I'd been clicking over to my online library account refreshing the status of a short stack of Edwardian novels (mostly because I was too lazy and feckless to head out to the library) — but it seems that there are only a limited number of times one can extend time on borrowed items. My plan Friday was to swing by the downtown branch whilst running a block of other errands. I'd just whip through the little semi-circular drive off Soledad and pop them into the box. The problem is, there's no box. I guess the driveway is just for the VIA buses. So, I circled around to the parking garage and walked inside. As long as I was there, I made a quick run through the fiction stacks for three by George Saunders and one by Dave Eggers.
I have fallen woefully behind the current crop of lit folks. And, to be honest, Eggers wasn't on the forefront of my mind until recently when I saw a video on the TED website where he's talking up his after-school tutoring program, 826 Valencia. Eggers came off as such a genuine person and just a wonderful human being, that it mitigated all the gassy platitudes the critics and generic bloggerati have been laying on him, that I thought it high time for me to jump on that particular bandwagon.
As for George Saunders, I can't recall where I encountered him name. I suspect it was on some website where a blogger I respect was praising him. I tracked down a couple of video interviews, read two stories of his on-line, and maybe an essay or two. He's wrangled a McArthur. And even though I've found the smattering of work I've so far read entertaining enough, my current thoughts are that the McArthur board have fallen a bit in their bestowing of the coveted “genius” award — Sandra Cisneros and Cormac McCarthy, I'll gladly allow, but unless these three books change my thoughts (concerning Saunders) I will have to concede that geniuses aren't what they once where. But, of course, I'll reserve judgment.
Sometime next week I'm going to have to contact the San Antonio Museum of Art. The old and stale honorarium check I discover on my desk earlier in the month, was returned by my bank. Admittedly, it was eleven months old, but I'd like to think they'd be glad to get that standing item on their books resolved. Needless to say, this threw my meager accounts into turmoil — the domino effect for those of us who live hand-to-mouth on the self-employment treadmill.
I'm about to just give up. The rats are picking away at me. Yeah, I know, it's my own damn fault, but, dammit, I'd pack it up except I've no plan “B.” Just lay low and keep away from the people I care about because I have just a few ounces left of my sense of humor … and my smile is getting pretty brittle. Hunker down and wait for things to get a bit better.
The “for lease” sign has mysteriously reappeared in front of my house. I'm not sure which of the other two apartments in this triplex is going to be opening up soon. I don't really care. This is a crop of dull and joyless tenants. I've only spoken (once) to the guy on the south side. The woman on the north, well, I only know her name because her mail found it's way into my box. Actually, I'd rather her leave. Then I could go back to hogging the driveway. And I could return to lounging out in the side yard sweeping the heavens with my astronomy binoculars. The best scenario, of course, would be for the both of them to exit. Oh, what am I saying — I might get psychos again.
Of maybe, the best scenario would be for me to be heading out.
There are times (like right now) when I feel I've had my fill of San Antonio. I remember when my friend Rose (she's currently with the Peace Corps in Morocco) cringed when I decided to switch my cell phone over from a Fort Worth area code to one here in San Antonio. “Don't get trapped here,” was her clear message.
Don't get me wrong, of all the places to find oneself trapped, San Antonio's actually quite awesome. The people are the main thing. I have managed to gather a tight circle of maybe 12 friends and a huge assortment of associates — and this is quite an accomplishment for a recovering social phobic. This city seems to bring out the best in people. And there's also culture, history, art, and some sweet and funky neighborhoods which are inviting and accessible.
But I'm just beat down. I need to get back to the desert of southern Presidio Country, where time moves at the sensible speed of a vulture gliding untroubled beneath a cloudless sky. A place where the only reason people come by to visit is to commune, human to human, as the planet languidly rolls around the sun and the wind sweeps in from Sierra Rica and a little vinegaroon scuttles slowly across the dust of the garden towards the shade afforded by of a little knot of stinging nettles — those with the yellow flowers which the locals call mal mujer.
Maybe that's not what I need, by that's what I'm missing.
As it is, 2008 isn't impressing me.
I'm locked into half a dozen projects that are, for the most part, indistinguishable from those of 2007.
There's some quote from William Burroughs (and no doubt he lifted it from another source), and my best paraphrase from memory would be: “We do not have to live, but we have to travel.”
I've never been certain what this means, but it has always struck me as profoundly true.
I think the central conceit at work here is that life, in all it's ubiquity (at least on this planet), expands into every corner and every niche no matter how untenable — in short, we will always travel and move no matter how dangerous or detrimental to our best interests.
The highlight of my 2007 was the short production gig down to the far side of the Falcon Reservoir. And 2006, San Miguel. These were wonderful alien (well, to me) worlds. And dammit I'd better find the equivalent in 2008.