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January 2018

Books Matter if You Want a Real Life

What in the world is a secure life and why does it matter? After sitting around in coffee shops and hotels for half of my life, you'd think I would know how to handle the obvious, the obvious being a well-situated camera in the break room somewhere near the copy machine. But that's not really how the narrative goes because when all is said and done the truth is as real as time itself and not nearly as bendable or mysterious. Back when I was begging others to "get to the root of the animosity" I was still trying to be polite and pretend I didn't know who it was, but that went away with four months of my pay, something you just don't get back by "starting over." So, what is the basic problem? The problem is a set of book ends, both short and round, one light, one dark, one loud, one stupid. That's how it started, an innocent discussion about literature, and an immature, fit-throwing drama queen. 

I watched the hair tossing, and the strutting about with the cellphone in the dark, angry face, and I kept to myself, but the harm was already done--the child came back to school, limping. I held an illustrated children's story in my hand, and the kids were having fun. They were listening and laughing (I'm good at reading aloud) and they were happy at peace, criss cross, applesauce. I sat at my desk with the mission statement taped to the wall over my head and I watched ShortnStupid bobble like a fish on a line, and I could hear the tap-tap-tap of Chronically Sick coming down the hall, and all I wanted to do was crawl under the desk because I felt shame for both of them; the phoniness of it all was just too much for me to bare. The scene went one clip too far: lies too embarrassing for me to hear; my face shriveled in disgust; down my shoulders did sink, and I remember wondering how those people had risen so high; why were the expectations so low?

The expectations are still no higher for all of them, but the standard is different for quite a few others; that's where the question of a secure life is raised, and why does it matter? It matters because the camera sees more than you think it does; the scope is much broader because the audience goes on forever, and ever. And once you expose the pretense for what it is, just empty pretense, the hate blows off of them like hot gas, their image deflated. You can take it on if you want, but a wise person would pass.

A Few Exciting Ideas for the New Year: Kicking Resolutions, Making Goals and Studying Travel Journals (It's all about me 🥂🎹😃✏️📓🎓🔱)

        I am just happy to report that after a short drought, I now have another A in my grad studies. I worked hard last semester studying the sublime and how it is used in Victorian literature. The sublime was not a topic in my class, but I think it should have been. I am so excited about next semester, and I look forward to pushing those boundaries again (my way of saying that I'm not happy with the usual course of study because I need to get out of the box).

        I am thinking about taking two courses, and if I do that, I will be set for my research piece next fall. I want to analyze travel journals and road stories because they are so vital to the human experience. For example, I recently visited with a man that had journeyed to America via several foreign countries, and then lived around the North American continent. That kind of story would be interesting to analyze against a working-class person’s experience of living and traveling in different states. How do they compare linguistically and structurally? What is important about the narrative itself? What about the use of confessional and memoir? Uprooting yourself and moving into a strange culture, or traveling for work, is an experience that creates wisdom and versatility (more organic and useful than simply vacationing). Does the white-collar experience somehow mirror the blue-collar experience? What difference does the level of education make? If these experiences and insights from moving and traveling are shared across economic, racial, ethnic, and educational levels, can they be used to create dialogue and understanding?

            I am also excited about the goals I am setting for myself this year. I plan on purchasing a nice travel trailer. I don’t want a cheap one; I want an Airstream. I can use my Airstream to work on my research, and I can also use it to teach in areas where housing is unaffordable or unattainable. Unaffordable and unattainable could be a problem in Houston if we have another big flood. I don’t even think we really need another big flood because we are already experiencing some housing shortages and spiking rents.

            One of my previous classmates writes a blog and in his New Year’s post he focused on not making resolutions. I think he is on the right track, but goals are a bit different. A resolution admits to some weakness. By acknowledging your weakness to others in the traditional New Year’s kind of way, you give it additional power over your daily life. I already critique myself enough, so I’m going to pass on resolution and set goals instead. I think kicking the resolution is a smart idea.

Jason Walker's blog address:

Happy 2018 Everyone!

Cover of my new planner by Tools4Wisdom


This planner is full of well-organized goal-setting pages in different formats