Procrastination at the End

I am coming to the end of a long stint of editing and with seven pages to go, I am procrastinating. This, despite the fact that the holiday madness begins tomorrow, and even though finishing up early means I can get a head start on holiday preparations. I seem resistant to the idea of having a "whole" experience - I would prefer to leave the editing undone and live with the continued pressure of the unfinished task than actually finish up, which entails decisions and compromises and so on.

Later: It's done. It took all of thirty minutes. Sure, the edit did require some thinking, which of course is not something I do except under conditions of duress. Was that my hangup, the actual thinking part? Gah. That's brain fog.

the register slips and --

My inner therapist brandishes a prescription pad.

"Go away," I tell him. "I got past it."

"This time," he says. His expression is faintly superior, like he's about to quote Milan Kundera.

For a split second I think about sharing my theory that procrastination is a way of symbolizing, through enactment, the idea of death, the one appointment everyone hopes to miss, but I don't. The idea is morbid enough to confirm his working hypothesis, and surely he will also feel the aggression in it and retaliate in some way that I hesitate to imagine. Even though, of course, this entire conversation is imaginary.

"Look at it this way," I say. "It is just possible that therapy is working."

Now to relax by making spicy chocolate cookies and candied pecans.


Snow Day

Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Parking ban. No school. Pic snapped at 4:30; it is now 7:30; the snow's still coming down.

Fresh Powder

Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Loves snow. Is remarkably visible on a snowy night.


Some Good News

USA Book News selected Samuel Shem's THE SPIRIT OF THE PLACE (which I reviewed here) as the best book of 2008 in the general fiction category. Hooray! It's great to see a book get the attention it deserves. I'm also selfishly glad about this, because I loved the book, too, and it's nice to have one's passions confirmed. It is the sort of thing that makes crazy love seem not so crazy after all.

Sometimes I think publishing just is passion.


Another book on the list, First Snow in the Woods, which took first place in children's books, is on its way to my house as I type. At least from the marketing material, the book seems to fits with some (still vague and ill-formed) ideas I've had lately, about kids and nature, and overparenting as a form of neglect.

This has something to do with the development of a capacity to be "at home" while "away," to be at home in the world; and also, just as crucially, especially at mid-life, the capacity to feel like home can still be excitingly undiscovered territory. (This is harder than it sounds.)

The poet and animal trainer Vicki Hearne talks about the necessary and reciprocal and mutually enriching relationship that can obtain between "home" and "away," the quest and the hearth. It seems to me that one could make a good case for hothouse kids as one symptom of a larger, related poverty, a poverty of epic, in our ideas of the good life. More specifically, I mean a lack of resources that would help to make sense of perfectly ordinary but underappreciated qualities that one often finds in "unruly" or difficult-to-domesticate personalities, which is to say in people with affinities for epic, like sincere enthusiasm and largeness of heart and vulnerability to being impassioned.

Shem's novel has much to say about this as well, but in an more complicated way -- how sometimes leaving home can (alas) be pretty much the same as not leaving, and how sometimes coming back can precipitate a greater revolution of consciousness than going away.



"You know they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. 'Floods' is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding: it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory --- what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our flooding." -- Toni Morrison


Writers' Rooms

Photographer Eamonn McCabe has done a series on writers' rooms.

I have always enjoyed photographing loners. When I was covering sport it was boxers in their gyms. Now I'm older, I enjoy photographing writers, poets and artists. The one thing they all have in common is that they work alone.

A Good Metric

Kayte at Love Forever makes a great observation about the annual holiday time crunch: If you can't find the time to enjoy a pomegranate, you need to dial it back.


Still Not Over, Nope, Not Yet

An op-ed by Bill Ayers at today's NYT garnered more than six hundred comments before the editors shut it down. Wow.


The Dog Has Preferences

Likes: Late Beethoven, sonatas and strings.
Dislikes: Animaniacs.

Yesterday he stole one of the pillows from the couch in Matt's office and installed it in his own bed. Hmm. Is this evidence of some kind of canine oedipal stage, or is Nike just watching too much HGTV?

Update: It's HGTV. Nike has just relocated a throw from the TV room to Matt's office couch (dogbed) where there was no blanket, and he has added one of his own blankets to the supply on the living room couch (dogbed). Obviously, he likes things just so, meaning his way. Welcome to the family, Nike!

Also, he ate a slipper. My fault: I taught him to fetch it, but neglected to distinguish it from his chewy toy.


Relentless Self-Promotion

The latest from Her Nibs, hot off the press: a review of Samuel Shem's new novel, The Spirit of the Place at
Gently Read Literature
; and a new Metrotwin list of fun off-Broadway venues for your next trip to NYC. Because what you don't need, this season, is to sit through yet another performance of The Lion King.

Introducing Nike

Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
He sits. He stays.