Words to live by: Rebecca Solnit

“Apolitical is a political position, yes, and a dreary one. The choice by a lot of young writers to hide out among dinky, dainty, and even trivial topics—I see it as, at its best, an attempt by young white guys to be anti-hegemonic, unimposing. It relinquishes power—but it also relinquishes the possibility of being engaged with the really interesting and urgent affairs of our time, at least as a writer. The challenge is how can you not be the moralizing, grandstanding beast of the baby boomers but not render yourself totally ineffectual and—the word that comes to mind is miniature. How can you write about the obscure things that give you pleasure with a style flexible enough to come round to look at more urgent matters? Humor matters here, and self-awareness, and the language of persuasion and inclusion rather than hectoring and sermonizing. You don’t have to be a preacher to talk about what matters, and you don’t have to drop the pleasures of style.”
-Rebecca Solnit

I just finished Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust, which was an extraordinary history philosophy mishmash of the world held together by the thread of walking, and I hope to read more of her work.  I also wrote her a mini letter of appreciation (and am presently trying without much luck to find an address to send it to), something I often want to do in the midst of reading a particularly fine book but am often too distracted/embarrassed to do so.

Aaaaand…
I think I want to write poetry.  I said it, it’s out there, and now I’m accountable to it.  Scary stuff, because I’m not sure I’ve written more than two poems in my life that I’ll let anyone else read (excepting an assortment of angsty pieces from my adolescence that are an excellent source of humor these days), let alone feel proud of.  But writing of all sorts takes practice, I’ve heard 🙂

~Lauren

Words to live by: Confucius

Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
~Confucius

I hope to continue expanding my sense and perception of beauty, to be a witness to its depths and details, and the unexpected places it occurs in particular.

Thanks to the wonderful Parabola magazine weekly email for providing me with yet another wonderful tidbit to ponder.

Not that I post particularly regularly anyhow, but I’m hoping to take a bit of a digital sabbatical while I’m in Illinois for the holiday.  There are many people that I want to truly engage while I’m home, and equally as many that will be in Minnesota when I get back, and I don’t want the internet as a distraction from actual human interaction.  Digital sabbatical: try it, you might like it!

~Lauren

This December I’m reading…

I actually just finished this last night, but wanted to include it anyway.  River Horse by William Least-Heat Moon is a rich river travelog.  Moon travels from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the waterways of the United Space, and chronicles the many strangers, bars, and historical landmarks he and his crew encounter along the way.  I’ve been into travel writing for quite some time now, and this particular piece was a delight for sure.

For the first time in quite a while, I’ve had to monumentally SLOW DOWN while reading.  The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff by Jeanne de Salzmann is a mouthful, a headful, and a soulful piece of spiritual philosophy.  I’m only 40 pages or so into it, but I have to read nearly every paragraph at least twice to feel as though I have actually digested its wisdom.  Kind of Zen Buddhism, with twinges of Christian something or other, and a symbol that looks strangely like the Enneagram on the cover, The Reality of Being will likely continue to provide many spiritual musings in the weeks to come.

I attempted The Shipping News by Annie Proulx once before, and at the time it must have been too slow for my taste because I only got a quarter of the way into it before putting it aside for so long that I forgot the thread of the story.  But I’m giving it another go, as the Aussies say.  A story set in Newfoundland can’t help but make winter in Minnesota seem a bit less frigid, right?

In the vein of books and reading, I have discovered that I actually PREFER to have books I search for in the library database not be immediately available for reserving and checkout.  The anticipation of the queue line, inching closer and closer with every day or week to the top of the list, is delicious.  And it’s always a delightful surprise when something I put on my list months ago finally, finally, FINALLY is waiting for me at my local library.  In fact, this whole process is so wonderful and, dare I say, addictive, that I’ve found myself purchasing far fewer books (even used) so that I can feed my library queue addiction.

Be well, friends!
~Lauren

A simple wedding is harder than it sounds.

So it’s been not quite a month since Benjamin and I got engaged, and already I have felt inundated on several occasions by the multitude of ways that one can spend an absurd amount of money in planning an executing a wedding. Just on the basic elements alone (invitations, ceremony, reception, dress, rings) one can get up into the many thousands range. And that’s not even adding food/photographer/lighting (who gets LIGHTING for their wedding anyway)/flowers/etc. So before complete overload occurred and Benjamin and decided to elope just to avoid the whole thing, thus making our parents very sad indeed, I journaled about what I really wanted from this event that has such potential both for stress and for memorability. I wanted to hone in on the feeling, the concept, not the details. So I came up with a mission statement of sorts:

I want the event to be simple, sustainable, beautiful, quirky, and filled with the people I love most.

It’s not complicated. It has nothing to do with finding a dress or a venue or consuming anything for that matter.  My simple wedding mission statement is about the elements that are truly important: Benjamin and my relationship, our values, and the people we care about.

I’m hoping that as the process continues and we do need to think about and decide on details, this mission statement can remain as something to come back to, to remember when balance and peace are hard to find.

I am resolved…

to do many things, but on this particular day, said resolutions are inspired by The Rejectionist’s yearly testing of next year’s resolution for the month of December.  I will still call them ‘Practices to Enact’, I think, because that has a nicer ring to it.  Regardless, here’s how things will go down:

*Eat less pastries/cookies/sweets in general.  I failed miserably at the attempt in November (I blame it on my birthday.  And getting engaged) but hope to have more peer pressure this time and actually succeed.  That and I need to take it easy before the sugar-fest of holiday time.

*Write every freaking day.  Either in this here blog, or in my personal journal, or in the lovely little Greenway notebook that was my goodbye present from Laura K upon ending my LVC year at the Coalition, or poetry in the snow.  Whatever.  Write write write write.

*Start budgeting.  Like really think about the things I spend $$ on now, the things Benjamin and I will want/need to spend $$ on in the future, and map it out.  At this precise moment in time I am not living paycheck to paycheck by any means, but with bike adventures/possible house/a plethora of awesome community activities in the future, it would be enormously helpful to actually track my spending and have a real reason to save for lovely things in the future.  Maybe I’ll make an art project out of it…

*Keep my Facebook-note promise to write at least one letter to a friend at least once a week.  Thus far I have only done this once, which is unacceptable.  This could also help with PtE #2, come to think of it.

*Make progress on growing mushrooms and my t-shirt quilt.  I’ve been working on the latter for years, and thinking about the former for months, and have been in stasis.  But on Tuesday I bought batting and thread for the quilt (and also decided I should sign up for the beginning handquilting class at the quilt shop in February/March taught by a 90 year old lady), so it’s going to happen this time.

December, commence!  Now I expect all of you wonderful people to ask me how these things are going so that I’m held accountable 🙂