Monday, April 30, 2012

Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses - Rick Bass

Not sure if I would consider this piece experimental – or of the minimalist bend that Helprin wrote against in his introduction - but as much as I do not necessarily like experimental literature, if this is that, then a level of dislike has been removed.

The sentences are short, compact, each worthy of their placement and each carries the story along at a comfortable pace without breaking the reader’s stride.

Bass writes in his contributor’s notes that the story was originally written straight through without pause or punctuation and got him through a difficult week. A rough edge does exist in the feeling…I like that. The finished product carries the same feeling of tension and angst but with a refined edge. The healing properties of writing for Bass benefited us, the reader, through a great story.

I’ve mentioned before that if I were a writer, there were several writers whose stories that I would model my writing after. I’d add Bass to that list now.

In one of my lives (#2 – University student) I was a couple of the characters that Bass created. I neglected my studies and passed time in activities not conducive to learning.

I carry the result of that slacking in my heart and mind daily and as I know, and preach, there is no use in crying over the past – if I only knew then what I know now…

I write and complain about bettering myself though self-education and I do work at it from time to time but I find myself living with the shame of not doing enough…and wondering if that shame is the existence that I essentially want and seek out. I know I have a problem with guilt –

And I need to work on it.

Daily I look at my little boy and stand in amazement at his growth. This past week, he started climbing. He’s mastered both walking and running and has now, he’s becoming pretty skilled in scaling the living room furniture.

We have a large leather recliner that I plant my ass in most evenings. For some reason, W decided that this chair would be the first obstacle that he would scale. I suppose he picked the chair because it’s the one we sit in while reading – at least that’s what I’d like to think.

He strains, whines, whimpers, slobbers, grunts and pants while attempting to pull his little body onto the seat. He looks over at me for help whining and pleading for help.

I find it so hard to resist helping him onto the chair – I encourage him coaching him to keep trying. His little arms and legs, shaking with muscle fatigue, slobber forming pools creating a slippery surface, his little hands smearing it into wider pools making the climb more difficult.

The whole exercise lasts at most 30 seconds – it feels like minutes. Of course he eventually makes it into the chair. He turns, looks at me and claps – and I show him how pleased I am by clapping along with him.

I know that he is too young to remember this-his struggle of climbing the chair and my refusal to assist him and the lesson I am imparting.

I know I’ll have plenty of more opportunities to provide him with tough life lessons – lessons where whining and pleading will take the form of words that will hurt my heart.

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