Wednesday, October 27, 2010

it's too hot to be October

Um, yeah, what's up with this Indian summer? The fall seemed to be creeping in rather steadily over the past few weeks, but today's sun reminded me that nothing is for sure in the South. I think we'll be wearing shorts this Christmas.

Don't think I'm not celebrating my birthday week and not just my birthDAY. we go. Today I shall eat a lot of ice cream, be as lazy as can be (which will be difficult given that I'm due at work in an hour), and lament my youth a little.

I miss my Georgia. Because the country roads there are starting to look a little like the photo above right now (especially further North headed into the Carolinas, which also have my heart). I remember one partiular autumn drive up through the Carolinas and into Richmond, Virginia. I had a red scarf wrapped around my throat when we arrived, fighting the brisk, cold air. That afternoon I stood on the banks of the James River with the burnt colors around me, and life seemed really, really good. Le sigh.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the art of losing

I've had two close friends lose a parent this month. Both are handling it beautifully, with grace and elegance, but that doesn't change the pain. It's a sting, more than a jolt really, one that dulls over time but sticks in your gut like a parasite, always pulsing, always reminding. It's sharper when the person who died was too young to be gone just yet, as in both of these cases.

I know sometimes I still wake up in the quiet of night with the shivers, angry and begging the universe to bring my mother back. I'd become God's debtor to be able to speak with her again. Yeah, that never, ever goes away.

How many losses are there in this life. Certainly at a point in adulthood we all come to terms with the realization that every beginning IS a beginning because something we loved had to end. This time of year its the season changing that reminds us of renewal, of how resilient the human mind and heart really are. The smell of pumpkins and spice has made me weepy lately, a reminder that summer turns into autumn, and there are some things I've had to leave behind. But the chill in the air, the briskness in my step, also reminds me that there is so much to love, so much excitement everyday.

Below is one of my favorite poems of all time. I dedicate it to Christopher and Michelle, and to myself as well, as seasons change and losses settle over us like winter coats. The times of renewed strength are always right around the metaphorical corner though, ready to surprise us and love us. They usually come in the form of people, people who make us smile and start over.

ONE ART [Elizabeth Bishop]
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
 so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.  
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. 
The art of losing isn't hard to master.  
Then practice losing farther, losing faster: places, and names, and where it was you meant  to travel. 
None of these will bring disaster.  
I lost my mother's watch. 
And look! my last, or next-to-last, of three loved houses went. 
The art of losing isn't hard to master.  I lost two cities, lovely ones. 
And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. 
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.  
--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan't have lied.  
It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master
 though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the lost art of letter writing

As autumn settles over me, I'm reinvigorating some colder-weather habits that I love.

I'm making my Starbucks runs for pumpkin-spice lattes (they only taste right between October and December, in my humble opinion) several times a week. I've unpacked the fall wardrobe, which for me mostly consists of skinny cardigans and multi-colored scarves. And at night, now, I read--something, oddly enough, I only really do as colder weather sets in. In the summer and the spring, books are daytime business for me. Oh, and, lower temps...always means a transition to red vino as my drink of choice. Spices things up.

This autumn, though, I have a new tradition developing. Letter-writing. Before three weeks ago, I hadn't written a proper letter in years. I'm talking, years. Maybe not since I wrote my summer camp friends back in high school and promised them we'd be soul sisters forever (yeah, that happened).

I've been sort of interviewing people around me as of late. Do you write letters? Would you? Is there beauty in it? Everyone seems to agree that they WISH they "had time" or that "people still did that kind of thing, because it's so romantic."

It is romantic. It's lovely. And it does NOT take that much time, folks. It's a lost artform, I think, that in an electronic age people need to work to revive. I found this great article from Newsweek:

I was thinking about how few of us even see each others' handwriting anymore. How we form words on paper, says more about our personalities that what we wear or what we eat or any other random gauge people use these days to set themselves apart. Exchange letters--real, several-pages-long, story-telling letter--with someone, and you will know them better.

Cheers to the letter! Let's bring it back to life, so that our children and grandchildren can find our words in old trunks and between yellowed bookpages.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

good afternoon, aunt lesley gave me a mohawk

greetings from the brownlee-asseff-reed homestead.

eleanor took a bath in the sink one night recently. because she was being too feisty for me to let her stand in the tub. her punishment? a hawk, which she's rockin' here.

on the agenda:

-e just moved into her permanent room. she's next door to me, so it's kind of like i have a 10-month-old roommate. um, gone are the days of drinkin' mah beer and blastin' arcade fire in my bedroom. oh well, i guess i'm an adult now. or a baby, come to think of it. anyway, joan and i are in search of purple-themed decor. it's coming together.

-writing has intensified as i attempt to complete the first full rough draft of a dissertation chapter. god help this girl.

-my 26th birthday is three weeks away. i need pretty much a new version of everything. internetz, feel free to just have a mind of your own and send me shit from amazon.

-i need to have my own website. i'm sick of being out-cooled by people who do ;)