Monday March 18th 2019, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Boozy,friends,memory,New York,transitions,vacation Tags:

That’s what Ellis wrote. Novels, a memoir of sorts, but every day for years and years and years, haiku. Not hidebound, but an astonishing exercise in writerly discipline. And a remarkable commitment to perceiving beauty in the world, to taking in the fullness of a moment and saying, ‘this moment, those colors, that sound, that feeling. Three lines, three ideas’.

There’s a monthly calendar with a haiku a day for this year (and last), possibly still available for purchase from the Harvard Bookstore. I read them most days – for a while in the morning, but some of them are unbearably sad, so now usually later in the day.

The last texts I exchanged with her were a haiku that I wanted her to write – an orange construction sign on a deeply gray day calling to mind the winter hours and days we’d spent at Mud cafe in the East Village, grading papers and nattering and not grading papers. The bright orange-handled tin mugs and the signature orange of the cafe indelibly inscribed in sense memory.

Her last words to me: “It IS a haiku!” So too, alas, her life and her death.

I’m trying to be better about pausing to see something beautiful every day. It’s fucking hard. Hard to remember, and harder still to be honest about it. Like photography or writing or music, I suppose, you have to toss out a lot of the moments as not actually worth preserving in this particular category. The temptation to declare it done just because the feeling was close enough for government work.

But, I’ve got something to work with. She told me – orange sign, gray day, coffee house of a lifetime ago: it IS a haiku.

Stress, and grief

She said, to answer my question what points she was working on. Also, where your spine meets your ribs, so, a major parenting spot. Not really an empty center. And her “hot hands” (shared, apparently, by her 11 year old daughter but not her 11 year old son) healing. And also disturbing, working through old and newer ambitions and desires, aspirations and intentions. A Greek meander left to right, hyper rational and logical, and all I am, a Celtic knot, mystical and magical and all I’m not very good at being and have, frankly, neglected. And a not very empty center.

return, reverse

Coming to the West Coast used to be a visit, a destination of excitement and desire, frustration and elation, promise, release, and a certain drawing out. Hit the ground running, a radical shift from “my” life to “my life”, if that makes any sense, which it really doesn’t, but I’m none too fussed about the matter as no one really reads this, and I’m jetlagged regardless. Returning to England meant workworkwork, clear out desires and distractions, and return to the work that was always at hand. But this last trip, this last return (to where?), clarifying. Back here, recommendation letters to write before the end of the week, comments on papers delayed since June, articles to write and book reviews and page proofs to check and a class to prepare. Workworkwork. Jumping through hoops I’m unconvinced by, knowing I (we! oh lovely we.) desire to return, to move to England, to stay there, to return, as I promised myself, in triumph, not hamstrung by visas and limitations, but properly. So it’s 9am and it feels like early evening contemplative hour; it’s time for a second pot of coffee, but a drink feels about right. Warning: Travel May Clarify What You Want.

Tuesday February 13th 2007, 5:49 am
Filed under: fall,scooters,vacation Tags:

All I wanted to say was “good scotch! yummy! I’m glad I’m drinking good scotch again!” But fucking blogger made me fucking upgrade to the fucking new fucking blogger. The upshot? Particularly as I don’t want any real email addresses associated with my whingeings just in case of, I dunno, tenure. A third fucking google account. I have no idea who I am anymore. I was fine with two, but three? Piffle. And no, my love, I’m really not gay. Ooh. Labels. They suggest, “e.g. scooters, vacation, fall.” I think I’ll label this inaugural privacy-robbing post all three of those things. That’ll show ’em….