Sunday, November 22, 2009

bubonic marketing

I love that it's named Black Friday. For the retailers, it's all about being In the Black, as opposed to where they're swimming right now, which is In the Red. For those of us who loathe shopping, it's a plague warning shot and we're quarantining ourselves/hunkering down...only venturing out into Target-Shopper-Free zones, if at all..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

dynamic tension

I was writing to a friend about the ongoing, internal sparring match in me brain.

In the far corner The Inner Pragmatist dances in anticipation of a slugfest with The Inner Purist. It's a necessary battle, I believe. But not constantly. Except while you're in it, it sort of feels like you're always in the ring.

Here's how it goes. I agree to do "x" because it's sensible and potentially beneficial financially. Inner Accountant raises its arms in victory. Inner Philosopher sulks and starts picking a fight because "x" is also time-consuming and sucks a little of my soul out.

I agree to do "y" because it's practical and appropriate (goddamn, I so hate that word). Inner Intellect applauds, Inner Emotion jeers.

Oh, fuck. Enough with the "x" and "y". Too much cryptic annoys.

I agreed to be a supervisor at work and I'm crabby as hell about going to meetings and I'm letting myself get all anxious as if I'm responsible for the fucking world. That kind of hypocritical, egotistical, counterproductive whining is OBNOXIOUS to the nth degree. And yet, here I am.
Come down off the cross, we could use the wood, I tell myself.

The "y" is so much harder. A couple of years ago, I/we stopped paying for our children to fly home for the holidays. (Which, by the way, they never asked us to do and were ever grateful for the gift.) Economic constriction made it easier but ultimately, they are adults and need to figure out whether they want to come home enough to figure out how to do so, she said firmly...

...while her heart howls with grief.

I just can't get this shit aligned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"tart gratitudes"

From Saturday's Writer's Almanac. (Read it out loud if you can.)

Cranberry-Orange Relish

by John Engels

A pound of ripe cranberries, for two days
macerate in a dark rum, then do not
treat them gently, but bruise,
mash, pulp, squash
with a wooden pestle
to an abundance of juices, in fact
until the juices seem on the verge

of overswelling the bowl, then drop in
two fistsful, maybe three, of fine-
chopped orange with rind, two golden
blobs of it, and crush
it in, and then add sugar, no thin
sprinkling, but a cupful dumped
and awakened with a wooden spoon

to a thick suffusion, drench of sourness, bite of color,
then for two days let conjoin
the lonely taste of cranberry,
the joyous orange, the rum, in some
warm corner of the kitchen, until
the bowl faintly becomes
audible, a scarce wash of sound, a tiny
bubbling, and then
in a glass bowl set it out
and let it be eaten last, to offset
gravied breast and thigh
of the heavy fowl, liverish
stuffing, the effete
potato, lethargy of pumpkins

gone leaden in their crusts, let it be eaten
so that our hearts may be together overrun
with comparable sweetnesses,
tart gratitudes, until finally,
dawdling and groaning, we bear them
to the various hungerings
of our beds, lightened
of their desolations.
Poetry done right is magic. This rolls over the tongue and imagination:
"...for two days let conjoin
the lonely taste of cranberry,
the joyous orange, the rum, in some
warm corner of the kitchen, until
the bowl faintly becomes
audible..." (italics added)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

when the wild thing stole my heart

I went to see Where the Wild Things Are for my birthday. With a little trepidation, of course. If you love a book dearly and know it damn near by heart, you feel protective of the story. Right or wrong, it is woven into your life and there is a wonky sense of ownership.

Simply put, the movie was wonderful. Those that criticized the pace as slow have spent too much time in the world of Transformers. This is a story. A story you tell your children as they drift off to sleep. The creation of Max's backstory was surprisingly illuminating and seamless. His behavior even more dimensional with those layers.

Among the more wonderful aspects was keeping the truth of Sendak's non-Manichean world. Love is mixed with fear is mixed with violence. When the monsters pile up to sleep it is warm and comforting and dangerous for Max. When he urges the dirt clod fight it is fun and exciting and hurtful. But the undercurrent remains an unsentimental love.

And this gem: Max's costume becomes filthier and filthier throughout the adventure. I can't express how delightful that is.

It is a reminder to me of my lifelong fear of and fascination with "rough-housing." God, that expression sounds dated. But here is the way it went: wrestling and fun-fighting started out with laughter and always ended with tears. With adults or just children. I began to fear chaotic energy because it was associated anger and hurt. I am sorry that I don't enjoy the wild rumpus enough.

That said, the story shook the kaleidoscope of maternal memories more profoundly. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Nonetheless, that was my Wild Thing. My own boy. Swirling in a world of fear and love and anger. And guilt and sweetness. So clear a snapshot of the world from his point of view. The blur of love and anguish from that time came back into brilliant, harsh focus. It was overwhelming. Overwhelming.

So when a towering muppet with James Gandolfini's voice begins to cry, it was the last straw: I cried my fool head off in a public place. Thank god movie theaters are dark.