Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Early Experiments in Flight

I don't have much time to write this because I'm supposed to be trying for the millionth time to decipher Derrida... but I just can't help but pause to tell the Internet that one of my best friends married a real swell guy this weekend, which meant that I got to see many of my oldest and dearest friends all at once, and my heart is still so full of love for and from them that I feel I'm not the person I was when I arrived in the Quad City airport last Thursday night.

In my head I'm beginning to sketch out a poem for everyone that includes the Mississippi River and the Tarot deck's Ten of Cups. It also includes an image that I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is this photo of one of the Wright brothers during a practice flight:

I've seen this image or versions of it many times (American corporations love a good Wright bros reference), but it wasn't until last Thanksgiving, when my dad and sister were describing their trip to Kitty Hawk, that I realized the photo's key documented weirdness: during these early, endless test flights, the brothers were flying facedown, parallel to the ground (often only a few feet from the ground), on their stomachs. In fact, my sister pointed out, they were not only supporting themselves on their stomachs, but steering with them as well, because the main mechanism that altered the movement of the plane was not controlled by their hands but by their pelvis.

All hilarious jokes about "pelvic (aeronautical) thrust" aside, I have been thinking about this strange pair of fact and image—about learning to fly with your gut—for a long time. And I would like to offer it up now to all of my beloved, fellow 20-something friends as we circle up and raise our whiskey shots and slowly press forward together into adulthood. I really think we can do it, guys. Love you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Back to the Future

the great interests of man: air and light, the joy of having a body, the voluptuousness of looking.
—Mario Rossi, c/o Wallace Stevens' "Evening Without Angels"
Currently sitting at my desk in my new room in New York, surrounded by piles of class readings, tweaking out on coffee-on-an-empty-stomach, and couldn't be happier. At long last, I think, the cumulative waves of anxiety (leaving work, moving, going back to school) are subsiding, and I can feel the calm beach stretching out, grounding me.

To be clear: New York and GSAPP ain't no calm beach, but the state of mind I've entered—the one where you're no longer wondering "is this the exact right thing for me to be doing?", because you've already done the thing and now it's time to get on with it—is a beautiful place to be.

Now there is a new city to slowly discover, and hopefully savor. New friends to talk to and wander around with and crank open your heart and mind. And millions of new thoughts to have, and interrogate, and turn over and over until they agglomerate into a project that absorbs you to the degree that, at least for awhile, you no longer care about anything besides hacking away at it day after day.

I'd forgotten that scholarship is a pleasure. A real, true pleasure. And to be inhabiting this funny space right now at the beginning of the semester, when I don't have much to do yet except go to the park with my books and slowly remember how much I love to read—it's quite beautiful. Apparently we remain ourselves no matter how old-and-tired-before-our-time we get. Relationships, careers, travels, marriage (marriages?), The Future: who knows. For now I'm still that kid in stirrup pants reading Beezus and Ramona all afternoon, not noticing that my lemonade is sitting on an anthill.

PS: Speaking of things I love to read, my friend Fowler just posted in his incredibly excellent blog, so we're all in luck.