Monday, April 28, 2014

April Showers

It's raining here today. For most, a rainy day makes for a melancholy day. For me, this just isn't the case. There may be a number of reasons for this. Truth be known, I have lived in this incredibly sunny place for most of my life. Sunny. Everyday, sunny. There are often days that there is nothing more than blue sky, deepest of blue zeniths and clouds those silver-lined reprieves from the sun do not exist. For most people, this sort of environment is perfect. When I push through the hordes of sunglassed people I know how happy they must be to live in this perpetual sunny day.

At the onset of Umbrella Factory Magazine a friend of Janice's said that there would (or could?) never be a literary movement in Denver because it's just too sunny. I remember laughing at the time, after all, this is a funny statement. But now, I wonder if it's true.

Yet, what I see around me is so much more than a lack of a literary movement, or any movement for that matter. What I see disturbs me, and I wonder if it's all just a symptom of the times or maybe it's the sunny days. And even today, a day of gloom and rain and nowhere can I imagine the flowers of May that'll spawn from the showers of April.

Admittedly, I have not been writing this spring. I have kept up on the poetry project I set about doing last winter. I'm nearly 2/3 the way through it. I have carried my notebook with me everywhere, but I haven't added much too it. This sort of thing happens from time to time.

What I have been doing is reading. Daily. I read in the afternoons when son naps. I cannot begin to explain how peaceful this is. I stretch out as soon as he's down and I start to read. I drift in and out of thought, and in and out of sleep. It's refreshing both physically and mentally. It's quiet, and when it's over and my son wakes up, I feel like a new man. I read at night after work and before bed.

Perhaps it's the disturbing Friday character in J.M. Coetzee's Foe that gets me to thinking. This character is black, tongueless and a recently freed slaved of Robinson Crusoe. I wanted to talk to someone about it. I guess because I drew the conclusion that Coetzee is a South African and the very notion that he'd have a tongueless character in a book published in 1986 really made me thinking deeply about the characters. Or perhaps it is summed up like this, I finished Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road yesterday. I'd been tortured by it, delighted by it, stirred to tears and sadness by it and know of no one who has, or is, reading it. I have found plenty of people who have seen the movie. Somehow, it's just not the same.

Okay, sure. Stop complaining. Be thankful for the sunshine. Join up with the sports culture or the weed culture, because, hell, when in Rome... I just can't. And today, it's raining, and I just love the way it feels. It's feels like a train ride from eternal springtime in any number of directions talking with friends, old or new, and we have conversations about books and art and music and all the stuff we'd just finished learning about in school. It's a rainy day and it reminds me of a time before all of this. It's before the noise and the population and the level of fat became too high. A rainy day sets me to thinking that somehow before all the interconnectedness of digital or cellular technology we were more real. We were connected in conversations of the face to face kind and we could talk about Bitches Brew without being about to hum a single tune. We were talking about Apartheid and how a J.M. Coetzee can craft a tongueless character beautifully articulate.

I read to my son. We have no television at home. We have no radio. We have no computers or internet connection. And the only electronic toys we have were gifted by family members who fear the blacksheep in us; family members with TV and radio and computers and internet and a serious lack of time. In our house, we have all the time in the world. We have all the time in the world to read my son's picture books, even if he likes the same one over and over and over again.

We were reading one of those Little Golden Books that I'm certain was a hand-me-down from my son's cousin, my niece. It was Sleeping Beauty book. There is something strange and rated G and Disney about it. What I got from it was the curse. Some witch got angry and cursed the king's daughter. Well, when she turned 16, she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fell asleep. Everyone in the kingdom fell asleep. When everyone fell asleep, the whole place became overgrown. The only thing to wake everyone up, of course, is the kiss from prince charming.

I felt oddly depressed at the end of this particular picture book. I wondered if we, as a society (or perhaps the larger question of the human condition) have fallen asleep. Perhaps the curse is of adolescence and the spinning wheel is something more like the endless anesthesia of technology or the imprisonment of person image, the sheer materialistic fortification that strips everyone of time and color and life. Then I wondered what this prince charming, this kiss, might be to wake everyone up. And outside the rain fell. And thankfully, my son doesn't care about all that. We moved on to the brilliant and playful Sandra Boynton and a follow up with Mr. Brown Can Moo. Somehow the deeper questions of literary movements and the lack of the intellectual in daily life just seem like silly, if not stupid things to think about. When it comes right down to it, Mr. Brown can sound like a cow, he can go moo moo. Can you? He can sound like the rain, dibble dibble dopp.

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