Archive for ‘Nowness’

On Being Ordinary

July 13th, 2015

Star web


Is it just my imagination, or is everyone extraordinary these days? Innovative, visionary, simply amazing. We’re all trying to have the most Likes, the most Retweets, the most Friends. To have our blogs optioned for books. To lead memoir-worthy lives. To have our videos go viral. It’s not enough to knit our days together with simple things like calling friends, taking a walk, noticing sunsets, admiring clouds that will never come again just so, loving Fridays, making bread without taking its picture, learning something without the need to be the best at it, honoring beautiful boring dailiness. No. We must be Commented on, gold-starred, entrepreneurial, singled out, TED-talked. We crave recognition. It’s our designer drug. I’m not immune to the addiction, but I try to remember what life was like when I was not instantly uploading it, sharing it, starring in it. When information didn’t substitute for inspiration. When the moment at dinner when our minds clicked over wine was more indelible than the Instagram of that moment. When the full moon was the whole show, not the photo that proved we saw it. When life just unfolded before our eyes without being curated.

My Kind of Time

December 16th, 2014

DUSK 1 web

I love dusk. Movers and shakers, early birds and go-getters recommend greeting the dawn if you’re going to develop the Truly Boring Habits of the Highly Successful. But I love the winding down time when the day is taking off its bra, putting on its pajamas, having a cocktail and curling up on the couch to read a book. If Dusk had a voice, it would sound like Lauren Bacall. If it had a theme song, it would be by John Coltrane. If it had a perfume, it would be called Wood Smoke. It’s liminal time, when the earth is holding its breath for a few heartbeats before eventide rolls in. Dusk — the magic hour.

Time UnManagement

November 18th, 2013


Don’t get all excited — I’m not going to reveal some lifestyle hacks that will help you clear out your in-box or spend less time on Facebook or coach you on how to show up on time for an appointment. I guess those are worthy goals, but they just don’t interest me. I know it’s not very realistic to ignore our daily bread 24/7, but it’s good to bear in mind that time is just a manmade construct and that Now is the only time you need to mind. You and I don’t have user warrantys for an hour from now, tomorrow, next year. We’re not guaranteed a chance to see the Northern Lights or hike the Cinque Terra or start exercising tomorrow (I have good intentions!). We don’t even have a lock on that lunch date tomorrow or the sale that kicks in at midnight. That’s old, man-made, Protestant, I’m-going-to-live-forever time, and we might not be here, pushing a red shopping cart around Target looking for specials. Tomorrow is a bedtime story we tell ourselves to keep the dark out — it’s human nature. It’s pretending there’s no big bad wolf on our doorstep that will eventually blow our house down. But every now and then, it’s possible to slip into Now time. There’s no clock that has to be set, rewound, adjusted for Daylight Savings Time or have its batteries replaced. You can find it  in the pulsing of the blue veins in your wrists or the no-time when meditation really works or the flow that happens when you’re totally absorbed in work or love or art. And when that happens, we’re immortal. As my new favorite saying goes, “Carpe Fucking Diem!”

Friday Night in Fridaville

August 9th, 2013

Back Camera

Even though I work from home now, I’m still on weekday/weekend time, and I love Friday nights. They’re full of promise and anticipation even when I don’t have anything special planned. It still feels as if something unexpected and exciting could occur. Like meeting a stranger who turns out to be my soul mate. Or getting a brilliant idea that could completely turn my life around. Or being invited to a party where I’ll magically turn into an interesting extrovert and be asked to host my own TV show. But what I love best are Quiet Fridays. When I have a glass of wine (Ferrari-Carano fume blanc), download a new book to my Kindle  (The Game of Thrones) and have one of my favorite single-people dinners (tuna salad on Saltines). Yes, I envy my friends who live in New York City, where you can just step outside your apartment and be immediately immersed in city life, crowds and culture. Where there’s always a ballet being danced, an art exhibit being opened, a happy hour on every corner. I envy that a lot. But in Fridaville, I don’t have to strive, achieve, accomplish, succeed or exceed expectations. I don’t have to wish I were living in Marfa, TX, or flying to London or catching a sold-out once-in-a-lifetime concert. I can just meet myself at the junction of Tried and True in the middle of Nowhere and sit on the porch with my wine. Sometimes it’s just enough.

Putting on the Ritz

June 10th, 2011




When I was getting dressed this morning for work and rummaging through my closet hoping to find something wonderful I didn’t know I had, I actually did. A beautiful DAY Birger skirt of net embroidered with aqua yarn. I splurged on it about three years ago in a fit of optimism that I would fit into it one day. Three years and 30 fewer pounds, I do! At first I decided to save it for a special occasion instead of putting on the Ritz just to go to the office. But then I realized that every day I’m alive should be a special occasion, that whenever I walk out the door there’s a chance I’ll meet my soulmate, that this skirt needs to be lived in instead of left in the dark. Waiting. That’s what I spend so much time doing–waiting for the future, waiting until I have the perfect tools before I start an art project, waiting for an idea to find me. So I’m wearing the skirt to work today, feeling like I’m the special occasion I’ve been waiting for.



No Complaints

November 23rd, 2010

All too often, I find myself bitching about where I live, chafing at the known-ness of it, the social boundaries and perimeters, the maddening political climate. But last weekend I went to a Guerrilla Cuisine dinner, a mobile supper club staged this time on the edge of the Lowcountry marsh as the sun set and oysters roasted over a fire and shadows stretched from the oaks down to the water. Later, seated at long tables, there was the buzz and fizz of conversation among strangers, plate after plate of amazing food, plenty of wine and laughter. I don’t think it’s altogether bad to kick against the pricks, to want to push against the predictability of place, but I needed to be reminded also of the briny liquid in an oyster shell, the bite of homemade hot sauce and the plunge of a porpoise making its way up the creek as we toasted the remains of the day.


October 27th, 2010

When you have been very sad for a very long time, you notice immediately any scrap of blue sky, any break in bad weather. I realized yesterday that I hadn’t cried one time all day, and this morning I found myself singing along with Roseanne Cash to “Seven Year Ache” on the way to work. Loudly. Badly. Joyously. Although I was sweetly surprised, I immediately felt guilty, as if I were being unfaithful to my grief. I have this poem by e.e. cummings pasted in my journal, and I’m trying to believe that I can incorporate the person I’ve lost into my being and carry everything he gave me wherever I go. That it will be a happy, celebratory thing to do. My head knows it’s true, but my heart lags behind. I just have to trust that in time it will catch up.

Between Here & There

October 22nd, 2010

I’ve had this vintage leather suitcase for so long I don’t even remember where, when or why I bought it. I’ve moved it from place to place and at one time used it to store old letters. It’s been sitting empty, taking up space in a closet for several years, and in a tornadic frenzy of  crying and throwing things away a couple of weeks ago, I put this on the street for the trash truck or a trash picker to take. In the same haul, I cleaned out my freezer and threw away everything in it. Outdated salmon patties, frost-bitten fruit, over-the-hill veggie burgers and on and on. Stuff no longer edible but that I kept shoving around in order to find an ice tray. Next, I went through my clothes and got rid of everything I no longer wore but crammed in the back of the closet. A wool kilt that hadn’t fit me for 30 years, t00-big jeans–just in case, an expensive, boxy leather jacket that made me feel nunnish. It didn’t escape me that I was simply making an outward statement of what was going on internally. I’ve stuffed old sadnesses and wounds to the back of my psyche year after year, rummaging through them periodically but unable to completely let go. Right now, my freezer is still empty, and more useless possessions have since followed the suitcase to the curb. I’m clearing a space, but I don’t know why or what will come along to fill it. Maybe nothing, maybe a small, tender mercy, maybe something I’ve waited for all my life– I’m not chasing it, just waiting to see what happens.

Party of One

July 10th, 2010

I’ve been having a completely nonproductive, unintellectual weekend and loving it. Friday after work, I went to the restaurant across the street from the office and had 1 1/2 glasses of Chardonnay, talk to the bartender (who I love because he warned me to stay away from a guy I met there), and write in my journal. I can’t say that anything memorable comes out of those writing sessions but the stress of a week of work gradually fades away as I brainstorm with myself, draw, and make to-do lists for the next week. I had dinner with friends and came home and read a poorly written historical novel. Thank god for the bad historical novel writers who keep me company in my insomnia. Today, I again did nothing useful except go to the post office and take vitamins. I brushed my teeth and put on a bra before leaving the house, so I think I get some points for that. Then I spent several hours playing MahJong online, reading Vanity Fair and listening to the rain. So here’s the thing — given that “our ground time here is limited,” as Maxine Kumin noted in a poem, shouldn’t I be making stuff, thinking big thoughts or taking flying lessons? Yes, I think I should, and I wish I’d spent more time doing that over the course of my life instead of reading People and going to T.J. Maxx. But I love the “wasting” of time, too, so I’m caught up in a familiar existential dilemma. And now that I’ve finished reading VF, I’ll get right back to Buddha’s Brain…soon. After all,tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett said to Sartre.

Here, Now.

May 7th, 2010

I never thought I could live anywhere but the south, because I thought I had to have hot summers and mild winters. But being in Seattle for the past week has made me shift my perspective a little and wonder why I rule out so many possibilities. I feel so much more awake here, maybe because it’s utterly different from the flat, open-to-the-sun coastal Carolina landscape. The giant ferns and towering trees here conceal pockets of cool shady mystery. And every day I wake up to see the Olympic mountain range catching the passing weather on its peaks–it’s as good as a movie, because the sky is as changeable as the ocean. Moody and sullen with gray purple clouds or wild blue with meringue clouds peaking up as they glide by…and all of this can happen in the space of one day. Beyond that picket fence are deer and coyote hiding in the brush and a border collie chasing a red ball over and over. And beyond that is the forest and then the wide water and then the unfathomable mountains. The wind blows the sun around, shakes the windchimes, ruffles the dog’s glossy black coat, sweeps the grass back and forth.  Everything in motion, everything in place.