For Dad

Japanese Maple

By Clive James

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that.
That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

Podcast Love

Awhile back I recommended The Moth podcasts which had kept me happy on my hellish hour-long bus commute. I no longer take the bus, but podcasts are still keeping me happy during workouts. Today’s love goes to Radiolab, the science-y gabfest that has gotten even this non-science-lover hooked. Those boys are masters at the art of storytelling. This bit about the straight, transvestite mayor of Silverton, Oregon was especially moving and had me in tears as I chugged along. It’s part of a broader piece about what is normal, and how his town redefined it. Listen:

silverton

Nine Years Ago

My job at Harvard started at 11am and it took nearly an hour on the subway so I left the house at 10. I never listen to the radio or turn on the Tv before work, I hate the noise. So I arrived at my building and stepped into the elevator. Halfway up a woman got on and said “Did you hear?” I was puzzled and said no. Planes crashed into the World Trade Center, both buildings came down, she said. Speechless, I left the elevator and went down the eerily quiet hallway into my office, switched on the computer, and saw an email with the subject GO HOME. It was from the HR administrator. In addition to it being a horrifically tragic day, she wrote, the Middle Eastern Studies department was in our building and they didn’t want to take any chances. I read a few news pieces about the disaster and then obeyed. As I was walking out a professor who was leaving shook his finger and said “You shouldn’t be here…” I said I was on my way out.

I walked to the subway and found the station completely empty–a rarity at Harvard Square–except for me and two painters sitting on a bench. They had thick irish accents, white overalls splotted with paint, and were discussing a bee sting one had just gotten on his forehead. He rubbed it as the other peered at it concernedly, both speaking their brogue in hushed tones. Surreal.

The train came and I got on, the only person in the car. Once I switched to the Green Line there were many more people. One woman was crying, most looked stone-faced and I wondered if any had not yet heard, as I hadn’t when I left for work. When I got home I switched on the Tv and watched the nonstop coverage, on every single channel, all day and night, with my roommates. We did other things of course, puttered around, made dinner, called friends and family, but the TV stayed on the disaster coverage for days. I felt a sense of doom and growing hopelessness as the anthrax scare seemed to get worse every day.

And then the anthrax letters stopped, and the hopeless feeling subsided, and a few weeks later we talked about how weird it was that things seemed essentially to be back to normal. How strange it was to at one point think the world may be coming to an end and then … business as usual, be a patriotic American and go shopping. Don’t mind those armed guards in the subway station rifling through people’s bags. Images such as the one above began to disappear from the media, which I only realized years later when I saw one again and it instantly brought tears to my eyes.

As I look at them again it is incredible to me that it’s been 9 years, it feels like yesterday.

Why Parents Hate Parenting

“from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize–winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.) This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. The economist Andrew Oswald, who’s compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: “The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.” That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. “Then the studies show a more negative impact.”
 http://nymag.com/news/features/67024/

On Artists

“The only artists I have ever known, who are personally delightful, are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.”

-Oscar Wilde, ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’

Crocheted Robot

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Oops kinda blurry but you get the idea.

QOTD

“There are many ways for Chinese to say ‘no,’ even including ‘yes.’” –Helen Zhang, author of Think Like Chinese

Sad Can Be Good

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a “mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style.”

“Positive mood is not universally desirable: people in negative mood are less prone to judgmental errors, are more resistant to eyewitness distortions and are better at producing high-quality, effective persuasive messages,” Forgas wrote.

 http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/i…

Boneyard Stretch

I have been listening to “The Moth” stories on my daily commute and I can’t get this one out of my head. It’s like a female version of The Soccer War by Ryszard Kapuscinski (an incredible book by the way). Go listen. And subscribe to the Moth podcasts–it has made me look forward to my commute every day.

Noriko Ambe

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Cutting books

Awake In An Alien Atmosphere

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About 15 mins before the previous. Again, no photoshop whatsoever.

Sunrise from My Balcony

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Untouched by photoshop.

Sometimes It’s that Kind of Day

amelia

More Needlecrafting

Baby Chuck Taylors:

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The problem with making baby booties is that the joy of completing one lasts only a few seconds, then you have to start all over and make another.

Look What I Made!

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I’ve taken up knitting. This is a power-cord scarf. First attempt so it’s a bit rugged. Making another for someone that hopefully will turn out a bit more polished. I am totally addicted to knitting, it’s all I want to do…

Read and Weep

Literally. From Miranda July’s collection of short stories, “No One Belongs Here More Than You”:

Someone is getting excited. Somebody somewhere is shaking with excitement because something tremendous is about to happen to this person. This person has dressed for the occasion. This person has hoped and dreamed and now it is really happening and this person can hardly believe it. But believing is not an issue here, the time for faith and fantasy is over, it is really really happening. It involves stepping forward and bowing. Possibly there is some kneeling, such as when one is knighted. One is almost never knighted. But this person may kneel and receive a tap on each shoulder with a sword. Or, more likely, this person will be in a car or a store or under a vinyl canopy when it happens. Or online or on the phone. It could be an e-mail re: your knighthood. Or a long, laughing, rambling phone message in which every person this person has ever known is talking on a speakerphone and they are all saying, You have passed the test, it was all just a test, we were only kidding, real life is so much better than that. This person is laughing out loud with relief and playing the message back to get the address of the place where every person this person has ever known is waiting to hug this person and bring her into the fold of life. It is really exciting, and it’s not just a dream, it’s real.

They are all waiting by a picnic table in a park this person has driven past many times before. There they are, it’s everyone. There are balloons taped to the benches, and the girl this person used to stand next to at the bus stop is waving a streamer. Everyone is smiling. For a moment this person is almost creeped out by the scene, but it would be so like this person to become depressed on the happiest day ever, and so this person bucks up and joins the crowd.

Teachers of subjects that this person wasn’t even good at are kissing this person and renouncing the very subjects they taught. Math teachers are saying that math was just a funny way of saying “I love you.” But now they are simply saying it, I love you, and the chemistry and PE teachers are also saying it and this person can tell they really mean it. It’s totally amazing. Certain jerks and idiots and assholes appear from time to time, and it is as if they have had plastic surgery, their faces are disfigured with love. The handsome assholes are plain and kind, and the ugly jerks are sweet, and they are folding this person’s sweater and putting it somewhere where it won’t get dirty. Best of all, every person this person has ever loved is there. Even the ones who got away. They hold this person’s hand and tell this person how hard it was to pretend to get mad and drive off and never come back. This person almost can’t believe it, it seemed so real, this person’s heart was broken and has healed and now this person hardly knows what to think. This person is almost mad. But everyone soothes this person. Everyone explains that it was absolutely necessary to know how strong this person was. Oh, look, there’s the doctor who prescribed the medicine that made this person temporarily blind. And the man who paid this person two thousand dollars to have sex with him three times when this person was very broke. Both of these men are in attendance, they seem to know each other. They both have little medals that they are pinning on this person; they are badges of great honor and strength. The badges sparkle in the sunlight, and everyone cheers.

This person suddenly feels the need to check her post office box. It is an old habit, and even if everything is going to be terrific from now on, this person still wants mail. This person says she will be right back and everyone this person has ever known says, Fine, take your time. This person gets in her car and drives to the post office and opens the box and there is nothing. Even though it is a Tuesday, which is famously a good day for mail. This person is so disappointed, this person gets back in the car and, having completely forgotten about the picnic, drives home and checks the voice mail and there are no new messages, just the old one about “passing the test” and “life being better.” There are no e-mails, either, probably because everyone is at the picnic. This person can’t seem to go back to the picnic. This person realizes that staying home means blowing off everyone this person has ever known. But the desire to stay in is very strong. This person wants to run a bath and then read in bed.

In the bathtub this person pushes the bubbles around and listens to the sound of millions of them popping at once. It almost makes one smooth sound instead of many tiny sounds. This person’s breasts barely jut out of the water. This person pushes the bubbles onto the breasts and makes weird shapes with the foam. By now everyone must have realized that this person is not coming back to the picnic. Everyone was wrong; this person is not who they thought this person was. This person plunges underwater and moves her hair around like a sea anemone. This person can stay underwater for an impressively long time but only in a bathtub. This person wonders if there will ever be an Olympic contest for holding your breath under bathwater. If there were such a contest, this person would surely win it. An Olympic medal might redeem this person in the eyes of everyone this person has ever known. But no such contest exists, so there will be no redeeming. This person mourns the fact that she has ruined her one chance to be loved by everyone; as this person climbs into bed, the weight of this tragedy seems to bear down upon this person’s chest. And it is a comforting weight, almost human in heft. This person sighs. This person’s eyes begin to close, this person sleeps.

Hi I’m Cynthia I’m an Addict

“Comedy is like a very cokey, druggy sugar. You get hits of comedy, and it’s very, “More, give me more of that stuff,” because serotonin is being released in the brain. So it’s basically, everyone becomes serotonin junkies, and we are serotonin dealers.”  –Eddie Izzard, who deals the quality stuff

Israel Bombs Anti-Semitism Out of Lebanon

From the Onion, 2006:

“Israel really turned us around on the whole Jew-hating thing,” said Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, shortly after a U.N.–brokered ceasefire was declared on Aug. 14. “After destroying much of our infrastructure and displacing nearly 1 million civilians, we’ve come to respect Israel as a legitimate power and a beacon of democracy…”

“It’s remarkable to think that, had Hezbollah been capable of making surgical pre-emptive strikes against Israeli military installations and densely populated urban centers, Israel would most likely be renouncing Zionism and abandoning the region at this very moment,” Talbott said in August.

The bombings have had the most significant impact on Lebanon’s youth. Many who saw parents and friends killed in the attacks said they will now spend the rest of their lives supporting Israel.

This Song Makes Me Weep

And I don’t even understand the lyrics. Gonzalo Yañez, Maldigo del alto ceilo.

I can’t find a direct link to just the one song but here’s his mspace page and it’s song #4. Go listen.

Saving This One for Posterity

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