three things: 2/1/17

FEED: This morning I am again attending the Quiet Morning program at the Museum of Modern Art — and so grateful for it. I plan to be standing in front of this painting again, for as long as I can.

Last month I cried like a BABY. I stared at all his brush strokes and thought about his own suffering, and his ecstasy, and how I could feel his and my own. This will be the fourth time I’ve seen it in person and it’s never less than the same electric experience.

After the event ends, I think I’ll go to the Rose Reading Room at the NYPL again to read and work for a while, so this should be quite a nice day after all and despite it all.

SEED: I’m continually shocked by how fast time is passing, but how is it already February 1?! I think that, among other terrible consequences, my obsession with fighting the terrible politics of my country is making the time fly. And it’s funny: in some ways I am 100% in each moment, which usually makes time slow down. The ways I’m not in each moment relate to my fears of the consequences for the future of each of these things we fight, of course, and it’s those future consequences that stoke the fire. But reading, reading, reading, refreshing the feed, what’s new, what’s now, what’s happening, is both keeping me hooked and making the day pass by in a flash and I have nothing real, no experience of myself, to show for it.

How is it already February 1?

I’m continuing to struggle with finding a place for all this, with how to effectively take care of myself and fight in the resistance. Does the resistance require my every moment? Of course it doesn’t. It requires my body in crowds, my voice in chant, my words in action, and it requires me to know what’s going on — which I can do in focused bursts, right? I’m thinking about setting aside 30 minutes or so each morning and 30 minutes or so each evening to focus on it. In the evenings I think I’ll catch up on what the monsters did that day and plan for the next morning’s time: topics to write or call my legislators about, new candidates to research, areas that need support, and to note times and dates of protests to participate in. Then the next morning, my 30 minutes will be a brief scan of the news and a focused attack on my tasks for that day, drawn from the evening’s work.

Of course that makes a lot of sense, and is reasonable, and will keep me fighting every single day, but this overwhelm is outside reason. Fear is outside reason. And every single day he makes us more afraid. So it’ll take discipline and it’ll be hard to limit myself, but I do want to live, too. I’m going to try this — if you’ve found an approach that works for you please let me know. Whatever approach you’ve found to manage overwhelm and fear, to stay informed without becoming swamped, to stay committed and participating (however small), I would appreciate hearing about your strategy.

READ: Usually, when I’m wanting something kind of quick to read, I look at my saved links on Facebook. I subscribe to so many longform writing sites, and to so many book and essay sites, and when good posts fly through my feed I save them to read later. I’m sleeping relatively well and so not making much headway in my book, so I thought I’d find a few good reading recommendations among my saved links but when I went to check, look at what I found:

I kept scrolling down, and down, and down the list and they’re all like this. I was wanting to share something else, something richer, something fascinating (to me at least!), something that could meaningfully distract from this, but all I have is this. If that isn’t an indication that I need to take deep breaths and remember also to live, I wouldn’t know what is.

So instead I’ll ask: reading anything good these days? Here’s what I’m currently actively reading:

There’s a list of a few others that are stalled (Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry, Nox by Anne Carson) but I’m working intently on those two. And my to-read list of 129 books is always up and ready to go of course. In my previous book club, we took turns choosing books and for everyone else, when it was their turn to pick a book they had no idea and asked for ideas, a situation that boggled me. What? You don’t have a ready and waiting LIST? I also have a “Books to Read” Pinterest board with 168 pins, most of which comprise lists of books (like “25 great books by refugees in America,” from the NYTimes).

Still, I’m always curious: reading anything good?

tilted caboose

off trackTHAT is me — that little caboose tipped on its side, fallen off the rails. But it’s not all the way on its side, it’s not unrightable, it’s just slipped off the tracks a bit and it’ll take a lot of effort and maybe some help to get it going again.

I do love a good metaphor.

This year has been . . . well, I don’t know how to characterize it. It’s been good! Such wonderful things have happened. Marnie had Ilan, one of the top five most beautiful babies ever born in this world. I got to spend a month there, helping her pass time during the two weeks before the birth, and helping them ease into life with their new boy. Lucky me! We went to China, surely the most foreign place we’ve been (which is so weird, because on the surface of things it was the least foreign). Katie is pregnant with a daughter, who will be born mid-September. Our sweet little Oliver continues to make us all so happy with his gentle nature and easy delight. I have my beautiful little home that I love so dearly, with Nancy right next door and friends nearby, and I have done my ordinary routine of life in two great cities.

But it has simultaneously made it hard on me in ways that I haven’t dealt with as I’d like. I’ve put on TEN pounds. Ten. I feel every last ounce, too, and it doesn’t feel good. I’ve gotten out of the rhythm of doing yoga, completely. The month in Chicago was tough — I’m allergic to cats and they have two, and it was freezing, and etcetcetc. Meditation? Nope. Walking? On rare occasion. Usually I walk a lot in New York, like 10 or 20 times as much as I do in Austin (miles-wise), but the tree pollen has been so awful here the whole time that I’ve stayed indoors, sneezing and coughing and battling sinus headaches. So almost no walking, even.

I miss myself.

I miss morning green smoothies. I miss feeling great in my body. I miss the luxurious feeling of movement in yoga. I miss my super healthy, yummy dinners. I miss walking and listening to a podcast. I miss feeling mindful, and the clarity and slowness of time that it brings. I miss feeling present.

These things must (and have been, for the last two years) be part of myself, whatever the external circumstances! It needs to not matter where I am, the circumstances of my daily life need to not be an excuse or explanation for why I don’t do life my way. AARGH. I feel so much better in every way when I do those things.

So today I recommit myself to myself. I’m in New York one last day, which means certain things (no morning green smoothie, no super healthy dinner, no walk given the pollen I literally see blowing in the wind through my watery, itchy eyes), and tomorrow I fly back to Austin, but today I recommit myself to mindfulness. I recommit myself to yoga, and plan to do at least half an hour of yoga this evening while Marc sees patients. I recommit myself to drinking lots of water. Just that, just for today.

If you’re off track too, in whatever way that matters to you, get on track with me. Think in the big picture way and start gently. I am not caring about what the scale says — I recommit myself to eating mindfully. We can do this together, or I could sure use your encouragement, if you are on track with yourself and have some to spare.