Skip to content

Archive for



I love Christmas.

I love Christmas. I can’t help it. To me it’s the holiday that best encapsulates my unshakable basic attitude toward the world, ringed as it is with a wide-eyed sense of anticipation and child-like wonder. I love its insanity. I love the insensible monster of a myth it involves, and I love the absurd beauty of the rituals. I love the light-spangled streets and artful shop windows, and I love the excuse of gift-giving and gatherings. I love the phrasing of it–a poignant warm spark in the midst of winter–and I love the crazy Messianic history. I love the nativity scenes, and I love even the ugly costs of commerce and expenditure, expectation and stress.

Or perhaps, above all, it’s just that I just love the way it stands as a schism in the everyday–this beast of a holiday that blunders like some white-furred Yeti through the country, rattling up the ordinary and driving everyone indoors to huddle with their families to wait until normalcy descends again.

(I am a better partaker than I am an organizer, though, or better suited to marveling than manufacturing. So this year, as so many before, I played happy guest to more than a few warm and inimitable celebrations. This year, as so many before, I felt blessed.)

So I am glad that this holiday fades into winter, rather than disappears. The ending is not too abrupt; vacations stretch and the approaching New Year holds open the door to wonder, and the trees of the city stay sparkling and lit. And I am glad, too, to be home now, wrapped in a new woolen scarf, grateful for the celebrations and waiting, quietly, for the final days of a dying year.



On Sunday I went, with M and a friend whom I’d not seen in years, to an exhibition of Picasso’s work. I’d known very little about Picasso prior, perhaps little more than anyone else with a passing interest in art, but came away amazed.

The show spanned nearly an entire floor, and must have included well over one hundred works; visiting was like entering another world, or a different realm of human possibility. I am not sure whether it was the sheer generativity evidenced in those works, or the unbridled, almost terrifying, creativity, or the raw particularity of self that seemed to thrust forth no matter the subject or form, or some other panoply of reasons, but it made me marvel that such artists as him exist on the same plane as others. It make me feel crippled in comparison, and at the same time grateful that such beings exist.

There was something additionally surreal about the visit, too, in the fullness and diversity of the crowd and their strange procession through the show. The art museum had put together an audio tour, packaged on those perhaps-not-uncommon around-the-neck players, with information about select pieces and commentary about the works. I have an embarrassing appetite for facts and informational tidbits, and ordinarily would have leapt at the program. However, I’ve found that I’ll too-often dive into those to escape the deeper challenge of experience and reflection, and so declined the proffered audio wand. Instead I got to watch the museum-goers stand in front of each piece, heads cocked against the telephone-like devices, looking for all the world as though the art was, quite literally, speaking to them.

I felt a curious tension in this witnessing, as despite the shared story being broadcast through those devices, the experiences of the audiences seemed so isolated.

Perhaps it was I, watching without sound, who felt so. The isolation, after all, was only an illusion, as something had called each of those visitors–from so many paths and so many different mornings– there to meet at that same hour, in the same chamber, to take in something great. And this too was wonderful, and rare.


Last night I dreamed I was trying to get through a border crossing in some strange, Eastern european landscape, barren and stern.

I was driving a rusted and battered old car and the check point was constructed with shot-at stone and bales of barbed wire. There were other cars in front of me, slowly proceeding, and I was getting increasingly anxious. The car I was driving, I knew, was filled with raw meat.

I don’t know whether I was trying to smuggle it in or out through the border; only that there were steaks and slabs of flesh hidden in the doors and in the wheel wells, and I was certain that if this was discovered I’d be added to the cache. I was getting worried because of how slowly the line was proceeding. The whole car was starting to smell.

I woke up before the guards started questioning me.


Was my last update a dream as well? It was. It was, and yet there’s been so much I’ve wished to write about.

It’s strange. I have been having an unusual number of deep conversations recently, with strangers and friends alike, and yet they’ve been of the sort that feel too personal and fraught to use even as inspiration for more public writing, not so much for my own sake, but due to the confidences of others. One layer of anonymity is nowhere near enough.

Perhaps this is why writers turn to fiction.


The other night I dreamt I was sitting in a small boat on a vast and glass-still sea. It was night, and boat had a single beacon on it–a red pulsing light on the prow.

I came to see that the beacon was not a light, but a heart, then, slowly, realized that the heart was my own. I moved forward, anxious, to take it back.

As I did, the boat rocked, and the glowing object fell (plunk!) into the water, sending an infinity of silvery ripples across the blackness.

After a moment’s hesitation, my dream-self dove after, terrified of losing this
one essential thing. I swam down after the still-pulsing beacon, following the light into the welcoming black depths, but as I grew close, the beating heart turned into a gulping fish–red and bright–and, with a flick of its tail, swam away from me, deeper, until I lost sight.

I have no idea what, if anything, this means, but it was beautiful, and it was somehow, strangely, reassuring.


For my last, and recent, birthday– among other small wonders– my mother sent me a beautiful bone-white and still-beaked bird skull, fragile and still. A week or so later,  a package appeared from the Netherlands; it was a gift from my father’s sculptor-sister, Els, who’d been inspired to carve for me–unbidden and unknowing–the same strange item from stone.

Yesterday, M and I met a few new friends at the First Thursdays Art Walk in Pioneer Square. We were met, at the second gallery, by the bronze work above.

I was entranced, though I know not why. And I am listening, although to what I am unsure.