Waiting for it to start, waiting for it to end …

I like my friend Jonathan Mayhew’s recent insight into procrastination:

Procrastination is the avoidance of a particular emotion associated with a task. It could be boredom, frustration, fear or dread, shame or guilt. The avoidance of the task, though, does not mean an avoidance of that emotion, but it’s prolongation. You are essentially carrying around that emotion with you all the time. Completing the task, then, is a release from that emotion, not its prolongation.

So there must be some positive benefit to procrastination: one could become habituated to that tension and release of emotion, or thrive on the adrenaline of almost missing deadlines.

Professor Mayhew’s been really good on this theme over the years.

Friendships, my own + Ginsberg & Kerouac’s

I received a note from a dear old family friend the other day.

I wouldn’t have noted it, but one of the sites I peruse (“LitHub”) had a piece that last Monday was the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s death. Which means he’s been gone longer than he was here.  Apparently, the town of Lowell had a small ceremony. I saw a photo of the grave where some folks had thoughtfully left a couple of bottles of booze. (Or thoughtlessly?  He died of alcoholism.)  I suppose they should also have a left a copy of [the conservative magazine] National Review.  

I am reminded, once again, of the beautiful song “Box of Rain,” by Phil Lesh and Robert Hunter (RIP):  “Such a long, long time to be gone; but a short time to be there.”

I replied:

I believe he and [National Review publisher] William Buckley were friends, actually. (One thing about both of them – they had gifts for friendship, Buckley getting an extra bonus point for being friends with his antagonists, too, for the most part.)

My feelings toward Kerouac have gone up and down over the years. He is unique in the Robert Basil pantheon in that respect, where once you’re in, you’re in for good (Barthes, Henry James, Flannery O’Connor, William Carlos Williams …). I once made a disparaging remark about Kerouac’s poetry to a close friend of mine (a Garcia-Lorca scholar and a poet himself), and he gently chided me, taking me through some of Kerouac’s poems phrase by phrase, waking me back up. Kerouac’s prose, it must be said, relies on some vocabulary crutches in ways his poetry doesn’t – but so many of his books are nonetheless absolutely splendid. (I taught Dharma Bums while I was at Stanford.) 

And finally, he really really inspired me as a writer. The first Kerouac book I owned was a copy of The Dharma Bums that [my brother] Chris gave me – I must have been 19 or 20. I read about half of it sitting in the back of a pick-up truck zooming down route 17 to Manhattan, surrounded by fall foliage. One of my happiest memories.

To celebrate my graduation from university – this was a solitary activity, because literally *nobody* other than my girlfriend believed I had somehow graduated from college, having dropped out so often and, when actually enrolled, having spent almost as much time hitching around the country as attending classes – I read “On the Road” for the fourth or fifth time, cover to cover, back to front (how I read novels), drinking Miller Beer “ponies” and lying in bed, finishing at dawn. Another one of my happiest memories.

I want to share with you a quite moving piece from the New Yorker: “Allen Ginsberg: The Day After Kerouac Died.” It annotates some journal entries and a poem from “The Fall of America.” (My friend and teacher Robert Creeley makes a few appearances.)

The New Yorker / Allen Ginsberg piece brought some tears.

Memory Gardens

Covered with yellow leaves

     in morning rain …

He threw up his hands

& wrote the universe don’t exist

      & died to prove it. …

 

… Jack thru whose eyes I

    saw

    smog glory light

    gold over Manhattan’s spires

will never see these

    chimneys smoking

anymore over statues of Mary

            in the graveyard …

 

Well, while I’m here I’ll

      do the work –

and what’s the work?

      To ease the pain of living.

Everything else, drunken

      dumbshow.

Election Day

Fingers crossed. We don’t want an American president.

Can I get class credit for that?

My beloved province is home to so many financial ruses and scams.

This story amused me more than it should have.

Almost six months after the B.C. government asked post-secondary institutions to stop taking large cash payments for tuition, many [universities] have closed the loophole identified in Peter German’s report on money laundering. [German is a former high-ranking RCMP officer leading a province-wide investigation into money laundering and the gambling industry.]

Contained among the recommendations … was concern that B.C. universities and colleges could be vulnerable to money laundering.

The report included an example of a student who went to an unnamed college with a duffel bag containing $9,000 in cash and asked to deposit it.

“Peter German has advised that people are paying thousands of dollars in suspicious cash for multiple semesters in advance and then seeking refunds by cheque,” Attorney General David Eby said at a new conference in May. “Our post-secondary institutions must not be used to launder money, and we are asking them to review their policies to put a stop to it.”

Since then, many of B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions have moved to end the practice, including Thompson Rivers University and the University of the Fraser Valley. …

Several schools are still reviewing their policies. [My employer] Kwantlen Polytechnic University … still accepts cash but is “looking at the possibility of moving to a fully online payment model and recently adopted a new online payment method for international students.”

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday, one whose name I obey, happily.

Be Wary of Praise

When I asked my mom if she liked anything about my first book, she said “the copyright page.”

Neighbours

Great footage. The wolf watching in the background makes it perfect. God bless British Columbia!