7 Apr 2014, 12:27pm
General Ponderings
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Words Added to the World

please don't sit
All along the perfect bum height wall it was stencilled over and over. I wonder what the problem was with people sitting there.

It would make life easier.

Or, on second thought, maybe harder.

What is stupid? Reactivity? Aggressive pugilist or passive blithe wallflower. I suppose both are ways of being shut-down, a one-solution dumb-down strategy because of threat of the past carried into the present. It’s not about intelligence so much as unadaptive reactions.

Intelligence is a hard thing to measure. My cousin who was institutionalized as being “developmentally delayed” when the institution shut down, she got herself a house, went on to date a guy who turned out to be a binge-violence person. Unlike some “normal intelligence” women in the same situation, whether she justified or strained over what to weigh against what, she drew the line fast and hard, changed the locks on her doors and he was not going to let him live with her anymore. There’s more that goes into understanding fairness and boundary issues than “intelligence” with letters or numbers.

Walking through streets of signs in Chinese, even the notice over the water fountain in Chinese, I felt partly stranded and partly freed. In the bookstore I could do the gestures of browsing, see the sections, see biography, cooking, art books, novels, magazines. Could look through particular books and know the arrows and pull out boxes were giving details on how to sketch a portrait of the face but words themselves were out of reach.

I get insular in my normal. Being among a Cantonese senior crowd I was tall and blazingly white. It does something to my brain to set me at ease. I grew up being told I was an other, joked about being so strange perhaps switched at the hospital, surely not from those people. Strange ideas and habits. Home, perhaps, I speculate, means being unlike those around me.

I grew up not being able to see, which was noticed in grade 4 when I was assigned to alphabetical seating to the back of the room. The fuzzy letters were instead vague direction of blackboard. My grades dropped.

Someone noticed and I got glasses. Also because the school intervened and ordered a dental visit, before kindergarden registration and at some points later, I went to the dentist 3 times before high school getting many teeth filled. If I were not funnelled through that hostile atheist school environment, being bullied from grades 3-13, what all would have shifted?

I pooh-pooh essential self. Events set up chains of events. If the path forked differently, or in one instant, decided intolerable instead of tolerable, where would I be now? If I were clear-headed and pulled up from the waves more than I did, instead of befuddled, would I have gone to Queens?

I got accepted to Ryerson journalism but in the final admittance essay argued myself out of it and never sent it. I got accepted to Canadore college journalism but couldn’t find housing as term came closer so backed out there. I accepted going to Baptist Bible College but as I mentioned before it didn’t seem religious enough.

So I ended up at Carleton doing an arts degree that I switched to linguistics, setting aside switching streams to journalism later. There I met future hubby who treated me more levelly and more kindly than almost any human I’d met.

Would any path have led to analogous people and poetry eventually? Some people get waylaid.

Ah, case in point. To think this was to be a photo post.

a real sign of love
A real sign of love added to the back of a construction sign.

These were all graffiti and around Toronto.

In other subjects, Professor Richard Chess and UNC Asheville student Brian Hart interview award-winning poet and Oulipo expert Lee Ann Brown in November 2010. 40 interesting minutes.

13 Ponderings

13 randomalia for Thursday 13 from the recesses of my mind,

  1. At some point, anything you are is your own work. I mean, zeitgeist and compromises to meet people halfway civilly, aside.
  2. Still, I wonder how much I impede my mandates. For poverty Baptists “momentum” is that urge to cut yourself off at the knees to keep you in the station god first put you in.
  3. Fatalism was consumed at a dangerous age. But perhaps the mind unless cultivated otherwise starts fatalistic, overextending the rules in the act of perceiving patterns.
  4. I suppose we’re all in our circles Venn diagrams with our own pasts, presents, others.
  5. Someone with a reliably poor sense of judgement, don’t you find, is as useful as someone with reliably excellent taste? So long as there’s constant bars, you don’t have to go thru all the thick data all the time. An energy-saver right there, provided you know when the pattern changes, and get the pattern right.
  6. Wavelength is an odd things. I think it can be learned. It can be widened by respectful curiosity and cultivating a lack of threat. Still, the spine-zing yes, does it widen or is it just the clench of no that slacks off?
  7. Stronger than protestant work ethic is protestant guilt ethic. It’s in there just trying to hijack the intellect to find an excuse to articulate what the vague omnidirectional sense of guilt is about and then contain it one room so it’s not such a pest.
  8. Basically it plays the same game as depression, grief, desire, mischief, happiness or any other energy.  It vies to be The Argument of the Mandala of the Universe. Each is redirectible, deflectable, modifiable but largely irrepressible as a force of wind or rain.
  9. The Buddhist tip of acknowledge and dismiss instead of stoically ignore works better, at least at this stage. It’s probably like spam and ups its counter-game eventually.
  10. A ponder loop: is that them, or is that really about me? Or, could that be right? For example, You sure are skilled at shutting people out. [Ahhh, family time.]
  11. Thanks for the affirmations. [Seems I get that a lot. Does active listening or echo and extend shut out dialogue or only for those who have a model of conflict and thrash or commiseration and anything but is paternalistic?]
  12. You see things from a totally different perspective… wonder is that a language barrier or if you’re playing devil’s advocate. [Is my angle that unique? As Richard Greene put it "Originality is your own little part of the weird".]
  13. Life is giving you the time to do it. Are you?

Noteable Quotable: “I don’t have much admiration for people who say they have no regrets. They must be afraid, or incapable, of considering the things left undone. You can’t walk every path; you can’t even walk two paths. You can only walk one. And that leaves ten thousand wells undrawn, ten thousand shafts unmined, an infinity of wealth and wisdom unattained, no matter how much you manage to know in this narrow life. Deploring your human limits is a form of gratitude.” Robin at Rusty Ring

11 Dec 2013, 1:16pm
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There’s no Dull in Doldrums

I guess we all have to do time being the people we don’t want to be. Wait out the irritation.

Good things come.

And what would also happen invariably adds splinters.

For example, my knuckle is now purpling around where I pinched it in the slide bolt lock. It doesn’t hurt but looks miserable.

I would be a pacifist down to the relevant level of heart — but then aren’t we all good at heart and patient so long as untested — were it not for the Christmas tune mandate punching into every public space. Pop music is bad enough but the rotation rate of carols is worse.

Oy. Reading Henry James is ruining my sentence structure.

What to do. Colleen pointed out lessons from Conscious Loving: From Co-dependency to Co-commitment

- By holding the peripheral muscles of the body in a state of chronic tightness, we block the flow of information that we could be getting from deeper inside us.

- You will be surprised that when you allow yourself to feel a given feeling, it usually does not last that long. Repress it or interrupt yourself in the middle of it, and it will usually last much longer.

Admitting things can become a risk of story-making, self-making, distorting identity and future acts, a form of cling presuming past thoughts have constancy or relevancy instead of a thing to just drop and keep moving. I know I’m in a distortion field. Cling-nature wants to keep it. Life-force wants to sigh and ignore the grump in the corner. Grump sez,

I have such dread at busses because of the rodeo drivers who make sudden braking and starting off as if startled each time as my hips, knees and back are yanked about as if under the enthusiastic but incompetent hands of I-read-wipipedia-about-this-masseuse.

1 driver was smooth out of 6 this week. I could walk. Have. I’d rather not walk where cars may veer into me, or at intersections watch only for other cars and bump forward not noticing me standing right in front of fender going at a walk signal. Seeing a human as road kill in his own blood pool. The twisted form did not help my sense of safety as pedestrian. I watched for him in the news. He never appeared that I saw. I appreciate rides but I’d rather not be in a car either.

I could go on. Like the whine as music of the spheres, the base note of the cosmos as melancholy.

But then, who would that list be good for? What is worse than someone writing about disinterest, disgust, boredom or trivial things, except possibly to read about it.

I thought of making a list of things that don’t matter and see how long I could write under the frame of dismissing my own perceptions as trivial under the grand scheme.

I could work up a sweat of enthusiasm if I persisted in a subject. Maybe add to the pile-on of paying attention to Mandela with that mayfly attention span of current events?

Behind the digital curtain I start posts, in my head or text, then decide they aren’t worth saying.

As Lesley Strutt said in last night work shop is we use the perspective of removing what is unnecessary — rather than the one of appreciating what works and why and assume it is for knowledgeable purpose — soon all would be deleted.

Is it the line that matters, or the procedure?

As Rosemary said,

I do my ‘small stone’ dutifully each day, mindfully looking outside myself. It works up to a point, to take me out of myself

Here is something that matters. I don’t know what to do with it, but *point*. An Irish setter does as much. (Which is aspiration to be as good as a dog, not a lowering of people.)


When full of sugar and chocolate I’m crisp and clear, life is easy and amusing. All things are manageable under the security blanket of sweet. Or when I’m with favourite people, fully exercised, well-nutiented, hydrated and doing something useful.

Until I go all nervous. From sugar or from over-stimulus. My body runs thru its resources too fast. I’m irritable then wingy and blurred.

Then I crash. Sleep. Except that eludes. Involuntary leg jerking though the night. C’mon body, work with me.

And who is that all good for?

Much I could do and say. How to get the log out of my own eye to do so? Moderation. Where’d I file that? Did the cat knock it off the desk with the books and headphones?

Wait for the good is to cramp chances. Watch for the neutral, the possible. To oblige oneself to be upbeat is an out of time racket. Let be. Stop shoving. To oblige oneself to align with the negative might propel neutral-ward. Or not. So be it.

Linky-Links: Got a sweater that has worn thin in the elbows? Make it into slipper boots.

From the same folks, for the new year, consider balance and compassion and where its not. Time to cut off toxic friendships or let it meh away?

While I was thinking about it someone was already invented bedding with a trough for the breasts.

The Santa Brand Guidelines

From elsewhere, art is not your tools, but your vision.

Quote: “The main thing is to write for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust that imagines its haven like your hands at night, dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast. You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous. Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest.” – Seamus Heaney

Non-Red-Letter Days

  1. Some times you’re in synch with the world, and sometimes you know you’re not.

    This would be a not day, or a knot-day. Brain’s a clattery train yard. Nerves on edge so any unexpected sound makes my skin leap. I’m officially tired of being me. I’m accepting CVs for people to play the role of me instead. I’m not sure who will handle the auditions. Ah, right, also taking CVs for a casting director.

  2. I’m taking stock.
  3. That does mean pilfering goods from the office right? (Of course, working at home, it means going from one pocket to the other. But get rebellion where you can.)
  4. I’ve concluded time is going quickly. That may be just confirmation bias since I concluded much the same at age 8.
  5. It’s the 10th year of my being at the Poetry-W listserv. How many dozens of people have been thru over the years? I was in a couple other face-to-face poetry workshops at the time which have fizzled since but that one keeps on. Now I’m more mentoring and sharing theory posts instead of being an omnidirectional fuzz looking for guidance.

    It’s funny that it works for me because it’s pretty consistent for me to write poem drafts constantly then binge edit in rapid cycles of substantive edits. With a workshop that allows only one per week, that means I have nothing or more than the group can accommodate. Still, I often can tell if I broke a poem. But close edits can be myopic and I tend to forget the reader needs to be oriented before I leap in mid-way. I like poems with gaps that don’t spell everything out.

  6. Charles Tumbrull said at Frogpond, in talking about juxtaposition,

    [...] when the gap between the two parts is set exactly right by the poet so that with a moderate amount of effort the reader is able to experience an “aha!” moment and suddenly be smothered in extra meaning that was not present in either part. The proper regulation of the gap in a spark plug is often used as an analogy to the mechanics of the haiku. A functioning gap will vary for various people, of course.

    Some people have to be led by the nose. That’s fine. I don’t need to be the one with the shank lead. Other people already know what I’m saying. They can go off and speak to others rather than us both wasting time affirming each other. It’s that slim overlap where the gap is a productive one that is the sweet spot.

  7. One does what one does. As Marvin Bell put it, “Everyone needs something to do in his or her life that they would do even if no one paid them to do it.”
  8. For poetics I’m characteristically spilled water – spreading out in all directions, and wetting socks. That’s a kind of niche too. It worries when people say to be developed you must be a specialist in one thing. It nearly convinces me that one increasingly narrow path is an ideal.

  9. I know I lose out by being a generalist with gaps. But so do people who don’t read or perceive broadly. Not that there is anyone who is not a specialist or anyone who is not a generalist. The depth, widths and overlaps just vary. Talk to me about species or poetry or architecture or let the steering go any random direction and I probably can go somewhere. (Don’t talk to me of sports or movies or music or anything invoking the word hegemony. I will have no idea. I will glaze over. And you’ll just frustrate yourself.)
  10. While I was busy gadding about, it seems I missed another anniversary.

    Feb 22nd, 2003 I started blogging at Humanyms. I missed my own 10 year anniversary. Oops.

  11. In 2008 I pointed out I had 1200 posts here, and 4000 comments.

    I can’t exactly count anymore. A couple years ago I thought I was making an archive of older posts, but was backing up and overwrote the backups, and didn’t realize for some time. (Lost, lost.)

    Of those posts I can still see, those since moving to WordPress (the third platform), I have 1900 posts (murky estimate: about one every second day on average). I used to do daily and have switched to 1-3 times a week.

    There have been 6,525 comments. I’d like to thank you all, even if some, in absentia.

  12. People who started to write withdrew into less-traceable offline. Or decided to photograph or have babies or write cookbooks or change careers. Or outlet their lives at FB instead. But mostly just ghosted away and deleting blogs as they left.

    Blogging is often such a interstitial state – the old haunts are ghost towns. I suppose that makes it a mandala of life.

    As with anywhere, you can’t stay only with your cohort because they drift off or die off. You need contact with every generation, a continual stretch of neurons to novel challenges. To begin again. And again. And. New births of relationships to offset the constant loss.

  13. go fish
    There’s more fish in the seeing.

  14. I suppose that I seem sad. I’m not good at rah-rah hop-up the excitement. I don’t trust excitement and whoop. That seems a sport for the young and excitable. I don’t know about excitable, but I’ve never been young. Or maybe that’s just my shoulder talking. (Shh, shoulder, watch your language – this is a Family-Friendly Space.)
  15. I don’t seem to post poems here much anymore so here’s a draft being wily about getting done.

    a couple going down the canals

    when my hearing clogged I stood, s_t, in dad’s
    head. birdsong shut out and conversation

    became more in_erence th_n usual,
    reliant on hands, say again?, helpers.

    fatigued anger. strained, withdrawn, pretending
    that I know what was said because I’m tired 

    of being accommodated, or not.
    how much of his irritation was ‘him’?

    or about ‘them’? how much, daft vs. deaf?
    how much m_re would golden-years marriages

    flourish with hearing aids? ads: “hear the vows
    you renew daily.” “get him back.” ”turn up 

    those sweet nothings.” photo ops: jammed
    restaurant, two deep in conversation,

    walking thru the door of a party, “that
    whistle didn’t come from your hearing aid,”

    “the fun back in functional”; a coup
    with a couple, their 5000 buck ears.

pea blossom
Quiet as a pea blossom? Yes. Sometimes.

Another episode of my sporadic participation in Thirteen Thursday.

Noteable Quoteable: “Word of mouth comes from intermittent delight. Things that work all the time are harder to talk about.” Seth Godin

16 Jul 2013, 4:09pm
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Been a while.

Each half day is full-full. When I go to play catch-up with a month and a half…daunting. If I choose what to say here and prioritize by what is timely, much is cut out. Of if judged by what I didn’t mention to you, zip, much of it is back.

If I measure by urgency, write and read about conserving electricity and oil and re-building a national myth of peace keepers not warmongers at the level of moment by choosing compassion and refusing rules of engagement that pit any us and them. But that’s a lifestyle not a blog post.

If I were to go by what is pretty, strap yourself into a chair and I’ll run a slideshow of feeding myself on beauty. But no, that’s already a Flickr. And it’s good to consume beauty but more important to make it. And if you know the people and places, you were there. If you don’t know them, then what good is patterns of light and shadow and colour of someone else’s life?

I could pull many quotes but I will eventually at pesbo in the next currently reading list. Many moments. I could whittle some anecdotes I suppose.

Like the aunt who wanted copies of photos emailed to her. I asked her email address and she said I didn’t need it. I just need to write out her first name and the computer will bring it up. Each understanding starts again with each individual.

I could field questions. Could point to amusing thing like this or whatever I’m already doing with twitter. (I almost wrote “with twister”. Begs the question, what does one say with a tangled mass of competitive bodies except eventually, ug. Not that I played twister. At least not for 30 years or so. Or did I just watch? I can’t quite remember but the carpet was brown and there was a macramé planter with a spider plant to the right.)

If I measure by what is essentially important, then silence of reflection is an act more relevant than speaking. Being and living is more relevant than words. Words are good for particulars but for general…

If I do a report on neutrino talk, I’m not sure I can add more than an acknowledgement. Some like neutrinos themselves passed right through me. It was remarkable how at Writer’s Fest a neutrino talk was met by resistance of anti-science grandstander speech makers but at the Cube Gallery talk people came and asked particular questions, like how the property of chromium, or if they were right that observatories were 2km underground to cut out inference from background cosmic radiation. It seems so remarkable that this is the same town and same topic. It’s not a sampling of who is how but a skew of who happens to speak.

But particulars are so very particular. Brian and I went into a haircutters at the same time. We were both attended to by females although there were males on staff. In my case the female haircutter was crowded by the guy and kept asking for her space to move and his response was to call her honey and move her over by squeezing her waist. Hubby’s haircutter was crowded and she crowded him back and purred that she loves him close. If we had not compared notes, how much of a different data would we have. What an incomplete picture from either.

And what was the influence of being there? Although neither of us said anything, we weren’t observers, exactly. By my bearing and clothes, did I unconsciously seem like an ally who would interfere or back her up and I didn’t? By Bri’s easy going nature, did he project that easy-goingness that was socially echoed? By being female was it more unconsciously acceptable for my haircutter to fall in female role of stiffening against male/female touch, while her coworker went into automatic-please-males when outnumbered, and chose, in that split second, amusement and play instead of irritation? Or is it not gender but personality. Or not harassment but bullying, little brother teasing, or something particular to having good or bad days and each of the 4 haircutters on a different day would have played out roles and listening differently?

What would be useful to me for someone to be a witness to? What would be useful for someone else, like you, to witness? How one random element flies at its particular time to the random place in the universe where it goes is uncontrollable. Once something leaks from body language or speech there is no directing it. It has its own life in its way, bounced like an atom. Can’t put a band on its ankle and track its course. It’s out there. constructing a narrative doesn’t mean there are no patterns or prevailing winds in the patterns. It doesn’t mean there’s no counter examples. But there’s this. And much of many thisses. And.

Quote: “If we cannot be both ‘indigenous’ and ‘modern’ then we are doomed to extinction” ~ Richard Bell quoted at the national art gallery on the false dichotomy of join the mainstream and forsake heritage or be exiled only into the past. Natives are also contemporary.

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