we stare rapt into its bright light

The smartphone is an intimate device; we stare rapt into its bright light and stroke its smooth glass to coax out information and connect with others. It seems designed to help us achieve Westin’s functions of privacy*, to enable emotional release and moments of passive reflection. We cradle it in bed, at dinner, on the toilet. Its pop-up privacy policies are annoying speed bumps in the otherwise instantaneous conjuring of desires. It feels like a private experience, when really it is everything but. How often have you shielded the contents of your screen from a stranger on the subway, or the partner next to you in bed, only to offer up your secrets to the data firm tracking everything you do?

~ Amanda Hess, excerpt from “How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful” (NY Times, May 9, 2017)


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

There’s strength in observing one’s miniaturization. That you are insignificant and prone to, and God knows, dumb about a lot. Because doesn’t smallness prime us to eventually take up space? For instance, the momentum gained from reading a great book. After after, sitting, sleeping, living in its consequence. A book that makes you feel, finally, latched on. Or after after we recover from a hike. From seeing fifteenth-century ruins and wondering how Machu Picchu was built when Incans had zero knowledge of the wheel. Smallness can make you feel extra porous. Extra ambitious. Like a small dog carrying an enormous branch clenched in its teeth, as if intimating to the world: Okay. Where to?

~ Durga Chew-Bose, from “Heart Museum” in Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays


Photo: Paul Nicol with Walk Softly. Carry a Big Stick.

A Letter to Mother that She Will Never Read

That time, at forty-six, when you had a sudden desire to color. Let’s go to Walmart, you said one morning. I need coloring books. For months, you filled the space between your arms with all the shades you couldn’t pronounce. Magenta, vermillion, marigold, pewter, juniper, cinnamon. Each day, for hours, you slumped over landscapes of farms, pastures, Paris, two horses on a windswept plain, the face of a girl with black hair and skin you left blank, left white. You hung them all over the house, which started to look like an elementary-school classroom. When I asked you, Why coloring, why now?, you put down the sapphire pencil and stared, dreamlike, at a half-finished garden. I just go away in it for a while, you said, but I feel everything, like I’m still here, in this room.

Ocean Vuong, excerpt from A Letter to Mother that She Will Never Read


Notes:

  • Don’t miss Ocean Vuong’s full essay in the May 13, 2017th edition of The New Yorker here.
  • Photo: Thank you Dan @ Your Eyes Blaze Out

I have found myself thinking of summer fields

I have found myself thinking of summer fields. Fields full of flowers— poppies or lupines. Or, here, fields where the roses hook into the dunes, and their increase is manyfold. All summer they are red and pink and white tents of softness and nectar, which wafts and hangs everywhere— a sweetness so palpable and excessive that, before it, I’m struck, I’m taken, I’m conquered; I’m washed into it, as though it was a river, full of dreaming and idleness— I drop to the sand, I can’t move; I am restless no more; I am replete, supine, finished, filled to the last edges with an immobilizing happiness.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Owls” in Upstream: Selected Essays 


Photo: Bart Ceuppens (Belgium) with Poppies (via drxgonfly)

Dreaming


Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson (24) is an Icelandic singer-songwriter and musician.

His new album, Afterglow, was released on May 7, 2017.

We all eat in pursuit of memories.

Amy-thielen

We all eat in pursuit of memories. The finely diced chives on my tongue are also the moments I snipped them from the grass in late spring as a child and put them in morning omelettes with my dad. A dry unsweet cookie is the sound of my great-aunt’s gravelly voice cautioning against the perilous use of sugar. Eating a bowl of ice cream is the slow methodical churn of my grandmother’s ice-cream maker that set the tempo for a Sunday afternoon.

Such sensory evocations, and the emotional tug they exert in one’s everyday life, are never far from the mind of Amy Thielen in “Give a Girl a Knife.” The memoir charts the beautiful winding path that led the author from rural Minnesota to high-stakes Michelin-starred restaurants in New York—in search of what she thought was culinary sophistication—and then back to Minnesota, and a cabin in the woods built by her artist husband. Along the way the author learned to cook Austrian, Chinese, French and even her native Minnesotan dishes.

~ Georgia Pellegrini, from Her Place at the Heartland Table in a book review of Amy Thielen‘s new book: “Give a Girl a Knife: A Memoir


Photo: Amy Thielen.com

Saturday Morning

Happy in the morning
I open my cottage door;
A clear breeze blowing
Comes straight in.
The first sun
Lights the leafy trees;
The shadows it casts
Are crystal clear.
Serene,
In accord with my heart,
Everything merges
In one harmony …

~ Wen Siang (1210-1280), From Sleepless Nights: Verses for the Wakeful 


Notes: Poem – Bluebird of Happiness Stuff. Photo: via Hidden Sanctuary

5:00 PM Bell!


Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week


Source: gifak.net

Driving I-95 S. With an empty boat.

I glance at the odometer: 80,000 miles. 8 years, 80,000 miles. 80,000.

I read somewhere, some time ago, that the average person has 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day.  Reading this sentence was like swallowing a handful of methamphetamines – my mind was galloping.  How did my mind jump from 80,000 miles on the odometer to 80,000 thoughts per day and some article I read x years ago?  Who’s job was it to count these thoughts?  How did they actually count the thoughts? How many humans’ thoughts did they count to get to this average, and over what period to time to make this statistically significant? And then, a hard turn to Me.  Am I average, below or above average, and if so, why? Do those of us who are carry more doubt have 25% more thoughts than those that are more stable?  This last one set off a burst of fireworks.

I’m exhausted chasing this thread.  Repeat: Mantra. Mantra. Mantra. Let it Go. Let it Go. Let it Go.  Or as Val in Finding Your Middle Ground suggests,  “I inhale peace. I exhale release… I inhale peace. I exhale release… I inhale peace. I exhale release.” I grow impatient with this mantra, my breathing accelerates, I cut it down.

Release. Release. Release.

I pause a second or two between each “Release” and reach for the volume button on the radio. No doubt I average over 100,000 thoughts a day. No doubt. And a small percentage of them can even be nurturing.

And It comes back.

A single thought. A thought that recurs, and recurs, crawling over the millions and millions of old thoughts, to stand on top of all thoughts. One experience, one feeling, during a single hour of Life, one thought that flashes back like tinsel. [Read more…]

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