Constellations

Δ Δ Δ | telescopic | original photo from @renan_ozturk

@triglyyy: Δ Δ Δ | telescopic | original photo from @renan_ozturk

I hope it’s okay to repost this photo– it’s from one of the users I follow on instagram, and I’ve tried to give proper citation and links back (and please– if someone knows @triglyyy or you stumble on this yourself and you’d like me to take this down, just let me know).

I have always had a distant love affair with stars– I think this is just part of the human condition.  At one point I tried to teach myself the stories of stars, but the only story and constellation combination I know is the story of Perseus saving Andromeda.  Some day I hope to know more, and I suspect that if I ever have children, the star-stories will be ones that I’ll selfishly try to tell so I can learn them as well. 

This summer I spent a lot of evenings beneath the stars, and I want to write about those evenings and how they stretched into morning, but I’m finding it difficult.  There was the night, in Squamish, that we stripped down and balanced out on logs to skinny dip in the warm lake under the Perseids. The night we saw the northern lights streaking across the Vantage sky.  The night we walked into the desert shortly after sunset, covered in dark, the blanket of stars our only light. The night at Smith where the moon rose so quickly it felt alive and breathing, reaching for the zenith. I need to reclaim these evenings into my body and make them my own.  I think it’s finally time to finish the tattoo on my right arm– finally commit to the constellation that marked so much.  I no longer talk to the man that was beside me on that hike, who spent high noon on the top of Half Dome with me and who, when I paused in fear, talked me through it.  I wonder, sometimes, if he thinks about that summer at all and all of the plans we had.  I think he is happier now, without me.  We always survive. 

I don’t see stars often, here in the city.  Sometimes pinpricks make it through, but often they are just the bright gems of Orion’s belt, or the sharp points of Cassiopeia’s crown. In the summer I make it out often enough to be star-satiated, but winter keeps me close to the city.  This is one of the reasons I’ve finally decided to take up skiing– I need to be beneath a larger sky.  I am so thankful for K, who sends me photos of his trips, but it isn’t the same as being out there.  I dislike the cold and I’m honestly a little terrified of skiing, but it’s time to stop living through other people. 

Collections that work (and those that don’t)

Have I mentioned how much I adore book club?  We read work that I love, work that I have difficulty with, and sometimes work that just isn’t up to par.  I have to say I’m not too thrilled with my selection this time around.  Still, after talking with Carrie this morning (sipping coffee, feeling the way-too-cool breeze off of Green Lake) I again realized how important it is to read both the good and the bad.  It’s all well and good to fall in love with books, but I think it’s the ones that don’t quite work that are almost more helpful.  If you can see into a book and watch its moving parts as it stumbles along it’s a bit easier to see how to fix it.  Or at least, how the errors of the book can be avoided in our own collections.  A flawless book works so smoothly it’s difficult to remember that it is still working.

My own progression on projects is going in starts and stops, but after a very encouraging Heroes meeting last night, talking to more amazing people at the Hugo House and helping a handful of third graders write poems yesterday I’m feeling all sorts of excited.  I’m already making plans to go climbing on Sunday and the weather seems to finally be taking a warmer turn.

On a personal note, I had my final day in the classroom up at Olympic Hills Elementary. Waving goodbye to class I’ve been helping tutor was a little sad.  Girls came up to hug me and ask me to stay, and as I walked toward the bus stop, past the playground, a few jogged along waving and shouting goodbye.  I’ll miss them, even though I was only there for a few weeks.  It’s hard to not feel like I abandoned them to the summer, and I don’t know if I’ll see any of them again, or if they’ll even remember me if I do.  I feel like I was really helping a few of them, and I was even able to dazzle the boys with my X-Men knowledge.  I wish them all the best.

Ice Maiden

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I’ve been reading The Ice Maiden at work, as though I need to balance the summer-ish heat with something cold.  The story meanders through the years and through the land, focused on Ruddy and his charming ways.  The Ice Maiden is at the edges, beneath the crevasses, her cool lips ready to kiss like death.

I would say that the women of fairy tales from from the turn of the century (if 1883 counts as the turn) disappoint me, but the men are equally shallow.  The women, even when good, are touched with evil.  Eve’s kiss is as deadly as the Ice Maiden I suppose.  The man is no better; Ruddy is perfect and charming and blessed but for no real reason.

Am I expecting too much from fairy tales?  Winifred Gallagher writes “In short, magic is what happens when you’re paying attention to something else,” and maybe it’s because I’m paying attention to the fairy tale that I can’t find magic in its lines.

It’s beginning to be summer, and I want the little magics.  I want the swirling foil of pinwheels to catch my attention, I want the rising swell of lightning bugs, I want the golden yellow light of porches as night mellows from cobalt to Prussian blue.   I have the sunsets, I’m working on the pinwheel, and I’ll have to just imagine the bugs with candles and Christmas lights.  I can make my own magic, and it doesn’t have to be sleight of hand falsehoods, a bright orange thumb to tuck a scarf into while the attention is held elsewhere.  I do agree with Gallagher, that’s one definition of magic, but there are other sorts too.

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