Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lost Cause

I heard Beck's song "Lost Cause" this week, off Sea Change, and it threw me back to my twenties.  It's fair to say that everything throws me back to my twenties lately.  It's a little embarrassing. 

I think it has something to do with feeling comfortable in my life, and trying to reclaim the times when I wasn't so comfortable. 

Memory is a funny thing.  When I think of the three years I lived in New York in my early twenties, I was both tough and tender, both floundering and completely plugged in. 

It is funny, too, how my mind wants to cast judgement over specific years and call them one final thing.  The truth is, at all times we are both brilliant and stubborn. There are few years that can be bottled so easily.  Most honest labels would read something like:

Rooftop - 7th Street - Letters - Italians
Woods - Bears - Roommates - Wasps
Hurricanes - Surfers - Bricks - Timothy

In fact, it is an impossible mission, the labeling instinct, which is why I prefer stories and their many-limbed truth.

When I first heard Sea Change, I was newly standing on my own two legs, poking about the reeds of my life.  Certain things came slowly, like cooking, and steady employment.  Other things were always there, like optimism, and the belief that I would find love. 

For whatever reason, I have always believed that everyone in the world deserves a partner they are crazy about.  But while I was confident about the riches my future would hold, I was also wildly uninterested in the things that made a relationship work. 

I was dating myself, in certain ways, and perhaps this is what a young woman should do.  Even when I was in a relationship, I spent lots of time with the being inside me who loved walking for hours, gazing in store-windows, eating muffins from food carts, and treading her way slowly through the world. 

There are Q&As in magazines: What would you say to a younger version of yourself?  Believe in yourself, Go for it, are some wholly valid answers. 

But when I think of younger versions of myself, I do not think of pep talks.  Lately, I do not find many regrets at all.  Mostly I see a dreamy girl wandering along sidewalks, stopping to examine what interests her.  I feel proud to watch this drifting spirit.  I trust her and find her lovely. 

I want to say, Yes, girl. Stray.   

In honor of the heart's sacred catacombs, I give you:

* A warm, fuzzy, animals-on-the-internet link
* An awesome video by one of my faves, MGMT, who keeps it real in the weirdest of ways
* The latest Rabbit Hat Fix, in which Lukis and I fall down a worm hole of compassion

From the belly of August, I send you big dreams and bigger swaths of wilderness.  Get out there and roam, wherever you are called.

With love,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

She Wants to Know the Stars

by Sharon Dunn

My eleven year son wants to fish,
he owns two rods, one saltwater,
one freshwater. He loves knives,
Bowie knives, Swiss Army
knives, "Knives like this one?"
my brother says, opening his desk
drawer and taking out a small
jackknife with antler handle.
My boy camps outdoors, begs to sleep
outside, is always shooting
arrows, rubber band guns,
he is lashing together a fort
in the backyard. He sails,
swims, kayaks and wants
to know the stars.
The outdoor hunting genes
are in the dark men in my family.
Yet I believe he is a son of light.
His joy in reading, cooking
and piano are fanned
from the tinderbox
of his father's heart.
He will save rainforest,
he will grow vegetables,
keep horses, fly his own plane.
He will make his own brave life,
he will not remake our lives
nor redeem us, nor pity us.

From Refugees in the Garden: A Memoir in Poems.  Copyright: The Rose Press, 2009.

My dad told me this story in a faraway voice full of tenderness and wonder.  There was no moral.  The whole thing had been both wonderful and terrible.
- Barry Hannah

During the summer when I was little, I often swam in my next-door-neighbor's pool.  The twinkling waters splashed over our little limbs.  We dove backwards from the board and floated on inflatable lounge chairs.  Secretly I wished we were in a cool, dark basement, watching movies and eating Pop Tarts. 

Tim teases me that I am cold-blooded, that I can't properly regulate my internal environment.  I roast in the summer.  I freeze in the winter.  Maybe he is right.  But I like alligators.  I don't mind being in their company - metaphorically, I mean, although if there is a walkway or a boat, I like it physically, too.   

On the other end of the spectrum, we went to Montana recently, to Glacier National Park.  I honestly didn't know this park was in our country until very recently. 

It sounded so Canadian, so Icelandic!  But the park borders Canada, so I wasn't too far off.

Anyway, I like it there.  Bears, cats, goats, and sheep live there, plus an aggressive grouse that charged me on an otherwise mild hike around a beautiful lake. 

I read this piece in the New York Times by Margo Rabb about the perils of literary idols and would like to say two things:

1. O, how I love George Saunders

2. I cannot behave myself when people take shots at Hemingway and Mailer.  I might have done a victory lap around the office when I read these words by Saunders:

You can read Mailer or Hemingway and see - or at least I do - that what separated them from greater writers (like Chekhov, say) was a certain failing of kindness or compassion or gentleness...a willingness and ability to look at all of their characters with love.

If you are up for a fantastic collection of essays, please read The Braindead Megaphone.  You will not regret it. 

Sending love, and an invitation to my newest business (see below!)