Uncle Toby and jeans no more

Wednesday was a good day on the project. Currently, I’m marking up the second draft to prep the third. As of Wednesday night, three of seven chapters show pencil, and a chunk of that, five episodes, was Wednesday’s work.

Most of the focus in this draft is on spelling and grammar, but the characters still inhabit their landscapes. This is possible because I’ve internalized enough Dvarsh to actually read stretches of it, which is cool. I was unsure if that could even happen without a dialogue partner. A lifelong habit of talking to myself may pay a dividend.

When elbow deep in the poem, I’m convinced the surfacing beast is major expression. It looks like great art from down in the stanzas. Engagement with it gladdens and enlarges me. That yardstick is unreliable, of course. More telling, since a root value of the design is participation, would be evidence the effort gladdens and enlarges someone else. Even so, the personal effect is too compelling to discount entirely. When in the poem, I don’t even question it.

Doubt tends to creep in when I step back for perspective. When viewing all at once all the homemade parts essential to the project, the whole thing can start to feel Uncle Tobyish. Dzadefve oa Charls’m is a 197 stanza poem in a language not only homemade but handmade, lock, stock, lexicon and grammar. The language grew from its writing system, and continued to grow as the writing system spawned a typeface. The typeface made possible the books of Dvarsh language, as well as a bilingual dictionary essential for composition and revision of the poem. In context, in the process, these constructions are as integral to the experiment as the imaginary mythology, history and geography that set the story the poem is made to tell. From a step removed, it’s hard to argue that the language, the typeface and mythology don’t look a lot like the output of compulsion. The best moments feel like mounting accomplishment. Other times, it’s Uncle Toby in the mirror.

Jeans no more

Somewhere around 80% of the pants-wearing days of my life have been in blue jeans. I started buying my own as a teen and never stopped. For the longest time, dressing up meant putting on a new pair and new shorts meant cutting legs off the most ragged. Just a year ago I joked that I expected to cross this decade as I have the past several, in blue jeans and polo shirts. Things change.

It seems manufacturers have discontinued the inseam I need in my waist size. Tall but not remarkably so, and less beefy than many but by no means excessively thin, I should be in the secure marketing category of an unremarkable shape. I am pounds and pounds heavier than when in college. Back then I could find a 28″ waist with 36″ inseam on the shelf in any western wear outlet in Texas. Today, 36″ is unavailable, even with inches I’ve added around the middle. It would take several more inches to reach “Big and Tall” sizing—because one must be both BIG and tall—which is where the inseam I need has been confined.

An irony of gone years is that blue jeans weigh a ton, and trap body heat when it is hot but retain none when it is cold. While the fit of a pair of jeans adapts to the body that wears them, the main recommendation for the denim that accomplishes this is that it is durable. Not warm or cool or light weight. Whatever barrel-bellied, short-legged influences mandated this wardrobe change have probably done me a favor in terms of raising the comfort level. But still.

Apparently, jeans now in the closet are my last. Do I wear them doggedly until they disintegrate, or assign them special status and switch immediately to chinos? But chinos require a decision—black or khaki? New complexity emerges in a world in which pants no longer fall along a wear-spectrum of blue. Life as it was disappears forever.

Is it time to rethink polo shirts?