Day 235-242: Wrote my way out of the Shame-Doom Silo

My new act today is one that I am particularly happy about.  I have been bored and fearful of my writing for the past couple of days.  I’m stuck on an essay and feeling bad about all of my work.  So today I decided to make myself work ont he essay for a half hour, then do a writing prompt from Poets and Writers.  I ended up writing for a whole hour and now have another possible essay idea.  And I’m reminding myself that all that stands between now and making something good is time and writing a lot.

A year and a half ago I would have not even started the essay, let alone pushed through some difficulty, let alone started something else.  I still wish my writing was better, I still wish that a lot of things were better, but things are already better then they were.

There have been a couple new acts in the past week, but this is the one I’m most happy about.  If there are any writers reading, here is the site from which I got the prompt. http://www.pw.org/

                Behold the Shame Doom Silo!

Day 230-235: Spent A Week Alone in New-ish Apartment and Did the Following…

1)  Watched the first season of Dollhouse

2)  Gave myself a “newsprint manicure”

3) Got a New Supervisor

4) Went to the Dark Knight movie in the theater

5) Ate at a New Restaurant

6)  Did  a LOT of reflecting

7)  Bought a fancy new earring- ear cuff combo.

8)  Tried a new workout routine

9)  Tried a Ginger Kombucha drink

10)  Downloaded new songs to work out to

11)  Wore a short skirt for the first time in a long time

12) Tried a new board game

 

 

 

Day 229: Started Reading Canterbury Tales And OMG Chaucer Is Awesome!

I realize I may be a little late in this observation.

My friend Benjamin from the previous post has started a book club in order to read classics.  Because frankly, even super nerdy glasses wearing dictionary reading british television watching once took Latin for no credit over the summer just because it seemed fun people like me aren’t going to sit down go through Ovid or Milton or Chaucer by ourselves.  And if we did, it would be far less fun then reading them aloud over food and drinks in a friends’ living room.

So, after much convincing and a semi-resentful drive on Sunday morning (I had woken up in a bad mood and there were idiotic people IN MY WAY EVERYWHERE) I came to the first of reading of Canterbury Tales at the book club.

And wow.  Homeboy knew his shit.

I’ve heard a million times that Geoffrey Chaucer was a great observer of human character and a great writer, but I was little doubtful because c’mon.  He was writing the first English vernacular work so of course he was going to be acclaimed.  But I will say now having only read the prologue that Chaucer is a good writer apart from all that.  His descriptions hit that wonderful sweet spot of being compassionate and also having great biting social critique.  I also recognize ALL of the characters, the obnoxious loud-mouth merchant struggling with debt, the impoverished pretentious scholar, the great dame with the yappy dogs.  It’s amazing how little people have changed.

I also love his statement about his own writing:

Original Text

725: But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
726: That ye n’ arette it nat my vileynye,
727: Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
728: To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
729: Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
730: For this ye knowen al so wel as I,
731: Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
732: He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
733: Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
734: Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
735: Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
736: Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
737: He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
738: He moot as wel seye o word as another.
739: Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
740: And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
741: Eek plato seith, whoso that kan hym rede,
742: The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
743: Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
744: Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
745: Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
746: My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.

Modern English

But first, I pray you, of your courtesy,
You’ll not ascribe it to vulgarity
Though I speak plainly of this matter here,
Retailing you their words and means of cheer;
Nor though I use their very terms, nor lie.
For this thing do you know as well as I:
When one repeats a tale told by a man,
He must report, as nearly as he can,
Every least word, if he remember it,
However rude it be, or how unfit;
Or else he may be telling what’s untrue,
Embellishing and fictionizing too.
He may not spare, although it were his brother;
He must as well say one word as another.
Christ spoke right broadly out, in holy writ,
And, you know well, there’s nothing low in it.
And Plato says, to those able to read:
“The word should be the cousin to the deed.”
Also, I pray that you’ll forgive it me
If I have not set folk, in their degree
Here in this tale, by rank as they should stand.
My wits are not the best, you’ll understand.

My interpretation is that Chaucer is saying, “Look, I realize that my words my offend some people, especially because I’m talking about lots of different people of varying social rank.  But I’m trying to tell a story and make a point and the best best to do that is to be honest and use everyday examples.  Christ did it and so did Plato and we should follow in the steps of such wise communicators.  And if I made some mistakes, I’m only human so don’t hold against too harshly or execute me or anything.”

I think that’s a great thesis statement for any writer.

Day 228: Wrote More Cover Letters, Went to a Friend’s Birthday Party, Watched Lots of Dr. Who/TikTok mashups, Also Learned About the History of China

Happy birthday to my friend Benjamin, reader of classics, purveyor of his own true style, maker of masks, watcher of Bollywood, and baker of a very fine birthday cake.  You inspire me to be more true to myself and have more fun in my life.

At Benjamin’s party I was introduced to Crash Course history videos, which means I may never leave my computer.

Day 227: Went to A New Grocery Store, Tried Almond Milk

There is a new Trader Joe’s store near-ish my apartment.  Since the Husbandit is off At Library Boot Camp I’m taking the opportunity to buy and cook lots of things that I like and he doesn’t.   Such as fish.  And more fish.  And then some shrimp.

I also bought some almond milk, which I didn’t realize has a long history and was not invented by trendy trainers and hippie chicks in 1995.  Apparently, it was a popular drink in the Middle Ages, especially during Lent (having no animal products in it) and was called amygdalate.

It is tasty in iced tea.

Day 225: Dropped the Husbandit Off At Library Boot Camp, Listened to Christian Pop Station…

I found that Christian Pop became less inane if I substituted “Creativity” for “God” in my head.

The problem with a lot of Christian pop music is that it feels disingenuous.  The station I was listening to had a brief DJ interlude every 3 songs or so to assure me that SHINE FM was “always positive.”  In my experience life with God is not always positive.  There are moments of peace, more long stretches of anger and bewilderment and general distrust, and mostly a lot of questions.  My current conception of God is a creative force that flows through all life and is our common heritage as living beings and particularly confusing to sentient beings.  I don’t view God as an human-ish entity that plays chess with the universe, more like Karl Jung’s collective unconsciousness and Marcus Borg’s “Post-Easter Christ” that is the powerful legacy of great teachers as experienced after the death of the leader.

I could make a smart-ass comment about how that kind of conception is hard to articulate in three verses and a bridge but that’s not true, the purpose of poetry is to express those huge unwieldy concept in imperfect language.  But in order to make good word art you have to first be truthful.  And the truth is not always positive.

However some of the beats and melodies were catchy and I liked thinking of the songs as hymns to love and creativity.