hi, beautiful

2015And here we are in the new year, 2015. The year my second daughter will turn 30, staggering to the mama. The year I will turn 57, a little less staggering to the mama somehow. The year I’ll go to Colombia, and Iceland, and back to southeast Asia. And today the day I will see almost all my book club women (but no Faith, to my sorrow), my boon companions here in Austin. We’ll eat well, laugh a lot I have no doubt, and Marc will be in the mix, which will be . . . interesting.

Someone in London, Ontario has been slowly and systematically reading her way through my blog, month by month. It’s been very interesting to observe; she (I assume she) doesn’t know what’s to come in late October 2012, and I wish I could warn her. She’ll be as shocked by the sudden crumbling of my whole life as I was (well…..kinda, not really). Periodically I’ve wanted to see what she was seeing, so I’d open a month page and read through the posts for that month, in that year. It’s been a lot of fun, actually, revisiting those days, seeing the kinds of things I wrote about.

One thing I did a lot of a year or two ago was to share links, things I wanted to read or think about. I haven’t done that in a while, so I thought I’d do it today; in case you’re in a lying-around kind of mood maybe something will strike your fancy. Here are some links I’ve saved:

Links about books and literary stuff to read

Life stuff

Movies

Food

OK! Happy new year. Thanks for following my blog, for commenting here or on Facebook, and emailing and messaging me about posts, or other things my posts make you think of, or for any reason at all. I look forward to seeing how this year unfolds for us all. Peace on earth is too much to hope for, but I’d settle for a quiet weekend here and there, wouldn’t you?

And p.s. Since my daily gratitude email system has apparently gone down for the count, I’ve decided to put it here. There may be days that’s all I post, just a short note about what I’m grateful for. Dang, that system was so great . . . I really miss it. For 616 days in a row I made note of what I was grateful for, beginning right after Gracie died. Usually my daily gratitude was about someone specific, and that may well be you. I’m just going to use first initials, so since I know a bunch of people whose names begin with K, and with D, you’re just going to have to wonder, I guess. Since I write my posts the day before, and schedule them to go up at 7am the next morning, there’ll be a tiny bit of a lag. So here goes:

gratitude: 01/01/15: Today I am so grateful for my wonderful little home, with a landlord who takes such good care of me and with friends N&B just on the other side of the wall who turn this into a home depot, where we watch out for each other as we come and go. I never take having a home for granted, but I really hit the jackpot here.

01/01/13: Struggling to feel grateful about anything today. (I remember that day.)
01/01/14: Grateful today for a new year of life.

lots of good stuff

Well, dear friends, I know I’ve been away for a while and here I am just sharing some links, but I want to share these with you! So much good stuff, and I hope some of it appeals to you. Since it’s coming from me, it’s about books and movies and poetry:

BOOKS

MOVIES & TV

POETRY

MISC

Winding down 2013, looking ahead to 2014 — arbitrary divisions, but they still feeling meaningful. Much love to you all……xo

Friday AGAIN

I know everyone loves a Friday — weekend, yay! — but they come whizzing by so fast and there are only 52 in a year, and then WHEE! It’s already a different month, a different season, the next year. I’m telling you, time is scary fast. My time in NYC is winding down, and I head home very early Monday. It was a blur, as the weeks generally are these days.

There are 31 tabs open in my browser right now. Thirty-one. That’s insane. My computer is so slow and don’t even ask me to open task manager and see how many instances of Chrome are filling up that little screen. It kind of freaks me out. How can my computer do anything, with all its resources going to maintaining Chrome and all my tabs. Jesus. So here, in case any are of interest to you and (hahahaha!) so that I’ll come back and find themhahahahahah oh that is so funny, here are the tabs I haven’t been able to close all week:

Have you written a manuscript but can’t really afford a professional edit? This page gives you 10 ways to fake a professional edit. Good advice all around.

Two from the LA Review of Books (consistently outstanding writing there, I highly recommend the site. Friend them on facebook for easy access):  Here’s an interview with the author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, a book I want to read. The book is kind of a political thriller and about a father-daughter relationship. Sounds good to me. And here’s an interview with Michelle Orange, who is described as the love child David Foster Wallace and Joan Didion would’ve had.

Here are two from The Millions — if you love books and don’t follow The Millions, why?? Here is a list of the Booker Prize shortlist, with links and excerpts! Wonderful! And here’s a bit about Pynchon’s new novel, which I will soon be reading. (And here’s a review from NPR books of Pynchon’s novel.)

Are you thinking about self-publishing? Here are 10 counter-intuitive tips for self-publishers, and here’s an article on self- vs traditional publishing.

From The New York Times, a review of Edwidge Danticat’s new book titled Claire of the Sea LightI keep hearing about this one and it sounds amazing. Also, a truly gorgeous essay by Pico Iyer on the value of suffering. It’s a beautiful piece, very thoughtful — no surprise. And finally, a piece in the NYTimes Magazine about Justin Timberlake, because COME ON. Justin Timberlake.

From The New Yorker, I love this piece because it’s about neuroskeptics. Seriously, just because you can show me an image where the brain flashes blue when presented with something DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE FOUND THE SOMETHING CENTER. I hate that reductionistic crap. And here’s an article about Claire Danes, who is frankly kind of amazing in Homeland. I think that most episodes. The piece asks where her volcanic performances come from and I want to know, too.  In this era of reading “books” on our phones (which I do at night), this piece asks what it means to own a book. It’s an interesting question….

And then from all around the web:

OK, so that’s that. All my tabs are closed, my browser is clean. I’m ready for the weekend — how about you? I hope to see Nick Flynn on Sunday, in Brooklyn (André Aciman, Edwidge Danticat, Thomas Drake, Nick Flynn, Rachel Kushner, Leonard Lopate, Francine Prose, Jeremiy Scahill:  Recent leaks have revealed the breathtaking reach of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs. Should writers and readers be concerned? A fast-paced mosaic of readings by leading PEN members, an NSA whistleblower, and others to provoke reflection on the dangers surveillance poses to the freedom to think and create, and to celebrate the role writers have played in defying those dangers.) But we’ll see. Sunday is a long ways away. Happy Friday, y’all. Hope it’s a good one.

stuff I found

Aw, such a large-hearted woman.
Aw, such a large-hearted woman.

Hey, I was just about to post a bunch of links but I had this strange little thought. I’m writing this on Monday afternoon and the television schedule is kind of different than usual — holiday, I guess. Usually I have Jeopardy on in the background between 4 and 5, but golf is on instead so I have Ellen on in the background while I work. And you know, she’s just pretty great. She’s hilarious, of course, and in love with her wife, and such a kindhearted generous real soul. I imagine she is largely the same person in real life that she presents on her program — not 100%, of course, but largely. She dances, she looks her guests right in the eye and talks with them instead of over them. She’s pretty great. She asks us to be kind to one another. And I was thinking about how inspirational she is, and how I want to be a better person than I am, when I watch her.

So then I was wondering why our culture watches such crap, and with such contempt. Why we watch people who aim so low, who revel in low expectations and bullshit and trivial things. I mean, it’s not like we all have to be engaged in saving the whole world, in fighting against the gas bombings in Syria, in trying to make our country safe from various political trouble, but we all can try to be better people; we all can try to help each other as much as we can; we all can try to make someone else’s trouble a little bit easier. So many things we can be doing, lifting our heads a little higher, adding a bit of light into the world instead of sucking it out. I just don’t know why our culture is wallowing in the gutter instead of putting our eyes up on the horizon. It’s so sad. And: ELLEN. Or whoever inspires you. Watch the people who inspire you, read the people who inspire you, focus your intention on anything that lifts you up instead of brings you down.

So now, to the reason I was posting today . . . link love! It’s a lot of book stuff.

On that note, I leave you to your Tuesday. I hope to tell you soon about a bunch of books I bought when Sherlock and Peggy were here. Tomorrow, maybe. xo

out of control

So here’s what happens. I see something interesting, open it in a new tab and think, I’ll read it later. Then before I know it, there are dozens of tabs open and I feel overwhelmed. How can I possibly stop and read them all — but I want to! So I put them here, thinking I’ll come back to the “Links” category and read them all one of these days. R-i-g-h-t. 🙂 But maybe one will be interesting to you, so there’s a second reason to collect them here:

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Happy Friday y’all. I hope you are happy and well. I’m trying to be both.

up close and personal

I know, right? How much more personal could I be, than I already am?! I’m pretty open and share so much of myself and my life, because I am the boss of me and I get to decide those things. That hasn’t always been true, so I relish my freedom. This little post is a mash-up of several things, reflecting my fragmented head these days. A video, a bit of handwriting, a poem, and some links. Something for everyone. I’ll start with a little howdy-do:

 

Actually, what got this started today was that I got a handwritten letter and was so thrilled to see my friend’s handwriting, which I’d never seen. I’ve received typed letters from her, and lots of email, but this was the first time I ever saw her handwriting and I felt like it fit her so well, and also showed me something else about her.

photo

I don’t know if they even teach cursive any more. I learned the Palmer method, and I remember our teacher walking up and down the rows of desks, positioning our hands as they held the pencils. We were supposed to keep our hand curled so an orange could roll into our curved palm as we wrote, and the pencil was supposed to point over our left shoulders. We were supposed to move our whole arm, not just our fingers. I remember we practiced making loops, connected spiral-type rounds, and sharp up-and-down lines, before being taught the specific way to create the letters. I remember that the capital I and capital J had to begin just below the line. I remember wondering why the capital Q looked like a 2. I remember feeling like a secret rebel as I practiced different ways of writing the capital L, since my name begins with an L. I remember the beautiful special lined paper, with the pale red and pale blue lines, some dotted, showing us exactly where those upper and lower loops were supposed to hit. The rag-like texture of the paper, the Red Chief tablet, the yellow pencils. I remember all that like it was yesterday. Do you?

Here’s a poem I rediscovered this morning, and it makes me so happy. Read it out loud:

The Order of Things (Bob Hicok)

Then I stopped hearing from you. Then I thought
I was Beethoven’s cochlear implant. Then I listened
to deafness. Then I tacked a whisper
to the bulletin board. Then I liked dandelions
best in their afro stage. Then a breeze
held their soft beauty for ransom. Then no one
throws a Molotov cocktail better
than a buddhist monk. Then the abstractions
built a tree fort. Then I stopped hearing from you.
Then I stared at my life with the back of my head.
Then an earthquake somewhere every day.
Then I felt as foolish as a flip-flop
alone on a beach. Then as a beach
alone with a sea. Then as a sea
repeating itself to the moon. Then I stopped hearing
from the moon. Then I waved. Then I threw myself
into the work of throwing myself
as far as I can. Then I picked myself up
and wondered how many of us
get around this way. Then I carried
the infinity. Then I buried the phone.
Then the ground rang. Then I answered the ground.
Then the dial tone of dirt. Then I sat on a boulder
not hearing from you. Then I did jumping jacks
not hearing from you. Then I felt-up silence. Then silence
and I went all the way.

And finally, some links, just to complete the random potpourri of this crazy post:

Happy [excessively hot and humid] Tuesday, y’all. The year is more than halfway over, that’s so bizarre.

Monday mix

weatherWell, 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!

Happy first-week-of-summer, y’all. Stay cool —

mish-mash goulash

Last night I took a giant Mexican salad over to Katie’s house for dinner; she made a luscious, rich shrimp main course and we three feasted. There was much moaning and groaning, many expressions of pleasure, and happiness around the table. It was just so wonderful for the mama. When I walked into her beautiful home, I saw a little stack of stuff she’d pulled together for me and sitting on top was a package of yellow Peeps. My daughter is just so thoughtful and kind.

On the way home, driving at night,* two songs in a row came on and I was so filled with joy. First: Chuck Berry, You Never Can Tell. Well, I cannot sit still, ever, when I hear that song. Impossible. So I was dancing and driving [and grinning like a fool, glad it was dark]. THEN Boogie Shoes, K. C. and the Sunshine Band. OH MY GOD! I had to repeat that one. I think my car might have been shaking with the force of my dance-driving, so again I was glad it was dark.

Mish-mash item #1: that * in the paragraph above.  Me, driving at night, not at all scared. Remember how scared I was last month? I sure do. Obviously, I’m no longer feeling so scared. I have a lot of ideas about why that changed. One, time has passed, that always helps. Not only that, but time without bad things happening, double good. Two, my friend Becci sent me a really pretty gold bird feather necklace, a long pendant feather, for luck and care. My birdies, you know? So maybe it was my lucky feather and Becci’s care getting me through. Three: it hit me, in the midst of my fearful period, that I haven’t driven since 2005. My husband always had to do all the driving and I just let him. The only time I drove in 8 years was on vacation, if we had a rental car with standard transmission, and that only happened twice. So essentially I am a brand new driver, and remember what that’s like? Either remember when you were learning to drive, or when you were watching your teenagers? It’s terrifying, remember? Oh, everyone else is going so fast! What if what if? Yeah. So when I remembered that, it just reoriented the whole experience for me. Some people call this reframing but that doesn’t feel powerful enough, complex enough. For me, it’s more about the power of the story we tell ourselves. Being afraid of driving is just that. Being afraid of driving. It’s the explanation for that fact that really matters. 1) I am afraid because I am afraid in the world and ohmygod I’m getting more and more afraid and now I can’t even drive and it’s just getting worse because I am so afraid and now I can’t go anywhere! That’s a whole world right there. 2) I am like a new driver, which means the fear will go away the more I drive. Oh, OK. Just keep driving. That’s just the plot of the different stories, they’re elaborated and deep and have implications that are really different. And finally, four: Back then I was not sleeping at all and you know, complete lack of sleep makes you kind of nuts. I think my joyful dancing while driving last night was a consequence of all four of those things. And hallelujah and amen sisters.

Mish-mash item #2: OK, that’s a bit of a misnomer, because this is really a long long list of mish-mash but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. My browser is insane with tabs I can’t close, so as always I put them here for safe-keeping and share them in case any interest you:

  • My daughter Katie has a new blog (Living With Grace) that is just so beautiful. She’s an exquisite writer, just so eloquent and thoughtful. Of course she’s writing in the wake of Gracie’s death so the first few entries are about the varieties of experiences — the story of Gracie, living with grief, a holiday post, and a now-what post. I highly recommend it if you enjoy beautiful writing about real things.
  • A post by Nathan Bransford collecting a BUNCH of links and information about the new and current world of publishing. I personally want to read every single link on that page, including a piece by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker about the diverse paths to literary success.

not a real Yue Minjun, but it could be

  • My current header on my facebook page is a painting in the style of Yue Minjun that was in our hotel room in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s such an iconic style and while his paintings always feature huge face-cracking smiles, his work is extremely subversive. Here’s a piece from the NYTimes about him, fascinating and a good read.
  • Here’s a wonderful review by Charles Yu of George Saunders’ new book Tenth of December, published in the LA Review of Books. The title of the review is “A Drop of Concentrated Empathy: On Brokenness and Beauty in the Stories of George Saunders,” which really summarizes it for me. And if you’re really into Saunders, listen to this interview with him, sent courtesy of sweet Marnie.
  • Here’s an exploration with philosopher John Gray about why we continue to use myth to give our lives meaning. Philosophy! Myth! Meaning! My kind of piece.
  • Two related articles that fascinate me. The first is about the power of the lives we chose not to live and how they affect us, and the second is about the books we choose not to read and how that affects us. Such fascinating things, the nots.
  • As a professional cryer (of tears, not town news) I love this piece about tears. We all cry so it’s an essentially human thing to do, but it’s so hard to infer why someone is crying. And that’s kind of neat to think about. 
  • Once upon a time our big life inspirations weren’t about money, though that seems to be the main thing now. Here are two pieces from the Boston Review, one piece and a response to that piece, taking on the subject. These links are really different from the others I’m posting here, more intellectual, but I do want to read them (and maybe you do too) because I often feel so out of step with our cultural ideals these days.
  • I always love to read things about the real person of Marilyn Monroe, and this in-depth piece discusses her deep love of books and challenging herself intellectually. I love this line from the piece:  “Serious books about Marilyn describe the transformation of a ’50s sex symbol into something shockingly urgent.”  It’s that phrase shockingly urgent that got me.
  • Did you realize there are almost no obituaries of Sylvia Plath? Her death was not acknowledged in an obituary. Her earlier suicide attempt under the crawlspace of her mother’s house got a lot of attention, even though she was just an unknown student a Smith College. But she was a renowned poet at her death and there were no obituaries. I didn’t know that until I read this interesting article.
  • There is a kind of depression that includes hallucinations, psychotic episodes. It’s just depression, but it has those features too. I’ve had that kind before; I believed I was dead and people just didn’t know it. I believed I smelled dead, it made me nauseous the smell of me, I’d scrub and scrub my skin trying to get the dead smell off, why couldn’t anyone else smell it? I’d make my husband smell my arm, surely he could smell it. Hallucinations are fascinating things, and of course the stuff of philosophy 101, Descartes. Is this real? How would we know? Here’s a great review of Oliver Sacks’ new book Hallucinations. I’ll be reading it.
  • And speaking of depression, here’s a wonderful review of Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression, on the always-brilliant site, Sheila Variations. Depression is such a hard experience to convey, so wrongly understood by people who don’t have it, so it helps when people are able to articulate it for those of us who can’t.
  • Here’s a piece from the NYRB blog about dreams, by Tim Parks. I love dreams, love having them, thinking about them, reading about them, talking about them.
  • And finally, here are Anne Enright’s 10 rules for writing fiction:
  1. The first 12 years are the worst.
  2. The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.
  3. Only bad writers think that their work is really good.
  4. Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
  5. Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn’t matter how “real” your story is, or how “made up”: what matters is its necessity.
  6. Try to be accurate about stuff.
  7. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
  8. You can also do all that with whiskey.
  9. Have fun.
  10. Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.

 OK! On that note I wish you a lovely Saturday and a sunny weekend. xoxoL

lots of stuff

I thought I was going to write a post about intimacy, but I’ll have to set that aside and get this one down for myself. I’ve got such a huge lot of tabs I can’t seem to close so I save them here, and hope that one or two interests you:

  • Flavorwire posted 17 essays by [female] writers that everyone should read. Adrienne Rich, Jamaica Kincaid, Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, great great company.
  • And just for fun, Flavorwire also posted 10 obscure punctuation marks that should get more play. I kind of like the sarc mark, but the interrobang also wins for its fun name.
  • Here’s a recording of Flannery O’Connor herself reading A Good Man is Hard to Find. Amazing to hear her voice from way back in 1959.
  • I just want to read all the links on this post from the Paris Review about unreliable narrators and fictional memoirs.
  • How you resist these 8 little things to do every day that will make you happier?
  • This is a sweet little video of what happens what random strangers sit together in a ball pit. They’re given questions (written on the balls) that ask the big questions, not the stupid small talk questions. If you watch it, watch it through to the end. I love it.
  • This isn’t a link, but something I read this week:  It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis. ~Henry Miller, in Of Art and the Future.  You are so very right, Henry Miller.
  • If you like seeing the players crack themselves up on SNL, you’ll like the video in this link. I always love to see Bill Hader crack up. And I learned that the writer puts surprise cue cards in for Stefon that Bill Hader never sees until he’s performing, which contributes to his breathless laughing.
  • A gorgeous conversation with George Saunders, one of my favorite writers ever. And for fun, the stylesheet his copyeditors used for Tenth of December.
  • A healthy closing note: eat certain grains and beans at room temperature for good colon health! Covering all the bases this morning. 🙂

Whew, with that my browser is now much more manageable. We’re crossing our fingers for some rain here in Central Texas — hope you get what you want today, too.

good thing of the day: pecan pancakes. with real maple syrup.

wide-eyed and laughing

This morning at 9am I woke up with a huge smile on my face.

There’s something bizarrely wrong with my sleep — as in, I cannot do it. Last night I fell asleep at 3 and woke up at 4:45, so wide awake I seriously considered getting up. I have a lot of work to do today, why not get an early start. But I stayed in bed to keep trying, and finally fell asleep again at 6:15, only to have my alarm clock go off at 7. I must have accidentally hit the on button at some point yesterday. GRRRR could I go back go sleep? I did, around 8, and from 8 to 9 I had the most delicious and hilarious dream.

my guy
my guy

I was at some party at a HUGE huge huge mansion, and I didn’t seem to know anyone. But I was game, walking around the grounds, snagging a flute of champagne from passing tuxedo-clad waiters (stereotypes, anyone?), when I saw him. And he saw me.

We drifted toward each other and it was electric, oh, I knew he felt it too. We talked a little while, he got pulled away, I had no idea how old he was, he looked so very young, while I was/am 54. But who cares, the heart wants what it wants, right? As soon as he could, he came back to talk to me, and we walked around together. Moved our heads toward each other, grazing our hair together. I had fallen so hard in love with Jesse Eisenberg — but the guy I was with was just playing young Jesse Eisenberg. The ‘real’ Jesse Eisenberg was my age, and it was going to be OK. I was trying to figure out how old he was (the one playing the real one), and I thought I knew but then he told me he’d taken an advanced stats class in graduate school with Gauss (a very-long-dead famous statistician), and I’d taken a class with Gauss too, so he was at least old enough to have completed graduate school. But I didn’t care how old the young-one-playing-the-real-one was, we were so in love. It would be a scandal, we both knew it, and his parents would disown him and send him away with no money, but we didn’t care. We were in love!

And so, at 9am after an hour’s sleep, I woke up laughing. I jumped out of bed and hit the shower, laughing. I always play music loud enough that I can hear it over the shower, and this morning I sang along, loudly. I walked into my kitchen, towel drying my hair, and said “Hello, birds!” and they flew away but they came back. With a goldfinch, this morning. And I laughed.

I haven’t dreamed in so long, except for a couple of nightmares one night (one of which involved a dead bird), probably because I just haven’t been sleeping. I’ll get less than 2 hours, then a couple of hours of waiting for 1-2 more hours of sleep. And nothing is making me sleep. I’ve tried all the prescription sleep drugs, I’ve tried off-label drugs that always make people sleep (a very old school antidepressant that was retired from that use because it just made everyone fall right to sleep and stay asleep for hours (but not me!) and a drug that’s often used as an adjunct to antidepressants that has reliably zonked me into a coma (but not now)). Exercise, nope. Nothing is making me sleep, and it’s unnatural and having a bad effect, obviously. Last night in the middle of the night I was on my phone looking up grief counselors because it seems pretty obvious that I need some help, as my daughters also gently told me yesterday. I’ll see what I can do about that on Monday.

* * *

And here are some links I can’t seem to close (and such a telling reflection of the tenor of my week!), maybe one will be interesting to you!

So have a good Saturday, y’all, whether you’re buried in snow or not. xo

good thing of the day: sleep! If you can do it, count your lucky stars.

how about some book stuff?

If you like to read, and you’re on facebook, I can’t recommend the group Recent Reads highly enough. First of all, the group members are uniformly kind and generous, but second of all, there’s great book talk, and a flood of recommendations. Some of the threads can get very long when it’s a controversial book, or a book that polarizes readers, and new readers of a book will tack on their comments after a thread has died down. It’s pretty great. When I was grappling with intense grief last October, I went to that group and explained my situation and asked for recommendations of books that I might be able to read, and that grapple with big issues like life and death. There was an instant flurry of care and support, and also a quick list of beautiful recommendations. AND, the group is full of Aussies and Kiwis, who happen to be the loveliest of people. In fact, one of the women who lives in western Australia called me on the phone one morning to offer her care and sympathy. ! See what I mean?

One woman in the group is a librarian (actually, lots are librarians, or editors, or writers, or work in publishing). Anyway, this particular librarian’s last name is Waldo, so her blog is called of course Here’s Waldo! She recently wrote a series of three posts that I thought you might like to check out:

I started with the 2012 list to see if our interests meshed, and our opinions, and they were a good enough fit for me to trust her recommendations. If only I could read, I can’t wait for that to come back. I’ve had so much work since mid-November that I’ve spent most of my days reading and editing from wake-up to night-night. Last Sunday I just gave myself the bloody day off, the whole day, no work. I can’t remember the last day I had like that. So maybe that’s interfering with my interest and ability to read for pleasure, too. Maybe I can take another whole day off in a couple of weeks. It’s crazy.

And my last four boxes of books arrived last night from New York, which was bittersweet. I’m glad to have all my books, especially since my collection is so much smaller than it was when I moved to New York (space! no space!), so I want every one I have. But with these boxes, there is nothing left of me in New York. Today I hope to get the books put away and the boxes broken down, but I’m going out for tea or lunch with Laura in the early afternoon, so the day will be a bit of before and after.

If you’re reading something that you just can’t put down, I’d sure like to hear about it. Otherwise, I hope y’all have a wonderful Saturday with some yummy food for dinner.

good thing of the day: there’s just nothing like a big pot of pintos and a pan of cornbread. mmm mmm good.

little remedies

Yesterday after a couple of work Skype sessions, I decided to take the afternoon off and take a drive. Mid-morning, the skies were as blue as a robin’s egg, and it was going to be 74 degrees . . . perfect for a day hiking around Bull Creek. By the time I got off the second call, though, the skies turned into a puffy gray blanket—but not the pretty kind. The kind that looks like it got dragged through dirty dust bunnies. The warmer temperature remained, but it had more of an oppressive feeling, even though the winds had also kicked up. I went out anyway, drove Loop 360, stopped on South Congress and poked around in the cool shops, and went to the flagship Whole Foods to buy the makings for a good dinner. (Did you know Whole Foods started here in Austin? You should see the main store, it has several floors, a chocolate fountain, several places to eat, underground parking of at least a couple of levels, it’s amazing. You could spend a day there.) I bought a beautiful piece of salmon, some fresh spinach, and a basketful of good food to take care of myself.

And I realized that I am now in Depressed Land. It’s a familiar place, I’ve lived there several times over my long life. The inability to go 5 minutes without crying, the wish to just stay in bed and never get out, the thoughts. Yep, I’m back. So this morning I’m back on my antidepressants, no second thought about that. Because what matters is that I live, and that I live to find my new life, my new self, to enjoy the next part of my life, to see my children, to find my way, to rediscover joy and brilliance and the ebullience I so easily feel. Does it pain me to acknowledge I’m back? Does it pain me to know I have to take this medication? Not in the slightest. Not in the slightest.

I’m getting dressed to go out to a meet-and-greet brunch, and then to a knitting group. Tonight I’m hoping to have the energy to go to Sherlock’s for a bit of disco dancing. Those are big tasks for a depressed person, and I’m going to be kind to myself so if it’s too hard, I’ll just leave. While I’m getting ready, here are today’s little remedies for getting through:

  • a lovely talk with my beautiful daughter Marnie
  • bluegrass music! I made a playlist, because who can be too sad when there’s banjo in the background, I ask you.
  • putting on a pretty face, a bit of makeup (mascara and lipstick, a big deal for me these days), trying to dress well just for today
  • a glass of orange juice, honestly like drinking the sun
  • turning on all the lights in the house, not just the lamps
  • singing along

Those things are helping me get ready to get out the door, and that’s a big deal some days, you know?

And just so I give you something, here are some links I can’t seem to close, in case you like them too! 

Happy Saturday, y’all. Better days ahead.

good thing of the day:  antidepressants. Seriously, man. I thank the makers of Wellbutrin from the bottom of my aching heart.

Friday books, links, and stuff

I thought about titling this post ‘goulash’ but decided that was too misleading. Still, it’s going to be some of this and that and the other thing, so goulash does fit. Let’s go:

  • A couple of Austin notes. First, since what we do as Texans is have friendly conversation with each other even if we’re complete strangers, I frequently mention that I have just moved back to Austin after living in New York City. Nearly without exception, the immediate response is “Welcome home!” They say that first, and then they ask other questions. I love that, that there is this generous sense of homecoming. And second, the guy who delivered and set up the bed in my guestroom yesterday finished work and then dashed out to his truck for a second. He came back with a brochure advertising his first gig at an East Austin coffeehouse. He said “you look like the kind of person who’d like my music.” I’m not sure why, exactly, but that’s so Austin. Who isn’t playing a gig in this town, I wonder?

LINKS!

  • Here are a bunch of links you may enjoy:
  1. 9 foreign words the English language desperately needs
  2. 2 Chicago inmates escape prison by climbing out the window
  3. Portraits of unrelated doppelgangers (I have doppelgangers everywhere)
  4. Best picture of Barack Obama
  5. 44 more great Obama pictures
  6. Great dog GIFs (I’m not that big a dog person, but some of these made me laugh really hard.  Especially #17.)
  7. Brainpickings lists the 10 best psych and philosophy books of 2012 — always a great list.
  8. Speaking of lists, here are the hundred best lists of all time! Fun!

BOOKS!

  • I’ve been able to read again! Yay! I’ve read some brain candy, and one book that really touched me, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Barbery is a French philosophy professor and now and then the book takes a hard left turn into philosophy in a way that’s a little bit distracting, but I wasn’t troubled by it at all. It’s the intertwining story of two people in a Parisian apartment building, both of whom are in retreat from the world, for very different reasons. Renee is the 54-year-old concierge (hey! whaddya know, I’m 54 years old too) who is quite deep and thoughtful, but who hides from the world by disappearing into her stereotyped role — and most of the residents of the building buy into that vision and don’t even see her beyond that stereotype. But she’s thoughtful, and extraordinarily intelligent, and sees and appreciates the subtleties of things and people. The other main character is a gifted 12-year-old girl named Paloma who decides to kill herself on her 13th birthday out of boredom, partly, because of the morons in her family, and in the building. They’re brought together by a mysterious new resident of the building, who sees them both for who they are. I just loved it for its message of beauty in the small moments, and for its recognition of the hidden depths of people we pass every day. The ending startled me and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since I finished it on the flight home from New York a few weeks ago. It’s a complete world, rich with detail and real people. I’ll definitely read it again, a few times, probably. This book is like a rich, complex meal that stays in your memory in the best kind of way.
  • And the other books I’ve been able to read are high-brow mysteries by Gillian Flynn. Flynn can twist a plot, man. Seriously. Just when you think you see what’s coming, where she’s taking the story, twist! And you never see it coming, it’s always startling and shocking. She writes about the darkest kind of people, people who are soulless in a way, and who have no qualms about destroying people for little to no damn reason. A few months ago I read Gone Girl (her newest book), and the problem with Gillian Flynn’s books is in trying to tell what they’re about, because you don’t want to give anything away. Of the three of her books I’ve read, I think Gone Girl was the strongest. It delivered in every way, hit every note, and the ending was thoroughly satisfying. Basically, it’s about a young married couple and what happens when the wife disappears and the husband is accused of murdering her. Black and shocking! Then I read Sharp Objects (her earliest book), about a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate some strange murders of little girls. She has a mother and sister still living there, and I can’t give anything away except to say that the ending is creepy. The one I read this week was Dark Places (the 2nd of her 3 books) and it was fantastic, though I was less satisfied by the very ending. But there’s a real “Gillian Flynn” kind of book developing here, characterized by strong female characters, extraordinary plot twists, and really dark stuff. I’ve never been a fan of mystery books (though I read a lot of Agatha Christie as a young girl), but I couldn’t put these down. They’re really good candy—homemade fudge with pecans—so if you’re in the mood, these will be wonderful for you.
  • Although I’d read two other Gillian Flynn books, the reason I read Dark Places was that I’m going to a book club meeting next week, and that’s the book. Luckily, it was a quick read. There’ll be a second meeting of the group later in January, so for that meeting I’m reading How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, which is often so funny. I hope the book club has interesting women — we’ll see!

It’s so good to be able to read again, and to want to read, which I haven’t wanted to do since I was on vacation in Myanmar. It’s so good to have my place mostly finished. It’s so good to have plenty of work. It’s so good the holidays are nearly over. 🙂 I think this weekend I’ll go out a time or two. See Lorraine. See Lorraine feel better. Feel better, Lorraine, feel better. Get back to living. Yeah. Here’s a song that always makes me feel full of life — from the Eurythmics ‘Forever’ album, which came out when I was in graduate school and feeling on top of the world. Happy Friday, y’all — read something good, see some people, eat something yummy, take time for yourself, breathe some fresh air, and be grateful for your life whatever it is.

“Some people never take the time to try / The way you live’s the way you die / The stuff of life’s in short supply / And if it sometimes hits you strong / Remembering that things go wrong / The song of life is just a song / And everything goes on and on”

flyaway day!

Today I fly back to New York City for a few days. I’ve been so holed-up here in the palace, so busy getting it set up (doing all that shopping, ugh), so busy getting work done, I don’t really feel like I’ve been in Austin so the idea of “leaving Austin” makes little sense. I’m flying back for a couple of reasons: 1) to pack up all my books and few belongings (I only took my clothes when I left), and 2) to attend a party given by my friends Temma and Yvonne, so I’d have a chance to say goodbye to friends. It’s a tough time for a party, thick in the holiday season and on a Friday night to boot, an evening that was likely set aside for something else weeks or months ago, but I will be so happy to see any who can come.  (If you are in NYC and want to come, email me for details — see the about page for my email address.)

I probably won’t post while I’m there — way way too much going on, too many people to see and things to get done, and I need to do some work in any spare moments — but I’ll be back in Austin Monday night, the 17th, so I hope to be back to posting then.

In the meantime, I’ve been collecting some links and I thought I’d share them with you! That’s a good sign, right? I’m beginning to be interested in things again? Yeah? Feels good to me.

OK! With this, I close up Austin shop. Have a good few days, y’all; get some rest, eat something good, read something that moves you, talk to someone you love, and have some fun.

being heard / being seen + links

​Today I had the deep experience of feeling heard — twice. Two big, deep experiences of it, and it made me feel amazing. It’s funny how being heard is so much like being seen, I’d never thought of it before. It also left me feeling alive in a way I haven’t been feeling lately, which is just so great. It wasn’t even that the two people who did this for me today said anything particularly special, it’s that they were present with me, and looking at me in a very deep way. And then I had two other experiences after that of feeling understood, so it’s been a wonderful, wonderful day on that front. And boy oh boy did I need it. It’s one of the finest things you can do for a friend, be present with them and try hard to see them. Highly recommended.

Somehow I’ve got all these tabs open again, so I thought I’d ​put them here for safekeeping. And who knows, maybe you’ll like them too:

WHEW! Got them all saved here, hallelujah.​