Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Club Guide to Discussing "Tess of the d'Urbevilles"

Seat the ladies in a circle. Drizzle fresh strawberries, rinsed and capped, with balsamic vinegar, which makes the taste more vibrant. Dredge with sugar and allow an hour to set. Serve sprinkled with pepper. To finish: a small glass of Dvorák. The smell of candles, snuffed.

photo: erin tyner!

Friday, April 25, 2008

friday confession: happily left behind

I’ve never seen Sex and the City.
I don’t know the characters’ names on Sex and the City.
I don’t know which neighborhood(s) the characters live in.
I don’t care what neighborhood(s) they live in.
I don’t know the characters’ shoe sizes or measurements.
I will never watch Sex and the City.
I am wearing jeans today and a black blouse.
I don’t give a shit about Sex and the City.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

shawls, bonnets, armbands, hoods and underpinnings

I finished This Republic of Suffering this weekend. What an original idea to look at death and the concept of death in a certain place in a particular historical period. I really enjoyed it and was occassionally moved to tears. At the same time it could be annoyingly academic at times. The author seemed obligated to be redundant in order to prove her thesis, and pushed some points beyond their usefulness. Anyway, definitely a good read, and a must-read if you're interesting in death as a topic.

In other book-ish news, I watched Atonement today. My mother gave me a copy of the Ian McEwan book months ago, but a neighbor borrowed it around the same time and is still reading it. I did want to read it before seeing the movie, but a colleague who belongs to a DVD-by-mail club handed it to me last week, saying I have to mail it back by tomorrow, so that was that. I felt awkward asking my neighbor to return it briefly just so I could let the book industry kick the movie industry's ass. Anyway, the movie was terrific. In terms of sound effects/score, I especially loved the sound of the typewriter. But considering the time warps, the sexy scenes, and the surprise ending, I am sure the book is superior. Now I'll probably never read it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I stopped at the perfumerie

I’d written down some scents I wanted to try but of course didn’t have the scrap of paper along. At least one of them was from Guerlain, so I headed there. I didn’t recognize any names so I tried L’instant Magic. I liked it. Then I tried regular old L’instant and it seemed chemically. I switched back to L’instant Magic and suddenly it smelled like Play-doh. Cute bottle, but it was over.

(I read an NYT article recently where a perfume maker refused to send samples to a particular critic because “writing about perfume is like dancing about architecture.” I thought that was wonderful. I would like to see someone dance about architecture. But only for like 5 minutes.)

My perfumerie is big but it doesn’t have many smaller perfume makers. They have a section of Jo Malone, which I wasn’t familiar with. Right up I should mention that I insist I won’t wear anything that smells even remotely of food, or use vanilla bathgel, for example. (I also refuse to eat food made to look like other objects, like carrots cut and curled to look like roses. Oh god… that gives me the willies.) So I don’t know why, but I tried Blue Agava and Cacao and just swooned. I’d never heard of agava before. I hoped it wasn’t some South American bean. I’ve since googled it – it’s a flower. I was lucky, too, because shops never give away samples in Germany unless you’re making a purchase, but I left with one. I also tried Vetiver, which was nice, but by then my nose had had enough. In a half hour I figure you should smell only three at most four fragrances before you hit olfactory overload.

I almost never buy perfume. Mostly I just stop in and enjoy. At home, I have Chanel no. 5 and Clinique Aromatics Elixer, both of which I love. And I can’t get away from them because my mother knows I wear them, so I have an ever-elapsing lifetime supply. I’ll buy something new if it’s drop-dead gorgeous, though. It just takes a number of tries to establish that.

Ironically enough, Jo Malone’s website says Blue Agava and Cacao is inspired by Latin music. So I guess perfume can smell about dancing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

friday confession: rejections!

Here some publications that have rejected my poems over the past 3-4 months: Anderbo, Bare Root, qarrtsiluni, Valparaiso and Terrain!

Once again, I have had to take my soothing Necktie Cape out of the closet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

a groovy, a juicy

Obama's race speech, and Obama in general, sparked a bunch of fiery discussion, and interesting phrases, too. Today I read something about the bitterness comment concerning "downscale whites." I had to think about that for a moment. Does that mean they're some low-glow shade of grey, or deep beige? Can someone downscale her whiteness?

I also recently saw a survey asking people how they feel about "the opposite race." I rolled that around a while. What is it? If we're talking "color," then everyone knows most "white" people aren't white - they're pinkish with spots. And there aren't really all that many black-black people. In Germany the kids say "brown girl/boy" instead. Still, if we're approximating and the opposite of white = black, what is the opposite of Asian? And Slavic? And if Native Americans are "The Red Man," is their opposite green?

Or maybe "race" is a competition, making "opposite race" an inversion. So, may I think of "the opposite race" as the person running towards me?


The new issue of Eclectica is up today with two of my poems: Ghazal of Lost Sleep, part of my "Gazillion Ghazals" series, and Elegy, an elegy for my grandmother. She had a Mynah bird named Lucky whose favorite shriek was "Eleanor!" And she smoked Lucky Strikes, mostly in secret. She lived to be 95, though she said she was 94.

Thx to ohmycavalier for the wonderful drawing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

friday confession: recidivism

Our faucet is broken. It seeps from the base of the neck, slowly flooding the countertop. I said to my husband, “We’ll go to Hornbach (Germany’s Home Depot) and get a new one.” He said he hates Hornbach, probably because he read something today saying such hardware stores are the equivalent of perfumeries for women. He wasn’t sure if that was a jab at men or women. I said probably men. Because I like perfumeries, too. I stop by a lot after work and spritz myself with something. Often it’s Mark Jacobs or Mark Jacobs’ Ivy. Today it was Ivy. I rationalize that I’m still trying them on, and can’t commit yet. Too bad I have only two wrists, and one nape to seep from.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Come, walk a mile with my compass

Whenever I see that poor, beleagured Olympic torch being jeered and attacked on its run around the world, I can't help but think of the (slightly-nonsense) poem "Das Knie" by Christian Morgenstern. Every day it's something else. People shouting at the torch. Giving the torch the finger. Wrangling for it. Headlines like - "The Torch Boards A Van," "Torch Badly Shaken By Protests." It's just a torch!
Here's the Morgenstern poem, with my bad translation. I know a thin thread connects the knee to the torch, but I've told everyone at work about it now, so it's your turn.

Das Knie

Ein Knie geht einsam durch die Welt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts!
Es ist kein Baum! Es ist kein Zelt!
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.

Im Kriege ward einmal ein Mann
erschossen um und um.
Das Knie allein blieb unverletzt -
als wär's ein Heiligtum.

Seitdem geht's einsam durch die Welt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.
Es ist kein Baum, es ist kein Zelt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.

The Knee

A knee roams lonely through the world.
It’s just a knee, that’s it!
It’s not a tent, it’s not a pearl!
It’s just a knee, that’s it!

In war a man was shot to death,
to smithereens and bits.
The knee alone was left whole,
as if a saintly relic.

Since then the knee goes through the world.
It’s just a knee that’s it!
It’s not a tent, it’s not a pearl.
It’s just a knee, that’s it!

Monday, April 07, 2008

judgement, as in showing a lack of

I read today that soon passengers on European flights may be allowed to use their cell phones on board. How's that for living hell? Sartre can come back from the dead and write "No Exit" all over again. I vow that if the person next to me is yakking away on his cell phone, I will read my book out loud for the benefit of everyone. I just started reading This Repubic of Suffering, which seems apt.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

forest, n. wood(s), tall timber, timberland, woodland, grove, coppice, copse, thicket

My bedside is a miniature city of books, piled like smokestacks, row houses and dilapidated shacks.

I don’t know what half those books are doing there. I read in bed very rarely. When it’s time for bed, it’s time. Lights out.

A couple of my bedside books I never intend to read, like Sue Miller’s While I Was Gone. It looks interesting, but it’s way low on the list. It’s not even on the list. So why is it next to my bed? I was browsing it once, and there it is, having nowhere else to go. Going on three years.

King Leopold’s Ghost is also there. This is on my to-read list. Someday. I guess it’s there to keep alive my vague commitment.

The Bible is there, which I occassionally enjoy for its language. But I don’t pick it up and read a daily dose of verse. Hell, I’m an atheist.

Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is beside the bed because I’d like sometimes to blame my misfortune on someone else. With passion and eloquence.

The Penguin Book of Women Poets is there, which I got in college. I don’t crack it open often, having pretty much memorized it, but it’s nice to see it every day.

I’ve got a couple reference books bedside, too. Eric Partridge’s Smaller Slang Dictionary is one, though it isn’t all that good and besides the slang is British. "Theoretical slang."

Roget’s Thesaurus is also there, probably the bedside book I look at most. I read recently that Roget began compiling lists of synonyms to distract himself because half his family was crazy or suicidal and he was also prone to depression. I like that. It’s also a good motivation to read the thesaurus.

**Thx to Erin Tyner for the photo from her Half-Awake series.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

there is good news

You remember all those summer clothes I sorted from my closet in November to bring down to the cellar? How I hung them on the hooks behind the bedroom door “for a few days” like a flag to show what an organized grown-up I am? Then all the mental anguish and turmoil I went through every time I got a glimpse of them hanging there waiting for a responsible person to store them away for the winter months? I realized I had no intention of carrying them downstairs. I couldn’t be bothered. Well, we were out in the garden on Sunday dealing out death sentences to various underperformers. These sentences soon morphed into stays of execution because there’s nothing but sissies in my house. It was sunny and warm and maybe things would, you know, improve for the green things. Anyway what I want to say is remember those clothes that were breaking my heart and making me feel like shit simultaneously? You know, the sleeveless tops, the linen pants, that hoity-toit blazer from Piazza Sempione? Well, they don’t have to go downstairs anymore, but can just go back in the bedroom closet. Or stay right where they are for all I care.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Emily Anderson's new zine Warbler is on sale at etsy, one of my favorite haunts. Two of my poems are included and I'm looking forward to getting my copy. If you're interested, Warbler is $4 here.

For those who ask/care/want/whatever, I'm doing NaPoWriMo. It is a bit of a shock to me to find this out, being just two days away from finishing the 30:30 workshop at ITWS, but so be it. I'm making it easy on myself, though. I'll do both new drafts and revisions. Revision can also mean I added a comma. I'll post the poems for a few hours or the German night and then knock them down over at Blue Hookah.
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