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Reflections on A Golden Amulet

merle
(with apologies to Carson McCullers for the title.  Spoilers for SPN 5.22 "Swan Song",  and random earlier eps, after the cut.)

 

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Apocalypse NOW

merle

When you see this message, post in your journal with your favorite Season 5 SPN quote.

 

In less than 30 minutes, the brothers Winchester take on God and the devil in all their messy glory.  So the time is obviously right for to me to once again break my memage ban.

And, just as obviously, this exchange from "Changing Channels"--when Dean's caught knowing a bit too much about television masterpiece Dr. Sexy, MD--says it best.

 

      Sam (smirking gleefully): Yeah, you're not a fan...

      Dean: It's a guilty pleasure!

 

Damn straight.

 

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War Is Over (if you want it)

dreaming_books

While there are many fine reasons to celebrate various art forms, National Poetry Month always puts me more in mind of a PSA campaign. 

 

(Did you know that May is National Physical Fitness Month?  I didn't--until googling it for this post--but it doesn't surprise me at all that such a thing exists, and for much the same reason. )

 

You should try this!  It's good for you! 

 

It's perfectly okay to not care for something, and I think for lots of people, not liking poetry is a gimme, right up there with not liking liver.  Or root canal.

 

The problem arises for those poor souls who are stuck with a poet in the house.   Out of love and loyalty they suddenly feel compelled to explain their dislike and what used to drive me crazy was that it often seemed to boil down to them saying they were too stupid to understand it.

 

They most certainly weren't, but I could easily understand why someone'd be resistant to reading something that made them feel that way. 

 

This grouping of poems was prompted by a very specific desire.  I was telling J--who I think has even more guilt about such things because she has a lit degree--for the billion-eleventy time that the problem was not her, but quite possibly the way she was subjected to poetry in high school (1) when she said, I bet you could teach me.

 

Even though I called it a syllabus, I wouldn't take it as is into a classroom.  It's a decade old and, even when I put it together, I felt vaguely worried about having way too many poems from favorite poets, not to mention the legion I was leaving off altogether.   

 

But the point wasn't an intro survey or a dutiful attempt to fill some educational gap.  J is a voracious reader and a writer herself and she could see that, for me, poems had the capacity for magic.  Totally tantalizing.  What she wanted was a touchstone, a way in.   So I just chose poems I love that I wanted to share.  (And also by thinking about what I thought she'd might really like--turns out it's quite fun designing a syllabus meant for one.)

 

There are scads of poems you could swap in for every single one on my list.  But these are the tenets I'd want to cover--the template I would use-- if I was hoping for a love match between the genre and a mistrustful, disinterested, dubious world.

 

The re-creation of L&J's Most Lyrical Adventure begins here.  I'm going to post a section, with it's relevant poems, every few days or so.  There'll definitely been a break next week, cause I'm turning forty with friends.  Stripey, mutant, kickass friends. (Tigger.  Stitch.  KP.  And Tiana, who is currently skyrocketing past them all in the tuff one's affections.)

 

I'd thought I'd start with a bonus poem. I didn't originally include it in the group, because we have a print of it framed on the wall and I was going for things J didn't already know.  It captures exactly the point of this project, which in the end felt far more like a gift from J to me, the chance to share that which I find wondrous.
 

****

Rent

           

 

If you want my apartment, sleep in it

but let's have a clear understanding:

the books are still free agents.

 

If the rocking chair's arms surround you

they can also let you go,

they can shape the air like a body.

 

I don't want your rent, I want

a radiance of attention

like the candle's flame when we eat,

 

I mean a kind of awe

attending the spaces between us--

Not a roof but a field of stars.

 

 

--Jane Cooper

 

This poem can be found in The Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed (W.W. Norton, 2000).     

 

**If you'd like a preview, you can find the syllabus in its entirety here.

 

_____

 

1.  I don't mean to fault her teachers personally.  My complaint is really about what seems to me to be the universal curricular approach, something along the Great Books model--we've only got five minutes, so let's spend it on the stuff that's the most difficult.

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Under Siege

merle
Every spring, the Big Apple Circus comes to Boston and sprawls itself all over City Hall Plaza for six excruciating weeks.

I don’t actually remember a damn thing about it, but I know my aunt and her boyfriend once took me to see a circus—the tuff one cringes every time we have to walk by it, and since that’s the T stop that connects us Eastie girls to the rest of the Hub, we go by it a lot.

I haven’t been in any kind of a mood to write. I’ve been out of job since July. As of December, I’ve been enduring the adventure of being a newly-diagnosed diabetic. And by the time the misbegotten elephants pack up their peanuts and leave us in peace for another year, I’ll have turned forty.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve established détente with the idea that I wasn’t going to be a mom after all, but somehow this birthday makes it real.

This is all vastly unamusing and, truly, there’s no need to foist it on anybody.

Except it’s also April.

And with what all else is going on, it occurred to me that no way in hell am I making it through National Poetry Month in my usual cranky fashion, trying to dodge it as much as possible, grumbling about bookstore displays and PBS specials.

(The inadequacy of this approach really became clear to me the other day, when I found myself trying to explain why I was refusing a very sweet offer from a new and dear friend to forward me the The New Yorker poem of the day.)

Two years ago, when I put up everyapril, I included a link for a syllabus, intending to post one I’d come up with in response to J asking me to show her what I loved about poetry. The project itself had been fun and intimate and wonderful, and I didn’t think that writing about it would be hard.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprising, but one of my biggest discoveries about how hard I’m finding it to be writing again is the lack of consensus. The tuff one is dubious at best--she’s got a lot of good reasons to distrust the world at large and putting stuff out there might mean getting dangerously noticed. And the reckless one would prefer if we would all just leave her the fuck alone, thanks. (Which is doubly hard, since I suspect that, on this subject, she is really the one with something to say.)

But since our evasive maneuvers haven’t ever proven that effective anyway, we’re going to try something else. We’re going to revisit that project, post the poems here, and revel in them, even when it hurts. Because that’s what poetry, the best poetry--by which I mean, the kind that speaks to me--is for.

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In the Moment

merle
Thanksgiving 1992 was my first holiday on my own. It had been a perfectly easy and comfortable decision--flying in and out of Birmingham was expensive--I was both taking and teaching MWF classes—I was going to be with the whole family for a much longer visit in less than a month.

I was fine, right up until I got up that morning, turned on the Macy’s parade, and burst into tears.

Luckily, the mood passed, because I had volunteered my place for a don’t-have-anywhere-else-to-go potluck. I had a loveseat that fit two people and no hope of a turkey--the “kitchen” in the grad housing where I was living consisted of 2 burners, a microwave, and a tiny dishwasher, because that was apparently more desirable than an oven. (I found pictures! If the interwebs had been around back then, I might never have moved in!)

But all my guests were similarly circumstanced (several lived in the same complex) and no one cared. I made meatballs, which still seemed Thanksgiving-y, since in my family, the turkey and stuffing and cranberries always followed lasagna or stuffed shells or such.

Everyone brought wonderful things, but what I remember was having my first-ever crab rangoon, which was made by a married couple from Kansas that I’d met going to the Tuesday student Mass. (The Catholic Student Center was literally next door and the service was followed by dinner, which you could share for a couple of dollars or by volunteering for a shift in the kitchen. Once we discovered it, several of my compatriots in the English department were loyal attendees.)

That night, a smaller group of us went to see Disney’s Aladdin and I loved it so much I saw it again Sunday evening, an official end to my holiday weekend.

Yesterday J and I had dinner with one of my dearest friends and we are happily anticipating see more of him and his husband over the next few days before they return home to Philadelphia. He was at that party in 1992, though we’d only known each other less than 4 months at the time.

This week marks a year since I learned the program I worked for would be shutting down, Decemeber 1st will be the start of my sixth month without a job. It’s hard right now, not to be anxious and bitter and hopeless, to feel resentful and rejected and scared—I do better some days than others.

Maybe I shouldn’t need a day like today as a reminder of all life’s blessings, but I am very glad to have it.

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Just Gotta Say

merle
(spoilers for SPN 5.10, "Abandon All Hope")

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Best. Moment. Ever.

merle
(spoilers for Supernatural 5.02 and earlier)

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Beach Wrack

horizon
August is over and I’ve hardly written since May.   Over and over again with this journal, I catch that remembrance of myself as poet, one who puts words on a page, only to find it transitory.

I’m gone and back not only from a planned beach vacation, but also from spending some unexpected time with my mom after the sudden loss of her closest cousin.  He had no kids, so one of my great-grandparents’ most cherished possessions is Mom’s now, a religious picture dating from the days before her grandfather left the monastery and went on to sire seven children.  

She told me, clearly not meaning for it to bother me, how she and another cousin had already talked about not knowing where it should eventually go next, since in my generation, there’s no one who is practicing their faith.  Which is certainly true, if by that you mean, regularly attending Catholic Mass.   

I know she didn’t mean this as a censure, but rather an indicator that no one would want it.  And it’s true that I’m not particularly invested in the object in question, though I am in thinking of myself as a person of faith.

There was a time in my life when an awareness of God’s presence was something I carried with me every day.  Even when it infuriated me (and it did), it was there.   Now, most of the time, it seems that God’s is just another of the voices that’s gone dormant.

Mom had no way of knowing this, but several Sundays before our conversation, I’d essayed the experiment of going to church.  It turned out a somewhat qualified disaster.  

An Episcopal service, that Communion was open to all was made evident in multiple ways—invitation printed in the program as well as issued expressly during the liturgy.

That this was a personal message to me could not have seemed clearer (Be not afraid) so I went up and shared the Host but then (completely, if not inexplicably) panicked and ended up detouring around the altar server with the wine in what felt like the most rude, obvious way.  I spent the last few minutes of the service breathing hard back at my seat, escaping at the first possible second, which entailed detouring around folks queuing to say Good Morning to the priest, most rude and obvious again.

It’s possible that this all occurred less noticeably than I think.  But I’d gone alone, so the only reassurance possible that it was not as bad as I’m imagining would have to be my own.  Which means what I’ve really got is the sneaking suspicion that it was, in fact, even worse.

I’ve mentioned before that Rockport has the most extraordinary beachcombing.  Old, old beach glass, cobalt, lavendar, brown so mellow you can taste the root beer on your tongue.  Pottery fragments, most patterned on only one side, so you end up turning over dozens of beautifully polished white chunks on the chance they have even more wonder to reveal.

The tuff one can spend hours searching for treasure, in all its infinite varieties: size, shape, color, texture.  She’s learned that there are so many possible qualities that can astonish, attract, endear.  

I want this to be the metaphor for how I put my faith into practice, a willingness to keep reaching, reaching for those moments that might again gift me that sense:

God,with me here in the world.



merle
Everyday In every way/The universe will make you pay—Boober Fraggle, “The Terrible Tunnel”

Every time I hafta go to my livejournal homepage for something, I am confronted by the cheery admonishment that “You’ve only made 3 friends.”  (does it still say only if you hit 100? 20?  Note to J: This is why I am not on Facebook.)

This is mostly because I’d finally learned to use a feed reader about six seconds before creating this account (1), and so didn’t need that feature to know when people I liked to read had posted something and the whole friending thing scared me and pretty much still does.

(I thought it might get better, but I get all tied up in knots just leaving comments on other people’s pages, it zings right back to jr high and wanting to say just the right thing so maybe they’ll like you back and oh, my God, no.)

I was lucky enough to be friended by a few souls braver than I am, and happily friended them back, and it was a pretty nice feeling and so maybe I should try and remember that and go friend someone myself, but that’s not the point of this post.

No. 

The point of this post is that I got all excited when I saw someone had added me tonight and I went right over to their journal to learn more and all that’s there is story about how You! Too! Can! Make! Millions! Working! From! Home!

Let’s recap: I have turned 39.  I have been laid off. I have been spam-friended. 

And there are still thirteen days left in May.

(Joke’s on them…if they’re looking for some kind of traffic, my lj homepage will be happy to point out that they ain’t likely to get it from here.)

______

(1) A year ago…practically literally!  I went and looked and My “welcome to lj” message was dated 5/17/08)

Opening the Door

merle
I really want to post about the Supernatural finale, because I pretty much adored it, but I got the official word yesterday, that yes, when my team transitions to our new home, I won’t be going with them.

I knew it was coming, but somehow didn’t grasp how, quite apart from all the fear/anxiety around losing a paycheck, it was just going to make me sad.

I’ll still be there through the end of June, and there’s even a possibility I could rejoin them in a few months, but I can’t bear to think about that too hard right now, because it’s too dependent on stuff we can’t control (grant funding.)

On the bright(er) side, having those extra 20 hours a week on my hands feels like it might really clear the way for more writing (and, much as  I love ‘em, not just about Sam and Dean.)

It took time, but over the years, I’ve gotten used to letting the tuff one out to play.   I can’t say it doesn’t scare me, but maybe this summer it can finally be the teenager’s turn.


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