I wanted to be Kathleen Kelly, her name crisp with that double-kay sound. She was a cool adult, one of the first fictional characters to give me an idea of the kind of life I’d like to lead. Asking a child what she wants to be when she grows up is a question that always pertains to occupation. Though being a bookstore owner was extremely appealing, it was more than the job. With Kathleen, it was about how she lived her life, how she looked at the world around her. Kathleen bought flowers just because. She wore black in the fall and pastels in the spring. Better yet, she was human, not an impossibly perfect idealized person. She said the wrong things and agonized over it for hours, just like I did. We both loved books and the Internet, a contradiction of analog and technology. And like Kathleen Kelly, I tried to hide my online obsession. It felt embarrassing, as if it was a sign that I didn’t know how to act like a human, which, considering I was an awkward preteen, I kind of didn’t.
My earliest memory in life is sunlight patterns on the ground coming down through the leaves of the tree. I remember that before anything else. That sort of sunk into me very early on. And my mother had a question she used to ask from time to time, sometimes when a piece of music was playing on the radio. Classical music usually prompted this question. She would ask, “What do you see when you hear this music?” And I always saw the woods.
I started this post a few weeks ago, when it was Sunday and I had been home for 36 hours, drinking my first cup of coffee in about a month. I was still working on it the following Monday after a thunderstorm blew through overnight. My garden was dripping and my dog was snoring, the kind of start I like to a day. It’s a few weeks later now. I am listening to an audio book, finishing up this list, and enjoying a cup of Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw in one of my new Highland stoneware mugs. Still processing my trip and kind of resigned to the fact that it will be memoir/personal essay material and probably not something I’ll write a lot about here. Thinking about doing a series of posts that are nothing but photos.
Things I’m Enjoying:
Road Tripping While Female: “When I was planning a 16-day, 5,000-mile motorcycle road trip across the country in the company of my friend Emily, the first ever what-the-hell trip for either of us, friends and family expressed deep concern. One male friend asked if we were “packing heat,” with the obvious implication that we were asking for trouble. The idea of two women on the road seemed to alarm just about everyone.”
In Praise of the ‘Great British Baking Show’ — I don’t understand why the name was changed for American viewers on Netflix. We know what a bake off is over here. I love this show though. That ice cream cake moment…you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it.
You Should Care About My Life: “Of course there are limits to the power of the first-person pronoun, but sometimes I is not just trivial, it’s essential. When we dismiss confessional writing, we are really asking to be unburdened by another’s request for empathy. Not engaging with a writer’s autobiographical identity might make readers more comfortable, but it doesn’t make for more worthwhile critical discourse.”
Feeling a little puny this morning so it’s nothing but sparkling water. Took a hot shower, wrapped up in my fluffiest robe, and enjoying the quiet in the neighborhood. The east side of my house is so bright and awake in the mornings. I love it.
Things I’m Enjoying:
I’m so late to the game with On Being(formerly Speaking of Faith), but I have to say something about it because it’s is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. So far I have listened to several episodes, seeking out the ones featuring interviews with people I respect and admire (Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Alexander, the Indigo Girls, Brené Brown) and listening to some featuring people I’ve never heard of, talking about things I don’t know anything about (dark matter). Every single episode has given me something to think about. And more often than not, several things. I love that Krista Tippett is originally from Oklahoma. I love that back in April, Jolene and I were wandering around the neighborhood in Minneapolis where Krista records this wonderful show and I had no idea. Just listen.
How Jane Vonnegut Made Kurt Vonnegut A Writer: Kurt and Jane were a nation of two. “The world is divided into two groups: us, and the other people,” he told her. “We’ll win against any combination of powers.” Once married, the pair began figuring out how to run that nation, which was to be, they decided, a nation of love, arts, common decency, and peace. Jane drafted a household constitution: “We cannot and will not live in and be hogtied by a society which not only has not faith in the things we have faith in, but which reviles and damns that faith with practically every breath it draws.”
Kurt was more pragmatic, casting about for career ideas—teaching, reporting, opening a library with a bar. Jane had just one idea, and she pressed it with patient determination. Kurt would be a writer—a great one.