a little life…

maxresdefaultI’m reading “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, and this is but a partial review of that book, given I’m only a few chapters in. But, oh, the writing is so sweet that I needed to speak out early. Take this:

The other aspect of those weekday-evening trips he loved was the light itself, how it filled the train like something living as the cars rattled across the bridge, how it washed the weariness from his seat-mates’ faces and revealed them as they were when they first came to the country, when they were young and America seemed conquerable. He’d watch that kind light suffuse the car like syrup, watch it smudge furrows from foreheads, slick gray hairs into gold, gentle the aggressive shine from cheap fabrics into something lustrous and fine. And then the sun would drift, the car rattling uncaringly away from it, and the world would return to its normal sad shapes and colors, the people to their normal sad state, a shift as cruel and abrupt as if it had been made by a sorcerer’s wand. 

When I read writing like this, there’s a huge temptation to throw down my own pen – just spend the remainder of my years reading more similarly quality stuff. But, no… that’s not the Right Thing To Do. What’s essential, for any writer, is to read what they enjoy, spend time reflecting, and work out why is this so good? We should be inspired rather than defeated by another’s work.

This particular passage (and much of the rest I’ve read to date) is so damned good because of its clear and simple evocative pull. I really *am* on that train and immersed in the world of those downtrodden characters… And what else is fiction writing other than that escape into another world, no matter how grimy and Real..?




Dens sapientiae…


…. or ‘wisdom tooth’ as we might say nowadays.

I went to the dentist today and had confirmed that I am teething. Yes! At the grand age of 53 years, I have a Wisdom Tooth coming forth. Hallelujah! I am so very excited at the prospect of finally being wise.

The pic is my younger daughter, who turned 16 today. The other is now 18. Where does time go? In the dentist’s, a curious toddler was running his grandparents ragged in the waiting room – grandparents, I might add, who didn’t look that much older than me. I smiled, as I waited, watching his antics… and thought before you know it, he’ll be grown.


Here they are, the 18 year old and the 16 year old, obviously before they reached those ages.

I wonder what Wisdom will entail? My dentist – and my colleagues – find it mildly hilarious that I am teething. I tell them yeah, but I will be SO wise! And I actually believe it. As though, once the tooth has made its total entrance, all manner of stuff will become Known To Me. Yes.

A namesake of sorts (my maiden name is Teasdale) wrote a pome on the subject of ‘Wisdom’ and, somehow, it seems particularly apt with this teething thing and the two daughters reaching significant ages…

Wisdom – Sara Teasdale

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange – my youth.


Happy birthday to my darling daughter who has brought, and continues to bring, such Joy.

And here’s hoping for Wisdom, for us all… 😉


Just a tall child…


I was in Oxford yesterday and happened upon a sale at The Ruskin School of Art. I had to drag my eldest in – she really wasn’t remotely intrigued – and once there, we proceeded to browse intently this offering of energetic, creative youth.

I bought the artwork shown here. It resonated, probably way more than it should have done given that I’m ancient and the artist a mere babe… 😉

The artist is: http://www.jessicaheywood.com and I liked a lot of her stuff at the exhibition. This one in particular. She also writes painful but often beautiful and raw poetry.

On the way down to Oxford – a 2 hour drive – daughter and I had waxed lyrical on feminism, politics, humanity, life… the usual fare, we have a healthy regular line in conversation… and much of what we saw adorning the walls of the Ruskin School seemed – to me – to echo our conversation, and indeed many other conversations we’ve had.

Alas, no. My daughter was quietly horrified at what she saw as (and I paraphrase here) “teenaged doodles, not art”. When I suggested we’d finished browsing and should be heading back, her relief came in a hissed “yes, let’s go!”

For me, the exhibition/sale showed more of the same youthful energy and passionate belief I see, feel and hear each time we check out another university. The energy in these places is almost palpable, certainly to one as old (!) and long-toothed as I. So what we saw at Ruskin wasn’t ‘art’ because of its skill in recognised & approved techniques, or even in originality, or indeed execution (a lot of it was sketchbook stuff), but it was art to me because of its passion and intent. For my daughter, though, it was an awful and uncontrolled outpouring of her generation’s angst – everything bad she’s ever seen on Tumblr or college toilet walls, stuff you might think but certainly don’t ‘put out there’.

Interesting. She and I may appear to agree largely on political and sociological issues and ideals, but clearly we’re approaching our view of Life from two very different angles. I’ve been mesmerised by our trips to universities – simultaneously admiring, adoring and thrilling to all these marvellous young folk embarking on their adult lives… whilst a tiny (but significant!) part of me envies them their vast choice… they have *everything* ahead! Whereas my daughter… well, this is her generation – she’s grown with them in life and all over social media and she’s just not as impressed as I am with their stance(s).


I bought another ‘artwork’ recently… a piece of hand-made paper I’ve framed and put on my bedroom wall. I love it. That’s why I call it art.

But what really is art? The experience with my daughter shows me that it can – and cannot – be anything, depending on who’s assessing.

She and I listened to a lot of (my) music on the drive to and from Oxford – and I’m always warmed when she asks “who’s this?” and then Googles it… but there’s a lot she must be quietly dismissing and, again, what resonates with me as a passionate or otherwise appealing piece, can – and does – leave her cold.

We did, once more, find agreement on certain musical pieces, though – and this one in particular:

… which, it could be said, is also a work of art.

01:17 a.m.


So You got hacked
and now my phone is dead
from following an
email link
which came late
when i was weary
and trusting
and i
forgot to remember
You’re a virus
leaving me unable to communicate
with those who
don’t follow
late night links sent
from idiots whose
idea of fun
is tying up time
in online bondage
time that could have
been spent
with me...
You’re a digital virus
rendering me mute
You should have
called instead.

 sandie zand, 01:17 3rd Feb 2018

Hot air

breath on ice



this is how it goes

vague white fading

to colour and

the world righted

in a handful

of cracks


and this really is




when breathing

hot air onto ice.


we will find time, of

course, before the melt

to write

about the beauty

of Chione’s touch – oh

such divinity in nature –

and exalt perception’s

glistening, how it

invites us anew

to capture, contain,

describe, admire,


bring meaning


we will share

oh god will we share – out there,

beyond our sphere, reaching into places which

should be out of reach but are not

– and in this sharing,

this caring if you like,

(you like? yes, you like)

others will





we are.


but we will still

blow hot air on ice –

we will write our world



(Photo by Marcus Löfvenberg on Unsplash)

What we really want… is to connect with Others

Watch this. What this tells me is that people actually genuinely WANT to feel affinity with each other – not anger, not division, not  difference. We WANT to be connected. We are social creatures, this is what we want. Just watch the two women identified as ‘cousins’ and I dare you to not be moved…