Bird as Metaphor

I often capture observations here just as some use a journal. I see something that I might be able to use later by ascribing meaning to it. My house is in a wooded area and I work in front of window. I see birds all day long. Every day. With that kind of regularity, it is hard to see a bird as anything more than a bird.

But there are some days where I see more of one kind of bird than any other. I call this the bird of the day. One day I might see lots of red-headed woodpeckers or five blue jays in quick succession. Or even the day when all the grackles gather in the trees. This is more likely to be based on their uniqueness or notoriety. I’m less likely to notice many of those “little brown birds that chirp loudly,” unless they land on my windowsill. I realize that some of this is seasonal and weather-based, and that creates some of the trite bird associations like the first robins of spring representing rebirth.

When you immerse yourself in a literary world, symbols and actions have deeper meaning and often stand for something else. Or even point the way to the future. They help explain things in the world of the story. I could write a story about the hawk that I have seen patrolling my yard for the past 12 years and draw conclusions about how that maps onto my life, but in the end it would just be a story. And the hawk would just be a hawk.

Today the first bird I saw was a bluebird. That burst of color stands out against the bare tree branches of the winter. Does this bird really represent happiness or is that just a song lyric? Could this at least symbolize the start of a good day? It is already better than yesterday.

The Paradox of Spicy Chips

The inherent qualities of chips—fat plus salt—encourages you to keep eating chips. This is especially a problem if you sit down with an open bag, as opposed to putting a single serving of 10-12 chips on a plate (sad, but necessary). This problem of endlessly eating chips is exacerbated by fiery spice on the outside of the chips because the hotness is yet another lever that makes you keep eating. But at some point the heat gets overwhelming and your tingling lips, runny nose, and burning fingers cause you to stop.

Lincoln in the Bardo Review

I was excited about this book when it was released in 2017. Everybody was talking about it. I reserved it at my library and waited about 3 months for it to be available. In the interim, I read Tenth of December and absolutely loved it. The stories were inventive, thought-provoking, and compelling. This increased my anticipation even more for Lincoln in the Bardo. I finally got the book and started reading. I was never able to get into it and I just was not compelled to turn pages. I read about 150 pages before putting it down. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand it, but more that I didn’t know what the point was. So I moved on.

Earlier this year a friend mentioned that the audiobook was great and I should give it a listen. I was able to get it from the library and I started listening. It is easier to wade through this as an audiobook—partly due to the great cast of actors and readers—but I still don’t really know what it’s about. This is much more of an ensemble piece that tells a story much larger than Lincoln and his mourning for his son. The purgatory of the cemetery provides the author the canvas to tell many unconnected stories from the mid-1860s. Maybe that’s the point, but they just don’t add up for me.