Saturday, May 6, 2023

Candy House

Looking ahead to the June adult reading theme at the library (music, musicians) and looking back at my candy lament, I have picked the next novel to read, The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan, right after How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig, which I picked up this morning, directly after finishing Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, by Jia Tolentino. Yes, I may get temporarily attached to Jelly Bellies, but I am permanently attached to books. Fortunately, all of these are library books, and I don't have to try to fit them into my house. (Or my jelly belly.)

I got to meet Angela Jackson, Poet Laureate of Illinois, at the library. She mesmerized our audience, and pulled in browsers, including children and their parents. A wonderful afternoon, and big thanks to Candace Summers of the McLean County Museum of History and Illinois Humanities for making the Normal Public Library the venue for this event!

My chalkboard poems alternate now between humor and sad nostalgia with images from the natural world, spring blooming all around, and a subtext of the long goodbye. Last night, a woman asked if I was still writing poems and if I had ever been in the New Yorker, which reminded me of a fairly recent personal rejection from the New Yorker asking to see more, and my inaction upon that. Uh oh. "I want to see you in print," the woman said, and I realized again how few people, even those who love me, know that I am very often in print, or in online magazines, and have several chapbooks out there in the world. But I do feel loved and appreciated, especially for the chalkboard poems, which are short and connect to people's lives. I love those people back.

I was lonely yesterday evening and texted my daughter to see if it was OK to call. It was. She had seen the May 5 poem on Instagram and understood. Everything constant is slipping away, proving it wasn't...and proving nothing at all...or only that change and the now are what we have, which I know from 1) reading and 2) living, but it is still hard to learn each time I learn it. And glorious. And sweet. We went to hear stories last night in the same arts center where my husband is showing recent paintings. Today I will attend a memorial service there for a journalist who had been slipping away for several years, and is now gone. At another event, my dad will be receiving an award for a lifetime of work in academic theatre. It's all 1) life itself 2) wonderful. Why am I sad, in this lingering, blossoms snowing down kind of way?

And next week, starting Sunday, tomorrow, is the week of three book clubs: discussing Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt, the Tolentino book (in a wine bar!), and The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah, a book about the Dust Bowl, our reading timed perfectly to recent dust storms here in the Midwest, causing car crashes and highway closings just down the road. As in the 1930s, the cause and cure were agricultural practices, which need to better suit the environment and climate realities. A "cover crop" between the agribusiness plantings would help.

I am very busy, ticking things off my to-do list, and still I find time to read, but not to send another submission to the New Yorker. It's not fear of rejection--I am very used to that--but it might be avoidance of a certain kind of expenditure of energy. I am meeting many deadlines, and even cleared off one of my desktops. Today, even though I proclaim it a Slattern Day in the blog, I might even do some dusting. Or wipe down the chalkboard.

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