I’ve been nesting lately. It’s that time of year, I suppose, although animals tend to build their nests in Spring, don’t they? Whoops. Better said I’ve been preparing my hibernation den. Or perhaps even better said I’ve been avoiding certain things like the plague (like getting back into a writing routine), or avoiding certain things (like writing) by playing games about the plague.
I jest—I mean I did love that movie Contagion and The Black Death holds some sort of fascination for me, but that plague game was a momentary digression, something I assured my friend Catherine who found it quite appalling that I should even entertain such darkness in my usually quite bright life.
We recently saw Bon Iver together (with my daughter the musician who took the picture and who had a test the next day…what a bad parent I am!). Catherine mentioned my foray into plagues that night. This was around the time about 3/4 of the way into the concert when I realized I was, I believe, the oldest person in all of Radio City Music Hall (my daughter assured me I wasn’t, pointing to the sole couple on the balcony who appeared to be over 30—they left early). This was in between the moose-like moans, mad drumming and ethereally beautiful sounds and flashing colors which nearly gave me a migraine and made me think of the Northern Lights. Maybe it was that video, or the fact that when I first heard of him it was just after he spent some time hibernating/creating in the north woods of Wisconsin (even if there aren’t northern lights there, I like to imagine there are). Mr. Vernon and his 8 male bandmates (gender important only because the music seemed so testosterone-filled) were amazing.
Maybe what’s been keeping me away from seriously committing to my writing is the fact that my magic trackpad is indeed magic but makes my wrist hurt, and my mouse scrolls only in one direction which makes it quite impossible to slide down the page. Or maybe it’s that watching my cat sleep makes me smile, or cooking up concoctions like coriander-basil-almond pesto brown rice with scallops (yum) takes time. I’m entranced by a novel about a murder on a plantation (The Cutting Season), knitting my first pair of socks, getting a grip on our finances and learning how to text with both thumbs instead of just one. I’m quite enjoying my hiatus, you see.
Today I caught the end of the movie The Quiz Show. It is a favorite in our household, and seems to lurk about in its own hibernation den waiting for us to turn on the tv (relatively rare event, unless Man. City or Arsenal are playing or Survivor is on). We are loyal to our likes, in a way (the significance of this to be seen later in my post via the app I recommend).
Back to The Quiz Show… It is a cautionary tale. Ralph Fiennes portrays poor Mr. Van Doren as a good if socially awkward man seduced into a lie which snowballs until he is forced to admit his wrong. But the moral tale is clearly flawed, for he was corralled into fessing up and rather than being rewarded for his honesty with a clean slate and a new life full of hope and redemption, he takes the hit for the others who then go on to fame and fortune. Realistic recompense, I suppose. Vilified, he retreats to the contemplative life to which he was no doubt better suited.
There is a telling scene when the network president prepares to testify before Congress. He’s not in the least bit nervous about the fact that he was complicit in the deception, in the bribery, in the lies. He calmly chuckles about his golf game with one of the congressmen about to interrogate him. The old boys network lives on.
Today I read of research on oxytocin, that lovely hormone which surges when we make love, when we curl an infant to our breast, when we share intimacies with a close friend. The study further examines its role in bonding us not to just anyone, but to our clan, to those like us, to the horde. It’s what saved our hides in the past, this gut knowledge of who we should trust, who we should follow, but now it’s what makes enemies out of those who may well be our allies, foments in us ethnocentric biases which no doubt have a role in all the insanity, the crowd-fueled hatred we see on every newscast and that which inspired it.
Keep hope alive… maybe this is a good time to share this picture I found taped to my daughter’s door.
When I’m not oohing and ahhing over lounging cats and not one but two artistic daughters (and lest we forget an equally stellar son) I’ve been working on focus, on paring down my media diet and the way I spend my time in ways that will allow depth and presence and not this frenetic pacman-like munching of bits and bytes which nourish for only a few moments but leave me hungry.
I loved loved loved this little manifesto, Robin Sloan’s free little app called Fish: a tap essay. I would, if I could, slip it onto everyone’s i-everything during the night so that they might find it in the morning. It puts into words exactly the way I’ve been feeling of late. I’ve also discovered this lovely (love love love, it’s the oxytocin flowing through me, I guess) place called “The School of Life.” Sunday sermons, and bibliotherapy…almost makes me want to move to London and just camp out on their doorstep.