Some words from my hero on this lovely Monday night.
It all comes back. Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one’s self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.
-Joan Didion, On Keeping a Notebook
When I say that I love you,
I guess what I mean is that I love you like a home I have to leave
And I’m thinkin how nothing can stay
How the sun stains the curtains
And the paint flakes away
But it’ll always be home, till the memory fades
I love you, thanks for the golden age
When I say that I’m grateful
I guess what I mean is how the sapling is grateful for the seed
And I’m thinking how all things change
How the branches grow tall
But our initials remain
I’ll remember you well when the summer is gone
Another year another ring round my bones
When I say that I’ll miss you I guess what I mean is that I’ll miss you
I’ll miss you like autumn misses spring
And I’ve been thinking how everything dies
Like the reds and the blues on their way cross the sky
And the sunset explodes when it knows that it’s time
Before hello, sometimes goodbye
Kiss me once more
Then leave me forever
I know I’m too heavy to hold
Grab both my hands
Kiss me like you mean it
And I’ll never know you again
When I say that I love you I guess what I mean is
There’s a Power that moves everything
And it pushes the river to sea
And it takes all the years and makes regret into peace
you can’t die alone, if you are free
You didn’t mean to, but thank you for showing me
Aaaaaand we’re back! We took a break there for the summer and then a semester abroad, but upon request from many friends, we have decided to come back to Living Lines for round two.
I thought this sweet poem by Pablo Neruda that I found on Dianna Agron’s new website, You, Me and Charlie, would be a good one to start with.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
I think I know
that if I felt less
I would be a better person.
The erratic hopelessness
that taints my every night
would wash away
and I would be myself
The desperate disconnect
between myself and those I love
would be worked through,
collecting the pieces
of what I have destroyed -
to be made in my life.
Promising to those who stayed
that I would pay more care
to what is real and what is not.
Some may not even know
the place I have been.
Others know far too well,
and to them I owe so much.
My consciousness now resides
in the hearts of my others,
and I will try to be
a better person.
by Robert Coover (from The New Yorker).
He finds himself sitting in the neighborhood bar drinking a beer at about the same time that he began to think about going there for one. In fact, he has finished it. Perhaps he’ll have a second one, he thinks, as he downs it and asks for a third. There is a young woman sitting not far from him who is not exactly good-looking but good-looking enough, and probably good in bed, as indeed she is. Did he finish his beer? Can’t remember. What really matters is: Did he enjoy his orgasm? Or even have one? This he is wondering on his way home through the foggy night streets from the young woman’s apartment. Which was full of Kewpie dolls, the sort won at carnivals, and they made a date, as he recalls, to go to one. Where she wins another—she has a knack for it. Whereupon they’re in her apartment again, taking their clothes off, she excitedly cuddling her new doll in a bed heaped with them. He can’t remember when he last slept, and he’s no longer sure, as he staggers through the night streets, still foggy, where his own apartment is, his orgasm, if he had one, already fading from memory. Maybe he should take her back to the carnival, he thinks, where she wins another Kewpie doll (this is at least their second date, maybe their fourth), and this time they go for a romantic nightcap at the bar where they first met. Where a brawny dude starts hassling her. He intervenes and she turns up at his hospital bed, bringing him one of her Kewpie dolls to keep him company. Which is her way of expressing the bond between them, or so he supposes, as he leaves the hospital on crutches, uncertain what part of town he is in. Or what part of the year. He decides that it’s time to call the affair off—she’s driving him crazy—but then the brawny dude turns up at their wedding and apologizes for the pounding he gave him. He didn’t realize, he says, how serious they were. The guy’s wedding present is a gift certificate for two free drinks at the bar where they met and a pair of white satin ribbons for his crutches. During the ceremony, they both carry Kewpie dolls that probably have some barely hidden significance, and indeed do. The child she bears him, his or another’s, reminds him, as if he needed reminding, that time is fast moving on. He has responsibilities now and he decides to check whether he still has the job that he had when he first met her. He does. His absence, if he has been absent, is not remarked on, but he is not congratulated on his marriage, either, no doubt because—it comes back to him now—before he met his wife he was engaged to one of his colleagues and their co-workers had already thrown them an engagement party, so they must resent the money they spent on gifts. It’s embarrassing and the atmosphere is somewhat hostile, but he has a child in kindergarten and another on the way, so what can he do? Well, he still hasn’t cashed in the gift certificate, so, for one thing, what the hell, he can go for a beer, two, in fact, and he can afford a third. There’s a young woman sitting near him who looks like she’s probably good in bed, but she’s not his wife and he has no desire to commit adultery, or so he tells himself, as he sits on the edge of her bed with his pants around his ankles. Is he taking them off or putting them on? He’s not sure, but now he pulls them on and limps home, having left his beribboned crutches somewhere. On arrival, he finds all the Kewpie dolls, which were put on a shelf when the babies started coming, now scattered about the apartment, beheaded and with their limbs amputated. One of the babies is crying, so, while he warms up a bottle of milk on the stove, he goes into its room to give it a pacifier and discovers a note from his wife pinned to its pajamas, which says that she has gone off to the hospital to have another baby and she’d better not find him here when she gets back, because if she does she’ll kill him. He believes her, so he’s soon out on the streets again, wondering if he ever gave that bottle to the baby, or if it’s still boiling away on the stove. He passes the old neighborhood bar and is tempted but decides that he has had enough trouble for one lifetime and is about to walk on when he is stopped by that hulk who beat him up and who now gives him a cigar because he’s just become a father and drags him into the bar for a celebratory drink, or, rather, several, he has lost count. The celebrations are already over, however, and the new father, who has married the same woman who threw him out, is crying in his beer about the miseries of married life and congratulating him on being well out of it, a lucky man. But he doesn’t feel lucky, especially when he sees a young woman sitting near them who looks like she’s probably good in bed and decides to suggest that they go to her place, but too late—she’s already out the door with the guy who beat him up and stole his wife. So he has another beer, wondering where he’s supposed to live now, and realizing—it’s the bartender who so remarks while offering him another on the house—that life is short and brutal and before he knows it he’ll be dead. He’s right. After a few more beers and orgasms, some vaguely remembered, most not, one of his sons, now a racecar driver and the president of the company he used to work for, comes to visit him on his deathbed and, apologizing for arriving so late (I went for a beer, Dad, things happened), says he’s going to miss him but it’s probably for the best. For the best what? he asks, but his son is gone, if he was ever there in the first place. Well … you know … life, he says to the nurse who has come to pull the sheet over his face and wheel him away. ♦
"YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGHER THAN YOUR HEART."
That was a rule I had learned to regard as golden. For almost an entire year I went wherever the currents of my emotions drew me. I said what I felt without concern because that is how I felt I could live an honest and meaningful life. Honest, yes. Meaningful, sort of. But meaning is derived from much more than just how you feel on a whim. All of this thoughtlessness, all of the disconnect between soul and self, just left me confused. I still am confused. And I am sorry that it is at someone else’s expense. But I do not regret it. You have to know what doesn’t work to know what does work. Disregarding reason clearly doesn’t work. But being true to yourself is important, too. Maybe at some other point in life, after more experiences and more maturity, I will be able to collect all these shards of my mind and create a mosaic of my life, a constant golden rule that will reconnect my self and soul.
I live in New York, which surely deserves the prize for most foulmouthed city in the nation. (You Chicagoans can go fuck yourselves.) Profanity flows from New Yorkers as the East River flows into the sea: constant, filthy, strangely magnificent. It’s not just our ability to cuss each other out; it’s the blasé and cheerful vulgarity of everyday speech. I was once in a packed midtown crosswalk at rush hour when a guy next to me retrieved something from the street and sprinted ahead, shouting, “Yo, lady, you dropped your fuckin’ wallet!
— Kathryn Schulz, in her NYMag piece on profanity
*(one of the most engaging articles I’ve read in awhile, highly recommended)
A Poem for the Playgirls of the Universe by Charles Bukowski
Caroline thinks it’s dumb to reblog, so I will make her happy by not reblogging this. But you should know that it was posted on A Conversation On Cool. Enjoy! xoxo kb.
Someday I’ll realize you aren’t worth it. I think that’ll be tomorrow.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
I just came across this awesome website called “We Feel Fine.” I can hardly describe it other than it is just plain awesome. The two creators, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar describe it as “an exploration of human emotion, in six movements.” The six “movements” in which they explore emotions are: madness, murmurs, montage, mobs, metrics, and mounds. You really just need to check it out for yourself, here.