Sunday, March 26, 2023

notes & things | 3/26/2023

This week, I've watched as they've been emptying and cleaning out the house of the Polish couple that lived across the courtyard for the past 20 odd years, both of whom are gone now. (Finally confirmed by a loud conversation I heard between a neighbor and a utility worker through my window after months of noticing subtle changes in how many lights were on/off.)  Unsurprising, but still sad, since they were easily already in their 60s when I moved in. I also watch the now elderly man in another of the townhouses mount the front steps with the help of a ramp and his wife and daughter, his arm in a sling. People in this building come and go mostly, largely students here for a year or two, but the residents of the townhouses, except for the two at the front, one of which is a rental, have stayed the same. I spend more time near the windows to notice things than I used to when my workspaces were elsewhere in the apartment and when I was gone most of the day into the evening, but I'd catch glimpses of kids or teenagers that have now somehow become adults coming or going. Dogs that came and went. 

There's a line in that Taylor Swift/Pheobe Bridgers song about feeling time moving, and it's more a sensation that I have been standing still and everything else moving at a steady churn.  I suppose it's a hazard of staying in one place for too long, time becomes this long line or rope instead of short strands.  I used to wonder at the library, which had a mix of long-termers and short-runners, what do you lose in a department when the turnover is constantly in flux. What knowledge and perspective is missing if everyone is just getting the swing of things? When there is no collective experience that spans past a couple years. I could not stay, but at least some of those people are still there (though admittedly some of those people are part of the problem.) Because sometimes things need to be let go. Last summer, when heavy rains flooded the freshly laid carpet in the first-floor hallway of my apt. building, I was chatting with someone in the office as I picked up a package and they seemed thunderstruck when I said, "oh yes, that happens every few years." No one apparently knew this was a possibility (the drains in the alley clog up and the water has nowhere to go but down the loading dock ramp and into the building) They did later install tile, which was probably what the old management should have done long ago. But when people leave (or quit, move out, or die) so does their knowledge and memory. In my orphan state, there are things I will suddenly think of, childhood memories or family stories, and before, would have asked my parents to confirm or deny my memories. But now, there is a huge body of information just vanished from the face of the earth.

So today, I think about time and projects and seizing the day. Today, I make blueberry muffins from a box mix and drink coffee and sort through print jobs I picked up earlier in the week like these great little collage posties soon to be in the shop. I think about the next book, collapsologies, and its overall concept and visual ideas for covers and such.  Yesterday, I scanned some analog artwork I've had in mind since the beginning that's been sitting on my shelves for over three years, basically since the book was conceived during the strange summer of lockdown, though the poems took a little longer to finish. I've been working digitally entirely lately, which always feels more polished, so its always strange to look at paper pieces cobbled together from stacks of vintage magazines. Their imperfections.  Glue spots and ragged paper. But then again, the greater limitations of working with what you have vs. what you can find and manipulate are two very different kinds of creating sometimes.  Sort of like a game with defined pieces vs. a scavenger hunt.

So that book needs to be finalized in April or May, and maybe, just maybe, will be ready for the world in June or July. Meanwhile, I am closing in on the end of the short series of poems about houses I've been working on.  They are still very rough and need some serious clean-up time after I'm done, but at the moment, I am liking them very much.  I have found over time that my relationship to my own work is fewer highs and lows and more of an even keel.  I feel like I am writing better than ever, but I also feel like people care less and less. Or less than before. Which is of course, a folly to judge oneself by, and is totally my own fault at spending too much time on social media platforms, whose exodus and algorithms are always affecting internet attention spans.  The danger of embedding your creative life in something where everyone is jostling for space, which is true of the publishing world and less true on the internet, but still kind of works the same. 

So I try not to think too much about and go on endlessly appreciating the people who I know are interested in reading my work. Or maybe reading it and I don't even know it. And more that I should just look to satisfy myself anyway, to make sure I am happy with what I am putting out there in the world. To take pleasure in the experience of writing and its rewards and maybe a few little connections it makes with other people in this short amount of time I, or anyone, is plodding along on this planet.