two hundred. forty one.

happy october first, friends.
just made a batch of crockpot whiskey applesauce [bit heavy on the whiskey, ahem] to celebrate this special day. the house smells fantastic.

recently been having some curious sleeping habits. i think this is what it must feel like to go crazy. 
some examples:
talking to people who aren't really there - i wake up whispering in the middle of the night. it takes far too long to convince myself that i'm actually in bed and not at the grocery store or work.
i'll fall asleep with a sweater on and wake too hot, but i can't remember how to work buttons. 
i'll wake at 2a.m. and spend long, confusing moments trying to figure out how close 2 is to morning. is it morning already? did i miss the morning? why, i can't even begin to know. 

another thing:
a young boy told me a story about how his mother saw a picture of herself laughing. 
he said that she wasn't pretty when she laughed [like how some people look real cute] because her mouth was so gaping and her nose so squinched and her teeth so crooked. but it didn't matter because she was happy. 
she saw a picture of what she looked like and stopped laughing so much, because she'd think of it every time she got happy enough to start giggling.
he said: "I bet people who used to take those really serious pictures a long time ago would laugh when they were finished taking them. I wish we lived back then, so she would laugh after being serious instead of being serious when she wanted to laugh."


two hundred. forty.

The constant darkness began to absorb her, at first. It wasn't just behind her eyes; it was seeping into her pores. The darkness was eating her so that there was less of her than when she had begun. The saturation of darkness meant the absence of Maia.
 Down by the lake she’d find delicate fish bones or pieces of driftwood with her fingers and imagine them sun-bleached and refined by the water. She would wish in desperate moments to shrivel there, to lend her bones to this landscape and be bleached and refined. Because that’s what light felt like – smooth.
The darkness was clumsy, was rough around the edges.

Everyone knew light. Everyone was created for and into the light. The light was certain and straightforward.
We are shaped by it and pattern our lives after it, our waking and sleeping and eating.

There was no rhythm to darkness. It was tumbling and fumbling and graceless. 


two hundred. thirty nine.

You'd think I'd one day grow tired of writing about the same things
[and perhaps one day I will]
but every year I still write down autumn things.
Surprised & delighted again at the way autumn makes every good thing the best thing.

When it turns colder we put away the air conditioner and keep the window open while we sleep. We keep it open for as long as we can, through September and into October, before begrudgingly shutting it and bringing out the finicky space heater.
It's open these nights. Mornings are delicious. I've added an extra blanket to the pile and sleep with my socks on. Often I'll peel them off in the middle of the night, unless I'm very cold or very tired.

[On the word "very" - whenever I use it I always think of that quote about it being a lazy word.
But sometimes I like it better.
For instance, I could have said: "...unless I'm frigid or exhausted."
It doesn't seem as nice in my head though, so I suppose I'll be lazy.]

Other autumn things happening:
-Drinking loads and loads of tea.
-Waiting for mail & sending out letters.
-Knitting rather poorly.
-Making soup.

All of the good things are all so very good right now. Chuffed to bits.
Hope you're doing all sorts of autumn things too, like walks outside and cooking hearty foods with friends. Hope you're bringing your sweaters out of their boxes and breaking them in with bonfires and pipe smoking under the stars.


two hundred. thirty eight.

"Do you mind if I smoke here?" she asked in a beautiful French accent.
 I knew she was French, somehow, before she spoke. It was her shoes, maybe, or the way she shifted her body before she turned around. Something in the angle she held her head and shoulders. 
She pulled out a long, thin cigarette and tapped it delicately, almost impatiently. 
"Go right ahead!" I responded, as coarse and unrefined as can be, my posture slumped and remnants of lunch scattered on my table. 
This is one of the moments where I wish I would have tried to bum one of her cigarettes off her, so we could have been classy and smoked together and talked of Paris. 
I don't, of course. I remain uncouth and messy at my little table. 

Continuing to decipher notes from class. A single page in my notebook looks like this - all these random bits to remember:

|| Life as Poesis. Vocational. Filling it. 
|| "Damn" as Claudia jumps to reach the top of the chalkboard she's already filled with Knocknarea and Ben Bulben and Newgrange. What a funny thing to see! 
|| Violence a kind of impetus.
|| Thumos - furnace, force of being, spiritedness. "Even the wisest man uses violence as an impetus, as a force, as a means for knowing himself."
|| [Like a bulldog, she way she snarls and woofs.] 
|| John says he goes to pubs with friends - talks for 5 min on politics, 5 min medical reports, 1 hr fun & light-hearted.
|| [Reading before made me doubt him, but reading now draws me to him.]
|| But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you...
|| in the deep hearts core - like the innisfree poem. and we shall find some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.
|| Eros = that which draws you towards that which drives you.
|| Truth is founded in the beggars heart. The beggar is the one who has nothing to lose. 


two hundred. thirty seven.

[at the end of the day we turn our backs to the sun and walk towards the long shadows we cast.]

Just finished camping in Michigan. Let's go back already - yes? A few moments ago I finished dumping all of the sand out of my bag. Missing the water and the woods and sleeping in the hammock. We camped close to a road, but I still thought of that Wendell Berry poem:

Ask the world to reveal its quietude - 

not the silence of machines when they are still,
but the true quiet by which birdsongs,
trees, bellworts, snails, clouds, storms
become what they are, and nothing else.

Coming back to learning days. It is good and growing. All of my days are learning days, it seems. But I'm grateful, most grateful.

Back to work today. We have a table [fondly called The Kitchen Table] sitting at the front of the shop, and family sits there. Not related by blood, but family by familiarity - they've all been coming to the coffee shop for ages. They welcome newcomers and new staff and Margaret always introduces people to one another so that the family grows larger day by day.

It was sweet to come in today and see them again, curious to ponder the people that make places feel like home.


Translated this from the aforementioned notes, if you're interested. It's a fragment of a much lengthier jumble of thoughts:
I was struck by many things in class, including a confirmation of my love for Ireland and all of its folklore. 
Additionally, we were discussing at one point how available Yeats was to emotion, to expression, to sorrow and that lovely melancholy. Part of that was due, I'm sure, to his mystical and occult interests. But the surprise comes when you consider his age - the knowledge and scope he was able to realize while still so young. 
I was reminded of the lecture at Newgrange, how the woman said we were so sanitized from death, so removed. We don't let it touch us. Yeats was always walking in the woods and among the people in those early years, listening to their stories. I daresay if we Americans did that today we'd gain quite a bit of knowledge as well. It's not necessarily, I think, that Yeats was some profoundly in-touch soul. Perhaps it's that our souls are so out of touch and so removed from the things that make us human and grant us experience & gravity & wisdom. We live for distractions & pleasures, placing ourselves in the midst of convenience, which lends no depth at all to our perception of the world. His genius is certainly to be lauded, but I think surprise at his experience points more towards our lack thereof.


two hundred. thirty six.

All of my city classes are done - it's a terrible sadness.
I thought I was doing a terrific job of taking copious notes in every class, but upon glancing back over what I'd written it's just a lot of really cryptic scribbles. I can pick out maybe one or two words that might have some significance, as well as fragments of book titles or authors. I continue to tell myself that I'll take the time to decode it soon enough.

I need to get better at note-taking and general organization of written materials. I discovered that for 8 weeks of classes I used 3 different notebooks. Whilst recently shuffling around the study I found a stack of additional notebooks, all of them somewhere around half full, none of them cohesive. I'd start the first part of a story in one book, jot down bullet points in another, and write out half sentences or more notes in other books. If this is a reflection of how I go about organizing other facets of my life, it's a miracle I can function at all. 

My creative writing teacher always likened writing to cooking - you just have to know the recipe. We all suspected that his analogy had more to do with the fact that he never had anything to eat before class and talked about food as often as he talked about writing. Have I told you how eccentric he was? When he spoke, most of his L's became W's. I tried to write down a sample sentence for you, but alas, it too is also scribbles. I can tell you that he used "like" as a filler word a lot. A wot. Wike, a wot. 

Anyhow, back to writing as cooking, sometimes I didn't want a recipe, I just wanted to mess around and throw a meal together. I didn't want to talk about what made that meal unique based on the ingredients and the recipe. He would constantly point out weird little things that we would unintentionally do in our writing, and then tell us to keep doing that. This was both interesting and wildly unhelpful. How to continue to write subtly? Doesn't the very fact that I now know that I write subtly ruin everything? I can never be subtle again.
I want to know what makes something good but I also don't. 
I always want to know what makes something bad, but he would never say. He would question the purpose of words or sentences, but never outright tell us something didn't work. He would leave us to figure it out for ourselves. Very rarely he would scratch out unnecessary words. I loved going through and finding words scratched out. Good riddance!  

Needless to say, I enjoyed it tremendously. 
He left us with a bunch of really inspirational, hokey statements. It was the best. 


Two hundred. thirty five.

Sometimes walking in the city can feel like I'm immersed in The Truman Show. You know? As if I'm walking around the backstage of a giant production.
When I'm walking to class, I take a back way, a long way, a quiet way. Few people walk here, so it's always jarring to happen upon a group of construction workers reading and doing crossword puzzles with brows furrowed before they begin their day. You know? We all seem so out of place for a few seconds, like actors out of context - the man wearing their hard hats & struggling over a few letters, pencil gritted in teeth. Me, walking an unusual path. Everyone freezes for those few seconds, even the pigeons: "maybe if we don't move she won't see us..."
Later in the day I stumbled upon an unfinished art show at the cultural center. Huge wooden boxes with cryptic names sat in a hallway, waiting to be unpacked and set up. Aha, I was too early, they weren't prepared for me. I have fooled them all! I have beat their system! Was half expecting a security guard to escort me out, and I could wink at him and whisper that I knew what was going on.

Anyhow. So just a little mad these days.