Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Photo credit: Pouya Dianat, Atlanta Journal & Constitution

Today we are proud and inspired. Today we rejoice.

But tomorrow? Tomorrow it's back to the work.

Tomorrow we begin again, committing our energy, our vision, and our vast compassion to the ideal of equal rights for every person in this country, gay and straight.

Tomorrow we begin again, harnessing our anger, our outrage, our absolute incredulity (How could this happen? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?) and turning it into something else: a force for change.

Tomorrow we begin again, believing that unjust laws based on fear---laws like California's Proposition 8, Arizona's Proposition 102, Florida's Proposition 2, and Arkansas's Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban---can't possibly stand, can't possibly stop us from loving the people we choose to love.

Tomorrow we begin again by trusting in the future, sure that justice can't be far.


All day I've been singing this song to myself, whispering it, a prayer:

We will get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
But we know we will

It will be hard we know
And the road will be muddy and rough

But we'll get there

Heaven knows how we will get there

But we know we will

I believe it. I do.

Comments? Questions? Please direct all correspondence to schriftstellar (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, November 3, 2008


Donald Hall, from SEASONS AT EAGLE POND, on the many pleasures and comforts this month brings for those of us who love to hibernate:

"Some of us...are darkness-lovers. We do not dislike the early and late daylight of June, whippoorwill's graytime, but we cherish the gradually increasing dark of November, which we wrap around ourselves in the prosperous warmth of woodstove, oil, electric blanket, storm window, and insulation. We are partly tuber, partly bear. Inside our warmth we fold ourselves in the dark and its cold - around us, outside us, safely away from us; we tuck ourselves up in the long sleep and comfort of cold's opposite, warming ourselves by thought of the cold, lighting ourselves by darkness's idea. Or we are Persephone gone underground again, cozy in the amenities of Hell. Sheltered between stove and electric light, we hollow islands of safety within the cold and dark."

And John Updike, from A CHILD'S CALENDAR, on the essential, elemental beauty of late autumn:

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.

The year is old,

The birds are flown.

And yet the world,

Displays a certain


The beauty of

The bone. Tall God

Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Comments? Questions? Please direct all correspondence to

Friday, October 31, 2008


A collection of things I loved this month.

: Dear Old Love (My younger self would have spent a considerable amount of time mooning around here. My present self still finds it irresistible.)

Book: THE RED LEATHER DIARY: RECLAIMING A LIFE THROUGH THE PAGES OF A LOST JOURNAL, Lily Koppel (I think I'll always be jealous that it was Koppel---and not I---who stumbled upon Florence Wolfson's wonderful chronicle of life in 1930s Manhattan, but I can't deny the book Koppel crafted from it is great.)

Song: "Beloved One," Ben Harper (Our good friend Alex---that's him in the linked clip---performed this at our wedding. He's ruined it for me now, but in the best possible way.)

Poem: "I'm Perfect At Feelings," Brenda Shaughnessy (From her second book, HUMAN DARK WITH SUGAR. The last two stanzas wreck me completely.)

Image: "My Love(ly)" (There's a line in Nancy Garden's classic novel ANNIE ON MIND that's always made me think of Audra: "[H]er eyes had a special, soft look in them I've never seen in anyone but Annie's, and only in Annie's when she looked at me." This photo captures that gaze exactly---that immensely warm, immensely fond, immensely tender gaze.)

TV show: Mad Men (We don't have cable, so I wasn't ever able to catch an episode of this terrific, award-winning show until the final night of our honeymoon. When I finally was able to see it, I became instantly infatuated. We're now working our way through the first season on DVD.)

Movie: Soldiers of Conscience (This documentary about veterans of the Iraq war who chose---while still on active duty---not to engage in combat helps to renew my faith in humanity.)

Product: "Berries Necklace," created by Julie Joliat of Puffluna (I wore this gorgeous, understated piece with my wedding dress and got many, many compliments on it. If I could buy every single thing for sale in Julie's Etsy shop, I would---some I'd give away, and some I'd keep.)

Restaurant: The Painted Lady Café (Two words: cinnamon chantilly.)

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, via AllRecipes (I would have carved a hundred pumpkins if it allowed me to keep eating these.)


"[T]here are still plenty of people who will tell you that the most evil thing about Karl Marx was what he said about religion. He said it was the opium of the lower classes, as though he thought religion was bad for people, and he wanted to get rid of it.

"But when Marx said that, back in the 1840s, his use of the word "opium" wasn't simply metaphorical. Back then real opium was the only painkiller available, for toothaches or cancer of the throat, or whatever. He himself had used it.

"As a sincere friend of the downtrodden, he was saying he was glad they had something with which they could ease their pain at least a little bit, which was religion. He liked religion for doing that, and certainly didn't want to abolish it, OK?

"He might have said today as I say tonight, "Religion can be Tylenol for a lot of unhappy people, and I'm so glad it works." --- Kurt Vonnegut, ARRMAGEDDON IN RETROSPECT (Proving that one can still be outrageous and insightful, even in death.)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Confession: I have a twisted mind. A fucked-up, double-helix railroad track of a mind, on which two competing trains of thought are constantly, endlessly, hopelessly chuffing.

Today, for example---when the kids I watch in the afternoons are eating blueberries in the kitchen, laughing and cramming their mouths full of freezer-burned fruit and saying things like "Sit in my watery nest! Right here, in this nest made of beans!"---there is, in my mind's-eye, one placid, Thomas-like engine moving along with a vapid smile...and another veering off to one side because she's too busy looking at the vague hypothermic shadows of juice surrounding the kids' mouths and paging through her immense catalogue of unsavory associations---past Donner Party and heliotrope cynanosis and victims of drowning---to realize she's about to derail.

It's not about worry, not really. It's not that I'm concerned, in a serious way, about the possibility that I might have to Heimlich somebody. But the facts that stick in my head are the weird, macabre ones---every terrifying, perverse thing I've ever read about or witnessed is right there and ready to rear up without notice.

Like, for example, when I'm getting on the subway at a certain stop, on my way to meet a friend for margaritas and cheese fries at the restaurant where they roll their eyes at us, and Morrissey is wailing out of my ipod, and even from down here I know it's beautiful...but I can't help thinking of how, five years ago, I watched a man jump to his death here, not twenty feet from me. I remember his trench coat, his wristwatch; I remember the body sprawled on the platform and the paramedic saying "It's no good."

Or when (less seriously, thank goodness) Audra is relating a story about the faulty burglar alarm at the store where she works, impersonating its lunatic whooping and the customers who wouldn't leave, and I'm laughing and also thinking that the sound she's making is exactly like one of those sirens used to indicate the arrival of Nazis at the end of The Diary of Anne Frank. Or I'm toasting marshmallows around the bonfire with friends and remembering the well-meaning vegan who told me, in stockyard-graphic detail, the truth about gelatin. Or I'm drowsy, drifting off, thinking that one of these days I should deal with those cobwebs under the bed, and suddenly that statistic pops into my head, the one about the number of live spiders a year the average person is likely to ingest in her sleep. Is it three? Or seven? Seven seems like a lot, but maybe...

And on and on. Am I the only one who's like this? Whose every present---every now and now and now---is tethered to something appalling or vile, a heartbreak?

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Monday, October 27, 2008


If I can keep only one memory from our wedding day, I hope it's this: of Audra, dancing barefoot in the grass outside the church, whirling so her dress billows around her in a cloud of what looks like whipped cream. I'm standing nearby, watching her, although she doesn't seem to know it---for this moment she's alone. The afternoon light spills over her like a syrup, a languorous golden elixir specific to October, and she glows, delighted, laughing.

It's a relief to be able to play now, to relax. All day we've been unnaturally sober, bracing ourselves for the ceremony's bewildering procession of etiquettes and formalities. We did our best to make the thing our own (five little girls, the daughters of our friends, made a motley troupe of fairy-princesses, flinging themselves down the aisle ahead of us with immense good humor) but still couldn't help but feel a need to be on best behavior, just in case. Didn't tradition require it of us? An awe?

But now---so soon!---it's over. We're married; there's a party going on inside without us. Audra's slowing down, staggering dizzily into a pile of yellow leaves, she's reaching out a hand for me to steady her...and if I remember nothing else, I want it to be this---the act of reaching back.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


Just Married, originally uploaded by schriftstellar.

And by "just" I mean one week and three days ago. It was glorious---details to come. (To view the entire set of photos on Flickr, click the picture above.)

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