Archive for March, 2013
As part of ongoing efforts to live a more makerly, human life, I resolved to make a thing a month this year. Not a vasty thing; something small and manageable. In January, I cross-stitched a little constellation embroidery for each of the girls. In February I hand-wrote a letter to a dear friend.
This month I will try out the Kintsugi repair kit that J gave me for my birthday. It repairs ceramics with a mixture of glue and gold dust. I will test it on some of our table china, and when my technique is alright, I will fix a chip in the beloved bowl I brought home from Avanos, in Turkey.
When I first read about Kintsugi, I cried. The chance to be more beautiful in the broken places feels like a gift, like grace.
From Janet Malcolm’s The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes:
We choose the dead because of our tie to them, our identification with them. Their helplessness, passivity, vulnerability is our own. We all yearn toward the state of inanition, the condition of harmlessness, where we are perforce lovable and fragile. It is only by a great effort that we rouse ourselves to act, to fight, to struggle, to be heard above the wind, to crush flowers as we walk. To behave like live people.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my zombies. When the dead are rising out of their graves and coming after me to eat my brain, the only way I can get them to lie down again is by making up a new story (I notice that this is the plot of ParaNorman, which I watched with the girls; this pleases me.)
Writing as a way to defy death is a major theme of Lawrence Wright’s wonderful Going Clear, a book I urge upon all my fellow Scient-trocity enthusiasts. I once met Jerry Pournelle and asked him about Hubbard. Pournelle said that there were days when L. Ron knew that the people around him were deluded, and days when he shared their delusions, and both kinds of days were the worst. I guess L. Ron’s real innovation was to use stories to turn living people into zombies which, mixed blessing at best. And he died in the end anyway (sorry, spoilers.)
Look. I need to write, to keep my graveyards neatly landscaped and my grey matter intracranial and off the menu. And I want to write, because books are awesome and I would like to make one. But even the effort of making up new stories to reframe bad things that happened to me, even in therapy with a good therapist, wipes me out. And when I read the acknowledgements sections of books like these two beauties, or Katherine Boo or Peter Hessler or or or, the authors thank the entire editorial and fact-checking departments of the New Yorker. It’s exhausting.
My would-be-creative girlfriends and I used to joke that we needed wives. What we actually need? Is staff. Maybe we should take a note from L. Ron and train up our zombies.
I’ve been thinking, for complicated reasons, of things I have that are irreplaceable: the rosettes I won on Alfie and Noah; the Onkaparinga blanket Sarah gave me to take with me to Ireland, and which is wrapped around my knees as I type; the ring my father-in-law gave me; the bronze horse on my hall table, which was a present from my mum. Big Ted, Alain’s bear when he was a child, who is beaming fondly down at me from his shelf.
For that matter, the bears my mother gave to Claire and Julia: Topaz and Bess. Topaz spent three days lost behind a shelf at Claire’s pre-school, and another two days in the back seat of a taxi in New York. Our miracle boy.