4 Apr 2012

I Did Care.

Written by sally @ 8:04 am — Section: sally

The Correspondence School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Students

Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
“Clinical Sonnets”; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, “Being German my hero is Hitler,”
instead of “Sincerely yours,” at the end of long,
neat-scripted letters extolling the Pre-Raphaelites:

I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had of trying to guess
which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue. I did care.
I did read each poem entire.
I did say everything I thought
in the mildest words I knew. And now,
in this poem, or chopped prose, no better,
I realize, than those troubled lines
I kept sending back to you,
I have to say I am relieved it is over:
at the end I could feel only pity
for that urge toward more life
your poems kept smothering in words, the smell
of which, days later, tingled in your nostrils
as new, God-given impulses
to write.

Goodbye,
you who are, for me, the postmarks again
of imaginary towns—Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell—
their solitude given away in poems, only their loneliness kept.

–Galway Kinnell

3 Apr 2012

Oh, America.

Written by sally @ 8:26 am — Section: sally

The top two things trending on Twitter right now are:

#1940census

and

#WorstTimesToGetABoner

None Can Tell.

Written by sally @ 7:35 am — Section: sally

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

–Gwendolyn Brooks

2 Apr 2012

Better/Bitter.

Written by sally @ 8:24 am — Section: sally

Strange Type

I wrote: in the dark cavern of our birth.
The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears as dearth.
So it may be that God’s word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.

–Malcolm Lowry

1 Apr 2012

No Foolin’, It’s NPM.

Written by sally @ 6:36 pm — Section: sally

Welcome to National Poetry Month! Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Lilies for Supper.

Written by sally @ 8:11 am — Section: sally

Red Lilies

Someone has remembered to dry the dishes;
they have taken the accident out of the stove.
Afterward lilies for supper; there
the lines in front of the window
are rubbed on the table of stone

The paper flies up
then down as the wind
repeats. repeats its birdsong.

Those arms under the pillow
the burrowing arms they cleave
at night as the tug kneads water
calling themselves branches

The tree is you
the blanket is what warms it
snow erupts from thistle
to toe; the snow pours out of you.

A cold hand on the dishes
placing a saucer inside
her who undressed for supper
gliding that hair to the snow

The pilot light
went out on the stove

The paper folded like a napkin
other wings flew into the stone.

–Barbara Guest

30 Mar 2012

You Really Missed Out, Now, Didn’t You.

Written by sally @ 3:45 pm — Section: sally

A couple of nights ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a really uncomfortable chair in an auditorium at Millsaps and hearing a delightful reading/concert/something/whatever performed by the following three people:

–Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding
–Rick Moody
–Joe Pernice

It is weird that these three folks were together, and also that they were in Jackson. Wesley Stace is the author of Misfortune, by George, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, and also he is John Wesley Harding, British indie pop singer/songwriter/hot guy. I loved Misfortune, I super loved by George, I started Charles Jessold but didn’t get into it and now I have misplaced it.

In high school, my now-gay non-boyfriend Jason asked if I liked John Wesley Harding. I said, “John Wesley Harding / he was a friend of mine.” Then he said “Great! He’s coming to RPM for an in-store.” I was confused, as I was talking about the Bob Dylan song. Then everyone blushed in the way that only now-gay non-boyfriends and their then-non-girlfriends can. Then when I lived in Starkville, I bought a couple of John Wesley Harding tapes (!) at Walls, the salvage store, and even though the cases were melted I really liked them! So then I felt bad about the whole in-store Bob Dylan debacle.

I have no history with Rick Moody other than I read The Ice Storm, I saw The Ice Storm, I enjoyed The Ice Storm, I bought several of his other books but didn’t read them.

And then there is my friend Joe Pernice. Frequent readers will know I love Joe Pernice. As a Pernice Brother, as a Scud Mountain Boy, as Joe Pernice, as backup harmonium player for Jimmy and the Whim-Whams, whatever. I was not so fond of his novel based on “Meat is Murder,” but that is a sacred musical document for me, and I think I expected too much. (I recently went to a book discussion about March, which I’ve already ranted about (code word: ENTRAILS), but some of the audience members were really torqued up about HOW DARE YOU PORTRAY MARMEE IN SUCH A WAY? Sacred documents are sacred documents.)

It felt special and magical that these folks were together on stage in essentially my backyard. I am at least 68% certain the power of my admiration brought them together.

Joe read from his second novel (which I’m not going to read in order to preserve our relationship!), which contained parts where the main character dried himself off from the shower with his dirty underwear, and then sang “Amazing Glow,” and the world was right for a moment. Then Rick Moody read from his essay collection On Celestial Music, and he was HILARIOUS AND AWESOME; he uses this fantastically faux serious reading voice, all boomy and trembly, and it was such fun to listen to. (The words “On Celestial Music” sound like it’s going to be boring and/or about classical music, but I promise it’s going to be something you like. He read a piece about “Try a Little Tenderness” and one about his hatred of drum machines.)

Then John Wesley Staceharding had his turn, and I was entranced. Pronounce “entranced” with a British accent and that more accurately describes things. Entronced. He was entroncing. He read from his new book, about a rock band that is repackaged as a kids’ band, and it sounds awesome and then he sang folk songs and Rick Moody sang harmonies. Then Joe Pernice sang “Goodbye Killer” and “Not the Loving Kind” and Wesley Johnstace sang more folk songs and then Johnley Westacing and Rick Moody did “In My Room” in German, which was like this (link SSFWINEF*).

Anyway! I think this is more of a diary entry than a blog post, but it was great, I had a good time, you should buy everyone’s books and records and everyone should just sit in the Millsaps auditorium and hope something else cool might happen again there some time in the future.

*so safe for work it’s not even funny

22 Mar 2012

Disjointed Blog Posts of the World, Unite and Take Over.

Written by sally @ 12:26 pm — Section: sally

I have heard the voice of evil, and it is the small town morning radio shows in central Mississippi. Yesterday, driving back from Hattiesburg, I heard a number of disturbingly bad radio people yukking it up, but two (separate!) ones back to back really got me: on one, the guy was making a joke about how lesbians don’t like to wear dresses (? I didn’t stay around to understand the joke) and on the other, someone was talking about Chinese food and the other guy said “ah so” and THEN THERE WAS A GONG SOUND EFFECT. I just — it made me want to be a total research emporiumist about the whole thing and find data on the demographics of the population, and then…well, there would be nothing TO do besides go “and see, 2.3% of that county is Asian!” or something. But anyway, if I live in Mississippi and I’M surprised at how dumb people are, geez, there is no hope for us.

I went to Garland last week for a whirlwind 15 hours in order to collect my child, who was hanging out with my mom for spring break, and I wasn’t there long enough to write an elegy for the town and its changes since I last lived there 20 (!) years ago, but I did see these two businesses near each other on Shiloh Road, and I thought YES, OF COURSE:
1. Decent Cleaners
2. Ok Food Mart

My mom took Spike to the library for story time while he was there, and I was strangely moved by the fact that my little boy was hanging out in the same library I used to go to. I remember so vividly spending time there, especially after my parents divorced; my dad would drop me off on his way to run errands and pick me up a couple of hours later. There were bean bags to read in and a couple of hamsters on top of a file cabinet. It’s probably a reflection of their poor weeding and selection policies that I read mostly crusty books from the 50s as a kid, but it’s also possible that I was just a weirdo and chose those books on purpose. When it was time for him to come back, I would sit on the steps outside and wait, and usually finish one of the books in my pile.

Oh hey, I finally read Lolita! It’s been on my list for awhile and I’ve never made it past page 40-ish or so. But this time I remained strong, and I’m glad I did; getting to the end lets you realize that Humbert is a lying nutbag and that all the gross stuff you’ve just read about how Dolly was a willing participant (yeah, at 12, but seriously, Humbert is so smooth you believe him for awhile!) was hooey, and then you feel much better. This is not a spoiler, as this book was published in 1955. In related news, today in a chat, gorjus referred to the book as “Lo-Town Rockers” and when I didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that that was supposed to be Lolita, he called me a goon. But anyway: Lolita is gross, yet perhaps the most gorgeously written book I’ve ever read. (I would have to reread One Hundred Years of Solitude to say for sure.)

I’ve just started Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I didn’t expect to like it but WHOA right away it’s very compelling. Oh, and last night I read the Alice Munro story “Dimensions” from her Too Much Happiness collection, and it was just so painful and lovely I wanted you to know about it.

In related news, Spike’s favorite book right now is The Gruffalo.

8 Mar 2012

Recently Read.

Written by sally @ 11:13 am — Section: bookish,sally

I read Geraldine Brooks’s March last week for a program at work. (Poor me! Having to read novels for my job!) My mother-in-law has been encouraging me to read this for several years, starting first with “You should read this book” and then switching to sighing and saying, “Well, I know you’re probably never going to read this book…” and trailing off sadly. I can be a snob, but seriously, Civil War historical fiction. No thank you. So when I finally read it, I found it better than I thought, but it was still excrutiating. Not excrutiatingly bad or anything, but if you read it, please be prepared for:
–cruelty
–violence
–awfulness
–rinse
–repeat

And not to spoil anything for you, but at one point someone is hiding and the bad guys are all “hey come out or I’m going to chop this dude’s head off” and the guy whose head is on the line says “don’t come out I’m ready to meet Jesus!” and so the hider doesn’t move and then BOOM no head. And when the hider comes out later, THERE IS THE HEAD. Also, there are some children’s entrails lying about.

And yes: while I am aware that awful things happened, I just don’t want to read about them. (See also: children’s entrails written about in loving, gorgeous detail.) This is my argument against The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo AND Law and Order: SVU. I understand that rape and abuse happen, but in my limited amount of free time, I don’t want to fill my brain with those images! Murder is an exception. Run of the mill murder stories are a-ok, as long as women and children aren’t the targeted audience. Murder equality across the land! (PS: Rick Santorum probably wants take away women’s right not to get murdered.)

So anyway, if you don’t mind a little historically accurate gore, you might like this book. Geraldine Brooks is married to Tony Horwitz, who wrote the excellent (and gore-free!) Confederates in the Attic, which is much more my speed, Civil War-wise.

This week I’ve been reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which I love. Love love. I love his other books, but reading this one, I feel like he wrote it for me. (See last post re: the reason I was an English major.) I only have 50 pages until the end, and unless everyone gets eaten by zombies, I feel certain I am going to continue loving it. (My only complaint is that at one point, he describes someone wearing a Cosby sweater, only the book is set in 1982 and those sweaters are really a Heathcliff Huxtable thing, which didn’t start until 1984. I kind of hate myself for focusing on this unimportant detail, but seriously, use the Wikipedia.)

7 Mar 2012

Speak It.

Written by sally @ 9:09 am — Section: sally

“And yet sometimes she worried about what those musty old books were doing to her. Some people majored in English to prepare for law school. Others became journalists. The smartest guy in the honors program, Adam Vogel, a child of academics, was planning on getting a Ph.D. and becoming an academic himself. That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical — because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.”

–Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, page 21

6 Mar 2012

Give Me a Break; I Haven’t Posted in Weeks.

Written by sally @ 2:37 pm — Section: sally

If you are a fan of confusing yourself on purpose to the extent that you can no longer remember the way things were supposed to be before you told yourself the wrong thing just to see if you could make yourself think that way, this exercise is for you.

A few months ago I was in the elevator at work and to amuse myself (on that 30 second ride — you know Generation X-ers gotta be entertained, yo) I was looking at the arrow buttons. I read somewhere that the DOOR CLOSE and DOOR OPEN buttons are actually a sham, that they exist to make us feel better about standing in a mechanical box. So I was looking at the buttons, and it occurred to me that while they look like this:

it is also possible to pretend that the straight up and down parts of the triangles represent the doors themselves, and so the traditional CLOSE button actually means OPEN and the OPEN button means CLOSE. Just look at for a moment. See how the up and down parts are far away from each other on CLOSE? Why, that means OPEN, obviously. And see how the up and down parts are close together on OPEN? Yep. CLOSE.

So while I understand this is not, in fact, how elevators work, I have gotten into the habit of looking at these in every elevator I get into, and having a little “Oh ho ho, that CLOSE is really an OPEN ho ho” moment, only now, when I get into an elevator, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH, which also reminds me of how I periodically get into the habit of amusing myself by reading words backwards, and once in college I accidentally said something about Sivle, and my boyfriend was all “do what now” and that was so entertaining I refused to tell him who Sivle was, and then finally I confessed that it was Elvis.

PS: I just went into the elevator to make sure I had it right, and not only are the buttons round and not square (what kind of janky square-button elevator exists in my dreams?), but they also do not say CLOSE or OPEN or HI THERE or SIVLE. So while this exercise was stupid, it was not, in fact, as stupid as I thought it was when I began this post. The Oh Really: Making Me 5% Less Stupid Since, Like, 2005 or Something.

20 Feb 2012

Gut Reactions.

Written by sally @ 10:08 am — Section: sally

While many children his age have dropped their afternoon naps, Spike still needs his. We all need his naps. The crying and gnashing of teeth that accompany bedtime are multiplied by one million percent without a nap. However, convincing him to be quiet and still for a moment is rough, and so our new routine is that he naps in the stroller. We walk despite the weather. I have bundled him up when it is cold and carried an umbrella when it is raining. The nap is that important. There is a specific route that we take and, like clockwork, he is passed out cold by the time we get to Gillespie Street (The Quietest Street in Belhaven™). On the way to sleep mecca, we pass some beautiful houses whose owners subscribe to the New York Times but sadly, do not pick up their papers. I run over them with my giant stroller and try to decide what time of day it is appropriate to assume that stealing the papers is morally ok.

A few weeks ago we were trudging along Pinehurst and came upon some ladies leaving a lady lunch party. They were standing in the yard air kissing goodbye, and they were all dressed to the nines. (I was dressed to the twos.) There were more platform shoes and gold lame than I’m accustomed to during daylight hours. My first reaction, which I’ve been puzzling over ever since, was to think to myself, “Bitches.” Was it their clothes? Their air kissing? Their general air of fakery and awfulness that makes me feel certain that they were cheerleaders or, at the very least, on drill team? Why do I still think of people in those terms? Then I was relieved that no one I know dresses or acts like that, and then I ran over their neighbors’ New York Times and forgot about it until the next time we passed their house.

Saturday night I was driving home from babysitting for a friend (wait, I get to sit by myself and read a book while your baby sleeps? seriously? sign me up!) and listening to the radio. The dj said, “Carol, Rhonda, and Marlene just called in — they’re having some drinks at the house and wanted to hear their all-time favorite. Ladies, this is for you!” And then “Rhiannon” came on. Somehow, the image of these three middle-aged friends drinking Coors Light out of cans and calling up a dj just depressed me completely. It’s your all-time favorite? Do you not…have it on CD? Cassette tape? Could you…watch a YouTube video? Between the three of you, could you scrape up $.99 to buy it on iTunes? I could see their living room perfectly. There’s a sliding glass door with vertical blinds that leads out to the patio. The couch has that western/prairie/floral print. There’s a set of glass nesting tables with gold accents, a grapevine wreath with wooden ducks and baby’s breath affixed to it hanging on the wall, and no one’s using a coaster.

Should I be concerned that my first reaction to gold lame is “what a herd of bitches” and that a simple request for a Fleetwood Mac song conjures up the set of “Roseanne”?

12 Feb 2012

Whut.

Written by sally @ 3:01 pm — Section: sally

I forgot to mention in my last post that on Friday, while talking to a coworker, a little voice that had a robotic, dwarf-like quality to it interrupted our conversation and said, “Whut.”

Even as I looked around for the robot dwarf, I realized what it was.

“Was that your phone?” coworker asked.

“Oh god,” I said. “That was my stomach.”

Y’all, my stomach said a word! I couldn’t be prouder/crack up more every time I think about it. “Whut.” I’ll tell you “whut,” stomach! You’re clearly a genius. All of those Cokes and Cheez-its have made you something of a savant. I won’t say I’m not concerned about the robot dwarf thing, but I can get over it.

Welp, gotta go; I’m reading my stomach the entirety of the Riverside Shakespeare in an attempt to expand its vocabulary.

10 Feb 2012

Archie Butt.

Written by sally @ 3:51 pm — Section: sally

1. It’s cool if I lazily rely on a list to write blog posts, right?
2. You’ll be happy to know I received my wedding invite a few days after I wrote that last post.
3. CLIFFHANGER, I KNOW
4. And I finished The Night Circus! It was delightful. I liked it a lot. Something prevents me from loving it, but I’m not sure what.
5. Yesterday I saw a book on the shelf by someone named Archie Butt. Butt! One butt. I’ve already laughed my way through Butts as a last name; I’ve just never seen the singular form. Old Archie Butt! What a chap!


6. If you’re thinking “hey those are cute tights” about the tights-clad leg in the background, don’t be. While they look normal, they have a major problem: they’re the type of tights that have a definite front and back — the feet have a toe and heel, unlike some tights that just go straight down — and the crotch is sewn in wrong. The crotch is in the back. All day yesterday I had a crotch on my butt.
7. Butt!
8. Internet, I’ve told you, I’m sure, about my fascination with the word “butt” and how at the tender age of four, I would draw pictures of butts and hide them behind the couch in the formal living room because I thought if I put them in the trash my mom would find them? Just checking.
9. In case you’re wondering: draw a circle. Now draw a vertical line through it. That was my version of a butt.
10. Also that is my tattoo.

1 Feb 2012

Dear Emily Post: I Am Fretting.

Written by sally @ 8:18 am — Section: sally

Receiving a save the date card is a guaranteed “you’re invited to the wedding,” correct? I generally do not fret about such things, except:

1. A friend and I both received save the date cards some months ago.
2. On Monday, we IMed about the wedding because she had just received the wedding invitation.
3. Excited, I went ahead and bought a gift off of the couple’s registry.
4. (Four mugs and a vase…except a day later Crate and Barrel was all “oops sorry the vase is sold out” so now my gift looks exceptionally crappy.)
5. In the note that will accompany the now-crappy gift, I wrote something about being excited to see them in May.
6. This is great except I haven’t received my invitation yet.
7. While not being invited would not prevent me from sending a gift, it might’ve prevented me from writing “HAY CAN’T WAIT TO COME TO YOUR WEDDING AND ALL” on the note.
8. Now that I wrote this, I will probably get my invite today.
9. But! What if I DON’T get one, and then, after my gift is delivered, they go “oh shit” and then send me a second tier invite out of guilt?
10. What iffffff

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