Wednesday, July 30, 2008

finally writing again

I did it. I went to Paragraph yesterday for the first time in months, and I wrote. After dropping Bobby off at Tae Kwon Do camp I found myself on the subway going to an appointment that was actually for today. so I headed to 14th Street. My key still worked, I remembered my combination for the inside lock. I went into the "quiet space" and found one of my favorite desks empty. I checked my locker and found some books I had been missing, and a brand-new Mead composition book. Then I settled in.

It was like magic: I did my "morning pages" first, then browsed through some of the books for inspiration--The Mind and the Brain by Schwartz and Begley, Page After Page by Heather Sellers, The Poet's Companion by Addonizio and Laux. I had also brought with me Joy Katz's fabulous first collection, Fabulae.

First I did some serious revision of one of the Saint Nobody poems, "Venus of the Interstate." It's in my chapbook Fine Motor, but I'm just not happy with it. I had sent it to several poet friends for their feedback, and somehow yesterday was able to really give it a thorough working over. I don't think it's "finished," but maybe I am ready to "abandon" it (pace Valery and Leonardo).

Then I went into the "cafe space" for a snack, and was inspired by a China Green Tips bag, of all things, to draft a completely new poem.

All told, I was there about three hours before I had to head home for Stella's bus. In that short time I was reminded that I can do this. I was able to feel that full-of-words, full-of-images, full-of-infinite-connections that means poems are in progress.

Thanks, Paragraph! I think I will be continuing my membership.

Monday, July 28, 2008

love for Evan's family

Please send your thoughts and prayers to my dear friend Vicki Forman, her husband Cliff Kamida, and their daughter Josie as they commemorate the life of Evan David Kamida. There is a public viewing this evening from 5-7 PST and a memorial service tomorrow at 11 a.m. PST. Vicki's blog has more details, and a beautiful photo of Evan taken recently at school.

me and little j.a.

I am honored to share a birthday with the great American poet John Ashbery. Edward Byrne has a wonderfully informative post on his blog about the association between J.A. and the painter Fairfield Porter.

I had a lovely celebration with good friends on Saturday night involving dinner at Little Giant and a serious hang at my new favorite place, The Whiskey Ward (incredible DJ playing XTC, New Order, U2, and other excellent "vintage" tunes). Tonight the kids and I are having a little fete at home with my good friend and fellow Astorian, Lee.

I wonder how Mr. Ashbery is celebrating?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what an idiot

The ever-vigilant Vicki pointed out this article in today's New York Times, evidence that there is still an incredible amount of ignorance out there about developmental disabilities. I won't even put the dude's name in this post since that would only give more energy to his words (and people would find my blog by googling him, argh).

cost of living

I'm back in the Big Dirty after a lovely week in the Pacific Northwest. This morning after getting the kids off to school and camp I had a very expensive hour and a half. First, I bought 12 gallons of gas. Then I went to Key Food and stocked up, not only on food, but on cleaning supplies and those funky newfangled lightbulbs. As the cashier scanned the items and the tally mounted I joked to myself I'd need a second mortgage to pay for it--the joke being that I don't have a first mortgage.

Then I had to park at a hydrant for a few minutes while I lugged all the stuff upstairs (the alternate side parking rules meant there were no parking spaces in front of our building until 10 a.m.). Sure enough, when I came down, a lovely young woman was writing me a ticket. When I asked her to stop writing it she says, "How can I stop writing? I can't stop writing once I've started." It occurred to me how much I would like to hear that in a very different context--say, from my students, or myself. It also occurred to me that my groceries were costing me another $115 now that a ticket was in the mix.

Welcome home.

Friday, July 18, 2008

lives of nobody's saint

There was a man in the East named Nobody, and that man was like another Job, great among all the people of the East. For he was great in race and lineage, great in power, great in knowledge, great in compassion and mercy, great in manifold perfection, great in honor and reverence, great in daring, great in glory and felicity. All these things are shown in Holy Scripture.

I'm working on final corrections (yikes!) to the manuscript of Saint Nobody. And this morning I've been reading about the medieval and early modern tradition of the Saint Nobody--sometimes called Nemo, Nought, Niemand, etc. Awhile back a reader of this blog told me about Martha Bayless's book Parody in the Middle Ages: The Latin Tradition, which has translations and original Latin texts of some very interesting stuff.

Right now I'm reading "The Combined Nemo"--a wickedly tongue-in-cheek treatise on the holy figure of Nobody that basically compiles a lot of references in the bible to things that "nobody" is, does, or can do. It's very bizarre. (Scroll all the way down this page to see one 16th-century representation of a secular Nobody, who is to blame for all the broken and missing things in a bourgeois household. It's most likely going to be on the cover of my book.)

Another article I read mentions the connection between a Nobody character and the wise fool, such as Shakespeare's Fool in Lear. It occurs to me that this character must also be connected to one of my favorite tarot cards--The Fool, which has the number zero in the major arcana.

I'm not sure how any of this is going to help me finish my book, but it's a lot of fun to mess around with and think about.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"a place of first permission"

--Robert Duncan

For me it is that back yard, that grand half acre, green and groaning with wind and insects, the lying on my back looking at the sky, blue with clouds impossibly high--the blue I ascribe to someone's eyes, someone who once looked at me nakedly [in wonder in admiration in disbelief in... love?]--someone whose eyes turned on me so briefly and are so turned no longer.

"She it is Queen Under The Hill" the mother the other the me
the girl lying on the grass, the cottonwood fluff floating in the still-clear air of late May
the ground beneath with its little bumps and craters
the field beyond opening and opening

Often I, too, am permitted to return to a meadow and to that yard adjacent to the meadow. The two trees gone--or is it just one gone, one remaining? The terrible storms and the chainsaw, the firewood. The former gravel pit greened over and good for sledding.

The cows. The creek. The crawdads in the creek, the sunnies and bluegills and very occasional trout. The full catastrophe of country cliches, the down-home dowsing, the swampiness and black black loamy muck aspark with weeds.

"a disturbance of words within words" and the hollow tree for imagining Alice's rabbit.

The wet legs, the sopping shoes, the mud of it. The cud. The thistles and the flowers on the thistles. Queen Anne's lace and miniature daisies. Escape and bringing a friend and making up friends as you go along the streambanks.

The place of place.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

puget sound bound

Next week I will be at historic Fort Worden State Park for the Port Townsend Writers' Conference. I get to spend a little time with friends in Seattle at either end, too.

I'm not doing a workshop--just a writers' retreat. And there's a wonderful movement studio right on the state park premises. I've been to Vancouver, for the AWP conference a few years ago, but never to Washington State.

I'm really excited. I'll feel even better after the 6 and a half hour flight is over, I'm sure, and I will able to see the fabulous work of my friend David in person.

Today I bought a huge suitcase and two new hoodies (emulating Kim's fashion sense, and also layering for the weather). Tomorrow it's laundry, a couple of errands, and time with the kids, who will be back from the Jersey Shore--before I leave on Saturday.

In the meantime, lots and lots of grading. (Hello, EN361 online students!!!)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

a rose is roses

I bought the roses for myself. That's the time I needed. I needed rose. A rose in the valley with lilies. The lilies were too expensive. The lilies were. Under my mother's bay window in the backyard and they were in the backyard in the old house, too. She had planted from bulbs perennial. How had they been? How and where? Who and why? The nerve!

The bracketing of a life by roses--ivory tinged with green and the tips slightly rosy, dawn-like. The roses in plastic. The caterer buying roses at market, fancying herself a midwestern Martha Stewart. It was 1996, end of the milennium, end of the century. End of a time with a way of life, end of one city and beginning of a new city. It has been twelve years, a dozen like the dozen or two of these roses in the green rubber band. A band of rubber or a band of gold. A band to beat the band--gold, rubberized my finger until the flesh beneath it shrank. Hand swollen from baby-carrying, baby-feeding, baby-weight left over. The band gone, the ring off. Now the finger back to the old size, the band faded marking from the flesh.

The band he was with. And the band he was. And eating was not, and wine was, and the dance of band and roses on the side table. The roses were not red. They were not yellow. They were this color, color of paper lightly singed, color of burnt sugar and cream, color of time this time and mine. Mine.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

around again: tuesday

the day heats up
the track is not yet steaming
each lap another key,
another key, turn it on the ring
put it in a basket
(a-tisket a-tasket)
send the basket up the river
with the barges
and the water taxis
send it up the river,
send it to the bronx
the island, the harbor,
the great big old atlantic

Sunday, July 06, 2008


It would have been our twelfth wedding anniversary. I guess it sort of still was, although there is no longer a "we" to celebrate it.

Instead, I had a lovely dinner with my lovely friend Denise at Pastis. The weather was perfect for sitting outside, the food was good, the conversation excellent, and the crowd lively enough to bring some cheer.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

fab fourth

Yesterday I spent the evening with good pals Greg and Jeremy and an assorted cast of walk-ons.

We started at the Whiskey Ward, described in one review as a "No bullshit saloon off Delancey Street for serious drinkers," then headed to Schiller's Liquor Bar for dinner (yes, it's a restaurant, too), where we saw Sex and the City's Chris Noth and John Corbett enjoying cocktails at the bar.

We didn't make it to Greg's apartment rooftop, as planned, for the Macy's fireworks--we rather lamely watched some of the glow from the street outside Schiller's--but it was a great time nonetheless.

Friday, July 04, 2008

before they get better...

Things decidedly did not get better yesterday. The person I have started to refer to as my "baby daddy" was so dreadfully ill (he told me he was "wreathing" in pain) that I had to fend for myself with last-minute, cobbled-together childcare.

I did not make it to Transitcenter to pick up my replacement Metrocard before they closed (early, at 3). In fact, I barely made it to my evening class. But I made it, and it was awesome.

(For those of you illustrator types who are reading: you rock! But you knew that already.)

And now guess who has the parvovirus rash, which is not common among adults, especially on the face?

Yep. And on the face, too.

But I am going to the gym, no matter what. And I have plans to drink whiskey on the Lower East Side this evening. And watch fireworks from a rooftop. It's an improvised Fourth, with a few good friends.

I have a really thoughtful introspective little piece on Independence Day in the works. May not get it up here until the 5th, but I will, I promise.

Happy Fireworks!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

and now for the other shoe....

Bobby had a fever of 102 last night. So he's not immune. Thank goodness for ibuprofen, the miracle drug.

In an experience reminiscent of the run-around Vicki got with Evan's prescription for orthotics, had an unsuccessful and very frustrating attempt to replace my Transitchek Metrocard yesterday. I made a frantic trip to their offices near Bryant Park only to be told that they did not replace cards after 3 p.m. (although their website says only that they are open until 4:30) and thus will spend an additional $4 in fares before getting my new one today. This time for sure!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

it's official: i'm falling apart

When I was a kid my brothers and I had this little ditty we would sing from time to time: I'm falling apart, diddle-a-dih-dih. It had somehow surfaced admid the aural chaos on one of the many "radio plays" we recorded on the battery-powered cassette recorder--mostly unscripted and improvised, and usually hilarious. Much to our mother's chagrin, the private joke--at least the "diddle-a-dih-dih" part--survived well into high school, and even infected some of our school chums.

It's an apt tune for the way I'm feeling right now. I don't want to be an alarmist here, but I am fairly sure I have, if not lost, then seriously misplaced my datebook/calendar/addressbook. A.K.A. my Life. I think the last time I saw it alive was last Wednesday, when I went to my poetry group meeting. I think I had my West Chester Poetry Conference brief-bag, rather than my omnipresent backpack, but it's not there. Nor is it in either of my backpacks (the Gym backpack and the Work backpack), nor any of my purses, nor my myriad AWP souvenir totes.

It's not in the kitchen. It's not anywhere in my bedroom, at least not that I can see. I checked under the bed, even. I'm hoping it will surface somewhere around the apartment.

In other news, our family has been struck by Parvovirus 19, the cause of Stella's yucky rash. Unfortunately, you don't really know the child has it until they get the characteristic rash, and by that time the contagious period (which has lasted the previous week) is basically over. Now Bob and I obviously have it (joint and muscle aches, fever, general malaise and Extreme Crankiness, which makes things just that much more pleasant under the circumstances).

This article has more info if you are interested. My favorite part is this:
Many adults and some children develop joint pain (arthralgia) or joint swelling (arthritis) weeks after the parvovirus B 19 infection. Involvement is usually symmetrical and most often involves the hands, wrists, knees, and ankles. Joint difficulty can wax and wane for months and usually disappears without causing permanent damage,

Yikes. That'll put a damper on my burgeoning athletic career. And it's a perfect day for a run in Astoria Park, too.

Bobby, so far, is fine--and we hope he does not get it, perhaps being immune from a previous infection. He has been happily attending his TaeKwonDo summer camp where he learns "Confidense [sic] Discipline Respect" and bows to the Korean and American flags. He also goes swimming, does arts and crafts, and generally bonds with some cool kids--and, best of all, is not sitting around whining and playing Nintendo DS or Wii. The first morning he got there and immediately started pounding the heavy bag with some cohorts (despite a lingering shiner from his playground incident and a sore arm from a reaction to a booster shot). He's doing great.

Ok, potty time for Stella Bella. It's a beautiful day, and I may be able to trundle outside for a bit with her, at least to do laundry, before heading to FIT to prepare for another session of my night class.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

gone with the wind

Today on the way in to teach my fabulous Creative Writing for Illustrators class for FIT's M.A. program in Illustration (I'm so lucky to get to work with these excellent people--and I'm not just saying that because I told them about my blog and some of them will be reading this), I made it onto a W train that was just about to pull out of the station. For some reason, the trains were all running on the middle tracks, which meant they were express from Astoria Blvd to Queensborough Plaza. It also meant they were packed, especially the car I was in, even at 2:30 in the afternoon.

I walked to the front of the car in search of a seat, or at least a space to lean. I settled on the space in front of the doors, which I knew would be opening at the next stop. I was holding one of my prized possessions, my Transitchek Unlimited Metrocard--I am not exaggerating when I say that Transitchek has saved my life. They deduct the fee pre-tax from my paychek, and I get to ride subways and buses as much as I darn well please.

I have been keeping the card in my wallet, and make a habit of replacing it right after I use it, but after paying my fare I had to run up the stairs and catch the departing train. I turned to try and open my backpack, and the card flipped suddenly out of my hands. It landed, not on the floor, but in the interstices between the door and the doorway--I watched helplessly as my dear unlimited Metrocard slid swiftly, so swiftly, through the crack and, presumably, to the outside of the train car.

This means (1) I have to pay $4 in fares I normally would not. And (2) I have to spend some of my valuable time tomorrow getting a replacement card at the midtown offices of the Transitchek company--not at all on my way to anywhere I need to go. Just what I would love to be doing. Sigh.