Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another one of my favorite Scotsmen and professor at St. Andrews, Don Paterson. This is one of, if not my favorite, piece of poetry ever.  

"and the true path was as lost to me as ever when you cut in front and lit it as you ran. See how the true gift never leaves the giver: returned and redelivered"

--Don Paterson, my favorite Scottish poet

Landing Light: Poems

jon stewart love

I suppose I could post Jon Stewart every day and never get sick of it. But I have a special aversion to violence and this attacking members of government with death threats over health care is particularly both idiotically, humorously insane and also enraging. So here's this one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Raven Days

Been thinking about my writing ancestors. Yesterday, Meredith and I went to the Birthday Festivities for my (distant) cousin, Tennessee Williams (aka Thomas Lanier Williams). I got a very cute shirt and a tote bag with Tenn's face on it.

The whole thing was kind of...well... Labyrinth Theatre Company masturbating all over themselves: catering to celebrities and their own employees and lots of somber folks taking themselves way too seriously. Especially for a festival honoring Tenn, who was a rip-roaring flamboyant hilarious party animal.

But I started to think about genes and what's running through my blood. Certainly, a propensity for substance abuse and mental anguish. But also, writing. Writing and writing on all fronts. From Jessica Daves, to Tenn to this guy on the left. Also not such a shabby writer. Lots of poetry and love of language. So it feels good to know that I'm going to go around the world if I have to to join their company.

The Raven Days
Sidney Lanier

OUR hearths are gone out, and our hearts are broken,
And but the ghosts of homes to us remain,
And ghostly eyes and hollow sighs give token
From friend to friend of an unspoken pain.

O, Raven Days, dark Raven Days of sorrow,
Bring to us, in your whetted ivory beaks,
Some sign out of the far land of To-morrow,
Some strip of sea-green dawn, some orange streaks.

Ye float in dusky files, forever croaking--
Ye chill our manhood with your dreary shade.
Pale, in the dark, not even God invoking,
We lie in chains, too weak to be afraid.

O Raven Days, dark Raven Days of sorrow,
Will ever any warm light come again?
Will ever the lit mountains of To-morrow
Begin to gleam across the mournful plain?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

pull those threads through

Looking back on past writings, it's really fascinating to see what part of your thought processes seem systemic. Some ideologies keep turning like a machine, some evolve, and some seem so foreign I wonder who that person was that wrote it.

I have a feeling that one day myspace (where my blog used to be-- that's how long it's been) is no longer going to exist. But there are some threads from there I'd like to pull through into my present life. If only to remind myself what I thought and how I thought. So here's one.

Originally dated May 29, 2007.

I've noticed that, often, the advice and wisdom I enjoy the most, is the advice which serves to validate and affirm positive life choices that I'm already making. That's GREAT advice! I think to myself, and feel smug that my shit is so together.

Which is probably why I think back to the parts of What The Bleep Do We Know that totally back up my Buddhist practice, while I shy away, or at least, seem unable to really explain well, one of the most fasciating points of the whole thing: that we are totally and chemically addicted to our emotions.

Even the good ones. Even positive experiences create an addictive synapse in your brain, and cause a chemical withdrawl when you try to change your behavior.

It's a tumultuous life to lead, being addicted to emotions.

Which is maybe why so many people choose to swap out that addiction for an addiciton to something else.

It's easier to be addicted to alcohol or nicotine or drugs. At the very least, more predictable. At this stage in the game, we are inundated with the outline of what will happen to you if you drink, smoke, or do drugs too much. We know the course it will run.

And in a way, the safety in that course is what you buy when you trade in that other unwieldy addiction.

Numbed out or strung out cancels out the kind of "messed up" you can be off your emotions. And I've never had a hangover half as bad as the chemical withdrawl of a particular emotion.

Maybe that's the reason for my seemingly endless karmic nearness to substance abuse. The continued presence of my mother in the lives of everyone I meet.

Maybe, in a way, I'm envious of what seems to be/tricks us into believing is a simple straight forward addiction like nicotine or booze....you crave it, you find it, you get it.

But me...I'm addicted to things that are much harder to nail down. I'm addicted to the past, to what might have been. I'm addicted to the future, to what might be. I'm addicted to lost causes.

All of which have no cure and no real fix...besides maybe art, or daydreaming.

Luckily for me, though, I am also addicted to changing everything I possibly can for the better; addicted to a real and true inner Human Revolution for myself and for those I care about.

And again, luckily for me, for maybe the first time in my whole life, I am also addicted to the present. The current moment, more and more, these past few months, finally feels like a real and actual now-- instead of the previews I have to sit through until I get to do what I really want. The really real moments.

I am and always have been addicted to the rigorous and specific plans I laid out for myself. This has been the hardest lesson to get through my stubborn skull.

I have-- begrudgingly-- allowed myself to loosen the GRIP I had on most of these plans over the last few years. But as much as I still whole heartedly work to shape my life and my future, more and more, I see now how ARBITRARY most of these plans are. Ideas I had as an almost kid that I refused to change.

The plans themselves weren't even so great, but Oh, how their familiarity was! This intense, chemical soothing. That's what made returning to them over and over as fulfilling as I can wrap my brain around any drug being.

More and more, I'm realizing how over-rated hopes are.

Not HOPE.... not hope in general.... I am ever hopeful and I don't think I could be jaded if I tried (I think I did try once and failed miserably at it.).

But particular hopes. Plans.

Because while you're wrapped up in the plans you made 5 or 10 years ago, you're missing what's real and all around you.

Hopes are intangible and move nothing until they are backed by something else. Until something makes them, instead, a determination.Which always leads to a reality.

And then, when it really happens, and it is no longer theorhetical but concrete, it will never pull away from you.

It's there, in the history of your life. You'll have pictures to remind you. And stories.

And you realize, hopefully not too late (not that I'm even sure I believe in 'too late') that what DOES happen will always be better than what could have happened.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

feel flows

Happy first day of spring!

It's 74 degrees today and sunny sunny sunny in NYC.
Amy Weber and I are headed to the Architectural Digest Home Design Expo. I think in another life, I was an interior decorator. I really do love it. I guess it sort of runs in the family, since that's Lindsey's main squeeze.
A day like today-- pale and mellow and sun-filled--feels like, sounds like "Feel Flows" to me. What's funny is when I was thinking that, I was specifically thinking of the end credits of "Almost Famous" where the soft focus polaroids flip as the song plays, making you remember all the days that let you feel flows and feel free. And then, when I went to post the song, this was available, so I thought, YES!
I feel like I don't live in my body in the winter, but spring comes and I suddenly remember my senses and want to move!

a brighter word than bright; a fairer word than fair

I've been thinking a lot lately about love letters and the way we speak to each other in the modern age. It's really disappointing, if I'm being honest. It's scared and imprecise and general and almost entirely without risk or commitment or power.

But not John Keats. Man, his letters to everyone were so so special. They're so poetic, they're almost better than his poems. It's in his example (along with the tradition started in my life at YTI) that I decided many years ago to write truthful, supportive letters to as many of the important people in my life as I could. Every time I feel moved to write one, whether I intend to give it as a speech at their weddings or just mail it off, I feel like I know what my life is about. They're almost never love letters in the way that Keats Letters below are (although I suppose a few of them have been-- and we'll get to actual love letters in a minute) but nevertheless, I feel love and loved just by writing them. I spend hours and hours on them. Crafting, reading aloud, reading in my head, retooling to get the right words-- le mot juste! Because I think it's important to be precise and to be true in your expressed feelings about people.

Now, love letters. The juicy ones. It's been a long time since I wrote one of those. I've written a few in my head the last few years, but never sent them. Maybe that's why-- that for me-- one of the properties of romantic love is that it's only in my head. One of it's essential and inherent characteristics is that it is unrequited.

Which I don't dwell in too much when it comes to thinking about Keats. Only that, what if his love had been unrequited? What if Fanny hadn't waited anxiously for the letters he sent? What if the energy only flowed one way and she never sent letters back? How long would his spirit have been able to keep that up? How many letters and poems wouldn't we have?

Luckily for the English speaking world, she did love our Keatsy (how could you not, really?) and so we have Bright Star and Lamia and La Belle Dame Sans Merci. And we have:

"Do understand me, my love, in this. I have so much of you in my heart that I must turn Mentor when I see a chance of harm befalling you. I would never see any thing but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happiness in your steps."

Just listen. Perfect.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Word like a bell--The while let music wander round my ears

okay, okay say what you want about this book, or this movie adaptation of this book. But I love Julia Roberts. And this trailer features 2 of my all time favorite songs: "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." Ryan Adams, and "Dog Days Are Over" by what is shaping up for certain to be the artist of 2010 for me, Florence + The Machine (makes me think of Scotland- YEAH!) So that's gotta mean someone working on this thing has some taste.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

cosmic love+ scotland

Even before I knew I was going to Scotland, even when there was just the hope that I would go there, this was the song of that hope. Of returning to the primordial. The origin.

For indeed, for me, there is something basic, original, primitive and tribal about Scotland. Violent, compassionless landscapes. Stinging rain but beautiful fog. Misty, Majestic, Mystical, the root. The feeling of a full gallop. Running in the middle of nowhere at night.

This song sounds like returning to that. To be stripped down to what is most basic about me, about what it means for me to be human, where I came from. Before I came from New York, or from Vegas or from Georgia. Before I came from my parents and their archetypes. For a long time, history was old enough. For a long time, New York was old enough and Georgia was old enough, and sepia photos were old enough. And now I need cosmic, stars, mountains, primordial ancient. Castle ruins, monks chanting, drums beating, blood in your veins ancestral ancient. That's what this song is. And every time I hear it, I count down another day until I am reunited with my origin, the beginning. I can only imagine what I'll feel then.

Monday, March 15, 2010

for you SXSW'ers

I'm taking a very brief time out from my Keats daydreaming (more of that soon, though) to give a shout out to anyone going to SXSW. You must see the Afghan Raiders. Yes, I am completely biased (I've known Mikey since I was 14, he's married to my best friend, and father to my future partner-in-crime surrogate niece child, TL). But additionally, for someone who doesn't consider myself all that cool, I sure feel a little cooler listening to Afghan Raiders. GO SEE THEM!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Negative Capability

My whole life, I think this is the one concept that I'll always come back to. I think Keats' negative capability is entirely a Buddhist concept. So much so that I wrote a massive paper on it in college. Out of everything I struggle with, negative capability is what I am most drawn to and what I somehow can't ever quite seem to master. But, oh, how it is such a beautiful thing. That was the moment, when I first fell in love with Keats. When I read this:

"several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."

Keats believed that great people (especially poets) have the ability to accept that not everything can be resolved.

I can't stop listening to the Bright Star soundtrack, especially this:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

the glister

Just started one of my NEW professor, John Burnside's novels, The Glister.

So far, amazing. Feeling so lucky to have been taught by such great writers already and all the great writers coming up!
Check it out!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bright Star

In my infinite insomnia, I finally saw Bright Star last night. Most have criticized it as boring, but oh, not for me. In my past-life believing depths, John Keats is my soul mate. I love him beyond loving him. Beyond having met him, beyond any criticism of his poetry, etc. If I were to choose a dinner table of people I dream to meet, it's basically Margaret Mitchell & John Keats....well... and Camus.
No matter how many times i go back to his work, even in the movie, I felt a kind of psychic connection to it. The other characters would ask him to recite something, and I would know which poem he would choose and I would instinctually begin to recite that poem with him. It was uncanny.

Tonight, I feel like he'd say:
On leaving some Friends at an Early Hour

GIVE me a golden pen, and let me lean
On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
And let there glide by many a pearly car,
Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
And half discovered wings, and glances keen.
The while let music wander round my ears,
And as it reaches each delicious ending,
Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
And full of many wonders of the spheres:
For what a height my spirit is contending!
’Tis not content so soon to be alone.

But last night, and when this first started in the film, they said, "Mr . Keats, please recite something." Ane he began my favorite. And I KNEW he would say it. I could see it in his eyes before he began. And he and I said together, "When I have fears that I may cease to be before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain..." He choked up in the middle, but oh! And so, I am renewing my devotion to my first real boyfriend. And recommitting his works to memory, like I had done in college.

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! - then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Posthumous and Fugitive Poems

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

music memories

My dad was part of an amazing band in the 70's called Steamboat Springs. They were kind of a big deal-- in fact, Alabama, the band stole a lot of their early stuff from them.
The idea of my dad in this band has inspired a lot of my ideas about myself, about writing-- both as a songwriter and a general storyteller. My story Babies & James, which I'll post on here soon, is about my mom and dad and how I imagine they met. (I know how they met, so this is a fictional elaboration on what I already know.)
My ideas of this band are why I love "Almost Famous" and "Crazy Heart" (like a combo of each of my parents main identifiers! Alcoholism + Country Music! [dad is obviously country music, mom is obviously the booze])
And a kind of melancholy I specialize in-- a romanticizing of a place in time that no longer exists.
Well now they're having a reunion concert in Myrtle Beach this summer to celebrate the life of Giant Jeff, who recently passed away, but founded SXSE before he died. If you feel like swaying to some southern rock and remembering the good old days, come hang in the bygone romantic town of Myrtle Beach, SC this June 12th. One of my last Southern sojourns before I head North North North to Scotland.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

hanging with La and my mini me

I'm hanging here in Orange County tonight with the lovely Lauren, along with Charlie and my mini me, Eden. Long live spunky girls with blonde curly hair. I think her sassiness might have even given 4 year old me a run for my money... well...maybe not... I was pretty much a tyrant. I don't have any pics of young Ryann on my computer, but I'll upload some so you can see the complete fake-out I pulled on the world at that age. I looked like a little angel, but the minute you turned your back, I'd run your underwear up a flagpole and scream at a decibel only dogs can hear. Oh, sigh. I miss those days.

Back to NYC tomorrow night. Not looking forward to it. I wish I could just eject myself from that life to a life on the beach (this beach or a Scottish beach, I'm not picky) right now. Maybe I just won't go back....

Why Stop Now?

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