Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekend in Tortola

Making key lime pie 
Pelicans floating in the current, swallowing minnows
The view of where we came from
We looked up and noticed the boat from the neighboring mooring ball sailing on the horizon, and decided to take off, too--weather was perfect for the five-mile sail to Tortola. Now we're back and contemplating preparations for Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which sounds vaguely Shakespearian.

Friday, September 19, 2014

We are having adventures. They're not what we expected, some months ago, imagining our way into a voyage south, thinking of nutmegs in Grenada and rain rushing in torrents down steep little roads. (It’s funny the scraps of things people say that stay with you and make a picture in your mind that takes on weight.) It’s not the cafes of Cartagena. That life passed us by inches, leaving a shudder in the air.
     For now our adventures are of a different kind.
     We bought a 1999 Nissan Altima, cheap, that needs the transmission rebuilt, the first car we’ve had in eight years. I’m grading papers again—thinking aloud in front of the class is fun—a little high-wire act I can usually pull off.
     Sometimes I feel these cold pendulous drops of sadness, like a sudden rain has come up, and then wind. Bowled over by a fierce longing for my past life, which feels sealed off, an artifact. Wondering why I didn’t enjoy it more, savor it more, now that it’s rolling away from me. Now that I know everything was going to turn out OK.
     From the window of the safari I see “The Lord Is Risen He Is Risen Indeed” written on either side of the entrance to the cemetery. Beyond it are two rows of low white tombs, oriented side to, going up a hill in the scrubby low grass. The rising of the graves looks like no accident. Like they’re going towards the lord—but the journey’s truncated abruptly. Death is just death, with no other meaning.
     Pale-skinned people start to look like snails without shells, worms after the rain. Vulnerable, ill-suited to the climate—even after centuries, still here by mistake.
     “I kind of wish we were still traveling,” I say to Adam. “I don’t,” he replies. “Really?” I marvel. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say that. If his loose-limbed wandering has been quelled for the moment, I guess we really must be here for a reason.
     The weekend—my birthday, a stack of papers. Celebrating this year with the realization that what I’d thought of as my personality was just habit. Not understanding that inspiration comes in those leisurely, unscripted moments I’d felt guilty about, thinking always about the things I might never accomplish.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dawn in Red Hook

We are making the transition. It's working. Tomorrow we're probably even going to buy a car. More posts to come, once I get rid of this cold.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Tallulah's eye view of mom copyediting for a living
Our lives have been, over the past--forever--frequent confrontations with our options. There might be an infinite number of paths if you know how to look at the whole thing right.

And they may all lead somewhere entirely different. Literally. Our boat life: in half an hour we can be on our way to the other side of the world. Slowly--but anything’s possible.

For now we have tumbled toward St. Thomas. Fatefully, maybe, back toward some of what we left behind. Time sort of coiling on itself--the process of trying to make sense of life, trying to see some kind of order, seeming stupid and futile, if irresistible. 

And yet things do seem to have an air of adding up to something. To taking all this learning, stewing in a crucible-shaped vessel, and doing more with it.  

Professor mom works here

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tallulah's projects

Cat Coming Home from Work

Octopus and Roses


Friday, July 25, 2014

The underworld of unfinished novels.

The toil of writers like the coal stokers on great steamships, with smudged faces. This world is not normally visible, below the sphere of accomplished things--the manifested. And yet this striving is the  work of dreaming.

Wait. Does that metaphor work? Are these toilers and dreamers really making a huge machine go? Are they indeed working for some greater good? Does their mostly unrewarded labor help everyone else up there--those who don’t see them, who only feel the movement of the ship? Stoking coal. A task that probably no one would choose, all things being equal.

I’m trying to give some contour to a desperate exercise. Another metaphor: Grabbing a vine, and swinging out over the jungle. And laughing so hard while you do it that you almost let go. Because this daredevil act is exhilarating, and meaningless, and somehow--ineluctable.