Snow, trees, negative space, and corn chips

It’s snowing. More than anyone expected, particularly after a day or two of temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit. It’s beautiful, and quiet. Cold is calming, reassurance that the earth is resting. We need to rest too – at least I do. So much seems to be happening, but without any assurance that the outcome will make sense.

Looking for inspiration, I discovered that there is a certificate in digital writing. I couldn’t discover the price, but it gave useful highlights such as how to make your writing work with the internet – I had the impression that meant shorter. Always shorter. Shorter paragraphs (what are they?), shorter words. Don’t confuse people, repeat your selling points, and stay on brand. OK then.

Another blogger I follow is now hawking how to be unique. And make money. Well, you can’t argue with the logic of that. Unique, but not too unique. Selling, at the root of all things. It makes for aggressive reading. But even when you try to read a bit of information about a book or movie, the tone and texture are insistent, rough. Look at this, it screams. You must read/see/listen to this! It will change your life/make you reflect/laugh/cry/scream etc. I feel like I’ve been accosted in an alley and I’m running to the safety of the main street. Except now the main street is filled with equally untrustworthy figures, all alluding to fear, a broken leg when you needed to run, emptiness when you needed empathy.

And still it snows. It’s best early in the morning, before anyone has decided they must get up, or at least make noise. But the snow is extending the morning quiet, changing people’s plans to go buy more corn chips before the BIG GAME. I can guess what one of the ads will be, can you? I’m not a fan of American football, but I always find it funny that the same people who will BBQ in the cold for a party, or buy two cases of beer and half of Kansas’ output of corn chips, will sneer at the servers and kitchen staff standing in the street, watching the World Cup on TV screens inside the restaurant from outside on their break, the steep stairs to the kitchen below revealed under the metal covers that are a feature of NYC streets.

American Football. And in time for the game, it seems that the MVP player award has been given to someone who announced they were unvaccinated at one point. Well, that’s a sure fire way to get more people health care they weren’t expecting. America lurches from one side to the other, the NYT masterful in its ability to claim everyone is right. America has so many blind spots, it’s like a garage exit on a steep curve.

I see that Microsoft is now alerting me to “sensitive geopolitical references” in my writing. Well, that’s new. Censorship begins at home, I guess. It seems to have lowered the “score” on my writing too. How terrifying, like a bad first grade teacher telling you all poems have to rhyme, or a dance teacher telling a child not to twirl.

The internet gods have said to be short, so I’m looking at word count. Writing is starting to reflect architecture. Buildings used to have decorative features, ornate carvings, wood floors. Now everything is a rectangle – except the daring buildings with cut outs, like a tired dancer on a bar at the end of long shift. Oh yeah baby, I can see through where the building should be. Absence! Presence! Negative space.

Negative space. That’s one way to describe where we seem to be.

It’s still snowing, that’s good. I wish it would snow all day.

The internet, which has its moments, also produced this quote, via a very nice blog now called themarginalian, which specializes in finding themes and quotes from authors, to save us the trouble of reading the books, or maybe to encourage us to read, in some NYT covering all the bases sort of way. It provided a very nice rabbit hole of Emily Dickinson a few weeks back, that for moment made me decide that I would enroll in some faraway school and do nothing but study her work. Today, a new rabbit hole had this from Hesse:

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us. Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts…Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

-Hesse, Wandering: Notes and Sketches

Or maybe both are true.

©Alice Severin 2022