And Words Are All I Have

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are things you get ashamed of, because words make them smaller. When they were in your head they were limitless; but when they come out they seem to be no bigger than normal things. But that's not all. The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried; they are clues that could guide your enemies to a prize they would love to steal. It's hard and painful for you to talk about these things ... and then people just look at you strangely. They haven't understood what you've said at all, or why you almost cried while you were saying it.

― Stephen King, quote from The Body
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What's On My Mind: May 21st, 2021

This Stephen King quote expresses, artfully, the challenge of exposing our innermost selves. For my part I have an almost primal need to share who I am and how I see things. Or is it all just a cry for attention, brought on by middle child syndrome. Whatever the cause I feel better when I let my core pour forth,wheat and chaff together. When I read my writings after I can always tell when I’ve held back. Always. And these time and again never stand with what I feel is my best work.

I’d rather give it all away, open myself to the world now. Now. While I still have the choice and the luxury.

This short film entitled The Future Loves You Already
was released this week and I am so proud to have taken part.
Click here to watch
this collaboration of writers and artists from around the world
sharing the reading of a poem written by
my wonderfully gifted friend Jena Schwartz.

When the pandemic is over I promise:

To set fire to my CoVid pants and my CoVid sweatshirt. Yes, I wore a sweatshirt. The same one. For, oh, a year and a half.

To stop asking nervously and at random, “Am I muted?”

To go to a Chinese food buffet and loiter, maskless, around the dessert tables, soliciting personal opinions from patrons on each and every calorie-laden offering.

To tip fast food workers as much as I can manage. But only on the sly since it’s verboten. (Work on your handoff prior as I did.)

To shake hands with everyone I see – everyone. This will include toddlers, cats, dogs, delivery persons, and sanitation engineers.

To dance with abandon in a very crowded bar while quite tipsy.

To never cut my own hair again. It can go very wrong- oh - so very quickly. Did I mention never?

To sit down at random in restaurants and proclaim to the waitress: Bring me the entire left side of the menu. But hold the onions.

To never cover my face in any way with any material of any kind, even if I am the lead in The Franklin Exhibition at the community theatre.

To go to a different movie every day for one whole week, each one at a different theatre, and order recklessly from the criminally overpriced conscession stands without one word of complaint, audible or murmured.

To sit in my favorite Panera Bread cafe with the current issue of the New Yorker and forget about the time while tucking into my go-to order of Tomato Basil Soup, sesame seed bagel, extra butter, and large coffee, double double.

To book concert tickets again, even for bands I don’t like that much, just as long as they are playing live.

To remove any trace of an app called Zoom from my laptop, my android, my cortex, and my life.

To eat funnel cakes and candy floss and ice cream waffles at the CNE as soon as it reopens. Note to self: Ride the roller coaster first! (Two words: projectile vomiting.)

To ask everyone I have ever met over for coffee and my decadent home baking. And sit really really close to one another while snacking.

To head for my local Sephora outlet with a large coffee, grab a basket and begin trying on every deep red lipstick tester in stock while chatting with anyone within earshot.

To resume sleepovers with my nieces, reinstating all of our rituals; each of us choosing a movie to watch and contributing our most time honored snacks. Then going to bed at 4 am. and rising at 2-ish. First one up makes the coffee and heats the Cinnabons.

reading black and white

My bedside table holds stacks of books with the most unlikely combination of titles and subjects. One for starters is about the plasticity of the brain, how we are learning more and more about its prodigious capability to adapt, heal itself, and reconfigure. I find its message extraordinarily comforting in these bizarre times.

Another I am immersed in is about the Pony Express, a U.S. mail service that delivered messages, newspapers, and mail using relays of couriers on houseback. It operated for only a year, in 1860/61, running between Missouri and California. Among its revelations is the story of Samuel Morse, the man who invented Morse Code. It was after the death of his wife. Morse was heartbroken that he had not been notified in time to reach her bedside before she died and he set out to invent a faster way for people to send messages. (As one does.)

Another absorbing read is My Days of Woe: A Personal History, by Eric Tallman. It is the author's unfiltered story about coming up against the beast of adult-onset depression. It is raw, and real.

Poetry collections are always on rotation, including a current one with the Best Title Award of Forever called The Dogs I Have Kissed by Trista Mateer. Her sheer honesty leaves me breathless. Also Margaret Atwood’s latest offering entitled Dear. Is there anything that woman cannot do? I met her once, at the huge annual Book Expo in New York City, where I was launching my first poetry book. I saw her circulating and basically stalked her until I saw a chance to approach. She is a diminutive woman and exudes calm. I told her that I was a longtime admirer of her poetry and she seemed pleased, even a bit surprised at my comment. For me, her poetry has always eclipsed her prose and if I may go out on a limb, my inbuilt bias notwithstanding, it may prove Atwood's mightiest legacy in time.

Here's a classic Atwood gem to help build my case:

The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

More of my random readings...

Scientists have done the unthinkable and taught spinach to send emails (sort of, we’ll get to that). It turns out that spinach roots are sensitive enough to detect trace impurities in both the water they’re drinking and the soil they’re growing in. Researchers have figured out how to inject spinach with nanobots that can communicate with the spinach and send a signal when it detects some of these artificial chemicals. The signal, quieter than a smoke alarm but just as readable, can get picked up by infrared sensors which, you guessed it, sends an email, alerting scientists of potential danger in the ground.

So, the spinach can’t exactly dispatch your Away message to your entire Inbox while you’re on vacation, but it may in fact save some lives. Research continues on the technology, with hopes it could be adapted to keep track of pollution and other environmental hazards.

And until next week here's another little nugget:

Vikings do not seem to have been the unkempt beasts of pop culture legend. Their archeological record is heavy on, of all things, combs.

Take that, Madame Pompadour.
The Name of the Air

It could be like that then the beloved
old dog finding it harder and harder
to breathe and understanding but coming
to ask whether there is something that can
be done about it coming again to
ask and then standing there without asking.

~ W.S. Merwin
I am here, listening. Let me hear from you, gentle reader.
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tricia handwritten signature

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