Monday, January 28, 2013

All of this "coping," all of this "getting by," all of this "day by day" has turned me towards writing poetry. One of my open secrets is that I wrote poetry for many years, most of it lost now. The way that scraps of thought could be fixed by a poem was very soothing to me. I am soothed again by that now. Well, perhaps soothed is the wrong word, marginally satisfied is probably better. I can pin down the small truths and then let them rest.

I keep starting essays about grief and end up with poems. Maybe it is the sudden lack of perspective I am suffering from, but a poem seems like an option now in a way that it hasn't in a long while. I don't know how I feel about this except that any writing is better than none.


Does what you write, or how you write it, change when your circumstances change? How?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Goodbye, friend

Today I am heading down to Philadelphia to my great friend Sally's wake. I will be witnessing the sorrow of my two friends, Jenn and Greg, her children, as well as the many other people who loved her and relied on her.

My own sorrow is furtive and strange. I am in shock--I don't believe that she is gone, but I know that it is true. I fear that I won't be able to support my friends in their grief because of the power of my own. I am afraid that I will become furtive and strange, myself. I am afraid of life without her.

Sally had much to teach someone 40 years her junior about life, but one of the things that made her special is that she also was always ready to learn something about it, too. As you can see from the photo below, she was always up to help out with a project, especially if it meant trying something new. That is what I will keep with with as I try to create a lesson out out a tragedy.

Photo by Jennifer Shahade
Dr. Sally Solomon 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

lounging with giacco

So, I felt like a sack of pain today so I hung with Giacco and worked & read.

Starting in on Y.T Yost's new food-themed anthology and George Saunder's new story collection Tenth of December, I am struck with how much I love short stories. Drop me in a world, make me believe it and I will be yours.

[Giacco was rescued by Sugar Mutts. Here is his page, check it out!]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

more bad, good dog

One of the most distressing things about grief for me is its tenacity. It just comes and comes, never forgetting for more than a few moments. When you are a person with depression, this doggedness can turn great sadness into a feeling of sickness or even, in my case, a sense of being trapped in a nightmare. The depression augments the grief like diarrhea atop a shit sandwich. More bad.

I've been eating a shit sandwich for several months. But these days, unlike in the past, I have a persistent, inconvenient, desire to stick around on this planet. So the question became: How to keep on keeping, etc. AND smile every once and awhile?

I started looking at adoptable dogs on petfinder a few months ago to distract from my dad's tidal wave of a diagnosis. It was calming, and free and sane. Fast forward to B & I checking out an adoption event and then emailing a few choice petfinder folks. Only one rescuer responded, but the dog we were looking at got adopted. However, there was a new dog that she wanted to get out of the shelter ASAP. Enter Giacco (jee-ah-koh), foster dog extraordinaire:

Giacco is 50 lbs. of puppyish fun with some learning to do. He is getting adjusted to tryharderland and is always ready for some quiet reading time. We are not sure about the long-term feasibility of having a dog, but getting to know him has been a jolt of love and difference that my brain needed.
[Giacco was rescued by Sugar Mutts. Here is his page, check it out!]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Regional Relationships 3: Yock Yok by Feresteh Toosi & Neil Brideau

After too many days, I hit up my PO Box and found this package from Regional Relationships, a Chicago-based outfit that investigates the idea of "regional."

This third installment of the series is by artist Feresteh Toosi and cartoonist Neil Brideau. It includes a comic, dishtowel and audio interview on CD.

The project explores Yock, a noodle dish that goes by many names, including "old sober."  The comic takes the reader through the many legends about the tomatoey noodles through interviews, tall tales and even some true crime. The last line in the comic is "It's old food, and broke people eat it! Go eat some!" But there is no recipe. It is cute, thanks to Brideau's art style, but slight, and left me wanting more.

The dish towel was my favorite element. With its combination of utility and fantastic elements— it places the geographical area where yok exists in a mythical context—makes it an interesting and enduring item that will remind you of what you learned every time you use it. I especially like Brideau's sea monsters.
The presentation of the CD led me to I expect much more from the interview than a less-than-five-minute chat with a friend of the artists who makes a vegan yock and appears in the last two panels of the comic. It feels tacked on to the project and actually takes something away from the exploration.

I am not sure how this project fits in to the rest of the project but I'd like to find out. Subscriptions are pricey, but there is a budget option for $30/year.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Baby Geisha by Trinie Dalton

What better surprise from a trip to L.A. could there be than a Trinie Dalton reading at Family Bookstore. I already talked about that here, back when it actually happened. I recommended this book to Prickly Pete by saying that they were perfect stories for his trip to the city: short, full of vice and sweetness. Since he hasn't didn't return it until now, I'd like to believe that the rec went right.

Dalton's work crackles with desert heat with bursts of wildflower color. It is utterly surprising without cheating her characters of depth or realness. She captures what is sneaky and interesting about Southern California: bad-drug haze, almost petulant natural beauty, burnout wisdom and the fringes of society and sanity.  

"'Is that a mushroom cult?' people whispered as I fluffed up kale bundles." (Escape Mushroom Style)

Journeys and their place in personal reinvention, or perhaps, redemption, are a running theme in the collection. Whether it is to a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, hot for a Pulitzer (Pura Vida) or a three-dollar-a-night campsite in the Ozarks (Wet Look),these characters are trying to run towards their better selves and mostly failing.

Baby Geisha is about half stories and half monologue—The Sad Drag Monologues to be exact. I preferred the stories, especially The Perverted Hobo, Wet Look and Jackpot (II), because they are denser and more of a much-need, imagery-laden, punch to the brain, but enjoyed the rhythm of the monologues. From Small Time Spender, in reference to free enlightenment in the age of "austerity":

"The all-loving, all-embracing wise universe: the Jewel Tree Meditation is free... Enlightenment awaits us, in the form of Stevie Wonder. He's living with his hot wife in Detroit. Time to write a fan letter."

Boom Boom Boom. Loved it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 reads

Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House edited by Rob Spillman

Blood Child and other stories by Octavia E. Butler

Nurse Nurse by Katie Skelly

The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Forecast by Shya Scanlon

Significant Objects edited by Joshua Glenn & Rob Walker

Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee

Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen

Anna & Eva by Jennifer Daydreamer

Oliver by Jennifer Daydreamer

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint

Chester 5000 by Jess Fink

Radio Iris by Anne-Marie Kinney

Torch by Cheryl Strayed

Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Better With You Here by Gwendolyn Zepeda

How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak

Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch

Three Messages and A Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic edited by Eduardo Jiménez Mayo and Chris N. Brown

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Only Skin by Sean Ford

kus 11: Artventurous

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, edited by Kate Bernheimer

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

Girl, Reading by Katie Ward

kus 10: Sea Stories

Are You My Mother by Alison Bechdel

Kiss & Tell by MariNaomi

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Deathless by Cathrynne M. Valente

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

The Accidental by Ali Smith

Baby Geisha by Trinie Dalton

kus 9

Embassytown by China Mieville

Tell It Slant by Beth Follett

Kraken by China Mieville

Wit's End by Karen Joy Fowler

Zazen by Vanessa Veselka

To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia