Perfect at Something

January 31, 2012

I see myself in the mornings that stretch ahead into this new year, coming down the steps, walking into the kitchen, fixing my coffee and then, while my first cup brews, walking into the library, running my hands along the spines [of my poetry volumes], and choosing one book to open at random. Judging from the size of my collection, I will be able to do this every day for many years to come without reading the same poem twice.
— Margaret DeAngelis, b. 1947
American writer
from “A Poem a Day,” blog post dated January 11, 2012

I started 2012 as I do every year, on the Feast of Stephen, December 26, the “week between” Christmas Day and the official start of the new calendar year. I woke that morning from a dream in which I am with two young friends, the three of us wandering in a museum. We get separated, I become anxious, I try to call the young man, 3+Send, and when the call goes to voicemail, it is a stranger’s voice I hear. I look at the phone and understand that it is not mine. I have called someone else’s 3+Send. “Change. It’s about change,” I write in my journal.

I wrote for three pages that morning, a good start on the 2.73 pages I should write every day to achieve 1000 pages in a year. Measurable goals like that are attractive to me. I was going to write “important,” but “attractive” is a better word, because although I set the goals and make a plan to achieve them, I fall short of so many of them. During this January I have achieved maybe 50% of what I planned, in terms of reading, writing, and redding out my Amazing Clutter. Other goals had to be abandoned or heavily modified.

I really can’t blame my scatteredness entirely. For two solid weeks now I have been hosting a Monster Cold, a mutating syndrome that has left me tired, depressed, anxious, and angry. I tried very hard to control the anger, because the last time I felt this bad, some time in the early 90s, I got so frustrated I kicked a kitchen cabinet and broke a toe.

Things are looking up a bit. I went out today, only the third day in this siege that I have left the house. My gallivanting was mostly to escape the noise of rotted deck demolition and roofing repair being done on the house next door (fortunately on a very small area of roof). I went to a library I haven’t used in a long time, got two books for some light research on the day-to-day life of a Catholic priest (for a short story I am writing), breathed some fresh air, and started to feel a little like myself again.

So I didn’t get that story to a complete first draft as planned, didn’t lose 10 pounds, didn’t make my kitchen look like the one in The Good Wife (there is nothing on that polished granite, NOTHING!) But I did succeed at something: I read 31 poems, one a day. I also Tweeted and Facebooked my selection. And I kept a list on this site. (See Today’s Poem — January 2012)

I was going to make comments on some of the individual poems, the insights I’ve gained about myself and my own writing, the memories I accessed when handling a volume acquired at a reading in, say, 1994, and not looked at again until now. I’ve made some modifications to my protocol with a decision to read 366 different poets as well as 366 different poems, a decision that will have me reading four “extra” poems to make up for using two poets more than once early on. But that’s going to have to wait. For now, I say to my wonderful readers, hello again. It’s good to be back.

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