How do we forgive ourselves
for all of the things
we did not become?
~ David “Doc” Luben
How do we forgive ourselves
for all of the things
we did not become?
~ David “Doc” Luben
Thursday. September 18.
I’m up at 3:00 a.m., and operating on four and a half hours of sleep. Even this Bull-Head understands that this, This, is unsustainable.
Insomnia. A discipline, unlike dieting, I’ve perfected. I now understand, her words, Marina Tsvetaeva, and their meaning.
“After a night of insomnia
the body gets weaker,
Becomes dear but no one’s —
not even your own.”
I look out the window. It’s not dawn but pre-dawn. Moonless. Dark. And Still. Me, the crickets and the hum of the electrical current running the overhead lamp.
I rifle through my schedule for the day. 6:00 a.m. train. Breakfast and lunch with colleagues. A team dinner in the evening. Calls and meetings jamming all white space in between. 18 hours from now, I can take my suit and shoes off and crawl back into bed. I blink my eyes. Once. Twice. Three times. I cannot clear the blur. I close them and rest for a moment. Give me 20 minutes and I’ll be good – – fully functioning. Just 20 minutes.
The day landed as expected, full, including two nightcaps for this teetotaler after dinner. I pull the maraschino cherry from my cocktail and drop it in my mouth, when a colleague lets fly: “V.O. Manhattan, huh? My Father used to drink those.” I smile, proud not to have taken the bait. How socially acceptable and behaved you’ve become. There was a time you’d come across the table and level the score and then some. An eye for an eye, a leg, and an arm. [Read more...]
Thank you Julie.
The weight of my old dog, Hattie –
thirty five pounds of knocking bones, sighs, tremors and dreams –
just isn’t enough to hold a patch of sun in its place, at least for very long.
While she shakes in her sleep,
its slips from beneath her and inches away,
taking the morning with it –
the music from the radio,
the tea from my cup,
the drowsy yellow hours –
picking up dust and
dog hair as it goes.
~ Ted Kooser. December 14. Home from my walk, shoes off, at peace.
Ruu Campbell is a British singer-songwriter from Shropshire, England. His music has been compared to Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow. (Although, I think he sounds more like Nick Drake.) Campbell’s songs “The Call”, “Crossroads” and Mathereal were featured on Parenthood in 2012.
His new album was released on June, 2014 and can be found on iTunes here: Heartsong.
Ruu Campbell’s website: ruucampbell.com
Walking by flashlight
at six in the morning,
my circle of light on the gravel
swinging side by side,
coyote, racoon, field mouse, sparrow,
each watching from darkness
this man with the moon on a leash.
~ Ted Kooser. November 18. Cloudy, dark and windy.
Using models’ faces as canvas, Russian make-up artist Valeriya Kutsan recreates famous paintings in collaboration with photographer Alexander Khokhlov and expert photo editor Veronica Ershova. Kutsan Valeriya is a stylist, image-designer, hair-dresser, make-up artist and international class master. She was born in Tomsk, Siberia (Russia). She was a make-up artist – from 1996. A Hair-dresser – from 1999. An Image-designer – from 2011.
Check out more of her amazing “2D or Not 2D” collection at her website: Kutsan Valeriya – Weird Beauty.
And don’t miss this video of Kutsan Valeriya as she works in her studio:
Napoleon Dynamite Source – Chicagonow
Smart, the company behind the original smart car, has devised a clever way to help pedestrians wait for the walk signal and keep the streets safer — a dancing traffic light. By projecting real movements from people nearby, the dancing traffic light entertains people at the intersection until it’s a safe time to cross the street. The company built the signal at an intersection in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this summer. (Source: Mashable)
Can you keep your feet still?
Source: Weighty Matters
At first light,
The bare trees sway,
but not together.
Shifting their weight from side to side,
they are like a crowd
that has waited all night for a gate to open.
~ Ted Kooser. February 13. Breezy and pleasant.
Source: Themetapicture.com (Thanks Susan)
For most of my adult life, I have read, like E. I. Lonoff in Roth’s The Ghost Writer, primarily at night: a hundred or so pages every evening once Rae and the kids have gone to bed. These days, after spending hours on the computer, I pick up a book and read a paragraph; then my mind wanders and I check my e-mail, drift onto the Internet, pace the house before returning to the page. Or I want to do these things but don’t, force myself to remain still, to follow what I’m reading until I give myself over to the flow. What I’m struggling with is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there is something out there that merits my attention, when in fact it’s mostly just a series of disconnected riffs, quick takes and fragments, that add up to the anxiety of the age. How did this happen? Perhaps it’s easier to pinpoint when. Certainly, it began after the fall of 2006, when I first got high-speed Internet, which I had previously resisted because I understood my tendency to lose myself in the instant gratifications of the information stream. [...] It all felt so immensely freighted that to look back now is to recall little more than the frantic blur of stimulation, the lab rat’s manipulated jolt at pressing the proper button, the junkie’s temporary relief at the fleeting fix.
~ David L. Ulin. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.
In fair weather,
the shy past keeps its distance.
Old loves, old regrets, old humiliations
look on from afar.
They stand back under the trees.
No one would think
to look for them there.
But in the fog they come closer.
You can feel them there
by the road as you slowly walk past.
Still as fence posts they wait,
dark and reproachful,
each stepping forward in turn.
~ Ted Kooser. February 16. An early morning fog.
Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) was in Vancouver this month singing Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” with Stu Larsen, The Once, Dan Medland and Chris Vallejo. Just how beautiful is Vancouver (and this tune)?!
Related Post: Diana Krall, A Case of You (Still, my all-time favorite rendition)
…I’ve never seen anything as strong or as stubborn,” he says.
And I think,
how do you tame a wild tongue,
train it to be quiet,
how do you bridle it and saddle it?
How do you make it lie down?
~ Gloria Anzaldua, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue“, From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Pamela Druckerman interviews Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia, in Learning How to Exert Self-Control:
…Self-control can be taught. Grown-ups can use it to tackle the burning issues of modern middle-class life: how to go to bed earlier, not check email obsessively, stop yelling at our children and spouses, and eat less bread. Poor kids need self-control skills if they’re going to catch up at school.
…Adults can use similar methods of distraction and distancing, he says. Don’t eye the basket of bread; just take it off the table. In moments of emotional distress, imagine that you’re viewing yourself from outside, or consider what someone else would do in your place. When a waiter offers chocolate mousse, imagine that a cockroach has just crawled across it. “If you change how you think about it, its impact on what you feel and do changes,” Mr. Mischel writes.
…He explains that there are two warring parts of the brain: a hot part demanding immediate gratification (the limbic system), and a cool, goal-oriented part (the prefrontal cortex). The secret of self-control, he says, is to train the prefrontal cortex to kick in first.
…Self-control alone doesn’t guarantee success. People also need a “burning goal” that gives them a reason to activate these skills
Read the rest of Druckerman’s column here: Learning How to Exert Self-Control
Find Mischel’s new book at Amazon here: The Marshmellow Test: Mastering Self-Control.
Image Source: Foodspotting
…soon will the winter be on us,
~ Sara Teasdale, from “September Midnight”
This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings or even midnight.
Each has its portion of the spectacular.
But dawn — dawn is a gift.
Much is revealed about a person about his or her passion, or indifference,
to this opening of the door of day.
No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it,
could be a stranger to me.
— Mary Oliver, from Long Life: Essays And Other Writings (Da Capo Press, 2005)
Good news: Our friend Mr. Polar Bear is taking us on a soothing, rhythmic swim in the frosty arctic waters.
Less good news (and defeats the entire zen purpose of this post: Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing them to swim longer distances to find food and habitat. Long-distance swimming puts polar bears at risk of drowning due to fatigue or rough seas.)
Source: Kangaroo sleeping and eating via biomorphosis
8:06 p.m. on Friday evening.
I’m getting off the train returning home from a long work day in Manhattan.
Susan and Zeke greet me at the train station for our walk home.
Zeke’s tail is wagging wildly, his head on a swivel searching for a present to bring to Dad.
“Eric had a bad day.”
I’m still winded from walking up the stairs from the platform.
The weight of the work week lifts, and anxiety flushes in.
My pulse starts to race. I’m gulping for air.
Bile rolls up my empty stomach and sits gnawing in my throat.
No. Please, no. Not my Son.
“He went to a bull fight with his friends.”
Panic begins to ease. Ms. Drama’s overstatements, or my fatigue misinterpreting degree of “bad day”?
“They left before half. He said there was one bullfighter. The matador has six ‘assistants’, 2 mounted on horseback, three flagmen and a sword servant. Six men looking to kill a single bull. He said it was barbaric. Sickening. He had to get out of the stadium.” [Read more...]
How important it must be to someone
that I am alive and walking,
and that I have written these poems.
This morning the sun stood right at the end of the road
and waited for me.”
~ Ted Kooser. March 20, The vernal equinox. [Read more...]
Roger Ridley plays the classic medley “Tears on My Pillow” and “You Send Me“, 9 years ago, in the final Playing for Change (PFC) video featuring Ridley.
My name is Roger Ridley. I am a street musician that plays everywhere. I play all over the world. I’m in the joy business. I try to bring everyone some joy through a song.
“… to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can’t help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumination, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.”
- David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading
SMWI*= Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration. Source: Moneygoround
Rabbit Island in Japan (via Themetapicture.com). Read more on Rabbit Island at the Guardian: Rabbit Island: A Japanese Holiday Resort for Bunnies
I saw the season’s first bluebird this morning,
one month ahead of its scheduled arrival.
Lucky I am to go off to my cancer appointment
having been given a bluebird, and,
for a lifetime, having been given this world.
~ Ted Kooser. March 18, Gusty and warm.
Preface of Ted Kooser’s “Winter Morning Walks: One hundred postcards to Jim Harrison“:
In the autumn of 1998, during my recovery from surgery and radiation for cancer, I began taking a two-mile walk each morning. I’d been told by my radiation oncologist to stay out of the sun for a year because of skin sensitivity, so I exercised before dawn, hiking the isolated country roads near where I live, sometimes with my wife but most often alone.
During the previous summer, depressed by my illness, preoccupied by the routines of my treatment, and feeling miserably sorry for myself, I’d all but given up on reading and writing. Then, as autumn began to fade and winter came on, my health began to improve. One morning in November, following my walk, I surprised myself by trying my hand at a poem. Soon I was writing everyday.
Several years before, my friend Jim Harrison and i Have carried on a correspondence in haiku. As a variation on this, I began pasting my morning poems on postcards and sending them to Jim, whose generosity, patience and good humor are here acknowledged. What follows is a election of one hundred of these postcards.
Mike Rosenberg, 29, was born in Brighton, England. He is better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rosenberg learned classical guitar when he was young: ” My parents were really encouraging about music so that sort of started the path. When I was about 14-15, I started to write songs, which were absolutely dreadful. But as I kept going the songs became better and better – it was just so bloody obvious that this was what I wanted to do. I never really applied myself in school and music was the only thing I wanted to spend my time doing…I’m heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Neil Young although I’m nowhere near as good as those guys!”
Song on Whispers Album on iTunes
The agonizing plasma consciousness can be.
Slab of stone.
—C. K. Williams, closing lines to “Stone,’ from Repair
Credits: Poem Source – A Poet Reflects. Painting by German Aracil. Aracil is a contemporary Spanish artist, born in Alicante, Spain. In 1985 he began his studies at the San Carlos School of Fine Art in Valencia, Spain. See more of his work here: German Aracil.
Source: Madame Scherzo
I’ve been here before,
dreaming myself backwards,
among grappling hooks of light.
—Yusef Komunyakaa, from “Confluence”
Traffic is building.
I turn the corner to the I-95 on-ramp. Man in coveralls is standing next to his graffiti stained Seafood Delivery truck. He glances up at me, pauses briefly, and then continues to flick through a bulging wad of bills in his right hand. (You declaring that income, Friend?)
There’s a semi truck in front. A Friendly’s ad adorns its back door: “Eat More Ice Cream.” (What kind of cruel joke is this? You friend, need no more ice cream. Saliva begins to build up, quicker than the traffic flow. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dog. I could use a tall, thick Coldstone Vanilla shake. Right now. I’d skip lunch if I could indulge. I would. I might.)
I come up on a gargantuan, two-trailer Fed Ex semi. Driver sitting up high. The truck gleams in the morning sun. (Bucket list: Need to drive a Semi cross-country. Is he delivering new iPhone 6+s to Manhattan Apple Stores? Gadget man starts to twitch.)
…after a long day, you need to hug a big kitty.
and don’t miss a look at this fella’s paws. Incredible… [Read more...]
I confess that I consider life
to be a thing of the most
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
[...] There was no such thing as caught up; there was, at best, keeping up. To step away from e-mail, news feeds, texts, chats, and social media for even a moment was to allow their deposited information to accumulate like snow in the driveway, a burden that grew every second it was neglected.
I spent most of my daytime hours shoveling digital snow. The core of my job—researching, thinking, writing at greater-than-140-character length—I could accomplish only in the middle of the night, when things calmed down. I spent more and more hours working, or at least work adjacent, but got less and less done.
Meanwhile, my mind and body adapted to the pace of digital life, with its ceaseless ping ping ping of notifications and alerts. I got twitchy if I was away from my phone for more than a few seconds. I felt it vibrating in my pocket when it wasn’t there, took it with me to bed, even to the bathroom. (I got pretty good at tweeting while I peed, to my enduring discredit.)
All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world. Every bit of conversation was a potential tweet, every sunset a potential Instagram [...]
Don’t miss the rest of the story here: Reboot or Die Trying. One Man’s Year of Digital Detox.
Image: “Crackphone” from Saltywaffle.com
This morning, I shared a gif of a parrot taking a shower.
I then check my emails and receive this message, the first of the day.
Good morning. I am very sorry to tell you that Birdie passed away this morning. She had been just fine until about 6 months ago when she began having occasional seizures. We are assuming she had one last night. Jessica found her at the bottom of the cage this morning and it seemed like she was hanging on for her to get home. She died shortly after Jessica picked her up. She spent most of every day on Jessica’s shoulder or inside her shirt during the winter months. Jessica is devastated. She lost her best animal friend.
In case you missed the original post on the background of Birdie and our family, you can find it here: “I Miss Birdie.”
Sad Day. Yet, what incredible joy this little creature brought to our family.
All the variety,
all the charm,
all the beauty of life
is made up of light and shadow.
~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
R. Dass: “Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.”
6:31 am. September 6, 2014.
76° F. Humid.
He’s wearing black shorts, above the knee.
He has two bands on his left wrist. Both black. A Garmin GPS, tracking time and distance. A Vivo Fit, another Garmin tool, tracking his step count. His head bobs, no, it tics, checking progress on his devices every 30-40 seconds.
His shirt is canary yellow, sleeveless. The sweat stains are darkening his shirt, spilled black ink creeping down his chest.
His running shoes are off-the-shelf new, with hyper-green florescent laces, tied with symmetrical bows on each foot.
His head is down but for the presence of oncoming traffic, when he’ll steal a look up, and offer a wave to the driver who gives him wide berth.
He’s heavy footed. Solemn. A hulking, Dutch plow horse, blinders blocking out peripheral vision. The furrows behind him, turned and plowed over and under and over again. [Read more...]
Just when you’d begun to feel
You could rely on the summer,
That each morning would deliver
The same mourning dove singing
From his station on the phone pole,
The same smell of bacon frying
Somewhere in the neighborhood,
The same sun burning off
The coastal fog by noon,
When you could reward yourself
For a good morning’s work
With lunch at the same little seaside cafe
With its shaded deck and iced tea,
The day’s routine finally down
Like an old song with minor variations,
There comes that morning when the light
Tilts ever so slightly on its track,
A cool gust out of nowhere
Whirlwinds a litter of dead grass
Across the sidewalk, the swimsuits
Are piled on the sale table,
And the back of your hand,
Which you thought you knew,
Has begun to look like an old leaf.
Or the back of someone else’s hand.
—George Bilgere, “August,” The Good Kiss (Akron, 2002)