Toddlers and Poetry

I’ve discovered my new favorite thing: toddlers reciting poetry.

Litany is one of my all-time favorite poems. If Audrey gets Allen Ginsberg, then I get Billy Collins. Below is a video of him reading and explaining Litany. It’ll make you laugh.

On the Royal Wedding

After doing extensive historical research on Wikipedia, I sat down to watch the Royal Wedding. While it was beautiful and lovely, it didn’t have the monumental impact I thought it would have on me. All I could do as I sat there was calculate the cost of the wedding and horrors of the austerity cuts. Such a disappointment.

On Looking Forward to the Summer

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on pictures like this one, instead of all the stress and unhappiness. It isn’t going so well.

I really wish I was at the beach right now.

On India and Stressed Out Anger

The sound that my anxiety makes is: Ahhhhhhhhhh!

I have a million things to do in a very short amount of time, and I am so stressed out. So stressed out. Like crying and crying and crying stressed out. And when this happens, I like to watch Frost/Nixon and go through old files on the computer to calm down. So when I was looking through some pictures from my father’s latest trip to India, I found this. It makes me really mad, but not for the reason you’re thinking of.

This is an Indian holy symbol, a symbol that has belonged to them and their culture for hundreds of years. Then, the idiotic Nazis stole it, flipped the little things on the end and used it as a symbol for their fascist government and deplorable acts. And it really, really infuriates me that they can’t use this symbol outside of India for fear of being accused of anti-Semitism. Really, really infuriates me.

Gosh, I’m so angry right now.

But I have work to attend to, so off I stomp to the world of papers, prep books, and short answer questions.

On Audrey’s Adoration of Allen Ginsberg

Last night, after reading my post, Audrey asked me if I had read any Ginsberg.

Ginsberg? I thought, Like Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Sure, I’ve read peices of her decisions!

But I was wrong. Audrey was talking about Allen Ginsberg, the poet. He’s a little different from my favorite female Justice. The most pronounced of these differences is that Audrey’s kind of in love with him.

I’ve always really admired Audrey and the way that she allows herself to become infatuated with things. She lives life very passionately, grabbing onto ideas, music, books, periods of history, and people and immersing herself in them as she discovers all of its intricacies. She’s the sort of person to fall so deeply in love with a musical that she’ll go see it over and over and over again, until she knows every actor that has ever played the roles, when mistakes are made on stage, minute changes to the set, why each song was written, and the way that the actors will react when you try to get their autograph at the stage door. Best of all, she’ll bring you along for the ride, offering to go into the city with you at five a.m. to buy rush tickets and back again in the evening to see the show. She’ll stand outside with you, even though its nearly midnight and a school night, so that you can speak to the lead. And it’ll be so much fun that you’ll wish that you could be just like her and develop such beautiful obsessions.

I don’t know how, but Audrey’s suddenly found the Beat Generation and its literature. It’s all kinds of glorious and lovely, and she’s caught in a happy whirlwind of revelation. Last night, when the walls of anxiety were pressing in on me from all sides, she told me to look up A Supermarket in California, and oh my goodness was it beautiful. I mean, there was Walt Whitman, and food, and cataloging, and questions. I read it three times. And then over once more. Then I read King of May four times as well.

Today in second period, she generously handed over Howl. It’s wondrous and lyrical, and it makes me want to do nothing but read poetry all day long. Best of all, it has Whitman’s “Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!” right on the title page. I’m entranced.

Once again, I’m being generously pulled along on another adventure with Audrey, and I’m so grateful.

Fling Open the Windows

Many years ago, when I was just a baby, this is what the view from our beach house looked like:

The porch has changed a lot since then. The old chairs and sofa got replaced with newer, fancy ones, white carpet was put down, all of the beach chairs and toys went into the basement, and the whole porch was insulated and re-paneled with beautiful maple. And while those changes are all very nice, I don’t totally love the Porch 2.0. You see, we had to install new windows with the double panes to keep the outside air out and the inside air in. But these windows just slide back and forth. They can’t be thrown open with gusto, and they don’t make you feel like you could fly out of the window, all the way down to the sea, and truly become part of the salty air and feather-light sand.

My favorite Psalm is Psalm 139. It reads,

“If I take the wings of the morning/and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,/Even there your hand will lead me/and your right hand hold me fast.”

So when I am at the beach, I want to become that part of the Psalm. And mostly, I do. I feel it when I stand at the top of the landing at seven o’clock in the morning after returning from a run or walk and the fog is just begining to rise. I feel it when I’ve finally worked up the courage to dive into the gentle surf. I even feel it when I’m in the kitchen, sitting on the floor with my back up against the refrigerator, drinking juice and letting the condensation from the freezer drip down onto my hair. But looking out of the porch window isn’t what it could be. You aren’t thrust into the joy and that Psalm. You’re just you on a porch, admiring a pretty picture.

It’s rather silly, feeling this way. I’m nostalgic from something that changed when I was eleven. But windows are important. They let you see what you are so nearly a part of, beckoning with promises of joy, if you would only stray a little farther, out the door and into the world.

I like windows that cry out, as Whitman does when he write this in Song of Myself:

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

But the new windows don’t have that passion. They slide with duty and purpose, never with jubilation. Opening them requires forethought, not reckless abandon. They don’t scream euphoria, and they never will.

I want the old windows back.

My Father is Actually Ten

Today, while riding in the car to the Swiss Pork Store, we passed a restaurant called “Tasty Crêpes.” My father turned to me and says, “Tasty creeps? Now there’s a store I’d want to avoid!”

In a annoyed voice, Pippa protested, “Dad! It’s crêpes, not creeps!”

And so began a banter of “Creeps!” “No, crêpes!”

Then, just like a ten-year-old boy, my father gleefully said, “Infinite creeps. I win!”

I just rolled my eyes and said, “Turn left on River.”

But on days like today when I feel so sad my stomach hurts, these little moments are just what I need for a pick-me-up.

On Figuratively Gardening a Patch of Anxiety

I spent the day in the city, letting the blustery winds send my hair flying and plunging my hands deep into my pockets to avoid the cold. But no matter how hard I tried to focus on shopping, the anxiety wouldn’t slip away. It grew through my chest like creeping ivy, starting from my sternum and stretching all the way down to my elbows. Twisting itself as it went, it would pause to wind its way back up to its source before journeying back down again with increasing speed. But like a determined gardener with dirt stained hands and knees, I clipped away and dug my feet in as I pried its suctioning roots away.

In Which Ella Reads Six Books at Once

I was cleaning my room this morning when I realized that I am in the middle of a lot of books right now. A lot of books.

No matter how much time I spend lint-rolling my bed, I never seem to be able to get rid of all of the fur. There's always at least one cat sleeping on it and shedding up a storm.

It may seem like it would be crazy and confusing to read so much at once, but it really isn’t. It’s fun! Whenever I get bored of one, I just pick up the next. Besides, certain books just suit different feelings.

Spud, a book about a South African guy at boarding school, is great for post-cry readings because it’s hilarious. Laughing while having post-sob shudders is a very funny feeling, and the best way to return from being down and out. (And yes, I do know that this book is not geared towards nearly 18-year-old girls.)

I usually read Lorrie Morre’s Self-Help when I’m supposed to be doing something else. It’s a book of short stories, so it’s perfect for crouching on the floor and feeling guilty about ignoring chores and homework. Procrastination at its finest in twenty-minutes or less.

Dog Stories is my go to book when I can’t sleep. It’s happy, light, and about dogs (Way to state the obvious, Ella.). Nothing goes wrong that can’t be fixed, and each story is less than ten pages. At the rate I’m going at, it’ll take me ages to finish, but I don’t mind. It’s like training wheels–there when I need help from falling over into nighttime paranoia.

I like to read Oil! in the afternoons, but only when it’s sunny and preferably while drinking juice. I’m no socialist, but the Sinclair’s matter-of-fact style is alluring and comfortable. It’s like reading a novel-length newspaper article, and gosh darn it do I love the newspaper.

No Plot? No Problem! is about to become my Bible. I’ve read it through twice, and with Senior Option only three-weeks away, I’m sure to reread again. 50,000 words in 30 days seems doable enough, but I’m still moving forward with trepidation. If it’s anything like Chris Baty says, it’ll probably turn turn out to be one of those things that makes me enormously happy while immensely stressing me out. If I can just learn to put doubt and self-criticism on the back burner for a month, I should be okay. Besides, if I can write here and do three pages of creative writing a week, I can totally do 1,666.67 words a day.

Salt is one of those books that I purchase and say that I’m going to read, but never do. It hangs out on my bedside table, staring at me and saying, You just purchased me to look impressive, didn’t you? I’m way beyond your level of comprehension. You’re not good enough for history books like me! I’m pretty good at laughing back and reminding it of the 1,000 plus page book I read on Kennedy’s assassination and why conspiracy theories are the stupidest thing ever. I swear, one of these days, I’m going to get beyond the first three pages. It’s just not going to be tonight, or tomorrow, and probably not next week, either.

Of course, I’m not counting my forays into poetry. Those extra snippets out of my Victorian Poetry book for class totally don’t count. Neither does reading Emily Dickinson’s poems online. They’re just too impulsive and sneaky to be added to the record.

And while I very much want to crack open Azar Nafisi’s memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About, I can’t. I really, really, really can’t. Because, you know, seven would just be pushing it.