Friday, February 27, 2015

A Spool of Blue Thread

I can feel my mind unraveling.

There are names I don't remember, faces I don't recall.  Whole chunks of my life, months and even years, have faded from Hopper to Monet.  High school is a vague beige wash.  Childhood a couple of lilies in a dull blue sea.  I regret nothing- but only because I don't remember it.

It's tragic, of course, as every loss is tragic.  It's dull, of course, as every loss is dull. 

And it may be signatory- my grandparents had Alzheimers; my father has Alzheimers; my aunt and uncle have Alzheimers.  There's research to suggest that the brain changes that go on to be so devastating in people who develop Alzheimers start not in the seventies, but in the thirties-  and I can definitely feel my circuits dimming, jamming, slowing, flickering-

whatever verb you want to cough up in an attempt to demonstrate your verbal fluency, the fact that you can still string a sentence together, damnit-

I figure I have about twenty five writing years left.

Does that fact that you will lose a skill make it incumbent on you to use that skill to its fullest capacity in as short a time as possible? To burn through it before it burns away?  Or should you learn to live without it, wean yourself bit by bit from its grip so when it goes, it doesn't knife as deep? 

You could beg the same question of love, of course.  Or beauty, or money, or peak oil, or the various discontinued varieties of M&Ms.  Hold fast or let go?  Hang on or Hang loose?

There might be an answer- I can't recall.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


There are many things to like about snow.  It's lovely, to start, in panorama and in particulate.  It forces a slowdown.  It covers a multitude of lawn care sins.

But best of all, snow is democratic.  Unlike cable news or the Internet or our careers or our family lives, it's something we all experience together- one nation under a winter storm warning.

And there's not much left in our lives like that.  The long tail, that animalistic retailing concept, sweeps us into smaller and smaller and smaller subgroups. We choose what to watch and when to watch it, what to read and when to read it.  We speak only to people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us, reinforcing our stratification with likes and shares. 

And then it snows, and here we all are.  Cold or cozy, cautious or intrepid: watching the white come down.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Words

Glorious space heater: mine, all mine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Six Words

That dirty baby, already wriggling free.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Six words

Trying not to let things slide.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2014 in Books

Can I just say how reprehensible it is that it's 2015?  I have entered the capital-F Future of my childhood, the world in which I had twins and the power of flight and some unknown but deeply fulfilling employment.  The reality is a little more ragged, but here I am.

And I'm reading.

(My younger, dreaming self hit that one on the nose- I could not, cannot, and will not imagine a life without reading.  I will read until my mind goes- it's flint to me, and tinder.)

2014 was the first full year of my son's life.  It is the first year I felt fully, unequivocally, tragically adult.  2014 closed the door on my early thirties and opened the chute to mortality. 

And oh, hey, there were books.  Goodreads tells me I read 43 books that I will admit to- and Lord knows there are several I won't

So without further ado, here are the six best books I read in 2014- in no particular order. There are six because I read too many fabulous books to stop at five! And even six was kind of like axing my children!  So happy Reading!

1) The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt).  Art, cocaine, suburbia, the meaning of life, some dude named Boris: Was there anything that wasn't stuffed into this stunner?  I say "stunner" because reading this novel will set you back on your heels, but also "stunner" because this sucker is really, really long and heavy and maybe a little bit poisonous.  It's the Shelob of novels, thread after thread after shining thread trussing you up for the kill.  And there's no Frodo to save you.  And you don't care.

2) All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (Jennifer Senior).   Half takedown, have ethnography- the modern, upper-middle class parent at work and play.  Wait, scratch play, because we hovering, martyred, profoundly anxious present-day parents have no time for play.  We're busy engaging in concerted cultivation of our offspring, which means that play is work and we have to Nail It, Damnit! A smart book that manages to be both wounding and exalting, like crucifixion.  Or, um, parenthood.

3) Men we Reaped (Jesmyn Ward).  A searing semi-autobiography examining the deaths of five young black men in Ward's orbit growing up.   No joke.

4) The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty).  Pure fun.  If fun were swallowing a small and expertly trained flea circus.  Which it is!

5)  One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).  I mean, you can't deny how good this is.  Awful and offensive and misogynistic and no fun at all to read, but really, really good.  I read it when I was roiling with fever, which on balance improved the experience. 

6) We are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler).  What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to be a family?  An examination of love and loss and identity and a  philosophical page-turner- and I never thought I'd string any of those words together without gagging, so.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sixty Minutes

I have an hour.  It's a gift, rounding itself unexpectedly into my hand like the apple that comes loose from the tree before I pull.  An hour like a bear, lumbering into and out of the corner of my eye; one warm day in a spate of cold; the sweet slick at the back of your tongue when the fear has passed.

I don't know what to do with my hour, except to try and snatch up handfuls of it as it goes.

-The sun beating against the hood of the car
-My son beating and beating the bottom of a cookie sheet; the shock of pleasure on his face when he hits.
-When he unfists his hands from the steel; stands; lets go