Happy Birthday

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.  
-Mark Twain


My first music love was The Beatles. I listened to their music pretty much exclusively for my sophomore and junior years of high school, and being the person that I am, I hated any sort of impersonation or remake of their music that came out. Case in point...I have yet to listen to a single song from the I Am Sam soundtrack. However, I adore Across the Universe. Love love love it.




Mare=Ballerina, Gino Servini, January 1914

From the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice.  I fell in love with this painting when I was 17.  It was the one painting that stayed in my mind from all those museums that summer. 


Garrison Keillor.

Where to begin? My roommate, K, and I were sitting on the couch this evening listening to today's "Writer's Almanac" (which we do frequently) and as Mr. Keillor finished, we both were struck with the very same hope: that he never dies.  Or if he should die, that he records as many poems as possible. We understand that this hope is purely selfish in nature, however, we have no doubt that we are not the only two in the world who feel this way.

Listening to the "Writer's Almanac" daily gives people like us some sense of security in knowing that we are not the only ones who continuously seek to fulfill our voracious poetic appetites.  It seems that we live in an age where people have little patience for poetry. People do not generally respond well when I exclaim "CAN I READ YOU THIS POEM?!?!?!?!?!?!"  Most of my (our) friends simply shake their heads in utter disbelief at the depths of our "nerdiness."  

I blame public education for this widespread abhorrence of poetry, and literature in general.  Everyone should have to take AP English, or any English class that is taught by someone who shows a genuine love of the great works of literature and poetry.  Mr. Mac, despite his many faults, oozed a love for and belief in the language arts.  Hill did his best to inspire apathetic teenagers to appreciate the many complexities of the English language.  And yet, despite these wonderful instructors, there were just as many English teachers who frankly didn't care.  Unfortunately these are the instructors who educate those students who are less likely to care about poetry.  Maybe they should force high school students listen to Garrison Keillor read poems.  

Listening to Garrison Keillor is one of the brightest moments of everyday.  I grew up in a NPR friendly household, and equate lazy Saturday afternoons with A Prairie Home Companion.  There is something so lovely in his voice, his cadence and his interpretation of poems.  Fantastic.  So, Internet, I suppose the point of this long and rambling post is to encourage you to subscribe to the "Writer's Almanac." It is a free podcast, and you can take my word that you'll learn something new and interesting every day.

three days!

A song for today!

I love this song. I love this singer. And I love that I'll be in Moscow on Wednesday!


Sharon Olds has been my favorite poet for several years.  I discovered her during my "Intro to Literary Genres" class.  I was a senior English Lit major taking the class with several non-traditional business students, I was bored.  The instructor, thankfully, took pity on me and gave me several alternative and challenging assignments.  One such assignment led me to Sharon Olds.  Specifically her poem "Sex Without Love." It's a beautiful poem that prompted me to buy The Wellspring, and since then every single book of poetry she's ever published.

Today I share one of my favorites.  It can be found in Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2000.


I did not stand at the altar, I stood
at the foot of the chancel steps, with my beloved,
and the minister stood on the top step
holding the open Bible.  The church
was wood, painted ivory inside, no people--God's
stable perfectly cleaned.  It was night,
spring--outside, a moat of mud,
and inside, from the rafters, flies
fell onto the open Bible, and the minister
tilted it and brushed them off.  We stood
beside each other, crying slightly
with fear and awe.  In truth, we had married
that first night, in bed, but now we stood
in history--what our bodies had said,
mouth to mouth, we now said publicly,
gathered together, death.  We stood 
holding each other by the hand, yet I also
stood as if alone, for a moment,
just before the vow, though taken
years before, took.  It was a vow
of the present and the future, and yet I felt it
to have some touch of the distant past
or the distant past on it, I felt
the wordless, dry, crying ghost of my
parents' marriage there, somewhere
in the echoing space--perhaps one of the
plummeting flies, bouncing slightly
as it hit forsaking all others, then was brushed
away.  I felt as if I had come
to claim a promise--the sweetness I'd inferred
from their sourness, and at the same time that I
had come, congenitally unworthy, to beg.
And yet, I had been working toward this hour
all my life.  And then it was time
to speak--he was offering me, no matter
what, his life.  That is all I had o
do, that evening, to accept the gift
I had longed for--to say I had accepted it,
as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take?
I do. I take as he takes--we have been
practicing this.  Do you bear this pleasure? I do.


Oh Pablo

(I love that a man who looked so curmudgeonly wrote such beautiful love poetry.)


I don't love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I know no other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

-Pablo Neruda


Henson Moments

A song for today, it never fails to bring a smile to my face on these gray November days.


My love of all things Muppets comes, of course, from Sesame Street. I remember attempting to sing along with Big Bird as he sounded out the mysterious word that the alphabet spells. I never could wrap my tongue around it though.

And then there was Fraggle Rock. This, I believe, needs no further explanation when I tell you I still have a Fraggle Rock lunch box and that I was crushed when my mother gave away my Fraggle Rock books.

While in Washington D.C. I went to an amazing Jim Henson exhibit. I don't know if it is still there, but if you have the chance by all means go. Nostalgia for your childhood and a cheery good mood are the sequelae. Enjoy!


Book Report #1

Today's show and tell comes from the novel I just finished reading.  Initially I was attracted to the book, not only because it was a National Book Award finalist, but because the author, Scott Spencer, has been called a novelist who knows the human heart better than any other.  

"...[T]hat little shimmering capsule of time is like listening to cello music in the morning, or watching birds in a flutter of industry building a nest, it simply reminds us that even if God is dead, or never existed in the first place, there is, nevertheless, something tender at the center of creation, some meaning, some purpose and poetry."

A Ship Made of Paper has an engaging plot, is beautifully written and has astonishingly fantastic moments.  However,  despite the decent plot, the success of the story relies on the connection between the reader and the characters, and none of the characters are extremely likable.  The novel tells the story of Daniel, a lawyer who has moved from NYC to his hometown after a violent confrontation with one of his black clients.  He brings his girlfriend and her daughter, Ruby.  Without being able to help himself, he falls in love with the mother of Ruby's best friend, Iris, who is both married and black.  He pursues her relentlessly, despite the possible ramifications of his actions, and despite his fear of black people. The two begin an affair which ruins their, and their loved ones, lives.  As a reader, I found it difficult to relate to their self destruction and found the book a depressingly sad and tense cautionary tale of adultery.  


A New Beginning

My old computer, Fitzwilliam, died. We won't go into the details of his death, let's just say that it involved tequila. So sad. Anyway, my papa came to town this week and we bought a new computer. I've named this one Fitzwilliam the Second. In honor of Fitzwilliam the second, I am hereby going to change the format of this little blog that nobody reads. I am now going to share with the Internet the poems, passages and quotes that speak to me on that particular day.

Today, I share a fantastic poem by Christine Rhein.


I try to tune out the boom! boom! boom!
from the shooting range two miles from my house,
and think of the people who live next door

to the targets, or in the din of London and Berlin
where nightingales now sing fourteen decibels louder
to be heard by mates, quintupling the pressure

in their lungs. I've never heard a nightingale,
but I know noise comes from nausea, and bulls-
eye names the goal for some blurry desire.

Bullseye is a band in Norway playing gung-ho rock and roll,
like the kid down the street whose car speakers rumble
through his closed windows and mine,

drums pummeling our insides.  If I told him I once hiked
among redwoods, heard ghostly calls in the stillness,
branches somewhere in the canopy sky

moaning as they swayed, would he say Cool
or Whatever, the way my sons have mumbled it,
intending that I shouldn't--or maybe should--hear,

all talk target practice, ricochet and sashay, headache 
and heartache, duck and cover.  In a fable, Lion realizes
too late his vulnerability, the tunnel of his ear,

tiny Mosquito zooming in.  Out beyond Pluto, Voyager's
golden disc offers mud pots, thunder, footsteps,
a Brandenburg Concerto and Johnny B. Goode.

Was the very first song a hum or a shout, laughter
or weeping?  When my friend, at forty, praised 
her cochlear implants, she complained about work,

the ringing office phones--How do people concentrate?
I consider her vacations--wind surfing, rock climbing,
marathons--how different now that she hears

each splash and scrape, the huh of heavy exhalation.
I wish I could adorn my ears the way warriors in India did,
with metallic green beetle wings, an iridescent

clacking and tinkling at the Feast of Courage.  Imagine
if we could hear bread rising, dew forming, the budding 
of raspberries, the tear of a cocoon, a minnow's pulse,

our own cells growing, dying.  When my husband
kisses my ear, I love the swoosh, the quiver, his breath
sand driven by wind, my whispered name.