Midsummer moodiness / by Christina Rosalie

Somehow, the summer is slipping by. Without warning it is more than half over really, and I'm feeling moody about it. The sky has been a mosaic of torn clouds this week. Strong winds and rain have been thrashing about wildly like a greenbroke horse. The night sky burnished with sheet lightening, thunder always rolling low in the distance. It's that time in the summer when I start to think about it ending, and I feel a certain abject sorrow thinking of it. Like driving again after living through a car crash, the prospect of going back to work and living through another winter makes me white-knuckled and anxious, albeit in a hazy popsicle and sun-stupored way. Last year's autumn and winter left scar tissue running the length of our relationship: mine and DH's. We survived, but sometimes the ache of it painted entire weeks with indigo and gunmetal gray. We came out of it, one bowl at a time at the pottery studio, centering, finding each other among strangers, with slip on our hands and glaze splattering our shirts. But it took until after my birthday to feel like we'd make it to the next.

Now roses are blooming hot red and hooker pink, their petals promiscuously soft, but the slugs are eating holes in the leaves. We still haven't put in a garden fence, and the ground where the beds have not been turned has begun to reclaim its meadow-ness, grasses and tiny fingered ferns and sturdy-rooted dandelions sprouting up through the rubble of tilled soil. I wake up and spend my days sprawled out reading novels which is something I almost never do, and cannot quite get accustomed to. Hours in a book, interrupted every fifteen minutes by Bean who lopes about the yard with his bubble mower or a watering can.

We got him a set of trains and a an oval loop of track and they keep him occupied for nice long stretches of time, during which I get hauled into whatever place is inked out on the pages I'm turning. I get pulled in so easily, my whole day takes on the hue of the story, as though my life were a cotton cloth saturated in the dye of each story's language and emotion; little ripples and circles left clean, like tie-dye, where necessity forces me to resurface.

Small things bring me back to the moment. Making alphabet soup. Lying in bed with DH, my head pressed into the soft place where his arm and shoulder meet and his heartbeat thrums so loudly in my head, all at once I start to think it is my own. Or sitting on the planks of the small dock at the neighbor's pond with Bean, our toes in the water, listening for frogs and splashing, while above us swallows swoop and dive. But in between these things, words are running a haphazard narrative inside my head. Stories are bunkering up against each other.

Last week I finished Pam Houston's novel Sight Hound, which I wasn't entirely drawn into at first (many narrators, one of whom is a dog) but found myself sobbing by the end, grateful for it's right-there in plain sight way of talking about risk and faith and grief. Today I finished As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. DH's ninth grade copy with his ball point pen notes in the margins.

I read it in two days, though I didn't expect it to. There was a certain terrifying tension to it. Faulkner's language is so heady and convoluted and looping that the act of reading it becomes part of the story. You become torn, and belligerent and hateful and grieving because the language makes you feel these things. Like a rip tide, it tows you under. One sentence looping back on itself again and again until you can no longer read it and have it mean anything at all, or another so abrupt, so sharp with colloquial timbre that you have to catch your breath. I want to go back and read the whole thing again, because I felt myself pushed to the very edges of comprehension, as though it were my gut and not my mind to towards which the story was aimed.

I’m also reading Homeland, a collection of short stories by Barbara Kingsolver. My everywhere read. The one I snatch at in all those in-between moments. Each story yanks me into the very center of it’s truth. I read them hungrily, picking over the skeleton of the story, trying to understand how it is made. The gathering of small details, the weight of lines, or the way the author’s voice rides up high over the words of the narrator like radio stations overlapping.

Yet with all the book reading and the lolling about, I haven't been able to stay focused on writing. There is something in my aquarian nature that is both sanguine and ambivalent. This, combined with Bean's intermitent pestering, and it seems it is nearly impossible for me to effectively structure my days. I get disoriented in summer, with all the basking and book reading and love making and such, the heat rising up early and abating only after the thunder and rain have rinsed the grass and sky.

Anyone else feel like this, midsummer? What are you reading? Doing?