Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Saturday Evening

It's been a while since I had time alone with a book. I am out at a Starbucks, people watching, drinking a hot cafe latte and reading. It's ironical that I am only able to find quiet solitude outside in public, surrounded by strangers and not at home with family. That's life, I guess.

I've just started on Katie Roiphe's In Praise of Messy Lives, and it's a hoot. "L'hypocrisie de la bourgeoisie" seems to be the overarching theme of her collection of essays. I'm on the first two essays, where she talked about the fact that she had to raise two children (from different fathers) as a single mother, and the reactions from those around her. She described the parallels between The Age of Innocence and when she was going through her divorce, and later The Scarlet Letter against when she was raising a child without the child's father. Her situation brought out some annoying (to me) reactions that reminds me how it's often not about you, but rather, it's about them - and people are most intolerant of the situations that they are unable to bear in their own lives. It helps that she is interestingly unrepentant about it all.

I did find her observation of the perception of single mothers interesting:
Part of what seems threatening or unsettling about the single mother's household is precisely that sense that the mother may be glimpsed as more of a person, that these children are witnessing a struggle they should not be seeing, that their mother is very early on a regular, complicated person, rather than simply an adult who is part of the opaque, semi-separate adult culture of the house.
I'm reminded of Desperate Housewives, especially the character Bree (the red head) with her perfectly constructed family life that underpinned a psychotic intensity that absolutely made it absolutely believable that she was capable of murder. What is it with the need for perfection?

Life is more interesting when we stop trying to be perfect and allow the messiness.

So here's to a messy life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MURAKAMI | Run To Live Life to the Fullest

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

(Photo: Haruki Murakami, after finishing his first marathon from Athens to Marathon in the blistering summer heat - July 18th, 1983. [Source])

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Donna Tartt wins Pulitzer Prize

So Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer this year for The Goldfinch - which I brought to Amsterdam as travel reading (Bad idea to bring thick books on a trip. When will I ever learn?) Some parts of it interested me - but the narrative fell flat midway. I will probably finish it eventually. I still can't quite decide if this book is overrated. I had better hopes for it, but it's not engaging me the way I had hoped.

That said, I am very taken with this picture of Donna Tartt, taken by Anne Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.

MUSIC | Nirvana, featuring Lorde covering "All Apologies"

Nirvana gets inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and they decided a all-female line-up is the way to go. So here's a fan's wet dream of Nirvana hits, with Lorde, Kim Gordon, Joan Jett and St Vincent all on stage. Lorde does the vocals on "All Apologies". I'm old enough to remember when Kurt Cobain sang it.

I heart this.

Monday, April 14, 2014

ELIZABETH GILBERT | "Take me with you in spirit ... Tell us what you find. I will follow you later"

I saw this Facebook entry by Elizabeth Gilbert today. Travels is on the top of my mind lately, since I came back from Amsterdam and Paris just a few weeks ago. The question of why we travel is, and how it changes us. I thought she but it rather well. But most of all, this lines, that a neighbour said to her before she embarked on the journey that would lead to Eat, Pray, Love:

"Take me with you in spirit. Take all of us with you, who dream of someday doing this but who right now staying home and taking care of the contracts we have signed with our lives. Tell us what you find. I will follow you later."

Travel well, and when you return, share.


Right now I'm reading for the first time the great memoir TRACKS by Robyn Davidson — a classic of both women's and Australian literature. For those of you who aren't familiar with this book, it's wonderful — the chronicle of a woman who, back in the 1970s, rode 1,700 miles all alone across the Australian Outback with three camels.

Why did she do it? What I love about this story is that she does not ever really provide a why. She did it because she needed to do it.

A lot of people told her she was crazy to set out on such a dangerous journey, and that she would probably die during it. But, Davidson recounts, she had one conversation before she left with an older female friend who told her: "I really like what you're doing...Getting off your butt and actually doing something is important for all of us...It's important that we leave each other and the comfort of it, and circle away, even though it's hard sometimes, so that we can come back and swap information about what we've learned, even if what we do changes us, and we risk not recognizing each other when we return."


Not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of each other. To model another way of being. To represent, out there in the wild world. To bring back the treasure of sharing what we have learned. I remember the week before I went traveling for EAT PRAY LOVE, a neighbor (a mother of two young children) gave me a long hug and said into my ear, "Take me with you in spirit. Take all of us with you, who dream of someday doing this but who right now staying home and taking care of the contracts we have signed with our lives. Tell us what you find. I will follow you later."

And she did — about ten years later. At which point, I gave her that same hug and said the same words into her ear. As I have said those exact same words to countless other people, as they are about to embark on their own journey. Go away now, but take us with you in spirit; tell us what you learned when you return.

If it's time for you to go, go NOW. But take notes. Think of your journey toward self-discovery and adventure as a community service.

You'll make us all better for it,



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

MATTHIESSEN | Life Will Never Be Simple

"I dream of simplicity, but I'm as far from it as ever. That is my practice, how to be in the world and remain simple. One day perhaps I'll accept the fact that I am never going to find the simple life. Maybe the first step toward simplicity will be to accept that my life will never be simple even if I go live in a cave and subsist on green nettles like Milarepa."
— Peter Matthiessen

Monday, April 07, 2014

Peter Matthiessen RIP

Peter Matthiessen passed away. Time to re-read The Snow Leopard. [Source]