Sunday, January 31, 2010

Watched Oscar & Lucinda and shared my beloved Amelie, and the kind of weekend that makes other weekends jealous. There were floating churches, glass, water, there was good coffee and so much astounding music, parts of me are still singing along.

It is cold tonight where I am and the space heater only agitates the air and moves the chill around. But I am happy and bound for bed and warm, warm, warm.

Good stuff happiness. The best.
Every Little Siberia

Nothing should be so expensive and so cold
when the heat bill arrived and you sat in the last month
of your lease, in your parkas and ski gloves, your knit
scarves and Russian hats. Years later, you would wonder,
if she meant the apartment or you, because death
makes you retrace the years between you, the fortune
of finding her at all, not lost on you, years after
you had both moved and moved on. Nothing again
would hold light as did her eyes during fights
or love. She was not so much a believer as a fanatic
not so much a recollector as a human-instamatic,
her memory of a thing spit back quickly and taking form
almost mystically, rising up from a black square
into the familiar shape of what it was she meant to hold.
The last night, someone told you, she held your severed
ponytail, kept for years in the small wooden drawer
at the base of the folk-lamp you bought her
at the fleamarket, she held the empty bottle of brandy
but not the prescription pills she washed down with it.
They said she wore the brocade jacket with onyx buttons,
and the fabric takes you back to the old place,
freshly-showered: remember her there,
her wet hair: tentacles holding ice-picks.
Her look at you across the bay,
the day, like something that could only reflect up
from water or hell. After the news, nothing will wash
it off: the picture of winter, your words holding
phantoms of themselves against the frosty morning
the light othertimes golden but chilled-platinum
where she stood, where she could have been nothing
less than happy to have met you, nothing more.

Friday, January 29, 2010

HAPPY (dumbly belated) BIRTHDAY KHR!

When I plan ahead, I forget that I am not the kind of girl who plans ahead. So I forget that I planned ahead knowing that JANUARY 24th the day of the birth of a certain very special old friend of mine, would come and find itself all empty of a blog-post, all because I forgot to hit "publish" on that day. SO for that, new post or enhanced anyway.

To the boy who gave me his Tolkein collection, that I have and treasure still, plus Lolita, and Solzhenitsyn, plus days as fanatastic as the word dodecicosidodecahedron
and all its gorgeous angles. To math boys with wonderful libraries, you have set the precedent for my current happinesses, Birthday Boy. Here is hoping acres and decades of the same to you. You have a seat in the road trips of my mind for the duration. Happiest Birthday, Friend.
Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words.” A. S.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life.
— Vladimir Nabokov

Lost in the Bewilderness

This girl be sleepy. But haven't we heard that before? Sunday was loverly. Most and truly. Wrote some, sportsbarred a bit and wondered if Brett Favre will ever be okay with those final moments of overtime? Sad stuff as I was hanging with a Favre fan and we lamented that careers so sizzling should not end with that tiny crackle.

New Orleans, city I love, I am torn now. I like a Peyton-boy but as an NBA girl my NFL loyalties are whimsical and move to the beat of things like cities I love or certain players (say Ricky Williams were on either team or the Dolphins--whom I've always loved were one of the Superbowl contenders). These are not the factors we are meant to measure if we be true-followers. But I am not. I drink Becks Light and watch the people watching or the gymnastics or basketball on the other screens, unless I force myself to attend.

Still, I am inclined to go for NOLA and let my viewing partner bring on the dancing horses. (Ponies though they be.) And I'll watch the team of my beloved city where I once actually saw Ricky W. in Pirate's Alley carrying some artwork home.

In the meanwhile, I completed the 24 hour round and ended up with a skeleton for a story that I will like very much one day. I am droopy today, but not without hope.

Where did today go though?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Teaching, then coffee with Ms. Kate and dinner at Betty's. A good line-up of things to look forward to and then tomorrow, breakfast with Krista. (Breakfast is my favorite out-meal--so hopeful.)

And I have yet to Wildflower with my new favorite breakfast friend. That goes on the to-do list. For now, to motivate the body to go into the shower and out into (another?!) drab day. Hey Sky, not loving that outfit, you call that a color? Seriously, let's go dress-shopping. That dirty-sheet-hue you've been wearing for weeks does nothing for your complexion or my spirits.


It is time now to face the dingy day. That's why they make Kates--to jazz things up.
And Betty's with Ross--whom I haven't seen in ages. Then First Watch tomorrow and then before you know it, it's Sunday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rescheduled my evening meeting into Saturday breakfast. So I am curled up, trying to stay warm, having made an early dinner of a sardine wrap with spicy mustard and onions. Yes, it was good, I can hear your white-person-critiques and I care not a bit.

But the thing is, I do. I am happy to say I do. I am happy to say that I had forgotten how fun it was to delight in someone's way of seeing things and to feel happy and not to feel like you're killing time or you should like this or that and to feel sort of greedy, like there isn't enough time in which to revel. Because I have been setting limits, pulling back reins, always being the one to be too busy or too tired or some other time. I am remembering (it has been years and years, really) what it is too be thrilled that something is constructed exactly thus. I am happy to leave all my talking-myself-intos behind if I am so lucky as to be able to do that.

Teaching again and feeling that perfect place to be feeling about that. Lots of new faces and quite a few familiar ones too. Two readings this semester. One daytime one to read creative non fiction or maybe fiction--I can't tell and a set of readings at night. Both on the same day in February. Strange that, but kind of fun, too.

I've been spring cleaning again. People-cleaning. Donating friendships that don't fit anymore. Or just bagging them up for now. There isn't enough time for all that I need to do and all that really matters to me and just now, I am choosing to imagine that a whole bunch more time will be given out to that which makes my days vibrant, delightful, full of light and color and so much laughter, I actually feel healthier--even on days when I am so sick I can barely speak on the phone and I am taken on winter-hike and suddenly feel better than I have in weeks.
These would be the arms.
Plus, what's not to love about that voice?

I walked home in that chilly rain, I am watching the early-twilight out the window, trying hard not to turn in and read, read, read the night away when really, it will only make me wistful. Until Sunday...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Near the window winter
blue light and belief
what happens incrementally
stays. Give her an old-fashioned
bathtub, a cape cod, a big fish story
about the one that didn't get away.
Give her Antarctica, anti-arctic, the melt
after the deep-freeze of the walk-in
at work, where the turnips and the radishes
look like crisp flowers.
This is no last July, no lost juggler,
the things that dance from their hands
make pictures on the horizon then land
again in the net of the palm.
A penny stuck in the sidewalk crack, upright
looks like a sun rising from concrete.
Nothing more, or less fantastic than that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

T'was the Night Before Winter Semester

and holed in upstairs
was one lazy professorina
with one thousand dresses
and nothing to wear....

Anyway, I never claimed to be a formalist and this post is not about me but about one of my favorite and most-admired writers: Laura Kasischke. Seven novels, seven books of poetry, most of which I own, some of which I had to hunt down. For the first obvious reason, I am in admiration: poetry and prose and major respect for both. The second reason requires the reading that a true fan does to see that all that respect is earned. I have read most of the novels and all of the poetry I can find. She has restraint in her poetry with a careful eye toward the lyric. In her prose, she is able to weave in just enough poetic-chops to give the novels, plot-strong as they are, that thing that potboilers or mainstream supermarket paperbacks too often lack: art, an artfulness. And yet, like the best classics, she gives the sense that story is always being considered, and that the storyline should pull a reader in and keep tugging. Because I am reading, at any given point, so many books, it is not good to begin another. I try to limit the novels I am picking at to two, maybe some short stories for the quickie, and poems because they're like air to me. A constant.

A new novel in the house must sit nicely, must wait its turn, but Kasischke's books don't do that. They nag and insist, the linger and seduce.

To see how both narrative and the tiny detail that a poem licks its lips over come together so well in her work, check out this poem from Gardening in the Dark:

Younger Woman Shopping for a Blouse
She holds it up to see it better,
trying to imagine ...

Where did that last decade go?
I remember

driving fast past
the sloppy needlepoint
of lilacs in the breeze,
dancing in a pine-paneled bar.
I remember

sending a postcard to a man
I’d read about in the paper.
He’d survived an ordeal, but what

was it, and who are you? All

this honey all over my hands.
Where did it come from, and what
if a bear crosses my path now?
What if the bees find me?

She cannot imagine herself
in that, and puts it back.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just Heard About This

A large personality who made a great mixed drink. I spent an afternoon with him as he moved into Tuscaloosa and the Bear and I recalled that bright smile, the force of his presence and how sad it is to know that he died afraid like this.

Off and running

Last year at this time I was the motivated, driven dynamo-of-a-thing.
The week kicks off school on Tuesday and 24 hour later this week, and an attempt to organize my life, the magazine and more manuscripts. The novel progressed over break but is not sent off. There were nibbles here and there and some nice publications forthcoming and newly-in-print (Poem Memoir Story published two older poems that I have long-loved and wished to publish.) There were important finds these past few weeks by way of kindred-spirits with arms full of song and cinema, black silk java floating across rooms and a day spent hiking that I will not likely-soon forget. It was a good break, the year brought in perfectly and yet, I wish I had done more to savor the time. If all goes well, I teach minimester and summer and while I'm thrilled to do all of that, there will be virtually no break for this inefficient bloggerina. But I am going away in April (early and Jacksonville) and later, Denver and before that somewhere, New York (Veace, Spoon, Tom, save a meal-time for me). And maybe the weekend after next or soon thereafter, a Tampa journey must happen. For the Baby Evan gets bigger and brighter daily. Our collective, continual supernova.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lest I not seem ungrateful: part of the wonderful gifts that Boy-Dublin-Patron-Saint-of-Great-Books brings me are new things, wonderful things as well as reminders of things I had loved and lost track of--like Sandra Gilbert.

Her books Blood Pressure and Ghost Volcano were old companions and thanks to my dear book-gatherer, newly-re-gifted me in her collected, re-found. In honor of that and all that is right and more right in my life, this passage:

The meadow's silent, its dead grasses
ignore each other and the evening walkers
who trample them. What will you be,

I wonder, when the night wind rises?
Come back as yourself, in your blue parka,
your plaid flannel shirt with the missing button.

These fields that hum and churn with life
are empty. There is nowhere
you are not, nowhere

you are not not.

Goodnight & Keep Cold

with apologies to Mr.Frost. I am feeling anxious and a bit blue. Odd how that can be after my big declaration of happiness these past weeks. And I am happy. This restlessness feels like a momentary rash. Light, not throat-closing, just itchy and truly temporary but annoying. Like I want to feel something secure in my world, that my time is used well, that I'm feeling and breathing in technicolor. Because a taste of a time that looked like that makes me go all immature-me and want everything to always feel like so much. It can't and it really shouldn't, much of our days are devoted to keeping the lights on and much of our days should be. But sometimes I feel like I want to bask in intensity, or go to New York and let all of its goings-on make me feel like somewhere there are Chinatowns and their color and chaos remind me that I want and don't want so much to be so vivid all of the time. Tonight, I'm unconvinced.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Funny Thing About Happiness

is that it can feel like those days in deepest winter that are muffled once in the blue-cold and again in the white frosting everything, gathering more feathers as they swoop down mutely from a pillowcase sky.

There is a softness to some happiness, something easy and so light in its each individual snowflake that it's hard to believe how much density, how heavy it becomes.

Working on the final bit of the peace poem for Wick. I am sleepy and feeling like an afternoon nap is in order. But outside the sun is making a rare appearance and it seems wrong to crawl into bed, curling away from all that light.

I will be a field
where all the flowers
on my housedress
bloom at once.
--Linda Pastan

Friday, January 08, 2010

Oh the Ways We Deceive Ourselves

I need to work on the Vietnamese Children's Art poem for Wick. I have a start, and two pieces selected to write on, if only I could finish one.

But for the moment, with a tiny imagined audience, I'll post a piece of Season here.
In the background Cohen--low enough so his lyrics don't tangle up in mine. I've forced myself to move the Jim White because I will do as I do with most things--gorge until sick of it. Ask Ryan Adams about our two solid week affair. Then the months of his other cds. Ask Bonnie Prince Billie or seriously, the Old 97s--I have left (in Cher's words of Moonstruck) not even the skin on their bones. The Gear Daddies, Martha Wainwright, everything Laura Kasischke and Melanie Rae Thon have ever begun to write. (One lovely memory of Fellner and I waiting for Barnes & Noble in Birmingham to get those first copies out of Sweethearts. We lived fifty miles away and made an event of getting there, buying the books--full price, hard copy and dining in the city with our fresh copies in tow.) I liked how theme-day and how pump-up-the-drama of that kind of thing he could join me in. Fellner and I have many other memories where his partner, Phil, wanted to forbid us to ever play together again. But this childishness we shared on that bright day was one of my favorite Bama flashbacks.

A tiny Season before I finish that poem, head out for supplies, and make myself shed the laziness that I've been donning day after day this winter break.

The ruined cities inside. Where something lived once and where now nothing can live anymore. I was always looking for the girl that got away as a means of tracking the moment when Main Street filled with broken glass and debris, but with Sam, it was his racing years that occupied the last large love that ever resided inside him. I was relieved, actually. Though I'd taken care to dismantle my cities, to not let anything fill me that was inhabitable, I had left space just in time for Sam. After Sam, he was the city, that city and it's hard to build a city on the steel and wooden skeleton of a city brought down.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Recalling how one student enjoyed all of the prompts posted to our class blog and realizing that my friends and their treasures have already brought so much to my work. I am all alight with music new and old. So in honor of J's striped iceburgs (thank you!) and that student's wish for more to think about and listen to and in crazy appreciation of all the new pretties brought to my attention it's a five youtube post tonight. Hope something ignites something in someone.

Plus thisand this.

Feeling Understood

A lively understandable spirit Once entertained you. It will come again. Be still. Wait.
Theodore Roethke

All the links are repeats, but I can't not think about them and why and how. Watched some wonderful movies lately, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly knocked me out, the privacy and poetry of it. Began O Lucky Man and feel half-inside a perspective unlike anything I'd ever experienced in film before. A little Harold and Maude, a little British deadpan, a little quirkiness and something else, a cocktail of tonal flavors hard to imagine mixed elsewhere or in any other way.

A long walk in Yellow Springs, the snowy gorge, the cleanest air and so much so white, so pure and new and possible.

And today, my head feels heavy and light at once like some fantastic balloon. I'm tracking down songs and singers, movies and books. I feel like a pinata of various new sweetnesses.

It's cold here and the snow seems unceasing. Good sleeping weather.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


A perfect night to post more Season of White...
I mean, it's all alabaster out there.

"Why is it that every time I have to say how he died, not because I want to, but because they ask, I get every crash story anyone's ever known?"

"People are not cats, A. They don't know when to back off."

"Look what someone sent me yesterday," I said, handing him the postcard of the house in the feral house series. Trees were growing almost through it. Shrubs coming from the windows, the porch overrun and penetrated by roots and plants.

It was exactly the kind of thing that I would normally adore: the wildflower beauty of it, the inadvertant, accidental beauty in dilapidation. A stand against the perfect. And the house, so much my kind of house that I might have lived there once, had, in fact, lived there with Sam when we were terribly young and insanely in love.

It's cool. Detroit, you must hate to see what's happening there, huh?

And I'm sobbing, like that, because I have to let Aram know and he will hurt for me and then I'll be sad for his helpless-sadness and for me and Sam, our home, always, until this stupid postcard: our home and isn't this why I left there, not to see this, not to see change which I hated so much that I would rather erase a whole city than change the sheets on the bed we shared? Figuratively, of course, except those sheets, that last set were sealed off in one of those vacuum-sealed bags from the pharmacy. What was us mummified, and thrown in the hatchback.

Oh God, Annie, that was your house, wasn't it?

"Not the final house, no. The house we rented back in college. Our first shared-place, it was cheap because we did so much of the painting, dug a garden, played house before we the real thing. It was some of our happiest days, Sam in the yard waiting for me when I came home, holding a kite and everything in me soaring up to meet it all."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Just a little taste of what I'm talking about here:

Where in the world did you come from my dear?
Did some mysterious voice tell you I'd still be here? I bought this ticket to Mobile, but I been stranded all day...p.a. said the bus broke down ten miles away from the station.
So seldom a seldom a seldom a lock like the love between you and me. But seldom comes happiness without the pain of the devil in the details since I saw the smile on your face as I was crying in a Greyhound station on Christmas 1998.
The burden of love is the fuel of bad grammar.
You stutter and stammer--what a bitch to convey the crux of the matter, when the words you must utter are hopelessly tangled in the memories and scars you show no one. So seldom a seldom a seldom a hit like the hurt you put on me...
from Christmas Day.and

My Kingdom for Some Mint Tea

to go with the bunch of Middle Eastern food that someone had delivered to me.
Lentil soup and hummus. I have the dearest guardian angels. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My George Burns voice and I are already a little healed.

Listening to Jim White's Wrong-Eyed Jesus, about to curl back up with Bud Schulberg's The Disenchanted. The book and the music were Dublin-boy recommended as with the wonderful movie, and yesterday morning, on Tuttle with a full cup of truckstop coffee, the world felt rich as virgin soil and right as rain. Ohio is an odd place for me. Some moments have been the most challenging that I've ever known and others have found me in a jackpot of good people. I'm old enough to know that the is no adding-up, no final tally, not really that things happen for a reason but they keep happening until, like Ohio weather's cliche, if you don't like what you see, wait a few minutes and hang on and just onward and we'll-sees but every-so-cheesy-often with good black silk coffee in your stomach and on the right side of the highway, one feels she can't go wrong as long as she keeps trusting her instincts and moving along. (Chels, are you listening? ;-)

Turns out my food is from House of Cleo on High Street and the soup is just spicy enough to feel like good, winter-take-that food. The hummus is garlicky and so smooth that it feels decadent. mmm... All that, plus they deliver.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Did I mention happy?

Scared to be, but I am

scareder not to be.

I love the way this year beginneth.
Keep up the good work 2010, that's the new little pep rally taking place in me.

A Revisit

Then I suppose the time has come to say:
It's been nice, Dwight's been everything.

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;

Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;

Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:

The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,

And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,

And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves

A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,

And slips into the bosom of the lake:

So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip

Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Alfred Tennyson

Ashes Ashes

I decided there was nothing to burn. Not because I have simplified my life down to what a lovely-someone says is the easy platitude of "live well have no regrets" because that, I agree with him, is preposterous; but because I have found my way here this year, where what I call friend and near is where I would like it to be and what I have burned through already is best left back at the campfires behind me, most of which warmed, s'mored and golden.

I just watched the most amazing documentary about musician Jim White called Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Last night found me dining at Cafe Ephesus, watching the documentary and high-fiving January, though it's only just begun.

I am the hopeful, careful, happy thing today.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A maybe-trip to New York and a potential trip to Florida, both a chance to see my good friend and the latter, involves my best new man, Evan George.

It's an ugly color today and I'm feeling a little muffled, too. Maybe some soup later and a video and the contemplation of what to praise and what to burn.


New Year, indeed.

I am liking the looks of 2010 a lot so far. Lovely Ethiopian meal, some Sherlock Holmes and my favorite cheap champagne. Yummy, low-key and sincere.