let it be absolutely winter

In February, it is too cold to meander: leisure takes a backseat to power walking through gallery openings. The wind rips through my hat but I try to find the beauty too, like the coziness of being outside looking into a window lit with warm light, watching other people drink cheap champagne and discuss art. There is a German word for this feeling, I am sure of it. The art-goers are nibbling on Chex Mix and in any other setting, the Chex Mix would seem cheap but against the backdrop of nocturnal art and winter it looks like the best damn snack in the world.

I frequent basement jazz clubs more often in the winter. Our coats strain against the random hooks scattered across the walls. This coats-on-hooks thing is uniquely wintry, something I had never experienced before in Texas. The constant scramble to make sure you have all the accessories at the end of the night: Scarf? Hat? Gloves? Multiple sweaters? I’m still not used to it. The orange-brown hue of Old Fashioned drinks illuminated by candles that blow out every few minutes from the opening door. The way the saxophone wraps itself around you like a purring animal – all of this, this can’t be replicated in the heat.

A few months ago, E. texted me that he was out buying a snow blower with his brother-in-law. I responded, “Wow, that’s New England AF.” E.’s response: “…Rose, we don’t live in New England.” (“She’s smart, I swear,” I heard him whisper later. I did deserve that.) Living most of my life in the very southern part of the country insulated me from having to know where “New England” really is, or definitively what the demarcation is. Not that if you had asked me to think about it I really would have made the mistake, but it was an honest snap retort that made us laugh later. I just think of New England as The Place Where There Is Cold Winter. And The Need For Snow Blowers.

It doesn’t ever get easier. Not this season, not these feelings, not this cold. But the light changes, yes. Or, how we see the light. Or how we use it, sometimes even to our delight.

AK asks me if I’ve been writing, and it’s hard to answer that sometimes life moves too quickly for writing. It moves at the pace of note-taking, frantic scraps. Fragments I scribble even when my fingers are freezing in the tunnels of wind. Poems I write down to think about later.

Speaking of the winter and New England, I can’t stop thinking about this:

Part of Me Wanting Everything to Live

This New England kind of love reminds me
of the potted chrysanthemum my husband
gave me. I cared for it faithfully,
turning the pot a quarter turn each day
as it sat by the window. Until the blossoms
hung with broken necks on the dry stems.
Cut off the dead parts and watched
green leaves begin, new buds open.
Thinking the chrysanthemum would not die
unless I forced it to. The new flowers
were smaller and smaller, resembling
little eyes awake and alone in the dark.
I was offended by the lessening,
by the cheap renewal. By a going on
that gradually left the important behind.
But now it’s different. I want the large
and near, and endings more final. If it must
be winter, let it be absolutely winter.

― Linda Gregg

in which my brother teaches me about street fighter (and therein, about life)

  • stop button mashing even if that’s your primal instinct!
  • be patient.
  • observing can be as important as taking action.
  • rather than focusing only on your own character, remember that it’s even more important to watch your opponent first.
  • both your offensive and defensive strategies should come from what your opponent is doing.
  • timing is everything!
  • high blocks, low blocks, and throw escapes only work if you’re watching what your opponent does.
  • run in the right direction.
  • sometimes you have to protect yourself rather than attacking.
  • rose, if you resort to button mashing again, you do worse!
  • stop gripping so hard, you’re just causing more stress for yourself and it’s not going to have the impact you want. just hold the joystick like a wine glass and relax.
  • remember to have some fun, it’s not that big of a deal.
  • seriously, learn how to throw a fireball.

on breakups

“I have known exactly how relationships would end, and I entered them anyway. The ego is always built into emotional undoing—to imagine myself as the one who will love someone into correction, even though I have never been loved so much that love alone undid the worst of me.”

from Hanif Abdurraqib’s devastatingly beautiful essay in The Paris Review, On Breakups