Pause and Shift

21 01 2009

I am out today on sick leave. I should be writing the paper that was due last semester. I should be getting some laundry started. I should be drinking water instead of coffee. I should be reading about web development for my class tonight, or addressing invitations to Ruthie’s birthday party at the very least. I am in my last semester of grad school. Three years I have been in grad school and it has officially rendered me brainless. I am too serious. I am too intentional, too resentful. Everything is personal. I wake up gritting my teeth. Every question is an interrogation, every request an imposition. And here I am sitting at my computer: paralyzed by the desire to write, and overcome by the dull conviction that I don’t have anything interesting to say. 

So I reread Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” which was, to me, inspiring. I can’t imagine writing anything under such pressure. In the past few weeks, I’ve been reading as much about her as I could find on the internet. I’ve found that I like her– she’s honest, thoughtful, and insightful. In an interview with Jeffrey Brown, she talked about the task of composing the inaugural poem:

JEFFREY BROWN: So — so, have you made a start? How do you — how do you go about this? What is it that you want to accomplish? 

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER: What I want to do in the composition of the poem is to be very quiet and very humble before the forces that make me able to write poems.

It’s a very, very big challenge. It’s a very extraordinary moment. And I think the fact that Barack Obama has decided that he wants to have a poem as part of the inaugural is tremendously significant, to say that here is a time when we can listen to language that shifts us a little bit, that allows us to pause for a moment and contemplate what’s ahead of us, to think about how we can contribute to the challenges ahead of us, all of those things can be possible in the moment of pause and shift that — that a poem makes possible.

So, I’m just trying to be very serious and very quiet and very humble as I — as I try to — try to write something.

I am neither a quiet nor a humble person, but I can reside for a small time in the moment of  pause and shift

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

 

(These lines were clipped from the New York Times transcript of Elizabeth Alexander’s reading of “Praise Song for the Day.” Sadly, the transcript does not reflect line breaks.)





And now for something completely different…

15 04 2008

On this, my second day of Spring Break, I found myself in a situation that made me remember the very best version of myself in college. I was driving down Dean Ave with the windows down––it’s in the 50’s today in Auburn–and Jack Johnson blaring on my stereo (tracks 8 and 13 on his new album). I called one of my dearies from college who used to copilot with me on such outings that generally led to country drives way out Moore’s Mill Rd. and at least a half a pack of cigarettes on my end. Jack Johnson will always be the musical score to my Springtime.

As a result of my finally springing into Spring, I have begun my Spring shopping. For you, my friends, I have developed the Spring Enjoyment List––it might be better than the O List, but sadly, as I am an educator with a two year old, I cannot afford to give any freebies away. Instead, I will direct you to the websites where you might purchase them for yourself if you so choose.

10. Gardening gear

9. Timeless tumblers for a toddy or a sweet tea on the front porch

8. Pajama pants that you can be seen wearing in public

7. New place mats to brighten up our kitchen/dining room

6. A Corona with lime

5. A Springy wallet that doubles as a purse in Wasabi.

4. Jack Johnson: Sleep Through the Static

3. Nanette Lepore sling backs (These are still on my wish list, but they are oh-so beautiful!)

2. Votivo candle in Honeysuckle

1. New nail polish (and a pedicure to boot!)

Add to this list a brilliant novel that you’ve been putting off until you have “more time” (mine: The Amber Spyglass and The Year of Magical Thinking), a new handbag (preferably the one by Marc Jacobs that I was eyeing last weekend), and some fresh fruit, and you’re set to go.