Randomly, I used my diary to record some of my thoughts on her book. In my reading journal, I recorded some of her reflections on her marriage, noting its similarity to my own. In The Art of the Wasted Day, the "you" she addresses is her husband. "In a moment of great tenderness I once confessed...that I loved living with you. It's like being alone, I said happily. You cocked your beautiful head and said mildly, I gather that's a compliment?" That reminded me of our side-by-side lives in a long marriage, a double solitude for which I am grateful but that has sometimes left me sad. It is, though, the perfect marriage for two artists. Hampl also quotes Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, saying, "Rilke describes the ideal relationship as a love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
"He divined early the value of being sluggish, lax, drowsy..." I needn't worry about my own bouts of sluggishness! As an aware, daydreaming child, sitting under a beechnut tree, Hampl, too, committed early to "the life of the mind," her italics.
Revising my own previous worries, as someone who, like Hampl, later in life, makes relentless to-do lists, I can concur in regard to late-stage laid-backness: "This isn't sloth, it isn't laziness. It isn't even exhaustion. It is a late-arriving awareness of consciousness existing for its own purpose, rippling with contentment and curiosity. One's own idiosyncrasy reveals itself as a pleasure, without other value--but golden, amusing, integrity hard-won and now at its leisure. Hand on heart, this life of the mind, lolling--tending to life's real business."
Oddly, Montaigne doesn't look all that gay and free in his frilly ruff!
Sunday, December 20, 2020
When I get cold or melancholy, a kind of laziness overtakes me. At bedtime, I don’t want to take off the layers of t-shirts under my clothes to put on my jammies. (Fortunately, I am good at taking off a bra under my clothes and out through a sleeve like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.) On sad days now, when I look at the Christmas tree and know my kids aren’t coming home, I don’t want to get up from the couch, where I am bundled in a soft, blue blankie, reading a book, even though I know I should get up and move every hour—to keep warm, to keep the body moving, not sitting, because it’s wiser, healthier, not as sad.
And then I do it, because I am in the habits of diligence. I hear the washing machine stop, so I go put the clothes in the dryer and start a new load. I hear the mail carrier come, so I get the mail, then put on a coat, and re-deliver a mis-delivered piece of mail to my neighbor next door. I diligently write down who sent a Christmas card, and when, on my little list, and commit to writing a card back, if I haven’t sent one already, during this especially good year to maintain connection with people….
I wondered if the more precise word was lassitude, but I don’t think so. Lassitude is a weariness, a lack of energy, and so is lethargy. Laziness is a disinclination to work. At these sad, cold, lazy moments, I am disinclined to get up and do the necessary bit of work, but, once I do get up, I have the necessary energy. I do a lot of small, steady tasks, all the time. I have patience and perseverance. I keep to-do lists.
Yes, my laziness is temporary, cold-induced, connected to melancholy. I’m aware of this…and of the way sadness can clutch at me sometimes. I can feel the pull down. I have various ways of saying no to the pull, even as the tears fill my eyes and start their spill, even if it’s just getting up from the book I’d rather read than do anything else, to do anything else.
And then, back to the book. And on to the next book. So far this year—and there are two weeks to go—I’ve read 155 books. These include plays, poetry books, chapbooks, and graphic novels, as well as novels, memoirs, books of essays, books of short stories. My coffee table is stacked with books ready for a second lockdown, books not yet begun, finished books not yet shelved elsewhere, books in progress with bookmarks sticking out, library books that will automatically renew. Clearly, these books, these stacks, represent my combined laziness vs. diligence, conflict resolved. And a Slattern Day in the blog.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
That same day I walked the outdoor labyrinth and ran into a live concert, sort of. In the bandshell, a group of guys with guitars and one harmonica were sitting in a socially-distanced circle, playing music. Lovely! I was a bit worried for them, as there was some singing, and their circle faced in, but I am hoping they are OK because they were outdoors. I was at a distance on a bench, with my eye also on an adorable toddler Husky out walking his man.
And also a Slattern Day, because my work is done! Ta-ta and toodleoo!
Update: Speaking of Die Hard, you might prefer the lesbian Die Hard mentioned here.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Before that, I had planned to meet a friend for a hike in the woods. But first I had to check my email...
Now, perhaps, the same thing is happening again, the day getting away as I write this blog entry, as I tally my statistics for the year, as I look back at things I forgot I did, poems I forgot I wrote. 2020 has crammed my brain full of worry and details and strange little poems...and to-do lists of things that do and don't get done.chalkboard poems reached the hearts and minds of those who saw them. I was connected that way, during the disconnect. Someday I may look back on 2020 with the cliched hindsight...and understand things I'm not understanding now. Sigh... I already wear tri-focals.
Saturday, December 5, 2020
In November, I resumed my one-month-on, one-month off, poem-a-day practice, writing a poem a day on a chalkboard, posting a picture of it on Instagram, plus the picture and poem text on Facebook.
My last few poems in November became people's favorites, as if I was finally warming up just before I had to stop. That's how it goes sometimes! But I knew I needed a rest and a shift in December, and to move the chalkboard down to the basement again. I yearned for a Christmas tree, and that might mean a furniture rearrangement. Yes, indeed. Where the chalkboard once stood, in front of the poetry bookcases in my home office, I have put a nice rocking chair for reading, moved from the living room to make room for the tree. Decorating the house and the tree has been one of those small, daily ways of being/staying creative!
Lots of people liked my tiny poem about singing to my kids:
I sang to them,
their whole small lives,
and sometimes now
they burst into my wild
November 25, 2020
And lots identified with the blues in this one:
Sad in a cozy
little way, wrapped in a blue
blanket, reading a blue
book of short stories.
November 27, 2020
A co-worker painted watercolors in response to two of my poems--one about wind, one about the wind blowing a "sideways mum" into my yard--and someday maybe we can hang her paintings and my poems along with other staff art in the little art gallery in our public library! Someday when people can return and the gallery isn't full of quarantine bins of returned library materials...
Yesterday the wind
rode thuglike through, disbanding
the organized leaves.
November 16, 2020
The wind blew a sideways mum
into our yard, pulled from its pot
still blooming, the way my mind
tips out sometimes, lost and unlikely.
November 22, 2020People liked this one a lot, often mentioning the image in lines I almost cut!
All the Way Light
It’s all the way light now,
even a sheen of light
frost on the grass, grill, picnic table,
like the ghost of summer caught napping,
soon to wake invisible.
November 28, 2020I almost cut "the ghost of summer" in case it was too cheesy or unclear, though somehow that was exactly what I was seeing out the window. Glad I trusted myself and my readers! Likewise, the colors in this little poem inspired a variety of responses and moods, and several locals had stood as transfixed by the sunrise as I was!
the sky was striped pink.
Softly, then, suffused by gold,
it slipped into tangerine peel,
then sliced peach
on a pale blue china plate.
November 29, 2020"The Goodbye Poem" came out blurry, captured my mix of feelings, and seemed to provoke a similar mix in my readers. I do think I'll be back--in the spring or sooner--and hope that most of us will also be back. What times of grief and loss we are going through. And what times of hope for joy and change!
The Goodbye PoemI want to say I’ll be back
in the spring—or sooner!—
but who knows anything now?
Still, I think I will…
November 30, 2020