August 31, 2023

August is a sunset, a Sunday, the last hour of the best party.

Plump and sultry summer August night featuring the Chrysler and the full moon

My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between
By Mari Andrew

Sweet & perfect summer 2023; feverishly nodding 'yes' to Mari's ode to August.
For many creative people, regret and longing is what we live for. We love limitations, especially the wistful ones. August is a three-week foreign love affair that you can't bring back home. August is a beautiful person who just got off the subway, or a tomato whose prime you may miss by a couple of hours. August is a sunset, a Sunday, the last hour of the best party.

It is one of my favorite months. Every year, like clockwork, I begin to see summer's charms when its days are numbered. I get preemptively nostalgic for the nights that feel as plump and sultry as an overripe plum, and I begin to miss the sundresses I haven't even worn yet. It's like living the last days of a relationship you know is about to end, and there's magic in that ache.

August 20, 2023

When we create this space within ourselves—a space of calmness that is undisturbed by the storm—the storm tends to pass more quickly.

By Yung Pueblo

A few reminders from Yung Pueblo.

Changes in the external world can cause great misery when we do not know how to engage and heal ourselves. Moments of pain and discomfort, or encounters with ideas that may break the mental images we have created of the world, are normally things we not only run away from but also things we build walls to defend ourselves from. These walls we build in our minds and hearts make sense when we don't know any better. We all have the right to protect ourselves from pain, but be aware that these walls can turn from protection into prison—the more walls we build around ourselves, the less space we have to grow and be free. We have a harder time releasing the habits that cause misery when we are surrounded by the psychological walls we have constructed, causing us to stagnate and fall into a rhythm where we are always running within a space that is slowly growing smaller.
(p. 15)

There is an important difference between dwelling in misery and understanding that on the path of healing things will come up that sometimes cause us to feel the old emotions and patterns that we are working on letting go. There is great power in honoring the reality of our current emotions—not feeding them or making them worse but simply recognizing that this is what has arisen in this present moment and that this will also change. When we create this space within ourselves—a space of calmness that is undisturbed by the storm—the storm tends to pass more quickly.
Practicing such profound honesty within ourselves helps in all facets of internal and external life—there is no real freedom without honesty, and without honesty, there can be no peace of mind. Healing ourselves isn't about constantly feeling bliss; being attached to bliss is a bondage of its own. Trying to force ourselves to be happy is counterproductive, because it suppresses the sometimes tough reality of the moment, pushing it back within our depths of our being, instead of allowing it to arise and release.
(p. 81)

August 13, 2023

I couldn't imagine ever being studied and known like that.

By Dolly Alderton

Time to pull a handful of posts out of the drafts folder...

As desired, I re-read Ghosts earlier this year, in the middle of winter (again). It made me cry (again). It also made me feel tinges of hope and empathy as I further dissected the parallels in Nina George's journey to mine and those of the people I know, as told via Dolly's delicious prose and metaphor.

Ongoing: I continue to contemplate the ghosts of my friendships, romances, and family.

This is one of my favorite moments from the novel. I had never consciously considered the ways loved ones (could) hold hope for one another. We've said prayers, but this beautiful exchange felt different. There have been times in my love journey where I lost hope and all I needed was for someone to hold it for awhile. I think some people have.
(p. 296)

There was the evidence, in all these profiles, where who we really are and who we'd like everyone to think we are were in such unsubtle tension. How clear it suddenly was that we are all the same organs, tissue and liquids packaged up in one version of a million clichés, who all have insecurities and desires; the need to feel nurtured, important, understood and useful in one way or another. None of us are special. I don't know why we fight it so much. 
(p. 32)

The sexiest, most exciting, romantic, explosive feeling in the world is a matter of a few centimeters of skin being stroked for the first time in a public place. The first confirmation of desire. The first indication of intimacy. You only get that feeling with a person once.
(p. 39)

"Big night?" I asked, the note of judgment in my voice as bright and sonorous as a middle C.
(p. 96)

Being a heterosexual woman who loved men meant being a translator for their emotions, a palliative nurse for their pride and a hostage negotiator for their egos.
(p. 98)

There was a daftness that I shared with Joe, and a seriousness that I shared with Max. Both were parts of me and both were true, but both seemed so in conflict with each opposing representative present. I hadn't anticipated that this merging of people meant this merging of selves—it made me think anxiously about myself in a way that was unfamiliar.
(p. 102)

I felt myself lean towards his praise like it was the warmth of sunlight.
(p. 113)

My body responded with more than my senses—I felt it in my cells. It was biological and visceral, prehistoric and predetermining. There in the middle was the garden square, perfectly kept in accordance with every angle my memory had captured.
(p. 116)

In the predawn hours of the next morning, unable to sleep, I went to Dad's bookshelf and picked up his dictionary of English etymology. I sat on the floor, cross-legged, with my back pressed against the sofa, and flipped to N. 
Nostalgia: Greek compound combining nostos (homecoming) and àlgos (pain). The literal Greek translation for nostalgia is "pain from an old wound."
(p. 138)

I stayed in front of Marie-Thérèse in her red armchair and examined every part of her exquisitely scrambled form. The impossible positioning of her breasts stacked on top of each other, the surreal placement of her mismatched shoulders. How her face split into two parts, one half of which could be another face kissing the other in profile, if you looked for long enough. Was the second face that Picasso saw symbolic of Marie-Thérèse's hidden multitudes? Or was it his profile—did he imagine he dwelled within her, his lips on her cheek wherever she went? What would it be like, I wondered, to be seen through such adoring eyes, that they could not only capture you in a painting, but rearrange you to further exhibit who you were? I stroked the rounded right angle of where my neck met my shoulder like it was the hand of a lover and thought about being put inside a Rubik's Cube of someone's gaze. I couldn't imagine ever being studied and known like that.

My solitude was like a gemstone. For the most part it was sparking and resplendent—something I wore with pride...But underneath this diamond of solitude was a sharp point that I occasionally caught with my bare hands, making it feel like a perilous asset rather than a precious one.
(p. 185)

As I watched him surrender to the silly, untamable joy of hysterical giggles, I realized that while the future might strip him of his self, something mightier remained. His soul would always exist somewhere separate and safe. No one and nothing—no disease, no years of aging—could take that away from him. His soul was indestructible.
(p. 269)