Sunday Afternoon: Dwindles to a wisp


When I was young, and for a long time afterward, Sunday afternoons were melancholy. I used to blame it on memories on my father retiring alone to his study to listen to classical music. I didn’t like classical music. It made me uneasy…I didn’t like the closed door.

But I think something else was going on. The span of a week is a reminder of the finite, even to the young. And powerful Sunday, which starts out fat and lazy, stretching endlessly ahead, dwindles to a wisp, and just like that, it’s over.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


It started from the inside out. (Word!)


Poetry approached me in that chaos of raw inverted power and leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder, said, “You need to learn how to listen, you need grace, you need to learn how to speak. You’re coming with me.” I did not walk off into the sunset with poetry, or hit the town with a blaze of gunfire with poetry guarding my back. Rather, the journey toward poetry worked exactly as the process of writing a poem. It started from the inside out, then turned back in to complete a movement. And then on and on in the manner of a ripple in water, a song in the air.

~ Joy Harjo, Introduction to How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002


Lightly child, lightly


Four in the morning, cold and still but for the buzz of my yard light as it talks to the one up the hill at my neighbor’s. Mine says it feels the earth spinning it out to the end of its post, like a drop of light that might at any instant shake off into the stars, but my neighbor’s says that’s nonsense, the typical thing you can expect to hear from a poet’s lamp: Nothing on earth can feel that centrifugal force. As for me, I know how light on their legs the fat mice are as they carry the dog food, nugget by nugget, feeling the warmth spin away from the earth, and how the trees are flushed at this time of the year with the effort of holding leaves. Oh, yes, there is a steady tug from the Milky Way, and I can feel my fingers lifting just a little away from these keys, not touching and then touching again, one tap and then another.

So light I am, so light is my heart when I am up early, trying to write.

~ Ted Kooser, September. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


  • Photo: NoelleBuske – “Magia” (via Mennyfox55)
  • 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.”


My Truth


My editor turned it down. She wanted me to write a novel about that marriage, what went wrong, what went right, then friendship, illness, and death. But life doesn’t arrange itself conveniently into chapters – not mine, anyway. And I didn’t want to write a novel. My life didn’t feel like a novel. It felt like a million moments. I didn’t want to make anything fit together. I didn’t want to make anything up. I didn’t want it to make sense the way I understand a novel to make a kind of sense. I didn’t want anywhere to hide. I didn’t want to be able to duck. I wanted the shock of truth. I wanted moments that felt like body blows. I wanted moments of pure hilarity, connected to nothing that came before or after. I wanted it to feel like the way I’ve lived my life. And I wanted to tell the truth. My truth doesn’t travel in a straight line, it zigzags, detours, doubles back. Most truths I have to learn over and over again.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Found a quiet spot and opened a book

 […] Although the book indulges in occasional shop talk about the craft of writing, it is foremost a running record of pleasure. Mr. Dirda argues in these essays, drawn from a yearlong column about reading that he wrote for the American Scholar, “that we don’t read for high-minded reasons. We read for aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual excitement.”

In perhaps the book’s best essay, “Then and Now,” Mr. Dirda celebrates his book habit as something more than mere acquisition. Returning to the “down-at-heels steeltown” of his Ohio youth, he stays a few nights in his childhood bedroom, where late-night reading gave him his first real sense of a larger world. “As my father used to say: ‘Live fast,’ ” he writes. “In fact, I’ve lived slow, dithered and dallied, taken my own sweet time, and done pretty much what I’ve repeatedly done ever since my mother first taught me to read so long ago: Found a quiet spot and opened a book.” […]

Mr. Dirda, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book reviewer for the Washington Post, is an engaging storyteller, but he is not, by his own admission, a flashy one. “If only I had a flair for striking similes and metaphors! Alas, nothing ever reminds me of anything else,” he writes. Newspaper writing, he adds, has strengthened his natural tendency toward plainness. In lieu of vividness, Mr. Dirda gives his readers intimacy: “I like a piece to sound as if it were dashed off in 15 minutes—even when hours might have been spent in contriving just the right degree of airiness and nonchalance.” […]

~ Danny Heitman, Restless Reader, a review of Michael Dirda’s new book titled “Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books.”



How else, indeed


It is necessary to write,
if the days are not to slip emptily by.
How else, indeed,
to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?
For the moment passes, it is forgotten;
the mood is gone; life itself is gone.

~ Vita Sackville-West, Selected Writings

Sources: Poem Source:Schonwiener. Painting by Hermann Teuber, Red Butterflies, (1959) (via Journal of a Nobody)

No Words.


She stirred it.
d smith kaich jones, in lower case whispers, in truth and mirrors:

“there are days I don’t write because (very small voice)
sometimes I don’t believe

It begins innocuously.
It builds surreptitiously.
It ends perniciously.

A slow drip from a leaky faucet.
A Drip. Drip. Drip.
The Drops splash on cool stainless steel.
From Drops. To Rain. To Tsunami.
Now Paralyzed by its immensity,
you stare at the blinking cursor,
and find Yves Klein‘s deep deep blue of emptiness.

The Sails lie flat,
the Ship is adrift.
You wait for tailwinds.
You Wait, for Words.

Image: Cloudair (Dead calm, Atlantic Ocean, Canary Islands)

Do the work


She looked about fifteen, and not only out of place in that crowd but also a little young to be asking a question in front of such a big audience. I think she felt it, too, because I could see from the stage that she was shaking. After a moment of nervous silence, she asked, “Mindy, where do you get your confidence? Because I feel like I used to have it when I was younger but now I don’t.”

Context is so important. If this question had been asked by a white man, I might actually have been offended, because the subtext of it would have been completely different. When an adult white man asks me “Where do you get your confidence?” the tacit assumption behind it is: “Because you don’t look like a person who should have any confidence. You’re not white, you’re not a man, and you’re not thin or conventionally attractive. How were you able to overlook these obvious shortcomings to feel confident?” […]

For the record, I, like everyone else, have had moments when I felt unattractive and stupid and unskilled. When I started at The Office, I had zero confidence. Whenever Greg Daniels came into the room to talk to our small group of writers, I was so nervous that I would raise and lower my chair involuntarily, like a tic. Finally, weeks in, writer Mike Schur put his hand on my arm and said, gently, “You have to stop.” Years later I realized that the way I had felt during those first few months was correct. I didn’t deserve to be confident yet. I happen to believe that no one inherently deserves anything, except basic human rights. […]

Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it. So, how did I make sure that I deserved it?

To answer that, I would like to quote from the Twitter bio of one of my favorite people, Kevin Hart. It reads: My name is Kevin Hart and I WORK HARD!!! That pretty much sums me up!!! Everybody Wants To Be Famous But Nobody Wants To Do The Work!

People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster chambermaid on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work.

I work a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I feel like I must have been watching TV as a kid and that cartoon parable about the industrious ants and the lazy grasshopper came on at a vital moment when my soft little brain was hardening, and the moral of it was imprinted on me. The result of which is that I’m usually hyper-prepared for whatever I set my mind to do, which makes me feel deserving of attention and professional success, when that’s what I’m seeking.

~ Mindy Kaling, Mindy Kaling’s Guide to Killer Confidence


It never happens like that

What I failed to mention, however, was my recent worry: As a writer, I have mistaken how to use words. I write too much. I write like some people talk to fill silence. When I write, I am trying through the movement of my fingers to reach my head. I’m trying to build a word ladder up to my brain. Eventually these words, help me come to an idea, and then I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite what I’d already written (when I had no idea what I was writing about) until the path of thinking, in retrospect, feels immediate. What’s on the page appears to have busted out of my head and traveled down my arms and through my fingers and my keyboard and coalesced on the screen. But it didn’t happen like that; it never happens like that.

~ Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary

Notes: Author Bio: Heidi Julavits.  Photo:

(I Want to) x (26) + BAM!


Psychoanalytical musings of Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010).