Thursday, March 3, 2011

One Week's Worth of Storage and Stories

With one week left before heading to Bozeman where I’ll spend a few days before going on to Yellowstone, I sealed four ready-to-ship boxes last night and will take them to storage tomorrow. They’re mostly filled with books and my journals, along with a mix of photos, letters, cds, and dvds. I’ll be storing boxes of more necessary day to day stuff next week, but it’s those four boxes which are the reason I’m renting a storage space at all.

I considered taking along a few books this time since it will be so quiet the first couple months I’ll be there—I had picked out Desert Solitaire, The Abstract Wild, Thoreau’s The Natural History Essays, and Swampwalker’s Journal. They all wound up in boxes except Turner’s slim but weighty volume. And I ordered a new copy of the cheap paperback of Walden/Civil Disobedience I sold a couple weeks ago. Along with them I’ll have three advance copies to take with me for review, the most interesting to you probably being Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout.

With the outward oriented projects I’d been working on for months finished, I finally started on the major task of moving my own words from paper to computer. Beginning with the stack of loose pages, I’ve entered all the old poetry (from my teens and twenties) but the fiction and miscellanea are going into storage for now. I also found eight pages of favorite Walden quotes which I’m in the process of entering—I might post some of those when I have the chance.

At some time in the past, I reread hundreds of poems I hadn’t published in my college annual magazine and threw out all but about forty which I recopied. Reading them again now, my major reaction is that I should have thrown out a lot more. But some of them do bring back specific memories, and I was happy to see quite a bit of nature imagery even way back then. I do think I did a pretty good job long ago of predicting what my life would be like—I guess you could toss a coin to determine if that was self-fulfilling prophecy or keen self-awareness, then flip it again to see if it matters either way.

Here’s a little assignment which was written at a group meeting at my English teacher’s home after we passed around an object with eyes closed. A piece of driftwood, obviously.

Time, like the ocean

Laps gently at my feet,

Crashes harshly across my brow.

It shapes me from lifelessness,

Tossing and turning me,

Smoothing out my roughest edges

Yet leaving occasional flaws,

Which snag and catch at people's anger.

Hey, I was eighteen and pretentious—give me a break, I’d get older. I include it primarily to introduce you to the teacher, Allan Metcalf, who’s gone on to write several books about language, the most recent published by Oxford University Press.

Although I’m leaving a lot of earlier writing here in boxes, I’m taking the first couple volumes of my actual journal (August 1989-January 1991, when I was in my early thirties) to Yellowstone to transcribe. This covers the time period when I quit my corporate job and started writing a lot more pages daily so I think it should make for fun reading. I actually indexed these, a practice which soon fell by the margin. So though I have no idea specifically what I’ll find, I know there will be a lot about women, sex, dreams, therapy, insights, and writing—sounds like a bestseller.

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