I am, as they say, pondering things in my heart. Like a saint, I suppose, with holy secrets too good to tell. Keep what is sacred within the sanctuary; don’t drag the graven images into the street. It is not within my capabilities at this time to serve whatever it is that needs to get out of me except by living. When I thought about sadness, about yearning, I always reached to words as the tools with which to build a bridge, wishing to cross (if I could!) to the other side. But now through the conduit that is my body, that is my mind, streaks an electric current of joy. I can’t do anything with it except smile across the room, grasp hands in blessing across a table, break bread, laugh. Laughter and deep sighs (from the belly) are my language and they happen in real time and they happen far away from quill and ink. For the moment, at least. I am, as they say, pondering all of these things in my heart.
24 Mar 2013 / 12 notes
Do yourself a favor, be creeped out.
I haven’t been sleeping much lately. When I get into bed, I work myself into a fabricated stupor with books. But I haven’t been reading much lately, either. I’ve tried to coax myself to read with new books, one sent to my office almost every day, new bookmarks tucked between unbroken spines. My bed is surrounded by books halved open, on the arms of chairs or propped up against the walls or on the dusty shelves of my bookcases. I lean next to the absolute dimmest light in my house, slouch further into the pillows, and tell myself, “Surely, surely I am tired enough tonight. Surely tonight I will fall asleep and stay asleep and wake up refreshed.” I take a deep breath, from the cramps in between my red-painted toes to the sore creases in between my shoulders.
When I turn out the light, all the sounds in my apartment and on the street outside my apartment are amplified. Each car that passes starts a miniature earthquake, rattles the mattress. I startle at the sound of the fridge engaging in its nocturnal gurgling, the radiators hissing softly. My heart beats away at the bars of its cage. Get up, get up, get up. There is so much to think about.
I told myself, last month, that I’d spend these sacred weeks being quieter, reading more, turning off the television and the music to reach deep inside for thoughts. But I have done the opposite. I haven’t spent more than a couple of hours (awake) inside my home in the last few weeks. I long for moments of quiet, for rest, but when they are finally given to me, I grow restless. I make endless cups of tea and pace and make excuses to go outside. It’s blindingly cold, even now in late March, but I walk the length of my neighborhood in search of company.
It isn’t the sleeplessness I fear as much as the unquiet inside of my mind. Here there are very happy thoughts, nutrient-rich and dense and complex; I couldn’t ask for better waking-dreams. In my tired bed I try to remember the simple meals I made in loneliness all those months ago and wonder at how this girl spent so many hours locked away inside the confines of her own head, aloof and afraid.
Now my stomach churns busily on the rich marrow of these experiences, this life, this happiness I have chosen, and my mind spins wildly on wine-infused dreams. I try to enter the quiet, the moody ruminations of before, and I find that I have outgrown my insides, the ragged, unhappy peace I had. I am too full.
20 Mar 2013 / 15 notes
Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?
I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.
Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.
The Gardener, Mary Oliver
18 Mar 2013 / 11 notes
The play is memory.
Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.
In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings.
I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it. The other characters are my mother Amanda, my sister Laura and a gentleman caller who appears in the final scenes.
He is the most realistic character in the play, being an emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from. But since I have a poet’s weakness for symbols, I am using this character also as a symbol; he is the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for. There is a fifth character in the play who doesn’t appear except in this larger-than-life-size photograph over the mantel.
This is our father who left us a long time ago. He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic out of town… The last we heard of him was a picture postcard from Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, containing a message of two words —
‘Hello — Good-bye!’ and no address.
I think the rest of the play will explain itself…"
The Glass Menagerie I.i, Tennessee Williams
This is a perfect piece of literature, of art, and I dream of teaching it, acting in it, directing it, and endlessly watching it. I once saw this performed in a tiny, century-old playhouse in Santa Barbara and it was an out-of-body experience. Certainly among the top 10 most magical moments I’ve had with art.
12 Mar 2013 / 19 notes
Relationships, especially the deep soul-satisfying ones, are houses we build and live in with others. We construct them to weather the environment, the challenges we meet when we first connect. They are strong and beautiful and we fill them with laughter and experiences and intimacy. If we have a good house, an open one, we invite others to come share in our joy.
But these houses begin to show signs of age. The foundation begins to weaken. Sooner or later, a few leaks appear in the roof. As the walls crumble, we can work as hard as we can trying to patch them up, hide the damage with shiny decorations or work through the night stacking brick upon brick upon brick hoping against hope that we can rebuild it just like it was before.
But the best, the deepest, the bravest relationships, we must allow to crumble for a moment. We must step outside of them into the night where it is not safe, or comfortable, sheltered or even warm. We must look at them from the outside, assess the changes, watch time eat away at them. They aren’t big or bright enough for us anymore. We’ve outgrown them.
Yet when the time is right, if we’re lucky, we’ll both know how to build a new one. This house will take into account everything that has changed and everything that has remained. And we’ll live in it uncomfortably for a while, unused to the way it sighs beneath us as we sleep, jarred a bit by how the windows open a different way than we’re used to and how our hips keep bumping into a doorjamb because it’s not as wide as it used to be. But we will let it unsettle us and then slowly, we’ll let it shelter us again.
Why would I ever want someone with whom to fill an old, tired house with gaudy things? Let’s tear the peeling paper off the walls. Come to me with your brick, your mortar, your calloused fingers. Let’s build something new.
10 Mar 2013 / 20 notes
(Chicago was incorporated on March 4th, 1837. Even though it’s not the same as a birthday I feel like I share this day with the city and it is pretty much written in stone that we should wake up together, here at Montrose Harbor, with the lake shifting sleepily under the ice, the wind numbing us, the star exploding across the horizon…)
4 Mar 2013 / 24 notes
The snow makes the city beautiful but it also makes it seem smaller, enclosed. Parts of the sidewalk are now reserved for large mountains of snow plowed off parking lots and the street. We walk single file down streets that might normally allow us to walk three or four abreast.
I’m fiercely proud of us, of how we’re making it, how we’re crunching the winter down beneath our boots and still going to work and still going out for dinner and still walking to and from the train. It isn’t easy to live here in the winter, especially without a car, but it’s wonderful and gorgeous if you look at it the right way. I don’t know any people that are hardier than the people who live here, who walk ten blocks every day through the snow and ice just because they can, because it’s a little bit “balmier” than yesterday, because it hasn’t beat us yet and it isn’t going to.
27 Feb 2013 / 17 notes
26 Feb 2013 / 9 notes
What to do with this lovely Moro?
26 Feb 2013 / 4 notes