Privilege Blog

Absolutely Nothing That Makes Any Sense, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:58am

This morning it’s been really noisy outside. My neighbor’s child is not practicing his trumpet, nor is my other neighbor holding business calls by his pool. Thee nearby construction project’s things-that-grind and other-things-that-bang have been mercifully stilled.

Instead, the crows and squirrels were yelling. I mean, really yelling. And suddenly, just as I begin to write, they fall silent. I mean, really silent.

I love mornings. Everything feels so signifying. In the afternoon, if the creatures of nature caucus in the trees, I probably just close the window. In the morning, I listen to the quiet with as much attention as I do cawing. Even of the raucous sort.

Did you know “raucous” is spelled with an “o?” I did not.

Am I forever changed by this pandemic? Are you? How much time have you spent in your house? When you leave, as I imagine these days some of us do, does the world feel different? Can any of us even remember the feelings of the Before Times, to know if this is different?

The writing workshop I attended in Albuquerque focused a lot on emotion in fiction. Reflecting back, I realized that my life has exempted me, largely, from the bigger externality feelings–fear, life-protecting rage, ravages. But fiction often relies on the big feelings–pain, hunger, ecstasy–for propulsion. What to do?

Write what you know. When you’re born with an extra dollop of neurons, an exempt life is driven by shame, guilt, yearning, and disappointment. (NB: ecstasy is universal.) These subjunctive feelings are also engines and maybe they run just as hot as tigers and other strict dangers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, by you I mean me. But I might also mean you. I can’t remember the Before Times. I have never been you. When the crows stop calling I do my best to imagine.

If nothing’s exploding you can be blown up by quiet.

I am not under the influence of anything except existence, why do you ask? It’s been a long couple of years though, right? Have a wonderful weekend. I mean that with all my heart.

19 Responses

  1. “subjunctive feelings”? I’m still trying to figure that one out, although it does sound interesting. (Please don’t tell me it’s just a typo for “subjective” – that would ruin all the fun!)

    In response to your above melange of confusion/projection/reaction, one could say that you just need to get out more. Which may be precisely your point.

    Speaking subjectively, I can say “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

    Speaking subjunctively, one might say that any action or reaction may always be a gesture into the unknown, however known one might think that unknown to be.

    Heavy thoughts for a Saturday morning…

    1. Victoire, I took the concept from Tad Friend’s book, Cheerful Money. I can’t remember his exact phrase. The dictionary defines subjunctive as: relating to or denoting a mood of verbs expressing what is imagined or wished or possible. I guess I mean that for emotions, i.e, dependent, denatured, not at first blow.

      I totally need to get out more and have been imagining were that might be on a daily basis. Trips are planned. I’m thinking about volunteering for elder care. I miss my mom xox.

  2. Don’t sell your experience short.
    Just because you’ve lived a solvent life -no eviction notices, no crime scenes- doesn’t mean you haven’t had emotional experiences. I can think of a couple of things you’re recounted on your blog that I never experienced and I’d have been challenged to have come through them as gracefully as you seem to have.
    Just because well-to-do WASP-ish families don’t sob and cry and explode doesn’t mean you haven’t emerged un-changed. We crater, while carrying on.

    1. “We crater, while carrying on.”

      Now that’s absolutely beautiful. And thank you. I will stress that I am more graceful in text than in speech, but I take it as a wonderful compliment, and I thank you.

  3. It HAS been a long couple of years–even for those of us who have been protected from the front lines of this pandemic. Are we changed forever? I tend to think so.

    I agree with you that shame, guilt, yearning and disappointment can be just as effective in a novel as the less passive emotions.

    By they way, I got my hair cut this week and my husband said, “You got your hair cut just like Lisa Carnochan’s!” He doesn’t believe me when I tell him that I asked my hair cutter (to whom i have gone for years now) to cut it however he wanted to cut it. So–we have similar hair cuts now. I am pleased with mine.

    1. I love that your husband didn’t just call me “your Internet blogger friend.” Who says the digital world isn’t weird! I am pleased to be haircut twins with you and I bet you look gorgeous.

  4. I was not born into privilege nor poverty. My husband has dementia (please don’t apologize) and I slog along with him realizing that the wolf could be at my door but is not.
    What price do I pay for privilege? Which leads to a larger question of how all of us acquired our privilege.
    This morning my new Volvo had a flat tire and a working chap gave me air. He said, when it went flat yet again, “I’m sorry I’m closed I can’t do more”. How could I tell this man that he had done everything for me since all other air filling stations were closed? I was struggling in that moment to provide him with what he does not often receive. The gift he gave me was a connection to a working class stiff grinding it out in a greasy claustrophobic environment. That is not my story.
    Thank-you for your beautiful lines I am grateful for them.

    1. Thank you also for your story of connection. The details make it so real. I will not say sorry about your husband, but, it is a very hard slog and I wish you grace and light.

  5. I took the “o” in “raucous” for granted until you rhymed it with “caucus.” Huh! (which I think is rather a Lisa “huh,” no?0
    And I remember learning to spell (nope, re-learning to spell) “fuchsia” from you. . .
    Nothing to do with pandemic subjunctives (that could be both tense and mood, couldn’t it, so that English could begin to nudge toward Italian’s complication of verb possibilities). . .
    Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, our quieter version of the feast not quite as quiet as it had to be last year, so there’s that. . . Happy Weekend, you! xo

    1. A very Happy Thanksgiving, Frances, and so lovely to have your thoughtful self here to indulge me in both huhs and musings over silly words xoxo

  6. Raw emotion comes in many forms: young love, grief, forgiveness/reconciliation, devastation. They are universal. The causes vary and is that what you’re getting at? Your (and by your I mean mine) life still has raw emotion but perhaps the causes were less extreme? And yes, the last two years have been long and disorienting.

    1. This is nigh-on a poem, as I read it. Young love, grief, forgiveness/reconciliation, devastation. Thank you for the reminder. When one layer of causes is put aside another rises in its place.

  7. Privilege protects nobody from loss, from heartache, from pain. All the money in the world is worth nothing when you watch someone you love suffer or die.

    I feel so lucky that my husband and I have stayed healthy and solvent and that we have lost nobody close to us to covid. I hope I can take that good fortune – fortune I did not earn – and use it to help make the world a better place so that the people who do fear hunger and eviction and violence might suffer less.

  8. Shame, guilt, yearning, and disappointment can be pretty powerful engines. All points of view are relevant in writing because it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it. And Lisa, you always say it so well.

    Have a great weekend. x

    1. Thank you, Naomi. I guess I’m just learning what my engines are, so I know where to go to find momentum. xox

  9. YES, its different……..NO CROWDS AT LEAST WHERE I GO AND NO ENTHUSIASM.I sometimes forget the mask in the car!!!I had to STOP reading the NEWS as it would STRESS me OUT TOO MUCH.I’m grateful we live in CALIFORNIA where the outbreaks have been relatively small verses the rest of a few states!PEOPLE in GENERAL DISAPPOINT ME!Lets NOT GO THERE it another Debbie Downer for me!
    I’ve been home for THREE years………before Covid and I see myself wilting away.I have been told by a “SOUL COACH” to be careful about the words I use as the BODY picks up on that!’!
    SO LETS ENJOY OUR BEAUTIFUL FALL DAY…………..and make a delicious DINNER!

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