Tabs Currently Open in Safari on My Phone

Kalitta Air – Wikipedia

Because my sister and I drove past an airport while driving from Philadelphia to the Maryland Coast and saw this airplane take off, and it seemed like a secret government thing and maybe the idea of an awesome novel or something. It’s a cargo airline by the way.

ashmolean museum – Google Search

Because on that same trip, my sister mentioned this museum in Oxford to me, and I really want to go. Just in case I can actually make it in the next ten years, this tab is open on my phone so I don’t forget about it.

Table 19 (2017) – IMDb

Because I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this movie when I heard it about it the year it came out. And I can never think of movies to watch when I want to sit down and watch a movie. Still haven’t watched it 10 months later.

explorers movie – Google Search

Because remember that movie with those ridiculous aliens? It suddenly came to mind, and I want to watch it again if I can find it somewhere. When I watched it as a kid, I thought I’d be like those kids when I grew up.

cat’s cradle – google search.

Because at 30 I did not know what a cat’s cradle is. Seroiusly.

lightning and thunder song – google search.

Because I heard a song on the radio that made me feel pumped up, and I thought it would be a good soundtrack for writing so I don’t fall into self-loathing despair.

Is Peter Van Houten’s ‘Imperial Affliction’ a Real Book? – Bustle

Because, obviously, I was reading The Fault in Our Stars.

bonnie raitt songs – Google Search

Because I was in a bar in Tokyo where the sixty-year-old Japanese artist/bar owner was talking to another woman from San Francisco about how much they both loved Bonnie Raitt, and I wanted to make sure I’d listen to some of her songs. I still haven’t five months later.

toyota alphard – Google Search

Because have you ever heard of a Toyota Alphard? The Uber driver that picked us up from our AirBnB in Tokyo to go the train station was driving this bizarre-looking car that I had never heard of, and I felt like I had come across secret information I did not want to forgot. This tab is supposed to be an enlightened daily reminder of all the things I don’t know that exist in other countries.

anton chekhov – google search

Because he is one of the many classic writers I need to read, and this tab is my near-daily passive aggressive reminder of my failure as a sophisticated reader and worldly, educated person.

508 canal street – Google Search

Because while sitting on a Bolt Bus in lower Manhattan, I saw this sign at a stop light and caught a glimpse of some kind of history I wanted to look up. I immediately opened a tab and typed it in so I wouldn’t forget to look into it. I still haven’t read the search results, ten months later.

whisky gogo – Google Search

Because Whisky a Go Go is apparently a historic music spot in LA that I should check really out one day.

standing split – Google Search

Because I aspire to be able to do a standing split in 2018 and having this tab open will get me closer to that.

Bio of a literary agent

Because one day I’ll get around to querying my next book proposal, and what if this random person I came across is “the one.”

Gmail

Because I pretend not to use email on my phone and refuse to download the app on principle, but really can’t go a day without checking email on my phone.

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‘Heart Museum’ by Durga Chew-Bose

The heart of Durga Chew-Bose’s book of essays Too Much and Not the Mood is the first and longest piece, “Heart Museum.”

A reader will notice in the index that this essay is 92 pages long and wonder both how they will get through and how (and if) the writer will pull off such a length without losing her readers’ attention and focus.

That’s the most startling thing about the piece: in an age when our attention spans barely last a few pages before we might check our phones or flip restlessly through the pages of the book we’re reading (even if we love it, it’s just the energy of our time) to see where the essay or chapter ends so that we may anticipate our commitment and when we’ll get our reward, “Heart Museum” forces you to pay attention, to keep reading, both out of sheer curiosity of what exactly the writer is getting at or might do with the essay, and precisely because no matter how many pages you flip you won’t see the end so you have nothing left to do but read. And that’s surprisingly freeing.

Around twenty pages in, Chew-Bose writes,

Isn’t it fun to read a sentence that races ahead of itself? That has the effect of stopping short–of dirt and cutaway rocks tumbling down the edge of the cliff, alerting you to the drop?

That is exactly what it feels like to read “Heart Museum.” You’re sitting in Starbucks reading, and you don’t understand why your heart is starting to race as you try to keep up with the words. You want to keep going though you don’t always know why, especially if there’s a tangent that’s not for you. Still, you want to see where she goes with her observations and questions.

“We’re the type to ask too many questions–an irritating amount, really. But who ask without claim or exigency. The want is the want and it goes on like that.”

At the end, I was filled with admiration at what the writer does with her essay. She brings together seemingly meaningless and scattered bits and makes the reader interested in them because of the energy of the pace. She connects the end of the piece to the beginning in a way you couldn’t expect when you’re wondering halfway through how she’ll manage to finish and make it all work as you’re starting to realize the point of the essay is to create a museum of the heart, any heart it honestly doesn’t matter who it belongs to, because you understand her hope:

That awareness isn’t merely a stopgap; that it develops a tally.

 

The rest of the pieces in the book do slow down but also have bright moments, like the short “Miserable” and the lovely “Summer Pictures,”  though the success of the pace in the first essay stays with the reader until the last page.

For me, Chew-Bose’s strength is writing when there’s apparently no point or focus until she reminds us  “how crucial it is to preserve a sense of the special,” along with beautiful, telling sentences like:

“My skin is warm. It does not cool. The heat is in the seams.”

“…I tasted city smog outside another city’s airport and knew right then that I was a city kid.”

With the holidays and the end of 2017 approaching, Too Much and Not the Mood is a good read as we begin to ask ourselves what the year has meant, or as Chew-Bose asks in her “Heart Museum:”

“Aren’t we all overrun by the blotting-out that is inevitable? How every year we claim that this year went by faster. What was realized? Did I connect? If I’m mostly–often only–the sum of what I’ve noticed, should I keep better track?”