Sunday, November 16, 2008

Can't Bring

Portage, what one does with a canoe or other watercraft at points where the water's depth or flow becomes inadequate.

If you could have one book on that deserted island, what would you bring?

In the drifty river of what we characterize as the economy*, I can't bring myself to finish that IRS application (for jobs in February, due by the end of the year) nor to press "interested" at change.gov (I can't move to D.C., of course, unlike Carol Kennicott).

Main Street is not the book I would take along. I grew very tired of hearing about Wall Street versus Main Street during ye olde election. Enough with the street-talk; the world is plunging along with layoffs, we get it. Even if I did have a sense of what market regulations were or could be — well, I just don't see any of us knowing enough about any of it to know what terms to use in a letter to one's elected officials that would have stopped it all.

Speaking of that, what does any first-time homebuyer know, anyway? I spent years relaying information about the process; I went to seminars and worked out charts. Lots o' logic goes out the window when one chooses a neighborhood, however. We did do that refinance last month, despite the credit crunch. I wanted it to help more, but something is better than nothing.

I think one of those tedious "how to survive such-and-such" books would be the thing to have if one could anticipate an existence like those folks on LOST.

Because, I almost have sections like this from Edith Wharton memorized:

She sang, of course, "M'ama!" and not "he loves me," since an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.



*It is all very vague to me without some sort of Japanese manga character acting as mascot; remember, I attended school in the USA, where finance and science seem not to exist — my liberal arts should have included economics, but the professor was reputedly a Keynesian who either yelled or dozed off; he was very old at any rate, and ranked as an emeritus, I believe … perhaps it was just the macro- portion of a two-part necessity.

Ergo, I did not take the class(es). I once took one summer semester and about three days of the second of Latin — so much for my attempt at brilliance John Milton-style. I did take an extra five hours of a laboratory science, botany, after biology and geology. You will note my avoidance of chemistry and physics. High school chemistry was fun enough, and though I was fascinated by how orderly and amazing the sub-level of life is and enjoyed playing in the lab, on paper, the mathematics of rings and reductions was too baffling.  I could not face that again.  Algebra in college was painful enough.

I could "totally stand" running through the English 2600 and 3200 books from freshman year (HS), which is sad, considering I had it all once like the back of my hand, the one thing that seemed transparent to me — that linguistics class was strange, science plus language plus random anthropology. I only remember being happy to know, if only for a second, a phonetic alphabet that can represent any sounds, transcribing accent, for example, along with this kind of ├╝ber-diagraming of sentences we performed on a favorite author and on a work of our own. The professor told me I should write at least a page a day and end up with a book at the end of the year. Let me say that I share with a friend the inability to consider plot. We think in dialogue or, in my case, perhaps hers too, in visual step-by-step frames.

As you can see, there have been no books (on my part). I spent oodles of time reviewing others' writing; it is harder than it may sound, even without the grammar deficiency, for it takes time to uncover some people's points, conveyance of points, and their conception of facts. Brian Doyle, who edits Portland Magazine, wrote a great piece about the job. My favorite part begins, "there are hundreds of subtle joys and crimes of editing" and ends with the word "lunch." I was going to write to him and request permission to paste it all in here, but why bother a busy man.

Spending my brain on untangling prose I did not write, then writing prose I often would rather not write (just because of my sheer lack of personal writing moments — fiction, poetry, not to mention school work; we're off to analyze the anatomy and artistic choices dictating it in no fewer than six sculptures. Tomorrow may be the last day to return re-writes of the first paper. I have not decided.), leaves, as I said, little if no time for true creativity.  My writing sucks eggs!

And having a unique job situation — hopefully the truly only such situation of its kind anywhere, let's hope, dear me — puts one through a sort of foggy frozen abyss, you know, and one's life begins to take on the characteristics of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Unlike those paperbacks that you could flip ahead in and know all outcomes before picking impulsively to "turn to page 23" and the Rubik's Cube with removable stickers, real life is non-cheatable. I hate guessing.

Look how complicated it all is!

1 comment:

hearmysong said...

wow. what brought that on?

your blue book musings remind me why i dumped much coursework before the move.