knitting, life

Letters

I have found myself engaged in all sorts of analog activities during these weeks of relative isolation. I got an origami kit, bought a half dozen fountain pens, made a few tentative forays into drawing. I have also been writing letters, considerably more than my usual few per year. One of the people with whom I used to exchange them quite regularly, my father’s mother, passed away early this year, so perhaps I have been making up for that by reaching out to other people more often, even those with whom I frequently text or talk.

Some of it, I know, is a self-conscious chronicling of These Unusual Times, like I’m auditioning for a future role in a Ken Burns documentary. I’ve noticed another attitude has crept in lately, on top of that one, a sort of hyper-awareness of the fact that letters written on paper and sent through the mail are immune to the Big Data vacuums that hover just offscreen in our every digital action. No one is going to send me or my correspondent ads based on the written contents, or the design on the card, or the inexpertly crafted origami boat I enclosed. (They may now, based on this post.) There is no record of its existence outside of itself.

Speaking of the analog arts, a knitting update. This is seven or eight inches. I’m quite pleased with how it’s coming along.

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life

Surf’s Up

Have I talked about this movie? It’s one of my favorites, though I no longer remember how we ever happened to run across it years ago. It’s a sweet little coming of age story involving a penguin trying to win a surfing championship, and it’s on my list of comfort food movies.

It is also the source of literally everything I know about surfing. At one point the guru character is explaining the need to acknowledge that it’s the wave providing all the motive power, and you just have to go with it: “Let the wave do the work; you can’t fight those big waves.” Such is life at the best of times, but one is particularly aware of it right now. There’s a lot going on that is obviously beyond our control. However we skitter up and down the front of the wave, we are going where it goes.

At the end of last week I attended (listened in on) a Web conversation about the Art of Doing Nothing, about the irreplaceable value of time that is not spent in any particular activity. Day-dreaming, doodling, going for a stroll, lying in bed and watching the shadows on the blinds, really listening to a piece of music… these are not susceptible to the relentless drumbeat of optimization that pervades even our supposed down-time. They can carry us, if we allow them, or fray our attention if we do not, leave us wondering why we feel so wiped out.

Confinement is definitely wearing on me as we enter Week 9 (on top of which, it snowed yesterday). I have anxious moments, worried nights. A strong light is being thrown on many of our institutions, and few of them show well under it, and the extent of the work to be done can be paralytic. Still, I have found moments of feeling creatively refreshed and physically energized. The curling edge of emotion changes daily if not hourly, driven by many things that are beyond my control. Context changes, needs shift. Water reminds us that nothing is ever truly still, the contradiction in meditation.

monthly updates

All Things Considered

I haven’t been updating lately, because, well, it feels like nothing is happening. The plants grow, the days trickle past, no one goes anywhere, and nothing seems to be getting done under the weight of all of this time. Things are too big and to much is still happening for me to really think about events. I am guilty at times of overusing the word liminal, but it may be the word to apply to our times. We are transitional, oscillating, unsettled. Although it may be possible in theory to observe both our position and our velocity right now, our practical ability to keep track of either one is being tested to the limit.

Today, however, despite all of this, because it’s the end of the month, I sat down automatically to do the April reflections for Unravel Your Year. I generally do this with my bullet journal next to me, because evidently I am one of Those People now, and as I flipped through the month I was forced to admit that all things considered, April wasn’t so bad (for me–I am aware of great good fortune in this).

I added 6,000 words to the novel–still a long way from done, as I stalled out partway into yet another Camp NaNo, but it’s not nothing. I did a lot of yoga, am just a couple of days away from finally finishing one of those 30 Days things on Youtube. I’ve never made it more than halfway into that before. The weather has been too gross to get out much, so this past week, I’ve started using DownDog’s free trial to experiment with HIIT, which is… fun? in a this is amazingly awful wow I am in worse shape than I thought sort of way.

I haven’t finished reading many books, but to be fair one of the books I haven’t finished is David Copperfield, which is on the long side and also hardly anything happens in the first half of it. I have continued drawing my weekly zine doodle/journal out of some vague obligation to chronicle Daily Life in These Times. I’ve had a few nice chats with people. The family is hanging in there, surfing the frustrations and moods of our confined lives. The teen and I have started watching Adventure Time, which I have always meant to get to one day.

I dealt with a lot of crap and work and didn’t scream at anyone, even a little. I finished a big knitting project, and cast on the next one with barely a pause (the yarn is so pretty, you’re going to get lots of pictures).

So… yeah, things could be worse for us. Hope you can say the same, and are staying safe. and healthy.

 

monthly updates

… And Waiting

Two weeks down. Humans are a famously adaptable species, but this is a unique situation for many of us, albeit nigh-ubiquitous right now. One has good days and not-so-good days, and one is learning. I have spent the past week nailing down an early-morning routine that leaves me in a good spot; after 9:00 a.m. things get a little trickier. It’s not that I don’t have enough to do by any means (although having my oven broken for the past week has put a damper on one of my usual outlets); it’s finding the wherewithal to go and do them.

At least it’s spring, I have often consoled myself, and going outside is a pleasure. The picture on the right is the seeds the kids and I planted earlier this week, in a hurry to get up and doing. The winter has been so mild here, it seems likely that we won’t see frost again until October November.

(It’s hard to remember the climate crisis with this other crisis going on. Hopefully we can apply the lessons of one to the other!)

I can’t say I’ve been getting any writing done lately. I have gotten some knitting done recently while I sit through endless online meetings. In addition to gardening supplies, I have been indulging myself with fountain pens, lots of ink, and one large present, which I hope will be arriving this week. I have written a couple of letters, although doing so makes me feel like a walk-on in a Ken Burns documentary.

As I reflect, it seems that navigating the work situation is the strangest part of this. It feels farcical and wrong-headed, a case of direly misplaced priorities, to pretend that the only thing different is that I’m working from home all the time instead of once or twice a week. There is no virtue attached to sitting in a chair for eight hours a day just because that’s normally what I do on, say, Wednesday. (Not to mention the damage said chair is doing to my butt.) Perhaps some clarity will emerge from this, given time. We do have that right now.

Be well!