These books are diaries. I write in my diary every day, and this photo shows the pages kept from 2005 to this very morning.
These pages (several thousand) are the offline journal, the log, as opposed to the blog; remember, the term “blog” was coined by combining the words “web” and “log,” sometime in the heady, early days of the Internet. I found myself wondering if “weboural” was ever considered, or “wiary,” which I like very much, since it accidentally creates a ubiquitous tech word like “wire.” Besides, “blog” sounds like a heave or an eruption. “She was so sick she blogged up the chicken she ate for dinner.”
Why do I write in a diary? Do you write in one? Why do you do it?
Occasionally, I speak to students about writing and when I do, I share this quote by American philosopher John Dewey:
“If you are deeply moved by some experience, write a letter to your grandmother. It will help you to better understand the experience, and it will bring great pleasure to your grandmother.”
That’s why I keep a diary. It’s why I write at all. Writing helps me to make sense of my life. If someone else is encouraged or entertained, then I have created value for my fellow man. To paraphrase Horace Mann: “Until you have done something significant for humanity, you should be ashamed to die.” I’m not suggesting my diaries are significant in any way, but they are an attempt, a wee flag waving.
They’re also extremely juicy. Like, juice bar juicy. Like all the juice bars in southern California juicy. Did I mention I’m a quilter? It’s an excellent front.
I had a summer fling. Perhaps I can say more about it but it’s too soon in about six different ways, so I won’t.
But my sweet cousin Micala came through Chicago with my mom and they stayed with me last night. When I lamented that the eternal flame had flickered out and that my summer fling was over, Micala encouraged me.
“Did you know Tina Turner is seventy-five and her boyfriend is forty-two? And Madonna is fifty-something and her boyfriend is like, in his twenties? So don’t worry. If you haven’t met the right guy, it’s probably because he hasn’t been born yet.”
Is there vodka? In the pantry? Great, great. Thanks.
I’m writing a series of poems about fruit. Each poem focuses on a single fruit, each written in a different style. Some are almost childishly simple — there are those among you who may remember Cantaloupe In Chorus — while others are more thinky, e.g., Pomergran, a commentary on faith vs. reason modeled after Lewis’ Jabberwocky. I’ll post that one day, too.
Right now, I’m working on a piece about pineapple and I am enjoying the heck out of this one. I’ve titled it The Preposterously True Tale of Pru Huntington’s Pineapple and as you read the first half of it, I recommend doing so aloud to get the meter right. Remember: there is a “grace note” of sorts that one can exploit in these things; I assure you, my meter has been tested and retested for accuracy.
ED. NOTE: Damn! My formatting didn’t make it into the WordPress quotation template. Forgive me; I know it’s wonky.
Oh, and one other thing: the second half takes a wild, utterly unexpected turn. It involves a song — not sung by any human…
“The pineapple’s here!” she cried, “Be a dear, Louisa, and go to the door?”
Pru stood, quite amazed, at the window and gazed at the fruit
She’d been waiting for.
Huge, golden yellow — the fruit service fellow had trouble just lifting it up;
“A centerpiece for the century,” Pru mused, “All the gentry
Will scarcely believe their good luck.”
The deliveryman soon was to stand in the foyer of Huntington House;
He was swiftly paid and excused by the maid, Louisa,
Who wore a silk blouse.
The party that night was the unmatched delight of the
in-the-know every December;
A-listers all fought to be given a spot:
On the guest list of VIP members.
The house was festooned (be-ribboned!) and bloomed with bouquets
stacked floor to the ceiling;
They spared no expense, decorating like this;
(The party, it gave Pru’s life meaning.)
Are you in the mood to hear of the food that awaited each last sparkly guest?
Delights for the eyes and stomach, no surprise,
(Worth making dear Prudence so stressed.)
Piled high on the tables inside the great room, the dishes,
they steamed and they bubbled;
Whatever you please, there were tureens of these,
A spread of deliciousness, doubled.
Racked lamb and partridge and baked ham to boot,
the butcher’s best efforts in meat,
Chicken with waffles, deep-fried falafels;
A trip ’round the world you could eat!
Dessert was a feat of sugar and cake, so heavy the table would droop;
Ice cream? Oh, please! There were dozens of these,
Get a bowl, get a spoon, get a scoop!
But in all of this bounty, a royal spot saved — centerstage,
surrounded by flowers —
It was for the pineapple — Pru’s precious pineapple!
No other food had the fruit’s powers.
Hospitality emblem, oh lighthouse of grace, rough from the stem to the stalk;
Its sweet, fleshy inner was relished at dinner
Throughout the grand Belle Époque.
Let’s turn to Pru, our esteemed hostess who,
at this moment was placing her prize
High on its stage, a fruit for the age,
The Missus had pride in her eyes.
At a quarter to eight, the guests had arrived
and swiftly bestowed with Champagne;
They drank up the stars as valets parked men’s cars,
And hung furs for Anne, for Elaine.
Mingling done, Pru and Barry appeared at the top of an ornate staircase;
And a “Hip-hip Hooray!” for King and Queen of the day,
He donned tuxedo, She — lace.
“Thank you, comrades,” Barry boomed from his post,
Pru so glad she could cry;
“And now let us dine and drink casks of good wine,
To the great room, for dinner is nigh.”
The oak doors were opened, the guests “Ooh’ed” and “Ahh-ed,”
“Tally ho! You’ve outdone yourselves,”
Said Silas The Barrister, then to Pru, to embarrass her:
“Did you hire an army of elves??”
Before they could eat, Pru had a brief speech
which she gave at the party each year;
She stood at the center, Pineapple Presenter,
Elocution loud enough they might hear:
“A pineapple means welcome, and hospitality, too; truly the Huntington way;
We wish you prosperity vis a vis this fruit rarity,
Now let’s all dine and be gay!”
Fair reader, I beg you: believe what I say just then, the party plot thickened —
This is when it gets really good. Keep watching…
In my condo, there used to be an unusual hallway, a transition space from the front door area into the main room. It was too narrow to be a room room, but it was to large to skip over entirely. It posed a bit of a problem.
I work from home, and when I arrived in my place, I had two options: set up in the main room or take the guest bedroom over as my office. I did the latter for awhile, but then the show’s need for storage (I’m speaking about Quilty, here) and my need for natural light made this impossible. There’s no window in the back bedroom and it could work for boxes of fabric and notions but it wouldn’t work for my brain.
Then, one day, inspiration hit. The hallway. The office. The hallway office.
Forgive some of the small piles of paper and so forth; I tend to do that, but I assure you the piles have short lives.
I think of my hallway office as my mission control, probably because it is. From the desktop, which I had placed high so that I would stand to work instead of sit (this happens less than I had imagined it would because: barstool), I make Quilty the show, edit the magazine, create the blog (!), the podcast (you’ll see), and write, write, write all sorts of things, including far too many emails.
There is no furniture I like better than a chair at a desk. A desk is a tool of the mind, a sign of civilization. Dogs don’t have desks. Gorillas don’t have desks. People have desks, and from our desks in palaces, bland office buildings, or reconfigured hallways, we produce.
*Note thinking cap on second center shelf. I actually wear it when I need to think hard about something. I also chew gum when I’m writing. Helps me focus.
This was my view around 8pm Tuesday night, except the date read, “Tuesday, August 13, 2013”:
My life is full of wonder and I often feel that I pay directly for it through physical suffering. Dazzled by the lights in the Chicago skyline every single time you look? For this awareness and understanding, you will pay…ah, yes. Keening in pain every so many days. Feel a surge of love for all humankind each time you board a plane and believe in the possibility of every individual, with compassion and without reservation? That’ll cost you…your colon.
Plenty of people have a beautiful life and don’t pay with their health, I realize. This is just my particular situation, my lot. And honestly, it’s okay. I’m okay with the trade. The good is just that good.
I’m home now, but haggard. More soon, and thanks to the well-wishers. The well fishers, well, it’s weird that you’ve been calling, but I’m glad you’ve been catching those fish.