Pretty Little Things: Words for the Soul.

18 Nov

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“Dreamers are the sanest of us. We’re not crazy, and frankly, we’re quite practical creatures. We don’t gamble with the regrets and what ifs of life – we figure if you only have one life to live, you ought to live it to its fullest. I think we frighten society because we can’t be pinned down, groomed into minions, boxed-in, brainwashed, dictated. What we possess cannot be stolen. We refuse to submit to something that doesn’t satisfy us, no matter how many times we’re drilled that “this is just the way it is” or “that’s just life”, with a shrug of shoulders. See, we know they’re lying through their teeth. We know nothing is impossible. We enrich our spirits, and worry less about our pocketbooks. The fulfilled will die the richest on the earth, even if penniless. We’re the ones who change the world, for with no dreams to fuel it, there would cease to be the electricity of change and the progression of the world would come to a frozen halt. And yet, we are ostracized, mocked, misunderstood, insulted, or called insane.

No, insanity is the belief that money trumps happiness, the delusion that you will never run out of time to do the things you dream of, that obtaining and exhibiting your wealth is more important than the health of humanity and of the earth, that ego will serve you better than humility, that superficiality is of greater weight than spirit. Insanity is letting it always be “someday” instead of “today”.

If only the world could understand that the greatest risk is to let go of your dreams, to give up on the pursuit of happiness and a better quality of life for all, to surrender to the world’s madness and disorder. The risk is not in being a dreamer, it’s in sitting there unsatisfied and doing nothing. Stand up and walk. Excuses are for fools.”

*

Don’t give up.

Blog Vacation.

4 Nov

Letting the wind blow.

I’m taking a writing hiatus to do some personal, internal work. To recapture a life I have been forgetting to struggle and hope for lately. To let the wind blow through me and leave some of its energy behind in my hands and head.

And to cook three-hour autumn meals with warming spices and tons of beets, carrots, and squash.

Colorful root veggies! I have a soft spot for chubby, happy, dirty purple carrots.

Once I figure out what this personal work is exactly, I’ll document it for you.

In the meantime I’ll be out here in technology hiatus: reading avidly, making lists, reconnecting with people, doing some yoga and generally going into one of my weird, monk-like states.

See you soon. Until I come back, I’ll share this with you (one of my many personal mantras lately):

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And also this, one of the most valuable twenty-minute things I’ve watched lately:

Musings: Moleskines.

23 Oct

Heaven on Earth. Or at least in Staples.

 

Some people smoke. Some people eat entire pints of ice cream.  Some people buy new shoes.

I go to the Moleskine aisle at Staples.

*

This past weekend, I spent twenty dollars I should have saved on a pack of two deep blue Moleskine notebooks (see above: second row, second from the left). Before I bought them, I paced, in my jeans and down vest and wool socks. I walked around the aisles and reverently touched things I didn’t want, like gluesticks and highlighters and plastic file boxes. While I did so, I imagined the day in the future in which I would be buying office supplies for my office. It is still unclear to me what I would be doing in this office: writing an article, advising foreign students, or planning a Spanish language curriculum. Maybe all three. Or just chewing Orbit gum and reading a magazine, then typing my blog when I should be making money doing something less fulfilling and more practical (whatever that means).

I cradled the two notebooks against the nylon of the fabric of my vest, the thin plastic around them making static and swishes. I considered their perfectly saturated blue colors, their understated Moleskine emblems stamped on the bottoms of the back covers, their beige pages so blank and unwrinkled.

This struck me as funny, that a journal’s pages would ever be called ‘blank’, because they never are. Before they are covered with words and cross-outs, imperfect structures, bad clichés and someone’s very soul, they are full of thoughts in their youth. Thoughts in their youth are not yet into fruition, not made real by good pens (as if anyone who likes to write would use any pen but the one she deems good). They are just fragmented and on the cusp of becoming something, a feeling in the air that we sense but cannot see. The pages aren’t blank because they smell of that feeling.

As I was thinking this, a very amused voice asked,

“Can I help you?”

“What? Oh no, n-no.”

Then I marched out of the glue aisle, right up to the register, and I bought them.

*

I pulled out the card linked to my Christmas-savings bank account, and I handed it to the cashier in exchange for these perfect notebooks and my favorite pens (fine-tip, no-bleed, retractable Sharpie pens, in case you were wondering). Instead of guilt, I felt the certain calm that humans can only derive from a feeling of control. Soon, I would fill these notebooks with something even more inherently satisfying than the trip to the aisle they were kept in.

Everyone who buys anything they don’t need believes it to be a vehicle for a better life. The woman who buys a new dress every week is buying being the best-dressed – and thus the most beautiful – woman in the room; the boy who buys baseball cards imagines the day when his collection will be recognized at recess as the biggest and coolest; the man who buys his wife flowers on Saturdays is hoping that he can invite affection by showing it (which, quite frankly, is somewhat true. Husbands, wives, and everyone, are you listening).

I know exactly what I am doing when I’m buying a Moleskine. I am imagining myself to be the girl in the train station (Grand Central, most often, but sometimes in Prague), writing in a tattered Moleskine whose contents will soon be converted into her latest book, her most renowned article. I am taking a little piece of my fantasy and making it real, as if this rule from imaginary to happening will apply consistently to the other elements of the fantasy like a universal scientific law that Newton or Einstein decreed. I am making an imaginary life for myself in which I am worthy of a Moleskine; or, more accurately, I am making a life in which my words are worthy.

It is infinitely strange that we do this. That we work to buy our worthiness instead of believing work itself to increase it. That we know that worthiness cannot be bought, and yet we do it anyway and believe that we have done it. That I know this, and I bought my Moleskines.

But to tell the truth:

The very same day I bought the Moleskines, I went right to grocery store afterward. My favorite wine was on sale and I bought two bottles of it. Then I went to the card store, and bought all my Christmas cards and made my Christmas card list. And I sat in my living room, in the armchair by the lamp my roommate gave me for my birthday, and considered sending my wishes and my words out into the world.

I would never deny a single soul this kind of contentment. The kind I had on the Saturday between fall and winter, when I had the time and the freedom to spend half the morning in the quiet that is saturated with the rich smell of stationary.

 

Now you know my favorite pens, my favorite notebooks, AND my favorite (cheap) wine…

 

Real or imagined, may you all have that kind of contentment this week.

Musings: Words.

19 Oct

Gorgeous morning.

Words.

 

 

I’ve been wishing lately that my words would stir things.

 

 

Food Fodder: Fake Minestrone from a Fake Cook.

19 Oct

The fake-Minestrone makings.

For all my melodrama about the change in seasons (you know, November, blood, bones, cold, ice, blah, blah, blah), I actually love fall. Mostly because the time has come to eat soup. On a stormy Sunday, desperately hungry and confused about my own wants – did I want vegetarian chili, or minestrone? – I haphazardly threw a bunch of stuff in a big pot, let it simmer, and hoped for the best.

Don’t be surprised if the following recipe makes no sense. I am a writer of many things, but detailed recipes with good instructions? Fah-get about it. I say, trust the process. Also, don’t be surprised if the soup is delicious, just to spite you.

Non-Minestrone Minestrone:

1 large can of good canned tomatoes (I prefer chef’s cut)
1 whole carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 Yukon Gold potato, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
Whole-wheat pasta to taste (I used rotini)
1 whole zucchini, chopped
The corn from 1 ear, cut off the cob
1/2 liter of chicken broth
Handful of chopped parsley
S&P (to taste – I prefer liberal amounts).

1. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, celery, potato, and garlic. Let cook until onion begins to clarify and potatoes begin to soften, about 10-12 minutes.

2. Add whole can of tomatoes, all of chicken broth, the rest of the veggies (corn, mushrooms and zucchini) and the garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low let simmer. Since I am not a chef, I can only say, let it simmer for a long time. I skimmed the fat off the top with a fine-mesh strainer as I went.

3. Meanwhile, cook your whole wheat pasta al dente. If I have to tell you how to cook pasta…well, I’m not going to.

4. When your veggies are tender, your soup smells lovely, and you just can’t wait anymore, turn off your soup. Toss the chopped parsley and the pasta in, and season with S&P to taste. Serve with crusty buttered bread.

Sometimes, the everything-in-the-fridge approach works best (according to cooking science).

Voila!

Or maybe I was so hungry I would’ve eaten anything. I guess the only way to find out is to make more…

Musings: November Eve.

14 Oct

Autumn sunset.

Wearing more clothes these days, and everything seems barer than before. Winter is coming to strip us of our breath and words in the morning and our skin at night, and the trees are starting to scrape. Soon they’ll join the symphony of plastic against ice on windshields and shovels hitting the pavement (music that I dread before it comes on).

We are going to be made vulnerable. Skin rubbed raw, chapped lips, burning cheeks and knuckles – scrubbed like a toddler being bathed with the bathroom door open. And despite the humanness of this exposure, coming November has nothing to do life. It is an era of ghosts. Memories of things we have done in the sun become arrowheads, which we can only find in museums. We need not read the brochures, because we always know where they are found.

In a white, wide hallway full of artifacts, the winter heard faintly through the windows as it approaches like a distant train, we are always drawn to the stones that we can still rub together between our hands. It is either for the comfort of manipulating something as seemingly fixed as stone, smoothing it with our own fingers, or the prospect of a spark: a fire we have built in the middle of the day.

Lots of wood to stack.

The last wisps by the river.

Style / Listed: October Sunday.

7 Oct

Sunday venturing.

{ Minnetonka mocs // Plaid button-down // Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists // Moleskines and Sharpie pens // woolly socks // wool cardigan // RayBans // watch //  feather for luck }

October Sundays are for: making chili, burning candles, reading in the living room, breakfast sandwiches on multigrain and lattes with cinnamon, reading old favorites, hot yoga to beat the chill, long bike rides in afternoon light, plaid shirts and cable sweaters (but no jacket), new pens and paper, flannel pajamas, fires in the fireplace, an evening dwindling at 8:30 with friends on the couch, bellies full, beds full of blankets, mugs of tea.

Enjoy your first October Sunday!

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