Sunday, January 10, 2016

Coldest day of the year so far.  It hurts to go outside, then hurts to come inside again, all the blood storming into your limbs.  Every journey becomes something to be scaled, Everest from the door of the car to the door of the house and back.  Nevertheless, we go on our way.  If not this trundling forward under a clear and merciless sky, then what?

Saturday, January 9, 2016


First Missouri snow.

William stares out the window.  I tell him, "Look snow!"

"My snow," he says. "All mine."

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Six Words

Sore throat; ennui; road and light.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Jan 1

I'm writing this from the midst of music.  It's the newest, most tender part of 2016, those first few days in which you struggle to remember what the heck date it is.  I struggle to remember a lot more than the date these days, which could be an early sign of impending Alzheimer's, or a manifestation of insomnia, or no more or less than the general, inexorable overfilling of my brain with the murky stuff of memory.

This is the root of the impulse to record: knowing that, if I do not, these pine boughs and silver pipes, this fatigue and the vague feeling that I have overeaten, will slip away, tucked into the great black bag of the past and stollen away. 

So here I am.  It's 2015.  I'm sitting in a pew, still uncomfortable despite its velvet cusion.  The air smells of pine and sweat and that indefnitable funk of church.  Ten feet front of me, my colleagues are rehearsing music composed four hundred years ago, give or take.  Some of them forgot their pencils.  Some of them are playing their hearts out.  Some of them of already thinking about lunch.  Some of the shapes they make are exactly right and some are twisted shadows of what could have been; and this is the way with music; and this is the way with most of what precedes it and most of what follows after.

We listen to what's here.  Maybe scribble it down if we can.  Play sometimes.  Sit back down.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Six Words

Christmas on the road, again, now.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 24, 2015

It's quiet here.

Across the street, the one-bedroom apartment dwellers have fled to more populous climes.  The parking lot of Target, this morning spasming with cars, has begun to unclench.  And yesterday's  thunderstorms blew overnight to the east, although the air left behind still feels, for December, like breath against our skin.  

Perched, for the moment, in our new home, we've opened our gifts to one another- some thoughtful, some pointed, some exhilaratingly pointless. We've labored over bread, guzzled good coffee, and accidentally butt-dialed the landlord.  We've done all the things you ought to do when you seek to mark a day but one of you isn't sure why, or how.

Happy Christmas Eve.   May your day be quiet -and light. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 in Books!

There's nothing like a book to show you your place in the world.  Think you're troubled?  Try Tartt.  Think you know the South?  Read Faulkner.   Think you're an idiot?  I guarantee Don Quixote has more claim to the title than you.

A book is, in fact, the only mind-altering substance that clarifies, as opposed to clouds, your perception.  So they are especially useful to have when life turns upside down.

2015 was a shakeup.  I started my year a complacent Virginia homeowner and ended it in a rental house half a country away.   I began with three solid careers and ended with three rocky ones.  It's been a year of uprooting and unsettling- all the better to do it with books!

According to Goodreads, I read 36 books I will admit to.  Some were good.  Some were OK.  Two were dreadful.  But you probably don't want to read those.  So here are five that were stellar!

1. So You've Been Publicly Shamed (Jon Ronson).   PR professional Justine Sacco boarded a plane after tweeting a bad joke and woke up an international pariah.  Ronson's book, in which he interviews Sacco and other shamers and shamees, is an uncomfortably funny, can't-look-away catalog of humiliations past and present.  And although it pains me to write this without irony, his message is capital-I Important.  Additional kudos to Ronson for annihilating the best-of-2015 list I'd dared to construct before picking up his book (sorry, Gail Godwin).

2. My Brilliant Friend (Elena Ferrante).  Two Neapolitan girls endure the travails of poverty, institutional violence and impending womanhood as they journey to....snore.  I mean, God, there's no way to juice the plot summary on this one.  But the book is wildly better than its blurb.

3. Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel).   Plague!  Shakespeare!  Empty airports!  This book has every ingredient you could ever want.  And yet, unlike if, say, you took all of your favorite culinary ingredients, mixed them together and then baked them, which my little brother did, once, and we tasted it, and  the results ended up on the lawn where they were summarily ignored by all wildlife while undergoing a bizarre combination of putrefaction and petrification- unlike that,  it's awesome.

4.  Fun Home (Alison Bechdel).  Just pretty much the best graphic novel I've ever read.  Never mind that it's the only graphic novel I've ever read.  It's still fantastic.

5.  The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown).  So this is the kind of book I hate.  It's non-fiction, written by a man, about sports, with a World War II theme.  And yet, I cried more reading Brown's book than I've cried since Old Yeller bit the dust.  Read this.

Honorable Mentions:  Flora, Gail Godwin; A Long Way Gone, Lou Berney; Lila, Marilynne Robinson