bekah brunstetter
Bekah Brunstetter I care deeply. About a lot of things. Like really, really deep. Ow
playwright in brooklyn, NY

Martha

March 12th, 2018 by Bekah Brunstetter

Today, on Using Other’s People’s Writing to Stand in for my Own, or, Live Every Day like you’re in a really good Sophomore English Class: I’m finally reading  The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s memoir about the Vietnam War. I just can’t (read: I can) with his incredible descriptions of one Lieutenant’s thoughts of a girl he left back home, who doesn’t really love him, who he loves: Martha.

And then suddenly, without willing it, he was thinking about Martha. The stresses and fractures, the quick collapse, the two of them buried alive under all that weight. Dense, crushing love. Kneeling, watching the hole, he tried to concentrate on Lee Strunk and the war, all the dangers, but his love was too much for him, he felt paralyzed, he wanted to sleep inside her lungs and breathe her blood and be smothered. He wanted her to be a virgin and not a virgin, all at once. He wanted to know her. Intimate secrets: Why poetry? Why so sad? Why that grayness in her eyes? Why so alone? Not lonely, just alone—riding her bike across campus or sitting off by herself in the cafeteria—even dancing, she danced alone—and it was the aloneness that filled him with love. He remembered telling her that one evening. How she nodded and looked away. And how, later, when he kissed her, she received the kiss without returning it, her eyes wide open, not afraid, not a virgin’s eyes, just flat and uninvolved. Lieutenant Cross gazed at the tunnel. But he was not there. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey shore. They were pressed together, and the pebble in his mouth was her tongue. He was smiling. Vaguely, he was aware of how quiet the day was, the sullen paddies, yet he could not bring himself to worry about matters of security. He was beyond that. He was just a kid at war, in love. He was twenty-four years old. He couldn’t help it.

I think every girl, or at least high school or college age girl, or at least definitely me at that age, longs to be Martha:  so loved while giving nothing in return, so deeply lonely and silent and still and yet so beautiful that brave strong boys want to live inside of her lungs.

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love what is present

March 6th, 2018 by Bekah Brunstetter

Today, on I read a book and it changed my life or at least I had a moment in which I felt a change and you know, we’ll see if it actually lasts, but please could it?:

This passage from Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason and other Lives I’ve Loved (a memoir by a woman who’s in the slow process of dying from cancer at age 35):

“I think I believed I was living in the center, but I rarely let my feet rest on solid ground, rooting me in the present. I my eyes shifted to look for that thing just beyond, the next deadline, the next hurdle, the next plan. That second baby is going to need his or her own room, so let’s talk about renovations. On long walks I forever roped (my husband) into my favorite topic: The next thing. How could we improve our lives? What could we do next?…If I were to invent a sin to describe what that was — for how I lived — I would not say it was simply that I didn’t stop to smell the roses. It was the sin of arrogance, of becoming impervious to life itself. I failed to love what was present and decided to love what was possible, instead.”

PLEASE LORD, MAY I LOVE WHAT IS PRESENT, MAY I STOP THE PLANNING AND FUTURE THINKING, AS MUCH AS IT COMFORTS ME.

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and other lies I’ve loved

February 22nd, 2018 by Bekah Brunstetter

I’m only a few chapters into this memoir but I’m already struck by it. Kate Bowler, a 35 year old divinity professor and mother and wife, was raised in a strong Christian family, spent her 20s and 30s researching and writing about prosperity gospel, the idea that the more you love and serve God, the more he blesses your life with riches. After giving birth to her son, she found out she had stage four colon cancer, and is currently in the process of dying. She says she wouldn’t have had the ‘hubris’ to write this book without if it weren’t for this. It’s a book about how dying has shaped her faith, how it’s gotten her to a deeper, less presentational relationship with it.  I don’t know the thesis yet as I haven’t finished it, but I love this part and so I have to share:

‘There is something so American about the Show and Tell of our daily lives. A big house means you work hard. A pretty wife means you must be a rich. A subscription to the New York Times shows you must be smart. And when you’re not sure, there will always be bumper stickers to point out who has the honor roll student and who finished a marathon. America likes its shopping malls big and its churches even bigger, and every Starbucks in every lobby proves that Jesus cares about brewing the best. Sometimes I saw this idea under the banner of family values…It was the way the women boasted about their fat cheeked babies and their little boys in bow ties. It was in the way that the pastor displayed his wife and child in the front row and asked his little Jennifer to sing the solo: “Isn’t she talented, folks?’ It was in the way people bought tidy mansions with extra guest rooms in case a refugee sponsored by a church needed to stay a night. Christmas cards were prosperity gospels writ miniature, stacks of pictures of a family in matching denim sitting on lightly distressed couches in fields of waving wheat. Does every field in America have a photo couch? But I was taken with the white light brightening their smiles as they turned to each other and laughed. They were the good news.”

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preferred classic literature

December 28th, 2017 by Bekah Brunstetter

Leo Tolstoy WHO? After years of trying to read dense books before bed, I hereby, going forward, only ever want to read seasonal romance novels about beautiful round british baker women who’s bakeries hit crisises at Christmas time, as do their relationships with their beekeeper boyfriends. I don’t care if my brain turns to sprinkles and croissant dough, reading should be an escape, and so THIS IS ALL THAT I WANT.

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books on books on books

October 17th, 2017 by Bekah Brunstetter

I have procured Harold Bloom’s ‘How to Read and Why’ for reading purposes, because I have a feeling that while I read, I’m don’t read well enough / retain enough of it (probably because I’m either skimming articles so that I can say that I’ve read them or reading right before bed)  but mostly so that I can SAY THAT I AM READING A BOOK ON HOW TO READ and just snuggle deep into the folds of those layers.

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Home Library

April 18th, 2017 by Bekah Brunstetter

Usually when I come home for a visit, my Mom has left me a series of books in my room that she thinks will be good for my soul.  I am usually so consumed by the undulating dramas of my own life that I rarely read them. But no part of me could resist this trip’s offering, the love story of Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper:

Basically the show just follows this adorable married couple as they flip houses for other adorable people, while he does things like ram his head into walls and put spiders in her hair and she just laughs with the shy beauty and grace that only a half-Korean half-Texan could bear. Perhaps a book ONLY to be read snuggled into bed at your parents house, drifting off on a soft sea of Melatonin, but a charm of a  book, just the same.

Posted in books, family, famous people stuff, i am a grown up, love, MAWWAGE. | No Comments »

Order.

February 4th, 2017 by Bekah Brunstetter

I was re-reading the Boxcar Children last night, like you do. I came across the part where the kids find the old broken dishes in the dump, take them home, clean them off, create a quick makeshift shelf in their boxcar, and arrange their new dishes on the shelf so that the boxcar might feel like home:

And it filled me with SUCH FEELING. I remember reading this part for the first time years and years ago. I remember how it made me long for a house with shelves that I could arrange things on. And I realize, that perhaps every time I can’t leave my house without making my bed or every time I put flowers on the table or stack dishes accordingly, and then do this psycho thing where I just kind of pause and look at the Order, appeased, I am living out this very boxcar children moment over and over.

Posted in a lot, books, generally, ha, hmmmmm, how interesting, i am a grown up, things that I Have | No Comments »

waits for it….

January 31st, 2017 by Bekah Brunstetter

I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Brave Magic, a book on ‘Creative Living Beyond Fear,’ which makes me feel like the like the largest white girl cliche there ever was, like I’m covered in greek yogurt and surrounded by moleskin journals, but still, it’s got some fantastic nuggets about how a creative person ought to view their creativity. She stresses that we must hold this paradox in our heads: that what we’re creating is the single most important thing in the world, and also, the least. It has meaning, but also, it does not. The stakes are high, but also low. What we do is beautifully unnecessary.  She pulls this quote from Tom Waits: “I realized that, as a songwriter, the only thing I really do is make jewelry for the inside of other people’s minds.” Is that not the most wonderful description of a piece of art that you have ever heard? For me, it is. OKAY, OFF TO MAKE SOME BRAIN BRACELETS!

Posted in awesome, books, the writing of drama plays, women, words | No Comments »

what food once was

December 6th, 2016 by Bekah Brunstetter

I’ve been abandoning all extra-curricular creative responsibilities the last few days, and spending every waking non-work moment reading this dear lady’s book:

It’s part memoir, part cookbook, which is my new favorite kind of book. Vivian grew up in Deep Run, a one stoplight town in Eastern NC. Rejecting her country upbringing, she high-tailed it to NYC, started working in restaurants, and eventually moved back down south to open a restaurant (the now award-winning Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC / JULIEN AND I HAVE RESERVATIONS FOR JANUARY / OMG / oh PS also she has her own TV show A Chef’s Life, Peabody award winning, so maybe check that out too end of sentence no really, she’s great.) Once back home, she went through this beautiful transformation, embracing her and homeland and its foods. It’s a beautiful story that I hope it emulate with my own life and writing. You often don’t appreciate what formed you until you’re older. I just want to write NC plays and pair them with her regional bread puddings forever. Chapter by chapter, local food by local food (sweet corn, summer squash, butter beans, etc.) She takes us through her family’s rich history of farming, and shares family recipes. Here’s my favorite, Hoarded corn:

Hard to read, but the first ingredient is an afternoon. She recalls her family harvesting sweet corn together in their tiny kitchen, working together and quickly to get it off the stalk and into bags in the freezer before it spoiled, saving both the kernels and the sweet corn milk. This corn would them feed them throughout the year in a zillion different forms. She really hits this point home:  families used to have to prepare their food together. They were forced to gather, to be together, out of necessity, but then, as Vivian also points out — this is the time when families used to talk to each other. Hands busy with activity, then talking, sharing to fill the air. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said 100 times before, but isn’t it sad that because our food became simpler, easier to access, we talk to each other less? That makes me sad. And Hungry. And sad. But flip side: because we spend less time preparing food, our hands and brains are free for innovations that save lives and expand the universe and invent customer care robots that will eventually dominate us A LA SPOILER ALERT SEASON FINALE OF WESTWORLD BUT NO EVERYTHING’S FINE OKAY BYE OFF TO PRETEND IT’S STILL 1943 / SHUCK SOME SWEET CORNS.

Posted in a lot, books, family, food, history, hmmmmm, where i want to live | No Comments »

Forgetfulness

July 14th, 2016 by Bekah Brunstetter

FINALLY, A POEM FOR THOSE OF US (ME) WHO FORGET 90% OF WHAT WE READ.

Forgetfulness, by Billy Collins.

The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the Southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue

or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you call recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim

and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Posted in books, hmmmmm, how interesting, i am a grown up, poems | No Comments »

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