Showing posts from January, 2008

i heart mike gravel, apparently

I am so valuable. So court-able. I am that beloved (yet usually idiotic-sounding) beast that reporters love to interview around election time. I am an undecided voter. Recently I took one of those perhaps-less-than-scientific online quizzes to find out which candidate best represented my views. Because historically, I have been an Issues Voter! It tu rn ed out I should be stumping for Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich . But the quiz tracks content, not form, where both candidates and voters are conce rn ed. So it doesn’t take into account, for example, that John McCain is a jerk (not that I’m saying he is—in fact, he probably isn’t) or that I’m a pragmatist and am not going to vote for anyone too Naderific. So that left me with the big three, which are now the big two, and I agreed with all of them 80-something percent (I’m guessing I liked gay marriage and legalized marijuana a little more than Clinton , Obama , or Edwards ). I was going to be forced to do what I usual


I had my lower wisdom teeth out yesterday, which marked my first experience with general anesthetic, followed by my first prescription for Vicodin. I was nervous about the former—that I would either die or, like, deliriously confess my wildest sexual fantasies to the hygienist assisting with the surgery. There was an episode of Ellen —pre-coming-out—where she got high on nitrous and started hitting on her dentist. Although the dentist was a man, I always suspected that the plotline grew out of a fear that all closeted queers have of losing control and outing oneself. But as far as I can remember, the most embarrassing thing that happened was that my dad, who drove me to the appointment, insisted on asking my oral surgeon a bunch of questions afterward, including whether he could see my extracted teeth (he could not). He was already disappointed that he hadn’t gotten a chance to refer me to his oral surgeon. My dad’s a control freak too, which is probably where I get it, not so

tucson post-

I understand the horizontal. It doesn’t make me wistful and humble the way cathedrals do in cities that have cathedrals and snow. Of course I eye Kokopelli skeptically, the way he dance on the sides of coffee mugs and key chains. But if you’re a tourist long enough you are, if not absorbed, stained. We washed our faces and let the desert wind dry them. We posed in front of mine shafts, crunched fry bread, slipped white fingers into silver rings. I envied a young dancer’s leggings like a soccer player’s shin guards. To be special enough for a uniform, mythic enough for a costume. To escape running shorts and T-shirts, which is what the hawkers of dream catchers want, and the makers of dream catchers. Them too. Is there something after who brought what: an Easter ritual a Disney movie devastation a souvenir a language silence heroin, then crack a winter home a house without drawers a book about you written

confessions of a poetry squatter

In Truth and Beauty (which I just finished and highly recommend), Ann Patchett says that she always thought being a writer meant living in some drafty-but-romantic wreck of an apartment and writing by candle light, which she was fully prepared to do; in fact, for her at least, it meant being pampered with muffins and solitude at a series of writers’ colonies. My reality has had light bulbs, but not a lot else so far. I’ve applied to a couple of writers’ retreats, but haven’t been accepted. Although the prestige and the uninterrupted time sounds great, the truth is I’ve become almost too good at getting books written at Starbucks, one hour at a time. When I have time to submit work, it seems more appealing to send my manuscript to publishers than to picturesque cabins in various woods. After all, I’m an urban writer. I like a little noise. But all this was before I came to the University of Arizona an hour ago. I’m in Tucson for work right now, and when you work for an organ

i’m posting this from my office…

…like, my home office, which I am able to do because I know have wireless internet. Hallelujah! Praise Sean (the very kind friend who set it up)! The only phone jack in our new place is in the bedroom, and trying to write in a messy, unmade bed is like trying to write a memoir when your entire body except for your left eyelid is paralyzed . Okay, well, not exactly. And I know I could just have made the bed. B ut do not underestimate the sense of peace and moved-in-ness that comes from finally making use of the great little nook of desk and bookshelves and vinyl beanbag turtle that you set up weeks ago but had so far used mostly as a time-out space for fighting cats. It is really, really good to know that you did not talk your girlfriend into renting a two-bedroom for nothing, that you’re not some ungrateful anti-Woolf who gets a room of her own and then ignores it.

truth, beauty and high school

1. the ant and the grasshopper Thanks to a two-hour bus-and-train ride this mo rn ing, I’m almost halfway through Truth and Beauty , Ann Patchett ’s memoir about her friendship with the dramatic, enchanting and facially disfigured writer Lucy Grealy . Ann (as portrayed by herself in the book) is none of the above. A shy girl taught in Catholic school to be humble, responsible and invisible, she recognizes her need for a person like Lucy, who leaves bowls of spaghetti in the middle of the floor and doesn’t believe you’re expected to pay off student loans or hospital bills. With the exception of having gotten into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and having published a half dozen novels, I totally relate to Ann and have fallen for her as much as she falls for Lucy (I probably need Lucies in real life, but I need Ann on the page). 2. everyann Last night AK, Veronica and I discussed our own awkward years. “I was the classic bullied kid,” said Veronica, who grew up practicing Nat

a long way up

1. the pit of delillo Sometimes I miss the days when my New Year’s resolution was just to lose weight like everyone else. I’m still secretly hoping I’ll hit the gym three times a week in 2008, but for some reason I resolved, this year, to Renew My Faith In Art. Abstract much, Cheryl? For maybe a year or two, I’ve been struggling with the idea that, as much as books/movies/music are important to me, they don’t really Save The World. And aren’t we all in the world to save it? No, we’re not, AK said when I told her my resolution. As a relaxed second child, she’s not the victim of a ridiculous self-imposed imperative to take care of everything and everyone. Just do what you’re good at and what makes you happy, she advised, and the rest will follow. So although I could have looked at my crisis of faith as a sign that maybe I should give up this art thing and become a social worker (this random, mostly fake back-up plan that pops up every once in a while), I decided to just p

writing prompt #6: the soda pop stop

Thanks to Erin for the following writing prompt : “How about a ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ story? Here’s the headline I was thinking of: 2 naked men walk into store, buy candy and drinks.” 1. The strangest thing was not that there were two naked men in the store, but that they didn’t know each other. Their paths had started miles apart (in Arizona and Massachusetts—but even that morning, in Pasadena and Westwood) and had climbed hills and sped down freeways to land them at Galco ’s Old World Grocery. First a word about the store. This much we can be sure of: It was a low-slung building with too-short shelves and too-wide aisles. The stock of the store did not fill the structure of the store. The lights were fluorescent. The tile was designed not to show stains, but did. But there was some confusion about the name. The wooden sign swinging from the awning said Galco’s and promised a full deli. But the neon paint on the windows said, “The Soda Pop Stop: Every Beverage Yo

writing prompt #5: around to hear it

Thanks to Jamie for the following writing prompt : "How about a story from the point of view of a coyote." (Since Jamie’s a poet, I decided to make it a poem instead. Jamie also introduced me to the very inspiring Charlie of The Daily Coyote .) He is growing into his ears. Once funnels, they swallowed a creak of cabin floor, a housecat’s keening meow, somehow maternal. There was a girl with a bottle and his nose turned from nub to snout. Shingle roof between him and the Wyoming moon. Polar fleece and roast chicken, red leather collar and a name to answer to. He elongates, looks like he could bite someone even though he’s slobber-tongued with the cat. The girl lets him loose for long nervous hours. Her fingers tap her teacup, she listens for a shot or howl. She hopes he listens too. He is growing into his ears. There are new sounds now: leaf crunch, sheep bay, the yip and bark of his own, a song he always knew t

america's next top 10 list

It’s top 10 list season…or it was two weeks ago. But two weeks ago my little notebook of stuff I read and saw this year (yes, I have one. What?) was buried deep in a cardboard jungle. So here are my favorite books and movies of 2007—two short, belated and pretty much uncalled-for lists. Also, FYI, the books were not necessarily published in 2007—that’s just when I read them—making that particular list all the more irrelevant. And I’m a slow reader who spent much of 2007 reading dry history books about Malaysia , so the crop of fun novels I had to choose from was smaller than usual. Also, my lists started in March. January and February are still in a box somewhere. Look, if you want real best-of lists , go somewhere more professional. Here at Bread and Bread we just aim for scrappy but loveable. Top five books I’ve read since March 2007: 1. American Woman by Susan Choi 2. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem 3. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis 4. Fla

the pit

I had a history teacher in high school who sometimes referred to The Pit of Despair. As in, “If you don’t tu rn in your term paper outlines on time, you will fall into The Pit of Despair.” Of course I was a good kid who tu rn ed in my outline punctually, but I had a taste of life in The Pit—maybe not Of Despair, but it was some sort of pit—this week when AK and I moved. Although I was highly organized physically (it’s a coping mechanism), and can now proudly point to assembled Ikea fu rn iture and hung pictures as evidence that we have officially and successfully moved in…the evidence lies. Our inte rn et still doesn’t work, no matter how much I poke the modem with a stick (the extent of my IT skills); our back patio is waist-deep in empty boxes; I’ve been living off Christmas cookies and goat cheese balls; and AK and I have been completely irritable, disconcerted and at various moments, yes, even despairing. The second day in the house, OC—who was sequestered in the offi