June 19, 2022

But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.


By Mary Oliver

Today's a hard day for me but instead of succumb to too much sorrow, I intend to spend the day outdoors. I know Mary Oliver would approve and—speaking of—there's a poem I encountered earlier this year, while making my way through Devotions, that stunned me. A new one I'd never read before that I immediately felt in my bones.

Full read in its whole perfect splendor, here

And it starts with, "Welcome to the silly, comforting poem."

My mother was the blue wisteria,
my mother
was the mossy stream out being the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
oh, unforgettable!

I bury her 
in a box
in the earth
and turn away.
My father
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust, 
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else 
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.
this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.

I mention them now, 
I will not mention them again.

It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

I give them—one, two, three, four—the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.

But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.

Did you know that the ant has a tongue
with which to gather in all that it can
of sweetness?
Did you know that?

The poem is not the world.
It isn't even the first page of the world.
But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.

It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything."

And towards the end,

"A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of the world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling."

June 12, 2022

This year, was I competent? Did I referee my whims or elaborate on them? Did I express gratitude? Feel the potency of night?


Too Much and Not the Mood
By Durga Chew-Bose

"What new habits did I develop to cut myself off from the world? When will I learn that those habits are, it's possible, delimiting me from innocuous connections. Someone to sit next to on a couch too small, flipping the pages of a book too big, where the pages graze my sweater's stomach, and I can't pin why, but the whole small-big ratio of pages grazing my sweater creates an impression of secrecy.
Someone to wish well before his trip to Tokyo; to call when I can't sleep. To share a bowl of blanched almonds with, sitting on stools—small again too—that force my knees to bend at right angles, which feels somehow athletic. Which is, by nature, suggestive. 
Someone to provoke me; to watch Game 7 with; to accompany to a gallery where I don't care for the art , but oh, how I love being in the vicinity of someone I confide in daily, whose posture is indistinguishable, even under the lumpy mass of her winter coat, her scarf, the infantilizing fit of her boots. When will I learn? Nobody knows you're thinking of him, of her, of our walk along the Thames, eight years ago I think it was, after seeing Peter Doig's white canoe at the Tate, unless you call or write and say so."
(p. 76)

"This year, was I competent? Did I referee my whims or elaborate on them? Did I express gratitude? Feel the potency of night? Accept an offer to stay over without reciting the many excuses I use to screen my doubts?"
(pp. 76-7)

oof so much to relate to & unpack here.
"I was, back then, a decade or so away from clocking my brownness, from taking notice of its veiled prominence in my life. I wasn't so much blind to it, but uninvolved in it. Emotionless about it. I was a brown daughter too inclined by whiteness to appreciate that being a daughter extends beyond the home. That it's a furtherance. That my parents were handsome, strong, willing. Adaptable. Selfless. Brilliant. Beautiful. I was too busy troubling myself with what I thought was pretty.
So I cloistered my brownness. I wasn't yet ready to scrutinize my weird, even toxic, relationship to the exclusionary appeal of these older white girls. To their ubiquity. To their immunity. I was coaxed by my stewed and crummy and, invisible to me, feeling of inferiority. In turn, I praised these girls for the faintest reasons."
(pp. 102-3)

"I am sick for those years when I was paying attention without purpose. When I was arranging stories free of import, and when my imagination could draw courage instead of warrant that I stay in."
(p. 122)

June 08, 2022

What a nook person wants is space, however small, to follow whatever image is driving her instead of sensing like she might have to trade it in or share it before she's willing.

from the early days of the pandemic; may 2020

Too Much and Not the Mood
By Durga Chew-Bose

Durga's varied multi-page description of nook people is one of my favorites (& magically it also includes a reference to Céline's Paris apartment and the last scene of Before Sunset with "Just In Time" ❤️).

I've wondered if being a "nook person" is a good thing? But recently when pondering whether some of my qualities are good or bad, a friend said to me with love—"Not good or bad, just who you are." 

"Nook people are those of us who need solitude, but also the sound of someone puttering in the next room. Someone working on his project, down the hall and behind a door left ajar. We look away from our screen and hear him turning a page or readjusting his posture, and isn't it time for lunch? Resurfacing is nonpareil. And splitting a sandwich with someone you've said maybe two words to all morning is idyllic. A brief belief that life picks up after a few bites of toasted rye."
(p. 60)

"What a nook person wants is space, however small, to follow whatever image is driving her instead of sensing like she might have to trade it in or share it before she's willing. Her awakening demands no stage but, rather room to store that second half of what she deems her double life: what's corrugated inside. Intuition's buildup."
(p. 62)

"Nook people are interested in what's backstage; are especially passionate about the small-scale bedlam of wimmelbooks; seek coats that cocoon; seek windows with shutters; a pattern that reveals itself over time; a vacation alone. Nook people can gently disagree while securing their spark. No. No. Spark is not substantive enough. Their approach. That radiant heat they typically keep stored inside because it functions as insulation."
(pp. 62-3)

June 05, 2022

It's love and someone you love's power growing, and it's watching the elements cater to a woman who exudes.


(proud of the woman I am & the woman I'm still becoming.)

Too Much and Not the Mood
By Durga Chew-Bose

"For twenty dollars—an extravagance I can't afford but can, so in that minute I spend it—we place our palms on metal sensors, have our photo taken with a Kirlian-type camera, and then sit and listen as an employee at Magic Jewelry—who sometimes speaks to us in the first-person plural—interprets the psychedelic colors our aura. Reds and oranges mean one thing—that we've been working too hard, we've been told—and cooler colors signify that we're withdrawn and overthinking, daydreaming and negligent of more earthly forces. Habitually, the both of us are purple. Absent and worn-out. Entombed in thought. A distinguishing quality of the women I love, meaning, none of us are bothered by how infrequently we see one another. We have an arrangement that was never formally arranged. A consideration for turning down invitations. We are happy for the person who is indulging in her space, and how she might merely be spending the weekend unescorted by anything except her own work, which could also mean: she is in no rush to complete much. She is tinkering. She is gathering all the materials necessary for repotting a plant but not doing it. She is turning off the lights and climbing into her head because that's usually the move."
(p. 53)

"The women I love reenter the world so poorly. Their elegance lies in how summarily they'll dodge its many attenuations, advancing alongside the world as if passing their fingers over the rails of a fence and cleverly selecting the right moment to hop over.
They are women who are loveliest when just a little bit haunted or mad as hell on a clear day. Who carefully believe in ghosts and kismet, and are mistrustful of shortcuts. Who laugh like villains. Wake up earliest when the sky is overcast. Who needn't say much for all to know, tonight, they won't be staying out long. Who dip their toes into the current, only to retreat and fantasize about the bowl of cereal they'd rather be scarfing down at home. Who, like my friend Jenny specifically, are hot. Who don't need anyone—including me right now—to depict why. Proximity to hotness can feel like a link to the universe. Your hot friend on a balmy summer night telling you about some good news in her life is—How do I put this without sounding absurd? It's barometric. It's love and someone you love's power growing, and it's watching the elements cater to a woman who exudes."
(p. 54)

June 01, 2022

A woman carries her inner life—lugs it around and holds it in like fumes that both poison and bless her—while nourishing another's inner life, many others actually, while never revealing too much madness, or, possibly, never revealing where she stores it: her island of lost mind.

Too Much and Not the Mood
By Durga Chew-Bose

The best gifts are quiet, unexpected, and exemplary of the most sincere thoughtfulness and knowing. Like this book of essays from my dear friend Kat, which lucky for me served as the best accompaniment for a beach retreat in Koh Chang. When I remember the beginning of this book & becoming instantly immersed and amazed, the sun, sand and waves also line the memory. An eloquent stream of consciousness. I devoured these sentences. 

"On the rare occasion my subconscious welds, language has a gift, I've learned, for humiliating those luminous random acts of creative flash into impossible-to-secure hobbling duds. The best ideas outrun me. That's why I write." 
(p. 5)

"Even when pointe shoes flit down the stage like muffled hazard. When a fur coat slides off a woman's bare shoulders. Or when a kiss on my neck obscures all clichés about kisses on necks and I am no longer human but merely an undulation."
(p. 6)

"There's strength in observing one's miniaturization. That you are insignificant and prone to, and God knows, dumb about a lot. Because doesn't smallness prime us to eventually take up space? For instance, the momentum gained from reading a great book. After after, sitting, sleeping, living in its consequence. A book that makes you feel, finally, latched on. Or after after we recover from a hike. From seeing fifteenth-century ruins and wondering how Machu Picchu was built when Incans had zero knowledge of the wheel. Smallness can make you feel extra porous. Extra ambitious. Like a small dog carrying an enormous branch clenched in its teeth, as if intimating to the world: Okay. Where to?

"To this day, watching a woman mindlessly tend to one thing while doing something else absorbs me. Like securing the backs of her earrings while wiggling her feet into her shoes. Like staring into some middle distance, where lines soften, and where she separates the relevant from the immaterial. A woman carries her inner life—lugs it around and holds it in like fumes that both poison and bless her—while nourishing another's inner life, many others actually, while never revealing too much madness, or, possibly, never revealing where she stores it: her island of lost mind. Every woman has one. And every woman grins when the question is asked, What three items would you bring to a desert island? Because every woman's been, by this time, half living there."
(p. 32-3)

"There was a period in college when the sound of photocopiers in my library's basement was, I'm uncertain why: blue. Perhaps their ceaselessness reminded me of waves. Paralleling the surf and sway, and roll, on loop. Paper shooting out the tray like lapping ocean water foaming on the beach."
(p. 48)

"The difference between collection and memorial has, in recent years, become less clear to me. My instinct to write things down often feels like obituary."
(p. 49)

"Far more than me, my mother is in touch—or at ease—with flows and overflow, particularly, and contends coolly, unusually so, with spats. For someone so angry about the state of things, fist up and ready to fight the fight, protesting and holding up banners or hanging them from her balcony, making calls on behalf of, hosting conference speakers at her home, showing up in solidarity, unionizing the teachers at her college, my mother does seem, on average, unbothered. There have been times when her disposition is equivalent to that of an email's auto-response away message: a calmly prompt, matter-of-fact no-show. She's there, but not exactly. My mother has proven that a person can be supportive yet remain unreachable, and how the combination has its virtues."
(p. 50)

May 28, 2022

To be struck in the good part of your heart.

blurry beach photo @ night

Stevie Nicks Is Still Living Her Dreams

By Tavi Gevinson

Hi, hello. My 2022 so far has been filled with big decisions, big travel, big feelings. Tons of goodness, overall. This past week was the first time I’ve felt a ::pause:: on the ride, following a slam on the brakes of my own making, and I began to reflect on life’s patterns and the part I play in them. It didn’t necessarily feel good to process the consequence of my imperfections and mistakes and to remember that for all my learnings, I still have a lot of work I need to do to become (better). 

I turned here. And if only I’d remembered soonest that I’d developed this space for this very reason—this tiny corner of the internet mostly for me, the equivalent of a nondescript insignificant (sorry, Blogger) but beloved bar located at the end of a hidden alley (I'm picturing a non-threatening one adorned with sparkling lights), that leads to the most comforting worn/torn booth tucked away in the far back, upon whose table lies a collection of wisdom from writers, gathered over 10 years, to help me understand my life. To help me endure and process my own sorrow and self-pity. My joys. My triumphs and growth. My intentions. And when needed, also provide a lift, encouragement, kinship. 

In sum: language for me is the balm, the salve, the buoy. Time and time again, an eternal, reliable rescue and guide. 

Before I get out of my head and into the city for a solo adventure, an interview with Stevie Nicks. I'm grateful my friend nudged me towards this yesterday. It is grand and affirming and not as good when picked apart so I suggest reading it in its entirety. (Another time I'll need to write about the white-winged doves who made a home in my family's backyard in Houston and the synchronicity of "Edge of Seventeen" also appearing in my life at the same time.)

on living, making the most of your time, and missing Prince:
"And now that he’s gone I’m really just so sorry. My one regret with him is that I did not call him up one day and say, “Listen, I’m just coming in, I’m gonna fly in and come over to Paisley Park and just hang out with you for two days. Because I just would love to see you.” And that’s what I always tell people. Remember, every single day of your life, the people you love could be gone tomorrow. If anybody can take away from what we’re talking about right now, it’s the fact that life is very fragile. You can’t count on ever having a lot of time left."

on spiritual realms, life's signs and where inspiration comes from:
"Yes, absolutely, I do. Because, for me, anything that gives me an idea, it strikes me in the good part of my heart, right? I have other notebooks that are just lying around on my bed, and I’ll just pick one of them to really quickly write that sentence down. I have little things written everywhere, and I try to tear them out immediately and stick them in my journal. So it’s just a feeling of an experience that you had a long, long time ago, and you remember something about it that you hadn’t thought about in a long time."