Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spring

It’s going to be spring soon, and I know this because our driveway has melted and sent a flood of sand and gritty dirt cascading down to form a pool at the curb, where our caretaker has gallantly placed the spare satellite receiver from our basement and the garbage men have politely declined to accept it every day.

There are so many layers of life that emerge when snow melts. Odd articles of clothing and plastic wrappers pepper the gray slushy highway. And I think, how in the heck do you lose your shoe in a Minnesota winter? There are a few possibilities: it fell off your foot, or maybe sailed out the car window when you rolled it down to flick a cigarette, or maybe it fell out of your gym bag as you trudged along?

And then I think, why in the heck are you walking along the highway in the first place?

Minnesota is full of things I don’t understand. But it is sunny today:

Photobucket

And I just finished reading The End of Vandalism, which is a very funny book with a plot that takes its time. So life is good.

March

Though I continue to neglect this blog, always I think of you, dear reader, and wonder how you are.

What is up?

1. The Oscars.
Lame.

I was annoyed to watch The Social Network win for best adapted screenplay. That movie is, in my very correct opinion, an excellent example of how modern cinema is failing in the narrative-construction department. There was no real drama or conflict; the movement of the entire story was forced; the dialogue was so artificial and the performances so stiff that I performed my requisite Groaning and Moaning and Bitching all through the film, yet waved away any annoyed offers of turning the damn thing off and watching Jersey Shore instead. (I like to make a scene).

2. Weather.
It’s cold here, still. I think it will never end.

3. The baby.
Is all grown up, a year old.

2011

Black Swan was pretty good.

Haunting, etc.

I like seeing actors turn themselves inside out for a role.
Really one of the only things that is ruining it for me is the constant advertisements for No Strings Attached that plague my television screen. I don’t get why Natalie Portman would go from playing the twisted role of Nina (so much like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, I swear) to a dim-witted role in another bald, greasy comedy whose only mildly funny lines are screamed in the trailers every commercial break. I mean, Ashton Kutcher? Really?

Anyway.

I’m feeling extra jazzed tonight because I’m inching my way through a stack of neglected New Yorkers and I read George Saunders’s new story, “Escape from Spiderhead,” in the December 20 issue. I think you can read it online here without being a subscriber. I was worried near the beginning that Saunders (one of my top-3 favorite writers of all time) is basically just re-writing Pastoralia over and over, but then it all exploded. I’ve said for a long time that George Saunders is one of the most compassionate voices in fiction today, and this story really gets it.

That last sentence will slay you. Any day short fiction makes you cry is a good day.

I hope everyone had a superfantastic holiday and New Year’s day. I broke my tailbone and got a righteous stomach flu (an unfortunate combination when you’re in crouching vomit position), but I figure a little purging at the beginning of a new year isn’t such a terrible thing. While recovering I listened to Alain de Bottom’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, and especially agreed with the chapter called “How to Suffer Successfully:”

[W]e become properly inquisitive only when distressed. We suffer, therefore we think, and we do so because thinking helps us to place pain in context. It helps us to understand its origins, plots its dimensions, and reconcile ourselves to its presence.

So true.

I must go. Dog needs the computer.

Snow Day


Puppster K-Hole

The Wikipedia entry for K-hole is in need of some good citations. Claims that a k-hole surfer is interested only in “the shape of [his] hands” and “experienc[es] psychic connections, and shared hallucinations and thoughts with adjacent users” are too subjective, even for the collaborative reference site. How long does it last? Where do you go during it? What parts of the brain would light up, if I had a machine that could light up such things?

Probably the part that deals with when happens when “one’s body is gliding on silk, flying, or has grown very large or distended.”[citation needed]

Why am I reading the Wikipedia entry for K-hole on this crisp Thursday afternoon, you may ask, when outside there are no clouds in the flat sky above and there is a chubby squirrel hanging from the topmost branch of a tree that is swaying in the breeze, and all of this is visible via the skylight in the living room and should be marveled upon for the remaining hours of daylight?

I will tell you, Gentle Reader. My most precious NerdBird pup had to have four teeth extracted today (she never lost her baby teeth–they were “rooted firm,” the vet assured me, making some jerking motion with his wrist) and the cocktail they gave her to alleviate the pain was morphine, valium, and ketamine.

Maybe you will remember ketamine if you ever went to college or a rave party. The guy in the corner who’s rocking back and forth and muttering something about the meat hooks in the ceiling? And drawing a circle with his finger in the air over and over? That’s the guy on ketamine.

When I picked her up at vet, she was crying like the squeaky toy she so often punishes by slamming it against the wall. She was nauseous. And now my innocent Nerd is fascinated with her own paw, whimpering and rubbing it with her nose for the past twenty minutes. Also she’s shivering.

“Normal,” the vet said. And the crying? “Normal.” And the paw-chewing? “Totes normal, for sure.”

And Nerd set her head down on my shoulder with a great amount of Love in her eyes and threw up, down the back of my coat and onto the white tiled floor. I thought, “Oh my, I am just about ready for that baby, aren’t I.”

But I tell you what. When my kids want to get high, I’ll say, “Look at that fat squirrel up there and wonder about where he came from, and what he’s thinking, and also notice how sometimes the sky takes on that particular quality where it feels like walls and a ceiling, and you’re in a big room called Outside, and everybody’s inside this room that you could almost pierce with your finger if you reached far enough.”

That will mess you up enough.

What what

I’ve been buried in the depths of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which is one of those books you cannot believe was written by a human being; the scope of the entire story is so vast, spanning generations, utilizing telepathy and magic and political unrest and a narrator so lovingly self-conscious that he is the story itself, and etc. etc. etc., I mean it is like really super good. But long.

Minnesota is easing into winter this year, a phenomenon for which I’m grateful because our heat doesn’t work yet. Electric blankets and hot mugs of chai and so on. Even Nerd Dog has a cold, and I could feel her sneezes vibrating up the leash today as we walked through the rain and the slippery ginko bulbs which have spread themselves all over the sidewalks, where stick to our shoes and paws and thus invite their foul odors into our homes, no matter how often we scrape the bottom of our sneakers on the door mat.

It’s fall!

And it’s Monday, which means that there are a lot of facebook statuses today that begin with “Dear Monday,” and end with some version of “I hate you,” which is hands-down my least-favorite facebook status genre in the world. (My favorite is the kind where people say what they had to eat today.)

I always hated Perez Hilton for being so mean, but now that he’s made a vow of nicety-nice, I realized his site is just bad writing and pictures of people I have never heard of.

Hereafter isn’t as epic as I had hoped, but the tsunami scene in the beginning is dream-haunting; otherwise, it feels like an aged Clint Eastwood has become too concerned with the what’s-going-to-happen-next wonderment that afflicts people in their 70s.

I am too scared to see Paranormal Activity 2, but as always, I read the wikipedia entry created the morning after its release, and it sounds not-as-scary as the first one. Still pretty scary though. For a wikipedia page.

It’s going to snow this Thursday.

I got a tattoo and am mesmerized by the peeling of it; I would gladly spend whole hours scraping my thumbnail against it and watching the tiny bits of ink flick onto the floor, if I wasn’t smashed by homeworkjobteachinglife etc.

McDonald’s Monopoly Madness is my favorite time of year. Because you can eat there guilt-free–you’re just trying to win $1,000,000 to pay off your student loans.

More LP

If you’re following this as closely as I am, perhaps you’ve already seen this…if not, take a look at this interview with Liz Phair at Mesmerizing.

She’s promising WCSE-era demos for free soon! And a tour! It’s so rare to read such an informative piece on what she’s up to these days.

Regret!

Liz Phair just posted this note on her website:

You were never supposed to hear these songs. These songs lost me my management, my record deal and a lot of nights of sleep.

Yes, I rapped one of them. Im as surprised as you are. But here is the thing you need to know about these songs and the ones coming next: These are all me. Love them, or hate them, but dont mistake them for anything other than an entirely personal, un-tethered-from-the-machine, free for all view of the world, refracted through my own crazy lens.

This is my journey. Ill keep sending you postcards.

-Liz

I’m sort of wondering who my $5.99 went to? Does she know the album is still for sale on her site? And where in the world are her apostrophes?

Anyway Miss P, I still love you.

HEARTS

JRB

When you google “afraid of crying,” pretty much all that comes up are bad song lyrics.

Like this one: she’s afraid of crying/And she can look at me with tears stuck in her eye.

So many questions pop into my mind:

  • How come she’s got tears if she’s afraid of crying? Generally don’t we try to avoid the things we are afraid of?
  • Is “stuck” really the best word here? Doesn’t it connote a solid texture that water doesn’t really have? Like she can look at me with carrots stuck in her eye makes sense, but tears? Was “shimmering” not available? And if it’s really a question of keeping the rhythm, why not with teardrops in her eye?
  • What’s up with the other eye? No tears stuck there?
  • This is Jason Robert Brown, the voice behind these lyrics.

    According to his Wikipedia, this is his wife Georgia, also a composer, and possibly a woman who cries blocks of ice.

    Anyway. No point here–just that together they are adorable.

    Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

    Been busy.

    Got to attend a 3-day meditation workshop with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, which is yet another example of my life moving in these complete circles, because it was his Joyful Wisdom that I listened to in my car as I drove to Minnesota last year with all of my belongings, taking deep breaths the whole way and promising myself it was a good move.

    Oh, it was.

    And so it was really an honor to get to sit with Rinpoche, who is hilarious and silly and awake. I’ve been meditating for a long time, and I’ve read countless books and attended retreats and workshops in a variety of traditions, but his instructions really unlocked something inside me.

    He put a flower behind his head and asked us to look at the flower for a few moments. Then, he said, “Close your eyes but hold the image of the flower in front of you.”

    We did.

    He said, “That is seeing with your mind, but without your eyes.

    “Now,” he continued, “Open your eyes. Look at the flower. But think about something that is bothering you–something that will distract your mind easily.”

    We did.

    He said, “That is seeing with your eyes, but without your mind.

    “Meditation is seeing with both your eyes and your mind.”

    And just like that, this wonderful teacher whose English is still fairly spotty was able to sum up the condition of the meditative act in a way that I’ve never heard before. Other teachers will say: “As you take a breath in, think to yourself ‘I am taking a breath in.'” Etc. Which is the same idea, but that instruction has always encouraged my inner narrator to cling to language as a way of being aware of my experience.

    But all you have to do is see. Such loveliness all around.

    *Those pictures are not from this retreat. They are from a seminar in 2009; I stole them from the Rinpoche’s facebook fan page.