Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Anteater Green Day Football



My daughter is almost 10 years old. For two years now, she has played as about the only girl on a boys tackle football league. Though she is shy, she doesn't shy away from participating, decked out in full football regalia and grabbing and attempting to sack the opposing boys. Watching her run off toward a field full of players, without a doubt in her mind about her right to play, is one of those moments when you know you've done something right as a parent.

Yesterday she played and sang guitar (a Green Day song) for her entire school. She was stricken with nerves and -- she tells me -- froze in the middle but saved herself by jumping to the chorus. We talked about how everyone gets nervous and how this was important practice. We also talked of how it sucked and how she felt like throwing up. Still, she's singing again on Thursday for the parents.

And, regarding the prose piece below, I don't have any concerns about my daughter's future partners, whether anteater or not. The best thing one can hope for one's children -- other than physical and mental health -- is that they have a clear sense of themselves, which, I'm confident, she does.

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An anteater raised by the Director of Admissions chews through the house. The chair arms. Glasses. The legs of chairs. The mattress. The anteater winces. It’s the boyfriend my nine year old daughter’s going to have 10 years from now. It chews up the swimming pool. I sit on the porch throwing toasters. “Don’t never come back,” my empty mouth says. From under its coat, the boyfriend takes out a violin and begins to play some obscure mountainous anteater song. Then my daughter appears from the roots of a burning tree, dressed in football equipment. The sun in an obvious attempt at drama, backlights her with its glowing crimson tongue. She crouches low and runs into the house. It falls, a sack of doleful rooms, stairs and carpeting. The anteater splits in half. From its insides are born three angels, white as fridges, icemakers hidden between their cloud-like wings.

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Unlike some other artists, I have a compulsion to create new work constantly. I "should" be finishing work I've started -- adding, excising, reconsidering, revising, restructing, etc. Or even promoting its cause. I could be thinking about what new directions to consider, thinking through what the weaknesses of my work are and taking the time to find some new area to genuinely inspire me. Maybe I'd like to plan a longer work which I develop after much reading and research and thoughtful consideration.

But I've got this addiction to constantly creating something new--even if maybe seem a bit like more of the same ol' stuff. I do constantly think of how to improve, what else to explore, how to push my envelope while trying to polish and develop aspects of my work. And I do have my eye out for new ideas. Still, though, I can't help plunging in. Msybe this is a good thing. At least coming up with new work has the advantage that I come up with new work.

I don't think that I've gotten better to the point where I've rendered my past work as something significantly different. I do think, though, that I have been able to deepen some concerns and techniques and to explore new areas. Some of my collaborative work does this. Greg Betts and I are working on a book project "The Obvious Flap." This has taken me into new areas (for me). I deliberately set out to write things that questioned my practice, that made me uncomfortable and unable to rely on some of my perennial concerns and techniques. When is developing, polishing, and deepening a set of concerns relying on a 'voice' which is some kind of proxy for one's ego?

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