Sunday, July 17, 2022

Bolero in My Head

You know Bolero by Maurice Ravel? It's an orchestral piece with lots of repetition and a glorious build, so when it gets stuck in your head, it gets really stuck! I have been listening to it while directing a one-act play for Heartland Theatre, Running Uphill to Smooth Criminal, by E.K. Doolin, which, as you might guess, also references "Smooth Criminal," a Michael Jackson song! The play, about a woman's nervous breakdown as her entrance into middle age, is delightful, and the playwright was delighted with our enhanced staged reading of it on Friday night! Today, the Sunday matinee, is the closing performance, but I think Bolero will stay in my head for a while! Pictured is Ida Rubenstein, who commissed the piece as a ballet for her to perform, and whose flowy attire inspired some of our costuming!

Whenever I am acting or directing, my poetry writing and submitting gets set aside for a bit, but 1) I imagine it will resume soon 2) I have been writing goofy little quatrains in response to Shakespearean sonnets in the meantime. Part of a pleasant email sharing thingey.

And, despite and sort of side by side with my Marie Kondo cleaning, which included the recycling, donating, and, alas, necessary trashing of many books, I am steadily reading. Sometimes simultaneously, fiction downstairs and nonfiction upstairs, or vice versa. My simultaneous reading often produces some fascinating correspondences, making it a Random Coinciday in the blog! I read Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison, side by side with Mermaid by Eileen Cronin, one a novel and the other a memoir, but linked via first-person narration and marvelous honesty and frankness. And, in comparing the novel's plot with Allison's own early life, one might find memoirish connections, as well. 

I found Cronin's book on the library display table on behalf of MarcFirst, books by and about people with disabilities. Cronin was born with partial legs and tells us about her childhood "squiddling" for locomotion, learning to live with artificial limbs, and tracking the mystery of why she was born that way, a story she tells while also showing that disability was not actually the main focus of her life. Living was, and is!

Now I am reading books that go together very well: Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, by Emmanuel Acho, and Horse, by Geraldine Brooks. Acho is educating me on racism, implicit bias, and how and why to have these important conversations. He has a video series on this, but, as I am a reader, this is the perfect way for me to listen to his points! I recommend it to all, and love his further recommendations for reading and viewing within chapters.

Horse is about an actual horse, a painting of it, and about racism and race relations through time--as the horse is raised and trained in the 1850s in the South, the painting is re- discovered in 1950s America, and the horse research continues in the 2000s. The book is by a white woman and contains main characters who are Black, so there has been some controversy, but I am glad to see that Brooks uses the term "enslaved" (not "slave"), as Acho advocates, to show that no one is really born a slave as a human attribute but is instead enslaved by the people in power.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Shoes I Forgot

Recently, while tidying up and moving summer clothes into drawer and closet, I came across a shoebox of  navy blue Keds. Yay! But wha--?! Where had these come from? I did not remember buying them in a shoestore, ordering them on Amazon, or receiving them from a friend, so it was time for 1) a memory check and 2) that Marie Kondo book, which conveniently turned up on the free cart at the library, because it was a fad a while back when I found the fad a little annoying. I was wrong.

The memory check uncovered a feeling that I did have some navy blue shoes beyond the slip-ons that are fraying because I wore them so much and have now become the shoes I wear to the pool for Early Bird Lap Swim weekday mornings. It also uncovered a moment with my mom, finding them in her closet (but when?) and saying, "These are nice!" and her saying, "Do you want them?" and me wondering why she didn't...but respecting her offer of the gift. (Shoestrings? A tightness?) They fit me fine, and I like them, and now wear them with blue outfits to walk to work.

But the life-changing magic of tidying up, as a title and an activity, is delightful. I read it to the end, doing little bits (which Marie Kondo might shake her head at, advocating a big bunch of work all at once) as I went, and the sort-of spiritual aspect of it, at the end, rang true. I do feel lighter and freer any time I truly get my house in order, and will do the whole thing now, though at my own pace, this summer. Her order of discarding is clothes (done!), books, papers, and miscellany.

Yesterday was books. As you can imagine, 1) I have a lot 2) I am exhausted. But now 1) rested and 2) lighter! I finally discarded many literature textbooks that I can't donate anywhere (no one wants textbooks, especially outdated ones) that I had been saving for sentimental reasons (notes inside + I taught from them) and because I wanted to be able to locate again a particular short story or essay. Surely, I can find most things somewhere, yes?! Internet, library. I recycled many paperbacks and created a bag of library-worthy donations. I put some things in the Little Free Library in front of my house. I now have room on my shelves for other books! Wait, that might not be the Marie Kondo goal! Fear not. These other books are already here, in various stacks, and will go onto the shelves when I have finished reading them and/or sorting them by type. It was fun to rearrange by size and type, and to re-alphabetize where needed. And to dust.

Today, by contrast, will be a Slattern Day--a walk to church, some time in the garden (or reading outdoors), a card game with my folks, and a cookout today because it might rain tomorrow. Happy 4th of July! I feel free!--though not in all ways...but I found support and comfort with that (the recent Supreme Court ruling/s) yesterday, thanks to a Zoom workshop with women, hosted by poet cin salach, Our Hearts Cannot Be Overturned.

And putting my house in order also meant checking my poetry submissions, to find that my February 2021 submission to the New Yorker is now "In Progress" at Submittable. Maybe they are putting their house in order, too. Shall I expect a rejection soon? Meanwhile, my dad wants the Kondo book next, and so does my friend, Kim. They know each other; they can fight over share it.