After the Storm (Song Series #18)

We almost didn’t make the visit; it stormed in the morning. But the day shook off the rain and we headed east, miles of wet vineyards glowing green in the new light—my bearded beloved, my wee boys & me.

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Out in Greenport, at the house of our good friend V. Hansmann (poet, essayist, and host of the Cornelia Street Reading Series), we ate grilled corn-on-the-cob.

“What’s your favorite word?” I asked.

The 3-year-old jumped on it. “Dump truck or cement truck,” he said, “or magic wand.”

“Observations,” said the 7-year-old.

“Three words,” said my husband. “Good night, boys.”

“Bioluminescence,” said V.

After dinner we walked down the street to the harbor, where the hundred-year-old carousel is still spinning. It was built upstate and then after WWII it belonged to the Grumman plant, where my grandfather built airplanes, and it could’ve been lost when the plant shut down, but Grumman gave it to this little port town.

August opens: Gold light. Third life for a carousel. Observations; bioluminescence; magic wand.

After the Storm

Vocal & viola: Jen Hinst-White

Guitar: Rob Hinst

Written by Shovels & Rope

 

Ain’t it funny
How time just seems to run
What the hell have you been doin’?
Not too sure, guess mostly movin’…
I’ve been spinnin’ for so long
Now I guess I’m spun

Like the widest river
Like the brightest morn
There is hope where you can’t see it
There is a light after the storm

—Shovels & Rope, “After the Storm”

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Lucky (Song Series #17)

95% of my days are a quotidian mixture of laboring at my desk and the care and feeding of hurricanes.

(Pictured here: Hurricane #1 and Hurricane #2, along with a rare eye-of-the-storm moment)

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I’m pretty tired, usually, but it’s a lucky life.

Last week, though, felt like I’d been picked up and dropped into some other plane of lucky.

I was up at the Bennington Writing Seminars, hearing electrifying readings and lectures and also getting some much-needed space for writing (while my generous husband, mom & in-laws wrangled the kids at home)…

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And then, on the evening of the summer solstice, I got some news: I’ve been offered the lavish gift of a Sustainable Arts Foundation fellowship  at Rivendell Writers’ Colony in Tennessee: a fully-funded, two-week retreat this fall, to work on my brand-new second novel. No hurricane-wrangling. Just reading and writing. I’ve never had two solid weeks for reading and writing in my entire life. I’m floored and so grateful. 

Coincidentally, my creative-co-conspirator Elijah Burrell and I had just worked out our little version of Radiohead’s song “Lucky.” It was one of the songs we figured out for a show we were playing at Bennington. So—in honor of feeling pretty lucky right now—

“Lucky” (Radiohead cover)

Vocals: Jen Hinst-White & Eli Burrell

Guitar: Eli Burrell

 

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Playing with Eli Burrell at Bennington College, June 17, 2017. Photo: Laura Gill.

 

PS Just to make it all a little more ridiculous: On a rainy walk off the End of the World at Bennington College, Vermont, I found the three biggest 4-leaf-clovers I have ever seen. OK, to be honest—I have a strange knack for finding 4-leaf-clovers, and the where’s-Waldo part of my brain was probably scanning for them. But I felt pretty lucky to be in that meadow at all.

 

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I’ll Follow You Into the Dark (Song Series #16)

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Possibly this song was written for people like my husband and me. If there’s an afterlife, I don’t know what it’s going to do with us. Rob: Even-keeled, generous, good-hearted agnostic. Me: Moody, half-the-time decent, often-skeptical, pretty left-of-center Christian. I’ve dragged him to Costa Rica and Greece and road-tripping and tent camping all around the country. He’s shown me the quiet pleasures of staying put. Neither of us is going anywhere important without the other.

When we come to the door of the great beyond, if such there be, I think we may sit busking forever just outside the fence, just playing this song, until they start throwing the rotten fruit of Eden at us.

I’ll Follow You Into the Dark

Guitar: Rob Hinst

Vocal: Jen Hinst-White

Written by Ben Gibbard

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Song Series #15)

This is the wonderful Charlie Hinst. He was born in a snowstorm. It was very cold outside indeed. Six years later, he is this big sweet boy with a big sweet heart… and an uncanny ability to commit things to memory. Like all the words of this song.

While you’re here… I’ve been creating all kinds of other things throughout Advent! Hope a few of these bring you some joy.

Songs

Santa Baby, The Coventry Carol, Gabriel’s Message

Advent for the Skeptical and Weary

A series of mini-essays on my petulant Christmas card process, seasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, weird religious language and getting burned out on service.

Little amusing things

Theological Cage Fight between my two-year-old and St. Augustine.

 

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Coventry Carol (Song Series #14)

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A page from the Comfort for Kids “My Story” workbook, which Mercy Corps made for Syrian refugee kids. The caption says “This is the place my family comes from.”

I think it’s just a fact of our human wiring. Things close at hand: more urgent than faraway things. Fresh and novel things: more compelling than familiar things. People like me: more compelling than people unlike me.

Maybe, then, after our years of seeing weepy charity commercials, it’s almost understandable: We just get inoculated against the problems of humans who are far away. We register it, we know it’s bad, we think it’s tragic, but we don’t acutely feel it. I’m writing from my own experience of inoculation. I’m in this same gray boat.

How do we make it feel real? How do we hack our wiring? Would it help if we thought of Syrian refugees, for example, as people with hobbies, favorite comedians, car problems, pop songs they know by heart, and the early morning craving for a cup of coffee? Because those things are actually true. We just see the news footage of the anguished woman with the head scarf running from the fire. But she is all of these things.

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Santa Baby (Song Series #13)

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Yeah… we just went ahead and did it. “Santa Baby.” Because, Eartha Kitt.

Pair this song with the lights display above, and you have a Very Long Island Christmas.

But it’s so much fun to sing.

Santa Baby

Guitar: Rob Hinst

Vocals: Jen Hinst-White

Written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer

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