Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Greetings from the Church of the Batshit Crazy*

I've built another secular altar in my house, this one made of books I've purchased and not yet read. I moved them there recently in one of my weak attempts to make order in the house and reduce clutter. Basically, they were piled up next to the reading chair by the window, positioned in front of the shredder, to hide it, which on top has piles of New Yorkers and literary periodicals that I get in the mail with free subscriptions for submitting poetry and essays that are always rejected. I should say that the books are mostly not yet read (or should I say unread?) because on closer perusal, I've read a few of them. The Lucia Berlin over there on the right (love, love love), Sing, Unburied, Sing (my god, it's good), Dreyer's English (fun and helpful with my teaching), The Friend (fabulous award-winning novel by my fellow Hedgebrookian, Sigrid Nunez), and When Women Were Birds (I've read the opening probably fifty times). The cross on the right is one of those Mexican things whose name I can't remember, but my dear friend Heather McHugh gave it to me recently, along with the little heart on the left with the cross above it. Reader, what are those things called? The Bird Photographer came back the other day from a trip to Costa Rica, where he led other bird photographers for over a week through the jungles and waterways. If you'd like to go on a bird-watching/bird photography tour to Costa Rica, please leave a comment, and I'll hook you up. Carl's pictures are, of course, astounding. Here's one of some red-eyed tree frogs:

photographer: Carl Jackson

He brought me back those little bird carvings on the left, on the top of some of the books not yet read. I've learned the bird is called a quetzal and is one of the Holy Grails of Bird Photography. You can also see a pair of pears and a poster of an old red typewriter. The gold box on the right, under the Mexican cross, is filled with cake-baking paraphernalia. Praise to those who gift me respite, to those who photograph beautiful creatures of beautiful countries, who continue to love me despite being batshit crazy, to cake and to those who write books.

About those books that I've not yet read. As you can see, I have a bit of a problem. They are piled everywhere. Some years ago I bought a Kindle with full intentions to never buy a book again. I now have probably 679 titles on the Kindle and stacks of books piled -- well -- everywhere. It's okay, though. They make me happy. I'll eventually donate them to the library, even though I should be borrowing them from the library myself. I told you this is the church of the batshit crazy, though. Right now, I'm reading NW (goddess material, as usual) by Zadie Smith. I'm also making my way through Merritt Tierce's Love Me Back (so much graphic sex!) and Anna Dostoevsky's biography of her husband, Dostoevsky: Reminiscences. I read about the last one on the wide world internets and ordered it from some secondhand place and dang, I'm a sucker for the long-suffering, devoted wife and muse to a great author trope.


I actually haven't read very much of late due to some television watching. Have ya'll seen the final season of Catastrophe? I'm so mad that show is over.  I am absolutely not a Game of Thrones watcher (the only time I conceded to watch it with my son Oliver, I had to bolt from the room after two minutes of incredibly graphic sex and then some man had his nipples sliced off). I was out of there and back to Shtisel, an Israeli series about four generations of an ultra-orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem. Please, someone out there, watch this show, so I can talk to you about it. I love it.

I've just eaten two slices of leftover pizza and fed Sophie some fabulous farro/vegetable salad. I'm going to work on the post that will accompany the next Who Lives Like This?! podcast, which we're dropping tomorrow night/Tuesday morning. It's with Dr. Rita Eichenstein who wrote with Dr. Dan Siegal the amazing book Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Atypical Children. I sure hope you listen to our podcast and enjoy it as much as we enjoy making it.

I hope that everyone is out there enjoying their Sunday. In lieu of a musical interlude, here at the Church, I'll leave you with this sublime video of Yo Yo Ma playing the cello at the Mexican border, where -- you know -- hordes of horrible people are climbing the walls and entering our precious country with their dirty children, stealing our jobs and raping every white woman who walks by.

* My church is a west coast satellite of beloved Reverend Mary Moon


  1. All I can say is that I am humbled beyond belief. And that you have chosen the perfect sermon and lesson for today's services with our most sacred totems represented with abundance. As for the hymn? Girl, I could not be more pleased and impressed with what you have chosen.
    Yo-Yo is an angel and as of today, a true and living saint in the Church of the Batshit Crazy.

  2. The photograph of the red eyed frogs was amazing, and I love the bird carvings. On the floor I have a stack of books and notebooks where I write my own thoughts and ideas, and a messy book case filled with more books. The stack of books on the floor is actually a double stack and sometimes the stacks start leaning and then down they all go. I somehow need to make room on the book case for more of my floor stack books. The floor stack books are the ones I read again and again. Marie Kondo would be shocked and dismayed at my book stack mess. All I can say is that they all give me joy, and I don't have room for another bookcase.

    Oh, I was sad to see Catastrophe end, too. I will take a look at Shtisel, it sounds interesting. I've never started watching Game of Thrones, and after what you wrote about it here, I'm pretty sure I won't. One night my husband turned it on while I was dozing. I slept through it. It's just not my cup of tea, no matter how much everyone tries to get me to drink it.

  3. Was watching Shtisel, but the father infuriates me so much I had to take a break. Catastrophe, Shrill, Derry Girls, What We Do in the Shadows, and Versailles are distracting me.

  4. It's both lovely to have a stack of unread books and an obligation, to me anyway. I'm reading "Becoming" by Michelle Obama right now. I wish I'd had her parents. I was getting library books but then we had a fire at our library and it's been closed for awhile. I also feel stressed with library books but you have a return date which makes it harder for me to enjoy the book.

    I don't think I've ever heard Yo Yo Ma, he plays beautifully. Thank you for sharing. And as always, I love Carl's photos.

  5. Yes, Carl is an extraordinary photographer, and I especially love his portraits of you. They are like no other portraits of you I have ever seen; he sees you singularly, and with such love. And I also love your altar of books, the brightly colored birds, the ruby red heart, the crosses, and I see Standing Our Ground in the mix--so honored to be in such company, and thank you! You don't seem crazy to me, though. Given the times, you seem like a harbor of sanity, seeing everything with such clarity. I did notice though you ate leftover pizza and gave Sophie the gourmet stuff. I wish I could come there and just take care of you. Love.

  6. Carl's Photo of the Frogs is Amazing! Your Mexican Cross is covered in Milagros... The word “Milagro” means “Miracle”. ... Milagros of animals often are asking for help healing sick livestock or asking for fertility; a Milagros of a body part such as a leg might be used as part of a prayer or vow for the improvement for some condition associated with a leg - such as arthritis. I have several Milagros encrusted Crosses and Sacred Hearts from Mexico, they are Beautiful. I too Love Books, I don't think the Real Thing can be beat, which is why I've never gone to Online Books or Kindle, it wouldn't be the same for me.



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