Walking Cross-Town. And Recycling.

My right eye is pulled down and right, to the gutter on 42nd street. A half-eaten sandwich, a bite out of a slice of yellow American cheddar cheese, and its wrapper moist from Italian dressing. A few feet further up, a Bic Pen with its partially chewed blue cap, a cigarette butt and a flyer for Chinese take-out.

This discarded potpourri waits for the next big rain, or the morning sweepers to push it down from one storefront to the next and to the next, when it eventually drops down a street drain, bumping along the dark tunnels, and ending in the Hudson River, where a bottom feeding catfish nibbles on it.

I’m rushing (again) to catch the 6:10 Metro-North home.  I can’t explain it: the mind, my mind, that is.  It’s locked on trash.

Last night, I tossed an empty box of Eggo Frozen Waffles into the trash can in the kitchen. My eyes scan the trash, as my tongue works its way across my lips, lips lightly coated from Log Cabin Maple Syrup.

“Why isn’t this paper in the recycling bin?”

“What paper?”

“All of the paper that should be in the recycling bin.”

“Because it’s soiled.”

Soiled? I dig down. I find unsoiled paper, an empty plastic stick deodorant push-up, zip-lock baggies and empty envelopes.  I toss them into the recycling bin.

I dig down to the bottom for one last pass and my hands land on raw, moist chicken fat. [Read more…]

A sense of shame has never entirely departed

“If you grew up very self-conscious, feeling that you’re not as good as other people, I think that it defines you,” she said.

A sense of shame has never entirely departed. “Owning it, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing,” Ms. Walls said. “It’s important to tap into it and be in touch with it. For me, it’s part of process of storytelling.”

With the writing of her memoir, she let go of trying to bury the fact that she slept in a rope bed, defecated in a ditch and lived in ramshackle quarters whose ceilings and floorboards threatened to crumble at any hour.

“Somebody told me the secret to happiness is low expectations,” she said. “I still can’t believe that I have flush toilets, that I can go to a grocery store and buy whatever I want, which will never fail to amaze me.” […]

Nothing doing for Ms. Walls. “I wanted a place where I could go broke and still grow vegetables, bail water out of the creek and shoot deer,” she said. “If worse comes to worst, I’ll survive.”

~ Ruth La Ferla, excerpts from Jeannette Walls Settles Down Far From the Noise of New York, (The New York Times, August 5, 2017)


Notes: Jeannette Walls is the author of the best selling (and must read) memoir: The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Lightly child, lightly.

Donatas Zazirskas, freedom

Carry your shame in your teeth.
Spit
and spit and spit it out.
Doesn’t matter
if it’s in front of people.
They will (or won’t) forgive you.”

~ Tara Hardy, from “Cure” in My, My, My, My, My

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Donatas Zazirskas via Hidden Sanctuary. Poem: luthienne
  • 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.”

No Shame

patti-smith
I’m going to promote myself exactly as I am,
with all my weak points and my strong ones.
My weak points are that I’m self-conscious and often insecure,
and my strong point is that I don’t feel any shame about it.

~ Patti Smith, from “Patti Smith: Somewhere, Over the Rimbaud,” by Susan Shapiro, Crawdaddy, December 1975


Notes:

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness.

walk-through-walls-marina-abramovic

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness. When I was young it was impossible for me to talk to people. Now I can stand in front of three thousand people without any notes, any preconception of what I’m going to say, even without visual material, and I can look at everyone in the audience and talk for two hours easily.

What happened?

Art happened.

When I was fourteen, I asked my father for a set of oil paints. He bought them for me, and also arranged for a painting lesson from an old partisan friend of his, an artist named Filo Filipović. Filipović, who was part of a group called Informel, painted what he called abstract landscapes. He arrived in my little studio carrying paints, canvas, and some other materials, and he gave me my first painting lesson.

He cut out a piece of canvas and put it on the floor. He opened a can of glue and threw the liquid on the canvas; he added a little bit of sand, some yellow pigment, some red pigment, and some black. Then he poured about half a liter of gasoline on it, lit a match, and everything exploded. “This is a sunset,” he told me. And then he left.

This made a big impression on me. I waited until the charred mess had dried, and then very carefully pinned it to the wall. Then my family and I left for vacation. When I came back, the August sun had dried everything up. The color was gone and the sand had fallen off. There was nothing left but a pile of ashes and sand on the floor. The sunset didn’t exist anymore.

Later on, I understood why this experience was so important. It taught me that the process was more important than the result, just as the performance means more to me than the object.

~ Marina Abramovic, Walk Through Walls: A Memoir (October 25, 2016)


Marina Abramović, 69, is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Active for over three decades, Abramović has been described as the “grandmother of performance art.” She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.” The passage above is from her recently recently memoir.

Over 30,000,000 viewers have watched her performance on this Youtube video: Don’t miss it here.


Seared into Flesh

cow-hug

This insomniac is scanning the early morning papers. It’s becoming a 3 a.m. ritual.

My right index finger swipes through the Photos of the Day. Another ritual.

I freeze here. Right here on the dairy farmer from Budapest.

And like Marilynne Robinson in Housekeeping, where every memory is turned over and over again, and eventually becomes flesh.  Or Jim Harrison in Golden Window where memory is more vivid than life. Memories begin to roll backwards.

The dairy cows laying under shade trees in pastures lining I-77 S.
The docile cows chewing their cud on the side streets in New Delhi.
The black dairy cows on the towering mountain hillsides in Geneva.
The dairy cows (“Maggie & Betsy”) on our hobby farm growing up, waiting for their 5 a.m. milking.

But no, it wasn’t these memories that seared the flesh.

It was this one.
[Read more…]

Truth (In the morning edition)

newspaper-coffee-morning-rain-raining

Read one newspaper daily (the morning edition
is the best
for by evening you know that you at least
have lived through another day)
and let the disasters, the unbelievable
yet approved decisions,
soak in.
I don’t need to name the countries,
ours is among them.
What keeps us from falling down, our faces
to the ground; ashamed, ashamed?

— Mary Oliver, “The Morning Paper” in A Thousand Mornings


Notes:

  • Sources: Poem: Thank you Whiskey River. Photography: Newthom
  • Post inspired by Frank Bruni in A Culture of Sore Losers: “But there’s more at work. The refusal to grant victors legitimacy bundles together so much about America today: the coarseness of our discourse; the blind tribalism coloring our debates; the elevation of individualism far above common purpose; the ethos that everybody should and can feel like a winner on every day. Our system for electing presidents is indeed a mess. It estranges voters and is ripe for reform. I explored that last week. But pushing for change is different from rejecting any unwelcome outcome as the bastard fruit of a poisoned tree. If grievances are never retired, then progress has no chance. If everything is rigged, then all is fair, not just in love and war but on the banks of the Potomac, where we can look forward to four more years of inertia and ugliness.

It is an issue of private shame

Hungry-Child

James Harrison, New Statesman: The Foodbank Dilemma:

“…A young clean-shaven man leads an older, grey-haired, battered-by-life-version-of-himself to where Tony stands. Tony greets them kindly and asks the younger man who referred them to the food bank. There’s a moment of startled silence. Then the younger man says gruffly, “It’s not for me, it’s for my dad”, and looks down at the floor. The colour flushing his face makes clear his embarrassment…”

“…School holidays are the hardest time because you have to feed your children three times a day. That’s why I am coming here now…”

“…Normally I eat porridge in the morning to fill myself up and then often I don’t eat at all myself in the evenings. But today is the start of the kids’ holidays and so they don’t get the school meals, they have to eat all their food at home and I just can’t manage…”

“…Not having enough food is a very private issue…It is an issue of private shame. People eat mostly within the home, and so what people eat, and the ways in which it is inadequate, people keep to themselves. And it is an issue of private suffering. If you are not getting enough food, or the right kind of food, you absorb the misery yourself. The cost is embodied by you. It is your body that becomes unhealthy…”

“…people turned to food aid as “a strategy of last resort”, when they have exhausted all other possibilities, including cutting back on food and turning to family and friends. No one I met used a foodbank lightly. Louise had been skipping dinners for months before she went to Coventry Foodbank. She finally attended so she could feed her children during the school holiday…”

“…I saw a young woman break down into floods of tears when the food was brought out. She was overwhelmed by the idea that she could feed her family properly that night…”

“…Another man, too shy to talk to me, told the volunteers he had walked miles across the city to get a referral and then a few miles more for his food that afternoon. He didn’t have enough money for the bus fare. He sat, exhausted, cradling a cup of tea, rocking backwards and forwards, before making the same trip home again. This time laden down with his bags of food…”

“…I am down to the last pound or so on my electricity card and I am really starting to worry about that. And so I have been going to bed really hungry for a week or so. It’s my second trip. I was really worried about coming the first time. I was ashamed, but everyone has made me feel so welcome, and told me not to worry. This time I feel more comfortable. I hope my benefit issues will get sorted out soon so I don’t have to come again…”

Read full article here: The Foodbank Dilemma:


Image Credit: shescribes.com

 

Biggest Loser: Six Guaranteed Steps To Achieve Weight Loss

jell-o 10 calories sugar free
90 days ago, I set a personal biggest loser challenge in my post: If all else fails. Resort to Shame.  The goal: a weight drop from 210.6 to a flat 200 lbs in 90 days.  Outcome: 197.6.  Talk about a smack-down!  Here’s the guaranteed 6-step winning formula:

  1. Be sure to start your diet after aggressively running up your weight. Heavy intake of salt retaining food works best. (Fill your intestines with Thai food + Pasta + Fried Chicken lathered in Häagen-Dazs. Get it up quickly. You know you’re there when you struggle to get your wedding ring off. And be so disgusted with yourself, you have no choice but to run this down. See #2 below for salt flush.)
  2. Cut out soda, fruit drinks, flavored water, orange juice – – anything that tastes good – – and replace with water. (In other words, swell yourself like a dirigible – this kills your appetite and gets you more exercise at night running to and from the potty.)
  3. On a best efforts basis, don’t eat after 7 pm. (Snacking almonds and cheese sticks with your dog are expressly permitted.)
  4. Exercise 40 days out of 90 days. (44%. Pathetic! Less in than out? Bunk. Less in. Period.)
  5. Post your weight daily on your blog. (Shame DOES work.)
  6. And the secret sauce, replace all ice cream intake with sugar free, 10 calorie, kiddy-sized Jell-O. (1 minimum and up to 6 maximum single servings per day aka one six-pack carton. Could I be addicted? To kiddy Jell-o? And for all of you looking to scold me about the vast amount of chemical preservatives ingested, have 6 Jell-o’s on me.  No alfalfa sprouts are going to touch the inside of this tank.)

Next Goal Post:

  • January 1, 2014.
  • Maintain 200 lbs through the Thanksgiving/Christmas feedings.
  • Back to you on January 1 with an update.

Time to celebrate the victory. With?

Haagen-Dazs Pistachio Ice Cream!


Image Credit

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