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May 18th, 2002

to unbox, perchance to dream....

My own Achilles heel is disorder. I wish I could say that I am congenitally incapable of keeping my desk well-organized, but blaming inadequacy on a birth defect seems a bit too easy to me. Soon I must head off for a brief walk, praying that the recent rains don't ruin the experience, and then to my office to finish unpacking the boxes newly moved into the new office. I have a reasonably good critical eye,
but the devil in the details of this sort of thing keeps taking my soul, and I don't even get Helen of Troy or incalculable riches in exchange; perhaps some more mundane trade was elaborated
on my credit card application.

I am eager to see the world in my little suburb and edge of the suburbs area. I need a strong dose of butterfly, bird, tree and flower.
I also need a diet Coke, but that sentiment deserves its own sentence, since "one of these things is not like the other".

In a downturn in my personal self-satire, my little poetry book failed to sell in 2 straight auctions. This is not surprising, since its time is really the xmas season, when people impulse buy things and are willing to check out a simple
bit of humor. Surprisingly,though, rather than do what I have done before--pull it from auction for a few months--I've put it up at a nickel auction minimum. My per-book cost is extremely paltry, but not quite a nickel. I guess the reason I like to auction the book, rather than give it away, is that a buyer, however insignificant the sum, has given a solid indicia of wanting something. Like most mediocre creators of art, my own greatest fear is burdening someone with an obligation to say thank you for something they don't want. Once I ran a Dutch (multi-item) ebay auction for my book, with an auction minimum of one penny, touting it as The Worst Chess Book You'll Ever Own, drafted in the style of a Ronco or QVC spot. The books all sold, at a penny each (don't scoff--that's SEVEN CENTS, and at 12 percent interest on the stock market, that would be worth 1.08 in only 48 years) and I loved that much of the feedback said "Book was EXACTLY as advertised".

Ah, capitalism...I felt good when my first print run became "profitable", even when the profit was roughly twenty dollars for the whole run.
Is art like the Mr. Micawber tag in David Copperfield...."income twenty pounds, outgo nineteen pounds seven shillings, result: domestic bliss, but income twenty pounds, outgo, twenty pounds seven shillings, domestic misery" Result: the difference between bliss and misery is about a pound.

When I spent a summer in London, the folks at the school cafeteria would give you a pound coupon
in lieu of a hot meal. A pound coupon would buy a samosa, a scotch egg, some little golf chocolates, and a world of other things.
That pound was bliss--continual self-judgment is the only real misery.

I am very attracted to the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's concept of "cheap grace". Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves, that little self-assurance that our flaws are really okay, and that the odd paths we know we shouldn't be pursuing will somehow save us. We should all try to weed out the cheap grace in our gardens and try to plant useful things like marigolds or mint. But I think that Pastor B. missed a key point--hesitant as i am to take on xtian martyrs. There is also "cheap damnation". This is the inner voice which says "you're not a writer", or "if it doesn't make money, it's not worth doing" or even "what's the point of *this*". I think we all have far too much to do to spend so much time sentencing ourselves to petit hells. Then again, perhaps hell is 30 boxes in a cool new office, and no way to put the things in an ordered way.

In Heaven, they give you kool-aid and your desk is always neat and seraphic.