Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Poem Again

9. Spring

NOTHING is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Tonight Mr. Hopkins is bringing tears. I love and am so grateful for language. It traps us and ruins us and is laden with imperfection (wears man's smudge and shares man's smell) and isolates us, whose only deepest desire is connection and understanding; but when it works, and in practiced hands, what a glorious thing.

Also for spring. Even under snow, I'm feeling stirrings again that I thought I'd grown out of. Hope again.

Also making me cry:

(I haven't watched the videos, just listened to the songs real loud repeatedly.) (#2 is pretty awful. Just listen.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poet After Mine Own Heart

We Who Are Your Closest Friends
~Phillip Lopate

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

a) The fact that this poem exists is all kinds of comfort. Ian Frazier said that literature makes us feel less freakish and alone. Thanks Mr. Frazier, for putting that into words. Thanks Mr. Lopate, for reading my soul.

b) What do you do when relationships with best friends have died and you're pretty sure they're doing the right thing (and maybe you are too) and all you're left with is a vague nauseous emptiness?

c) Yesterday I napped on the grass in the sun. Granted, today it was snowing and is cold and kind of awful, but yesterday I napped in the sun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


If I could watch any movie in the entire world right-this-minute it would be this.


So, I have this mental wishlist running through my brain--laptop, InDesign, Istanbul--pretty insistently. And of course the longing and coveting is doing nothing for my quality of life. So to mediate the effects of discontent, a list of things I have:

a) a ridiculously cool and well dressed and funny and smart and supportive family. Including nieces and nephews who consistently and delightfully crack me up ("Actually, my dad usually chases me before I go to bed"), a gourmand of a mother, and siblings that magically know when to call or what to have ready to eat or what I'm thinking.

b) amazing friends. Friends I brag about and travel with and who make me laugh and laugh and laugh.

c) the clumsy but good-natured tail end of winter. I have historically been much more antagonistic toward March, but am convinced lately that she's just a little harried and air-headed and forgets occasionally to, like, do her hair or however is best to metaphorically represent late-March snow flurries.

d) a functioning and spunky little car.

e) an oasis of a bedroom in a house I love walking up to. Tall and clean open space and books and a comfy bed.

f) God. Doesn't put up with my game-playing. Loves me insistently.

g) Books. In response to Rachel's request: artists satisfy, capriciously or no, man's urge for immortality because they let us live as many lives as we have time books to read. Because the artist functions as a guide to our creation of worlds numbered, again, only by our time restraints. Because when we read about Odysseus (or Joyce, Lenin, and Tzara) we are in the company of immortals, and we do stand enriched.

h) I work with amazing people (again smart, again hilarious, and breath-takingly supportive).

i) Sometimes my students are geniuses.

j) I have plans! I'm putting together my life in preparation for next year and I'm really excited to see where and how it goes.

k) the pot of soup in my fridge (my powers undiminished by disuse: chicken, bacon, parsnip, potato, sweet potato, carrot, zuchini, rainbow chard, black bean. Hardy and delicious.)

l) um, Google Reader? I suddenly have hundreds of beautiful things at my fingertips. Amy Scott, I don't know you well, but your internet skills have changed my life.

I could go on. I know. Good start. Thanks you all anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rush Write 3.23

On a separate piece of paper, respond to the following quote (and questions) (I’m looking for more than a half page here probably).

Joyce: An artist is the magician put among men to gratify — capriciously — their urge for immortality. The temples are built and brought down around him, continuously and contiguously, from Troy to the fields of Flanders. If there is any meaning in any of it, it is in what survives as art, yes even in the celebration of tyrants, yes even in the celebration of nonentities. What now of the Trojan War if it had been passed over by the artist's touch? Dust. A forgotten expedition prompted by Greek merchants looking for new markets. A minor redistribution of broken pots. But it is we who stand enriched, by a tale of heroes, of a golden apple, a wooden horse, a face that launched a thousand ships — and above all, of Ulysses, the wanderer, the most human, the most complete of all heroes — husband, father, son, lover, farmer, soldier, pacifist, politician, inventor and adventurer.

--Travesties, Tom Stoppard

1. How do artists “gratify men’s urge for mortality”? (According to the quote and to your own experience.)
2. What is Joyce (the speaker) arguing about art in regards to the Trojan War? Do you agree or disagree, why?
3. Ok, but we know that Homer’s telling of the Trojan War isn’t necessarily historically accurate, right? According to the speaker is it still valuable/valid? According to your opinion does accuracy affect a work of art’s value?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nectar of the

What I love about Diet Coke is that it hurts. My brother-in-law identified this most winning characteristic a couple of years ago, the "ouch, just what the doctor ordered" factor, and I'd say that that's one of my favorite things about the stuff. I like, too, that I feel like it keeps me up and peppy, and that it's inexplicably comforting (had a hard day? Have a coke!) and that it comes in tiny adorable bottles and cans, and I love the ritual of it. Monday morning coke buying. Monday morning coke consumption. A collective of tiny coke bottles waiting in the fridge at work to see me through the 4th period and on to lunch.

When I was growing up there was always coke in the fridge. It wasn't for general consumption: a dad only sort of a thing, but I know for a fact I wasn't the only one sneaking a nip or two a day. Something about a clandestine sip of coke straight from the two liter bottle was so appealing and even now, when my reliable income and car driving let me get all the fountainy diet coke goodness over ice I want, there's something in me that loves a nearing-flat shot out of the big bottle.

In fifth grade, we found that if we left the bus stop early and tromped straight down the mountain, we could fit a Kent's run in before the first bell rang. Kent's market was where the Creamery on Ninth is now, and was small grocery store heaven for 11 year olds: candy, soda, barrels of bulk sunflower seeds and fruit jets. And so instead of using the $1.25 my mom gave me for lunch money on hot lunch, I would buy a diet coke and sunflower seeds. Or a diet coke and watermelon jolly rancher bar or a diet coke and kiwi. Meikel and Lauren soon joined in (or I joined them or maybe we bonded, essentially, over coke) and our afternoons and weekends were dominated by searches for coke. And that lovely stinging feel of coke on a briney (from the spits) tongue.

And I wonder about my devotion to coke and its influence on friends. I remember very distinctly trying to seduce a lovely upstanding cousin of mine to join in the coke swiping (I hope you're reading this and I hope you remember). I actually said "what can it hurt? No one will ever know." Lines I'd no doubt picked up from the second grade just say no campaigns. Or Satan. She said no. When I started working at Weller's Amanda and I had a discussion about one summer when she was devoted to diet coke, but that she'd gotten over it. "It tastes like soil" I think was her argument. Which point I'll concede. By the time I left our favorite smoking-break snack was Beto's tortillas and a coke (though their coke was too sweet and tasted like windex). I have left a long line of coke drinkers in my wake.

On Saturday I got to Amanda's house (different Amanda. Amanda #3 of 4) at midnight. First order of business: 7-11 run. She got fountain and I got a bottle (mostly so I could keep it to drink at breakfast the next morning. Which I did. It suit the lemon curd-blueberry-whipped cream crepes marvelously) and then we stayed up, caffienated, till 4:30, chatting.

Anyway. Love the stuff.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's bona fide

BYU said yes.

So far, there's been not nearly enough screaming or cake.