What I’m Loving Lately 103
1 day ago
Replying: "Are you in town?"Next time, I swear:
To which he said: "I was. Was at Foley's, but on road back now. :( "
To which I said: "Thanks for the ample heads-up, as always."
To which he said: "Sorry. I tried."
To which I wanted to say: "Really, no, you never really did, your apology is hollow, and I think I'm safe without ever wanting to see you again. Which makes me sad after all the things I liked about our friendship before you started treating me exclusively like your Boston booty call but, thanks anyway."
"Monks, whatever kinds of worldly merit there are, all are not worth one sixteenth part of the heart-deliverance of loving-friendliness; in shining and beaming and radiance the heart-deliverance of loving-friendliness far excels them.
Just as whatever light there is of stars, all is not worth one sixteenth part of the moon's light; in shining and beaming and radiance the moon's light far excels it;
and just as in the last month of the Rains, in the Autumn when the heavens clear, the sun as he climbs the heavens drives all darkness from the sky with his shining and beaming and radiating;
and just as, when night turning to dawn, the Morning Star is shining and beaming and radiating;
so too, whatever kinds of worldly merit there are, all are not worth one sixteenth part of the heart-deliverance of loving-friendliness; in shining and beaming and radiance the heart-deliverance of loving-friendliness far excels them."
Wishing you a metta, metta christmas and a metta new year...In case you've not heard of the term metta, it has a lengthy definition, in part: "a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence ... the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others ... altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest."
Vanity Fair (CH - from September 2010): "The notorious stage theory of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whereby one progresses from denial to rage through bargaining to depression and the eventual bliss of “acceptance,” hasn’t so far had much application in my case. In one way, I suppose, I have been “in denial” for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can’t see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it’s all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger? But I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity. Of course my book hit the best-seller list on the day that I received the grimmest of news bulletins, and for that matter the last flight I took as a healthy-feeling person (to a fine, big audience at the Chicago Book Fair) was the one that made me a million-miler on United Airlines, with a lifetime of free upgrades to look forward to. But irony is my business and I just can’t see any ironies here: would it be less poignant to get cancer on the day that my memoirs were remaindered as a box-office turkey, or that I was bounced from a coach-class flight and left on the tarmac? To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?"Thanks for your indulgence and for reading the tributes of others.... words tend to fail me when presented with such a work ethic, such practicality, and someone who most excellently lived his life his way.
The New Yorker (Jane Mayer): "Hitch lived so large, and so beyond the rules, that his mortality seems especially hard to accept. I remember the day some eighteen months ago when he told me that he was mortally ill. He had missed a few stops on his book tour, which wasn’t like him, so I called to see if he was all right. 'No,' he said frankly. 'I’m not. I have cancer.' I was so stricken for the next few days that I couldn’t get much work done. Then I noticed that during the time that I was using his illness as an excuse to procrastinate, he had himself authored a handful of brilliant pieces. I couldn’t work, but he couldn’t stop working. He was a born writer, whose irrepressible talent and verve put most of the rest of us journeymen to shame."
The New Yorker (Christopher Buckley): "When we made a date for a meal over the phone, he’d say, 'It will be a feast of reason and a flow of soul.' I never doubted that this rococo phraseology was an original coinage, until I chanced on it, one day, in the pages of P. G. Wodehouse, the writer Christopher perhaps esteemed above all others. Wodehouse was the Master. When we met for another lunch, one that lasted only five hours, he was all a-grin with pride as he handed me a newly minted paperback reissue of Wodehouse with 'Introduction by Christopher Hitchens.' 'Doesn’t get much better than that,' he said, and who could not agree? ..... Everything he said was brilliant. It was a feast of reason and a flow of soul, and, if the author of ‘God Is Not Great’ did not himself believe in the concept of soul, he sure had one, and it was a great soul.”
Vanity Fair (Graydon Carter): "He wrote often—constantly, in fact, and right up to the end—and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections. I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour."
The New York Times (Ian McEwan): "The place where Christopher Hitchens spent his last few weeks was hardly bookish, but he made it his own. Close to downtown Houston is the Medical Center, a cluster of high-rises like La Défense of Paris, or London’s City, a financial district of a sort, where the common currency is illness ..... No man was ever as easy to visit in the hospital. He didn’t want flowers and grapes, he wanted conversation, and presence. All silences were useful. He liked to find you still there when he woke from his frequent morphine-induced dozes. He wasn’t interested in being ill. He didn’t want to talk about it .... And so this was how it would go: talk about books and politics, then he dozed while I read or wrote, then more talk, then we both read. The intensive care unit room was crammed with flickering machines and sustaining tubes, but they seemed almost decorative. Books, journalism, the ideas behind both, conquered the sterile space, or warmed it, they raised it to the condition of a good university library .... at Christopher’s request, Alexander and I set up a desk for him under a window. We helped him and his pole with its feed-lines across the room, arranged pillows on his chair, adjusted the height of his laptop. Talking and dozing were all very well, but Christopher had only a few days to produce 3,000 words on Ian Ker’s biography of Chesterton. Whenever people talk of Christopher’s journalism, I will always think of this moment. Consider the mix. Constant pain, weak as a kitten, morphine dragging him down, then the tangle of Reformation theology and politics, Chesterton’s romantic, imagined England suffused with the kind of Catholicism that mediated his brush with fascism and his taste for paradox, which Christopher wanted to debunk. At intervals, Christopher’s head would droop, his eyes close, then with superhuman effort he would drag himself awake to type another line. His long memory served him well, for he didn’t have the usual books on hand for this kind of thing. When it’s available, read the review. His unworldly fluency never deserted him, his commitment was passionate, and he never deserted his trade. He was the consummate writer, the brilliant friend. In Walter Pater’s famous phrase, he burned “with this hard gem-like flame.” Right to the end.
|Boston University (May 2011)|
|BC/UND Hockey night (October 2007) -- |
first (photo) illustration of what an iPhone could do.
He likes long walks and being a good friend to others and enjoys driving to volunteer in his dad's office a couple times a week. His peep-toed pumps are among the things he can't live without. Also:
In addition to the cleavage shot above, according to his profile pictures, he looks like this: - You want a new dental hygienist
- Need a gal to go to a concert with
- Need someone to talk about anything over a bottle of wine and good cheese plate
- Or....someone to potentially be a girlfriend.
O blessed, blessed night!I was not falling asleep quickly last night and then, remembering a half-unwatched Shakespeare in Love idling on iTunes from last week, kept myself even more from falling asleep (because I can watch this movie unendingly for its cleverness and passion even after growing tired), and where I picked it up was the rolling sequence of Will writing the balcony (Act II, Scene 2) scene from Romeo & Juliet as the players are both performing it and he is living it through gauzy exchanges with his half-dressed muse Viola, and I did not of course equate this tragedy and romance with the 3 days and 2 nights just spent with MSF (and the chocolate he brought with him on the Friday-night red-eye), because the 3 days and 2 nights were rife with easeful enjoyment and Kobe sliders from Lucky's and homemade banana bread with sharp cheddar and unexpected moments of realization that after 2 months of not being face-to-face, 3 days and 2 nights of face-to-face are only slightly bittersweet and moreso only luxurious and gratifying and filling, despite the necessary end and the distance so briskly reestablished as the Monday-night sun set along with the plane taking him home, real life crashing its way back in just as quickly.
I am afeard.
Being in night, all this is but a dream,
Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.
-- "Romeo & Juliet" Act II, Scene 2
|Mom and Oliver -- December 1, 2010|
|Oliver riding shotgun -- Thanksgiving 2011|
"If you are over 70, I’d like to ask for a gift. I’d like you to write a brief report on your life so far, an evaluation of what you did well, of what you did not so well and what you learned along the way. You can write this as a brief essay or divide your life into categories — career, family, faith, community, and self-knowledge — and give yourself a grade in each area.Of course I read most of these essays this morning, here at work in our sparsely-populated office after having death dreams and not sleeping... and promptly started crying. But even if you had productive slumber and are reading this blog entry in your pajams with coffee and curled up in front of a fir e... I highly suggest them for your post-Thanksgiving glad-you're-not-out-shopping-instead reflection.
|Oliver is a fan|
"I just stopped by your place. I was headed out and realized today I wanted to run to Southie, but didn't think to call you until I was on my way. Wanted to see if you wanted to go for a run."It was 3:30 p.m. and I was still in my pajamas, drowsy and bed-headed. But had I been in Family Dollar Store for 30 seconds longer or shorter than I had, Chris and I would have missed each other. The day was crying out for a divine kick-in-the-pants ... and it appeared.
"The rule says that in order for an individual to master any complex skill, be it brain surgery or playing the cello, she must put in 10,000 hours of focused practice. Since a thousand hours seems to be more or less the maximum we humans can handle in one year, ten thousand hours equals ten years."I've been writing this blog for 3-and-a-half, although I've probably spent at least 20,000 hours in my life writing something; very little of it has been focussed, though. Using that calculus, I've probably got 25 years of blogging to go before mastery. Sobering. However, the resonance of this piece was less about that and more about what he spoke of next -- which is that the time and practice of a skill allows the self-censoring to fall away and the individuality to emerge.
"How does the actor get past his own excruciating self-consciousness? How does the entrepreneur come up with an idea that’s really new? The answer is they both beat their heads against the wall over and over and over until finally, from pure exhaustion, they can’t “try” any more and they just “do.” The writer says f*** it and writes a sentence in a way he would never imagine himself writing a sentence, and to his amazement that sentence is the first real sentence he’s ever written."And:
"To speak in one’s own voice means to let go of all the other voices in our heads. Whose voices? The voices of what is expected of us. Yes, that means the voices of our parents, teachers, mentors. But it means something more elusive too. It means our own expectations of what we should be doing or ought to be thinking—what is “normal” or “right” or “the way it ought to be.”
"The price of achieving that breakthrough is time. Time and effort. Ten thousand hours if you’re lucky, more if you’re not. The gods are watching for those ten thousand hours, like instructors at Navy SEALs training. They can tell when we’re faking and they can tell when we’re for real. They can pick out those of us who really want it from those who are only pretending.Which is the way this blog has and, hopefully will continue, to resonate with both you and me. Despite the occasional scattered times where I'm trying to find my brains and my gut and my legs and the next steps I can take forward even if all aren't quite intact.
"In the end those ten thousand hours must be their own reward—which is the way it ought to be, don’t you think?"
1) Two-mile "shake-out" run.
2) Thoughtful blog post outlining fear/excitement/relief that wind and rain should abate and the sun is expected to shine at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
3) Sit here, awake, and be fearful/excited/relieved.
4) Put my head back and take a power nap and promise to give y'all a marathon completion update at some future moment when the time is right.I think I'll take what's behind Door #4, Monty!