Hey there. I got up around 4:45 this morning. I had been dreaming something fierce—vivid dreams featuring loved ones I haven't seen outside of REM sleep in too many months to count—and could feel myself waking, fighting slumber. The world was still dark outside my large windows, and I stood staring at what was left of the super wolf blood moon as the water boiled for my (bourbon vanilla black) tea.
1. Mary Oliver died last week. I lost a few of her collections in the fire last year, so I picked up her 2017 anthology, Devotions, this weekend. Oliver's poem "When Death Comes," quoted frequently since her death was reported, was first published in VQR, in the Summer 1991 issue.
2. The winter issue of VQR is available. I wish everyone would read the cover story, "Foreign Bodies," about reproductive technology and citizenship. (Actually, I wish everyone would subscribe. That would make my life better.) But the cover story is important, and the writer, Raj Telhan, is a rare talent. We are fortunate to have his voice telling these stories.
This was my first weekend home in more than a month. I spent a little over two weeks in Texas for the winter break and was only home for about nine hours before I left again to spend a week in New York, where I co-taught a UVA January-term class on journalism. I was in Charlottesville for three days at the beginning of last week but then went right back to New York, this time to judge the national magazine awards. Friday was an unexpectedly long travel day. I should've been home by noon, on a nonstop flight, but that flight was eventually canceled following three hours of sitting on the tarmac, listening to fog updates from the Charlottesville airport. We couldn't take off because we wouldn't have been allowed to land. Gotta love those Blue Ridge Mountains. I was able to get a seat on a train that finally, after a mechanical delay in DC, put me home near midnight.
Nonetheless, it was a weekend at home. At my new, post-fire home. And it felt like one of the first. I spent much of it puttering around, unpacking, making lists, organizing things, placing each and every object just so. I tried indoor cycling (Charlottesville doesn't have SoulCycle, but we have a couple of imitators) and didn't die. I went back to hot yoga.
I bathed the Penny. She was indignant.
3. I saw Barry Jenkins's adaptation of James Baldwin's novel If Beale Street Could Talk. It is a beautiful film. The cinematography alone is a feat. (I read about Jenkins's work making the film while on my train ride home on Friday, in Amtrak's magazine, the National.) MLK Day wasn't the wrong day to see it. The story is set in seventies' Harlem, but it could be today. It could be Cleveland, if you've listened to season three of Serial. "The great evil of American slavery wasn't involuntary servitude: It was the ideology of white supremacy, in which people persuaded themselves that black people aren't fully human."