Sunday, August 24, 2008

Because it's too late at night and I have too many lists

I do more than a few things to make a living. Mainly, I’m a counselor. In a high school. I teach English too. Sometimes I teach creative writing in an after school program. I also wrote a book. And, well, I guess I can say I write books. In the present tense. This week all of these things I do have been crashing together as I prepare to start a new school year at a new school and try to keep to a writing schedule. I spent four days in western Massachusetts last week, studying the theories and practices of a particular very familiar institute and it made me think (intensely, like it is two a.m. and I can’t sleep kind of think) about the way we build writing into our lives. In all of the things I do for a living writing is central. I do it not only to tell the stories that come to me at two a.m. but also to re-imagine the stories I pass on the street and bump into on the subway platform. I do it as therapy. I do it as a way of understanding myself, I teach it as a way of asking questions of yourself. I teach it as a way of understanding texts and making comparisons and digging out new ideas and explaining why you love or hate something. I do it because I can’t sleep and putting together the words to understand why makes my muscles relax and my brain slow slow slow down. I do it because something I’ve learned is that the stories people tell are the way we see the world. So all of these things I do, which sometimes seem to tumble and bang into each other, are actually inherently tied together by this truly simply act.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Then and Now

So I've been away for a long time. Not away, really but. I had some computer problems. And I moved. And I travelled. And I left one job and started another one. And I got sad. And I had some problems with words. And I want to tell you some stories. But tonight, I'm just going to tell you this one. I went to California.

And in California, I got to do this.

What I mean is, I got to spend 24 hours with some of my favorite people in the world. People who I lived in Rome with, traveled and taught with and wrote stories about and wrote stories for and missed and celebrated. It was 24 hours of laughing and then I thought of something. It reminded me of this.

Because two years ago I was on the deck or hiking a to a white sand beach from a cliff-side house with almost exactly the same people, laughing until too late at night and getting sunburned. We're a little bit older now and this time we read magazines and drank coffee in the silence of people exhausted by not having enough time to catch up, of people holding off the moment, just one more second until we break off in a million directions.

Two years ago we played board games in a house in Greece carved out of a hillside, in the quiet of people who have all the time in the world to spend countries and see island sunsets and whitewashed churches.

I can't help remembering that these people made the sunsets look like this.

And in California, after reuniting, and writing and walking through harbors and lying on beaches and eating tacos and watermelon, the sunset looked more like this.

The beaches were beautiful in California, in the morning, when it was still foggy and only me and the surfers were awake and I ran along the train tracks, but these days I'm sure missing some people.