I discovered Tanya Runyan recently though an online reading group I’m involved with on Facebook. I really liked this poem, and a bunch of others, in her collection, Simple Weight.
Blessed Are You When Others Revile You
We knew Preacher Man had it all wrong,
the 6; 4″ senior who pinned kids to their lockers
with the Four Spiritual Laws,
popped his head into classrooms
to proclaim “all have fallen short
of the glory of God,” and waved his Bible
as teachers dragged him to the principals’s
office, pages riffling like the hems
of Moses in the desert.
We knew he had lost the point
of sharing the Gospel through the simple
testimony of a life well-lived:
turning down sex and weed,
spotting spare dollars in the lunch room.
He makes us look so lame,
we groaned in youth group.
He’s working against our cause.
But when one afternoon
a freshman stuck his foot out
and Preacher Man slammed to the floor,
only to scramble after the retreating boy
and pull him into a hug, I knew
I had it all wrong, because he became
Jesus in the hallway of my school,
and I could never forgive him.
(corrected hiccup that occurred in my Kindle reader – Thanks Tgflux!)
Demeter in Paris by Meghan O’Rourke
You can only miss someone when they are present to you.
The Isle of the Dead is both dark and light.
Henry Miller told Anaïs Nin that the only real death is being dead
The absent will only be absent when they are forgotten.
Until then, absence is a lie, an oxymoron.
Therefore it is entirely unclear what absence means, or consists of.
Sometimes I want to be famous once more, and then I think about
I value my solitude. But I fear I am dead while alive.
Forgetting is a kind of blessing: It would [ ].
To avoid living, worry about all you’ve forgotten.
Then worry about what you will forget.
I have lived long enough to want to do it over.
When I miss my daughter, it’s as a kind of idea. Then she comes to
in her corduroy red parka, hair sticking out,
smiling at the geese, eating her shoelaces,
pointing, crying, More!
When I saw the movie, in the dark center of winter, I thought:
The son wasn’t trying to say goodbye to his dying father. He was
trying to say forever.
Alone so much, I think about the people whose stories I learn in
Often I think of the grandmother of one of Picasso’s lovers. Her
did not understand why she went so often to the graves of her
children and husband.
Just wait, her grandmother said. You will see.
No, what she said is there comes a time when, past your moment,
you live for external things: the sky, a piece of grass, a smell.
A painting, I would say. A painting where the colors are everything.
Copyright © 2013 by Meghan O’Rourke. Used with permission of the author.
During the recent heatwave, my daughter and I had a movie marathon day. It started with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II, followed by The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I had started the morning catching the tail half of Gasland 2. Needless to say, most of the morning was spent crying – first at reailty, then at fiction, and then at fictionalized reality. Life was unfair, cruel and unjust. WHEW. Downer. (Let’s not even get started on analyzing WHY my 12 year old daughter wanted to watch The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – that was her request!)
Needless to say, we needed something light and refreshing after that heavy load of human funk we’d wallowed in – allowing the oppressiveness of the outside heat to seep into our air-conditioned souls. Enter Ruby Sparks.
My good friend stumbled upon this movie and LOVED it, so on her recommendation we decided to wind down our day of sad with this flick. It’s a romantic comedy about a neurotic self-involved young author (Paul Dano, of Little Miss Sunshine) who isn’t able to meet the right girl. His therapist encourages him to “write about” his perfect mate, which he tries. And sunddenly, odd things start to happen. Random lady products appear in his bathroom, a red sexy bra appears, a loney red wedge. He tells his therapist that he’s having so much fun writing about this girl, that he thinks he’s falling in love with her. His therapist (Elliot Gould) asks, so what, and Calvin (Dano), replies, “Because she’s not real! She’s a product of my FUCKING IMAGINATION”). He says he can’t wait to write, because it’s like he can’t wait to see her again, so he goes home and writes a scene where a fully fleshed out Ruby (Zoe Kazan) tells Calvin he’s really not her type – she usually likes guys who are “strong” (and Calvin isn’t). She recounts a past boy friend who told her she wasn’t funny, but fun, since she got his jakes, and that didn’t sit right with her. Then she says, “I guess I’ve just been waiting for you”. And they jump into a pool with their clothes on, and she tells Calvin she’ll love him forever.
Calvin awakes to the ringing of a phone. He’s fallen asleep over his typewriter. As he runs downstairs to run out the door for a meeting with his agent, a FULLY REALIZED Ruby, steps out of his kitchen and offers to cook him breakfast. Calvin assumes the worst, and figures he’s totally lost his mind. But nope, he eventually finds others can see her – that he’s created this woman from his own mind. More poignancy and hillarity ensues from this point, as Calvin realizes his writing controls Ruby and as Ruby becomes a person, with her own needs and wishes.
We enjoyed the film. It was written by Kazan, who is Dano’s girlfriend in real life. It was charming and funny, without being overly saccharine or trite. My daughter’s response to the movie tickled me. After the first 20 minutes, she jumped up and ran over to get some paper to start writing. I loved seeing how the film totally stoked her own creativity. Good fun. If you haven’t seen it, give it a whirl. Annette Bening plays their mom, and Antonio Banderas has a wonderful role as Bennning’s kooky, furniture building, chainsaw wielding lover.