My brother got married in an astonishingly lavishly produced wedding. It looked pretty much the way movie weddings/receptions do, with everyone looking like they popped out, ballgowned and airbrushed, of some wedding magazine.

The actual ceremony was a traditional Jewish one, and it was absolutely lovely. It may be that the reason I find it so much more interesting and heartfelt than the traditional Christian weddings I’ve attended is that it was my first Jewish wedding, and so, new and fascinating. The chuppah was made out of Brittany’s mother’s and grandmothers’ wedding veils, Brittany circled RJ seven times before entering the chuppah, RJ spoke vows in Hebrew (this was hilarious! the rabbi was very understanding), and when RJ smashed the glass, he shouted “Mazel tov!” — effectively congratulating himself. One of RJ’s groomsmen is an old teammate from college, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers. When the rabbi found this out, he was so excited about it, being a long time season-ticket holder, that he talked about it during the signing of the ketubah. When the rabbi again mentioned being from San Diego originally during the wedding ceremony, Brittany’s eyes sent rapid-fire “You better not talk about football during my wedding” messages in all directions, but it was unnecessary–he was just making a seafaring metaphor.

Brittany’s witness had been practicing writing his name in Hebrew for the ketubah, but the rabbi told us to sign in English. This disappointed Scotty, who’d spent weeks writing his name on things, but was a relief to me, because I don’t have a Hebrew name. Scotty offered to give me one, if I wanted. I said, “Are you just going to make something up?” I worried that he would just pick a word at random and give it to me as my Hebrew name. I’d walk around being called Sidecar, or Radish.

I have never liked weddings. Weddings are just trying too hard. What real love needs so much pointless decoration and pageantry? Still, I do understand that people like them, for probably the same reasons I do not. And while it’s just not for me, I am delighted to have been a part of this one–RJ and Brittany are so very ridiculous and lovely. And I am very glad that it’s over. And I am so happy to be home. Atlanta is just the worst.


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the horses they will challenge its stride

I had a lover once who loved Ryan Adams. Loved him. He would play me songs on his guitar late at night, stumbling charmingly through the chords and, to borrow a lyric from one of Adam’s songs, he was “sweet enough to sing, oblivious to melody.” Winding Wheel, Crossed Out Name. I liked him the more for not being particularly good at singing or playing, but for still making a concerted effort to entertain me in the way I love best. Don’t give me flowers or recite poetry–give me music. I’ve always been a sucker for a song.

I did my part by promising to give Adams’ albums a fighting chance. I was skeptical. All I knew is that he was primarily a country musician, and that his ballads were all over soppy episodic television dramas. I never liked country music. My sisters went through an obnoxious phase where it was all they listened to, but for me it just never took, with the exception of an occasional old-timey country craving. So I chose an album at random, and listened to it, and liked it quite a bit, until near the end of the album when I was totally bowled over by the over the top melodrama and flamenco guitar of “the Sadness.” And then I was in love. I mean, a southern songwriter who loves the Smiths–it’s probably more accurate to say it was just a matter of time, but “the Sadness” is what did it.

I bought every album I could find, and none of them were remotely like 29. I found that on an album of 12ish songs, there would be 1 or 2 I loved, 1 more I liked a lot, and maybe another one I thought was pretty good. Not a great ratio, except he is so prolific that after sifting for gold through all of his albums, there are more songs of his I love than there are songs I love of artists who put out whole albums I adore.

I go through moods with my music, as people do, and it’s been almost a year since I listened to him repeatedly and regularly, but “the Sadness” came on on my way home, and imbued the city with its melodrama.

The stars they sink
In the oceans of ink
Long black ribbons of cars
And in the taxi
You ask me how I’m doing
But you already know

Beyond, beyond is not through
Its only a reflection of you
And something’s at the window
It motions with its fingers
Calling me beyond

The sadness is mine
The sadness is mine
Its why you’re not helping me
Whatever has come for me
Oh I can give you whatever you’re wanting
Just take it and spare me spare me
Please oh tell me this is only a warning–no!
Please have mercy let me go

If only a day to let her know
Without her love I’m nothing at all
The change is happening and I’m almost gone
In her heart is my faith
And it wins against the sadness

The train it moves through the desert
The horses they will challenge its stride
And into the boxcar she leaps
And is my hero
And penetrates the demons inside

The clouds they pass
But they’re moving so fast
I watch them collide
Collide and collapse in her arms like a newborn child
And I’m at once reborn

The fog in the moat
As he grabs my throat
It lifts as she comes
She opens her cloak and it’s the color of the blood
And is the sign of what now must come

Deny deny me my destiny
I am not ready to go
I am the horror that brings us to the morning
Where I will have to stand and fight God

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a room of one’s own with a view

In August, this apartment, which has never really felt like mine, will become mine for real. My last roommate is moving downstate, and I am not replacing him. This apartment is huge for one person, and I am so excited about the space and the silence. Or, rather, the space and my noise alone.

I have invited Wancy to come home and live here while he writes and figures out where he wants to go next–Wancy is plagued by wanderlust and a deep, itching curiosity about Other Places, so I never expect him to stay in one place for long, especially not home. I would love to share my space with Wancy. This used to be, after all, his space. But if he doesn’t come here next, I will begin the process of expanding my silence to fill all the spaces.

It’s too early to be hoping for autumn, but I am already.

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As girls will do, I spent many years of my life infatuated with villains. Minor villains, most often, but there were a couple of major ones too. And then one summer, while I thought I was waiting for the sound of my ringtone because it might be my current villain, I realized that I was actually thrilling to those times when it was a hero instead.

It took too long, but I realized I was in love, and more than that, it was the first time in my life that I was proud of myself for being in love with someone. I don’t know how else to explain that. Loving him was something I had to earn. I had to learn things and become a better person for my soul to respond so wholly to someone who was good, and not desperately flawed and carelessly destructive. With him I didn’t have to be untouched by anything, I didn’t need to be strong enough to bear us all. I didn’t need to fix him, or save him, or be the light in his darkness. He was the light in mine.

I don’t think I can explain how strange and amazing that is, to find a light in my own darkness. As I said, it took too long for me to know this. I can’t say that even had I known it with time to spare it would have mattered, though. I’m neither as romantic nor as cynical as that.

I found a reason to leave the city because I hated the weight of my wordlessness, which expanded when I spent time with him, and I couldn’t stand not to spend time with him, so I carried this heaviness with me all the time. Like lead, somehow expanding its volume suddenly and exponentially, filling my insides and rising up my throat. When I was away, it seemed to compress itself into a tiny spot in my gut. It didn’t seem to hurt anymore, so I found my way back to the city. And I tried to teach myself to see better in the dark, and not to look for him. And when he left the city, I would teach myself to be detached.

Weirdly, it worked. I love him, I think I will always love him. He is one of the best people I know. I won’t indulge pointless what-ifs or one-days; instead, I am fiercely glad that he exists, and that’s all. I am happy knowing that the fact that he is alive makes this breaking, gutted world a better place.

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early summer in soft focus

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The trouble with Kindles

When I read, I tend to read to the exclusion of everything else. When I’m reading something I don’t particularly care for, I read quickly to get it finished. When I read something I like, I read quickly because I’m immersed. And when I’m reading something I love, I have to slow down consciously, because otherwise I fly through it like a supernova.

Since getting the Kindle from Mom for my birthday, I haven’t stopped reading. It’s definitely a different experience than with an actual book. While the physical is still present, while you still are holding something in your hand, there’s no way to judge the heft of what you’re reading. I’ve discovered that when I am reading a book from an actual book, I vary my reading speed subconsciously as I progress through the pages. The books I love, I start off as if on fire, and, alarmed at how little is left of the story, slow down progressively near the end. On a Kindle, there’s a little percentage in the lower right hand corner to let you know how much of the book you’ve consumed, but it’s not the same, and as a result, I’ve been burning through stories like never before.

I’ve always been a fast reader; it was not uncommon for me to finish a 700-ish page novel in three or four days. Now it’s taking me two, because I can read everywhere, in almost any situation. Riding home on a packed bus, often I stand most of the way home, and rarely bothered digging out my novel because it’s awkward to balance and turn pages and pay attention with the constant shifting. Now, I slip my hand into the leather strap on the cover, and flick to the next page with my thumb–it seems ridiculous not to be reading in that situation.

I love this. I love that my reading time has increased with this clever little invention. I love that if I finish a book with 40 minutes of a commute left, I just get another one, without having to haul multiple books with me everywhere. However, I am unfailingly appalled and repulsed by the Kindle most-popular list, which shows up every time I’m trying to buy a new book. Littered with shitty writing and purloined ideas, the list pretty much convinces me that Kindles are purchased primarily by embarrassingly easily entertained hausfraus. Or maybe by people who wanted to read that garbage without being caught out–no one is going to know you’re reading reheated ideas patched together for preteen girls or rehashed-so-as-not-to-invite-litigation Twillight fan fiction (are you fucking kidding me? So, this series is a bestseller, and it’s basically someone else’s story (which is a pretty badly written one to begin with) dressed in Hot Topic gear and sold to vanilla suburbanites as dangerous and sexy romance? Well done, America. Best way to maim new literature so that it doesn’t get produced and distributed: buy a shitload of twinkies. This is another topic. I can’t deal with it now, it’s infuriating. Some other time).

I don’t subscribe to the assertion that there is soul lost without the pages of the book. When I buy a book, I’m not finding its soul in the pulp and pressed tagboard. I don’t think there’s a lot of soul in the mass-produced trade paper backs, and certainly not in the mass market paperbacks. Even most hardcovers are poorly constructed things, with indifferent binding and cover designs which are extremely rarely chosen and approved of by the writer. I could understand this argument from a collector–being able to read a book on my Kindle in no way compares to the thrill and the feel and very smell of one of my very favorite possessions–but I don’t know a lot of truly voracious readers who only buy small boutique editions of books. Most books aren’t produced that way. Having said that, I still buy books themselves. I found myself wavering yesterday on buying on the Kindle the newest book in a series I’ve collected, because I kept thinking of how I have the other books on the shelf, and how much I do love them there. I bought it for the shelf.

And now it’s this weird internal conversation–do I want this for the shelf at home, to look at when I walk by, to pull out and give to other people to read, or is it something I want to read standing up on the bus? To date, I have only bought two books twice, once in each format. I am a little concerned that my book buying habit is going to become increasingly expensive, as I can’t settle on one or the other format for many of these.

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I will come on the breath of the wind.

I spent most of the day today at work reading about the female spies of the Civil War. So clever, and brazen, and defiantly faithful to their flawed, male-dominated countries.

As for the photographs from the Library of Congress, I clicked on this one sometime after my last post. I’m pretty sure this is the same guy, only in this photo, he is wearing a Confederate uniform. Maybe he was a spy. But for which side?

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