Been feeling unproductive and got bent out of shape about it.
Read Odell’s How to Do Nothing beginning of the month and keep forgetting key principles, having to re-adjust my default settings from a methodical produceproduceproduce to maintenancemaintenancemaintenance
[i]n nature, things that grow unchecked are often parasitic or cancerous. And yet, we inhabit a culture that privileges novelty and growth over the cyclical and the regenerative. Indeed our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Fallow periods for me, look like long leisurely stretches of household cleaning to process information. Learning about unschooling recently, I caught my breath on the idea that children will naturally have periods of curiosity followed by periods of processing. The latter might be a kid riding their bike in a circle for a few days.
I’ve been reading one poem, one essay and one short story every night before bed.
Finna (Nate Marshall) – The collection is written in Black vernacular from the USA. A language routinely appropriated by youth culture until parts of it start showing up in mainstream usage.
fin-na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to. rooted in African American Vernacular English. (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to.” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow.
I haven’t read poetry since high school, but this re-introduction was seminal for me. The poems are dynamic in the way a coiled spring can hold a lot of tension. There’s inevitable energy wound up in each coil but you don’t know the particularities of how each poem will surprize you.
Intimations (Zadie Smith) – it’s 2021 and it still feels like the tremors of THE BIG ONE that shook 2020 into infamy are still bumping around. Having spent the whole year obsessively working as a distraction, January was a banana peel I should have seen coming. Zadie Smith’s reflective, thoughtful essays are a consolation right now.
A Manual for Cleaning Women (Lucia Berlin) – Honestly, I’d never heard of the author until I googled, best short story collections. Maybe I’ve taken on my adopted home’s disregard for short stories? This collection was published posthumously and is attributed with the resurgence of interest in Berlin. I think it’s worth noting that the interest overlaps with the autofiction era. Berlin uses autobiographical events, but they’re rewritten and reworked into very appealing alterations. Whether that’s her cleaning houses for rich white ladies, or doing her laundry in the SW USA.
Ironic timing to be reading her during my own cleaning phase.