Saturday, January 3, 2009

A list of things to do

See? Toldja it was hard to commit to something like this on a regular basis. At least it is for me. BUT, I'm gonna work on that this year. Which brings me to...the inevitable...what am I going to do about this entire year that's sprawled out in front of me like a wide stretch of endless pasture? Well, a few things:

~the job is in question
~publish that book of poetry
~learn Spanish
~practice piano and guitar
~travel to Europe
~pick myself up after these past tumultuous months

Even as I write that list, it just seems like a list of things to do or be or learn or add to my life experiences, which is oh-right by me. But the thing I'd like to focus most on is being better at being me. Being more present in my own life, living every moment to the fullest. And yet, I think that one's been on my resolution list a few times. This time seems different though because I have this feeling like I'm about to take flight.

I met someone who shook up my entire existence with brief yet poignent encounters. This person lives like that: every moment is so alive; every new person met quickly becomes an old friend; the world just seems to open up for this person. And it affected me. Provoked me. Helped me.

Certain people are so meant to be in your life...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Get Off Your Dreams and Do Something!

Committing to a blog is not easy. It's a procrastinator's worst enemy, a dreamer's novacaine. Then again, it was Justin Sandercoe's website that reminded me of what exactly an artist struggles with to create art. He quotes Charles Bukowski's "so you want to be a writer?" poem, and suddenly it all makes sense:

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewritersearching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or fame,
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wifeor your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands
ofpeople who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-love.

the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.don't do it.

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.

unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

I got to Justin's site by way of trying to learn how to play guitar. Again. For the umpteenth time. His site is really inspiring, and he has unselfishly spent loads of time making it a place where people can learn the instrument, especially people who don't have the $$$ to pay for lessons. His style of teaching is easy to follow—he keeps it simple and clear. You should check it out at

OK, so I got to the site and was looking around and found the Hank Chinaski poem and started thinking about whether or not I should even begin to do this again. Well, while I'm not doing it because I want women in my bed, the poem does uncover a truth about the act of making your dreams a reality. For all the reasons listed in his poem, you shouldn't do it. But it's the core of his message, the underlying, sublimal whisper that's saying "it doesn't matter why you're doing it, if you want to do it badly enough, just do it" that gets you, just as you're reading all the reasons why it's so damn hard to make any dream come true.

Contemplating and being stared at by my Fender that's in the other room, I hop in the car with self-doubt and questions trailing behind me. My purpose for going to the store was to get a 6-pack of Mick Ultra, but then I got inspired and picked up a little more than that. I put my bag of 3 golden delicious apples down on the conveyer at cashier #7, right next to the Wired magazine, Guitar magazine and beer I had put down already. The adolescent boy with moppy sandy-blonde hair never said a word to me as he dragged each one of my items across the scanner and waited for the "blip" that would identify each item and register its price. Like an audience member at a tennis match, my head went from left to right 4 times. He told me my total and placed my items in a bag. After I finished sliding my my credit card through and selecting a series of "OKs" and "Accepts," The Boy asked me how my day was going. I looked at my contents and said it was going well. He nodded, and I was on my way.

So what does it take to create art? More than simple fruit, superior beer with low carbs and some takes the determination of a blog writer to end this post and begin.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blog 'O Scare

Now that I've started a blog, officially, I'm wondering if I can keep up with it. I'm also wondering how different it's going to be from writing with back-in-the-day ink and paper. Already, I've noticed how too-easy it is to simply press the Backspace button and erase the thoughts I just recorded {sounds like an epsiode of X-Files or Fringe or something FX-Channely}. Just like that, I can press a button's gone.

When writing the old-school way, it's more permanent. It's more of a commitment. If you screw up or don't like something you wrote, you have to make the choice of either A) leaving it there and dealing with the possibility of being discovered one day when someone finds your journal long after you've left this place and cares enough to read it, or B) scribbling over the words, thus making a wicked mess of the page and causing said person-who-finds-your-journal-and-cares-enough-to-read-it to focus their eye directly on the scribbled-out section and perpetually wonder what was originally there. They will spend their whole lives dreaming up possibilities of what you had originally thought. They will ask their friends to listen to their ideas all the time. When their friends get sick of them, they will stop strangers in the street and ask them for answers to the question that will drive them insane, keep them up at night and cause them to take strong medication: What did she originally write there? But even after that answer has been found a hundred times over, one question still remains: Why did she cross it out?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Van Tastic

You know what's great about having a name like Van Allen? You can put "Van" in front of anything and instantly it feels good. It's like I've been given this special right to create new words out of the first part of my last name and claim them like little Pac-Man pellets found along the way. Other than the obvious, here are a few words I feel proud to own:

van attitude
van special
van told you so
van lite
all that and a bag of van {OK, so that one's a little different, but I just discovered I can branch out of the model I've created and am vanthusiastic about it!}

Go ahead. Give it a try. Once you start, you'll be hooked. Send me your van best!