Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Duende Abides

Chicago is full of people and mounted police. Sometimes, you can catch an officer and his horse running the length of Michigan Avenue Beach. And it's weird. Sometimes, someone who is touched will post this on a dumpster in Logan Square: "Mama No Bred / Buy Gold to Eat / I Will be a Good Nun..."

An unseasonably warm weekend, I spent Saturday biking the Lincoln Park/ Michigan Beach/Loop trail with visitors, winding up on the BP bridge of Millennium Park. We stumbled across a amateur tour guide who informed us the bridge spans 900 ft. This, to traverse a 200-ft. distance. I mention this because, well, metaphors are comfortable. Maybe there's some "troubled water" down there. Who knows.

A few weeks ago a friend worked her magic to score a follow up at a Chicago-area university to my long-pending, lost-in-the-ether temporary employment application (entered, oh, in July). And this was my single most-developed lead in the job front up to this point. I'd managed one interview in person for college comp. teaching and one phone interview for an editor gig. Nothing. Following this, I immediately received a call, came in the following day for an interview, and was hired for an assignment to start the following Monday.

Now. Three weeks later. I've got the hang of a hour+ commute on one bus, one train, one 1/2 mile of walking x2 each day. I've identified--but still cannot speak or make direct eye contact with-- those fellow passengers that have the same weekday schedule, working their way from bus to train, taking stops before and after me.

The job itself is that 900 ft. of bridge, where 200 ft. will do. The paycheck, on the other hand, is that cultural value of the bridge-as-participatory-art-piece. We like it. We're glad for it. Even when it doesn't make any logical sense. Nor does this bridge advance my artistic goals. My goal for survival is met. My duende is not happy until I get back to the couch at the end of the day.

I still have the satisfaction of participating in some specialized, technical aspect of language, as a freelance editor. This reminds me that not everyone puts the Elements of Style under their pillow. And yes, the maddening level of attention I grant to ensuring gnarled syntax and diction in my poems allows me to identify and know when language is being used unconventionally and how to ungnarl it. Luckily, convention still rules my life these days, with proper sentence structure essential to ensuring that supplementary paycheck.

Writerly social endeavors, lack-thereof:
Saw Junot Diaz at the Chicago public library a couple weeks back. Proceeded to obtain book signature and fawning fan photo. Social outings to consist of celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with literature-minded friends. Projected ratio of beer drinking to conversational asides about elliptical poets: 10-to-1.

1 comment:

CVMoore said...

Hi you!

I love reading these posts and hearing about your new lives. I saw Tomaz the other day, he read here in C-ville with Brian Henry. He read the Jonah poem. He read the dog in Mexico poem. I lost it. Somehow managed to say hello to him after. He told funny stories. I thought of you...Who hath not seen thee oft amidst thy store?...Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find thee sitting careless...

What's autumn like in the city?