nothing but shibboleth

“Because there is something in the touch of flesh with flesh which abrogates, cuts sharp and straight across the devious intricate channels of decorous ordering, which enemies as well as lovers know because it makes them both:—touch and touch of that which is the citadel of the central I-Am’s private own: not spirit, soul; the liquorish and ungirdled mind is anyone’s to take in any darkened hallway of this earthly tenement. But let flesh touch with flesh, and watch the fall of all the eggshell shibboleth of caste and color too.

{Absalom, Absalom!, W. Faulkner}


I keep ruminating on this passage that my mind somehow dredged up today from sophomore year Am Lit (only a mere decade ago…). I feel like I’ve spent the day cycling through the first five stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression…lather, rinse, repeat. It’s been a pretty bleak 24+ hours. Yet I have witnessed intermittent glimmers of kindness, compassion, resilience, grace — all of which I believe will coalesce into something truly beautiful and powerful once the dust has settled and people have grieved and healed. At the end of the day, the divisiveness, the rhetoric of fear and bigotry, the vitriol: it’s nothing but eggshell shibboleth. It can and will be overcome.  We can trust that we don’t need to have the answers right now, but we can love because we were first loved. And that gives me hope in a season where hope has been pretty damn elusive, both personally and universally.

As an aside — when your doctor offers to write you a prescription for Xanax the week before the election…you say YES. Lesson learned.

for when i am weak…


Back in my “climbing days” (i.e., in my early twenties, sans law school debt, and dating my climbing instructor), I would approach each route with a hell-bent determination to get to the anchors, no matter what the physical or emotional cost. On virtually every climb, I would verbally coach myself through the various cruxes, commanding myself out loud to “make it work” from hold to hold. True story: on one of my first lead climbs (an overhung 5.10c at the Red), I started crying when aforementioned boyfriend suggested I take and hang for a clearly needed rest, some sixty feet off the ground. To admit that I was struggling was commensurate to quitting in my book. Honestly, I can’t think of a better metaphor for how I’ve approached my life generally — that is, as something to confront head on and muscle/will my way through the difficult stretches. And I believe it’s fair to say that for most of my life, I’ve done so with relative success. So what does it mean when I just can’t “make it work” right now, no matter how hard I try?

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throwing it back


Who knew that 30 is pretty much exactly the same as 29? Just with an additional 365-days’ worth of life experience. And the unceremonious bestowal of social stigma as a single, career-minded woman in her thirties. I cannot get a cat, or it’s over, folks. OVER.

In a fit of elderly nostalgia, I stumbled across something I wrote on the eve my 29th…and not much has changed. Except it has. So it goes. And here I go. “When I was your age…”

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