Wednesday
Nov142018

Love that line!


She had that uncomfortable feeling that one has

when one has not been wholly kind or wholly true.


Passing, a novel by Nella Larsen

 

Thursday
Nov082018

Thankful Thursday: Not Trying

Because the world is heavy, and our hearts too, it's time for redirection. Please join me for Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to express appreciation for things small and large, from the puny to the profound. 

I find the best things when not trying. This week I'm thankful for: 

• Goodwill Boutique
Yesterday I scored a new-with-tags suede coat, a Coach laptop bag, and Cole Haan wedges. Do you have a Goodwill Boutique near you? No, really, not just a Goodwill but a boutique version in which they sort donations for gently used designer brands. The prices are higher than a traditional thrift store, but the quality is better. And best of all, they sort through the pilled, spilled and spoiled clothing so I don't have to. 

• Scooby-Doo Stamps
"Charismatic canine," the United States Postal Service calls the Great Dane character from the 1970s-era cartoon series. I'm loving the fun and inspired stamps lately: Mister Rogers, Oscar de la Renta, Andrew Wyeth . . . even popsicle scratch-n-sniff stamps!

• A Timely Line

Somewhere, someone dies again and I think

there went another piece of me 

— Lisa Martin
excerpt from Sonnet for what we resolve into

The best poems are discovered by accident. You're looking for this or that and a poem peers out, calling. I'm ragged with world events (another shooting, another fire, another crisis) when I open this book — where did it come from? did I buy it? was it a gift? — and suddenly the line floods my head, my hands, my heart. 

 

It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to express appreciation for people, places, things & more. What are you thankful for today? 


Saturday
Nov032018

On Ordinary 


A static gloom covers the day, hours of gray. 

The day is so without event, so without emotion, I know now this is what is called ordinary. I don’t know what to do with ordinary except to call it a suspension between sad and sunny. 

I’m having a do-nothing day, I announce to another (but mostly to myself), and then stumble across this:  

“The women . . . are interesting because they’re permitted to risk being boring, which feels somehow like a luxury. It’s a relief.”

_____


“Boredom is often dismissed as a lack of imagination — this not true. Boredom is a signal that we are indeed imaginative creatures, and that the existential distress of being in a state of blah is often the mind readying itself for the epiphany," writes Nick Cave

I’m not bored exactly, but I am not moved. Is this the blah before brilliance? It’s too much to wish because this creative stupor is a gray that has hovered for what feels like forever. Ordinary turns time inside-out, both enlarging its importance and diminishing your ability. In its lack of color and light, ordinary does absolutely nothing. 

_____

 
But what if ordinary is the lull that lets light in?

It happens so often now I don’t even notice. I’m chatting with a woman and in the course of our conversation she tells me of her husband's death. Her eyes soften and we talk slower and lower and time wells between us in a way that seals us in a moment quiet and safe.  

“Intimacy is such a hushed and heartbreaking thing that I think it happens between strangers every bit as much as it does between lifelong lovers, sometimes even more so," writes Robert Vivian in The Least Cricket of Evening

_____


Lately, an elderly man and I exchange hellos and talk of the weather. Each day I learn a little more. He is quiet and proud but his eyes carry heartache. He apologizes — for emotion, for sharing, I do not know — and I will mew words that say nothing that matters. Still, each day we start again with hellos and smiles. 

And this is ordinary. These moments of exchange.

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart), wrote e.e. cummings.

And so we carry secrets and stories, aches and tears — all of it so human and heartbreaking, so beautifully gray and ordinary.  

 

 

Wednesday
Oct242018

Love that line, but . . . 

 
Turning her back

on the toneless expanse,

beyond the window,

she contemplated

the room, which

was the colour of

over-cooked veal." 


— from Hotel Du Lac
    a novel by Anita Brookner

 

I love that line, but I don't love the book. 

In the same way I sometimes love a stanza but not the whole poem.

Or love a friend but not her opinion. 

I am large, I contain multitudes, wrote Whitman

And so we expand, stretching across the thorny contradiction to get to a single beautiful bloom.  

 

Friday
Oct192018

Thankful Thursday (everyday)

On Highway 97 in Oregon

It's Thankful Thursday. Please join me in a weekly pause to appreciate people, places, things & more. 

This week I'm thankful for the small things (weather, letters, poems) that help me feel gratitude for the big things (love, learning, sincerity): 

1.
A Letter Love Story

A woman tells me she met her husband through writing letters.

The two lived in separate states, had mutual friends, and courted by mail — long, hand-written letters that offered kindness, humor, and truth (I'm fat, she wrote. I don't like bars or church, he wrote). Two months in, they were engaged, having never met or talked on the phone. A month later they married. They've been happily wed for 45 years. 

2.
Poem By Chance

The list of books I want to read is long but sometimes a chance encounter jumps to the top. At the library I was looking for a chair and found a book of poems instead: Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting. I thought it was a book of heartbreak though letters (and that combo is sure to reel me in). But this was better: a collection of powerfully restrained poems from Kevin Powers, an Iraq War veteran. Here's an excerpt from the opening poem, Customs

We passed the welcome sign
five miles ago. Another crossing 
missed. On some naked mountainside
a small signal fire is lit. I can tell you exactly 
what I mean. It is night again and endless
are the stars. I can tell you exactly
what I mean. The world has been replaced
by our ideas about the world. 

3. 
The Brilliance of Good TV 

All praises for David Simon, the writer of television tales. I've recently revisited my two favorites: The Wire, about the drug trade and its reverberations in every aspect of urban life; and Tremeexploring the emotional, physical, financial, and cultural aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. 

Both shows make complex issues real with writing and acting that is deep, honest and accurate. With each episode, I laugh, cry, and can't wait to watch another. 

4. 
Blue Sky, Yellow Leaves, Warm Sun 

For days I say the same phrase to everyone I meet: Can you believe this beautiful weather?

Crisp mornings, cool nights, warm days, blue sky, yellow leaves, day after glorious day. It's a script of happiness because sometimes there are not enough words to convey the gratitude of good weather, so I just repeat my mantra like a contented fool. 

 

Your turn:  What are you thankful for today?