Monday, June 1, 2020. I’m enjoying two milestones today, the first of which has to do with the end, at least psychologically and perhaps only on personal terms, of all the sham-demic silliness. Though I’m certain I’ll be compelled to keep wearing a mask at the home improvement tonight – ugh, will it ever end? Will people finally come their senses? Because for those of us in Michigan who have been suffering under the tyrannical despotism of a lunatic governor who is keen to veil her otherwise overt political ambitions (she’s gaming to be the Democratic vice presidential nominee), the so-called state of emergency and dubiously legislated State lock-down mandates seem interminable.
I’m not political. I don’t follow the news. Except lately to see when the virus madness will end. Which is to say I could never allow this journal to become a mere media events rant. Not because I don’t rant (though I do my best to restrain myself) but because, well, like I said, I’m not political. Rather, I’m mythological. And if you’re new to this journal (otherwise described as a blog) bear with me – what I mean by that will become clear over time. That is to say by way of my posting, alongside current posts, a selection of “vintage” posts – all the DOP journal entries that coalesced into this format beginning sometime in late 2010, early 2011. Yes, I have ten years of vintage or back-blogging to communicate. No hurry. But why not get it out there? In the meantime, understand that for me being mythological means being who you are, and this is what I’ve been writing about for ten years, since January 2010 or so when I was fired from my horrible job as a Health & Safety Manager at a BP refinery in Texas City and, enduring the biggest existential crisis of my life, I committed to seeking a more authentic life.
Which brings me to describing, for the record, regarding any comments I make on the topic of this virus boondoggle, my humble credentials. I’m not a physician. Neither am I a PhD epidemiologist. My undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I earned an M.S. in Hazardous Waste Management and I possess lapsed certifications as a Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Facility Management Administrator (FMA) and a Certified Safety Professional (CSP). My education and work experience include topics in industrial hygiene – I met my wife in a graduate industrial hygiene class! – and respirator use (fit-testing, break-through, applicable contaminants, etcetera) so I’m familiar with the difference between a NIOSH rated device, for instance, and a dust mask as well as the inevitable limitations, including health hazards, associated with donning any type of PPE (personal protective equipment). But enough of all that. We writers all have jobs, too, for better or worse, and that just happens to have been a previous career of mine.
Which is a story to tell in itself, one I’ve been telling and examining bit by bit within this journal within the context of personal mythology, an idea I attribute to Joseph Campbell (hereafter J.C.), whom everyone knows as the author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, published in 1949, and perhaps also from the Bill Moyer’s interviews first broadcast on PBS in the 1980s. I consider myself an amateur scholar of the man’s work and I only reiterate this to provide an opportunity for those perhaps averse to Campbell’s work to bow out, no harm, no foul, before becoming irritated or disappointed and to welcome those readers that already enjoy studying personal and cultural mythology or may be curious as to what indeed the field entails.
Why, then, after ten years of journaling, am I reiterating the basics of my background and interests? It has to do with the second of the two milestones I’ve alluded to – namely, that of acquiring followers by way of my participation as a Goodreads author. I’ve been working to advertise the novel since Up till now, if the blog, which by the way happens to be entitled Day of Pigs (DOP) has been read by anyone I wouldn’t know it – I’ve heretofore writing in obscurity. “Enjoy obscurity while it lasts,” suggested Hugh MacLeod, “as long as it doesn’t last forever.” Right on, Hugh. And welcome, dear readers.
A writer writes to be read – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – but we also write for its own sake, or perhaps more accurately for our own sake, inasmuch as the process and the practice, as I’ve often discussed, amounts to an end in itself. Otherwise, we couldn’t keep at it. Any artist-craftsman (my term for artists) is seeking to communicate even if only with oneself, an experience indeed more intimate and fraught than enjoying an audience of one. If your wife or husband or brother or sister, for example, reads your work, at least it’s not just you.
That said, anyone who journals or maintains a diary (I have discussed the difference elsewhere in the DOP) must enjoy or require, as a form of art-craft therapy, perhaps, like me, writing to oneself. For many of us it’s the only writing experience we have access to, year after year. After all, art-craft (my term for art) can be interpreted as nothing more nor less than communication – regardless of . Expression aspires to communication. It means everything and nothing, just like life.
A caveat: this journal, the DOP, Volumes 1-9 as it stands, contains expletives – f-bombs and goddamns, mostly. I’ve toned it down over the years but then any particular post may be chock full of them. I apologize to those who don’t like that shit. Oops. Anyway, the DOP probably contains a strong thread of what can be described as a classical libertarian philosophy, classical in the sense that, at least according to Wikipedia “ Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems.” Well enough said, I’ll leave it at that.
Regarding the goodreads giveway I’m running, https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/307736-time-crime, if you’ve entered to win, thank you.
I’d initially intended to give ten copies away but I’d changed my mind at the last minute – I chickened out, actually – because I thought it might be embarrassing to offer that many and not even scrounge up ten entrants. And it turns out that was silly because it makes sense that, hell, folks browse the ever-changing list of giveaway books and just toss their name in the hat because it doesn’t cost them anything and they may get a free book to read. So that after two days I’m up to seven-hundred some entrants. What I like about the process, besides the air of harmless, low stakes gamesmanship (despite it costing an author $119 to run a giveaway not counting the book and shipping costs) is the readerly nature of it – these are books not tchotchke or worthless trinkets. It enlivens the idea of searching for a title you might not otherwise encounter and even if you don’t win, perhaps you’ll be inspired to buy the book one day, if it gets in your head at all.
Anyway, I’ve been running Amazon advertising campaigns for almost two months in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy and it isn’t cheap. My U.S. version restarted today because it had blown its $50/month budget halfway through the month. Meanwhile, this business of working Amazon ads and marketing and promotion is an interesting enough study and if you happen to also be an authorpreneur or aspire to become one, perhaps you’ll find whatever experience I manage to communicate about it helpful or at least amusing.
Of note, too, besides the fun and invigorating nature of the goodreads giveaway, (invigorating because any attention paid to the novel is something that helps keep me going), I sold a book in the U.S. on the same day the promotion began! And received two five-star ratings on goodreads. All this, along with the burgeoning tally of “readers requesting” was a gloriously exhausting amount of positive energy to absorb and I spent yesterday soaking, humbly, in the pink flush of it all.
What follows, beyond the footnotes for today’s post, is an example of a vintage post or back-blog, what have you – a post from the first volume of the DOP1 which I wrote in 2011-2012 (what you’re reading now is from the current volume, DOP9).
 A diary is self-referencing, of course, but more so than a journal because it is never intended to be read. Diaries are inherently and exclusively private and to assault that privacy by way of even posthumous publishing is, to me, a crime. Or should I say criminal in all but the most exceptional cases. Journals, by contrast, always maintain an ear to a public readership even if there isn’t one – that is, we “journalists” write for a current or future readership. Hence, journaling is edited – self-edited – in a way that anticipates publication. Or future third-party editing. We journalists are thinking, When I’m dead, somebody might publish this so perhaps I ought to not put that in there…, that kind of thing. The DOP is a journal, so be it.
 Hey, I like Wikipedia.org, one just has to remember that not all the information is accurate, and I happen to donate $20 per year to keeping it going.
DOP1 VINTAGE POST:
Sunday, October 21, 2012. What five things should I be doing each day to get where I want to be? It begs the question of where I indeed want to be anymore. I’ve named and claimed this as my writing year but it’s really just another vocational year, the difference being my approach to writing as more of a thing to do each day – as work to do – perhaps regardless of any gripping inspiration. I’m of course skeptical that anybody needs to be doing anything creative that isn’t inspired, but that’s where a journal fits in I guess – it’s where you scratch the itch and test drive ideas, allowing things to happen, whether they’re initially compelling or not. One begins with something to write out, something more than passing thoughts yet then again not; however ineffably the intuition comes and goes, it’s my job now to allow my heart, mind and spirit, such as they are, to go, without restriction or self-criticism and see what emerges, attempting to remain open and to enjoy the dynamic and not sweat over outcomes, over results. This is of course easier said than done and I’m beginning to see how managing one’s life around the muse can be, for the wrong person, as tedious and ineffably indefinite an existence as any workaday job, to say nothing of the underwhelming isolation of it all. For anyone more experienced with being creative, what I’m discussing now must seem impossibly rudimentary and adolescent but for me, it’s only now, in my middle age, that I’m having to learn what it is to want to be who I am, to do the work I have to do, which is creative work, and to learn the life that goes with it. That the world hardly requires any more mediocrity, any more untalented, noodling and doodling, any more books that should never have been written, let alone published, isn’t lost on me, but I’m responding now to what I’m somehow compelled to do, what I must do to be properly alive, even if my writing is nothing but self-therapy. The ambition that keeps me running hard inside may not be satisfied by writing, I may never create an authentically legitmate work, something that becomes worthy of publication, yet somehow I must do what I’m doing anyway; there is no hope, or joy, otherwise. If nothing else, I’m getting another lesson in patience: I don’t like waiting and this writing thing makes me feel like I’m waiting. For what? Mostly to get paid. But also to allow the idea of never getting paid to do what I must do. Obscurity drives me to distraction yet the more effort I put into not being obscure, the more desperately obscure I seem to get, all of which I must learn to allow. Every endeavor proves to be riddled with absurd compromises – each thing I get into, whether it’s the music business, environmental business, facility management business or the food business just ends up being a lesson in the downsides of each. I have an almost continuous sense of having shown up late to the party, past the part where there’s any point in being there. Being really good at cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, listening to tunes and sipping beer, writing emails, enjoying the pastoral apects of the natural world, taking a good long walk, appreciating a good space and place and wanting to fix it, change it and make it better, are just not things that people are interested in paying me to do and frankly I wouldn’t pay anybody to do them either. I identify with the description of Henry David Thoreau in Wikipedia (sorry, no additional reference, but it’s well written) as a man whom neither rejected civilization nor completely embraced wilderness; instead he sought a middle ground, the pastoral realm that integrates both nature and culture.
Apparently he called it “partially cultivated country.”
Anyway, it’s good to know that there’s somebody else in the world who could get a day’s charge out of just sitting in a doorway observing the day come and go, just soaking it in and not worrying about being considered idle or “impertinent.” Nathaniel Hawthorne (again by way of wikipedia) apparently criticized him as a man who “repudiated all regular modes of getting a living, and seems inclined to live a sort of Indian life among civilized men.” I don’t claim to possess Thoreau’s confidence nor his devotion to his own nature. Whereas he seemed to deflect criticisms with the same pastoral grace in which he tried to live, and didn’t tangle his thoughts with doubt and crippling self-incrimination, I tend towards the opposite: always contrasting and comparing myself against others and against the other me that somehow gives in to my baseless perception of what social convention is, of the levelling gaze, imaginary as it ultimately is, of some vaguely parochial judgement and expectation.
Thoreau died in 1862 at the age of forty-four. “His friends were…fascinated at his tranquil acceptance of death,” his last words recorded as “Now comes good sailing” followed by “moose” and “Indian.” From his famous book, Walden:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
Maybe I should’ve made better use of my time, but I don’t think so. As the years pass, I find there’s only two types of people: those who do what the hell they want to do and those who don’t. I want to be the person who does what they want to do; does the things and takes the chances and reaps the rewards and lives before it all gets snatched away. I’ve had enough experience with wasting my time trying to fit in or otherwise selling my time on the cheap in the service of others who aren’t doing anything that means anything, or at least enough, to me. I’m not trying to get by; I’m not trying, as I’ve said before in this dismal tome, to survive; I’m trying to thrive, even if I seem perpetually unable to put my finger on the correct formula for it. Maybe it’s just my job to enjoy the days? It’s certainly already proven to be a considerable enough challenge simply to commit to writing for a year – to my retirement from working-for-the-man – at least temporarily – and I suspect I’m going to learn quite a bit about myself, which is of course the whole point in the end. I’m out of my comfort zone again – way out – and I’m curious as to what will come of it. I’m counting the day I quit zmo, which was sometime in September, as the staring point, but I’m going to count any day around the middle of next October (2013) as the end point. We’ll see what happens along the way and if indeed anything worth keeping gets written. At least I’ve already begun writing – God knows what impossible import I would’ve laid upon all this as an entirely new beginning.
Monday, October 22, 2012.
“What possessed me? All these occupations, they possessed me. Being in this world possessed me. I’m the gap between what I am and am not, between what I dream and what life has made me.”
I’m cooking rice with duck and turnips today. Since quitting zmo, I’ve been getting back into what I like about cooking, which is home cooking and the adventure of discovering and trying new recipes. Unlike most everyone else I’ve met who cooks, especially professionals, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not making it all up from my own genius. I think cooks who think they’re making things up are full of shit because there’s nothing to make up – nothing to invent – in the world of food. It’s all been done before and I don’t care if you’re talking about molecular gastronomy or so-called “comfort food.” Find a great recipe and copy it (this is a skill in and of itself). Reproduce it as faithfully as you can each and every time – there’ll be plenty of room for your ad hoc bullshit to slip in because the ingredients and circumstances of the preparation always add enough unknown to require some inventiveness.
It’s going to be a sunny, warm, fall day and I’m going to enjoy cooking. Right along side my tunes, my writing, my walking, and maybe some reading if I get some books in today. I’m not particularly enjoying my writing lately, but just the same, I’m doing it. Again, I’m trying to embrace this writing year and follow my heart and vocations, the only requirement being authenticity in the pursuit of no pursuit at all. I’m giving my new brain a shot at becoming. If it’s plastic, then I’m going to work it into biophycomythological shape this year through the doing of not so much doing and just being who I am. I’ll see how it works to live a life from the heart – if all my biophycomythological theory can be put into authentic practice. A good centering point is a good meal and I’m going to cook as well as I can for as long as I can and record as much about the meals here as seems interesting to me.
I finally cleaned my dad’s shotgun. The last time I used it was 2007 or 2008 and I’ve felt bad about not cleaning it since – I always took good care of it because it was such a nice gun and it was generous that he let me borrow it. It’s an Ithaca from the sixties or early seventies. Japanese steel. I hunted with it during my time at Chrysler SHAP because B (name changed to protect the innocent), who worked for me (actually we were more like compatriots) and whom I was good friends with, was a serious hunter and took me to pheasant farms and also up to where his family lived in St. Ignace, just over the Mackinaw Bridge. We had a few days of hunting grouse or “partridge” as they called them. Also some woodcock. I remember that trip well because it’s the only time I really shot well – from the first flush, I was on the birds and actually hitting them. My finest moment was our last day in the woods: we were walking through the trees and brush as usual – it was always pretty tight “cover” whenever the birds were around – and for once I was alone with a bird flushing in front of me and I got on it quick, stayed on it and shot, all in a sweeping few seconds it seemed, dropping it with one shell. One of the guys with us saw me do it and told the guys I shot really well. I finally felt like I belonged up there with a gun in my hand. Anyway, it was a big, really pretty bird and B’s father said so. I always remember walking up to it after I shot it, bending down to pick it up and watching its eyes flutter before dying in my hand. Whenever I handled them, the birds we shot always seemed a little heavier, softer and warmer than I expected. Those were good times. I learned why hunting is a good thing, properly done.
I’ll probably never hunt again; I’m don’t feel compelled to do it, especially after the last time at a pheasant farm with my neighbor – it wasn’t the greatest experience, the thrill and special camaraderie wasn’t there and I was out of practice – I had a bird flush in front of me and had the safety on so I never even got a shot off, which was embarrassing and that’s how the day went and I never got in the groove. I felt out of place and I’ve never wanted to do it since. That’s exactly how one finds one’s place in life: by sometimes feeling incredibly, painfully out of place. B sent me a message last year when he found me on Facebook. I never replied. I’m only ashamed of where I’m at in life when I think about old friends. They’d probably all understand, or at least act as if they did, but understanding is not what I’m looking for these days. It’s a weakness in me that I can’t admit where I’m at to a guy like B, who was a good friend. But I like to think I’ll touch base with him and some of the other friends I had someday when I’m feeling more integrated, more like a whole human being. I’m sure B’s out banging away at the birds this time of year, with his two daughters at home now – he was always a really good shot. Anyway, I’m glad I cleaned up the gun; it wasn’t rusted at all thank Thor, and now I feel good about putting it away.
Friday, October 26, 2012. Meal: Argentinian Beef Stew. I doubled the recipe (from Saveur’s holiday supplement). The stew is cooked on the stove top, then poured into a cleaned squash or pumpkin (I can’t remember the variety I used) and baked for thirty minutes. When you ladle the stew out, you’re meant to shave pieces of the squash off and include them in the stew. It turned out very well and I forgot to photograph it with the squash “pot” but here’s the stew:
Instead of standard sweet potatoes, I used Michigan-grown “white” sweet potatoes, which look almost identical to the russet in the stew.
 Wikipedia.org, “Henry David Thoreau,” 10.21.2012.
 Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Made in USA, Lexington, KY, 20 October 2012, (print-on-demand book), public domain, …p.66.
 Quotation by Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet, op. cit.: Rusch, Neil, “For the Swing of Thought,” Parabola, Vol.36, No.1, Spring 2011, p.18.