Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a leap

some of the most enormous decisions in my life have been made in an instant:  to get married, have a child, to start a guerrilla chamber opera company, to move across the country, to start this blog with julie, impulsively, on new year's eve of 2011.  but most of these big, fast decisions have been made with c., as i suppose it's less scary to take a big leap with another person.

those were all decisions i never second guessed.  i didn't mull, didn't weigh, didn't overthink, didn't deliberate--just jumped.  all of those decisions were good.  and i knew they were.  i didn't have to think--i let my intuition take over.

good decisions, all, true, but each has turned out to be more complex and challenging than i could have possibly imagined in such a brief moment of saying "yes."

& maybe i've become a bit more cautious as the years have passed

& maybe that's a bad thing.

here's to acting a little more impulsively, a little more intuitively, to taking some bigger leaps like that creepy little jack and his over-sized candle.

(& here's to someone telling me some stuff about their own leaps.  i need the inspiration.)

legwear:  yoga pants all day :(

inspiration:  impulsivity

looking forward to:  a good night's sleep

p.s.  take the leap and help us celebrate two months of girls in a tight place by leaving a comment on our tights giveaway, and maybe even becoming a follower.  we heart you!!!!!  & we want your legs to be cute and warm.

Shortest Blog Post Ever

1.  Just got back from opening at New Museum, which I'll post about tomorrow.
2.  On the way home I lost a glove which A. found 30 minutes later.
3.  I have photos of tights about town.
4.  The deadline for our Tights Giveaway #2 is in two days!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Blobby Universe: Having My Mind Blown by the East Village Other (Panel)

Listening to a panel live from Cooper Union of folks who founded the alternative and influential underground '60s paper The East Village Other.  They're all senior citizens now! (Ed Sanders, Alex Gross, Peter Leggieri, Dan Rattiner, Steven Heller, and Claudia Dreifus):

Live! “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72””/

Okay.  I'm just going to start transcribing the panel discussion here in bits and pieces, because for anyone who really knows me, they know I can't help but do this while kind of hyperventilating:

"hanging out during paste-up"  Ed Sanders

"the paper had an enourmous impact on the changes that took place in society.

"the east village other blew everyone's mind.  that's its legacy.  my only lament we cannot have in the east village that we cannot have the artist colony that used to be.  there was a time tha tall the storefronts had artists in them.  cultural policy segregated artists from the arts.  created a new world called "the arts." a world that's inhabited solely by corporations.  the collaboration was not corporate.  artist to artist to artist.  free.  evo was the last expression of the bohemian artist colony."

"evo was the flagship if the entire '60s movment."

as many as 200 of these underground newspapers in the late '60s.  similar to the internet.  it was how we communicated with weekly newspapers.

"evo opened up the mainstream press in a way it wasn't before.  evo was busted over 141 times--i stopped counting.  evo was pursued by the nypd, the cia, the fbi, the kgb and the vatican.  with friends like that you had to be doing something right.  the agencies trying to bring down evo knew they were breaking the law.  the people who did evo didn't give a damn."

"it was a very scary time in one sense.  screw was busted.  the rat was busted.  we were always infiltrated.  we decided the photograph all the guys who were photographing us."

"in the beginning it was a neighborhood newspaper.  it published news right off the street.  the fugs gave a yearly concert in tompkins square park.  i was arrested for obscenity for my bookstore.  the arresting officer did not like me.  he appeared at our concert in august of '66.  there was a bomb scare, so they stopped the concert.  who was there asking questions of this cop, was walter borat of the evo with a tape recorder.  walter made a tape transcript.  evo's hands-on, very specific.  isolating the causes of the time:  the war, lsd, pot, the commune movement.  it was right on."

"the largest artist colony that had ever assembled in the world has been wiped out.  the city knew it was destroying this artist colony.  while that colony was being destroyed it was also generating an american renaissance in the arts."

"go try and find the 115,000 canvases that were produced by the wpa artists."

"one of the reasons why america is having problems now is that it no longer believes in this kind of creativity."

"rent control was what made the lower east side so vibrant.  it is no longer possible to be decently poor. what my students have now instead is $100,000 in student debt."

"thanks to photo offset, a printing process that made images possible."

"there was also an underground film movement in new york at the time.  kenneth anger, jonas mekas.  one of the things that evo did was cover underground film and reviewed rock and roll.  this wasn't common then.  only in the alternative press did you see this kind of reporting."

"every generation needs to respond to a new situation.  thanks to evo we were inspired to doing the shadow.  the evo and the rat were influences for the shadow.  there's nothing like holding a newspaper in your hands.  feeling it, taking it in your hand."

what's your sign? permission to whine

today's inspiration comes from my favorite astrologist, rob breszny.  you might want to get on his email list if you're not already, because his forecasts are very centering and persepctive-bringing (also funny).

this week's forecast for cancers (that's me--a crab) resonated with one of the objectives we have in mind for our blog:  re-purposing our tight places into open, good, and grateful places.  & for me, jolting myself into understanding that really, i have very few actual tight places.

in other words,

it's all good.

here's what brezsny says, and i think it goes along with what julie and i wrote in our tight places tab:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Astrologer Antero Alli theorizes that the
placement of the sign Cancer in a person's chart may indicate what he or
she tends to whine about. In his own chart, he says, Cancer rules his ninth
house, so he whines about obsolete beliefs and bad education and stale
dogmas that cause people to shun firsthand experience as a source of
authority. I hereby declare these issues to be supremely honorable
reasons for you to whine in the coming week. You also have cosmic
permission to complain vociferously about the following: injustices
perpetrated by small-minded people; short-sighted thinking that ignores
the big picture; and greedy self-interest that disdains the future. On the
other hand, you don't have clearance to whine about crying babies, rude
clerks, or traffic jams.

what can we legitimately complain about?

this question has been a guiding & abiding theme for me so far (as an inveterate complainer and whiner) this year, and i'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


i hereby grant you permission to whine about holey, pill-y, stretched out old tights that are past their prime, and then to stop whining and do something about it by entering our tights giveaway.  last day to enter is march 2nd.  do some thing nice for yourself!

Monday, February 27, 2012

GITP Guest Blogger #5: Artist, Writer, Mother, "Turbo-Charged Dreamer" Kim Gledhill

1.Tell us about yourself. What would you like "Girls in a Tight Place" readers to know about you?

 When I was a little kid I wanted to be a mom, an artist, a writer and a professional soccer player. I never really regretted past 6th grade that there was no pro contract in the cards for me, but I do feel incredibly blessed to have my son. I’m also grateful to have been able to spend a good part of my life making images and designing things and getting paid (at least sometimes) to write.

 I have an old friend who told me a few months ago that she mentioned me in a corporate marketing meeting, describing me as a person who doesn’t care about the same things other people care about. My feelings were a little hurt at first, but it hit me that she was right. I think what she meant is that my happiness is not dependent on the same things that affect most people in bigger ways.

 The thing I believe that is actually most different about me is that I’m a dreamer. A turbo-charged dreamer, I guess. I’ve had premonitions in dreams that have come true since childhood. I don’t have them consistently at this point in my life, but I think they have made me view the world from a different perspective. I see reality as something very malleable rather than linear. I look at what happens in our daily lives as a story within a story, like there’s a bigger framework for what’s going on. Not that I always like what’s on my plate, but I fully accept it as necessarily mine. I can be very much at peace on an innermost level, but pretty discontent about what’s happening at the surface at the exact same moment. Like now. My brother said to me recently, “You’d be happy anywhere.” That’s basically true in one sense. I think in the past as a younger person, I tried to compensate for my nature by dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" in a very down-to-earth way. My worst fear was being regarded as flaky when I wanted to be academic. It’s liberating not to care at this point.

2. Are you in a tight place? If so, what are you trying to do about it?

I’m in the perfect storm of tight places: I’m at a turning point in marriage, finances, home life, and career path. Everything is in flux. The first thing I’m trying to do is make this NOT feel like a tight place for my son, to make him feel just cushioned by love. I’m trying to put my spiritual beliefs into practice full-force—hopefully to affect the outcome of what I’m facing with a very positive energy. At the same time, I’m trying to do every tangible, worldly thing I can think of to create the best possible situation. Some of this overlaps with the spiritual, like doing reiki to keep myself well, but a lot of it is pouring myself into my work to try to forge a new path and create new opportunities. I read a great analogy in a book called City Dharma, comparing our struggles to a fly in a car that’s stuck inside the windshield and trying frantically to get out. When it finally gives up and stops struggling, the wind whisks it out the side window. I’m shooting for that. I want to hold the true essentials near and dear, but to let go of the peripheral things and end up in the place I want to be.

 3.What do you want to get done this year? 

Well, it’s a tall order, but here I go. I’ve written an autobiographical book called Seeing in the Dark, and I want to get it published in a meaningful way. I’ve been working on it for a few years, but I’m really just about to start on the path of earnestly trying to find a publisher now or figuring out the best alternative route.

 There are also a couple of projects in the works, professional and otherwise, which I want to bring to fruition to the best of my ability. I was just hired to design a new print magazine, so I’m very excited about that. I’ve designed books but never a monthly publication, so this feels like a great opportunity. I’m also organizing a ping pong tournament in May in a Lower East Side neighborhood park, called Gulick Park, which I’ve been involved with. I’m a complete goofball about ping pong. This will be the third tournament, and it’s been suggested to me to really expand the scope of this one, so I’m aiming to step it up a bit. I love the idea of ping pong as a point of public convergence, bringing lots of different people together. It feels so refreshingly simple and real in the face of virtual everything. Above all else, I want to make sure my son’s world remains feeling stable and full of love, to find the most benevolent way for all of us.

4.What inspires you?

Where to start? Alice Neel, Lucien Freud, Paula Rego. Old Marimekko prints. Black-and-white photos from the '30s and '40s that show colorful lives. The instrumentals to Godspeed You Black Emporer. Carson McCullers at age 23.

 Everyday, I feel inspired walking by the buildings in the East Village—all that amazing decorative masonry along the tops of what were only considered tenements when they were built. I’m struck by the painstaking work that went into all those sculptural elements. I think you actually feel that in New York City in so many ways—such an accumulation of pride, blood, sweat and tears here, from every age. It’s in the air somehow. I’m also inspired by different aspects of some of the same things that scare the hell out of me. For example, I lament about what we’ve lost in this digital age, where everyone is so distracted by 50 million things and a dozen different devices that interfere with just being present in the moment. But on the other hand, I get excited seeing how this virtual connectivity can be used to make huge changes and to ultimately bring people together. It also makes me hopeful when it’s smart and super-motivated, young 20-somethings who are doing these innovative things. I feel like society will stand a good, fighting chance in their hands.

5.  What is your favorite legwear?

Wool tights have changed my life. My favorite pair have multi-hued grey and purple stripes. I used to hate winter when I wore jeans all the time, because I was always freezing and I’m more of a skirt person. It hit me a few years ago that wool tights with wool or corduroy skirts are the key to winter warmth and happiness.

Editor's note:  By the way, Kim's book, Seeing in the Dark, is astounding, emotionally dismantling, and deeply inspiring--not to mention it's liberally illustrated with Kim's stunning art.    You can read it here.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Occupy Tight Places

In tribute to tomorrow's guest blogger who describes herself as being in a "perfect storm of tight places," I wanted to post here about the movement dedicated to tight places, a movement near and dear to my heart and this blog:  Occupy Wall Street.  Today, in my neighborhood, I discovered--with glee-- that the Fall '11 OWS of Zucotti Park of had been transported to my favorite city park, Tompkins Square, if only for  long afternoon.

(And I know, I know that this post's title can be overtly read as sexual and this is a family blog, so sorry.)

For some reason, I was only able to upload two of the hundreds of photos I took today to my Fb page via my Android.  :-(

Just like I loved it in the Fall, I loved the impromptu, yet cohesive OWS community I witnessed today:  the free food at the Food Not Bombs booth (given generously and without judgement), the free ice cream scooped by volunteers at Ben and Jerry's (this was new), and the myriad of tables representing different organizations all approaching the over-arching problem from a different angle.  I attended a Teach-in organized by doctor's and nurses advocates (Physicians for a National Health Program).  I collected fliers from Occupy the Circus (a political theater group), Food Drive for Occupy Animals, Occupy Hunger, Commission of Voluntary Service and Action, Occupied Stories, Shut Down the Corporations, Labor United for Postal Jobs and Services, etc.  

So what is the problem you say?  Not enough jobs, not enough affordable access to health care, crushing student loan debt and the super elite doing better than ever on the backs of us all--in other words, not enough taxes for the rich.  What else?  Stagnant wages in the lower and middle classes.  Please forgive my quick and dirty summation.  It doesn't really do the movement justice.

I can't stop thinking about this:  In 1976, my parents bought a new, albeit modest four-bedroom house in a decent Arizona neighborhood that was roughly the cost of my father's annual school-teacher salary.  Raise your hand if you are currently a school teacher and your annual salary roughly matches the cost of a new, albeit modest four-bedroom house in mid-sized city in a western state.  Hands?  I'm waiting.

What happened?  I'm all ears.

ladies having visions

in preparation for our special monday blogger, a lady who has dreams and visions, i thought i should post about my favorite visionary, saint hildegard of bingen.  i spent eight years with the medieval women's choir of seattle under director margriet tindemans singing loads of hildegard.  o clarissima mater was probably my favorite, and probably the most difficult, hildegard piece we performed.  here's a version performed by sequentia, with instrumental arrangements by tindemans.

and here are lyrics, also by hildegard, poetic translation by barbara newman (sorry, mother eve.  i know we were mean to you for all those years) (also, i think the hildegard's latin is so beautiful and funky--be sure to read the latin, too, if only for the sounds alone):

responsory for the virgin

mother of  sacred healing!
you poured salve on th sobbing
wounds that eve sculpted
to torment our souls.
for your salve is your son and you
wrecked death forever,
sculpturing life.

pray for us to your child,
mary, str of the sea.

o life-giving source and gladdening
sign and sweetness of all
delights that flow unfailing!

pray for us to your child,
mary star of the sea.

glorify the father,
the spirit and the son

pray for us to your child,
mary, star of the sea.

o clarissima mater
sancte medicine,
tu ungenta
per sanctum filium tuum
in plangentia vulnera mortis
que eva edificavit
in tormenta animarum.
tu destruxisti mortem
edificando vitam.

ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris,

o vivificum instrumentum
et letum ornamentum
et ducedo omnium deliciarum,
que in te non deficient.

ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris, 

gloria patri et filio
et spritui sancto.

ora pro nobis 
ad tuum naatum,
stella maris, 

legwear:  turquoise tights
inspiration:  dreams and visions
looking forward:  to tomorrow's post by kim

p.s.--if you don't have visions, but you want to be a vision in dove grey lacy tights, leave and comment and/or become a follower here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

preview & postview

you'll only get this if you grew up mo in the seventies


i'm reading the memoir of our upcoming guest blogger (appearing here on monday), kim gledhill, called seeing in the dark.  if ever there was a tight place, girl's seen it & lived it.  makes me ashamed of my petty complaints and maladies.  it's also inspiring.  so, stay tuned for her post here.  i can't wait.


sorry to be such a nag, but get your butt over here and leave a comment and/or follow us for a chance to win some very chic grey & holey (or is that dove and lacy) tights.


julie and i have an ongoing conversation about how hard the unstructured time of saturday is.  so far, i have two saturday rituals 1) morning yoga and 2) 3 provo bakery donuts for the kids:  bavarian creme, glazed, and chocolate sprinkle.  two saturdays in a row now we've gone swimming, so maybe that's becoming a thing.  i spent the afternoon reading kim gledhill's book in a path of sunlight while bammy took the two little kids to a movie and wendy's.    but still, a little gloom hung over us.  is it just february?

do other people loathe saturday?  or love it?  and what do they do?  i always imagine that they're getting nails done and massages and brunching and then going to the theatre followed by a midnight supper.  that's what most people do, no?

the voyeur in me really wants to know what your saturdays are like, and if you love or loathe them.

legwear:  bare, post swimming.
inspiration: all day i've been thinking about living life one second at a time.  it's been an interesting day because i've been thinking about breathing constantly.
looking forward:  to finishing kim's book.

The Leather Paintings of Winfred Rembert

Short post, but today I found out about Winfred Rembert, a folk artist from Georgia who works his narrative paintings into leather, a skill he picked up in the maximum-security prison in Reidsville, GA.  
"Memories of My Youth"
We found ourselves with the use of a car, and so--instead of taking the subway to Brooklyn for the closing hour or so of the Feminist Zine Fest after work--we got into the car and drove out of the city, up the Hudson River and into Yonkers where we had 30 minutes to peruse the Hudson River Museum before it closed.  The Hudson River Museum is just like it says, right on the Hudson and seems mostly devoted to the art of painters from the Hudson River School and the ecology of the river--natural-history style, but they had this incongruous show on the lower level, and I was drawn immediately to it.  The paintings in it exuded energy and movement and as I got closer and absorbed the narratives, the artist's statements in curatorial cards next to each, I was--there are no other words--shaken to my core, especially the paintings of the artist's near lynching.

Finding art like this and so unexpectedly makes me feel like my life's not over yet. Does that make sense? That I can still be shaped by what I see and do. Does this sound lame?

"The Baptism" 

Then we got back into the car and drove through Hastings on the Hudson to Dobbs Ferry to eat, a trip that took about 15 mintues, the towns are so closely clustered.  But after seeing Rembert's show, I had a nagging question:  why is Yonkers so depressed (shuttered business, pawn shops and check cashing shops, drug and alcohol rehab centers) and Hastings--right next door--so affluent?  What happened to Yonkers?  

Here's a video from Rembert's opening at the Hudson River Museum:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Becoming More Dandy

Patrick McDonald with Jimmy Webb from Trash and Vaudeville
I'm trying to write this while really hungry.  Trying to get the kids to go to a new veg place with me--a donation-only cafe embedded within a new yoga studio I have yet to try.  (We actually did go and those lovely hippie kids actually opened the cafe for us AFTER they had closed--don't spread this around.  And it was extremely delish.)

But yesterday, I took S to see the exhibit "The Dandy's New York" at Dorian Grey Gallery.  The entire exhibit is a photographer's tribute to her muse Patrick McDonald, who is featured in Bill Cunningham's doc we recently watched together.

He's a famous New York dandy in grand tradition of Beau Brummel.  Patrick is immaculate, hyper-stylized (especially his brows), and is always in a hat.  He has many.  The exhibit description is here:

Molua Muldown and multi‐media artist Lisa Pan reveal the authentic man behind New York’s celebrated and enigmatic dandy, Patrick McDonald. A series of environmental portrait photographs, mixed media collages and Patrick’s own poetry illustrate the East Village life and ethos of this unconventional artist. In this series, we look through the eyes of a man who has been described as a New York City living landmark and a walking work of art. Historically, New York City has been a haven for unique artists such as W. H. Auden, Quentin Crisp and Klaus Nomi. For over two decades, Patrick has been a muse and model for some of our most celebrated painters, photographers and illustrators. In our rapidly changing city, with it’s ever increasingly endangered environment for artists, Patrick’s uncompromising life simply inspires.

What was cool was on the day we visited, the photographer Molua Muldown was there, as well as Lisa Pan.  (Pan photographed S.'s tights while S. and I stood there.)

The artists, Lisa and Molua
Molua was patient and generous, especially given the fact I had so many questions, but I can't remember what I asked now--and I don't think any of my questions were very good.  But I do know she moved to NY from CA in 1982, about the time I moved to Provo.  The truth was, I was nervous to be facing the artists!  And didn't want to be buggy.

Lisa Pan wore a very cool Amelia Earhart vintage aviator cap.  Wish I had gotten a better pic!  The big takeaway--it was refreshing for once to encounter a male muse and a female artist(s).  Are there any other combos like this?

Another takeaway--I want to dress more interestingly this spring.  We'll see.

where do you turn when you're in a tight place?

for much of 2011, i read the bhagavad-gita daily; i went back to it again today, and here are the verses that popped out at me, translated by barbara stoler miller:

(from "the fifth teaching:  renunciation of action")

he should not rejoice in what he loves
nor recoil from what disgusts him;
secure in understanding, undeluded, knowing
the infinite spirit, he abides in it.

detached from external contacts,
he discovers joy in himself;
joined by discipline to the infinite spirit,
the self attains inexhaustible joy.

delights from external objects
are wombs of suffering;
in their beginning is their end,
and no wise man delights in them.

i guess my two favorite lines are the "he abides in it" line and the "in their beginning is their end." line.  i take comfort and inspiration from both.  comfort that i don't need to, nor can i, control the external world, that my job is to live in it, abide in it, not design, create, or control it and inspiration in the idea of the infinite spirit--some sort of transcendence from the material world which, alas, i love too much.

legwear:  jeans
inspiration:  abiding
looking forward:  friday dinner date & darrell spencer's noon reading today

if you, too, alas, have not divested your self entirely from the material world, consider entering our end of winter tights give away.  commenting gets one entry, following gets you a second.  if you're already a follower, you've already got one entry!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tights Giveaway, Part Deux (And the Final One of the Season!)

These tights, the color of April showers, could be yours!
Tina T., the GITP's reader who won our first-ever tights giveaway, paid it forward:  she selected and ordered the next pair of tights that you--yes YOU--can win!

They are pictured above--an especially stunning pair for the end of winter and in which you can stroll past the first budding crocuses of spring.

Now, in honor at the cusp of this blog's TWO-month anniversary, you can win in two ways:

1.  "Follow" Girls in Tight Places for an automatic entry into the drawing.  

2.  A COMMENT on this post will get you another entry.

The deadline--in honor of GITP's two-month anniversary--is March TWO!

Are you ready?  

We love you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Untitled: The Artist is Not Quite Present

Spent most of the night here without any internet access, but now at the 11th hour, it's back on.  So here I go!

I raced home on my bike from work today to get the girls up to a member's preview of the new Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA.  In a blog that is deeply invested in promoting art by women, Cindy, like Marina, is one of my personal heroes.   Both girls use themselves as a subject and put themselves in tight places, but unlike Marina, whose art is personal and autobiographical, Cindy explores the range of the female experience, and obscures her own body in these heavily textualized archetypes that she critiques and often destroys.

I LOVE her work and have for a couple of decades.

And we never really know who the artist is.  Cindy, "herself," (unlike Marina) is never quite present.

And every single piece is titled "Untitled."

Omg, I took these photos of the exhibit's entrance illegally, and didn't even try photographing inside.

In a couple of the rooms, I told S. to close her eyes, and we did the whole thing in 30 minutes, so I'm going to have to go back when I'm by myself.  This week, the kids have been home.

Tonight we watched Bill Cunningham's New York.  Bill Cunningham is the long-time society and street fashion documenter fort the New York Times, and has my ideal job in you must know.  I was struck, while watching by how much we have so much in common.  We are both cyclists; we both take photos from our bikes.  Also, we both love Paris and cheap restaurants, we are religiously inclined and deeply admire dandies, and we are rather dull dressers who admire the sartorial work of strangers on the street.

But I digress . . . more thoughts on Cindy to come!

10 more cool things about provo

from the bean museum permanent collection
today was a great, mellow day.  it might have had something to do with having a yoga class at noon and a voice lesson at three.  all the breathing has me relaxed and centered.  in fact, just now i thought i should start planning the weekend, then realized it was only wednesday.

that's how out of the loop of chronometric time i am right now.  love when that happens.

but it did spur me to think about what's going on around here right now, and there's quite a bit.  see, in order to properly embrace the charm of provo (here's the first post on cool things in provo), you have to get down with the high, the low, the medium, the stark, the thrilling, and the mundane.  oh, yeah, and of course the wonderfully ludicrous.

every year i become more utah:  last year i learned to butcher an antelope, this year i'm getting a hunting license, and realizing where utah culture, avant-garde art, and locavore vibes come together.

but i'll start with the ludicrous.

1)  the monte l. bean museum is provo's answer to a natural history museum.  now, this place can be a little creepy at first, especially if you have a sensitive nose (or any other "sensitive" senses, for that matter).  the smell of formaldahyde is overpowering as you enter, and you might be creeped out by the mostly dead animals on display, and you might not want to inquire too closely about how they were acquired.  and you might not want to ask if a "liger" is real.  nonetheless, my kids have had some good times there--holding snakes, going on scavenger hunts, attending saturday safari with enthusiastic byu students, getting a tour of their dead insect collection (it's stunningly cool.)  this brings me to one of the best things about provo:  sometimes we don't have a huge variety of resources available, but what we have is usually free or very low-cost.  the bean museum is quirky but surprisingly fun and with some really cool educational stuff for all of us.  you can go to family home evening events, date night, birding expeditions, live animals shows, etc., etc.  i'm a fan.

2)  the byu museum of art.  we're attending the islamic art show opening beauty and belief this friday night.

3)  the provo  peaks ice arena.  it's cheap, it's fun, the kids love it, it was an olympic venue, and you can learn to figure skate for pennies.

4) main street movie company.  home to richard dutcher, known as the father of mormon cinema.  i learned screenplay writing from him, and i'm attending the main street movie company's oscar party this sunday night.  (little brag:  i have a full-length and a short screenplay nominated for a utah academy award.)

5) my voice teacher.  she's completely amazing, she lives next door to me, she sings in the mormon tabernacle choir (aka the mo-tab), and she charges 12.50 for a lesson.  that's right.  most pro teachers charge close to a hundred.  i don't even feel right about this.

6)  provo mushroom society.  mushroom foraging.

7)   byu international cinema--free showings throughout the week of international films.  lectures by byu faculty.  during my brief (depressed) time at byu, i kind of skipped class a lot and went to international cinema instead.  girl got a good education that way.  i want to see the danish film in a better world this saturday at 11 am if i can squeeze it in.  love a saturday brunch movie.  oh, yeah, and did i mention it's free? 

8)  provo mayor's blog.  i follow this blog closely.  i love it, and the insight it brings to the mayoral process and city government.

9)  byu english department reading series.  i'm going to hear darrell spencer read this friday.  he was the beloved creative writing teacher of julie, guest blogger shanon borg, and me.  and a lot of our other friends, many of them who went on to be writers.

10)  the center--a division of provo parks and recreation.  lula has taken pottery and ceramics there several times.  get this:  it's 35.00 for six weeks--90 minute classes twice a week.  including firing and glazing.  now that's ludicrous.

legwear:  bare legs and cowboy boots.  it was so warm today i rolled down the windows while driving.  feels like spring.

inspiration: breathing a lot deeper than ususal.

looking forward to:  plans for le weekend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Indulgence and Penitence Envy: But I'm Not Giving Up a Thing, Are You?

Our harried server dumped a bucketload of beads on our table.
In my zeal to celebrate all holidays--even those that don't have ostensibly to do with me or are not part of any cultural tradition I grew up in (Diwali, anyone?)--I was determined (almost as if someone would prevent me from doing so) to observe Mardi Gras tonight with the kids.

It took me well into adulthood to be consciously aware that Mardi Gras is really part of the Catholic Calendar--a night of revelry and over-indulgence which kicks off the Lenten Season, the long stretch of denial and penitence and tightness (if you will--am I getting this right?), leading up to Easter Week and eventually Easter morning (when you can re-indulge in your sugar, cigs, pickles, Facebook, again).  Mormonism has none of these rhythms and it's really a shame.  Because what is a year without cycles and rhythms, indulgence and penitence?  Just an endless succession of days?   And the fact that I grew up a Mormon in a low desert meant that I not only lacked the rhythms that the many Catholics around me had, what with their extended Christmas season and Lent (getting ashed on the day after Mardi Gras--not fair!), but I also could not look forward to any significant change in the seasons.  But that's another not so interesting story.

Anyway, this year I planned several days ahead.  I had a family lined up to meet us at a restaurant, and the mom suggested the tiny Cajun-themed Great Jones Cafe, which she hadn't been to since the '80s.  We arrived at six sharp and not a moment too soon, because by 6:30 the place was packed with the bar four deep with bodies.  

(It's actually harder than you might think to find a kid-friendly place to celebrate Mardi Gras without a fat cover.)

But we had a table for five!  (I am beyond dorky that I take so much pleasure in avoiding a wait.)

As we were pleasantly jostled in our seats by passing bodies, my friend and I ordered, over the cajun music in the background, jambalaya that came with jalapeno cornbread; the girls got burgers.  We tentatively asked for beads and the server dumped two luxurious handfuls on our table.  For dessert, we had key lime pie and chocolate pudding, although traditional king cafe was available.  

And now we are home listening to Amy Winehouse, natch.  I've been sitting here wondering about my love of holidays.  It it the obvious?--that it gives one license for a bit of escape?  That one's place doesn't feel so tight anymore, if only for a day?  

Do you observe Fat Tuesday and Lent?  I'm all ears.

The menu's on the wall!  CRAZY!

Everything went as planned!

layered: a review of the natural history museum of utah

approaching the foothills

one thing that slowly dawns on you after you've lived in utah for a while is how layered it is.  which is weird realization when your first impression of this place is more likely to one be of starkness.  but after you explore the mountains, the seemingly static and stagnant Utah Lake and Great Salt Lake,  and especially the redlands down south, you start to realize how much is going on here, how much has transpired here, and how much of it resides under the quiet and widespread surface of this place.  you have to dig a little, but once you do, it's often profound.

i'd heard raves about the new natural history museum of utah in salt lake, and was anxious to get there.  one friend said that you can be driving towards the building and looking straight at it, but not know it's there.  he's right.  it's architecturally integrated into the foothills and so does not stand out from it's environment.  i had the same experience of not realizing it was there until we were almost upon it.

the exhibits have a similar vibe.  it seems to take your eyes a while to adjust to all the layers of meaning and perspective built into each exhibit.  you might notice you're standing on a plexiglass floor looking down at a life-sized model of a portion of a paleontolgy dig.  then you realize that the assembled bones to your left are casts of the same dinosaurs remains displayed in the dig below you.  behind you, on the wall, is a life-sized image of a tree that shows you the scale of the long-necked herbivore--how very, very tall a 90 foot long dinosaur really is, and how tall the tree she eats from.  to the right you might see a map overlaid with a grid of the dinosaur bones in the dig you're standing on, which helps you really understand the complexity of the thirty-year dig that assembled the skeltons you're looking at.  just a few feet ahead, six scientists on six screens propound their six different theories of how the bones all arrived at the same quarry, and you can vote on what seems the most likely theory to you.  the little antechamber off the exhibit contains a digging box for kids to unearth models of these same dinosaur bones.

windows bring perspective to the exhibits inside

on the other wall hang skulls of the heads of a dozen or so dinosaurs, like a wall of prehistoric hunting trophies.

prehistoric hunting trophies
we spent an hour in this first exhibit, unsuccessfully trying to urge the kids onto the other exhibits and finally giving up.  the museum is like this-once you start exploring, you have a hard time feeling like you're finished.  the beginning and ending of each exhibit is seamless, so you can't quite tell where each one starts and ends.  that's not a criticism, but a strength, and a reflection on the nature of time and shifting environments and landscapes examined in the museum. the exhibits were narrow in scope, also not a criticism, but delve deep.  the nhmu is designed to be a very reflective space,  and because all specimens and subjects in the museum are from utah,  it's tightly focused.  but the profound plan of the museum and it's progressive approach to interactivity and design help you get an emotionally moving perspective on the vastness and depth of this small geographic area.  even the windows, which are stunning, help you to understand what you're looking at inside the museum as you gaze at the mountains (you can find out how they were formed in one room) or the lake (you can examine brine shrimp, learn about water levels in lake bonneville, or salinity and bacteria in another room).  one of the most distinctive things about the building is the way it brings the inside and the outside together.

we only got to take a cursory look at the first exhibit on the ancient people of the region before it was time to go.  i wished we had many more hours to explore, but we realized in the first exhibit that this was not a museum to rush through.  i'm sure we'll go again soon, so watch for review part two.

as we left, i was thinking more about the ground below and the sky above than when we entered, the multivalence of this deceptively simple landscape, and also about how thoughtful and well-considered was the integrated and subtle approach of this important new resource in our community.

p.s. legwear:  i'm wearing my thick black tights--they're making me feel safer as i had a horrible nightmare last night and have suffered a low-level anxiety all day.  plus i feel like i'm in a super tight place today--not taking full breaths, etc.  which is stupid of me, because i merely have the wrong perspective on things.  it's all bad perception/perspective on my part. 

inspiration:  full breaths

looking forward:  to having a better day tomorrow

Monday, February 20, 2012

GITP Monday: Food Writer, Kitchen Blogger and Knee-Sock Wearer: Shannon Borg!

This is what I wear pretty much every day. I like the kissing buttons on these knee socks. Kissing buttons are buttons that are just there for show.

Introducing Shannon:

I’m a writer and fellow BYU alum of the “Clad Clan” girls. I’ve lived in Seattle for the past 12 years, but last year I moved to the woods of Orcas Island, in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. I write about wine for Seattle Magazine, but I also have a couple of books: Corset a book of poems, 

Shannon's book of poems

and a food book, Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut School of the Domestic Arts. 

RIght now I’m also working on a blog,, about all the kitchens I’ve lived in. I also work at a great little resort restaurant, Doe Bay CafĂ©.

What do you want to do this year?  And, are you in a tight place, and if so, what are you doing about it?

This year, I want to start a company - Orcas Farm Tours - taking people (a lot of tourists here in the summer) around to meet their farmers, oyster ranchers, and duck egg producers, (i.e, ducks). I’m pretty scared about it - not the tour part, i’m good with people, but the business part. That would be my tight place, currently, and I’m actually writing about it, but the piece I sent for you all recalls a tight place I was in last year, when I first moved here and lived in a 16-foot trailer for nine months.  

What inspires you?

What inspires me? Simplicity. After I spent too much time going crazy with too many things to do, I am trying to simplify my life. I don’t live in the trailer anymore, but it felt like a place to rebirth myself as a calmer, more centered person. Someone who can say no to things that will complicate my life. Someone who wears the same two or three favorite skirts everyday. And knee socks. They are very stylish, I feel, effective at keeping me warm, and comforting.

The Penultimate Kitchen

I’ve known many women who find solace in their kitchens. In the wake of a broken heart, a lost mother, a wayward child. A kitchen, like a nest, is a place of transformation, where a union of heart and head becomes an egg, becomes a waiting, becomes a bird, becomes a fledgling. Innately, we know this. And so we retreat there to wait out the golden gestation of pain into forgetting, idea into action.

This past summer, I changed my town, my job and my house, and lived for nine months in, literally, a tight spot. My home was a 1961 Shasta trailer - one of several employee housing options at Doe Bay Resort and Retreat. I had just taken a new job as front-of-house manager for the Doe Bay Cafe, on Orcas Island, moving from Seattle where I’d lived for 12 years, been married, owned a house and developed a close-knit community.
All that sounds like a story waiting to be told, but what really kept my attention and distracted me from all the real life drama in my life was my real life tiny kitchen. Less than 36 inches in diameter, my kitchen had most everything: a 3 burner propane stove, an oven, a sink with cold and cold running water, two cabinets, a countertop, a few drawers, and an icebox. That you had to fill with real ice.

The trailer sat in the woods up behind the resort, a gorgeous waterfront collection of old cabins, an organic garden, a top-notch seafood/vegetarian restaurant, a dry sauna and hot tubs in a wooden shelter perched on the bank of a pristine stream. A place of healing.

When I first saw it, the trailer was a dirty shell (no bathroom, of course, that was a 50-yard walk) with torn upholstery. Over the course of a weekend, I cleaned it up, literally, with a toothpick, poking the blown in dirt that had accumulated in the window sills since 1961. I took the benches on a trip with me back to Seattle, found suitable fabric, and broke them down and reupholstered them. I got some old red velvet curtains at a garage sale to separate the “room,” and culled down my possessions until everything I needed fit into my little Scion, Xena the Warrior Princess.  I wanted to think of the few years after my divorce, foundering professionally, financially, emotionally, as a learning experience, and this as a new start.

In this new place, I was overwhelmed by my new job, old wounds, new changes. But I was trying to find balance. I was taking yoga classes for the first time, writing more, trying to be kind to myself.

They say a good kitchen is in balance, too. That as a cook, you should stand in the middle of a triangle - close enough to reach the stove, fridge and sink without moving too far. Well in this kitchen, I had to merely move two inches in any direction to shift my perspective, to reach a knife, to stir a pot. It was very comforting to know I was at the center of my own triangle, able to keep sauce seasoned and flames in check.

And the miniscule kitchen saved my soul. I carried in only what I felt as  truly essential. One cast iron skillet, one pot, one chopping block, one butcher knife, one big bowl, one small, two plates, two forks, two spoons, one wooden spoon, one measuring cup, two coffee cups, two glasses. You get the drift. Each item represented how little I actually needed to survive, and each item felt important. I pondered which spoon to choose, which cup. I decided to bring my best and brightest. The good big wine glasses, my grandmother’s forks.

It all seemed to me that my mind was trying to distract me from concerns of financial instability, of professional ambition and emotional fears. My monkey mind made the kitchen into a bit of an obsession. What would my first meal be? How would I keep cream from spoiling? I realize now that our minds - complex theatres complete with foyer, scrim and green room, are always trying to keep the show going on, no matter what romantic distress the ingenue is feeling, or how many of the chorus’ checks bounced at the grocery store. I’ve come to trust my mind, that it will always try to take care of me. And those first months in a new place, on a new island with a new job, my mind wanted me to create a tiny kitchen where I could feel at home. A dollhouse version of my former life, miniature and perfect.

The night I made my first meal in the Green Flash - the name I gave my trailer for its green and silver lightning bolt on the side; also, the name for that moment the sun goes below the horizon; if you see it, you’ll have good luck -  the woods above the bay were wild with wind and rain. March wind came off the water and up into the forest, and the hundred-foot-tall pines swayed and creaked as if they would give way and crush every little cabin in the way.

But somehow I felt safe. My meal took all evening to prepare; I took it slowly. I lit candles for myself, read my recipe twice, even though I knew it was simple. Fresh linguine carbonara with island bacon and duck eggs from just down the road. I drank wine, but not too much. Grated salty Parmigiano-Reggiano, cubed the sweet-smoky bacon, cooking it - just enough  - into the hot pasta. Grated lemon peel. Chopped parsley. Cracked one golden duck egg, mixing it all together. Tasting along the way to find balance.    

P. S. Not sure how to work this in, except to say there are a lot of cool people at Doe Bay, and a lot of cool legwear, being a coldish clime and all. My friend Luca let me take a pic of the tights she wore to work on Saturday. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

babraham lincoln

ingrid as abe lincoln

on the eve of the day of presidents, here are two little tributes:  a picture of ingrid from halloween '11 in one of the best costumes i've ever seen.

and, a few poems from abraham lincoln.  my favorite is the bear hunt, but it's a bit long to post here, so i'm linking it instead of pasting in.

here are two interesting ditties from the prez:

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good but
god knows When

To Rosa
You are young, and I am older;
      You are hopeful, I am not—
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder—
      Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay—
      That sunshine soon is lost in shade—
That now’s as good as any day—
      To take thee, Rosa, ere she fade.

Shrouded Legs

All weekend, I've been overwhelmed.  I'm thinking of Lara's post about feeling submerged, but it's not a pleasant, aesthetic submergence.  It's that I feel like I can't keep up with my obligations.  I'm doing just what's required, but not much more, which makes me feel ineffectual.

Revising the list from the other day:

1.  I still have those papers to grade.
2.  I still need to write the letter in the cafe.
3.  Sick kid, so cannot go to The Waldos.
4.  Spouse at funeral out of state so cannot leave kids.

All of this is relatively minor, yes?  But I can't shake the feeling of having my legs shrouded:  my strides are shorter, and I might trip a little, like the wearer of the skirt above.

I hadn't seen such a long skirt in a long time.  She looks great, doesn't she?  But is she walking great?  I can't see her tights!

I'm glad Lara's co-blogging with me, because I'm definitely the weak link here.  I'm directing my scant handful of dear readers to her soulful and smart posts.

The photo below has nothing to do with this post does it?  It's off two paintings of Patricia Field behind the glass of the Patricia Field store.  Patricia Field's had a downtown shop since the '80s at least.  I remember buying a pleated acetate black goth cheerleader skirt from her 8th Street shop in 1989, and she did all the styling for Sex and the City.  Look how unfettered she looks in these paintings.  Do I wish I were her sometimes?  Maybe.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dear Lara,

I am barely getting a blog post in because I spent most of the day with your husband and daughter and brother-in-law.  I met C at the MoMA, and C and I walked haphazardly around and found E.  Then we left for Central Park where I bought a pretzel, and then we made our way up to Poet's Walk.  We sat for awhile and then left the park.  C. bought a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery that he and E. shared, and then we looked at the temple and hung out in the spacious lobby of the new Alice Tully Hall where E. was given a free coffee.  Then we walked back to where C and brother in law were staying.  E. read more (for reading was what she was doing at MoMA).  This is when I pointed out that C had many friend requests and Fb notifications.  Your bil finally showed up.  I found him very easy to talk to.  Then we took a cab to a Dominican restaurant Eva knew about, and I got this big molded plantain casserole with black beans.  E's roommate had joined us.  We all split a flan and a tres leches cake.  Then we walked all the way down Broadway, remarked that Peter Frampton's show at the Beacon was sold out as we walked passed, gawked at your old apartment from 1989, and then stopped in at Fairway, where E.'s roommate finally found her brewer's yeast.

Blocks later, we were almost back at the apt, and that's when I peeled off and made my way home to the other end of the island:  a train, a bus, a long walk.

S. wants me to tell you how few people live in North Dakota.



P.S. I feel I haven't made this sound exciting, but it was really fun.  It was one of those days where you land in all of the right places and there is pleasure in all of those spaces.  I also forgot how funny C. is.


total submersion: whitmanesque

david hockney, 2 figures
i did exactly two productive things today, because i don't suppose binge-watching 6 episodes of sons of anarchy on netflix counts, does it?  (unless, of course, it's "research" for a "creative project" i'm "working on.")

1)  i took the kids swimming at the provo rec center and

2) i did a first read through on a batch of poems for a poetry contest i'm judging.

and there was some overlap between the two events.

i was dreading that moment when you take off your wet swimming suit and change into dry clothes.  i hate the rolling down of it the, wriggling around of it, and the cold air of it.  i'm a gal who likes her comforts.

in the olden days, i loved swimming and spent many hours a day in the pool (my mother, with her seven kids, had a great scam going with the city swim program.  she signed us all up for every kind of available lesson--water ballet, stroke technique, diving, jr. lifeguarding, swim team--so we would bike to the pool at seven a.m. and return home around noon with green hair and red eyes having learned how to shell, pike, butterfly, racing dive, give mouth-to-mouth, dolphin kick, interval train, and squeeze visine into our eyes).  as an adult, just plain old swimming such a troublesome activity for me.  perhaps this hearkens back to my post from yesterday about hating unscheduled days.

i got programmed early on to push, push, push--the stop watch, the reps, the technique, practice, and life saving.  it all seemed urgent and important and absolutely unthinkable to say, "i don't like this."

so, there i was today, floundering in the existential pool of a saturday afternoon in february, and in the outdated and not very exciting actual pool of the provo rec center with a few other people who didn't have anything better to do on president's day weekend, when i decided to teach my kids the games we used to play when i was a kid--those would be silence, marco polo, water ballet, handstand, peace pipe, and shark tag.

then i tried something i used to work on obsessively as a kid: walking down the slope of the pool into the deep end.

you can't do it, but you can try.

as i submerged over and over, i loved the muffled underwater sounds and the changed way of seeing that happens when you try to peer across the pool while underwater.  the sudden shift in all sensation  that takes your full attention--you immediately see, hear, feel, and breathe differently.

it's dramatic and full-bodied.

when i arrived home, my batch of poetry contest poems was in the mailbox;  i got nervous opening them.  it feels like a big responsibility knowing that you're going to be the source of disappointment for 95% of the poets in the envelope.  & i try to be a fair and conscientious reader.

so i went through the list of criteria in my head:  attention to image, attention to sound, attention to line, attention to language, maybe even form if the poem is not too obnoxious in its formality.

then i remembered that sensation of sudden submersion i had at the pool today.

& realized that's what i want to feel when i read a great poem--a sudden change in every physical senstion, an absolute attention to the poem, and that satisfying feeling that it's just you and the water, or you and the poem, and if you could, you'd stay like that forever.

if i come across one like that in the batch, i'll give it a first.

so here's a poem that always, and, utterly, sensates,  & takes my breath away, & submerges me in the here and now.

hope you love it too:

from The Sleepers

by Walt Whitman 

I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs,
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on the rocks.

What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? will you kill him in the prime of his middle-age?

Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, bang’d, bruis’d, he holds out while his strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood, they bear him away, they roll him, swing him, turn him,
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is continually bruis’d on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.

legwear:  grey jeans
inspiration:  underwater time
looking forward:  to c. coming home 

p.s.--another text that really submerged me this week was julie's post about her kidney-shaped pool lie.  it's been haunting me.  read it if you haven't already.