Monday, December 3, 2007

collector of books

I was fifteen years old when I saw Joyce Carol Oates read; she came to my summer camp (an academic one), and read to an auditorium full of precocious teenagers. Hearing her read the title story from Collector of Hearts sparked a full-blown obsession with her work. I had read "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" in classes before, and knew in a sort of offhand way that I liked her work, but the reading started me on the inevitably strange and wonderful journey of reading every single one of her books that I could get my hands on.

Though I am a completist, it soon became clear that I couldn't read them all, not least because I lived in a small town in Maine, and couldn't physically get them all. Even now, though, with Powell's just a few blocks away, I can't read them all. It's not that she has written too many books (what would that even mean?), just that there are so many books in the world and there is never enough time to read.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

false start

Having been raised in a household where Joyce was considered canon and books a necessity easily on par with food, it is perhaps as unsurprising that my literary tastes tend toward the unusual as it is that my appetite for literature is voracious.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

not quite fiction

This is the danger of commuting: one day you wake up and you're five miles down the road. You're in the right place, in the right gear, going the right speed, and you have no idea how you got there. Equally unclear is what you've been thinking about along the way, and what would have happened had a cat leapt out in front of your car.

This morning, I could reconstruct some of it. I was thinking about stockings, about how I can't wear them without destroying them, and how some people seem to be able to keep them for years. I remember looking down at my legs and wondering how much of the day would go by before the telltale skin would begin to show, and the ladders would start climbing up my leg. I don't remember my estimate, but the first one started even before lunchtime.

Suffice it to say, it was not an auspicious morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Published in 1986, Ghost Dance was Carole Maso's first novel. I know this not just because all the reviews talk about it, but because I wrote my thesis on another of Maso's books, and that involved doing quite a bit of research about her and her bibliography. That's why I was really puzzled when I came across this.

After a little bit (okay, a lot) of googling, I reached two not-very startling conclusions. One is that misinformation spreads a lot faster these days, thanks to the miracles of the internet, and the second is that it's always worth double-checking your databases. Data entry is a tricky business, easily mismanaged by those clumsy human fingers we all have.

I noticed, first of all, that while 27 Amazon sellers wanted me to purchase this book, none of them had entered any supplementary information about it. Odd. Nobody on LibraryThing owned a copy of the book, either. None of the Bookfinder or Alibris sellers knew much about it, either. And it was at Alibris that things became clear, because I finally searched by title instead of author. And noticed the ISBN problem.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

seriously, what the eff?

As a small and unassuming girl who swears both frequently and creatively, I am astonished by how often the people who hear me swear are astonished. I know several people who have said to me, with awe in their voices "I've never heard you swear before!" and who have then said the exact same thing to me a few weeks later. And again, later. They're rarely right, but something about my appearance leads to the impression that I'm far more mild-mannered than I am.

Reading Steven Pinker's excellent article about cursing, I couldn't help but wonder if the problem is simply a disconnect in their minds caused by the fact that I am not just clean and blonde and pretty, but also very good at performing my femininity. In other words: girls don't shit. But we do! And we piss and fuck and use the most remarkable language when we get cut off in traffic or stub our beautifully-shod toes. And as I read along, I felt sure that Mr. Pinker understood all of this. Until:

Men swear more, on average, and many taboo sexual terms are felt to be especially demeaning to women-- hence the old prohibition of swearing "in mixed company."

A sex difference in tolerance for sexual language may seem like a throwback to Victorian daintiness. But an unanticipated consequence of the second wave of feminism in the 1970s was a revived sense of offense at swearing, the linguistic companion to the campaign against pornography.

Apparently, we're all prudes: either Dworkinites or Victorian throwbacks. And in two relatively short paragraphs, he almost managed to ruin the whole article for me, relying on lazy (and nonsense) evolutionary psychology arguments about how women have so little to gain from sex and are thus uncomfortable with even discussing it. Nowhere else in the article does he fail to consider the ways in which social structures influence our usage and understanding of language, so the misstep here is puzzling.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

so, so many

A gift from my afternoon gmail inbox: it's not quite an infinity of poems, but it's damn close. I have a copy of the Oulipo Compendium, which he took this translation from, and there's something wonderful about leafing through it and using some agency in combining (composing? not quite)the lines, but this web version has a certain automatic charm of its own.

And of course, I'd love to own one of these. But that's not likely to happen any time soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

one word

I used to write poems that reveled in brevity, poems that maxed out at three lines, three short lines, even. They weren't easy to write, unless they came to me entirely whole, already created out of the ether. Those were lovely, to be sure, but the majority of them were heavily polished little gems, careful creations masquerading as feats of inspiration.

Sometimes, the titles were longer than the poems. Other times, the titles were the only things shorter. Sometimes, they just had numbers. Lately, I can't write like that, but this delightful post (found via Bookslut) about short poems reminds me of how satisfying it was.

Last night, we were talking about The Fear of Losing Eurydice and AVA, because I'm re-reading the first and always thinking about the latter, and because there is a resonance between them that I was trying to explain. I think it boils down to this: each sentence in each book is as dense and vivid and carefully self-contained as one of these poems. Even in Eurydice, where they're not set apart visually, each sentence is a separate revelation, a discrete and lovely work that is linked thematically but not grammatically to the surrounding text.

Last night, I said they were similar "flights of language," a phrase I meant to reference the irresistibly infectious quality of flights of fancy, but also the delicious experience of flights of wine: words that take wing, and words that allow you to taste a range of ideas and images. Each word a rare bird.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


via Maud Newton, a list that reminds me overwhelmingly of one of the best scenes in Hackers. I don't think there's any overlap between the two lists (what are the passwords: god, sex, love, power, password and the user's own name?), but the idea is essentially the same. Humans are a remarkably predictable breed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

eurydice, lost

Julieta Campos died a few days ago. Searching online, I've been able to find only one English language obituary. It's short, and I hope that's because I missed the longer ones; maybe they've all disappeared since last week. This is probably not a reasonable hope, but I'm holding on to it, regardless.

I'll re-read The Fear of Losing Eurydice soon, and I'll write more about it then.

In the meantime, an interview.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I couldn't love this more.

More about why I love it: it seems like a commentary on fact and permanence, and the ways in which we transmit information. back in the day, a sweater was something that took weeks to knit, a handmade object that had a certain metaphorical, personal weight to it. similarly, a newspaper had a certain once-a-day heft. to me, this is project all about trying to lend that permanence and personal-ness to a modern machine-knitted sweater, and also to the ever-changing constantly-being-reported-and-updated news of today.

If the above seems ungrammatical or out of context, it's from an email. Don't judge me for the incredible number of hyphens. Apparently, I was in a hyphen-heavy kind of mood.

(found on CRAFT:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


If I told you the book I'm reading included a scene of attempted self-castration, I suspect you'd conclude that I was reading someone like Chuck Palahniuk, someone who would write about the heat of the blood, the snap of the tendons (are there even tendons in there? I don't know, but it sounds plausible), the sudden excess of liquid, and the undeniable sexuality of the whole experience. It would be the kind of scene that causes girls to faint in the subway.

In this case, though, it's not. It's a quiet scene, as ambiguous as anything of its kind can be. The narrator slips off into the bathtub, razor in hand, and we're told of blood, of pain, and of his eventual faint. Nothing is explicit, and it's not until a few pages later that the reader is entirely, finally convinced that their suspicious were correct, and this confirmation comes only in the form of unscarred wrists. Regardless, this particular moment of mutilation feels entirely necessary, a silent and bloody means of further subsuming the terror of sexuality.

The book? The Seraglio, by James Merrill. Published in 1957, the first of the only two novels he ever published. He's well known as a poet, but wrote the two novels when he was relatively young; neither one is anything like what you'd expect, and both are quite remarkable. Truth be told, I liked the other better, and apparently I'm not the only one. It's still in print.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

the bittersweet

the sweet, first: Maud Newton used the little blurb I wrote for her about Casco Bay Books, despite the fact that I totally failed to make good on my plans to write something longer and better, as well as my plans to ask her to link to me here if she was going to link to me anywhere.

the bitter: For the first time in years, my vacation to Maine was so whirlwind that I didn't make it to the store. Turns out, though, that I would have been even more sad if I had gotten there. Apparently, my favorite book store in the world is no more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

in french, the word for vacation is always plural

What I read on my summer vacation:

Oh, man, do I have a crush on Scarlett Thomas. I've already blogged about reading PopCo, and I plan to write something soon about The End of Mr. Y, but for vacation, I turned to her genre fiction. Dead Clever was perfect airplane reading, almost good enough to make up for being stuck in the middle seat on a red eye.

Originally published under the pseudonym of Sally Mara, We Always Treat Women Too Well isn't one of Queneau's more famous books, but I had been wanting to read it for a while. Every bit as smutty and violent as the pulp novels it satirizes, it's also ridiculously funny, and at times startlingly disgusting. In short, awesome.

Lots of Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, The Man in the Queue, and To Love and Be Wise. As I told my mom, I only read mysteries when I'm on vacation. In response, she handed me a pile of these old paperbacks, culled from yard sales and sidewalk book stalls. She's a good mom.

Amazon has been recommending Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, to me for months. They were kind of right. I can't deny that it's a good book, smart, beautifully written and thought provoking, but, all the same, it's not really my thing.

Reading mysteries on vacation is all very well, but reading mysteries in French makes you look so much smarter. Plus, having a glossary in the back makes it easier. Hence, my dad's old copy of Tournants Dangereux, by Georges Simenon.

Last but not least, Shelley Jackson's Half Life made the plane ride back feel almost short. I saw her read from it a few months ago, and have been wanting to read it ever since. Thanks to a late birthday present, I finally go to. Now I want to read it again. Her writing is so dense and vivid and weird and wonderful; it's the kind of thing you just want to immerse yourself in.

(Next up, books I got on my summer vacation, but haven't yet read.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


For the last few days, I've been reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's an amazing book, and I’m embarrassed that I hadn't read it before, especially now that I'm (like Mr. Kesey) an Oregonian. Of course, I've seen the film, which is a classic— I think I first saw it in a high school film class, where I watched intently, trying to pay attention to every detail. I've seen it once or twice since then, as well, so it's pretty well burned into my brain. Turns out, I remember it even better than I realized.

Maybe this is common, maybe it's nothing revolutionary or even surprising, but it's very strange to me to read a book and have Jack Nicholson cavorting around in my head, and to have my understanding of the ward's layout already fixed, even before I've finished the first (short) chapter. It's kind of neat, sure, but even more than that, it's distracting. It's harder to pay attention to the language, and I don't feel like my understanding of the book is evolving in the same way it does with a story I've never heard before.

I don't watch a lot of movies, and I do read a lot of books, so it's possible that this is truly the first time I've encountered the movie before the book. I can't think of another pair that I've experienced in this order, and this is certainly the first time I've had the two intertwine in this way, which makes me wonder. Does this happen to people all the time?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

break 'em

I would say that Bookslut always makes me happy, but there was a review one time that made me so angry I had to send them an email. Later that day, Jessa Crispin herself (!) wrote back, with the perfect response. She hadn’t liked the offensive phrase either, but doesn’t believe in censoring her columnists. The result was, luckily, wonderful, but there was a moment or two there when I was displeased. Hence, they mostly make me happy, where mostly is a value of just slightly more than ninety-nine percent of the time.

At the moment, though, I couldn’t love the site more, thanks to a wonderful feature on the dangers of over-specialization, a feature that urges us all to diversify our written works, and does so in a way that can’t have been calculated just to appeal to me particularly, but works as well as if it had been. Ah, the well-crafted call to be more like Carole Maso. It gets me every time.

Monday, July 30, 2007


On Sunday, I went on a library adventure, seeking out the Itinerant Librarian to become a member of her traveling library. Despite my initial confusion regarding the location (the bookstore where she was set up is at 8 NE Killingsworth, not NE 8th and Killingsworth, and I drove around the latter a few times), I was successful, and am now an official, card-carrying member of the library (luckily, my hairstyle was deemed inoffensive). I also got to read some wonderful poetry, including books by bill bissett and Suzanne Stein.

Most importantly, though, I remembered how much I like libraries. When I was a kid, I spent hours at the library every week, and when I was in college, I spent hours there every day. Now, I rarely venture into one, but visiting this briefcase-sized library reminded me that I should visit those more permanent institutions with more frequency. There's something rather magical about the presence of books that you absolutely cannot own, and about a space policed by a librarian (whether s/he rules with bylaws or bye-bye laws). Yes, the whole thing made me very happy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


sometimes xkcd is too dorky for me, but other times it's just right.

binge and purge

If you've ever been to my room, you've probably said it. Everyone does. They open the door, their eyes widen, and they say "Oh, you've got a lot of books." Usually, if they're someone I'm fond of, they say it with a reverence in their voice, a kind of delighted awe that trails off into an excited perusal of the shelves, a quiet inspection of just which ones I do have. Sometimes, and this is rare, they're surprised, even a little bit taken aback. Those people aren't generally invited back.

Those people, though, may have a point. At the moment, I have five bookcases in my room, all overfull, all tightly packed and stacked and some of them with even more books on top. I also have several piles of books on my reading chair, and a few more books on the floor. In an attempt to reduce clutter and keep all of the books contained in shelves, I'm trying to get rid of a few. It's hard.

My current rule is that I have to get rid of something every day. It doesn't have to be a book (because I have lots of other clutter, too), but it's good if it is. I'm not sure I'll ever do quite as well as this anonymous academic, though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


We sat in a tree, all arms and legs and branches, your hand on my ankle and my hands on the slowly peeling bark. Everything you said to me was cruel, but that didn't stop me from listening intently, absorbing every word carefully, inhaling the smell of the hardening sap along with an intense feeling that I would never be old enough to understand all the things you knew so instinctively. Not only were you older, but your mother was sick, a fact which lent you an unimaginable authority over the rest of us. Your mother was sick and your father was dead, while the best the rest of us could boast were a few assorted parental divorces, a dead pet here or there. We knew nothing of suffering.

[I'm not ever sure why I write so much in the second person. I'm sure your average armchair psychologist could make something out of it, but for now, I'll just assume I like the way it sounds. There's something delightfully intimate about the direct address, and I hate making up names for characters.]

Friday, July 6, 2007

speak, memory

Wednesday morning, I finished Mauve Desert [verdict: awesome; now I want to read it in French], and started Reading Lolita in Tehran. It seemed like a good palate cleanser between bouts of the avant-garde, and certainly appropriate to read on the fourth of July. I had also recently been reminded of it by M. Bérubé's summary of some of the controversy surrounding the book, and was intrigued enough to pull it off the shelf.

It was given to me as a gift some time ago (Christmas? My last birthday? I'm not sure.), and it seems, on the surface of it, like a book I'd like a lot. It's literary, feminist, and political, a memoir about the personal and political implications of the ways in which women can relate not just to each other, but also to books. But my disinterest in the book hinges on one single word in that sentence: memoir. It is not a scholarly text, and those who criticize it for its simplicity, readability, or careful plotting miss the point. This is pop politics, pop literature, pop feminism; it's not a carefully disguised attempt to provoke or calm anti-Iran sentiment, rather it is the story of one woman's life in Iran.

When memoirs succeed, it is because they describe lives that are unlike the readers', lives that intrigue, challenge, and surprise. A memoir should leave the reader with more questions than answers, more impetus than satisfaction. Nafisi's book is lovely, interesting, and it details a life full of literature, subversion, and unrest. It raises important questions, and whatever its agenda, I think that's valuable. That said, it has made me think more about the nature of the memoir than about anything else, and I can't help but wonder why a woman who has invested so much of herself into fiction has chosen to write not a novel, but a memoir.

She seems to be attempting to situate this book somewhere between fiction and a persuasive and personal essay, and I end up wishing she'd written either one or the other. Certainly I'm oversimplifying the above, and perhaps this is simply because I'm someone who doesn't understand the essential truthiness of the genre, but memoirs just don't do it for me. The exceptions to the rule are few, but they do, of course, include the book from which this post steals its title.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Last night, I ate lettuce, sugar snap peas, and zucchini, all fresh-picked, straight from my backyard garden.

Today, I read this.

Soon, there will be tomatoes. Lots of them.

Monday, June 25, 2007


It's about translation, about language, both written and spoken, read and heard. It's about rereading, rephrasing, rewriting, and reimagining. It's also about sex, about skin (on skin), about adolescence and about the frailties of aging, about explosion, death, surprise, and dull, extended aches. It's about the desert, about driving through the night, and about the tensions between desire and maintenance, passion and fear. In the book, a girl drives her mother's car, meets a woman, watches her die. Then, a woman works to translate the book you've just read. Then you read the translation, which is both very much different and exactly the same.

Oh yeah, and the copy I'm reading is in English, translated from the French. Which just adds another layer of complication to all of this, because you can feel the language barrier sometimes, notice that the sentences were constructed with a different kind of grammar.

I can't remember when the last time was that I was able to give a clear, concise answer to the question: "What's that book about?" Any book can fit into that question, but now I'm talking about this one.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

a provocative novel

a provocative novel
Originally uploaded by dizymsliz
I bought this a few weeks ago at Powell's, both because of the title (and with that subtitle, who could resist?), and because I've been wanting to read something of Shirley Jackson's for a while now.

A rainy saturday seemed like the perfect time to immerse myself in its awesomeness, and while I was right about that, my suspicion that the book was actually about me was not as thoroughly confirmed.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

live birth

There is a reader board on the way to my work that changes every week. This week, it reads:

If fish is brain food you better eat a whale!

If I were the type to leave passive aggressive notes, I would probably take the time to stop and let these people know that not only is their understanding of basic grammar pretty shaky, eating whale isn't really going to help anything, because whales aren't fish.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

burn, baby, burn

Sometimes it's hard to explain why authorial intent isn't actually a useful component of the study of literature, why we think more about the text itself than the biography or opinions of the person who wrote it, why we don't just believe the author about what the book means, what its many messages are. It's hard to explain that intention and context aren't everything, and that a text can take on a life and a meaning of its own, one mediated by history and context and, yes, the reader.

Luckily, Ray Bradbury can explain why an author's conception of their own book may not always be accurate. Fahrenheit 451, you see, isn't about government censorship.

(Relatedly and entertainingly, one of the informants in the book might as well share my name: the next-door neighbor is identified only as Mrs. L. Blake.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

genre fiction

Quirky, solitary, code-obsessed narrator finds herself in a wholly constructed artificial world, one where individuality seems increasingly impossible and relationships are all suspicious. It's hard to know what's real and what's created, ideated, an experiment being performed by the overarching corporation or an act of systemic sabotage being perpetuated by someone working from within that very system.

Themes include: computers, games, video games, game theory, cryptography, cryptanalysis, networks, branding, marketing, advertising, identity, subversion, falsehood.

If this is cyberpunk, though, and I think it is (the Neuromancer reference sealed it for me), it's vegan cyberpunk, homeopathic, back-to-the-land cyberpunk. The artificial world isn't a virtual one, and the mysterious coded messages arrive on paper. That isn't to say it's a throwback to another time; the absence of technology doesn't preclude the discussion or consideration of technology. I'm not sure that description sounds very appealing, but PopCo itself is really interesting for such a fast, light read. I have more to say about this, but blogs are not academic papers. Right?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


If i was organized enough to put together a sidebar list of blogs I read, I'd add this right now. Because it is my new favoritest blog ever.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

at sea

The first two times I tried to start Billy Budd, I couldn't do it. I was too distracted or too tired, it was too difficult to find my way through each sentence, unraveling and detangling Melville's intricate structures and infinite digressions.

Last night, though, was the opposite. Smooth sailing, if you'll pardon the terrible, terrible pun. Melville's sentences are complicated, thorny, and carefully composed, but they are also intensely readable, personal, and personable. He writes like someone I'd love to talk to, with a mind as antsy and encyclopedic as the most self-conscious of postmodernists, but with a rhythm and an ease that make his work compulsively readable.

I'm less than 30 pages in, but the whole thing already makes me awfully happy. Also, the Signet Classics edition I have has the best cover art ever.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

green mercedes

she's more than
a little bit nuts, the woman,
the artist (you say that
with a certain tone in your
voice), but she has the best
hair you've ever seen,
and she drew a beautiful
picture of your cat
the day before he died.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


File under "things I'll never be awesome enough to actually say, but am still proud to have thought of."

Three sheets to the wind? I was the fucking Pequod in a goddamn typhoon!

(and no, I'm not drunk right now.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Turns out, Going Down is a very direct (if unexpected) ancestor of Reader's Block and all the not-quite-novels that followed. It's morbid and achingly intellectual, a trip through a kind of art-historical catalog of the dead, the maimed, and the crazy.

It's also very definitely a novel, a thriller, even, if you believe the jacket copy. Though I can't deny that it contains plenty of sex and death and intrigue (and, as Mr. Vonnegut points out on the cover, it does leave one rather woozy), I'm not sure yet that I'd quite go so far as to call it a thriller, but I still have a few pages to go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

an unexpected bard

Amid my dreams of paper and paragraphs, I made a surprising discovery last night. It wasn't Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere, or even the Queen herself who wrote all those sonnets and all those plays. Shakespeare, as it turns out, was actually Camille Paglia.

Note to self: more sleep, less studying.

Monday, April 2, 2007

an obsession, the color green

It started as a system, a genuine way to keep track of things. A way to ensure that you had a firm grasp on what you had worn the last time you had seen someone, and a way to ensure that you wouldn't repeat yourself too often. The fear was that, being someone who considered one's friends' preferences when choosing clothes, one would remember that Lucinda liked green, and so wear the green sweater when going to see Lucinda.

While this may not seem like something to fear, it's important to consider the possibility of repetition, or coming to that same conclusion over and over again, so that one wore the sweater every time on saw Lucinda. The resultant (feared!) tragedy, of course, being that Lucinda would not assume that the sweater indicated a shared interest in all things emerald, but rather that it indicated a limited wardrobe, possibly that you even only had the one sweater.

Monday, March 19, 2007

an american pastime (pastoral?)

Dream world: An Americana class (lit & song) taught by Don DeLillo and Tom Waits, the latter at a piano, the prior at a podium. The auditorium packed with students, and I’m stuck with a broken seat, warned of its danger by my childhood nemesis, sitting beside it. "Thanks," I whisper, and perch on the floor. The lecture is amazing.

Real world, precipitating events: Falling asleep reading DeLillo, thinking about how he weaves reality into Underworld; it’s not exactly deft, that’s just the word that pairs with weave. To expand, it’s well done, but almost a cheap trick, the way the drama pulls us along not because we wonder what will happen, but because we know. The Giants will win the pennant, and the world will explode with joy and wonder and defeat, all at once. A little boy will steal a baseball, and a bomb will drop.

He wrote (all this, in 1997) about the building of the World Trade Center, the way the towers felt joined and inevitable, about a plane flying past. It’s in these scarce and scattered moments that the trick is revealed, all the more because he was unaware of it. They read as something more final, more important, more clearly implicating all of us in their collapse, than they could possibly have felt or been at the time.

TV world, an aside: I don’t follow baseball, and I never would have read the opening pages of this book this way were it not for Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night.

Friday, March 16, 2007

research methods

I wrote briefly about Baudrillard being consumed and recreated by his own image, but someone else did it much, much better.

See here:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

twenty three

We had a 23 hour day this week, and I can't even use that as an excuse. The thing is, I'm just not used to this. This little experiment is lending me great respect for some bloggers I already admired, the ones who create multiple posts per day, each post not just smart and insightful, but also lengthy.

Part of the problem is that I do most of my writing during the only time of day when I can't actually count it as writing, can't record it into any medium at all, the only time when both my hands are too busy to even activate a strategic tape recorder: during my daily commute. As I drive, the words move around in my head, shaping sentences, lines, and ideas that rarely ever make it to screen or paper. I'm not distracted, and I'm not engaged with anybody else's words; there's not even anyone else to talk to, so I have to work. I have to write.

I've never had a job that didn't require a significant commute, and suddenly that seems like a good thing.

Friday, March 9, 2007


A few days late, but maybe worth writing anyway; Baudrillard no longer exists. He is dead, and can no longer represent himself. His works survive, but are outnumbered by the many readings and misreadings of them, along with obituaries that stridently name-check popular films while ignoring the works themselves.

Heartbreaking, yes, but it's hard not to get the sense that he would take some certain satisfaction in the inevitable fact of his identity being subsumed to an image created by information overload, by the sheer volume of words produced by reporters and professors and even by audience-less bloggers such as myself.

Monday, March 5, 2007


It doesn't even seem possible, let alone probable. A new library is opening, but it may remain open less than six weeks. Others will close with a little less fanfare, but no less heartbreak. There's no money to keep them running.

Oh, Oregon; whatever shall we do?

Friday, March 2, 2007

one song

A white wall, two sky-blue figures, and some interesting (if oddly-laid out) copy: We are one song. The figures were holding hands, and the letters skittered across the side of the building, with strange spacing and lots of emptiness between them. Clearly, it was an ad for something, but it wasn't clear what it was for. I puzzled over it, then gradually let it fade into the scenery. When you drive by something every morning, it loses its mystery pretty quickly.

Then it changed. More figures appeared, along with a logo and more letters that filled in some of those large white spaces. We are connected and strong. Another week went by, and when I looked up this morning, the sentence had filled out even more: We are all connected and millions strong.

It's an ad for a local hospital (and yes, the colors should give away which one), and I like it. It's simple and clever, and it takes advantage of the way we tend to ignore the static highway-side scenery while we commute. That said, the sentiment seems more appropriate for arguing against privatized health care than for it; we need a more inclusive system so that this ad's message can ring true, so that we can all be connected and strong, so that healthcare is no longer a luxury limited to the lucky few.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I once wrote an essay about recurrence, about longing and heartbreak, and saccharine pleasures and the deliciousness of denying them; I wrote about death and separation and the ways we try to fool ourselves into believing we’re not sad. We were asked to write about what we believed in, and I wrote about the engine of my car and the fact that whenever someone was about to break my heart, they gave me a popsicle.

I don’t have a copy of that essay any more, but I still do have a friend or two who remembers it, fondly. They remember it as the popsicle essay, just like they remember the poem I wrote a few years later as the one about pears. It’s about love, lust, and licking someone else’s fingers, but it’s the pears that shine through, even for the girl I know who remembers it, alternately, as the poem about peaches and “that one with the plums.”

The important thing to glean from all of this? Images are powerful, but, as it says above: this is not a food blog. Don’t be fooled by the name.