Studio time by Christina Rosalie

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Hello friends,
I can hardly believe that summer's (almost) over. It was everything summer's supposed to be: Art and sun and wine and friends. Late evenings and late mornings. If I'm totally honest, I'm reluctant to head back to the constraints and rhythms of school.
Summer's moments of extra light and days without schedule allowed for more time for making, and I've been taking every advantage of that.
I thought I'd share a few glimpses into my studio and a new series of paintings that I'm making. The paintings are on much bigger canvases than I've ever painted on before, and I feel like the rules have changed. They're experimental and unfamiliar and all I want to do is spend time with a brush in my hand, following where the ink and paint take me.
One of the biggest pieces began as a compilation of the 100 circles I made for the 100 Day Project. It felt incredibly risky, and then incredibly freeing to paint over that work. To let it evolve, become more.
This is something I've been exploring in general lately: How to not be too precious with things. How to let things go easily, and move towards the things that fill me up or move me in the moment, without needing to cling to them, or to contain them.
This is a theme I've also been exploring over on Tumblr, making 100 poems for 100 days. They're raw, in the moment gestures that allow me to slip around the side door to my subconscious and tap into the stuff my heart knows, but my mind tends to get too clever about. Like I did with the 100 circles project, I've made the rule set super simple for these poems: In the moment, wherever I am, without much fuss or editing. Just write. Hit publish. Let go. It's pretty sneaky how this work has started to change me.
How showing up for real, without doing much talking about it, or procrastinating, or posturing, has made me a better artist and a better writer. It takes a certain kind of daring and discipline I'd lost for a while, and I'm grateful to have rekindled it this summer.

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I'm deeply filled by this new approach to work, in a way I didn't expect, and can't quite put a finger on, except to say: Each time I show up, I feel myself become re-grounded. I find my breath differently. It's become a practice, again, anew.
Thanks for stopping by. I'm so grateful for the scattered community that still finds its way here. And I'd love to hear what you've been up to this summer, and see glimpses, if you have them to share, of your creative practice, your work, your workspaces. xo, C

Yes & yes by Christina Rosalie

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California Wilds
California Wilds
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Photo: Erika Senft Miller
Photo: Erika Senft Miller

There aren't words really, not yet. Except that I went, and found myself a part of a tribe of the most creative people among the familiar landscape of my childhood for a handful of days. I can back brimming. I came back on the 100th day of my circle project. I came back filled. Heart-felt. Held. Discovered. Seen. Inspired.

Since then I've been nonstop making. A notebook already full. The next book taking shape now fast, and certainly. Big canvases edging into sight... and I'm taking every moment I can to create.


Summer is here by Christina Rosalie

The longest day of the year.
Last night, driving back from the coast, the light lasted and lasted. A thin red-gold ribbon on the western horizon. After hours spent leaping from rocks and roasting dinner over an open fire, our hair smelling of woodsmoke, the golden light slanting long across the waves, the sand, the driftwood piled high in forts, we returned; but not before we ate cherries, drank wine, made s'mores, and watched families leave and teenagers arrive. Finally we went, reluctant, lingering. The light trailing us. The light, the light.

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We moved in June.
We moved to a house on a historic treelined street where bikers ride by in droves, and kids rule the sidewalks. It took all month to put our lives back together. Paint rooms. Unpack. Find the mixer and my favorite collection of short stories.
I have a fifth grader now and a first. Two boys, in full-on elementary school. Sprout still feels at the edge of little, but barely. Bean, in between in his own way. Gangly limbed and sensitive. He still comes to our bed on the weekend demanding snuggles and acts betrayed if we've gotten up before him.
I hold my breath. Time is flying.
We play at the park, evenings. Or walk the dog under 100-year old trees, sometimes carrying wine, other times espresso or a handful of cherries. The boys zoom out ahead on wheeled things, yelling. They spend their days with the nanny: at the pool, making lemonade stands, reading, swim lessons. Finally, both of them are becoming real swimmers. Coordinated arm movements. Coordinated breath. In ten years, Bean will be out of the house. So much else to learn by then. He's currently on the cusp, dipping in and out of maturity, flickering between the kid he's becoming and the younger kid he his.
For my part I'm trying to find new routines. Leaning into summer and the long, long light. Waking earlier. Writing more. Adventuring more.
What does summer look like at your house?

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Trying for fire by Christina Rosalie

100 Days of circles I should be doing other things. There is a list. Deadlines. So many shoulds. Instead I am thinking about the rose that my youngest picked today that smelled like euphoria, and of his smile asking to play catch, and of the homeless people I pass by again and again, each time feeling everything and still not knowing how I can help, passing as I do in my car without carrying cash, or on the sidewalk with my dog. Instead I've got headphones in my ears, and paint on my fingers, and I'm circling my circles, and I've got this Tim Seibles poem on mind.


TRYING FOR FIRE
Right now, even if a muscular woman wanted to teach me the power of her skin I'd probably just stand here with my hands jammed in my pockets. Tonight I'm feeling weak as water, watching the wind bandage the moon. That's how it is tonight: sky like tar, thin gauzy clouds, a couple lame stars. A car rips by -- the driver's cigarette pinwheels past the dog I saw hit this afternoon. One second he was trotting along With his wet nose tasting the air, next thing I know he's off the curb, a car swerves and, bam, it's over. For an instant, he didn't seem to understand he was dying -- he lifted his head as if he might still reach the dark-green trash bags half-open on the other side of the street.
I wish someone could tell me how to live in the city. My friends just shake their heads and shrug. I can't go to church--I'm embarrassed by things preachers say we should believe. I would talk to my wife, but she's worried about the house. Whenever she listens she hears the shingles giving in to the rain. If I read the paper I start believing some stranger has got my name in his pocket on a matchbook next to his knife.
When I was twelve I'd take out the trash-- the garage would open like some ogre's cave while just above my head the Monday Night Movie stepped out of the television, and my parents leaned back in their chairs. I can still hear my father's voice coming through the floor, "Boy, make sure you don't make a mess down there." I remember the red-brick caterpillar of row houses on Belfield Avenue and, not much higher than the rooftops, the moon, soft and pale as a nun's thigh. I had a plan back then--my feet were made for football: each toe had the heart of a different animal, so I ran ten ways at once. I knew I'd play pro, and live with my best friend, and when Vanessa let us pull up her sweater those deep-brown balloony mounds made me believe in a world where eventually you could touch whatever you didn't understand.
If I was afraid of anything it was my bedroom when my parents made me turn out the light: that knocking noise that kept coming through the walls, the shadow shapes by the bookshelf, the feeling that something was always there just waiting for me to close my eyes. But only sleep would get me, and I'd wake up running for my bike, my life jingling like a little bell in the breeze. I understood so little that I understood it all, and I still know what it meant to be one of the boys who had never kissed a girl.
I never did play pro football. I never got to do my mad-horse, mountain goat, happy-wolf dance for the blaring fans in the Astro Dome. I never snagged a one-hander over the middle against Green Bay and stole my snaky way down the sideline for the game-breaking six.
And now, the city is crouched like a mugger behind me--right outside, in the alley behind my door, a man stabbed this guy for his wallet, and sometimes I see this four-year-old with his face all bruised, his father holding his hand like a vise. When I turn on the radio the music is just like the news. So, what should I do--close my eyes and hope whatever's out there will just let me sleep? I won't sleep tonight. I'll stay near my TV and watch the police get everybody.
Across the street a woman is letting her phone ring. I see her in the kitchen stirring something on the stove. Farther off a small do chips the quiet with his bark. Above me the moon looks like a nickel in a murky little creek. This is the same moon that saw me twelve, without a single bill to pay, zinging soup can tops into the dark -- I called them flying saucers. This is the same white light that touched dinosaurs, that found the first people trying for fire.
It must have been very good, that moment when wood smoke turned to flickering, when they believed night was broken once and for all -- I wonder what almost-words were spoken. I wonder how long before that first flame went out.


First published in Hurdy-Gurdy by Tim Siebles

Black & white glimpses by Christina Rosalie

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A handful photos I've taken recently, processed in black and white, in the same way that one chooses to write fiction over non. There is a story element to black and white. A telling, beyond the marrow and the bone. Black and white captures the illusiveness, the fleeting way that light catches skin, falls long, flutters, move on. It tells a little of what can't be told; the longing inside of skin. The sweetness of breath. The suddenness of gesture. By being less saturated with hue, it leaves more room for what becomes. The story on the page, perception, like a breath caught, a lip bitten, sudden laughter that lifts on the air.

To the coast by Christina Rosalie

We went to the coast, just us two for a few days. We climbed cliffs and ate fish tacos and watched whales spout and turn as the sun set and the gulls dance. We drank wine on sand dunes in the rain. We lay side by side and felt the earth spin. We ran down dunes, giddy, laughing. We slept in late. Argued. Made love. Went for a run. Explored every tide pool. Wandered slowly. Answered the 36 questions, and then more questions, mapping everything: tattoos, trips abroad, new ways of seeing, the future big, passion-filled, near. It was good. These are the images I don't want to forget. Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 preset

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Like magic by Christina Rosalie

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Guster | Christina Rosalie

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End of day

Big bean reading

Little Sprout

Leaving work | Christina Rosalie

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Today I found myself standing in various rooms, having walked there from other rooms without knowing why, on auto pilot. I opened the bathroom cabinet, then shut it again, forgetting to take out the hair dryer. I opened too many browser tabs and crashed Chrome. I forgot obvious words in the middle of sentences. Basically I ran out of words. Every single word squeezed out into sentences for presentations in which every word must be the exact right word. It's been a doozy of a week.
On Monday I gave away my cat. Bean is allergic, terribly. I stayed up with the friend I gave the cat to, drinking wine until nearly midnight. When I left the cat followed me to the door. We had her since our first apartment together, T and I. We had before 9/11. We had her from the advent of Web 2.0. Remember when email was a novelty? Remember when we had Hotmail accounts? Remember Ask Jeeves? My friend who took the cat is gorgeous and smart and loves brass figurines. Together with her husband I think they may love the cat more than we collectively did, seeing as T never really loved the cat, only grew accustomed to her. Still, to look back and remember getting her from the shelter together, baby faced, just out of college, and then to see our lives now? Time flies like magic.
On Tuesday I stayed up till nearly midnight, at a Guster show. I remember how much a friend in college adored their band, though I never listened to them much. Turns out, one of my sweetest writer friends in VT is married to the lead singer, and our families became friends. It was a kind of surreal to watch him perform. He was so exactly himself, and yet so much larger than himself, and then after the show, hugging him, he was just regular again. Like Magic.
On Wednesday I stayed up until midnight, working on a presentation for work. As a strategist, I basically start with the broadest and most complex challenges, or ambiguous data sets, and then distill them gradually. Often pages upon pages end up being a single page, so obvious that it doesn't look like it's anything at all. This, in fact is the mark of good strategy: to distill to the point where something is self evident. Where it's so straightforward and intuitive, there can be no mistaking. The work to get there is often arduous, but invisible once the answer becomes evident. Strategy is all about process. Thinking about that this week, I thought of the Tibetan monks I once watched making sand mandalas. They bent over their work for an entire week with intention and focus, creating something splendid, and then sat back to let the wind blow it away. Magic.
On Thursday before I collapsed into bed the minute the kids were in bed, which is late these days because of spring vacation. My mother in law is to watch the boys for the two weeks they have off which is a boon. She makes soup and takes the boys on adventures, and her love, unconditional and abundant, is a gift. Yesterday they did tie dye. So far all I have seen as an outcome is that my ten year old's hands are somewhat permanently dyed blue. His grin when he announced he was a Smurf was perfect.
Today I missed two coffee dates with two different sets of people because of the work. I said goodbye to one of my favorite designer friends who's moving on to a rad new show. He is one of the zen travelers I know. I had the fortune of taking a trip with him to Chicago for a conference last year. He forever changed how I think about travel. Worry less. Just show up. That's basically his approach. Its good for life too.
Now, looking ahead to Saturday, there will be Easter egg dying and coffee drinking and bike riding and writing.
I write every saturday, slowly but surely on my next book, or more realistically, on a single story that will be in my next book eventually. Each weekend I wrestle the piece back from a feral state. I write sentences. I delete them. I grapple with the way everything seems to come back to my mother, even though the story isn't about my mother at all. I sit in a cafe a few blocks from my house and I write, and in between I watch people come in. One couple comes every weekend. They spend the entire time taking selfies, and photos of their coffees. She wears incredible stilettos. He wears one of those baseball caps with a flattened bill. Another is a guy who is also writing. He takes smoke breaks out in front and fiddles with his wait length dreads. So far we haven't said hello. It seems like a matter of time.
Tomorrow, the weekend. How grateful I am every week for the interlude. It's like code switching. Right brain left brain. On the weekend I exhale. Sometimes I fall apart. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we fall harder in love. Whatever happens there always magically seem to be enough moments to reconstitute me for another week. Magic.
Happy weekend, friends!

Early Spring by Christina Rosalie

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With the longer light the days have a little more ease. We get home, and there's just enough time to go out on the back porch and listen to the wind stirring in the trees and the spring time birds serenading the setting sun.
Every weekend is a boon. A few hours spent writing at my new favorite coffee shop, listening first to Joan read aloud. Letting the sound of her clean, direct sentences wash over me.
Other hours doing the endless loads of laundry that creep up on us, and all the other things the week never affords: grocery shopping, vacuuming, the usual. But there is also time for sipping coffee + reading Modern Love. For riding bikes to Blue Star with the dog, the wind in our hair and the scent of cherry blossoms heady and sweet filling the air. Or picnicking up on Mount Tabor overlooking the reservoirs set aflame with the light of setting sun.
Not enough hours, really, together, all of us, but still. Enough to fill us up temporarily so that we all head off back to our separate worlds sated till about mid week wen we're all hungry for time alone and time together and dinner happens later than it should. Enough for the time being. For March, for early spring in this city we're falling in love with daily.
At the end of next month, we'll have been here a year.
How did that happen?


PS:

There are just these few pieces left from my studio sale, including the little humming bird piece above. Just leave a comment & I'll get in touch.

Owl Medicine

Find Flight

Flight Behavior

Messenger

{ Tender } by Christina Rosalie

Inner Alchemy Circle :: Water Coven

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Tenderness


{ TENDER }

The softest part. The quietest breath. At the fringes of exhaustion. At the edge of discovery. This is tender.
The downiest, most delicate inkling of something new. The glimmer of a fresh start. A whisper. A hint. This is tender.
A suggestion. A sensitivity. Featherlight. Easily blown off kilter. Skin exposed. This is tender.
Between your ribs, the fluttery fleeting skip of your heart filled with wonder. Your hidden underbelly of longing. Your most secret desires. This is tender.
Allow tender.
Allow yourself to be tender towards all that is new, that is unresolved, and fragile in your heart.
Allow it to well up with quiet honor and protection and guarded wonder. For this is courage, is strength. Allowing yourself to be tender is the ability to lift in freedom towards all that you are.
Tender is where beginnings happen; where transformation germinates; where anything destined for greatness begins.

The older they get by Christina Rosalie

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My boys, they're BOYS now. Six and ten. Their birthdays passed, bookending the middle week in February with a sprinkled rainbow cake and a chocolate cake and best friends and grandparents. Balloons and a treasure hunt for Sprout. The arcade, the pool, a movie, and a sleepover for Bean. We've made it. We're beyond the beyond of early childhood. They pack their own changes of clothes for the beach; carry their own backpacks.
It does and it doesn't get easier, the older they get.
When they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, the demand was high for every single moment, yet the moments themselves were small: A digger! A yellow dog! The injustice of mittens in winter. The fury of being asked to eat broccoli. The complexity or simplicity of falling asleep.
Now it is the complexity of being alone. The discovery of self. The absolute of independence. The hunger for protection. The need to stand out, or to fit in. Best friends, secrets, multiple choice homework assignments, and the fury of having to fold one's own laundry.
Bean hit double digits. The half way mark between now and when he'll take off into the wide orbit of his own life. Sometimes in the morning on the weekend he'll climb into bed with me and tell me about his inventions. Futuristic cars with self-generating motors, and houses with secret walls. Mommy, he says, do you know? And then he'll launch in, my mind trailing his. We're in the era of homework, cello practice, weekend sleepovers, nights when his mind spins and he can't fall to sleep. A week ago Bean fried everyone eggs. Perfect, crispy, with just enough fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. He walks to the five and dime around the corner for milk. He reads everything within reach.
Sprout became a big kid this year. Looking back at last year's birthday I still see the toddler in him. Now it's gone, and in it's place is this boy full of muscle and movement and song. Every waking second he's singing or joking or yelling. He can throw a mean frisbee, straight and far. He practices dribbling a basketball on the front walkway, and wants a hoop for the street. For him, everything is drama. His eyes wide in mock despair or bright with glee. He got a pocket knife for his birthday. Recently he's learned to strike matches; carefully lighting the candles for the dinner table every night. This morning he made pancakes with T: pouring and flipping every one.
The weekdays go by in a rhythm and blur. School and work. We do the same things. We do different things. We spend our days mostly apart. We come together in the evenings, hungry, excited, tired, impatient, eager, quiet.
As we gather around the dinner table at night they tell us stories about their days. This ritual we started so many years ago. A moment of pause and grace before we begin, then all of us there, talking, passing food. Mommy, Bean asks, what was the most interesting thing that happened to you today? He doesn't have perfect table manners yet, but he knows how to ask questions with weight. Sprout tries to remember to listen, to wait his turn. He tells exuberant stories. Finishes dinner quickly. Climbs into my lap. Always this.
On the weekends there is bacon. Good coffee. Sleeping in. Modern Love in the NY Times. A trip to the library. Some kind of adventure. Maybe a bike ride. Still, each of us craves time apart. There's not enough time for all the laundry, errands, things that pile up from the week. So then it's push & pull. Give & take.
Here we are.

Birthday glimpses by Christina Rosalie

So I'm 37. My birthday came and went. A blink. It's the first time in ten years I haven't posted here on, or near my birthday. Instead, today my oldest son turns ten. TEN. In four days my youngest turns six. The world turns. It keeps turning. Every day with them is a hilarious mix of pure joy and annoyance, angst and delight, frustration and sweetness. Every day my heart is cracked open with wonder. Every day the floor is strewn recklessly with their things.
There is no way to make up for the lost days between my birthday and now: Nearly a month of milky winter sunrises through pale curtains; the smell of my boys' skin curled next to me, reading stories before bed; oysters sucked down at the coast around a table with incredible writers; bonfires built on the sand; holes dug; donuts consumed.
No way to describe all the moments spent at the alter where ocean meets sky; at the cusp of the world where you cannot help but feel that you are made wholly anew; the ions dancing in the air; the kites; the bonfire smoke at twilight, sipping wine, watching the birds flock towards their rocky island homes.
No way to convey the way Tin House was both fire and solace for my writer soul, re-invigorating my work, and igniting new fervor. No way to list the he books I've read, or partly read; the thousand kisses exchanged with my love; the late nights spent on projects for work; the deadlines and the satisfaction of hitting them; the camellias in bloom; the downward dogs I bow into with each new day.
Instead, here are a handful of pictures. It's been an incredible start to the year. A year I've begun with big intentions and deep gratitude.

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PS: I made a new Birthday List, here.

Be in time. by Christina Rosalie

"You will be told that 'time is your greatest enemy, time is your greatest possession. Hey, you better be careful with time because time don't come back'; "Time flies" "Time is of the essence" "Don't waste time" "You must control your time" and, above all else, "Be on time - Be on time." Well, friends, in the words of the great Louisiana jazz trumpet man, Enute Johnson, "Son, don't worry about being on time, be in time." Because when you are "in" time, you can accept and experience a much larger slice of life as it unfolds. Instead of imposing your will on every situation, you focus on including everyone else, and just that little adjustment of attitude gives you the space to understand where and who you are."

-- Wynton Marsalis at my college graduation forever ago.

The world moves, and moves on. One minute, then the next. by Christina Rosalie

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One minute everything is flaming up grandly, and the next, it seems desperate and desolate in the small fire pit at our feet that we've fashioned out of smooth beach stones. Every visible flame has licked itself to ash. Coals glowing on the blackened undersides of logs, but nothing more. Then the wind shifts direction, and up the flames lift. Flames bright and filled with sudden roaring heat. Sparks skid off into the dwindling light as the sun sinks down.
Beyond us, at the shoreline the waves lip at the rocks like a pony at a handful of sugar. Then fresh waves ride in slantwise, full of vim, and crash headlong into the rocks causing spray to skid off into the dusk.
Steadily, the earth turns. Each day, we arrive and are made new.
In the car, driving to the beach we hit the 1.5 hour mark and all of us have had enough. We're sick of each other, sick of the sound of our own chatter. In a no-service zone, even satellite radio plays only the crappiest songs. Everything feels suddenly feels claustrophobic and close, and the coast seems like a horribly stupid idea. But then, out the window passing wetlands, a hundred birds lift into the golden winter air. They twirl and lift in a sudden exquisite ballet, and all of us see them, and as we drive on, we're different. We pass around cheese sandwiches. We start the alphabet game: Antennas on the hill. A red barn across the way. Cars. A dog in a truck. Electrical wires. Fences.
So the world moves, and moves on. One minute, then the next.
Sitting watching the fire I realize how intensely I live into each moment. How easily I'm fooled into believing it's a forever state, a constant. How my default is often still to power through or run when things feel dire or off kilter. Clam up, or tirade. Fight or flight.
Yet after the fire nearly dies three times, and I throw everything into it's rekindling: smoke in my face, armloads of small driftwood sticks, sparks in my hair, I give up. Let go; try just sitting back observing. And the fire dwindles. And rekindles. On its own. The day becomes night. We sip wine. The boys dig holes. One minute they laugh. The next they yell. Water seeks its own level, and holes fill; every ember flares up to live its promise as a flame.

A wonder-filled new year by Christina Rosalie

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We went, just before the New Year to the high dessert. To a place of cold air and saturated hues, big skies bigger quiet. The kind of quiet that reminds you what you are, and also, what you hope to be.
Among the topography of the dessert you feel time differently. Where the landscape looks Mars and bears the memory of Paleolithic beasts, you understand what you are, and realize that becoming means more than this day or even this life.
Time here tells not of daily things: hurry up, finish up, let's go, come on, make it happen. But rather, galactic evidence. You are here. Part of everything. Breathing and alive. A speck on this spinning planet. A spark, a fleck, some inkling of the beyond.
I did what I haven't done in years: lay down in the snow with my face towards the sky and let the quiet take hold of me until my heart began to thrum in tune with the painted hills. Thrum with the truth of their the vibrations; of the pebbles red and ocher and green; of distant tectonic shifts; of volcanic ash; of other landscapes, submerged, fiery, then cooling; of the, the earth spinning, spinning around the spirit sun. The sun that painted the landscape indescribable hues of gold and lavender in the long light of afternoon. The sun that flirted with the moon all day. The sun, the moon, the spinning desert that held me. And then my word for 2015 found me.
A word born of the blue, blue sky, and the gibbous moon, the golden dessert, and the silence.

Wonderful.

Yes.
Happy New Year, friends. May it be truly wonder-filled.

Glimpses from Christmas by Christina Rosalie

Blossoms In Winter Nativity

ChristmasTree

ChristmasEve

Sprout+Mama

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GingerbreadHouse

Tree Climber

Sunset Window

It was a quiet holiday, filled with many moments of sheer delight with just the four of us this year. T and I both took two weeks off, and it's afforded a certain kind of leisure. Making dark chocolate dipped orangettes, gingerbread from scratch, white bean soup, pork chops, cranberry sauce, pop-overs. Setting up the nativity passed down from my grandmother. Playing carols in French on Rdio. Hiking up above the city, zig-zagging on trails under ferns and mossy trees. And then on Christmas, waking early to make a fire and pry our eyes open long enough to sip coffee and watch the boys discover the things they've been wanting there beneath the tree. New bikes and legos. So many legos. And afterwards a nap for T and I as the boys played, and then dinner by candlelight, and later, singing all together, around a candle-lit tree.

Around here, lately by Christina Rosalie

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In this hemisphere the earth tilts farther from the sun. The days grow dark and short, but no matter. Inside there is light. In the evenings I've been making art. On the weekends, writing. Slowly a new short story, one in the collection for my new book is taking place. Three hours on the weekend isn't much time to write, but it's been just enough to stitch the story into being. I slip off to cafes, evesdrop next to people, let my mind wander, and catch the sentences as they arrive. It's a ritual I cherish.
This week, I cracked open a new notebook. I've been a Molksine girl forever, but Leurchtturm has captured my curiosity. Something about the possibility of blank, yet numbered pages....

Here are a few other things I've been up to lately:

Listening :: The Paper Kites "Woodland" album.
Reading :: Dear Life, by Alice Munro + Bark, by Lorrie Moore.
Walking :: Around the neighborhood in the evening with my silly blonde dog the sidewalk wet and reflecting circles of light.
Sipping :: Rooibos Tea (my new favorite).
Smelling :: The fragrance of pine + juniper in the wreath on the table, and the candles we burn at dinner.
Working :: Long hours
Sleeping :: In on the weekend + then snuggling with boys in bed for longer still.
Watching :: Briefly
Reveling :: In the fact that I live on the same coast as my dearest friends.
Looking forward :: Two two weeks of vacation, coming soon.
*
Tell me, friends. What are you up to lately?

Say yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found by Christina Rosalie

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One must say Yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found — and it is found in terrible places. ...For nothing is fixed, forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock.  — James Baldwin


Out the window, the Japanese maple has become a cloud of golden stars, quivering in the late November air. Inside, during the day I watch the sky pass. I look up from where I sit and watch the clouds. I like to think their passing is evidence of a world more real than mine at the screen and on the page. A world we all improbably share. A moon that follows us in orbit. Seasons, in spite of injustice, ebola, homicide, unrest.
How is it possible for any human's heart not to ache at what's happened? What keeps happening?
How is it possible for any of us to go on living at all, nodding to strangers as we pass, holding loved ones hands, offering beggars what we have, planning for Thanksgiving. There is so much hunger, need, anguish, guilt, loss. Each of us lives it in some way, and then beyond us, the world mirrors it back ten fold. One thousand fold.


At the table my boys are looking at a Lego catalog. They're talking about which figures are the bad guys and which are the good ones, and most importantly, which ones have guns.
"Stop," I say. I can't help it. "Guns are awful."
"But mommy," Sprout says, "The good guys need them so they can shoot the crooks."
It's a new word he's been using. Crooks. I have no idea where it came from. We don't watch TV, and they don't play video games.
"What makes a crook?" I want to know.
"They're the bad guys, Mommy, obviously." He says.
"Even bad guys have mommies," I say then. I don't know where I'm going with this, only that I want him to understand that every life matters, even in play.
I know we all seek ways to live out epic battles of archetype and wonderment, and kids do this in their play, regardless of the toys they have at their disposal. Good versus evil. Life and death. Tragedy and comedy. Still, there is a way that entertainment both glorifies and objectifies the things that terrify us in real life: brutality, horror, human fallibility. We become convinced that guns are necessary for fighting the "bad guys." We claim we need them for our freedom.
Nothing makes me more devastated than this stupid, erroneous claim.
I know there are many things at play in each instant, in each case of brutality or heroism (the Taxi Driver incredibly portrays how fine a line it is between them.) But with guns, every instant ends with a certain absolute failure.
Guns are the weakest excuse. The failure of bravery; the bluntest accomplice of aggression, our greatest fears and shortcomings masquerading as our strength. With guns, every mistake is fatal, and every victory is fatal too.
How is this the way we choose to live?


The world offers up its beauty and its terror, never equally. And each day we arrive in the morning of our lives anew. It's up to us to choose to courageous, to be honest, to be true .


Happiest Thanksgiving to you, dear friends. I'm so grateful you find your way here.

Patience is the destination by Christina Rosalie

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Hello friends. I've missed this little corner of the world. Missed the routine of showing up, of documenting simply, day by day. Of taking notice, and hearing in turn how your worlds align and turn. I like that asynchronous connection. The moments of inspiration and reflection that come of shared moments across time. The stories that find their way into the comments. The wayward emails I get, reminding e we're all connected, and my words find their mark in New Zealand or Sweden, Buffalo, under feet of snow, or in Burlington, where my muscle memory is still strong, and winter has already gathered close.
Here, autumn slips towards winter gently. The rains have started, but each day there are moments of brightness, and in them we rake leaves, look up at the sky and find rainbows, or walk to the cafe among the rose gardens for chai tea in the afternoon at work. Still, it's taken until this month to feel a gradual settling of routines, and a steadiness in orbit here.

In the cafe yesterday while writing, I overheard someone say, "Patience is the destination."

I couldn't help thinking that they've got it exactly right. Flannery O'Conner only ever finished three pages in the three hours she wrote each day, and Gertrude Stein even less, though both I think understood the secret is just showing up steadily for something. Stein said, "If you write a half hour a day, it makes a lot of writing year by year." The accumulated truth of persistence. The evidence of patience on the page.
All this to say I've begun writing again, stories this time, slowly. I write for three hours on Saturdays, and find that with this routine I've begun to be increasingly able to just sink in and write when I get to the cafe and order a coffee. In between times the story lives with me. The scenes find me vividly and sometimes I'll write notes, like today while running on the treadmill I could hardly wait to finish three miles so I could jot down what I'd worked out.
I've stopped expecting I'll finish anything with any kind of speed, and with that release of expectation I've found a new kind of focus for my work.
Still, it takes commitment. To showing up. I'll be working on this new material at the Tin House winter Writer's Workshop in January, staying in the Sylvia Plath Hotel on the Oregon coast for a long weekend, and for this opportunity thrilled. It's a way to remind myself of who I am. Of putting a stake in the terrain that is my life, as a writer, even as I am also other things.

Synchopate by Christina Rosalie

syn·co·pateˈsiNGkəˌpāt/ verb - to displace the beats or accents in (music or a rhythm) so that strong beats become weak and vice versa.


Summer went, as it does. The long golden days becoming shorter. Arrows of light aiming sooner toward evening.

School started, and with it all the trappings of routine. Tea sipped in the car on the way to dropping off the boys. Homework folders. The hauling of a 3/4 sized cello back and forth three days a week. Late pick-ups at the end of long days. Traffic on the way home, and in that in-between time in the car, en route, we tell each little things or watch people in other cars tell each other things, their hands pantomiming stories we cannot hear.
With daylight savings, we cross over the bridge after the blue hour has been swallowed by darkness and the lights from boats below us look like stars on the river. In every tall building, we see signs of life. The evidence of days spent at desks, or wistfully at windows, or waiting for busses, or texting lovers, or having quarrels, or picking pumpkins. All of us, alive, and going about our days. All of us doing.
When the leaves began to turn, it was not all at once, but gradually. A blush of color among the green. And then, under certain trees with leaves shaped like small fishes, the streets began to fill with falling yellow and gold. At the same time everywhere, on every wall and tree and corner, the moss began to roll its velvet carpet out, green, greener with each softly falling autumn rain.
This was the way that summer summer went; punctuated by the particular certain geometry of being new to a place. A kind of slanting rush to acquire a sense of direction, far beyond whatever landmarks mean East or West. A circling around what shared purpose means now, here, with us moving through new routines and days, our familiar aims sent loose and spinning like a compass needle brought too close to the pull of other closer force fields. There were days that felt like we’d lost our North. Temporarily, or longer, even as we found ourselves, each of us, in the focus and drive and purpose of the work we love.
This was how summer went. With this prioritized over that, with wanderlust seeping in at the edges, with satisfaction sometimes fraying without a birds-eye view. With delight, sudden and intense. With hikes. With the coast never too far.

It isn’t just moving here. It’s that moving here has somehow illuminated in sharp contrast how my boys have grown.

How they no longer need me the way they did. How I am still at the center of their lives, but not their everything. How their orbit has grown wide, drawn by the forcefields of their own lives and consumed by the turbulence of their own tides.
Their days are filled without me. In school, in after-school, with books and friends. Days spent with with sandwiches and goofing off on the swings, with secrets, with small hurts, with stories I'll never hear, with facts about the solar system, with art, with wonder.
Suddenly time with them feels at once intense and rarified. And somehow more than ever I am unaccustomed now of it all; to whatever it means to be in the middle of this life, in middle age, with a career and responsibilities and all the hours of every day accounted for in new and different ways than when they were small and their hair smelled like vanilla cookies after naps.

The way that stories seem to hover in the air by Christina Rosalie

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetIn the middle of the summer the light would last and last, but now it fades fast at end of day. The crows fly west, nightly passing over our house, cawing after the fleeting sun. The sky turns to rose, to melon, to yellow, to indigo, and then to night. Stars, faint here among the pole lamps and the traffic lights, and the thousand lit rectangles of windows that reveal the our private worlds, wink into the sky one by one. There, Cassiopeia, her unmistakable shape, a chair overturned, glistening through the walnut leaves.
We've come out to the back yard after dinner, drinking rosé in glasses without stems. We exhale. Twilight finds us.
Sprout climbs the bay tree by the neighbor's yard and is immediately swallowed in the dark. He and the little girl next door are exchanging good night chatter. Every day they call to each other across the fence, play on the weekends, their laughter and yells and chatter filling both our yards. "Goodnight!" They call. "See you tomorrow!"
After the boys are in bed I take a walk with the dog, the neighborhood becoming gradually familiar. Here, the last of the trumpet flowers blooming yellow and wild over a low rock wall. There a girl standing in the light of her second-story apartment window, hair cropped short on half her head, long on the other, tattoos running the length of her arm. She sips wine and tilts her head back to laugh. Around her, friends, all backlit, are laughing too.
The sidewalk holds the day's heat still, and I feel it through my soles. The air is sweet and soft with jasmine which blooms on nearly every street. Each flower a fragrant star, small and white among a foliage of midnight green. The dog pauses to greet a cat. Her tail wagging hard, then harder against my leg. The cat pretends to be the sidewalk. Flattens. Flattens farther. Becomes a shadow. Becomes the dark.
In the house beside us a man in a white t-shirt paces in his living room, talking on the phone. Behind him a wall-to-wall bookshelf. The kind you want to linger by. The kind I wonder if people will have any more when Bean and Sprout are big. The kind fat with volumes, each one signifying something more than the story or information it holds: the moment it was gifted or bought or loaned. The college course it was for. The girlfriend who dog-eared the pages. The grandmother who wrote, "Margaret," inside the dust jacket. The best friend who gave the volumes of poetry as a birthday gift. The novel by John Williams, it's spine unbroken, given by someone without a signature or remark. The underlined copy of Munro's newest stories, loved so much.
Walking, alone under yellow streetlight along bushy cedar hedges, past sunflowers taller than my head, past tomato plants that dangle their voluptuous fruit into the street, past the garden beds of swiss chard and fennel, past cats on stoops, I am walking among other people's stories.
A man stands combing his hair in the reflection his window mirrors back.
An elderly woman in a lazyboy, her face alternately blue and pale with the flicker of TV. In the still air behind her, a dozen rianbow colored mylar balloons.
At his table, a silver-haired man sits smoking, shirtless. Behind him, a lamp glows, it's base a woman.
Beyond the waxy leaves of a magnolia, a blue bottle of Dawn dish soap in the yellow frame of a window, stands idle by the sink. Behind it, the wall is tiled red.
On my way back the air smells patchouli. On the corner, a man sits in front of an open warehouse door on an old folding lawn chair playing chords on an electric guitar.
This will be what I'll remember about this first summer here. The softening light, the gradual end to summer, and the way these stories seem to hover in the air. With day drawing to a close people don't draw their curtains the way they do back East where there is already the cold promise of first frost. Instead they go about their lives, windows wide open. Unadorned,and vulnerable: each one imperfect and beautiful among their particular and curious collection of things.