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Fries & Ketchup: With Spoon, Denis Johnson, & Baseball

October 8, 2014

Things we meant to talk about, but never did:



You can see it in the branches of the late summer trees. They slow their growth, fade to red and yellow, and then strip bare. The endless sun exhausts them. This is how they survive the winter.

I keep giving my students similar advice. I keep telling them how we're going to survive the winter. A lot of them are discouraged right now; I'm being honest with them about their writing. Some of my advice, actually a lot of my advice is nonsensical. I tell them things like "Be the Buffalo." That was September. I read their last batch of essays and said, "Be the Earthworm." We'll worry about grazing and stampeding come the spring. Right now, just get the hell off the sidewalk and burrow in the dirt as deep as you can. I'm telling them to simplify.


I've been listening to Spoon's They Want My Soul almost nonstop through September and October. It's telling me what I'm telling my students. It's telling me to simplify. A naive part of me thinks if they were to listen, we'd all be on the same page, burrowed in the dirt, surviving winter. That, and I want them to read the CD booklet, not online, but the actual hold it in your hand and unfold it booklet. I think then we'd also understand each other, and they would learn to simplify.



Denis Johnson's 2011 novella Train Dreams, which I read a week ago, also delivered the same message. Simplify. Or the world's going to do it for you.



Something else that's good and simple: Baseball in October. 



Just as it always was. That, and what happens with the leaves.

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