Well, it was slow getting started but the summer heat has arrived in Texas. Look at that 10-day forecast. Still, only three in a row at the 100+ mark, we’re not at the worst of it by any means.
Today I am kind of scattered and off-kilter. Partly it’s due to some tension with someone in my life and partly it’s due to my need to be home for a while, pulled in and tending to myself and my own life. I imagine most people are like me in this general way: we slowly stop doing the things we need to do and then that picks up a certain kind of momentum until we’re just way off track. We skip one day of exercising, then two. We just have ice cream tonight for a treat, then the next day it’s cake. We let a piece of business slide, we don’t open that mail, and then we feel kind of anxious about even looking at it.
This is one of the small-potatoes strangest things about being a person — really, small potatoes, not a big deal, but strange. Even as I know, I really do, I know that if I’d just do that thing I’d feel amazing, I’d be right back on track, I’ll end up feeling so whatever (strong, together, on top of things), I struggle to make myself do it. I have a very easy little log system for my income and expenses. In one of those cheap little notebooks with a hard cover, I use a 2-page spread: on the right side, a simple list of my recurring expenses (rent, electricity, gas, cable, etc) and on the left side, a simple listing of my income. At the end of the month, I total both, and I keep a running total of year-to-date income. I can see at a glance how everything is going. Its brilliance is its simplicity. If I have a month where I don’t make as much money as I need, I can quickly see that I’m still way ahead of where I need to be because earlier months were so good. Or whatever. The problem is that in May, when I went to Indonesia, of course I didn’t make any money. No problem, really, because I’d made so much in the first few months, I was going to be just fine. I knew it when I left, I know it now. But I haven’t recorded anything in my little book since before I left, and now June is almost over. I know that if I’d just make myself sit down and catch up, I’d be relieved, but somehow having to look at that one month with zero income — in black and white — is scaring me. People are so funny. Fear is such a powerful emotion.
I have a few tabs I haven’t been able to close, haven’t yet had time to read, so I’ll put them here in case any are interesting to you, and so I can find them later!
- In a piece in the New York Review of Books, Charles Simic — one of my favorite poets — looks aging in the face and struggles a bit with the speed of life.
- In the Tatler, 80-something-year-old Brian Sewell also writes about aging — but disgracefully, which I gather means (for him) liberal use of a certain word.
- A piece in BookForum by one of my absolute favorite essayists, John Jeremiah Sullivan (seriously, I’d read anything he writes, any time anywhere) about James Agee.
- A great short piece in the NYTimes about the real power of self-compassion, Kristen Neff‘s work. Seriously, there is power in it.
- I love The Believer, and here’s a wonderful interview with Matt Bell about writing and writers and reading. Fantastic.
- Guernica presents a piece about the act of watching The Act of Killing, a documentary about genocide in Indonesia in 1965-1966. Interesting to me since I’m just back from Indonesia, but powerful beyond that.
Happy first-week-of-summer, y’all. Stay cool —