Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Post #3--Stream of Consciousnesses

Stream of consciousness as we drive:

I'm listening to the Brahms violin concerto. It's... I haven't decided yet. I'd never heard it before this week. I've been thinking a lot about poetry--it's like my mind revolves around the same things over and over and over again, day after day, year after year. I keep seeing blocks of poetic text in my mind--prose poems, poems that have broken into a new realm, the current thing, things I don't yet understand but want to. I haven't read enough; I have more to encounter. I have more to study for the memoir; I have to do more historical research; I have to submerge myself in the early church history in a new way; I have to understand polygamy more intimately; this project is daunting but so fun. We keep encountering ice, which is freaking us out, but Lolly proceeds with equipoise. I wonder if I just used that word correctly. I wonder how words function in my brain: emerging like little vessels of truth and meaning from a murky pond at the precise moment I need them--sometimes words I never remember encountering, yet I just know they belong. Or nearly know--at times I double check. I can use a word correctly in a sentence, and then have someone ask me directly thereafter what it means and not be able to define it for them. It's an internal mechanism I don't really understand. I have also noticed that my brain is less likely to retain unusual nouns--I am less apt to remember the names of things, even common things. Like somehow words remain more connected to feelings and human behavior in my brain than to quantity, itemization, algebra, "this word equals this thing."

Stream of consciousness in the hotel lobby:

We are going to dinner at Monica's. I got to see my clients this afternoon by renting out the hotel room for half-a-day and that went well. It was quiet. I was also able to work on the book uninterrupted--but I didn't really work on the book itself as much as on trying to understand what I'm doing, where it's going, etc. I worry that this post will be so incredibly boring, yet I feel compelled to go forward with Post #3 because I am, as always, approaching things differently. And it's boring to talk about. This exercise has me thinking about the idea of stream of consciousness as a literary device, and the way it compares to the idea of interior monologue. I do enjoy the spaces where psychology and literary technique occupy very similar spaces. As always, a fear erupts in me that the things I'm saying, the things I'm talking about, will be seen as boring to a reader. But who is this reader? Who are you? Is that question cheesy? Does it sound existential? Does it convey angst? Will anybody even read this far? I know that I would if I encountered this on a blog, but that's because of my fascination with the human mind and the ways it expresses itself in language. I am endlessly fascinated by the complex ways the interior world can present itself linguistically, and I am often voracious in my pursuit of understanding of people by reading their words (or listening to their words). Pretense. When I write about these things I worry about pretentsiousness--this worry feels like a weird worm in my gut. Constantly: the worry about presentation. The worry about audience. The worry about boring people. Often when I'm speaking aloud, I feel that I am saying things that the people in the room will find boring. And then my voice trails off. And often I stop talking altogether. I often have the sensation that if what I were saying were to be written on a page people would engage with it differently--but there, on the page, I have so much more control around presenation. That control is lost in an exercise like this--just writing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing without any formatting, spacing, sequencing, et cetera. It feels a lot more like how I feel in those moments, where the words are spilling out of my mouth and I have this sense that the audience is poised, ready to divert its attention, aching to look away and listen to anyone, anything else. Such a strange feeling, to have this sensation while writing. Most of the time, while writing, I feel the opposite--I feel that my words are powerful or something. That they occupy a different type of space on this planet. But this paragraph is a quagmire. Who could possibly wade through this? Why would they? Lolly will be here any minute to pick me up. She is coming from getting her wedding ring fixed. It's being fixed in the exact place I bought it--"Shane Company, at the corner of 217 and Shulls Ferry Road." I have no idea how to spell that, but I must have heard it over 500 times in my teenage years. I just corrected; I just erased 100 and put 500 as if somehow that was a more accurate representation. I think that must count as cheating for this, doesn't it? She will get here and we'll go to dinner and my dad will be there are all of my new relatives, my blended family, and we will enjoy our time together as we build relationships. I really am hungry; I'm glad my new family knows how to cook so well. I worry that Lolly's here but that my phone is inaccessbile and I won't hear its buzzing. I will check for it. It was in my pocket. We will be late for dinner. We are often late; it's good for others to become accustomed to this trademark move. For no reason I can identify, I just erased "move" and then replaced it--I think I was considering whether or not to make trademark into a past participle by adding "ed." There is absolutely no way this can be interesting to others, but why the hell do I care so much? Because that's what this space is, that's why. It's about myself and it's about others. My will-power is trying to convince me to keep going until Lolly arrives, but I feel that might be too much, like the longer this gets, the more confusing it will be, but I have to not care. I have to follow my new internal motto which I'm not allowed to share. Does it count as stream of consciousness or interior monologue if you withhold critical information? If you don't allow some things to flow like waters from the stream? I'm intrigued by the ways this device is used in literature; I'm fascinated in how it is used in memoir more than in fiction, though it is interesting in both venues. A woman in the other room is announcing what is for dinner for guests at the hotel and I'm even more hungry--I sit here in a striped chair in front of a circular coffee table in the hotel lobby and to the left, a fire is roaring except it isn't roaring, it is much less intense than that. It is merely burning. Flames are lapping? The fireplace is red brick and to my left, and then to my right is an older couch which looks comfortable. Upon the coffee table sits a wicker Christmas decoration. Wicker makes me think of my living room in Portland, and the wicker furniture set my aunt Lori bought for my mom when we first moved to Aloha, Oregon (cheater! I erased "moved" then inserted "first" and wrote moved again, and I even changed "wrote" to inserted in this very sentence making me a double cheater.) Those wicker couches are long dead--they spent years being picked at by occupants, and I can still hear the sound of them snapping under the weight of bodies. I can see my Mom's nativity on the wicker coffee table, and can see the picture she used to have of me and Lolly there in that room. Chris and I drove by the house last night--it has been not-ours for two years now. We pulled up the flag lot awkwardly, and the house was the same and also different: there were Christmas decorations, but they weren't hers. They were garish and gaudy and disheveled somehow. And there is a fence now, blocking the side-path where Mom first saw the California poppies spontaneously grow when she got sick and said "My Dad planted those there for me," except she didn't actually say those words; I wasn't even there. But those might have been the words. Yet the point is that she, in her mind, knew that those bright orange poppies--which had populated her home city of Morgan Hill--were a gift from God and a gift from her dead father, Grandpa Woody. Near the end, she would cry at night asking for her daddy, and the thought of that rips my heart out. Oh what a cliched phrase to use right there! What an injustice that that is the metaphor that came to my mind, trying to express my sorrow, my discomfort that she yearned for her father who was gone! Could I not have mustered another phrase there? It makes my bones ache? It guts me? It makes me cry? None of these work either. But to think of her crying for her father somehow connects me to her granddaughters, my girls, and the thought of one of them at age 58, barely able to talk, crying herself to sleep because of the sick degredation of her mind, pleading for me to come in and comfort her, to help her get to sleep just as I do now, just as I do many nights--the thought of this (still no phrase works). It makes my heart and gut cringe. It makes me ill. It makes me want to cry. It makes all of my internal organs want to cry. It echoes throughout my insides and makes me tense up. It is one of the saddest thoughts. And Lolly called, and is here, and now I go to dinner, and I press publish with abandon.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing, Josh. It means a lot - all of it. It does my heart good, and I use the cliche with gusto - why not? Use them all, enjoy them. It's a deep and painful mystery with the divine and the universe and what such pain can mean to the heart and it takes time, and you are taking this time, and you are going all the way through the thick of it - a pretty awful place - and while you can't see it now, you are actually starting to come out the other side - past the halfway mark, dear. Not that there won't always be something unexpected that may rip your heart out. They can clobber us like that. Hugs. Oh. And what was that about a blended family?
    Oh, and ps - yes, you are allowed to withhold critical information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm still reading and enjoying every word you write! Yes, what was that about a blended family?
    Also, I am friends with AJ and Jayne Edman in Florence, OR. What a small world!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shane Company! Scholls Ferry road! Yes, grew up listening to those same commercials! My husband also bought my ring there. Remember when it was located "opposite the cinemas?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi. A reader here, catching up. Thank you for writing out the awful, and the hopeful, and this stream of consciousness. It's nice to feel connected and human. I'm a therapist in the Northwest too, and I have nostalgia for the same Leatherby's in Kearns you mentioned previously. This post reminds me a little of Anne Lamotte's book Bird by Bird, which I read in 2004 in a "writing in psychology" class. You've reminded me of the value and beauty in collecting bits of language, and I'm grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When my mom, 82, was dying, the doctor said that she asked for her parents. Three years later that still makes me sob.
    Stream of consciousness can be interesting I think because it reveals the unconscious. My own therapist recently told me it is unconscious and not sub-conscious - no such ting as sub-conscious apparently! I wonder if you can write without editing yourself (it's hard on a blog I know). You are editing here and there - could I have found a better word, etc. Perfectly natural, that. I do it. I enjoyed reading this - would it be possible to divide it up a bit into paragraphs (but that is editing, Karen!). True but for older folks like myself I'd have an easier time reading it!
    I belong to a writing group and sometimes when they critique my work I want to scream, 'YOU ARE NOT GETTING WHAT I REALLY MEANT!' But at the same time it is ultimately good I find to have a more objective reader give me some ideas.
    Onward to 2017.
    Karen (and my often un-updated blog www.jobsearchinginvancouver.wordpress.com)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Making me tear up at the end. I enjoyed it all. I have always loved raw stream of consciousness.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is fascinating. I loved every single word.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Josh, you are so.............NORMAL! Love reading your posts. And, as above...blended family?

    ReplyDelete