16 November 2006

Falling Down On The Job

I'm much chagrined every time I check in over at 327 Words - which is pretty much every day - and discover that Dave 327 has put up yet another 327 words, thereby passing another milestone in his noble/quixotic (you choose) quest to create and post a 327-word essay on 327 consecutive days.

Not the snappiest of lead sentences there, and entirely overburdened with the number 327, but hopefully it conveys a bit of the burden I feel when first a day, then a week or more slithers by without my having posted anything here. Not that I'm comparing myself with Dave; after all, the man is a consummate professional (and professor) accustomed to keeping to schedules and deadlines, his steely intellect tempered by the constant and rigorous study of philosophy, his creativity channeled by careful cultivation of his responsibilities to family, friends and colleagues.

In other words, a faithful man, good and true, even if he does insist on careening about the late night streets of Seattle on an unlit bike, stoned and sloshed to the gills. The man works hard; he's certainly entitled to his recreation, regardless of what bizarre form it might take. But though, as I say, I'm not comparing myself with him, I still reckon he has a bit of nerve being so damned reliable and all.

Perhaps I should have set myself the goal of writing something here every day. I probably would have kept to for quite a while, if not for 327 days (and if I were to use the same formula as Dave has for setting his goal, I'd have to come up with a post of 1,028 words every day for 1,028 days). I'm pretty sure I've never done anything that faithfully in my entire life. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, there'd come a day when I just didn't feel like it. That would probably be on the second or third day, if not sooner. I'd force myself to do it anyway, reminding myself of how healthy is is to acquire the steady discipline of a regular writer, but eventually would come a day when I'd say, "I don't care how healthy it is, I'm going to the beach/movies/cafe/back to bed."

Which more or less sums up what I've been doing this past week, if you subtract "going to the beach" and replace it with "looking at pointless things on the internet for hours on end." And add an occasional dollop of "cleaning my room" (still). One of the things I unearthed (and promptly deposited in the rubbish) was a 10-page essay I composed (under considerable duress) during my Berkeley undergraduate days. It was called "Why They Wrote" and was supposed to explain the reasons a variety of characters, including Sartre, Virginia Woolf, Orwell, and similar suspects, felt compelled to put pen or typewriter to paper.

My own deeply felt conviction was that I didn't particularly care, but that wasn't going to bring home the grade I desired, so I unleashed a whole lot of pretentious and high-faluting nonsense of the sort that usually pleases college professors, and I noted with satisfaction that many of my points had been circled and labeled "good point!" I was not so satisfied when I reached the end and found that I had only been awarded an A- for my efforts. The reason: well, according to the professor's notes, "I'm not accusing you of plagiarism, but I would have much preferred it if you'd provided citations for some of your otherwise excellent quotes."

Nigh on 20 years had elapsed, but my teeth gnashed all over again at the indignity and injustice of it all: the source of the "quotes" she was asking me to provide references for was none other than myself. I had already plowed through that damnable Sartre once; I wasn't about to do it again when I was perfectly capable of making up my own pompous rhetoric about the nature and necessity of writing. And before I get sidetracked, let me reiterate here: Jean-Paul Sartre is a plonker and a nuisance whose writing gave me a severe headache. And I hear he smoked far too much and was beastly to Simone de Beauvoir in the bargain.

Having torn off on that particular tangent, I think I'll stop short of musing over why I myself feel the necessity to write here (or anywhere). Besides, Dave already touched on that subject as well, and I'm sure has said more succinctly whatever I would have said. On to other subjects, however briefly: today is the birthday of my good friend, the journalist and author Danny Penman. It's one of those milestone birthdays, too, but out of deference to any possible sensitivity on Danny's part, I'll refrain from mentioning specific numbers here. He's still a good bit younger than me at any rate.

Elections: turned out about as I would have expected, though I was disappointed that boatloads of corporate cash managed to dissuade voters from approving the oil and cigarette taxes. I stated my view here last week that as long as teenagers and unemployed college students can afford to take up smoking, cigarettes are too cheap, and I'll add here that as long as people can afford to squander energy the way they do, oil is also too cheap. Sooner or later we're going to have to made radical adjustments to our lifestyle, particularly in the areas of transportation and suburban sprawl. The longer we keep oil prices artificially low, the more painful that transition is going to be when it's finally forced upon us. And the longer we're going to be dependent upon/embroiled in the charnel house of Middle Eastern geopolitics.

Most of my records and tapes and about half my CDs went bye-bye last week, and are in the process of being sold and/or added to a nearby landfill by a helpful friend. Watch for some of them to crop up on eBay in the coming weeks. The same friend has also helped me by making digital copies of many of my old records and cassettes, including most of my old Lookouts stuff, most of which I haven't been able to listen to for years because of the lack of a functioning record player. Next step is to get my long-awaited website up and functioning so I can post mp3s of those songs for the many (well, 10 or 20, anyway) of you who've requested them. And just when I was rejoicing over having finished typing up all my old MRR columns (all the ones I had access to, anyway; no doubt one of you helpful souls will soon unload a whole new bundle on me), I discovered a pile of Anderson Valley Advertisers from the 1980s, all of which contained lengthy articles by yours truly. A month's worth of typing, at least.

And my time in Berkeley is fast running out. Right after Thanksgiving I'm back to England for what may be the last time, at least as a resident. My flat is going on the market, and may be sold before Christmas. It's something I've considered for a long time, but it's kind of shocking that it's actually happening. London has been a part-time home for over 30 years, and a full-time one for the past 10. Leaving it is likely to be as wrenching as when I left Spy Rock for the last time, but it seems as though that's what's happening. I'll only be there two and a half weeks, barely time to pack up my remaining things, let alone get round to see everyone and say my goodbyes. In the end I'll probably slip away almost as unobtrusively as I arrived.

It's not the end of my love affair with London, though the ardor has cooled somewhat in recent years. It's just that another city - or two - has caught my eye. I wish I were rich enough - some people seem to be under the impression that I am - to live in both London and New York, but unfortunately that's not the case. Speaking of which: I need a job. Ideally some freelance writing work, but I'd be happy doing some copy editing as well, or related media-type stuff. If going to/hanging about in offices is involved, it should ideally be in New York City. Anybody with any leads, please let me know.

3 comments:

dashap said...

Hey Larry, thanks for the props, but one slight correction:
"careening," sure.
"stoned," okay.
"sloshed to the gills," yep.

But my bike does have a light.

G2 said...

Hey, good idea on making a site for your material.
take care,
Gabriel

Lefty said...

as spike lee once reminded us, "fair" is not the same as "equal." i just posted about how lazy i am, and yet while beating myself up over "being too lazy to write" realized that i have written about 160,000 words in my stupid blog since january.