Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jewels and Binoculars (week 21)

Listened to: I’ll Keep It With Mine, one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, in honor of his birthday
Watched: This spoof on women fending off compliments

Inside: Dog hair city
Outside: That time of year when the wisteria rhymes with hysteria

Read: Wislawa Szymborska’s “The Kindness of the Blind
Wrote: Lots of “(noun) of (noun)” phrases

Ate: Rucola with feta, pine nuts and potatoes
Drank: Italian red 

Yeah: Galleys for upcoming poem in Bird’s Thumb 
Nay: sports fandom and “patriotism” that depends on war glory

Discussed: Handwriting. Writing a letter by hand nowadays is like walking instead of driving a car. Everyone looks at you like you’re weird, or at least that’s how you feel.
Decided: I should get a full-length manuscript together, just lazy and insecure.

Missed: My parents
Acquired: Birthday presents for the kids

Cursed: Housework
Learned: There’s a swath of grey hair under the top layer of my hair. I found it at the hairdresser's. I thought it was (undissolved) mousse. 

Word of the week: Ampule, which sound electric but is filled with liquid
Pithiness: If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. ― Meister Eckhart

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The weary museum translator

Based on a true story:

Original German version: In antiquity, the image of a face with a wavy beard and a full head of long hair usually depicts a river god, the hair evoking the flowing water. This sandstone sculpture likely represents the god of the Rhine. 

English translation: The bearded face most likely represents a river god, probably of the Rhine. 

French translation: River god?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Every appointment has been moved to last week

Listened to: Audio book of The Dogs of Riga, a Henning Mankell book
Read: More Proust

Saw: Gladiators battle, or at least some serious guys dressed as gladiators
Watched: Thebans, an opera by Julian Anderson

Laughed: Fakely
Cursed: Genuinely

Nay: Homesick
Yeah: Poem accepted at One Sentence Poems

Acquired: Labello. I blow through a lot of money but don’t seem to acquire much.
Discarded: A German guide to bike tours in Ireland

Visited: Roman-Germanic museum, Cologne
Learned: Oedipus had four children, two of whom killed each other. Kind of a bad family situation there all around. 

Ate: Cinnamon buns
Drank: Starbucks products 

Inside: Yoga, a little too close to the guy in front of me’s feet
Outside: Pushed a shopping cart full of beer across a lawn along the Main River, accompanied by a colleague holding an umbrella over my head

Word of the week: Wafer (if the wafer of light offends me - charles wright)
Pithiness: "It’s easier to help the hungry than the overfed." - Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach


Thanks to Valerie Roybal for permission to use the image

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Burns like black handkerchiefs

Two of my poems are up in the new issue of DMQ. One's a found poem, the other a book poem. Actually, both book poems, since the found poem was found in a book.

Cool and sunny. Off to friends on the Rhine for the weekend. We'll see the opera Thebans in Bonn, which I understand is a Sophocles drama in English. Delight of delights - I don't have to rely entirely on subtitles.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

April into May

Listened to: Spiritual High Part II
Read: The End of Retirement by Jessica Bruder (Harper’s, Aug. 2014) 

Saw: A documentary on the Lodz ghetto
Watched: Interstellar 

Laughed: Amy Schumer
Cursed: Bad news from kid’s school

Nay: 4 rejections
Yeah: 1 acceptance, and an essay published at Lunch Review 

Acquired: Toiletries
Discarded: Moth-eaten clothes

Visited: Traiteur Jeanette café
Finished: PoMoSco, the April project of found poetry 

Ate: Tarte au Citron Meringuée
Drank: Spanish wine

Inside: Wiped down bathroom walls
Outside: Rode a bike, jogged, got rained on 

Word of the week: Wingless, disguised as wineglass
Pithiness: “I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wakeup letter.”  Steven Wright 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Overlapping Landscapes

“Eternal tourists of ourselves, there is no landscape but what we are. We possess nothing, for we don’t even possess ourselves. We have nothing because we are nothing. What hand will I reach out, and to what universe? The universe isn’t mine: it’s me,” said Fernando Pessoa.

“The floor is something we must fight against,” Russell Edson wrote.

The clutter of my mind gets tidied up in “Overlapping Landscapes,” an essay in the inaugural issue of Lunch Review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

We could be heroes

A woman missing inside her home for more than 48 hours was found Monday morning when she emerged from the front door for work. It was unclear whether she’d been hurt or was deliberately missing.
She described the ordeal when she arrived at the office. The woman, the mother of two children, said she survived on food she found in the house.
“I could only eat what was left in the fruit bowl or the refrigerator,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I was getting enough from all the different food groups, but I’ll look into what those groups are now more closely in case this happens again.”
Apparently the police were not involved in any search. The woman’s daughter came in at one point on Saturday, dashed upstairs to grab her phone and left again. The daughter couldn’t recall if she saw her mother during the 2-minute visit.
“I think I called out ‘mom?’ but I don’t remember if she answered,” the daughter said. “Wasn’t she just in her room?”
One neighbor recalled the woman going into the house on Friday evening around 8.50 pm, dressed in yoga clothes.
“I had no idea what was about to happen,” the neighbor said.
The woman said she didn’t consider herself a hero when she emerged from the house.
“There was one time when I wanted to drink cold water from the tap but at first only warm water came out,” she said. “I just kept running the tap hoping it would get cold.”
Luckily she was awoken by daylight on Monday morning.
“I was like, whoa, better get dressed,” the woman said.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Last week

Listened to: Vogliatemi Bene, Un Bene Piccolino (Madame B)
Read: Paul Hostovsky’s poem “Man Praying in a Men’s Room

Saw: Photography Forum exhibition ‘Augen auf!’
Watched: Dressed to Kill with Michael Caine & Angie Dickinson (Brian De Palma) 

Laughed: The End of the World news bit
Cursed: Long, unproductive conversations 

Nay: Overcrowded yoga class
Yeah: Poem accepted by Gravel Magazine

Acquired: It was a low-spend week. I bought a magazine.
Discarded: Uneaten food gone bad

Visited: The mountains
Learned: Most refrigerators are set at too low a temperature to keep meat until its ‘best by’ date

Ate: Blueberry pie
Drank: Coffee, coffee, coffee 

Word of the week: Small, as noun (the small of the back, the small of the valley, would you like to try a small)
Pithiness: Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see thee. - Ben Jonson

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Offending Animal

I’m still participating in the Scout poetry challenge with Found Poetry, though not daily. Today’s task was to gather questions from a text and use some to write a poem. The first attempt I wanted to develop further and decided not to post it. Ditto #2. So the poem I posted, “The Offending Animal,” was not my favorite, though I enjoyed writing it and am not un-fond of it. To be honest I didn't think the questions I found - which were all so particular - would ever compose a poem.

My source text was “Great Pictures, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers,” edited by Esther Singleton. About 82% of the poem comes from one essay in the book by William M. Thackeray. Searching online for the painting in question, “Banquet of the Arquebusiers,” I came across this strange portrait of a child by Gerard ter Borch. The child, Helena van der Schalcke, is the new mascot for The Rain in My Purse. Other than rain, what would a child carry in a little bag embellished with black lace? 

As to the poetry challenge, unlike the 2013 Pulitzer project, poets aren't obliged to post a poem every day. And some days I can’t manage it. Then on days like today I did three, though not all in one day of course. The problem with seeing any promise in the poems you post is that technically they are already "published" in online poetry terms. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Frisson

The morning walk to the tram.
Downhill. Sunshine.
The construction site. The chestnut tree lopped smaller.
But not dead!
Thank god.
The difficult corner, visibility-wise.
Tempting death, like everyday. Tempting being a verb or adjective.
The Doktor’s house, painted pale lilac.
His ivy, his wood deck, his miniature pond.
All pleasant for the patients.
And everyone else.
Fences, fences, dog feces.
Der kleine Park ist schön.
Nice spot for a smoke, if you smoke.
Pigeons. They call this a cluster flock!
Spring gives everything its own frisson.
Even the enormous white portal of the cemetery looks like a dollop of whipped cream.
The foot descending to meet its shadow, and pulling back again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fresh supply of rainwater

It's warm and overcast here, and breezy. If you look outside it doesn't look inviting, but the temperature is so pleasant, it's like wading into a sudsy bath. It may rain, may not. Germany is not California. 
Image from Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft 

If you read this blog you know that George Christoph Lichtenberg is my idol. He lived north of here in Göttingen, which doesn't have much to offer except that he lived there. Lichtenberg said of it:

If you want to take the rainwater cure you should come to Göttingen, where there is a fresh supply at all times. 

I wrote a short review of his marvelous book "The Waste Books" for Escape into Life. Go over and read it. If he were alive I would be his agent.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Buying the farm


One day long ago when I was living a lonely and desolate life in Kansas, my jeep skidded on black ice on of I-135 North. I happened to be crossing an overpass at that moment and as the jeep slid right towards the guardrail, I was sure it would topple over and plunge from the bridge to the field below. This all seemed to happen in slow motion, giving me time to recall the euphemism of “someone buying the farm,” and thinking how pathetic it was that the last song I would have listened to in my life was whatever pop song was playing on the radio at the time. I confess I have forgotten it now, mostly because when the jeep finally did slam against the guardrail, it was arrested there, still standing on all four tires, the view of the field below mercifully far away. Oddly enough, at the other side of that field was a Chrysler dealership, and I slowly drove the jeep along the shoulder and down the off-ramp towards it. I was shaking and grateful to still be among the living. The salesmen at the dealership shrugged and dismissed me. I was free to return to my empty life on the plains. It struck me then that no one would have missed me, I had no one to tell my story to, and the life of self-imposed isolation I had chosen had not turned me into a romantic figure, but a sad mass of loneliness.

This poem is two years old, but I remembered it this weekend when a jeep drove by.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The past week in pleasure & pain

Listened to: Jolie Holland sing Pure Imagination
Read: Novel Interiors
Lorenza Guzman 

Saw: A man in pink pajamas smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone in an upstairs window along my streetcar route. 
Watched: The German movie Kriegerin, about neo-nazis in the northeast. An eye-opener.

Cursed: Fate

Failed: Rejections
Succeeded: Finished a book review I’ve been promising 

Regretted: Offering someone a thank-you gift who proceeded to treat me like shit. At the end of the shit session, she held out her hand to receive the gift, which I changed my mind about (I regretted the offering, not the withholding). 
Realized: Spite is karma's handmaid. 

Visited: Frankfurt’s Palmengarten, the local botanical garden. 
Learned: There is a type of rose named ‘Aspirin.’

Ate: Meatballs, rucola, mozzarella, peanuts, rolls, tomatoes, crackers, cookies, chocolate, octopus, fontina.
Enjoyed: Lorenza Guzman sculptures 

Word of the week: Mazurka, a dark dynamic word that means Polish folk song
Pithiness: The thoughts written on madhouse walls by their inmates might be worth publicizing. - Lichtenberg

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

die Taube

One regret I have about not having been born a man is never being called a gentleman.

On top of regrets about being born.

Marlene Dietrich said of Meryl Streep: ‘In the old days such an ugly person would have played the maid, or not even have gotten a screen test.’

Everyone lives under an assumed name.

The character was described as having “abominable teeth,” which I misread as “abdominal teeth.”

In German the pigeon and the dove are the same thing, die Taube.

When you chose a name for your child, was it a name you once wished for yourself?
 ( luise   gudrun   josefina )

For years after Albert Camus died his car was housed in the garage of a mechanic he’d been friendly with. It was a 1955 Citroen that Camus had named Penelope. 

I told them I didn’t care if he wrote like an angel. An angel wouldn’t write anything I’d want to read.

Everything holds up a mirror, while the mirror holds up a door.

‘Comme tout le monde je m’appelle Erik Satie.’ - Erik Satie

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mancave Envy



I’m seeing all these mancaves and it makes me super envious. Freud would say my house and I are not physically equipped to have a mancave, but we want one, and the power it represents. I’m going to indulge my boyish nature, appropriate some hormones and rename my little studio. I’ve got some of the accoutrements already.

My mancave has a chair named Bernhard because that’s a man’s name. 

My mancave has a manual typewriter because it’s bromantic.

My mancave has a Native American blanket because bold, masculine graphic.

My mancave has a picture of a beautiful woman, because beautiful women.

My mancave has genuine spiderwebs because Spidermancave.

My mancave has a dog because man’s best friend.

My mancave has an X-Acto knife in it because get off my lawn.

I understand every mancave needs a sign on the door, and you’ll be glad to know mine does have a sign on the door. My daughter (the beautiful woman whose picture graces the cave) gave it to me. It says “Mom,” in honor of Thoreau's mom, who washed his clothes for him. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dear Goatee


Preparing to do Found Poetry's scouting project next month, I dug up this poem I did two years ago when I took part in their Pulitzer project, in which each participant chose a Pulitzer prize-winning book as a source text for found poetry. Mine was Independence Day by Richard Ford. "Dear Goatee" was written using words on p. 186 of the novel. It was a challenge to find a new poem every day of April, and you certainly got intimate with the book. To keep from going insane, I usually limited myself to one page per poem. With the scouting project, we'll use a variety of texts, and I'm looking forward to trying something new. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Had the Day off

Pruned the roses and cut back the ropey, dead clematis
Kissed the Rome-bound husband & son goodbye
Delivered wonderdog to her vacation
Took a stab at some found poems before PoMoSco
Went grocery shopping
Read Emily Dickinson’s #420 (There are two Ripenings)
Ate a salad of rucola, tomatoes & mozzarella, like an Italian flag
Bought a song on iTunes
Basked in the sunshine on the terrace
Shook three men’s hands
Posted a Throwback Thursday photo
Learned a childhood friend’s sad fate

Sunday, March 15, 2015

i taste a liquor never brewed

Anne Sexton will be played by Lindsay Lohan.
Robert Frost will be played by Christoph Waltz.

ee cummings will be played by Jeff Goldblum.
Sappho will be played by Cate Blanchett.

Emily Dickinson will be played by Mia Wasikowska.
Guillaume Apollinaire will be played by Jack Nicholson. 

Derek Walcott will be played by George Clooney.
Sylvia Plath will be played by Sissy Spacek.

Ai will be played by Eartha Kitt.
John Donne will be played by Clint Eastwood.

Wallace Stevens will be played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. 
Sharon Olds will be played by Catherine Keener.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Bergmanesque

Last night at a concert I discovered one of my most longstanding misreadings. A countertenor was singing a raft of French songs, including Claude Debussy’s Prelude and Clair de Lune, two of his best known pieces.

The concert program included the lyrics and I was reading the actually kind of lame melodramatic texts of various songs (o my heart) and it was slowly revealed to me that the two Debussy songs were not from what I’ve long been reading as Suite Bergmanesque, but from Suite Bergamasque

In other words, the songs weren’t a homage to the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman as I’ve been unconsciously assuming for about 25 years, but to a clownish dance from the Italian town of Bergamo. Since I never thought about the inspiration for the songs, or dwelled on any associations I made with them, I’d never corrected this abiding trick of the eye. 

You’d think it would have occurred to me that Bergman and Debussy didn't have overlapping lifetimes. In fact they missed each other by four months - Debussy died in March 1918 while Bergman was born in July of that year - meaning the composer never had the opportunity to see Wild Strawberries, or The Seventh Seal, or even the first movie Bergman directed, To Joy.

Well, dear 25 years, it’s been lovely having Debussy’s Prelude evoke all those Swedish walks on the beach, and letting Clair de Lune call forth the light in the foghorn scene from Persona. In fact, I think I’ll continue to let it. It’s much more pleasing than an awkward Italian dance from a town best known these days for its rinky-dink airport, served primarily by Ryanair.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The week that was

On a 1-10 scale, the past week gets a weak 5. No one died or anything. Nor did a tree fall on my car, but I don’t drive. The week didn’t win an award for leading actress, or screenplay, or original score. And I banged my elbow. 

Listened to: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
Reading: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust

Saw: Birdman. I wasn’t crazy about it. And the popcorn sucked. 
Learned: To properly pronounce sangfroid 

Laughed: My own joke at work, which involved an English nursery rhyme peppered with German. That’s how desperate I was for humor.
Cursed: Being 5 minutes late for yoga, meaning I was locked out.

Failed: The moths are back.
Succeeded: Drafted a poem; received an acceptance

Regretted: My desk calendar. Every day there’s a new photo, and 55% of the time it seems to be a selfie, and god knows we’ve had enough of that.
Dreamed: My father was taking a bath in a shed in a rural setting. He got all contorted and was shouting for help. Luisa and I were nearby but I said he was just making noise and didn’t need help but Luisa went and helped him get out of the tub, exasperated with me.

Acquired: A rose-scented candle
Discarded: A purple poncho

Ate: Risotto Milanese
Ingested: A mouthful of exhaust smoke

Word of the week: Flummox, a well-built verb with an unconventional ending. 
Pithiness: "We spend our time envying people we wouldn’t like to be." - Jean Rostand

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Customer grouch

With beer sales up, Germans said Proust! more often in 2014.
(prost)

On annihilation, raise your hands over your head.
(inhalation)

Things to do in Hilarious, Germany
(Saarlouis)

China will never follow the path of western colonists, the foreign mystery said.
(ministry)

Swiss tourism faces tongue challenge after bank abandons currency peg.
(tough)

The couple bought a 4-story townhouse where they’re ravishing their twins.
(raising)

Profitability will be hit by an investment in customer grouch.
(growth)

Jesus Charlie.
(Je suis).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visiting America I decide to reconsider my disdain of scented candles

Blue Lavender
I’ve spent years overdosing on lavender in the form of soaps, sachets and lotions but this candle came with a wooden wick that promised to crackle. Open mind, I told myself, not every scented candle wants to strangle you with apple cinnamon. And unlike the ubiquitous pumpkin clogging the American esophagus, this was the scent of cottonballs and vaporous soufflés, of swans and a pale lilac sunset that glows for approximately 33 hours.
Mystery Collage by Valerie Roybal

Sandalwood
This wore a distinct masculine cast. Black wax and black glass, it purported to be aromatherapy and gullible woman that I was I bought it. It sat knobby in its chamber; the flame elicited beads of moisture, exuding an unctuous smell, like a mix of 1) burning tires and 2) sweat in a smoky, upholstered club that hasn’t been vacuumed since Adam. Womanly goodwill aside, I didn’t want such an atmosphere roasting my clothes and, dear reader, I tossed it. 

Wild Bluebells & Jasmine
When I had to whittle the cargo down for the sake of my suitcase this is the bouquet I almost manned overboard. Wild bluebells and jasmine, I said, how ridiculous. Do bluebells even smell? Is it just girlish, poetic marketing? But the candle was small, the color a robin’s egg blue, so I tucked it inside a sock in a side pocket. And in truth it became my favorite, because it said snow-capped mountains to me. It said bells of alpine goats who’ve been freshly shampooed. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

In the room the women come and go, talking

Two stand-out experiences I had on my trip to America had to do with public interaction, and how much friendlier, open and trusting it is than in Germany.

The first took place in a ladies’ fitting room. I came out to look in a larger mirror and found - not unexpectedly - strangers commenting on each other’s outfits in a way unimaginable in Germany. Friendly and helpful and possibly not altogether honest comments. I asked the fitting room attendant if she thought I had the right size, but it didn’t matter whether I needed advice - it was just refreshing not to feel you must stay closed up inside yourself, to make contact with people, even in a banal retail setting. In Germany in contrast, privacy starts with avoiding strangers.

In the second case, my mother and I had just seen a movie we had differing opinions on (Whiplash). We stopped at the ladies’ room, where there was the usual backlog of ladies. But everyone in line was talking to the others about the film, whether they liked it, how intense it was, what a fantastic jerk one of the characters was. Except for my mother and me, the ladies were strangers to each other as far as I could tell. You’d never strike up a conversation with a stranger standing on line in Germany, much less engage in a large, inclusive conversation, superficial as it may be.

I can’t lie and say I don’t miss that. I miss it all the time. It makes life more pleasant; you feel less isolated, less invisible. You are invited to participate in an exchange. This can also go too far sometimes, as with the well-off American man in front of me on the plane, who needed to interact with the duty-free team for over a half an hour about which watch looked best on him, then which one to buy for his wife as well. Blabbity-bla.  

And of course I returned to Germany this morning to news of a road-rage murder in Nevada, a 16 year-old executing his family then being killed in a shoot-out with police in Kentucky, and another deadly shooting at a Walmart in Mississippi. You can’t have it all.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Unhappy landings


On the morning of my departure I took the dog out to spare my husband at least one walking, since for some days he’d be sole proprietor. My good intentions only went so far, however. I was in a hurry. On the front stoop I put the long rubber boots on slapdashedly, my left heel lodged just ¾ of the way down. Sure enough I stumbled on the cement steps near my house. It was a long descent. On the way down, I had ample time to rue my haste and plan my landing.

I braced the fall with the outer edge of my left hand – luckily without involving the dog – next, my left shoulder slammed the sidewalk (though I only surmise this from the pain I felt later), then my left cheek touched down, impressively far from where the fall began. I smashed my pinky and it bled, my index finger, too, and the knuckle of my right thumb. It was still dark so I did without witnesses. No one heard me moaning; I had time to assess the damage and recuperate my wits. I decided my hand wasn’t broken, so I rose to continue my walk, tears or no tears, because someone still had to do it.

A day later I woke up a continent away with a vice-like headache and nausea that followed through. My mother said I probably had a concussion. All I wanted to do was walk the dog with the least amount of bother, then get on a plane, and a day in bed with the sun shining on the snow outside was my lecture on laziness.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Epigraphs

Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, about a housewife suffering vague existential unease, begins with a Walt Whitman quote:  But where is what I started for so long ago? / And why is it yet unfound?

A Matisse illustration for Charles d'Orleans
The companion novel Mr. Bridge begins with a quote from Wallace Stevens’s “Tea At the Palaz of Hoon:”
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

Dorothy Allison’s autobiographical novel Bastard Out of Carolina begins with an epigraph from James Baldwin: “People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.”

I love the Thomas de Quincey quote Billy Collins chose for Nine Horses: “See, then, that bronze equestrian statue. The cruel rider has kept the bit in the horse’s mouth for two centuries. Unbridle him for a minute, if you please, and wash his mouth with water.”

The epigraph to Collins’s Horoscopes for the Dead is also terrific - from Alan Bennet’s The Uncommon Reader: “It was the kind of library he had only read about in books.” 

Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas starts with an epigraph from short story writer Augusto Monterroso: “If the flow is slow enough and you have a good bicycle, or a horse, it is possible to bathe twice (or even three times, should your personal hygiene so require) in the same river.”

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq uses an epigraph from medieval poet and duke Charles d’Orleans, who wrote most of his poems while a prisoner:
“The world is weary of me, / And I am weary of it.”

The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel about the German poet Novalis, starts with a quote from Novalis himself: “Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history.” 

Edna O’Brien’s Down By the River starts with an epigraph from James Joyce’s Ulysses that makes me think I need to take another crack at Ulysses:
Darkness is our souls do you not think?
Flutier. Our souls, shame-wounded by our sins.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thanks for not much

I have so not gotten on the gratefulness wagon I have to avoid certain settings, since my failure to chime in would surely draw a collective frown. It's not that I'm not grateful, it's just that I don't want to join the latest emotional directive. It's like when everyone is reading the same book, and it’s The Da Vinci Code.

I understand gratefulness is supposed to boost your happiness hormones and all that, but why make a project of it. Yesterday, for example, I went home really looking forward to the two hours of the day when I would not be working. I was so happy I even smiled. What I felt was gratefulness, but I didn't have time to craft a hallmark card about it.

Anyway, in the thankfulness department, my semiannual give-thanks-to-a-teacher anxiety came to a head this week when a couple FB friends posted about teachers who changed their lives by recognizing their talents or inclinations. Then a Slate editor published a memoirette about his relationship with his 10-grade English teacher, who advised him well after school ended not to pursue lawyerdom, along with delivering other life-enriching lessons.

To confess, I've always felt kind of grateful to my 10-grade English teacher, a former nun who presided over our class with dry detachment. She swayed like a stork in her 70s get-up, a short bob and bell-bottom slacks. She was a humorless sort, but she had the idea of giving students an extra point for each book they read. So if you had 86 points, a B or B+, you could kick it up to an A by reading 4 or more extra-curricular books each grading period. She passed out a list of acceptable titles that I kept until my house burned down 10 years later. I was already a reader, since my dad demanded I read 10 books every summer, but reading now had more rewards. I read everything. I read also to please my teacher, though she was about as interested in me as in dryer lint.

One day I got up the nerve to ask her if she'd recommend me to take honors English the following year. She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I didn't fit her picture of what honors English was. I knew who was in honors English and it's true I was not like them. Today they are housewives, realtors, or working payroll at a swimming pool chemicals company.

I was stung, it's true. As I said, I’ve always been kind of grateful to this teacher but lately I wonder what for. I’m grateful that she helped spark my interest in literature. But I am not grateful to her for anything else, not any later academic success, not my landing in journalism, not my poetry. I would like to thank her for taking an interest in me, but she didn't, and I managed anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New year's misreadings

Lately instead of doing upper-body or lower-body I just do full-body stench workouts.
(strength)

It’s a grueling procedure, so prepare for preposterous care at home.
(post-operative)

The app makes photo mortgages of your face and much more.
(montage)

The room had a sort of underwear light.
(underwater)

We are in the midst of disgusting an entire library.
(digitising)

It’s the thought that gonuts.
(counts)

Perhaps when you ejaculate everything, you’ll see you’re wealthier than us.
(calculate)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Backward dog

Listened to: Be Brave from My Brightest Diamond
Reading: Dina’s Book by Herbjorg Wassmo, a Norwegian writer I’ve never read before

Laughed: SNL’s Lawrence Welk show with Will Ferrell
Learned: You can’t do anything well when trying to do four things simultaneously.

Failed: Poetry rejections.
Triumphed: First yoga class. Arrived dressed for class, on time, and pre-paid. 

Watched: Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows
Observed: Most virtual interaction with America this week was negative. Obese people in too small clothes, right-wing weirdos, & selfie obsessives. 

Dreamed: I was Thatcheresque.
Received: A book of stamps!

Acquired: Jewelry
Did without: Jewelry

Cooked: Tomato sauce. Mine’s made with carrots rather than sugar, and rosemary rather than basil.
Drank: Fennel & Anise tea.

Word of the week: Cosmonaut
Pithiness of the week: "My father predicted everything when he said I would procrastinate until I died." Jane Bowles

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The I-Did-It list

Some writers I know put together year-end notes - some counted their submissions, some counted how many poems they wrote, others stood on their heads naked and recited from memory in French. 

No one was bragging; many were modest. Still when I counted up my rejections, and tried to reckon how many poems I'd written, I just didn't want to go there. I don't even know how to count how many poems I "wrote" last year. Should I count the stillborn, the lame, the aborted? What about those I’d begun years earlier and finally finished in 2014? In any case, it wasn't many. And those rejections, man, a deluge.

Truth is I sent almost twice as many submissions in 2014 compared with 2013 (74 vs 40) but still got just two more acceptances (11 vs 9). A bunch of those submitted remain outstanding so I could squeak out another acceptance or two, but I’m not expecting an effusion of yes

Of the acceptances, I had to pull the poem because I later realized it resembled - in idea if not in wording - a poem by another poet that I had read long ago. The editor understood and I was grateful, though sorry and a bit disturbed. 

So I liked the pep talk I got reading Lisa Romeo’s "I Did It" idea, which asks you to look back and acknowledge your accomplishments, big and small. Here are some of mine. 

For one, I didn’t regret any of my acceptances, i.e. wish I’d sent my poems to a ‘better’ publication. Acceptances were few, but wonderful, and I was particularly heartened to land my poem “Inksleep” in Beloit, and “Bloodshot Cartography” in Crab Creek.

Two editors corresponded with me about poems I'd submitted asking for minor changes. I was happy that the editors considered those poems worth the effort. 

I was especially fond of the video Nic Sebastian made of my poem "Ambien" from Poetry Storehouse
Marie Craven also made a dynamic, delightful video of "Dictionary Illustrations." It can only be viewed offline, unfortunately, which I have done many times, as have my husband, mother and children!
(These videos were not my accomplishments, of course.) 

I also got a Pushcart nom from Storm Cellar.
And Best of the Net noms from DMQ and Right Hand Pointing.
And Dancing Girl Press accepted my chapbook - “Heiress to a Small Ruin” - for publication later this year.
And DoubleBack press plans to reprint my first chapbook, “In The Voice Of A Minor Saint.”

So I feel good despite my crappy stats.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Combray, Vienna, Texas & the western front: Where I've been

I dragged my feet reading this year, but still averaged over a book a week, helped by chapbooks. In non-fiction my favorite was Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar, and I began her memoir Wild with tears on the UBahn this morning. In poetry, which I didn’t read enough of, my favorite (chap)book was Extraordinary Power by Emily Bludworth de Barrios. Vilette nearly clinched the fiction title, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way was the most satisfying, awe-striking novel I read all year. It was! Thank god I won’t be going to my grave without it. I plan to read more Proust next year.

My highlighting system went wooey when I tried to implement it this year, with worrying about what I was highlighting and why, etc., so if you're interested in what I thought about any of these titles, I suggest you join me at Good Reads. I've given a lot of them more time there.

1. Apocalypse Theory: A Reader by Kristy Bowen (Jan 4)
2. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Jan 26)
3. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Feb 8)
4. My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Feb 18)
5. The Book of Beginnings and Endings by Jenny Boully (Mar 5)
6. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque (Mar 22)
7. Dick Wad by Deena November (Mar 22)
8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Mar 3)
9. Sum of Every Lost Ship by Allison Titus (April 6)
10. Trench Talk by Julian Walker and Peter Doyle (April)
11. The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell (April 24)
12. let us now praise the empty parking lot by Jason Heroux (April 27)
13. The Son by Philipp Meyer (May 10)
14. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (May 27)
15. The Sick Rose by Richard Barnett (May 29)
16. Ah Xian Skulpturen/Sculpture by Dieter Brunner (Jun 3)
17. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (Jun 6)
18. Smoke and Mirrors by Toni Clark (Jun 8)
19. Sea/Words by Crystal Gibbons (Jun)
20. A Wicked Apple by Susan Slaverio (Jun 8)
21. The Grotesque by Philip Thomson (Jun 8) 
22. Art & Love: An Illustrated Anthology of Poetry, ed. Kate Farrell (Jun 9)
23. Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (Jun 11)
24. Everything, Vol. 1 by Lynda Barry (Jun 11)
25. Extraordinary Power by Emily Bludworth de Barrios (Jun 15)
26. The World of the Brontës by Jane O’Neill (Jun 16)
27. The Brontës, ed. Harold Bloom (Jun 17)
28. Imago by Lindsay Lusby (Jun)
29. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (Jun 18)
30. The Best American Crime Writing, Otto Penzler, ed. (Jun 19)
31. Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, etc., ed. Hamby & Kirby. (July)
32. Orlando by Virginia Woolf (July 10)
33. Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone (July 11)
34. Unless by Carol Shields (July 23)
35. Villette by Charlotte Brontë (July 29)
36. Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte (Aug 17)
37. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst (Sept 13)
38. Heat Wave by Penelope Lively (Sept 18)
39. The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia (Sept 27)
40. Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis (Oct 7)
41. Stitches by David Small (Oct 20)
42. Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian (Oct 24)
43. The Death of Sigmund Freud by Mark Edmundson (Oct 28)
44. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (Oct 28)
45. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast (Oct 29)
46. The World in Place of Itself by Bill Rasmovicz (Oct 31)
47. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Nov 4)
48. Sidetracked by Henning Mankell (Nov 14)
49. Cut & Paste: 21st Century Collage by Richard Brereton (Nov 16)
50. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively (Nov 19)
51. Dogfight at the Pentagon WSJ (Nov 24)
52. Mörder ohne Gesicht by Henning Mankell (Dec 17)
53. Incident Reports by Caitlin Thomson (Dec 24)
54. Baby-Doll Under Ice by Katie Jean Shinkle (Dec 27)
55. Zoonosis by Kelly Boyker (Dec 27)
56. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (Dec 28)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Alright, then, I'll be born

Before I assault you with my 2014 book list, here’s a list of some of the poems I enjoyed online in the second half of this year, with links. I've omitted my short list from July of poems I think worth checking out.

1. I doubt that a guy named Alan Shapiro is going to end up a “Country Western Singer,” but I loved this funny ditty anyway, which you can find here

2. “Peace Before Cigarette Butt Storm” by Shahram Shahidi in RHINO. I loved how the butts of the title are immediately identified with the bullet of the first line, and the ironic laugh this short poem provides. It’s a PDF, so you could be two clicks away

3. Dana Weir’s “What Matters To You Matters To Me” in B O D Y, which is a longish prose-ish poem full of kickers, including: 

Let’s just say you have a choice.
You have a choice whether to be born or not to be born?
Who wouldn’t say, all right, then, I’ll be born.

4. Kristy Bowen’s “Apocalypse Theory,” an online chapbook that you can find here. Most of the prose poems begin with “My apocalypse theory (DOES SOMETHING),” and turn fun and imaginative. 

5. Matthew Lippman’s narrative “Marriage Pants” in American Poetry Review is sad and entertaining and has a great ending. 

6. Dave Bonta does a generous series of poems at his Via Negativa site, where he makes the effort of erasure poems seem effortless. His series is based on the Diary of Samuel Pepys. Some of my favorites include Messenger, Downsizers, and Stripper, with its “barn-dark oyster.” 

7. I also enjoyed Dillon J. Welch’s “Jewel Erasure Poems,” which are here at keyhole. 

8. And while we’re on the subject, Jenni Baker’s marvelous erasure poems in Boaat, from the Boy Scout Handbook, complete with nostalgic illustrations. 

9. The outtakes from Caryn Lazzuri’s “The Encyclopedia of Love” in apt are wonderful, especially “A is for April,” in which a person on a train falls in love with a stranger. It’s good to recognize the feeling. 

10. “Please, Space” by Suzanne Wise in Quaint Magazine is an acrobatic prose poem that I much enjoyed. 

11. I loved the list poem “Ways to Dance” by Mark Leidner, which I would like to try to live. 

12. I loved Jessy Randall’s short fables in The Bakery, which she reads herself. 

13. Both of Andrew Grace’s poems in Pleiades appealed to me strongly: “Say Hello to My Little Friend Sorrow” and “Warning to My Mortician.”

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fresh disappointment, fresh encouragement

Salvage
My mother brought the Dec. 15 New Yorker with her, and after the cartoons I read “Let it Go,” an article about hoarding by Joan Acocella. It dwells at first on two well-known hoarding cases of the genteel variety - the Beales and the Collyer brothers - which give hoarding a dash of idiosyncratic charm before descending into true squalor. The writer mentions ‘postmodern’ explications of hoarding - as practiced by deviants (obviously). One author mentioned is Scott Herring, who says people have a right to collect as much junk of whatever variety they choose (they do), and that doing so is an act of non-conformity, with those who criticize hoarding being anti-individual.

I found this little segment freeing, although I am not a hoarder, although I am generally tidy, and my superego is, if anything, over-utilized. When I’m drawn to things I don’t possess - a mug, a book, a stone, a twig - my second reaction is often negative, i.e. it’s clutter, it’s junk, your house is full, someday not far away you are going to die. 

So, of the three New Yorkers my mother brought, I will clip the bits I want, though I may never glance at them again, and throw the bulk away.

Nov 31
I just got the first volume of John Fowles journals, and this morning I looked through to see if there was an entry for Dec. 26. I didn’t find one, but looking further I was aghast to find one for Nov. 31, 1961.

In third grade we were doing a project about the calendar and one of my classmates put a Nov. 31 on it, to which I reacted with crushing irritation, there simply being no Nov. 31. I let him know that I was an expert, having my birthday on Nov. 30, the last day of November. 

So is John Fowles a fool or has there been some kind of proofreading error? In any case, his entry for Nov. 31, 1961, a day that never was, begins: “On the surgeon’s report it said: ‘Virtually hopeless.’”

I can only agree. I hope this won’t happen again.

Toast
As I approach the end of Swann’s Way, I did some reading about the book, and one article told me the madeleine immortalized by Proust was in earlier drafts just a piece of toast. I was disheartened by this - I had been so content to think the rhapsody on this little cake came quickly and naturally, that he had been storing it up a long time, looking for an opportunity to extol upon the madeleine’s taste and texture. And yet it might as well have been a piece of toast, or a pretzel stick, or the heel of an stale baguette.

But my disappointment was temporary: I am glad he abandoned the toast, and that he was able to turn so many crumbs into a hymnal of memory and the senses.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On Christmas Eve, in honor of a particularly marvelous passage from Proust, I wore my monocle

The Marquis de Forestelle’s monocle was minuscule, had no border, and, requiring a constant painful clenching of the eye, where it was encrusted like a superfluous cartilage whose presence was inexplicable and whose material was exquisite, gave the Marquis’s face a melancholy delicacy, and made women think he was capable of great sorrows in love. But that of M. de Saint-Candé, surrounded by a gigantic ring, like Saturn, was the center of gravity of a face which regulated itself at each moment in relation to it, a face whose quivering red nose and thick-lipped sarcastic mouth attempted by their grimaces to equal the unceasing salvos of wit sparkling from the disk of glass, and saw itself preferred to the handsomest eyes in the world by snobbish and depraved young women in whom it inspired dreams of artificial charms and a refinement of voluptuousness; and meanwhile, behind his own, M. de Palancy, who, with his big round-eyes carp’s head, moved about slowly in the midst of the festivities unclenching his mandibles from moment to moment as though seeking to orient himself, merely seemed to be transporting with him an accidental and perhaps purely symbolic fragment of the glass of his aquarium, a part intended to represent the whole, reminding Swann, a great admirer of Giotto’s Vices and Virtues at Padua, of Injustice, next to whom a leafy bough evokes the forests in which his lair is hidden. (Swann's Way)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Via Copernico


Nothing plunged me deeper into exile than living in the Via Copernico in Milan. 

It was not far from the Sondrio subway station, and Vespa-infested.

In the next street there was a horse meat shop and an old-fashioned grocer, where you had to ask the clerk to ferry items down from the shelves. 

I learned a lot of Italian begging for red wine. 

I was both impressed and alienated by our beautiful apartment. We had an old-fashioned elevator with iron doors, a concierge, and a terrace with hydrangeas. Such a snake-like name for such a pretty flower!

Outside the Milanese never cleaned up after their dogs.

The Milanese never cleaned up anything in public, though their homes and persons were impeccable. Never a crooked tie. Never a run in a stocking. But dog shit everywhere. 

Nearby there was a garden named for Gregor Mendel. Herr Mendel, I cried, return me to sober German-speaking lands! Give me parks that aren’t littered with junkie syringes.

I had to look up Copernicus to remember where he was from. Like Mendel and myself, he spoke German but wasn’t from Germany. Though for Italians I might as well have been German, since I arrived there via Germany. 

Which was fine with me. 

But I was not one of the many Germans who tell you they're Italian in their souls. 

First thing to do when a German tells you he’s “Italian in his soul” is make the Italian gesture for “what do I care,” which involves flicking your fingers out from under your chin dismissively. 

I can understand not wanting to be German, but this is baloney I've never bought. 

What does it mean to be Italian in your soul? To toothbrush your eyebrows until the perfect look is achieved, but sneak off when your beagle craps on someone’s front steps? The soul is invisible, not manifest in gestures or good taste in suits. The Italians have no more soul than anyone else, they’re just less inhibited.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Get out your handkerchiefs

This week I continued to struggle with sitting down to write. I waste much time, and I’m uninspired. I fritter away. I vacuum dog hair. I check my mail. I loiter at work. Do I have lipstick on my teeth?

It snowed a little one evening, fat damp flakes that came only to wave their handkerchiefs. Snow you know won’t last makes me want to break into a construction site and smoke cigarettes under the floodlights.

In keeping a dream journal, I notice that trying to recall a dream later in the day is like trying to remember what I charged to my credit card over the course a month, i.e. near impossible. In the dreams I’ve written down I am invariably dowdy and middle-aged. I dote on my son. I command small police squadrons. 

One thing I remember charging is this pillowcase with pussy willows & three oranges. It’s now warming up a place on the couch. 

The word of the week was integrity, which is a word I use more and more to talk about physical things. Today it was the Christmas tree, which was too tall for the living room. My husband said he would lop off the top and I said it’s important to preserve the tree’s integrity. I don’t even know if I’m driving it quite right but I am at the wheel. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

it happens now every evening

I understand wanting to go by foot, but I suggest the UBahn. It’s two short stops. Otherwise you could walk this street past the seedy Hotel National, the Colour Hotel, the sari shop and Arabic grocery. After the intersection, you’ll reach a sandstone bridge. Set off across it until you find the stairwell down to the promenade, and follow the river eastward. I can’t vouch for the safety of the riverside at night, never having ventured it. The linden trees are almost bare. Keep walking about 15 minutes until you see the lights of the Christmas Market on the left. Somewhere there are stairs back up to the street. You can’t miss it, the smell of spilled wine, the sound of an accordion, the flocks of people. If you pass beyond the Eiserner Steg footbridge you’ve gone too far.
photo: abisag tuellmann
 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

A week of limited daylight

Read: Walter Benjamin radio broadcast on dogs. I enjoyed the stories, but objected to how Linneas’ description takes the male as the norm and sets the female aside as a special category of dog.  
Listened to: Sharkey’s Day

Laughed:  Loud eating in the library
Learned: Pigeons, through a genetic glitch, can breed all year round.

Failed: Photography. I need to photograph a stationary, outdoor object for a piece I wrote and I can’t seem to get it right. Limited daylight has not helped.
Triumphed: Guided two well-coiffed Swiss ladies from the Hauptbahnhof to the Chrismas market via the UBahn 

Watched: A typeface video using part of Borges’ poem “Break of Day” (below)
Observed: It is too warm for December. 

Started: Keeping a dream journal
Dreamed: (Dec. 7) "I wanted to become a detective in a seaside town, and as part of the application I had to write a poem. As a prelude, the police department required I sleep with a young man, then write the poem. I was anxious about this, also because I’m married. I had to really consider how much I wanted to be a detective. I was worried the poem would be worse than the sex. I was worried the sex would be worse than the poem. The police department was populated by nicely dressed middle-aged people, polite, but not particularly sympathetic. They did not look like poets."

Discarded: A scarf I never wore. Threw it away once before, then rescued it. For real this time. 
Acquired: A tablecloth. This may seem trivial, but since our kitchen tablecloths serve anywhere from one to three years, it’s revolutionary. 
Received: A Pushcart nomination for my poem “Smoking Jacket” 

Ate: Braised carrots with honey and thyme
Drank: Glühwein without alcohol, though I’m not sure how that’s possible

Visited: Drawn by the children’s books in the window, the bookstore Weltenleser
Realized: No matter how many ads you ‘hide’ on FB, there are more. 

Word of the week: Skirmish. A quirky-sounding word related to scrimmage, probably from old German skirmen, to defend. 
Pithiness of the week: Tradition is the most sublime form of necrophilia. - Hans Kudszus


Thursday, December 04, 2014

I interview myself about some of the books I read this year

Reading is elemental. Which book would you associate with earth?
My favorite, Villette by Charlotte Brontë, because it is tied to the ground and intent on the hearth. Our English heroine is planted on French soil, where she does some serious suffering. 

“I too felt those autumn suns and saw those harvest moons, and I almost wished to be covered in with earth and turf, deep out of their influence; for I could not live in their light, nor make them comrades, nor yield them affection.”

Which book would you associate with fire?
That’s easy: Carol Shields’ Unless. And also with fury. 

“At certain moments, for no reason -the smell of apple wood burning in the fireplace- I become convinced that everything is going to be alright.”

And, skip the water, which book makes you think of ice?
Obviously Virginia Woolf's Orlando, for its skating scene. As a whole, the book moved slowly, but the love affair with Sasha was magic. Where did she disappear to? Sasha, you minx. 

“‘All ends in death,’ Orlando would say, sitting upright on the ice. But Sasha who after all had no English blood in her but was from Russia where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden, and sentences often left unfinished from doubt as to how best to end them--Sasha stared at him, perhaps sneered at him, for he must have seemed a child to her, and said nothing. But at length the ice grew cold beneath them, which she disliked, so pulling him to his feet again, she talked so enchantingly, so wittily, so wisely (but unfortunately always in French, which notoriously loses its flavor in translation) that he forgot the frozen waters or night coming or the old woman or whatever it was, and would try to tell her--plunging and splashing among a thousand images which had gone as stale as the women who inspired them--what she was like. Snow, cream, marble, cherries, alabaster, golden wire?”

And with air?
Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis, for its buoyant humor, and “Waiting for Takeoff,” one of my favorite stories in the book, which takes place in an airplane.

"We sit in the airplane so long, on the ground, waiting to take off, that one woman declares she will now write her novel, and another in a neighboring seat says she will be happy to edit it."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Two minutes of morning

Going to the UBahn I walk through a small park, too small really to earn the term, it’s more of a pathway with a bench or two, tall trees and what was once a sandbox, which nonetheless offers two minutes of relief from the apartment blocks and monotone of sky. I would call it a glade because of glide and because it’s leafy and keeps a cool temperature, but a glade, if I am not mistaken, intersects a thicker wood and is neither manmade nor even man-fashioned.

Along the walkway leaves have fallen in such a way that they resemble - also because sometimes they are in the midst of tumbling - sunbeams or patches of sunlight on the ground, and when I am close enough to apprehend what they are it’s both a disappointment and a consolation, a let-down because my expectations are dashed, and a consolation because they’re just as luminous as sunshine, and I have been beautifully fooled.

This morning amid the damp ambient of leaves and mud and cobblestone I see my new boots come slicing, the flat heels so comfortable I’d like launch into a run. I think of the saying “fit like a glove” which amuses because we’re talking shoes, and the German word for glove is ‘Handschuh,’ i.e. “hand shoe,” and somehow an item got mashed on backwards in translation, and it’s frosty and I don’t have gloves. 

When I’m walking in the cold thinking of running I remember the essential thing is to breathe. Have I mentioned how my face is falling apart?

Inhale, exhale.

Or had I rather say collapsing? The lengths, breadths and heights of it?

In, hale. Ex, hale. 

For months I have been considering a chin tuck. 

Inhale.

Abstractedly and noncommittally, now running past houses.

Exhale.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Desuetude

Reading: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Listened to: Le Tourbillon by jeanne moreau

Laughed: Bible Verses Where The Word “Philistines” Has Been Replaced With “Haters”
Learned: “Humility” and “humiliation” come from Latin “humus,” aka dirt. 

Failed: Went to the Christmas Market, but it wasn’t open.
Triumphed: My chapbook “Heiress to a Small Ruin” was accepted by DGP and will be published next winter. I almost didn’t send it in. 

Dreamed: of an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness
Realized: Sugar drenches everything

Watched: Memento, a poorly executed psycho thriller
Observed: The introverts seem to have stopped talking about how introverted they are. 

Discarded: indecipherable German snail mail
Received: Dogfight at the Pentagon from a colleague 

Ate: Falafel
Drank: Chai tea, coffee, wine, sparkling water 

Bought: very little
Did without: very little

Pithiness of the week: "There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us." FH Bradley 
Word of the week: Desuetude
“Even when she had to give an armchair, silverware, a walking stick, she looked for ‘old’ ones, as though, now that long desuetude had effaced their character of usefulness, they would appear more disposed to tell us about the life of people of other times than to serve the needs of our own life.” (Swann's Way)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday off

I took the day off because my daughter had an appointment about a retirement account and wanted me along. In the course of the day we discovered she didn’t need this appointment. Since she doesn’t have a job and is just 18 she doesn’t quite yet need a retirement account. Yes, I've said in the past one needs to save for retirement and she should too but I didn’t mean now, and when I said I would contribute to her savings, I meant I'd regularly deposit a small amount in her savings until she is - someday - gainfully employed.

So all day we were waiting for 4 o’clock to roll around and at 3 our limbo ended with this revelation of misunderstanding, and we were relieved to be set free from an awkward appointment with a country bumpkin banker. We celebrated with a very buttery Croque Monsieur. I also did two loads of laundry, read 40-50 pages of Moon Tiger and a review of a biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, paid bills and filled the fridge with groceries.

In other news, I’m happy to say my chapbook, Heiress to a Small Ruin, has been accepted by Dancing Girl Press. It will be published about a year from now.
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