Between Freddie Mercury and Saint Francis: Exquisite Clutter and Learning to Let Go

 

Sherlock_Holmes_Museum
Not my apartment. Photo from the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London from Wikipedia.com

I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter.                                                                                                       —Freddie Mercury

Grant me the treasure of sublime poverty.                                                                                                                        —Saint Francis of Assisi

Allow me to paint you a picture:

Take a one bedroom apartment—vintage—that is to say, not rehabbed and fancy with a subway tiled bathroom and stainless appliances but cozy and cute with perhaps a little rust on the white, metal kitchen cabinets, some peeling paint on the window sills—let’s just call it patina. Add a mishmash of furniture dragged from alleys or selected at your finer Chicagoland thrift stores and one beautiful couch purchased brand spanking new from a real furniture emporium. Live in aforementioned apartment for eleven years. Enjoy the companionship of several four-legged creatures who make the sorts of messes four legged creatures are wont to do. Buy books until your shelves overflow. Buy holiday dresses, bathing suits and birthday candles. Make a Halloween costume every year; save them all because you might want to be Aphrodite, an owl or a ‘50s diner waitress again. Attend to living your life. Don’t get rid of any of the thrift store jeans you keep buying without trying on that don’t quite fit.

Now, fall in love and ask your girlfriend and her dog to move in with you. Continue reading Between Freddie Mercury and Saint Francis: Exquisite Clutter and Learning to Let Go

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Unrecognized Brownie, circa 1978

unrecognized brownieI’m excited to be heading east tomorrow for the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency. But this morning, I’m excited to share an essay I wrote on The Rumpus. It’s about friendship, Facebook, loneliness and nostalgia. Have a look if you’re so inclined.

Happy June!

For I Will Consider My Cat Duncan

Duncan reclining

In late August I said goodbye to a very fine cat. Duncan lived with me for seventeen years, in three different apartments. baby duncanHe enjoyed drinking water from the bathroom sink tap and sitting on the edge of the tub when I was taking a bath. On a handful of occasions he actually jumped in, and, instead of splashing immediately back out, walked high-legged and stiff through water up to his undercarriage, investigating the situation. He formed a grudging bond with my pit bull mix, Levi (RIP) and an even more grudging bond with Mingus, a bedraggled black kitten who joined our household three years ago. MyPictureming and dunc

Duncan was fluffy and sweet, even in his dotage when he purred less often and developed the habit of staring into space and vocalizing loudly. He had a very elegant set of whiskers and a distinguished countenance.

handsome dunc

The poet Mary Oliver is known, among other things, for her beautiful writing on dogs. The poem “Her Grave” is one I often send to friends grieving the loss of a pooch. I thought perhaps she’d have something helpful to say about cats. And I found this: Continue reading For I Will Consider My Cat Duncan

Home

photo by Beth Kanter on flickr
photo by Beth Kanter on flickr

Hello! I’ve got an essay up over at themanifeststation.net. It’s called “Home.” Yes, it’s another excerpt from The Saltwater Twin. Take a look, share, let me know what you think… Continue reading Home

mythical creatures

SantaandgoatI’m thinking of adding an appendix to The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. I enjoy the idea of supplementary material: glosses, annotations, illustrations, maps, footnotes. This appendix would list the mythical creatures that appear throughout the book.

The title of the collection comes from a story I told myself when I was eight, about a neighbor who drowned—a girl my age. The myth and accompanying undersea world I constructed for her gave me a way to escape the family in which I was submerged: Continue reading mythical creatures

In Memoriam: Levi, A Very Good Dog

Levi
Philosophy is really there to redeem what lies in an animal’s gaze.                             Theodor Adorno

So many things remind me. When I open a jar of peanut butter, and I don’t hear him clicking into the kitchen. When I wake up and don’t have to roll out of bed, clip on his leash and head outside, whatever the weather. When I dropped Thai takeout on the floor and there was no one to accommodatingly gobble it up.

Last week I said goodbye to a dear friend and companion, an exuberant and lovable pooch named Levi. Twelve years ago, my roommate Amy talked me into adopting him. I was apprehensive because he was a pit bull mix. Like many people, I’d been influenced by the media’s portrayal of pits as mean and aggressive. But four-month-old Levi looked more like a bunny. So, I did some research. Continue reading In Memoriam: Levi, A Very Good Dog

New Year’s News

The_Two_Jungle_Books_1895_Akela,_the_Lone_Wolf
Now this is the Law of the Jungle—
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
                                    Rudyard Kipling
 

 

Another excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures appears this month! It’s called “Law of the Jungle” and it’s featured in the current issue of The Chattahoochee Review, “The Animal.” I described the process of writing that chapter in March of 2012 (see “wild truth” and “finding the trail”). The issue’s not available online, but the curious can get their paws on a copy here.

The cover art is kind of spooky, no?
The cover art is kind of spooky, no?

Continue reading New Year’s News

For Auld Lang Syne

new years2A new year is an untouched expanse of snow, a freshly sharpened pencil, a blank page. It’s a reminder that our lives begin again and again. Yet in the very first minutes of the fledgling year, many of us will gather among friends and strangers and sing an old song that invites us to reflect on old friends, past loves, our complicated, meandering, fraught personal and collective histories.

With each passing year we ask again, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?” Continue reading For Auld Lang Syne

Stories Stories Stories: Live on Stage!

4 moon nightWell, “Live in a Bar,” anyway. Chicago area folks, I’ll be reading at two upcoming story nights: True Story at Four Moon Tavern on September 17 and Story Sessions at The Dog’s Bollox on September 22.

True Story at Four Moon Tavern starts at 7:30 in the back room. There will be craft beers on tap, dinnertime options and stories about reality TV, spiders, neighbors, Peter Pan and Kenny Rogers. It’s the inaugural show for this brand new series and it’s free!

Story Sessions at The Dog’s Bollox is a themed show called “Creature Comforts.” All the stories will be about animal encounters. I’m reading about this guy: DSC01202

The Dog’s Bollox has many things to eat and drink, there’s a house band (called Dog 1, but I think that’s just a happy coincidence) and of course stories! It’s at 7 pm, it costs 7 bucks and you can get tickets here.

If you come out, come say hi! Hope to see you soon.

Sessions AUG25_POSTER