It’s hot. It’s time.

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“Pennsylvania native Oriana Kacicek, 29, spent her early years in a nurturing environment of great art, dance, music and literature. Inspired and encouraged by her mother, also a painter, she began painting and drawing at the age of one and continued the practice throughout her teenage years. Influenced by the light and color of the European Impressionist and Dutch painters, Oriana’s hyper-realist style is infused with wit and energy. “I’ve discovered that all art forms are fundamentally the same; they are about revealing truth and beauty, demand the utmost in time and attention, and must be grounded in good technique. I aspire to create paintings that are full of joy, color and light.” (Source: Oriana Kacicek)


Source: My Modern Met

 

Lightly Child, Lightly

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There were days
when we could catch light
in a butterfly net.

~ Richard Jackson, from “That’s What I’m Talking About,” Resonance: Poems


Notes:

  • Image Source: Journal of a Nobody. Poem: Memory’s Landscape
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Because what are we without five minutes ago?

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My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this. “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” It’s terrifying. Because we are we without five minutes ago? What are we without our stories? Where is the continuum of consciousness? Is it all one big lily pad of a moment?

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Image: Street Art via mennyfox55

I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant

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This was just that good. Leading me to share more than a few excerpts from Walter Kirn‘s excellent essay titled: Remembrance of Things Lost:

What if Marcel Proust had kept an Instagram account? What if he’d used a smartphone to snap a photo of every evocative morsel he’d ever eaten? Would he still have written “In Search of Lost Time”…

…When I try to recall my childhood…I don’t have recourse to an exhaustive catalog of images and documents. My parents never shot home movies and they took family photos only rarely, on ceremonial occasions when everyone was compelled to smile tautly and mask what was really going on inside them. As a consequence, revisiting my youth can feel rather like a homicide investigation. Working from clues and the accounts of witnesses, including the highly unreliable one who lives behind my eyeballs, I wait for scenarios to form and patterns to emerge. If they seem plausible I delve into them further, especially if the images align with the murky emotions they conjure up. I tend not to question the resulting mental scenes despite being well aware that photographs and secondhand stories have been shown to create false memories. Clear or hazy, bright or dim, my recollections are private, mine alone, and written in synaptic smoke, not subject to verification by instant replay.

…What makes memories precious, even certain “bad” ones, is forgetting, of course. Remember forgetting? …Memory is an imaginative act; first we imagine what we’ll want to keep and then we fashion stories from what we’ve kept. Memories don’t just happen, they are built…the human mind is not a hard drive, a neutral repository of information. The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

…One reason that I’ve never kept a journal is that the attention that goes into keeping one is, I feel, more profitably spent on engaging with the moment. I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant.

A remembrance never formed is worse, far worse, than a remembrance lost. At 52, increasingly forgetful, I sometimes rack my brain for past experiences that I’m positive are in there somewhere and draw a blank. It’s frustrating, but the blank still marks a spot — a spot where a memory used to be and might, if I eat the right cake, reappear. What makes memory magical is its imperfections and its unpredictability; try as we might, we never quite control it. It draws our attention to the margins of stories that once seemed to be the main events. Someday, when my son reviews his footage, what will come back to him may not be his ski stunts but other aspects of that winter day: the voices of his friends, the shadows on the mountain, the face of his father beside him in the car.

Don’t miss Walter Kirn’s entire essay @ Remembrance of Things Lost:


Image: NY Times Magazine.  A 2011 installation of printouts of photos that had been uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period.Credit “24 HRS in Photos,” by Erik Kessels at Foam in Amsterdam, KesselsKramer

Lightly child, lightly

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Yet in a way, I wish for everything back that ever was, everything that once seems like forever and yet vanished. I wish for my own girlhood bedroom with its dark brown desk, the monkey with real fur from the 1964 World’s Fair, the pile of coloring books under my bed. I wish for my grandparents, both long gone, and Saturday night suppers at their kitchen table, in a house whose smell of bath powder and pipe smoke I will remember always. I wish for a chance to relive an afternoon with my brother, when I was mean and made him cry by grinding a cookie into the dirt beneath the swing set at our very first house. I wish for my horse, sold thirty-odd years ago, and the dim corner of her stall in a barn long since demolished, her sweet breath on my neck as I brushed her flanks and daydreamed about a boy named Joel who might want to kiss me. I wish for my college apartment, the hot plate and electric skillet that my up my first kitchen, the fall morning I lay in bed their reading To the Lighthouse, shaping the words in my mouth, reluctant to let them go. I wish for my husband as he was twenty-five years ago, the first time he ran his fingers through my hair and asked if I would see him again; and for my own younger self, in love with the idea of marriage and so certain of our togetherness. I wish for the first bedroom we ever shared, in the back corner of his Cambridge apartment, wind whistling through the old window sashes as we pressed close, sleeping naked together no matter hold cold it was. I wish for my two sons at every age they’ve ever been, for each of them as newborns at my breast in warm, darkened bedrooms; as stout toddlers, shy kindergartners, exuberant little boys filling every space, every moment of my existence with their own. I wish for Easter morning and Christmas mornings and birthday mornings and all the hundreds of ordinary weekday mornings — cereal poured into bowls, fingernails clipped, quick kisses and good-byes for now.

Standing here on an empty hilltop in New Hampshire…I allow, just for a moment, the past to push hard against the walls of my heart. Being alive, it seems, means learning to bear the weight of the passing of all things. It means finding a way to lightly hold all the places we’ve loved and left anyway, all the moments and days and years that have already been lived and lost to memory, even as we live on in the here and now, knowing full well that this moment, too, has already gone. It means, always, allowing for the hard truth of endings. It means, too, keeping faith in beginnings.”

~ Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Thank you Carol  @ Radiating Blossom for pointing me to Katrina’s book.
  • Image Source: eikadan 

Full Moon Rise

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Full moon over New York City skyline, seen from West Orange, NJ on Saturday, April 5, 2015.


“How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

—Paul Bowles, from The Sheltering Sky


Photo Source: Julio Cortez. wsj.com Photo of the day, April 5. Quote Credit: Memory’s Landscape

 

Floated down the milk river

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For months the baby woke at seven, fed, fell asleep at eight thirty, woke at ten, fed, fell asleep at eleven thirty, and so on for the rest of the day. I’d made him into a milk clock. Every hour was part of a ritualized ceremony of adding or subtracting milk. A river of milk flowed in and out and around him. He floated down the milk river toward the rest of life.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes:

More Manguso Memories

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After yesterday’s post introducing Sarah Manguso in Manguso Magnificent, we’re back with more.

Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary:

I assumed that maximizing the breadth and depth of my autobiographical memory would be good for me, force me to write and live with greater care, but in the last thing one writer ever published, when he was almost ninety years old, he wrote a terrible warning. He said he’d liked remembering almost as much as he’d liked living but that in his old age , if he indulged in certain nostalgias, he would get lost in his memories. He’d have to wander them all night until morning. He responded to my fan letter when he was ninety. When he was ninety-one, he died. I just wanted to retain the whole memory of my life, to control the itinerary of my visitations , and to forget what I wanted to forget. Good luck with that, whispered the dead. 

And here:

The least contaminated memory might exist in the brain of a patient with amnesia— in the brain of someone who cannot contaminate it by remembering it. With each recollection, the memory of it further degrades. The memory and maybe the fact of every kiss start disappearing the moment the two mouths part.

[Read more…]

The War

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A cock. A non-castrated capon. A cockerel. A reptilian, evil bastard.

His siren call would come before sunrise, echoing up the mountainside and back down again. And rush in, with piercing cock-a-doodle-do gusts into my room. My eyes, wide open, stare at ceiling. I shiver. The S.O.B. grabbed the psychological edge at 5:30 am.

His battle lines were indisputable. His was the coop. Yours was outside. You crossed the demarcation line, the clink of the metal hook on the dilapidated wooden door, and he was coming.

He attacked all comers.  He feared no one. All generations buckled: Deda, Father, and his pubescent sons.

He could smell Fear. The perspiration would stream and thicken in the soft armpits tasked with gathering eggs in a red, long-handled, five pound Maxwell House coffee can. Good to the last drop!

His flock of fifteen continued foraging, unfazed by the battle preparations. [Read more…]

Togetherness lost

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Memories are cloudy. It was a ritual that was conducted on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. It was cold and wet. Cabin Fever had set in. Mom and the Kids needed to get out. Our first stop was Barnes and Noble. Rachel, in her pink galoshes, wandered the aisles in search of the prettiest book covers she could find. She would unzip her down jacket and sit on a Lilliputian bench flipping the pages. Eric would be tugging on his Mom’s coat, impatient, and ready to move on. After negotiating with Rachel that she could only have two, we would head off to lunch, which would include a sandwich or burger, french fries and steamy hot chocolate.

Ah, yes. The good ole’ pre-internet, pre-Amazon days. Who visits book stores today? What book stores carry large inventory? Who’s got time to read to their children? Do children have the patience or interest to sit quietly with a book? The Tech candy is flashing and twitching, coaxing them over. ME. ME. ME. Forget the boring books. Pick ME up.

That evening after we returned from the bookstore, and during weekday evenings that followed, we would read bedtime stories to our children. This parental ritual is beautifully captured by Daniel Pennac below in his reflections:

[Read more…]