n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's with all the animals?

In case you've been wondering about the duckling, cow, horse-head... here's what I was working on:


My sister is now an official vet and soon will be coming home! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Prompt #1

I actually wrote quite a bit.  How irritating: I opened randomly to 3am Epiphany [pg 56] and received the following prompt: write about friendship, with a Proust/Beckett morbidness. Um, the universe is after me, but oh well.  Here is a scene, partway down:


“Tell me about your son’s father,” Von asks on the fifth visit, when the winds have stopped and everything out the windows looks somehow newly scrubbed and yet ready for the finale at the same time. “Tell me how you dealt with not having him there.”

“Do you mean at Danny’s death, or during?” I ask her.

“I guess I mean both,” she says.

I tell her there’s not much to say, because there isn’t. I don’t remember the details, although Danny's appearance made it clear the father must have been Latino or maybe Indian. I tell Von that even though it is a small town, with few options, I didn’t really feel like combing back through the clubs to find some drunk schmuck who must have slunk out early, before I could remember anything. “No doubt it is shameful,” I tell her, “but I wanted my baby for myself.” I was messed up, I explain, dealing with Layla’s illness.

“What about Layla’s illness?” Von asks, her red hints curious maybe.

I had recently decided that it wasn't her windows that had set me at ease, but Von's bookshelves, which are subtle. They don’t take over her whole office—obviously not, considering the two large windows that had captured my attention at first. No, though medium of size, Ikea, they are filled with a variety, not just psychologist stuff, although there is some of that. I can see that she gives two shelves per subject, for a total of twelve shelves in two spots: behind me—fiction, poetry, art; to the side of me—psychology, biology, travel. Plus, she keeps an Oxford dictionary under her phone, her highly-elevated phone.

Okay, how to explain, I think. And then I try to explain.

Layla and I were in college together, and there’s something special about her. She’s brilliant, obviously, but it’s not just that. It’s not just her kindness either, which she has in plenitude. Rather, Layla carries a silver orb in her spirit, I tell Von, and people are drawn or repelled. Nobody simply glances and looks away. Either they hate or they love, usually love. But for her, it’s not as simple as having a silver orb. Nothing ever is. Men she desires as friends can only desire her as lovers; women want all or nothing. It all comes out the same.

But she chose me for her friend, I tell Von, and it was great, and then she was sick. Obviously, there was so much in between all that, but then I got to know a different side of her, the inglorious side, the side with mesh hospital panties and puke on her bedspread. The angry side, the kind that would latch on to a drowning person to save herself and then drag them both down into the depths rather than drown alone. At times it seemed like a conscious decision.

“I don’t think it was,” I tell Von. “I really don’t.”

“Probably it wasn’t, Alice,” Von tells me. “Sick people are often not like themselves. They flounder around and sometimes do violence to those that mean the most to them.”

“Yes,” I say. “That’s how it was. That’s how I knew it was, but it was still like being dragged under, and I was so messed up because my friend was sick. So I went out, and, you know, partied too much.”


“Maybe partied isn’t the right word. I danced. I experienced in a new way. Everything was always on the balance and so the whole world was lit up with the beauty of being alive and having a body that was not sick. I went everywhere and actually saw these places. So I tried loving people, and it didn’t work out. Layla got better, and then I was pregnant, and didn’t know the father, but that was okay.”

“Did you try imagining him in your life, Alice?” Von asks me, and just like that, I wonder if she is judging me. I tell her I need more than her judging.

“Sorry,” she says. “I didn’t mean that. I just mean, did you imagine your life as not happening alone?”

No, never, I tell her. Not for a second.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Open Letter to Mary Russell

Dear Mary Russell (The Chicken Not the Fictional Detective-Wife of Sherlock Holmes)--

You are a very beautiful bird. I mean, your bars are so lovely, so barred-rocky. Your red jowls, your vibrant comb, those fluffy-butt feathers. And I have the sense that you could become the best protector of all the other birds, saving them from overhead eagles, rounding them up when the dogs are loud and the coons are exploring.

Still, Mary Russell, I need to talk to you about something. Basically, I don't really understand why you need to be such a bitch.

You've been raised by me, just like the other five birds, from the very beginning of your life. And I'd like you to understand that this letter is not about you, per se, so much as it's about your behavior. Let us consider: Pecking CR? Attacking the babies? Strutting around like you're some kind of prehistoric velociraptor? Really, Mary Russell. Really.

When you were younger, Mary Russell, you were not a bitch, and in fact were so totally adorable that I favored you a bit. You used to sit so sweetly in my hand, whereas Flavia would cheep like I was about to eat her and Octavia would uber-stress into a meditative sleep. You would tilt your head and attempt to pull out my nose ring.
When you got older, and pretty darn awkward if I may be honest, I stuck by you. I still loved you, Mary Russell, and admired you.

Oh, and I fed you, remember: I've fed you since the beginning. So, why do you act like I'm going to not feed you? That I'm going to take your food? That I am going to hurt you? Why do you squawk like a bird about to go to the block when I pick you up and hold you close, stroking your chin and head, and that lovely red comb, when I have "handled" you from the beginning to hypothetically get you used to me handling you? Why do I have to catch you, when really all I have to do with the five others is pick them up? Why do you hop on top of the smaller Orloff chickens and peck them hard as they squawk and wriggle to get free? All in all, Mary Russell, I am asking you why you are such a bitch.

Did I do something wrong? Did I drink too much and pick you up drunk and squish you a little but not remember in the morning? Did I let the wrong literature into our home? Did I not take you to church often enough? Was there tension surrounding my perpetually single status and rotten students that I unintentionally took out on you? My queer lifestyle? Did CR come in and pinch you when I was off at work? I mean, obviously, I must have done something wrong: not expected enough of you perhaps, or spoke every so softly to Octavia but not you, or not found a religion all of us could get behind.

Well, I know I did have that dream that one time. The one where -- since you were such a bitch -- I told CR he could 'cull' you. And when I changed my mind at the last moment, he insisted on being able to wring your scrawny little neck. True, he wouldn't back down no matter how much I asked him to reconsider, and then he strutted around showing your beautiful (dead) feathers to everyone until I felt utterly ashamed. (True story) But it was a dream, Mary Russell, only a dream!

Regardless of such treacheries, I'd like to arrange an agreement wherein you consider not being such a bitch. In exchange, I will respect the pecking order. You are the head honcha. There is no doubt that you are the head honcha. Well, except for me. But other than me, you are head honcha. And also, I will pledge to always make sure you have enough food, and I will lock you, and others, up tightly at night--every night--so the coons or possums can't get you. And I will make Herald stay 20 feet from the gate when I go in and out, so he can't dart in like he tried to do that one time, but I smacked him hard and now he stays 20 feet from the gate. I will pledge to give you grapes. My god, do you ever love the grapes. And I will toss over most of the weeds from my garden, whether you like them or not. Finally, I pledge to fill up your feeder and take admiring photos.

Granted, I will continue to try to pick you up despite your enormous distress at there being a creature larger than you in the run, and stroke your chin and coo lovingly. But, I think you have a pretty decent bargain here! I hope you will consider...

With Love, -J

Alright, CC, I signed up...

And now it's all on you... Oh yes, every future bad date: your fault. Every future good date: your fault. If I happen to get married (unlikely, considering my opinions re: marriage): you're a bridesmaid. Done and done.

But, you foodies should really take note of the following celebratory meal.

My father recently and sneakily roped me into a dinner a few miles out of town, with folks I wasn't very sure I wanted to have dinner with (last time, the fellow said something to the effect of, only worse: "So, you're the older unwed one. Well, you're not really half as ugly as one might expect." And when I say "only worse," I mean that I barely refrained from punching him. The startle plus his wife's shoulder-punch kinda made it hard. Oh, and my temporary low self-esteem.)

But the more-recent meal turned out to be divine enough that I had that blurry moment indicating blissful sensory-overload: cilantro, spicy sauce, fish sauce, barbequed fish, vegetables, people-who-say-grace. They were very sweet and gave me a dozen duck eggs, plus showed me the vitamin chart that compares chicken vs. duck eggs (outstanding! I want baby ducks!), and a lemon off their indoor lemon tree, and before all that I snooped around their farm, in every corner, and daydreamed about having such a spot, with full sun and plenty of land, a huge greenhouse, and a big brown wiggly brown lab to greet everyone. Sigh and sigh. Anyhow. I took their eggs and made delicious things.
  • Recipe #1 = Salmon, Green Onions. Herb = fresh dill, by the bunch. 
  • Recipe #2 = Cauliflower, fresh from my garden Kale & Chard, Onions, Sweet Peppers. Herb = sweet curry. 
Verdict = 2 vs. 1 = #2. Both were delicious. Duck eggs are marvelous. As of tomorrow, just me hereabouts. As of tomorrow, just me.

All will be good. Catch-ups with goodfriends will happen. Relaxation will happen. Diligent writing will happen. Summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"From my youth on, my personal motto has been the old Latin tag, Festina lente, hurry slowly." - Calvino

Friday, June 15, 2012

after a day of student research presentations on justice issues

Saturday, June 09, 2012

una semana mas!

So, it's nearly summer in these parts, despite the past two weeks of rain... and boy am I excited! Yeppers, I'm feeling really upbeat about this summer; it's shaping up to be one of my best in awhile.

First, my garden is doing quite well... a few weeks of heat followed by a couple weeks of rain seems to have done it good. And it's supposed to shift back to warmth again soon, so there you go. Also, my peepers are happy and growing. The Mod Squad (older peepers) still terrorize the Nabokovians to a certain extent, but then they all settle in quite happily in the evening before I shut them up. Another few months, and maybe I'll start getting some eggs... though likely not until mid-fall.

I took this weekend to go down to Olympia and visit with some friends. They are actually super-close friends of my sister and her husband, but we've pretty much adopted them into the extended family and I haven't had a chance to see their baby in nearly a year, so it was about time to head on down. Perhaps bad timing for me, because I still have one more week of classes, and a number of papers to grade before the end of the weekend, but also the perfect respite... They are great company, plus baby-playing, and some wind and sun, Farmer's Market, good food, and so forth... prep, really, when you think about it. Plus I'm going to a friend's reading in Seattle on the way back north on Sunday... I'm excited to get ahold of her book, which is supposed to be excellent (I have no doubts, considering what a talented and disciplined writer she was at SAIC). I'll have to write a review later when I have it...

Moving on: Mom and CR are heading to Scotland in 1.5 weeks, and I'll be house-sitting for two weeks. It's pretty awesome timing: school ends, SP visits, grades are due, the next day everyone leaves and I'll have utter quiet for two weeks to meditate my way into the summer I want.

After and during those two weeks, I am starting an independent study with a creative writing student who wants to focus on writing science fiction. Thus, I will get to do some writing as well, and can be reading textbooks and books that head me in that direction... get me on my way, plus I get payed to help someone else on his way at the same time. Considering how wretched my writer's block -- or writer's laziness -- has been, it will be an nice slide into loving the writing again.

Then, following that, which will be a mellow 5-6 weeks, during which I will only teach the independent study and work at my mom's clinic for one week for some spare cash, I will go down to Austin for 3 weeks and work for the non-profit literary organization, Badgerdog, where my friend JS works (she hired me!); and I'm so excited about it! I think I'm supposed to be teaching lower elementary, which is an age group I am utterly unfamiliar with, so there will be a huge learning curve on my part, but I'm excited: more writing! more teaching! more meeting folks interested in the same! more JS and FS! more grandparents!

After summer camp, I come back and have about a month afterwards... again to focus on my stuff, and I was also given a creative writing class for the fall quarter, so will get to start prepping for that. All in all, everything seems set up - enough, but not too much.

Oh, and I convinced MH to put together a reading list of poetry -- "Poetry for Ignorami" -- so I can be a better poetry teacher in fall!  This, along with the other creative writing books I've ordered and the big pile of excellent books stacked on my coffee table promise good readings...

Next: the online dating - I've set up a profile but haven't yet fully signed aboard. I got stumped for a couple weeks over the whole "a few extra pounds, stocky, heavyset, big and beautiful, curvy, full-figured," etc. choices. I haven't a clue where I would fit within a whole number of euphemisms for overweight to really overweight. So, I just picked heavyset and hope it's accurate and yet not a deterrent. Then I got hung up on what to say about myself and my wishes for fishes... Then hung up on being winked at... And now hung up on whether to bite the bullet and subscribe, or try a different, more in-person strategy.

In the meantime, I'm still working on figuring out the mystery deal with my knees: had fluid removed via horse-size syringe and some cortisone pumped in, which after a few days seems to be helping. But a very nice doctor and some very friendly nurses too. The doctor got excited by my traction scars from when I had a broken femur at age 5; traction for a month is apparently not even remotely close to what they do these days, so he brought in the nurses and talked about the 'old days.' He also commented to a colleage on how my chart read "like the Far Side" as he entered my room, which I think means he's as perplexed as I am. But I can't say that I'm in any real pain, so it could be far, far worse.

Speaking of which, things got worse between NM and myself as we 'exchanged a few words' over stupid text message (god, how embarrassing is that?!). So much for trying to patch things up somehow. But though it feels achy from time to time, overall I'm feeling not too bad about it. I think it will be fine in the end, although I wish there wasn't the anger between us now. But it was a highly-stressed and overly-dramatic friendship, and rather a hard one on either side, with both of us caught in roles that weren't particularly rewarding. If you take the anger out of the equation, I think we just needed (and need) time apart, so if it's possible, a healthy and mature friendship can be created in the future, or at least healthy mature futures for each of us regardless.

Okay, going back to the feeling upbeat about the summer. I've also decided something. So, I have a reader in CA (who should say "hey," because I like having new friends) who has been reading through my archives methodically over the past year. Since I have a sitemeter that tells me where people live who read my blog, how many people read my blog a day (very few!), and what they take a look at... sorry it's sneaky but it also brings me happiness to think I "make contact" with a few people out there in the world. Anyhow, back to the reader. Since I have a sitemeter, I have been reading back through my archives with CA Reader. Or skimming rather. And I realize that I like past me's on this blog more than current me on this blog. So, after school is done, I am going to try to write more about what I'm reading, what writing exercises I'm trying out, who & what I see out there in that world that rightly fascinates me, what is crazy in politics, and in general, less about the me shit. I think it will be a good shift... good for the Year of Repair (of the Blog), and good for the feeling happy about my life.

So. Whala!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I'm totally in Love

Who could resist these Zemblans?  They are so marvelous and sweet and interactive...

Orloff Chicks - 6 weeks old

Orloff Chick

Orloff Chick

Orloff Chicks

Orloff Chicks

Orloff Chicks

Orloff Chicks - 6 weeks old

p.s. When you are really upset, there's nothing compared to petting chickens to calm a person down.  Pulling out weeds and cutting up slugs (I argue it's the most humane dispatch next to beer) work quite well, but Nabokovians really are what it's about.