Our air conditioning has been broken for three days. We’re reminded of how we used to live with the weather much more closely when we lived abroad. Last night felt a little something like this.
Sometimes, after very heavy weeks, or days, or hours, I find that all I want to do is go out in the backyard and love on these mongrels. They are a certain kind of gift, a kind I’m thankful for. They can’t solve the world’s problems, or make people kind, but they can wag their tails and offer a lick or two. And sometimes, that’s just what’s called for.
My weekend with my family was exhausting and I woke up this morning feeling as though I’d been running in my sleep.
On Saturday, we attended a protest in a major city about two hours away from ours and we brought our kids with us. It’s not something I ever thought I’d do–bring my kids along to a gathering that might get a certain kind of “colorful”, that is–but when my husband and I thought it through, it made sense to us to introduce them to our values in this way. It wasn’t without trepidation that we loaded the car before the sun came up and headed on the highway.
When we arrived at our destination, we noticed that the crowd was huge already, though we’d gotten there early, and it continued to swell before our eyes as the morning went on. There were hecklers, people who screamed obscenities at us with wide, angry eyes, and the kids looked at us as if to ask, “Is this how it is?”
And it is, sometimes.
In the end, we heard and saw things we can never unknow, though a part of me wishes we could for the sake of our happiness. I don’t know how to process heavy things except through words (and sometimes inconvenient tears) so I commend to you these lines.
I’ve decided to embark on a (mostly) fun literary challenge in which I write a poem every day, five days a week, for as long as I can last. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for sometime now, but it means that I’ll only be able to show up here maybe once a week? After all, I’m still working on the first draft of a second novel, and it takes discipline to stay on track there, too.
In the meantime, I’ll check in, but it just won’t be as often.
P.S. I’ve opened up another site for these poems but I’m going by another name for now because–chicken. If you’d like to visit (though everything is still in its infancy stage) you can here.
I’m reading an enormous anthology of Anton Chekhov’s short stories on my Kindle before bed each night. It’s taking me forever to get through. The little percentage icon on the bottom right of the Kindle screen only bumps one percent higher every few stories, and it feels like I’ll never get finished. Meanwhile, other books languish in my to-read queue.
But something wonderful happens when I stick with a mammoth chunk of writing over a long time. I become absorbed in it. I develop a genuine sense of the author’s style, language, and aesthetic sensibilities. I start to understand his quieter ideas because I’m moving slowly enough to notice them.
Chekhov’s short stories aren’t characterized by big plot twists or literary fireworks. They’re about everyday provoking situations that bring out people’s true selves. Chekhov writes about a time we don’t remember, about people with whom we may not share a background, but his words strike clear and true. We see ourselves in his Russian peasants and landed gentry because they are, after all, just people.
I know that if I were able to blitz through his writing, I would miss things worth savoring. So, for now at least, I’m content to read slowly, one story at a time, for as long as it takes. The other books will have to wait.
I was young a few days ago, and there were things I didn’t know, so the soil under my
feet felt especially warm
and smelled like hope. And this richness lined my mind with its fragrant crumbles,
made me believe that there are things worth saying, and that
there is some way
of saying them.
I’m not young today (this is how things go),
and the dirt isn’t black
anymore, but medium brown,
and we are both leached.
And I do wonder, now, if there’s any point in speaking fragile things
when the sun is high and
killing like this.
But I am not old yet,
and there are still things I don’t know.