Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 2: The Itch

 One of the very few things I'm good at is not itching mosquito bites.  I really want to start writing short stories and I will.  I want to maybe even put out some of my horrible poetry.  But this 3 pages in the morning thing is hard for me because I feel like something with a coherent storyline deserves a little more attention than the type and paste methodology that I am currently employing.  I really was going to do it today but I got out of bed this morning and the air was still cool and had a slightly wet crispness to it.  I hit my snooze timer for 5 minutes and only activated it twice.  When I got out of bed I had to carefully walk around the 2 sleeping children that had invaded our room some time in the night when the electricity when out and the air conditioner and fan also stopped.  Sometimes I think they are just lying in bed waiting for the power to trip so that they can come inside and sleep on our floor.  I walked out to the living room and felt as though I was actually pushing my body into a wall of hot jello.  My unshowered body just started to itch and sweat and I sat out here on the porch with hardly a breeze in the world.  Already at 8 in the morning the sweat is running down my back and sides and my thighs are quickly becoming quite tropical where the laptop rests.

Last night while watching Gravity with my young, hot wife I received 5 bites of some nefarious  creature creating a consolation that brings to mind a long stemmed martini glass.  Americans can complain all they want about mosquitoes being the state bird of Minnesota but American Mosquitoes produce a byte that itches and as long as you can keep your grubby fingernails away from it for 15 minutes you are fine, until you get dressed or bump it on the stucco wall of your friend's house, in which case it will blaze up in an itch inferno once again.  Let me tell you, dear reader, that this is a blessing, not a burden.  Enough discomfort to remind one that one is alive without any long term commitments of that sometimes odious reality.  Certain times of the year the South Indian mosquito is similar.  Certain times of the year a bite is only as bad as the dengue that it brings.  But at other times of the year the bites itch for days with no relief.  I don't know if it is a change in curry, a change in the grass the buffaloes eat, a different species of parasite, but it makes the process of being bitten much worse.  The extra great news is that possibly due to the strange rain we have had through the year or my lessening tolerance due to extended exposure but these more aggravating bites are the ones that currently are residing in an alcoholic star pattern on my right forearm.  Between the heat and the incessant itching, the tickling trickle of sweat droplets running down my back I don't feel the mood to attempt to sculpt something with quality, to craft the work of a wordsmith this morning.  Which brings me to an interesting thought altogether different and hopefully distracting from my current physical discomfort.

If anyone knows me and has discussed creating stuff for any length of time with me they will know that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has had a profound effect on my life.  Really changed the way that I look at some of the things I do with more attention to detail and creating art in the traditionally non-art fields.  Wiring a dryer, writing a SQL query, spreading butter on bread.  What is interesting is that in the dual collision of the Back to Work podcast I've been listening to and re-reading ZATAOMM for the nth time I have less desire to intake other people's stuff and really want to spend more time creating my stuff.  I was listening to an interview with Trevor Talbert (Link?) and he was talking about what graphic novels and music he really enjoys.  He said recently that he realized that if he wants to optimize his creative energy he had to spend less time taking in the created works of other people.  This guy is one of the greatest American pipemakers of our generation as well as an illustrator and other side projects.  At the time I had an internal stoppage when I heard that.  I thought that this would cause a strange sort of creative incest, a self focused tunnel where you slowly lost your mind pursuing this art that no one else would recognize as such.  Where would your inspiration come from?  This has been residing in my subconscious now for a few weeks when I listened to the “Inspiration episode” on BTW.

I usually have a strange reaction to when I know something and somebody tells me what I already knew.  Somebody verbalizing what has been forming in my mind and I knew at a deeper level but did not know it in my conscious mind.  For me those things are the things I tend to revolt against initially until someone else crystallizes them with words.  Another person's work may inspire my inner person: make me think new thoughts and feel new feelings.  This is crucial to be a healthy human being.  But that kind of inspiration does 2 things to me.  1 is that I tend to research their work and get lost in the aethernet.  I facebook their work and get lost in the aethernet.  Or I allow the beauty of their work to create a feeling of “I could never do something like that”-ism and instead of inspiration it constipates the creative process.  The other is that I cannot take in other people's creativity well and create well simultaneously.  I am simply too human to do more than 1 thing at a time.  Now I could listen to new music while I carve a briar, I could play a film while I turn a pen, but I will not do either of the two things well.  In face I will do both of them horribly.  Merlin Mann said, “The difference between people who create really cool stuff isn't that they live in San Francisco, the difference is that they make it,” more or less.  I cannot create stuff if I hide in other people's work.  I think I should spend some of my time absorbing new things.  My unbounded curiosity has helped me become the person I am today.  But if I do not sit down and shut out those things and make something than I will keep not making things.

I subscribe to about 50 different YouTube channels.  From miniature gaming to blacksmithing to motorcycles to Tiny Desk Concerts I love the way YouTube allows you to learn things in a effortlessly multifaceted manner.  One of the things that bothered me everyday was coming home and trying to catch up on all the videos that have been constructed in the last 24 hours.  I watched a great video for an hour last night about a man creating a Damascus straight edge razor.  I love watching craftspeople at work, which YouTube and vimeo are both great for.  But I will never smith my own straight edge if I just watch you tube videos about it and more importantly I won't write and finish my sewing projects if I'm daydreaming about someday getting the equipment to learn how to be a blacksmith.

I love how the contributors to this blog are really approaching this morning pages exercise with zeal.  We actually have content!  It is amazing how inspirational it is to see someone else actually create something and do it then yourself.  I sat down to write a short story that would change your life and make you cry but I'm sweaty and my arm itches.  But I still sat down and created something.  And you should too.  

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