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Showing posts from June, 2011

a safe space for nitwits and lloronas

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Since a one-night work trip to Fresno didn’t cure my blues, oddly enough, it was time to enact Operation: Get Outta Town Part Dos. I.e. a two- night, non-work trip to San Luis Obispo. I’m working up to Italy, okay? Over the years San Luis has become AK’s and my place—although she went to college there, so I guess it was her place and I just glommed on. It has small town charm—but not so much that you start to wonder if people actually live there (like Cambria, which we visited Sunday)—windswept bluffs and good food, but mostly it is not L.A., and even though AK’s radiator blew last time we were there, it feels like a place where nothing can go wrong. We spent the first night at the home of the Millers, who rescued us after last year’s radiator incident and this time fed us olala berries and baked French toast, which is like the love child of French toast and a cinnamon roll. In exchange, we read picture books to four-year-old Hattie and watched two-year-old Tilly dance ar

fortune

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The org I work for co-sponsors writing workshops at places like community centers and senior homes, and we spend a lot of time talking about how literature enables self-expression, healing, etc. When you say something enough, it becomes an abstraction. But lately, while crashing a couple of workshops in the name of evaluation purposes, I’ve been floored by the power of writing-as-therapy, to the point of getting choked up by my own tragic profundity (an embarrassing, little-discussed side effect of being a writer). Yesterday at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony —where I totally want to while away my golden years sculpting and writing plays—the teaching writer passed out fortune cookies and asked us to write poems based on our fortunes. Mine was “YOU DESIRE TO DISCOVER NEW FRONTIERS”: You begin like all pioneers, your ears full of stories: streets of gold milky rivers open-armed natives in need of restaurants and apothecaries. You think it’s only a matter of packing the right iron sk

defense of marriage (and other things that mess with your sanity)

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Speaking of NPH, last night I saw the big screen version of the New York Philharmonic version of Company . NPH is Bobby, a guy living the swingin’ single life in the 1970s and contemplating the pros and cons of marriage as played out in the relationships of his many coupled friends. I thought I’d seen it before because I’d listened to the soundtrack a zillion times and had memories of seeing songs from it performed live.* But suddenly there was all this dialogue that was completely unfamiliar to me. It turns out that what I’d actually seen were various Sondheim revues . And Company is a great little musical that is both a snapshot of a time when divorce, pot and sexual freedom were just entering the mainstream and a totally timeless meditation on what it means to be a human who interacts with other humans. It was a weird day. I left my purse at home and had to borrow cash at work to cover the movie, which I saw by myself because AK is in Chicago and Stephanie had acting class. So ther

but not *not* for gays either

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Apparently, Broadway is not just for gays anymore. Maybe that’s why I’m out of the loop. I recognize The Book of Mormon , but I have no idea where all those nuns and sailors came from. All I know is that I love me some NPH , even (especially?) when he’s wearing a sparkly purple suit and a little neckerchief.

the sweet myth of simplicity

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I’ve always been a fan of fresh starts (or as my friend Devoya said, “Oprah is the angel on one of my shoulders. But I don’t know what is on the other”). Over the past two months, I’ve named dozens of Points At Which I’ll Feel Better: adoption info session , last doctor visit for a while, Easter, Memorial Day, whatever. Oddly enough, I have not been resurrected. The feeling of wanting to run screaming from my own body has hovered like my own personal raincloud . Deep down knew it wouldn’t go away until I got out of town. If this were Eat, Pray, Love, I’d be rejuvenating over focaccia and cappuccinos in Italy. Instead, I had lunch at El Torito in Fresno. But the effect is wonderfully similar. As soon as I hit the 5 this morning, I could feel a weight lift from my shoulders. I’m pretty sure it will settle back in as soon as I get over the Grapevine on my way home, but if I’ve learned anything in the past months, it’s to take the good moments where I can get ‘em. Watching the fl

feminism for a lazy friday

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I was going to post something about how V.S. Naipaul is the latest practitioner of the where-are-you-in-relation-to-where-I-am school of criticism, but I think Jezebel said it just fine . And Amy Poehler said it (as quoted by Tina Fey in Bossypants )—“I don’t care if you like it”—although I think she said it to Jimmy Fallon, technically. The point is 1. women write as well as men, which all non-idiots know. And 2. women aren’t always writing for men, which a surprising number of people don’t know. It’s also probably true that when men write really good domestic novels they win prizes (like Michael Cunningham before he started writing about aliens ; I love that guy), and when women do so, they get a pat on the head and a seat on the midlist.* It’s Friday, and I’m just as interested in the pizza I plan to make tonight as in literary gender equality. But I am just sort of generally angsty this week, so I will mention some other things that bug me: 1. Christy Turlington, whose face is e

the world is never quite safe, or what i read in may

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Pinko by Jen Benka: The poems in this collection are sometimes tough to figure out (not that that's the goal, of course, but it's an unavoidable impulse for a narrative addict like me). But they're not coy in the way of so many poems. They're more like bits of text that almost spread out into epic novels, then thought better of it. Only intriguing, intimate, unflinching traces remain. In the opening essay-ish piece, the narrator recounts coming across a snippet of window-frost graffiti. She expects it to indict the cops in some uncouth way, but instead it's a declaration of queer teen love. That pretty much sums up the world view of this book: Where you're expecting terror, you'll find tenderness. And the reverse can also be true, which is why the world, however beautiful, is never quite safe. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell: Sarah Vowell is a geeky amateur historian who loves to plumb the depths of centuries past and pull out quirky facts. She holds