Sending My Mind and Memory Back to 1968

Construction of John Hancock Building, Chicago, 1968This is about the way the John Hancock building looked the first time I saw it, although I first saw it while driving into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway in June 1968 – shortly after my discharge from the Army.
 
Later that day I looked at it from the sidewalk across the street from 875 North Michigan Avenue. It was still just a shell and there wasn’t much to see, but It was the first time I got a dizzy feeling while leaning back and looking up the side of the building, trying to see its top floors.
 
My first two years of high school were just a couple blocks from where the Hancock Building would be. My first year of college was at Loyola University, also a couple blocks away. During that year I often had lunch on the lawn in front of the Chicago Water Tower, which is across the street and a block south of the Hancock Building, but at that time there was little worth noting that was in the space the Hancock would eventually fill. I remember the Chicago Water Works Building across the street from the Water Tower, but everything else was just day-to-day life: people, traffic, stores, and buildings moving or not moving around me while I laughed with my friends and enjoyed my sandwich and piece of fruit or cookies oblivious to everything that wasn’t important to my little world.
Now that I am much older I often wish I had paid more attention to my surroundings. Whenever I visit Chicago now I notice changes, new buildings, new shops and, although I recognize the change I usually cannot remember what it changed from. That’s the way it is with the Hancock. I often walked along Michigan Avenue past 875 North Michigan Avenue sometimes looking at whatever filled that space at the time. I’ve tried to remember what was there, but all I can remember is the general feel of Michigan Avenue with its traffic – cars, taxis, and buses – going by, making noise, and kicking up dust. 
That’s one of the things about memory if you didn’t pay attention to something when it was nearby the only thing you might remember years later is the dust

What’s Going on with the Cubs ??

After 108 years the jinx was finally broken when the Cubs finally won the World Series, but now it’s looking like it was just a fluke. The stars aligned, luck was finally on their side, but in the end, they weren’t really that good a baseball team. At least that could be the interpretation based on the way they’re playing right now.

My favorite team, the White Sox are not very good this year, but they’re not supposed to be. They traded away two of their five best players and are ready to trade away more as they rebuild a team that has been mediocre, at best, for most of the last ten years. The White Sox are supposed to be one of the worst teams in baseball this year. However, right now they are far and away much better than the Cubs. Sure, the Cubs are four games better than the Sox, but the stats (see below) say the Sox are better, maybe it’s the competition. While the outlook is bleak for the Cubs, it would be even worse if they were in the American League.

They’re fortunate they’re in the Central Division where they’re in 2nd place two or three games behind Milwaukee. If they were in the National League’s West Division they’d be in 4th place, 9.5 games out of first. If they were in the American League West they’d also be in 4th, but they’d be 12 1/2 back.

Cubs fans are saying, “Not to worry, the season is still young, these guys will turn it around in time for the playoffs.”

Meanwhile, White Sox fans are saying, “We knew they weren’t that good… just lucky.”

Falling Asleep Again, Always Wanted To, What Am I to Do, Can’t Do It

Falling asleep is sometimes difficult. I’m always looking for solutions to the problem.
When I was younger I’d have trouble sleeping if something important was supposed to happen the next day. Now that I’m older about the only thing that’s every “important the next day” is an early morning doctor’s appointment. Otherwise, any problem falling asleep seems to go in cycles for me. I’ll have many days, a week sometimes where I’ll be asleep minutes after my head hits the pillow. Then I’ll have a series of day where I’ll fall asleep but wake in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. There are also the times when for a few days, maybe a week, falling asleep will be difficult. I’ll toss and turn. The bed will feel uncomfortable. Any position I lie in will feel wrong. But the worst will be having a moment when I’m about to fall asleep, doze for a moment, but suddenly wake up. When that happens I know I’m not going to be sleeping for awhile.
Usually, when I can’t sleep I’ll lie there trying for about 20 minutes. Then I’ll get up. Sometimes I’ll exercise jumping jacks, sit-ups, and so on. Sometimes that does the trick. Sometimes it doesn’t. Often I’ll read until I feel drowsy. Sometimes that works, but more often I’ll be awake reading again about 20 minutes later. What works best is giving up. Almost always, after I’ve been awake, tossing turning, exercising, reading and the clock says something like, 3:30, I’ll say to myself something like, “Guess that’s it, I’m not sleeping tonight so I might as well give up trying.” Sometimes I start planning my now revised day that will start at 4 a.m., other times I’ll decide to plan to turn the computer on but lie there thinking about what I’m going to look at such as a TV show, a short story, or the sports news.
The funny thing is if I try that first at 2:30 a.m. after I woke up and couldn’t sleep or at 10 p.m. on the nights when I can’t sleep at all – it doesn’t work, probably because I haven’t really given up. When I try using it early, it becomes just another trying to sleep technique.
Today I found this list of “sure-fire” sleep aids from early modern Europe (the 15th and 16th centuries. Here are three you’ll want to try:
  1. Put some blood-sucking leeches behind your ears. When they bore holes in the skin, pull them out and place a grain of opium in each hole. (From 16th-century French physician André du Laurens.)
  2. Kill a sheep, and then press its steaming lungs on either side of the head. Keep the lungs in place as long as they remain warm. (From 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré.)
  3. After the evening meal, eat lettuce, drink wine, and rub an ointment made of the oil of violets or camphor on the temples. Dissolve a mixture of poppy seeds, lettuce seeds, balsam, saffron, and sugar and cook it in poppy juice. Then listen to pleasant music and lie down on a bed covered with the leaves of fresh, cool plants. (From 15th-century philosopher Marsilio Ficino.)” — Benjamin Reiss, author of Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World

This is where I found those as well as a list of more serious, more likely, contemporary solutions: Busy Brain Not Letting You Sleep? 8 Experts Offer tips

Where Do You Get Your Ideas, etc…

Cormac McCarthy Has a Unique (and Tasty) Writing Process

This sounds a bit like the story Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss, told when someone asked him where he got his ideas: “I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Furka Pass. There is a little town called Gletsch, and two thousand feet up above Gletsch there is a smaller hamlet called Über  Gletsch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy doesn’t claim to travel to Switzerland for his inspiration, but perhaps he should consider such a trip.

Among Cormac McCarthy’s books are Blood Meridian (1985), For All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and No Country for Old Men. The famously reclusive McCarthy doesn’t talk much about his writing habits, but what he has said is fascinating. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, McCarthy remarked: “I do most of my writing at breakfast. I name the eggs and pieces of toast and bacon after my characters, then I have them dance around on the plate while I do funny voices for each of them. Whatever character I eat last becomes the protagonist of the novel.” *

Did McCarthy really say that? I don’t know. I watched clips of his interview with Oprah and never heard that, but maybe it was in a clip I didn’t see. Then again, this is April 1st.

* Found in this article: 9 Mind-Blowing Facts about Your Favorite Books

 

Sleepy

Today is National Crayon Day. One of the crayons used to color the picture on the right is being retired (Dandelion).

This poem was not written for this day. It was written after reading a poem by William C. Williams. Still this poem fits this day.

 

SLEEPY

As the crayon
crawled over
the edge of

the paper
first the right
hand

carefully
then the chin
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty
space