cold exchange and pushed back out.

The Beast’s head rested on the windowsill next to a vase of fading flowers. It was a beautiful still life, colored by the late morning sun streaming into the dining room. But this was no inanimate subject matter. There was hundreds of small movements happening, all at once.

Muse

Feet and Beast at beach.

Sitting on the couch, next to The Spouse. Tragically, he either refuses or is incapable of giving me a decent idea for a post. I only say refuses because the concepts he has provided displayed a lack of operability.

Seriously, his offers were more like an SAT essay prompt. Or a sickly question for Miss America. (Do they still do Miss America? Do they still ask her about world peace?)

I wondered if The Spouse has ever read the Doctor Of Thinkology. A regular reader would know that it is rare that the Doc is difficultly thoughtful. I mean, I POST EVERY STINKING DAY. Most posts are going to be short or glib. Sometimes I hit a home run. But if I’m asking for inspiration, rest assured this will not be a high scoring game.

I do appreciate the support. I really do. Throwing out ideas shows that we both take this seriously. And there is no reason on God’s green earth that The Spouse should. Yet he does.

While I am grateful that my quixotic quest to write and publish every stinking day is encouraged and endorsed, sans idea there is no post.

The Spouse asks me to stretch out so he can rub my feet.

Seriously, why is it when someone puts their hand on your foot and squeezes, or presses their fingers along the spine of your foot, or works through each of your toes, you’re just done? Done in a way that is perfect. Done in a way that the sensors in the balls of your feet which are directly and immediately wired to a spot in your brain, at the back of your head and above your right ear, deliver a breathless, “ahhhhh.” And a melting of the foot into the magic hand, begging for more. Because that is what happens. Foot massages are crack.

The Beast crawls up on the couch and drapes himself over the right side of my body. As he works to find his most comfortable–and comforting–spot, I take the laptop and move it around his huge shoulders, his huge head and his hugest snout. He settles in with his heavy head on my shoulder and his skinny legs folded underneath him. His sigh disperses a forceful wind of hot air, delivered with just a huff. At the end.

The hand on my foot absent-mindedly continues to sometimes apply pressure to bones and sometimes to just run along the distance between heel and toe. Whatever the technique, it lights up the dopamine receptors and all is right in the world.

So, what will I write about? What is my inspiration? Thank you, Spouse. You done did good.

Falling Behind

This was a stunning September morning. The Beast led the way.

At the beginning of a conference call, one of the participants gave us the MidWest weather report. According to her, the weather was nice, and that was weird, but that will soon change. That is that both the nice and the weird will change, and the weather will be back to the regularly scheduled bad. It was apropos of nothing. An odd non sequitur. And not very interesting, bless her heart.

How many times have I written about the weather this year. Six times? Maybe ten? How many ways can I describe the change in weather? The heat? The cool? The sun filtering through the trees, making shadows on the sidewalk, sending up an artist’s palette of colors?

How many times have I posted my morning stroll? It is always about the air–crisp, heavy, frigid, humid. It’s about the light–dark, bright, layered, orange or purple. Storms–rain, snow or just wind–have provided fodder for my daily writing struggle.

Is it enough that I’m using the weather as a tool to write descriptively? Is it better that I sometimes use the weather as a metaphor? Is it of value that I use the weather to transmit a small tale?

Have I committed the worst sin of writing, by boring you, My Loyal Reader?

I took on the challenge to write every day. I know that the quality is uneven. I know that there has been more than a score, maybe even four score, of less than stellar results. But dull?

Maybe I’ll reconsider my framing. I’m not delivering a weather report. I am describing the environment–how it looks and how it smells and how it feels and how it sounds. I am practicing using words to share details so you can imagine what I am thinking, so you have some context, and to bring us closer together.

This morning the shadows were longer and the air was cooler. I stepped onto the porch but kept my hand on the door handle to push it back open. I needed a little something.

I went to the hall closet and found my black Hope and Change hoodie. It’s eight years old now. It’s stretched out at the cuffs, the zipper catches on loose threads at the bottom and there are little holes in the left pocket, the one that holds the treats. I blame the Beast.

I pulled on the worn fleece, but didn’t zip it.

The leaves on the trees were still green, but some had given up. The sidewalk was spotted with dry leaves. They skittered along the concrete until they crunched under paw or sneaker. Definitely a sign.

We’re on the cusp of the next season. But we’re not there, yet. Summer still has some breath left. She will be elbowing back and forth with Fall for the next few weeks. Until Fall wins the match. I never did pack my sweaters away. Now it’s definitely too late.

As always, Loyal Reader, thank you for your time and for imbibing with me and my thinkings through another season. Almost time to pack away the summer.

Giving Exactly Zero

long and luxurious lashes. obviously fake.

She was pretty. Her hair framed her face and the horizon beyond in cascades of copper ringlets. They were very fine. Like a chain that would knot if you rubbed it between your fingers.

She wore a crown, of sorts, to keep her avalanche of hair from overtaking her face.It was likely a stretchy beaded band.  The ornament was a tanned leather, medium brown color. The beads were fashioned together in a star-linked pattern that daisy chained around her head.

She was sitting on a bench on the train platform, sheltered by a billboard. You only saw her when you were in almost directly in front of her, give or take thirty degrees.

She was looking down at the phone she held in her right hand. You could see the light reflected from the glue that attached her long thick very black lashes to whatever lash she was naturally given. There was some black eyeliner to try to cover the glue. It did only an okay job. She had a headphone in one ear, the other bud dangled from its wire, into her lap.

Two fingers of her left hand dangled a lit cigarette. The other three fingers gripped a small paper bag. She brought the bag to her face and you could make out her palm and fingers embracing a cylinder in the sack. It might have been a bottle, but more likely a can. She drew a jolt from the bag, and, while her hand was there, she twisted the burning tobacco to her lips. She drew again.

You couldn’t help but be impressed by her flagrant swilling and smoldering on the platform. This isn’t New York. Consumption is not allowed here.  But she clearly didn’t give rules a thought as she chattered cheerily on her phone call. You hoped she finished her smoke. And you tried to give as little care as she did.

Froth and Effervescence

Little boy in a hoodie going all in on blowing

Tell me you never blew bubbles into your milk. I know you did. You didn’t do it to be subversive. Although it was a signal for your mother to shoot you the look. The one that turns you to stone. But her attention was just an added bonus.

No. The reason why you placed that straw in your mouth and blew the contents from your lungs into the milk, rather than draw the milk from the cup to become the contents in your belly, was because it was funny. And fun.

Bubbles are fun.

If you really blew hard and got the bubbles going, there was a chance that you could overflow your cup with piles and piles of milk bubbles. Exciting and fun.

When the tide meets the sand, there are bubbles. Kids kick the spray back into the ocean, and sometimes capture the froth in bright pink or electric green plastic buckets. Wild and fun.

Picking the jar of bubbles out of the basket from next to the chocolate duckies and bunnies on a sunny Easter Sunday meant that you would chase wild and free bubbles in the yard after church. It was good to run off that morning jelly-beans-for-breakfast sugar rush anyway. Distracting and fun.

There were foam bubbles and kiddie bubble bath and piling bubbles on tops of little heads and pictures to see the sweet babe modestly covered in bubbles. I still get a little sad thinking about the small bubble ice bergs floating around in the dirty bath water. It was time to get out. The bubbles were gone. Clean and fun.

While The Doc is not a fan of adult bubble baths (I really can’t stand a bath), I do admit that they look very fun. Watching Margot Robbie explain subprime mortgages in a bubble bath is elucidating and fun.

And she was drinking champagne. Now that’s my kind of bubbles. The better the champagne the tinier the bubbles. But even when they are teeny, tiny–this is good champagne I’m talking about–the little bubbles still have substance that you physically break with your tongue. Chill a bottle of Cristal if you want the best bubbles and the toasty flavor of a great toast. Buzzed and fun.

Even today, I’m happy juicing up the water with my Soda Stream. I pulse the button to see and hear the rush of air making intimate contact with the dihydrogen monoxide. And when it’s done, it makes a flatulent noise. I can barely repress my giggles. Science and fun.

Leaving the train station, at the end of the work week, all I could think about was bubbles. I think I must have seen something floating in the air. I felt like walking through walls of bubbles. I wish that bubbles were everywhere. Light, airy bubbles. Bubbles. Bubbles. Bubbles. Funny and fun.

B is for Book

Reading a real book. This one is good so far. It's called H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I'm on page 182.

All good writers are readers. And I have not been doing enough reading.

Oh sure, I read a lot, but find my eyes drawn to too much cotton candy–fluffy and sweet without much substance.

I brought a pile of books to read at the beach. My beach reading is usually geared toward memoir–the beautiful and yet unsatisfying West With the Night; biography–I read Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton on Nantucket a decade before it was a play; and the odd–yes, one summer I read the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks’ 9/11 Commission Report. My preferred fiction runs from Harry Potter, to Roddy Doyle to the aching Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague which had one of the saddest passages I have ever read. I am not a big reader of procedurals,  or romance–just not my style. But I do like me some magical realism.

Yet my reading has been on screen. The day-by-day play-by-play of this whack news year. From “did he really just say that?” to “what will they do next?” to an almost numbing accounting of police killing and killings to attacks on innocents all over the world, I just click and read and click and read. I get distracted occasionally by fights between pop stars and the you-won’t-believe whatevers. And no, I did not get all wound up about nude paddle boarders, but I am sorry to have the “knowledge” that some people did.

So, I am going on a news diet for the rest of my holiday. No more up to the minute feeds. I won’t click on the stories while I am looking at your vacation pics and family time. Seriously, I’m going on a diet, not a hunger strike.

I will now close the browser, lower the laptop lid and open my paper book. And turn the pages until I finish it. And then repeat with another book. And, I hope, another. I want to be a better writer, so I better be a better reader.

Composition

Did you know that this was a picture of trees with the sun breaking through before it was stylized into a b+w picture of trees with a source of light?

I’m taking a little break tonite. Not from thinking, but from composing the thinking.

My day was full of thoughts. Some were validating, but, and more interesting, some were apple cart tossing.

The challenging thoughts were mostly in my favor. That is, when I proved myself wrong, I was questioning myself when I was on my own side of the argument. Not that this did me well. Thinking, again, I guess it did. The tough thinking was aligned more with my values versus the logically correct bare logic. In my mind, pure logic needs to be evaluated against results. No matter what they are.

Like, earlier today The Spouse and I went back and forth about a judicial nominee. The nominee was exactly right in his logical application of the law that the tabloid was calling Mr. Potential Judge out on. And the Mr. Potential Judge was exactly wrong on the human impact. Logically, and intellectually, sound–but wrong.

Sometimes equal is not fair. And that was the issue with the judicial analysis.

I want to write about the dozen, or maybe only half-dozen, dilemmas I had today. But instead I will write about the unabashed joy of deliberation, of contemplation and of equivocation. Because sometimes we need to think more.

After all, I’m the Doctor of Thinkology.

Post #198

A break in the trees at the National Arboretum. Stylized.

Oh, jeez. I suffered by writing most of today. And I am going to take a pause as well as some credit for a post today.

I wrote today using incomplete sentences. I wrote using stupidly long words. I wrote in a stiff and stifled fashion. I wrote because I had to, but not like it was me writing. Like some person who seemed like me was writing. So. I am writing a few words so late today, just a few words, that are authentically my own.

I am including a nice picture in lieu of a decent post. This picture was snapped on a day we took a walk in the National Arboretum. If you haven’t been there, I recommend it. On another day, I will write about an occurrence there with the Big Guy.

So this might not be an interesting post, but I bet I got you interested in a future post.

Post #153

Path back up the mountain at Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland.

I haven’t written a process post for a long time. Not since I had that spat of poor posts a few months back.

Today I’m writing about writing because I’m simply not feeling it. The writing, that is. I flipped through my notepad to see what I could work up today. There are twenty-four starts in that file. No finishes.

There are a few openings that are just a sentence or two. Just the beginning of an idea. In other cases, there’s a solid idea with no heft. Discounting those, there are still fifteen or sixteen with minimally a paragraph. Most of those are a paragraph with some change or a pair of paragraphs with some change. Then there’s four or five that have been worked to a couple hundred words.

Those are the sad ones. The entries that began to take shape, started to flow and then were writus interruptus.

Some starts were overtaken by a better, or a more timely, or a more immediately engaging (for me) finish. Others just lost juice. Some were jotted down in a fit of inspiration. They seemed to be a substantial concept, but dissolved like wisps of neurotransmitted-cotton candy on your tongue. With less of the stickiness of the sugary form. And less sweetness.

I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to these semi-baked items.

Or any of them for that matter.

These snippets of thoughts are captured but won’t be stretched and pulled along the path to semi-coherence. I won’t work on moving their sentences around like puzzle pieces, searching and finding the correct nub on a part of the piece that fits to the left, and then matches a piece on the right and finally snaps into pithy congruence from both above and below.

I won’t flip clauses from the end of a sentence to the beginning or from the beginning of the sentence to the end in an attempt to get it closer to clarity. There will be no speed backspacing to obliterate fraught word combos that briefly seemed poetic. There will be no annulment  of ridiculous over-adverbification.

These fragments won’t ever be pushed to the end of the literary line. Where I realize that it’s actually done as it sits. Another paragraph unnecessary. The writing at it’s natural end. This always surprises me. And it pleases me.

They’ll be no selection of an image to accompany these incomplete thoughts. Where sometimes an image comes early, but usually it is selected after the thoughts are decently formed. The thoughts won’t get far enough for a picture. The words only exist on the notepad, without form.

The sprouts of copy will never be copied and pasted into this forum. This forum that you, Loyal Reader, are consuming now.

Actually, that’s not accurate.  On a rare occasion, an embryonic post is moved here and festers. Not decomposing because it has no carbon, but not fully composed because it has no life. It doesn’t get the electrical jolt of the blue publish button. It’s not alive.

The prenatal posts in my notepad are accumulating. There weren’t always a generation of them. The group started with a few false starts. But as I read through them today, for inspiration, I only culled two. I was inspired by none.

None were used today. They were neither easy enough to finish nor inspiring enough to develop. I wrote this instead. I’m at peace with this. Not everything is good enough. At the same time, everything is good enough for practice.

So, the sad attempts remain sad. And I am moving on.

For Naught

A zero that has a WTF air.

I was trying too hard. I was getting nowhere. I was working on a grand metaphor and delivered a grand goose egg.

It was easier a few weeks ago, this writing thing. I’m still struggling. I’m think I’m having issues. When I write something that I think is good or worthy, I post with aplomb. But I feel like I just created a standard, and that I can’t publish something less worthy the following day. Sometimes I can pull it off–something good, that is–other times I take an idea and knead it and toss it and stomp on it and I write it and it’s more pedestrian and I have a hard time hitting the publish button.

So when I was trying to write the big thing, I got nothing. I didn’t even get to the actual writing part. I know that there is something there, but it has to sit a while.

And instead, I’ll write this. More of a confession than a post. But I’m going to publish it.