for a month that is so full of things
which I look forward to all year
may certainly has a tendency
to make life difficult
maybe it’s just that spring springing
damn near necessitates gratitude
and gratitude is difficult to come by in this world
for a month that is so full of things
I never followed a well-known person’s life and doings until I started reading Neil Gaiman’s blog in college. I read it because I love his work almost uniformly, and I liked his bits about bee-keeping and cats and the right apples for pies.
Later there was Twitter, and I found out about Amanda Palmer, and I heard her song that I think of as “The Truth,” the one that begins “When I was six years old, my sister Alison…” It hit home, blowjobs and all. I heard it exactly when I needed it, and I took it for all it was worth.
And so now I follow these two on the Internet, and I go to their shows sometimes, but I’m afraid of meeting them. Especially Neil, who’s work has been shaping bits of me so long. What if he doesn’t like me? It’s the sort of incredibly unlikely risk that I’m still unwilling to take.
Or maybe I just don’t feel the need to meet them, because I know I’ll see them soon, when I’m asleep. I dream about one or the other of them maybe once a week, give or take.
Sometimes I talk to them. Sometimes not. Last night Amanda and I hugged and cried together, because my aunt is dying, because she inspired me to learn ukulele. She walked over the backs of concert hall seats to get to me.
Often I glimpse them at dream parties. Once Dream Neil said something inspiring and cryptic to me in a strange gathering full of rooms and doors, then fell asleep in a chair. Which I understand is something Waking Neil does at parties, too.
Other times they’re more surreal. Dream Neil sold me fruit once. I think I’ve seen Amanda fly.
I’m grateful because they go ahead of me. They remind me of important stuff, like Ask Questions and Make Good Art and Nothing’s Ever Lost Forever and It’s Ok To Believe In Contradictions.
I’m grateful because I will watch them get old.
Life is scary as well as exciting, and getting old is one of the scariest bits. To me, one of the exciting bits too. I hope to enjoy and thrive in every stage of life. It’s a big hope.
Maybe they’ll retire from public life. Maybe Amanda will stop sharing her joys and sorrows and fears and pains and victories with us, but I really don’t think so.
I think she’ll be a magnificent old lady, and Neil will be an exceptional old gent. And I am ten-ish and twenty-ish years younger, and I’ll get to follow along.
Amanda and Neil and the Internet are providing me with a rubric for living out loud and in love. I am comforted to think that they will also provide me with an example of aging out loud, and in love.
And I am comforted by the things that they say to me in my dreams, which I do not remember, but are, I’m sure, important nonetheless.
Thank you, Waking and Dreaming Neil, Waking and Dreaming Amanda. Than you all.
There is something about scallions.
I always think I will want them.
But then, I don’t use them.
Instead, I put them in a jar of water,
and I keep them there for weeks.
Watching their white roots grow down.
Watching their outer stalks go delicately crisp,
their long points stretch up yellowing tips.
Observing how many shades of green
light greenish brown
they can produce.
Am I trying to preserve them?
Do I love to watch them die?
Is this an ingredient or an experiment
or is it art?
A terrible thing happened. It happened in America. It happened in Boston.
The same sort of terrible thing happens every day in other parts of the world. In Afghanistan, in Kabul. In Israel, in Tel Aviv. People in those places expect this sort of thing; we don’t hear about it all around the world.
People are asking whether we should be afraid, in America. I’m wondering whether people are afraid, in other places.
Fear is really hard to live with. It drags you down. I think most people, even in places where there are things to be afraid of, are not constantly afraid. Humans are amazingly good at carrying on. They learn the stakes, the new paradigms, the appropriate caution, and then they get on with their lives, with loving their families and their home. I think people continue to laugh.
But I’m an optimist, and a holder of hope. And I’m holding on extra hard right now because I’m starting to have to move pieces in my own internal paradigm. I’m worried about big money and power and privacy and political gridlock.
I think the Internet is not something that humans yet know how to deal with. I think the combination of the Internet and nuclear power and technology evolving faster than we can adapt to it will probably force us to adapt in another way – a good way, I hope. A Gene Roddenberry sort of take-a-step-back-and-not-judge-too-quickly way. I hope – I believe, even – that we will make the leap to become good stewards of ourselves and of our planet, using our fantastic brains in ways that benefit us all in the longer term.
I do not see that happening right now. In my head, the time we live in is generally dark, with dazzling points of light standing out all over the place. Instead of a new day, perhaps, a starry night. The innovations to do good are there. But the cooperation and the foresight to integrate them into the infrastructure is not.
So here I am. A budding social worker, a holder of hope, an inveterate geek. Almost every day, I echo Frodo in my head:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
And I hear Gandalf responding: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I want to do good, in my time. I want to stay in my country, where there is so much to be afraid of and so much good that needs to be done, and I want to acknowledge that things are scary without living in fear.
I want to keep adding to the balance of joy in the universe. Yesterday I stopped trying to get work done, retweeded those tweets I felt solid about, and turned a work-call with a friend into a two hour video-hangout session with a friend. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and I watched the new Doctor Who episode.
Today I wrote this whole thing listening to a new, gentle and comforting piece of my partner’s music.
Tomorrow I will drive to Boston for school, and I will focus on supporting my classmates and on doing good work, and honoring those people who have shared their stories with me.
And I will come to terms with the time that I have been given, and hold my faith that there will be a better time to come.
I have two thoughts, and they are unconnected.
The first is the quality of light in the middle of March.
They have given us an hour more of sun,
and it’s had a surprising effect on me.
I have been arriving late to my ukulele lessons
since I began them in October. The evenings then were dark
and they got darker, and I learned my way
by the lit signs on stores and corners.
And as I ran a little late to my lesson
yesterday, I kept noticing pieces of architecture
that were unfamiliar to me:
My heart sank briefly as it occurred to me
that I had somehow gotten lost, and would be
even later than I thought.
Until I realized that the long light was simply
showing landmarks not previously illuminated.
I had not thought I could be disoriented
because the world was too well-lit.
Likewise, I do not expect the way
I get somewhat less work done because
the light convinces me that there is endless time to do it in,
though my evening obligations
have not moved any later.
The other thing I am thinking about is
and the rights they have over us,
or don’t have.
And what it would be like if
you lived a whole life figuring out who it was
you wanted to be and trying to be that person
and afterwards they said you
were the person they had wanted you to be
And did not like it when anyone
said anything else.
It doesn’t matter to the dead.
But it matters very much to those of us
who are still alive.
The memory being distorted is not really that dead person’s.
Memories are living things. The memory is ours.
These two things are not connected.
Except my brain says: March is a dead month.
The last dead month, with life already beginning to creep
back in around the edges.
Or the memory of life.
And it is March all over the world.
Listen, I’m not sure about how I feel about most aspects of the Military-Industrial Complex, or whether war is ever ok, or any of that.
But there’s one part I am sure of:
If you ask someone to put their life on the line for their country, and you tell them that you will take care of them for doing it, then you should TAKE CARE OF THEM. You pay them enough to care for their families. You make sure they can work again when they’re done with their service.
The way we treat our soldiers, especially our lower ranking enlisted service people, and their families, is appalling. The way we treat our veterans might be worse.
It never occurred to me until today that a soldier’s family might not have enough to eat because they fall into the crack between being eligible for food stamps and having enough money to actually pay for food without them.
Like, I knew that was a problem for lots of people. And I knew that there are lots of problems with the military (sexual assault is a huge one, for instance). But that hunger could be a problem for military families? Never even crossed my mind.
Thanks, Social Work readings! Fuck you, Defense Department, get your goddamn priorities in order.
I have just watched a man
hand roasting nori, sheets
of dried seaweed
over a small grill that he set
between his knees
a film of this man,
speaking to the interviewer
while his hand slapped the seaweed just so on the grill
each movement practiced
and truly masterful
and I did not doubt for a second
that it would be better than the nori I have eaten
different in some subtle totality
once I drew one hundred and thirty-four straight lines
in one sitting, at just the precise place in the page
to give the notebook a more perfect ruling
and when I had done it
I felt wonderful
can every craft be mastered?
can humans be understood in the way
that sushi can be?
I think perhaps.
everything is different. There are variations to be understood
adapted to, realized, highlighted or emphasized,
grappled with and loved
in every occupation or pursuit
some require greater attention to detail
some demand more flexibility –
it’s something to hope for
Oh my god did you know
that spring is actually
going to come someday?
And after that, guess what!
You might wonder why I am mentioning all this,
it being February and
a week after a blizzard and
emphatically not spring.
Today, I looked out my window at 4:00 pm and it was NOT DARK.
it was not even getting dark.
It didn’t even look like about to be getting dark.
And then, do you know what?
I looked out my window again at 4:28, and friends
it was still not dark.
Now it’s 5:24, and it is getting dark. There is a long gloaming.
If there were leaves on the trees, the view from this window could be 9:00 pm in June.
Of course, there are not any leaves on the trees.
But today was the first thrill of looking out the window,
fully expecting to see darkness
and the reflections of my lamplight looking back,
and seeing instead the continuation of light.
My mother says “a little more each day.”
I guess I had not really noticed before.
But she tends to be right. About this most of all.
(In three months or so.)
I think bleach might be the most forgotten
of all items
or more accurately, the most forgettable.
I think I have forgotten bleach
3 or 4 times this week,
I want the bleach to clean my sink.
The porcelain is layered in stains.
But I forget it at the store, and when
I am trying to remember what errands I need to run,
I do not think, “get bleach.”
I only remember it
when I look at my sink,
and then it is not with any sense
of purpose, or intent.
Just a wistful little remembering -
Today my kitchen has a little flock
in it. They are not mine.
I am borrowing them from
the gift that I will give my sister
two crystals, which I have hung
in my windows just to
test, to be sure that
And they are.
(How could they not be ?)
Two days from now,
I will wake in Michigan
and some weeks later
this flock of rainbows
will meet a sunny room