This is a brief post to let you know that I am moving my writing and photography projects over to Substack.
Thank you for reading and commenting — all very much appreciated. Thanks are also due to the people who keep Medium running for the rest of us.
I will keep this page open for now, and may add new posts from time to time. However, the bulk of my work will now be with Substack. I hope you will join me there. I look forward to more direct contact with readers - as facilitated by the new platform.
Here is the link: Waves (substack.com)
All good wishes and again, my thanks.
Some things go unnoticed. The motivations behind our small acts and choices. Often, they slip by us, no matter how glaring to others. Little unexplained tendencies. We all have them. How, for example, did I fail to notice the phonetic resemblance between the two old-fashioned names, Agnes and Gladys, plainly symptomatic of something? Minimally, this may cause confusion to the reader. Bear with me. It will pass as Agnes passes from the story, fading from dog to ghost.
Agnes dies on December 12, 2019. For almost a year, I am without a dog. It’s hard to let go of…
I first saw him one late afternoon. He was in a field, perhaps twenty yards from me. He tucked into the tall grass and watched as I walked along the path below him.
This is the second time. Beside the same path, he sits on a fence post at nightfall. He is between the path and the woods. I am making my way home before dark:
I expect him to leap and disappear into the undergrowth as I proceed towards him. But he remains still. It is as though he expects me. He watches my approach, watches as I cautiously…
I am thinking of the change of seasons, my lifelong love of the turn from summer to fall. October in sight. Yet this year, there is a nagging memory of last spring, masses of dandelions on every walk. Bright yellow trigger for two cherished texts: Freud’s classic essay on ‘screen memories’ (1899) and Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine (1957).
In Screen Memories, Freud analyses a vivid, recurring and unexplained memory set in a field of dandelions. The essay is a good place to enter a lineage that includes Proust’s madeleine, notions of involuntary memory, autobiographical memory and the constitution of the…
This morning/mourning, I think of Agnes, who died not long before Christmas. The world has changed since then, and you may say that to post grief for a dog is unworthy of the moment. She was not less to me than others. After the convulsions of our history together, a series of losses that settled, finally, into an everydayness that helped me find a measure of peace, she was far more. There will be other mournings for all of us, I know. They are coming. But hers need not fall away. She was a significant life and a significant death.
It’s too easy, facile you might say, to open any piece with Joan Didion’s line, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” And much as I might like the line, the ring of it, the emotive force of it, I realize it cannot serve my purposes here. So, I wish to vary it a little to the following:
We tell ourselves stories in order to remember. We tell ourselves stories because we forget. We tell stories to fight the failures of memory. …
Here’s the new situation. We’re all struggling to think about the Democratic primary, let alone talk about it. We’re too busy trying to stay alive, keep our loved ones safe, and adjust to what may be an entire election season in lock-down. Some are already grieving a person lost to coronavirus. Soon, we’ll all be grieving. All the campaigns seem small in this context. We’re not sure there will even be an election. Primaries have been postponed. Active campaigning is on hold.
These days, if we talk about politics at all, it is to rail against Trump’s terrible handling of…
We’re drowning in clichés. That statement is a cliché. This entire piece will no doubt be riddled with them. There I go again. It’s worsening by the hour.
“It is what it is,” I told a friend, after the lock-down was announced. Talking myself down from a wolf howl of claustrophobic anxiety.
“We’re all in this together,” says virtually every politician on air, reminding me how utterly dishonest and regressive clichés can be.
“I loved you with all my heart,” I told an old boyfriend, not wishing one of us to die without clearing that up.
An earlier version of this essay was presented at the Freud Museum, London, interdisciplinary conference on Nostalgia, (9th March, 2019): https://www.freud.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Nostalgia-Conference_Poster.pdf )
Of all the photographs in the old album, this is the one I return to again and again. A girl hugging her dog on a cold snowbank, a winter tree behind her. A whiteout after a blizzard, made whiter by the fading of the image, while on the print itself, some pink staining on the lower right section. …
(Taking Leave was first published by Eclectica Magazine, July/August 2019)
“Thus, do we live, forever taking leave.” — Rilke
After 12 years, I still fail to understand the looks you give me, the sounds and movements you make. Your signs. I see you studying mine. As the one with less power, you are a better reader of me than I am of you. You want to please, but you want your difference too. We remain strangers at a borderline, engaged in continual acts of translation. I don’t want this command over you. I don’t seek fusion with you.