Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"because I want to"

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
i do it just because i want to
because I want to

everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then
don't cry

and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there's no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know

i do it for the joy it brings...

-Ani DiFranco "Joyful Girl"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

a marvel

To D, with mirth.

"You imagined him something he wasn't. That's just what a woman is. She thinks she knows what's good for a man, and she's going to see he gets it; and no matter if he's starving, he may sit and whistle for what he needs, while she's got him, and is giving him what's good for him."
"And what are you doing?" she asked.
"I'm thinking what tune I shall whistle," he laughed.
And instead of boxing his ears, she considered him in earnest.
"You think I want to give you what's good for you?" she asked.
"I hope so; but love should give a sense of freedom, not of prison. Miriam made me feel tired up like a donkey to a stake. I must feed on her patch, and nowhere else. It's sickening!"
"And would you let a woman do as she likes?"
"Yes; I'll see that she likes to love me. If she doesn't--well I don't hold her."
"If you were as wonderful as you say--," replied Clara.
"I should be the marvel I am," he laughed.
There was a silence in which they hated each other, though they laughed.
"Love's a dog in a manger," he said.
"And which of us is the dog?" she asked.
"Oh well, you, of course."
So there went on a battle between them.

-D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

Thursday, August 25, 2011

we should've left you.

Today is apparently the 10 year anniversary of Aaliyah's death. Aaliyah always reminds me of one of my more humiliating middle/high school experiences.

When I was in 9th grade, I was in that stage where I wanted to stand out and be cool, while also fitting in (a feeling I was thankfully relieved of when I started private school at Racist Private School the next year...seriously, our mascot was a motherfucking Confederate General). My friends at the time were possessed of similar notions, so we decided to start a flag team. Note, this was not the dance team or the cheerleading squad. We were way too uncool and physically awkward for that. We found a faculty sponsor and crafted a "routine" to Aaliyah's "Try Again" (this was 2000, the year the song came out, so it was pretty popular). After a few after school practices, we performed the...routine (I don't know what else to call it. It wasn't quite a dance and we didn't even have was just kind of stepping back and forth with hand motions) in the courtyard at break (break at that school was a 15 minute period for all grades to go outside). We didn't have costumes, so we wore gym shorts and t-shirts with iron-on transfers. I was singing the song to myself the entire time to remember the moves and, when we finished, we got some half-hearted applause, some jeering and a bunch of snickering. The guy I had a crush on, a junior, looked embarrassed to know me. A friend of his told me to quit counting the steps because it was "super obvious." As much as I hated switching schools the next year, that memory helped me be okay with it.

I'd attach a picture of what I looked like in 9th grade, but I'm fairly sure I destroyed most photo evidence of that time.

So, thanks Aaliyah. Your music inspired some young women to make assholes of themselves. But I'm still sorry you're dead and when I hear "Try Again," I still mentally do that routine in my head.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

all that feeling

After the wake, I went to Barnes and Noble. I wanted to browse the poetry section and see if I could find some new poets. As I was scanning, I noticed Codrescu's It Was Today out of order, in between two Blake collections. I pulled it down to scan through it and the first poem I opened to was an elegy titled "for lynn luria sukenick." The first few lines are:

What if there is no story
only a feeling?
Of course there are many stories
in that feeling
only they didn't happen to me

I stopped and held the book for a bit, feeling almost overwhelmed. Being at the wake of someone you're not particularly close to produces that kind of feeling. I didn't know all of Sandy's stories or even many of them, but there combined was a wealth of memories that created a feeling of love and, with it, a cutting loss. The person those stories happened to is gone. And now, we are left with a feeling.

I grabbed the book and decided to purchase it, on the strength of that poem. As I was walking off, another cover caught my eye and I kept walking but then turned back around to see who the poet was. Laura Mullen, my other poetry teacher. Sometimes I like to think that God is coincidence.

After that, I had an insane urge to write. RIGHT NOW. When I walked downstairs, I saw a sketchpad and some graphite pencils, so I grabbed them because they were the first writing materials I could find. I need to get back in the habit of carrying a pen and notepad. Then I stood looking out the window for a minute and, because my mind was in a morbid place anyway, I took a photo of reflection because I thought it looked ghostly.

I checked out (after having a conversation with the cashier about the color of my blouse--she thought it was coral and I maintained it was a dusty pink and either way, I felt ambitious wearing it because I rarely wear colors other than black/gray/purple) and walked outside in all my sad girl glory: clutching a poetry book and a notepad, in mourning, into the night. And I almost got hit by a kid flying through the parking lot, blaring "Smack My Bitch Up." I laughed.

for lynn luria sukenick
by: Andrei Codrescu, from It Was Today
What if there is no story
only a feeling?
Of course there are many stories
in that feeling
only they didn't happen to me
they either just happened
to someone else
or happened a long time ago
and so recent and ancient
the stories hung in that feeling
like clusters of grapes
refreshing and intelligent
& I had the honor to drink in
their presence on one or two occasions
in the sap-filled and haunted
days of the late nineteen sixties
in the haunted late city of Santa Cruz
in the soon-to-be haunted state
of California just waking up
in those days in the embrace
of Ronald Reagan future
President of Star Wars winner
of the Cold War
& in that sexy intelligence
of Lynn's there was both wisdom & escape
through there was no story
only a feeling
& in those days most feelings came
before there was a story
so we bumped into stories
just to have something to hold
all that feeling
there were many stories
but with Lynn & for Lynn
only a feeling

Sunday, August 21, 2011

in peace

My cousin's wife, the one with cancer, died yesterday. Her memorial is here.

As I've written about before, this whole situation was pretty heartbreaking for me. The idea of dying so young and knowing your children will have to grow up without you, watching your wife or mother die, the fact that her mother died of the same's just terrible. I'm driving to Baton Rouge tomorrow evening after work to attend the wake on Monday night and the funeral on Tuesday morning. I hate funerals. I hate the fact that I have to plan out what I'm going to wear (which feels disrespectful and distasteful in a sense, even though it's necessary). I hate the logistics of it. Something about making death neat and tidy and well-dressed and organized just strikes me as totally fucked. We come in screaming and bloody and we leave nicely dressed in a proper box.

But. I hope it serves well as a memorial to her life and grieving of her death; that it puts her family at peace. I hope her sons and her husband don't remember the face in the coffin, but the face of their beautiful and vibrant mother. I hope that her death doesn't destroy them, but inspires them to live their life in a wonderful way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

faux bohemian

me: I'm in a weird spot right now
I keep trying to write about it but I don't think it's there yet
so here are my fragmented thoughts on it (some of which you've already heard)
academia is becoming less and less of an option. a ph.d is becoming less and less appealing. my life plans are up in the air, which is really weird for me because my plan has been my plan for a very long time.
so I've been thinking, kind of abstractly, "what are things I want out of my life?"
the concrete ideas I've come up with are: I want to do work that helps people. whether that manifests as non profit or continued volunteering or teaching...I want to do something that gives to the community.
I want to be as self sufficient as possible. grow my own food. can stuff. make clothes.
I want to have a kid. I don't know if I want to marry. I think I do, but maybe not. I want to write a book
so I'm trying to figure out how to do that, in the long term
christie: you'll get what you want, as long as you know those things are in the picture
there are a million ways to get there
the freedom in that, is one of the greatest feelings i've ever known
me: that's the part I'm trying to figure out
christie: just find something you want to get good at.
get good at it, don't marry it
keep learning stuff. the more self-sufficient as you are, the more you'll find time to learn to do what you love
the less money you need
it's possible
me: yeah
I just want to set down roots
and I think I want to set them down here
I really really want to be in new orleans
I am willing to work with new orleans to get what I want
christie: :)
it sounds beautiful.
me: :)
i hope so
I'm not good at perspective sometimes
I'm trying to be
christie: just keep the picture in your mind and believe in it
it becomes real
and then other people will start to see it
me: yeah. it's the logistics that worry me, you know?
christie: ah, fuck logistics. what logistics!
me: hahaha
christie: while practical, plans don't work out most of the time
that shit shouldn't worry you more than 20%, hehe
yeah, freak out when it gets critical, but there's always a way

me: I think I just need to push myself more than I do
I realized the other day that I don't really have a talent
I'm not a wonderful writer. I can't play an instrument. I can cook okay, but nothing spectacular
and a big part of that is because I convince myself that I can't learn how to do something. even though I can. and I have. and doing so brings me satisfaction.
for someone who is always claiming to hate being stagnant, that's a pretty hypocritical attitude for me to have :)
christie: it goes back to physics, no one is free from gravity, or the laws of motion.
objects at rest tend to stay at rest
it's a constant struggle
to not stay in one place, sitting in old bathwater
me: yeah
christie: cause it's so easy
me: I just fucking hate failing
and it's why I throw myself into grad school with a kind of anxious fervor
part of it "I'M GOING TO DO THIS" and the other part is "I can't take it if I don't"

christie: i think what you want looks pretty damn good
and hey, if you don't get married, we can be two straight women raising a kid and growing a garden
me: hahaah sweet
christie: IM SO DOWN

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


male friend: you just have a "fuck me" look about you
me: what?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

101 in 1001- Year 1

This list started as a means of setting goals for myself and pushing myself to do things I wanted to do but didn't have energy/wherewithal for. In this year, I crossed 15 items off the list, worked on 17 and failed at 3. I didn't totally expect to achieve every goal on this list (though I HAD hoped to), but I still think that, overall, I'm doing pretty well.

2) Sing Karaoke. (June 2011)

10) Get straight A's FAIL

14) Finish my correspondence course. FAIL

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.- 2010/2011 complete

17) Get another ear piercing. (November 2010)

18) Read 10 books from the Bloom Canon.- 4 read
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice (October 2010)
Voltaire Candide (January 2011)
Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (April 2011)
William James The Varieties of Religious Experience(June 2011)

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
July '10- Ann Patchett Run
August '10- Alice Munro Lives of Girls and Women
September '10- John Berendt Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
October '10- Stuart Berman This Book is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story
November '10- Paule Marshall Praisesong for the Widow
December '10- Richard Yates Revolutionary Road
January '11- Neil White In the Sanctuary of Outcasts
February '11- Terry Moore Strangers in Paradise, Vol. 1
March '11- Terry Moore Strangers in Paradise, Vol. 2
April '11- Milan Kundera Slowness
(working on catching up on this one!)

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
A- Ajami (2009) (October 2010)
B- The Blind Side (2009) (January 2011)
D- Date Night (2010) (August 2010)
E- Effi Briest (1974) (October 2010)
F- The Fighter (2010) (May 2011)
G- The Girl on the Bridge (1999) (November 2010)
H- How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) (August 2010)
I- Inception (2010) (July 2010)
L- Louder Than Bombs (Glosniej od bomb) (2001) (September 2010)
M- Men Who Stare At Goats (2009) (July 2010)
P- Pickpocket (1959) (November 2010)
R- Raising Arizona (1987) (July 2010)
S- Storytelling (2001) (July 2010)
V- Volcano (1997) (October 2010)

24) Learn 1 new word a week.- ongoing!

26) Take all my medication exactly as directed for 2 months. (April 2011)

28) See all of these Mindfuck movies.
Jacob's Ladder (1990) (June 2011)
The Game (1997) (July 2010)
Memento (2000)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Donnie Darko (2001)

29) Go on a date. (November 2010)

31) Have a slumber party. (March 2011)

33) Donate blood twice a year. FAIL.

41) Go fishing (June 2011)

45) Go to at least 3 states I've never visited before.

49) Delete my Myspace, LinkedIn and OK Cupid profiles. (July 2010)

50) Go to the Christmas Eve bonfires in St. James parish. (December 2010)

52) Open a new bank account. (August 2010)

55) Cook 10 challenging dishes from celebrated chefs.
1)Devil's Chicken Thighs over Braised Leeks from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques (August 2010)

56) Cook a dish with one ingredient I've never used. (May 2011)

62) Visit 10 historical sites in New Orleans.
This may or may not include revisiting Marie Laveau's grave.
1) Preservation Hall
2) Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

67) Learn to make 6 different cocktails from memory.
1) Pimm's Cup

70) Discover 5 new-to-me poets.
Recommendations welcome!
1) Dan Beachy Quick
2) Kate Daniels

73) Create an organized filing system for important documents. (October 2010)

75) Get a New Orleans library card (August 2010)

76) Take 1 really great photo to display in my home. (July 2011)

80) Update and start reusing iCal. (September 2010)

82) Pay off my Visa and find a card with lower interest rates. (May 2011)

83) Review 20 places on Yelp! and/or Urbanspoon.
Oak St. Cafe
Dooky Chase
GLUE Clothing Exchange
The Massage Emporium
Pal's Lounge
PURE Yogurt Culture
Maple St. Patisserie
Little Tokyo Noodle Bar
Azalea Lakes Veterinary Clinic

85) Attend at least 1 music festival a year.
2010- Pitchfork
2011- Festivale International

88) Go to all the major Mardi Gras parades
Krewe du Vieux

94) Visit family graves once a year.- 2010 complete.

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
No Exit (From the Zombie Apocalypse)

101 in 1001- July update

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.
ARNO- $15
Covenant House New Orleans- $10
Amnesty International- $15

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Impecunious- having no money
Sedulity- thoroughness
Inerrancy- infallibility
Contumacious- stubborn

45) Go to at 3 states I've never visited before.
1) Indiana
2) Michigan

76) Take one really great photo to display in my home.
I don't know what it is about this image (because it's not the best photo ever), but I really like it and I want to include it in a frame wall that I'm working on.

Full list here

then they just put down their hands and moved into the sky

and we had barely said hello and it was time/to say goodbye

In two days, it will be my one year anniversary here in New Orleans. I'm lying in bed, wine drunk and sweaty from a combined bike ride and lack of great AC, singing sultry Ani DiFranco songs into the dark and I realized this felt familiar.

I'm still sweaty, tired, happy, and sad.

It still feels right.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"we haven't been taught a thing about our souls"

I think I'll rent Scenes from a Marriage soon. Time for some 5 hour Swedish movie watching, couch sitting and wine drinking. What a fucking week.