I found really cheap tickets and planned a sneak, four day escape for my husband's birthday.
On the day we were supposed to fly, all the public employees on the island decided to stay home from work. No firefighters? No airport. I can't even describe the sinking of my heart, down into my bones. Back home. Now it would be a three day escape if any at all.
We rallied and tried again the next morning. The firefighters came to work. We came to the island. And there was that water, I still can't believe it's real. I love the crazy turquoise clash with the more powdery blue sky.
We showed up exhausted and pale.
But absolutely ready, to. do. nothing.
Ok, maybe a little inflammatory reading.
a little bit of beach walking
three meals a day! (unheard of)
pretty night times.
We also have this game where we make up the stories that go with the people we see.
we are spies.
We had a whole crazy one involving a singer in a rock band and a less than honorable former BP muckety muck going for most of yesterday. But our characters wouldn't behave. So we still haven't written the ending.
You forget that whatever it takes, you MUST step away from the craziness. You must shut down the worrying and the list making and the overwhelm. Even if it's a walk in the park. A long hot bath. For two nights, I have actually really slept well. Everything is still fine. Everything in its own time.
and I probably have, oh, 10,000 or so new freckles to show for it.
April is the cruellest? I vote for March. I took an amazing walk through the park just days ago. it was a balmy 70, EVERYONE was out and about. It's one of the things I love about New York. No one here needs to be told twice to go outside and play. So I took a tour around the reservoir. There, daffodils, there, trees just starting to bud.
People were bubbly, everyone taking pictures.
The sun achingly close, the light, such a tease of better days to come!
Today, hopes dashed. A cruel mess of snow, sleet, ice, misery.
At least there's work to be done. Good old healthy inside work.
the poet at her desk.
Scott Jacoby and I are tracking down a song....it's almost like CSI!
Oh, vintage LOVE.
There will be better days soon, right?
"petit a petit," my mother always says "l'oiseau fait son nid." I am gathering the means. Tracking down the stories, weaving the nest.
When I was about twelve, my mother decided she wanted to be a clown. She had had stationery for years with that quote from e. e. cummings at the top: "damn everything but the circus." (I'm sure that's where I got the idea for my circus songs.)
But she wanted to create her own clown persona. She took a 6 week class at the center for adult education, and came home with fancy, professional grease make up and her own clown face, her own clown name, (Stoney Baloney) a harpo marx wig and a bowler hat. Sure enough, her friend Nancy made her her very own polka dotted clown suit.
For years, whenever there was a parade in her small town in Maine, she would suit up and trail behind the school bus or the marching band, blowing bubbles for the kids that lined the street. They would follow her and play along.
This humor and whimsy is with her even now. Some days she will insist on being called Stoney Baloney.
Today I brought her some blue jeans. (Every time I see her she begs me to get her jeans like mine)
She put them on, so nervous that they might not fit. I told her it was no big deal, we could certainly take them back if they were the wrong size:
mom: "I bet you want to take me back too sometimes."
me: "No, never. I'm keeping you."
mom: "Yeah, you have to keep me because I fit."
peas in a pod.
There is music EVERYWHERE. There is a little bit of spring in the air.
so don't be chicken!!
I have had conversations this week that have provoked, comforted, inspired, and re-filled the well. Thank you.
And there are more ideas around every corner. And there is plenty. And who knows where these morsels will lead. But I will keep following, notebook in hand, and scribble them down. And sing them.
Maybe it's a little like the 7th inning stretch.
Even this butterfly, with half a wing was doing her best.
And love is EVERYTHING.
Even (or especially) my husband, when he hears early tapes of me singing, cringes. "You were AWFUL, I'm so sorry to say, sweetie."
It's true. I was really way more qualified to be a modern dancer than any of this music stuff. I started studying ballet when I was six and we were living in London. (I never stopped dancing until I got a record deal with Elektra and got on the bus.)
I was still a tomboy, see the horrible green bruises on both legs, but I was awarded "Primary Honours" in my first year at the Royal Academy. I was HOOKED.
The "very charming personality" part was a very British way of trying to make sense of my improvisation at the end of the exam, I waddled around the floor quacking and told them I was Donald Duck. All the other girls were fairies and flowers, doing that little girl thing where you start on the floor and unfold yourself slowly and reach to the sky. Well, I was the squat, quacking American Kid who would not be a flower.
I found my first attempt at poetry in the same scrap book: terrible!
In college Spider Kedelsky choreographed my own solo for me: things were looking up!
(A little too much ice cream!)
And now I have a new song called, you guessed it, "the wind."
My husband thinks it's good. Maybe I'll keep at it.
My mom got a letter this week from one of her mentors. It was a sweet ode to her poetry, which had moved him to tears, and so, to write her. She pored over and over it. Then finally said, "Well, you know what this tells me? Never, never, never give up!"
mom, in serious poet mode, maybe 1972
Sure enough, in this week's Christian Science Monitor, they have published another of her poems from the archives. (My mom has not been able to write anything new in quite a while)
It's called "Learning from the Birds." She was thrilled and yet a little confused about how it had all come about.
Today we were busily typing up old poems on brightly colored paper. And working together on a 'new' book called "Mothers and Mums."
After lunch, with her favorite purple pen, she started to edit the Monitor poem, and the note from her friend, and then cut them in to pieces.
I will take her advice and try especially hard. It's all so fleeting, really. Shoulders down.
I think one of these kids is my grandmother, Amelia. I love the mischief in the picture. The girls are as brazen and ready to jump in as the boys.
shoulders back, bellies full. Let's go.
I wonder who was taking the picture. I wonder why the little guy stayed out, shorts rolled up as far as he could get them.
I went to a lecture the other night on texting, sexting, teens, the teenage brain, pornography, the internet. And it made me long for a time like this. Even when I was growing up, I had never even heard of pornography. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood until our mothers had to beg us to come in. We made up games, built tree houses, ok, we snooped on the bookshelves maybe (i remember in particular my parents' copy of "the joy of sex" but;)
Now kids are exploring sexually explicit websites, seeing pornography when they are as young as nine and ten years old. Their brains are just not developed enough to process and react. And according to the very distinguished lecturer, Dr. Gayatri Devi, boys brains in particular respond to this stuff like a drug. You might as well be giving a ten year old crack cocaine. There is a pleasure response that is addictive and hard to compete with in the real world. Dr. Devi was saying the brain is still old circuitry developing slowly as it always has. But kids are developing hormonally at alarming rates. When you're twelve, the frontal lobe which controls judgment, decision making, impulse control, is just not up to speed. But your hormones and all the crazy stimuli are incredibly persuasive.
There was an article in New York magazine just last month about the same thing. Eleven and twelve year old girls are posting sexually provocative pictures on facebook, or sending them out on cell phones.
That was followed by a chilling article about men who get addicted to pornography and then have trouble relating to flesh and blood girlfriends. The two dimensions and false proportions of a porn star on a computer screen are much more exciting and of course sweetly uncomplicated compared to a sticky real love situation. Is Charlie Sheen our future?
Dr. Devi's most compelling complaint? She could not find studies being done. There was no dialogue. Divisive politics have made Sex Ed impossible to fund or even talk about.
We'd better get busy.
I went to see my friend Kate McGarry last night at the Jazz Standard. She is a sublime, pure, deep singer. She was doing a whole night of just piano and voice with Fred Hersch, the sublime, pure and deep pianist.
Two songs in, i just couldn't stop crying. The piano changes were so beautiful, twisting and turning, her voice has a stillness and delicacy, and yet a power. I was absolutely pulled in and transported. There was nothing fussy or contrived. She has this presence, a certainty. They both do.
Music. I do often joke about how I know a new song is a keeper if I find myself in tears. I just finished a new one called "too much happiness" and I swear it is happy, but I can't get through it without crying.
When I was little, my mother would often weep just for the beauty of the last songs of Strauss. When I was ten, I heard Mick Jagger singing "Angie" for the first time. I was a puddle and couldn't quite figure out what had happened to me. But I knew I wanted more.
I find, even on testy hard days with my mother, music is what will raise the mood. She will often make up her own songs on the spot. Yesterday's was about cheerios and noses. I am amazed at her wordplay and good humor even now.
The current is strong. The coming energy of spring's big melt. I'm jumping right in.