Monday, December 31, 2007

Various New Years Past

1990: I was living in Sedgwick, Maine, and I spend the evening with with my mom and my best friend from middle school, Jocelyn. We stayed up until midnight and then my friend and I gave each other a New Year hug. We joked that it was an "old lady" hug. I don't know why.

1999: Crashed a debutante ball in Nashville. I wore black leather pants and a gray cashmere sweater. Then we went to some club afterwards. The next day, we went over to a friend's house to watch football. At the time, I didn't understand that New Year's Day is a football day. I became very frustrated and bored when I realized that I was going to have to sit around and watch football all day with people I barely knew. I ended up walking to a donut shop down the road just to have something to do.

2000: I was with my Dad in an apartment in Gaithersburg, MD. We'd just returned from Ireland--I'd gone to take care of my sisters while Dad and Mary attended a funeral. Dad and I came home early for reasons I don't remember, and Mary and my sisters stayed through the New Year. I was very, very sick, and spent a feverish night sleeping in my sisters' huge crib. I think that the both of us were too sick to properly celebrate my Dad's 50th birthday on New Year's Day.

2001-2005: Many happy New Year's Eves with Mark

2006: New Year's Eve bash at Dan's house in DC. Most of my friends were there, all in one place, and we toasted to everything, including several obscure colors.

2007: At the Shangri La hotel in Oman.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Various Chicken Fried

At the time I thought these two birds were hawks--I didn't have my binoculars. In flight, they looked like hawks, in this picture, they look like they could be turkey vultures.

Today we drove to Roanoke, a town of less than 5000 people just west and south of Flower Mound (on the other side of Grapevine Lake) to eat fried chicken at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. Although Babe's is a bit of a Texas chain, the Roanoke location was the first. Roanoke was a nice little place. I liked the fact that it is right on the Missouri Pacific rail line. Trains are soothing.

Babe's in Roanoke only serves fried chicken and chicken-fried steak. My sister Sarah was disappointed that they didn't have chicken-fried chicken.

Chicken-fried steak is like a Texas version of wiener schnitzel, except that it's made with a fairly cheap cut of steak instead of veal. It's usually pan fried, where as fried chicken is frequently deep-fried (but it can also be pan fried). Chicken fried chicken has the same preparation as chicken-fried steak but with chicken.

I don't really understand the differences between chicken-fried chicken and fried chicken. It's very confusing. Can anyone offer insight?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

But of course, I don't want to live here

We went for a walk/hike around a nearby lake. Looking at the map, I don't know if it was Lake Dallas or Grapevine Lake. The last time I was here was July, several years ago, when it was hot, humid, and thunderstorming. It was actually quite nice to drive past the exurban housing developments to where the horsefarms and trailer parks begin. Of course, most of the farms are forsale, and I'm sure the city has plans for the trailer parks. I'm only saying that I'm feeling kinder about the towns north of Dallas.

Tomorrow we are going to go to a resturant just east of here that only serves chicken, chicken-fried steak, and sides. I remember I once got into an argument with an ex from Nashville about whether or not it was "chicken-fried steak" or "chicken fried steak." The argument wasn't about the dash, but about the emphasis. I argued that the name refered to the technique--i.e. the steak in chicken-fried steak is fried in the same way that fried chicken is fried. My ex failed to understand why I felt the need to think about such distinctions. I've never had chicken-fried steak.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I have fixed the internet, I think.

Noemi press rejected my manuscript, but I'm not suprised. I am just doing my duty, submiting poems to presses that have published some work I like and don't charge a reading fee.

I like the day after Christmas better than Christmas. In Maine, the 26th was often a day for visiting close friends, playing with new gifts or reading new books.

One of my sisters is mad about Nancy Drew, which makes me very happy. In fact, as usual, all of my nervousness about "will they like me" and "will I be able to talk with them" was unwarented. We spent nearly two hours during the late afternoon making collage stories with lines and phrases from two or three Nancy Drew books, Hanna Montana Lyrics, the Spiderwick Chronicles book 4, and Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel. The collaboration is something of a continuation from a story we started last year about a peanut man on the Great Wall of China.

My father gave me his old Cannon camera that he bought in San Jose in 1983! I don't have it in front of me now so I can't talk about the specifics, but I'll be soliciting advice from my photographer friends about it. The base is solid, but some of the lenses will need to be replaced or repaired.

There is a fireplace in the living room. It's nice to sit and read in front of the fire. I also like being surrounded by so many familiar objects--the spears from Papua New Guinea, all of Dad's old maps, the textiles that Mary has collected and framed, the small chests and cabinets, and especially the stringed insturments from Asia. I attempted to tune the Chinese harp yesterday evening, but was afraid I'd break it--it's really a task that would require more concentration than I had at the time. And I can't play it. I just know that it works on a pentatonic scale. I understand stringed insturments conceptually, but I've never gotten a good feel for them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Madness Madness

Well, I survived the Christmas Eve slumber party with my sisters, and we've already unwrapped the huge pile of gifts and had brunch. I haven't seen my cousins and aunt and uncle in ages, so it is fun and rather overwhelming! Our internet connection is slow here in the wilds of north Dallas...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our neighbor came over with a bucket of trout he caught today

and gave me three of the medium-sized ones. I often cook fish on Sunday, so I'll make one tomorrow and freeze the rest.

I took this picture in mid-November while riding the 302 bus from Oceanside to San Marcos. It is a very long, boring bus ride. I like the Primo Food Market, though.

It's always strange to be home without Lester. A friend from yoga kindly accompanied me to drop Lester off to be boarded this morning--I don't like driving on highways, and it was good to have company. This will be the third (or the fourth?) time Lester has boarded at the vet, so he's quite comfortable there, and the staff know him. When I walked in the door of the vet, the woman at the front desk said, "Oh! Lester's here!" Another woman asked, "Is Lester the one with the little bucket?"

Lester does have a little bucket--he sometimes gets overly attached to it and will defend it aggressively (or attack it), so I remove it from his cage sometimes. However, I thought he should have it while boarding. He likes to sit inside of it and relax.

After brunch, I had to get the front bike tire repaired again. There is some law about people wanting to smash bottles of cheap beer near water. In Maine, people smashed bottles by lakes and quarries. In Carlsbad, this means that people drink beer and smash bottles on the road by the lagoon. There are cops and lifeguard people at the beach, but none by the lagoon, so people drink and smash bottles (or sometimes throw them out the window) by the lagoon. I try to avoid all the broken glass on my bike, but it's more or less impossible.

One of my students was telling me about super tough tires, so I will look into this in the new year. That and a basic bike mechanics course.

I did go see The Golden Compass this evening. It wasn't bad, although obviously not as good as the book.

I got an email from an employer (an institution, not a person) encouraging me (and all other employees) to participate in two contests. The first contest involves interpreting the goals of the institution in an artistic way. I don't even understand what the second contest is for.

I'm nearly finished packing. I'm trying to limit myself to my carry on sized suitcase and a backpack, but this is a bit difficult because I'm carrying gifts for seven people. I was going to mail them, but it would have cost too much.

Friday, December 21, 2007

We're going to party!

Today is my last evening with Lester before he goes off to his bird hotel (with on site vet and valley view) tomorrow.

I'm continuing to read Jennifer Moxley's The Middle Room, and actually enjoying it more the more I read it. The San Diego she describes seems very different from the one I live in. Or maybe it's just that I have trouble visualizing Douglas Rothschild outside of New York.

On the way back from ice-skating my students got into a conversation about Enjo-kōsai. By the end of the ride, I'd explained the words "fetish," "pervert," and "dominatrix."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I think I will dress in an excessively festive manner.

I was going through my desk drawer at work and found a poem written on an index card. It is probably a year old, and discrete, as far as I can tell. It is very much a Lorraine poem.

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching for a few weeks. My head is a foggy balloon. Anyway, the whole school is going ice-skating. I haven't ice-skated since last year in Oman (which was great--they were playing Christmas carols, and "O Holy Night" was interrupted by the call to prayer). Before that, I hadn't been ice-skating in ages. My ice-skating skills are not up to par. I admit that I find skating in rinks weird--most of the ice-skating I've done has been on lakes and ponds.

I've been listening to lots of girly music.

I am going to see The Golden Compass this weekend and maybe I am Legend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Forpus Pacificus Surveys his Domain

Lester has discovered that the top of my desk chair is an excellent place to perch. From there, he can survey the entire room.

My students are all writing movie reviews of I am Legend.

The regular crowd outside of Planned Parenthood is growing. One sign read "Sex Partners Lie."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Raining

It also rained this morning, but it was secret rain. I am awake and can clearly see it is raining, so the evening rain is not like the secret morning rain.

Today I struggled to define the word "ilk." It was a tired ESL teacher moment. I attempted to rattle off a list of "synonyms" that included eel and elk. Good job, Lorraine!

I drove to work today because of the rain and for other reasons. It was strange to drive to work. I enjoy listening to music in the car, and it was nice not to get wet, but everything else about it was weird.

My friend and I were talking about the things we like about being here (we've had plenty of conversations already about the things that we don't like). Here is my list:

  • I like the winter weather.
  • I like the birds.
  • I like the ocean and the natural living and nonliving things in the ocean.
  • I like the lagoons.
  • I like the weather in July-September.
  • I like the yoga studio.
  • I like the fact that a mountain lion has been seen recently in the parking lot at Cal State San Marcos (I also worry about the fate of the mountain lion, but this is supposed to be a positive list).
  • I like Carlsbad. It is a nice little town.
  • Even though I feel like I socialize less than I did in DC, this is not statistically true.
  • Lester has a good vet.
  • I enjoy having people over more than I used to (true, this is in part because people cannot drop by casually the way they did in DC, but still.)
  • We are close to Mexico.
  • My work life is pretty good.
  • I have become a better cook.
There are other things, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Even though today was Monday, Lester and I are feeling calmer and more relaxed.

I made black-eyed-peas and greens today. They were good. Braised greens are always good if done correctly. Quality pancetta helps, too.

I'm more or less recovered from my deranged headstand accident of last week. I've gotten over the fear of attempting handstand (not headstand, which I actually find more difficult) in the middle of the room. I can't exactly balance for very long, but I can jump up into it with straight legs without overshooting it. And one of my teachers taught me how to fall out of it, which is, of course, very helpful.

Mark heads off to DC tomorrow, so Lester and I are on our own for this week. We'll finish up some projects and probably listen to a lot of female jazz vocalists (most of the female jazz vocalist CDs I own were gifts from Mark).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Over half the students in one of my online classes received Fs

because they just didn't do the work. This is normal, more or less, for online classes, but it is depressing. I'm done with the heavy grading for a few weeks now, until the next session starts up after New Years.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Today was a better teaching day.

In my ESL class, we read what turned out to be a stringent Christian article about Christmas (it started out as being funny and light. Oops).

I grew up everywhere, but I spent several winters and Christian holiday seasons in Maine with snow and the hippie parents of all of my friends. I sang Christmas carols at Quaker meetings. I went ice skating all day and drank hot cider afterwards. And yes, my cheeks were rosy.

My ESL students gave informal informative (not persuasive) presentations, and we ate donuts and talked. We talked about possible connections between certain kinds of German dessert pastry things and donuts and the US Midwest. Today was the last day for three of my students. Two of them were only in my class for three weeks (but that's 3.5 hours every day, five days a week for three weeks). Still, they are creative, intelligent people, and the class always suffers when people like that head on their own way. The third student didn't show up--I was rather sad about it. He'd been my student off and on for more than seven months, and I wanted to give him a proper "ra ra good luck in community college" send off. Or at least I wanted to give him a donut. Oh well.

My students take up more than 50% of my time and account for more at least 50% of my livelihood. My creative work effects my life. I shouldn't even have to note that, but I'm noting it. I get annoyed by and jealous of my fellow writers who say that teaching has no effect on their writing. I don't / can't compartmentalize my life in that way. I spend more than half of my day talking to students, and that effects my life, and so that effects my writing.

I made a lasagna this evening. Yum. Mark heads off to DC on Tuesday, so we need to get all of our holiday celebrations in this weekend.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

End of Semester Teaching Rant

Disclaimer: I'm tired. There are a lot of typos, probably. It's the end of the semester. I fell over backwards while attempting a fancy headstand in yoga class last night. I think I've given myself a minor neck and upper back strain. It's minor, I've decided, but it hurts. Ok, now on to the post:

There's a fairly substantial conversation happening on a professional listserv I'm on about Millennial Students. Technically, the Millennials are the generation after me--1982 on. According to my colleagues who have actually read about it, Millennials tend to be:
  • Relatively sheltered
  • They tend to feel positive about their economic future, because the economy has generally been positive during their high school and college years.
  • There parents are extremely involved in most aspects of their lives--through college and beyond.
  • They view themselves as tolerant, positive and upbeat.
  • They grew up in an era of fairly intense kid safety rules and public school lock downs.
  • They are technologically sophisticated.
I know these characteristics are generalizations, but I find them helpful. When I moved to Carlsbad, I started working with a ESL student body very different from the one I encountered in Washington, DC. In DC, I was working with students who were mostly my age or older: mostly generation Xers and a few Baby Boomers. Now, most of my students are my age or younger than me by about 5 to 10 years. Many of my students work hard, and many of them are intelligent and fun, but on the days that class is terrible, these are the things I complain about:
  • My students do not read directions. They become actively indignant when I tell them that the answer to their question is on the syllabus and that they need to read the syllabus.
  • They are uncomfortable with flexibility. They have intense trouble deciding on a topic for a presentation, for example. They prefer it when I tell them exactly what to do.
  • They either have no opinion, or they refuse to support and elaborate on their opinion, either verbally or in writing.
  • In fact, they appear to have a deep lack of interest in most things. If they are interested and passionate about things, they do not express it.
  • They expect me to go out of my way to accommodate their schedules. They expect me to be available constantly to answer their questions. They would rather write me long email explanations and questions than read my syllabus or talk to me during office hours or on break.
  • They have had very little personal freedom. Most of the traveling they have done, if they've done any, has been with their parents. Many of them still live with their parents, even if they are 25 or 26.
  • They have a very vexing sense of entitlement. They pay for the class, they expect to pass the class. Of course, most of them aren't paying for the class, their parents are.
Probably, many people my age could have done with a bit more parental involvement, and we probably would have gotten fewer injuries if we'd been forced to wear helmets on our bicycles and wrist guards while skateboarding. It's good that my students get financial support from their parents--also something that many people my age didn't get to quite the same degree.

Still, I can't help but feel that my students might be better off if they'd had more out of control experiences: a few more close calls, a night or two smashing mailboxes, part-time jobs they didn't want to have, drugs. They seem to understand that a lot of rules and norms are arbitrary, but they don't seem to care. Sometimes I feel like the passive-aggression I encounter in my classrooms is a way for the students to rebel against their parents. But G-d, what a lame way to rebel.

But now I'll be kinder: I have no idea what it's like to have that kind of overbearing pressure from my parents. I have no idea how I'd feel about school if it was something that I was forced to do, or if there were a specific field or business that I was expected to go into. I can only imagine how beholden I'd feel to my parents if they'd payed for everything for me my whole life. I'm sure I would be more positive about my future economic prospects if I had no debt. Etc, etc.

And, of course, there are exceptions. Right now I have several fabulous students: it's true that most of them still live with their parents and have had everything paid for their whole lives, but they seem to understand that they are lucky to not have intense economic pressure. They don't all feel that they are entitled to everything. They do have personal and intellectual interests beyond getting a job and making money and pleasing their parents. They're learning to be creative and take the initiative. Some of my students have just left their homes for the first time, and they're realizing that all the day to day decisions that their parents have been making for them are actually quite complicated...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sarah, my sister, has decided that Texas is not environmentally friendly. All three of my sisters (Sarah, Michelle, and Allison), are debating with Mary about whether or not to buy a tree. Mary suggested that they could plant a tree in the yard, but they are skeptical about that. They want a fake plastic tree like the original one they had in Australia.

There was a short rain shower and after that a rainbow this morning. It was so pretty.

I wrote a poem about light emitting diodes. They are, after all, the unsung heroes of the electronics world.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's hard for me to say these words in a way that more appropriately corresponds to my WASPy looks.

This post from Nicholas Manning's blog called "Things Never to Say to an Expat" made me laugh. I agree with him on most accounts, but I admit that I miss the clear sense of displacement that being an expat gave me. Unlike Nicholas, I've never been an expat in a place where there was even a remote possibility of me blending in.

It's quite strange now to find myself actually living in a small beach town in Southern California--a place people frequently assume I'm from. For much of my life, people have been saying obvious, stereotypical things about women, the US, and California to me, often while leering or asserting moral superiority.

I got in a debate with someone at a bookstore in La Jolla about whether or not I'd gone to high school locally and whether or not I'd been a cheerleader. I didn't and I wasn't, but the man thought I was insulting him and didn't believe me. That same man also said a variety of other stupid things, including "Spanish is a language for children." He owns a coffee plantation somewhere in Central America.

On some level, I'd probably feel more comfortable, or at least just as uncomfortable, spending more time in the Spanish-speaking communities here. The fact that the Spanish and English speaking communities are so segregated was something I didn't expect before moving here--I expected it to be more like LA, but what did I know. I think the conservative culture and the close proximity of the Mexico-US border make some Spanish speakers justifiably touchy about who they speak their language with and where and when they do it. In DC, I spoke Spanish in places where other people spoke Spanish. No one at the market around the corner from where we lived was offended if I asked what kind of tamales they had in Spanish. I'd never do that around here.

In some ways Spanish and the various cultures that come with it are mainstream here in San Diego--more than half of our place names are in Spanish, and most of the geographic terms for this part of the country are Spanish words. When I first arrived, I pronounced all the place names as if they were Spanish words, which they are/were, but no one understood me or people involuntarily corrected my pronunciation.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's a survey!

Should I send a manuscript to Litmus Press? I'm skeptical, but someone I like and respect told me at a party that I should.

I slept a lot this weekend. Until 9:30 on both days, which may not sound like much but at this point in my life is significant sleeping in. I was exhausted after this past week.

I made broccoli in a new way. I roasted it. It was good.

I connected the external hard drive and put some things on it.

I'm going to do a few projects for International Arrivals in the new year--probably designing a journal and some file folders. Yay! I want more jobs like this.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I'm wearing tons of eye makeup!

Off to dinner and festivities at Sandra & Ben's in San Diego. I debated whether or not this should be the night to debut my ridiculous silver knit dress. It is not the night. It's a rather strange and beautiful dress. Perhaps I will wear it on the plane to Dallas--I think it would fascinate my sisters and confuse the family.

It's a dress that requires heels, and I have a nasty blister on the top of my big toe, so that settled it. I need a dress I can wear with slouchy boots. So that's what I'm wearing.

The rain continues. The surf is up.

Friday, December 07, 2007


The reading was good. The rain was minimal. Not like last Friday. More party tomorrow. Quadriceps hurt. Nail polish chipped. I'm starting to associate tasty tacos eating in bare surroundings with the end of poetry evenings. I'm often nostalgic for now. Reality is so hot.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I am either high spirited or fried

But I'm ready. For. The. Semester. To. Be. Over.

I know that we need rain here in San Diego, but I hope that it doesn't rain on Friday. I want to go hear/see Nathaniel Mackey read at UCSD. I've never actually heard him before, and it's not as if San Diego is so bursting with readings that I wish to miss one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Being a teacher is great.

After teaching and grading all day, I often wish to self-destruct. I say things like "let's party" and "pour me another," even if I'm not drinking.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday is Sunday

Mark got me a 500 GB external hard drive as a Christmas present. I am so excited! Now I can transfer all of my graphics to it! My computer will run better!


We wished Mr. James Meetze a happy birthday yesterday at his flat in Mission Valley. It was fun. I had a piece of red velvet cake and played around with a computer program that his friend had that was like Photoshop except with video. You could layer things and apply effects to layers and also change the speed. It was cool. We also called the 800 number of some slick evangelical LA church.

Jame's band, Dreamtiger, has a myspace page!

I had an aggravating exchange with a coworker I've never met--we both tutor for the same virtual writing center. I sent out a message to our discussion list noting that I was looking to pick up some extra hours this week. This is a fairly standard kind of message to send. Most people either ignored it or sent me messages with possible hours to substitute. But one woman sent me an email that began "I hope you won't take this in the wrong way, but..." The email was about how she had to work her hours, and if she didn't she couldn't pay her bills, and how she wasn't getting any support from anyone, and on and on. I believe her, but the implication was that I was some prissy house wife looking to work a few more hours this week while my servants did the cleaning or something. That's obviously not the case, but few things bore or annoy me more than two marginal yet still bourgeois people arguing about who is more working class and desperate than the other. In some contexts, I think it is perfectly OK to assume a certain level of desperation. For G-d's sake, no one who has buckets of money and time is an online writing tutor.

It's Sunday, so I'm thinking about what to do with my students tomorrow. I think I'm going to have them write music reviews, but I can't ask them to review albums, because they probably don't think of music on the level of the album, so I've rewritten the assignment to be about the song. But I don't like it. I'll see what happens.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm making beef stew.

My students went to a country club in Temecula last night. Where? I said. Temecula, they said. Oh, I said. Tem-e-cu-la. I've driven through there. Then I laughed in a way that made them look at me strangely.

They wanted to know if I know how to "country dance." I kind of do. I can sort of square dance, but I'm better at contra-dancing, which I did in Maine fairly frequently in high school, while wearing 80s-style hippie floral dresses, even though it was the 90s. I will not go to bars and go surfing with them, and I will not teach them to square dance. I'm certainly not driving out to Temecula with them. But I want them to tell me their stories.

Today we researched film noir. My Vietnamese student gave a pretty awesome presentation on German Expressionist influences on film noir, and he hadn't even seen any film noirs. I miss my DC students, but my students here have their moments.

I sent a manuscript to Futurepoem today, but not Fence.

Bought tickets, courtesy of my father, to Dallas. I'll be there from Christmas Eve until January 3rd. Quite a while. But it's my last chance to see everyone before they head off to Adelaide. Of course I want Mark and I to visit them in Australia, but I can't count on it. I've been researching places to get fried chicken and BBQ and chili con carne. I'd like to make gingerbread houses with my sisters, but since I don't arrive until the afternoon on Christmas Eve, I'm not really sure that will work.

It rained today. A lot. It was a San Diego storm. It rained from 4 am until now, although it's only drizzling now. The roads here weren't built to drain. In the mountains I'm sure there will be floods and landslides, especially in the places that were burned.

I like some Stevie Nicks songs from the 80s, but I'm not into the 80s hippie look--hers or anyones--since I was a victim of it myself. Oh, those velvet bourrets!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Sunshine Blond Girl of Death

The conversation over at Nicholas Manning's blog is interesting. Lately all I've been doing in my notebook is recording things. I was going to type up an example of how I am just recording things, except now that I've looked, I'm not sure what I'm recording: "I don't want to tell you how I made it. Throw up. Am you solvent? You know, SOLVENT. Like that." Recently there are a lot of recorded vocabulary explanations that the ESL teacher in the next room gives his students. I listen to him when I'm giving my students exams. It feels like a cheap shot to use the explanations, though. I'd be a very different sort of person if I were a man in my mid-30s.

My students want me to come surfing with them and take them to bars. I said no. Obviously. They are men in their 20s so no one will speak to them when they go out. I'm really a jerk when it comes to giving advice about how to meet people.

I'm reminded of a Janet Song from, I don't know, maybe five years ago (back when I was still taking, ahem, hip hop dance classes on a regular basis), called "Someone to call my lover." Here's the chorus:

Maybe we'll meet at a bar
He'll drive a funky car
Maybe we'll meet at a club
And fall so deeply in love
He'll tell me I'm the one
And we'll have so much fun
I'll be the girl of his dreams

These lyrics irk me in so many ways. I guess people do meet at clubs and bars and fall in love. I wonder where people in North County meet each other. At school, work, at bars, on the beach, in malls. "Maybe." Yeah, good luck with that. See, I told you, I'm a jerk about it.

I pained my nails then messed them up. Really, what is the point? I ride a bike every day. I type all day. I use my teeth and nails to open things--my parents might have told me not to use my teeth, but only half-heartedly.

I am debating about whether or not to send manuscripts to Fence and Futurepoem Books. Deadlines are tomorrow. I don't really think that either one of them will publish my work. Of course they won't if I don't send it. I don't want to not send work just to justify my own alienation.

I will send work to Futurepoem, which has no contest or reading fee. I actually don't have a real problem with reading and contest fees, but I don't have extra money now and didn't plan well, and Fence is even less likely to publish me more than Futurepoem.

I should write more love poems, or love poems that don't become gruesome, although I'm not sure I could. After my first reading in New York someone said to me, "you're a little sicko, aren't you?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I need to clean my bathroom

As a child, I made endless diagrams of horse barns and bathrooms. As I've probably said before, I never fantasized about my future wedding, but I did imagine building the perfect horse barn and one day having a very large bathtub in a clean, sunlit atrium with lots of plants.

I wish I still had some of these old diagrams--sometimes the bathtubs were basically swimming pools. Blame it on my early experiences in the blue baths in Rotorua, New Zealand. Apparently the buildings surrounding the baths are also amazing, but I remember nothing about Rotorua except the water.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It is OK. Wait here.

Of course, in the movies, it is never ok, and waiting here is always a bad idea. More about that later.

I'm having a nice Thanksgiving weekend, here. It's my third in SoCal.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Agressive Optimism in North County

I put my bike on the bus today to get it fixed. I need to take a basic bike mechanics course so I can do these simple repairs myself. Or I need to get a book and a few tools, at least.

A man got on the bus a few stops after me, put his bike on the rack, and entered the bus singing in a dangerously high-spirited manner. I was only on the bus for about ten minutes, but he managed to yell "EVERY DAY IS A HOLIDAY" or "EVERY DAY IS A FUCKING HOLIDAY" three or four times (in between the singing) at everyone who got on or off the bus after him. As I got off the bus I said, "calm down, man, today isn't a holiday."

The manager at Alan's bike shop fixed my bike in less than five minutes, and I was home fifteen minutes after that. A nice day for a ride.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I have never actually interacted with fresh cranberries before. They are like tart little apples.

I am making cranberry sauce (with oranges and figs and citron) to take to Mark's cousin's in Hemet tomorrow. I'm hardly a family girl, but I'm looking forward to the family gathering quite a bit.

Also I made a dip with acorn squash and roasted garlic, onions and nutmeg and crème fraîche. Also a dip with sun dried tomatoes and cannellini beans etc. I was thinking about making a crazy layered cake that involves bananas, but it wouldn't travel well and the bananas aren't ripe.

One day I will host a potluck Thanksgiving. You know, when I have my large house/art gallery/performance space/studio in Armenia/Bulgaria/Bucharest/Budapest/Istambul/Spain/Portugal/Mozambique/Cairo/ with enough space for 20 people to come stay for extended periods of time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I think I am going to bake a cake today

I had a very brief but concentrated feeling of nostalgia today for Sunday afternoon readings at DCAC. Especially when it is the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the readers are Kevin Davies and Rod Smith. I guess the feeling wasn't brief, since I had it right before brunch, and that happened four hours ago.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lesson Nine

From yet another series. It's easier to see if you look at the larger file on flickr.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Typing up some old poems

This is of the same era as Terminal Humming but a different manuscript:

What I want most is to not want,
but not as a virgin martyr
challenging pagan rulers with my
astounding wit and logic. Not
wanting to want is still desire:
desiring death. Write me into
the cannon. What I want most is to be
shot out of a cannon, and then
have someone take documentary pictures.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fun with Pulp Fiction

The layout lacks imagination, but the images and the text are absurd.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reasons to have children

Today I enjoyed my bike ride home from teaching. There were about 30 white pelicans on the lagoon and many ducks of various sorts.

I am teaching a Public Speaking class for non-native speakers of English. I have to teach persuasive speeches, so that's what we were working on today. Students came up with potential topics, etc. One group chose "children" as a topic, with the argument that "everyone must have children." However, when it came to coming up with reasons why, they were stumped. Eventually they said "we must stop the declining birth rate" and "children take care of you when you are old."

One of my yoga teachers has been having us do hanumanasana a lot. I'm not even close to being able to do a split, but I'm much closer than I was. I like inverted hanumanasana at the wall.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Susana Gardner at the Continental Review

Susana Gardner is the most recent poet featured up at the Continental Review, a video forum for contemporary poetry and poetics curated/edited by Nicholas Manning. Other poets featured include Ali Alizadeh, Jean-Michel Espitallier (G-d how I want a copy of that video of "Les amis des mes amis sont mes amis...." but for now I'm quite happy with what Nicholas has put up), Reb Livingston, Cole Swenson, and many others.

The recording of Susana is great--it sounds like she read from some work that I knew as The Lapses and also To Stand to Sea. The bookstore environment and Susana's reading style work well with these poems, and I admit that listening to this I got just a little nostalgic about Susana's old apartment on 7th street in DC, and those parties, and her dogs.

It was a good party

Charred Camp Pendleton from the train

People dance and are blurry

I am content after the party and late-night tacos in Pasadena

Grab shot outside of LA from the train the next morning

Friday, November 09, 2007

We're going to LA tomorrow for a party

to celebrate Joseph and Rita's recent marriage. I'm excited, it will be a fun party, with many people I know and don't know from a variety of contexts.

I made hamburgers this evening. My interest in red meat always corresponds with chemical shifts in my body. Oh well. Lester had some burger too--it was probably only the second time he'd ever had beef, and he liked it.

I've decided that I don't like riding the bus in the middle of the day. Perhaps it's bad luck, but thus far, the mid-day bus drivers have either been crazy or mean. I'm mentioning this to remind myself to blog about it later. I'm used to encountering crazy passengers, but yesterday the bus driver was crazy, too. A new development.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kristy Bowen's Brief History of Girl as Match

I've been both enjoying all the chapbooks that came my way through the Summer 2007 Dusie Kollectiv project--a good percentage of them are by people I've never heard of. That's not saying much, perhaps. It's taken me a while to recover from moving to North County San Diego. But now that I'm done staring at the beach with a perplexed expression, thinking, "what is this doing three blocks from where I live and what do I do with it?" I've been trying to pay closer attention to the poetry worlds "out there." Or, at the very least, to all the cool stuff I get in the mail.

I love participating in the Dusie Kollectiv, but much of the time I feel like I don't really understand what that means. I can't quite describe the social or aesthetic parameters at work. My generally happy bewilderment with Dusie is, I think, indicative of my bewilderment with all the various poetry communities I am and am not a part of. When I left the East coast for this strange corner of the West coast, my connection to the poetry world flattened and spread out in all directions. I have, in part, the internet and my relative geographic isolation to thank for that.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Kristy Bowen's Summer 2007 Dusie Kollectiv chapbook, Brief History of Girl as Match. I really like this book. The poems have an awareness of gender that doesn't make assumptions, and often they link personal experience to form. They're often funny but not trite. The first stanza from "language theory" is indicative of much of what I like about this chapbook:
You say nice and I hear knives.
We take precautions:
A taxi, a pregnancy test.
I am mistaken for a shovel.
A calla lily in my ruined dress.
A brunette. A barn fire.
Kristy Bowen edits an online poetry zine called Wicked Alice, as well as Dancing Girl Press, whose catalog is full of chapbooks all by women I've never heard of, which is fabulous--I'm looking forward to reading them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I have not clearly articulated the logical connections between ideas.

Reading and thinking about this post on Silliman's Blog about the body in writing, procedural work, Langpo and Oulipo.

Why always leap from body to erotic. Not all bodies are amatory always.

When I think of bodies in language poetry, I don't usually think of them erotically. Maybe I just don't find langpo sexy. (I guess that begs the question of what kind of poetry I do find erotic).

I could go back to grad school and write a whole dissertation about erotic bodies in Language Poetry. I'd rather UCSD actually start an MFA program, though. Then I could get an MFA and pretend that would help me get better adjunct work.

As you may have noticed, this post is not an essay.

I'm not prepared to back up this statement, but the eroticism almost seems like a sense of duty--and here I'm mostly thinking of Silliman's Under Albany--so that hardly represents all of Langpo, I know.

I do need to get a hold of Carla Harryman and Lyn Hejinian's collaboration, The Wide Road.

More Recently Read and Enjoyed

Truancy, by Sarah Anne Cox with drawings by Paris Cox Farr (Dusie Kollective 2007) for moments like this:
something must be done
we shall have a meeting
we shall share concerns
we shall beat it over the head
until it reads
throws a ball
makes a friend
Aaron Kunin's Secret Architecture: Notebooks, 2001 (Braincase Press 2006) for moments like this:
I want to hurt you; it hurts me that you're not hurt.
--It hurts me that you're hurt; I didn't intend that.
It hurts me that you didn't intend to hurt me.

Julia Drescher's Dreamscape or-- (Big Game Books 2006) for poems like "And She Listens and Said--":


99 Concerns, shared by Deborah Stratman and Jen Hofer and self published, I believe, in June 2006.

Feral Thing (Big Game Books 2006), by Michelle Detorie

Anne Boyer's Good Apocalypse (Effing Press 2006), by Anne Boyer

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Poems I read and liked

I am going through the piles, reading as I go. Here's what I liked today:

Alana Madison, Basho's mild tourettes (Dusie Kollective 2007)
Nicole Mauro, The Contortions (Dusie Kollective 2007)
Poems by Marci Nelligan and Jeannine Hall Gailey in Foursquare Vol. 2 No 1 June 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Survey Says

My Ideal Pet is a Bird

You're both very smart, very expressive, and very temperamental.
You're as likely to bite your bird as it is to bite you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I am not really sick anymore.

I am not 100% but I'm close to 80%. Good. Now I can go to Kasey's reading this afternoon at Cal State San Marcos, and we can still have people over for dinner tomorrow.

I am going to connect with my Texas roots (from my Dad's side of the family) and make Chili con Carne. Correctly. With the right kinds of chilis, and no beans, as is traditional. I do use some tomatoes though--which is kind of a violation of tradition, but they make the chili taste better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Numbers, Gender, Inertia

Happy Halloween. I am a sick person for Halloween, with more of a chest cough and less of a fever than yesterday. But I am sick. More sick than I've been in at least three years.

Conversation continues over at Rhubarb is Susan in various ways. Linda Russo posted a comment there that articulates much of what I agree is very useful about Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young's research. I'm glad that this conversation is happening in multiple ways, and in multiple places.

It wasn't my intention to turn the conversation into a conversation about Pussipo, but here I am, mentioning us again. Ambivalent is my word of the week. I am ambivalent about women's only spaces. What that means is I think that they are valuable...I wish that everyone could feel a certain basic level of comfort and ease everywhere, but they don't. And can't.

I nearly went to Barnard, but decided not to after attending an orientation session for accepted freshmen. I grew up around boys, and had only one good female friend in high school (who went to Bryn Mawyr and loved it). I realized I didn't want to be in a women-only environment and, moreover, I wasn't comfortable in one. I don't think it's an accident that as an undergraduate I studied political science, a field that is really perfect for having macho showdowns of wit and knowledge. If done well, I enjoy macho showdowns of wit and knowledge, both as participant and observer.

I'm more comfortable in women-centered environments, now, but it's a learning process. Pussipo is a network and a resource I turn to for conversation and input about all sorts of things. Mark & I live in Carlsbad, CA--no one is coming over on a Wednesday night to hang out and talk poetry, or anything else. The people on that list are my peers--not my only peers, but a substantial percentage of them. Conversation is good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am sick in a very half-assed way:

Achy back, stuffy nose, chills, sweats, asthma. Ok, that doesn't sound very half-assed when I write it all out like that. Somehow I'm fairly functional and don't feel wretched. I went to a very mellow yoga class this morning were we did a lot of hip openers and some very gentle back bends. I'm not good at being sick. I'm not a whiny sick person, I'm a "no, I am NOT sick" sick person. But I'm being good. Lots of fluids. Soups. Miso for breakfast. Vegetable for lunch. I won't go running.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Numbers, Gender, Inertia

I do not want to grade my online class, but I am. I did not want to tutor for two hours at Smarthinking this morning, but I did. I did not want to clean out the top tray of my desk inbox--the one with actual paper in it, but I did.

Reading, with ambivalence, Simon DeDeo's response to the essay by Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young, "Numbers Trouble," in the Chicago Review 53:2/3. This essay is a version of a presentation that they gave at Feminaissance back at the end of April. I've not read the essay, but I was there at the talk and took notes. I remember thinking, "I am glad that someone counted, because now we don't have to argue about the numbers." Of course, we have to argue about what they might mean. That's a conversation worth having, but I'm not going to blog about it now, especially since I don't have the article in front of me.

Simon's comments about pussipo are similar to those expressed by some very dear friends who are men.

And I agree, without having any statistics, that men tend to submit their poems more than women, and tend to respond to queries for work more quickly and promptly. I certainly have been guilty of taking my sweet time to respond to enthusiastic editors. Why? It probably does have something to do with feelings I have about being assertive and public, and I'm sure those have something to do with how I was raised, and I'm sure that all has something to do with gender, too.

But I'm getting better! I have now responded to all outstanding requests for work or invitations to submit work with the exception of Absent. Yikes! But I have your deadline on my mind and on my calendar, and I think I know what to send.

This part of Simon's post also interested me:

"It is just as vital to assert that these images are very particular. While the number of male modes (for whites -- compare the treatment of Amiri Baraka to Fredrick Seidel) is broad to the point of freedom, it is, in my experience that women do not have this freedom. "

I've often felt the exact opposite--but, again, I don't have any evidence to back this up. It's a bit of a theoretical cliche for me to assert that as a woman my subjectivity is more, um, shifty than that of a man (woman as riot, etc). I've found that as more or less straight young woman, it's been ridiculously easy to get endless entry-level jobs in a variety of professions. It was relatively easy to shift my academic focus from modern Chinese history to English literature, and it was relatively easy to make a professional shift again out of the DC public policy world to teaching ESL and doing freelance graphic design. My CV is confusing. I have 6 different resumes that I use depending on the project I'm bidding on.

My life as a poet has been similar--I make "post-language" poems, procedural translations, procedural poems, things that kind of resemble new narrative, prose poems that kind of resemble, um, some combination of langpo and new narrative, visual poems, collages, sound poems, sound collages, short stories with narrative in the more traditional sense of the word... Now I'm working on a piece that involves choreography. Yay!

That's all very exciting, but it's a bit disturbing, too. I feel like one reason why I've had so much flexibility is because I'm perceived as so very unthreatening. I'm 29, pretty and nerdy. I am even happy and enthusiastic. I am unavailable! I like to party! I don't think anyone really gives a crap about what I say or do. That's a kind of freedom, I suppose. I'm overstating my point for effect, but some of what I've said must be true.

Potential Employer: "Are you on your husband's health insurance?"

Me: "I am not married."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've uploaded most of the pictures from my trip to DC & NY.
So I'm not actually going back to teach ESL tomorrow--the classes run in 4 week cycles, and because this past week the school was closed, they're not actually beginning a new session tomorrow, they're beginning the 4th week of the session. So, one more week of computer-only work. How many Smarthinking hours can I work! It's a test of endurance!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I love it when I go back to my own work and don't quite identify with it.

I've started making textural notes at See it Everywhere for a poem I'm still writing--an account of daily sensory/textural experiences and observations.

I continue to reorganize my office. It's wonderful to throw things away and put the things I wish to keep, lovingly, into a place that works. While reorganizing, I found all of my beads and jewelry-making tools from, oh, 10 years ago. Among my beads was a pair of earrings: pink metal unicorns against silver clouds. Someone (an uncle?) must have given them to me as a gift while I was in high school. I'm sure I shunned them because they were too girly for me at the time. Now, I like them and wore them today.

I'm finishing edits on Terminal Humming before I send it off to someone who will send it off to an editor. Then, I will probably send it to other editors as well. I really like the manuscript, it's done. I'd love for it to have a home so that it can really be done and I can move on with my writing life.

Also while reorganizing my office I found a large sketchbook with the beginnings of a manuscript in it: "I am attracted to displays of power. And alphabets. Etc."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I am thinking in space

I started to reorganize my office today. I moved some books into the bedroom. I enjoy sleeping surrounded by books. Mark and I went grocery shopping today. It was smokier in Oceanside. I have no idea if I am teaching next week. I probably am. I hope so.

I found a green sequined scarf when I reorganized my office. And also a wax head that John Havelda made that says "cul" on it. He once mentioned that he had a closet full of those heads--they show up in my dreams about twice a year, either on their own or in a closet.

I am trying to love my living space. I do love it, but I'm trying to take care of it like I do. There are fires, and we can't go anywhere or do a lot of work, so reorganizing seems like a good thing to do.

It was good to see friends in DC and NY. Had a lot of good conversations. Been thinking about Yvonne Rainer and Feelings are Facts, how to incorporate more movement into my readings. I always worry that it will be cheesy. Jessica said that even if it were cheesy, it would still be interesting. I'm interested in movement that is precarious--falling and near falling, and anything backwards. During my reading in DC, all I managed to do is pace. I think that I actually need to choreograph something, and then work back towards improvisation. I've never performed improvised movement alone.

Most of SoCal geography isn't really conducive to the kind of safe, suburban living it's supposedly known for

If you click on the map below, it will become larger and you'll be able to see the detail. A few of you, my dear readers, and family, have sent emails and text messages requesting more specific information--thank you so much for thinking of us! Truly, Mark, Lester and I are fine. Our little coastal section of Carlsbad is not threatened by fires at all. I am very glad that we don't live inland, even a little.

Cal State San Marcos, as well as FLS Miracosta, where I teach ESL, are both closed, as are most of the county schools. So we're not teaching. I'm still doing my freelance projects and online teaching, and I'm glad. I need something to do when I'm not exercising so that I don't just watch the TV obsessively or get into blog fights. The Yoga Center was closed for a while, but they've reopened with a limited schedule, so I'm going to go practice this morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lester Has Distinct Musical Preferences

Like many parrots, he always enjoys well-crafted, melancholy pop like the Jayhawks and Wilco. Lester, who is named for Lester Young, listens to a lot of jazz. While I was gone, Mark realized that Lester prefers the tenor sax to the alto sax. The higher registers of Benny Carter, for example, made him nervous--they sound too much like alert calls perhaps.

San Diego Weather Mythology

Several people on the plane with me from DC to San Diego were reporters or red cross workers. Still others were their for conferences--some of which had been canceled by the time we landed. One guy, whose conference had not been canceled, was very chatty and wished to brag about the dinner reservations he had for this evening. He said, "the weather here is always better than everywhere else" and I said, "well, today it's not." We'd flown over several firelines coming into the airport--the pilot had pointed them out--and the entire plane smelled like smoke. He insisted that it was a beautiful day. Most people immediately began coughing when they excited the airport. The weather was not nice, and yet they insisted it was.

Snow Beer Day vs. Fire Beer Day

In Washington, DC we'd sometimes have "Snow Beer Day" if classes and/or work were canceled due to inclement weather. Blizzards and snow storms don't scare me. They come, they drop a lot of snow. Depending on where you live, you lose your power, but then you just make a fire. If you live in DC, the whole city shuts down, but it is OK. A snow day is a good time to hang out at a friend's house and drink tasty beers.

The concept of Snow Beer Day doesn't translate well to San Diego. We don't really have much snow. We have fires! Unlike snowstorms, fires directly kill people and animals and plants and destroy structures. Fighting them (you don't "fight" a snowstorm) requires helicopters and "firebombing" airplanes. Finally, fires mean that huge numbers of people can't just hang out at home, and those that can hang out at home can't just get on the road to see a friend, because roads are blocked.

It's difficult to translate the relaxed, friendly feelings of Snow Beer Day to Fire Beer Day. Yesterday, Mark and I went to Las Olas for our regular happy hour. The bar was abnormally crowded with people drinking and having their own Fire Beer Day. Fire Beer Day has a kind of reckless desperation--it's not warm and friendly at all. We enjoyed our Tecates and fish tacos in spite of the smoke and ash and helicopters flying overhead, and everyone else did, too. But no one was relaxed.

I suspect that Fire Beer Day is really Fire Tequila Day, but that doesn't have the same ring to it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yes there are fires

We are on the coast. The very coast. So, everything is coated in ash, and smoky, but Mark, Lester & I are well. That is not the case for the rest of San Diego county, however.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The readings are over, they went well and I had fun.

But I'm not going to spend all morning giving you a detailed report--I'll save that for when I'm back in Carlsbad. I'm hopefully going to see Jessica today! Right now, I'm about head down to the National Gallery and see the Turner show, and then I'm going to have my lunch and my afternoon Ricard, and then I'm going to go to Bridge Street Books. That sounds like a perfect DC day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

East Coast Readings

I leave tomorrow for DC and Friday for NY. I haven't been back to the east coast since I left, and don't know when I'll be there again, so do come say hello!

October 20 at the Segue Reading Series @ The Bowery Poetry Club

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. 308 BOWERY, just north of Houston ****$6 admission goes to support the readers****

K. Lorraine Graham is the author of three chapbooks, Terminal Humming (Slack Buddha), See i Everywhere (Big Game Books), and Large Waves to Large Obstacles (forthcoming from Take Home Project), and the recently released chapdisk Moving Walkways (Narrowhouse Recordings). She has just completed the extended manuscript of Terminal Humming. Tao Lin is the author of a novel, EEEEE EEE EEEE (Melville House, 2007), a story-collection, Bed (Melville House, 2007), and two poetry collections, You Are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am (Action Books, 2006), and the forthcoming Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Melville House, Spring 2008).

In Your Ear Reading Series @ District of Columbia Arts Center
3:00PM, Sunday, October 21, 2007

Please join the In Your Ear Poetry Series for a reading by Miles Champion, K. Lorraine Graham, & P. Inman on Sunday, October 21st at 3:00 PM.


MILES CHAMPION's books include SORE MODELS and THREE BELL ZERO. A chapbook, EVENTUALLY, is forthcoming from A Rest Press, as is a full-length collection, HOW TO LAUGH, from Adventures in Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in recent issues of _No: A Journal of the Arts_, _Shiny_ and _Zoland Poetry_, and his recent collaborations with artists include one on paper with Trevor Winkfield and one in latex with Jane South. He moved to New York from London in 2002.

K. LORRAINE GRAHAM is the author of three chapbooks, TERMINAL HUMMING, SEE IT EVERYWHERE, LARGE WAVES TO LARGE OBSTACLES (forthcoming from Take Home Project), and a chapdisk, MOVING WALKWAYS, from Narrowhouse Recordings. Lorraine lives in Carlsbad, CA and blogs at

P. INMAN grew up on Long Island off the coast of "America," 6-7 miles away from the Atlantic; lit pubs include: OCKER, RED SHIFT, CRISS CROSS, VEL, AT. LEAST., AMOUNTS. TO., & NOW/TIME; other pubs: Four Fields (DC), Grogan's (Ennis), Shagwong's (Montauk), Taafe's (Galway); employment: retired Federal employee, currently works as a labor rep for AFSCME Council 26, 3 blocks away from the White House; currently sits: 1 foot from keyboard.

Admission is $3.00.

District of Columbia Arts Center is located at 2438 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC, between the Dupont Circle and Woodley Park metro stations. For directions, see the DCAC web site at

"'Virgin Mary' toast fetches $28,000"

Monday, October 15, 2007

I got a manicure today

It will be chipped by Wednesday, but it was nice. The nail technician looked at my hands and said, "you don't get manicures very often, do you?" I'm more likely to be scolded when I go in for a manicure than when I get my hair cut. Then again, I get my hair cut at Supercuts--it's not in their interest to be snobby with customers.

Trying not to over plan my time on the east coast. In addition to reading, I know that I'll go to Bridge Street Books, Moby Dick's House of Kabob (the original Georgetown location), Bistrot du Coin for an afternoon Ricard, and down to the galleries.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I burned my index finger, but the salmon cakes were good.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I got a flu shot today.

I had a pumpkin ale.

I cooked with tomatillos for the first time. A pork stew. The broth was good, but the pork never got as tender as it usually does. What did I do wrong? Was it it meat or me?

I am thinking about what to pack for the trip to DC and NY this week. Is the silver-knit dress too 70s-style evening wear? Which heels do I bring--the purple peep toe fake croc platforms or the black patent-leather peep toe sling backs? And since I can't really walk around in either, which other shoes do I bring? Slouchy boots?

All of this is a way of avoiding making the final decisions about what to read.

Friday, October 12, 2007

There were about 10 middle-aged women protesting outside of Planned Parenthood today

when I went to pick up my birth control after work. Birth control is a weird term. When I'm feeling hostile I refer to it as "anti-baby pills," but my birth control isn't pill-form and I don't use it because I'm anti-baby. I don't want to have children, ever, but I am not anti-child. Maybe I am anti-baby culture. The protesters had predictable anti-abortion signs and signs advocating abstinence.

I don't advocate abstinence, but I'm hardly pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion. Everyone is in favor of life. Life is good (it's abstract, but life generally has a positive connotation). Pro-life is not the logical opposite of pro-choice.

I was at dinner with some poet friends once and someone said, bitterly, "women don't matter, only babies." I was 23 and living in an urban area that voted Democrat and Green and so I thought, "Wow, that is kind of uptight." However, I now understand that statement. San Diego papers frequently run articles implying that Feminism has gone too far.

Feminism hasn't even arrived in San Diego county yet.

When I left Planned Parenthood with a bag of birth control and a bike ride by the lagoon and the entire weekend ahead of me, I felt quite pleased with myself. I wasn't the one stuck in a strip mall parking lot on a lovely Friday afternoon with an anti-abortion sign.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I have been teaching, grading, practicing yoga, running, cleaning, printing and typing up poems, preparing to be in DC and NY next week, trying to decide what to read and how to read, and what to wear, reorganizing Lester's cage so that he doesn't get bored and overly possessive of his toys, and so on. Also, I've been admiring the Western Bluebirds that have suddenly showed up in fairly large numbers to hang out on the Miracosta campus. They are handsome birds.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In response to the four people who responded to me without really listening to me and assuming I was speaking in sterotypes because they can only

think in sterotypes:

1. I did not learn Castillian Spanish, I learned Spanish in La Serena, Chile and Mexico City. And I wasn't even talking about how native speakers of Spanish speak Spanish, I was talking about how Spanish names are Californiaized and pronounced, and how it's impossible to pronounce anything the way the locals do. La Costa is "La Cost ah" instead of "La coast a."

2. I wasn't talking about you being old and from the 70s, I was talking about how downtown San Diego looks on a Saturday.

3. Not all artists use and abuse drugs. Corporate people and doctors and so on also abuse drugs.

4. Writing and reading is not snotty. Saying that people who write and read are snotty is snotty.

Santa Annas

Make my skin dry.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Half of my brain is out of my eye

Tomorrow, Mark and I are going to head town to the San Diego City Book Fair. I'm curious about Oakley Hall, and I'm also interested in Rebecca Solnit--I liked Wanderlust: A History of Walking. And Amiri Baraka will be there, with music. 1913, Les Figues, and i.e. Press will all be there to represent. There aren't really any San Diego lit events that I feel like I both want to go to and am obligated to go to. This is one.

The streets in La Jolla are collapsing. This happens around here. Really, people, one shouldn't build homes on the side of hills in SoCal. The hill will either be blown away or washed away, and it will happen in your lifetime. "This time, officials said, the city will use much tougher grading and filling standards than those in effect in 1961 when building was allowed to continue after a similar slide destroyed seven homes under construction." I don't believe it. Builders, developers, and contractors can build anything anywhere in SD county, out of whatever material they want. The cheaper and more shortsighted the better!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It feels like my entire brain is in my right eye.

My right eye is itchy and swollen. I have the urge to buy hundreds of dollars of vitamins and herbal supplements and also a fountain pen and expensive notebooks and this book on the history of wine in Persian food. I used to have a nice Waterman Expert II medium nib pen. I like medium nibs because the ink flows faster and so it is easier to write faster. I will buy none of these things. Well, maybe I will buy more flaxseed oil, but that is it.

The postcards will have to be orange, because that is the color card stock I have. How festive.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Last night, I dreamed that I was trying to organize Lester's cage but couldn't make it work. Then, I gave a reading in a blue round room, and a fat old man said to me, "I can't believe no one has published your book yet," and I said, "are you going to publish my book?" and he said, "no," and I said, "well why, then, can't you believe that no one has published my book yet?" After that, I remembered that I was trying to organize Lester's cage, so I went back to doing that. But I had his travel cage, and so none of the regular perches would fit.

I have new and very small ESL class--one student from Germany and one student from Italy. They are talkers, which helps. We started a unit on religion, and spent most of the morning talking about Burma/Myanmar. They read the newspaper. My previous class was smart, but did not read the news, which made morning warm up conversation quite difficult--once you move from talking about what you did yesterday and the weather, it's the news or the lesson.

I'm trying to make some postcard things to use during my readings coming up (not like I'm counting the days or anything, ahem). Once the poems are all on cards, I can rearrange them endlessly until I like the order for reading, and then I can give them away. I need something to give away or trade, since I have no chapbooks right now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In yoga this morning, we did a lot of back bends; ustrasana (camel pose), half frog and full frog pose (what's the sanskrit for those?), dhanurasana (bow pose) and then urdvadanurasana (upward bow/wheel pose).

Yoga works with metaphors that are usually horrible cliches if made into art but often profound if experienced physically. When you do a back bend, you have to expose and open up the entire front of your body. This includes your chest and stomach. You have to expose your throat. You have to do all of this while your legs and the back of your torso hold you steady. This movement is the opposite of what most of us do all day as we hunch over our desks or steering wheels. It's also the opposite of what most living creatures do when they're defensive. Fetal position is safe--our vital organs are protected. Urdvadanurasana is an opposite of fetal position.

I like wheel pose, and camel--any of the upside down back bends. I struggle more with dhanurasana and frog, but I'm getting there. I like being upside down. I like dropping back into wheel. I feel brave, tough, and unusually bendy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Unrelated, but the nun monster has a 30 foot purple tongue that strangles you from a long distance.

How did Colette get fat on shellfish? She said they were impossible to resist.

Unrelated, but I'm reading Barbara Henning's You, Me, and the Insects.

The beach was beautiful this afternoon. I'm trying to give in to the beauty of the beach. I'm convinced that experiencing beauty is bad for my poems. But I'm good at finding horrible things, even while at the beach on a Saturday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

These are the titles of the presentations my students gave today:

History of Kim chi from Ancient Times to Now
The Culture of Tipping and the California Gold Rush
I Love Cologne
Carnival Around the World
Brazilian Immigrants in Tokyo Suburbs

And I am going to make risotto. I don't know what kind. But some kind. Something different than just basic risotto w/mushrooms.

It rained this morning, so I drove to work. It was weird. But I got to wear a dress. That was nice.

While it was raining I listened to a report on public radio about how it's going to be another la nina dry winter.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today I taught my ESL class in a fancy new lab room in the fancy new horticulture building at MiraCosta College. I don't want to go back to teaching in the crummy trailer! These rooms had lots of computers, and an overhead projector. We amused ourselves by zooming in on various neighborhoods in Tokyo and Cologne. It was kind of related to the topic at hand--rural urban migration. Tokyo has more than 10 million more people in it than Mexico City. Mexico City goes on forever. Tokyo is the largest city in the world. I want to spend some time there outside of the airport.

View Larger Map

Halfway through class, a man delivered flowers. There were buckets of dirt everywhere, and various bulbs and other plants, and also a bucket of star fruit. I wanted to eat one but didn't. I told my students what I know about the history of the cut flower industry in Encinitas.

Most of what I know about Tokyo comes from the airport, and my students, and the history classes I took as an undergrad. Once, because I was lucky and wearing nice clothes, I got to fly first class from Beijing to Tokyo and then Tokyo to New York. I sat next to a Japanese businessman and ate caviar--the only time I have eaten caviar (it was salty).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This doesn't mean that you can only tell me nice things. But please, help me out a little.

I have this habit of obsessing on (or over? about?) disgusting and violent images. This can happen at any moment, but it especially happens when I'm lying on my back--in shavasana (which translates as "corpse pose"), for example. I still obsess over images from horror movies I saw when I was younger, and also a documentary about the Mai Lai Massacre I saw in high school. I'm particularly angry at a former coworker who told me an especially disgusting and violent and cruel story one day after lunch, and now it is in my brain forever.

I mostly obsess over images of horror that have anything to do with violence towards animals, girls, or women. In this way I am a lot like the news in the USA, except that I don't forget these images, they pile up and I think about them before I go to sleep, or when I wake up, or when I'm in shavasana, or before I prepare to do a back bend. I think about them when I'm hypersensitive to texture and can't quite filter and control my emotional reactions to things. Like today, for example.

I'm a bit touchy about this because in the past two or three months several people have tried to tell me stories about how their small bird or cat or little pet died a horrible death. Most small pets die because the people who buy them are oblivious assholes.

A lot of people who decide to have children are oblivious assholes, too.

So, please please don't tell me your stories of awful things that have happened--my body is full of them already.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It is laundry day again

When I first met Mark, he lived with two budgerigars: a white and blue one named Mr. Billings and a green and yellow one named Sir Bayle. Bayle was a bit older than Billings. He was very sweet but not so bright. Billings was a bit more crafty. Budgies in general are smart, crafty birds.

One afternoon, Bayle was singing happily. Billings was perched on one foot a few inches from him, pretending to be asleep. As Bayle sang, Billings crept up to him, moving a few millimeters closer and then resuming his fake sleeping stance. Finally, when he was close enough to Bayle (who was still singing and quite oblivious), he kicked him! Bayle was surprised of course, and the two of them had a good play-fight.

Mark and I stopped getting budgies because we couldn't find anyone who had healthy birds. A budgie should live to be 7-10 years old, or even older. But because they are a small and inexpensive bird, they are over bred. But I love budgies! They are so cheerful and so tricky! Budgies like to party. I also think that Lester would enjoy the company--not in his own cage, of course, but in a separate cage next to his.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm tired and and hypersensitive to texture.

But I am done with grading for the time being. And the bike is fixed.

Perhaps during my next underemployed month I'll take a basic bike mechanics course, that would be fun, and then I can do repairs myself the next time.

One of my ESL students complained that his host father gets overwrought about every single sports event on TV. The host father watches a lot of sports games, alone, and screams and cries at the TV. I actually completely relate to this behavior. Being able to scream and cry about something is great. I can't scream at my online teaching supervisor, so a baseball game is a good thing to yell about. It was the end of the class, and I didn't have time to explain the word "alienation."

Even if you don't get overwrought about sports, I bet you get overwrought about something else. I yelled explicatives this morning while trying to fit the bike in the car (we have no bike rack), and I was glad to yell explicatives. It was great.

This is a picture of of someone in Parsva Bhuja Dandasana, or dragonfly pose. I kind of did this asana on Wednesday.

When I'm doing yoga and my teacher says something about peace coming from within, I always think something like, "yes, but if someone attacks me, it is essential for me to get angry about it and punch them if necessary." This is one of the many places where I differ from the new age pseudo Tantric yoga philosophy I love so much: balance doesn't come from within. Balance is a complicated dynamic. If I am standing on my hands, I need to focus on both my body and the environment.

Everything is a complicated dynamic. Duh.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We have no internet and the bike has a flat tire

Well, this weekend is the crunch time for my online classes. I have about 30 hours of grading, at least, at the end of every six week session. I am teaching two classes now. Mark and I went to the library today. The Carlsbad library is nice. Really nice. I am glad to be a "patron." Time Warner sucks.

Tomorrow I am not going to yoga. Instead, Mark and I are going to the IHOP that Mark ate at every Sunday morning the first fall he was here before I moved out (after IHOP, he would go to work). So Mark and I are going to go to that particular IHOP, and then to CSUSM where the internet isn't down (the library doesn't open until 1 tomorrow)! That part will be nice. The grading will not be nice. But then it will be over.

But I know I've been grading too much. I thought a sign that said "American Asphalt" was funny.

And before all that we are going to fix the bike. Cars smash into each other all the time, so there is always a lot of glass all over the road. I'm surprised only one tire is flat.

And speaking of not going to yoga, I can do dragonfly pose decently. All the weird arm balances seem to work for me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

History of the USA

Down South
Up North
Out West
Back East

Editing manuscripts, grading, partying

I wrote this line from Dear [Blank] I Believe in Other Worlds when I had recently graduated from college and hadn't experienced bureaucracy nearly as much as I have now:

"remember you are here because you love what's subsumed in bureaucracy"

I made steak for Mark and I. I haven't eaten steak in ages. I'm currently obsessed with grilled vegetables (squash and red peppers are a must, but eggplant, tomatoes, and mushrooms work well too) layered with fresh ricotta, and a kind of basil-sun dried tomato pesto. Yum yum yum. And very good with a basic steak with a basic pan sauce (shallots, wine, aromatics, etc).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grading. All weekend.

But after Monday, I won't be, because the weekend will be over.

Benny on the bus was very upset about the rain this morning, and he yelled at everyone: "Is it raining?! It's raining! It's raining!"

Lester was fussy today. He tried to nest in my hair. He needs his wings clipped, and I think he's feeling amorous. He was born in late November, so his father must have been feeling amorous this time of year.

There is a new kitty in the apartment complex. A small, old, grey kitty that sits in the sun and has a big voice. I made contact this afternoon after a run.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On Monday night I dreamed I was presenting at an academic conference. My paper was well received, and the chair of the panel took me to a back room in a library and said, "congratulations!" and then duct-taped me up like a mummy. I think that Ron Silliman and Stan Aps were there, but they weren't on the panel. My paper was about Mina Loy and I was wearing a lampshade.

This dream sounds very hostile and scary and anti-academic, but I don't feel hostile to academia, at least not any more hostile than I do to a lot of other things. But in the dream, I wasn't scared, just puzzled: "how odd, they are duct-taping me up like a mummy. What do they expect will come of this?" It was ridiculous. Here I am looking dreamy:

When I came in to work on Tuesday, one of my coworkers told me that she'd dreamed that her boyfriend was cheating on her with me. She seems nice but I've never met her boyfriend.

Two of the other male teachers also reported having strange dreams, but they didn't go into any detail.

I asked my students if any of them had had strange dreams, and they said no and claimed to not remember their dreams, ever. I said "at least one of you must be lying."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Xbox games for my 9.5 year old sisters

So, as I mentioned yesterday, Dad, Mary and my sisters are moving to Adelaide, Australia. They'll be in Flower Mound, Texas (oh, the glorious suburbs north of Dallas...) from October to January, which means a big Graham family powwow in December. According to Mary, Michelle and Allison are begging for an Xbox. So now I need to think about Xbox games.

Blinx: The Time Sweeper sounds kind of interesting as does Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix.

They do read, but they read their own things. There are new fangled series for young girls that they read. I don't know what they are.

Sarah doesn't seem to care much about video games. I was thinking of getting her some kind of a girly fashion design program, if such a thing exists--she likes to play with paper dolls. I think she's already received knitting kits, etc, and I don't have enough money to get her a sewing machine. Besides, anything I give them will have to either stay in Flower Mound or get carted off to south Australia.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On my mind

1. So, Dad and Mary and my little sisters (Sarah, Michelle, and Allison) are not moving to Singapore anymore, they are moving to Adelaide. Dad will be with BH Billinton working on the Olympic dam project. So, for now, no more Bechtel. This is good. Now I can fantasize about Mark and I visiting them and then going to Tasmania. This isn't going to happen, but still.

2. What makes a dunkel a dunkle? I know that a dunkle is a darker wheat beer. Stout is a dark beer made from barley, or maybe oatmeal, like Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, the beer that convinced me I could like beer.

3. This email message from an employer:
Fall Session I is quickly approaching. As we begin to prepare for our upcoming classes, it is important to the General Education Department that everyone is on the same page.

We therefore ask that you attend a special training hosted by one of our full time faculty members. Attendance will be taken at this session.

XXX XXXX invites you to participate as an attendee in this online training session.
I love how this email suggests that invitees are not on the same page as everyone else. It also suggests that the training session is "special." What does that mean? Created just for the people who are not on the same page as everyone else? I also love how we are invited to participate and also asked to participate. And then, in big bold letters, they tell us that they will be taking attendance.