Fire escapes. Not buildings exactly, but accessories. Iron rods fused into vessels of descent—and departure. Some were painted blue or yellow or green, but most were black. Black staircases. I could spend a whole hour sitting across the street from a six-floor walk-up studying the zig-zags that clung to a building filled with so many hidden lives. All that richness and drama sealed away in a fortress whose walls echoed with communication of elemental or exquisite language—and yet only the fire escape, a clinging extremity, inanimate and often rusting, spoke—in its hardened, exiled silence, with the most visible human honesty: We are capable of disaster. And we are scared.
We’ve got your weekend reading! Some phenomenal pieces in this week’s round up: Lucinda Williams on her evolution as a songwriter, a profile of the witness to 278 executions in Texas, and the closing of a Sparta Lighting factory.
"You sense how precarious and small and foreign your life is, how it wouldn’t take much for something to wipe it all out and drag you away. You never know; today could be the day."
This week on Vela: Lauren Quinn on Typhoon Haiyan hitting Hanoi, depression, and the all consuming nature of both mental illness and disaster. The Storm and the Beast.
A kiss in the dark, that’s what this first line is – Wait. What just happened? Who? – a confusing first kiss. We all would like to think that with one line, one brush, we could make a reader fall madly in love, and there are writers that illicit such a response with the appropriately gorgeous. I read a piece where a writer described her stories as beasts gnawing off the lovely clothes she had carefully dressed them in. I, too, find the stories that I will to be beautiful and charming end up, despite my efforts, strange creatures running for the woods. I’m asking you to kiss this strange creature in the dark, dear reader. And after, I want you to think, ‘A little weird, unnerving, but I’d do it again.’
"For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away… And the color of where you can never go." -Rebecca Solnit
A collection of thoughts on blue and the color of distance.
A wide range of pieces on Women We Read This Week: status updates, the Atlantic slave trade, cheetah extinction, and caretakers and the Ebola epidemic. Hide from the heat, put your feet up, and enjoy.
"Waiting is always easy until it’s not: I’m in bed, asleep, dreaming, then suddenly awake, feeling sick with waiting; I’m in the pool, feeling good, light, full of energy as I swim my laps, then, out of nowhere, heavy with waiting. It changes the color of the night, the texture of the water."
Miranda Ward writes on waiting, the gift of mobility, and applying for “leave to remain” in this week’s blog.