Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Things that are making me happy

Singing along with Dave Matthews in his octave.

Throwing things away. There probably aren't many instances where ridding your life of something ugly is as simple as the physical action of destroying it or putting distance between it and you, but it's a pleasure when such an instance does come along.

Reading with Austin Scarlett.

Friday lunch dates with my dad downtown. I catch the subway and meet him outside his company's skyscraper, and we have something yummy and I get sore feet or a sunburn from walking/lying around in the financial district sunshine. We have reconciled enough with each other that we can again have the very meandering, intellectual conversations that we've had since I was young.

Moving on from phonology to language acquisition in my linguistics class. About time, too, because I was about to die a phonemical death. Thank goodness, the new unit on psycholinguistics is fascinating.

Hiking down to a used bookstore [this lovely one, if any of my San Franciscans are wondering] to trade in some novels I didn't want anymore for a book of poetry and a print of a '40s photograph.

Late-morning mugs of black tea.

Making plans for my life that I really like and can actually make happen this year.

Being able to provide concrete support for my astronaut sister, despite the distance.

This picture from Erin's 365.

Taking down one of my mirrors for no particular reason. Now whenever I look at the place on the wall where it used to be, I get this funny jolt because my reflection's not there anymore to return my gaze. It feels sort of like I've vanished myself.

Little monks who share my like of boba.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I love this quote.

"If someone comes to you for help, you shall not turn him off with pious words and kneel in prayer to recommend him to God; you shall act as if there were no God, as if there were only one person in all the world who could help him: you yourself."

Quoted from a book of a rabbi's teachings in A View of the Ocean, by Jan de Hartog.

Friday, April 24, 2009


My sweet sad astronaut sister
bone-lonely and texting me from the other side of the atmosphere
I know how tired you are, I know, I know
So I will listen,
I will not say what I am thinking,
which is you mustn't go any further!
which is how did no one notice
angry now that silence is not the opposite of screaming,
silent as you were, silent as shoulders shaking and
the nail polish stroking across the wood

And I am distressed with not knowing
why I should be happy and you sad,
the words that would be true enough for what I want to describe to you,
what I can say instead of it will be all right.

You're too far, love;
your voice is muffled
as I know mine must be for you.

But what I would have you hear is this

Every morning I am telling God
that if I am allowed one more miracle in my life,
I would see you happy again.


I don't even know how to finish this. It was upsetting for me to write it, and the reason I had trouble falling asleep last night.

For some reason, I feel better when it's out of my head, here where you can read it. So thank you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things I really want to do before I die

I intend to keep adding to this list.

1. Explore an abandoned building.
2. Work in another country.
3. Spend the night in a library
4. Become vegan. [DONE: 1/2017]
5. Spend a while in Greenland.
6. Become competent with a sewing machine.
7. Cultivate a hobbitish quantity of foot calluses.[DONE: 4/2010]
8. Dance a treble reel.
9. Learn to ride a motorcycle.
10. Watch the world wake from a balcony in Paris.
11. Be published.
12. Learn to taste the difference between bad wine and good wine.
13. Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef.
14. Dance at a céilí.
15. Attend a protest. [DONE: 3/21/10]
16. Meet all of my bloggy friends.
17. Be mistaken for a Dutchwoman in the Netherlands.
18. See a new country or a new part of the U.S. every year.
19. Eat a mangosteen [DONE: 5/13/10]
20. Walk through the subway tunnel.
21. Learn the dance from the "Love is Battlefield" music video.
22. Try a durian and a rambutan.
23. Spend a spring in Russia.
24. Become comfortable asking strangers for their portraits.
25. Kayak in Iceland's Westfjords [ideally while I'm there with this program].
26. Take a Bikram yoga class.
27. Make pasta from scratch with Amanda and her nonna.
28. Drive the remainder of Iceland's Highway 1.
29. Visit Svalbard.
30. Drive a Smart car.
31. Stay at a convent/monastery.

If you've posted a life list, drop me a link!

Right now.

I've seen this meme on flickr and on several blogs. I like the idea. All you do is take a picture of yourself right away - no fixing your hair, changing your shirt, etc. - and post it without any editing.

Kind of refreshing.

I tag Anilee, Summermoon, and Bambola.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My sister when she came back from Mauritania

on flickr

She showed us how she poured the tea from glass to tiny glass until the foam built, told us how she practiced with soapy water like a child and the real children laughed to see how she spilled.

She dropped her fork in the sand as we picnicked, but she said she couldn't be bothered by dirt like that after Africa.

My sister when she came back from Mauritania hung her handwashing to dry all around our tiny city bathroom.

I forgot a breath when I opened the door because this fabric was woven and dyed on a continent I have never seen, by a woman who speaks a language I have never heard. Because my sister bargained for it with French and Arabic words and wrapped it around herself in a city that is being swallowed by the Sahara.

And here it swoops from hanger to hanger, this windy brilliant difficult garment swinging its miles of maroon and purple against our faded tiles.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Really tired post

We drive and drive. Orange County suburbs yes ma'am. I sing vaguely along with this CD my sisters don't like. In the air between me and the windshield I am plotting the relationship of tiredness versus hours of sleep and my mom thinks my hands which are indicating the axes are like drunk hands that can't find their nose.

There are these trees on the median, big tall trees with pale pale smooth bark. I think, bone-pale branches into the sky. Which I think is maybe a creepy image? But these trees are actually lovely, whereas the truly creepy things about So Cal suburbs are the things that are supposed to give off vibes of Friendly and Happy and Successful. And I repeat, Please God do not let me end up in suburbs like these I will stick my head in the oven or run away.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lois Greenfield on creativity

credit: Lois Greenfield

I have a book of Lois Greenfield's dance photography out from the library at present. The photos are pretty darn cool, though I don't deeply love them. What I found fascinating was the included interview, especially her discussion of the distinction between depicting and creating:

"I realized that although people are used to seeing carefully crafted images which glorify the dance, these pictures don't tell you anything more; they don't develop, extend, explore. People would look at one of my pictures of Baryshnikov in a spectacular leap ten feet off the ground and say, 'What a great photograph!', but I knew it wasn't; it was merely a great dance moment competently captured...

I later wrote on Duane Michals — whose outlook has had a profound effect on me--on Man Ray and on Lucas Samaras, all photographers who invent, rather than depict....

When I was in college I went to hear him [Michals] speak at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this iconoclastic lecture he said to a crowd of Minor White/zone system enthusaists, 'If all your life means to you is water running over rocks, then photograph it, but I want to create something that would not have existed without me.'"

- Lois Greenfield
in interview with William A. Ewing

This idea that creativity means changing something through your experience of it-- making something new, rather than just capturing something that already existed--really engages me.

Greenfield has an online portfolio of her photography here, for the interested.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Its density and drowned events..."

Today there is wind from across the ocean that seems to blow parts of me away with it.

I am thinking of one of those moments from childhood that you aren't sure whether you imagined or not — a rainy day, I am small and carrying an umbrella, and a strong wind lifts me onto the tips of my toes and — for an instant, off my toes?

I am thinking of pointe class at night, after a long technique class. While the other half of the class danced their exercises in the center, I pushed the window high and ducked my head and shoulders out of the noise of piano and corrections, into the night. I thought that the wind was very exalting, that cold wind through my sweaty fingers as I looked out along Market Street, the city glittering all around.

What are you thinking about the wind?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tuesday joy

This is when I am happy: when what I do conveys who I am, epitomizes me even; when I am doing the sort of thing I do when I am brave and joyous and certain; when I am exactly who I want to be and living just the way that I am meant, essence-outward, to live.

Her? Yes, that one — the girl walking the line of roofs with a dead flower in her hair, fedora between her teeth as she climbs a fence, candy bracelet and cut-up fingers, eating a cupcake perched outside the library like the stone lion that never came, knees pulled up on the subway, scribbling away as worlds whirl by.

I pass my barefoot verdict on life:
whelming, with not an over or under in sight.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In which A. is profoundly moved by a waterfall, and I put some rocks in my pockets

[Returning to the long-neglected November-December Iceland narrative]

We drive to the third stop on the Golden Circle, a double waterfall called Gullfoss, or Golden Falls.

It is kind of hard, angle-wise, to get a good shot of both parts of the falls. These photos give a better idea of how it looks.

Looking downriver.

A. heads down the rest of the trail and has some sort of religious experience with the falls while E. and I wait in the visitor's center. I took the above picture from the threshold. That's how a lot of the interior of southwest Iceland looks.

This being nearly Christmas season, tons of houses have these wreaths of Christmas lights in their windows.

Wait for A. some more, take some more pictures.

E. and A. heading back to The Jazz (our rental Honda) in the icy icy parking lot. Sunset? Well, it is nearly four pm!

Driving back to the coast.

The spots in the above picture are Icelandic horses, which are all over the place.

E. dozing. You can see him a little bit in the side mirror.

More driving. I watch the landscape and nag A. and E. to put on more heat in the car. We stop to get pizza for dinner, as well as some provisions from a grocery store.

NEXT: Tales of a freaky hostel.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Read in March

2. The Shadow of the Bear, by Regina Doman
4. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
5. North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley
6. Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne
7. Sorcerers & Secretaries, volume 1, by Amy Kim Ganter
8. Poems, by Anna Akhmatova
9. Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor

The best:

Shenzhen, a graphic novel, lives up to my standards for Guy Delisle: smart, funny, interesting (other countries! hurray!), and sensitive to the absurdities of cross-cultural living.

Feed gets a mention because it is so thought-provoking, which is not to say the writing is bad. A dystopic young adult novel that makes some extremely interesting speculations about the future of language, social media, and information technology — things that I'm guessing are important to most people reading this.

North of Beautiful is a young adult novel about family, travel, art — about finding the things that are beautiful about oneself and this enormous world, and making your life what you want it to be. So enjoyable and uplifting, but not in a phony or annoying way.

Poems, a collection of Anna Akhmatova's poetry, is stunning. I love her unusual imagery, her quiet but clear voice, her strange stories. I had never read anything of hers before this volume, but I'd count her among my favorite poets now. I posted a poem from this book a while ago.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Joyful Girl instructs herself on getting ready for swimsuit season

[please see here.]

Speak to people instead of mirrors;
Trust that the scars will fade some more;
Remember that you have remembered how to smile;
Persuade yourself that these legs which have taken you on so many adventures are better than
perfectly thinny thighs that can barely carry their owner down a runway;
Steal flowers for yourself as an antidote to jealousy;
Conclude that the phrase "bikini body" is a giant crock;
Choose to receive the ocean and sun as proof that you are loved.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yep. I'm so grown-up.

Early birthday present. :)

P.S. Q asked in the comments of my last post if the scene with the statue was something I actually saw. The answer is yes. Almost all of the poems I post here are written from my perspective about something I have experienced, in case you were wondering.

Friday, April 3, 2009

This is what I wondered at today, this is what I loved

how sun-colored poppies
grow in the arms of the streetcar tracks:
thick and heedless

seeing a man button a statue into a dress,
carry her over his shoulder into a hip-deep fountain and
leave her standing peacefully there
(in this square of murky green water)
in the middle of the financial district,

one hand steadying the bowl on her head.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April and manicotti

My dad was late coming home tonight, and my sister had to stay at school for a drama rehearsal. My mother and I made ourselves a nice dinner of vegetable-cheese manicotti anyways and had cookie dough and slightly burnt cookies for dessert.


My cat gets anxious when my mom and I pay attention to something besides her.