Next Sunday marks the start

Next Sunday marks the start of Advent. I’ve been an atheist for a long time, but the idea of fasting and contemplation in preparation for a feast still makes sense to me. One of my very favorite poems reads:


    We have tested and tasted too much, lover,
    Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
    But here in the Advent-darkened room
    Where the dry bread and the sugarless tea
    Of penance will charm back the luxury
    Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom
    The knowledge we stole but could not use.

    from Advent by Patrick Kavanagh

‘…charm back the luxury of a child’s soul’ is close to my mantra. I want that more than anything. Or perhaps I want to want it more than anything?

Bicycle Cantata

This morning I sang Rainy Night in SoHo by The Pogues as I rode my bike to work. I serenaded middle-aged men at the traffic lights on Hudson St. They seemed to like it. Might as well enjoy it in the years before they decide I’m a crazy old lady.

I feel so lucky to bike to work. Why don’t more people do it? Over the Manhattan Bridge, up through Chinatown, across Prince, up Hudson through the Village to 8th Ave. Each is its own little hurrying kingdom before 10. I’m not a flaneur, though I’d like to be, but biking lets me be speeded-up, goal-oriented, Manhattan flaneuse for forty minutes every morning. It also gives me the illusion of control over my journey. Of course, I can’t actually control the SUV that tries to turn left on top of me at 14th St (there’s one every morning) but still, I think I can, I think I can… And if I suck in exhaust fumes, at least I’m not sucking in my whole body to try to disappear on the A train.

About

Someone asked me who I was last week.

1. I am Irish. My accent is kinda mid-atlantic by now, though.
2. ‘Dervala’ is my Ellis Island name. It’s really spelled ‘Dearbhaile’.
3. I am 29.
4. I moved to Brooklyn this year, following a wave of Manhattan soldier ants.
5. I like poetry. I recite it to myself while riding my bike to work. (Sometimes I sing, if it’s windy enough to really warble.)
6. I was born in Zambia. I’ve been too lazy to organize a trip back there so far.
7. I work for a company called Vindigo.

One of the nice things about not being a US citizen is the lack of family obligations on Turkey Day. I got to spend Thanksgiving on a beach in the Bahamas instead. Felt very decadent. I’d never had a beach vacation before, but I liked it. The Carribbean is very different to the gray Atlantic I grew up with. Induces fewer goosepimples, for one thing. Also nicer fish. Slinky rays instead of frozen cod and stunned mullet.

It was a good week for books. I finished The Moral Animal, then read The Corrections, The Poisonwood Bible, Guns, Germs and Steel, and a Studs Terkel. Everything I read got filtered through the prism of the evolutionary psychology stuff I’ve been learning about lately. I gave knowing little smirks at the adultery in The Corrections, and nodded wisely at the family conflict in The Poisonwood Bible. Insufferable, really.