A new image from Miranda Lehmann

I haven't vanished, but I have been busy/lazy.
I'm moving next week to Maryland, then things should smooth themselves out.

I'm re-reading A.S. Byatt's Frederica Potter series right now, mainly because they're good books to trot around on trains, subway cars, road trips, and the beach. I've been quite tangled up with practical concerns lately, like storage units, moving help, job searching and CVs, a wedding, a graduation party, and sleep.

I remember feeling mild repulsion during my first reading of Babble Tower, and it wasn't until this second and recent read-through that I began to ask myself why. The heroine is also a woman who continually tries to control her life, to mold its shape and to direct it, only to discover just how little control she has at all.

The subject matter irritates me, and like the proverbial grain of sand in the oyster, it has iridescent results. So reading this book, and after a conversation with a new friend who is uncannily capable of untangling my head and all of its snarls, and conversations with an old friend who has taught me much about independence and more recently about desire, I began thinking about control and the attempts I've made to direct my life.

I often find myself foolishy treating my life as if it were a scene which I had directorial authority over. I choose the props in my life, worry over the costumes, recite my lines, and then step out on to a stage with fellow actors who always fail to remember the lines I thought up for them. It's a farce and the only thing I've learned is to let the perpetually-observing/judging side of me slink to the wings and watch the daily failure sardonically. Basically, I have learned to play the critic in my life, and never the lead role.

I started this blog mid-way through my time at St. John's, when I was placing personal concerns on the shelf and focusing, blissfully, on my mind and what it was capable of when conversing with other minds and with other texts. I had stopped doing the hyper-control thing and was finally living, albeit in a very cloistered environment. It felt effortless and entirely organic, the activity of the mind.

When I left for NY, I thought that I would turn to living, in the raw, in-the-moment sense of the word. I would live in the world that was on television and in the minds of most, not in my familiar world of ideas and theories and fiction. Instead, I grew further and further from what I knew (reading, thinking, writing, talking, thinking) and began to "stage" life and not live it. I'm stuck there now, with scenes out of a life I don't want and an incredible desire to go back to the way things were.

I met some amazing people while here in NY, and I will carry them with me, along with our shared experiences. But I want to leave a lot behind me when I go. I want to leave the superficiality and the "stage-designing," I want to leave the quickness and the abrasiveness. I want my swiftness to judge and critiscize to diminish. I want to leave the sleepless nights and the constant hum of noise, the take out meals, the meals eaten at my desk.

I'm again asking myself what it means for me to live -- and I'm finally realizing that there isn't one answer.