Archive for May, 2010

Mr. Sturdevant’s Lit 6/Electric Arc Art

Andy Sturdevant did some seriously beautiful work in response to Lit 6/Electric Arc shows.  I’m running across more and more of this stuff as I clean up the place.  Makes me happy.

Herbach's favorite store

Break time = getting down to business

So, the day spreads out in front of me.  All that’s on the schedule is my daughter’s spring concert, which will take no longer than half an hour sometime around 7pm this evening. Perfect.  I will get to work.

There are many things I could be doing that are not exactly what I should be doing but are reasonable things to be doing, given they need to get done.  For instance: gardening, going through the accumulation of papers and magazines that has clogged the artery near my couch, cooking, cleaning, clipping of nose hair-like tufts of grass in the backyard the mower man I pay has no interest in shearing.

But, really, as it is school break-time, what I really need to do is this: produce bunches of words.  Oh hell yes, I will do a first draft of a new book in the next month or so… starting… now.

I like smoothies of banana and berry.  Look, I’m not smoking these days, but I suck nicotine lozenges too much.  How many do I have left?  Do I need to make a lozenge run?   Look out the window!   Squirrel!  Where’d he go?  There’s a hole in my fence.  It hasn’t been completely constructed yet.  Is that my fault? I am empty.  My refrigerator contains something seriously sweet-ass (I bought grass fed beef from the co-op yesterday and I can’t wait to eat that business…  hungry!  Buns).  It’s 7:45 a.m.?  My neighbor has a birch tree.

That's a birch tree out there, Mister.

Profession

Right after The Miracle Letters came out a couple of years ago, I went on a book tour (Sam Osterhout went with me).  It was equal parts thrilling and depressing.  There were excellent stops with lots of people and good press. Sam and I drank beer and high-fived.  And, there were stops where the bookstore forgot to order the book and almost no one showed up.  Sam and I drank beer and stared out the window of our hotel.

Cleveland Malaise

At the end of the summer of traveling, I was broke, jobless, had a good publishing record and lots of performance under my belt, but otherwise was without prospects (except if I could think of another book, which, at the time, I couldn’t).   So, as I was wont to do, I panicked and began searching for other careers.

Here’s what I came up with: Therapist, web designer, truck driver, bike messenger.

Turns out I’d have to do another graduate degree to be a therapist (I suppose I knew this).  Also, I was prone to making rash decisions and would have likely guided clients into making rash decisions, which might have sent them all into the deep end.  Turns out, after getting some design training from my pal Karen Kopacz, I neither have an eye for design nor any desire to do it, although I generally like the way web designers look (I got some new glasses after that).  Turns out I don’t like driving — this I knew from driving 7,000 miles during the summer of ’08.  Half of the time I felt like driving off a cliff — the open road is no mistress to me.  Turns out bike messengers have to like bikes, which I don’t — they hurt my ass, and also have been largely replaced in the economy by electronic devices.

After crashing around, considering all the possibilities, even thought of buying a bowling alley or a convenience store, I realized I was doing something I’ve often done: search for perpendicular answers to relatively uncomplicated questions that simply require me to put my head down and go back to work.  I had an MFA (terminal degree in Creative Writing), a book, lots of experience writing and performing, and actually enjoyed the act of writing.  Other than a childhood passion for bowling, which I’d left behind, how would owning a bowling alley be better than what I already had?

Fried foods… yes.  But, instead:

I put my head down, wrote another book, helped write and produce more performance, looked around, and, after 18 months, landed a teaching job at Mankato State — one of the few possible tenure track jobs I could even consider as my kids are here in Minnesota and I won’t relocate.

I am extremely psyched about this job.  I adore the other faculty.  The grad students I’ve met in the program are bright and very funny.  I’m going to be close to my kids, but also in a smaller city a lot, the kind of place where lots of my stories take place…

A shock of terror jangled me early this morning: if I had knee-jerked the way I was prone to when I was not too much younger than I am now, I might be in a third semester of a grad program in psychology, running up more student loan debt, facing years of internships and coursework.  The horror.

Holy balls.

Bow-fishing by moonlight.

Madison, Wisconsin is not rural, but this that I saw from the balcony of my mother’s rather upscale condo was something from a moist, tiny-town, bayou film in the 70s.

The marsh is alive with critters.  Four men on a tiny, flat, motorized raft shine lights into the thick water.  One of them, using a bow and arrow, shoots fish?  I think? The men, all standing or crouching, laugh and whoop (when fish are harpooned and pulled on a string onto the deck).  Thin moon, dark, the air thick with insects and bats, hanging humidity.   I talk to Steph on the cellular, whisper for fear the fish-stickers will hear me and know I know what they’re doing. Their little boat buzzes and echoes.

Is attracting fish to a light to shoot them with a bow and arrow legal?  It was very pretty.

Busted

I believe the powerful Matt Munn is responsible for this beautiful bust.  There is a mold so I might ask to have one made in gruyere.

There is a definite resemblance.

Time of change

Moving my mother out of her condo in Madison, Wisconsin.  My neck looks skinny, but I’ve eaten enough Wisconsin food to get quite thick through the middle.  Often, during the later afternoons, I trail run through Eagle Heights woods.  Yesterday I sprinted hills.  Today, I do not due to Double Mushroom/Swiss Cheeseburger, Fries and something appropriately called a “Cement Mixer.”  I am bound and gagged on the inside.  Viva Wisconsin!