Love After Love

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott, "Love After Love"

More color and light

Sunday // NYC // August 2014

Red red red red
Red red orange
Red red orange
Orange pick up blue
Pick up red
Pick up orange
From the blue-green blue-green
Blue-green circle
On the violet diagonal
Di-ag-ag-ag-ag-ag-o-nal-nal
Yellow comma yellow comma ...

I Am a Town

Take yer pick... Best for dark late nights of reflection and/or booze. (Only a little booze.)

I heard Betty's version first because ... it's Betty! (+ Betty is finally coming back to this town after a sad long absence following the equally sad closing of Feinstein's in 2012. SarahB and I are seeing her at Joe's Pub in October and I could not be more excited. Nothing is more New York to me than an autumn evening with Betty Buckley.)

And Mary Chapin Carpenter's original... Just unbelievably pretty.

Week 05. reading watching clicking

reading

This week! And jesus christ, this country: America Is Not for Black People. "By all accounts, Brown was One Of The Good Ones. But laying all this out, explaining all the ways in which he didn't deserve to die like a dog in the street, is in itself disgraceful. Arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is functionally arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, a way of acknowledging that some black men ought to be executed."

Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous: "Also (and this important), looting as a crime is NOT on par with the taking of someone’s life. Property is not a life. In this country, police protect property while killing human beings. Sometimes they, as well as civilians, kill human beings in order to protect property. That’s wrong. That’s savagery. Whatever you think of looting, though, remember this: it’s not the issue, either. The issue is yet another unarmed Black teenager murdered by cops. His name was Mike Brown."

See also: how the MSM is misleading you, and failing black teens

The best piece I've read on Robin Williams and depression (although "best" isn't an appropriate claim): "I know how tired he must have been. I know how tired I've been with it. I wish this weren't the only way he could find to rest. I hope he does rest; I hope all you other Robin Williamses out there know that someone will come. We'll get to you somehow. Please stay." // Related: No, running isn't therapy. Exercise may help lift a mood, but it will not cure depression. // Stephen Fry at Letters of Note: It will be sunny one day.

On the other hand, it's still pretty fucking cloudy: On Being Stalked, right here in the good ol' US of A

On a much lighter, albeit somewhat melancholy note: a meditation on Martin Prince (yes, the Martin Prince): "Martin cannot even sleep right. He is hopeless; this is why I love him. He cannot keep his mouth shut, he is effeminate, he is excited about school, he is a narc, he is chubby (though not exactly drawn “rounder” than any of the other children, he is most often referred to as such), and he wants to be your best friend more than anything else in the world. Martin Prince is undeniable. He is no one but himself."

And Lev Grossman recommends that you think twice about withdrawing from society to create your art: "I thought that what I knew most about was myself, but I could not have been more wrong. I didn’t know the first thing about myself, and Maine wasn’t going to teach me. You don’t learn about yourself by being alone, you learn about yourself from other people."

Finally: I did attend a Dame Harriet Walter Weekend last weekend, which led me after many many months (a couple of years, actually) back to my beloved Lord Peter Wimsey series. I won't bore you with all that again. Instead I'll save it until November, when my Dorothy L. Sayers class starts at the 92nd Street Y. "Suave Sleuth"! Prepare yourselves, nimrods.

watching

As Time Goes By marathon on DVD. When I got my nose job four years ago, I spent a week on the sofa watching this series from start to finish, over and over, and I haven't seen an episode since. The writing leaves a lot to be desired, but the cast is wonderful and there's just something immensely comforting about the whole thing. They also live in one of my very favorite TV flats, alongside Sheldon & Leonard's apartment on Big Bang Theory and Laura Holt's converted warehouse loft on Remington Steele.

Godspeed, good man: The Birdcage // Dead Poets Society // The Fisher King 

clicking

Lisa Eldridge videos on Youtube: an obscene amount of $$ went down at Sephora today thanks to these videos. But we have the worst overhead lighting in our gross new office, so something had to give. It was either the face or the job.

90s fashion moments: did you forget about the daisies?

My stylist is out of the country for a month, but I'm still planning...

On Politeness

Paul Ford writing at Medium:

People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.

+ related: my favorite Paul Ford at The Morning News

The endless, endless, endless summer

August. Put your head down and get through it. Hold your chin up and go over it. Step on the flowers. Swear at some birds. Do whatever it takes. Plan a Dame Harriet Walter Weekend if you have to. Drink all the coffee. Don't open the paper! Draw the shades tight and curl up on the sofa. Forget your routine. Read a book for the cover. Hold your breath and dive in. Take a breath and come out. Start over tomorrow. Be less than perfect. Be just good enough.

Turn the page.

Family

Somebody always spills their drink // Wisconsin // July 2014

I think I love this more than any photo I've ever taken of anything, anywhere.

The Effort

Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
"What is the poet trying to say?"

as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts—
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.

Yes, it seems that Whitman, Amy Lowell
and the rest could only try and fail
but we in Mrs. Parker's third-period English class
here at Springfield High will succeed

with the help of these study questions
in saying what the poor poet could not,
and we will get all this done before
that orgy of egg salad and tuna fish known as lunch.

Tonight, however, I am the one trying
to say what it is this absence means,
the two of us sleeping and waking under different roofs.
The image of this vase of cut flowers,

not from our garden, is no help.
And the same goes for the single plate,
the solitary lamp, and the weather that presses its face
against these new windows—the drizzle and the
morning frost.

So I will leave it up to Mrs. Parker,
who is tapping a piece of chalk against the blackboard,
and her students—a few with their hands up,
others slouching with their caps on backwards—

to figure out what it is I am trying to say
about this place where I find myself
and to do it before the noon bell rings
and that whirlwind of meatloaf is unleashed.

— Billy Collins, "The Effort"

Becoming a poet

William Stafford was once asked, "When did you decide to become a poet?" Stafford responded that the question was wrong. "Everyone is born a poet," he said, "a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is—why did other people stop?

Week 04. reading watching clicking

Reading

On Shirley Jackson's classic creep-fest The Haunting of Hill House: "It acknowledges, slightly-off-event by slightly-off-event, that hauntings cannot happen without the presence of certain vulnerabilities in people or in situations." I mistakenly read this book last year and had a hard time getting over it. Nothing grotesque or truly horrifying happens but jesus beezus! All my vulnerabilities sit right there at the tip of my nerve endings and they are not made for scary stories or psychologically fraught heroines. // Tangential: the wonders of Wonder Boys and an interesting take on the trajectory of Michael Chabon. I was afraid I was the only who thought his work had gotten Too Important for me. (I hate important the way some people hate relatable.)

Alert alert: BURT REYNOLDS IS TEACHING ACTING CLASSES IN SOUTH FLORIDA. There's something so heartening about the second (or third) acts of people who hit it really big and then find the guts to move onto something else, something engaging and unexpected, when the glory days end. As the glory days always do. // More Grantland—always good stuff at Grantland—Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson rehearse for a Kenneth Lonergan play at Steppenwolf, proto-Off-Broadway

Cover Her Face by P. D. James. This very much reads like a first book. All credit to the Baroness (who always gives credit to Dorothy L. Sayers and her cohort) that I enjoyed it enough to stick with the series. // Related: P. D. James, The Art of Fiction. Paris Review Interviews are the best things going, although it takes a real leap of imagination/amnesia for the interviewer to propose that Adam Dalgliesh is "the most famous detective since Sherlock Holmes." Whither Miss Marple? M. Poirot? Lord Peter Fucking Wimsey? That's just laziness borne of recency. // etc.: Talking About Detective Fiction @ NPR ("I wasn't influenced at all by Agatha Christie.")

Watching

Helvetica the movie. i.e., Bespectacled, international crazies with very specific obsessions. Not many chicks on display, though. Don't chicks like typefaces? I'll ask at the next meeting. // One of my favorite Suzanne Sugarbaker scenes (out of many favorite Suzanne Sugarbaker scenes; see also: 6:35 here) // Begin Again

Clicking

You don't have to give two hoots about Serge Gainsbourg or Jane Birkin, you just have to dig the 70s.

On one of my sick days I scrolled back through the archives at Girls of a Certain Age, which is a great blog for girls of any age, unless you're a toddler. Planning some easy, decade-appropriate updates to my wardrobe might be what I need to pull me out of my midsommer doldrums. // It may be Canadian, but it's got me thinkin.

On the flipside, Buy Me I'll Change Your Life: the political artwork of Barbara Kruger.

The Filming Locations of Annie Hall, Pt 1 It's no Hannah and Her Sisters, but some people seem to like it. // 12 Hours in Paris One thing I never did in Paris was waste more than an hour shopping. Sitting, sure. Art-looking, sure. Shopping, non! // James Dean in Breton stripes

From Birds of America

What makes humans human is precisely that they do not know the future. That is why they do the fateful and amusing things they do: who can say how anything will turn out? Therein lies the only hope for redemption, discovery, and—let’s be frank—fun, fun, fun! There will be things people will get away with. And not just motel towels. There might be great illicit loves, enduring joy, faith-shaking accidents with farm machinery. But you have to not know in order to see what stories your life’s efforts bring you. The mystery is all.

Lorrie Moore, "People Like That Are the Only People Here"

+ see also: Betsy Stewart, The Last Book I Loved

My copy is well marked; the spine is cracked. Written on the title page is my name and "March 2006 / Oakbrook IL," which means I bought it at the Borders on 16th St., across from the mall, when I still lived in Chicago and Borders was still a thing. My favorite stories are "Real Estate" and "Charades" and "Dance in America" and "Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens." Of all the books I'd take with me to a desert island, this would be at the very top of the heap.

Not enough good can be said about this collection. It is a beautiful book and the world can only be better for having Lorrie Moore in it.
— Georgie, Powells.com

Signed, a hairy customer

Stressful day! Blood pressure & cortisol levels through the roof! Not to mention this head sweater is bringing me down, man. So. Time for a bold cut, yay or nay?*

*Eh, you know I say yay.

Begin Again

If I could write an ode to films that take their time introducing characters and making them infuriating and believable and human, and the importance of letting a small moment ride out just past the point of comfort, and then swerving left instead of following the expected curve, I could explain the warm, bright, lively charm of this movie. It was exactly what I needed today (summer you motherfucker), a slight story (small stakes, small victories), about people who've given up but are still willing to be convinced, still willing to take a hand that's held out by a stranger and say yes.

I also really, desperately needed a movie that made me fall in love with New York again (i.e., summer you motherfucker). And not in a glossed-over, high-rise, glamour cat way, but a real-person, horn-honking, street-level way that resembles the city I see every time I step off the curb. Plus my Mark Ruffalo crush (have you seen The Normal Heart?? go watch The Normal Heart!!) is now officially off the charts.

Most of all, hats off to Hollywoodland for giving us something besides superheroes.

Week 03. reading watching clicking

Reading

Re: my earlier rant, a smarter take: “Why did people who communicate and learn together, people who had the world, leave it, en masse, for a shopping mall?” // Also the comments, which cover fair points on both sides. Again, I get why people like it. I just can't pretend I'm one of them anymore.

Exhibit A in my case for blogging (I love details and salty asides. YMMV!): "Martini glasses are such bullshit: I hate a dainty drinking vessel, which is why I use an old glass milk jug as my water bottle. Drinking a pink drink out of a martini glass makes me feel like what women who go on Sex & The City bus tours think of when they think of Carrie Bradshaw. If I wanted to look like Carrie Bradshaw, I'd wear a fake-fur coat to a baseball game and drink too much beer in the middle of the daytime."

Another brilliant week for the ladies // "Well, you know what Captain America would never do? Go online anonymously and shit on a girl for having an opinion." I’m neither a superhero film fan nor a comic book reader, but this is a great interview. The nightmare of abuse that women are subjected to when they participate in that community (however innocuously) beggars belief, and only reinforces the stereotype that “comic book fans,” as a social group, are a bunch of maladjusted little boys masquerading as men. Get yer acts together, fellas!

Good advice for all, not just Kim Kardashian Hollywood haters: "let people love the small things they love. They mean you no harm."

Ditto? Maybe? Nah. The Verge on this week's disastrous, porn-addled launch of REAGANBOOK: "Margaret Thatcher leaves more than 700 comments on an innocuous status. There is an eagle crying, several photos of Jesus. Someone with the user name SATAN! SATAN! SATAN! pokes me. A photo of a monkey in a bubble bath is posted, and no one seems sure what side this person is on. Everyone is confused and angry with everyone else." Nice work, small-p patriots.

I heart Pinterest // I heart coffee // Martha Stewart hearts her drone, in a really smart and considered way. None of which should be surprising: "One of my mottos is “the right tool for the right job.”

Watching

Treasures of New York: Elevated Thinking: The High Line // Demonstrating classic 3-arc story structure via no jokes, all plot sitcom cuts // POIROT (’nuff said)

Clicking

Oh this freakin cabin // Things Chris Glass loves (I love Chris Glass. His is one of those sites I've visited for years and years, even though he doesn't blog anymore, and this is one of those ideas I'll probably steal.) // Meet the new post office (sort of) // New York's awesome(est) hidden parks // Summer Streets starts tomorrow: they close off a six-mile stretch of Park Avenue/Lafayette to traffic all morning. Although it's supposed to rain I will be walking my leisurely fanny from end to end, and in between will be attending a Midtown mid-century architecture tour. 4 FREE.

+ my new favorite animated gif, courtesy of Ethan Marcotte: Karen Fillipelli of the charcoal gray worksuit! How cute is she? I was always obsessed with the color of her lipstick in this episode.

On navel gazing

Just found this ollllld article on blogging at ollllld slate.com:

I’m not disparaging bloggers, so please don’t treat me to a high-tech lynching. But this study shows that at this early point in the blog era, the great mass of bloggers aren’t set on replacing reporters. The top 100 or top 1,000 may consider themselves “citizen journalists” of one sort or another, but the survey finds that 65 percent of bloggers don‘t consider their output journalism at all. They’re just expressing themselves in a leisurely fashion, inspired by a personal experience (78 percent, says the survey), and their blogs are a “hobby” or “something I do, but not something I spend a lot of time on” (84 percent).

Again, I’m not disparaging hobbies or navel-gazing: I have hobbies I can bore you with, and I navel-gaze. But the Pew report indicates that only a tiny fraction of current bloggers have any ambition to fulfill the blogs über alles designs some media theorists plotted for them.

Lenhart and Fox write that the blogging-world snapshot they present could change quickly. The blog audience is growing, with 57 million Americans confessing to the habit. (I, for one, read a dozen each day via RSS and monitor blogs’ coverage of my work.) New readers and writers are still coming online, and teenagers—not represented in this survey—are learning the craft of self-expression on social networking sites. Will the next Pew snapshot find bloggers engaging the outside world in greater numbers instead of cataloging their own? Will teenagers give up navel-gazing when they graduate from MySpace to the greater Web? If all these people really want from the Web is a hobby and to talk to their friends and family, they’d be better off taking pottery lessons and purchasing more cell-phone minutes.

I told you it was old. But joke's on you, Jack Shafer! Blogs died, of course. Social media ate everything and now all people do is scream to be heard. Most of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging, or stopped blogging regularly, or stopped blogging for eight months at a time. I've stopped and started and stopped and started and ...

Well, I still love blogs. I love the confessionals and the wild, messy weirdness of the voices. I can't tell all my secrets to Facebook. I mean, I can be there, I'm there, but I can't be part of the machinery that feeds The Algorithm anymore. I can't click on a LIKE button without hating myself for the piece of myself I'm giving away. For so passively letting it sell more of me to you, and vice versa, and through both of us, through this connection it’s ballsy enough to label "friendship," more Product We Both Might Enjoy! For the lazy fucking boring way it lets me present my life to you while letting me eavesdrop and pass judgment on yours. It's like we're all living in each other's cupboards, or hiding in the shower, only instead of a cozy house at the end of a leafy lane it's a motel with 24-hr klieg lights right next to the interstate. Nobody has to clean or set out fresh towels or dust under the bed or shove all their shitty embarrassing clutter in the closet, which means it’s easy, god knows, it takes less than zero effort (a fucking toddler could post ASAKLKJ LKASDKFJ LKJ ;LKJ FFJKALSDKJ on Facebook and the whole goddamn world would lose its collective mind), but it’s also careless and thoughtless and cheap.

When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.

And none of this is new, btw. I can't pretend that these are deep original thoughts or really anything more than "I'm taking my toys and going home." But I'm trying to wedge my way back into this habit, to figure out how I did what I did back when I did it regularly and how to make it all work now, and this is the way I choose to tell my story, and I won't be giving up.

In the meantime there are new blogs I'm finding and old bloggers I'm clinging to, friends and strangers who still hold out a hand and say come in and sit with me for a while. I’d like to take some time and tell you about my day. Who along with that invitation open up a whole other world in a personal and rich and deeply human way. So bring back the navel gazing. I’ll take more and more and more.