Gettin’ oot and aboot

7 11 2009

I haven’t been great about my lists lately. You know: that which is designed to keep me in line.

Well, it still works, kinda, if only irregularly, and if only as a reminder to get off my tuchus.

So, today, I took my tuchus and the rest of me over to Brooklyn Heights & Cobble Hill, with a stopover at the ferry landing near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge:

This was  a day which made me wish for an SLR with a couple of decent lenses: Intermittently cloudy, with some beautiful cuts by the sun. Alas, the point and shoot had to do:

You can’t really see the Chrysler Building, in front of the Empire State. Still, the Manhattan Bridge provides a nice ramp into Manhattan.

Again, a camera with more flexible exposure options would have allowed me to capture all the nuances of this multi-dimensional shot down Furman Street. Still, you get the various buildings, as well as the platforms of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.

No, this is not how the Manhattan Bridge actually appeared before me: I cranked up the contrast using the (free) rudimentary photo fixes Windows offers. Still, I like how the colors pop out in an almost painterly manner.

I know: If I spent less time mooning over my life and more time trying to sell my novel and/or get a real job, I’d have the money for both the camera and Photoshop.

But in the meantime, I’ve got my walkin’ shoes and the city. That’ll do.


Watching the tide roll away

6 09 2009

I am the most undisciplined person in the world. The world! The universe! The MULTIVERSE!

Okay, maybe not the multiverse. Maybe just in my apartment.

Where I live alone.

(The cats? They’re cats! They do want they want.)

Lack of discipline differs from laziness—tho’ I am, of course, also prone to laziness—in that the problem is located in the lack, not in the effort. Properly harnessed, I can work like the dickens.

Left to roam free, however, and I simply wander, nose about the field, and am apt to lie down for good, long, nap.

As an occasional phenomenon, this is not only not a problem, but even a delight. As a regular occurrence, however, it doesn’t refresh, but enervates.

Low-key folk may welcome enervation, but I am not a member of that particular tribe. It’s not—exactly—that I’m high-strung, but I am restless, ambitious, and voracious. I need to do.

I’ll avoid the whole doing-vs-being discussion (for now), noting simply the fulcrum for  balance may be set differently for me than it is for others: I need a fair amount of doing to make sense of my being.

Unfortunately, I’m shit about doing unless forced. The mere need, in other words, is insufficient motive.

Fortunately, I can respond to the flimsiest of force, especially if that force makes a kind of sense. A self-made list is indeed flimsy, but it also makes sense: Here are the things I want to accomplish. It sets out in physical form tasks I set for myself, makes it separate from me, and gives me a means of satisfaction when tasks are completed, i.e., I get to cross them off the list.

I don’t know why it’s satisfying, and I don’t care. It makes sense because it works for me, even if the underlying reasons for why it works remain murky. I don’t need endless epistemological iteration of the appeal of list-making and crossing-off, I need something to get my ass in gear.

‘Working model’ or ‘beta-version’ or ‘jury-rigged’ or ‘throwing spaghetti at the wall’—whatever. It’s a means, not an end.

Now, not everything is on the list. I don’t need to put things like ‘brush teeth’ or ‘clean litter box’ or ‘eat’—these are sufficiently habitual and/or vital that they carry their own force. (And besides, I’m not that pathetic.) Nor do I need to remind myself to read for my courses, print out notes, or grade: the requirements of teaching keep me in line. Ditto with wage-work generally.

And I don’t need any (well, not usually) prompts to keep in touch with friends. Pleasure has its own rewards.

The only kind of work for which I need no external constraints is writing. When I want to write, I do, and once I start writing, I almost always want to continue writing. I think this is partly due to knowing that I’m pretty good at writing, partly that it’s not hard for me, and largely because I write to find out what happens, i.e., I’m curious, and that’s enough to drive me on.

This is also why I don’t sketch out what I’m going to do in advance. As I paused in writing this post, I was thinking about writing my dissertation, and how different writing that was from writing my novels. Yeah, duh, but there’s something central to both types of writing: not knowing how it ends. In fact, I had a hell of a time writing my dissertation as long as I thought I knew all that I would think about the argument. I had to tell myself that I did not, in fact, know how the dissertation would ‘end’, that I had to let it play itself out. It was only then that I was actually able to sit my ass down and write the thing.

So writing I can do because writing is something I can do.

Pitching and selling what I write? That’s on the list.

Making a list

4 09 2009

This is what it’s come to, a rolling to-do list:

Pitiful, I know, but jesusmaryandjoseph, it works for me.

And at this point, I need to try anything that might maybe possibly work for me.