Mr Thiebaud turned 100 this week . . . .



This is why the rabbis tell us that a broken heart is more full than one that is content: because a broken heart has a vacancy, and the vacancy has the potential to be filled with the infinite.

In the months after the relationship ends, a person can seem to grow at a lightning rate, like in a nature documentary where weeks of footage is run at high speed to show a plant unfurling in seconds, but in reality the person has been growing all along, under the surface, and it is only in their new freedom, in their hair-raising aloneness, that the person can allow for these underground things to break through and unfurl themselves in the light.

But then a foreboding thought cast a shadow over the rest, blunt and unadorned, and it was simply this: that for most of my life I had been emulating the thoughts and actions of other people. That so much I had done or said had been a mirror of what was said and done around me. And that if I continued in this manner, whatever glimmers of brilliant life still burned in me would soon go out. When I was very young it had been otherwise, but I could hardly recall that time, it was buried so far below. I was only certain that a period had existed in which I looked at the things of the world without needing to subordinate them to order. I simply saw, with whatever originality I was born with, the whole of things, without needing to give them a human translation. I would never again be able to see like that, I knew that, and yet, lying there, it seemed to me that I’d failed to fulfill the promise of that vision I once had, before I began to slowly learn to look at everything the way others looked, and to copy the things they said and did, and to shape my life after theirs, as if no other range of being had occurred to me.



When I visited as a boy, too young for chores,
a pair of maples flared before the farmhouse.
My grandfather made me a swing, dangling
rope from stout branches. I hurtled
between them high as I could, pumping
out half the day while my mind daydreamed
the joy of no school, no camp, no blocks
of other children fighting childhood’s wars.
With the old people I listened to radio news
of Japanese in Nanking, Madrid on fire,
Hitler’s brownshirts heiling. The hurricane
of 1938 ripped down the older maple.

When I was twelve and could work the fields,
my grandfather and I, with Riley the horse,
took four days to clear the acres of hay
from the fields on both sides of the house.
With a scythe I trimmed the uncut grass
around boulders and trees, by stone walls,
and raked every blade to one of Riley’s piles.
My grandfather pitched hay onto the wagon
where I climbed to load it, fitting it tight.
We left the fields behind as neat as lawns.
When I moved back to the house at forty,
a neighbor’s machine took alfalfa down
in an afternoon. Next morning, engines
with huge claws grappled round green bales
onto trucks, leaving loose hay scattered
and grass standing at the field’s margin.

A solitary maple still rises. Seventy years
after my grandfather hung the swing,
maple branches snap from the old tree.
I tear out dead limbs for next year’s sake,
fearing the wind and ice storms of winter,
fearing broken trees, cities, and hipbones.

Donald Hall | The Back Chamber, 2011

JO Barrios | Autumn in Austin, 2020



MAD Watch | The Life Ahead

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on A Promised Land +  an interview

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

Phoebe Bridgers + Maggie Rogers cover Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls

I ♥ Abby Phillip

JO Barrios | Flores, 2020



While I wait for my copy to arrive, here is an excerpt from The Atlantic ::


“I confess that there have been times during the course of writing my book, as I’ve reflected on my presidency and all that’s happened since, when I’ve had to ask myself whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth as I saw it, too cautious in either word or deed, convinced as I was that by appealing to what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature I stood a greater chance of leading us in the direction of the America we’ve been promised,” Obama writes. “I don’t know. What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America—not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind. … [T]he world watches America—the only great power in history made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice—to see if our experiment in democracy can work. To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done. To see if we can actually live up to the meaning of our creed.”