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 —