before we lose the light

In continuing from last post’s theme, I’ll admit, I’m feeling frantic and dispirited most of the time these days, and I thought about making every word in this sentence a link to one of the contributing factors, but it’s become difficult to choose five or ten or twenty specific reasons. Choosing makes it feel like one horror is worse than another. I did pick one. It feels the most immediate to me, today, this weekend, while I am safe and sitting with the screen door bared to green-gold April light. But it feels wrong to pick. The sick feeling in my throat says the list will not be narrowed down.

And yet today has been a kind of a jewel of a day, in the most quotidian of ways, and I am clinging to it. I vacillated on even writing such a post, as I often hem and haw about posting silly sports things on Twitter when things are bad. But, of course, if one is paying attention, things are always bad somewhere, and the further away the somewhere is, the easier it is to forget or to ignore when things are especially, horrifically awful. If I was talking to someone else with this dilemma—a friend, a student, one of those loved-and-barely-known Twitter-pals—I would say—I have said—I want to know. I want to know the good things in your life. Earlier this week, someone very dear to me said, “One day I would like to learn to be as kind to myself as you are to me.”

I, too, would like to learn to be as kind to myself as I am to others. So I’m at least writing this post, where the good things actually started last night.

butterscotch budino
way better than cake

Last night, I celebrated Late Birthday #1 with my in-laws at the amazing Luca in Lancaster. I had a fig and prosciutto pizza that was not the same as this fig and prosciutto pizza but still it was delicious and there was prosecco and a Negroni and a burrata plate and a butterscotch budino that was essentially a salted-caramel-pond I wanted to live in. This is a little bit of restaurant PR, but I love food and appreciating good food is important to me. So when it’s awesome, I’m going to tell you about it, and I’m going to hope that you go there when next you’re in south-central Pennsylvania. (You could even go to a baseball game when you’re there.)

While I was at dinner, the Phillies had a historic inning. Nationals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie had a terrible 38th birthday.

Today, then, I spent as I spend most Sundays: writing, finalizing my Monday contribution to Short Relief, grading, and setting up my life for the week as best I can. The English Literature I exam went well, and the Short Relief piece involved not only a greater amount of silliness than is usual for me but also some free-substitute-for-Photoshop shenanigans that made me proud of my resourcefulness, if not my skill.

Then the Phillies won in walk-off fashion, beating the Nationals for their first series win against Washington in a Very Long Time, and there’s more baseball still, and I’ll get one last game of regular-season hockey before playoff stress arrives.

I baked a sheet of Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace cookies. The name sounds impossibly hokey right now, but these cookies may be my favorite cookies of all time, and more importantly, it’s very easy to mix the dough and then save part of it in the freezer to slice and bake when things are especially bad or especially good or you happen to have a spare fifteen minutes.

I picked up a knitting project I’d put down for months, a shawl I’m knitting from yarn I bought in Santiago de Compostela, yarn in the colors of Galician summer—leaf green and water blue and pulpo purple. I’d forgotten about it entirely, if I’m telling you the truth. I was looking in a basket for something else entirely, and there it was, exactly half-finished. From this point of the knitting, every row gets shorter. On the Camino, every step one takes is a step closer to Santiago.

I’ve had this little snippet from Bertolt Brecht stuck in my head for months, thanks to all of the poets in my life:

In the dark times,
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.

It’s bleak. There is no way around it. I feel bleak most of the time. But today it feels worth it to be singing not about the dark times, but beside them. Despite them. And though to even do that much is to also be singing about them, it’s still singing.

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