Wednesday, January 28, 2009

updated book sidebar

Well, after too long there is an update on the books - of sorts. For some reason my links aren't showing up as links in my little paragraph, but they work if you click on them. So, should you want to know more about the Etruscans, Donald Hall, and/or Frank Gaspar, just click on their names where they are mentioned over to the left there.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This past weekend, between the rainstorms and the bouts of illness, we managed a very cool, very fun O-Par-tay. We came together to continue the celebration. O-shaped pizza, O-shaped bread stuck with “O” candles, donuts, apple rings, and other O-licious snacks abounded. We played Six Degrees of Separation from Barack (in these parts lots of Leon Panetta references) and BUSH...GO! - the Bush Bingo game, where I called out Bush quotes instead of numbers to the amusement and horror of all participants. Our living room was strung with flags of various nations to symbolize our re-entry into the world community. Floating Obama heads greeted guests who donned various forms of Obama-wear.

While it all starts to sound a bit like idol worship, we were really going more for kitch. And, of course, joy – sheer joy.

And if I ever had any doubt whether Isaac will remember these days, it is drifting ever-so-constantly away. My evening culminated this way:

(post-toothbrushing) “Mama, know why I did extra spits? For Mr. Obama. Cauz when we brush our teeth real good hearts pop up on his shirt. Like it just goes through the computer and prints out. And the hearts say, 'We're really glad you're here. We're really excited you're president now!”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"...we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals"

Ahh. Welcome, friends, to the other side. I feel as if we've all just walked through a magical forcefield and now, firmly planted in the land of Hope, we can start down the path in front of us.

President Obama...wait, I'm just gonna say that one more time, cause I want to... President Obama, also said that the road is a long one.

Indeed, the poetry revolution got off to a slow start yesterday. While I thought there were lovely moments in Ms. Alexander's poem, I'm not clear why she had to read it as if each word stood at its own bus stop in her throat, their rides all running behind, popping here and there out of the crush of commuter traffic. Two million people in front of her who now think of poetry as revealing itself in jerky syllabic fits and starts. But I'm glad she was there.

Furthering my frustration, however, was my discovery, upon visiting my local public library to request they post on their board a flyer for the upcoming poetry reading in which I will be a co-feature, that only free events can be posted on their board. Apparently a suggested donation of five bucks that might, if we're lucky, cover copying costs for the flyer they're planning on tossing disqualifies my reading and denies the citizens of my town knowledge of a locally-grown cultural happening. But I see their point, what with the glut of poetry readings everywhere, the overwhelming lineup of literary spectaculars, the performing arts soup we swim in every day here in my less-than-metropolitan home arena, I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.

Friday, January 16, 2009

my ESL degree comes in handy

Isaac and our next door neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, have what you might call a symbiotic relationship. She likes to give out chocolate; he likes to eat chocolate. Creatively subtle conversations about how we like to limit treats, my dental bills, our family history of diabetes, haven't really made an impact.

I get complete agreement, but ultimately, what she as an 80+-year-old widow who never had children of her own and is an ocean away from her Austrian family likes to think of as “once in a while” and what we as parents having to share close quarters with a scheming sweet-tooth wielding almost-4-year-old consider so, are different.

She piles treats into my arms, onto holiday plates. Things she's made (lemon bars. Mmmmm.), or things that her niece in Salzburg has shipped over for her favorite aunt: “Schoko-Bananen” - chocolate-covered banana-flavored cookie things (barf), or the squares of German and Austrian chocolates shot through with almonds and hazelnuts.

The other day Isaac was digging in the front yard speculating on which kind of dirt might keep away the gopher while I ran in the house for something or other. Before I could get back out, Isaac came barreling in to tell me that “Mit Johnson wanna know if I can hab a tookie, tauz me wortin so hard.”

I sighed, resigned. “I suppose so,” I told him. And out he went like a flash.

A minute later I came back out and found Isaac and Mrs. Johnson in deep discussion. “He can't have a cookie?” she called to me with great umbrage.

“He can have one,” I corrected, surprised.

“He said you said 'no.' Okay, let me get him something.”


“Isaac, did you tell Mrs. Johnson I said 'no?'”

“Me toad her 'poze toe.'”

“'Poze toe?'”

“Yeah, you said, 'Poze toe.'”

“Oh, yeah. I guess she must have heard you say 'no' instead.”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding thoughtfully, “Tauz Mit Johnson speat Wing-gwish dit-went-wy den us do.”

“She 'peat Wing-gwish,” he added again generously, “jut dit-went.”

“Yeah, that must be it, Iz.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

inaugural poet

I've been waiting...Yes, there will be one!

Elizabeth Alexander.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Isaac's Quotes of the Week

To Daddy:
“You're furry. How'd you get so furry?”

To Mama as she puts on tights with a pattern of thin criss-crossed lines:
“You're gonna dress like Spiderman?!”

Conversation at the Frog Pond:
“Mama, how far ducks can fly?”
“I'm not sure, Isaac.”
“Maybe you could make it up.”

Racing himself down the path at the Pond:
“Ready, set...or not set... GO!”

To Mama during imaginary play involving Bob the Builder and a dreidel (and my personal favorite):
“Otay. 'tend Bob cel-da-bwates Han-a-ttah... ”

Thursday, January 08, 2009

neighborhood vignettes

I want to write about how my heart clunks to the ground and everything inside me goes all fidgety when I pass the chain link of Broadway dressed in popsicle wrappers and fast food bags. How my breathing goes ragged and my eyes hurry to the stop sign, the bus stop bench, anywhere else, but it's everything – plastic-coated wire defining yards of sand and rocks, planted in broken clothes hangers, soda straws, losing lotto tickets.

I want to write about how my heart fills to capacity each morning before 8, when I see, along the trash-strewn sidewalks, the same two women – or sometimes three of them – walking - slowly - like there is all the time in the world. One limps profoundly and leans on a cane, all are dressed in long skirts and hats, the colors plums and wines, or chocolate brown and gold. In the crooks of their arms, they carry their pamphlets and books of dire predictions. They are beautiful in their mission, and I often regret politely shooing them away from my own door when they come. Sometimes we talk about the garden.

I am in my car on Fremont. Beside me on the seat, a bottle of blue pills because I'm allergic to penicillin and the root canal is tomorrow.

It takes longer than it should to notice the singing. And just as the light changes to green, I turn and see him – a man of 50 belting out the blues, walking home through the Safeway parking lot. We have just enough time and his smile lights up the darkness of his face, of the night air all around him, and we wave and wave like little kids before I drive on.

If you are far enough up in the turn lane, you can see the giant cypress, its glory framed perfectly by the freeway overpass. Behind it, sand. I would do anything to rescue it – lonely bit of beauty – but I need it there too much.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What's the job, Bob?

I know, he looks innocent enough, doesn't he? But this little man has invaded my home.

Right now, we are using the stuff-pack-after-pack-of-cigarettes-in-their- mouths-until-they-can't-wait-to-quit-smoking method.

Put down the phone, the CPS need not be involved. I haven't started Isaac smoking. But I have been letting him watch his library Bob the Builder DVDs until he actually turns them off himself and agrees to come outside with me. I'm doing the best I can here in the trenches.

Now, should I be offended that the "female" trucks are named "Lofty" and "Dizzy?"

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Lists at the New Year

There are so many:
top 100 whatevers of the year that's passed,
famous people who have also passed,
or the worst:
personal resolutions.

There they are.
Bulleted or numbered.
Not even sentences!

All that wasted space beyond

organize garage


take up tai chi

Our optimism getting the best of us,
one after another, items machine gun us
with their righteousness, pound us with all they are
that we are not, yet. Like a whipping
with so many beautiful scarves,
hand-painted colors at our eyes,
delicate fringe at our feet,
softest silk at our throats.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

May your year reflect joy.

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