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

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.

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This Spell will make us Gods

May 13th, 2016 by Bekah Brunstetter

I love my Young Adult literature from the 80s and 90s book club nearly more than I love myself, and so I must share these.  Remember Scholastic books?  You used to pretend to read them when staring at boys in the library, then you would take them home to actually read and find the stories to be flimsy and so you would instead relish in the long descriptions about the character’s cuffed acid washed denim or full wavy hair and you would stare at your own hair in the mirror, wondering if it would ever grow down to your butt so that one day, you might use it as a rope ladder. REMEMBER? A brilliant person named Dominic Moschitti is altering the covers of these books, and it’s just delightful:

MORE BRILLIANCE HERE.

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Everything is Copy

March 23rd, 2016 by Bekah Brunstetter

As revealed in the VERY FANTASTIC GO WATCH IT THIS SECOND new HBO documentary on Nora Ephron, Nora’s mother used to tell her that everything is copy. Meaning: everything that happens to you, no matter how devastating or terrible: it is a story that is yours to tell. And if you tell it, you control the laugh. Isn’t that brilliant? If you put yourself in front of your own angst, your own tragedy, get ahead of it, announce it in your own way — it no longer controls you. Among the 900 other fascinating things about this resplendent woman, the doc (made by her son, after her sudden death from leukemia at 71 in 2012) hits home how, after making a career out of writing movies and books and essays about her personal life, with scathing honesty — she managed to make her death private. She told no one except for immediate family that she was dying. When she could have capitalized on her own illness, her own confrontation of death, she kept it to herself — so that in a way, she could control it. Isn’t that amazing? An old friend interviewed for the movie asserts that ‘Nora was not a genius.’ But he meant it as a compliment. If she were a genius, she would not have been as human and accessible as she was. I have often worried that I’m not a genius.  Or rather, I very much know that I’m not. But thanks to Nora, I officially embrace this. If being a not genius means pulling people closer and closer towards you with the truth that you tell about how sad and wonderful and insane it is to be alive at all,  then I am all in.

Posted in a lot, books, famous people stuff, hmmmmm, how interesting, i have peace, life, trying too hard, women, worrying, YAY | No Comments »

The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart

January 2nd, 2016 by Bekah Brunstetter

I am going through my books to make room for more books so that I can read more books and actually read some of the books that I’ve had but never read books books books books HURRAY BOOKS, and I finally broke into this one that I got for Christmas last year from a producer:

In which I read about Elizabeth Gilbert’s favorite poet, Jack Gilbert, no relation, which led me to this beautiful poem of his:

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

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games for girls

December 16th, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

As I have noted here previously, it might be the case that I belong to a book club that is specifically for young adult fiction from the 60s/70s/80s and I don’t know, maybe here we are at our meeting last night:

There are a lot of things I like about this club and it’s not just the girls or the cheese. Each meeting, we seem to end up making up a dance or telling stories about our childhoods, or, last night, after a fervent discussion about the latent feminism in Nightbirds on Nantucket, we took one of the sailor songs from the book and set it to music with Erica’s mandolin. When we do these activities, we always end up giggling with a strange euphoria. They are the kinds of things that girls used to do to amuse themselves or each other before we had, you know, apps or electricity. It’s nice to return to this sort of candle-lit creativity and then of course  IMMEDIATELY PUT IT ON INSTAGRAM.

Posted in a lot, awesome, books, i am lucky, what my friends are doing, women, words | No Comments »

Perhaps this is why

October 27th, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

Today, on how to take the Holocaust and apply it to your current life which is nothing even remotely at all like the Holocaust like how dare you even make the attempt to juxtapose, and yet still: I’ve been reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning because Holocaust books are FUN! and also for work, as the show is very much about why we believe and put faith in certain things. When Frankl (a psychologist, and founder of logotherapy) was in a concentration camp, he observed human beings stripped down to their very souls, and saw the possibility for man to find meaning and purpose through struggle and suffering. Which leads me to, you know, myself. I can finally put my finger on why life in LA can be sort of — unsatisfying, in all of its satisfactions. Frankl says:

‘I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, ‘homeostasis,’ i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge or tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.’

ie, a balanced, easy life, you know, with a juice bar in walking distance, with air conditioning, with netflix and spotify, with pre-made salads and drinks outside, with cute shoe stores and ice cream cones and the occasional blip of earthquake or current event, is PERHAPS DETRIMENTAL  TO OUR SANITY. I don’t quite know what to do with this thought. Do I go stand in oncoming traffic?  Or do I just try and set the bar within myself higher, somehow? Is it about just constantly trying to do more? And is this theory proposing that people who are struggling are actually living more meaningful lives? But thinking back, I think I’ve never felt more active and alive then when devastated or heartbroken or afraid, and trying to overcome those feelings.  So what now? Do I arbitrarily manufacture struggle? Does that kind of struggle even count?

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PREACH ODIN PREACH

September 23rd, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

I’ve been reading some Old Norse poems from the Elder Edda,  YOU KNOW, LIKE YOU DO. My favorite so far are from Sayings of the High One, which is basically an advice column penned by Odin the God of War and also star of American Gods him very self. He’s gruff, practical, amicable,  and definitely thinks you should eat before you hang out with friends so that you’re not starving.

Some personal favorites:

A stupid man stays awake all night pondering his problems; he’s worn out when morning comes and whatever was, still is.

Moderately wise a man should be — don’t wish for too much wisdom; a man’s heart is seldom happy if he is truly wise.

A man does well to eat a hearty meal before he visits friends, or he sits around glumly acting starved and finds words for very few.

Get up early if you are after another man’s life or money; a sleeping wolf will seldom make a kill nor a warrior win lying down.
Drink ale by the fireside, skate on the ice, buy lean steeds and bloodstained swords, fatten horses in the stable, a dog in your home. Never trust what a maiden tells you nor count any woman constant; their hearts are turned on a potter’s wheel.

I TOTALLY AGREE ODIN, YOU KNOW EVERYTHING.

….NO WAIT ACTUALLY I JUST CHANGED MY MIND.

Posted in awesome, books, boys, factual smarts, faith, history, hmmmmm, how interesting | No Comments »

an Oracle

September 9th, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

I want to read everything there is to read by and about Neil Gaiman, as he the executor and proprietor of the world I’m wrapping my brain around as if it were my job because currently, it is.  This man is a brilliant purveyor of character meets history meets whimsy meets nightmare. There are infinity articles, interviews, books, like so much that I want to stop time, find a hammock that will hold me for three years as I read it all, but so far my favorite is a book that’s been made out of a commencement speech he gave a few years back, in which he tells the grads: when things are bad, make good art. The more I read of his, the more it feels fitting that my brain meets him now, as he is kind of my oracle, telling me things that I so badly need to hear.  He acknowledges that as a writer, you are a person in the world, and so things are going to go badly. He says:  “I think you’re absolutely allowed several minutes, possibly even half a day to feel very, very sorry for yourself indeed. (THANKS NEIL YES. I DO SOMETIMES, AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO, OCCASIONALLY.) And then just start making art.” (OKAY FINE, YOU DON’T HAVE TO YELL.)

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House of Stairs.

August 17th, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

Over fourth of July, some lady friends and I had the GENIUS IDEA to start a book club strictly for weird books we remember reading when we were kids. That’s right. A BOOK CLUB FOR OBSCURE OLD YA LITERATURE  with wine and some of that popcorn that actually evaporates your insides. First up: House of Stairs, a book I did not read when I was growing up, but is one of the strangest things I have ever read. Basically five teenage orphans find themselves suddenly placed and trapped inside of a cavernous space filled with stairs. Their only way to get food is to enact a strange, methodical dance in front of a food machine. Naturally, throughout their quest for meat pellets, romance and jealousies and pretty standard teen angst  prevail, but mostly, THEY HAVE TO DO A STRANGE METHODICAL DANCE TO GET FOOD. If you’re wondering how quickly I flew to the internet to see about movie rights it was IN FACT QUITE FAST, but sadly, a movie is of course already being made, so I’ll just work on my copy of a copy of a copy,  HOUSE OF WATERSLIDES:  a dramedy about a group of high school misfits locked in an abandoned waterpark who must do synchronized swimming for personal pan pizzas. COMING SOON.

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YES PLEASE.

January 7th, 2015 by Bekah Brunstetter

Say, are you a woman? Do you have a career? Do you sometimes feel really confident about said career, but then also sometimes feel sad and needy and insecure about your work but then suddenly feel good about it again, but then feel like a terrible person when you’re trying to be a good person, and then sometimes you feel like a good person,  but then oh wait, you suck? READ THIS BOOK AND RIDE THAT WAVE, GIRL. This woman is hilarious, humble, perceptive, and honest in a truly comforting way. She’s like Lena, but like, you know, a fully formed human being, and thus more relevant to us grown-ish ups.

Things I learned from this  book:

– a touch of Ambivalence goes a long way. NOT apathy; ambivalence. (“Learn to let go of wanting it.” / “Your career will never marry you.”)

– success really never happens over night.

– Being occasionally self involved is an unfortunate part of Being Alive, and being an artist, but it does not make you a bad person. Curosity, empathy,  action.

– Our phones are trying to kill us. The Dalai Lama called it. “I think technology has really increased human ability. But technology cannot produce compassion.”

– I want to have little boys, and when I do, it’s totally normal and fine if I have the impulse to marry them, or eat them.

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