three things: 1/23/17

FEED: When I was in my first year of college, I saw this gorgeous painting on a postcard at Barnes & Noble, in Huntsville, Alabama, and the vibrancy of the colors drew me to the rack from the other side of the store.

“The Golden Fish,” Paul Klee

I didn’t know Paul Klee, then, but I learned about him and especially loved these two things he said about color:

  • “Color has got me. I no longer need to chase after it. It has got me for ever. I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour.”
  • “Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.”

So many of his paintings have a muted, pastel palette, so I always wondered if he said these things at the moment he got a jolt of THIS kind of color, and if his work was this vivid after those insights. There are always too many things to be interested in, too much to learn, too many depths to dive, and for now I just have to leave this bit of curiosity alone. (But if you happen to know, do tell!)

SEED: Last night was the first meeting of my new book club, here at my place. I didn’t know any of them personally before they arrived at my door; we met on Facebook, in the local Pantsuit Nation group, and then friended each other outside the group.  I had posted looking for serious readers, people who wanted to read good literary fiction and then ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT  IT, and five of those new friends immediately responded. We read The Underground Railroad, and of course they’d all read it, and were eager to talk about it.

But first. Since we met in Pantsuit Nation, they all share my politics (such a relief!) but unlike me, they are all focused and very active. My response is emotional, high-pitched, arched-eyebrowing, handwaving, shoulder-upping despair, but I stumble and can’t provide a list of facts to support my response. Not them! They were amazing. They’re every bit as terrified and emotional as I am, but they are just different women, able to marshal their reason to tell the story of what’s happening. They’re not just extremely informed, they’re active. They’re members of the local Indivisible groups and go to meetings, make phone calls, knock on doors, go to legislative training sessions to prepare to lobby, etc. It was amazing. Inspirational. And as much as I was loving it (and I was!) . . . I wanted to talk about the book. Finally I redirected the conversation from the horrors of today to the horrors of slavery (seriously. What the hell is wrong with our murderous country. Seriously).

And then that conversation was marvelous. It’s just the best thing ever to talk with smart women. One woman grew up in northern Alabama, very near where I lived for 5 years, so she has that really beautiful accent; one is from the northeast and has that style of talking, and the others just had a lot to say, too — all so smart, so insightful, so full of thoughts about what we read, questions about things they were confused by (turns out we were all confused by the same things), thoughts about how it relates to today. Basically it was a dream come true book club meeting. I’ll be smiling about it for days to come.

Marnie and Ilan arrive in Austin today, for a week-long visit, and I’m beside myself with happiness. It’s not that common that I get to be with both my daughters at the same time, and now this means I get to be with them AND with all three of my grandchildren at the same time. I could hardly sleep last night for all the excitement.



community and connection

womenThose women don’t look exactly like those of us in my beautiful book club, but they kinda do. We may not all dress like that (we totally could if we wanted to!), but the general vibe is so us. Bent over laughing, big drama hands (gee, maybe that’s me? I hope not…), smiles, friendship.

I suppose if you get six to eight grown women who have raised their kids (or are in the throes of teenagers, the sweet baby of our group) there’s going to be very little that shocks. All you have to do is scratch any topic and two or more of us have dealt with it in our lives in some way. Divorces, mental illnesses, mild to severe, rebellious kids, drugs, addiction, starting over, falling in love again, anxieties about parents, worries about work, dreams. But you know, while those things might be quite common, some people don’t want to acknowledge them in their own lives. And that’s fine, no one should have to reveal anything they don’t want to. It’s just that among my group of friends in the book club, we seem to be open about our lives. Oh, you too? Yes, that happened to me. And what an incredible treasure that is, a community like that.

And since we are all bookish women, and truly we are, which is a delight of my life, bookish stories abound. Her mother was a librarian and the whole family read for fun, no television. Books saved that one, and this one was so bookish that her fiance was warned — you know about her and books, yes? And in a moment of such sweet delight, while we were talking about the dangers of eating while we read, I mentioned that scene in Little Women where Jo sits in the attic to read, with a basket of apples by her side that she ate while she read. Heads were nodding, oh yes, I remember that. I said that scene stuck with me and I always wanted to do that but I never have. And the wonderful woman who hosted hopped up, grabbed a bag of organic Fuji apples from her countertop and put them in my hands. Here, eat these while you read. Is anyone in this world luckier than me? I haven’t met them yet, if they exist.

I’ve never wanted to be a man, despite Freud’s theory that we all secretly want that. I am so grateful, so deeply grateful — again — for being a woman because it allows me to have these kinds of connections with these kinds of women. We’re really all quite different, but we share a welcoming and accepting sensibility. Whenever we part after book club, we walk to our cars talking and laughing, and I hear the sound of us lingering in the air as I unlock my car. I smile all the way home, remembering what she said, wishing I’d had a chance to talk to her a little more, but oh so happy I’ll have more chances.

Fly day again, Austin to Newark and on into New York. A thrilling day on Saturday, celebrating my friend/brother Sherlock — 50 years old now, and 20 years post-heart transplant. And oh how happy I am to get to be there for the celebration. There was a bit of celebration for my yesterday too: that dreadful horrible thing grinding in the background has ended, and she did not win. I was so happy I ate a whole watermelon. 🙂

Enjoy your Friday, I hope it’s the kick-off of a wonderful weekend!