Friday, February 24, 2012

Not Waiting but Living

I try not to "wait" in the interim. Try to live instead of pause for something to happen. Something has happened, after all. I wrote a book. My second. It is completely different from the first and accordingly it will enter the world in a different way.

It knows it must be invited to be read, knows it must put on its best dress, snap a "photo" and send that ahead of itself. But when someone says, "Yes, I'd like to see what's beneath that fabulous garment, I'd like to read you" (and two people have), then is when it gets interesting. Then the book will open itself and all its language, all its characters, will whisper into the ears of these individuals...but sweetly, sweetly, to the one who chooses it. The one who falls in love with its voice.

Until then I teach, I cheer my sons at their snowboarding competitions, I train for a half-marathon. I love my husband, I walk my dog, meditate, write letters, sing along with songs on the radio. This is the business I am in today: living. "No Voodoo stuff," says George, and I know what he means.

I set this thing in motion. I raised the sail and pushed it out into salty water, pointed the prow toward the horizon and let go. I let go. It will reach the opposite shore in its time. No need to monitor the weather. The wind is favorable, the water calm. I checked these things before I sent it out, to the extent that I was able. It moves across the water in the rhythm I gave it.   

Om, I say to myself, and Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Holocene, a response

The wildness of wide open space: skies so vast that anything is possible. A boy with no where to be, no time to keep. He vaguely follows a bird and finds a million distractions along the way, Icelandic landscape as canvas to the artistic way he plays. This is what is needed in our lives--room and time to play.

How the world closes in on us as we grow and our obligations attach themselves like fishing sinkers tied to our appendages, knotted into our hair, until we are no longer buoyant, no longer weightless in our wonder but burdened, dragged to the depths of our seriousness, by a gravity that is incongruous with our nature, our intent.

The boy moves over grass, over stone, along water both still and moving, and his freedom is as lovely as the land that gives rise to it, sprawling, as the vocalist says, for miles, miles, miles. Being oneself less than magnificent is the gift of being a thread in the magnificent fabric of such a universe. Let us play in it. This beautifully, this magnificently.

Holocene, the official Bon Iver music video

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Club Discussion Questions for Inertia

If you're reading Inertia in your book club, here are some questions for sparking discussion around the book, its themes and its characters. Enjoy!

  1. Tait makes reference early on to “the first question” and returns to the concept in the final pages of the novel. What is “the first question,” and what, ultimately, is her character’s answer to that question?
  2. Is Inertia a novel about reincarnation? Angels? Spirit guides? Try to encapsulate what Tait suggests about the young female characters in her novel (Kenya, Sam, Athena, and Mia, Grace, Lydia).
  3. Are Mia, Grace and Lydia aware of their unique roles in Jake’s life? What is Phyllis’ take on this subject?
  4. Tait clearly chooses the title Inertia for its relevance to the story on multiple levels. Name some of those levels and discuss the symbolic and actual meanings of the title with regard to each.
  5. Through the lens of what is ultimately a love story, and from two different perspectives, Tait explores the experience of losing loved ones, specifically young loved ones. What are the end results of this exploration? Does she offer any answers? Any reasoning for such life experiences?
  6. Why does Tait choose to open her novel with the poem “Maybe There is Nothing Special Going On” by Victoria Redel?  What is its relevance to Inertia’s story and characters? To its overarching themes?
  7. Revisit Jake’s poem to Athena, presented in the end of Chapter 4, and consider its meaning in light of Jake’s suggestion that “in a way it is [a love poem]. It’s like I wrote it for myself. For today.”
  8. What is the effect of having two different first person narrators? The choice is stylistic and has been employed by many writers (Faulkner, Woolf and, more recently, Kingsolver, to name a few). Why do you think Tait makes this choice for Inertia?
  9. Revisit Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving Into the Wreck,” which Tait’s character Angela references heavily in Chapter 16. In what ways is Angela’s trip to Hawaii the enactment of “diving into [her] own wreck”? What are the symbolic implications of the poem and, specifically, of seeing Jake’s face “peering back at [her] from within”?
  10. What are the questions that Inertia raises for you? Have you had experiences in your life where you felt like the super-real and the real were intertwined in some way?  Moments when you paused and wondered if you hadn’t just felt the “ethereal traces of one who [had] gone from [you]”?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

After Lucille Clifton, Take 2

the poem at the end of the world
is the one that dangles the truth
like a bacon-flavored treat above a dog
it is a poem that salivates our long
desire for clarity     for redemption     for
a reward     finally     for the things
we have done right     it is the language
of our undoing     the faint syllables
of our despair     and it is the hidden
music of our secret suffering while
we wait for what might never come
or     worse     has already been

Friday, February 10, 2012

In Celebration of the Body...

"If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, 
you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion."
                                     --Zen Master Lin-Chi

It has been my effort, at times, to transcend the body, to transcend the Earth, dismiss it all as Maya, or illusion. I now see that this effort was a necessary practice in that it allowed me to enter the Mystery, to know it and to discern it in the extraordinary, only so that upon returning to the ordinary, to the 'real' body and Earth, I might know the Divine as pervading every aspect of what is.

The Divine does not only reside in the transcendent, the spiritual, but also in a stone. In a touch. In the mottled iris of a child. The Divine, I must concede, resides even in the pile of laundry at the foot of my bed.

The Divine pervades Om, but this does not mean that Om transcends or excludes what is not Divine.Rather, form, indeed phenomena, are a vital, if ephemeral, aspect of Om. Om contains and includes all things, physical and spiritual. It is the single syllable that spills into the universe as the acknowledgment of the oneness that our language, and even our practices, often fail to articulate.

In denying the body, we may for a moment gain a greater sense of what transcends it, but always, always one returns to the body, for it contains the whole of us. It is our vessel and it is our vehicle. It, too, is pervaded by the Divine. Though we must shed it when this lifetime comes to a close, though we believe in our essence as continuing on, after it ceases to be, the body, the Earth upon which it moves...these are to be embraced and ultimately celebrated..