Is This Even a PVP Diary? (#67)

“Hey dad?”
“Do you want to know the reasons of life?”
“I don’t.”

I’ve been reading books manically. Though also of course placidly, because I don’t know about you, but the only effect that reading good literature has ever had on me has been one of balance and accord. Even the uncomfortable, frenzied, painful stories, because the recognition of the feeling somewhere outside of myself is naturally calming. It’s validation, or a kind of fraternity, and it is centering, even in anguish. Like the way a toddler throwing a tantrum can be calmed by someone simply saying “You must be very angry right now. Do you want to tell me how angry you are?” A good story has a way of being exactly where you are, or bringing you to where it is, without ever telling you that you’re being ridiculous.

Here’s my list since the 4th of July:

  • Legends of the Fall (3 Novellas)
    1. Revenge
    2. Legends of the Fall (puts an already very good movie to shame)
      • Have not yet read:
        1. The Man Who Gave Up His Name
  • The Survival of the Bark Canoe
  • The Shell Collector (Short story collection)
    1. The Shell Collector
    2. The Hunter’s Wife
    3. So Many Chances
    4. For a Long Time This Was Griselda’s Story
    5. July Fourth
      • Have not yet read:
        1. The Caretaker
        2. A Tangle by the Rapid River
        3. Mkondo
  • Heart of Darkness
    • I’ve read a lot of Conrad, not sure why it took me so long to get to this.
    • Went ahead and watched Apocalypse Now (again(I mean again-again)) after reading this, and it was even better that way.

I read to write, and that’s part of why I haven’t been here. While I am not making swift progress, my novel is coming together little by little. It’s slow enough that I’m saying things like “we’ll see where it is this time next year,” but I sense that I’m going to hit a point where it gets easier to write it. For now I am treating it like a job: working on it (which means reading as much as writing) for a few hours every day, taking weekends off for house projects, neglecting laundry, etc. One of the big problems is that during the summer, with the coronavirus rolling along, there is little to occupy the kids. They’re outside messing around as much as possible, but with The Italian and I both working, the kids find themselves in front of screens an awful lot.

There’s also my intent to publish my One Donut Poems as a collection, another poetry collection idea I have, and two half-done short stories that I’d like to finish, but I need to pick something and go until it’s done. Nothing will make me feel more complete than the novel.

Oh yeah, here’s the link to the page where you can find my poem that the good people at Whatever Keeps the Lights On were kind enough to publish. I think it’s fantastic that they found a place for me. Maybe I oughtta push out a few more today, see if anything takes.

And I’ve started to cull the internet from my life to whatever meager extent is possible. I’m entirely gone from Facebook (except of course for their extensive and permanent file containing my habits, interests, desires, internet history, shopping history, friends, acquaintances, birth certificate social security number, medical history, and probably even my DD-214), dropped a few sites from my list of daily or near-daily visits, deleted several apps from the phone that I found I’d open up and look at like a drugged raccoon in a dumpster, and am teaching myself little things like “it’s ok to go to the bathroom without your phone.” Sounds a little sad, I know, but like most of us, I’m a lot less unique than I’d like to think.

I may also have to slink back to FB. It was my best way to stay in touch with my brother. Since losing FB Messenger, I have heard almost nothing from him.

Well anyway, some folks are coming to clean the roof and gutters today, so that’ll be nice to have done. And last year we had our deck enlarged a bit, and redone entirely in some nice cedar, but I prepped it poorly and used cheap stain, so we’re here now:

Sanding her down little by little with the random orbit sanders. We borrowed one from a neighbor so that we could both work on it, but still didn’t quite finish over the weekend, what with other obligations happening. We’ll at least know that the wood will be good and ready to drink up the stain, and we’re using a good, expensive stain that we’ve used before and have no complaints about. (about which we have…whatever). I’d love to get the sanding done today, but I’m writing.

4 thoughts on “Is This Even a PVP Diary? (#67)”

  1. Conrad is one of my favorites. “The Secret Agent” is terrific, too. And, if you haven’t read it, you should try his novella “Typhoon.” It’s a study of a ship in crisis: how the red-haired Captain–a man thought to be clueless by the more book-learned second-in-command narrator–pulls the ship safely though an epic on-coming storm. It’s more than an adventure story though–though it is that. It is a parable of leadership set on the dark seas of uncertainty. It might have a few contemporary echoes worth considering.


    1. If I remember correctly, I have you to thank for pointing me towards Whatever Keeps the Lights On. Thank you.

      I think I have read Typhoon, but probably 20 years ago. A couple of years ago I wrote 25 or so pages on Lord Jim, a beautiful work about shame, integrity, reputation, and legacy. The possibility (or impossibility) of redemption. Like several other stories, Marlow is the narrator in that one as well.


    1. I used the Behr deck stain on some landscape timbers earlier this year and really liked it. Still do. For this job we’re using a very pricey number from Vermont Natural Coatings. It’s been on our front porch for a couple of years and looks great. The deck in the back – yeesh – we should have gone with a composite instead of wood. It’s uncovered, and 2/3 of it never gets direct sunlight, so it just stays wet.

      Where’s that Dickinson? Looking for an excuse to package mine up and send it to someone else.


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