March 27, 2014

"A child said, What is the grass?"

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? . . . I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . . the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among whites,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

-- Walt Whitman
lines 90-101
from Leaves of Grass

March 3, 2014

What I've Been Into - Winter 2014

Hi everybody,

Hope this finds you some place warm, although that's unlikely, as so much of the U.S. has been plunged these last months deepdeep into unending Polar Vorti (plural for vortex?). So cold! So much snow! I haven't seen drifts like this since I was a young girl passing through the prairie town of Marshall, Minnesota, staring out the car window open-mouthed at snow blown as high as rooftops. We have been making lots of soup and drinking lots of tea, and I have given up on professional shoes and wear boots to work. This chill, though, does have its benefits, namely its insistence that one curl up under covers once the baby toddler has gone to sleep and read ones way through stacks of books. This is my story season. The outside world may be a white canvas, but the color these pages take me to. In this time of my life of no to Costa Rican road trips, words can be wheels and wings, both. 

  1. Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez --A perfect pairing with this season. Two things: I am in awe of Lopez's brain and I am in awe of Eskimos.
  2. On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz -- Particular and quirky and truly eye-opening. This wasn't a page-turner for me, but it wasn't written to be. Instead it's a meditation, and especially lovely to open up if you want to be reminded of all the things we miss when we're too busy to slow down.
  3. The Iliad by Homer -- Andromache saying goodbye (forever) to Hector while holding their baby boy? Quite the emotional read for me this time through...
  4. When We Were On Fire by Addie Ziermann -- Ziermann is a local author and blogger, so I enjoyed reading about the transformation of both her faith and herself, specifically since it's steeped in a 90's culture I can easily recall.
  5. Everything Matters! by Ron Currie -- Didn't finish this one. I was interested in and respected what Currie was trying to do, but I'm just not quite at a point in my life where I want to think about a little boy who thinks too much  about the ultimate destruction of the world.
  6.  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer -- Although I still found myself a little annoyed by yet another story line that takes place along the hallowed avenues of NYC (another reason why I need to write a book!), I was intrigued by Wolitzer's characters, and definitely appreciated the way they noticed things ("straw noise!").
  7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -- I always love what Adichie writes, and this story in particular pulled me in. She's writing about race, and the immigrant experience, but she's also writing about what it means to be young and forging ones way through early adult life. Mostly about race, though. And she poses important points for reflection and discussion.

TV and Movies:
  1. Game of Thrones, Season 3 -- First of all, Dire Wolves actually existed, and second of all, The Red Wedding?!?!?!?!
  2. Downton Abbey, Season 3 --  :(
  3. House of Cards -- We are Netflix people. And love Kevin Spacey.
  4. Dexter, The Final Season -- Nothing can quite match Breaking Bad for me.

  1. "The Act of Writing: Speak and Bear Witness" by Erik Reece -- A fascinating and heartbreaking piece about mountaintop removal in Kentucky. I don't know him, but I like Erik Reece. I've read several of his essays now that resonate with me.
  2. "The Inner Landscape of Beauty," Krista Tippett interviews John O'Donohue -- Yes, please. 
  3. "Soda vs. Pop vs. Coke: Mapping How Americans Talk" -- This reminded me of my essay from a few years ago.
  4. "Into The Woods" by Emily Bazelon -- Forest kindergarten? Sign Elliot up!

    1. Roads and Kingdoms -- "Journalism and travel, together at last."
    2. Brain Pickings -- a fabulous collection of eclectic trivia, literary connections and insights, and general cheer.
    3. Writing Minnesota -- Great project that brings together some fine Minnesota writer-minds.
    4. "The Wolves and the Ravens" by local band Rogue Valley -- beautiful, beautiful song.
    5. Mika Estaa and Saunas are Hot -- One of my dear college friends is on a Fulbright in Finland; the first blog is hers, the second is her husbands (which includes amusing videos of the both of them jumping into Finnish lakes in January in giant red wetsuits).
    6. Toblerone -- As in, I find it in my desk at work, pop a triangle in my mouth, and the stress...just...melts...
    7. SmartWool -- Seriously, somebody from this company send me a set of your socks, and I will write a moving, ardent essay about how much I love them. LOVE THEM! 
    So that's where my mind has been. You? What have you been reading, friends? What content online deserves some serious perusing? And any writers/readers/teachers with Twitter feed recommendations? I'm slowly s l o w l y s  l   o  w   l  y  figuring out  how that strange and sometimes sweet place works. A shout-out to Carly Gelsinger for welcoming me there with such kindness.

    Happy MARCH, everyone. May it be full of bright buds and birdsong. (Yeah, right.)