Something about this weblog format just ain’t right for me; it lets me be lazy and not explain things and not take the time to really burrow down to what I’m trying to say. For example, my intro to a Jonathan Franzen quote, two entries below this one: “This quote, at least, I know I marked because it was sort of a lowering of expectations for writers, which gave me a little kick of optimism.” That’s not even true. I didn’t feel like that quote was a lowering expectation for writers. I felt like it was a clarifying of purpose and a relief, because so many times you’re told that only the professional professional professional has any value.

The third in our series: “The Mind: Hmm. I Don’t Know.”

So I got my eyes checked out at an optometrist’s in downtown D.C. And he said my current prescription was too strong. Anyone who’s ever been in an eye exam knows that your prescription is all up to you. You tell the optometrist which prescription makes you see clearer and which makes things more fuzzy. How the fuck did I screw up my own eyeglasses prescription?

When the D.C. optometrist clicked through the various strengths of lenses as I looked at the eye chart, he asked, “Better, worse, or about the same?” But my old optometrist had only asked, “Better or worse?” I guess for whatever reason, I felt pressured to make a decision between the two choices and kept ramping up the prescription.

Please don’t ask me to make decisions about anything important.

The second in our series, “The Mind: Hmmm. I Don’t Know.”

I marked interesting phrasings or passages that stuck out as I read Jonathan Franzen’s book of essays, “How to Be Alone.” A week or so later, I now turn back to find the flagged passages. And I have to wonder. What struck me so much about the phrase “the business end of a broken rake”. Or that “the Arkansas [River], roiling and bucking just beyond, is the color of steamed artichokes.” Or that a seventy-two year old Texan lady liquidated her furniture store “because she could make better money on Wall Street and (she quips) the stock is easier to carry.”

It’s not like I marked a trillion passages, either. Maybe only five or six per 25-page essay.

This quote, at least, I know I marked because it was sort of a lowering of expectations for writers, which gave me a little kick of optimism: “…imaginative writing is fundamentally amatuer. It’s the lone person scouring the trash heap, not the skilled team assembling an entertainment, and we Americans are lucky enough to live in the most wonderful world of junk.”

Mental detective work… I woke up this morning with seven words and a fraction of a tune in my head: “If I could make it known that…” I knew it was something I hadn’t heard in a long, long time. On the Metro ride this morning, the tone of the singer’s voice — whiny and scratchy — came back to me. The song was by Our Lady Peace, a band I haven’t listened to since high school. So when I got to work, I looked up all of their songs and figured it out. Here ’tis: “If I don’t make it known that/I’ve loved you all along
just like the sunny days that/we ignore because/we’re all dumb & jaded/and I hope to God I figure out/what’s wrong…” Why did this song appear in my head this morning? I’m convinced it means something. But what. (Dun dun dun.)