8 March 2001

First, nuts and bolts: if you sent me e-mail Friday or thereabouts -- or if you sent me e-mail at all any day before today and have not heard back from me -- please send it again. We've had some issues.

Timprov's aunt and uncle came to have supper with us on Sunday night, and they brought with them daffodils. When they brought them, the daffodils were kind of closed-up and funny-looking, more interesting than pretty. And that's fine, I can do interesting. But by Monday morning, almost all of them had blossomed. Wow.

I would not have imagined that a jar of daffodils on the kitchen table could make this much of a difference in my perception of the world. All of a sudden, I'm seeing in Still Lifes. (Still Lives?) Still Life: Special Delivery. Still Life with Wet Carrots. Still Life: Morning Routine. Things acquire focus, almost like daily life is now a prose poem.

I would have said, a few years ago, that I didn't particularly care if I got flowers or not. They were nice, but not a big deal. I think the major difference is that I have my own place now, and flowers are something simple that brings my focus up a little bit -- sometimes away from the mundane, routine things, and sometimes just shifting how I see them. In my research about Jewish-American immigrants, the idea of sabbatizing the home has come up over and over again: making some parts of it set aside, special, superfluously enjoyable. And I can watch that happening with the daffodils.

Is it sappy to write about a bunch of flowers? Oh yeah, probably. It's certainly not edgy and hip. But it's what's here, it's what I'm thinking about. And I don't think there should be topics that are totally off limits to write about. (Maybe some are off limits to post in a journal, but not to write about.) Karen included in her journal a few worries about how much she was writing about Jeremiah, her new kid. (The awesome one, if you've been reading this journal consistently.) I don't think she'd be nearly so worried about using what she was feeling and experiencing in her writing if it was falling in love, or mourning the death of a person. But there are some things that are sort of socially labeled as "Hallmark card subjects": flowers and sunrises, new parenthood (especially, sadly, new motherhood), pets...you know the stuff I mean. But if it has a profound effect on the writer, whether it's a large effect or a small one, why should it be off limits? Sure, I don't want to read poems about "The Daffodils" or "My New Baby" if they rhyme but don't scan, if they stay shallow or if they idealize too much or if they have any of a number of other flaws. But I don't think that precludes doing them well. I don't think that means we should accept that taboo. I don't want to read poorly done pieces on anything -- it doesn't matter if it's a new puppy or carbon nanotubules (which are much neglected in modern poetry, I might add). Write about what's really on your mind. (Or paint it. Sing about it. Whatever.) Write another journal entry about your kid. Send me another poem about spring and rebirth. Go on ahead and publish another "magic shop" story. Do it again. It's got bits of you in it. Nobody else could have done it that way. It's yours. It can still be special. I promise.

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