Sunday, September 23, 2007


1. Today was the end of a chapter, the final ultimate positively last farewell party for Duane Unkefer, who looks harassed, harried, tired, and a bit concerned. His effects are stashed in some large pod which will be moved to Portland in the next few days, where Unk's new life will begin. Over the twenty years or so of our friendship, there has been much hanging out, much arguing of fine points, much thrusting each upon the other some book, offered with the conviction that it possesses life-changing qualities. This book will change your life. This book will make you want to change your life. This one will make you eternally grateful that you have not changed your life.

Portland is not a bad place to begin a new life. I remember when Fred Karlin gave up on Santa Barbara and went to Portland, staying for the better part of two years before the film studios got him back to Culver City, avid of sound tracks for movies. Fred exhibited that sense of stepping off the edge of the mesa, just as Unk did a few hours back. For several weeks there were cheerful emails from Fred, speaking of the joys of Powell's Books and the fact that a nearby fm station had a pretty good range of jazz, and the fact that one could actually get places by bus.

Friends moving off on new ventures remind you of things left unsaid, of things that were settled by a nod or a hug because the things to be said sounded a bit suspicious.

I only now remembered that somewhere in the garage-turned-into study is a book carefully wrapped in a plastic bag, a book Unk loaned me how many years back, urging me to be careful because he valued the cover art. One of our soaking rains took care of that and I had the damndest time finding a new one on Amazon dot com.

Not exactly looking for or finding a metaphor there, but still, friends are those about whom you discover you still have some possession of their and they of yours. What part of you sits in that pod, awaiting transport to Portland?

2. The discovery of a collection of short stories called Drown by Junot Diaz came about after I'd read a story of his in The New Yorker and yet another in Paris Review. Eleven years later, after beginning to fear that he was swallowed up in the world of teaching, he has returned with a novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in which he does what James Joyce threatened to have Stephen Deadalus do at the closure of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "I go forth to encounter reality and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." I go forth to finish my review and get it in before they grow restful.

Joyce, of course, was Irish; Diaz is from Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, welcome aboard, Junot Diaz.

3. Working at my laptop, feet propped o my bed, I am well into wondering what is disturbing me and only now realize how, earlier, I stripped off the bed clothes thinking to wash them and may actually have done so--but have not replaced them.

4. Senor Wences. Easy for you.

5. Many persons confuse arguments with adventures.

6. At Unc's farewell, a number of persons were blaming blogging for interfering with their life. A cocktail waitress ventured that blogging had cost her a boyfriend, whereupon someone in the crowd reminded her that slow service was going to cost her a tip. This is not going to turn out to be a syllogism but nevertheless, blogging only interferes with portions of one's life. Priorities.

7. I'm going to check on sheets and pillow cases.

8. Squirrels fall out of trees more often than one might suspect. They don't take to it kindly.

No comments: