Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blow, She Said

At the restaurant today, a couple ran in from the rain completely soaked. Her hair was dripping and his once expensive leather shoes were stained nearly to the top. Clearly they were out there unprepared. They sat not too far from us, both on the same side of the table, huddling together for warmth. But I wondered how warm a wet body would be. They didn't really notice the menus in front of them. Or perhaps they'd been there many times before and knew what they wanted. They were oblivious of other patrons. The tiny puddle by their feet caused the waiter to almost fall with my pho in his hands. And still no reaction. They were talking so closely, I could barely hear their words.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I pish pishu go back." He didn't say anything. Just kept rubbing his hands together under the table. "Pish pishily the pishpishpish I've pishon."

I tilted my head closer in their direction and decided not to take my eyes off of their mouths.

"It was the dumbest pish pi peshehpi", she said. And he was crying. Or was that rain on his face? Either way, she proceeded to wipe his nose. "Blow", she said. And he did.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I baked a Clafouti and Filled it With Sadness

If it seems like I only blog when I'm feeling down, that's because I only blog when I'm feeling down. There's something about that deep wretched ache in the pit of my stomach that makes me want to document life. Writing it down is therapeutic. It's true people, it's not a cliche. I recently read a book of essays called Burn This Book, edited by Toni Morrison. (Thank you Anonymous for recommending it.) If you're a writer, read it. And if you're not a writer but ever had that whispering from the distance of your soul that perhaps you should write, also read it. In one of the essays John Updike quotes Pascal, "When a natural discourse paints a passion or an effect, one feels within oneself the truth of what one reads, which was there before, although one did not know it. Hence one is inclined to love him who makes us feel it, for he has not shown us his riches, but ours." Updike goes on to say that "The writer's strength is not his own; he is a conduit who so positions himself that the world at his back flows through to the readers on the other side of the page. To keep this conduit scoured is his laborious task; to be, in the act of writing, anonymous, the end of his quest for fame."

Writing something down, even if brief, and even if in a blog, brings us closer to ourselves. And I think that glimpse of truth is also a glimpse of happiness.

Right now, my heart needs an aspirin. Because even though my pain usually resides in my stomach and occasionally in my throat, its country of origin is my heart. My heart, my heart, my heart. A damaged country.

Dear damaged country,
Take care of yourself. Don't worry about who comes and goes. Be detached. And no matter what, only concentrate on the good in the world. The feel of little hands. The sounds of laughter. The sky that's ever-present. The joy of being selfless. These are eternal. And if that doesn't work, bake a clafouti and fill it with sadness. Sadness once baked actually tastes pretty good. At least it does if you use enough sugar.