January 5, 2006
"His pupils are responding to light." 

January 6, 2006
"So is this your first day as a fish?"

January 11, 2006
His unerring ability to pick the most expensive item on the menu.

The limestone fenceposts in northern Oklahoma.

January 25, 2006
Okay, so how bout we make a deal?  How bout you don't say anything to me that you don't mean?

February 3, 2006
Seattle has a professional football team.  They play in one of those new stadiums down by Gillian's studio that taxpayers had to pay for after voting them down three times (unlike projects like the monorail, which never got built after voters said four times they wanted it).  I don't get the impression that the football team is usually very good, but this year they won their league and get to play in the big annual inter-league game called the SuperBowl, which is Sunday in Detroit.  This hasn't impinged on my life as much as one might suppose.  I lose about three pages of the daily paper to coverage of such topics as what kind of sandwiches they like in the city of the opposing team, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought those pages would be full of hard-hitting investigative stories if they weren't filled by football.  It's a measure of how little visible effusion of team spirit there has been in the city that it wasn't until yesterday that I saw my first vehicle decorated up as if for the big pep rally.  It was an SUV.  Flagpoles had been attached above the driver's side and passenger's side windows, flying two flags that read, "12." 

"What does that mean?"  Gillian asked. 

I didn't know, but I surmised that, since football teams have 11 players, the driver of this vehicle must be proudly declaring that he is the twelfth man on the team. 

But I didn't dwell long on that point, because I was struck by how the visual presentation of this vehicle was exactly the same as that used for lavish display of the American flag in the months after the bombing of the World Trade Center.  I wondered if the guy who was now flying the "12" flags was using flagpole holders he had previously used for American flags.  Did he go to the same dealer to buy the flags?  It must be a great boon to the dealer, having people want "12" flags.  It must have been hard times for him, the last couple years, since the passionate desire to display the stars and stripes faded. 

The guy with the "12" flags:  if he had American flags before, how long did he drive around with them?  What was it like, the morning he got up and decided to take the flags off his Land Rover?  That must have felt really strange.  Yesterday it was important for me to display my patriotism, but today it isn't.  Did he wait for a convenient excuse?   Maybe wait till he needed to run the car through the carwash.  You'd have to take all the flags off for that, and then you could just kind of not put them on again after. 

At the Kinko's on Market Street, they painted the whole huge front window in red, white, and blue in the fall of 2001, saying, "9/11 – We will never forget.  EVER."  I walked by one day and an employee was in the window with a razor blade in a holder, scraping "EVER" off the glass.

February 4, 2006
The quiet voice inside that says "but it's wrong" can rarely match the articulate and powerful arguments of family, school, church, respected community members and tradition.  Imagine being born into a slaveholding society, the child of slaveholders.  At some point, an instinctive sense of equity would rebel.  Perhaps when your best friend of childhood is taken out to the fields and whipped, while you are dressed up and prepared for a career. 

 "That's the way it is," a mother will say.  "This is what God intended," the preacher will intone.  "It is for the best," a kindly schoolteacher will explain.  The slaves are well treated.  They couldn't take care of themselves.  We're watching over them.  The burden of caring for them is heavy, but we cannot avoid it.  It's our duty.

Imagine if somehow you had the force of character to resist these arguments and continue to hear the quiet voice that says, "but it's wrong."  As you came into manhood, how could you dare express that voice loud?  What are you saying, that you'd wish your father and mother poor?  The destruction of your whole community?  Everything they've worked so hard to build?  The prosperity of your town?  Would you tell the man whose daughter you want to marry that you wish him de-propertied?

It is safer to become a reformer.  In any community, there would be those who worked to pass laws against excessively harsh treatment of the slaves.  To see that cruel men who whip slaves to death are brought to justice.  Reform measures have been proposed that would allow slave families to stay together, prohibiting owners from selling wives away from their husbands, children away from their wives.  "This bill has a chance in the state legislature this year," a reformer would tell you.  "We've been pushing for it for twelve years.  Be reasonable, man.  The conservatives want to paint us all as radicals.  With your looney notions about 'slavery is just wrong,' you're playing right into their hands.   You give them the chance to paint us all as crazy.  We have they chance to actually make a difference here.  For God's sake, don't throw that away!"

If you grew up in a society where one group of people not only owned others, but killed and ate them, similar arguments could probably turn aside your revulsion as well.  You'd never be comfortable with the idea, but you'd work with some warm-hearted reformers to make sure that the deaths were painless.

The same would hold true if you grew up where one hereditary privileged group claimed all the resources of the earth as theirs, took those resources by military force, and consumed them in lavish displays of splendid waste while most people on the planet died for lack of even basic sustenance. 

February 10, 2006
Make up a story and stop taking input.

March 8, 2006
A Quaker's bargain.

March 16, 2006
A sentence you'd only ever write if you were trying to characterize the narrator.

March 17, 2006
Eventually I discovered, to my great relief, as it confirmed my deep faith in essential human nature, that Americans are not, as they would appear to the outside world, by some quirk of their genes, naturally boorish, violent, shallow grasping mean greedy foolish idiots.  They need to be bludgeoned into that state on a daily basis.   That is what their TV is for.

March 18, 2006
The invention horn.
Ville â roué

March 19, 2006
Graphing the number of fistfights. 

March 20, 2006
My wife, who will suggest taking the car to the corner when we're home in Seattle, turns into a trouper in New York City.  She can stomp through art museums until I, who have been known to walk 12, 13, 14 miles for amusement and health on any given Sunday, am a limping wreck of aches, while she intrepidly checks the subway map for the route to the  next one.  And it's not just the abuse of the foot bottoms, the calves, the hips, and the lower back.  The visual-mental activity is as strenuous.  It starts out simply enough, as easy as sorting through a drawer of buttons, or reading a catalog of machine parts.  But each drawer of buttons is also its own puzzle.  This particular assemblage – pile of  garden hoses, collection of sketches – has been selected to represent the work of a human being who's spent a whole career getting to the point where she or he has come to the attention of the world's curators for making exactly this kind of thing.  So what is it the artist was trying to do?  Why auto bumpers?  Why green?  And, of the hundreds of thousands of boxes of slides the curators went through, why did this person's work reach out and make a connection?  I can't always see it, partly because I'm so immaculately ignorant of thousands of years of art history, but if I stand and open, just take in what's in front of me, I can often find something.  Maybe not what the curator found, maybe not what the artist was up to, but some way to connect to it.  I can do that for room after room of artist after artist, for somewhere around two, maybe three hours.  Which is just getting started for my wife, who can take in more with a glance than I can see in all day looking, who'll remember every one of these pieces and be able to talk articulately about it a week from now.  She's just warming up, and can go for hours, until the museums close.  After the first couple of hours, I just follow politely by her side, pretending to still be looking, and imagining what I'd say if I was being interviewed about my early films, or how I'd handle personnel conflicts in my band, or how to most efficiently give away a billion dollars, so you might actually make a structural difference in anything, rather than just adding another layer of accretionary detritus.  Then the next day we get up and do it again.  And the next day we get up and do it again.

In my first book of poetry – well, since we're back here in the actual present, my only published book of poetry – there's a poem called "The Parking Lot Outside the Art Museum."  The narrator of the poem talks about how you feel after several kinds of experiences, and surmises that the purpose of the art museum is what you see when you walk outside into the parking lot.   The experience I was trying to describe in "The Parking Lot Outside the Art Museum" is something that happens after forty or fifty minutes in the museum – about the same time you'd spend in the gym, and I've explained it that way before, introducing the poem at a reading:  "You don't go to the gym to admire the Nautilus machines," I might say.  "You go to the gym for the way you feel walking out of the gym."  But what I feel after a few days of all-day arting with Gillian isn't a nice post-workout buzz.  It's more like Post-Artistic Stress Syndrome. 

In PS1 this afternoon – the first Public School in New York City, in Queens, now converted to a branch of the Museum of Modern Art, mostly given to contemporary installations and media work – I walked into a room on the third floor and was stunned at what the artist had done.  He – or she – had created a stunningly detailed recreation of a business office, complete down to the paperwork artfully arranged on the perfectly textured desktops.  I was standing there in mute admiration, completely overcome with appreciation, when I realized that it wasn't an installation, I was standing in a business office of the museum.

A similar experience has been with me the rest of the day.  Instead of trying to figure out how to work the turnstiles in the subway, I'm flabbergasted by the layers of enamel finish the artist has used on them, the texture all pockmarked as the moon but, because of the high-gloss paint, all smooth and shiny. 

As we were sitting at dinner, I was having a hard time reading the menu because I was lost trying to figure out the way the artist had arranged the shadows of the silverware, I turned to Gillian to see if there were some way to ask – she's been doing this art walk for well over five decades now, and I was twisting my head around out of the visual mode to try to put into words the question of how she deals with P.A.S.S. in her life, and then, just the same way I realized that that room in PS1 wasn't a recreation of a business office as an art installation, it was a business office, I realized – Oh!  This weird dislocation of the consciousness I'm trying to figure out how to deal with, this is how Gillian feels all the time

April 19, 2006
methane hydrates.  clathrates.

May 2, 2006
Berries on the vine
The syntax of
mass transit systems
Fill in the

May 3, 2006

May 4, 2006
When the Klan ran Colorado

May 10, 2006
Voluntary complexity

June 4, 2006
Walked by a bank in Seattle, on Virginia between Fourth and Fifth.  The windows were full of pictures of people on the beach, posters urging you to put another mortgage on your house to take a vacation.

July 2, 2006
Anosognosia:  The inability to see your own cognitive defects.

July 6, 2006
Kids don't even have to blow bubbles any more, they have machines to pump them out.

July 13, 2006
"Yeah, if you had 17,326 lifetimes, you'd definitely devote a whole one to that."

"Yeah, definitely."

"Yeah, but if you had only one . . . "

July 17, 2006
Yeah, people will believe the most outrageous shit . . . so long as you say it about them

August 3, 2006
"Hell, Gwen, when people say those words, I don't know if they know what they mean, but I sure don't know what they mean.  I know this, though.  I'd give up things I wanted a lot so that you could have things you wanted."

August 4, 2006
Correspondent who misses every story, he's always back at the hotel groggy, worried about his laundry, jacking off, apologizing to someone for yesterday, in the bar describing the story he's going to write, on the phone trying to get somewhere else.

August 14, 2006
You look at a one year old, and you can see that, developmentally, he's doing what a one year old needs to do, he's perfecting the coordinated use of his limbs with crawling, practicing lifting himself up, getting ready to walk.  One year olds have been doing that for a thousand generations.  You look at a twenty year old, eagerly venturing out into the world, and you can how for a thousand generations, twenty year olds have been leaving their tribes, competing for leadership of new ones.  You look at a fifty year old man, and it's hard to tell exactly what's appropriate to his stage of life.  The one year old has a job, and his job is clear.  The twenty year old has a role to play, and he has played it for a thousand generations.  But for fifty year olds, the model is less clear.  For a thousand generations, most people fifty years old were dead. 

September 1, 2006

September 16, 2006
"The guy I'm seeing now drives an SUV and eats meat."

September 22, 2006
Here they call it "The Primary Forest." 

September 24, 2006
If you had to arrange to meet somebody in three hundred years, where could you set to meet, a place you'd be pretty sure would still be there then?  Well, you could say the zocalo in Mexico City.   Before there was a big Catholic church on that corner, there was an Aztec temple.  Three hundred years from now, if there are still people on Earth, there will probably be a square in that same place.

"I'll meet you in St. Paul's Churchyard."  The St. Paul's we see today only dates from the seventeenth century, of course.  The old one burned in the Great Fire of London.  It was bigger.  Before they built the old Cathedral, there was an old church, and long before the old church, the Druids worshipped on that hill.

It seems to a boy from the country, who grew up on English lit and for whom therefore London will always be the One True City, the model from which all others fall short, that the whole city is like St. Paul's.  A thousand years old, but actually, what you see now is the most recent restoration, and in fact we've got tons of thoroughly modern construction tractors working out back right now.   

Take St. Pancras.  One of the great Victorian train stations, in a city that has so many.  When its trainshed was built in 1868, it was the largest roof in the world, and it still takes the breath away.   Out behind they're tearing up square miles, to bring in hot Eurostar trains, 200 miles per hour from France, through the tunnel under the English Channel.  Whole neighborhoods gone.  But then, at the Museum of London, I saw pictures of the neighborhoods they tore up to build St. Pancras in the first place, and the inhabitants left homeless.  The looming Victorian Gothic castle of a station itself is being fitted out now as condos.  You could buy one and live next door to the new British Library, which isn't in the British Museum any more.  The British Museum still has the circular reading room where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital, but the Magna Carta, the map collection, the Austen manuscripts, and the first drafts of Beatles songs are all out now next to St. Pancras, in a building as modern as the Bibliothèque publique d'information in Paris.   

Stop anywhere, on any corner, and around you are a medieval story, a renaissance story, an eighteenth century story, a Victorian story, and six twentieth century stories.   "The V-2's opened the city up.  That square, that's a V-2.  The park on the Islington High Street, that's another." 

Holborn is named after a village established in 1249, which was named after a river, a tributary to the Fleet.  Of course, the rivers are gone underground now, you know where they flowed by the names of streets.  In Holborn is Gresham College, an institution of higher learning which enrolls no students and grants no degrees, but gives lectures free and open to the public.  It was founded in 1597 and has been in continuous operation ever since.  Of course it's moved three times and none of the original buildings are left.

It all reminds one of George Washington's hatchet.  You know, the one he chopped down the cherry tree with, and then didn't tell a lie about when his father asked him?  They still have that hatchet at Mount Vernon.  Of course, it's a working farm, so they've kept using the hatchet, and over the years they've had to replace the head once and the handle three times. 

September 30, 2006
I saw three people cry today:  two women and one girl. 

The first woman was coming out of the second room of Monet water lilies at the Orangerie, completely overcome.  I have to say, after a couple of hours there, I was almost in similar shape myself.  Monet's rendering of air is more transporting than my best hallucinations.  With the possible exception of the first time I encountered one of James Turrell's ganzfelds, I don't think I've ever had such a strong reaction to a visual stimulus.

The second was sitting in a metro station as our train went past, sobbing into a cell phone.

The girl was probably six or seven, sitting two tables from us in a Breton creperie in Rue d'Odessa.  The tables were so close together that they had to be pulled out so you could move around them.  Her father moved the table out so she could come sit on his lap until she'd calmed enough to eat. 

October 1, 2006
Hearing Jorgen Ingman’s “Apache” in a Thai restaurant in Paris.

I know I’ve said it about other establishments, but it may bet true that Gibert Joseph is the best bookstore in the world.  I’m too ignorant to evaluate its merits fairly.  Being able to read English, I can notice that Gilbert Joseph has the most comprehensive collection of works by Philip K. Dick of any store I’ve ever been in.  I don’t know Turkish, Flemish, or Chinese, but those sections of the store look equally well stocked. 

October 5, 2006
The environmental cost of concrete:  what it takes to manufacture the cement itself, for example. 

October 6, 2006
At Angel Islington we got off the 341 and onto a 19.  There was a mob already waiting for the 19, but luckily half the people already on the bus were getting off.  Richard turned to Sally.  "When did people stop queuing for buses?"   We had to board then, tap our Oyster cards on the yellow dot below the driver's window, and climb up to the top.  When we got there I told Sally I'd missed her answer.  "I didn't answer," she said.  "I'm still trying to remember.  I know it's been ten years.  Maybe fifteen."

October 8, 2006
The first thing I did on arriving in the United States of America was to get into a gasoline powered vehicle in order to get home.  The next day I had to go out and get food.  So I got into my car.  That seemed so ludicrous.  I can't even feed myself without getting into a car. 

October 14, 2006
Or, to look at it another way, in those days instead of attacking your own face with a blade, you'd pay a professional surgeon to shave you every day.

October 19, 2006
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sits on the shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, next to a science museum and the Cleveland Browns Stadium, built in 1995, obviously as part of a major civic renewal project to reclaim a gritty area where barges unloaded onto rail cars.  I approached it with trepidation.  Museums embalm experience, and if you were to make a list of all the things in the world that might be experienced in a museum without killing them completely, oh, probably ancient Greek statues and medieval paintings would be high on the list, and rock and roll would be way, way, way down at the bottom.  What are they going to show?  Some old clothes and lots of really nice guitars that will make you sick to see locked up in glass cases when they should be still out being played? 

I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, in Nashville, Tennessee, many years ago, where I saw Elvis Presley’s Cadillac, various musicians’ cowboy boots, and the 1957 RCA Studio B console.  (Gillian Welch and David Rawlings recently got permission to have it dusted out and turned on once again to record an album.) 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was indeed a lot like that, only bigger.  Six stories of glass cases.  It does a pretty good job of telling the story, starting with old blues, gospel, Bill Monroe, and rockabilly, working from Elvis to Janis to Kurt Cobain, with short video clips on televisions, surrounded by visual aids such as album covers, ticket stubs, clothes, and, yes, lots and lots of amazing guitars it just tears you up inside to see in glass cases rather than out being played.  (A 1939 Martin 000-42!  In a glass case!)  There are cars:  Janis’s Porsche, ZZ Top’s bright red “Eliminator” hot rod, the Corvette that Roy Orbison drove back and forth to the studio when they were cutting The Traveling Wilburys.   Many outfits Jimi Hendrix wore.  First drafts of songs, in the songwriters’ hands.  And more guitars.  Ledbelly’s twelve-string Stella.  The objects I liked best were John Lennon’s green card and Elvis Presley’s enrollment in the Memphis Federation of Musicians. But looking at a collection of objects has, if not nothing at all, certainly very little to do with the musical experience that invests those objects with meaning.  Walking through a museum looking at objects in glass cases is, if not the precise opposite of rock and roll, certainly way on the other side of the world.

So what would I do?  If you gave me six floors and an operating budget?  I don’t know, I guess I’d have a continuous sock hop running on the first floor, the Acid Tests with a light show on the second floor, a recreation of a Mississippi fish fry in the basement, etc.  In the same way that The Dark Star Orchestra attempts to recreate Grateful Dead concerts, I’d try to make it sound just as close as I could make it to the way Jerry Lee Lewis sounded at some roller rink in the Midwest.  The R&RHoF makes some attempt to present the music.  There are kiosks where you can put on headphones and listen to famous singles, and several theaters where short films show continuously.  But it’s kind of silly to show us someone on a screen saying “The only thing that ever matters is the live performance.”  Well, yeah.  Exactly.  The one thing you can’t put in a museum.  Six floors devoted to Rock and Roll, and not a single person dancing

I did appreciate the chance to see four of Jerry Garcia’s guitars up close:  Stephen Cripes’s Top Hat and Lightning Bolt, and Doug Irwin’s Rosebud and Wolf, Jr.  But if they let you vote, whether they should keep those instruments in glass cases so you can see them up close, or hold an annual contest where high school kids all over America compete for the prize of getting to take that instrument home and  play it for a year, man, who would vote for the glass case?

November 9, 2006
When I used to teach writing, I'd spend some time with the class the first day brainstorming reasons why writing is worth working on.  People came up with various reasons, but one they never said, so I had to say it myself, was:  Writing helps us organize and make sense of our experience.

I realized this morning, when I found myself sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea writing after a long spell cut off from it, that when I'm not writing, it's not just that I'm neglecting my practice, and feeling guilty and angry and afraid of ending up never having done anything worth remembering.  It's that when I'm not writing, I'm not organizing or making sense of my experience.  It's just a stream of things happening to me.

November 19, 2006
The phrase "mid-life crisis" brings up cartoon clichés of men buying bright red sports cars and acting ridiculous for a few years before finally settling down.  Behind the stereotypes, though, is something less laughable.  I've had some recent subjective experience of the condition, and I believe I understand its etiology. 

The subject suddenly realizes that life is short.
What has always seemed infinite is abruptly understood to be finite, and the subject cannot stop hearing the ticking of a very loud clock. 

The subject is forced to consider how he is allocating a scarce resource, and realizes he is making bad decisions.
Oh my God.  If I only have maybe twenty Septembers left, how many of those twenty do I want to spend sitting in front of a computer debugging software? 

The feelings are intensely painful.
If you woke up one morning to discover you'd squandered your life savings in a night at the roulette wheel, how would you feel?  The crisis feels worse than that, for it is not just money that was lost.  You were given one lifespan, and you’ve already wasted most of it.

There is an urgent need to do something immediately.
I’ve wasted 55 years already.  I can’t afford to waste one more.  Just think of the people I’ve known.  When he was my age, Dick was dead.

The usual constraints on the subject’s behavior become ineffective.
What do I care what people think?  Relative to the urgent need not to waste the few precious moments I have left, what does it matter what people think of me?

So one either does something about it or not.  The doing something can look pretty radical. 

            Sometimes a man stands up during supper
            and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking
                                                            — Rilke

Sherwood Anderson walked out of his business office one day in 1912 and never went back.  (This was the beginning of his career as a writer.)  The man in the throes of crisis can make bad decisions because it’s so imperative that he make big decisions immediately.  Failing to grab the moment is surely worse.  Gritting the teeth, stuffing the ears, retaining one's life in pretty much the same basic shape it’s already in — this is the saddest defeat imaginable.  After throwing away most of one’s life, one is suddenly shaken awake and sees, laid out before him, his choices.  To say, "No, this is too painful.  You’re asking too much of me."  To go back to sleep.   One can never after this moment sleep comfortably again.  This is how old men get so bitter and sour.

Why do I say “men?”

As much as one hates to make gender-related generalizations, I think I have some clues as to why the mid-life crisis is more associated with males in our society:

1.  In our culture, women tend to be more aware of aging as they age.

In our culture, women tend to be strongly identified with their physical appearance, so they detect signs of change and mortality when they are still quite young.  They see the lines in the mirror.  Men in our culture tend to be more identified with their activities and accomplishments, and for many men their activities and accomplishments get richer and better as they go along, so it's entirely possible for a man to deny that anything is changing, to continue to “feel 23” without noticing that he no longer is.  So while many women might experience aging more as a steady drip, drip, drip, for a man it can come all at once, in a shock as serious as a heart attack.  Hell, for many a man it can be a heart attack.

2.  In our culture, women have traditionally lived somewhat less cut off from their basic values.

Again, one is aware of the dangers of overgeneralization.  Every human life is a unique case.  But in the aggregate, if you look at a million Americans, the 500,000 women would have spent more of their lives engaged in tasks that actually matter to them.  Men in our culture are encouraged, from a very young age, to “be strong” rather than to experience their feelings, to “be responsible” rather than to think about what they want, to “gut it out.” Quitting is terrible, and a man should never do it.  A man should “keep on keepin’ on.”  Until one day he wakes up and realizes that these things they teach young boys are ways to keep a man serving other needs than his own.

So what to do about it?

Don’t look to me.  I'm amused at writers who think that they have valuable rules for living which it's their duty to pass on.  When these writers sit down and look at their book in its covers, do they feel happy imagining the readers who will benefit from its wisdom?  Or inside do they know they are frauds, ask “who in the world am I to tell anyone else how to live?”

Performing one of my songs not long ago, I found was chagrined to hear four lines in a row come out in the imperative mode.  Do this!  Don’t do that!  I almost stopped in mid-verse.  But it’s okay, I thought.  I’m not lecturing anybody else.  Those orders are intended for me.  But then I tripped again:  Well who am I to be advising meI’m the guy who wasted the last 55 years! 

So I don’t have any wisdom to impart.  Which is perfectly fine by me.  When I read other people’s writing, I don’t find myself hungry for people who can give me instructions.  I want to know what it feels like inside them.  And, while I have no advice to pass on to others, the feelings I'm having these days are presented in such crystalline clarity that it’s relatively easy to document:  “This is what it felt like to L.A. Heberlein in November of 2006.”

One thing I’m experiencing is the difficulty of not making this experience any more painful than it has to be for those I’m close to.  I can see how difficult the crisis must be for the partner.  When one declares, “Everything about my life is wrong,” how can the partner not reply, “Everything?  Including me?”  No, no, no, no.  Not you.  Not you.

One’s partner is, though, structurally, part of what keeps one on an even keel.  Maintainer of equilibrium.  It’s difficult work not to identify the partner personally as an anti-change agent.  And one’s partner does have a deep vested interest in keeping one steady, working, productive.  One wakes up one morning realizing that he needs none of his possessions.  This house is not a refuge but another heavy thing to carry.  Let’s get rid of all this crap.  I’m quitting my job.  I want to pack my guitar in a Volkswagen van and take off across America.  Well . . . other people live in that house, and they might not be as eager as you to abandon its comforts.  It may well still serve valuable functions in their psychic landscape.

The man in crisis wakes up one morning saying, “I’ve been selling out my deepest values, the true needs of my soul, every day of my life.  I’m not going to compromise any more today.”  But the man in a relationship needs to compromise every day of his life. 

How to get true while staying gentle?  To abandon “everything” without abandoning everything?   

My friend Dennis talks articulately about how it feels, a couple of days later, after you actually do take off on your motorcycle.  You’re sitting under a picnic table at a roadside rest stop looking out at your bike through the pouring rain.  You see astonishingly clearly the value of everything you’ve left behind.  You know that the man who went and got those things did want them.  And he wasn’t entirely wrong in what he wanted.  Comfort, stability, companionship.  Those are not evils to be shunned.  Out in the cold it’s very cold, and in the alone it’s quite alone.

How to make radical changes while remaining constant?  How to smash and yet preserve? 

November 20, 2006
Today I dug far enough back in the spice cupboard to find a user’s manual for a lawnmower.

November 26, 2006
Beauty will lead you to tenderness.

December 5, 2006
This is a song called "I Just Want Somewhere I Can Go Cry"

December 6, 2006
Roy C. Sullivan is the Guinness Book of World Records record holder for being struck by lightning.  He was hit seven times.   A forest ranger, he was hit the first time at a high lookout post.  But the second time he was driving a truck, and the third was in his own yard.  (Then at a ranger station, then standing beside his car, then at a campground, and then while fishing.) 

You can know all there is to know about probability distributions of random events among a population of five billion people, but if you were Sullivan, wouldn't you worry that it was personal?  That is was something about you?  After the sixth hit, you could either just become so insanely cautious that you never go outside again, or develop some swagger about it:  "I've survived six lightning hits.  What, it's going to get me now?"  

Rodney Smith says he saw Sullivan interviewed on television about the seventh hit.  Sullivan was out fishing, but the minute he saw the first cloud on the horizon – the tiniest cloud so incredibly far off – he insisted, to the grumbling of his companions, that they scramble for shelter.  But the cloud sped straight towards them and a single bolt of lightning leapt out of it, straight for Sullivan.

Rodney says we all act like that about tiny clouds on the horizon. 

December 23, 2006
With all the obliviousness of privilege.

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