Archive for the ‘A post to keep afloat’ Category

Keeping House

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Artists, Current reading, dreams, Rejection on July 20, 2016 at 8:13 am

The walls are lined with books, all in French. The literature sorted by period – the well-known classics, most of them from the nineteenth century and early twentieth. I pick up some of the more recent, read a few chapters, and set them down. Uninteresting? No. Predictable. You turn to the last page: sure enough the landing, as expected.

The boy comes back from his shopping expedition with two others in Toulouse. Tells me about his purchases and the highlight of their foray – a kebab shop where they ate so much, he says, that at nine PM, he’s not hungry yet. Large eaters they are not. He heads back to my place for the night, proud to have his own key, his own room – and the envy of some of his friends, still in the Home. Before leaving, he wonders how I can spend entire days alone. Reading and writing, I explain. The notion strikes him as too odd for response.

In fact, the writing is at an utter standstill. Something like a stunned silence with brief interjections from time to time. “I thought I knew, but I didn’t,” –  that kind of thing. Totally off track, in fact. Imaginary friends are tricky that way.

Recent writings in French don’t appeal much so I revert to a battered old find. The lives of famous seamen, offered in the year eighteen seventy-five to a young lady, as first prize in religious instruction. Instructive indeed in terms of the White Man’s great mission of spoil and plunder. The racism so blunt and blatant it could be lifted straight off some contemporary twitter feeds and Facebook comments.

Dispossessed and at sea. Basic theme: I thought I knew and I didn’t. A familiar place. I’d like to visit other spaces where some of the people keep some of their promises some of the time.

I’ll find my footing again? Of course I will. But I expected better and will have to find some way to make it so for myself and for others.

Vacuum filled with bits

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Local projects on July 18, 2016 at 7:44 am

I’m pulled away from my morning rituals by the sound of the vacuum cleaner downstairs. The boy is back and he’s decided he’s in the mood for housecleaning. Which is a lot better than being in an angry and surly mood, granted, but so much for morning, noon and evening rituals.

Moving over to a friend’s house for a week of dog sitting, among other community services. If life choices were like cafeteria offerings, this summer wouldn’t feature as my automatic reach-for-your-favorite.

Will I get back to fiction some day? Maybe, but in the meantime life is being pretty intrusive.


Frustration – dealing with

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, dreams, Hautvoir, Local projects, proto drafts on July 15, 2016 at 8:01 am

Such are the ways of internet that I learn of grief and carnage further south here in France from an email received from Canada. The grief and carnage (and looming rage, revenge and so on): undeniable. But I have more immediate and local concerns centering around a group of teenagers – and one in particular – so you might say that, for the moment, the immediate looms large enough to counterbalance the further down the road.

The title summarizes the predominant feature in the inner landscape this morning. Frustration at not getting through to a frustrated teen ager. Of the group, he’s the one most at risk of falling in with the wrong friends. The one most in need of structure and of someone playing the role of a father figure or older brother. Obviously, I am neither of those.

Unseasonably cold weather. The proto draft on chill too, for no other reason than the impossibility of maintaining the breathing space in which to let the characters out to play.

Magpies chattering outside. Recollections of a long-ago dream in which my former mother-in-law and grandmother to my child instructed me on how to deal with all those dangers at my door and windows. Concentrate on one object, she said in the dream. Even as someone jimmies the lock on your door, concentrate on one thing and one thing only.

Breath, for example, the empty space between intake and out take. The space where potential likes to hang out.


Yesterday was crazy, today may be even crazier, so…

In A post to keep afloat, Local projects, photography, proto drafts, Sanford Meisner on July 5, 2016 at 8:07 am

…so I may get to drop back in here again today, or not. If free time shows up, I’ll try to spend it on the proto draft instead.

Ergo, a bit of good craziness here, as in turning on the computer this morning – in a state of advanced fatigue – and smelling the jasmine at the sight of the photo I snapped of it yesterday. Worth a share? For sure.

Smell the jasmine? Hope you do.DSCN9163

A post

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Animals, Current reading, Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Synopsis on May 25, 2016 at 7:36 am

This morning, I type these few lines after a lousy night, sleep-wise, and after reading that unionized staff in France’s nuclear power plants are the next considering going out on strike. Never a dull moment.

So I’ll stay with the tiny and the closest at hand, since there’s not much else to reach for anyway. I need help from someone with real and practical knowledge of computers, but can’t afford the services. Everything else is at that same level of need vs available resources. The green plants are thriving and, thanks to a can of bug killer provided by a friend, the termite-like wood-chompers aren’t eating away at the base of my kitchen table this morning. There’s not much breakfast to speak of since the dog polished off my bread supply while I was out. Apart from which, there’s not much else to report on the home front.

Synopsis? Not yet, that’s for sure. I’ll leave the story alone for a while. Maybe read through a few more of the fools in Shakespeare’s plays. In the intro to my copy of Melville’s Moby Dick, there’s mention of the fool in King Lear having served as a model for the character of Pip.

Apparently, my computer has lost the connection again. I’ll assume this writing won’t get erased when I press publish. If it does, what can I do about it? Not much (ah, a little thingie shows up; it reads draft saved at 7:34:16 am. Let’s find out if that’s true.)

Hurts? You bet.

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision, Sanford Meisner on May 14, 2016 at 9:09 am

when fiction veers too close to reality, the real challenge begins. Maybe you want to howl. Or break down and cry. Or lash out. Or give up. You counted on someone and that one person on whom you counted does not come through for you. For instance. Or reveals that whatever you wanted or expected wasn’t in the cards at all, as far as he or she was concerned. You can pack up your illusions and do bloody well whatever you want with them. We iz not interested in you, not even one tiny bit.

In the cacophony yesterday afternoon – each one of the ten workshop participants was tuned in to different music and destroying his eardrums from what I caught of the sounds – in or of that cacophony over which I had to shout several times, I choose to concentrate on a few seconds only.

I choose to concentrate on a few real moments of contact. Eyes connecting to something I was offering. Taking it in, and making something of it. For the most part, the workshop participants weren’t. Participating, that is. They were busy shutting out as much of their present experience as they could. A body experiences enough contempt from others? A body often decides to treat others with contempt in return. Hurts, in both directions.

They’ll tell you – and life will demonstrate this, over and over again – they’ll tell you life isn’t for dreamers. Over and over again, events will show how vile and despicable humans can be. For some reason, this is supposed to shut down all reflexes other than those of compliance and submissiveness. Stay out of trouble. If trouble comes looking for you anyway, just shut up and put up.

As a first step in the getting-to-know-you process yesterday, I filled out my own card with name, age, country of origin and profession. A few of the boys said: wow, you’re old. Indeed, I answered. Humans haven’t found any other way to live for a long time than to age.

OK. At which point one of them said he’d like to live until a hundred. So, we managed to move on to the next second, and the next second after that in a two-hour session best described as a post-doctoral exercise in frustration – both theirs, and mine.

“living truthfully in imaginary circumstances”. a post to keep afloat.

The old story about half-empty or half-full

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Animals, Current reading, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, news coverage, Revision, Sanford Meisner on May 10, 2016 at 7:38 am

I feel like a punch-drunk boxer tackling the fifteenth round this morning. Because of wild carousing all night? If only. Because of straws and the relative strength of a camel’s back – although I identify more with donkeys. Something to do with geography and culture, no doubt.

A shame authors can’t sue translators. In this instance, the translators may be as dead as the author so there’s not much litigation in view. I didn’t expect a transcendental experience when I paid my fifty centimes for a tired edition of Groucho Marx’s autobiography. Why I didn’t leaf through to “hear” if the writing sounded like Marx? I don’t know. Bottom line: it didn’t even sound close to Groucho and there wasn’t even the titter you get from watching a segment of a Dickens-based film dubbed in Japanese. From what remains of the reading experience, I gather Marx suffered from insomnia and feared ending his days as an indigent. On both scores, he has my full sympathy.

Even the prospect of tackling more revision feels like a full bale of hay added to the load this morning, so I’ll stick with pleasantries such as : the wind. Has stopped. No need to brace against crumbling buildings and risk a konk over the head from a falling piece of said structure (wordpress wanted this to read “a monk over the head” but no flying monks or nuns reported anywhere in the neighborhood).

The French press is all a-flutter over yet another sexual harassment scenario. All the usual stuff and all the usual To Tell or Not To Tell because that’s how harassment works best. I note, in this case, that the man changed targets whenever a woman turned on him and slapped him in the face. I used a more extreme gambit with a long-ago creepy boss. It worked but whether the harasser suffers the consequences he deserves or not,  there’s no glorious feeling that attaches to recollections of that type.

I’m broke and beyond because of the dog’s illness. Can’t see how I’ll make it through the week, let alone the month. Banks advance money to some but hold back funds for others. I belong to the second category. When things get ludicrous enough, either you collapse or you don’t. Sometimes, you do both and the rest of the story depends on whether you collapse, then pick yourself up, or the other way round.


moneys-in moneys-out update, in case some far-away family member reads this: the money I deposited on the 4th finally landed on my account this morning. I’m sure the bank’s debit feature will work at electronic speed though. I’ll save the sarcasm about to rise up – a waste of energy better put to some other use.

The simplest of the simple things

In A post to keep afloat, Animals, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on April 28, 2016 at 8:19 am

Planting or re-potting existing greenery: something close to an obsession at the moment. A need to see living things thrive.

In younger years, doing without a good sexual partnership is tough. I’m close to seventy now. The toughest is doing without close physical contact of the affectionate kind with another human. Not constant closeness. Not clinging closeness. Just the simple, physical reassurance two humans exchange as the need shows up. You can pet a dog. You can caress a cat. Well and good, except I’m not a dog nor a cat. Eh. (A goldfish? Eh, squared.)

So. The dog. If your vet suggests you squirt activated charcoal diluted in water into your dog’s mouth, a word to the wise: make the attempt outside. For the why? For the because clean-up of ink-black liquid is easier on flagstones. (Part of what ails the animal should be known by late afternoon. Apart from keeping her as comfortable as possible, not much else I can do for her in the meantime.)

Plus: loneliness by any other name still boils down to loneliness. Nothing much to do about it, except to acknowledge, weather and do your damnedest to avoid the deeper sloughs of despond. Of course there are things to do, people to see, projects to carry forth, revisions to complete etc etc etc

Money. Obligations. Etc.

Most of all: this too shall pass, this too shall pass. And so, forth.


oy (5 minutes to get this typed in in the Graffenwald sector of the town of Wittelsheim) = but… will it post???

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia on April 21, 2016 at 9:43 am

the equivalent of a hand-cranked connection = lets not waste too many precious minutes getting online and off. oy..

Drop by drop

In A post to keep afloat, Animals, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects on April 15, 2016 at 8:27 am

I awoke at one am because of odd and painful behavior in my right leg. A toe rebellion, initiating high up in the spinal column, making a serious stop-over at the konked knee and culminating in a frozen spasm of the foot. The incident lasted close to an hour. A once-only event, I hope – the body clearing out remnants from last Sunday’s stumble. The recurring image while the episode lasted: that of a horse with a lame foot with ripples moving down his back. Nerve endings, trying to clear the signals for a better connection.


Story: word by word. Interruptions: a fact of life. Lawyers and Toulouse Higher Court for most of this day. No idea what to expect for the young men, decision-wise. I’ll bring along  reading and writing materials; camera too, of course.

Story: word after word. Out of nowhere, an ancient Greek word crops up in my head, in its French incarnation: clepsydre. A water clock. Noted here for further research. Prep for the day takes precedence for now. Of course, I’ll have to click A post to keep afloat in categories applicable to this post.



The decision will come down on April  29th. Three of the boys were handed back the originals of their papers. Authentic  papers, all three, including one with photo and fingerprint. Even in this case, the prosecutor argues no one can prove the bearer of the papers is indeed the person facing the judge. As for the fourth, since no one can prove his papers are authentic, the prosecutor and the court decide the papers are false. Besides, he was thrown out on the street before his eighteenth birthday. He is now eighteen, therefore the court rules it has no grounds on which to decide anything in his case. In other words: limbo that may or may not lead to an expulsion order.

Voilà how the wheels of justice grind down evidence until it is but a mote in someone’s eye. Their lawyer will attend tomorrow’s Citizen Meeting. et vogue la galère. 

Patience, patience and more patience.