November 25th, 2006

Reading in the bathtub is close to a form of praying for me.
Most times I am guilty of thinking too much, wanting to control the outcome of my days, wanting to be productive, wanting to finish the list, wanting to be “that” person who is doing all the things that I want to do with my life.
But “that” person is as human as I am. “That” person struggles too with all of the same things, mood swings and fears and sweat and messy mind and the feeling of not doing “enough”.
Today I made a new list:
-feel the warm socks on my feet after they come out of the dryer
-eat something that is decadent
-read a book in the bathtub
-spend some time lying on the floor looking at the ceiling
-smell the wet earth even though you are grumpy because it is still raining.
-look at the sky a minimum of ten times, and really study it, like it was a painting
-leave the clean laundry in the baskets
when the bath is full I slip into it book in hand. sometimes I stay there reading for hours, pausing every now and then to do a “warm up” by adding new hot water, (often several times). I like it to be hot enough that you can see the steam coming off the top, windows covered and dripping with moisture. I don’t like to get my book wet so I try to dry my fingers on a towel before I turn the pages (I don’t know why I do this but it seems a part of the ritual). On a couple of occasions I have dropped the whole book in the bath, (my copy of “Alias Grace” is forever swelled and stiff after a nights reading a few years ago).
In the bathtub I have only a couple of tasks. To read until my fingers are prunes, and to scrub my body, freeing the millions of dead skin cells as if they are all of my controlling thoughts. I rub them off with the facecloth and they float on the surface of the water having lost all of their weight. I then wipe the sides of the tub, watching as my cells rapidly circle the drain before exiting permanently.
While in the tub I find the words that want to come out of my body, which have been lost for many days now. But when I sit down to write, they don’t come out as directly as I had hoped.
What I wanted to tell you about was that feeling of being warmed by the bathwater, of cheeks that are red and overheated. I wanted to mention the quality of light that comes in from the window, and tell you how it makes patterns on the wall which i would like to trace with a pencil. And also what it feels like to rub dead skin off of that piece of skin just under your ankle while you read a story about a man who has traveled to the sea in search of his past.
I wanted to mention that sometimes the little things that make you feel most alive may not be all that pretty. Many times they involve mud, dead skin, cold air, things that are broken, things that are lost or missing, things that are scarred, things that are covered in layers of dust, things that are buried, things that you are trying to hide from others.
Especially that last one.
“The idea is to turn even familiar actions into everyday celebrations, to make vivid the common, to separate every moment from the next, as experimental films do, so that spontaneity is allowed to break the dead hand of habit.” ~Samuel A. Eisenstein

November 21st, 2006

i got a candle in a beautiful blue box which i couldn’t bear to throw away.
so i made these birds.
wanting to write more but the words are sitting in my belly not wanting to come out.

November 15th, 2006

“Artists, whatever their medium, make selections from the abounding materials of life, and organize these selections into works that are under the control of the artist…. In relation to the inclusiveness and literally endless intricacy of life, art is arbitrary, symbolic and abstracted. That is its value and the source of its own kind of order and coherence.” –Jane Jacobs (source: The Death and Life of Great American Cities)

November 7th, 2006

“The thing about art that delights and confounds us is that it never happens again. This delights us if we have learned how to look because the esthetic experience allows all of our human faculties to be absorbed in the environment of the present and for a while to be fully alive without reflecting, without turning back or looking ahead. Uniqueness confounds us because there are no rules for guides. There can be no science of the particular. In a sense this confounding is a delight because it puts us in touch with that aspect of reality which is described as uniqueness–the fact that nothing ever happens twice in the same way in every respect.” ~corita kent

November 1st, 2006

i am still getting to know my neighborhood, i am learning it’s language, and exploring its cracks and hiding places. my favourite parts are the ones that are not so obvious, an old sidewalk overgrown with grass, a littering of seed pods on a hill, an ancient window lit up at night on the top floor of a house.
our house is old and creaky, but stands solid on a slight hill. i have never lived on a hill before. if i look out of the front windows i am at eyelevel with a church steeple off in the distance. it gives one the feeling of being a lookout of some kind, standing at attention while peering out over the neigborhood. i wonder if i see the sun a few seconds earlier in the morning. or maybe i just like thinking about that.
i live next to a castle. going for walks is like going back two hundred years. (I often like to pretend that I have.) there are turrets, and vaulted ceilings and arches, and gargoyles. hundreds of gargoyles. they look down on me with their sneaky looks to let me know that I am being watched. I don’t trust them one bit. sometimes, if you are lucky, you can hear a concert pianist practicing in the great halls, the sound wafting out into the trees through an open stained glass window.
There is a network of pathways through the woods behind the castle. already i have started to form a relationship with the woods, the trees, and the animals that live there, (deer, stray dogs, squirrels, hundreds of rabbits, and birds.) there is an old moss covered foundation that is buried in the heart of the place, which we have dubbed ‘the stone cottage’. the fallen walls are like green benches inviting you to sit, maybe have tea or write for a time. I often wonder what it used to be, a barn, or a house of some kind. the animals own it now, and there is a large tree on the east side with a large hole, perfect for an owl, or for hiding notes which I am apt to do.
This week I am forced to slow down due to a cold. while I resist the lack of activity at first I acknowledge that it could not come at a better time. work has slowed at least for a few days. and I allow myself the gift of being sucked into a good novel, one of those where the characters become a part of your life for the time being. you think about them while going about your day and wonder what crazy things they will be upto when you see them next.
I am wandering through the world of Ignatius P. Reilly, and it causes me to uncontrollably laugh out loud and lose a bit of my grasp on reality. (those of you who have read the book will know what i mean.) what crazy hero is this, with his tendency to preach about the ills of modern society to everyone he encounters, while taking no responsibility for the miserably, pitious state of his life? he must be one of the most annoying, insulting, obnoxious characters ever written. yet i can’t help but like him somehow.
i can’t put it down.
don’t you love when that happens?
(and to T.Tucker who recently found me by doing a google search on the subject of “book sniffing”, I have on two occasions taken a whiff of this current volume, and find it brings me back to sitting on the floor in Bogey’s bookstore in Davis California, under the literature section.)

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