Dreams are more likely to become more-than if spoken aloud, but there comes a point when you gotta stop talking the talk and go ahead and make your own damn dreams come true. If I were to write a bucket list, visiting the Art Institute would not be on it because I did just that this week. Finally!
Left: Ballet or Electric Light.
Right: Peru – Machu Picchu, Morning Light.
Bottom: Sky Above Clouds IV.
(just ‘cause I like them)
How could I forget about Suburban Kids? Obtain the album #3, don your earphones, and treat yourself to a bit of a run or bike ride.
For something new, add this mix (to the mix).
Allow the fruit to ripen until the skin gives under pressure, more like a stress ball than banana-soft. Stand the fruit with the stem down, place the knife slightly off center, and cut along the flatter side. Repeat on the other side. Peel the skin remaining around the center and cut the flesh (if any) off the stone. Now on each side piece, cut parallel lines lengthwise then crosswise into the flesh, taking care to avoid the peel. Push the skin inward as if to turn the fruit inside out. Some call this method the hedgehog. Eat as is, or scrape the cubed chunks into a dish.
I know not what to do:
will the sound break,
rending the night
with rift on rift of rose
and scattered light?
will the sound break at last
as the wave hesitant,
or will the whole night pass
and I lie listening awake?
—H.D., from “Fragment Thirty-Six”
A friend told me a man was shot and died on this porch. The residents were hosting a party that night, and the victim was chatting outside with his buddies when someone, hiding behind a bush or a tree, aimed a rifle at his head. Would you live in a house where someone was murdered? The landlord couldn’t keep tenants after that, my friend said, as people thought the house either jinxed or haunted. Even when a new owner took over, the house remained vacant and plans to renovate abandoned.
I heard this anecdote a few summers ago while here for a brief visit. I’ve made a habit of walking this street each time I’ve been back to see if anyone moved in. On the most recent walk, I gathered it is still vacant but noted the propped screen door and a power cord escaping onto the porch. Something possessed me to take a picture and later to try to find out the dead man’s name.
My search turned up only one shooting incident on that street, and it happened way back in 1994. There was a party and a young man on a porch with his friends and another under a tree with his rifle and one shot fired and blood on the wooden planks. But turns out it wasn’t this porch. That porch belongs to a house across the street that is indeed occupied, and I wonder if those students, lounging outside these first warm evenings, are aware of that tragic summer night long ago.
Autumn foliage gets all the press, but will you look at the naked trees? Digging these lines lately.
I started reading Cloud Atlas the summer after college (it has been that long?) during a phase in which I only opened books by authors whose first names were David. Unintentionally, mind you. Since then I’ve come to think my attachment to it has more to do with the timing of that first read—a period that was just your typical post-grad seesaw between existential crisis and feeling like anything is possible—than its weight as literature. I picked it up again last night, briefly, after seeing a copy at the used bookstore a few blocks over.
From Isaac Sachs’ notebook, in the third story:
One model of time: an infinite matryoshka doll of painted moments, each “shell” (the present) encased inside a nest of “shells” (previous presents) I call the actual past but which we perceive as the virtual past. The doll of “now” likewise encases a nest of presents yet to be, which I call the actual future but which we perceive as the virtual futures.
Revisiting underlined passages, I got this anxious feeling that I should reread the whole thing as soon as possible. Not this summer. Not the week before the film release. Right now. Alas, not going to happen (I’m pressed for time in other projects).
So instead I called on google to indulge me in a flashback and a peek at the film adaptation, and here’s the thing: it blows my mind that a movie is happening, and also that I’m not the least bit peeved. It might be a mess. But I’m still excited to see how the stories play out on screen given the timeline, different voices, genres, etc. Rumor has it the running time is pushing 3 hours.
But! For the love of all that is breath and love and soul, don’t you dare sit in that movie theater before reading first. People have said the first narrative is hard to get through, or that using the different voices/genres is a gimmick, or that six stories are excessive as only a couple turn out worthwhile. Then some unabashedly claim the novel The Best Thing Ever. Can’t argue till you read, and who doesn’t like a good debate now and then?
A swarm of roofs, thruways, commuter hives, AdVs, concrete…and there, in the background, the brite spring sky’s sediment had sunk to a dark band of blue. Ah, it mesmerized me…like the snow had done. All the woe of the words “I am” seemed dissolved there, painlessly, peacefully.
Hae Joo announced, “The ocean.”
Pleasantly surprised to see this piece about four spunky ladies down in Water Valley and what they’re doing to help revive the town. I spent a summer in nearby Oxford and have since developed appreciation for the area’s growing arts community. But before then, the pattern that had imprinted in my mind, from years driving throughout rural Mississippi, was one of desolation and little else. It’s refreshing to read an optimistic portrait.
Photo by Robert Rausch; see more in the accompanying slideshow here.
Wouldn’t it be funny
if the Finger had designed us
to shit just once a week?
all week long we’d get fatter
and fatter and then on Sunday morning
while everyone’s in church
— O’Hara, “Poem” from Lunch Poems
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
Not quite sun up and I was in a cab zooming for the airport with optimism. The driver was jollier than any stranger I’ve encountered that early in the day. He told me about his morning coffee, how he likes to take it in slow sip by slow sip and how one time at a truck stop he discovered there exist so many different kinds of coffee. Lattes! Mochas! Cappuccinos! Oh, how he sipped and sipped and sipped along.
According to my phone, my flight was scheduled to take off in 11 minutes, yet we were barely three blocks from my apartment. Mind you, I wasn’t late from oversleeping—in fact, I hadn’t slept—but no driver wanted to do the airport loop that early. Mid-chatter, the driver looked over his right shoulder and caught my worried face.
“Here’s what you gon’ do,” he said, “You gon’ look out for the po-po’ and Ima get us there, aight?”
We were strangers at the time and were playing on opposite teams at a pick-up basketball game. He was in line behind me at the fountain during the first water break.
“Whoa, you have a lot of heart!” he said, “Such hustle! I’m impressed.” I laughed it off.
For the next month or so, we got to know each other through a mutual acquaintance.
Basketball came up in conversation a year later, not sure why, and he said to me, “Yeah so, I immediately knew we could be friends after I saw you play that day.”
A dozen of us had been among trees and trails all day for the weekly hike, but I rushed back solo to honor dinner plans. Half an hour short of my destination, I stopped at a small town’s Wal-Mart for an emergency bathroom break. A woman in the parking lot half-yelled, half-mumbled something to me. Apparently she needed help unloading everything she just bought—which, by the way, nearly overflowed the cart—into the car, but her tone registered more as slur than a plea for help. I was in a hurry to get inside, but her yelling distracted me enough to slow down and then to feel compelled to help.
Two by two, I transferred bags, arranging them as well as I could in the little free space left. She griped about being unable to pick up anything, that she’d have a heart attack if she tried. Then about living alone. About her family not caring. About these people and those people.
Between grievances, she offered me an old ashtray, ashes and all, which I declined. From what I could tell, she’d get more use out of it than I ever will anyway. Then she tried a rusty tea-light holder, or at least that’s what I thought it was. That, too, I declined. I don’t know if it was my refusing the gifts or what, but after another round of no’s and head-shakes on my part, she grabbed a bag and chucked it into the car. (No heart attack!). And then another and yet another, building a haphazard pile. The vegetables and crackers suffered the most, and I half-expected her to bust the gallon of milk. For someone who wasn’t supposed “to labor,” she sure threw those bags with strength. Hmph. Hmph. All the while still yammering.
She said she loves God; he does miraculous things for her. She also loves people and “people like you.” But! One person she doesn’t love is Obama.
“You know, I thought about him. I thought about him long and hard, and I realized he’s demonic.”
I couldn’t believe we weren’t finished yet, and suddenly my body remembered why I made the stop in the first place. Got this half-tingle, half-goosebumps feeling on my skin that begged Go! and then I got nervous this was a plot to distract me and that any minute, a heavyset man would grab me from behind and shove me into the car. Paranoid much?
“Thanks angel,” she said in a tone better suited for insult than thanksgiving. Finally. I dashed for the doors. Good thing I had on running shoes.
In the terminal while waiting to board, a guy about my age found the seat across from me. Batman shirt, jean legs rolled up to the ankle, black Northface bag so full the zipper was crooked. After a few minutes, he got out a notebook—lined, blue cover—and as he fanned for the next blank page, I could tell it was filled with writing. No lists or illustrations but word chunks in blue ink going on for long paragraphs and leaving little white space. He looked around in a way that made me think he was looking for something to write about, people-watching just as I was. Noting the passing faces—the worried ones, the impatient to get home, the apathetic. He started writing, looked up every few words to scan the terminal again, then continued away.
Is he writing about the people around us—and if so, which ones? Was he writing about me? Wouldn’t that be something? Him writing to describe me as I wrote to describe him.
Denver-bound, a girl and I took up a row of three with the middle seat empty. Our laptops matched, our boots matched. Who knows, the lip balm we swiped on before boarding probably matched.
What does this say about me? What does this say about us?
Why do I always end up chatting with strangers’ kids?
On an afternoon run downtown, a kid stopped me to ask my favorite flavor of ice cream, which was actually a ruse for her to gab about her favorite flavor—birthday cake, for the record.
At a bar, a 7-year-old armed with crayons and a coloring book took the seat next to me. I know what you’re thinking—what is a 7-year-old doing in a bar? Her dad managed the open mic night or something like that. Anyway, she plopped down all cheery and talkative and told me about the different animals in her coloring book. A couple of hours went by. Then before her and her dad left for home, she handed me a page ripped from the book that she had just finished coloring and said goodbye with an exaggerated wave. It was of a dolphin and in the bottom right corner, in chicken scratch, were the words “You’re pretty.”
My favorite was when a random 4-year-old sat by me at lunch (no idea who was there with her), and we chatted for the duration of the meal while the friend who came with me ate in silence, confused.
“Are you a kid?”
“Are you adult?”
“Ah…yes…kind of…not really.”
“Like my mom is adult, are you adult?”
This went on and on because she wanted to know the difference between a kid and an adult. Eventually she declared that I was neither.
Then she told me her favorite toys were unicorns.
(Then I found five dollars.)
“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.”
— Hesse, Siddartha
“I’m telling you this book, if you’ve ever wanted to know how disgusting this country was in 1953, this is the one to tell you. Everything.”
(wish i overheard the title.)
“Does anyone know an all-star second baseman named Chase something?”
“So yeah after that, we went to see…Incredibly Loud and—”
“Oh yeah, Extremely Loud and Extremely—”
“Yeah yeah, Incredibly Loud and Inc—never mind.”
“But you don’t even swear. Like ever.”
“Yeahhh I don’t. I don’t say bad words.”
“I say fuck.”
“You’re a second-grader.”
A guy at the neighboring table was playing with a paper football, which incidentally just landed in my lap. So yeah.
Indulged in flashbacks for This Recording. All the way back to Tibet we go.
I feel about this song the same I feel about Beach House’s “Take Care” which is the kind of appreciation that urges anywhere from three to thirteen listens in a row. Today seems a good day for a flashback partly because few new things I’ve heard lately hold my attention, and partly just because.
I always say real men crochet their own beards. Nah, just kidding. At times, I am witty but most times, senseless. Moving on.
Sin Fang—formerly Sin Fang Bous—is the solo project of Seabear’s Sindri Már Sigfússon. This video made by his brother Máni is for “Because of the Blood” off the second album Summer Echoes which is due out on the Ides of March. The video could have done without the vignetting, but the song itself I like so far. Not unlike Seabear, it lends itself to willing repetition, and it’s a good representation of what I like for winter tunes: playful, nothing too precious, mellow but not lingering on melancholy.