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I just love the winner. “Life Dancers” by Elizabeth Looker, which critics have described as pushing the boundaries of portrait photography.

Life Dancers, 2015

These two people are those in the world to whom I feel most akin. I see in Aimee Grace and Innes things easily forgotten with age and time, which I am reminded of and urged to hang on to: true freedom and effortless movement, play and humour, empathy, compassion and kindness, all of which flow from within them, and constantly remind me of what is important.

Remember that whole ridiculousness when Meghann Foye said she wanted maternity leave ‘perks’ for those who don’t have children? And I wondered at the time would Foye feel at all comfortable trivialising bereavement leave or sick leave in the same way?

Anyway, here’s a lovely reply to that sentiment… all this grim loveliness.

Andrea maternity leave

This is maternity and paternity leave: a time of terror, joy, fear, wonder, pain, blood, and tears. A time of leaking breastmilk and sleeping for no more than two hours at a stretch. A time of your partner having to lift you out of bed.

In an era of highly curated selfies, it isn’t easy to show the world what we look like at our most raw. But we want the world to see us, and know us, like this. No, we wouldn’t trade a moment of it, and no, we’re not complaining. We are simply showing the emotional, painful, joyful, unreal realities of new parenthood. We’re doing the work of humanity, and we’re asking you to see and value that work for the beautiful mess that it is.

From “8 Honest, Raw Photos of What Maternity Leave Really Looks Like” by Jessica Shortall in Elle. 

Sort of Autumn

 

We’re having this horribly warm autumn and I am sure it has nothing what so ever to do with climate change and we should all just keep burning coal like there is no tomorrow.

So this autumn we are still swimming.. but occasionally cool enough to begin bicycle riding, wear cardigans and stockings and put a doona over us and cook roast veggies, but mostly not. The only thing happy with the mild autumn is the kitchen garden, which is pleased as punch.

Truly gorgeous relationship advice from Heather Havrilesky in Ask Polly on The Awl. Read the whole thing, it’s wonderful.

People who fuck people then tell other people they want to fuck that the people they’re currently fucking are super fucking dull? These are bad people.

These are people who just don’t like other people. “Jesus, my girlfriend, I swear she breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide sometimes,” they might as well say. Because when you go to bed with someone and wake up and eat together and go to bed together again and wake up? See, I’m already bored by both of you just writing it down. People get boring. An inescapable fact. PEOPLE. GET. BORING. People of all stripes, from all walks of life, get boring. Boring is not a reason for anything. You say someone you’re fucking is boring? The first thing I think is sweet god in heaven YOU my friend are BORING. Stop taking it out on everyone else.

Neruda on loss

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered

and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

– Pablo Neruda

 

Incidentally, I once slept in his room.

It seems that this is what loneliness is designed to do: to provoke the restoration of social bonds. Like pain itself, it exists to alert the organism to a state of untenability, to prompt a change in circumstance. We are social animals, the theory goes, and so isolation is – or was, at some unspecified point in our evolutionary journey – unsafe for us. This theory neatly explains the physical consequences of loneliness, which ally to a heightened sense of threat, but I can’t help feeling it doesn’t capture the entirety of loneliness as a state.

A little while after I came home, I found a poem by Borges, written in English, the language his grandmother had taught him as a child. It reminded me of my time in New York, and of Wojnarowicz in particular. It’s a love poem, written by a man who’s stayed up all night wandering through a city. Indeed, since he compares the night explicitly to waves, ‘darkblue top-heavy waves … laden with/ things unlikely and desirable’, one might literally say that he’s been cruising.

In the first part of the poem he describes an encounter with you, ‘so lazily and incessantly beautiful,’ and in the second he lists what he has to offer, a litany of surprising and ambiguous gifts that ends with three lines I’m certain Wojnarowicz would have understood:

I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the

hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you

with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

It took me a long time to understand how loneliness might be a gift, but now I think I’ve got it. Borges’s poem voiced the flip side of that disturbing essay I’d read in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine on loneliness’s consequences and mechanisms. Loneliness might raise one’s blood pressure and fill one with paranoia, but it also offers compensations: a depth of vision, a hungry kind of acuity.

Oh my goodness I am so enjoying Olivia Laing’s writing. This is from “Mw, myself and I” in aeon

You wouldn’t dare

Smacking women out of love… or something. This montage of films that Jezebel put together of men spanking women when smacking was part of a romance trope is kind of extraordinary to watch.

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