About Claire

I am a filmmaker, illustrator, graphic designer and copy editor.

(Glad to not be) A long way from home

I love this so much! Everything about it.

We have more snow, or rain, or sleet, though at this exact moment it’s just heavy and grey but with a strange winter glow. I was thinking in the night how I love stories with people coming in out of the cold and finding warmth. Everything I’ve been re-reading this past year has been about that–Dickens, Joan Aiken, Anton Checkhov. Travelers finding comfort after wandering in adverse conditions. The contrast makes it delicious, like a hot fudge sundae.

But sometimes people wander with no safe home to go to and no warmth to find, and as a dormouse in human form, I find that frightening and moving, but absolutely fascinating as well. So many examples in blues and bluegrass songs, of poor boys (or girls) a long way from home. Sometimes by choice, sometimes because of injustice or poverty. Sometimes traveling with the wild geese in the west, or riding the rails, as if called to be with them, sometimes wandering from town to town in search of work or shelter.

I was thinking it’s different for women wandering. It’s not expected, it signals some loss of home, some deficiency of character. And such vulnerability. Here are scenes from two beautiful but very heavy wandering women films. I’ll probably talk more about each one of these days:

And just some songs.

Mississippi John Hurt Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor

I’m going up the country, 20 miles more
I’m going up the country by the cold sleet and snow
I’m going up the country by the cold sleet and slow
No telling how much further I may go

John Prine Rocky Mountain Time

And the water taste funny
When you’re far from your home
But it’s only the thirsty
That hunger to roam…

Christ, I’m so mixed up and lonely
I can’t even make friends with my brain
Yeah, I’m too young to be where I’m goin’
But I’m too old to go back again

It was a train that took me away from here
But a train can’t bring me home
What made my dreams so hollow was standing at the depot
With a steeple full of swallows that could never ring the bell
And I’ve come ten thousand miles away, not one thing to show
It was a train that took me away from here
But a train can’t bring me home

Gooseberries

I grew these blackcurrants, and will make something of them despite the fact that they are acrid and their leaves smell like cat pee. I LOVE MY BLACKCURRANTS!

In the evening, while we were having tea, the cook laid a plateful of gooseberries on the table. They had not been bought, but were his own gooseberries, plucked for the first time since the bushes were planted. Nicholai Ivanich laughed with joy and for a minute or two he looked in silence at the gooseberries with tears in his eyes. He could not speak for excitement, then put one into his mouth, glanced at me in triumph, like a child at last being given its favourite toy, and said, ‘How good they are!’
He went on eating greedily, and saying all the while: ‘How good they are! Do try one!’ It was hard and sour, but, as Poushkin said, the illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths. 

– Anton Chekhov’s Gooseberries

This is one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite stories I’ve ever read.

Ivan Ivanich and Bourkin are on a hunting trip. They’re tired of walking and the fields seem endless. Ivan is about to tell a story, but is interrupted by a sudden storm, so they take shelter at a nearby mill owned by Aliokhin. The story is delayed further as they bathe (first time for Aliokhin since spring), and then Ivan swims in the river in the rain, and then they dress in silk dressing gowns and warm slippers and settle by a fire.

Ivan tells the story of his brother Nicholai Ivanich, a clerk for the Exchequer Court from the age of nineteen, who spent his youth working and pining away for the fields and woods where they passed their days, seemingly happy, though poor as peasant’s children. “And you know once a man has fished, or watched the thrushes hovering in flocks over the village in the bright, cool, autumn days, he can never really be a townsman, and to the day of his death he will be drawn to the country.” Nicholai is obsessed with the idea of buying a farm and enjoying all of its pleasures, but mostly of raising gooseberries. “Not a house, not a romantic spot could he imagine without its gooseberry­bush. ‘Country life has its advantages,’ he used to say. ‘You sit on the veranda drinking tea and your ducklings swim on the pond, and everything smells good. . . and there are gooseberries.’ He used to draw out a plan of his estate and always the same things were shown on it: (a) Farmhouse, (b) cottage, (c) vegetable garden, (d) gooseberry­ bush.” (How I love the beautiful absurdity of this!) Nicholai marries a widow, lives as a miser, basically starves his wife to death, but, eventually buys his farm and orders twenty gooseberry-bushes and settles down to a country life.

Years later Ivan visits him. It’s a hot day, and he describes his brother, his brother’s dog, and his brother’s cook as fat and pig-like. “We embraced and shed a tear of joy and also of sadness to think that we had once been young, but were now both going grey and nearing death.”

His brother disappoints him with his elitism and greed, his condescension to the peasants, his self-satisfaction, his hypocritical forgetfulness that their grandfather was a peasant and their father a common soldier. Then his brother eats his gooseberries, and as Ivan watches him, he suffers an existential crisis as he realizes that happiness is unobtainable if you’re aware of the suffering of others. “In my idea of human life there is always some alloy of sadness, but now at the sight of a happy man I was filled with something like despair. And at night it grew on me. A bed was made up for me in the room near my brother’s and I could hear him, unable to sleep, going again and again to the plate of gooseberries. I thought: ‘After all, what a lot of contented, happy people there must be! What an overwhelming power that means! I look at this life and see the arrogance and the idleness of the strong, the ignorance and bestiality of the weak, the horrible poverty everywhere, overcrowding, drunkenness, hypocrisy, falsehood. . . . “

He finishes his story, and the men he’s telling it to, as well as the portraits of lords and ladies on the walls seem to have found it tedious and unsatisfying. Ivan and his companion go to bed in comfortable rooms, with clean linen, and the unpleasant smell of Ivan’s pipe, left on the table, keeps his friend awake. And the rain beat against the windows all night long.

Well! There’s so much here! There’s so much here to think about and talk about, in such a simple story. Chekhov very famously said, “The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” And I love these questions, though I believe there are no answers to them.

On one level, the story is an examination of happiness. What it means to be happy, if it’s selfish to be happy, if it’s even possible to be happy in the face of universal human suffering. But the story of Nicholai is a story within a story, it’s not even the bulk of the story, and Ivan is an unreliable narrator. When he tells the story of his brother eating gooseberries, he says that it’s really his mood at the time that he wants to relate, and I think he tells more about himself, throughout the story, than about his brother. Or Checkhov is more interested in talking about Ivan than about Nicholai, the narrator and author become beautifully tangled when reading about the story within the story. Everything Ivan says makes perfect sense when he says it, and the reader likes and sympathizes with Ivan, you feel that Checkhov likes and sympathizes with Ivan, but it’s not that simple when you think about it.

Ivan is more like his brother (and like all people, I think) than he would want to admit. He disparages his brother’s desire to live in the country, [“He was a good fellow and I loved him, but I never sympathised with the desire to shut oneself up on one’s own farm. It is a common saying that a man needs only six feet of land. But surely a corpse wants that, not a man. And I hear that our intellectuals have a longing for the land and want to acquire farms. But it all comes down to the six feet of land. To leave town, and the struggle and the swim of life, and go and hide yourself in a farmhouse is not life ­­ it is egoism, laziness; it is a kind of monasticism, but monasticism without action.”] but his description of their childhood and the thrushes is the most lyrical passage in his story. When Ivan swims in the river in the rain*, after being clean and dry in the baths, he must be cold and miserable again, but he seems happy, or pretends to be, “Ah! how delicious!” he shouted in his glee. “How delicious!” … he lay on his back to let the rain fall on his face.” It’s a lovely foreshadowing of his brother’s delight in eating hard sour gooseberries. And though he entreats his friends to be aware of the suffering of others, he thoughtlessly leaves his foul-smelling pipe burning through the night, keeping his friends awake, as he sleeps in clean sheets arranged by the pretty maid. He’s so eager for his companions to know about his epiphany in watching his brother eat gooseberries, but his response to the revelation of the endless suffering of others is to lamely entreat his rich friend to “do good.” And his judgmental, condescending description of the people he claims to care about so much that he can’t feel happiness is an uncomfortable read for anyone distressed by the “the ignorance and bestiality” of Trump supporters, that “basket of deplorables.” And I’m aware that I’m judging Ivan for being judgmental.

I do believe that Ivan is confusing comfort and happiness, though the two are intimately related. I do believe it’s possible to be elatedly happy though physically uncomfortable, although nobody should need to find that out. I do believe that rather than believing that nobody should ever be happy, we should work on creating a world where everyone could be happy, and I do understand that writing that here is as ineffectual as telling your rich friends to do good. And Ivan says, “Every happy man should have some one with a little hammer at his door to knock and remind him that there are unhappy people, and that, however happy he may be, life will sooner or later show its claws, and some misfortune will befall him ­­ illness, poverty, loss, and then no one will see or hear him, just as he now neither sees nor hears others.” So it’s not just the idea of others’ misfortunes that should block happiness, but the idea that everyone will bear misfortunes, will feel loss and sadness in their life. It’s a compelling argument, it feels correct, but surely this realization of inevitable suffering is exactly the realization that makes you appreciate the happiness you feel when you feel it. I think Ivan would find me trite and useless for writing that!

I love the idea of someone being happy with something they’ve grown or made themselves, which is more pertinent now than it would have been then. There’s something I love about gooseberries, and blackcurrants and quince. They’re not very popular in America these days–we want things to be sweet and ready to eat–these fruits take some work, they have a bitterness within them that’s almost confusing, and they must be cooked and sweetened to yield their odd but unforgettable flavor. This story is like that, and it’s not lost on me that I’ve felt more happy thinking and talking about this story than I have about many things other than my family in many months. I’m sure I got it wrong. I’m still thinking about it, I will have more to say.

And there will always be Gooseberries.

I love this so much right now:

.

Sigh.

Yesterday I spent a lot of my day thinking and writing about Chekhov stories. I talked about it over dinner with anyone who would listen, and I lay awake really happy, really really happy thinking about talking about what I was thinking about, and all of it was about the idea of happiness, which doesn’t always hold up. And the more I thought about it in the middle of the night the more it all made sense.

And it rained all night long, there were warnings about it, that it might be ice, that it might cause flooding in the snow upon snow upon snow. When Malcolm was home from college for two months he would talk a lot on his phone to a friend far away. He has an oddly warm and carrying voice: we couldn’t hear what he was saying through closed doors, from another storey of the house, but I could hear him talking. His voice has the timbre of one of the sounds the rain makes. He’s back at college, now, but all night long, last night, I’d wake from time-to-time and wonder, in middle-of-the-night bewilderment if it was Malcolm’s voice I was hearing, or just the rain.

I thought about how, from birth, you want to feed your babies and you want them to sleep. I thought about how on the towpath earlier, I’d heard birds singing in the bamboo, and how that must have been a safe place for them in the snow. I thought about the relation of contentment and happiness. I thought about how at the boys’ old elementary school earlier, walking with Clio, I had been overcome, knocked out, with layers of memory. Near tears.

More about Chekhov’s stories to come, but for now, the last line of my second favorite story: “And the rain beat against the windows all night long.” It did, my dears, it did.

I think he’s talking about the birds in the bamboo!

Travel by Memory & Expectations

“And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory–this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?”

Proust, of course

When we first met, David and I went into NYC a lot. We’d just spend the day wandering around, or go to little galleries or watch weird movies at Bleeker Street Cinema or watch the dogs play in the dog park. One time we happened upon a restaurant called Match around the corner from the Angelika cinema. We had red wine and French Fries and humus. It was one of those moments that’s just perfect. Exactly the right thing at the right time, with the right person. Ever since, every where we go on our travels, (and make no mistake we go everywhere, man) we seek out humus and fries. Sometimes with a glass of wine, sometimes a nice pint of beer, but the snack remains the same. It’s a comfort and a tonic.

And then we had the boys, and we didn’t go as many places, but when we did, we’d get french fries and hummus with the boys. And every year that the boys have been in school, on Valentine’s Day David and I get a couple of orders of fries, and make our own hummus and have a glass of wine in the middle of the day. It’s such a quiet glowing pocket of time. This year, as home-bound as we’ve ever been, with snow upon snow outside, and the pandemic closing in around us, it feels like a more important ritual than ever. Layers of memories, of all the conversations we’ve had down the years, all of the places we’ve been, all of the worries and joys we’ve discussed, conjured by a well-done french fry and a dab of hummus. The days and hours melt together, in our quarantine world, but this feels separate and special, it’s a very different kind of travel, but I’ll take it.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day and we were discussing gestures the other day, here are some silent love scenes:

Hands

My boys and David holding things

Did you know there’s a secret sonnet hidden in Romeo and Juliet? In the magical moment when they first meet, despite the fact that she’s 13 and he’s probably not much older, they are somehow savvy enough, whilst falling madly in love, to communicate via perfect Shakespearian sonnet.

Juliet
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this:
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Romeo
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Juliet
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in pray’r.
Romeo
O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do,
They pray—grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Juliet
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Romeo
Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.
(Kisses her)
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg’d.
Juliet
Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
Romeo
Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg’d!

If you watch most versions of the play, it starts with hands touching, in a kind of dance, and ends with kissing. Hands touching must have once been very forward and shocking human contact, and, strangely the pandemic has made it so again.

I have long been fascinated with the motion of human hands. Gesture is one of my favorite languages. If you watch silent films, gesture and expression are everything.

Muybridge did studies of the motion of hand gestures, and they’re very beautiful:

I love the gestures of football (soccer) players holding their hands up in prayer and thanks. I love the gestures of people everywhere signaling that they’re happy or upset or angry or thankful. It does seem that the more international online language is, the more important gestures become.

I love this Instagram account I just discovered Subway Hands. Just very beautiful.

And of course I love this…

I like these things today

Goose and tiny mammal! Snow shadows!

Things I love right now, on top of all the other stuff I always love:

Been watching the impeachment. From Camus, “All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those who accept the conse­quences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked. … But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.” and “It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.”

Also, I love when you go from blue ink to black ink in a pen and you write random nonsense because it’s such a pleasure to watch the color change.

And I love ducks with snow on their bills trying to look cool when you approach them with your (obviously fierce) dog. And how they just mutter-quack-mutter as a flock with a low noise you can feel, and how your dog says, yeah, we’ll just let them be, and turns around.

This amazing website? App? that lets you listen to radio stations all over the world! I listened to Catalunyan radio stations from Barcelona and Basque radio stations from Bilbao. Bask in the warmth of people far away having spirited conversations and laughing in languages you don’t understand, and sharing news that’s important to them and music that they love. The map shows as a beautiful display of small green dots, and after seeing Covid maps for nearly a year, this is a tonic!

And it put me in mind of Radiooooo, this beautiful site that lets you find music from any where in the world at any time since 1900, and lets you pick slow, fast, or weird (of course I love that!). Been around a while, was free last I looked, and now looks less free, so I’m sorry about that.

Also I like dreams that turn out OK, even if it’s a small weird detail. I had a dream that Malcolm and David had a place to be, and Isaac and Clio I walked on the towpath at night, but it wasn’t the towpath we know and love, it had cathedral ceilings versions of trees. And then Isaac got sleepy and took a nap in the snow, and Clio ran around, and then we all just went home feeling really happy.

Also, I’m weirdly obsessed OBSESSED with this right now:

February Doldrums

Must be something about this time of year, with its slight promise of sun and then days of snow and ice and the whole world closing in on you because every path away from your home is icy but we’re all still quarantined anyway because of a global pandemic and the ex-and-never-should-have-been-president is being impeached AGAIN but you know nothing is going to come of it because corruption, greed, self-interest and downright evil are rampant… Sorry, train of thought derailed. Must be something about this time of year because all of my facebook memories (I know we’re not supposed to like Facebook because it’s not cool and yet I do sort of love it, as a person who is terrible about keeping in touch with people, and we’re not supposed to like their memories because it’s manufactured nostalgia, but it would be better to call it history, I think, and I do love to look at it every day to see pictures of my youths as youths and the things I cared about.)

WELL, apparently in February, over all the years, I have cared about animals eating fruits and female musicians and dancers kicking ass. [ED. HaHa, it sounded like I cared about animals eating female musicians and dancers! Punctuation, so important.] I have cared about animals eating fruits, as well as I have cared about female musicians and dancers kicking ass.So if you need that in February, too, here you go…

Ratablos and arugula pesto pizza with a naan crust

A couple of years ago, back when we could leave the house and mingle with other humans, we went to an exhibit called Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States, at the Princeton University Art Museum (honestly, one of my favorite museums in the world.) These hauntingly remarkable retablos, mostly painted in enamel on tin, are votive paintings commissioned to give thanks to a saint for help in overcoming sickness or adversity. Each contains a short, hand-written narrative describing the event or tribulation, along with a painting depicting it. They’re beautifully luminous and dreamlike, with proportions and angles that defy logic, in the perfect way that dreams do. The enamel on tin produces colors that are rich and flat, like the sky before an important event: portentious.

These are votives, or ex-votos, they are the fulfillment of a promise, the resolution of a vow made at the moment of distress. They are prayers, but not asking for anything, rather prayers of gratitude. Time runs backwards and forwards at the same time, memories mingling with anticipation, and saints occupy the same strange space as sufferers, glowing in the corner of their visions. The”retableros” (!)(!)(!) were often untrained artists, but there is something perfect in the way in which they capture the drama of the moment, the depth of spirits, and the glow of hope on the other side. And though they describe dark times, these are all stories with happy endings.

Art has the power to heal; art has the power to capture a prayer and to express the gratitude when it is answered.

The collection spans the entire 20th century, and the stories mostly concern the dangers of travels North and South across the border and of life in the United States. We see tales of sickness, accidents, imprisonment, dangerous border crossings, the difficulty of finding work. Viewing them during the Trump era felt especially poignant, a sad recognition of how much had only changed for the worse. They’re often steeped in the idea that the world of humans–doctors, bosses, policemen–offered nothing to the supplicants, and left them seeking the help of saints. And thinking of them now, during the pandemic, the prayers for the health of family members, the gratitude for recovery from illness are all too familiar.

Here are some of my favorite stories. They’re not the saddest or most serious of stories, but they have odd details that I love:

On the 18th of November of 1918, finding myself lost in Chicago, I commended myself to the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos, asking that she illuminate the road that I sought. I give her thanks for granting me what I asked, and for this reason, I dedicate to her the present retablo as a memento. Matías Lara. San Luis Potosí

On the 15th day of January of 1947, having become annoyed with my companions with whom I went to work in the state of Tamaulipas, I separated from them. Advancing deep into a forest, I went up to a house where I asked permission, and about ten at night the owner of the house called me outside, mistaking me for a bandit. He said that he was going to kill me, and seeing myself in such grave danger, I commended myself to the Holiest Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos and to Saint Martin of Terreros. Juan Luna

I dedicate the present retablo to the Holiest Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos for having saved me from a Texan who tried to carry me off. I hid under a tree by the side of the road with my little brother. “Concepción Zapata.” San Luis Potosí. May 10, 1948

And here’s “Indocumentados” by Akwid. I love them.

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Falling down. And Chard, goat cheese, and lemon tart

I was going to write about something that is probably more interesting, but the day ran away from me and I couldn’t catch it because I fell down again.

I’ve fallen more since this quarantine started than ever in my life, except for one summer when I was 11 or 12 and fell down all the time. My knees are a map of scars from that summer. Since March I have fallen over railway ties, uneven slate, roadwork, on icy bridges, and just yesterday, on almost nothing. Still mounds of snow on the ground, but it was so warm all day. We went for our usual walk at lunchtime, and the sunshine on my head was such a tonic. And then later in the afternoon I was sitting, working, and I saw the sun fading, and just wanted to be outside one more time while it was still warm. We (Clio and I) got a block from the house and I just fell. Hard, on my knees, and I skinned my palms. It’s such a nostalgic feeling. It’s such a strange feeling. There’s something about the moment that you know you’re falling and you don’t know how it’s going to end up. It’s such an illogical dream moment.

I did feel weirdly vulnerable the rest of the evening. And then in the middle of the night I had the strongest strangest memory of being a child in short pajamas, on an unexpectedly warm day fading to night. And then I had a memory of holding a child in my lap on an unexpectedly warm day. The feeling of their bones and of their belly rising and falling with their breathing, the smell of sun on their skin, the sense that in a minute they would jump off your lap and continue with their important ramblings. The feeling that you would never forget this precise moment, though of course you do, until you’re much older, and some vulnerability of falling down has opened a strange door in your middle-of-the-night memory.

Here’s Catch by the Cure. She was always falling again and again. And below the line there’s a recipe, an actual recipe, and a good one!

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Insomnia Alphabet

I’m a longtime card-carrying insomniac. I’m often awake several hours of a night. We don’t have a clock in our room, and I never look at the time on my phone. But there are little signs that I wait for. David puts his watch in the sock drawer so it won’t keep us awake, but it still beeps the hours, and I know it. Across the street the man wakes at 4:30 to see his friend off to work. He shovels her car out of the snow or rakes the leaves away. I don’t know them but that feels like love. Next door to him the house where the blinds are never open shows a glow around the closed blinds every morning at 5 a.m. The five a.m. lights I call them. The smoker comes out with a cushion to sit on a small bench and smoke at various times of the night. But she’s not a reliable time-keeper; she doesn’t keep to a schedule. The light from her window is blue, like television lights, but it doesn’t flicker. I wonder about that every night. Our attached neighbor wakes at 6 and walks quietly but with purpose back and forth in her apartment. When I can’t hear her for days or weeks on end, I worry about her and imagine where she might be. I like to watch the sunrise, or the echo of the sunrise because the window faces North. I like to watch the birds convene and reconvene in the dawn winter light or fly over, in sparse flocks, and gather for a moment in the trees and then move on. David’s alarm goes off at 6:19. Sometimes I’ll get some sleep after that for an hour or so, and have strong, strange dreams. I’m aware that I’m lucky to be able to sleep after other people have headed to work. I know that. But I was thinking that if you’re a person on the radio or television early in the morning, your voice might just be the strange garbled echo keeping somebody’s neighbor awake after another sleepless night.

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to being awake during the night. I know it’s a rookie mistake to panic about not sleeping, but it happens sometimes, still. The middle-of-the-night brain is not easily persuaded by calm and rational arguments. Like every other insomniac, I’ve developed some methods to cope. I never get out of bed to read or watch TV or any other very awake thing. I try to think about things I’m writing, things I care about. I lie and watch the light change.

But one method I’m fond of lately is my insomniac’s alphabet. This is not so much a crush as a catalog of crushes. This is an alphabetical list of things that I love. Things I love so much they become ‘Claire-y.’ This is the exercise of assigning each letter of the alphabet to something that I love more than I love most things. My boys said it would be more sleepy to compile an alphabet of things you don’t care about, and I have tried that. I’ve also done fruit & veg, the names of players on my favorite football team…you can come up with any topic you like.

But the pleasure in compiling an alphabet of things you love is that you’re thinking about things you love, rather than things that worry you. You might be awake, but more power to you, because you’re thinking about things that make you happy!

One thing I thought that would be lovely, if this became a trend, is that you could tell someone you had a crush on them by saying, “You’re the ‘D’ in my insomnia alphabet.”

Here’s my current insomnia alphabet:

A is apples. Mundane, I know, but I really really love apples. I eat an apple every day, and have since at least half my life. Of all the things I’m anxious about doing without, apples is probably top of my list, or near to it.

B is for Barcelona football club. Madly in love. Midlife crisis. Might write about this at another time.

C is for Clio

D is for David

E is for empathy.

F is for flying foxes eating bananas

G is for generosity of spirit. Not material generosity. I’ll probably talk about this someday too.

H is for honesty or humor, love both, they go hand in hand (see the H -es there?)

I is for Isaac

J is for early Jim Jarmusch films

K is for Kurisawa

L is for lemons. Taste, smell, idea, memories of houses that smell like lemons

M Malcolm, obvs

N is really hard for me. I’m still working on this one!

O otters. I know everyone loves otters but not as long or passionately as I have loved otters.

P puppies. What? WHAT?

Q Quince. Have a quince bush in the back yard. Love everything, EVERYTHING about quince bushes and fruit and membrillo

R raspberry jam

S Steenbeck, my old canine love

T is for longtime crush Tintin

U is for the idea of unreliable narrators

V is for viola de gamba music.

W is for wine. Every day forever!

X Is for just the love of having a truly bizarre and seemingly useless letter in the alphabet

Y is for … pending

Z is for … pending.

What’s your Insomnia alphabet look like?

Here’s a beautiful track from Wu-Tang Clan and Isaac Hayes