Archive for July, 2013

actual work-place conversation

July 12, 2013

How awesome is this?  I love my job.

Me:  And can I just tell you one thing because there’s almost no one else I can say this to and I have to vent?

Van (my boss), ducking his head into a cringe behind his computer moniter, then straightening with a wavering resolve:  Sure.

Me:  That guy I met at the party the other night?  I told him to get my e-mail from his friend and e-mail me.  He always acts interested in talking to me when I see him at parties, but it’s been 4 days and no e-mail.  I have to say that’s a little insulting.

Van:  He’s probably just intimidated by your beauty and intelligence.

Me:  I knew you’d say that.  Still, it’s no excuse.

Van:  I see your point.  It’s just that for most of my life I’ve waited for beautiful, intelligent women to ask me out.


July 11, 2013

I named the file “Art is Dangerous.”  In the spring of 2011 it began as a list of quotations intended to inspire my jazz proposal.  Today, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong are present.  The Vonnegut and Nietzsche were moved at some point.

My own writing would have shared the allotted disk space in the first few weeks of the file’s existence.  I think I composed my first and second drafts just below the rollcall of jazz geniuses.  Pulled out of the stream of my muddied thoughts with typical struggle, unsurprisingly, my words never measured up.  Eventually, the proposal turned confessional, so I wouldn’t have opened this file again, choosing more relevant drafts, scraps, and notes to help me plot my course.

Last month, wondering exactly what was in it, I pulled up the file.  Does every writer have these files with names that are useless in identification?  There was nothing left now but the quotations.  Still inspiring. 

  “Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don’t want it.” – Duke Ellington

 “You should never be comfortable, man. Being comfortable fouled up a lot of musicians.” – Miles Davis

“Jazz is only what you are.”  – Louis Armstrong

The jazz proposal has never left my thoughts.  Two years ago, it had been received with interest by a literary agent.  Over time, it became clear that the interest that seemed, if not flagging, at least fluctuating was mine.  For a while it fused (poorly) with a novel I’ve never stopped picking at, but lately I was returning to a non-fictional approach.  The quotations got me writing again.  In this latest draft, there were some pronouncements on the combustive creativity in the air in during the ’30s and ’40s when jazz and the American Songbook came into being, then I made a step toward the personal as I tried laying down the rhythm I wanted.

But too soon, and once again, the voice seemed academic.   An edit here, an edit there.  A  word choice, a sentence, a paragraph judged unnecessary.  Another perusal, another cut, and all that remains are the initial quotations.

The last edit happened 2 weeks ago, but I still open the document  It stands as a perfect symbol, of what I can’t honestly say.  My intensely critical gaze, so often turned toward the world, does come home.  While there are lots of negatives resulting from this mental attribute, I like to think of it, too, as a kind of service.  Perhaps it could be considered a literary ecology, one that prevents something incidental from coming into being.  What I’m searching for in my writing is what I hear in my favorite musicians — a discipline practiced so long that when a note is hit it is sure and true.

Anyway, seeing the file’s contents cracks me up.  “This is progress,” I tell myself as I consider the computer screen:  the pithy comments of jazz greats, my contributions merely ghostly erasures.  Really.