Nearly April and Such

17425041_10155171853337458_6144242803014545461_n

I always think I will be more consistent here, but then I am not. Somehow it is already almost April. A siege of herons has returned to the river, here. It is strange, because I have spent my entire life living on the edges of one river or another, but I have never seen them circle like this. Each year one or two of the birds greet me as they return to their rook.

The world is full of things which can drag us down, but still I find things that lift me up.

My daughter and I are taking a fiction writing class together. I finished a complete short story draft for the first time in probably twenty years. It needs revisions, but by finished, I mean it has all the essential parts which make a story. After so many years of incomplete starts, I am bolstered. I am already starting my next. For this month’s assignment we all drew cards to determine our main character. Mine is a “washed-ashore cook” My daughter got “diseased faerie.”

I’ve thought about whether I will post a poem scavenger hunt this year, but the truth is, I probably won’t. I wrote a poem this morning that gave me a lot of joy to write. For a long time,  I did things one way. I kept too much of my writing life online and tried to herd myself into writing via challenges or feedback. And then for awhile I lost all the joy in it.

Besides being the month of poems, April is the month when every thing speeds up. Birthday parties, school concerts, school expo, carnivals. My sister is due to give birth any week now. It’s become lovely and light enough to walk out side in the evenings.

Recently my daughter and a friend went to a Back to the ’80s dance at her school. When I was my daughter’s age it was 1986. It’s nearly impossible to think of it as a decade distant enough to mandate period costumes,  but there you go. Time is ruthless like that. But then I look at the current state of America and wonder if we can’t just fast forward a bit. I need to know this turns out okay. Is all. Uncertainty is a constant, though. Even when it’s not. So I just baby the bits of joy I find. I love on my family. I create other worlds made of words. I stop eating things with faces or mothers. I try to be kind, even to those I disagree with so vehemently it hurts my teeth. I try to remember that everything is a catalyst.

I hope all is well with you.

Much love,

The heart

15317758_10210826313607545_5250351467439781195_n

I live in a town made of three streets, three bars, five churches, one gift shop, a drug store, a grocer, a school, a bank. It’s not much to look at, especially in the winter when the evergreen goes down and it is too cold for the garden club to gussy everything up with hanging baskets. Always, though, we’re surrounded by bluffs always eager to glow with sun set or rise.

There are mornings this town is too small to contain the amount of life which flourishes, tucked away here in the valley bowl. Parking becomes an issue. This morning for instance, is the annual Doughnuts for Dads breakfast at the elementary school. At 1pm we’ll have first Friday early release as usual. At 11:00 we bid farewell to the fire chief.

When the fire chief of 30 years in a small-town you’ve probably never heard of, dies, the governor will order flags to be lowered. Your streets will fill with over forty fire trucks, twenty ambulances, dozens of sheriffs, from departments up to 100 miles away. Mourners will be shuttled in from lots outside of town Over sixty men and women in uniform will give the chief his last call. They will line the school  children up on the sidewalk to wave in all the heroes. To learn, this is the heart of community. Of service. It’s America. America before it got all pear-shaped and shade-eyed.

I’m going to tell you a secret. The fire chief had a habit of getting on my nerves. For one thing, he was also the town electrician and never showed up for a job when he said he would. Sometimes he would show up months later. Sometimes this was forgivable because he was off saving lives and stuff. Sometimes he was playing cards or driving around in a big red fire engine for kicks. Sometimes he was inexplicably digging up the lot he bought across the street from my house with a back hoe at 6am. While he was also brave and kind and funny, in a small town, you become well aware that no one is perfect. And you learn that life is never based on fairness. You can, for instance, dedicate over thirty years of your life to saving lives, bearing witness to tragedy and miracles, fighting fire,  and still drop dead of a heart attack, playing cards at 62. In a town this small, you will be remembered for the hero you were. You will be forgiven and loved for being human. And easily enough we will forgive ourselves and all the others who cross our paths. You can’t afford not to around here.

Our town is made of three streets and they are double parked with emergency vehicles. The sidewalks are sea of navy blue and well shined badges. It’s touching. In my own life, I’ve never done anything which would inspire such a farewell. And that’s okay. But still I wonder what I could do better, not necessarily for posterity, but maybe just of service to others.

What I mean to say, is  sometimes, the fire chief got on my nerves. He was just human. I have spent much of my life so aware of my flaws, my insecurities, I have been inhibited when it comes to doing much of anything big. One does not have to be perfect to be perfectly of service. To make lives better. That is a legacy I am thinking on today.

I keep thinking of this really woo-woo thing I heard on a documentary about meditation once. How in this modern age 1/3 will die, 1/3 will go mad, and 1/3 will awaken. The past year seems to have buried so many dead. Probably no more than any other year, but subjectively more, because so many more were people who touched my own life either personally or artistically. And more than once I have thought the world is going mad. And while I dismissed such a sentiment as woo-woo, I can’t help but wonder which heap I’ll be sorted into.

It’s enough to make a girl feel sort of mindful.

 

Much love,

Insights and Stuff

a1

Here in the upper Midwest, we’ve had a bit of a reprieve from winter these past days. Sun bumps us into the 60’s. A few days to open the windows and let out the stale winter air is a joy to say the least. The air outside is sweet with snow melt. I’ve been able to walk along the creek path rather than monotonous circles up and down the stairs of the elementary school. People can’t help themselves either. They are fucking happy. Happy all over the place. Despite all the reasons they have been unhappy, despite the state of the world, it’s all smiling violets and kind words. It’s a bit surreal.

I’ve been happy too. Like I said, it can’t be helped.

Ten is a funny age. Have I mentioned that? It seems so very much like it should still be a child’s age, but then sometimes the ten-year-old will stretch her limbs at the dining room table and something graceful and … not foreign, but oft hidden in the undercurrent emerges. A maturity of insight, perception. It’s like watching an orchid bloom. I think of all the days I have fretted over this child. Days I am sure are not over yet. But to glimpse these small reels, proof of so much potential to come, and I am giddy.

It can’t be helped.

Forty, too, is  a funny age. I might have mentioned that. A while back, I began a whole-food-plant-based diet. I might have mentioned that too, but trust me when I say I try not to bring it up too much as we all know the annoying vegan who can’t shut up about it from the inception of any conversation. And rest assured, I don’t want to necessarily talk about it today either. It’s peripheral, really. I did it for my health, weight loss, a growing distaste for the food industry in general. The political climate has led me to more and more moments when I ask myself how I can actually bring into the world what I wish to see. If progress ( as we might see it) is not a guaranteed linearity, what do we learn from it. How do we make it count? And so on.

This morning I had a flash of insight, that I am really just having a midlife crisis. Which isn’t to minimize or belittle the notion. Do you ever just feel stuck? Not that anything is even terrible. It could just be monotonous, or mindless, or highly concentrated with procrasting ways. You go about your life and you are busy. You do stuff. You get by. But maybe there is some matrix of your life that is not quite right. For me, it was participating in the status quo when it didn’t fully fit my own beliefs. Being complacent to others’ decisions and dictations. Letting your own inner voice and potential come in second to it. The food industry is really just an extension of this, but it was a start.

Midlife is really kind of a glorious thing, crisis and all, if you think about it. For one thing, you are old enough to have a few seed ideas about who you are. Secondly, it seems to get easier and easier to not give a wagon full of fucks about what other people think. Thirdly, you’re not dead yet. If you have a nagging feeling you are not in alignment with your self, you have the option for rebellion against the standard dailiness that is your life.

Yesterday I came across a blog by Mark Manson called “The Do Something Principle”

The gist of it is this: Things are daunting. Just do a little tiny bit of something and inevitably it will motivate you to do more.

It’s not rocket science, but also, admittedly, it’s something I am bad at. So I am changing that too. One little thing. Just do the one little bitty baby thing and see what happens. It turns out, I think I was coming to this before the article. The going plant-based was a little thing. It can also be broken down into little things. There’s probably a whole fractal of sorts to be discovered.

What I mean to say is the snow is thawed, if even for just a few days. And I feel like my life is not a stagnant thing. I might not have realized I felt it had been, but I guess motion is easier to detect.

I’ve been dreaming of tigers and snakes.

I suppose there is not much else to tell. We had the flu for a good week in our house. It was mild enough to enjoy all the reading and netflix time we got. I finished The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. I also read a goofy YA time travel Scottish romance novel. Into the Dim, I think it was called. Oh and Scythe by Neal Schusterman, another YA I really enjoyed. Right now I am reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I want to love the Saunders very much. Parts of it so far are perfect, but it’s also written in a style that demands a whole lot of brain power to piece together and I am not sure I am in that place this week.

But a few weeks ago, I didn’t have the concentration to read at all, so I’m getting there. It’s all we can hope for, the little bitty baby doing things.

Love to you,

Sunlight

1688305_10154046205162458_1292287953969941246_n

Friday has come round again. I ache to tell you the most boring things–today I will roll out three batches of flat bread, my husband will flip them onto a hot, dry griddle.

All the  while, I grieve a lost friend, lament my lack of center, watch the movements of the world at large with the nervous twitch of a fawn in a clearing, also too, on the sidewalk outside my office, a deep swath of sunlight pools and warms the air. When we woke it was near zero, now mid-afternoon we near 40. It is a subtle, simple thing. It thaws my hope.

The narrative I always want to tell is this; conflict begets resolution. Meaning there is a certain evolutionary grace that cannot be reached with out struggle or loss, even if it is simply to better understand and fight for what we value most so that it can grow. Because if this is not true, what of it?

And like all malleable things, it can be made true. In the way things can be broad sweeping truth that adheres to none of the variables or complexities at hand. Today, because there is sun and soon there will be a bloom of yeast and bread dough, I accept it with minimal questions. Good enough.

Last night I managed to read seven chapters of what is, so far, a very compelling book. The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. The authors narrative is organic, leaping from subjects and times, but there is a thread of cohesive tension growing that is so well done, I think. I look forward to picking it up tonight, which is an improvement.

I think I also made progress in a story I am working on.

All week, my daughter has been planning for her father to take her ice skating today, after school. go figure that with the sun, the rink is rough and covered with slush. There is always a cost, I suppose.

My girl is teaching herself the ukulele via youtube, which I knew. What I learned when I picked her up from guitar last night is she managed to translate all the songs she learned into guitar chords to show her teacher. For all the angst and hormonal melodrama of the tween years, it is these small things which take me by surprise. This person forming, capable, independent of me. It is lovely, though.

Happy Friday, friends. Much love,

 

 

 

Resistance

12733635_10153949922357458_6912673346349039617_n

Sometimes I am reminded I don’t hate poetry.

I’ll catch myself marveling at how completely a word can splinter, bear meaning on so many levels. Resist.

We resist tyranny and injustice. We resist assaults to our values. Resist is a movement of the like-minded. We resist what we cannot accept. I find it seems to have a snow balling factor. A default setting.

Every new piece of stimuli is resisted, sorted into good or evil. I am not sure that is the mark of a great society.

Once at the county fair, we got stuck on the tilt-a-whirl. The carnie was new and could not make the lever unlock, so around and around we went. The centrifugal force blended our flesh into our surroundings. It was a fixable thing of course. We were rescued before our flesh actually flew off our bones. More than once lately I am reminded of that feeling. That chaotic whirling where all things are beyond your personal control.

Because I am not sure what my mode of resistance is, I have started small. I will inhabit my beliefs. While my general beliefs are in resistance of the current way of things, they are also in resistance to the overall dehumanization one side might give another. Which is not limited to either side, I mean. It is born of the notion of sides. There are differences, and then there is automatic resistance to every word which is born from that which we perceive as opposition. It becomes default. Automatic. Mindless. I see it in myself. Knee jerk utterances of “asshole” under my breath. Bits of schadenfreude seeping from my skin that I would never intentionally mean by heart. It is the language of the agitated. The tired. The human.

Only, I don’t see how it will mend anything. At least until it implodes, I guess.

My truest lament about the whole mess is this; I am raising a ten year old girl here. Day after day I am trying to teach her to value kindness, honesty and intellectual reasoning. Critical thought. Only there is this mass revolt on all things I hold highest, it would seem. In the resistance I find golden examples, but I am just so fucking disheartened. Which seems comical to even bother saying. I know. Most of us are in one way or another.

There is in all of this, another sort of resistance. It seems to have settled in my sternum. Lately when ever I try to be mindful or grounded. When I try to write for craft or read anything of length. When I try to be still. It is an antsy panic that seems desperate to short circuit this. It allows me to surf amazon. It allows me to scroll the chaotic newsfeed of all the social networks. It is perfectly fine watching Netflix. Checking Pinterest.

It concerns me. I feel like I am losing the very things I value in the world. The mindful reasoning. The creative thought. The actualization of being in the now. Poof. The climate does not currently offer itself as hospitable to those things.

Which is exactly why they are next on my agenda of resistance. I will re-inhabit these things. I will reclaim them. I will make them count for something good.

Sometimes I think of how little this is. But then I figure, it isn’t.

Much love,

 

The Words in My Head

15439701_10154816569217458_229239912276552077_n

“I have the Mondays,” she sighed, kicking at the icy curb on the way to school.                 “Me too, kid.” I sighed, taking her hand in mine. .

***

When I came into my office, the air was clear, the streets a stony grey, the curbs a muddied crest of ice. I made my oatmeal, my coffee, wandered aimlessly in my own mind for only minutes and now, the world is paper white, blinding.

It could go two ways, really. I could tell you, just as the world seems dull and drudge, a burst of new pure snow. Or I could tell you how quickly snow comes from the periphery ensuring one can never really rely on any one state of being.

I can’t pick. Both are true.

Instead maybe I will tell you about my cat. She was shot in the head with a BB gun last year. I think I wrote, in the newness of her injury, how unsure we were she would make it. She could not eat or use the litter box without one of us holding her back end steady. She could not walk more than five feet with out falling down. It broke our hearts, but when ever we consulted our vet, she would say wait and see.

Wait and see is a difficult way to proceed. It’s perhaps the most real, alive, way to be.

But what I want to tell you is after all these months, my cat is fine. She will never be 100%, but she lives a decent, functional cat life. She’s happy enough. I want to offer this as proof of hope in darker times. I used to be quite good at sussing silver linings. I’d like to think I still am, but the longer I live, it’s true too, that I offer these up as a web. One can’t deny there was someone cruel enough in the vicinity of my neighborhood to shoot a cat in the head. One can’t undo the pain it caused her small cat body. It can’t explain how when I poured myself into caring for her, it was beyond one silly woman and an injured cat. It does contain a bright wonder, though. The ability to heal is larger than any of my individual attempts at worry or faith.

***

The other night, in his sleep, one of our oldest friends died. He did not wake up. By oldest, I mean one with the longest history still entwined with ours. He was forty. He was not battling one of the big diseases. He was not murdered. He was not lost to some explainable accident or string of incidents which might lead to this. He simply died, there in his sleep. Somewhere on a table, someone is weighing his organs. Someone is recording marks and history on his bones.

Sometimes snow creeps in fast and when you look up, the entire landscape has changed in one breath.

Even then, one  must take in the new landscape. Healing becomes something more collective. We go on. All the time through out this spectacular and wretched history of our existence we go on. I have not lost my eye for silver linings. I have simply come to understand the elemental weight of silver.

Which is to say, these days, when I cannot sleep I try to think of how much good will come from these days in front of us. Not because of what we fear, but because there is not one thing to take for granted.

***

Much love,

L

A coming of middle age tale

14642243_10154637348237458_5908038433965257189_n

We were going about our life, and then Karl died. We hadn’t seen him for a few months, but that’s the way it has been in our adult years. Days get swallowed and dissolved into a myriad of tasks. Time gets lost, but you are made nearly docile by its seeming abundance at times. Your early 40s are still bright enough once you are done lamenting how fast the children grow or how short the time between mowed grass and grass which needs to be mowed. Karl always made it to our 4th of July picnic. If nothing new to say, there was always that bridge into those days we, ourselves, were new. That repertoire of stories gleaned from brilliant, stupid youth. We never imagined it might end like this, or at all, pulling the rest of us–the gang– from the woodwork of our lives, rescheduling meetings and kid hockey games, to toast a lost friend. Our lost memories, the ones we are not getting back.

**

When Karl died, my husband toasted to him with his few friends here who had met the guy. He stayed at the bar too late, watching the news, growing angry enough to eclipse the grief. But there is no long pause in the motion of celestial bodies. In the growing light, American Pie rolled out of the juke box. “It’s poignant,” he texts. “Karl loved music and the music died.” ” He did.” I text back, not pointing out that Don McLean was not exactly Karl’s jam. When I drove him home, he queued every album he ever had in common with his friend. The shows they went to. The ones they had only wished to see. Decades of thumping base, driving riffs. ” I have to go to bed,” I said, kissing him on the forehead. Once for the young man he used to be. The one who would take off on road trips with Karl, stay out for all hours, leaving me to worry where he was, who he was with, how he felt about me, what he was thinking. Once for the man sitting there, so known to me now, I leave the light on, the room open for him to inhabit.

**

Much love,

Snow and Feathers

12729357_10153949922762458_2886452114825942736_n

For some time now, it’s been snow and feathers. Once on the St. Croix, I watched two wintering swans duke it out for a prime spot on the ice. Prime for what, I don’t know. I am not a swan. But, I watched as the two birds became a keening flurry of snow and feathers- a white out display, rather than two birds.

Sometimes it feels as if this is what we have become in this country. The white out display rather than the soft bodied beasts we are. All day, the honking, the posturing, the detachment from the fact that we are all just dumb birds trying to get through the winter.

Sometimes I am so hyper aware of the noise- the futility of sides always clashing that I forgo speaking at all.

Then suddenly one day its another kind of snow and feathers– a blizzard of everything else and I start to drift with the thousands. What I mean to say is I know a lot more about how everyone else feels than where I stand and how I am going to act accordingly.

Which isn’t necessarily true. I know how I feel about things. I know how I feel because when people say or do things I find objectionable, there is leaden swirl in the pit of my stomach.

What lingers is what I don’t say because I believe in peace with people in my community. The boats I don’t rock for the sake of family or employment or the things I don’t manage to do because I believe in them because my busy life takes hold and I just can’t seem to shake it up.

I grew up in a blue state with a blue education, was born to a red family, married blue to evolving libertarian, live in a small rural, mostly  red community that I mostly love, and often find details to overlook. What I mean to say is too much lately, I feel torn. Not by not knowing what I think is right, but the relationships I have with people who think so differently than I do. All this red and  blue. There is a constant trial between saying what I believe and preserving relationships I want to keep. The thing is, tongue biting builds up until one day there’s a palpable anger there.

Everyone is angry; I know this. It is what keeps me quiet. That good old we are all suffering and to proclaim is to only make worse. The road trip is only made longer by the are we there yets.  Sometimes to proclaim only saves us. I am angry. I  have to say so for my self and no one else.

Snow and feather land is a nebulous bitch to navigate. In anger, there is memory. The steadfast fact that we cannot control what anyone else does in this life. This is where I will start. I am the only thing I can control in the world. Right now I need to be doing something.

So I went whole-food-plant-based ( vegan). 98%. Which means I leave myself a loop hole for certain occasions, but ultimately,  ya. It’s maybe not the first logical conclusion that would come to you. It’s not meant to answer all the angries. Nothing can do that. It’s simply the first of little rebellions. I have long felt it is right for my health, the planet, the animals, and it is a delightful fuck you to the world of hyper-consumerism which does not have our best interest at heart. I’ve been getting here progressively, but I was keeping peace. It’s just easier to eat what my family and friends eat a lot of the time. It’s cheese and brat land, after all. I’ve decided to do so quietly. No need to invite resistance. It’s my body. If I believe no one else has the right to decide what I do with my body, it seems the most basic place to start.

Then I joined scribophile. Another baby step.  I’ve had a hard time finding a structure for my writing life, especially people to workshop with. I had planned to take classes at one of the near by colleges, but nothing worked for my schedule. I let my life get in  the way of my writing often. Writing is a place where my voice and ideas are safe ( in my mind). I can say the things I want to say. Also, art. If art is going to be threatened in the coming years, I am going to be an art ninja. For as little impact as it will have, I will support and perpetrate the arts daily.

I know these are laughable. Nothing here will earn me a cape. Things are hella crazy these days.  But don’t you ever feel like you have to start somewhere?

Much love,

 

Blue Seduction

10398710_115004277457_3530180_n

I recently read that Antonio Banderas is now a proprietor of cologne. This is neither here nor there. It has no particular bearing on my life what-so-ever.

To be honest, I am not even sure I like Antonio Banderas. I don’t dislike him. It just puzzles me how he inserted himself as the ever-glowing muse of this blog from its very inception. I mean, I wasn’t even sure I would ever blog again, but there Antonio was in a mist of his Blue Seduction, and now, blogging ensues. It’s weird.

Contrary to this post or others like it, I spend very little time thinking about Antonio Banderas. Except for today, which is only because I asked myself why Antonio. Which led me to think it all roots back to this French film I saw in high school where they skinned a rabbit. I would offer more details, but all I can really remember is the rabbit-skinning. And the fact that my 17 year old self was obsessed with this movie for nearly a year. I swear Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith did some sort of American remake, though.  I can’t even tell you which movie it was because after scouring Antonio Banderas’ IMDB page for a puzzling amount of time, I still cannot tell you which movie I am referring to. I might have made the whole thing up. Not one of them rang a bell. I also can’t tell you which original French movie I am referring to–Wait! Yes  I can. La Chateau de ma Mere. I think. No amount of googling has revealed a rabbit skinning scene that is nearly as quintessential as I remember.

Moving on.

How are you guys? I haven’t been here in awhile. I’ve been trying to do other things. Or to avoid the pages and pages I would have written about shit shows and dumpster fires. I am trying very hard, instead, to let these times be a lesson in complacency and personal alignment. For most of my Gen-X life, I’ve been afforded a certain amount of complacency. The hard stuff was done for me. I was taught to be grateful for my foremothers and fathers who brought such good in the world, but ultimately, I was taught of their struggles as history, as in no-more. Of course I feel a little naive about the way I believed this to be secure. It is what it is, and what I have learned about myself is that I am a little fuzzy and comfortable on the edges. The things I take for granted and build my world view on are not actually indelible. I am not sure what my personal action will be because of this. Some people protest, or fight on social media, or try to work with in the existing democracy in one way or another. As for me, I don’t know. The first step seems to be to live in accordance to my beliefs. To act, rather than speak. Simple things. Personal level things. I made a list. It can be a bit of a shock to take inventory and realize how many of your day to day actions do not actually support your beliefs. Or how many of them actively dismiss or degrade one’s beliefs. Complacency.  It’s not because I am a horrible person that this happened. It’s because I am a busy wife, mother, woman, community member, employee, yada-yada. I am getting by on too little time and wasting a lot of time that I have because I am exhausted by the other bits of time. I just never realized how out of focus it all isI am not sure what effect this realignment will have, just that it seems like a first step of action and right now, I want there to be something I can do to make the world a better place.

I am not ungrateful to realize this. I mean, I wish things in the world were going a bit differently than they are, but I am not ungrateful.

Moving on.

We got guinea pigs for Christmas. Their names are Django and Pudzy. They make so much poo. You really can’t imagine the amount of shit those two little furballs make in a day. It’s a small price for the adorableness I suppose.

Going back.

A brief list of things I believe in but do not always live in alignment with: the importance of the arts, egalitarianism, environmentalism, what should be done for my own personal health, more organized personal finances, using psychology, empathy and intelligence to look objectively at interactions, the amount of electronic time my family should have, what I should do when I hear someone say something completely racist or sexist or just plain unfathomable, my trajectory for my own personal goals, et cetera.

Moving on.

While hatching my plan for all of this in the back of my mind, I watched all 7 seasons plus the reboot of Gilmore Girls.

I’ve been working on my fiction writing. Albeit, aimlessly. I’m also reading books, albeit, aimlessly.

My kid is still busy, but doing well and I can’t believe how fast this year is flying. Or how old she seems sometimes. Par for the course.

My husband is well. Someone gave him samples of man-perfume one day at the pub and I briefly wondered if he was having an affair. Though he still only gets two hair cuts a year and his winter boots are a biohazard, so I am probably safe. Instead he left the samples on my bookshelf where they kind of leaked and now various tomes smell like men who try to hard to get laid.

If only it had been something from the Antonio Banderas line, but alas.

It’s becoming more and more evident why I have no business blogging anymore.

Much love amigos, much love.

L

 

Elegies for Everything

7502e79a4f917cffcd46c16c286858c5

There are little mantras we give ourselves in this life. For me, it has long been the above bit. Because I am human and I have struggled more than one too many times in my life with the imperfection that implies. Because uncertainty is inherent in any pursuit. Because worries for my own small ego have often given resistance to aspirations to do greater good. Or even lesser, more selfish good.

There are things we can count on in life. Uncertainty, for one. Loss, for another. Change always. And for all the cracks, it is inevitable that  light will fill in the spaces.

As a species, we have a great fondness for a diametrical approach to things. It’s an attempt to forge order on the chaos, I suppose. For better or worse.

**

In the twenty years I have loved my husband, I have seen him cry twice.  The first time was in awe and admiration the night Barack Obama was first elected. My husband is a Libertarian, so it was not necessarily a political victory for him, but it was a human victory. A moment in history we were blessed to see.

The second time was last night when we learned Leonard Cohen had died.

Tears are a strange thing, especially for men; they contain entire multitudes and microcosms. They are chemically composed of one thousand unnameable, intangible  things. A distillation of all our loves and fears, triumphs, losses.

We do not honor them enough.

**

The first Leonard Cohen song I ever heard was “Everybody Knows” on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack. I was probably 15. Man, I loved that movie. I was young and secure enough to see my privileges as a suburban teenager as stifling injustices. I was waiting for the world to begin. I even had the black and white striped tights like Samantha Mathis to pair with my Doc Martins in decidedly fashionably unfashionable design.

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
                                                                  **
Sometime last week, I turned 40. A lot has happened since then, but I measure the time  in music. Leonard Cohen was twenty-five of my years in tea and oranges and towers of song.
One of the first gifts my husband ever gave me was a copy of Cohen’s novel Beautiful Losers. I couldn’t get into it. Perhaps because to me, Cohen was a musician- A poet. Or perhaps it is because I was 22. Perhaps I would like it more now. I’ve kept it all these years. It’s funny how it happens, but we become more than one person over the decades.
I’m not the same girl who wore jail striped tights and purple boots. Nor the one who first unwrapped a book from a love who was just a boy back then. Nor the one who watched Leonard on Austin City Limits with that boy a few years later, laughing hysterically over how putrid “Jazz Police” was. It’s funny that these two examples first to rise from my memory are the two works of Cohen’s that I didn’t like. I imagine this is only because everything else he ever wrote braided itself so comfortingly, so perfectly related into my history, the strands are harder to free. The Suzannes and Sisters of Mercies on long summer nights.
The cold and broken Hallelujahs.
                                                            **

Leonard Cohen had the gift of writing his own Requiem. As hard as that is, it’s impressively profound.  In You Want it Darker, he intoned

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord
Hineni is Here I Am in Hebrew. I had to look that up when the album came out weeks back.
                                                                **
There is much to say about the state of things and there is little I am qualified to say about it. I could pretend but I believe the only thing that has the power to mend this country are ears and empathy for all, and it’s too soon to say such a thing. It may always be too soon because human nature is a strange diametric animal. I could write how I hope we teach our children the logical fallacies, because to navigate this world, they’re going to need to learn to spot and disarm them. I could write how in times so mired in uncertainty and discord, the loss of a familiar voice cuts deeply. Though the gift of music is legacy. Of summer nights and kitchen dancing until we too are out of the game.
All I can really say is there is no shortage of cracks for the light to fill.
Don’t ever underestimate the light. Don’t ever be afraid to bring it.
Much love,