Sunday, January 30, 2005

Congratulations to Rose and all the other Iraqis who got out and voted today. I've never been happier to have been proven wrong (and here's hoping that I continue being wrongheaded in my pessimism).

Friday, January 28, 2005

Now I've Seen Everything.

Seeing as how you're reading this on the internet, I'm sure I don't need to recap for you the whole "Postcards From Buster" coontroversy (ok, ok, just in case: some conservatives think that the PBS cartoon's portrayal of two lesbians in a now-pulled episode exploring the state of Vermont is further evidence of the 'gay agenda' at work on the hearts and minds of Our Nation's Children).

I just stumbled across this choice bit, on a blog called "Crosswalk":

And does PBS think the public is stupid enough to not catch what the catch phrases "maple-syruping", and "I like it Vermont style" really reference?

I'm sorry, but I lived in Vermont for several years, and currently live a scant 10 minute walk from San Francisco's Castro district. Heck, I even share an apartment with a gay man. I'm pretty much down with the current lingo. And I have no freaking idea what this man is on about.

You really have to wonder about folks who see the gay agenda lurking in the maple syrup.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More poetry, posted before my editor's eye kicks in (as part of my new year's bid for upfrontness in writing).


At twelve,
I knew something of the longing
That marks adolescence.

I wanted to belong, yes,
But more: I wanted.
I wanted.

The sad-eyed Jesus
In the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum:
A laundered Kurt Cobain,
Jim Morrison, alive,
I am not like the other girls;
I know Latin.

I was twelve
And eager to understand
What made my sister so interesting,
Even though she was only two years older
And I was unusually precocious,
If a bit obtuse.

So I opted for early confirmation
The first step, I was sure
In my eventual sublimation.

And in my confirmation class,
Filled with graduate students
And doctors of Theology
And a man who I now realize
Couldn’t have been more than twenty,
But who was much older than twelve

I broke down
The night my goldfish died,
Though I prayed to God for a miracle.

To Abelard, Heloise
(unfinished, I think)

To her master,
nay father,
to her husband,
nay brother;
his handmaid,
nay daughter,
his spouse,
nay sister:
to Abelard, Heloise*

Relations, we call them:
These lines run between us.

Spoken as though
There were something
In speaking,
An essence called forth;
A foundation laid
In the wilderness.

In the begininning was the word
A breath over waters.

In the beginning,
This morning
You breathed
And I woke up
Awaiting definition.

* From The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. and intro. by Betty Radice, (New York: Penguin, 1974)

Thursday, January 20, 2005


When I was born, irises were blooming in Missouri. This amazed me as a child. In Massachusetts, where we lived for most of my childhood, the most I could hope for on my birthday was a crocus poking up through the damp spring mud. Sometimes it even snowed. Once there was a blizzard, and the snow came up to my waist (which to be fair couldn’t have been more than two feet off the ground).

Now that I live in San Francisco, spring starts coming in January. I still find it amazing that, on mornings when its so cold I can see my breath, I’m greeted with the sight of purple flowers blooming outside the bathroom window.

I was born at noon on April 23, 1977. My mother tells me that while lying in bed in her postpartum daze, she had a vision. As the nurses bustled and my father futzed and I cooed, she was watching the credits to an old black and white cartoon. A song was playing in the background: “Fairy Tales Can Come True.”

She didn’t tell me this until I was a teenager, but I can remember, when I was about ten or so, watching a commercial for Sprite or Mountain Dew built around the same song. It made me feel so wonderful: melancholy and amazing all at once, as if a world full of possibility were about to open up before me, but just for a moment. I’d like to think that this is my song. My mother says it is.

Growing up, I was an oddly puritanical child. Odd because I can think of little in my upbringing, save a general aesthetic sensibility, that dictated one mode of living as better than any other. My parents taught us (my sister and I) that sex was a natural part of adult life, though probably something that should be avoided until one was ready. Wine was served with dinner, and available to us once we turned sixteen. Nonetheless, I imposed strict censures upon myself. I would not drink alcohol, ever. I would not have sex until marriage. I would not cut or dye my hair. I would carry only wildflowers at my wedding, and only ones I’d picked myself, that morning. Preferably, I’d live off the grid, reading and writing at night by oil lamp or candlelight.

I came up with these rules when I was about eleven, and believed in them, to a degree, well into my teen years. I’d always be setting rules out for myself, like a young Gatsby, or an Hepestus, trying to shape my perfect self from the sticks and mud of my perceived inadequacy. I’d mark my summer calendars with structured activities:

‘prayer and meditation, 9 AM - 10 AM, ‘study 10 Am -11, bicycling 11 AM - 12, lunch.’

I fasted intermittently. Luckily, I have a short attention span.

I fantasized about becoming a nun, but if I were honest I'd admit that I really wanted to be a monk. I remember seeing a movie on TV wherein a man joined a monastery, only to discover he had romantic feelings for one of his fellows. Upon finally owning up to this desire in the darkness of the confession booth, he learns that the monk taking his confession is, in fact the one he’s been lusting after. The monk slides away the screen separating confessor from Confessor, and pulls back his hood to reveal... a woman’s face. That’s what I wanted to be: the woman in the monastery, an object of desire, yet chaste; hidden, yet innately sensed and desired.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Spring seems to be coming to San Francisco. It must be the rain making that's everything green and the early flowers bloom in spite of the awful cold (51 degrees today -- I know, we’re wimps). All this wet is making me nostalgic for New England.

The other night, I was talking in my sleep. I do this from time to time, and my boyfriend, Brian, likes to try and draw hypnogogic conversations out of me, and relay them to me in my waking state. I’m trying to train myself to speak when I feel myself start dreaming - on that threshold between awake and asleep. Its a tiny thing we share.

Anyway, I was talking. And I said two things:

1. "Underneath the branches the people are wet, and made of bark."

And some time later:

2."My legs were twigs, but I didn't realize it at the time."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Eek! A Meme!

The lovely Tricia sent this my way:

1. How many music files on your computer?

Um. I don't know. How does one tell?

2. Last CD you bought?

If we're talking 'album of music purchased in any format, 'The Life Aquatic Soundtrack (purchased of iMusic). If you mean last physical CD purchased, then CocoRosie'sLa Maison De Mon Reve (unless you count Songs of the Pogo, which I got my Dad for Christmas. I'm all about specificity, really).

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
Right now, I'm listening to theBoards of Canada Remix of Last Walk Around Mirror Lake (offa Boom Bip's Corymb). I downloaded it from this site. Which is where I get most of my new-to-me music.

4. Five songs you often listen to or mean a lot to you and why:

Well, according to iTunes, these are the songs I listen to most often. I don't know if the prejudice is mine or the iTunes' shuffler (probably a bit of both). Notice how smoothly I got out of having to choose favorites?

Note: I wanted to post MP3's of these songs, but couldn't figure out how to convert iTunes files into MP3 format. If any of you know a secret magic way, please clue me in.

i. Arcade Fire's Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) (off of Funeral). This is a fabulous album, though I'm not sure why this particular track gets preferential treatment. But there it is.

ii. Bran Van 3000's cover of Cum On Feel The Noise (off of Glee). Do I really need to explain why I love this?

iii. Nina Simone's cover of Here Comes the Sun. I defy you to listen to this song and not feel happy. In a melancholy kind of way. This is what the world would sound like if my Grandmama Mary had been one of the original Beatles.

iv. Bob Dylan's House of the Rising Sun . I've loved this song since I was a little kid. I can remember hearing it on the radio when I was about eight or so and begging my mother to get me a recording of it. She found me a really upbeat 'New Main Street Singers'-esque cover. As the Fresh Prince once noted: sometimes, mothers just don't understand.

Although to be fair, she accepted her youngest daughter's obsession with fallen women without blinking.

v. Good Friday by CocoRosie. Yum. (UPDATE: this song can be downloaded here

5. What 3 people would you like to answer this and why?

1. Colin Bayly...because I haven't gotten a phone call at 2:AM in a while, and he's got impeccable taste in music
2. My seester.... because I don't know what she's listening to these days, and I miss her
3. J.D. Salinger...because, well, wouldn't that be cool?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Where the longhorn cattle feed/On the lowly jimpson weed
So, I'm feeling a bit more like myself today, and (in spite of the fact that it's Sunday for everyone), starting to appreciate this school-full-time-and-not-workin' lifestyle I've got goin'. One thing I need to do is spend more time every day just writing, so expect to see more of the not-wuite-ready for prime time fiction and whatnot featured below.

As for tonight, nothing to report. Making dinner. Brian on shoulder. Pants on fire. The usual.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I don’t know what I expected not working to be like. Sunnier, I suppose. And more productive. But I hadn’t accounted for myself in the equation: the lazy boring awefulness that is moi. And the disorganization. And the ennui.

Brian and I are going to be housesitting starting tonight. Hurrah! Yard! And hurrah! Wacky dogs! I'm looking forward to writing (sans these distracting internets) in Shelly's secret garden.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Ooof. I can’t decide if I’m still jet lagged, or if I’m always this way: convinced that I suck irredemably & prone to run on sentences. I know a tremendous egoist lurks within me; I’m sure of it. Perhaps I need a bath? Yes. Perhaps I do.

You can't make me spellcheck.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Test Pattern

I'm typing from the Hong Kong Library, where I'm trying to get some stuff for school typed up and sent to Brian so that he can drop it off for me (proof positive that he's the best boyfriend, ever). I cant seem to open Word, and the error message in Cantonese isn't much help (neither, unfortunately, are the librarians, who don't seem to speak much English. They must've moved here post-1997).

Liza and I are staying at Mirador Mansions - a ramshackle warren of hostels, low-end tailor shops and stores selling tacky souveniers and knockoff handbags on Kowloon's 'Golden Mile.' Our first night here, having come from the internationally-renowned airport via sparking subways, we were a bit taken aback by the buildings deshabille (I really want that to be a word) charm.

Liza had detailed written instructions on getting to the hostel, and so (feeling very much the seasoned international travellers), we easily travelled through Hong Kong Island and across the bay to Kowloon. Night had fallen while we were underground, and through the bus window, the whole city sparkled. We'd asked to be let off at the Holiday Inn (as the hostel had instructed), and as soon as we disembarked, we were swarmed by solicitous bellmen.

"We're not staying here." Liza said, lurching after the uniformed attendant who had already taken her bag and was heading for the Holiday Inn's bright doors, "Sorry - we're not staying here."

We stood on the street corner and examined her directions. Apparently, our hostel was right nearby.

"Yes? Can I help?" Two doormen stood by, watching us.

"Can you show us the way to the Kowloon Garden Traveller's Friend?"

The solicitous doorman looked at us blankly, then pulled the directions out of Liza's hand.

"Ah. Mirador Mansions. Just down the street. On the left, there."

We followed the direction of his outstretched arm own crowded alleyway. A decrepit looking dog ignored us as we hurried past, its eyes rheumy and distant. We'd almost passed a brightly lit door when I stopped.

"This is it, isn't it? 'Mirador Mansions'"

The directions had instructed us to ignore "beggars selling fake Rolexes and offering rooms unaffiliated with the hostel." This relatively benign description had not prepared us for the scene that greeted us now: In the brightly lit entryway, vendors displayed every cheaply made souvenir of China imaginable: silk sheets, gongs, hats, even sex toys. Men crowded around us, calling out, "Fake watch? Tailor? Madam, yes? You need a room? Yes?"
"Can you tell me the way to the elevator?" Liza asked the nearest and most capable looking man. "The Kowloon Garden Traveller's Friend?"

"Ah! You need room." He hustled us over to a sign for the Lotus USA Hostel. "You want window?" He pressed a set of keys into Liza's hand.

No. We have a reservation somewhere. Where's the elevator?"

Just then, we spotted a bank of elevators. We hurried over, ignoring the men's disappointed cries.

Liza's directions told us to go to the thirteenth floor, where we'd find our hostel immediately to the right of the elevator doors. The doors opened to an dimly lit, sparsely populated hallway. We looked to the right -- an open corridor, looking out onto a ramshackle courtyard. A man detached himself from the group standing by the stairway to our left.

"Hello, Yes?" You need a room?"

"We have a reservation at the Kowloon Garden Traveller's Friend," said Liza forcefully. "Which way is it?"

"Yes, yes" he brisked efficiently. "This way."

He led us off, down the hallway toward the stairwell.

"Here. Your bag. I can take it for you." He pulled the handle of my wheeled suitcase out of my reluctant hand and headed down a the corridor. I wondered at first if I'd have to tip him when we got to the hostel, and then if we'd get to the hostel at all, and if I'd ever see my bag again.

He turned through a doorway into a narrow hall. The thought flashed through my head that this was precisely what my father had been thinking of when I'd insisted that he needn't worry, that Hong Kong was one of the safest cities in the world.

We were at the end of a trash-strewn hallway. The man opened a door, revealing a tiny room: two platform beds, made up with well-worn cartoon printed sheets bolted to a tiled wall, a small window letting in the sounds of the street below.

"No." I said. "This is not our room."

"You don't like the room? I have another. What do you want?"

"No, thank you." Liza and I simultaneously had had enough. I grabbed my suitcase from the man's protesting hands and we hustled back down the narrow corridor and up the stairs, making our way back to the elevator.

"Okay. It has to be somewhere to the right," Liza said decisively. We followed the open hallway along the courtyard, past laundry and darkened doorways decorated with small shrines. We turned a dimly lit corner, and there, at the end of the hallway, brightly lit and painted yellow, stood the Kowloon Garden Traveller's Friend.
Relieved, we rushed toward the card table and mismatched chairs that stood beneath the large, brightly lit reception sign.

After a bit of confusion, we confirmed that we had a room reserved for the night and the night clerk led us down a polished narrow hallway to our room. Inside, the room was small, with twin beds bolted to the wall, and well-worn (but clean) cartoon-print bedsheets. But was clean and safe, and for now, it is home.