Sunday, December 9, 2012

Staccato (Italian for detached)

I go to bed angry. Wake up angry. My heart beats in a rhythm of staccato (Italian for detached). Lisztomania was coined in 1844 due to the Liszt phenomenon. Because Liszt was such a FAN of staccato and it made the women hysterical and it is not anyone's business how this mania is incorporated, postulated, and produced throughout my body. Oh, the hysteria! As of late, I spit up staccato notes, which are regular notes with the dot above which causes no small amount of pain on the way up. The staccato that is my own memento mori, the Latin following the Italian. I would just as soon mix metaphors as I would mix languages. (Refers to "The Homewrecker's Guide to Holidays" before continuing post). Makes no sense to sit around contemplating your own end while the clock ticks while your heart races in staccato. You will never wake up, that is, if you ever go to sleep. (You are detached)
If you listen to your heart long enough, there on your pillow, on your bleached pillowcase, with the White Noise App playing the sound of "Rain" as loud as it will go, and if you think about the word staccato which is your heart, of course, as mentioned, it will all sound like nonsense. Your own hysteria. Stops making sense. Italian for detached.
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison - Flying Lesson

*Notes with staccato dots and also covered by a slur are intended to be less staccato than normal, i.e. more note and less rest.

My own hysteria. I stop making sense. The staccato.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Transcript (partial)

E= The Examiner

I: "Those first few years after he was gone, I felt like a torn piece of paper."
E: "I'm not sure what that means."
I: "It's like I said, a piece of paper that's been ripped."
E: Silence.
I: "If I said that and I was five or six years old, you'd think it was a brilliant, very telling thing to say."
E: "Is anything written on this paper?"
I: "The torn piece of paper?"
E: Silence.
I: "I'm not sure that that has any relevance. Whether there are words on this paper or not. It's how I feel, it's how I felt about those years. I don't see it literally."
E: "Then why do you think you said it?"
I: Sighs.
E: "You're exasperated."
I: "What do you want, a goddamn poem?"
E: "That has been torn in half?"
I: "No, I mean, you want me to say something that's so perfect for this moment, perfect for some illustrative example you'll write up brilliantly and your readers will hurt over it. The words are so perfect that they'll hurt when reading them. They'll want to be you. They'll want to be me."
E: "That's not--"
I: "And all I feel like saying is I just felt like a torn piece of paper."
E: "Is the tear irregular?"
"Client stated she felt like 'a torn piece of paper.' This is my representation of the simile."
I: "What do you think?"

Friday, November 2, 2012


"Karl Marx's School of Barista Training"

Clearly, I have not been very creative lately. I spent all summer studying for my comp exams, then took my exams (August), then shot two weddings (September/October) then defended my exams (October), then presented at a conference (October) while simultaneously teaching four classes and NOT knitting, NOT writing, NOT reading, and NOT blogging. I am, in one word, exhausted.

I don't know why, but as I was getting out of my car this morning on campus I thought a title of a book should be "Karl Marx's School of.." something.  Something catchy and Most Un-Socialist.

"Karl Marx's School of Hair and Beauty"

"Karl Marx's School of Cake Decorating"

"Karl Marx's School of Divinity"

"Karl Marx's School of Palm Reading"

"Karl Marx's School of Weight Loss Training"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ficus Elastica

You are gone three years today. Fifteen minutes to midnight.
The ficus I got from your funeral is looking horrible, cramped and diseased in the little pot with bamboo painted on the front. I take it out on the back porch and stare at it.

At least one leaf looks like it has just unfurled, so there is hope for this plant.  I drill holes into a new pot, pack it with fresh potting soil, and work the root ball out of the old pot. I have to cut through the plant roots with the pointed end of a shovel. 
Now the plant is in its new pot, hugging the side of my striped chair, right under the San Francisco poster. It's leaning at an odd angle, looks shocked to have had its longest roots hacked off, its diseased leaves cut. I hope it survives. Three years is too long to keep something so green and alive stuck in a body too small to contain it.

Friday, September 7, 2012


One Sunday morning, she ate a secret. It tasted so good, she ate another on Monday.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Grandpa

The world seems so much more empty when the people you grew up with have died. I'm rattling around in it.  I meant to write....weeks ago - no, months ago

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Late with end of summer post...

I meant to post an "end of summer wrap-up" but I'm late. No surprise! I think my goals for summer were to learn Spanish, study for my doctoral exams, and make some money.
I stopped studying Spanish halfway through the summer...hablo espanol un poco...pero...  I'll get back to my training when I have time.
I have studied approximately 30-40 hours per week for 15 weeks...for a 17 hour test.
I made NO money this summer. The THREE jobs I had did not work out- I quit my research job, thinking I could count on the other two, but they did not come through for me. One job decided they didn't need me this summer after using me for 3 years, the other job kept saying they'd start me soon...and my start date is now sometime in September.

Right now, I'm trying to get my two classes going with lesson plans AND ETC. as I'm readying for the beginning of the exams next Monday. I have panic attacks all day long- ALL DAY LONG- and can't sleep. I'll be so happy to get the exams over with. My god.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What is remembered versus What is remembered.

You remember every moment of the before and I remember every moment of the after.
After- your plane landed in Atlanta and we pulled off at every rest stop to buy candy and to kiss on the picnic tables. After- you couldn't let me go in the aisle at the grocery store. After- we drove all night from New Mexico and still you reached for me at 3am.

After- we bought a mattress together, and a Christmas tree. After- the deserted beach in Puerto Rico and our towels hidden in the crevice of a rock. After- we moved from one bed to the other in the cabin on the lake.  After- the lights on the canal at Christmastime. After- the beach at Santa Monica, the fires burning on the pier to ward off the cold, even in August.
After: The honeywine, the menus in Deutsch, the Orthodox chapels from the train windows- all of this.

After- the what remains. The hotel across the bay from Manhattan. The bitter melds with the sweet until they are the same. Everything after. The after. The veins that map across my hands. The bottles of pills. The ashtrays. The living room rug. Monday trash days. This is what I keep remembering.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tomatoes, late summer

      late summer,
           care of.
This entry addresses the incredulity of summer heat in late July, how the tomato leaves crisp and curl into themselves to escape the sun's afternoon glare. The veins on the backside of each leaf standing out brown and hard, a rigid backbone.

I had a garden once. No, before then. In the days where the summer months stretched like a lifetime and the sunflowers grew above even my mother's head. In the fall, I would be asked to write, What I Did Over Summer Vacation, and I would write, I picked tomatoes every day. I picked them from the vine, and then I picked them where they'd fallen to the ground. My mother boiled and skinned and mashed them, spooning them over limp, pale spaghetti noodles for dinner. The garden tomatoes multiplied like rabbits. They spilled like waterfalls from emaciated parent plants. They grew mercilessly. I could hear them at night through my window, being birthed. I could hear the older fruits plopping to the ground, swollen and disappointed with their own weight, splitting open on the packed ground beneath them. I picked until I stank with the smell of rotten tomatoes. The air in the house weighed down with the smell of boiled tomatoes. The kitchen counter crowded with cloudy jars of skinless red fruit.

This entry concludes with an appeal to water your tomatoes in the morning, not at night, so as to avoid mildewed plants. Pick the fruit regularly. In addition, keep the soil beneath your plants free of leaf debris and fallen fruit, which may encourage disease. Perhaps you have a young daughter who could be instructed in the care of tomatoes, in the late summer, in your Arkansas garden.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Reallllly having trouble deciding whether to keep this blog or not. I think about it daily and try to decide-

I have too much to say
Not enough to say

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Running vs. The Knee

I have managed to run TWICE in the past week.  Once for five minutes, once for eight minutes. It almost scares me to do it, and I concentrate very hard on making sure my form is perfect.  The knee has twinged a time or two during, but hasn't hurt afterwards at all. I was afraid I'd have to give up running, right as I'd started it up again. I'm thinking that my dad had bad knees, though, and always ran anyway. I don't quite remember.
Mornings I spend studying for my comp exams, which consists of reading and making 5-page long outlines. I think I'm doing okay- especially because I dream about names and dates. haha! Have had only ONE comp exam far.  Afternoons are for working on publications. My god, I write sooooo slowly. The Margaret Sanger article is fantastic, though, and so interesting to work on- I think maybe I'll be done in a week or two.
Still waiting to hear about a summer job. I need!

Here's a picture of my desk this summer, so far:

Friday, June 1, 2012


I've been in the weirdest funk since the end of the semester. The semester ruined me, I think.  All I want is to sleep and sleep and sleep.  Eight hours is not enough, and I fall asleep for a couple hours during the day also.  Sometimes I can't get off the couch or out of bed. Weird, weird, weird. However, I've been exercising regularly and getting a lot of studying done, yay!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Crescent Hotel

It's no secret that I love anything old...Love the feel of these keys, how cool and heavy they are in my hand (bought a couple as souvenirs!). They still use skeleton keys at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR.

There were two or three weddings going on while we were here. The Crescent has a reputation as a haunted hotel....bodies piled in the morgue- casualties from an unlicensed doctor who operated a cancer hospital in the Crescent. Before that, it was a school for young girls. James says he was awakened by a young child's voice in his ear.

The door was off-kilter, I loved it! Doorknob in the middle of the door- why? Nothing built to square in this beautiful hotel. We drank beer as twilight came on, overlooking the mountains and the "Christ of the Ozarks" statue.

April 22, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Things pissing me off right now:
1. Pictures of tiny animals on social media sites.  Why? Who cares if a sloth fits in your thimble or if a mini hedgehog fits in your pocket.
2. People over 15 who use "lol" all the time. All the time! Actually, that has been on my shit list for years.
3. 1980s high waistlines coming back in style.
4. The saying "It is what it is." Don't say it. It's redundant, therefore, just don't say anything.
5. Christian fundamentalists who write Bible verses on people's Facebook statuses.
(I'm noticing much of my high blood pressure issues have to do with social media. So I should just get off, right?!)
6. Pictures of your ultrasound as your profile pic. Just no.
7. Anything prepared with mayonnaise. Come to think of it, boxed mixes, too.
8. Long academic papers.
9. People who say "...gave a present to Johnny and I" and think they are being grammatically correct.

Things making me very happy right now:
1. The discovery of this picture from 1993:
2. Marzipan and green-chile chocolate cake (not together).
3. Cottonelle toilet paper. It's the best.
4. Quart-sized Mason jars full of ice, water, lemons, limes, and cucumbers.
5. Qualitative research.  Heh heh.
6. The servants in "Downton Abbey."
7. Buffalo meat.
8. Taking turns reading out loud to each other from "The Indifferent Stars Above."
9. One more week left in the semester.
10. Avocados.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Title-less post

I am such an awful blogger. My mind swims with things to say minute by minute- but I never think it's good enough to put in a blog. I have to think more about what this blog is supposed to be for me- a journal, a map, a bulletin board, a creative tool?
My perfectionism is a stumbling block. I'm my own worst enemy sometimes...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And this-

How funny. None of us are able to handle looking into the Arkansas sun. At least the baby has enough sense to close her eyes. Front yard, Graham Street, Prairie Grove. 1978.
I am actually showing off my "new shoes" in this photograph. Trying to look nonchalant about them.

Ides of March Randomness

First day of my spring break and I'm up, of course, at 6:30am. This week has seen me wrapping up two mid-term essay tests, administering a mid-term to my own students, finally finishing an eight-month long project, sleeping erratic hours, thinking I was having a stroke or heart attack Thursday night from stress, doing my knee rehabilitation exercises, drinking copious amounts of El Salvadorian coffee....
The Bradford pear tree blossoms are shaken loose by the wind and accumulate alongside the driveway like piles of snow. Sometimes I look out the kitchen window and blossoms are drifting past like fat snowflakes.
Another of my dad's birthdays has come and gone; I think about the presents I would bring him in the past: lemon pound cake, homemade barbecue sauce, a bottle of wine that we opened and drank at lunchtime and he told me he'd come to the decision that the book of Revelations was only a metaphor...
How many of my own shortcomings have been highlighted in the past couple of months, while I've wrestled with feelings of inadequacy and the years disappearing under my feet.
Trying to take comfort in little things: the basket of antique rolling pins, piles of yarn, bookshelves crammed with my favorite books, the row of glass bluebirds on my windowsill. 
I only have one school-related project to work on during spring break- so I hope to recuperate somewhat, get some reading in, drink lots of coffee, listen to music, find what has been buried beneath the stress...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Nancy Drew inventory

Just for fun, and because lately two different people have asked me, I thought I would inventory my Nancy Drew collection.
"Blue covered Nancy Drews:" The blue-covered Nancy Drews were published between 1930-1961. They are pretty hard to find. I have two of them. I wish I could find more!
The Ringmaster's Secret 1953
 The Mystery of the Ivory Charm 1936
"Yellow Nancy Drews:" Beginning in 1962, the Nancy Drews did not come with a dust jacket, and the spines are yellow. These are easy to spot and can be found at yard sales, junk shops, antique stores, etc.
The Secret of the Old Clock (1) 1959
The Mystery at Lilac Inn (4) 1987
The Clue in the Diary (7) 1987
The Sign of the Twisted Candles (9) 1968
Password to Larkspur Lane (10) 1966
The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (13)- 2 copies: 1936, 1974
The Clue in the Jewel Box (20) 1972
The Clue in the Crumbling Wall (22) 1973
Mystery of the Tolling Bell (23) 1973
The Clue in the Old Album (24) 1947
The Clue of the Leaning Chimney (26) 1949
The Secret of the Wooden Lady (27) 1967
The Secret of the Golden Pavilion (36) 1959
The Moonstone Castle Mystery (40) 1963
The Mystery of the 99 Steps (43) 1966
The Secret of Mirror Bay (49) 1972
The Secret of the Forgotten City (52) 1975
The Sky Phantom (53) 1976
The Thirteenth Pearl (56) 1979

My favorite Nancy Drew book is #13, The Mystery of the Ivory Charm. I'm not sure why- I've just always loved it! I have three copies that James bought on eBay for me a few years ago. Two yellow spines and the coveted 1936 blue-tweed cover.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I think today is the first day I've been able to fathom the thought that I might make it through this semester. The "side job" of research assistant is taking up all my time. But I just turned in one of the last drafts yesterday so hopefully all that will be over soon. I had been working out really hard this semester and then suddenly, my knee started feeling weird. Last Wednesday in boot camp, we crawled across the floor and spun and raced and jumped---and that's when my knee started hurting. I ignored it. I worked out on Thursday and Friday, and then I ran all the way to the lake and back on Sunday. Then I started thinking the knee thing might not go away, and maybe I should not have run on it. Monday I did boot camp and walked a mile, Tuesday I did weight lifting class and a little cardio BUT ON ONE LEG that afternoon I was convinced I'd hurt myself (it takes me this long to think about things). So I began icing and heating the knee, I bought a complicated knee brace. I skipped boot camp yesterday, I'm skipping Zumba today (but I went to Tai Chi!) and I have a request in for an appointment with my doctor. My sister Erin has had knee trouble before and now I really, really sympathize with her. I can do just about anything with a hurt shoulder or back, but I can't even walk with this knee! I am bummed about gaining back the weight I've lost, and undoing all the fantastic endurance I'd built up. I'm scared, too. And frustrated. I'm in the best shape I've been in for years and now THIS.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I would go over to my Grandmother's house after school and go on a long run with my dad down Bartholomew Road.  He'd say, "You're lucky to be so young, it takes you a couple of days to get in shape. It takes me weeks!" He was younger than I am now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Lost one way or the other after you fell, did you pick up the pieces that scattered when you broke against the wall? Here a thumb, an eyelash, half of a wrist. If you drown in someone else's tears, is that murder or suicide? Here's a splinter of bone, a pink slice of your brain- how can you be walking without all these parts? A vein, looped around stubble of ivy. One lung submerged in mud. You create your own story from another tale-- Frankenstein. You become a glued-together girl with  kneecaps where your ears should be. You are a nightmare, if only you had a mirror. You decide there is no better decision for someone who breathes through her fingernails than to have to choose between falling and drowning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tai Chi Escapades

I started Tai Chi. I'm so used to jumping into a new class and just moving around- getting my bearings- bluffing my way through what I don't know. Not so in Tai Chi. Our instructor is trained in Tai Chi but hasn't taught it much. He was a bit uncomfortable in front of us. He taught us the first move: Stand like this, feet apart, arms loose, head straight, imagine you are holding an egg in each armpit. Then we stood and stood. And stood. He circled our group, making minute adjustments here and there. "This is IT?" I thought, waiting for the next instruction to come. I need to move and jump around and burn calories and and and...  Here is the next move, hold your hands in front of your body as if you're holding a ball. Hold your hands like this. Angle your thumbs like this.  We stood and stood and stood and-- It made me laugh at myself- my own discomfort at having to stand still, doing nothing. Thinking. Breathing. Blinking. Holding. I got the impression that bees were buzzing inside my mouth, humming against my lips. My arms shook. It was early in the morning, 7am. I think my ears were ringing.

I think I learned something about learning.

We'll see how I do this Thursday with the two "moves" I memorized.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spring 2012

Ooooh the headaches! The lethargy! The desire to avoid anything remotely connected to the fact that the semester starts next week and I AM NOT READY.
If I could get paid for making all the crap I find on Pinterest and Etsy and shopping at Target- oh and reading- I'd have a pretty nice lifestyle.
Up until 2am last night with my headache, trying to decide if I could quit my part time research job and still survive. I probably could survive, albeit without so much Target shopping. I am probably the only middle class person in America who feels terribly guilty after spending an afternoon at Target to buy $5 clearance rack shirts and sweaters and new towels. But I've been avoiding my office on campus like it contains the plague. Maybe it does. I'm not ready for this semester: taking 6 hours, teaching 3 hours, finishing the grant project by April, working 15 hours a week as a researcher/writer for the political science department. It's enough to make a girl scream. And sometimes I do. And sometimes I just shop.
I feel sooo ambivalent about school right now, although I love it. If I could trade it in for a 40-hour a week mindless job, would I do it?

Probably not.

I need to make a list and/or a spreadsheet so I can figure out where I will be finding this time.

And I need to open another beer.


Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm absolutely DYING for some green! Might have to go seek out some greenhouses around here and look for more plants (to kill and/or nurture) in my spare time. 
I'm so excited thinking about a garden for summer- because I knew I would miss half of summer 2011, I did nothing. Just visualizing what I could do has made me stay awake at night, because I haven't really gardened for a long time. Also, I just realized my office windows face east and I might *possibly* be able to keep some African violets (haha- I just spelled it "violents") alive. We'll see. The promise of warm weather in spring and summer is the only thing keeping me going during these dreary days!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ivory Bill

This is true. That knots of bitterness bloom into trees whose branches knock against my window at night. Rip the bark with your beak, let your death rattle echo through the drowning tupelo groves. Try to sing and you'll only choke. This is what I'm trying to warn you about. If you vomit sawdust, you deserve it. Oh, you deserve it for every song you refused to sing for me. I tire of waiting for you. Ignore the bough tapping the window glass while I try to fall back asleep, swallowing blood and dust and songs. All for you.