I’m Robert van Vliet. I grew up in the Twin Cities. At one time or another, I’ve lived in (among other places) Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, NYC, and PDX. For most of that time, I felt like George Bailey if he had managed to get out of Bedford Falls. Stickers on my suitcase, stamps in my passport. But eventually I discovered to my surprise and dismay that to be happy, I need four sharply delineated seasons — especially if two of them are seemingly endless and absurdly brutal in their extremes. So I have returned to St Paul, for good.
Over the years, I have been, among other things, a typographer, a tutor & substitute teacher for middle school & high school, a singer/songwriter, and a repair technician for Macintosh portable computers. Oh, and I was also a customer service representative way back when people still bought things using land-line telephones and glossy four-color catalogs printed on paper and bound with staples. A writer’s résumé.
I participated in Thomas Whyte’s ongoing Poetry Mini Interviews, which appeared in five parts over the course of five weeks in March and April of 2021: one, two, three, four, and five. (You can find some outtakes and fragments here)
You can read about my typical (until May of 2022, when I moved, upending all my daily routines for the first time in years…) writing day here, at My (Small Press) Writing Day, curated by the hardest working man in poetry, rob mclennan.
I own thousands of books and I’ve even managed to read a few of them. (I would definitely not blame you if, upon learning that I’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow eight times (so far), your reaction was to back away with an expression of mild horror. You have three thousand books, and you’re thinking about reading that thing again? Really? Yeah, well: those last hundred pages are actually starting to make sense — but maybe that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome kicking in…)
Since the mid ’80s — aside from some wretched day jobs, and a dark period in 1996–98 — I have only used Macintosh computers, and almost exclusively portables. I was disappointed by the iterations of the Macintosh portables after about 2012, so I clung to my late-2011 13″ model like Ishmael to the coffin. Then Apple finally announced a recall program for their atrociously fail-prone butterfly keyboards, so I upgraded to a 13″ Retina MacBook Air. It served me in a very blandly annoying way for several years, but I recently traded it in for a new M1 14″ MacBook Pro. Absolutely the best Macintosh I’ve ever used.
The first things I install on every new Mac are Quicksilver, 1Password, and Cocktail. When I write on my Mac, I use either Scrivener, Bear, or iA Writer, depending on the project. And on my iOS devices, it’s Bear and 1Writer. But almost everything starts in Drafts (especially now that full actions support has come to the Mac OS version…).
That said, I’d rather use paper notebooks and journals. You probably should, too. Not only do they lack intrusive ads, and will not track you, they also don’t require batteries. And I promise that you’ll think better, you’ll own all your own content, and they pose an almost insurmountable challenge to online hackers.
I tend to use woodcased pencils — especially General’s Cedar Pointe, Pacific, or Goddess pencils (as well as a refreshed supply of my beloved FaberCastell American 2.5). But the rest of the time I use any ballpoint lying around, because life’s too short.
About this Website
My blog, (fleeting), is hosted and powered by the eponymous Micro.blog, which is a community of blogs stitched together by a timeline that allows for posts and comments. I manage its content partly through the web interface, partly through the capable native apps for Mac and iOS, and partly through the excellent MarsEdit.
For more information about the analog tools I’m using at any given time, see this page.
Email me, if you are so moved, at rnv at omg dot lol.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
The only war that matters is the war against the imagination.
— Diane di Prima
Let us boldly contemn all imitation, though it comes to us graceful and fragrant as the morning; and foster all originality, though, at first, it be as crabbed and ugly as our own pine knots.
— Herman Melville
In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers it’s not boring at all but very interesting. — John Cage
I made the wrong mistakes.
— Thelonious Monk
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
— James Wright
The interior life is often stupid.
— Annie Dillard