Espresso volcano; or, a morning miscellany.

Once again, I'm in bed with my words and my pictures. The first floor rooms were a gleaner's delight: my arms full of telepathy and Victorian education, of Tolstoy and blank paper, I started picking up more: Cole Swensen, Karla Kelsey, David Abram. Searched out my ink pen. Picked up my pen case, so as to have a choice of ink pens. One of the strange old books that just came in from Alibris. My Isabel Burton mug, full of milky sweet espresso.

When I walked into the kitchen to check on the espresso earlier, I found it bubbling right out of the stovetop pot, spraying all over the place. I love to use that little pot. It reminds me of the time I drank a whole mug of espresso before a major fellowship interview. It reminds me of the afternoons my dissertation director (wisest of women) would brew a pot that we'd split at her kitchen table or on her patio, making our strange conversations whose lines of affection ran deeper, I now sense, than either of us could tell the other, or tell from the other. I didn't quite know yet, those afternoons, how to read the affection of people who offer themselves in ways different from mine. I was starting to get it by the time I moved back to Gambier.

It's rare that I have a rough night, sleep-wise, and in fact last night wasn't rough once I was asleep. But before I could get there, I had to sleep a little desperately on the couch for awhile, had to curl and arch against some pain I hate, had to breathe low and remember that it always goes away and is not a stranger thing, not a thing to fear, nothing even to hate. Just another thing. Just the body doing one bit of its work: familiar complaint against forgottenness, small mourning of the foregone. My strange dry cough from eighteen months ago seemed ready to make a re-appearance early in the evening. Earlier, I'd seen a friend's bathroom for the first time, seen lines of prescription bottles, thought of my own bottles at home, thought of the body's fallibilities, how we patch and hide them. It took me the rest of the night to put back on my sheer of forgetfulness.

And now I'm apparently taking it right back off, though this writing was meant to be about the beauty of curling under covers with my stack of books, about (for one thing) the beauty of how much I have learned and of what I still do not know about contemporary poetry (but for one: a small, lovely press like Ahsahta will, if you send it a prescribed amount of money, send you everything it publishes in a year; if you're late enough to the party, you will get six books of poetry in the mail as a surprise one March morning and the only thing you'll hate is that they use those padded mailers made of eaten paper that blows in fat flakes everywhere around your living room when you open your packet of beautiful books that you chiefly ordered because you wanted this one that you've now brought back to bed with you).

Hem was my alarm music this morning, and when Sally Ellyson began singing, I decided not to get up right away to stop her. What's the point of that? I thought, burrowing a little, seeing in no-focus that my hand was curled up and open the way I think it always is in my sleep. My feet were bare, far away in the dark caves of covers. I twitched my toes to remember having stripped off my socks and tossed them across the room, last thing last night. Eventually I felt like getting up, and so then I did. Because everyone here is on break now, I feel less guilty about this behavior than I might have last week.

Yesterday a new lens arrived for the camera, maybe twice as heavy as the old lens and for good reason. More zooming is now possible. I have lost a tiny fraction of my wide-angle capability in the switch. To me this seems a worthy tradeoff. I'm now geeking out so completely about my photography that people are starting to laugh and roll their eyes when I say, "Guess what?" They know what's coming. I'm going to talk about a lens, or something I've just figured out, or a picture I want to take, or (still) the fact that the camera was once blind but now it sees. My earnestness is a shield against teasing, as is my awareness that I'm geeking out. I find myself meditating on problems: when one flies with two SLR cameras, how does one carry them? Do I travel with just the film SLR and the little digital camera? But what if I miss something?

If I had it all to do over, I don't think I'd go visual instead of verbal. And I don't think I have to make a choice, anyway. For one thing, I don't think I'd see what I see if I didn't carry my verbal framework into these fields of different signifiers. But I do find it funny to think first of missing something because I don't have a camera and second of missing writing something down. Overall, I suspect it's because I'm less advanced in photographing than in writing, and so everything feels new and possible with the camera, whereas my knowledge base with writing is so much greater that I have enormously high expectations for myself. I've gone through this state of things before, back when I thought about switching disciplines. Now I know even more fully that I am a both/and person, not an either/or.

For now, I suspect it's time to do the reading I came back to bed to do. But first, I've acidified a photo for you. It looks to me like my kitchen plant's brain scan, if my kitchen plant were to have a brain and get it scanned.

I know better than to bring this many books to bed with me: my brain doesn't know what to want first, how to order what's beside me. Poetry or prose? History or aesthetics? Biography or fiction? It is a palatial morning, and this is my gratitude.