Friday, November 30, 2012

poetry crush marosa di giorgio

uruguayan poet maroso di giorgio
tonight i heard the wonderful adam giannelli read his translations of marosa di giorgio, after he handed out a quail egg for each audience member to hold.  adam played recordings of maroso reading in spanish, and her readings were stunning.

buy this book, people.  i'm serious
i look forward to spending more time with the poems, and i recommend picking up this gorgeous book with facing page translations, for holiday presents.

(this is a plug for making poetry a bigger part of your life and sending some love in the form of money to publishers of poetry by doing a radical thing called buying volumes of poems.)

"I saw them open their lips, black as the night, their gold teeth, after an almond, a pumpkin seed.

To face one's own mark, playing and fighting; and in love without others, to twist until death."

xo, y'all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Season of Loose

As of now, I have no idea what to say.

This is the beginning of the season where we tend to forget about tight places--where we seem to be collectively allowed to be in a bubble for about a month and pretend we are rich in all ways.

We are loose this month, aren't we?  And open and giving?  Right?

We have license to be generous--and act like we have more than we do?

Am I right?

But to revert to tight, I have a strict policy about not playing any Christmas music 'til December 1st--and it's been annoying to walk into shops and hear it--but because I am on the cusp on this season and because I have to post SOMETHING decent tonight, I'm going go loose and give you one of my favorite seasonal tunes.

My favorite Christmas song is a song that never gets played (by a band in which two of the three members happen to be Mormon). Go ahead: sing.  Be loud!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seniors Rock

Last night, I saw Neil Young (1945) and his longtime band, Crazy Horse perform at Madison Square Garden.  Patti Smith (1949) opened the show. I hadn't been to a big stadium show in 14 years. But it was A's anniversary gift to me this summer.

I just have to say that the seniors really rocked it. At 67, Neil sounded the same and moved the same as he does here in this clip from 1991. It was exciting to see. (Also, the stage setting was the same as it is here. Big Crazy Horse banner. Loved it.
I've seen Patti Smith here in New York three times. Twice for free. She's the most reliably generous performer I've ever seen. Down-to-earth Jersey girl. Gives the people exactly what they want.
 I've always had a secret wish to be a rock star, but for this life, I'll have to be content to be a super attentive and appreciative rock fan.

small & barely perceptible

finished paisley notebook yesterday, started teal feather journal today.
monday and tuesday were full and pretty frantic, so today was slow and a little dull, a tiny bit depressing.  but a few small, good things happened.

sexy close-up of my artist's shrine/altar thingy.
1) yesterday i finished another artist's way morning pages notebook.  i did the artist's way last summer and, though i didn't have the huge breakthrough that some adherents profess to, i'm still noticing the changes that continue to occur.  now i'm quite wedded to the act of  spending time every morning writing in a meditative writing practice, one that's separate from my artistic writing practice.  a sitting meditation or a silent prayer practice has never worked  for me, but this notebook thing.  i'm trying not to sound fanatical about it.

as a formerly cynical person who didn't believe in anything. . . . i might be starting to develop some sort of. . . belief?


i can't believe i said that.

if you squint, these kind of look like a cool textile print or something.
2) sweet potato/russet potato garlic home fries.  the way they looked all lined up on the baking sheets, kind of design-y and all, brought me a surprising amount of pleasure.  and then they looked great after they were roasted and browned.  and then they tasted great.

(hint:  it's all about the flaky salt, which you should add before, during, and after the roasting process.)

believe me when i say:  flaky salt must be applied before, during, and after
3) moses was home recovering from strep throat today.  it's a great moment when, suddenly, the antibiotics have done their job and the kid starts eating and jumping around and laughing again.  i always say strep throat trumps a virus any day. (except when you're an adult :( )  24 hours of pink liquid and you're golden.

i might need to ask for her new book, dream more, for christmas. . . .
4)  dolly parton and stephen colbert singing love is like a butterfly together.  i'm sorry.  i know i need to join a dolly super fan support group, but i love her SO much.  i love her laugh, especially, and the way, even though she's lost a lot of her voice to age, she still works it, still has so much soul.

legwear: yoga pants

looking forward to: seeing anna karenina with friends this weekend

inspiration: dolly's laugh

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

a good fortune?

i was pretty psyched when i broke open a fortune cookie and found this prediction:

"your talents will be recognized this year and suitably rewarded."

but then my neuroses kicked in:

"eva, does this mean by the end of 2012 or does it mean by the time twelve months have passed from the opening of the cookie?"

eva: "twelve months.  if it's gonna happen in the next month, it will only be small-scale recognition, and you don't want that."


so i pin it to my office wall.  look at it occasionally.  begin to read it neurotically again:

"your [modest] [absent] [negligible] [insignificant] talents will be recognized this year and will be suitably rewarded [with a] [modest] [negligible] [insignificant] [etc.] [reward]."

that's how we roll around here.

legwear: new pointelle tights, again

inspiration: susan howe's book that this

looking forward to: stephen colbert

Happy 70th, Jimi!

The king of loose:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet Life Coach, Grandmother, and Expedition Leader, Lynne Whitesides

Lynne is a Salt Lake City-based life coach who specializes in personal growth,  interpersonal relationships, and spiritual development. She works with women, men, children, couples and also those from the LBGT Community.  

Long interested in how the human mind works, Lynne, at age 24, started a period of self-education, reading about Jung and Freud.  Over the years, she has studied extensively in the fields of psychology, spirituality, nutrition, and the brain.   She’s inspired by the works and lives of people like Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller, Rumi, Anne Lamott, Buddha, Madame Curie, and Martin Luther King Jr. 

In 1993, Lynne started working with a therapist, and was invited to join a group called Social Group Work Processing.  She is now a certified Social Group Work Facilitator, and has participated in this weekly training for the past thirteen years.
Last year, she became an expedition leader for Choice Humanitarian and is leading a group to Guatemala.  Says Lynne of Choice, “I love their philosophy. They don’t go into a village thinking they are there to save the villagers. What they do is an actual exchange of ideas and sharing of experience between the expeditioners and the villagers. This volunteer work is a win-win situation and our groups often learn more from them then they do from us.” Recently, she has been to both to Peru and Costa Rica on personal spiritual retreats.  In addition to all of this,  Lynne is the mother of three grown children and three granddaughters.  Says Lynne, "They are all really, amazing, bright, funny people. I am grateful for everyone I have met, the paths I took and my life as it is. The work I do here with my clients makes each day rich and joyful.”

Lynne's upcoming Vision Board Workshop takes place in Salt Lake City on December 8.  More details about it here.

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

I'm not in a tight place, but I am thinking about making some changes in my life.  What I'm thinking about doing is simplifying, mostly because I want to travel more.  I'm thinking about selling my house, for one thing.  I want to go to Peru a little more often.  I do down there and do ceremonies, and I work with a shaman when I'm there.  I'm leading a trip to Peru on the 19th of January.  I'll take about 15 people down and we'll spend two weeks.  A woman who I met 12 years ago is doing a reforestation project there.  This will be my third year going and it's changed my life so much.  It's really fun. It's the way life ought to be.  It's totally relaxed, plus someone else is doing all the cooking.

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

I don't know how much I can get done by the end of this year, but for the long term, I have a lot of plans. When I turned 60 last January, I realized that I had started the last part of my life and I decided to have as many adventures as I could possibly have.  Helen Keller said, "Life is an adventure, or nothing at all."  I want to hike Machu Picchu, for one thing.  I want to do some travelling with my grandkids who are a little young right now.  I sing a lot of ceremony songs to them.  I'd also really like to meet someone and have a partner again. 

3.  What inspires you?

One of my biggest inspirations is Rumi.  I'm also reading Hafiz.  They're Sufi poets.  They inspire me.  Being on the earth takes a lot of courage and everyone should have a gold star just for showing up.  People finding their hearts really inspires me, those who step out of bigotry and into acceptance.  Those kinds of things really inspire me and show me how to change my life for the better.

4.  What's your favorite legwear?

I like to wear patterened leggings.  Whole Foods has a whole new line of them.  One of goals this weekend is to find a new pair of leggings.   My ideal outfit is leggings, sweaters, and boots.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


whisking and editing
a weird combo of happenings tonight.  nothing weird weird, just not our typical sunday night.

kale and meatball soup with cranberry cheddar grilled cheese.
first off, we didn't go to bam's for dinner as she was recuperating from thanksgiving. we had her over here, and i made stock with the turkey bones (i love turkey stock way more than turkey meat), then put together a soup of the turkey stock, kale, mushrooms, noodles, and lamb and sausage meatballs.  it tasted so good.  you just want vegetables after a week of feasting.

aunt bonnie doing dishes in cool tights.
secondly, the simpson's was just.  off tonight.  funny moments, but not the best episode.

compulsive editing & simultaneous cooking.
thirdly, i try not to do work on sundays, to shut off my brain for a day and re-set, but i got really caught up in the paper i'm working on, and kept going back to it and revising all day.  even whilst whipping cream to put on leftover pumpkin pie and bread pudding.

you know when you just finish writing something and you keep going back to check on it and admire it, before the loathing sets in and you realize how crappy it is?  yeah.  that.
well.  good evening, and happy normal week to you all!

legwear: black pointelle tights

inspiration: homer (the poet AND the simpson) and rich turkey stock

looking forward to: yoga, school, and work.  normalcy.

Sunday. Sigh.

I have almost nothing to say.

Today has been a transition day.

A day of getting to languishing work, unpacking suitcases, and looking for (still!) lost keys and textbooks that never made it home from school last Wednesday.

The last ripe tomatoes from the Farmer's Market were gathered.  Today I ate the last of the apple pie.  I wore my new Dansko shoes around the apartment.  These shoes are so new and cool, they're not even on the company's site.  I know what you're thinking--you ALWAYS think "cool" when you think "Dansko."

They've helped me (kind of) keep the angst at bay.
Brand new boot shoes on a dirty floor

From IKEA to Aunt Myrtle

Back in NY, from a spacious house with inviting sectionals and spongy wall-to-wall carpeting to our hard-edged tenement life.

We stopped at IKEA in New Haven, only because I wanted some new cushion covers and of course, we come out with our shopping cart packed.  How and why, I do not know, but we had spent enough to earn free dinners for all!

I'm always intrigued with the holiday-oriented stuff IKEA hawks during the holidays which is couched in cozy Swedishness.  

My grandmother's aunt--and my great-great aunt--Aunt Myrtle was the daughter of 19th-century Swedish immigrants, and I knew her well, felt a personal connection to her, especially because she was a writer and wrote a biography of her father, my great-great-grandfather, Carl, who immigrated with his wife--new Mormon converts--from Sweden to Salt Lake City.   Carl worked in a furniture store and became a Democrat, a political party my great-great aunt inherited, which is another reason I felt so connected to this aunt.

(Look!  I found a little image of Myrtle's parents--my great-great grandparents, Hulda and Carl.) 

Myrtle was married twice--once divorced, once widowed--no kids, was a wonderful piano player, went on a mission to Sweden in the '50s, and owned a house in Encino, CA, where she died at 103, having lived in three centuries.  

And this reminds me, I've been missing a lot of dead relatives this weekend. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

what i did wrong

i'll never tell who the ungrateful child is.  but she's in this picture.

the glow of the holiday has officially faded, and we're all a bit crabby.

in fact, one child cried for a good two-thirds of the day, and presented me with a laundry list of grievances that, after i got over my bout of guilt, i realized could only have been constructed by a well-fed, safe, and privileged child.

it might be time to get out of our ultra-secure little homogenous haven for a while.

the grievances:

1.  i didn't make buttermilk mashed potatoes for thanksgiving (i wasn't in charge of mashed potatoes this year.)

2. we didn't have mini-martinellis for the kids this year.  (couldn't find them at the grocery store, didn't have time to go to costco, and plus those things are jacked up.)

3. i forgot to bring the oreo turkey placecards to bam's house.

4.  i'm letting school start again on monday.  and i'm making her attend.  even though her eye itches.

5.  i arranged a play date for her with one of her favorite friends and then went shopping without her (so mean!)

6.  i ran out of band-aids for the scratch she got on her pinky today.


the fun's over.

i can't wait for school to start on monday.

really, the thing i'm more grateful for than almost anything else in the entire world, and i'm not being hyperbolic, is free public education.  i'm sorry it rests on the backs of underpaid teachers and educators.

so let me say a quick thank you to those amazing people!

see you monday, teachers!

legwear:  orange skinnies

inspiration:  teachers

looking forward: to the resumption of routine on monday, and to wednesday, when i will be done with my two presentations of the semester.

Friday, November 23, 2012


In the post-Thanksgiving lull we all seem to be forgetting that it's S's 11th birthday.  She was born, while the World Trade Center site was still smoking and smoldering 14 blocks south, on the day after Thanksgiving in 2001. 

I had been up late, disco dancing at a Thanksgiving party with my sister the night before.  We were with a bunch of post-Mormon academics who loved the Shins.  

The next morning, after about six hours of sleep, while watching Alice's Restaurant on dvd and taking care of three-year-old Z, my water broke.

Later, the host of the Thanksgiving party would attribute this to his spicy butternut squash soup.

I was very casual about it.  I called the midwives who told me to come into the birth center to get checked, but before doing so I threw on a tattered leather coat and stopped off for a chocolate croissant, which was the only accessory I arrived at the birth center with.  

The midwives didn't let me return home, so I made thousands of calls--to A telling him to bring a long list of stuff, including--inexplicably--grape juice.  And then to S. who would be taking care of Z. 

The afternoon wore on.  It grew more harrowing.  The birth center was eerily quiet--most of the rooms dark; everyone gone for the holiday weekend, the only laboring person there was me.  And then the midwife, one nurse and A.  

For this reason, there is no video, hardly any photos, which is a little sad.  

S. is one of the most complex and interesting people I've ever met in my life.  We thought so the first time we saw her. 


My favorite holiday is probably Thanksgiving--a simple communal practice of gratitude for one's abundance that has largely escaped corporate commercialization.   No expectations except eating a plethora of harvest dishes with people you feel completely comfortable with.  It's the perfect 
"forgetting one's tight place" holiday.  Or at least it has been for me, as a someone whose life from birth has been largely defined by tight places.

We even went around the table and told what we were grateful for (thanks to G visiting with her husband, G from Charles Olson's town.)

I spent Thanksgiving Eve at the Union Square green market picking out a pie to bring to our Rhode Island feast, hosted by my mother-in-law.  I wish I had had occasion to gather more items, because look at the offerings!--but everything would be cooked by the time we arrived on Thanksgiving afternoon.

The apple pie we did buy was from a vegan stand called Body and Soul.  To taste the crust you wouldn't suspect it had no butter in it.  Can an apple pie be nuanced?  This one was.  In fact, their pie was so delish I feel compelled to go back to the stand and gushingly tell them how much we all loved it.  (I believe the ingredients included lemon grass.)

Another stand-out, G's homemade pumpkin pie with the crushed pecan crust.  

I am grateful for you, GITP readers--and Lara, of course.

G's signature pumpkin pie.
G cutting the first slice. 

the feast &

we missed you, ingrid!

1.  ingrid feasted in d.c., made grandma wendy's rolls.

2.  first thanksgiving in four years with eva.

rutabagas with roasted ginger pears.  confession:  i used 1 c. cream rather than the measly 1/3 c. called for.
3.  every year i try a new vegetable side.  this year it was smashed rutabagas with roasted ginger pears, and i'm pleased to announce that, for the first time in years, a new fantastic dish made it into the thanksgiving cannon and will be repeated.

nora & rose made this.

4.  the twins made marshmallow fluff.

crescents & cloverleafs

5.  eva i made grandma wendy's rolls in utah, too.  they weren't as good as hers.  they never are.

6.  bammy hosted, so it was an easy day for me.

the kids table gets smaller each year.
7.  we tried to see pitch perfect, but it was sold out.

8.  i missed my family in boise, arizona, sydney, and seattle.

caramelized apple & currant bread pudding.  i was gonna do chocolate, but thankfully lula talked me out of it.

9.  the lights are up on candy cane lane!

10.  don't you think black friday is one of the most depressing things in the world?

legwear:  fishnets

inspiration: bammy

looking forward to: finishing the odyssey with moses today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

poetry gorge

in between shopping for tomorrow's feast, a yoga session, and loosely monitoring children (read: ignoring children), i did poetry, poetry, poetry.

i finished a draft of a new poem, read some student poems, and studied for a paper i'm writing.

it was a great day, even in the midst of reading a lot of poetry i don't particularly love (read: shelley).

one of the things i had hoped to accomplish in a year of 365 girls in a tight place posts was to cultivate an appreciation of the now--not pining for the future, not regretting the past, but opening my eyes and ears and heart to more of the moments i'm blessed (and cursed) with.

today, during a low-key dinner, i suddenly thought about how much i've always loved words:  learning them, saying them, hearing them, singing them, teaching them, reading them, writing them.

suddenly overwhelmed by this love, overtaken by gratitude.  a strange moment, in the empty, dive-y, pine-sol scented betos, splitting their humbly delicious fajitas platter with christian.

then i started listing words i love in my head.

like:  polyglot.

it sounds weird, but i've never felt super lonely in my life on account of books, notebooks, and writing implements.  there's this ur-melody always with me.  it goes like this: you always have your writing, there's always another book to read.

sometimes i have a strange fantasy of being imprisoned in some sort of solitary confinement.

i imagine having nothing to write with or to read.

no worries.

i have a plan for that scenario:  i'll make up poems in my head and commit them to memory.  i don't write a lot of formal poetry typically, but in solitary, with nothing to write with, i'd probably go with the shakespearean sonnet, since it's my mother form, it's deeply imprinted in my skin, blood, and bones

& , it would help me remember.

so please indulge me while i share a couple more thanksgiving/ fall themed poems.  and feel the blessings of this particular human form of expression--an expression that can somehow encompass light and dark, creation and destruction, joy and despair in a word or a line or a couplet. nothing but music can do that same sort of thing, in my opinion.

and the coolest thing is

that if it's a great poem,

you won't even be able to say what it is that's happening to you, how it happened, or why you love it so much.

so here's a poem by one of my favorite writers, jean toomer, and one by the always fantastic joy harjo.  with gratitude to words, poets, and readers.

diva rock star poet joy harjo.

Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.


harlem renaissance poet jean toomer.  author of one of my all-time favorite books, cane.

by Jean Toomer

Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground—
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.


legwear: pink tights

inspired by: poets who keep writing

looking foward to: the day of the bird.

A Thanksgiving Passage on Thanksgiving Eve

Today I experienced the, for me, the unprecendented thrill of of coming across a Thanksgiving-themed passage in a novel I've been slogging through for several weeks--and on Thanksgiving Eve, no less!!!  At page 200, the novel's finally starting to pick up, and I'll post my Goodreads review here when I'm done.  

I came across this passage on the subway to work this morning, and could barely contain my excitement at the serendipity of it all.  For I was barreling up the west side on the subway, not too far from where the balloons for tomorrow's historic parade sponsored by an old, iconic department store are being inflated.

Unfortunately, I had left the novel at work, but an LA-based Fb friend, Chairm An Meow, responded to my Fb call, and scanned the relevant pages from her copy and emailed them to me.  It was a little Thanksgiving miracle.  (Thanks to Luisa and (former GITP blogger) Jenna for making suggestions.)

From Chronic City (2009)  (The narrator-- former child star and ersatz boyfriend to endlessly circling astronaut, Janice Turnbull--Chase Insteadman has been recently felled by flu and receives a pair of rich friends in Burberry coats into his apartment on Thanksgiving morning.)

The two of them arrived just before noon with a caterer’s roasted turkey and some sides, shocking me.  [. . . ]  The Hawkman helped me set a small table, scooping sweet-potato mash and creamed spinach from plastic quarts into rarely used serving bowls, gravy poured into a coffee mug, and dusting off a bunch of cloth napkins I’d forgetting I owned.  We even switched on the television to catch the toe end of the Macy’s parade, the kooky giant balloons, supermen and Gnuppets and unrecognizable new personae bobbing through the sleet canyons, kids toughing it out in the cold.
            “May I ask, what does that represent?”
            “That represents SpongeBob SquarePants, Georgie.”
            My appetite suddenly savage, I was, yes, thankful, wildly so, to have the turkey’s inexhaustible flesh before me, ate white and dark in a gravied pile together, felt myself plundering the bird’s live forces, stripping it free of the obedient skeleton.  Recovering with each bite, I felt a teenager’s strength and greed rising in me.  Richard laughed.  They ate, too, more decorously, through threads of dried breast lodged in Richard’s beard until Georgina picked them out, and gossiped absently, remarking on items of paltry interest in my apartment, which was revealing, truthfully, only in its hotel-ish anonymity, order, booklessness (201-2).

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Btw, Thanksgiving Eve is my favorite holiday.  By far.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

cream into butter

love julie's thanksgiving movie/book post.

here's  my thanksgiving poem post: a poem that makes me feel better about my plans to buy six pounds of butter tomorrow when i do my thanksgiving shopping.


by Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite   
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

Thanksgiving Weekend: One Book and Six Films About Families, Both Conventional and Not

Looking for something to read or watch over the Thanksgiving weekend? Read this. (Can you tell that I'm so tired that I'm merely posting my Goodreads review here for you? This review feels incomplete, doesn't it?) ArcadiaArcadia by Lauren Groff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Groff traces commune kid and protagonist Bit's life from his existence in utero--straining the denim of his hippie mom's overalls as she launders clothes in a river--until her death in Bit's often strained middle age. Although Arcadia, the upstate New York commune that raised Bit eventually crumbles, Bit and his family survive, sometimes tenuously, carving out an initially depressing "post-Arcadial" existence in Queens. Throughout, Bit's quiet heartbreaks and triumphs are narrated in a self-conscious and highly styled literary voice that sometimes grates--"He has been gentled in living light"--but is, at least, ethnographically appropriate. As a perpetual student of the '60s counterculture, I can't help but approve.

View all my reviews

 And you should watch these two Thanksgiving-themed films. Pieces of April with my neighbor, Katie Holmes:
 Hannah and Her Sisters is brilliant:

And a pre-rehab Robert Downey Jr. in Home for the Holidays. (Haven't seen this one. Have you?)
 Swinging patricians during the demise of the Nixon administration:

And if you spend Thanksgiving with family you choose instead of genetically inherit, then maybe the best Thanksgiving movie of all time is for you:
And speaking of counter-cultural Thanksgivings, don't forget this one. (My water broke while watching this film the day after Thanksgiving.:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Guest Blogger, Thanksgiving Edition: Meet Pianist, Piano Teacher, and Home-Schooling Mother of Four, Sara Swim Turley

Sara is all too familiar with tight places.
With Thanksgiving this week and the holidays on the horizon, I feel a little melancholy for my family out west.   And when I think of family coupled with Girls in Tight Places, I can't help but think of my Arizona-dwelling sister-in-law Sara Swim Turley, mother of three of my nieces (one of whom has Type 1 diabetes) and one of my nephews.  Born and raised in Salt Lake City.  Sara has been homeschooling her two oldest kids from day one.   She has juggled these responsibilities while making sure her kids have a full spectrum of experiences, including sports and music.  A musician herself, Sara holds a master's degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Arizona State University.  This Thursday, she will be hosting Thanksgiving for not only her own family, but three members of her soon-to-be-arriving Utah family, plus my own mother, who will be experiencing her first Thanksgiving without my dad.  When I asked Sara what she was cooking, she said, "The usual, but this year--speaking of tight places--I'm not going to make my pies from scratch like I usually do.  Same with the rolls."

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

Hard to narrow down the range of my tight places.  The rooms in my house are tight.  There's never enough time to go around.  I'm trying to adjust some things, and we've dropped some things this school year, like the children's choir and the weekly homeschool enrichment classes.  I also lost two piano students, due to them moving away.

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

I hardly ever get time to think about that question.  I make lists but never get to them.  I never have time to think what to do beyond just getting everyone through the day.  But I've been practicing the piano again.  I learned an entire Brahm's piece--Op. 118 No. 1--and I would love to learn a couple more from this set and have a lesson with my old piano teacher [from high school and the University of Utah] when I go home to Utah for Christmas.  I also have a goal to pick up the violin again and practice with my oldest daughter.  She's about the level I was when I stopped.  But I need a new bow for my violin.  It's warped, so before the end of the year, I'm going to order a new bow.  At the end of her Violin Book 4, there's a Bach piece for two violins, and so I thought it would great to play it with her.

3.  What inspires you?

I don't feel inspired a lot, because of all of the demands on me.  I feel more depleted than inspired.  When I am inspired it's from my really great friends, who have lots of great skills.

4.  What's your favorite legwear?

We don't wear socks/tights out here in Arizona.  Capri pants.  You can wear them all year.  Throw on a sweater in January and you're fine.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


i feel pretty old today.  not in a bad way, just, i don't know, getting very attached to my habits and customs.

also, c. and i went to dinner at 4.45 p.m. on friday, almost missing the senior special.  and a matinee on saturday.

so, yeah, old.

and lately i'm finding all of my satisfaction in the little rituals of the day and the week--the sunday dinner with my family and friends, the end of day reading from gareth hinds' graphic novel of the odyssey with moses, my early, early morning pages, a little daily show, etc.  nothing exciting at all.  just


nice & comforting.

nothing wrong with that, right?

i don't have a lot of big ideas, either, just details recorded and confined in the little space of the poem i write every week.

&, like julie, i haven't processed what the year-long project of keeping a daily blog has meant, either.

things don't add up the way i thought they would.

it seems like my project now is to try to forget what i thought should happen and pay attention to what is actually happening.

it's surprisingly hard to do.


1.  Started the day at The Secret City.  The theme of "Ancestors."  Katherine Gleason presented her work on Alexander McQueen; Susan Birnson had everyone taste her canned cherries and apricots (lemongrass, etc--turns canning on its head); we saw Toshinori Hamada present traditional Japanese dance; we listed to Andru Bemis and his banjo, and The Secret City Singers sang Sweet Honey in the Rock.  

2.  Went from there to the dramatic conclusion of the marathon Moby Dick reading.

3.  Headed to the New Museum for the vintage Bowery artists exhibit and Rosemary Trokel exhibit.  Have you heard of her?  I hadn't.  And I have a hard time finding a good link to her online.   There was also a tattoo artist tattooing humans in the New Museum's window.  

4.  The conclusion of our year-long GITP blog experiment looms.  I'm still not sure what all these posts have added up to, if the daily blog practice has helped me in any way.   Still feel in so many tight places.  I still haven't accomplished many of the goals I set on 12/31/11 with Lara.  In fact, I feel like I've barely made a dent.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

skyfall: it's personal

the suit fits good.
i've seen a run of unsatisfying movies of late.

skyfall was not one of them.

on the fiftieth anniversary of the james bond movie franchise, sam mendes' decision to mine bond's past as well as  his emotional connection to m paid off in a movie that has everything one could want from a bond film, plus a little extra.  the film nodded to all of the james bond tropes but also forged some new territory, proving the hero's relevance in world whose technology might render the famous bond skills and gadgetry outmoded.  here's a list of things i loved about the film:

1)  its central theme.  when q presents bond with his gadgets, its a shockingly simple kit he receives.  this scene shows, in a nutshell,  what the film is about, and exposes the essence of bond at the same time.  one of the central questions of the film is whether or not bond's skills are antiquated enough as to render him irrelevant (spoiler alert:  of course not, silly!)  at one point in the film, m is asked, "what do you think, this is still the golden age of espionage?" that question is asked, implicitly, in almost every scene.

so skyfall reminds us what is really cool about bond. we love the gadgets, but really, the gadgets always fall into the shark cage or off the edge of a high rise anyway, and then what are we left with?  bond and his villain, mano a mano.  this is when we know why we need 007 more than, say, a semi-automatic.  it's bond's wits and his ability to bricolage his own gadgets in the midst of a surely fatal tight place (as when he re-couples a de-coupled train with a backhoe in skyfall's opening sequence) that gives him lasting appeal as an action hero.  i also thought it was incredibly clever for the film to anticipate and then refute it's own obsolescence.  at the same time, the movie is making a smart cultural observation about human vs. technological powers.

2) javier bardem.  tsking like a mexican grandmother, swaying around like he's on a cat walk, or just looking really creepy, he is one of my favorite bond villains ever.  the script gives him a really excellent motive and backstory that makes him more dimensional than your average villain.

3) ralph fiennes.

the end.

4) the beautiful ladies, bespoke suits, the valentino-esque gowns, the swaroski crystals.  daniel craig in about a million moodily hot silhouettes.

i mean,

i'm only human.

5) it's a pretty talky film, and the dialogue is interesting, complex and surprising.  and m quotes tennyson.  like a whole stanza of tennyson.  and there's not one single moment of shaky, hand-held camera work, which is what i was dreading about seeing the film.  the chase scenes are elegant, and there are many beautiful visual tableaux.

so i like the eye candy.

sue me.

if it was only eye candy, i'd give the film a 'meh'.  but it's got depth and soul, too, and kind of touchingly old fashioned in it's attention to thematic unity and elegance.

maybe i'm just old.

maybe i just want to know that human beings are not quite obsolete yet.

Catching Up

I began the day at the Moby Dick marathon reading at Housing Works.  This reading is actually taking place at three venues this weekend, and it took me awhile to that to sink in:  HW in Soho, Word in Greenpoint and a bookstore out in Greenpoint (Magnolia?  Macaroon?).

Can I just say that when you read aloud for an audience it is a performance.  You can't mumble when you're reading 19th century prose, especially Melville's.  The reading is full of some well known writers who I hope understand this.  I'm going to try again at this thing tomorrow.

I had to then rush home and prepare for S's bday party, which meant packing her cake, candles, etc.  We were going to have the cake plus pizza at a generic pizza joint before sending S and her five friends to Wreck-It Ralph in 3D.

While they were in the movie, I forced A to go to the vegan East Village institution Angelica Kitchen with me.  We then looked around at St. Mark's Books.  It reminded me of our life here before kids, such a long time ago now.

Later, I got out of my tight grading situation by taking inspiration from Lara, who reported on Fb that she was COMPLETELY caught up in her grading.  I got to work and graded six papers in a row, when usually all I can stand to do in a day is three.

I wonder if Melville was a procrastinator.  He was certainly had his share of tight places.

Art Before Death: Girls in Thai Places

1.  Began the night by trying to catch the opening of the Moby Dick marathon reading and discovered that it had started at Word in Greenpoint, not Housing Works in Soho.  Moby Dick moves to Soho tomorrow.  At Housing Works tonight was a Granta-sponsored reading.
Banana leaf!  This is the vegan version, the only version not rendered in pork fat.
2.  My family and I ate at Pok Pok Thai--where the menu is basically pad thai, three different ways.  The music was Thai versions of '70s hits like "Funkytown" and "Boogie Nights."  Pink Floyd's "The Wall."  Amazing.

2.  Did not want to go home so we headed to the reopening of the Clemente Soto Velez center--a hundred-year-old recently restored public school.  It's a hive of a place with a million rooms and theaters:  there were two gallery openings, a theatrical performance, video screenings, and on the main floor the most brilliant salsa band, performing as part of the Borimix Puerto Rican fest.  Women older than my 70-something mother had joined the band of their own accord onstage and were sexy salsa dancing, making the most of their bodies, dancing until they drop dead.  This music is more than just party music--something about the drumming and percussion, the slave origins of it, I find incredibly moving, especially live.  No one could stay in their seats.
At CULTUREfix, refusing to go to bed.
3.  Still didn't want to go home.  Ended up at performance art night at CULTUREfix.  A man in kabuki-inspired drag divided the audience in half.  One hummed "E;" the other hummed "C."  He arranged us around the piano and played through our humming.  That, too, was moving.

4.  All the lights are on; the art is on.  After six straight days of work, it was a good night for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012


our 2010 thanksgiving table, decorated by lula.

this is by far my favorite week of the year.

i love the traditions, the food, the sort of low-key but festive holiday of thanks.

the oreo turkeys and mini martinellis at the kid table have become a tradition.

the side dishes are my favorite.  i try new ones every year.

the port and dried fig cranberry sauce rocked my world in 2010.  you can find the recipe on epicurious.

any good suggestions?