Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Tsundoku - Pronounced sun-do-ku / Illness or Healthy?

Dear Reader:

Federal workers have started back to work, Trump's poll numbers are in the tank, Roger Stone was taken into custody and indicted on seven counts, I'm still weighing my options on panels to attend at AWP19 and another week has passed since my last confession.

I confess that I don't speak Japanese.  I don't was that as a shortcoming.  I'd like to. And about  5 or six other languages. But the reason I mention Japanese in connection to the literal meaning of Tsundoku. I know the word is pronounced as though the T is silent and it is something like sun-do-ku.  I also know that it has to do with books. Lots of books. The ownership of perhaps more books than you can or do read. I'm a little uncertain if it is a noun or a verb but a cursory search on this point indicates it's used in both capacities.  Still, when it comes to translations, I hesitate to maintain this is correct, but I can tell you I have seen it used in both fashions.

According to Wikipedia, The term dates back to the late 1800’s – early 1900s. It combines elements of Japanese characters  for "pile up" and the character for "read"

Alfred Edward Newton, author and book collector (Not to be confused with Alfred E. Newman of Mad magazine fame)  is quoted as saying, "Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity ... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access reassurance."  In this context, Tsundoku appears to be a positive thing. Alternatively, I have heard it used to describe book hoarding. The latter is a less flattering description of the pastime.

Let me say that  I am guilty of having more books that I have read. Or at least completed. I have a fairly extensive personal library. I make no bones about it. 

I confess that I love the feel of books. Not so much the feel of e-readers. I love the sight of books. And yes, I love the smell of books.

Maybe one of the reasons having so many books is not a problem for me is the fact that I have so many friends that likewise have extensive book collections. It also gives me that hope of finding something in each one of them that at some point will be remarkable and worth the wait to find it.

I don't have a count of the number of books I have but three walls of my study have bookcases full. I generally will have some beside my bed on another bookcase.

I recognize the word hoarder is in fact often associated with mental illness. One of the behavioral disorders and not psychosis. I'm a writer, after all, isn't it a given that I will be a little off the wall?  

According to statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, unread volumes represent what he calls an "antilibrary," and he believes our antilibraries aren't signs of intellectual failings, but the opposite.

Alberto Manguel puts it very lovingly - “I have no feelings of guilt regarding the books I have not read and perhaps will never read; I know that my books have unlimited patience. They will wait for me till the end of my days.”  There may come a day in which I am no longer able to add books to my library. I hope that is not the case, But I keep reading. And yes, buying. For the time being

Until next time, be safe and of great joy. And read a little each day. Write too! 

P.S.  I'd love to know your thoughts on piles or shelves of books still waiting to be read.

All Those Books You Bought But Haven't Read

Why You Shouldn't Surround Yourself With More Books Than You'll Ever  Have Time To Read

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Federal Workers on My Mind

Dear Reader:

It's been two snow & ice storms, four poems submitted to one venue, plane tickets to AWP19 bought,  more presidential candidates announcing than I can remember, lots of reading and lots of writing since my last confession.

I mentioned in my last post my new leather Journal and promised a picture. It is etched with the Southern Pacific railway in the greater San Francisco area. Pretty Cool. This journal will be a companion to my other leather writing journal I have been carrying for years now.

I confess that I waited a bit too long to get plane tickets for Portland and as a result, I did not have good return trip choices. I will do better next time.

Going through another of those writing funks where I am not happy with much of what I put on a page. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened and I confess that I am well aware that it will happen again. I'm writing a lot trying to push through it. It's the only way I know to get back on track. Still, it is frustrating when this happens and you wonder if you will ever put another poem on a page that you are happy with.

Was anyone else appalled at Vice President Pence's lame, comparison of Donald Trump with Martin Luther King? Okay, I confess it was far more than lame. Honestly, it was sacrilege.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the many federal employees that are going without checks. Many, not only with no income but still driving to work every day to do the important things like keeping us safe in air travel, fighting crime, prosecuting criminals, protecting our shorelines and borders. I confess that it makes me angry that the Senate Majority Leader conflates his role with that of the Administration and will not allow for votes unless the president agrees with a particular measure. I confess I want to vote against McConnell a gazillion times. Unfortunately, he is not from my state and even one vote by me against him would be voter fraud.

Tomorrow is my weigh in at WW.  Last week I had dropped 12.4 lbs since I started. I Always feel like I am going to gain on the morning of the weigh-in. I confess that it's probably a paranoia thing more than anything else.

I am still morning the loss of Mary Oliver. Along that line,  I morbidly wonder what other poet greats we will lose this year. I saw a poet tweet from Kelli Russell Agodon this week that mentioned how it would be good to show more appreciation for our poets while they are living.  My reply tweet was, Amen!

Until next time, be safe and be of joy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Confession Tuesday - KC Winter Storm Edition

Kansas City Snow and Ice over weekend causes damage,
Dear Reader:

It's been two bouts of viral crud, I bout of Pink Eye, one massive snowstorm, another in a long string of days thinking about those federal workers that haven't got  checks and concerned for their plight, one new exciting  journal, (birthday gift), speaking of which another birthday, a lot of writing, daily reading, a lot of hand wringing as I decide on airline & flights for AWP conference, and two weeks since my last confession.

So, just so you know it, I don't need any more health issues this year. I think I've had my quota in the first two weeks.  I confess that I am finally on the mends from my second upper respiratory viral crap and my Pink Eye that developed on Friday is now clear.  I've decided that  Grand Kids are the gift that just keeps giving. They visit often and I've had just about everything they have had except maybe diaper rash.

I got an awesome journal cover for my birthday from my wife.  She gave me an incredible leather journal many years ago that  I still carry. The new one has a San Francisco theme to it and I need to shoot a picture of it an post if in a day or two. The first one is not being retired. I confess there is room for two journals in my life.

The weekend storm wreaked havoc on the city this weekend. Lots of tree damage as they were weighted down with ice and the snow dumped on top of that. Lots of broken branches, Power lines and cable down.  The cable between our house and the pole is down in the yard. Still working, thankfully. We have not lost power, but many have. We have more winter storm headed our way and I confess I am saying prayers, crossing fingers, that hopefully, we will not lose power on the next storm through here.

The winter storm has had a captivating beauty to it in addition to the negative aspects. You probably don't need to be a poet to appreciate it, but I confess I am happy to be one just the same.

The weather is good for reading. I'm reading  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It is a most interesting read. Written in kind of a monolog form with lots of snippets of researched writing surrounding the day of the death of Willie Lincoln, the son of the President. There is a bit of darkness to this story but I must say that I am enjoying the graceful way that  Saunders has chosen to communicate the spectacle of Lincoln and his dead son's post-death encounters. I confess that there is much about this book that is out of the mainstream but I love it n some quirky way.

Pricing and selecting two tickets for Portland AWP is nerve-racking. There are not enough options on Southwest which is my preferred airline so I am having to expand my search and options. I confess that I am anxious for the trip but not the planning.

That's about it for tonight. Until next time, stay safe and reads lots of poetry.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter Post Card

The bones of winter
weighted down
by the chill.

Beautifully brittle
even angelic
to the point of breaking
against the death-defying pull
of gravity. 


Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Year Trade-In

Dear reader:

Happy New Year from Kansas City! It's been quite a year and I feel like I'm in a dealership about to trade in 2018 and drive off the lot in a new year.

I'm off to the confessional, won't you join me?

Friends, I'd like to say that  I'm excited about the new year, but anxious may be more accurate.  As I enter the new year with my trade-in, sadly there is no warranty. What I am offered is hope and in all my years I've found that hope brings expectations and sometimes pleasant surprises and other times disappointment. This year I am choosing to tie my hope to behavior. That being said, I feel I have some stake in the outcome and that gives me a slice of control. Maybe not of the whole year but the rather hopes and dreams. This is the best any of us can do.

I confess that  2018 was defined by the frustration all around us - all of us. One of the things I am going to do in 2019 is to lessen the chaos around me that distracts and drags me down. No, I'm not turning off the news. Burying my head in the sand makes me an irresponsible citizen and voter.  But I intend to avoid the crap that none of us need. What we engage in is a choice we make. I want to make better choices.

I saw a graphic that said something like this:  We have 365 pages this year to write our new life story. That made me realize several things. One, urgency. If we don't put anything on a page, that's a lost day. I can't write today's page tomorrow. It also means I am responsible for my own story, my own year. Yes, I have to work with what the world throws at me, but that is only part of the story. What I do with my resources, time, events, people are my responsibility. Choose well. Kevin Larimer, the editor-in-chief of Poets & Writers said something in his note in the newest edition that resonated with me. He spoke of deeper gratitude for the idea of production that isn't entirely based on what is put on the page and more on how we honor those moments of living off the page.

One thing I am going to do this year is to guard and protect the time I allocate for writing and reading.

I hope that  2019 brings us lots of change. America is an idea and not just a physical country on a continent. America is based on democracy and certain rights and liberties. All of us need to hold up the vales connected to our founding documents and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Just being on this continent is not enough. We must preserve those values that were the basis of what makes us great, and remember this nation is a melting pot for the world. This is our greatest natural resource.

Wishing you all realized hope, health and love throughout the year.