Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, May 26, 2006

Un-Post

As I don’t want to think about the week’s too many events, too much homework, and too many nights with children staying up too late—or about the fact that I must clean and spiffen [sic, drat it!] and buff the house for in-laws—I’ll write about something else entirely. I could talk about what I’m reading at the moment: Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things, plus a Diana Wynne Jones reread and various stories out of a Daniel Halpern anthology of writers from around the world and essays and poems. But the mood I’m in—pleasant, a little sleepy, not particularly serious--makes me wonder why on earth anybody would want to find out…

So that’s no good.

I could scribble about what I’m working on—tweaking a book of stories, though the whole world knows that publishers don’t want stories, and giving a novella a few days off (time to become strange) before I read it again. But if you climbed up a ladder and peeked in my window and saw me, you’d soon be bored, watching me mull and fix, mull and fix, mull and fix.

So skip that!

Alas, I am attracted by the rather short novel of late. Once upon a time, one of the NBA judges told me privately that my novel Catherwood was well liked but “too short for the short list,” a thing that I found comical, though a bit sad for the book. Yet I persist in liking novella and long novella, or perhaps it is novella and short novel.

But I don’t want to talk about any of my bullheaded tendencies, either. Or even about how it’s right to have bullheaded tendencies and not be a streamer in the wind. Or about how the wind is blowing hard right now.

Scratch that idea—scratch it hard, okay? Use your fingernails.

What I really want to do is take a walk in the May sunshine. The sky is a dandy shade of blue with only a feathering of clouds. It keeps brightening and falling into lulls, playing with shadows and then taking them away. Energetic grackles are marching around the back yard, eating grubs and seeds. It looks inviting out there, minus the consumption of grubs.

However, R. is home sick.

So that’s out.

Perhaps I just won’t post today. Feel equally free not to comment…

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"another springtime tree" is a royalty free photograph by Robert Aichinger of Austria, www.sxc.hu/

11 comments:

  1. my joy, my love, my shiny heart tickling beloved, take that walk.

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  2. You clever old so-and-so, telling us you won't, when you will and did.
    If you were here, I'd pull your arm and make you take a walk with me. Although today the humidity has crept in some and diluted the cobalt blue of recent skies.

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  3. Walk not yet taken...

    Hmm, looks like I have at least two people who would walk with me!

    If you pulled my arm this week, it just might tumble off. And isn't there an arm like that in a Kawabata story--one that goes on to have a life of its own?

    Enough humidity makes the fireflies look like "Starry, Starry Night." (At MOMA, that's the one that gawkers gawk at, by the by. Even though "The Sleeping Gypsy" is right beside it.)

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  4. Well,

    I would walk with you as well. And rejoice, for children have come into my life and left now for 7th grade. We just gave them their freedom at 11 am this morning.

    Some I will miss and worry about this summer, others I will worry about this summer but not miss. I am glad those are moving on. Maybe they can touch other hearts, and be touched by other hearts in a way I could not.

    Now I am at the task of cleaning out desks, filing files and organizing. Not a task I love to do, so I would walk with you.

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  5. Oops I meant they left for 8th grade.

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  6. Ah, well.

    Just went to a middle school concert and felt alternately moved by the loveliness (with something heartbreaking in it) of children turning into adults and pressured by the hair-on-fire schedule of May and June.

    However, I'm sure a teacher sometimes feels an impulse to duck and cover, seeing certain faces coming down the hall. Yet it is one of the world's great callings, the teaching of children... It demands such a transformative level of selflessness. And probably would break most of us into a little heap of scorched kindling!

    It's raining in my state. Let's walk in yours.

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  7. And yes, I'd walk with you as well (and so would one or two of my dogs, for that matter, snuffing the springtime air with total joy and trying to stir gophers out of holes and make the ravens fly up).
    You are so lucky to have fireflies. All we have are glow worms, lining the forest paths.

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  8. It's 1:51 a.m., almost witching hour in the Palace--though the comments always say the wrong time, so that I get all the credit of being very, very early to rise, when I don't...

    Yes, a walk with ravens and glow worms.

    Glow worms. I love Marvell. "The Mower to Glowworms." Here we have very few fireflies, and each one is ridiculously special.

    Sometimes when I see one, I am terribly homesick for certain places in my childhood--the Carolinas and Louisiana, mostly. I am greedy and want more, more fireflies until a humid, shimmering sky is bursting with stars.

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  9. Hiya Doc Youmans. Keisuke here - I'm going to be back in your area again this summer, teaching musical theatre at the New York Summer Music Festival, or NYSMF, over in Oneonta. I'd love to see you and the family again, it's been decades. Are you free between June 25 and August 5?

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  10. My, you do get interesting comments left for you! The wonders of the internet. Happy birthday to the nine year old; yes, it is a wonderful age. I was struck with nostalgia for that stage in my kidlet's lives (29, which is what the eldest will be in October, is not the same).

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  11. Jarvenpa--

    You know, I think from 9 through 11 is an especially good stage in a little boy's life, though I like them all in different ways.

    I already have a feeling of nostalgia because mine are growing up so fast, but I also think I would keel over if somebody handed me another baby! I'm already going full tilt all the time.

    Hey Keisuke--

    How splendid! Yes, of course I want to see you and will be sometimes in--two are going to Turkey and Greece, one is going to a writing workshop, three are going to camp, two have a Scout week, and various sets of company will be arriving... parents and a cousin and godparents and friends. That means I have some serious entertaining and touring about to do, plus a good deal of kid-ferrying to distant spots. I also have some dates already claimed by the opera season and such. So it will be a wild and zany summer, and we will stir you into the mix. You will be startled to see my children, utterly transformed. In fact, I am startled to see them!

    Is this because of your California theater fame? (Keisuke the Magnificent! I'll have to get a banner.) If only we had t.v., we could see you earning your dramatic bread. I did see an ad while traveling. I need a Hoashi anthology...

    I'm working on a master schedule for summer, so that I can fathom the thing. And I'll give you your own personal copy.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.