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.