Friday, May 30, 2008

Just silly

  • Prythee no sport with stingy or play asperity game. Winding finger have got bloodstream not wallk. Throagh of peril.
  • Tad disport of time grown man tatelage.
  • Till the cowcomes home. Wield toys damage,burn-in prythee wind to a close wield.
  • Give attention to open/close toys,therefore take place peril.for instance slipup batteries wield result in the emission of heat rupture liquid.vent itself prythee pay attention.
warnings on a toy manufactured in China (from today's Page-A-Day calendar email)

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Also silly -- these recent searches via which people found this blog:

kittymom passion flower (uh... what?)
indy 500 and boring (so don't watch it, then)
hardest biting land mammal (yep. only when asked, though.)
cheap low residency mfa poetry (this is the funniest one!)
can you freeze liverwurst (I don't know, can you?)
to my close friend clam down poem (is clam down like goose down?)
what is the most flexible mammal that's not a person (why do you want to know? um... maybe I don't want to ask that.)

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I had something else to post but I forgot. It'll either come back to me, or it won't.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking News

New York says to California, "You go, girl."

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 -- 9:14 PM ET

New York Begins to Alter Policy on Gay Marriage

Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to
begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize
same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like
Massachusetts, California and Canada. In a directive the
governor's legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the
agencies that gay couples married elsewhere "should be
afforded the same recognition as any other legally
performed union."

Read More:

What a nice present on my thirty-seventeenth birthday. Baby steps, baby steps... still, what a sea-change over the course of my lifetime so far.

* * * * *

Are you watching the French Open? Yeah, me too. That's one of my regrets about the timing of my retreat next week -- walking away from The Tennis Channel for a week. Oh well. I'll enjoy what I can, while I can!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another year older and mumble mumble debt

I will be 46 years old for another 95 minutes as of right now. Yep, I'm officially pushing "pushing fifty." Heh. I spent Memorial Day weekend at my mom's, eating tiramisu cake to celebrate.

On the way back, I'd set up a playlist on my iPod, and it was within about two minutes of being the exact length of the drive (which is a little over 4 hours). I listened to Joni Mitchell's Hejira, Patti Scialfa's Play It As It Lays, and a recent Bruce Springsteen concert recorded in Seattle. (I have to say that "Point Blank" into "Devil's Arcade" in the deepening twilight just past sunset, long gray clouds over long green fields, was a bit -- well, almost creepy. Ominous music. But in a good way.) As I pulled into the driveway of my home, Bruce was just doing the band intros at the end of "American Land." I almost sat in the driveway and listened to that last minute and a half or so, but was too eager to get inside and see the cats. Made for darn good driving music, though, all the way.

Haven't drafted a poem since May 11. Which explains why I feel off-kilter. Or maybe I haven't written because I feel off-kilter. Vicious cycle, that.

On Sunday I leave for my manuscript retreat. Maybe I'll get some new writing done during the week. Mainly, I want to wrestle the manuscript into something remotely resembling submission (ooh, kinky) and do some revision. I feel really apprehensive about this whole thing, for a whole bunch of reasons -- some valid, some not so much.

A lot of things coming together in a nostalgic kind of way, lately. Listening to some music I listened to obsessively in my late teens/early twenties and finding a whole new dimension in it. The recent "alumni reunion" at my old dorm. Being back in touch, a bit, with a couple of people I hadn't heard from in some years. Birthdays. Watching loved ones age. The change of seasons. I'm not sure where this ride is taking me; I don't like nostalgia poems, so who knows.

This retreat is partly about solitude -- something I'm not afraid of, and which I have a fair amount of in my life. It feels like a different quality of solitude, going into this. Me and the manuscript. I almost feel like I shouldn't tell anyone where I'm going, keep the destination a secret the way you're supposed to for a honeymoon. Because this manuscript face-off feels a bit like a covenant, a (re)commitment. Like I should be making vows to poetry. Maybe I should have planned to do this in a nunnery. ;)

The lights go out and it's just the three of us,
You, me, and all that stuff we're so scared of.

I'm kind of sad not to be doing a workshop this summer. There are some good ones out there. At the same time ... it kind of does feel right, this year, just to take a pile of poems into a room and dive in for a while. Yeah, it would be nice to be doing it in Provincetown, but there are a lot of distractions there. Lovely distractions indeed, but ... distractions.

Apprehensive about next week, yes. Also curious about what I'll end up with. I have some ideas about what I think this manuscript will look like, but I need to do the work before I know for sure.

Apprehensive. Curious. Solipsistic as hell. Yep, smells like a poetry retreat to me. ;) Debating the relative merits of taking a bottle of wine. Speaking of distractions.

If you've done a similar retreat, tell me about it -- what worked, what didn't. How it changed you, or how it didn't. I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just in under the wire...

…of the fiscal year, I’m finally going to take my long-delayed grant-funded writing retreat. Essentially, I’m going out in the woods for a week and locking myself in a room with a pile of belligerent, unruly poems, and I’m going to wrestle them to the death or until they turn themselves into a proper book, whichever happens first.

It sounds terrifying but fun. I like “terrifying but fun.” It’s good for me.

Okay, I said “going out in the woods” but in reality I’m going to be staying in a rather nice little suite at the Clifty Inn, in Clifty Falls State Park. I will have internet access (all the better to run around checking various publishers’ page requirements as I cobble this thing together), a fridge and a microwave AND a restaurant (but I’m a cheapskate so will probably only eat in the restaurant a couple of times), and even apparently a whirlpool bath. People, I know how to rough it in the woods. *grin* The woods are an important piece of the puzzle, though. I want to be able to go out and tromp around when my head gets too full of words.

I hope that in the process of whacking the poems together into a coherent manuscript (is “coherent” too much to hope for…?), I’ll also manage to do some serious revision on some of them. I definitely want to go back and look at a lot of my titles. I have boring titles.

* * * * *

I did, last week, manage to revise a chapbook manuscript & sent it in to a contest just hours before the deadline (email submissions, o how I love thee). Feeling pretty good about that, as I think I improved the original manuscript significantly and by the time I hit send I rather liked what I had. It is definitely more thematically structured than the chapbook I’ve got coming out this summer, which is fun. We’ll see what happens.

* * * * *

This past weekend I attended a reunion for alumni of the dorm I lived in as an undergrad. It’s not just a regular dorm – it’s the “Living-Learning Center” on campus and has always been known as the hippie, social-activist, artsy, happening dorm. Certainly it’s the only one I would have willingly lived in for three full years. There were a lot of people younger than me there, a few older, and a handful from “my era” – some of whom I hadn’t seen since the early eighties. (I lived there from 1979-1982.) Pretty wild. Even though I work just a couple blocks away now, I never go over there anymore – no reason to, really – so it was weird to be back inside those limestone halls.

In the evening there was an open-mic coffeehouse, which was really just like old times with some noisy punk-ish music, some folky acoustic music, a staged reading of part of a script, and some poetry. Yep, I read a few poems (hell, give me a stage and a microphone and I’ll take it anytime). I remembered so vividly the first poetry reading I took part in there, back in the fall of 1979. I was 18 years old and probably read some Terribly Sensitive Poetry. We had snacks set out on tables, and the coffeehouse was lit by candlelight. After I read there was an intermission, and I basked in the glow of having Shared My Terribly Sensitive Soul – for the first time in my life I felt like one of the cool kids. I got a snack, and leaned back against one of the tables talking to someone, basking in the glow et cetera …

…when all of a sudden this guy leaped forward and started whacking me on the back of my head.

Then I noticed the, er, slight scorched aroma around me.

Yep. I’d leaned back against a candle and set my long hair momentarily on fire.

So much for being cool. I think I was cool for about five minutes there, and then never again.

I’m more careful with candles at poetry readings now, I promise. And much less Terribly Sensitive, thank gawd. Still got long hair though.

* * * * *

Headed up to my mom’s for the long weekend and some slightly-before-the-actual-event birthday cake. I’ll probably watch part of the Indy 500 while I’m up there, just to see if Danica can win the thing. I’m not really into car races, but I’d be excited to see a woman win it. Go Danica!

* * * * *

Speaking of cars: "It will answer LIVE FISH OF INDIANA on the phone." You gotta check this out. You can't make this stuff up, people. Even though I live less than 20 miles from where this allegedly takes place, though, I don't think I live in the same state at all. This guy must live in that OTHER Indiana. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Newsy Bits

My "appearance" on WFIU has been rescheduled for Sunday, June 15. Oh, don't worry, I'll remind you! ;) Turns out the file was just temporarily misplaced. Sigh...

* * * * *
Congratulations to Angela Vogel, whose poem just won the Southeast Review poetry contest!

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Congratulations also to Jenni Russell, whose chapbook Strip is now available for pre-ordering from Finishing Line Press.

* * * * *

Watching yet another documentary about disaster on Mt. Everest. I don't know why I am so fascinated by this stuff. I don't really understand why people put themselves in such extreme, precarious, life-endangering situations ... and yet, I kinda do.

What would your life be like if every single footstep and every tiny little decision you made mattered so much that your life depended on it?

What would a poem be like if you cared about it that much as you were writing it?

* * * * *

There's a song that says Only kindness matters. I can't remember what song that is right now, though. Anybody?

* * * * *

Because it's there, silly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Radio Nowhere

My apologies to anyone who was actually listening to WFIU this morning expecting to hear me ... apparently there was some kind of a technical snafu. Jenny Kander just phoned me to apologize; apparently they can't find the audio file, and hopefully it is just misplaced & can be rescheduled, and didn't get erased or anything like that!

Sigh. Fun with technology.

A very happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Primary, Promo, Progress (Plus AWP)

Watching the primary results roll in. So far it looks like most of the local races are falling the way I wanted them to, which is nice (though it's a little early yet on some of them). The networks are still declaring the Obama/Clinton race as "too close to call" here. So bizarre, having the Indiana primary in such a spotlight! I've never seen anything like this. I actually voted early, on Sunday afternoon, because I was scheduled to work the reference desk till 6:00 tonight and didn't trust myself to get there before work today to vote. It felt really weird not voting on Election Day, even though I kept reminding myself that it was OK because I had already voted.

I like voting in a very nerdy sort of way. Since 1979, when I was 18 and registered to vote for the first time, I've missed I think one primary election and no general elections (and that primary was a tiny little all-local one without very many contested races). I try to find out about the local races, like judge and treasurer and assessor and county council and stuff. Sometimes there are some really good people in those races who can make a big difference in their not-so-big jobs.

Indiana cracks me up sometimes. One of our State Senator candidates (District 44) is listed on the ballot as Tony "Big Dog" Van Pelt. I guess people wouldn't recognize the name if they put it down as Anthony.

"Big Dog" is getting whomped, though.

The newspeeps keep mispronouncing the names of places in Indiana. I think Indiana's holding back on the results so they'll keep saying we are Too Close To Call and talking about Indiana for a while longer. Because how often do all the newspeeps spend this much time actually acknowledging the existence of the state of Indiana? Flyover country, my ass! *grin*

* * * * *

SSP (Shameless Self-Promotion) Department: This coming Sunday, May 11, you can hear me on the radio again.
What: Me! Poems! Three of 'em! Five minutes!
When: Sunday, 11:46 am Eastern Daylight Time
Where: WFIU radio, if you're in Central to Southern Indiana; (click on "Listen Online") if you're anywhere else in the world. It will be up on their podcast page in a few days, too.

* * * * *

Plunging headlong into the twentieth century: I finally broke down & signed up for DSL (yes, I was the last person you knew who was actually using dial-up ... what can I say, I get dial-up for free, and free versus "the price of a plane ticket to someplace good every year" has been a powerful incentive. But times change. :) I got my router and stuff today, and the service is supposed to be activated on Thursday. Yay!

If you never hear from me again after tomorrow, you'll know I broke my computer trying to install stuff. ;) (Somehow, though, I suspect I'll be able to manage.)

* * * * *

I'll put it in writing: I have every intention of going to AWP 2009. Chicago isn't that far away, after all! I will probably drive up to my mom's in South Bend and take the South Shore commuter train into the city, so I don't have to deal with a) driving in Chicago and b) parking in Chicago. I may actually splurge and stay at the Hilton; it's horribly expensive and I really can't afford it, and I'm sure there are cheaper hotels within a few blocks of there, but the thought of NOT having to set foot outside in Chicago in February is verrrrrrrrrrry appealing.

See you there?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

From the landlocked heartland to the Jersey shore

We've got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels...

I'm a little stalled, creatively, but not in a place where I've ever been stalled before. It's ... interesting.

Went to an Obama rally yesterday evening. Assembly Hall (you know, the big basketball place) was packed to the rafters. As I was waiting (and waiting... and waiting... and waiting... they told us we couldn't bring bags, so I didn't have a book to read, and it was too noisy to make phone calls, and I'd gone by myself so I didn't have anyone to chat with, and I don't own a cute little internet thingahoochie like a Blackberry though I would just about have killed for one at that moment), I observed how thoroughly managed the message was. Even the throngs of students doing the wave around the arena struck me as an exercise in getting 12,000+ people to say and do just what they're supposed to say and do at just the moment they're supposed to say and do it.

And then Obama finally came out to speak, and what struck me more than anything was how completely comfortable he is, speaking. That comes across a little more powerfully "live and in person" than it does on TV, I think. It's sort of like hearing a fabulous singer live when you're used to hearing them recorded, and realizing how cool it is that the sound isn't just a studio trick of some sort.

(And isn't that such a generational thing ... to be amazed that the live sound isn't a studio trick, instead of disillusioned that the recorded sound is. Hm.)

He was comfortable, and as he bounded up onto the stage I was struck by the fact that he seemed to be happy. Like, genuinely happy and loving his work. I don't think George W. Bush does what he does out of joy; I think he does it out of spite, in some ways; and out of insecurity, in some ways; and out of greed for power, in a lot of ways. I've seen glee on his face, but never joy. But Obama's presence feels joyful. I didn't expect that, for some reason.

I grew up during the long hard Vietnam war, and I see how many of those wounds are only barely just beginning to heal. It makes me sad to think that the scars from the current long hard war(s) will probably still be unhealed when I die. And what that does to people, to the condition of our hearts.

You can hide beneath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain...

Little part of me still wants to be a rockstar when I grow up (which won't surprise anyone who's ever gone to a concert with me). It feels both funny and wistful to say that, now.

Forty-seven, later this month. Holy crap.

Behind on everything.

And after all this time to find we're just like all the rest
Stranded in the park and forced to confess...

My best elegies and my best love poems are for people I don't even really know, and for places.

I may come back and delete that line.

Nobody's really a stranger, although everybody is.

And it's true that I raise my hands in supplication, that I fall to my knees, that I rise up shouting: all without an ounce of irony in my bones. I suppose that dooms me.

Have I ever really written about where I come from?
Have you?

Faith will be rewarded...

I haven't quite been here before, but then again, I think I've been stuck here for my whole life.

Funny, these things. Funny.

Nights like this, I wish I played the piano. And had a piano to play.