Destination: Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Hello, readers!

And a happy Monday to you. The weekend turned out much better than I could’ve hoped. It’s entirely possible I passed my test, so I’m hesitantly optimistic on that front! Beers were not had with the wife… Instead we pumped ourselves full of Gin, accompanied by things like passion fruit and citrus and mint and rosemary. Say what you will about hipsters, but they’ve got their alcohol down pat. I also learned a bit of hebrew. So, you know, all in all it was a pretty good weekend.

self-five

In other news.

We’ve been in Oklahoma for what seems like an unnecessarily long time. I know. I get distracted. I suppose I’m part goldfish. Perhaps the part that likes to drink? (That was a terrible joke, but I’m endlessly amused nonetheless. I’m sorry. Please bear with me.) In any case, enough is enough! I was looking for poetry about Oklahoma, because why not? And I found this little gem. It’s about writing and being there and writing without being there. It’s full of down to earth imagery that takes you there. To that place that makes you think, I want to write about this….

In Oklahoma

by CARTER REVARD

When you leave a Real City, as Gertrude Stein did, and go to Oakland, as she did, you can say, as she did, there is no there, there. When you are a Hartford insurance executive, as Wallace Stevens was, and you have never been to Oklahoma, as he had not, you can invent people to dance there, as he did, and you can name them Bonnie and Josie. But a THERE depends on how, in the beginning, the wind breathes upon its surface. Shh: amethyst, sapphire. Lead. Crystal mirror. See, a cow-pond in Oklahoma. Under willows now, so the Osage man fishing there is in the shade. A bobwhite whistles from his fencepost, a hundred yards south of the pond. A muskrat-head draws a nest of Vs up to the pond’s apex, loses them there in the reeds and sedges where a redwing blackbird, with gold and scarlet epaulets flashing, perches on the jiggly buttonwood branch. Purple martins skim the pond, dip and sip, veer and swoop, check, pounce, crisscross each other’s flashing paths. His wife in the Indian Hospital with cancer. Children in various unhappiness. White clouds sail slowly across the pure blue pond. Turtles poke their heads up, watch the Indian man casting, reeling, casting, reeling. A bass strikes, is hooked, fights, is reeled in, pulls away again, is drawn back, dragged ashore, put on the stringer. In Oklahoma, Wally, here is Josie’s father. Something that is going to be nothing, but isn’t. Watch: now he takes the bass home, cleans and fries it. Shall I tell you a secret, Gert? You have to be there before it’s there. Daddy, would you pass them a plate of fish? See friends, it’s not a flyover here. Come down from your planes and you’ll understand. Here.

Until next time, readers! Stay tuned for a more in depth look at my August: Osage County reading experience during the #24in48 Reading Marathon!

Destination: Christmas #25

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 25

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Merry Christmas, readers! I hope you’ve had a wonderful day full of gifts and joy, and barring that a fuckton of alcohol!

Today is the last day of this Christmas series. I wasn’t always punctual or even consistent with it, but I enjoyed what I did read and the posts I made. Hopefully some of you followed along and actually read all of the entries in the advent calendar. Even if you didn’t and you’re just joining me now, I’m happy you’re here!

And for a while, today’s poem seemed to be echoing my sentiments of happiness and goodwill. Up until the point where cannons appeared and the narrator lost all hope of peace on Earth. Talk about a bummer, you guys. I was reading, inspired, joyful. Until WHOOMPH, despair. Happily though, that last verse rings loudly and reminds us that

  “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

        The Wrong shall fail,

        The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

So, in the end peace and good will shall prevail over the wrong doers. And as a person who is constantly “in the wrong”, in deed and action, I resent this binary peace where only the righteous can get in on the action. The hippie inside me has hope of a peace shared by all in equal measure. It’s an idealistic notion, perhaps even naive, but if there ever was a day for any of those things it’s today.

So, I wish peace on Earth and good-will to you. All of you. Equally.

Have a good one readers!

Destination: Christmas #15

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 15

At Christmas by Edgar A. Guest

It’s Tuesday. I’ve got bread in the oven. I went on a non date yesterday. I’m reading a book that was meant to be nondescript, but is actually captivating. Consider yourself updated.

Today’s text is another rhyming poem. Poems that have obvious rhymes annoy me, they make me feel uninspired like that one kid who always tries to hard. I’ll accept rhymes from Dr. Seuss, but that’s about it. Anyway, this guy is rhyming about how man is his best at Christmas, almost what god intended him to be. His words, not mine. He’s saying man is kinder and more generous when he is filled to bursting with Christmas spirit and joy.

I agree, for the most part. I think man is better when he’s got the spirit of Christmas swirling around in his heart, but he’s better only because of his willingness to have it be so. It’s not feeling the warmth of the season or the desire to share that makes us be better people during the Holidays, it’s opening up ourselves to those feelings. Christmas is a time to be generous and kind, it gives us the freedom to let go of our sarcasm and our cynicism in order to embrace the wonder of the Holidays.

I love Christmas, the decorations, the music, putting up the tree. But I also love the feeling that comes with it, the cool air in the evenings, dim lights shining everywhere. A slight spring in people’s steps as they walk just a little closer. For me Christmas is not about religion or even about the presents (Although, I do love those as well!). For me it’s about that feeling, which swoops in and lands lightly on our heart, warming it for the season to come.

So yes, man is most definitely better during Christmas. But it’s only through his willingness to believe in the feelings of Christmas. It probably sounds naive, but I believe in that feeling. I believe in being enamored by the possibilities of Christmas, seduced by the songs that speak of peace and love. Even if it’s just once a year.

Keep it minty, readers. Pepperminty.

Destination: Christmas #14

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 14

In the bleak midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

It’s round two, everyone! Ready your engines! Or something along those lines. If you haven’t read this morning’s post here’s a link to it. It’s about reading Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and memories.

Today’s text is a poem. Something corny, with rhymes and feelings. So I’m not going to talk about that. Or rather, I’m not going to focus on it. A few hours ago I was talking to someone about the high suicide rates in some countries during winter because of the darkness that engulfs them. That was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the first few lines of this poem. The author depicts a winter that’s all edges softened by Christ being born, shining like a beacon in a lake of despair.

I imagine you’d cling to any sort of light in that darkness. Walking outside like moths drawn to a flame that’s there and gone, almost like it never was. I wonder if people forget what sunlight feels like, whether it comes a point where it feels like darkness is all they’ve ever know and that’s what drives them to suicide. It’s easier to fall deep within yourself when it’s as dark outside as you sometimes feel inside. Without contrast, I suppose every darkness is the same – they all offer plenty of opportunities to lose yourself.

So, let’s cherish the light whether it be real, spiritual, or emotional. Cherish it like it’s what stands between you and an endless winter night. Because it is.   

Have a good one, readers!

Destination: Christmas #12

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 12

Christmas in India

I hope your Saturday has been full of joy and merryment and cheer and some more joy. Because I love you. I’ve spent today baking up a (faulty) storm. My fruit cake came out too rummy and the dough for my cookies was impossible to work with. However, tomorrow is another day and I will try, try again. Look at me persevering, kindergardeners would be proud.

Today’s selection was really unexpected. Not because the text itself was great, because poetry that rhymes so obviously annoys me. But rather because forces you to think beyond yourself and your own experience of Christmas. It pushes you to imagine Christmas somewhere else, somewhere where it’s not White, but saffron yellow. Christmas for people who don’t have the luxury of fretting over the trivial things that seem monumental during the season. I don’t know about you, but I never sit down to consider the Holidays as an experience outside of myself. And it sounds shallow, but unless it’s a conscious exercise (like now) it’s always a non-issue. Having read the poem now I can’t help but wonder what other Christmas experiences are out there. What food do people make? How is the music different? What does the marriage of religion and culture result in? It’s quite an interesting subject, when you think about it!

Something else that caught my attention was the general tone of the poem. Usually Christmas anythings tend to be about hope, union, happiness, this one is almost the polar opposite of that. It speaks of pain and aching, of hopelessness and forced laughter. It depicts a very practical approach to Christmas, almost like it’s a nuisance. Which is something that I’ve never associated with Christmas. It makes sense though in the context of the poem, right?

I’ll keep contemplating my shallow existence, while you guys go on about your day (or night).

Have a good one, readers!

Destination: Christmas #6

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 6

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

After an intense weekend and lacking sleep, what did I do as soon as I was done with work? I came home, changed, and went out again. I got home a little bit ago and, not gonna lie, I had a blast. It is entirely possible that I’m a little tipsy right now, but that’s just proof that I enjoyed myself, right? Either way, I’m here, dutifully writing all my thoughts for you. I should probably apologize for that.

I should also probably apologize about the fact that all I’m getting from the poem is snow. Or rather, that I’m hungry and tired and tipsy and all I’m choosing to see is snow. How he thrusts his hands into it and comes up with memory, like the whiteness all blends together to form a passage through the years. Snow falls and every Christmas is white. And from every snowflake emerges a new memory. This one, surprisingly, of fire. I’m always a sucker for imagery. For words that place you somewhere so specific you can’t help but be there. This poem does that for me, lulling me into feeling like I’m reading prose it gifts me with interesting imagery.

I’m probably not reading this properly. How about tomorrow I give you a better take on it? It’ll do you more justice.

In any case, I hope you guys have had a lovely weekend. See you tomorrow, folks.

Destination: Christmas #4

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 4

Toward the Winter Solstice by Timothy Steele

Hello, readers! Friday is almost over, but the weekend has just begun! What better way to end the beginning than with some poetry? Because that’s the kind of stuff that happens in poems, right? Sure.

I read this poem a couple of times, then I looked for the date thinking it’d be something fairly recent. It was actually written in 1948, which is impressive because it feels like it could be happening next door. The SUVs flocking to expensive restaurants, spilling their human insides onto the pavement for family night. The UPS trucks going back and forth delivering packages filled with Black Friday loot and prematurely bought Christmas presents. It feels like a poem written for today, written for this very moment in time.

He says nothing changes and, while that may be true for the actions and the circumstances, there is a quiet peace in that poem that is absent in our lives today. That melting pot that casually accepts Christmas has become a melting pot for hatred and fear. Where neighbor fears neighbor and everyone is slightly afraid of everyone else, worried about what they hide under turbans and robes and ill concealed gun holsters. Wary of commenting or critiquing on something as innocuous as Christmas lights because it could lead down ugly roads. You could start an argument or worse, a friendly relationship with your neighbor.

I’m sure this poem is meant to be more uplifting. Something about the pleasantness of this neighborhood, the spirit of Christmas that blooms even in big, bad L.A. The Silent Night that still rings true even though the magi have been replaced by UPS. But, to be honest, it just makes think about how much Christmas has changed and how meaningless it becomes for people as the years go by.

I love Christmas, I love the smell of pine trees and the decorations, I even love Christmas music! But sometimes it’s hard to keep up the Holiday cheer in the midst of all the stuff that happens. What I’m saying is sometimes life gets in the way of Christmas and it’s up to us whether to let it go or hold on to it. I tumble between one and the other, depending on what’s happening. But my heart always lifts when I hear a Christmas song or the smell of pine hits my nose. Maybe he’s right, maybe even though everything changes, something always stay the same.

What do you think, readers? Is Christmas what it used to be? I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Until next time, stay cool.