Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I (Was) Here

Norfolk, VA

I (Was) Here

Charlottesville, VA

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Finally Fantasy

Fantasy gets a bad rap.

It's what I read in seventh grade, for starters, and seldom does anything one did in seventh grade bear scrutiny.

Then there are the novels themselves, great jellied slabs of book lousy, like fruitcake, with preservative spirit.  In fruitcake, alcohol preserves the fruit; in fantasy, it's our deepest longings that are captured, whole and unmacerated, within the suspension of other worlds.

We want to be special, important, an integral, even necessary part of a band of brothers- and in fantasy, unless we manage to take a sword to the throat, we are.

It's been a while since I've done fantasy.  After adolescence, naked longing smacks of gaucherie.   Desperation is only fashionable in disguise, and so we turn, most of us, to the twinned, half-hearted embraces of literary fiction and life.

But lately, I've come back to fantasy.   Not the section in the library, though that has its place, but the whole untrammeled wail of the word, its method of plunging offtrack.   Fantasizing, by definition, means overstepping.   You take something, anything, from life.   You walk to the end of it and then, as if it were a plank, you step off.

Tomorrow afternoon, 60 miles down the road, I'm leading a workshop on fantasias. The musical kind, fantasias and fantazias and fantasies and fantazies in which one composer or another starts with a cell of melody and allows it to divide and multiply.  For y'all on the blog, here's one of my favorites, a bang-up rendition by Jordi Savall's ensemble of Henry Purcell's Fantasia Upon One Note.

If you listen, you'll hear that one note spinning and spinning, that single clod of earth which anchors every castle in the air.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


You and I had a moment.

Vaguely embarrassing, but true.  If we are -or were- close friends, I've got a memory of you stashed somewhere, a silvery playback of a span of time during which I looked into your eyes and thought, violins wailing, this is it.

OK, OK, I exaggerate.

But not, as I've begun to realize, by too much.   For every person I am, or have been, close to -my good friends, ex-friends, ex-boyfriends- I can dredge up a moment of connection.  Or, more precisely, the realization of connection.   A kind of slap upside the head, a mental reeling during which, for whatever reason or reasons, I cottoned to the fact that we would -not even should, but would- be friends.

On that couch, discussing rabbits.   The bus back from the Ren Faire.   Scrubbing a stranger's dorm room.   Trying out socks.   Explaining ice cream.   Borrowing your prom dress.   After choir.  Dancing through the labyrinth.  Throwing sand. 

And on.

These moments- their existence, and the surety with which I recall them- come as a surprise to me.  I've often thought, or wanted to think, that humans are, if not exactly interchangeable, then loosely so.  That any two of us could be friends, if given the chance, and that most of us, if forced to marry one another, would have a fair shot.

It helps to diminish the preciousness of each individual connection.  It guards against the loss which inevitably, inexorably, comes -even to those of us who are still friends, who did marry, who are right next door.  If we can all just get along, my thinking goes, who cares if we must -sometimes sooner, sometimes later- get along without?

It's much less comforting to acknowledge what is probably true.  That I like some of you better than others.  That you can't force friendship.  That each of those connections I've cut or lost or wasted was real and particular and capable of lodging deep.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In Beds

Perennial sources of enjoyment are few.  Enjoyment, in the main, is an annual: bursting into bloom one year, sere the next.  We will never have as much fun bowling as that first time; we will never be as blissedly stuffed; the lake will never shimmer quite so piquantly as now.

This is not to say there are no repeatable pleasures.  It's to say that experience, like dental anaesthetic, tends to deaden. We still feel it, whatever it happens to be; just not so hard, not so sharp.  (I lay to one side, for the moment, the particular pleasure of familiarity, that extra, shameful bounce in my step at  aerobics that is a direct result of a bad remix of "Everybody Dance Now.")

Perennial pleasures do exist, no matter their scarcity, and not the slightest of them is perusing, preferably whilst reclining, the two-line book summaries offered up by the NY Times Best Seller Lists. 

"A billionaire who needs a wife offers a one-year marriage in name only to a bookstore owner who must save her family home, but complications ensue."

Complications?  They ensue, you say?  What a brilliant twist on the old billionaire-wife-name-only-family-home story!

"Tiger, who has made it clear he will not take a mate, falls for a human female."

Because we are so foxy tasty!

"An inexperienced college student falls in love with a tortured man who has particular sexual tastes."

I'm fondest of the words "particular sexual tastes," as if the dude is a picky eater.   Garcon!  I'll have the dressing (down) on the side. 

"When a biblical scholar who makes an amazing discovery is murdered, his daughter hunts for the killer (and a missing document)."

Paper chase!

"Did Vincent Van Gogh Really Kill Himself?  His friends in the 19th-century Parisian art world set out to discover the truth."

A: Yes.  Done.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Was Here

...in Indiana, and then VA, and WV, and Chicago, and Indiana, and back, with a couple of drive-through states thrown in there for spice.  Nowhere did I take indifferently shot snapshots to post on the blog, and nowhen did I seize time to reflect.  Instead I was consumed, ingested and digested by the black ravening monster that is the business of living.
Bad for blogging, for sure.  Bad for me?

Now that I've crawled out the other end, and for the next two weeks can cobble together some semblance of my weekly routine ( Thursdays: adminstrivia; Saturdays; aerobics  Wednesdays: booze!), plus a few glamorous extras, like getting my teeth cleaned, I have space, once more, to turn around.  To look back.  To ask -the impetus every time I blog- what happened here?

I believe in reflection.  More precisely, I believe in refraction: what is the point of the white, unfiltered blaze of life if not to direct it, to force it, prism-like, to show its colors.

And yet, with space comes second-guessing.  You worry old wounds; you covet alternate lives; you bemoan the state of humankind -in short, you engage in all the bookish, first-world endeavors that make the literary subset of the population so god damed miserable.

As opposed to running full-tilt, unthinking, here.