Signs of Spring
And not a moment too soon. I may have wished for snow, but that was back in December. And I NEVER wished for endless gray and cold. On a walk today I saw a bulb pushing up through the brush, and a lone green bud reaching up toward the sky. Next will come the smells of thawing soil and the first trickles of streams coming down the surrounding mountains.
And I. can’t. wait.
My pick this week is from Tinfoil Magnolia with this touching piece.
She stood before him exposed, allowing him to see what would normally be skillfully camouflaged. A lifetime of being ashamed of her ample body caused her to tremble and bow her head, aware of his scrutinizing gaze. But the look on his face was worshipful as his glance swept her from head to toe.
“You’re so sexy,” he whispered.
As he reached out a hand to caress her face, pushing a strand of hair from her cheek, she realized she could trust him. She raised her eyes to meet his, a soft smile touched her lips. What was that feeling?
The word this week is from William Carlos Williams : A Collection of Critical Essays which appears to be out of print.
“William Carlos Williams objects to urbanity–to sleek and natty effects–and this is a good sign if not always a good thing. Yet usually nothing could better the dashing shrewdness of the pattern as he develops it and cuts it off at the acutely right point.”
But not in the usual sense. I’ve been leading a rebranding initiative at work, and it’s intense work. At the same time I’ve been establishing brand direction for my own consulting business which is also intense. This kind of work jazzes me, but now I’m feeling the burnout. The perfectionist streak running through me can get me in the most trouble when my passion for the outcome is high. I just need to step back from it now that the heaviest work is done–let things settle in the unconscious.
That and a good dose of sunshine which is long overdue in my little corner of the world.
Probably why this piece from ArcticWren stood out for me this week:
“It’s not about sustained happiness, not at this point,” she says, simply.
“What is it, then?” I prompt.
“It’s about recognizing moments. Not hours, or days, or years, but moments that are… perfect.”
“Moonlight glistening on newly fallen snow. Lamplight caressing the curve of your daughter’s cheek as she concentrates on homework at the kitchen table. Catching a whiff of bread baking as you drive with the windows rolled down. Waking up to songbirds.”
“It’s in these moments of… of gratuitous joy – in these unlooked for, perfect moments – that we can know happiness. And that’s enough.”
Moments of gratuitous joy…that’s what I’ll be paying attention to this upcoming week to bring me back in alignment. I hope you enjoy this passage of beauty. The word is:
“The second lasted five minutes; then the door opened and in came Angelica. The first impression was of dazed surprise. The Salina family all stood there with breath taken away; Tancredi could even feel the veins pulsing in his temples. Under the first shock from her beauty the men were incapable of noticing or analyzing its defects, which were numerous; there were to be many forever incapable of this critical appraisal. She was tall and well made, on an ample scale; her skin looked as if it had the flavor of fresh cream, which it resembled; her childlike mouth, that of strawberries. Under a mass of raven hair, curling in gentle waves, her green eyes gleamed motionless as those of statues, and like them a little cruel.”
You walk in here all gratuitous charm, flexing your seduction, locked and loaded for play. I brace to dismiss you but an argument rages in my skull. I could walk out of this restaurant in a second; ask the waitress to pack your tired stories of wanderlust and indecision in a Styrofoam container, take them to go and let them quietly decay on a chilled shelf. Instead I listen with relaxed shoulders and a steady gaze, but my hands tremble beneath the table. Or is it my thighs? My god, my god, you’re beautiful. Your packaging is so fucking sublime.
My 100 words on gratuitous as part of the weekly 100 word challenge.
The title’s always a conundrum.
I’ve still not gotten comfortable with how I title these posts. Clearly I can’t title it with the title of the post I pick because, well, that would give it away. And I can’t title it with the new prompt because, well, that would give THAT away. I need to designate it as a 100 word post since I sometimes actually write other stuff here, when I have the time — roughly about every three months or so. So the “100 words” at the beginning of the title is the easy part, but what should come after?
Still haven’t figured it out.
Speaking of frightened, we had freezing rain this morning. Not enough to cancel my daughter’s classes, but enough to set me pacing after she had driven off. Phone in hand I argued with myself about calling her or texting her, but envisioning her taking a hand off the wheel to answer or look kept me from it. When she returned home safe she threw me a flashy little pout and asked, “why weren’t you worried about me? I was expecting an annoying phone call.”
What a cheeky little imp.
She was satisfied once I told her how I had stood in the front living room and watched her pull out and then shifted to another window holding her tail lights in view until they diminished and were finally swallowed by the morning mist and rain. I stood there a minute or two more, listening, watching, worrying, and willing the universe to listen to my fear.
Then she went out to buy rain boots.
If that wasn’t frightening, how about this?
Are the shadows real, or just a shift of the light? Whispers in the dark, incoherent, words indistinct. Reaching out to close the curtain, blocking out the faces, only to jerk back a hand from what lurks behind the veil.
Corners are safer than open floors. Trying to sleep with your back against the wall, facing out, one eye open.
Voices telling you the knife would slide into flesh like hot butter. You can’t shut them up, only muffle them.
To speak of these things, to admit to your demons is so hard. Frightened, you need help, but not pity.
I own a few electronic books. Non-fiction only, and I’ll admit, the portability of my e-reader, the instant downloads, the highlighting and bookmarking features all rock. But I’ll never give up on paper and binding books. Books on shelves where I can run my finger along their spines, pulling them off as their titles please or tease me, feel their heft, smell the paper, and discover. I ended up spending a few hours re-discovering Philip Larkin and Emily Dickinson tonight. But I don’t like choosing prompts from poetry, so after I gorged myself I pulled another book from the shelf, one that I haven’t read yet and should have. I’ll be starting Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin as soon as I wrap this up. Here’s your word:
pg. 112 “This relation prohibits, simply, anything as uncomplicated and satisfactory as pure hatred. In oder really to hate white people, one has to blot so much out of the mind — and the heart — that this hatred itself becomes an exhausting and self-destructive pose. But this does not mean, on the other hand, that love comes easily: the white world is too powerful, too complacent, too ready with gratuitous humiliation, and above all, too ignorant and too innocent for that.”
A half-lazy Sunday on the homestead divided between laundry and grocery shopping and cooking up an acceptable beef stir-fry without a recipe. All poked through with the deliciously lazy moments — lolling by the slowly simmering fire reading about what’s going on in Wisconsin and the Koch brothers, folding warm towels against my chest, eating Trader Joe’s frozen Canolis with my daughter as she kavetches about the state of the refrigerator in a mock NY/Jewish accent. As usual she sends me into a fit of stomach busting laughter. It’s so very un PC, but it’s a moment that doesn’t need to be correct, only enjoyed. This is the beauty of being a mother.
And I am reminded of different kinds of beauty as I settle in to reading your submissions and come upon this:
In search of meaning,
we travel our lives
contemplating the shifting images
of our mirrored selves–
choosing which survives.
is an obsession–
teleological and somewhat vague–
as we choose between
the past and present
with aim for the future standard set by
That changes every
tent to twenty years.
So, your mother has taught you to be who
your grandmother was
50 yrs ago.
was a great version
of you, you go back forward in five months.
And you’re at August
in May, withering
on the gate of change.
I pull an old favorite off the shelf, Essays of E.B. White, and my finger lands on:
From Afternoon of an American Boy – “And as my reply comes weakly, “Yes, sir,” I hear the murmur run through the committee room and see reporters bending over their notebooks, scribbling hard. In my dream, I am again seated with Eileen at the edge of the dance floor, frightened, stunned, and happy–in my ears the intoxicating drumbeat of the dance, in my throat the dry, bittersweet taste of cinnamon.”