Once upon a time, this blog was going to be all about my pet bird, when I got one. But I never did get that bird. So, now this blog is about the beautiful, curious things that keep me in a near-constant state of happy distraction. Ironically, many people find these writings when they wonder what "peristerophobia" means. It's a fear of pigeons. I've made a bird blog after all.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Big things are afoot here in the Cabinet, possibly the biggest since its creation. You should now update bookmarks and browsing routines so as to find me in my brand new digs. Tres chic, non?
You'll still be able to access everything about the old Cabinet, but I'm also not making the old Cabinet disappear. It's the best kind of move ever: I don't have to pick up anything heavy, and I can come back to the old house whenever I want.
For now, my world is these spots of green, these shoots of new, dotted with fuzz and damp. Sharpnesses go soft; ground prepares to disappear for the next half-year. I pass the woods daily, wonder whether I should tramp and traipse and risk mud and groundsink before the poisonous weeds block me for the summer. Instead I strain toward tiny leaves, crouch to fallen blossoms, watch the world seed itself over. Instead I get closer to what I can already reach. Instead I practice focus. Instead I fight the impulse to autopilot.
Perhaps the thing I hate most about grading--much of which experience, for me, is taken up with having grading to do but very actively not wanting to do it--is that it helps enable my worst time-sucking capabilities. Or at least so I tell myself, here at the end of a weekend wherein I swore I would finish a batch of papers that, realistically, there was no way I'd finish. I'm approaching the halfway point, which should feel like a small triumph, and I'm chugging along through it and doing my very best--as, it turns out, did my students. It's possible that I've never received such a strong batch of essays all from one class. And so I sit here and hold myself down for one paper and then let myself float off for a few minutes, and then I hold myself down for another paper and then let myself float off for a few more minutes. Right now--as you surely must know--I'm floating. Off.
On the other hand! If I didn't have to grade, not only would I stop getting paychecks, but I'd also probably never discover things like this:
Suddenly this year, in addition to all the tiny crocuses, we have tiny irises all over downtown. Bulbous splendor (for it turns out that these little ones aren't rhizomatic--who knew?)! Thank goodness for those who think ahead for us.
Vitality is on my mind this week--as in, what sustains it? And what swamps it? I feel myself being drawn off in every direction, and putting on clamps to staunch my outward flow is probably not going to be easy or entirely well-received, as choices go. And yet.
I have started passing these steps on an almost-daily basis. They lead from an old driveway into an old wood, and as far as I can tell, there are only these five. They put me in mind of a doorway I once saw that led from everywhere to everywhere: just a doorway, with no door.
Today was warm enough that at sunset, tiny birds were still pipping away in the trees.
You know that I'm always careful about what I wish for, and right now is no exception. But I think that I might be just about ready for my very own lovely and charming geeky partner in crime, if and when you get around to sending him my way (or vice versa). I've figured out that I've always gravitated toward brilliant men I could help heal or boost somehow, and I know exactly why that is. And I've figured out that during all these years I've thought I should end up with an academic or an intellectual, what I've really meant is that I think I want a dude whose unselfconscious geekiness will rival my own, whatever his particular thing is (within reason: please let this next one be able to talk to other people, because that last go-round was rough, socially speaking). Someone who'll get it when I want to spend a couple of hours sticking my lens into dried grasses would be appreciated. Someone who's into kitchen dancing would also be pretty great.
I think I'm ready to do my part, and my eyes are wide open. You just let me know.
Students are making their ways back to town, one by one by one. If I could, I'd say that I'm not at all apprehensive about the amount of work ahead of all of us. But I can't, because I am apprehensive. Instead, let's think about Innovations in the Photographic Arts, shall we? And let's also think about the care of the body: today a massage, tomorrow a haircut. I will make myself as ready as I can.
It was a day that went on and on. A cat yawned, and I was there to catch it. Some other part of the world bloomed bright in an Ohio kitchen, and I crept beside it to take it home for someone who hates our world's cold grey.
A beloved friend drove me over backroads through my county to a restaurant I haven't visited in years, and I spent our lunch trying to figure out what the sign in the window across the street said.
I call this shot "My flaming-sworded friend returned from her parents' place, and because I finally had my car fixed this morning, I offered to drive us to the grocery store, and then we saw this sunset."
I call this shot "Clearly my excellent dog friend has never heard of TtV."
And I call this shot "Thank goodness spring really is on its way here."
Even if we're not yet at the equinox, I'm declaring tonight the first night of spring: the temperature went up and up and up all day--preparing to plunge tomorrow--and I ate my dinner in the breeze from the back door.
Still: it's possible that no one I know, anywhere, was as pleased today as this one bee. "Have you seen the crocuses yet?" a friend asked me the other day. "No, I haven't," I had to reply. But all of a sudden, this afternoon, there they were.
One of the lovely things about break is that it's possible to mix up into one's day Lois Lowry, Man with a Movie Camera, Charles Dickens, and The Devil Wears Prada, with some desultory reading of The New York Times and some goofing around with a lonely cat on the side.
One of the less lovely things about break is discovering, at the end of a weekend, that you've barely been out of your own apartment--though, to be sure, yesterday's warm weather (and the ability to open all the un-plastic-wrapped windows in the place) sure helped bring the outside in.
Tomorrow: a long walk, unless there's another torrential downpour.
I happen to know the location of a few things in Cleveland--including A) the two high schools I visited this week; B) Case Western Reserve University; C) a great Thai restaurant near Case Western; and D) the art supply store across the street from the great Thai restaurant. Plus a theatre somewhere on the west side, but for that one I need written directons.
Because I needed to get black artboard and black tape in order to make my Through the Viewfinder contraption, I was especially glad about D. (And because it's been awhile since I had good Thai stir-fried noodles, I was especially glad about the proximity of D to C.) I came home from the big city with both artboard and tape, and this afternoon, I set up shop with my craft knife and my cutting surface and built the thing. Now the real fun can start (as can the process of figuring out the optics behind, say, the doubling of so many things in today's picture...).
I promise that you are soon about to see more than just Trees Through the Viewfinder.
Now I'm home from Cleveland--where you didn't even know I was! I was on a business trip of sorts, visiting a couple of Cleveland-area high schools and observing their English classes (and, at one, the aforementioned famous poet--it's a very well-off high school). It's always a strange, profound pleasure to leave town for even a few days, like a little escape, and that feeling wasn't diluted much by the fact that I was still working--or even by the fact that I had to retrain myself in the ways of aggressive sub/urban driving in order to hold my own against fortysomething moms and overmoneyed twentysomethings in their luxury SUVs and sedans. But just as strange and profound, almost always, is the return to town, and so it is that I'm glad to be back in my crowded, cluttered little space.
Up one street, down another; up one hallway, down another. Navigating the east side of Cleveland today made me grateful, yet again, for that family trip back in the day, when my father handed me the map of D.C. somewhere in western Pennsylvania and let me know that I'd be the one navigating us into, around, and back out of the city. If you know how to be the navigator for someone else, you have a better shot at being a competent navigator for yourself, too. Profound, no?
You ask can you help them understand what poetry is and why it matters and so I pull out my books and sit thinking with them about macro lenses and the curve of a roof falling down and the wool of his wide brimmed winter hat and the hiss of rocks and the fire behind my retinas when he sang out verses over the wine and I think of the people who have gone the poet's voice coming out of the loudspeaker the day of his memorial service and the box-builder who made world after world in box after box and the boy with the flaming hair who loved writing verses about the girl who left him and the girl who stood up unannounced and chanted stanzas from memory and the woman who declaimed Chaucer to cows and I think
of the spring bleeding into these branches at the side of my road
and I think I will tell them that poetry is nothing less than the mattering of this life's merest matter.
Annie Dillard could have been writing about me when she said (of herself), "I like the slants of light; I'm a collector." Or Willem de Kooning: "I'm like a slipping glimpser." And don't forget Brenda Ueland: "I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten--happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another." But the Beastie Boys might have said it best: "When it comes to panache, I can't be beat." There's a reason I wear a ring that says Badass.