Photo: It is freaking cold in Massachusetts and it snowed 2ish inches here this morning! I love how nobody thought it would be a good idea to treat the roads until AFTER I dropped the boys off at school (I fishtailed twice! Thank God we made it safely!). In Maryland, we believe in SALT AND SAND.
I have read 55 poems since the 1st of the year.
I have understood 3.
I am…. not ok with that… but I’m working on it.
And by “working on it”, I mean, I’ve got 45 more poems to go and I’m going to try to read them.
Trying to read more poetry and find an appreciation for it is one of the challenges I’ve decided to take on in 2015. Not a traditional resolution, as there is nothing measurable to work toward, but a challenge and a habit to take on.
It all started a few days before the New Year. I was in the car listening to an episode of OnPoint, which was discussing the readability and accessibility of the poetry of ee cummings. A scholar of his work had just written a biography about him, and they spent a delightful hour reading his poetry, discussing his life and views, and conversing with callers about favorite poems. The poems I heard where wonderful. I thought to myself, why hadn’t I heard of this man? Why had I never experienced these poems?
Truth be told, I never found a real love for poetry. I’ve met a few poems that I really like. I’ve heard poems that have moved me to various emotions. I know of poets and can make reference to a few famous works but… My experience with poetry has been purely academic. Poetry was assigned to read or memorize (I can recite, by heart, the first few stanzas of The Raven, which I had to memorize in full in 7th grade), but I always came away from such assignments with a dissatisfied feeling. And so, long from high school and any poetry units in literature class, poetry is not a piece of my life. Some of my favorite people in the world have a poem that they can recite from memory, a story behind their love for it, a copy of it in their wallet/purse/office. Poetry is beautiful, it’s a celebration of language and thought. I aspire to be a writer, for goodness sake! Surely I can find some love for poetry. Even if I never become a real writer, I’m at least an educated woman… I should be better at this!
So I had some post-Christmas cash and I bought myself the kindle version of 100 Selected Poems. I’ve wondered more than a few times what the hell I was thinking.
Perfectionist that I am, I am actually enjoying the experience of utter failure right now. Why should I be able to simple pick up a new medium and understand it instantly? That’s a ridiculous expectation. I’m enjoying reading through these poems, which have odd grammatical conventions and other ticks, then scrunching up my face and thinking, “whaaaat?” Clearly I should have chosen a different artist for my first steps into this new world. But how was I to know that? Lesson learned.
My hope is to finish reading the other poems and decide that I’m still interested enough to seek out another artist and their work. And not just familiar folk–my first inclination would be to go to familiar voices like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, or even Alice Walker– but all sorts of different writers and thinkers out there. In the meantime, I’ve been knitting and listening to an audio version of Crime and Punishment, which is entertaining and challenging for different reasons. It is actually warming to welcome literature into my life again after a year of not reading!
I was thinking about another set of challenges to take on for the year as I took out my three loaves of brioche from the oven this morning. I think it’s time to learn a few more recipes. I think I’m going to go for croissants this year, homemade pasta (I tried it last year, but failed), and maybe get serious about having one meatless night a week. That meatless thing, I think, will be the hardest part. I’m excited about the challenge of it.
The other challenge that I put off last year and am taking up this year? Look what I did yesterday when everyone else was freezing:
My first quilt design, ya’ll! I gave myself the first two Quilter’s Academy books for my birthday a few months back and I FINALLY get to use them! Now, the Quilter’s Academy books are for skill building with machine piecing and quilting, but I plan on hand quilting. So I’m combining the scaffolding and skill-building of Quilter’s Academy with the more specific hand-quilting techniques of Jinny Beyer’s Quilting by Hand, which is a beautiful book that is a little too advanced for me pattern-wise.
These are the fabrics I plan to use:
Pretty, yes? When I’m done with this post, I’m going to press them and cut them! (I think. Gotta look at the instructions). I love knitting very much and I got a bunch of knitting books over Christmas, but my first love in crafting has always been with a needle and thread. I think that the skills I learned in embroidery are going to come quite handy when I start to quilt, and I can’t wait to get started! But again, there is a some mental yoga going on: Quilting requires a lot of math, which is not my favorite thing! There i also a lot of preparation and planning, which I am down with, but surprised by. I’ll get better as I go, and hopefully things will go faster. I’m very pleased with my progress so far, though!
What are your challenges for 2015? What skills would you like to take up? I hope we can accomplish some things together, dear reader!
On this Friday, I wish you a warm fire and a bunch of blankets! I wish you hot chocolate, but only after a sumptuous meal that starts with warm both and goes on from there, warming and filling with every bite. Let it end with a yummy warm dessert like lava cake or bananas foster (a personal favorite). I wish you a very good book and the quiet time to read it, enjoying it to the utmost and not wanting it to end. I wish you big wide warms to draw you close for a long and happy hug. I wish you a second glance from a stranger across a crowded room, a whispered “I love you” over coffee in the morning, or a quiet moment sitting next to the love of your life, saying no words at all. I wish you a hot passionate moment of taking on a challenge, the satisfied laughter that comes with defeating it, or the blue moment of failure and wise contemplation of trying again. And the radiating joy that comes from knowing that you are loved and worthy of that love. Always.
Until Monday, take care.