Wednesday, April 29, 2015

That thread that unites (A Vlog)


And just in case you can't hear it/ don't particularly enjoy listening affected readings of things, here is the text below:

I was walking home from work today.  Along Newbury street.

The sun was shining and the trees were blossoming and the Beatles Across the Universe was playing on my Pandora radio station.

I thought of the universe.  I thought of how the atoms in our bodies are the atoms from ancient stars.

I thought of my brother John and I thought about where his atoms are.

I thought of an article I read about how when we are fetuses our cells cross the threshold of the placenta and set up residence inside the blood and marrow and organs of our mothers.  I thought of how my brother John’s cells might still be living in there, alongside my cells and the cells of my siblings: helping to repair and protect. 

There is something so utterly poetic about that.  That our cells are doing for my mother what she does for us in life. And there is something so comforting in thought that at least we can all still be together, even if it’s just on a cellular level.

I thought of the interconnectedness of all things: of the elements before me, of this moment—like so many others that came before it—this walk, this street, this inching along in the arch of my narrative.

It’s a good story.  A sad story.  A funny story. A hopeful story that I tell so hopelessly sometimes.

I thought of other stories too.  I thought of Baltimore, of Nepal, of the harrowing and often unsatisfying denouements of those tales riddled with catastrophe.

But then I thought of the deeper thread that unites these stories.  The one buried beneath the frayed and enmeshed fibers of calamity.  I thought of love.

As archaic or as archetypal as it might be, love is common pulse to the plot, that thing that moves and undergirds everything.

And it is the best part.  The part worth listening to and remembering.

It is the archive I hold in my heart, as I turn the corner, and take the stairs down into the metro, and make my way home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You're Gonna Get Hop-ons

Moses and I have this saying: you're gonna get hop-ons.

Well, it's not really our saying.  It's something we've appropriated from the show Arrested Development.

Used in reference to this compact, family friendly vehicle:

Upon which, you will quite literally get hop-ons.

Moses and I use this to mean something that's an inevitability: a situation that you can't do much about, it just is what it is.

Whenever I have a sad morning or a challenging interaction with a student or feel generally exhausted and overwhelmed with life, Moses will shrug and say: sometimes, you're gonna get hop-ons.

And it almost always makes me smile.

I've really been struggling with the blog recently.  I know it's stupid.  It's a blog.  No cares.  No one reads it but my family (and secretly me after two glasses of wine).  Blah blah blah.  I know.

I just can't tell what it's supposed to be anymore.  A garbled anthology of essays?  A public diary?  A cobbled crucible of creativity and catharsis?  Too much?  I never know...

The trouble is that I vacillate between levity and solemnity so quickly these days that I can't ever seem to gain enough traction to nudge a post beyond its meager point of origin.  It slumps, rooted in nothing in particular.

Maybe it begins as a funny, pointless narrative about the number of packages from J Crew my neighbors get every week (seriously, so many. How do they have money to eat?) and I get about as far as the set-up before the whole thing suddenly crumbles into trite and tiresome bits of plaster that I scrape into a dust bin with humdrum thoughts of maybe returning it to something of value.  Someday, perhaps, but not today.

And then the next week, I start with something graver and heftier and harder to maneuver.  Here, I will get only as far as the opening paragraph before I feel my tendons stretch under the weight of it and quickly release my grip.

After nearly a month of this, it's starting to feel like I am the sole purveyor of a crooked, half-sown row of red cabbage--hardly a prize, even when it's good.  So why bother?

Well, A. Are you the latest Dashboard Confessional album because seriously, get over yourself and B. because, in a lot of ways, I think it's really important for me to have something to work at outside of my job and my relationships--something that I find enjoyable and interesting and (mostly) worthwhile.

The results don't need to be grand or remarkable or even finished--they just need to be attempted.  Because an attempt requires a few moments of quiet engagement in task (that doesn't involve the parsing out of logic of a Real Housewife) and although, at times, it may feel tedious, it is ultimately always rewarding.

So much of my day-to-day life still feels so upheaved and disrupted that it seems beneficial to have a small little plot, like this blog, to focus on and to cultivate.

And sure somedays, it will feel like a burden, it will feel wrenching and difficult and dumb and contrived and all of those million other unpleasant things it has felt like before...

But hey, sometimes, you're gonna get hop-ons.