Showing posts from 2010

ode to a sorry self

dear friend

rejection arrives
again, fresh
each time
the cut never old
the letter form/from
[prestigious retreat] came
today, sucks to be


My Internal Lynn Swann

I grew up in the 70s and 80s. Girls were expected to be not-athletic. Sports were a boy thing. I went along with the expectation. I did not play organized sports. Being picked for a team in gym class filled me with terrible dread. Often I was picked last, especially for kickball. If there was an outfield, I hung back in it. If there was a lot of action  around the ball, I stayed away. If a ball came straight at me, I froze in panic. I hated sports.

Except that I didn't.

On my own time, with my best friend, Tim, I was fast, agile and tough. I ran, wrestled, and loved to play football. The Steelers' Lynn Swann was my idol, because like me, he studied ballet and played football, proving dramatically to the world what I understood in my body. We are more powerful when we understand that "girl things" and "boy things" are just, largely, people things.

When I was in middle school, I heard about a girl at a high school somewhere who played on the varsity football …

The Miracle of the Brussels Sprouts

We've been busy and then we were gone half the weekend. Sunday was my writing day, so David took ZandO to the winter festival at University Circle. When it came time to make dinner, my cupboards looked woefully bare. I was even (once again) out of pasta. We could have just had sunbutter sandwiches and carrot sticks, but then I wouldn't have had anything to feed my kids for lunch the next day.

What I did have was a lot of winter storage vegetables. A ton of squash ... but, no, squash takes some planning.

Potatoes! Cheesy smashed potatoes, still in their jackets, would make a great base. But what to put on top?

Ah-ha! A big bunch of mystery greens sat in the crisper drawer. Before Thanksgiving, I'd gotten two bunches of these from City Fresh. The first bunch went into a pasta & chick pea concoction with lemon juice and a good bit of Parmesan. The were wonderfully rich and chewy, with a pleasing sharp note that worked nicely with the earthy beans and cheese.

At City Fres…

Gluttony, many kinds

[links forthcoming]

I have been working toward Thanksgiving weekend for most of the fall. Busier than perhaps any other time in my life, I kept telling myself, "if you can just get to Thanksgiving, you can ..." sit down, do nothing, spend a whole day cooking, drink a lot and sleep in the next day, generally surrender to sloth and gluttony.

Not my beet salad, but something like it.
Thanksgiving finally arrived, and as it turned out, we took guests with us, and lots of produce from City Fresh, our CSA (radishes, beets, and cabbage. oh my!). My friend Jess and her family (including Z's old preschool gal pal, the divine Miss L) brought with them an astoundingly fine cheese plate, which even included fig jam and cornichons (you can see why I like this lady); a laudable apple pie, complete with impressive seasonal crust cut-outs; and a larger than average appreciation for the oddball, which I hoped would make them feel at home with my people.

Also joining us the day of the feast…

Sick Days

I'm on day 2 of being sick, after spending a day with a sick O, and I am fighting terrible feelings of self-doubt and lurking failure. This is a normal way to be when sick, I suppose, but it comes at a time when I was already struggling against despair.

Why despair?

Because I am genetically predisposed? Because I am working too much and I'm worn out? Hormones?

Yes. Yes. Probably.

Because the BiP is more a fantasy than a reality at this point? (For those keeping track, NaNoWriMo feels to me more like NoNeGoWriMo ~ Not Never Gonna Write More.)

The last is probably the clincher. Whenever I lose track of my writing I get desperate. This is an ongoing dance I do with myself. Commit to the writing ~ do the writing ~ neglect the writing ~ hear the writing whispering recriminations ~ avoid the writing ~ loathe self and others ~ eventually get back to the writing (repeat). Wouldn't it be nice if we could lose steps 3, 4, & 5?

Hope in a Prison of Despair, pre-raphaelite painting …

AIKSGNP ep. 346 Postscript

O is pictured here enjoying the shirt in question.

To answer a question from Mati re burning the shirt upon arrival: The short answer is that it seems well proven that prohibition breeds desire. So, while I don't have to buy Barbie t-shirts, I am not going deny the ones that come in with other juicy hand-me-downs. Plus, and, I think this way is ultimately more subversive.

The longer answer is much more complicated, as is this whole dance of living within and even enjoying a culture with which I want my children to learn to engage critically. I will continue addressing this in dribs and drabs. (Stay tuned for "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Princesses.")

Adventures in kinda sorta gender neutralish parenting, episode 346

Getting dressed this morning Z was trying to decide between the brown BFF t-shirt she inherited, I think, from Lily or maybe Makayla, or the pink super-80s (or is it 90s?) Barbie t-shirt that came in the great stream of hand-me-downs from Rachel C., one of my grad school profs. Z looked at them and realized the Barbie shirt is at long last too small. She handed it to me to put in the give-away bag.

Oh so pretty ... but in an 80s way or 90s? (answer revealed below)
But wait, I thought ... Z's too-smalls always get offered to O. This is why my boy proudly sports striped purple leggings, and it makes me happy. It helps that he has a strong sense of personal style (Michael C. was his fave on PR8, he would want you to know).

We have a saying in this house that "There aren't girl things or boy things. There are just people things." Of course, the rest of the world doesn't really get this concept ... those pure-pink and black & red battle-game-du-jour aisles at the t…

trinket box

Not a particularly shiny week in America, if I do say so myself, still a few things have inspired me. (I don't have time to go into detail. My friend Cara says "the novel always wins," which means I need to be over there instead of over here.)

+ First, Franzen ... I have a big chip on my shoulder when it comes to Jonathan Franzen. Read The Corrections, found it wanting, resented the hype. What does the hype have to do with me, you ask? Nothing. But I guess I need something on which to focus my writerly longing, envy, and bitterness. (I used to feel this way about Joyce Carol Oates, but I've mellowed on her.) Not particularly productive, but there you have it. So I've walked around for 9 years hating Jonathan Franzen, so much so that knowing he was friends with David Foster Wallace tainted my devoted, frustrated adoration for the latter.Have I written a novel in the last 9 years to counter Franzen? No. Cara is right. That is where I need to be, in the novel writing…

If you don't know me by now ...

Shiny eyed greetings from the other side.
There are a lot of important holidays in this house. Birthdays (of the living and the dead) celebrate the individual. Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrate togetherness and plenitude. Halloween and New Year's are my favorite, though. They are both topsy-turvy days, Saturnalian. And they both celebrate transitions, shadows, the edges of things.

Halloween/Day of the Dead/Samhain. It is the day when the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thinnest, they say. Or maybe it is the day when the impending darkness of winter really begins to settle onto us. If we were more agrarian it would be the time of year when the bounty of the harvest and the barrenness of the fields stand in sobering contrast.

Detail of our altar this year, with photo of Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin coroner (RIP).
I think we've been celebrating the Day of the Dead in earnest for 9 years. Always a festival I liked the idea of, it became rel…

Shoes like green beetles

No reflective essay whoopdidoo today, just lust for shoes.

Yesterday, I saw a woman with bright green doc martens. Like this but shorter:

I kept glancing at her as I approached the table she was sitting at, as I passed, and even once as I climbed the staircase near her. When I was on the stairs we actually made eye contact. She probably thought I was scoping her out, or maybe she understood it was shoe lust.

I wish I had been wearing something appropriately shiny to match. My flower docs maybe. I got these lovelies a looooooooong time ago in Toronto, City of Shoes, home to a holy site for shoe lust pilgrimage: the Bata Shoe Museum. This is an entire freestanding, four-story museum devoted to the history and aesthetics of freaking shoes!!! I'll give you a moment to bask in the glory of this idea ...


A couple days ago, a friend posted on FB that she missed her old blue combat boots after seeing a woman walk across her campus sporting a pair. I don't know if the ones she saw…

Dining in Nirvana with Little Steven

He's pretty shiny, right?
I have a habit of leaving cryptic notes for myself, often in the form of untitled lists scrawled on scraps of paper then tucked away to be found at some later date. I wonder over them.What was the moment in which this group of words seemed important? What was I thinking? What is on this list that is still important? Sometimes they result in lovely serendipities.

For instance, I have a tattered, creased sheet of grid paper I have held onto for 23 years. (It's somewhere in the attic right now.) At a funny angle on the back side (I've no idea what's on the front) is a list of titles of books about theater (Towards a Poor Theatre ... Empty Space ... ) And set off a bit, a guessed-at name: "Castlevetro?" I hurriedly made this list after a conversation with the Great Condee, my dramatic theory professor, whom I coouldn't embarass myself in front of by admitting I didn't know what he was talking about. For a long time I kept this li…

Bait Fish

David made fun of me when I told him, two weeks ago, that I had "started writing the first post" for this blog.
"You don't get it, do you?" he asked, knowing perfectly well that I do.
I probably threatened to throw something at him.
I erased that fragment of first post. It was too mannered and laborious. It was all about what I want this blog to be about. It was all about my anxiety of influence re certain other writers (namely George Eliot), and about the wonder of coming upon a manuscript of Middlemarch in the British Library about 5 million years ago, and the little paperback reproduction of her quotation-filled blotter I bought in the gift shop.
The paperback looks like this. (I haven't actually read it.) Miraculously, I was able to find it in less than 5 minutes, despite the shocking disarray of my bookshelves ... it was on the attic stairs. (more on bookshelves in some other post)

In the intervening two weeks, I have made a list of possible topics for blog …