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I went to see a strange, brilliant musical Saturday night, with drawings by Ben Katchor. It was a graphic novel of a historical musical, The Rosenbach Company, (scroll down that link to see images) about two brothers who had a business collecting and selling rare books at the turn of the 19th century and into the first half of the twentieth. This performance was sponsored by the Yiddish Book Center, and it was book obsessive, solemn, funny and amazingly evocative of its period while taking all sorts of liberties. So perfect to see for a person such as myself who is (at the moment and often) consumed with books. The first song explained in completely convincing, sensual detail what a book tasted like in the nineteenth century -- linseed oil was mentioned, licorice, and maybe beets -- while the baby Abe Rosenbach chewed on a book.
susanstinson: (trike)

  • Rode in the rowboat with on a sunny day on a lake surrounded by bright trees reflecting on the water, with my love and one of her dogs, who was too interested in ducks and kept positioning herself to get bumped on the chin with the oars.

  • Climbed the fire tower like an unexpectedly robust mountain goat (or so it seemed from the inside -- I've been scared in the past, but this time I didn't look down until I got to the top. and I went up pretty easily on my trike-seasoned legs, breathing hard, but filled with joy.) The hills unrolled until they went from leafy to blue. The dog, on the ground, looked worried. Perspective is good.

  • Picked gorgeous, perfect concord grapes at E's. They smelled amazing, and tasted tart, but the first cluster I reached for had wasps crawling all over the top of it, sucking out the juice and leaving dried up skins hanging on the vine. I took a breath, started picking elsewhere, and the smell got more intense as I picked, and more and more wasps came. I had to select very carefully so as not to disturb them. There were wasps crawling inside of grapes, visible through the dark skin. Wasps were going after the grapes in my bag, and were thick on the grass where grapes had fallen. If a few started buzzing me, I stopped, and moved. It was intense and meditative and the sun was out and the fruit stained my fingers. The sun was behind a really lush stand of kale in the garden, so that leaves were alight. I didn't get stung. Probably, it helped that, until I was told, I thought they were bees. I stopped picking when one of the dogs began bringing her ball to the wasp filled grass.

  • For a present, E. bought me a grey carhart jacket, which she wanted me to try on to be sure that it fit. It turns out that the daughter of the owner of Pat's Package, where she got the coat, is doing embroidery now, so she's getting a spider stitched on it for me in honor of the book I've been working on, Spider in a Tree. Which is, truly, a beautiful thing.

  • Special dinner, good talk. Plus, cake! Chocolate with cream cheese frosting.

  • There have been other splendid and companionable activities, but those were the events of the day.

susanstinson: (Default)
The bathroom is so intense. Mirrors; bodily exposure; books of poetry in a basket with old magazines and too many catalogs from mail order fat girl places like Ulla Popken, Making it Big, Junonia, et al.; time to think. This morning, while I was flossing my teeth, looking in the speckled mirror -- which was half open to show the jumble in my medicine cabinet -- and turning forty-seven, I was paying attention to the way my teeth met my jaw bone. My teeth are a little more widely spaced, lately, and they seemed kind of like little gateways to the skeleton self beneath my beloved, cranky flesh.

In honor of that birthday thought (I'm having SUCH an excellent happy birthday, it's really true! I stopped in the middle of posting this to hear my, oh, so dear to me, parents sing me happy birthday in its proper Texas accent, and tell me funny stories that I'd never heard before about the time surrounding my birth) , here's Friedrich Schleiermacher, a -- what else? -- eighteenth century theologian. This quote came to me YEARS AGO from my friend L. (It's her birthday, too! Happy birthday, hon!), before she moved to San Francisco and started theology school, and I'm copying it from the browned, folded, push-pinned crumpled piece of paper from a lined yellow pad that she copied it out onto for me. It's one of the great mass of papers and postcards I keep pinned to the huge, flattened cardboard box covered with deep blue canvas which my love made for me to use as a bulletin board over my desk.

On Immortality )
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"Healthy and diseased" are problematic and pervasive cultural metaphors, but, as long time readers know, I love Flannery O'Connor with a wacky, open love. She helps me do my work and to see what fiction can be. Also, I'm with her in believing that it's a damaging myth that art has to come from suffering. Artists don't suffer more than other people -- everybody knows pain, frustration and death -- and we don't need to in order to do our work.

Where the artist is trusted, he will not be looked to for assurance. Those who believe that art proceeds from a healthy, and not from a diseased faculty of the mind will take what he shows them as revelation, not of what we ought to be but of what we are at a given time and under given circumstances; that is, as a limited revelation but revelation nevertheless.

Art requires a delicate adjustment of outer and inner worlds in such a way that, without changing their nature, they can be seen through each other.


In addition to being good to think about on my birthday, this post is also in conversation with this.
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My friend Judy sent me a link to this article about Politeness and Authority by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times:

It’s a delicate thing, coming to the moment when you realize that your perceptions do count and that your writing can encompass them. You begin to understand how quiet, how subtle the writer’s authority really is, how little it has to do with “authority” as we usually use the word.


Tomorrow's my birthday. I think I'm going to climb the firetower in the state forest with my love to look at far stretches of trees on the hills.
susanstinson: (Default)
That was very, very sweet. I feel satiated -- beautifully and thoroughly wished happy birthday. Thank you.

And it has been happy. )
susanstinson: (trike)
Feelings are running high, but we've sawed off the legs of the couch in hopes that the guys who bring me a new futon for my birthday will be able to get it out the door. I have to finish moving everything off my desks and putting the rugs on the porch to try to make that work before Sally picks me up at nine to go write with her today. I'm covered with dust! I'm unearthing distracting and helpful books! I'm practically swimming in folders and lined yellow pages covered with my scrawling handwriting about my novel, and I'm discombobulated and overwhelmed and weirdly anxious and deeply lucky and later there will be cake.

I'm forty-six today.

Forty-five

Oct. 17th, 2005 10:01 pm
susanstinson: (Default)
Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Getting a card made by [livejournal.com profile] plasticsturgeon precisely on my birthday is a whole party in itself. Intriguing -- those boxes -- and beautiful.

Other birthday highlights:

  • A warm, sweet dinner with friends on Saturday.

  • Finding a gift bag on my front step this morning, with tea and cheese and cookies and brussel sprouts, and a note calling me a genuis. Not something to get used to, but lovely on a birthday.

  • Being popular at the hardware store for the first time ever. Okay, actually, outside the store by the fence unlocking the trike related. Men wanted to talk to me about the bike's "transmission" and how good it would be to take fishing.

  • Belting out (badly, but with spirit), "Broadway Baby" as I hit the bike path.

  • Talking with people I love on the phone.

  • Writing with S. at the library, and dinner at Joe's.


  • The beautiful and very perishable -- not to be taken for granted, not at all certain to last -- routines of doing work I love.

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