Short flight, free descent

Little Calf Mountain
Mussed hair, dogs, ripped jeans on Little Calf Mountain.

Upon reading the lyrics of Joanna Newsom’s new album, Divers, one is filled with an acute sense of despair and wonder. How is it fair that one woman should possess all of these gifts?

I want so badly to write this thing, this thing I have been mulling over for about a year, but I realized that I cannot write a good narrative. I don’t know how to write dialogue; I can only tell. I am afraid of mimicking the way people speak. In the same moment, I realize I am also afraid of cats, in a fundamental way. I am afraid of cats, like I am afraid of writing dialogue, because I do not understand how they work.

(I should not be blogging. I have had wine.)

I love how much my husband loves women artists. It is a rare thing in a man, I think.

I don’t think I could ever have a cat, even though I admire them from afar. For one, I abhor keeping any pet that shits in your house. For another, I mistrust an animal that has no sense of mercy.

At a recent dinner, in front of a table full of super-intelligent, beautiful, agnostic women, I admitted that I went to church on a regular basis. I felt shy and exposed, and felt like I should have stopped myself, but I was received kindly and graciously, without apparent judgment. Some of them seemed curious about this admission. We talked freely about religion and what we liked about it, what we felt it could add to our lives.

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly than we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing. We admire decency and we despise death but even the mountains seem to shift in the space of a night and perhaps the exhibitionist at the corner of Chestnut and Elm streets is more significant than the lovely woman with a bar of sunlight in her hair, putting a fresh piece of cuttlebone in the nightingale’s cage. Just let me give you one example of chaos and if you disbelieve me look honestly into your own past and see if you can’t find a comparable experience…”

— “The Death of Justina,” John Cheever

Songs that make me cry

Or, more accurately, songs that make me tear up in a suffusion of sublime emotion. You know how it is.

Swansea,” Joanna Newsom, from The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City, 2004)

And yonder, wild and blue
The wild blue yonder looms
Till we are wracked with rheum
By roads, by songs entombed…

Holocene,” Bon Iver, from Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar, 2011)

And at once I knew, I was not magnificent.

Saro,” Sam Amidon, from All Is Well (Bedroom Community, 2008)

I wish I was a poet
Could write in find hand
Would write my love a letter
One she’d long understand

Tempo di Valse,” Antonín Dvořák

[No lyrics; just beauty.]

Any songs that always make you misty?


I'm coming, my three little hotties! (Kelsey, Mom, and Grace, walking to church in Davidson.)

I’m jetting off to Primland tomorrow for the family women weekend in honor of Kelsey’s birthday. Liz and I were wondering last night how to pronounce it. “Prim-LAND” sounds too American, so I think we’ll settle on “PRIM-lund,” in a British accent, with the nose slightly in the air. Anyway. Can’t wait to go. I’ve missed those three a lot.

Last night, Guion and I watched Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” I can’t remember who I was with when I first watched it, but I remember really liking it. It was fun watching it with someone who didn’t know what was going to happen, either. And fun to be reminded of how totally amazing Penelope Cruz is. She makes Scarlett Johansson look weak and wan.

Guion is going to have a Man Weekend in my absence. He’s going to see Joanna Newsom play in Richmond (jealous!), host song workshops at our house, and record music until the wee hours of the night. He says he’s going to miss me, but I’m not so sure I believe him. We also realized that Saturday will be the first day we’ve spent apart since we were married. So sweet.

I don’t dream about anything these days but animals. Mostly puppies. Last night, it was a flock of birds (finches, budgies, parrots, lovebirds) that I bought from a Vietnamese hair salon in San Francisco. In the dream, Guion decided he hated them and I had to return them all, which involved navigating very bad traffic on a terrible highway and breaking into the salon at night to return the birds to their cages. Very specific details. I have no idea why or how my psyche generates these stories.

Have a lovely weekend. See you Monday!

And the way it will all come together
In quietness, and in time

And you laws of property
Oh, you free economy
And you unending afterthoughts;
You could’ve told me before

Never get so attached to a poem, you
Forget truth that lacks lyricism, and
Never draw so close to the heat, that
You will forget that you must eat, oh

– Joanna Newsom, “En Gallop”