More sunshine… page 157

Day 266 – 12/06/2020

Sweet Sunday. I slept straight through for 12 hours and woke up to sunlight behind the blinds. Great breakfast, nice long becoming-conscious time, and Kim made Orange Creamsicle bread and iced it. Now he’s headed over the bridge to play PickleBall in NoLaw.

I finished a deeply-affecting book yesterday… SHE COME BY IT NATURAL by Sarah Smarsh, an honest telling of Dolly Parton’s life, or key parts of it. Sarah’s a Kansas girl who commands my respect in every way. This from Wikipedia:

“Smarsh was born in rural Kansas and grew up on farms and in small towns. Her family moved frequently and she attended eight schools before she reached ninth grade.[7] She attended the University of Kansas starting in 1998, and received her MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.[8][9]

“She has been a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. She has written for publications including the Columbia Journalism Review, the New York TimesThe Guardian, and The New Yorker.[10]

Sarah takes us into Dolly’s psyche in an almost first-person voice, thanks to how much of the same story she lived and her uncanny ability to translate that into such a compelling narrative. As a consequence, Dolly Parton, a woman I’ve always instinctively liked but never taken the time to know, has joined my Most Admired Females list, near the top. As with most memorable stories, I laughed and cried in equal measure, learned much, and was sorry to reach the last page.

I’ve immediately started another called THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING by Richard Flanagan. One chapter in, I think I guessed right again.

Too comfortable to get dressed and go see Rita while Kim’s playing, although we’ve talked about it extensively since Thursday. I distinguish weekends from week days by totally pulling the plug, and once the battery has run down the catatonic state is hard to overcome. It’s all about state of mind and what I’m up against is the sorry state of mine. Don’t care, sun’s shining, somebody’s sportsing on TV in the other room, and I’m surviving in style.

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Reading the room… page 92

Day 183 – 09/11/2020

As I type today’s date, it all comes back… the planes, the chaos, the unimaginable death toll… the knowledge that we’re as vulnerable to sudden destruction as any nation in the world. And now we know we’re equally vulnerable to another unseen enemy, with the number of dead exceeding the 9/11 count by orders of magnitude. The aftermath of what happened to us on September 11, 2001 is ongoing, but the actual events of the day had an end. By contrast, the pandemic we’re living through carries no expiration date, no terminus, no promise of a return to life as we knew it… and it requires a psychic adjustment every morning.

There are days when “time flits, oh shit,” and others that spool out their minutes in laborious 60-second increments, everything in slow motion, a record played at the wrong speed. I daily replay my role as a barely-sentient lump while my thoughts slam around inside my skull like a trapped moth, and there are only so many ways to diffuse that kind of energy, crying being one, writing it down being another. My old go-to, reading, is there again, to a point. My powers of concentration still leave a lot to be desired, but I’ve picked a few winners lately that have improved my frame of mind.

Fausto Brizzi’s 100 DAYS OF HAPPINESS was stellar. I next tried to read Sinclair Lewis’s IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, but it’s too close to the bone right now. I started THE LADIES AUXILIARY by Tova Mirvis, which is wonderful, put it on pause to read Michael Cohen’s DISLOYAL, a terrific choice if I’m going to read only ONE of the many accounts exploding onto the stage at the moment, and now I’m returning to THE LADIES… and I’m acknowledging the profound sense of gratitude that accompanies the return of an old friend… one of my very oldest. There’s really nothing to compare with the deep joy of opening the door to another world and falling for the characters I find there. The things we should never take for granted comprise a long list.

This morning’s dawn was wet and gray, much like yesterday’s, and PickleBall not being an option Kim’s out for a bundled-up walk. There are things I could do today… declutter my desk, reorganize the 3-basket cart next to it, sort the remaining odds & ends on the dresser… pay a bill, start a load of laundry, dump computer files… but here’s how it will likely go: I’ll sit right here for another hour writing, reading, and drinking coffee… eventually I’ll pick one thing from the list of possibilities, do it, briefly feel good about myself… and slide into The Zone again. That’s my best guess. Looking forward to the day when I shock myself with an energy burst but until then I’m glad for pages to turn…

Postscript: Kim brought me a blueberry-lemon Danish from Wheatfields’ and delivered it to my desk warm, so today’s showing definite potential. Carpe Diem, chicky.

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Book of days… page 85

Day 157 – 08/16/2020

I read a wonderful book this week – 100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi. Amazing writing… so genuine. The tears I cried while reading were sweet and unexpected and not wrung out of me by some trick of the alphabet. It’s a beautiful story told with love, humor, and immense talent. Today I started Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – it looks promising and the reviews when it came out were stellar – and it’s Margaret Atwood. So, things on the reading front are better lately and that’s a relief.

Other stress points have found resolution over the past several days too, so… we’ll sing in the sunshine, we’ll laugh every day. The sun’s shining today but it’s that pale yellow light that turns everything flat and dull. Still singing, though, light is light!

And reading… still reading.

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