Montmartre— dans la lumière et l’obscurité
These are photos from our first afternoon in Paris. It stayed light til 8:30.
Now, you know, I’ve been dreaming of the trip— now that it’s over. As I did before it was born. Friday was two weeks since we left for farther shores. It went by fast and slow, as time does.
Felt like four days; felt like four weeks. Away –and three cities away– will have that effect.
Life is different —and the same— when you return. That is to say, life is the same but you’re a little different.
A sample of one of the little instagram comics that Z and I crafted last year under the handle @whileyouwerehappy. We kept at it for awhile, but it was time-consuming and after maybe 4-5 months our attentions inevitably turned elsewhere. It was fun, though, and we really did make ourselves laugh like mad people over them.
This photo is from awhile ago, but it’s still one of the truest portraits ever taken of me (thx Tarikh). It’s who I am, want to be, ever will be. (I miss that coat, I’ll always be a bit of an 80’s punk rock kid, for better for or worse)
. . .
Aside, here’s what remained or came out of a brief, untethered dream after falling asleep on the couch and waking at 2 am—
Something equivalent to the lie in my eye
Every time I pass with a smile and a shrug—
But in my soul I’m screaming_
You don’t know me,
And I don’t owe you
None of us is a stranger to the need for endurance. It’s a universal theme; always returned to in stories.
We endure. And in the strength we needful gain in our small hero’s journeys, we encounter the requirement of meaning. Neither the smallest nor greatest of trials is endurable without that ineffable, elusive thing we all seek: for life to be meaningful.
It’s the only way to make sense out of the chaos that resides in the spaces we all (humans, gods*, nature) share. Time gives it and robs us of it. All is ever. Change is the greatest weapon of the gods; we convince ourselves the we are in control, but it’s they who pull the strings.
The gods love(d) us for our plodding predictability; made games for their amusement of disrupting and manipulating us. Some of the meaning we seek can be found in the ways we regard, respond to –and endure– these disruptions.
. . .
*I use this word in the sense of the gods as we’ve always invented them; stories of the forces which we do not understand made fathomable, endurable.
Also: read The Marriage of Cadmus & Harmony.** It’s an incredible, applicable unpacking of Greek mythology, full stop.
**The Times review is good. But beware! “This desire to remain at a respectful distance from the ancient world keeps Mr. Calasso’s book, for all its real learning, from being a work of scholarship.” That’s a sentence that, in my opinion [IMO], is bullshit— or rather, a mere opinion (despite the author’s ‘real learning’).
I want so much to write. I’d like to be still for a day or two; to draw. To draw at a rate more like I was in October— daily. Or nearly so. To have space for things to percolate and bubble to the surface from below.
Instead, I’ve been kept moving, pulled in multiple directions— and good ones. I’m feeling positive and interested in both the work and other pursuits I’ve been drawn to lately. But I miss the drawing, and its attendant writing.
I look forward to my week upstate at Christmastide, to be still some. And of course to time spent with my family and the animals. Wanders around the Farm to say hi to the Dudes*, take photos, and listen to the quiet of winter up there. Walk the fields. Watch murder mysteries with Mom; talk books and politics with Dad; see a movie with the brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. (Probably the odd game of euchre or gin rummy.)
Some quiet nights in the second floor with a big orange cat lying on the bed as I read or type away on my laptop. Maybe he and I will get lost in the attic for minute, time traveling through old things, cast aways in an uninsulated room where the occasional bird finds her way in but not out— leaving behind, at length, a pile of airy bones in the low-ceilinged space beneath the pitched roof. A room mostly neglected and filled with the memories of several generations. (My kind of room)
All these things will make me feel rested and calm; remind me that no one is ever at the helm in this world. Not for long, anyway, and there is a comfort in that. Just as there is comfort in watching slow snow falling on the grass, gone brown in the fall in preparation for the long winter’s sleep.
. . .
I must quiet my mind.
Sometimes it can be done with reading on the train. And sometimes it needs to be done by formulating, or finding, some clear thing out of the jumble of tangled strings and wires— the ones that formed knots in one’s head during the tumult of the day.
First: you may disagree, but I don’t demean a beautiful wood grain by referring to it as white noise.
Sometimes the most powerful tonic is a meditative white noise. It’s one of the things I love about the hustle-bustle of this town. Everything retreats as you wander; as you dive inward for a moment— take an amuse-bouche of psychic space. A slice of some steady static can be a city person’s version of soft, reassuring silence.
As a farm girl, I tell you it’s a quieter version of the symphony of cricket-song, late on an early summer’s night. It’s a cacophony of release.
I give you: w o o d g r a i n !