In a pinch— how and what to edit

Hemingway draft
Hemingway draft page*  from the show at the Morgan Library

Over the past month, Zac and I have had a fair few intense conversations. About All the Things. (His life is in Big Change mode. He is, reluctantly and after hard choices, leaving New York for a spell.) Reaction. Regret. Assumption. Presumption. Family. Work. Life. Future. Past. Friendship. Love. The upshot is that there’s no end to Learning. (If you’re lucky.)

Some time ago I jotted down the following. I hadn’t looked at it in awhile, but read it to Zac tonight. He yelled at me for a sec’— Why hadn’t I told him sooner? Why hadn’t I made it clear? I only thought it was obvious. Everything, once you know it, seems obvious. Even though you still manage to sublimate or forget it for periods of time, as convenient. Here:

Life gets easier, a little, as you get older, because you learn the power of words as well as actions. You learn to edit, to weedYes and No are two of the most powerful words in any language.
In a pinch (and inasmuch as you can)—

Say Yes to situations, people, moments, &c. that engender

— meaning
— joy
— purpose
— pleasure
— trust
— warmth
— challenge
— &c. (obv. love)

Say No to situations, people, moments, &c. that embody

— apathy
— disregard
— confusion
— distrust
— insult
— neglect
— disrespect

*    *   *

*The Hemingway draft, pictured, is more direct; more war-torn (from A Farewell to Arms.) That guy could edit like a MF.

You learn a few things as you go along and one of them is that the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. Those it does not break it kills.

planning is part of the trip

Bruges in winter
Bruges in winter, from Wikimedia Commons

Planning a trip is one of my favorite things to do; it’s a huge part of the vacation, the anticipation, the research, adding stars to my Google map of things that look worth a visit. I’ve already begun adding little yellow stars to Bruges, which I plan to visit for a day or two between Amsterdam and Paris. Another city of canals and gabled buildings in Dutch-speaking north Belgium (Flanders). As it’s a winter trip, I can’t help but hope for snow and icy canals (unlikely I think). Zooming around a city on skates sounds brilliant.

Watched travel docs about nostalgic (and future) destinations in the EU for hours the other evening. The month of November has been a bit of a flummox, what with Zac moving away so soon and the general small chaos that attends the lead-up to Holiday season. Starting to think about the trip has been a welcome diversion.


Yesterday I was tidying up. As I lifted a pad of bristol, a half-sheet fell out, and this image was on it. Charcoal smears, with a faint but delineated pencil border (crop lines, obviously). I don’t recall what its original intent was— perhaps a layer to be added to some digitally-finished illustration.

It struck me at the moment, though, as misty reflections of a formal garden in water. I love coming suddenly across old work, or bits of work, and being delighted or surprised by it.

A philosophical pedestrianism

Prospect Park, magic hour, November
The boat house in Prospect park, just before the magic hour

Autumn, like Spring, is adventure time. Wander time. I’ve been filling up on these. You decide an initial direction or destination, from there you follow your feet, or state of mind. You flow.

Chasing miles. Chasing the magic hour. Moonrise. It’s nice to chase it all in my own city; the deepening blue, jeweled with lights of infrastructure and the glow emanating from warm interiors. The city is magic when it’s favoring you.

After five or six miles, stop. A cocktail, some candlelight, and anthropology in a social setting. There are loads of non-American accents in this bar, and it’s nice; makes me feel like I’m traveling after all.

Back outside. The F train overhead, BQE in the near distance: glittering caterpillars foregrounding the still-low crescent, rising.

Everything in transit.

Continue reading

november thirteenth

12219622_10153434236354064_3491563636242159629_nExiting a shop hours after first dark, to a bluster and a faint mist. People clutching scarves to their faces; hunched into the wind for the first time of the season. A single letter in a lighted sign gutters, soon to die. It’s following the leaves.

Always I look for the poetry in winter, at the onset of it, anyway. It’s a trick to keep me wanting to flee the northeast. (Of course, once it takes hold and the glitter of year-end holidays has gone, poetry can be much harder to find. Then I simply long for Spring.)

*  *  *

There were a number of terrorist attacks around Paris tonight, less than a year since the Charlie Hebdo incidents. It’s flooding the media. The city is probably missing its erstwhile walls. The modern danger of being open; the postmodern danger of these kind of events leading to a desire to be far less so. Something that, as we’ve seen before, does more damage than good.

Incidentally, the night prior saw attacks in Beirut; the deadliest there since 1990, yet those events have received very little coverage. Hatred is rooted in fear, and spreads fear, or seeks to. So let neither hatred nor fear be the responses to these moments.

deliberate transit

A temperate autumn in New York. A fine season of walking for hours, walking and solving. Despite some t-shirt days, summer is long ago and a blanket of full dark arrives by half five or sooner. So: walking is more inward, seeing nothing unnecessary to navigation.

I need to clear my cache.

I’ve been unravelling some tangled threads, long neglected or willfully ignored. It’s unsettling and a relief at once. A dawning awareness of having somehow allowed (slow boil) what was a mechanism to become a sort of resting-state in my mind. One I don’t wish to define me, nor dictate my actions / reactions. While it’s a facet of who I am, it’s only that: one facet. But a long-ago protective response allowed it to take up a full-time position in me. Now, recognized and acknowledged, it’ll be put on a shelf. It needs to collect some dust, or maybe disappear altogether.

*    *    *

Since writing this it’s come to my attention that November 11 means a new moon in Scorpio; very apropos if you’re into that sort of thing.

This month’s New Moon in Scorpio and the lunar cycle it kicks off offer us the chance to reclaim our power by killing off something in our life or in ourselves that’s no longer a true reflection of who we are.

little stories

A few days ago: one of those anxiety dreams in which what you want eludes you, but all sorts of things (nice, but not what you’re looking for in the dream; trivial or material things) are coming at you easily, unbidden. It’s difficult to wake up from such a dream feeling at ease. Where does anxiety in the subconscious end and anxiety in the waking mind begin? They are interconnected, the same; there’s no answer.

Maybe it’s because my birthday’s coming up; maybe it’s the waning of the year, the winding down (or winding up) to new numbers for things like Liz, and year. But, then, I’m not much of a one for numbers.

This post was meant to be a Storytelling moment, but nothing narrative is coming to mind; hasn’t all week. Some more drawings, then. They are little stories in themselves. Gestural drawings, in particular, can be very telling.