Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “The way I operate” Category

What summer looks like around here

Posted on July 20, 2014

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Lots of shirtless boys. Reading fiction. Sipping tea in the morning, still in bed and writing notes for my new book, still a shamble in my head. The arrival of the nanny who’s made our summer mornings so much easier. Paper-mache on remnants on the back porch. Picnics on the front steps in the breeze. Time bookended between the beginning and the ending of each work day. Compression + expansion. Deep focus and then a slow unwind as the golden evening light finds us.

How has your summer been, friends? What are some highlights? Some things you’re doing to revel in these golden days?

What I remember + what I know

Posted on July 1, 2014

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I didn’t mean to stop, only, there it is. Life has a way of finding you, amidst your best intentions. I love what this small challenge inspired. A rash of brilliant posts by my friend Amanda; photos to take your breath away my other dear friend Hilary, who always needs to be nudged to document; and a handful of other daily glimpses from friends and readers I don’t know, but feel like I know just the same.

I intended to keep on, but then the weekend came. Weekends have a way of filling up to the gills lately, and after the weekend, a work trip to Texas, planned to be short, but made longer by a cancelled flight and extra night on the way home in Phoenix, Arizona. So there it is, back to back days without a single chance to gather the moments here. To upload the images, or record the observations as they happened, though there are many notes scrawled in my notebook or jotted in the notes app on my phone. A chronology of circumstance. A record of the small things, and the big. Sentences that happened only in fits and starts, but never here.

What I remember is the heat in Texas and the rain that turned the sky to black. The century plants and cactuses that reminded me of my earliest years in Los Angeles. The heat of a blue sky filling with thunderheads, while down below we ate ate eggplant fries, and truffle oil reveled eggs, and catfish tacos.

Then non-time of the airport, reading Inc. cover to cover, and Elle, and also Fast Company, and feeling the ways something shifts in my brain when I have long stretches just to read and think. Ideas have a way of magnetizing then, like finding like; fragments converging.

What I remember is coming back so tired in the morning that after a cup of hot tea and checking email I took a nap, wakening hours later and not knowing immediately where the edges of dream ended and reality began. There, in bed with the dog curled by my hip, I let myself float in a way I rarely get to: between sleep and dreaming where thoughts are buoyant and things have wings.

There, and also in every waking instant, I’ve been thinking now about my new book. There are two actually. The ideas bookend each other. The narratives make a dialog, an equation, an equilibrium. I’m curious if I can pull it off.

What I remember is the sweetness of my boy’s when they came home from camp. Their hailstorm of yells and shouts finding me there at the doorway at the end of the day. Their arms around my neck, their kisses on my sounders, cheeks. Their fingers in my hair, and even still with them under foot, a different kind of kiss. Stirring, sweeter, finding T’s heat mirroring my own.

Then the weekend, dawning with rain. Making a raspberry crumble to share at dinner with friends. The biggest rainbow we’ve seen. The boys shouts. The first firecrackers for the Fourth echoing down the street. Twilight. Then Sunday morning bacon and good coffee. Painting the guest bedroom a fresh white. Baked chicken and mashed potatoes on the new walnut outdoor table T made by hand. White wine in handblown glasses. Watching the walnut leaves blow in the wind.

What I remember is this: to show up and to try is all it takes. To show up with the intention always is the start. I begin. I keep going. I go until I find my way. That, in the end, is all I know.

Now there is a reckless, rag tag folder now of drafts in Scrivner. It’s raw and new, but no matter. The beginning is here.

This is how it happens, friends. A book, or anything else. Any body of work, any essay, or dream, or plan begins with showing up; with training the mind to bow at the simple task of arrival, noticing the world.
 
#the5x5xchallenge

I am always a fiction, a mosaic, a memory. We all are.

Posted on June 21, 2014

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I’ve been thinking about the ways that we see ourselves and the ways that we do not; and also about the ways other people see us —only in fragments.

We are continually like Marcel’s nude: version of ourselves, always in construction in whatever instant we are in.

We never arrive in each new moment. We are never the same. There is no end point, no certainty. We are, simply, always becoming.

Today I am a bitten lip, a ruckus laugh, a tilt of shoulder. I am the clutch of fingers, the clench of jaw. I am whatever geometry of flesh and wonder, breath and instinct, fervor and blood you see me as.

I am that instant standing in the street, stirring a smile in reaction, skirt twirling in the wind; and also collected seconds crossing the street at a run. Just as I am the one they rush to at the door, small arms encircling my neck, and the one that fits against his heart, our breath finding its own syncopation.

I am always a fiction, a mosaic, a memory. We all are.

“Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.” Joan Didion said that in Blue Nights,” and though its true long term memories, it’s also true of yesterday.

We invent ourselves based on what we know. What we know conforms to who we know and where we are. We’re shaped both by some bright irrevocable spark of spirit, and by the world as we inhabit it each day. We make ourselves, make our wonderment, make our delight, our grief; just as in turn the world makes us.


Day 11: #the5x5challenge

The things that waken me

Posted on June 19, 2014

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What I like about this place where I now live is that the lines are never familiar, and because they are never familiar, I’m always in a state of wonder, always stoping with my camera, recording glimpses, taking note.

Wherever I look there is texture. Stubbled grass. Lawns rife with clover. Murals. Graffiti. Billboards. Tattoos that flirt. Laughter that lifts off cement walls. The almost unbearable beauty of blossoms. A harsh geometry of windows. Ice cream spilled on the sidewalk, and the dog that licks it up. The lengthening shadows of the blue hour. The sky after dusk, indigo and saffron. The scent of lavender and roses. Cherries dimpling the sidewalks. The next door neighbor’s lilting Spanish. The staccato of a basketball being dribbled. The grapes along the gate. The green walnuts dropping to the back deck. The people at the bus stop, yelling. The boys on skateboards. The guy with the fresh haircut. The lovers sitting, knees touching at the cafe.

All of it.

I can’t explain quite, the effect it has on me to be living in a city as beautiful as this one, other than to say it wakens me. It whets my senses. It calls me to attention, each small moment going any place is an opportunity for close noticing.

Reflections

Posted on June 17, 2014

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I noticed reflections all day, not on purpose exactly, but it matched the way I felt: a reflection of my usual self. More tired than usual, and also, I had the kind of headache that used to haunt me daily last year. I haven’t had one in a while; the kind I can’t shake no matter how much coffee or dark chocolate or tea I consume. The kind that comes, probably, from not moving enough. From sitting for 9 hours a day, and not doing yoga or running.

Of course I know better. We all know better, don’t we?

The problem with knowing is that it’s theoretical; it exists in our heads rather than in our bones. And it’s listening to that slower wisdom that gets tricky when things go fast. When days speed up, when one day after the next becomes like the crows that abrupt and sudden lifting into the air.

The place where things happen

Posted on June 14, 2014

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All morning I work at the kitchen table. The boys have off (first day of summer vacation!) and I do not.

Eventually when they’ve settled into a project, I head out to the backyard to my little studio. I always push through the door with a certain relief; glad for the fact that though it is small, it is just mine. (Virgina Woolf had it right.) The walls, bare on purpose, ready for for whatever I want to tack up. A place to spread out and make things, which I do, though not today.

Today I bring a summer peach with me, and later espresso to keep me fueled through the afternoon. Then I sit, contorting at ridiculous angles in my chair. One knee up. Then both, perching. Then I’m spread out on the floor. I love the work I’m doing, but my body isn’t made for sitting still. No one’s is, but mine, with my spring-loaded legs feels particularly ill equipped for sitting still, and I’m hankering for the run I hope to get on the beach, Sunday morning.

Today, five minutes of attention happens as I am lying on the floor waiting for my colleague to send me edits. I simply breathe. Feel the way my shoulders are holding on to the stress of a tight deadline. Look up at the way the room is framed anew with my upside down perspective.

Outside the window, day turns to dusk, and dusk to night.

Day 8: #the5x5challenge

Small noticings

Posted on June 13, 2014

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Today this practice is about really sinking into the moments as they come, with full sensory awareness. Riding my bike to work and arriving early to pour a cup of hot coffee and pull together disparate notes into cohesive sentences. Yes, my desk is strewn with paper.

Today it is about noticing small. It’s about the sun on my neck at 11 a.m. slanting sideways through the window above my head, and about walking out for lunch at 2, just in time to smell the scent of rain on dry earth as it begins to fall; ozone torn from the sky. Petrichor. How I love that word.

Today it’s about noticing the markings of this city: half worn away billboards, unexpected stencils, the tattooed arm bands on the guy that holds the door for me, the sweet tangle of wild roses along a walk and stopping to plunge my face in. Breathing, until the sweetness is inside my lungs.

At day’s end

Posted on June 12, 2014

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It’s the end of the day, and for a while I feel as though I’m barely here, barely within my skin. It is the feeling that results from a day of intent focus, and of conversations I have in my head with the people I dream about at night.

Does that ever happen to you?

You dream, and upon waking whomever it was about feels close all day, so close you could nearly touch them. Breath, laughter, exquisite tenderness all plays itself out out within the strange, improbable landscape of the dream, and when you waken and try to reclaim it, only the feeling of it remains. A certain almost indescribable intimacy, more real than real life.


Tonight I’ve climbed into the hammock in the back yard under the pear tree and the apple, with a glass of wine. Immediately, the rope webbing hugs my weight, and I feel my body give, gratefully into its keeping.

Above the sky is blue and cloud-spun and the evening light is milky. Crows, three of them tussle on a telephone pole. Each one claiming their space, each one claiming some piece of the other. “Mine!” they squawk. But in the end, just like us, each one will fly away alone.


I sip wine and watch the light shift and deepen, and try to feel my own heart’s tempo between the yelling of the boys, the piecemeal conversation with T, the crows, the neighbors, the greening trees, the bluing sky. On days like this one the world feels hyper-saturated in hue and tone, and I am at the edges, thin skinned in spite of myself, absorbing everything.