Saturday, December 22, 2012

TENDER, TENDER, TENDERNESS


Emmy being Emmy.
Cooder camoflaged.






I'm back in Brewster and my kittehs are down here hanging with me, as near as they can get and stay reasonably warm. Emmy is over the heating vent, and Cooder is curled on a warm throw. That's nice, right? We all had a little cuddle and a lie down when I first got home.

The house is quiet. M is just about to get off of work. A&E are both home from school and out Christmas shopping, likely catching up on all matters, sisterly and otherwise. J has a bit of a day off today, having been working hard on the follow-up to the Newtown incident. R is in his zone. And I am back at my computer, reading, grazing, and thinking about writing.

At the end of the year again. I am musing on next  year's resolutions and hurrying to finish a few books so that I can include them in this year's count. I only set myself a goal of reading 40 books, down from last year's 70 (made it to 77), and my usual commitment to read a book a week. Reading 70 books was a hard task, even given that I don't have a regular gig, and I was not able to include reading magazines. This year I hoped to read more New Yorkers, and the like, but given my trough of misery and depression, I went through quite a long spell of neither reading nor writing. I've made it through 45 books thus far and I have about three or four I will finish by New Years.


Looking back to see if there was a favorite above Ms. Woolf this year, I thought at first that I had read mostly current, LITE popular books, but upon review I see there were some more substantive reads worthy perhaps of a recommendation. Perhaps I will share some recommendations a little later.

I began to read The Years on a trip up to Albany and what ended up being my first trip to Schroon Lake in 2010. I met BEM at Kim and Gianna's house, BEM having recently finished her master's on Virginia Woolf and who was, that weekend, working on a Woolf paper for a conference. Now, I am nearly finished with The Years. BEM had a baby a couple of weeks ago. And this is only a pity as she likely does not have the bandwidth or mindspace to discuss this work with which I am at long last enamoured.

I must say, that it took me a couple of  years to make it all the way through The Years is no reflection on the work. I don't think I could really concentrate on it enough. Now I see it as a revelation. The last chapter is full of Book Darts, nearly colliding with one another. It will take me awhile to find places for all of these juicy tidbits.


 Now, I want to quote Woolf.


My life, she said to herself. That was odd, it was the second time that evening that somebody had talked about her life. And I haven't got one, she thought. Oughtn't a life to be something you could handle and produce? - a life of seventy odd years? But I've only the present moment, she thought. Here she was alive, now, listening to the fox-trot. Then she looked around. There was Morris; Rose; Edward with his head thrown back talking to a man she did not know. I'm the only person here, she thought, who remembers how he sat on the edge of my bed that night, crying - the night Kitty's engagement was announced. Yes, things came back to her. A long strip of her life lay behind her. Edward crying, Mrs. Levy talking; snow falling; a sunflower with a crack in it; the yellow omnibus trotting along the Bayswater Road. And I thought to myself, I'm the youngest person on this omnibus; now I'm the oldest. ... Millions of things came back to her. Atoms danced apart and massed themselves. But how did they compose what people called a life? She clenched her hands and felt the hard little coins she was holding. Perhaps there's 'I' at the middle of it she thought; a knot; a centre; and again she saw herself at her table drawing on the blotting paper, digging the little holes from which spokes radiated. Out and out they went; thing followed thing, scene obliterated scene.

Virginia Woolf, The Hours

While composing this post, I listened to a mix under construction, that of (mostly) standard songs that Aretha covered as well. I realize that many of you will object to the strings and orchestration on this cut, but her voice and reading are honest and sensitive. And for the record, she recorded this before Otis. Bing Crosby recorded this as far back as the late 1920's/early 1930s. Try A Little Tenderness.

As for reflecting on our lives this past year, our families with all the stresses of the holidays, and the upcoming year which seems poised for some pitched emotional battles (I mean, the NRA is clearly insane if THAT ASSHAT IS THEIR SPOKESPERSON and I will say no more lest I break something or blow up) ... some fiscal and financial challenges and who knows what else. And I say this to myself for myself,


I may be, I may be sentimental
But I wanna say
That I've had my griefs
Oh, and I've had my cares

And just a good word
Soft and gentle
Makes it, makes it easier
Easier to bear

Now, I might forget it
Oh, but don't let me forget it
Love's all my whole
Whole happiness

Mmm, and it's so, so easy
Try a little
Oh, try a little tenderness
Tender, tender, tenderness

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