Thursday, December 22, 2011

'tis the season

I woke up to plows on the streets, but didn't realize the sound was plowing until I looked out the backdoor window and saw the  light cover of snow.  A bunny was trying to climb the metal pole holding my new bird feeder.  When he saw me, he ran away.  He might've actually been licking the shortening off of the pole.  Yesterday, Matthew and I watched a squirrel shimmy up to the feeder.  It was pretty great.  As soon as he made it to the top, he'd get 3 paws onto the feeder, holding onto the pole with his last back paw, then he'd lose his fat-squirrel balance and flip to the ground.  To make it more fun, we decided to grease the pole.  But the squirrel learned to just shake the pole so the seed comes to him.  That is far less entertaining.

Tomorrow begins the 6 days of Christmas and I'll be making kolaches and Mexican wedding cookies.    Today, I spent the morning making angel food candy & caramel cashew bars to add to my already large stash of candies and cookies.   Mostly, I'm excited to go to Matthew's brother's house to drink gluhwein and roast chestnuts.  It'll be my first roasted chestnut experience ever.

OH! But most importantly. A great day for politics:


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

While in the basement digging up Christmas decorations and Rod McKuen books, I found my high school portfolio, in which I'd taped this fortune.  Rather accurate, for a cookie. 

I'd sincerely forgotten much about high school. It was kind of a whirlwind experience, since I left a year early to study in Germany and then came home and had Carter. But after examining the source materials, it looks like high school wasn't that bad of a time-- not as bad as I thought I remembered it was, anyway.  I was in ski club, forensics, Odyssey of the Mind, and musicals. I loved Spanish and reading and writing.  In the cover letter of my portfolio, I say I want to study communications, which I don't 100% remember wanting to do.  And I was surprised at the number of things I'd written and included in my portfolio: a film review of Heathers, a music review of Mazzy Star's So Tonight That I Might See, a Dean Koontz book review, several short stories and an ample collection of poetry (some of which was surprisingly not-bad for a high school kid).

Included in my box of high school memorabilia were: a pregnancy journal, a baby book, and baby keepsakes.  The juxtaposition was a bit unsettling, but made me realize why I'd forgotten so much about high school. It's easy to take myself out of context sometimes, forgetting how I was just a kid, and then I just wasn't.  Maybe it's normal to scatter pieces of ourselves along the trail like this?  I often wonder how much of memory is picked up by the birds and how much might find its way back into our minds after being forgotten for so long. 

(Yes, I realize I'm spending lots of time lately pretending not to think about Alzheimer's.  Like, when you've written a poem about something and somebody says, "Hey! This poem is about a baby!" And you're like, "What? No. It's about chickens." And then you read it again, and think, "Damn.  It is about a baby."  It seems I've been trying to avoid the connection between memory and death for a long time, but I find it casually sneaking into everything I write.  It feels like a monster under the bed.  And I've decided to sleep through it for now.) 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I'm left-sided-stuffy and it makes my whole-self tired.  Stupid, dry-winter state with its unseasonably warm weather, which makes me want to walk in the dry, and then come home and sit in the dry, forced-heat house...

The cold and dry make me want to read about torture and bad things-- it makes me realize how not-too-bad winter is?  Not sure, but it's why I read Angela Carter at the beginning of each winter.  Instead of Carter, I'm reading Women Saints' Lives In Old English Prose again.  And I'm reading the Bible sometimes.  Though, I must clarify: I don't love Jesus.  I mean, he's great.  But I don't love him-love him.  By which I mean this:  if I click the "next blog" arrow, I will read the bloggers' description of themselves and their children, AND a declaration that they love Jesus.  Jesus is still all right with me, but I'm reading the Bible because it's a lovely, horrifying book.  And "lovely and horrifying" is my favorite literary combo.

In edition to reading "The Life of Aethelyryth," my day consisted of toffee, peppermint bark, and as-sugar-free-as-possible pfeffernusse.  Since I'd only really eaten chocolate, sugar, and butter, I decided on kale & barley for dinner.  Oh. And I had an interview, which went quite well.  Probably because I felt good in my interview outfit.  The highlight of the day, though, was from this great Cool TV find.

So, Carter's been on me to watch this "awesome" music video for a few days.  He was (maybe is a little still) big into Weird Al, and generally has had questionable taste in things in the past.  (I mean, I introduced him to Weird Al, so I guess I can only blame myself...) Today, I wasn't much in the mood for a music video.  I'd already watched I Think We're Alone Now, a documentary about a 53-year-old man and an intersexual who are in love (eh-hem- stalking) 80's pop-sensation/went-on-to-pose-for-Playboy Tiffany.  But Carter said he'd seen this video on Cool TV, and, given my history with Cool TV, I decided I needed to check it out. This is what he showed us (Matthew was there, too, eating dinner):

Pretty great, right?  Though I'm not sure why I think it's ok for this lady to beat up these dudes, but get pissy about Rhianna songs... Is it because there's a triangle in this song?

To back track, the greatest thing that happened last week: Carter asked me if he could watch Cool TV for inspiration.  Hells yes, I said.  He proceeded to watch Cool TV and draw and write things.  He's working on this pretty awesome comic about the apocalypse right now, and he's using the story for his short fiction assignment that's due in his English class. ( The Apocalypse in context: the author of Ashes came to his school & talked about volcanoes, and this led to a discussion about the world ending...)

I'm happy to have an almost-teenage son.  I know so much more about what's going on with the world outside of poetry and the lives of saints because of him.  And, he's just pretty amazing.  Also, I'm happy that Matthew's done with the semester on Thursday.  So is Matthew.

Friday, December 9, 2011

a note on (friend) crushes & nostalgia

My good friend Danielle Jones-Pruett said the other day that crushes are a form of nostalgia.  I like this.  I'm not a big sucker for hanging out with my memories and feeling sad about how great things were.  Things were great, but are even greater now. And I used to have "things" with sentimental value, but after realizing that the things had no value beyond my association with them, I got rid of most of them.  I still have those memories, and if I loose my memories some day (which, hereditarily speaking, is a huge, scary possibility), I'd rather not be stuck in a house devoid of memory surrounded by objects that mean nothing to anyone. That said, nostalgia and I have a complicated relationship...

When I was in kindergarten, I wanted so badly to be friends with this one girl that I gave her all of my favorite things, like my Garfield pocket mirror and Halloween candy (not the Smarties, but good things like Skittles & Heath bars).  She never became my friend, but  I remember trying really hard to get her to like me.  I was only 5ish, but it changed me to realize not everyone would be my friend.  I can't remember her name or what was so special about her.  Maybe it was that she had brown hair and everyone else was blonde?  Regardless, I officially blame all of my friend crushes on her. 

Matthew and I went to the co-op a few months ago, and as we were leaving, he said, "Why did you just check that girl out?"  I hadn't been "checking her out"-"checking her out," but was thinking: "Wait, do I know you?"  And of course I didn't (otherwise I would've talked to her and not just checked her out), but something about her made me certain we should be friends.  If I saw her again, I probably wouldn't know it was her, but I imagine I'd still get the feeling that we should know each other.  And this feeling reminds me of the feeling I had when I gave the girl in kindergarten all of my worldly possessions so she would like me.  It wasn't that I just wanted her to like me, but that I was sure we'd be good friends.

...or was it that I wanted to be her?  Maybe she had a better lunch, which meant a different family-- a different mom, maybe no brother, maybe 4 sisters. Maybe she had a cat instead of a dog?  Or a pretty dress?  Or a large vocabulary?  So maybe the nostalgia isn't so much for the friendship that never was, but for all of the people I never got to be in order to become the person I am? Which means the most disappointing thing about life isn't that we die, but that we only get to be one person.  Even the men with secret families... they're still really just one person with secret families.  Maybe I write poems to be the girl in kindergarten who got to look at herself in my Garfield mirror each morning?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I was having a day

I'm having such a time trying to keep my head in a straight line these days.  I used to think fragmentation wasn't true.  But here it is.  Yesterday, I had a bunch of deadlines and, having taken care of them, I woke a bit disoriented today.  So, I made a list of things I've been putting off: dishes, vacuum, put books away, pay parking ticket...  It was this kind of day.  I ate frosted mini wheats, then stared at the wall for a while before tackling my list, and I checked my email between each task...  I ate an apple. I got a rejection.  I replied to a university about a teaching job. I got an email from Kenyon Review and told Matthew I was sick of getting rejected today (he's home studying for finals and was eating lunch).  And then I opened the email and they  want 2 poems for their online magazine, which shocked me and left me a bit... well, I didn't want to do anything even more than I hadn't wanted to do anything before. 

On that note. I was suppose to go to prison today for volunteer training, but my background check didn't clear in time.  I'll be teaching poetry classes at Oakhill through the Writers in Prisons Project, which seems like a pretty great time.  I'm rather excited.  I had volunteer training marked in my calendar, but when it fell through, it left me at the bottom of a swimming pool with no water.  Now what?  I finally decided to use the time to read some things I've been meaning to read and to write something here (but in reverse order-- or simultaneously according to how my head thinks time works today).  The Meatyard books I'd gotten from the library were recalled a few weeks ago, but I just got them back, so I'm excited to play with them again.  I'm also revisiting Wisconsin Death Trip, which I tend to read every year right before the snow falls just to feel like my head's above the ice even if my body's sinking beneath it.  I also usually read Angela Carter this time of year (actually, I think it's usually Octoberish), so I plan to dig her up soon.  And I have an Ecotone & Ploughshares sitting around that I've been meaning to read for some time.  AND. (phew) I want to read a story from Emma Straub's Other People We Married, which I got at AWP last year and still haven't read.

So. Those fun things have been added to my list.  

Also, I need to say these things: On Sunday, C & I went to look for snowy owls at Horicon Marsh. We saw none. BUT, we saw: bald eagles, pheasants, sandhill cranes, turkeys, a kestrel, and 3 long-eared owls (which were unbelievably beautiful and surprising).  It was rather eventful.  Yesterday, we got a tree and the house smells like a forest floor. So far, Roger has successfully eaten one half of a candy cane.  OK. It's 8pm. I will read and maybe con Matthew into watching an episode of Twin Peaks before sleeping.  What a strangely great day.