Some days a slice of toasted rye bread is a beautiful thing, and the butter carries with it all the comfort and safety of your childhood home.

Corduroy

I’ve been having a weird few weeks where I wish I smoked cigarettes. I don’t actually want to smoke them though—just hold them between my fingers. They seem kinda perfect for a variety of situations I’ve found myself in lately: Fidgeting. Gazing out the window at the snow. Sitting around in underwear and a tank top singing along to the same Pearl Jam song thirty times in a row, daydreaming about the late-night dregs of some backyard party when the stragglers are all sitting around a table not eating the last of the food, and there’s a string of little white lights in the background. Maybe some bats in the sky. Flecks of ash and ember.

“Though I sometimes mocked the scented-candle-pushing brand of happiness building, I discovered that there is something nice about working in an office with a candle burning. It’s like seeing snow falling outside the window or having a dog snoozing on the carpet beside you. It’s a kind of silent presence in the room and very pleasant.” —Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project

For years I’ve avoided candles even though I really like them. They seemed too much like a cliche of a late-teenage girl trying to be bohemian—especially if I had a candle burning while I was writing. But I got a candle for Christmas this year and I’ve been lighting it at night, and I miss my dog, and there’s been so much snow falling the past few weeks. A kind of silent presence. What a redemptive description.

My Year in Books: 2013

I’ve always been the kind of person to push through and finish any book I start. Last year I let some people convince me I didn’t “have to” do that. As a consequence, I only read eight books all year. That’s just 2/3 of a book each month.

I Love You Here

Something about the weather early this morning brought this Neruda poem to mind.

“I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life—so beautiful, painful and dazzling—does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.” —Laurie Anderson, on her marriage to Lou Reed. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Beautiful.

There was a time when I was young and artsy and a borderline back-to-the-lander. In seventh grade I used to wish I could change my name to Shenandoah. As if so many other changes would follow from that. — Though who knows. Maybe they would have.

To be barefoot and step on a warm patch of rug where the sunlight didn’t used to fall even a few days ago: I got your picture on the back of a 45 / a placeholder till you take up mine.

One of those days. My heart and my hands want to write but my brain says “……….”

One of the things I miss about living in West Philly is how it was OK to bring your own Pyrex containers when you got takeout.