On Doing the Undone Things

by Rachael on June 6, 2017

There is so much that I have neglected to do (letters I should have written, poems I want to finish, things I ought to give away or throw away or find a place for in my home, in my life) because to do these things would be to trigger anxiety. The undone things settle around me like sediment at the bottom of a pond — the gunk and dead leaves I don’t want to touch with the bottoms of my feet.

I don’t want to live like this, in the midst of gunk I can’t stand to touch, but just to begin to take care of the undone things is to stir things up. What had been tamped-down anxiety becomes anxiety that I wade through, that I breathe, that runs like static through my veins.

But just to begin seems to be the worst part. I find that I actually can wade through the anxiety, breathe it in, and find an opening. The energy of the anxiety is transformed into a kind of buoyancy, sometimes even exuberance.

And the only way to get to that opening is to go through the barrier — again, and again, and again.

Photo credit: Ehud Neuhaus

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On My Mind: WTF Is Happening to My Country

by Rachael on June 1, 2017

These days my pinned tweet says “WTF is happening to my country is the biggest open loop draining my psyche rn,” and recently I found myself wasting so much time trying to close this loop that I’ve set up the Freedom app so that I cannot look at social media or the news for most of the day. How foolish I am to try to close an open loop on the Internet of all places, especially on Twitter, my favorite poison, where the general theme is mostly OMG we’re all going to die. And yet much of what I have found here on the Internet has been a help to me in recent months.

I’ve Been Reading Ecclesiastes (not originally an Internet find, of course, but I most recently read it here) reminds us that nothing is new under the sun. Masha Gessen advises on how to survive an autocracy; in particular, her counsel to “remember the future” is a touchstone for how best to make our way through the present. (The Twenty-fifth Amendment is not going to save us; nor do I think it should, for example.) Alyssa Rosenberg cautions against calling basic civics “resistance,” which is why I keep promising myself that the kind of work I’m doing now with Indivisible is work I will be doing for the rest of my life. More recently, Rebecca Solnit tells us that equality keeps us honest, whereas inequality creates liars and delusion.

I’ve Been Listening Last summer Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt answered the phone for 48 hours straight; in November the resulting episode of Reply All restored some of my faith in humanity. Yesterday on Trumpcast, Virginia Heffernan and Jared Yates Sexton discussed covfefe, postmodernism, and whether we should just “surrender to the gibberish” (of course not).

On Twitter Recently I was marveling at the freedom with which my kids draw and wondering what happens to that freedom for most of us adults, and then I remembered Josh Marshall’s freewheeling drawings on Twitter. Follow him for his astute analysis of our national politics, as well as for the adventures of Red Pen Guy and Randolph the Dog.

Art by Michelle Vaughn

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Still Little

May 16, 2017

Recently, when I told someone how old my kids are, she exclaimed, “They’re still little!” Her response surprised me, because now that the days of nursing, naps, and diapers are long behind us, my boys don’t seem so little to me anymore. I’m glad to have been reminded that though they have grown, they are […]

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#FridayReads: The Federalist Papers

January 20, 2017

“It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men [sic] are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for […]

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Frantumaglia

October 28, 2016

“The frantumaglia is an unstable landscape,” she writes, “an infinite aerial or aquatic mass of debris that appears to the I, brutally, as its true and unique inner self. The frantumaglia is the storehouse of time without the orderliness of a history, a story. The frantumaglia is an effect of the sense of loss, when […]

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How I Spent the Kids’ Summer Vacation

September 6, 2016

Through the first week of August, the kids went to camp while at home or the public library I struggled to focus on my work. In my free time, instead of reading books, I scrolled through my Twitter feed, seeking some kind of inspiration and (foolishly) reassurance about the future of our country. This tweet […]

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Unraveling

April 21, 2016

I dream of the perfect container, or holding space, for my idiosyncratic, freelancing poet’s life. This container would comprise a spacious, orderly home and predictable routine, and (I imagine) it would grant me a more placid soul. The dream makes sense, given the chaos in which everyday life typically plays out in our home. I […]

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Three Views of Housekeeping

March 24, 2016

1. When one keeps house, what is kept is a boundary between society and nature. Inside is civilization and order; outside is wilderness and chaos. Thus when I say that I want my family and I to take better care of our home, is it because I want to disavow the parts of myself that […]

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To Keep Me from Forgetting

March 22, 2016

Though I love the sunlit evenings of spring and summer, the adjustment to Daylight Savings Time is always more exhausting than I think it ought to be. This year the change wore me out, and on Sunday I greeted spring with a head cold. As I often do when I’m feeling overwhelmed, last week I […]

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Four

February 23, 2016

His birthday was yesterday, and he’s already asking when he will be five. Five years old! I can hardly imagine that one day my littler boy will be so old.

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