Thank you Lorrie Moore for making me get lost in your stories and miss my MUNI stop

It’s been a long day and I don’t know where it went. (I guess since it’s after 12:00 it must be over, but I’ve always said that it never really feels like tomorrow until I’ve gone to sleep and awakened again.) 

So yes… Good work. Fun work. I like exchanging somewhat crazy emails filled with ideas, chatting about how to help people, and giggling over coworkers that are so dedicated they have meetings on the eliptical. Sometimes I think we’re all nuts.

But yes, I worked late then hopped on the bus and started reading Lorrie Moore’s collection of short stories Birds of America. I started it on the way into work this morning and, my goodness, she’s amazing. I read her in college and I’ve read stories here and there in different publications but I’ve never actually picked up anything that’s all hers. She’s so funny!  But thoughtful and beautiful. And so very, well, Megan. So very me. 

Ha, which is kind of sad since her stories are about somewhat spunky, funny yet bitter woman who get hurt by men and life. Well, so far. I’m sure there’s more coming. But man, that is so like me. Only I’m not really quite that dramatic (or funny for that matter–her stories are hilarious) so it’s great because it’s me to the tenth power and more articulate, sad, and beautiful. 

So ya, I like her a lot. I spaced out while reading and ended up at the end of the line. The. End. Of. The. Line. That’s like a good 10 minutes off my route. Ooops. 

Here’s a selection of her beautiful, hilarious pain-writing from Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People:

Starting out through the windshiled, off into the horizon, Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through nature, one could also find in people themselves, all collected there, all together in a single place. No matter what terror or loveliness the earth could produce–windes, seas–a person could produce the same, lived with teh same, lived witha ll that mixed-up nature swirling inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world–no flower or stone–as a single hello from a human being.

Okay, so that selection isn’t really funny but, damn, isn’t that great? Don’t you just love it. I mean, that’s miss your stop great.

So yes, then I had to wait for the next train, read some more, and I got home late. As I was walking in I chatted with my neighbor for a bit who, as it turns out, has a fucking set of midevil armor in his appartment. (Or is it armour? I’m too lazy to look it up but I suspect it’s a grey/gray thing anyways.) But I mean, come on! Armor!

I love that. So cool. I love when you get to know people and these little fascinating pieces of them come spilling out. It’s always surprising to me. And exciting in a way. And, I mean, it’s midevil armor. That’s just badass. 

So then I came in and saw my lily had bloomed. (Ya, I like to buy flowers for myself. So what?) Then I went running and came home and had breakfast for dinner. (Which always feels like a treat and always reminds me of my dad.) Then I admired my nails which I painted multiple colors over the weekend like i’m some kind of 14-year old girl. (But fun nails always make me unreasonably happy.) And thn I read a bunch more and before I knew it, it was 12:00 and now it’s 1:00 and I’m still very awake. I have the endorphin buzz. And maybe all the beautiful words had something to do with it too. 

I also read, David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech tonight. Check it out here: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/david-foster-wallace-in-his-own-words 

My friend Victoria told me about it a while back and said it was worth reading. She was right. 

And I think I’ll end with a piece of that tonight. What a nice day it was. I hope I can do better tomorrow. 

There are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

 

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