1. There is a man who works at the library near where I used to live who looks like Jesus. I'm not sure it is intentional. I somehow don't think so, but maybe I am misreading it and he's really a hipster who thinks too much about his beard. This man shelves books. The other day, I asked him a question, and I realized that either he is mute or he simply elects not to talk. Either way, there is a peacefulness around him as he walks slowly, pushing the heavy cart of books, contemplating their spines.
2. Never date a musician. If you do, when things go wrong, music will feel wrong to you. Off. Like milk that you drink, only to find out later that it's well past its sell-by date. Even though it tasted just fine, thinking about it will make you feel unsettled. Do you know what I mean?
3. Everything is going to cost more than you think it will at the time. This is a metaphor and applies widely. Feel free to use it. When I typed it, I was thinking about home renovations, but I realize it also applies to love and Costco.
4. There is something amazing about the distance between the wharf and the surface of the water that you can only recognize when you make yourself run towards it, throwing yourself in the air, and feeling the cold slap of water against your belly. It transcends your age and your state-of-mind. When you surface, it's impossible not to be happy, at least fleetingly both that you did it and that you survived. Again. Try it. Find some water. Jump into it. But only if you can swim.
5. Sometimes your life is a row of dominoes, lined up beautifully in an esthetically pleasing pattern, and then someone sneezes and down it goes. First this, then that. Then tonsillitis, an allergy to penicillin. Actually, now that I think of it, I overstated it. I was sick for a minute, and then I was better. Antibiotics are amazing, even if they make you itch and cry.
6. Remember to be grateful for what you have. I don't know to whom you should be grateful, I just know that when you stop and forget to be, a crack forms. At bedtime, we have been talking a lot about why we are lucky and my son is fixated on us vs. people who live in tin shacks. He wants to know where the tin comes from and how exactly they are built. I think he is missing the point, but then again, maybe I am.
7. At the cabin where I get to spend time in the summer, there has been quite a stir about logging. I am opposed. Not to logging in general, I suppose, as I like wood things and paper as much as the next person, but I am definitely against ugly logging that personally affects me. Anyway, there has been a lot of deforestation (a word too much like "defenestration" for comfort) in the woods behind the cabin, great swathes of landscape stripped bare and replanted. The new trees have grown up enough now that they have made a tiny, enchanted forest. Acres of trees, ten feet tall, miniatures of their predecessors, so green they seem fake and make me think of a Radiohead song. When I walk through them, I feel like a giant. I expect to crush tiny houses accidentally under my feet. I keep my eyes open for fairies.
8. I do not have strong feelings about Radiohead. I know you are meant to LOVE them or HATE them, but I feel nearly completely ambivalent.
9. It's possible that I currently feel ambivalent about all songs and music in general. The ambivalence I feel is a kite on a string, unravelled so far that you can barely see it against the glare of the sun and the blue of the sky.
10. Jonathan Tropper has a new book out. I just started reading it last night and already it makes me want to be a better writer. Not very many books make me feel that way, and so I'm trying to read it slowly. It's like trying to make a piece of cheesecake last a long time, by taking only very small bites, washed down with sips of strong coffee and conversations that mean something.
11. My newest book comes out in a couple of weeks and the reviews are starting to come in. There is something very peculiar about reading reviews of your own work. I dare you to try it and not feel the same feeling that people say they feel when they die on an operating room table and are revived. There is always a sense of looking at yourself (and, in this case, your book) from a great distance and feeling surprised that there it is, and there you are, no longer attached in the way you are used to. My book is now separate from me, is what I am trying to say, and it's an odd feeling.
12. My new book is my fourteenth book. When I say that to myself, I feel like I must be exaggerating. When I say it out loud, sometimes people laugh, like I must be joking. Fourteen books! It sounds like a lot, it's true. In any event, I'm not famous and people can't compute how you can write volumes and still be relatively invisible. Perhaps being invisible is my superhero skill. I'm undecided if it is a good thing or not. I suspect that it is, expectations are easier to manage this way. That said, sometimes I try to list my own books in order in my head, and I miss some or get the titles wrong. It makes me feel funny when this happens, like I've left one of my kids in the mall and driven off without them. I hate malls and I avoid them at all costs, so I don't know why I used that metaphor.
13. When I was in New Orleans a long, long, long time ago, I fell in love with a bookshop, which was called Faulkner House. I spent a long time choosing books to buy, and I ended up buying a signed edition of my favourite Hemingway (which was only available because it is no one else's favourite) and a book of photos of writers' desks. I still flip through it and try to imagine each writer in that place, writing, although I realize it's as much a lie as anything. Does anyone write in the same place every day? No. I am writing this in my new dining room, sitting on an Ikea chair at the table that used to be the end table in the living room, but proves to be large enough to be a dining room table as well. I usually write in bed. You probably aren't supposed to admit that. Sometimes I sit on the couch, too. I have a desk, but I rarely sit there to write, more often to do the real work of writing, like grant applications or edits.
Writing a blog post after all this time is awkward, baby deer legs wobbling across the screen following no particular route, and making no particular point. I don't know how to end this one, so I'll just stop.