Go on, turn the news off for a few minutes.
Turn this up, dance around, make a list of all the things you love.
Then, I dunno, maybe consider giving up expressing your outrage for a whole day?
Perhaps take stock of the way the air is moving outside?
Or think about a song that YOU cannot resist. (And by the way, I want to know what song that is...)
He probably needed to warm up before tortoising. Today's writing prompt comes all the way from the Galápagos.
He tried to still his thoughts.
Circular breathing. He counted in with the breath: one-belly, two-ribs, three-shoulders. He attempted to send his breath into the interstitial area, wherever that was––! And then out again: shoulders-one, ribs-two, three-belly. And pause.
He was happy to pause. He could out-pause anyone. Not that it was a competition.
The instructor went on, and he decided to keep pausing. He'd hold still, he figured, and then nip back in next time.
Like Arlo Guthrie, he'd just wait for the chorus to come around again. Circular breathing was frustrating and difficult, but the practice was only forty minutes out of a day.
Ah, there it was: Inhale. He did, trying to make the breath open first his belly, then ribs, and finally, shoulders. Or what would be shoulders, had he any. Ribs? His ribs were fused into carapace, and everyone knew a carapace didn't –– shouldn't!–– flex. And what chance did his belly have against the dusty plastron? He lived inside a shell corset, and he might just as soon ask his breath to give him wings.
He recognized the monkey-brain resistance and focused on the air moving through his sinuses. He sipped the air in and ahhed the breath out. His eyes closed. In. Out. In.
The class finished and the day turned into night before he opened his bleary eyes again. The night was absolute, fog blotting out the yellow streetlights and the stars alike. Damn, he thought. How long was I out? I wonder what year it is.
During the all-too-brief week we spent on the Would-Be Farm in early July, I decided to postpone the research by getting clear (clear-ish) photos of the latest crop of mystery plants. This is not rocket science, but I am only just skidding into the new century of digital memory.
When I was a googly-eyed junior in high school, being all moony and swoony over my equally googly-eyed boyfriend, our biology teacher, Mr. V. would shake his head at the sight of us two and mutter under his breath, "Two smarts equal dummy."
Oh, Mr. V., even just the one sometimes equals dummy!
Here's a few of the unknowns:
I figured I'd have tons to time to do the research during my months away from the farm. After all, some of these plants are bound to be edible. So far, not so much research, but the winter is still young...
But when I do –– oh heckydoodle, who am I trying to fool? Whole chunks of time are left bleeding and helpless in my wake.
I'd like to be bigger and better than this, but I just kept hoping to find a more flattering match for my own face.
Time, I will not pretend, was laid waste in the mostly fruitless effort.
Portrait of a Man Dressed as a Shepard, Sigh. Portrait of the Danish King Christian. Heavy sigh.
Fine fine fine. I didn't go so far as to put on make-up, which I hope explains why me and King Christian both look a little, um, fatigued.
Still, even when I went way, way, way back, to the passport photos that didn't turn into my first passport –– kind of a funny story. I was pretty sure I had been adopted after the passport office rejected my application MORE THAN ONCE –– guess who Google says I look like?
Is there a more 1990ish, MTV-flavored song and video than Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game"? The gorgeous cinematography, a super-model, that twangy, throbbing heartbreak?
Pure pre-internet Anglo pop music.
Then along comes 2018, and a damn car advertisement uses Ursine Vulpine's cover. To sell an automobile. Even if it was Alfa Romeo, which I am not so sure it was. Thank goodness they stopped after fifteen or so seconds.
Of course, as it happens, Jaguar used the Chris Isaak version to sell their fine autos way back when, so I should shake off the old geezer cloak of crankiness.
Bonus: For a solid dose of extra-suede trippiness, play them both at the same time.
To complete the game, here's –– of course –– the James Vincent McMorrow cover used in Game of Thones' trailer, plus a version from young, differently-keyed London Grammar. I don't recommend playing these two against one another: way too wicked.
My editorial life is about helping people tell their stories. Helping them say what they are trying to say.
The goal is to make the projects better, more useful, and pleasant for the wider world of readers.
Sometimes the job resembles therapy.
One writer might need a hand to get past things that make him fearful or full of doubt. Another might require a subtle check on the runaway train that is her imagination.
My work might include diagramming the odd sentence, straightening misaligned metaphors, tidying structural messes, spotting spelling errors. When I judge, I try to do it gently.
It's a living.
When I find something like this formal "artist's statement"?
I'm torn. On the one hand, face-palm. Verbiage like this an affirmation for why there is a profession like mine.
On the other hand, gently massaging my forehead, I am just grateful that this didn't happen on my watch.
*The Works of Mark Twain; Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1 1851-1864, (Univ. of California Press, 1979)
But at the top of mind, there's the question of the couch. At least for me, anyhow, New Year's is a couch issue.
It's like the pull of an annual migration, or whatever impulse that makes bears and porcupines wake up in the spring. Midwinter and its myriad festivals of light and sugar-cookies pass and I look around with a sense of urgency like a vulgar itch. It's time to rearrange the furniture.
At the literal end of the day this year, the living room is still in a bit of disarray. Turns out the little red chair and foot-stool were ready to retire. Ten years of service in a home-made slipcover? Okay, then, go on, thrift-store find, thanks for your service!
Plus, the inexpensive IKEA rug I picked up to cover more square footage of the plywood floor is –– to the inch –– the exact same inexpensive IKEA rug I have had for four years. Whoops. (A foolish consistency would be the hobgoblin of little minds, just ask Ralph Waldo Emerson, but this? This consistency shows unflappable design taste, baby.)
But the drive is wearing off. I think the impulse that kept me hustling around the house today is almost the opposite of a resolution: I make no promises for the coming year. The work is done, aside from returning that rug and a bit more cleaning. In the coming weeks, I'll be utterly guilt-free as I think less and less about the process. And by May, I too will have forgotten humbug promises and the shiny sense of a whole new year full of potential and improvement.
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