Lord, give us what you have already given
Or, hearing from God when you can't hear a thing
A few days before Thanksgiving, when I was in a rather dark place, Moses and I were painting with watercolors at the table. I was rifling through a box of kids’ art supplies, glue sticks, and construction paper when a gray piece of cardstock fell out of the bin.
It was a rough draft of an abandoned calligraphy print. The lines quoted are from Ilya Kaminsky’s poem “Envoi” from Dancing in Odessa:
Lord, give us what you have already given.
I have no idea how it got in this box, as all of my calligraphy work has long been packed up and shelved, but it felt like a bit of divine chance. The phrase stabs at my heart whenever I recall it, and so I have left it on the fridge as a daily reminder to seek joy and contentment.
It’s further special to me because Ilya Kaminsky, as you may know, is a hearing-impaired poet. He writes a lot, and beautifully, about deafness and being quiet in the world. He was born in Odessa, in what is now Ukraine, and misdiagnosed when he had mumps as a child, which led to the loss of most of his hearing at the age of four. Kaminsky lives in California now, and I find myself increasingly reaching for his work. Or perhaps his work is reaching for me?
Moments of intersection like this make me feel alive, quite simply. Guion and I often call it “meta-confluence,” when you discover strange relationships and resonances between seemingly unrelated things. I continue to be hungry for such happenstance.
From Deaf Republic: 1
Such is the story made of stubbornness and a little air, a story sung by those who danced before the Lord in quiet. Who whirled and leapt. Giving voice to consonants that rise with no protection but each other’s ears. We are on our bellies in this silence, Lord. Let us wash our faces in the wind and forget the strict shapes of affection. Let the pregnant woman hold something of clay in her hand. For the secret of patience is his wife’s patience Let her man kneel on the roof, clearing his throat, he who loved roofs, tonight and tonight, making love to her and her forgetting, a man with a fast heartbeat, a woman dancing with a broom, uneven breath. Let them borrow the light from the blind. Let them kiss your forehead, approached from every angle. What is silence? Something of the sky in us. There will be evidence, there will be evidence. Let them speak of air and its necessities. Whatever they will open, will open.
— Ilya Kaminsky
An amusing consequence of telling people about my surgery failure is that when they want to ask me how I’m doing and talk about it, they sidle up to me and whisper, because it’s sad. I of course can’t hear a single thing they say, so I just nod with big eyes and try to also look sad. You could basically be telling me anything and I’d just nod along with you. By telling you this, I’m giving you permission to mess with me. Or to tell me all your secrets. I’ll never reveal a word.
Housekeeping Digest: Candle Edition
Tis the season to light lots of candles. Like the hygge-focused Danes, I believe that tons of candlelight makes winter more bearable.
To that end, I’m invested in good candle care. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Best candle tools
USB rechargeable candle lighter. There’s a ton of these devices now, and I assume they are all pretty much great, but this is the one I have. It looks like a dumb vape pen, but I love it. Never buying a lighter again!
Wick trimmer. Gotta trim those wicks, y’all. More on that below.
Candle adhesive (to secure wobbly tapers). The only thing keeping my wall-hung sconces from burning down the house.
Best candle care tricks
Always trim wicks before you light. This creates a better, more even burn and prevents excess dripping of wax (for tapers).
Wax stuck on a candle holder? Stick it in the freezer overnight. Wax will then chip off super easily.
For jarred candles, when you light it for the first time, keep it lit for several hours until the entire circumference is fully melted wax. If you blow it out too soon, you’ll create the dreaded tunneling effect and thus waste a lot of your candle.
Favorite candles currently
I hate cloying, fruity scents, so I tend to like a lot of amber, bergamot, and other more earthy/woodsy smells.
Kobo Stoneflower. Bought this one on a whim at a local store and fell in love.
Thymes Frasier Fir. The best Christmas candle, bar none.
Trader Joe’s plain taper candles. I stock up on these every winter. Super-affordable and burn quite cleanly.
Favorite candles lately? Other tips I should know about?
Either/Or, Soren Kierkegaard (yes, still, I know, I’m working on it; in The Seducer’s Diary now, which is a rollicking good time)
Inciting Joy, Ross Gay
Liberation Day: Stories, George Saunders