Archive for April 3rd, 2007

Eddy Munster Sings the Blues

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I’m overwhelmed by the new house. It has a lot of land, which makes me feel like I’ve added a new vocation to my repertiore. Farmer. Or at least Caretaker. I see all the little elms that need to be cut or pulled up by the roots. And dead sunflower stalks from last season. Lillies that sat all winter in 100-gallon trash bins, the water rank. I’m supposed to put them out in the pond this month. We agreed to keep the seller’s 30-year-old bull snake, which is waking up from a hibernation of sorts. Soon there must be a baby rat for feeding.

And that’s just the tip of the outdoor-chore iceberg.

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to create a life that looks a lot prettier on the outside than it is on the inside? I’ve gone so many years watching other people, coveting what I presumed they had. And not just the material stuff. Not to say I didn’t envy the tangibles. I did. But mostly it was all the emotional benefits I imagined came with the stuff.

Will a bigger house and more land make me happier? Busier, perhaps. Maybe the demands of the new house will relegate writing and drawing to the realm of “hobby.” (Remember hobbies? Mom played poker while raising kids. Dad did oil painting after he retired. And he wrote a story of his early life, birth to age 14.) Either way it’s too late. If writing and drawing are passions, I’ve just given myself an even bigger test of how to fulfill them in my life.

Last night I finished a drawing I started Saturday morning. It’s a vato standing in front of a microphone singing. I don’t know who he is or why I drew him. He ended up with thick black hair slicked back, a la Eddy Munster

At this moment, sitting in my cubicle at work, writing about the new place, I think I’m pretending to be an artist and writer. It’s all part of this desire for the intangibles. I don’t want writing and art to be my spare-time hobbies. I don’t even like the word. Hobby.

Mom and Dad were happy with their lives. Why do I want so much more?

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I wolfed down the creamy center of the pecan caramel roll I bought at Tobies on Sunday. We stopped there on the way home from Duluth to gas up. And, well, to buy their famous caramel rolls. I forgot to eat mine yesterday, even though it was sitting in big cardboard box with Tobies in forest green letters on the counter next to the Braun coffee brewer.

I was engulfed in the writing. And recovering from being sick all weekend. I thought it was allergies. But now I am wondering if it was a cold.

Duluth was fun anyway. We went to the center of town and walked around for a bit before heading out to Park Point. It was rainy and the windows were foggy. We were going after a virtual cache, a piece of Duluth history that has not been forgotten. There is a huge monument to 3 men that were lynched on a city street in a vigilante panic. Something the town is not proud of. There was a monument of granite and the chiseled words of writers urging us not to forget. James Baldwin was one of them. It reminded me of the power of words. Granite. And words.

The site seemed more somber in the gray day. I had just read about it on the Minnesota Historical Society’s site. And then Liz ran into a geocache along the same theme when we were packing Friday night, doing laundry, preparing the cat dishes and litter boxes. When you go away for only two days, there is a lot of prep work for the little time you get to enjoy doing nothing. But it was worth it.

I am back at home now. And the sobering reality of making a living hits me again. I started to worry yesterday. But worry is in the future. I want to stay present. So I rested and wrote. Recovering from my cold. And sending energy into the center of me.

I did have the thought before I went to bed, “What are you doing, trying to be a writer? You should have stuck with photography. It’s so much easier.”

It’s true. Photography comes more naturally to me. I find the visual arts to be easier than writing. Creative writing is a tremendous amount of work. And I’m manufacturing the details all in my head. The visual arts like photography, drawing, painting, are freeing in a different way. They are also more expensive.

To write, all I need is a pen and a piece of paper. And time.

I need to give myself the time to sit down and write. With photography, I can do it on the fly. But I have to be awake enough to see the image. And I do have to stop and be still long enough to compose the shot, and pull the shutter. I’m also a big one for full frame shots. So I don’t edit any of my images by cropping. I am a purist that way. Something I learned in Media Arts. Maybe it’s old school. But it’s the way I am.

I need to get on with the day. There is so much to do. I wish there were more time, more hours in a day to complete everything I need to get done. As it is, I can only prioritize my obligations – to other people, to work, to places I am supposed to be, tasks I am supposed to do, all the little pieces of my soul being tugged at and stretched to the limit – then take the next small step.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

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