Last night I was up late reading a book about changing one's relationship with time—something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and the book suggested that you go outside at night, lie on your back, and absorb the moon and the stars until you feel a sense of spaciousness. I wasn't going to lie on my back, but I put on Kevin's bulky cardigan over my bathrobe, and Sylvia (my cat whose picture I endlessly post online) went on the back porch, which is 3 storeys up, and we looked at the moon, one day short of full. It was two in the morning, and no human sounds. Sylvia and I felt strangely alone. Half a block away an office building was billowing smoke into the air, or at least the cold was making it look like smoke; it was more atmospheric than toxic in tone. And I looked at the moon and the sparse rippled clouds, and the few stars that broke through the urban sky, I stood there with my head crammed up, heart open until I'd had enough vastness and cold, and I called Sylvia, who was exploring somewhere, out of sight, and we went back inside, and I felt joy. No superlatives or qualifiers. Just joy. I registered that for a few minutes, then I searched out my iphone and went back outside to document, of course. So, here's the moon last night from my back porch.
In the bottom right quadrant, the couple of specks that look like dust on your monitor, are actually stars.
Even though I don't do Christmas I got 4 presents this year. David Brazil gave me a Tommy James & the Shondells greatest hits CD, which I'm listening to in my car. Andrew Kenower posted a video for me on YouTube of the Tiffany cover of "I Think We're Alone Now," the 45 played on 33 rpm so Tiffany sounds like a man. Kevin gives me a book about Sylvia Plath every Christmas. This year was Kathleen Spivak's With Robert Lowell and His Circle, which contains a chapter on Plath. The book looks interesting but kind of sad—to be in the position of being the not famous member of a group, writing about one's famous peers. Been thinking about fame, how little appeal it has for me. Online I was reading bits of Mary Pipher's Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World, how the success of her earlier book Reviving Ophelia destroyed her, her sense of inadequacy before the adoration and expectations of her admirers. I know I'd be the same. I've had the experience of being nervous at a party and not giving the right attention to someone I didn't know, and then having that person hate me for years and years. I'm not immune from projecting stuff onto people, but it's such a bizarre experience when it happens to you. Person to person will project totally contradictory stuff onto me. At my level of marginal success, my social value varies radically from room to room, and it's always just me trying to survive the moment. It makes me think people are remarkably superficial, the judgements we make on so little data. So often when we think we're having a relationship with the outside, we're really just relating to ourselves, our little insecurities and paranoias. Kevin was having a discussion with a friend recently about aging, and the friend said one of the pleasures of aging is that you can let go of past selves. So, that's another thing I've been thinking about, which seems a suitable approaching New Years thing to be thinking: which selves would I gladly part with?
I forgot the 4th present: Anne McGuire's hosting Kevin's birthday party. That was the greatest gift of all.