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Showing posts from February, 2010

when she was anxious, she was awful

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In spite of my New Year’s resolution to the contrary, I’m really good at finding things to be anxious about. If I don’t have any real problems, I’ll make some up. I know, it’s a fabulous way to live. Here’s my latest concern: Right now, I’m reading (well listening-to-on-CD-in-my-car) When She Was Good by Philip Roth. It’s my first Philip Roth, but AK told me he’s gotten more experimental over the years. Even though I checked out this CD collection for its shiny newness (my diva of a car stereo won’t play anything the slightest bit scratched), apparently it was originally published in 1967. And I love it. But wait, you say, weren’t you worried about something here? I’m getting to that. I’m worried because this is like the fourth in a string of 1950s and ‘60s novels I’ve read and loved over the past couple of years: Franny and Zooey , Revolutionary Road , Giovanni’s Room (well, I didn’t love that one, but I loved the style). I used to feel bad for never reading anything pre-197

is that your foot on my back, or are you just happy to see me?

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As of 24 hours ago, I was in a blissed-out state, thanks to an intensive hour and a half of yoga, which took place at a community center in Hermosa Beach and benefited the L.A. Mission . My soul was cleansed. My body was sweaty but cleansed. Things I didn’t know had been hurting no longer were. And I got free pizza and a discounted yoga mat. Such is the nature of benefits that are well corporately sponsored. (Though I wondered if all the paper and plastic that comprised my various freebies sort of karmically counteracted my donation to the mission. But I don’t mean to sound cynical—the nonprofit geek in me noted that the event bore every mark of fundraiser awesomeness.) AK, my sister and I stood behind a row of well-toned asses in Lululemon pants. Never had I seen such big, ripped biceps on so many straight girls. I tried on various attitudes: envy? Lust? Hatred of yuppie scum? Happiness that I was engaging in an activity that didn’t require me to squint at a computer screen? I decid

literature with boobies!

I love collaborations between writers and visual artists. I’ve had fun doing a few myself, and I just discovered Electric Literature ’s Single Sentence Animations (thanks, Jamie!). Here’s the deal: Animators take one sentence of a writer’s work and dream up a little video about it. You don’t even have to have the attention span it takes to read a short story! And the video below features boobs! So, filmmakers of the world, who wants to make a video of one of my sentences? They’re available in both R- and G-rated versions.

pregnant women are smug and you were a teenage loser

Although AK and I did couple-ish Valentine stuff on Friday, we spent V-Day proper with our sisters (‘cause we love them too) at Mortified . After hearing people read their diary accounts of teen romance, we concluded: Whether you were a virgin or a whore, a hot cheerleader or a closeted gay boy, the dumper or the dumpee—you were lame. Few thoughts are more comforting. We also dug the opening musical act, Garfunkel & Oates , whose song “Pregnant Women are Smug”* I’m posting here for your enjoyment: *Of course, none of the pregnant and recently pregnant women I know are smug. Seriously! My friends are a well-mannered bunch who ask about my book tour even while in the act of nursing a little one. But I do think that as a group—much like roving mall-packs of teenagers and gays at pride parades—pregnant women can be crazier than the sum of their parts. In all cases, it’s probably fair to blame hormones.

la mayor riqueza

For Valentine’s Day, AK gave me The Captain’s Verses , a book of love poems by Pablo Neruda (in addition to the Glee soundtrack, which is also a fine work of poetry). This morning, I was sitting in bed reading student work for the class I’m teaching (so, yeah, that’s where I’ve been lately) when she leaned over and said, “Can I read you a poem? It’s called ‘Poverty.’” “Can it wait a few minutes?” I said, because that’s the kind of romantic I am. “I’m trying to work so that we can fend off actual poverty.” A few minutes later, she read: Ah you don’t want to, you’re scared of poverty, you don’t want to go to the market with worn-out shoes and come back with the same old dress. My love, we are not fond, as the rich would like us to be, of misery. We shall extract it like an evil tooth that up to now has bitten the heart of man. But I don’t want you to fear it. If through my fault it comes to your dwelling, if poverty drives away your golden shoes, let it not drive away your laughter

what i read in january

So what if I’m posting this in early mid-February? Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison: Note to self: Don't ever check out audio books from the library that were published more than two years ago. They'll be so scratched up that you only hear about seventy percent of the text. The weird thing about this particular book--which I suspect might be a very good book--is that no matter how much I missed, the story still seemed to be in the same place when I picked up again, like a soap opera. The story itself--of a racist white senator of mysterious origins, raised by a black preacher to more or less be a black preacher himself--is undeniably interesting, tapping into all the big American questions. The storytelling is innovative and poetic, consisting largely of dialogue and virtual sermons. There's probably a lot to say about Ellison's choices in this regard. But I'm not the one to say it. I just sort of floated along and was glad to be done with it. A Gate at the

technical difficulties and blessings

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Last night, as my new MacBook welcomed me to its world of shiny things and arty graphics, I felt deeply grateful for friendly electronics, which I believe Apple invented circa 1985. (I remember going to a neighbor’s house and thinking how cute it was that her parents’ Apple said, “Thinking…” as it struggled to, like, add two numbers, whereas our PC maintained a black-and-amber poker face.) I’d been nervous about the mechanics of setting up my laptop, and here it was, the laptop itself, letting me know everything would be okay. It was so gratifying that I found myself wondering if I could be convinced to exchange all my real friends for robot friends. Probably, I thought. If I met the right robot. But while the laptop set-up process was, as promised, a lovely, minimally laborious, zooming journey through electronic space, transferring my documents and downloading stuff was somewhat more plodding. By this morning, I was in tears because it took me forty minutes to log into the web

babies and books

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The theme of Bay Area Trip #2 was The Babies Are Coming. Arguably, this is the theme of one’s thirties, but it was especially so in NorCal this past week, where we spent much time playing Blokus with the jaw- droppingly well-behaved children of AK’s high school friend Laura, and playing blink-and-coo with the new baby of Erin and Erin. Other stuff happened too, like a fun and well-attended reading at Diesel , a brightly lit Rockridge bookstore that gives you hope for the future of books. There were reunions with kid-free friends as well, an art gallery visit and some very good Burmese food. And for some reason I ate a candy bar almost every night I was in town. In N Out: quality we tasted on the drive up the 5, and again on the way home. Nan Yang in Oakland: quality you can taste a bit more definitively. Laura with poodle Ella, also incredibly well-behaved, of course. Tai is taking piano lessons. Shortly before we left, he composed a melancholy and beautiful song about trav