The Battlefield Where the Girls Say I Love You

That's just the thing: we will never tell you we love you. In fact, we're here only to hold hands across state lines and yell at the world. We're here to try to touch you across this chasm of flown things. Not even that. At most, I will teach you how to make a gin smoothie when there's nothing left in the house. Hannah can teach you several languages and what to do when your car breaks up with you. Thanks for coming out.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

audacity watch and other famous republican ideas:

each quarter my father, a staunch democrat, receives a letter in the mail from the republican national committee inquiring about his membership renewal. it makes him crazy. it would make me something more than that. perhaps the spawn of mel gibson and courtney love crazy.

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

these are a few of my favorite things...

not to worry. i'm not about to take up skirt-hemming or pic-a-nic basket-packing.

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

all over but the shoutin'

one of the various perks to being single (assuming, of course, you are both single and an absolute nerd), is getting to read yourself to sleep.

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

Mamie keeps yelling, Blog! at me.

Which is tricky, because I’ve been writing something else. And we all know how well I multi-task. Sometimes, I have to tell people on the phone, Sorry I trailed off just then, I had to put down this book.

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

massaging the miser:

so, until this morning i had forgotten about the credit i have at a local day spa. the reason i have credit is that, about two seasons ago, i went in on a whim for a half hour massage. the massage was excellent. it also lasted about 17 minutes.

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

mamie morgan: a day/study/post in status updates

hopes she can get it out of her system now so she can worry about other, less egocentric things.

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


talking about book projects is as dangerous as talking about, oh i don't know, the story behind your tattoos. that being said:

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

annie, annie, annie, my annie: part deux

okay, i get it now.

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

anne carson is making me crazy.

on the way to my parents' house yesterday, i stopped by the book store to see what was happening between A-Rod and madonna. keep in mind, i'd been reading carson's the beauty of the husband all morning. sentences like:

"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

in my way alone don't leaves me

that was the content of my text to mamie on the night of the 4th. except it was all spaced out, so alone was actually alone on the screen.

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

reason number 1, 437 to love my sister:

molly just called, during my morning class. so i step out into the hall and answer, sure that one of these days the call will be about someone being in a hospital (knock on anything even resembling wood).

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

it's not you. it's hannah.

here's the thing: she's trying to finish the book. thus, empty promises abound. "i'll blog tonight," she says. "i'll post in the morning," she says. next thing we know, she'll NEVER finish the deck i'm having her build out back. she'll come home mysterious, equipped with new hobbies and hair product. even now, to me, she is only a woman in a white coat on the other side of the ocean. (who did i steal that from...miranda july?)

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

love, us. (almost forgot the comma)

we don't just have matching luggage, watches, jewelery, bathing suits... today, we read to each other by the pool while full-grown men played leap-frog in the water and pounded Michelob Ultras.

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.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

ta dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

in the spirit of america day, i'm heading to wilmington...blazing past on the border, whiteville, whatever's in my path.

if you can believe it, hannah and i have only seen each other once in ten months...and that was for fourteen hours.

strange. judging by our blog tone, it seems we live together in an attic of an old farmhouse in one of the dakotas. without heat or air or episodes of house and the bachelorette on at every turn. the truth, friends, is far different.

and, i'm just going to say it. while we talk on the phone four to eight times a day (seriously), we always get really awkward the first hour or so we're together. like, we can't quite look at each other. it's like the worst long distance romance, without all that awkward i-haven't-seen-you-in-a-month-do-i-still-know-how-to-do-this intimacy stuff.

best part: NEW PICTURES!!!