the way light fills the bedroom well before the sun rises above the horizon.
fireflies in the forest at dusk. with no other lights, the fireflies fill the space in a way I’ve never experienced. the blinking and flashing seem endless. if magic exists, this is it.
standing on the porch under the stars at midnight. vega is very bright and directly overhead. you can see capella flashing and twinkling in the northeast.
the way the sunlight pours through the door frame each morning. that pouring is the only appropriate description for the way the light spills across the bed, onto the floor, and up against the wall.
the windows don’t open or close all the way because the house has shifted the frames into diamonds, while the windows have retained their original rectangular shapes. I bet it’s pretty cold in this apartment in the winter.
there are places along the waterways, which are larger than creeks but not quite rivers, where the rocks soar for hundreds of feet straight up from the edge of the water. I’ve never felt smaller.
sitting at the bottom of the waterfall, feet resting on the smooth rock ledge below the surface, cool, fresh water running along your back.
there are reminders of college everywhere — front lawn parties in sundresses, boys in brightly colored shorts, yards littered with red plastic cups and flip flops; music and dancing at midnight; giddy 2am walks home. I want them to have everything I had. I want them to have everything.
standing at the top of the hill as the sun sets.
the sound of green summer leaves rubbing together on a windy day. it’s different than the rustling of the drier, darker fall leaves.
every single day is filled with more possibility than you can imagine. I’m not sure why things here feel so different.
the smell of the grass in the evening after a thunderstorm. a few days ago, I was sitting in the living room in front of a fan, hoping to escape the heat, when suddenly I smelled it: the rain we’d been waiting for.
the sound of all the churches ringing their bells to different melodies at the same time on sunday evening.
the neighbors have a harp that I can see through the window. one plays the guitar and another plays the violin, and sometimes in the evening I hear them playing when I walk past their house.
today I listened to milo greene as the sun was setting and realized how perfect it is for a sunset.
down the block there’s a house with the most perfect library — it has a very wes anderson-like portrait of a young girl in an 1800s style dress. and books everywhere.
the way the warm and cool air swirl together and tickle bare skin just before a thunderstorm.
yesterday I passed a woman who was sitting outside in her nightgown, smoking a cigarette, and reading a book. her feet were propped up on the edge of the porch. it was then I realized that ithaca is a town for writers.
a few words on the affordable care act, because that’s pretty much all there is to read about today.
important things are happening today, and maybe at some level I’m in some sort of position to make some strong, divisive comment, but I won’t. I’ve always been a bit resistant to developing a decisive commitment to one side or the other of many political issues. I’ll happy speak out strongly for equality in marriage laws, against human rights violations, for gender equality, but those are closer to social, rather than political, issues. the affordable care act, too, is so much more political in nature. so I’m resisting taking a side, at least for now. instead, here are a few of my preliminary thoughts:
I’m interested to read and learn about all sides of this issue. on one hand, of course it would be ideal to provide health care to everyone always and it’s silly to rely on a certain subset of individuals to fund care for those who have abstained from providing for themselves. on the other hand, calling this a tax when it is so clearly different from any other tax levied against us seems disingenuous. (I could never be a political commentator because I’m pretty sure disingenuous isn’t the kind of terminology people like to hear in discussions of political issues.)
in any event, the most valuable contribution I can make to this discussion is to encourage you to do your research. sure, tentatively select a position. believe in something. but then find as much reading material as possible and learn about the thing you’ve tentatively decided to support. read the opinion here. if you’re not up for nearly two hundred pages of indecipherable legalese, read the plain english version. (for the record, I’ll be doing the latter.) when reading news coverage, be selective. be skeptical. research. read. ask questions. then ask more questions.
when you finally pick a side, if you ever pick a side, it won’t be because you’ve elected to limit your consumption to predigested bites of information carefully selected by the few news sources you patronize. your understanding of the arguments won’t be a crafted entirely from partisan, agenda-ed sources. you’ll be able to compose your own coherent commentary based on a comprehensive analysis and understanding of fact, data, and (when relevant) science. and you’ll rock.
it’s an absurd request. our minds, unedited by guilt or shame, are selfish and unkind, and the majority of our thoughts, at any given time, are not for public consumption, because they would either be hurtful or else just make us look like the selfish and unkind bastards we are. we don’t share our thoughts, we share carefully sanitized, watered-down versions of them. hollywood adaptations of those thoughts dumbed down for the pg-13 crowd.
if you live in new york state — or if you have eyes and ears and some vague concept of how a successful political campaign website might look — click here. seriously. you will thank me. everyone will thank me.
[can’t wait to be a registered new york state voter.]
to create and perform music is a human instinct. it is one of the true universals of our species. to take an extreme example, the neuroscientist aniruddh d. patel points to the pirahã, a small tribe in the brazilian amazon: “members of this culture speak a language without numbers or a concept of counting. their language has no fixed terms for colors. they have no creation myths, and they do not draw, aside from simple stick figures. yet they have music in abundance, in the form of songs.” patel has referred to music as a “transformative technology.” to the same degree as literacy and language itself, it has changed the way people see the world. learning to play a musical instrument even alters the structure of the brain, from subcortical circuits that encode sound patterns to neural fibers that connect the two cerebral hemispheres and patterns of gray matter density in certain regions of the cerebral cortex. music is powerful in its impact on human feeling and on the interpretation of events. it is extraordinarily complex in the neural circuits it employs, appearing to elicit emotion in at least six different brain mechanisms.
We hold our breath and hope for Woolf or Wharton or Waugh—anything but Rand!—because a person’s favorite book is like a family member or a mantra. It’s an essential component of their life and can paint a pretty clear picture of their character.
The contents of a woman’s bookcase had to at least be on par with her physical profile. Dating websites always give you pictures first, intel second, but some of us are turned on by brains, too. I’m not saying I could carry on a romance with a disembodied head who told awesome Goethe jokes. Nor is the possession of panties depicting Poe poetry an automatic win for a woman. But books have to be there.
I’m putting this here for danielle, because I think she’d get along pretty well with the dealbreaker author. and because she gets me when I confess to scoping out a guy’s bookshelf the next morning while he’s still asleep.
because I judge myself a little when his bookshelf isn’t all that awesome.
now I’m off to curl up around a cup of tea and the corrections, which I recently found at a bookstore on their $1 shelf. what a deal.
[after realizing that I made a fucking ridiculous mistake in cover letters I sent out in application to over fifty jobs, I fortuitously ran across this article at science daily. after laughing about it for a minute or two, I figured I’d let you all enjoy this tiny consolation as much as I am.]
the combination of heat, humidity, and the air’s absolutely stillness have made it painfully difficult to concentrate. my brain is buzzing with summer and is wildly distracted.
I haven’t had a meaningful in-person conversation with anyone my age since mid-may. the closest I’ve come is a few skype conversations, but that just reminds me of an experiment that demonstrated that young children learn language better when their teacher is in the room than when they watch the exact same lesson on a tv or computer screen. human contact.
I love it here, and there are moments when I wish I could stay forever. the smell of grass mixed with rain, the sound of birds in the morning, the colorful sunsets.
oh but I’m so excited to move back to the city.
I love running through the woods.
but I can’t wait to run through the city streets.
I haven’t worn make up or straightened my hair or worried that there’s something wrong with my clothes since mid-may. it’s really such an interesting and unique experience. I wonder if, when I arrive back in the real world, I’ll worry about those things again.
instead of worrying, I hope I simply accept that it’s a different look. there’s something gorgeous about darkened eyes and reddened lips, but there’s something fresh about freckles and curls. I want to remember that.
it’s so much fun to dress up on occasion, but I’ve been resisting. I would die to put on some eye-liner and pull my straightened hair into some style other than a messy, curly ponytail, but I feel a lot like doing that here would be selling out. isn’t that the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?
I miss dating and falling in love and the chase like crazy. I tend to fall in love all the time with just about everyone. it can sometimes be overwhelming and exhausting, but it’s also incredible and thrilling and perfect. and of course it almost never works out (otherwise I’d no longer be chasing, right?), but oh my it’s just so much fun.
just before moving here, I spent the last moment I’ll ever spend with a boy with whom I’d been entangled at various points throughout the past three years. the timing was never right until those last hours, and then suddenly it was perfect and fleeting and exactly the way I’d like us to remember one another. we were uncomplicated, honest, sincere. and we held onto each second, acknowledging that we were at the end. we looked back over our shoulders as we moved away from one another and into that 4am darkness.
I love last moments so much. I love meeting and being and walking away. I cherish those experiences. I wish for last moments. I collect them. there may be nothing more perfect than a connection that grows swiftly and ends abruptly and everything we’re left with is authentic and simple and we’re happy. I want us to be happy.
a few weeks before moving here, I spent another last moment with another boy with whom I’d been entangled. for years we hid behind we have lots of time, but with a few months until never again we gave everything we had to the other. we never asked questions or considered the future, because there was no future. we didn’t know it when we finally arrived at our last moment. it passed unacknowledged. we didn’t savor or cling, we were simply present and entirely exposed. we stayed awake until nearly dawn, we danced and laughed and existed together until we were exhausted. the following morning we stayed in bed until we’d broken enough promises to others and ourselves to demonstrate the something between us. we made plans that were later postponed and finally extinguished, because it wasn’t until we walked away that I decided this would be our last moment. it was too perfect to not be.
when your body temperature approximates that of the breeze, there are few movements that feel necessary. of those that do, few are sharp; everything is covered in a sleepy gauze. if we close our eyes, it’ll be morning again.
[I’ve applied for fifty-three jobs in the last three weeks. I just realized that one word was misspelled in — I think — every single cover letter I sent out. I read through and customized every single cover letter and, still, I missed that one word. someone please say something that will make me want to die a little less right now.]
[I can only assume that the people living in the apartment across the street from mine recently began regularly closing their blinds because they’re sick of watching me dance around my apartment in my underwear. ]
I wrote that while taking a break from dancing around my apartment in my underwear.
it’s difficult sometimes to find the line between using the expansive lexical offerings of our language to accurately and precisely convey each specific idea and pretension, isn’t it?
I tend to find words by feeling their contours to determine which best represents my particular thoughts. my hands know the words before my mind does; they form shapes in the air until the correct word has been discovered.
when I turn my palm up to the ceiling, some words are flat and will sit nicely as I stretch my fingers outward widely.
other words are best held by fingers that curve around them, protecting and enclosing.
words that attempt to escape might find themselves clenched beneath fingernails that press into the fleshy space on my hand just beneath my palm.
some ideas are so large that they require two hands — fingers that move along and smooth their exterior, outlining their invisible shape in the air.
when I write, I often pull my left hand off to the side so it can catch and hold the words, sorting through to find the most proper among them, before coming back to tap its letters across the keyboard and onto the page.
moments trip gently along over here. snow caps the bushes in unexpected ways, birds shoot and spin like balls of sound. my feet hum over the dry walks. a storm smoothes the sky, impounding the city lights, returning to us a dull yellow glow. I run every other day at the small indoor track [at Columbia] which slants slightly upward like a plate; I stretch long and slow, twist and shake, the fatigue, the inertia finding home in different parts of the body. I check the time and growl—aargh!—and tumble onto the wheel. and bodies crowd and give off heat, some people are in front and you can hear the patter or plod of the steps behind. you look down to watch your feet, neat unified steps, and you throw back your arms and run after people, and run from them and with them, and sometimes someone will shadow your pace, step for step, and you can hear the person puffing, a different puff than yours, and on a good day they’ll come up alongside and thank you for a good run, for keeping a good pace, and you nod and keep going on your way, but you’re pretty pleased, and your stride gets lighter, the slumber slipping off behind you, into the wake of the past.
— on running | president obama at twenty-two | in a 1984 letter to then-girlfriend genevieve cook. [via]