Sunday, January 27, 2008

April Night Sky

(I had perhaps been reading too much Pablo Neruda, or even Bukowski, when I gave this a shot...)

Venus hung from the crescent moon
like a diamond necklace caught on its curve of light.
Is that really Venus, or just a tower in the distance?
It's the real thing, she assures me
with a touch of her hand, and her breath in my ear.
I've never seen it shine so bright before, I say, taken.
This is the best month to see the stars,
she said to me as we drove back through the open night sky,
under a million points of light
most we'll never see, city people you and me
But the country and the sea know that cherished darkness
and you and I have been there and known that light firsthand.
I've looked at that star dangling from the moon
and thought of you every single time.
I've heard music playing with my head
and wanted to dance, slowly with you,
out on the deck, out in the dark, in the middle of the water,
floating towards a deeper intimacy
I whisper a word into your ear and hold you near
with the palm of my hand on the small of your back
and the wind in between our touch blowing warm and gently...
you know exactly what I mean.
Your eyes reflect the light of the moon and the stars,
like the sea, like the ocean, like this heart
which sinks deeper in love with you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Meme

Andrew tagged me for this and has been nagging me about it ever since! ;-)
so here is my first draft, subject to change:

1 - One book that changed your life
Love and Living (Thomas Merton) - My first by Merton, always a life-changing experience, and this one couldn't have come to me at a more perfect time...
The Raggamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning) and Real Christians *Don't* Dance (John Fischer), both of which (as I wrote in a previous blog) helped guide me out of the CCM wasteland.

2 - One book that you’ve read more than once
I generally don't give time to rereading books, not because I think it's a waste of time (I don't - in fact I think it's one of the best things you can do as a lover of literature) but because I have too many unread books on my shelf and on my shopping list and too short a life to get to them all even once. but some of my earliest encounters with literature (in gradeschool) involved a love so strong for what I had read that I couldn't not reread those early classics. but I can pretty much count my rereads on one hand:
The Adventures of Tom Saywer (Mark Twain)
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

3 - One book you’d want on a desert island
I'll spare you the 2 most obvious cliche's of The Bible (which is probably my most honest choice) and A Practical Guide to Shipbuilding and just say something stupid like The Penthouse Yearbook... Forgive me for mentioning him in the same paragraph as that last statement, but something by Thomas Merton on the life of solitude would probably be fitting too, although I'd certainly need a bible as well.

4 - One book that made you laugh
that's easy - I still laugh when I think of the "polite bathroom talk" scene in Franny and Zooey (J.D. Salinger).
also High Fidelity (Nick Hornby), because I thought I was the only one who was that obsessive about his record collection (organizing them autobiographically. Classic. I should have copywrighted that idea 10 years before I read this book)

5 - One book that made you cry
Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking
Henri Nouwen usually does it to me too (especially In Memorium)
I think I may have cried at the end of Prayer for Owen Meany too.

6 - One book that scared the hell out of you
Stephen King's The Stand was the first book (of many subsequent ones by him) that made me afraid of the dark again (as an adult). Misery actually made me scream...

7 - One book that you wish had been written
My Life and Thought: The Autobiography of Jesus Christ
Probably another cliche' answer, but I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that Jesus himself didn't write a damn thing while he was here, except for a scribble in the dust...

8 - One book that you wish had never been written
Finnegin's Wake (James Joyce) The first sentence is a continuation of the last sentence 700 pages later in the book and it's all gibberish that apparantly holds deep meaning. I don't have time for that kind of crap...

9 - Two books you’re currently reading
The Seven Storey Mountain (Thomas Merton)
Selected Non-Fictions (Jorge L. Borges)

10 - One book you’ve been meaning to read
see my 100+ Books To Read Before I Die post below...
Seven Storey Mountain is actually at the top of that list, and I just started it last night...

I'm supposed to tag someone now, but I don't hardly know anyone else in the blog world. I'll try David Dark / Sarah Masen and A.M. Correa, although i'm guessing they either have too much real-world work to do, or have probably done this one already... Maybe that Barefooted Bohemian Kimberly will want to play? and maybe Carrie (who was also tagged for this) will kill me for tagging every last person she knows as well...(or maybe she has a surprise guest or two...)

Monday, January 07, 2008

My Year in Preview, 2008

I've started the year with 2 short Malcolm Muggeridge books - the first called "A Fireside Chat with...", which is a transcript of a conversation between Malcolm and 2 other fellows who oddly come across as stodgy old dodgers complaining about the immorality of this current generation (the discussion took place in the early 80's) and what's wrong with the church since Vatican II. The second, which I'm in the middle of right now, is his famous book on Mother Teresa, "Something Beautiful for God". Muggeridge, a former BBC TV journalist, was the one who brought Mother Teresa to the awareness of the western world back in the late 60's with a televised interview first, and then the subsequent documentary filmed in Calcuta.

I was going to mention what books I was planning on reading this year, but I realized that would be utterly pointless, as I NEVER stick to such predictions. My literary appetite is too volatile for advanced planning...

The weather here in Detroit is headed towards 60 this week. All the snow we got whomped with on New Year's Day is melting and spring is giving us a preview. It's funny, I remember quite a few Januarys in years past with this same springlike warmth, to the point that I can almost count on a week like this in January...

In February I'll be seeing a couple old favorites in concert, the first of which I haven't paid attention to for well over a decade. Kim Hill is back at the rock thing with her last CD, Broken Things, and she's coming to the last place I saw her at nearly 15 years ago, at Ward Presbyterian. That was one show I regret not having a copy of. I'm looking forward to a little nostalgia trip down that deserted CCM road. My friend Andrew once worked at some camp with her a couple of lifetimes ago. She didn't remember him though when we saw her at the State Fair back in the day (just like Leigh from Sixpence didn't know me from a stalker when I saw her at Cstone last summer, even though at one time she used to come up to me and say hi by name...)(that little bitch)(no, I'm kidding!). Kim's been through a bad marriage and a divorce since then, and she was always one person you never would have thought would go through that sort of thing. But life rains down on all of us, and shit doth happen... Speaking of divorcees, the second February concert I'll be going to is by one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Bill Mallonee. As I've written here before, Vigilantes of Love was a key group for me in my spiritual growth out of the CCM confines, and Bill is still writing some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. He practically defines the term "starving artist", as most of his posessions these days fit in the SUV he tours in with his new wife. Before last year I hadn't seen him for a few years, and now within this 12-month period I will have seen him 3 times! good time to be a VoL fan in Detroit...

I'm still debating going to what is usually my favorite event, Calvin's Faith and Writing Festival, in April. I'll probably go, but so far the line-up isn't doing much to excite me (with the exception of Kathleen Norris, who wrote one of my favorite books, "The Cloister Walk").

Cornerstone, Cornerstone, Cornerstone... excuse the bad Pacino impersonation, but just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! Before last year I hadn't been to a Cstone in 5 years (after attending for 11 years straight), but now this year they are having their 25th anniversary, and 2 of my all-time favorites will be there: Resurrection Band (who stopped playing altogether a long time ago), and the not-so-recently disbanded Sixpence None the Richer! not to mention Charlie Peacock, The 77's, and what will probably be the saddest (i.e. embarracing) of reunions yet - Degarmo & Key. The final line-up is far from complete, but just on this alone I think I will probably be there once again... (hey Andy, whaddaya say? make the trek? come on!) Being back there last year reminded me what an impact this place has had on me, Glenn Kaiser especially, and last year I was thinking that if Rez ever played here again then I would go. and there it is...

Led Zeppelin is threatening to do some kind of overpriced reunion tour, which would hands-down be the biggest reunion in rock history (easily eclipsing the latest Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth), and I will have to go to one of those shows if it happens, even if it involves a long road-trip. New York is the most likely stop, with a rumoured 3-nights at Madison Square Garden. Now I just have to save up a couple thousand dollars for a ticket...

In August I will turn 38, which I will celebrate with much depression and cursing, along with another notch of panic added to my already-unhealthy fear of approaching death...

My family's yearly trip to New York to visit my brother is most likely going to be postponed until the early fall, which gives me some nice breathing room in-between major events...

and that's about all I can forsee into my future. One of these days I'm going to have to get a real job (a career even) to financially support all this, which might ironically mean I will have to cancel most of these plans. (How you working stiffs live with yourselves I'll never know)
and so it goes...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resillusions

1. Criticism is addicting. To set oneself as an authority over another, a power trip, an ego boost, a dead soul draining the life out of another...

2. Don't save the best for last. Tommorrow it will be a bowl of rotten fruit and the person you are today will be but a shadow. The best is only the best right now. Tommorrow something better will come along that makes today's best seem not so great.

3. The reason you aren't doing what you want to do right now is the same reason you won't be doing it tommorrow or next week or next year and why you haven't done anything of the sort yet. Annie Dillard says how you spend the day is how you are spending your life.

4. Escape will disguise itself as Engagement, Avoidance as Preparation, a sharp edge cutting the heart out of another pretends to be Good Humor. I am hurt and offended, and a little bit angry, that you don't at least smile when I slice into your guts...

5. A good book, a cup of coffee, half a pack of clove cigarrettes, music in the air, the voice of a friend sitting near me, catching thoughts on the pages of a leather bound journal, time to spend, memories of moments well-lived, dear ones well-loved, a full year ahead blank untouched expectant hope. What will I write there? What story will I tell with the life I choose to live?

6. I am going to die. I don't want to die. Maybe I should call a doctor. I felt a strange twitter in my arm. am I supposed to have a bump there? I have a hard time getting a full breath when I think about not being able to get a full breath. I read about this rare disease and I'm sure I have it because I have all the same symptoms, like a headache and a tired feeling and pain. what can I eat to keep my brain from popping an anyeurism? I don't want it to do that. nor do I want my heart to pop or my blood to squirt all over my insides for any reason. I've decided the wheelchaired life is not for me. nor any suffering of the unpleasant kind. but mostly I don't want to die. ohshitohsweetlordJesuspleasedontletmedieohshitohfuckfuckfuckfuck...

7. Television is the bane of mine existence. The internet pretends it isn't TV, but I can see right through its keyboarded deception. sit down to watch one oh-so-important thing, and for the next few hours I am "surfing". I don't know how to surf. I drown in the black hole of potential never realized. I wake up drowzy, drugged, from impotent dreams, aware of all that I've lost, the days and weeks and years slip by in dreams forced on my mind. I am told what to think and I think I am a part of something worthwhile for a while and then I find myself still sitting in this chair staring forward where I've been for hours, staring at a box, staring at my life sucked right out through my eyes...

8. The question hangs over my head: Are you digging for coins in the mud of a pig pen? What kind of asshole throws riches into a swine pit? How much degredation is required to look for them there? There are plenty of coins to be found, but is it worth the effort? sometimes...


10. Insipid Banality. Happy New Year!