Probably the only thing one can really learn is the capacity to be able to change.
~ Philip Guston
My house may never be as clean & tidy as it is right this minute. I feel like we should be in a magazine. Johnny got two pieces of art framed (a poster of a Philip Guston cover of The World from 1974 & George Schneeman's silver cover for his son Elio's book Walking into the Mad Space) & we picked them up today, so there's that fun thing of new art to both look at & catch your eye, & it makes me look at the familiar all over again. There's snapdragons in a Schneeman pitcher, we've thrown out so much stuff I don't even have to drape a sheet over the kitchen table to hide the clutter underneath. Wow, it's a pleasure to live here companionably with my old man on a pleasant, hot Sunday afternoon in the spring of this infernal year.
Johnny Stantonstan story: He was 24 or 25 when he took his son to school. Sean said, that's my old man. "I never felt young again," Johnny said.
The rules are simple ~ it's scrabble except you make up the words, which have to be legit English words, & we all thrash out the definitions. So much more fun than the regular game.
Most useful word of yesterday's game: Devent. Still working out a definition: the opposite of invent? taking it down a notch in a dissatisfied rant?
Loveliest word: Oridenja, an aromatic Asian tea? A girl's name?
A word made with great delight by the 11-year-old in the game: Zitsmore (i.e., zit/smore)
Coffee detox ... Fricasse fowl (39¢/lb) soup. My theory is the bird was hot, cuz there was all this stubble where they HADN'T HAD TIME TO PLUCK IT. But the soup was a success & fed several people and is still feeding me, along with health-store bread that tastes like turkey stuffing ... I'm growing a sweet potato vine. ... Knitting. Though bogging down on a baby sweater because I'm mad at my friend who's pregnant. Maggie says write him a domestic letter & maybe he'll marry you. I says but I'm engaged to his best friend, don't that mean nothing? She says stop the clock if you can't make up your mind... New sheets ... My hands between my legs, for warmth, solace, fun, continuity ... My hands faintly numb at the tips, which makes them smooth, cold lifting off the fingerprints. ... I clean under a fingernail with my bottom middle two teeth ... Something smells bad in my purse. Put looking for it on my "to do today" list ... Coffee retox.
I wrote this in 1990, have no idea if it was ever published. Back when I cooked!
I'm not going to drop the link in, I'm not even going to say the writer's name. The editor of a Catholic journal opined in the NYT that he "can live with" the disruption that overturning Roe will cause. I can't even begin to say how infuriating this is. Of course he can live with it ~ he won't be forced to bear his rapist's baby, he won't risk dying from a dead fetus that he has to carry to term or a back-alley abortion, he won't lose jobs because he has too many kids. I have never seen an op-ed that had not a single comment in agreement. And the comments were heartbreaking & furious: from children who'd been unwanted saying they don't wish that on anyone. Many pointing out the economic consequences. Those who see that it will make it harder on victims of domestic violence. But that cretin will have his "joyful" hundreds of thousands of additional babies.
And all of a sudden people like him ~ Tish Warren Harrison is another ~ are down with support for families. Yeah, you've had 50 years to support paid family leave, child benefits, income subsidies, and better health care. You weren't interested. You opposed it. Now you're dropping a little crumb of compassion into your gloating? No, thank you.
I'm not, not really, but I liked going to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge & seeing some moving things. Doves & seagulls, which I see around here. And sleeping swans that looked like piles of white intestines. It was peaceful & full of sea air & right here in New York City.
From Dawn to Decadence: 500 years of Western cultural life, 1500 to the present, by Jacques Barzun, is a dense yet leisurely look at what makes us us. It's all so entwined that I can't pick out one thread of story or biography without damaging the whole tapestry, perhaps because I am reading it so slowly that I am probably losing the narrative arc.
I never thought of this before but I wonder if the speed at which one reads a book has any bearing on how you think about it. I don't mean speed as in pages per hour but how much you read per session or per day, & whether you take breaks. I know that if I put down a novel for any length of time, I can't remember much when i come back. Most of the time I'm not sure that that matters, even when it's a mystery, that is, even when plot is essential. I think I like coming back with big mistakes, getting the wrong idea & essentially collaborating with the author's general outline while supplying my own gloss.
i'm thinking of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "Crusoe in England," which I must have read a page of & put it down for a while.When I came back I picked up where I'd left off & forgot the title. I somehow believed it was about someone alone on Fire Island. When Friday came, things understandably picked up. When Friday got the measles, it suggested the narrator wasn't sure she was so happy having her privacy disturbed. I forget what finally happened that made me suspect I had something wrong, but until then everything fit with the storyline I'd devised.
The only thing of my mother's that I wanted after she died (& before, for that matter) was this silver cup she won for being the bonniest baby of 1924. My sister Lindsay, who hand-delivered it this weekend, said my mom had no use for it because her own mother, my grandma, would trot it out when young men came to pick her up for dates. Lindsay also said Grandma would rub olive oil on her, which was what made her bonnie, although she herself always said it was only because she was a fat baby.
This may not seem barren but it is so much neater & emptier than it was 6 months ago when I started to toss stuff & definitely tidier than the photo from a few days ago. I threw away so much that I have empty shelves ~ I don't need to have someone come build me clever storage spaces, which was my plan when I started. My closet is still perplexing but I can now put my hands on whatever I'm looking for, & really, that's all I need.
I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.
~ W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz
I was trying to find something on the philosophy of memory, & was surprised to find how many books & papers there are that address this. But every search included one novel: Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (1944-2001). It's compelling, for sure, despite the lack of chapters or even paragraphs, not to mention my lack of understanding. But I feel I'll get somewhere with it. Very vague, to be sure, & I'm intrigued by being so interested in a book so unlike my usual taste, that is, without the help I rely on from the author (recaps, for example).