Chimera Song Mosaic
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Strangely, I have more time right now than I have in the past seven years or so. To recap, I am living in Houston now at my Mom’s house and not working full-time anymore. This past semester (still thinking in those terms, probably perpetually), I had one online literature class to slog through. That’s it. I have a miniature life in a small apartment with only the basest essentials and things that I thought I couldn’t live without (or that needed to be catalogued, processed, combed over, read, re-read, scrap booked, etc.). It seems to be the case that I don’t need even much of this since I don’t touch it!
Still, I look around, and all is clutter and cardboard box. I seemed to have reached a tolerable balance of packed/unpacked since I don’t bother with much these days. And what do I do all day! I shouldn’t wonder since I often find myself to be the most productive when I have the most to do (and consequently the least productive when I am whiling away the days like a preteen on summer vacation). I don’t call much. I don’t talk. I do read, and perhaps that is the only impulse I have had lately in regards to this blog—I want to update the reading list there. But I don’t remember all that I’ve read since then.
I have even withdrawn from my computer, so shiny and new and formerly beloved. I don’t crave news of other bloggers. It’s strange. I guess I’m writing in attempt to explain my position. I messy an area of the room and simply move to another, never dealing with the problem I have created.
There are things I could enumerate that pull me away from this blog. Mainly the most practicable aspect, the online class. Since I’ve had the class this past couple of years (and another one coming up this summer—drat! Though I really need the money), I haven’t had much taste for the computer or the internet or anything electronic. I certainly get enough of that with the online class. So there are things I could blame my reluctance for, and if I think of them all, I’ll add them in later (although I don’t think excuses make for interesting reading).
The main reason I have not wanted to blog as much lately is because I no longer feel that urge to connect with other poets. When I first started blogging a few years ago, I was at a crisis state, feeling that none of my new peers knew who I was or took witting seriously in the way that I did (strange since I was in a English department), and I wanted more than anything some kind of nod or knowing from serious poets, particularly in the poetic hotspots of NYC and San Francisco. That happened, and I treasured the somewhat reluctant, oblique intercourse of the blogs.
However, now for some reason or another, now that I know a few bloggers and they know me, I feel like bowing out. Not to reverse what has already been accomplished (although some of the experiences of AWP this year made me want to reverse a little bit, namely the online and easily accessible photo accounts), but to halt whatever progress might be made. I simply don’t feel the same desire to be known. I’m comfortable, I guess, with no one knowing me where I live (I don’t have any poet friends in Houston). Maybe I like the feel of being the only poet in Houston, as far as I know. (Actually, this is a transparent fantasy because I do know of a few poets in Houston, and there are a great many in the U of H PhD program. I know; I saw them at a recent faculty reading.) So either I am comfortable with the degree that I am not known right now, or I am getting some kind of approval somewhere else (very likely from my family, who I am living with now, though none of them are writers and this has never been satisfying before). It could also have to do with the very many bloggers of my era (such language!) who have already thrown in the towel—this faced with the amazing new masses of poetry bloggers, who would take a great effort to know, and for some reason I am not willing to make this effort.
Instead, if I look at blogs at all, I might look at one I read about in a magazine (this is counter-intuitive and maybe even subversive for a blogger), or I am fascinated with American bloggers who are living and writing aboard for various reasons. The ones that most intrigue me are written by people who are working for NGOs and such. Reading a few, I noticed a very similar cry for attention—they wanted to be known by someone from back home. It seems that they would have new communities where they were currently living, but for some reason it seemed very important for them to be able to say to family and friends back home, “Look where I am and what I am doing.” They were looking for some atavistic peer group that was not provided where they were, even surrounded by people of similar interests.
I wish I could point to a specific example of this, but it was weeks ago when I read these blogs. I just knew that I recognized that mindset that craved attention, just as I realized that I no longer was familiar with that feeling.
More, perhaps, I don’t feel the need to justify my life by listing every event that I have attended that I think would be interesting to reader (if I have any readers anymore, which is unlikely considering I haven’t provided any incentive to read). Since I moved to Houston (around Christmas), I have attended so many fabulous lectures, readings, and events. I have made wonderful discoveries in the department of I-used-to-love-this-but-had-almost-forgotten-about-it. Two examples: I found Mark Conway’s book, Any Holy City, had finally been published (I’d been waiting for it ever since I was introduced to a handful of his poems in 1999—the ones appearing that year in a Boston Review poetry sampler); and I learned that Deepa Mehta had finally finished her last film in the series that begins with Fire and Earth—Water is now playing in theatres around the world (I had a chance to hear Bapsi Sidhwa, author of the book Earth was based on, read the other night, but instead I attended a lecture by Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky, author of The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and Monkey Luv). So these gifts have certainly sustained me, but I’m resisting the urge to tell about it. When I see Water (I haven’t yet but probably this weekend), I likely won’t write a review of it here. I don’t think telling people about these things I necessary since you’ve likely already heard of them, and besides I don’t feel like I have anything new to add to the discussion. Which is so unlike me! And that’s what it boils down to: to have a blog, you must feel like you have something new to add to the discussion.
Furthermore, there have been some things which I have felt obligated to report—in fact have told people they would be getting a report of it—and I haven’t followed through. This I am sorry for. For example, I probably didn’t mention that I drove down to the Valley early this spring to hear a reading by Ana Castillo, who Marisa and others had brought to my former campus. We took Ms. Castillo all around town, of course, to dinners and breakfasts. One of the things we talked about is blogging—she has a website (see Ana Castillo's web journal) that she frequently posts to, reads posts by fans and interested people, and enjoys the dialogue. I talked about my blog, of course, and the funny thing is that it was easy to say positive things but difficult to build any real enthusiasm. This also happened a couple of weekends ago, when I was in Orange County for a good friend’s wedding, and I met one of her friends from Brooklyn, who had just started a blog. Again, I spoke from experience, and I thought that perhaps hearing his enthusiasm for his new project would boost mine for my old one, but again, nothing. But his is really good: check out Justin at Guardedly Optimistic. I will link to their websites and encourage them as much as I can, but I’m afraid I don’t have much fuel for my own endeavors. (That’s another thing; the more you post, the more likely you are to get feedback and requests to check out someone else’s site, and the problem with this is that you have to keep up with these requests, and since I’ve lost a couple over the years, I can’t help but think that I’ve inadvertently offended someone out there, and I just can’t handle that kind of responsibility. No, if I am going to offend someone, I want it to be on purpose and for a good cause.)
So here it is: I won’t make any promises. I might keep blogging (holding out for when I live overseas and perhaps have something to blog about), or I might let it go. It’s tough to say. Hopefully I won’t write any more about excusing myself for not writing, but I do hope that what I’ve had to say about the reason why I personally want(ed) to write and why some people still feel that crisis is understandable and interesting. I guess I am freeing myself up for other pursuits, like these five library books that I checked out in a greedy panic and are seriously overdue (ah! But I’m down to the last one!).
Did you know that Octavia Butler died this year? That was another discovery, and a sad one at that. This is a serious loss for literature—but then again, she did so much for readers already.
According to blogger, this is my 200th post. Maybe that's enough?