20 February 2007

Lost by Carl Sandburg

DESOLATE and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly, 5
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor’s breast
And the harbor’s eyes.

18 February 2007


I had a frightening, yet wholly exhilarating, experience yesterday in the Jeep. Everytime I go see Lukeman and co I look forward to doing a little off-roading. He lives out in farm country and right by his house is a race track. The parking lot of this race tracks abutts some trails, powerline access roads, and a huge field with giant mud puddles in it. I'm sure all of this is off limits to idiots like me who want to go splash through some puddles and drive around in the woods. So far I have been safe and discreet.

Well, yesterday the snow was melting a little and this meant that the ground was wet and sloppy out by Lukeman's. I tore it up in the field and then went to try to get a new radio installed (a whole disappointing debacle of a corporation trying to not take my money). After I left the Best Buy I headed to Luke's. On the way I spotted an access road for a new fleet of condos (there goes the neighborhood), and decided to investigate.

So, up I go, clicking the 4 wheel drive in, and eager to see if there were puddles or any muddy slop to get into. I like having the Jeep look like it's been doing Jeepy things. As I drove to the top of this access road I could see into the upcoming development: a road, a bulldozer of some kind and more piles of dirt. Nice. So over the top I go.

And drop the Jeep off a 3' cliff. Or at least the front half. The resulting bang alone should have had Emergency Service vehicles headed my way. It sounded like a car accident. I stopped with the Jeep on about a 45 degree angle, nose down. I tried to drive off the hill, but the back left tire was in the air. The back right tire was on dirt and sand, but the back bumper and bumperettes (you can see them beneath the spare tire in the top photo) were still sitting on what was left of the top of the cliff. So I jumped out and gave a hearty push. Nothing. The mouth was dry and my bones felt like they were made of Jello. I got up behind the Jeep, standing on the top of the ledge and pushed as hard as I could, and slowly the Jeep slid off the sandbar.

Deciding I had had enough for one day, and that I was lucky to be able to get the Jeep off at all, especially by myself and without a shovel, I headed down the road that the construction guys had built. At the only intersecton I could see houses and a real road off to the right. Off to the left I could see the road I had left to get to the new construction. So I went right and almost immediatelly realized I was in more trouble than I thought. They put up a gate and built sand hills all around the perimeter (probably to keep idiots like me from tearing up their site). So I turned around, hoping to avoid being spotted by the neighbors. Back to the intersection to find that straight ahead (what was a left turn originally) didn't access the road at all, and was in fact quite far away. I should have realized this since I didn't see it on my way past the site in the first place. And without jet power there was no way I was going to be able to get out the way I came in. I was trapped.

I quickly went through a gear list of what I had on board: dirty laundry (one bag); two recently-purchased books of poetry (the Norton Shelley's Poetry & Prose and Everyman's Library's Poems of the Sea; two hoses for Redwing's head; a bottle of water; and my work bag (pens, a pencil, and a few of my notebooks).

I thought of my options and this is what I came up with:
a) try to break the gate
This might/not: break the gate, constitute vandalism (to add to any potential trespassing charges), or break the Jeep

b) try to create a big enough gap in one of the sand hills near the gate to get through or over
I didn't have a shovel, or even a piece of board

c) call Lukeman (home with Rick and the kids)
I didn't know where the hell I was or even how to describe how I got here in a manner in which he could find me. I didn't know road names or any landmarks and I was mostly invisible from the main road I came in on.

d) call the cops
Not seriously considered because: 1) that's something someone from Wussbaggia would do; 2) I'd be in deep shit with the law dogs once they finally showed up; and 3) I didn't know where the hell I was or even how to describe how I got here in a manner in which they could find me (and still suggest I found myself here by accident or in an other legal manner). I didn't know road names or any landmarks and I was mostly invisible from the main road I came in on.

e) try to navigate the woods between the site and the road, if I could even get into them.
Offered the most hope, considering the cirumstances

So I drove around for a second trying to find a spot to enter the woods and I spotted a trail that pot-smoking kids (or as Selena noted, more likely crack addicts from the nearby trailer park) must have blazed (get it) before capitalists needed lebensraum. I didn't fail to note that at the cliff, if you looked at it fast enough and from the right angle it looked like the Jeep dropped in from space, the tire tracks appear to be just coming out of nowhere. Oh, wait, that is what happened.

I climbed the very high curb and tried to make my way out on the trail. Unfortunately it narrowed to the point to where I basically had to drive through the deep leaves and sand of the woods.

No problem! The Jeep is tough! We (the Jeep and I) popped out onto the road and tried to look normal, and headed right to Luke's without any more detours.

12 February 2007

5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I loved this book. I might have skipped over it though, since it's new, and the author has a kind of pretentious name, but it was recommended by someone I trust to pick good books, and who hadn't failed me in Book Recommending.

After losing his dad on September 11th (in the WTC), Oskar Schell is feeling bad, or in his words wearing heavy boots. As he wanders through his father's stuff he finds and breaks a vase. Inside the vase is a small envelope labelled "Black" with a key inside. Young Oskar treats it like a riddle, or like a message from his dad. Determined to find out what the lock is keeping safe Oskar travels NYC to find the owner of the lock, from Black to Black.

Across the street from Oskar and his mother's house lives Oskar's grandmother. The story is as much hers as it is Oskar's. When she was a little girl she survived the Dresden bombing. So we get parts of her and her husband's (Oskar's grandfather) story. And it is an interesting contrast and one I would have liked to discuss in greater detail the the Recommender, but alas. That city's worst moment and this city's worst moment. How a city survives and how the people who survive the worst moment recover. If they do. And the emotional echoes that ricochet despite the generations in between. There is all so much to talk about (with her).

All the while I was reading it, over the past week and a half or so, my relationship with my SO has been disintegrating before my eyes with all the rapidity of a low lying sand castle and I kept thinking, "I don't really need to be reading this book" or, "this is not catharsis."

I have to say that while it has not helped me cope with my own grief, I am happy to have read the book. I found the character of Oskar so compelling and real and funny and likeable, that I was hoping to see his pain healed. And I felt so sorry for the grandfather, that I wanted his story to end in a good way, too. Characters that believable don't come along that often, so I have to say that this was a well-written book about love, families, communication, and healing.

All that sounds corny as hell, but I stand by it.

06 February 2007

The Invitation by P.B. Shelley

BEST and brightest, come away,—
Fairer far than this fair day,
Which, like thee, to those in sorrow
Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow
To the rough year just awake         5
In its cradle on the brake.
The brightest hour of unborn Spring
Through the winter wandering,
Found, it seems, the halcyon morn
To hoar February born;  10
Bending from heaven, in azure mirth,
It kiss'd the forehead of the earth,
And smiled upon the silent sea,
And bade the frozen streams be free,
And waked to music all their fountains,  15
And breathed upon the frozen mountains,
And like a prophetess of May
Strew'd flowers upon the barren way,
Making the wintry world appear
Like one on whom thou smilest, dear.  20

Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild woods and the downs—
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music, lest it should not find  25
An echo in another's mind,
While the touch of Nature's art
Harmonizes heart to heart.

  Radiant Sister of the Day
Awake! arise! and come away!  30
To the wild woods and the plains,
To the pools where winter rains
Image all their roof of leaves,
Where the pine its garland weaves
Of sapless green, and ivy dun,  35
Round stems that never kiss the sun;
Where the lawns and pastures be
And the sandhills of the sea;
Where the melting hoar-frost wets
The daisy-star that never sets,  40
And wind-flowers and violets
Which yet join not scent to hue
Crown the pale year weak and new;
When the night is left behind
In the deep east, dim and blind,  45
And the blue noon is over us,
And the multitudinous
Billows murmur at our feet,
Where the earth and ocean meet,
And all things seem only one   50
In the universal Sun.