immemorial

I am writing more right now than I have since the days I blogged constantly about nothing. I am trying to work out what I am thinking in words when there are none that can describe how infinite I am feeling. I am sitting in the office and the shadows are playing on my tanned arms resting on the laptop at the desk in the corner. I am listening to Rachael Yamagata and reading The Mystic Heart. I am finding.

In the meantime, and for lack of actual content, a poem, not my own:

Book of Hours

Economically, she shakes her hair
back over her shoulders, gathers it
with one hand, and bends to drink
at the fountain. If this
were the opening of a story,

you’d think so she is that kind
of woman – solitary, or a dancer
in street dress who can’t cover
her practiced grace. You might
not be right, just a man who wants

to sleep with some idea or who’s read
that Chekhov described a character
in The Seagull simply as wearing
checked trousers. But still,
as in the Limbourgs’ miniature

of October, a gesture can illumine
or betray. Everything has a little
shadow: plowman and beast, scarecrow,
magpies, man sowing seed, and footprints
of that man. At the river

boats rest on their reflections;
a washerwoman bends over and her image
bends back so accurately it’s abstract,
a study of the momentary.
The way, for example, that you

looked up from your book, squinting
in the solid light. If this were
the opening of a story, I’d guess you
a man of lay devotions, taken
with the casual secrets of chance.

– Debora Greger

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walking through westside park it began to rain, and with u2 in my ears and too much alcohol in my system i turned my face to the sky and said “i give in. i will believe. i will give you everything, because you have asked. i want your love, but i want ordinary flawed human love as well.” and the rain came down and soaked my face, my hair, my skin.

and now begins act two.

“What happens when things stop being cosmic and become something you can hold in your hand in very real sense?” – Douglas Coupland, Eleanor Rigby

The last 24 hours have been just – remarkable. For the first time in days, definitely, but in a greater sense years I feel at peace. I have struggled for so long and now – now – now there is the beginning of understanding, the beginning of love, the beginning of something so terrifying I am conscious of consciously holding myself back. I want to talk about it because it’s all I can think about – and yet I’m afraid to because I don’t know if you’ll understand, or want to understand, or think me foolish for wanting to surrender to this.

From the drawer of my bedside table I took her journal and opening it at random, under a date last January, I read: ‘O God, if I could really hate you, what would that mean?’ And I thought, hating Sarah is only loving Sarah and hating myself is only loving myself. I’m not worth hating – Maurice Bendrix, author of The Ambitious Host, The Crowned Image, The Grave on the Water-Front, Bendrix the scribbler. Nothing – not even Sarah – is worth our hatred if You exist, except You. And, I thought, sometimes I’ve hated Maurice, but would I have hated him if I hadn’t loved him too? O God, if I could really hate you…
I remembered how Sarah had prayed to the God she didn’t believe in, and now I spoke to the Sarah I didn’t believe in. I said: You sacrificed both of us once to bring me back to life, but what sort of a life is this without you? It’s all very well for you to love God. You are dead. You have him. But I’m sick with life, I’m rotten with health. If I begin to love God, I can’t just die. I’ve got to do something about it. I had to touch you with my hands, I had to taste you with my tongue: one can’t love and do nothing. It’s no use your telling me not to worry as you did once in a dream. If I ever loved like that, it would be the end of everything. Loving you I had no appetite for food, I felt no lust for any other woman, but loving him there’d be no pleasure in anything at all with him away. I’d even lose my work, I’d cease to be Bendrix. Sarah, I’m afraid.
–Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

back-and-forth friday

I’m back in the office after another side-splittingly hilarious revolution lunch. Megan joined us today, and we stood outside for a long time talking about bizarre-o stuff. I’m often asked what goes on at revolution lunch, and all I can tell you is that the lot of us sit around just being weird and laughing.

We’ve moved into the new office – it’s gorgeous and not-buggy (fingers crossed) with higher ceilings and clean white walls. Jill and I discovered after much climbings around on the furniture that there are no power outlets on Matt’s and my side of the room, but through intrepid use of power strips and a pass-through hole in the wall, we’ve got everything set up. I am LOVING it, even though it means another flight of stairs, and can see myself spending many many evenings working here in the fall.

Today is full of back-and-forth – campus, then Aroma, then campus, then dinner, then Rambo-n-beans, then possibly a glam party later. My schedule is dizzying some days, and then there are some days that stretch out in front of me like they’ll never end. I am intoxicated with summer – and yet in the back of my mind is Spain, Spain, Spain.

Ambitious

I think I’m playing hooky today. I say that, but I’ll probably go into the office at some point. I just like the idea of saying – to hell with it – and just staying in bed with a book all afternoon. I might do that yet.

I’m looking at my calendar and seeing things marked on every week from now until the beginning of the fall semester and thinking – where did the summer go – but it hasn’t even begun, really. So, before I forget and it’s August, here’s a list of things I want to do this summer (crossposted with my apologies):

  1. Spend a weekend in Rockford with the girls before Mel takes off for Seattle
  2. Go to Madison with above-mentioned fabulous friends
  3. Spend five days in California with my family
  4. Sleep outdoors at least once
  5. Spend a couple of days at ALA and actually see exhibits and not just the inside of my conference and hotel rooms
  6. Start my packing at least a month before I move so I won’t have as much to do at the last minute
  7. Learn how to make sushi
  8. Read some or all of the following in an attempt to catch up on things I really should’ve read by now:
    • Don Quixote
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude
    • the stack of books on mobile communication that I checked out in April
    • (something by) Scott McCloud
    • (something non-fiction by) Umberto Eco
    • (something by) Michel Foucault
    • (something by) Ferdinand de Saussure
    • (something by) Georg Simmel
    • (something by) Jean Baudrillard
    • (something by) Slavoj Zizek
    • (something by) Frederick Jameson
    • (something by) Stanley Fish
  9. Not fail out of grad school
  10. Continue kicking laps at IMPE until I can actually SWIM laps (and/or until I have a great tan!)
  11. Have at least two more parties before I move
  12. Manage to work 2/3rds time in the office, take a class, and still work part-time at Aroma
  13. Walk as much as possible
  14. Go to a baseball game
  15. Decompress from a long semester and get mentally and spiritually prepared for a much harder one in the fall
  16. Go to the zoo
  17. Move to my new apartment in mid-August
  18. Not work myself to death

This is going to be a good summer.

Ten-Or-So Books Of Fundamental Importance

There’s a lot of stuff kicking around in my head at the moment, and I’ve been feeling not-Internet-y for the last few days, which is pretty odd for me. In the meantime, though, I think I’ll talk about books. An age ago Kate posted a list of books that questioned her assumptions – I’ve been trying to compile the same, but without much luck. Instead, here’s my list of Ten-Or-So Books Of Fundamental Importance (in no particular order):

1. The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
I first read The End of the Affair during rainy May 2000, having just returned from London. This is the book I wish I could write. Greene’s argument for faith, concealed within and behind a love affair, is the most transparent and wonderful I’ve ever read. This book, like Galatea, got and continues to get under my skin for many reasons, not the least of which because I find it echoed in the rhythm of my own writing and thought and emotion.
2. Galatea 2.2 – Richard Powers
I first read Galatea in the waning days of August 2003, just as things were going to hell in my personal life. It just – it slayed me. The double helix storylines – the scientific challenge to create understanding and the personal quest to understand and find – I return to it again and again and each read unlocks something new.
3. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
I first read The Hours on a sunny day by the river near Wausau as my lover and I waited for our clothes to dry after an impromptu swim. I fell quietly and hopelessly in love with Virginia Woolf on that July afternoon, my previous crush turning into a full-fledged love affair. Cunningham’s homage to Mrs. Dalloway is lyrical, lush, challenging, and emotional. The film was fine, but the novel is far more rewarding.
4. Microserfs – Douglas Coupland
When asked, I always list Microserfs as my favorite book of all time. I read it for the first time when I was 17 – no, 16? – on the recommendation of a coworker. I have continued to read it at least annually for the last nine years, and it is one of the few books that has continued to grow with me. While the subject matter will be dated all too soon, Coupland’s simple and heartbreaking observations on what it means to be human are spot on. And it has Legos on the cover.
5. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist was given to me for Christmas by my uncle and devoured during a snowstorm in the early days of 1999. The narrative is simple and charming, but this slight book packs a punch if you’re willing to accept the fable. This book marked the beginning of an obsession with Coelho, reawakened recently by a friend’s completion of the pilgrimage.
6. Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
I read Jitterbug Perfume in the wee hours of the morning, July 1997, while on a youth group trip to DC. I have a hard time picking a favorite Tom Robbins novel because they are all (OK, most) packed chock full of adventure and randomness and mysticism and bizarrely esoteric subplots. My two copies of this novel have disappeared into the ether. If Tom Robbins showed up at my door, I would run away with him. Yes.
7. Blankets – Craig Thompson
Blankets forever changed my perception of graphic novels. I read it the first weekend of June 2004, during another period of uncertainty and emotional upheaval. My sister read it the same weekend, and we were both slayed. Thompson’s sensitive memoir could be, at times, the childhood of anyone I knew growing up or know now – the struggle to find your place, the first gasp of real love, the questions of faith that seem so easy until you really question them.
8. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Reading A Moveable Feast a few days before my departure to London, January 2000, marked the beginning of so much of what constitutes my aesthetics as an adult – and, of perhaps equal importance, my desperate love affair with Paris. Food and wine and art and personality and travel – I was smitten. It remains by far my favorite Hemingway.
9. Two-Part Invention – Madeleine L’Engle
Read during what would be the only winter of my marriage, Two-Part Invention struck me as a profound example of what a relationship should be. L’Engle writes lyrically, powerfully, simply about her marriage, her youth, her dreams, her faith, and the man she loved and lost to cancer in 1987.
10. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
Like Galatea, like The End of the Affair, like The Hours, I find The English Patient echoed in the rhythms of my thought, my speech, my emotion, my prose. Unlike the rest of this list, I can’t remember when I first read this novel, though I suspect it was in late 1999 after being sucked into the film one lazy Saturday afternoon with my roommates. The film and the novel marked the beginning of my obsession with the desert, though that may date back to The Alchemist a year before. Ondaatje’s prose is breathtaking. That is all.