Wednesday, December 31, 2008
thing is, i just stepped out of the car after sixteen hours of travel. sixteen hours of travel in the greater parts of alabama and mississippi, and with my parents of all things.
christmas was just fine, in that it held a great deal of upsides: stan getz records and days spent reading roberto bolano (i know. still can't do the enn-yay) and octavio paz. lots of writing (finally). lots of cajun food. that dirt devil vaccuum i've always wanted. little morgan making everyone megaphones out of sticker-covered empty toilet paper rolls. so that we can call out if we need her. my mother, at a holiday party, even tried pawning me off on a gorgeous man who does fascinating work with refugees in iraq.
"i can't live in bagdad, mom."
"mame," she said, irritated. "writers can write wherever."
this from a woman who doesn't sleep if i'm driving the hour home from asheville after dark.
however, traveling and gambling and spending days-plural with your parents in the french quarter has its challenges:
i lost eight dollars at the slots, spent a whole lot of hours writing a syllabus and scratching it and writing a new one. and there's the issue of my adorable sister, who, even without us, is always with us (via cell phone, etc.).
my parents fight over things like paprika and the french pronunciation of street names: well, charles, if you're not CAPABLE of handling the paprika and i know it's SPELLED chartres, but everyone SAYS charter.
it comes off sounding like, "why is the carpet all wet, todd?" "i don't KNOW, margot."
but, the reason i have you all here is the matter of books on tape. books on tape for a total of thirty-two hours of driving:
the david sedaris was fun, mainly due to his reading the part of brother paul (aka the rooster), which is genius. and kinsley amis' lucky jim reminds me why i like that sort of character-driven british humor.
the whole dick francis thing is another matter entirely. british: yes. but divisive as the sweet valley high series, and it's clear no one taught this man the beauty of simple he-said she-said dialogue.
and i quote:
" 'i did not throw the lemon fizz steeple chase,' hughes roared excitedly."
"and then hughes turned to stare the facts of life in the face."
" 'i did no such thing!' firth exploded excitedly."
"roberta blinked her eyes and reconsidered. she spoke more evenly now."
"hughes rounded his burnt-orange lotus around the bend."
people forever exploding or reconsidering. this. for six hours. plus more meal stops at o'charley's than i'd like to admit. and hannah is driving home from new york as we speak. which means more stories. and soon.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I. so, my mother called last week, said: mame. i was up, sitting on the bathroom floor, thinking about you from the hours of 1:57 am to 4. and i think you seem unhappy. but there are two things i think might help that: hosting a holiday party and investing in new carpeting for your living room.
me: uh huh.
mom: you know, because you're the type of person who needs something to look forward to.
you know. as opposed to the person who needs only the guillotine looming somewhere in the foreground.
and this is the part i can't do justice: the very next day i pulled up at my parents' home. to catch up. only, my nephew was dancing on the piano bench, a metronome beat wildly in the background, and my niece greeted me by screaming, "I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU NAKED." then, my father chugged scotch so as to not have a heart attack. the couch cushions lay everywhere outside of the couch. then, each family member began screaming "ideas" for my party.
molly: girl, you've got to try this chipped beef dip the ladies from north baptist introduced me to.
(seriously. i have no idea where she came from.)
dad: jesus christ. whatever you do, no vegetables and ranch.
molly: have you thought about vegetables and ranch?
mom: what about stencils???? (pulls out file that houses every invitation she's ever made).
luke: WHERE ARE MY BOOTS? WHERE ARE MY BOOTS? WHERE ARE MY BOOTS?
II. anyway, what i want to blog about is waitressing. again. for a few years (say, oh, 2002-2007) i hated waiting on tables. the two things that drove me are the two things that drive any waiter/artist/actor/writer: money. money and material, material, material. ("something for your poetry, no?")
well, on the one hand: yes. when the family from three towns over drove in last week at 9:oo on a tuesday with their seven year-old, i couldn't wait to serve them. per usual, the mother asked little elizabeth if she remembered me from last time. and, like last time, elizabeth glared and gave one firm shake of the head. actually, this is precisely why i like elizabeth. she gives me a look that forever says, "i've had a full day of horseback, watercolor, tai kwan do, and tutoring. why the hell should i remember her?" only, an hour later i came out of the kitchen and elizabeth was standing by the computers and linens, tapping one of her black patent galoshes on the floor. "oh, there you are, mamie," she said in the same mock relief my sister uses when i'm twenty seconds late for our movie date. "looks like i'm going to need the charred arracherra, medium rare. our chicken just came, and i hate it. hate it hate it hate it."
on the other hand: no. i've had a problem lately, particularly with my male clients (i know. out of context that sounds slightly ashley dupre-ish, which is actually fitting, considering.). how i long for the days when my older men pretended they couldn't read the small font of the menu so that i had to stand there and recite it, word for word. or the men who flirted with me before realizing my father was an old racquetball/gin/college buddy.
at least those men are interesting. their stories, their demeanor. material? yes. nearly always. but now, now it's gotten so cheap and predictable. i will say this only once: not every waitress is in the market for a rich man to make them the best stay-at-home second, third, or fourth wife they've ever had. (okay, maybe on my worst, worst day). also, also, if i am not interested in you it does not mean that i am a) married or b) a lesbian. i may just not like you, even though this leaves you dumbfounded. what with all you have to offer. and the very little i have going on for me. i know, i know. it just DOESN'T. ADD. UP. because sometimes, at the end of the day, i could really go for a conversation about stock options and garage renovation.
okay. i'm done bitching. until beyonce writes some other stupid song or another man offers me the world, the world the size of a tether ball.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
unfortunately, my students are 74 year-olds disguised as kids. while they were born in--wait for it--1992, they love old school music. they still speak of hip-hop in tupac/west biggie/east terminology. they're old school. one even requested a yo yo ma song. you know. the cellist. but just when i thought they were perfect, just when i had opened up the panel to "best song of all time," just when they threw out U2's "bloody sunday" and "come fly with me" and "eleonor rigby" and flaming lips' "the wand," a young woman said:
who is joni mitchell?
who is joni mitchell. i nearly fainted.
anyway, this is a call for submissions. best song of the 21st century. anything KORN doesn't count. just like charles bukowski doesn't count when i say "pick any poet you want."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
-my mother, in nearly every conversation we have about people who don't drink,
including my sister
"it's not that you're making one wreath, mamie, it's that you're making another."
-hannah abrams, in our conversation where she delicately concludes that
and so, against the interest of family and those closest to me, i put down the wine (and the gran ma...kidding) a few weeks ago. give or take several splits. i wasn't worried about codependency issues, or weight, or money, or any of that. i just thought it seemed nice to go non-drinker on your ass.
nice, as it turns out, but awfully quiet. i read. books. and reviews of books. and reviews that counter last week's review of the lowell/bishop correspondence. they just won't let up with those two. crying, i've found, while reading reviews ("i seem to spend my life missing you," lowell wrote to bishop) is a bit like crying during trailers. or commercials that, say, house postal service songs or advertise the next episode of extreme makeover: home edition. and i work out. a lot. and i've reignited this strange passion for modern american poetry, which i thought my students would love. turns out, though, i'm just scaring the bejesus out of them...running around all sweaty-pitted and yelling about the presence of food in prufrock. why toast and tea? why, then, the peach???
hannah's bound to out me sooner or later about the biggest change, so here it is:
i've been crafting. as in, going to a.c. moore late at night, when all the other adorable baptist ladies are buying stencils. and staying for an hour and more.
it started with one autumnal wreath, and from that i've built a world-- glass-painted ornaments, crackle-painted picture frames, monogrammed stationery.
wednesday, the phone rang as i roamed the aisles.
molly: have you finished mom and dad's christmas presents?
(she has been asking this since july. demanding money and product and results since the close of summer.)
me: i didn't know where you wanted me to get the gift certificates.
molly: jesus, mamie. you don't have to wait around for me to tell you what to do all the time.
me: since when.
molly: more importantly, mom's birthday's tomorrow, and i can't buy her a pedicure. i've got her that for the past four years.*
me: i'm going to make her something.
then, and this is the best part, it was as if molly was watching a camera of me in a.c. moore. i reached up to touch the twig base for a wreath and she said:
what? are you going to make them a christmas wreath or something?
before erupting into laughter.
*if you read this blog, you'll notice we are constantly in a state of buying gifts for our mother. or regretting the gifts we've bought for our mother. or reprinting the serial numbers for socks and cocktail napkins she's requested.
finally, bill e-mailed something very interesting today:
seems our president-elect--wait for it--has been READING POETRY. walcott's noteable book, no less. the story reads like a gossip piece. as if all this poetry business might lead to a grainy tape involving paris hilton and joe francis.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
which is why i was alarmed when, sitting with hannah in the dark, kid rock began screaming, "i'm a WARRIOR!!!" at the audience. something about the national guard* and, inexplicably, nascar. it's all a blur, now, but what i remember is this: a soccer ball kicked by a middle eastern kid into an oncoming tank, a white soldier saving the ball and returning it to the kid (note overt symbol of ball as democracy), dale earnhart jr. winning some race, and kid rock on a dimly lit stage. it was just awful. and about as carefully woven as this blog.
in a recent interview with NBC, palin was asked if she considered herself a feminist. she responded as follows: "you know, i don't like labels, bryan. which i think is what people don't like about me." to be fair, in a september 30 interview with katie couric, she said she was a feminist. for the sake of this post, i needn't trip off on a tangent about how curious it is that she told a woman she was a feminist and a man she was not...also, i think it's adorable that she thinks we don't like her because we don't "get" her. yeah, she's slippery, that one.
it has been my understanding that any half-witted person living today is, in fact, a feminist. if you subscribe to the belief that women truly hold equal rights as men, should hold equal rights, then you're a feminist. i don't think sojourner truth and the other embattled women from three different waves of feminism in america would appreciate the timid, eyelash-batting withdrawal from such a term.
* i am pro-military, pro-national guard. i am offended by the misrepresentation of these institutions, not the institutions themselves.
**Hi, it's Hannah stowing away on Mamie's post. But I just found the Warrior lyrics, transcribed by some idiot savant who can't spell, but turns mistakes into gold--i.e. "Engage and Destory."
So Dont Tell Me Who's Wrong And Right When Liberty Starts Slipping Away
And If You Aint Gonna Fight Get Out Of The Away
Cuz Freedom Is So Free When You Breathe Red White And Blue I'm Given All Of Myself Cuz Thats What I Do
And They Call Me Warrior
They Call Me Loalty
They Call Me Ready To provide Relief N Help I Wherever You Need Me To Be
I'm an American Warrior
I'm an American Warrior
I'd Never Leave Another Behind I Will Never Except Defeat I'm A Solider In War Civilian In Peace Cuz Freedom Is So Free When You Breathe Red White N Blue I'm Given All Of Myself How Bout You
And They Call Me Warrior
They Call Me Loyalty
And They Call Me Ready To Deploy, Engage And Destory, Wherever You Need Me To Be
I'm An American Warrior Citizen Solider
I'm An American Warrior Citizen Solider
Warrior Citizen Solider
Warrior Citizen Solider
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I mean, I’d never seen her this happy. Her big, blue eyes were all glittery and psychotic, and her body was perched on the very tippy edge of the white, plastic, and therefore Swedish chair. She was shaking from the high-voltage combo of old school hip-hop and sparkling. In the background, a thirty-seven year old woman was dancing with herself. We both know her and, not so long ago, this woman was rude to me.
Mamie spots her, crooks a finger at me. I lean in for her to whisper, I will fuck her up. I know it sounds redneck, but. Fuck. Her. Up. If she so much as looks at you the wrong way.
Clearly, this is what I need in a relationship, because my wayward heart swelled to bursting.
It was the pinnacle of our night since, before then, we’d gone everywhere else and hated it in a way that had us walking in and out without sitting. We were completely happy, and then we saw him coming. That’s the problem with being stationary, this guy will inevitably walk up to you. He looked fairly normal, even though he sat down beside us and said in one breath: Nice boots, look at those boots, did y’all plan on wearing those boots together.
It only got worse.
He told us he was there by himself and had premeditated the boots comment in order to come over and talk to us: Sometimes, you got to go out solo, and then you need a line you know. When you’re on your own. Without your friends. Sometimes, you and your friends need a little space.
Jesus, I thought. Poor bastard.
It came out, by which I mean it was completely unsolicited, that he lived in Snead’s Ferry-(God, said Mamie later, it sounds like a place where evil wizards live)—and also worked as a volunteer firefighter.
What else do you do, I asked.
In addition to being a volunteer firefighter.
And it’s beyond me how this came up, but suddenly he was talking about South Africa. I’ve been there, I piped up annoyingly. But you’d think it would have thrown him off from this track.
One rand is about seven dollars, you know.
(See, this is not even remotely true.)
So when I was there, I was buying beers for, like, two dollars! And then I’d tip. And they all thought I was like some rockstar.
Like a rockstar, I repeated like a moron.
Yeah. Just like, everyone was looking to see who I was. This bigshot American dude. I mean, some of them, they probably hadn’t ever seen an American before. The chicks were all looking at me.
(Americans in Capetown? Unlikely.)
Then he left as all we were capable of doing was grinning at each other. Mamie's little shoulders were doing that incessant and adorable hiphop lift thing. It was weird, Mamie said later, like he couldn’t decide which one of us he was hitting on. To simplify everything, he drifted up to a girl momentarily alone, poor thing. That guy, I told Mame, was almost as bad as the guys who started to chant Obama at the bar because you had an Obama sticker on your clutch.
Then we went to Slice and everything was predictable. Mame fell asleep in her pizza and I thought I lost my wallet. Cue me trying to get into Odessa after close, while Mamie slept in the car, where my wallet was sitting on the front floorboard.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
it doesn't help that i am religious, which is another battle altogether. i'm often reminded of this short poem by czeslaw milosz:
if there is no god
if there is no god,
not everything is permitted to man.
he is still his brother's keeper
and he is not permitted to sadden his brother
by saying there is no god.
but it's beautiful, the ways we can be empathetic while disagreeing. i mean, at our best we can be empathetic. while disagreeing.
then hannah sent me this hayden carruth (who, unfortunately, passed away last month) poem. i find the camaraderie of it beautiful. it is, i assume, for d. levertov?
letter to denise
remember when you put on that wig
from the grab bag and then looked at yourself
in the mirror and laughed, and we laughed together?
it was a transformation, glamorous flowing tresses.
who knows if you might not have like to wear
that wig permanently, but of course you
wouldn't. remember when you told me how
you meditated, looking at a stone until
you knew the soul of the stone? inwardly i
scoffed, being the backwoods pragmatic yankee
that i was, yet i knew what you meant. i
called it love. no magic was needed. and we
loved each other too, not in the way of
romance but in the way of two poets loving
a stone, and world that the stone signified.
remember when we had that argument over
pee and piss in your poem about a bear?
"bears don't pee, they piss," i said. but you were
adamant. "my bears pee." and that was that.
then you moved away, across the continent,
and sometimes for a year i didn't see you.
we phoned and wrote, we kept in touch. and then
you moved again, much farther away, i don't
know where. no word from you now at all. but
i am faithful, my dear denise. and i still
love the stone, and, yes, i know its soul.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
only, hannah and i are fine. we're not splitting up. i'm visiting this thursday for beers and dinner and sparkling wine and ping-pong and nick and norah's infinite playlist and walks on the beach at sunset. so, blog, perhaps you are the affair we can't quite move past. something like that.
what i will do in this post is shamelessly promote two books:
I. as you all know, george and i have taught alongside each other for 43 years (move on. he's the only one who's supposed to get that joke). he hates the blog, which doesn't stop him from reading it. when especially bored, he likes to make fun of me in his work (please check out the latest kenyon review, wherein a ten year-old named may-may is portrayed as a spoiled brat who's always hungry and trails behind all the other kids, drinking coffee). he even does so in his new book, pep talks, warnings & screeds:
number 30: if at all possible, take a poetry-writing class or two. please don't hang out with poets a bunch--this is a vast generalization here, but what the heck--because inevitably one of them will say, "poetry is so hard!" or "i worked twenty minutes today on a quatrain!" or "do you want some room for cream in your coffee?" or "i can't stand poets who rhyme" or "i love poets who rhyme" or "we have a special today on bran muffins."
daniel wallace (author of big fish) illustrates the book. anyway, it's pure awesome.
II. i thought i was done with this whole crying in the classroom business. i did it once out of pure frustration two years ago when i didn't know quite what i was doing and the students didn't seem much to care anyhow. but last week, i cried for a much more embarrassing reason. we were reading galway kinnell's strong is your hold and i read the first poem aloud. in the middle i just got all choked up and proceeded to try to stop crying by explaining myself and, inexplicably, snapping my fingers. anyway, you can imagine: i looked nuts, and couldn't stop repeating, "it's just so beautiful. it's just so beautiful."
the stone table
here on the hill behind the house,
we sit with our feet up on the edge
of the eight-by-ten stone slab
that was once the floor of the cow pass
that the cows used, getting from one pasture
to the other without setting a hoof
on the dirt road lying between them.
from here we can see the blackberry thicket,
the maple sapling the moose slashed
with his cutting teeth, turning it
scarlet too early, the bluebird boxes
flown from now, the one tree left
of the ancient orchard popped out
all over with saffron and rosy,
subacid pie apples, smaller crabs grafted
with scions of old varieties, freedom,
sops-of-wine, wolf river, and trees
we put in ourselves, dotted with red lumps.
we speak in whispers: fifty feet away,
under a red spruce, a yearling bear
lolls on its belly eating clover.
abruptly it sits up. did i touch my wine glass
to the table, setting it humming?
the bear peers about with the bleary undressedness
of old people who have mislaid their eyeglasses.
it ups its muzzle and sniffs. it fixes us,
whirls, and plunges into the woods--
a few cracklings and shatterings, and all is still.
as often happens, we find ourselves
thinking similar thoughts, this time of a friend
who lives to the south of that row of peaks
burnt yellow in the sunset. about now,
he will be paying his daily visit to her grave,
reading by heart the words, cut into black granite,
that she had written for him, when they
both thought he would die first:
I BELIEVE IN THE MIRACLES OF ART BUT WHAT
PRODIGY WILL KEEP YOU SAFE BESIDE ME.
or is he back by now, in his half-empty house,
talking in ink to a piece of paper?
i, who so often used to wish to float free
of earth, now with all my being want to stay,
to climb with you on other evenings to this stone,
maybe finding a bear, or a coyote, like
the one who, at dusk, a week ago, passed
in his scissorish gait ten feet from where we sat--
this earth we attach ourselves to so fiercely,
like scions of sheffield seek-no-furthers
grafted for our lifetimes into paradise root-stock.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
the latest conflict between lebanon and israel is about food: a lebanese trade group is accusing israel of falsely taking credit for traditional middle eastern dishes like hummus. fadi abboud, president of the lebanese industrialists association, said on tuesday that his group planned to sue israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as israeli. "it is not enough they are stealing our land," mr. abboud said. "they are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine." he said his group would also seek to claim baba ghanouj and tabbouleh as lebanon's own.
what, to me, was more infuriating than the debate stage set-up (it looked like the phil donahue show) were the number of voters (in the audience, at bowling green) who claimed to be undecided. who the hell, at this point, is undecided? i don't care if you want to marry mccain and have his babies; at least you're on board with something. who, on october 8th, is saying to themselves: my gosh. it's just so hard...like apples and apples. some kid, poor bastard, actually said, "fundamentally, they're no different." yep. couldn't differentiate between 'em in a line-up.
Monday, October 6, 2008
i should preface this post (i know. you thought the hannah stuff was preface enough) by saying that, at work on saturday, i looked precious. i washed my hair and put on make-up and and wore earrings and did everything i could to detract from the annie lennox outfit we wear. so, when a really nice gentleman winked at me a la sarah palin and said, "looks like this ain't your first rodeo," i had no idea how to take it. at first i thought it meant the same as been-around-the-block and i felt like that fifty year-old woman named cookie who runs the after-hours bar here in greenville. i physically recoiled...although, looking back, i believe he meant i appeared to know what i was doing.
also, the hostesses i--on a daily basis--refrain from beating have been giving all the bachelorette parties to me. all of them. which hardly makes sense. we have the sexy colombian guy, the funny bartender, and the hot waiter. twenty intoxicated girls don't exactly want me, a woman, waiting on them. and they keep being, like, nineteen years old and bedecked in feather boas. it's totally creepy. and the photographs they ask of you! it's like, "okay, we're going to do a silly and a serious." i guarantee, friends who in the future might be at my bachelorette party, i'll never use the word "silly." or make you wear things you wouldn't normally. there will be no flirtinis, no cakes shaped like boy parts. no straws with obscene accoutrements. and, absolutely, no decorated wine glasses.
oh, and, not to worry about the whole hannah thing. she'll be back, begging, soon enough. they always do.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
which seems like the very same thing, only hannah's mom has flown from saipan to japan to california to minnesota, stopping there to golf with her boyfriend for two weeks, and is flying to raleigh today. where hannah will meet her with carriage.
my mother takes a similar route, if by similar you mean I-85 south thirty miles. and if you also mean grabbing my father by the shirt collar and bringing him also.
i wrote that part of the blog before my parents came early and unannouced, carrying with them a gift bag of: twelve magazines, clinique facial wash, contact cases (i'm serious), and several eye shadows my mother doesn't want. my mother actually thought that, at 27, i keep my contacts in petrie dishes.
hannah's mother likes danielle steel paperbacks, long walks on the beach, and slot machines. my mother likes to clean your baseboards and watch catherine zeta jones movies.
i said to han, "i'm cleaning because my mom's coming. are you?" she said, "yeah, if you mean by cleaning that i got all my meds refilled."
that being said, we might be on back order for a few days. you see why. we'll give you exactly what we have left these next weeks.
Monday, September 29, 2008
until two days ago, i have often thought that this is what my personal slice of hell might be like. but then, THEN, my life became a sequel to that michael douglas film, falling down. the following section is going to work like bullet points, because if i crafted it any differently, it might allow me to go spiraling into a dark, dark, place resembling narnia. with voices.
first, paul newman died. then it took me twelve minutes to get a veggie burger at burger king. they offered me an apple turnover as an apology. i feel burger king is forever offering apple pastries as peacemakers. then sarah palin said something to katie couric that resembled miss south carolina's pride-inducing response. and i quote, "that's why i say i like every american i'm speaking with i'm ill about this position we've been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bail out." then something about an umbrella. then my mother called, asking what leftover issues of bon apetit/real simple/garden and gun/vogue i'd like her to keep for me. so i wouldn't have to spend any money on my own. then she called back and said, "would travel and leisure be like salt in the wound?" then citi group bought wachovia. let's just say, if any of you boys are looking to take my dowry, get to steppin'. then my phone broke, began yelling ERROR each time i dialed hannah's number. and my students, my beautiful students, want me to revise their sestinas...which i'm pretty sure you can't really tweak. and paul newman remained dead. and i saw that nights in rodanthe alone and ugly-cried like claire danes for hours. then there wasn't any gas in our city. and the house rejected the bailout BEFORE GOING ON HOLIDAY TILL THURSDAY...it's like bush and a round of golf during and after katrina. then i knew it was bad when my mother used the words "motherf*ckers" and "constituents" in the same sentence.
and finally, finally, i waited on a business dinner this evening. i hate those, begin feeling like one of those stuffy french servers who no one likes anyway. and if you do, it's in the same way you like those people in london who stand rod straight in funny hats. and they began ordering stuff that wasn't on the menu. it was like twelve of hannah's dads (who orders on a yellow legal pad so he doesn't have to speak to the help). and, little do they know, when they pull shit like that (excuse me) chef basically burns my arm with the lit end of a cigarette.
Friday, September 26, 2008
keep in mind, also, i've had the same alltel account for five years.
after awhile, i ducked into the parking garage pre-shift to call customer service. after providing for them my cell, social, address, other possible contact numbers, and the maiden name of my first pet, claire said:
"it seems your bill is right around 350$ this month."
me: that's odd, claire, seeing as how it's never been more than 127$. ever.
claire: well, we see you've been a valued customer since 2006.
me: 2003!!! 2003, claire!!!
claire: apparently, there have been QUITE a few calls to some 910 number...
from there, it began to make sense. hannah decided, about a month ago, that she HAD to have the new iphone. necessary. and why shouldn't she? what TEACHER doesn't need a touch-screen, weather-controlled alien for a phone? and so, of course, she left alltel for greener pastures. (both of us, you might recall, have been escorted out of alltel in our past, gangster lives.)
but still, she's supposed to be a member of my circle. i know this to be true because when j.r. or r.j. or whatever the cute guy's name is asked me to write down five numbers i call most often, i could think only of hannah's. embarrassing, really, to not recall a single other telephone number.
what happened after that between claire and me is none of your business. what i will say is that i hung up on claire while she was talking and she, in turn, DISRUPTED MY SERVICE. my bill is never late. nothing. she just disconnected my service for personal reasons. which is dirty and i'm sure a bit illegal. fortunately, i'm already turning into one of those curmudgeons who threatens to sue over anything.
this is all to give a warm thank you to hannah, who has now placed even my telephone on a champagne budget.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
while connie was supposed to survive only a matter of months, she lived six years. a full, well-traveled, well-loved six years. but if those years were a blessing--and of course they were--they were also extremely difficult. i spent a lot of time trying to impress her in those final years, but also trying to stay out of her way. her final months were spent with a tank of oxygen attached to her and while, at the time, we joked about the clink-clink awkwardness of the tank over deck or porch planks, the injustice of it all seemed rank. even to a twelve year-old.
that final autumn, connie and i sat at the foot of her staircase and watched hundreds of ladybugs attempt to invade the windows and doorframes. perhaps they don't do this where you're from. but i wondered, then, why the tiny and beautiful bugs would go to all that trouble only to die right there on the inside sill. i must have, stupidly, said that aloud at some point to connie. and when she died, she left for me a tiny ladybug pen.
i say all this because, no doubt and unfortunately, you too have a similar story. and while this grief has shaped my life, and her illness as much as her spirit also shaped my life, it is a shame that we own such stories, and by the thousands.
susan g. komen's race for the cure is being held in greenville this saturday, september 27th. if you live in wilmington (i think), the race is october 17th. if you can't run a 5k or if you don't want to wear pink, then you're a f-ing pansy in my book. please give in any way that you can--if not with money, than with your time. please contact me directly for more information (my friend julia's even hosting a raffle!). firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 22, 2008
it brought to mind the various inorganic ways in which we go about meeting people. this is not to equate "inorganic" with "ineffective." my cousin met his very cool wife on match.com. i've had many friends of both sexes seek out a partner at church/temple, coffee shops, gallery openings, the gym, concerts, etc. but the thing is, history repeats itself. i know with a level of confidence that if i walked into the blue post in wilmington, smiley's guitar bar in greenville, or starbucks on pleasantburg drive at 8 am, i could predict roughly (i.e. exactly) who i'd run into. i'm a person of routine. the hot contractor who's forever in front of me at starbuck's orders a red eye. richard, the guy who runs beside me at the gym, is a crime reporter who likes to have an amstel light after working out. it's as predictable as those articles in glamour which tell you that men like to return home to a woman wearing only a men's oversized shirt. (why IS that? why are people always saying that?)
so it's rare--at least in my daily life--to actually bump into an interesting stranger. which is just what happened, i swear to god, at whole foods on friday afternoon.
i'd picked up hibiscus sorbet to take for my sister's birthday and was standing in front of the beer cooler, panicked. on the one hand, i'm thankful that whole foods doesn't carry that shitty, lime flavored beer my sister's always requesting. but it's ALL she drinks. so i didn't know, beerwise, where to turn.
"let me know if you need help." daniel, a whole foods rep in funky glasses, said from behind me.
"oh, i'm good," i said, taken off guard. this daniel person was cute in the telling way. as in, i know by looking at him he likes tom waits and also thinks palin should be shot with one of her own rifles.
only, five minutes later i was still standing there, picking up six-packs of beer and putting them back.
daniel: do you want to sit down and taste some beers?
seriously. i tasted everything these stone people out in san diego brew. we talked about the insurgence of low gravity beer, how i hate chocolate stouts, etc.
i will probably never go out with this daniel person, which is absolutely beside the point. he's smokin' hot in the dorky way i require. he helped me shop for molly (thomas creek dockside pilsner). he said he liked my ring. and the meeting, itself, was unplanned, not something i devised or could control. which made me feel a little light in the chest all the way to spartanburg...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
me: what do you mean he was a bad kisser?
mame: he was acting all into it--
me: too much face.
mame:--exactly, but he wasn't all into it.
me: oh. OH.
beyond weird. and too much face? i mean come ON. sicksicksick. i had to speak the following sentence to mamie a few months back: "He was a slurpy kisser." sorry, gross, but are you kidding me. right then, i could have run to greenville, picked up mamie, and kept running with her to a prettier land where there are no men kissing like horses.
recently, cnn published the following: Bad kissers have little chance of getting to second base. In a study published recently in the scientific journal "Evolutionary Psychology," 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women said they've been in the position of being attracted to someone -- until they kissed the person. **please note that men are more likely to just keep right on going
and also, it's not supposed to be an assault, the kissing. fergodsakes, CALM DOWN. there's a level of intensity that's just weird. i actually made a face during one of these kisses (w/ someone i immediately stopped knowing). a get-me-the-hell-outta-here face. because in that moment, i was so wildly uncomfortable, i'd rather have been in some sort of mandatory five hour business meeting at 8am on a sunday.
you can bet your ass brian williams doesn't kiss like that. fucking hottie.
she says she's blogging today, and that's the thing with relationships. sometimes you just have to trust in the power of...trust. (sorry. we both hate when people talk like this, so i'm just trying to mortify her into coming one step closer to the computer). in all seriousness, our priorities have gotten the better of us. like, hannah's got all these crazy ideas about the book being more important than the blog. on my end, busy at school. busy at the restaurant. and busy with family. (p.s. there are few things i will actually fight for. that being said, to the people who are making my mother's life harder at work: i'll ruin you.) also, my friends like to have babies all at the same time...so there has been a hell of a lot of cooking as well. "oh, and there's sarah palin." which is what my mother keeps tacking onto the end of stories. and i'm like, "what does that have to do with anything?" and she says, "nothing. it's just awful." also, hannah won't stop singing "we're on the bridge to nowhere" to the tune of talking heads' "we're on the road to nowhere."
Sunday, September 7, 2008
morgan: nothing. that lady's stupid.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
i'm stammer-typing. it's just awful, and there is no defense for her. she does not NEED to work in these, no matter what she tells you. and today, she used the word cute.
but, at least one of us has kept her head in the midst of these disasters. while mame was handing over her soul to those ridiculous clog families, i spent my rent and someone else's on these... loeffler randall's prettiest creation. i read them fairytales before bed.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
when i arrive at the shop and there are 7 acres filled with sleepy, waiting, broken fords, johnny says, "busy? i ain't busy." johnny has a mustache, and he doesn't wear it ironically. nor does he wear it with a band of horses t-shirt and skinny jeans. johnny invented the mustache. johnny, who wouldn't laugh at anybody, would keel over at the sight of the seventies version of burt reynolds. he'd wonder what all that puttin'-on-airs was about.
and, when i drove the forty minutes from my house to his shop, with a bulb out in the dash, he did not make me feel stupid when he leaned in and, simply, flipped on the light switch.
johnny is probably a republican and i don't care. even though i always show up unannounced and in work out clothes (prepared to jog for miles while he works), johnny asks each visit if i need a ride somewhere until he fixes the car. "into town," he says. i can't remember the last time anyone else said "into town."
the suit at subaru whose arms were too short for his body told me it'd be a little over a grand. 650$ of that would be for a "major tune-up."
listen, major tune-ups are for city folk. i've never heard of anyone actually getting those things. well, i think my friend katie does, but she's a little too together by anyone's standards.
johnny laughed when i told him about the tune-up. he did the same work for half the money and even changed out my front right tire. "i couldn't bear to think of you drivin' on that thing."
"is it weird that i love johnny the mechanic," i say to my mom. she looks at me as if i've said the most naive thing in the world. "mame, we all love johnny." had this been a film, hundreds of women might have stood up in some otherwise abandoned high school gymnasium.
and perhaps i appreciate it so much in the face of those guys from million dollar listing. or because, sometimes, i miss that particular southern man. i couldn't bear to think of you drivin' on that thing. where have they gone? perhaps we've scared them off...with our abrasive jokes and standoffish demeanor that caves only sometimes, and perhaps not often enough at all. if we have we're screwed. totally screwed...
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
*it has been brought to my attention that the barnes and noble on woodruff road carries as many books of poetry as they do specialty bibles.
*my students asked what, exactly, a sestina was today. to which i yelled, "the most tyrannical form there is!" then, because i'm not malleable in any way, and because i noticed how delighted they were BY sestinas, i said, "we'll write one tomorrow." then, "they're six six line stanzas, followed by a tercet called the tornada." then it gets complicated. the end words from each line are used in the following stanzas...apparently at random. 123456, 615243.... and all i could think--and this is humiliating because i'm not sixteen and i'm their teacher--is "area codes" by ludacris: 916, 415, 704...
*perhaps you've heard the next brilliant thing they're doing with beer: low gravity. LOW GRAVITY? like, 2 and 3 percent alcohol. okay, i don't condone drinking for intoxicating purposes. but, why would i want to drink 12 highly caloric beers with next to nothing by way of relaxation?
*finally: my last table tonight was a cute couple younger than myself. i recognized them immediately, as they sat in front of me at vicky christina barcelona. only, i said this to them, as in, "weren't you guys at the sunday matinee..." and i immediately felt totally bananas. they sort of stared cross-eyed at me the rest of the night.
oh, and to the furman girls who left me 11% tonight. i'd totally forgotten about the north face jacket paired with stilettos look. and that you talked about facebook your entire dinner and not ironically was like a slice of hell. thanks for coming out.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
The reason, Haris, I was surprised was because I set up an automatic bank draft with Jenny back in July. After speaking to two other supervisors, they passed me to you—I was a little tired by then, my phone was dying, and I had been sitting naked on the kitchen tile for coolness. I remember when you asked me to go over the problem again, anxiously saying, “But I’m losing light.” And then I walked into my vacuum cleaner.
You said you’d also had “quite a day,” so let’s go over your greatest hits:
Haris: I’m not saying you didn’t call. I can see here that you did. But someone must have misinformed you, because we didn’t receive your payment. That’s why your power is shut off.
Me: Oh well, the thought did occur to me. But then I rejected that out of hand because I thought it far more likely that it was a prank. Pulled off by Progress Energy and Jackass.
Haris: Ma’am, there’s no need for sarcasm. And you would have received a final notice letter.
Me: I didn’t. I have not received a single paper bill since I moved in. I’ve told Progress this in other, possibly imaginary, conversations.
Haris: Is your address 807 Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480.
Me: You are one fifth right.
Haris: If you had given us the right address—
Me: IF?? IF??? At what point, Haris, do you think I set out to deceive you about my address. Because it wasn’t when Progress told me a few months back that I had to be mistaken—there was an 1107, a 605, and a 1008, but certainly there was no unit 807. I had to come up with a very compelling case to get you guys to believe there were more than 3 units in this building. In this 11 storey building.
Haris: …. Ma’am, I understand what you’re saying.
Me: That’s good.
Haris: But even if you’re right about everything, I can’t waive the fee. I don’t know if you set up a bank draft with her because she forgot to make notes on your account.
Me: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you because my brain just exploded.
Me: Sorry. I’m sorry. Listen, I’ll take it up with your supervisor tomorrow, but what if he tells me our conversation never took place. Then what. You guys could just keep deleting everything.
Haris (superb timing): Ma’am, I’m really having trouble hearing you. Are you there?
Me, panicking: Canwejustgetthepowerturnedon PLEASE. What time can someone be here?
Haris: Unfortunately, we are not in communication with the service vehicles.
Me: You are not in communication with the services vehicles. You don’t communicate with them. So, Progress has no contact information for them, no phone number?
Haris: No, we don’t have that information.
REALLY Haris?? What were you going to do?? Send a fucking letter? Get the town crier? Smoke signals? Cup and string? Fine. I’m sending my next payment to you via a Harry Potter owl.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
hannah calls, singing: in a big country dreams stay with you. like a lover's voice...
me: what is that. what are you doing.
hannah (yelling): "in a big country!" by big country! best 80's song ever!
me: i love anderson cooper.
hannah (sigh): i love anderson cooper.
me: i want to be porochista khakpour (novelist, sons and other flammable objects).
hannah (who's misunderstood): five hundred sheep in darfur? what does that mean?
me: no no no. the novelist.
hannah: no one would speak to you with a name like that.
me: everyone speaks to her.
seriously, that bad. sometimes, though, we read to each other. which is when the earnest, bleeding heart writer comes out in us both.
so, i thought i'd post the louise gluck poem we both love...and will preface only by saying:
once, in grad school, a very dear professor said to me, "i wish only you'd think in more conceptual terms." i only now realize he meant, "i only wish at times you were smarter." we had been reading "hard books," and i had been churning out "simple" work. the work of a storyteller.
but that's the thing with gluck--her brilliance, her strange clairvoyance, it's all tempered by such a frank voice. love her. love her. and so, one of the poems we read aloud:
we had only a few days, but they were very long,
the light changed constantly.
a few days, spread out over several years,
over the course of a decade.
and each meeting charged with a sense of exactness,
as though we had traveled, separately,
some great distance; as though there had been,
through all the years of wandering,
a destination, after all.
not a place, but a body, a voice.
a few days. intensity
that was never permitted to develop
into tolerance or sluggish affection.
and i believed for many years this was a great marvel;
in my mind, i returned to those days repeatedly,
convinced they were the center of my amorous life.
the days were very long, like the days now.
and the intervals, the separations, exalted,
suffused with a kind of passionate joy that seemed, somehow,
to extend those days, to be inseparable from them.
so that a few hours could take up a lifetime.
a few hours, a world that neither unfolded nor diminished,
that could, at any point, be entered again--
so that long after the end i could return to it without difficulty,
i could live almost completely in imagination.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
listen, yesterday, my mother accused me of enjoying waitressing. as in, she cut me off mid restaurant-tale (she's been listening to these best/worst customer stories since i entered the tenth grade) and said, "you like it."
me: no i don't. you know i need the extra cash.
her: no. you don't. you have two other perfectly respectable jobs. you do it because you like it.
i felt like someone had caught me wearing only a feather boa and dancing to the jonas brothers.
but, truth is, i do "like it," i suppose. if made to choose, i'd obviously lock myself and my brilliant students up in our classroom...but people amaze me. i never know who i'm going to meet. this might mean some idiot who calls me sugar and asks me repeatedly about nursin' school. more likely than not, though, my customers are warm and smart. in fact, the statistics are staggering: so many less cads than you'd imagine.
point is (jesus. i did it again. the whole preface-is-longer-than-story thing), lately, i've been waiting on the best couples ever. we're talking 80 year-old's named ellen and paul who drink mojitos ("so this is that drink our kids been telling us about") and kiss at the table, young couples who give each other fist-daps a la the obamas. i had a guy last night in a white suit try to swivel his wine glass that held a taste of cotes du rhone. somehow--probably nerves--it went everywhere: on his face, his coat. and the girl he was with just leaned over and took his hand, laughing.
but the best, THE BEST, was the blind date from match.com.
i swear to god. bruce and terry. she (terry) was twenty minutes late, which, bruce and I initially took as a bad sign. (listen, you tell your waitress anything when you're nervous and already half plowed.)
but then she showed. and they had a THREE HOUR DINNER. and on the way out, he put his arm around her. later, much later, when i was taking off my apron and walking out to the car, i saw them standing in the parking lot still. talking.
what i'm saying is: we give men a hard time. if you've even glanced at memememespace, you've seen that annoying pie chart where the girl has plugged a photo of herself (i.e. bleeding heart/ego) into some site and they've delegated her aesthetic scoring: 73% jessica alba, 2% gwyneth paltrow, 18% sigourney weaver, 7% raven simone.
must cook, we say. must work, must love nature, must have strong calf muscles, must tolerate project runway, must love hannah as well, must enjoy all of the same books we do, must love his mother, must not love his mother too much, must pay for us, must not order for us, must drive a truck but not one of those big scary ones, must enjoy any blues musician signed by fat possum records, must like small chests and big booties...
but we understand y'all do it too: must look like/cook like giada, must love to surf, must be a good girl, must also have a touch of jenna jameson, must speak 6 languages...
and we can do it, too, because at the end of the day karma's going to kick all our asses. hannah's going to end up with a republican who enjoys portraiture and traveling as far as the rolling hills of kentucky. my guy's bound to be a personal trainer who thinks poetry's for sissies but enjoys building instruments from wood he's imported himself. and that's the beauty of it.
p.s. no more boy stuff. after this, only posts about things that matter. like pineapple express and how the U.S. fared in badminton.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
A man who plants tulips and whips up an Osso Buco would be swell, long as he wasn’t also striding around the house in topsiders and croakies, pausing to check the laptop for stock activity. Make the crepe, but try not to shift uncomfortably when I say I haven’t paid off my student loans yet.
And I hate being tricked most of all. Hypothetically: you could get the most lyrical guy in the world and then in the middle of that hypothetical makeout session, you might hypothetically murmur (worried he’s not into it), Is this right? to yourself and hypothetically he might go, Nah dude, it’s cool. Nah dude, it’s cool??? No. Nonono. Dude, it is most certainly not cool.
Let me put it this way. What if you were nearly thirty and padded to the kitchen of a house at 3 am only to trip over a pile of videogames? Tripped because you were busy wondering if that could possibly be a Scarface poster scotch-taped to the wall. Well, if this did happen to you, I can tell you exactly what would be next. You would get in your car and drive home at 500 mph and look at stock activity.
It’s gotten to the point now, where there are two equally likely outcomes to a guy staying over: He could either go running out right after with his shoes in his hands, or he could still be there for lunch the next day. Somewhere between there is what we’re missing.
We’re either with guys who are worried about the cleanliness of the floorboards in their BMWs or who are giving their friends mullets at midnight.
Listen. We don’t need you to call on your way home. But be together enough to call sooner than three whole weeks later wondering what’s up, but not asking us to do anything. You’d think that because Mamie and I are asked out on average fifty times a week (what?), our odds would be better, but fergodsakes. Wait that long and we just think you’re assholes. And if we do forgive you and you do suggest we go out again, then you should know it’s not because we want to watch you watch tow-in surfing at a burger joint for a few hours.
Finally: I’m turning twenty-nine. Don’t rush me.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
but it's just so rich a topic. and we're single...and, somehow, we both have a clearer insight into the male psyche (or our own) when we're not dating. a male.
i am twenty-seven years old. hannah is approaching one of those pivotal birthdays this coming winter. and here's the deal: we're finding that, at this age, we're straddling two hemispheres. there are the men who go paddling on the weekend, who wear ties most days, who have 401 K's and dogs named sanford. these are often the men who call, promptly after meeting you, for real dates and possibly discussions of impending children. then, there are the other men. to those, i must finally admit:
i don't want to sit on the same side of the booth at elizabeth's pizza so we can watch that 70's show. nor do i care to learn how to make chicken wings. on the topic of wingeries (actually what they're called): i don't want to eat at one ever. specifically, i don't want to eat at one with bunches of televisions immediately before going to a movie. no, no, no. please don't drag me outta bed to referee your wrestling contest with your other thirty year-old friends.
here's the deal: we don't like the mellow mushroom. or television shows involving other grown people caught on video crashing their bikes. or their segues. and i, at least, hate drugs. you should know that.
we're finally admitting it after ten years: we will never be the cool girlfriend who gets along with anyone, no matter how heinous. we have opinions. about you and other things. we will play darts and pool and drink beer and shower and occasionally wear make-up. we will say thank you. however, we will not allow bongs on our coffee tables. or your feet.
Monday, August 4, 2008
now, if my mother knew how to work a digital camera (or an alarm clock, for that matter) i might have famously good pictures to accompany this post. perhaps a season from now...
my family borrowed a truck and went to the IKEA in atlanta yesterday. we left at ten and got there at--wait for it--3:15, a mere three hours behind schedule. this is, of course, because we stopped for lunch at murphy's in the virginia highlands. now, i despise atlanta. but if you could get me a house in the highlands and a table at murphy's every sunday: i'm there.
we had a lot of wine at lunch. pinot gris. chardonnay. sauvignon blanc. we hit up more varietals than anyone should in one sitting. we fell in love with randy, our hungover waiter who said too much. as in, "i realize it's taken me ages to get to you guys. from now on, i will be speedy. probably." we watched the poor woman at the bar reading the kiterunner get hit on, like, 8 times. why do men think women sitting at a bar READING want company? we don't.
so, when we got lost on the way to said swedish store, my mother muttered, "at least we're absolutely sure we won't wind up in germany." i have no idea what this means.
IKEA itself is not something i'm ready to talk about holistically. overwhelming. so many desks. and honeybuns. and small people running about unattended.
my father fell asleep in three different makes of rattan chair. and when he said, "where do we get a cart to fill up?" i said, "i think they bring it to our car."
i think they bring it to our car. nothing has ever been farther from the truth. and after hauling boxes of shelves and chaise into our truck, we had to leave my beloved orange poang chair behind.
it was hell. and when i tried to photograph my father, he shooed away the camera much like the person in the limo who hasn't got the final rose after the producers tell her to look into the lens and say how it feels to be rejected. or janice dickinson just before she lashes out at some innocent person.
on the way home, i sat in my mother's lap with my feet on the dash. whenever a cop came up from behind, my father yelled "LAW" and i ducked. we sang "devils and dusk," rufus & chaka khan's "tell me something good" and louis armstrong until i fell asleep. then we bribed my next door neighbor with sierra nevada anniversary beer to help me bring it all in.
finally, after crying through the freedom writers (not a particularly good movie, but still), i tried to put together my left-arm chaise...which turned out to be a right-arm.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
it is not that i don't like republicans. it's that i can't stand them. i can think of only one passionate republican i care for, and it's my friend chad who escorted me to poetry readings at the local women's college while we were in school. he has half a brain and likes to fight, two things i respect.
in case there are right-wingers who actually read this blog (though i can't imagine they'd stick around for too long): i am a relatively moderate person who refrains from wearing clothes made out of recycled seat belts. i do not live in a tree, nor do i plan to chain myself to one in the near future. i read both the local paper and the times each morning and watch CNN during a daily four-mile run (when i'm not watching 106 & park). i am not a nit-wit who wants some sort of ghandi for president. i want barack obama. and now.
so, on the front page of the times this morning:
on wednesday alone, the mccain campaign released a new advertisement suggesting--and not in a good way--that mr. obama was a celebrity along the lines of britney spears and paris hilton. republicans tried to portray obama as a candidate who believed that the race was all about him...the republican national committee began an anti-obama web site called (WAIT FOR IT...) "audacity watch," a play on the title of mr. obama's book "the audacity of hope."
the republicans (how can i phrase this...) have lost their flipping heads. audacity? AUDACITY? first of all, of COURSE he's arrogant. of COURSE he thinks the race is about him. he's running for the role as PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. that's like saying kids on reality shows are self-involved. stunning insight, right-wingers. also, ALSO, when i think of audacity i think of countries who enter entire other countries uninvited. i think of old, wealthy white men who like to control the reproductive rights of poor, hispanic women. i think of a man hitting a golf ball into the window of someone else's home while an american city--one that represents culture, color, music, and individuality--goes under water.
the democratic party is deeply flawed. agreed. but it is a party that is oiled by a humanitarian enthusiasm, a sense of compassion. when i was a kid, my parents always ignored this one couple in church. i never knew why, when they were so friendly to others. finally, my mother said,
"once, we had a huge dinner party in the big dining room. that man said the N word at the table and your father walked over and physically removed him from our home. he hasn't spoken to him in twenty years."
that is the sort of integrity our country needs to pull us out of the embarrassing spot we're in.
give me one reason to think hell isn't a place filled with elizabeth hasselbacks, pat robertsons, and dick cheney.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
however. i don't teach for three weeks, and i'm back from a whirl wind of seeing the people i love and drinking good wine and catching up.
so...the next phase:
for someone who likes to go out a lot, i've discovered that i don't like to go out a lot. and so, in lieu of this, i've been charting what truly makes me happy. in the smallish ways.
1. tomatoes with salt and pepper. they don't even need to be sliced. i'll just pour s &p into the bite marks. "she would take a diced up tomato from the garden, a big, red thing, not those fake, pink things that new yorkers eat and don't know no better..." -rick bragg
2. ice cubes in my white wine.
i'm done caring about what it looks like, how the ice is surely knocking out any fragrance of limestone and gooseberry. don't care. like it cold. kiss it.
3. my mother's face. i saw it today, before she went under for an outpatient surgery, innocent and nervous. no one is luckier than me. i don't suspect it. i know it. and it's none of your business why.
4. yard sales. blue glass bottles that only hold a sprig of a flower.
5. i took up painting today, and i'll tell you why. i need a painting in the bedroom and my favorite artist, page, is very expensive (as well she should be). so, i started to save, but thought better of it. i got the canvas and paints from AC moore, an easel from my parents. we shall see. as long as it's abstract no one can tell me, "it doesn't LOOK LIKE a swan."
6. this video. alas. the marriage between barack and lil wayne. thank you, will, the student i was never lucky enough to have:
Monday, July 28, 2008
now, i know some settled-in couples who read on their respective sides of the bed (my parents). prerequisites include but are not limited to: the both of you READ (less common than you'd think) and you've been together a long time. if you read together before bed AND you're a new couple, i have my concerns. aren't there OTHER things you should be doing to get to know one another? now, i'm not talking about what you think i'm talking about. except that, of course, i am. but also: movies, beers on the porch, various nighttime events you pretend to enjoy so that the other person will love you...
sure, any jennifer aniston romantic comedy involving cotton camis and boxers will tell you otherwise. mr. big and carrie might have you think couples sit beside each other, nestled in a gazillion thread count sheets, reading voltaire aloud to each other. not the case, in my experience. not at all the case.
i am only halfway through rick bragg's all over but the shoutin' and it is my favorite book. hell, it could end with marge simpson jumping rope for all i care, and it would still be my favorite book.
this, from only the PROLOGUE, people:
this is not an important book. it is only the story of a strong woman, a tortured man, and three sons who lived hemmed in by thin cotton and ragged history in northeastern alabama, in a time when blacks and whites found reason to hate each other and a whole lot of people could not stand themselves. anyone could tell it, anyone with a daddy who let his finer nature slip away from him during an icebound war in korea, who allowed the devil inside to come grinnin' out every time a sip of whiskey trickled in, who finally just abandoned his young wife and sons to the pity of their kin and to the well-meaning neighbors who came bearing boxes of throw away clothes.
you can read this, alone, and cry diane-keaton-style-a la-something's-gotta-give (as hannah would say). you can read this, alone, with a shot glass of cheap yellow tail sparkling by your bed, the same shot glass with white daisies on it your grandmother from new orleans left for you. and there's no one around to bug you about it besides yourself. and god, of course, who's probably elsewhere anyway, watching obama's berlin speech over and over again. on youtube.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Besides that, there is nothing terribly exciting happening right now. Unless you count my father making up social security numbers for the kids. I needed the numbers for my taxes.
These are not the right numbers, I told him. I spent hours on the phone with the IRS and Social Security Administration. These numbers don’t belong to them.
I was afraid of that, my father said.
The kids have been calling to prove that I didn’t make them up. Kan told me not to cry because we’re not just best friends, but best sisters. And then Aaron recited ‘i carry your heart with me’ by ee cummings. Seriously.
Meanwhile, I’m spending my time in coffee shops, where the women beside me are saying things like, She’s just got so fat. Or alternately, My yard boy’s name is Clemente. He has clippers. He has trouble understanding things, so you need to speak loudly. But Clemente has clippers.
What else. Something embarrassing usually works. When I walked into the theatre with Mamie, I somehow fell under a seat and couldn’t extricate myself. I kept partially getting up, only to fall down under the seat again. It went on like that for ages. Also, Ledger was brilliant. It was heartbreaking to watch him, but he was brilliant in that movie.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
now, while in "real" life i'm no walk in the park, as a spa client i'm pretty low maintenance. i mean, you put me in a robe and give me a glass of sparkling and trail mix...after that you've really got to try to make me mad. (examples include but are not limited to: waxing my eyebrows so thin that i look like a gangsta, putting the steam all up in my grill during a facial, cutting cuticles).
so, it took me a full day to call management and say, "look. 17 minutes. not okay."
i jogged past the place today, stopped, turned, went in, made massage appointment for thirty minutes later.
"do you want a male or female," she asked.
okay, back story: when i was nineteen, a male massage therapist assaulted me in charleston. not kidding. will refrain from going into detail. and, ever since, i've only gone to gays and girls. inexplicably, though, today i said:
"a man. a manmanman."
no idea why i said it. okay, perhaps some foggy clue...
anyway, chet was nice and tall and attractive and named chet. here's the thing, though. he spent--i'm not kidding--twenty minutes on my face.
as in, my chin and stuff.
then, an inordinate amount of time laboring away at my clavicle, my heels, an elbow.
meanwhile, i spent a large amount of time sunday straddling the bathtub and painting my CEILING, so this obscure little part of body called the BACK was left killing me.
and, as we all know, i was so angry sunday that i ran four miles listening only to "a milli." so my legs weren't great either.
anyway: weird. weirdweirdweird.
Friday, July 18, 2008
is ordering a diet coke, lemonade, and water from chick-fil-a.
agrees that calvino is a wizard, but is having trouble with him all the same.
wonders if hannah's phone died, or if she's just hung up on her.
doesn't know how to define "whimsical" for a student who has never heard that word before.
is frustrated by the waitress at wild wings who says to her, after handing over the bill, "you'll notice i didn't charge you for your soda." mamie morgan thinks this takes the beauty out of gift giving.
misses sally.is confused: why chicken wings? today of all days? after five years of going without...
is excited about her niece's fine arts day camp showcase. wonders what a six year-old will be showcasing.
would like to have dinner with tori, dean, liam, and stella.
doesn't believe there's fat in french press coffee, like blake has said.
stares at the domino magazine, not sure that she could pull off painting a room navy.
is the biggest boss that you've seen thus far.
dances in the wait station to "get silly" with a coworker.
is running to a milli, by l'il wayne.
is dissatisfied by hogue chenin blanc.
wishes the foreign businessmen would have left her more than 12%.
feels like her car is taunting: i know you are, but what am i?
thinks mama mia! is going to be awesome. or god awful.
loves the vanity fair young hollywood addition. wishes she were 18. and kristen stewart.
feels uncomfortable about status updates. and how often to post them. wonders if it's come to this.
is nail-biting and checking the mail each day for fennelly's the unmentionables.
thinks anchor steam isn't all it's cracked up to be.
misses morgan j. and karaoke.
can't get paz out of her head. ever. can never conclude who "the blindfolded equilibrist who dances on the tightrope of a smile" is.
can't sleep. wishes to be on hannah's balcony. wishes her rebates would come in the mail. reads the country between us again. scrubs the bathroom.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
i've been trying to map how a collection of essays about "work" could become some sort of scrapbooked memoir. you know: bartending at sixteen. running a trainwreck of a day spa. seven days at victoria's secret. teaching. but the idea of work. work and collaboration. (for example: morgan became my friend because she was my boss at said day spa.)
so, i took myself out to dinner with a copy of labor days, an anthology of fiction about work that was put together by david gates. anyway, the bartender asks what i'm doing. i tell her. she says:
did you see rachel ray yesterday?
me: of course not.
her: 52 JOBS IN 52 WEEKS!!!
she's yelling this. i swear. so i googled, and it turns out some guy named sean aiken spent a year working a different job every week...due to the fact that he doesn't know what he wants to "do" with his life. all the proceeds go to charity.
this is a cool, proactive idea. this is also why i hate rich people:
when i walked into my parents' house the other day, my mom was sitting on the couch with every single issue of garden & gun magazine. ("god. it sounds like an intervention," hannah said.)
mom says, "you should intern at garden & gun for six months. just say, 'you don't have to pay me. just give me a job.'"
me, fuming: "mom, if i had fifty thousand dollars in savings, i'd intern for a whole year. but i don't have the funds to get my foot in the door, as it were."
you don't have to pay me. just give me a job.
you know. for the experience.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
not so much a "nevermind" but a turning over of my soul to her.
it happened sometime during the twenty-second tango (XXII. HOMO LUDENS):
The husband swallows his ouzo and waits for its slow hot snow inside him.
(so his wife told him at lunch)
scored his Horn Concerto
in four different colors of ink: a man at play.
A husband whose wife knows just enough history to keep him going...
i don't like her, per se. but there's something so stunning about her ability. or something about her ability to be stunning...
Monday, July 14, 2008
"his immortal horses swathed in pandemonium" or "her lady shadow mounted the stairs ahead of her experimentally." don't get me started.
and by that i mean, i already have. for years, my friends have hounded me to read the genre-bending tango writer. my brother-from-another-mother, john (a poet out of portland), has been onto her for years. unless that was annie prioux. or dillard...
that she uses keats as some sort of thematic thread is terrifying. all of her binaries (woman as victim vs. utterly deplorable man) to his negative capability...i just don't see how it works.
don't get me wrong, she very nearly seduces me with lines like, "ray grinned his beautiful wicked grin like a skirt flying up." and hannah says if i haven't read plainwater, "there's no point in having this conversation."
so, anyway, mid hi brow/low brow shift yesterday, i run into one of my strongest students from two years ago. in his hand: calvino and a chinese dictionary.
it very nearly made me run head long toward proust.
what trumps even madonna's affairs in the world of meaningless gossip is the relationship between jessie and deanna. i.e. the bachelorette.
i love it. as far as the low brow goes: my second year in wilmington, morgan (j. not niece) and i developed a "drinking" game. i put it in quotes because many mondays we chugged sprite. anyway, any time a girl said, "the right reasons" we drank. you can see...
so, my main questions are:
1. why am i supposed to love carson?
2. what does deanna pappas do for a living? seriously. it doesn't say anywhere.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
we were both surprised to find it there in her phone the next day. heads cocked to the side. obviously i meant: on my way to you but only because you need me; i am magnificently independent otherwise.
and mamie, that picture had to come down. are you kidding me. i was peeking around you (because you were on my lap) with this totally oily look that was all: 'psssst... i am a creep, but you know you want to hang out with me. in bed." so, no. any other picture is fine.
Friday, July 11, 2008
she says, "hey. i'm in the depths of wal-mart. trying to figure out the FLIPPING difference between starbucks breakfast blend and house blend. i mean, what the hell?"
me: uh, i don't know. i mean, breakfast blend sounds better...
her: i am irate. did you see the morning show yesterday? they were talking about how to "cut corners" while the economy's down. only, they didn't interview, you know, NORMAL people. they talked to these rich couples who were like, 'we're getting up five minutes earlier to brew our own coffee. it's hard, but we're doing it. and my husband's learned how to wash HIS OWN car.' i mean, can you believe it, mame? then, the woman's all like, FIGURED OUT how to cook. me? i've cut about all the corners you can. and years ago.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
meanwhile, i'm fielding questions from fourteen year-olds. or, equally maddening answers.
"why write poetry instead of fiction?" i ask.
"because poetry's tons easier," one girl says, earnestly.
my only warning is: if she doesn't blog soon, i'll have to resort to playlists.
Friday, July 4, 2008
so, our gift to you. because we'll post degrading night out pics later but right now we're just trying to break your heart with this, from neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Merwin trans):
Tonight I can Write
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think I do not have her. To feel like I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting so long.
Because through the nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and thse the last verses that I write for her.