Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Who couldn't love a woman who writes love poems to her cats?

Fence Above the Sea
by Brigitte Byrd

This book is a series of prose poems about a relationship between a mother and a daughter. Each poem delves deeper into that relationship through specific events that involve the two of them. What endears me to this book, though, is the way Byrd brings her cats into many of the poems. They always are nestled at her feet or snuggling against her hand. The highlight of the book for me is on page 65 in a poem called "Notable Exceptions." The last two lines of the poem are as follows: "She buries her face in his fur to learn the scent of love. His hair tangles around her fingers and she knows he loves her when there is a dead mouse on the steps behind the door." I'm a sucker for women who regard their cats so highly.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Rating: *****

This is one of the most fascinating movies I have ever seen. It is about the extensive sexuality studies that Kinsey did during his lifetime. Much of his research in the movie was stuff I was familiar with. A lot of the stuff on women was stuff like clitoral vs. vaginal orgasms and anatomy and arousal. I didn't realize that Kinsey was the one who did all of the scientific studies that publicized that information, though. The movie is sporadically interrupted with tidbits from an interview with Kinsey (a fictionalized interview at least, I'm not sure how much of it was from an actual interview).

Kinsey is also the one who theorized that most people's sexuality falls on a continuum between heterosexuality and homosexuality. He believed that most people are a little bisexual at least. Personally, I am a six, which is homosexual. I can't say I've ever been attracted to a man. The theory is interesting, though.

The acting in Kinsey is fantastic. Laura Linney plays Kinsey's wife, a liberal woman who participated quite actively in Kinsey's research. She is excellent in this film, as is Liam Neeson who plays Kinsey.

Spring er um Winter Cleaning

Yesterday I decided it was time to do something about my apartment, which as Rennick will attest was an absolute hell hole. So I hauled myself to Target and bought big plastic bins along with my stepladder. I now have neatly labelled bins in my closet filled with odds and ends that I can't bear to throw away, as well as seasonal decorations that my aunts have sent me over the last couple of years. I have very crafty aunts who go all out for every season and holiday, and they have included me in their exuberance for which I am very grateful. Unfortunately, it also means that my apartment is stuffed to the gills with things like turkey shaped candle holders and stuffed Easter rabbits. So I'm grateful to get everything off the floor, although everything is not yet off the floor. I have rather enjoyed getting organized and stayed up far too late last night putting my apartment in order. I've now hung all kinds of new things on my walls, including several pictures of my aunts and one of the new babies in the family. I don't have any new pictures of the other one yet. I need to write to my cousin and get some. He's awfully cute. At any rate, all of this is to say that I need to write this afternoon and this evening. I have a fiction story due in a week and a half and am starting to sweat.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Top Ten Meme

Not David Letterman, but that's okay.

Poetry Books:
1. New and Selected Poems Volume 1 by Mary Oliver
2. 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye
3. rife by Stefanie Marlis
4. A Magic Book by Sasha Steensen
5. Kaddish and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
6. Starting from San Francisco by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
7. Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara
8. The Monster Lives of Boys and Girls by Eleni Sikelianos
9. Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Prose Books:
1. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
2. Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros
3. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
5. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
6. All Harry Potter books
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
8. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
9. Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
10. Chronicles of Narnia

1. Steel Magnolias
2. D.E.B.S.
3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
4. Dead Poets Society
5. Mona Lisa Smile
6. What about Bob?
7. Wide Awake
8. Signs
9. Long Walk Home
10. Places in the Heart

TV Shows
1. Designing Women
2. M*A*S*H
3. Xena: Warrior Princess
4. That 70's Show
5. Touched by an Angel
6. Rick Steves' Europe
7. Antiques Roadshow
8. As Time Goes By
9. Vicar of Dibley
10. Ellen (the later seasons)

Places I Would Love to See:
1. Temuco, Chile
2. Greece
3. Egypt
4. Prague
5. Loire Valley
6. Ireland
7. Scotland
8. La Mancha
9. Machu Pichu
10. Holy Lands

The Horse and His Boy

I finished it last night, and I liked it better than The Magician's Nephew. I love Shasta. My favorite scene is the one where Aslan is walking next to Shasta when he is on a narrow ridge in the fog. Shasta doesn't realize that Aslan is protecting him until he sees the ridge later and realizes how much danger he was in at the time. Aslan speaks to Shasta in the same scene and tells him that he was also the cat who comforted him when Shasta was lonely and scared. I was very moved by that scene. I did find some of Aslan's manipulation in other scenes a bit disturbing, though.

I started Prince Caspian last night, and it is fascinating so far. It may turn out to be my favorite of the series so far. I will, of course, keep you updated.

I Admit It

Hello, my name is VioletEmily, and I am short. I finally broke down and bought a stepladder today. I was able to change all of the burnt out lightbulbs in my house (which were really all of the lightbulbs in my house), and I am finally able to see again.

Going Out

I have had the most wonderful few days going out with friends in the creative writing program. I never go out with everybody, but I decided on Thursday that I would.

We have been listening to candidates for several different positions in the English Department lately. The candidates have to present some aspect of their research to the entire faculty and any interested students and then field questions from the group. It's a fascinating process. On Thursday, we hosted the first of the fiction candidates. She read one of her short stories and then did an excellent job answering questions. She has my vote. This coming Thursday, we are listening to the second candidate.

At any rate, we held a reception for the candidate at a professor's house afterwards, and I had a wonderful time chatting with a bunch of people that I don't get enough time to chat with. Then we all decided to go out for pizza and beer. This is something I never do. I am not much of a beer drinker at all. But I have been trying different kinds and have discovered that I like hefeweisen. This is beside the point.

Last night, two spectacular women, J and S, gave spectacular readings of their work at a local pub. Afterwards, several of us went out again.

I am really enjoying getting out more. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but it is absolutely fabulous. I have had the most engrossing conversations with several different people. I am really enjoying myself.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Dear Frankie
Rating: *****

This seems like it could be a stereotypical "gotta find a dad for my son" movie, but it isn't. It really has a lot of depth to it, and it does not end in the way I expected, which I appreciated. I won't reveal the ending, though.

Frankie is a nine-year-old deaf boy who lives with his mother and grandmother because his father is "away at sea." His mother writes letters to her son pretending to be his father. Then the boat his father is supposedly on docks in their town. The mother then hires someone to pretend to be Frankie's father.

The story is very moving and is more about Frankie's relationship with his mother than about the imaginary father figure. The end is very moving, and this movie is well-worth watching.

Garden State
Rating: ***

This is a movie about a straight-laced guy and a fun-loving woman who fall in love. It's a little more complicated than that, but the ending is predictable. I recommend it. It's good fun.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


The Passion of the Christ
Rating: *****

I admit I went into this movie expecting not to like it. I expected to be offended by it for a bunch of different reasons. I found it fascinating, though. Admittedly, it is a gory movie; just look at the title--it isn't going to be a nonviolent story. The movie is beautifully done, however. The gory scenes are interrupted continually with flashbacks that are absolutely breathtaking. The whole story is done in Greek or Aramaic, which adds to the realism of the events. The crucifiction scene, which is a lot shorter than I thought it would be (20 minutes or so), has the story of the first communion interspersed throughout it. It's very moving. So anyway, if you are interested in movies with a religious theme, I recommend this one. It is fascinatingly done.

Gosford Park
Rating: ***

I went into this movie expecting to love it. The mystery part is interesting, but the class relations throughout the movie are disturbing. It is very much an illustration of the class system in England during the 1930's. The servants are brushed off and forced to do ridiculous tasks that end up being downplayed and ignored by the finicky aristocracy. I wasn't impressed, and quite frankly, I was hoping more of the aristocracy would kick the bucket. They were obnoxious. Either way, the music is beautiful, the acting is fantastic, and the scenery is wonderful. It's worth seeing just for that part and a view of the old English class system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frank O'Hara

I love his poetry. I just got done introducing him to my class, and they were horrified. I think he is absolutely brilliant, though. This is my favorite of his poems:

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Fun

Bridge Over Troubled Water

I'm Bridge Over Troubled Water!

Which Simon and Garfunkel album are you?


At the moment, I'm feeling pretty good about myself and about the degree I am earning. I just got a list of job opportunities that I am totally qualified for. Not only that, but I have three years of teaching experience to back myself up. The jobs are all in places where it never occurred to me to live. I can meet new people and see how people live in other parts of the country. I am extremely excited about that. My applications will be in the mail by the end of the week :)

Another Brief Update

Because I have talked with several of you on the phone about this lately, it only seems fitting to give you another update. I had a date on Saturday night. It was lots of fun. We saw Brokeback Mountain and had dinner. Today we decided to just be friends for now because if I'm honest with myself, that is all I can really handle. At any rate, I am grateful for her friendship and for her patience. Someday I will actually be ready to date again, even if it isn't for a couple of months yet.

I have also decided to learn to meditate. The group meets on Monday nights, and I plan to be at the next one.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sticky Fingers of Time

Rating: *****

There just aren't enough lesbian time-travel movies. I recommend this one. It's a start at least. And it is quite fun and the writer in the future is cute.

Brief Update

Because I know I have readers who care about me, I want to let you know what has been going on. I am still here. It has been an agonizingly hard week or so since I've been back. School-wise things are going fine. Church-wise things are a mess. We have been going through a very hard time as a church, and it has been agonizing for me. It started just before Christmas, and we had huge church meetings both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. I feel like I am losing that center of stability. I hope things even out here soon. I have also been incredibly homesick. It's always hard to come back after a break. I need to live closer to home. Two thousand miles just doesn't cut it. Tomorrow is my ex's birthday. I haven't heard from her in a couple of weeks, which I expected. Perhaps the breakup is easier not speaking. I don't know. I sat in my counselor's office and sobbed on Friday afternoon about all of the things that are going wrong in my life. She says that I accept blame far too easily and that it will get better. My counselor helped me put things in perspective, and I am feeling better at the moment about it. I have good days and bad. My counselor says I need to join an exercise class and make an effort to get out more. She is right, of course. She is always right, at least in my experience.

I have been watching M*A*S*H all the time. I love that show. It's the greatest thing around. Also I am really sick of that Herpecin L commercial on the TVGuide channel. My cat is still hiding in the closet all the time :( She's afraid of my noisy neighbors. I have also been reading weird poetry, which I will eventually blog about. And The Horse and His Boy. Did I mention I finished The Eyre Affair over a week ago? It's wonderful. I recommend it. It's one of the most hysterical books I've ever read.

Kathleen Fraser

I'm into her lately. I just finished her book Change of Address and Other Poems, which was published in 1966. The book itself is beautifully put together, even though it is saddle stapled. There are sketches on every page, which make the book aesthetically pleasing (can you tell I'm taking a publishing class?). The paper is thick and feels nice on the fingers. The poems themselves aren't as good as some of her latest work, but they are still nice to read. She is more narrative in this book, although there is a rhythm to the writing that is very soothing. My favorite rhythmic poem was definitely "Grass." All in all, I recommend the book, especially if you are a Fraser fan.

The Shipping News

Rating: *****

I am ashamed to say that I have not read this book; however, I watched the movie last night. It is one of the most moving stories I have ever seen. I highly recommend it.

The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It takes place on the Atlantic coast of Canada (New Foundland? I can't remember). I felt cold the whole time I watched it because of the dreariness of the weather in the movie. It is constantly gray and either snowing or raining, and the sea is always rough.

The characters are believable and for the most part sympathetic. I loved Judi Dench's character. Of course, I love Judi Dench, and she can do no wrong in my eyes. Kevin Spacey plays a much different character than I've ever seen him play. He is a very emotional single father who is coping with the death of his daughter's mother, who is absolutely obnoxious, and I can't say I cried when she finally bit the dust.

The young daughter is very creepy, and she has this strange connection with the house where her ancestors lived. She continually has visions and intuitions about how the house is feeling. The father also has these visions and dreams, but he doesn't admit it.

All in all, it is a very complicated plot, and much of the story is sad; however, I found the end to be incredibly uplifting. My mother says it is incredibly depressing, but I'm sticking with uplifting.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Movie Reviews

I've seen a whole stack of movies lately and haven't taken the time to review them, mostly due to complete and utter exhaustion. So here are the belated reviews:

Rating: ***
This movie is extremely depressing but not as violent as I thought it could have been, although that may have been due to my leaning on the fast forward button. I am not a fan of violent movies; however, this one is based on a true story, not to mention that that true story includes lesbians. To summarize, it is about a prostitute who begins to murder her johns as a way to get more money to make her girlfriend happy. She is raped near the beginning of the movie by one of her johns, and that john becomes her first victim. She justifies most of the rest of the murders by convincing herself that they, too, are rapists. She uses that defence until the end of her trial (and perhaps her life, I don't know). She was executed in Florida in 2002. I am opposed to the death penalty, and this movie just furthered my conviction that there is too much going on in a person's life for people to be able to judge their actions in such a final way. This movie is depressing, but the acting is very very good. Charlize Theron definitely deserved the Oscar.

Brokeback Mountain
Rating: ****
Another cheery movie, but a very well done not-so-cheery movie. This movie is about gay cowboys who never do quite get it together enough to be full-time partners. They only see each other a few times each year. The acting is wonderful, the scenery is wonderful, and I think I want to be a shepherd now. I could definitely follow the order, "Sleep with the sheep every night."

The Weather Underground
Rating: *****
This is a documentary that I heard of on Netflix originally, although I recently discovered it at the library. It is about a violent group of anti-war protesters during the Vietnam Era. Several members of the group are interviewed on the film, which makes it all the more interesting. It's fascinating to hear their reasoning for becoming violent to protest violence. Although I do not agree with their reasoning, it is worth it to see how people can get themselves so wrapped up in their ideals that they no longer care about the everyday person. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have seen in a long time. I recommend it if for nothing else than a warning against extremism.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Another example of Hayao Miyazaki's fine Japanese animation, this movie is one of the finest I have seen in a while. The story features a spectacularly strong female character (Nausicaa) who strives to protect her people from the poisonous forest and the invaders.

Throughout the film, Nausicaa learns that the forest has become very deadly because of human pollution. She also strives to protect the insects that protect the poisonous forest from further contamination. In the end, the natural world and the human world are able to live in harmony once again.

Miyazaki's films frequently include a strong environmental message. The most famous is Princess Mononoke, which I have not yet seen. I hope they get it in the library soon. Miyazaki also wrote the Academy Award winning movie, Spirited Away, which is one of my sister's favorite movies. Personally, I prefer Nausicaa. Go rent it, sis. You'll like it, too.

I never thought that I could get into anime, but I am fascinated by this film. The story is much more mature than any animated movie I have every seen in the United States, yet it is something that children could watch without being frightened. Although there are huge bugs. Beware of the bugs. But they turn out to be nice bugs.

Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

rife by Stefanie Marlis

My professor loaned me this book, and I have to admit, I was skeptical. Our poetics are very different. The poetry in here is narrative, which surprised me. I'm a narrative poetry girl. The poems are avant-garde in a very calm way. Several of the poems in the book start out as definitions to words like "rife" and lead on in a prose poem to mean something more solid than a definition could possibly cover.

Ronald Wallace writes that Marlis' work is "a world of departures and returns, losses and recoveries, where wry indirection, nuance and detail, a bell-like delicacy, prevail." I love that, "bell-like delicacy." There is a true sense of loss emanating from the poetry, but the loss is never outlined so as to be made a solid definable anguish. It is simply felt in the hopefulness of the speaker that times will change and that in the end, everything will be okay.

I think this is exactly what I needed to read today, and I am grateful that my professor saw fit to loan me this book.

Here is a small sample, should anyone be interested:

by Stefanie Marlis

to the same world:
light breeze, small
northern California
town, springtime--
once again pink
flowerettes pinned
to the hawthorn,
soon the explosion
of catkins on the buckeye,
sometimes it seems
getting nowhere--
with spiritual
or material life,
though one night
a cloud of dimes
circles the bed
and the next a dream
about forgiving.

The Swing of Things

I'm starting to get back into the swing of things. I start teaching tomorrow, and I start classes today. I decided on a second class to take in addition to my thesis hours. Took me long enough, I know, but nonetheless, it will be a good one. And I have taken it once before (it's the sort of class you can take over and over again). I really enjoyed it last year, so I decided to do it again. I learned more in there than I have in any other class I have taken in graduate school. Which is saying something. And the workload isn't over the top, so it should mesh well with thesis hours.

I dropped off my thesis draft to the third member of my panel today. Hopefully she will have some valuable feedback. I'm sure she will. I need to contact my chair and other member, as they have had copies since before break.

My cat doesn't know how to react to being home again, so she has been hiding all day everyday :( Poor baby. I have new neighbors who stomp around a lot. My parents live so far out in the country that she hasn't had to deal with that for a while. At the moment, I am bribing her with Wendy's fries. She likes those.

Yesterday I had a girls' day with two friends. I got my ears pierced. I'm still undecided as to how I feel about that, but I think I like it. There was an interesting development later in the evening of which I will say nothing more here. You'll just have to guess (or call me).

I went to the library and borrowed all kinds of movies and lots and lots of poetry books. I am going to read a lot of Kathleen Fraser, who I heard read a few months ago and who I adored so much I was too intimidated to talk to her, Harriette Mullen's Sleeping with a Dictionary because who can skip a book with a glorious title like that, lots and lots of Denise Levertov because I just discovered where the motherload of her books is kept, and the fabulous Allen Ginsberg. Plus my professor loaned me three books by authors I've never heard of, which is always fun. I love getting to know new authors. So stay tuned for the book reviews :)

Walt Whitman

Have I mentioned how much I love him? I love him. I am moved to tears everytime I read his work. Here is a quote I got from a recent Poets Against War mailing (www.poetsagainstwar.org):

From the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men-go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families-re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jog

I got home late Saturday night. I have new neighbors, one of whom I met while grocery shopping yesterday. I left the apartment fairly clean, a first for me. It was nice to come back to a spiffy clean place.

I have decided that I need more stuff on my walls. I think I'm going to frame some pictures and hang them up. I have a beautiful picture of all of the women on my mother's side of the family with the new baby. I may even put that one on my desk at school. I also have this ridiculous card I picked up before Christmas that sends me into fits of hysterics everytime I see it. I think I may frame that and hang it up, too. I am also in possession of three calenders that need to be hung up. I haven't decided which one to take to school yet. (J, if you're reading, do you prefer black cats, Narnia, or Italy?)

I may be getting my ears pierced today. It all depends on nerve and if I have any.


This is perhaps the funniest email title I've ever received:

"Join Us for a Day of Legislative Lobbing"

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Go. Rent it now. It is the funniest movie I have seen in years. The characters are so flawed and yet so loveable. The funeral scenes are absolutely hysterical. I laughed until I cried. I want to own this one.

Rating: *****

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I spent most of yesterday with my two aunts, my grandmother, and my mother. We met for lunch midway between our houses. We sat around and chatted for quite a while, and then we went to my favorite store, Goody's, and hit their big clearance sale. Shopping is Aunt M. and Aunt GA's favorite thing to do. The two of them, my sister, and I go every year at the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving. It's always fantastic. We're always some of the first people in line at the places giving away free things. We have a whole collection of Mickey Mouse snow globes from JCPenney. We always get excellent deals on everything we buy. We all shop with the philosophy that if it is not extremely marked down, then we don't buy it until it is. My mother is the same way, but she hates to shop and usually spends the day helping my grandmother decorate her house. The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year, second only to my grandmother's party the day after Christmas. My relatives are lots of fun and the kindest, funniest people I know. I love my family.

At any rate, yesterday. I bought five items at extremely marked down prices. I won the deal contest yesterday. Drum roll......

1. a Duck Head long sleeve striped henley shirt, reg. $32, on sale for $1.50
2. a red shirt with a white collar, reg. $25, on sale for $1.50
3. a red plaid Duck Head shirt that can be either long sleeved or short sleeved, reg. $32, on sale for $2.00
4. a black and white zip-up jacket to run in, reg. $29.99, on sale for $2.00
5. pink pajama pants to run in, reg. $19.99, on sale for $2.00

Total Price Without Sales: $138.98
Total Price With Sales: $9.00
Total Savings: $129.98

I did well.

On The Producers

Mom: Movies like that do nothing to further gay rights. Gays don't really look like that.
Me: (Jaw drop)

Wow, she really gets that. I wasn't sure that she ever would. I thought that movie was kind of obnoxious, by the way. Parts of it were funny, like when the dancers had big beer steins, pretzels, and sausages on their heads. But most of it was obnoxious.

The whole of that conversation was quite interesting by the way. She was trying to think of nice stable girls to hook me up with. She was going through most of my graduating class and asking if any of them were gay and telling me her suspicions, which I thought was rather amusing. She also told me she thought that I was born gay (um yeah) and that my best friend was also born gay (um yeah). She also wanted to know if there was anything out there portraying gays positively, like Family Stone did, that straight people see. She said there should be more stuff like that. I love my mother. She's really come a long way from when I first came out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A Clear Midnight*
by Walt Whitman

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,

Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson


Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the

themes thou lovest best,

Night, sleep, death and the stars.

* This is not really double spaced, but the lines appear different if it is not double spaced here. His lines are just really long. I like that about Whitman. It makes his work very musical.

New Blogs

I have added two blogs to my list, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to plug the whole list.

Compostcompote is a blog written by a friend of mine about religion and politics mostly, but not entirely. She is a liberal Democrat, and her writing is extremely funny.

frogblog is written by a liberal lesbian feminist Episcopalian, and I find much of her blog very honest, funny, and heartwarming. She talks a lot about her own life, and I find many connections to my own.

How to Be Lovely is also written by a good friend who is the most fun person I know. Her blog is also fun and her sense of humor wonderful.

Name That Mama is written by a lesbian couple who is in the process of having a baby. One partner is due in the next few weeks. They are about my age (25-ish), and this is their first child. I am terribly excited for them. I want that someday.

One Good Thing is written by a woman who owns a sex toy shop in Chicago. Her blog is the funniest that I read. She is a mother of two young boys, and I think currently running her shop out of her garage.

Over the Rainbow is also written by a close friend. The blog is mostly in Chinese but is worth the read for the bits that are in English if you don't speak Chinese as I don't. She is a fun person with a terrific sense of humor.

Postcards of Grief is written by one half of the Name That Mama couple. She is the partner who is currently pregnant. She started the blog as a way to deal with the grief of her late mother's battle with breast cancer. Her blog is very down-to-earth and human. I admire that.

Happy Reading!

On Anger

I think embracing anger is a very feminist thing to do. For many years, women were denied the right to express their anger. Men were denied expressing any emotion other than anger. I have grown up in a family where my father usually cries to express his happiness and his grief and my mother expresses her anger. In this sense, I know I have grown up in a feminist environment.

Anger is something that I do not often feel. I feel hurt a lot more frequently than I feel angry. I don't like confrontation, and I despise being the focal point of someone's anger. I have recently gotten out of a very unhealthy situation where I was frequently the focal point of the anger and rage, whether it was intentional or not (and I could never tell whether it was or not). Something arrived today that cemented my relief at getting out of that situation. I have learned that I deserve a lot better than that, and even if I don't deserve it, I sure as hell want it anyway. Anger and rage are all well and good, but if that is the only emotion a person knows how to express, that's a problem.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

100 Reasons to Be Happy

My pastor once mentioned a practice (Jewish perhaps?) of writing 100 things a day to be thankful for. I have not done it every day by any means, but I find myself doing it when I am feeling incredibly down. It really is good medicine. I am feeling incredibly down today. Here is my list:

1. my sister
2. Mom
3. Dad
4. fuzzy Emily
5. Judy
6. Josh
7. Judith
8. Rennick
9. Fan
10. Aunt M.
11. Aunt GA
12. Grammy
13. Mike
14. Michelle
15. Matt
16. Susan
17. Steven
18. Uncle J.
19. Angelina
20. Jonathon
21. Justin
22. Krista
23. Uncle R.
24. Aunt B.
25. my pastor
26. M.K.
27. E.K.
28. Andie
29. Sheri
30. June
31. Dr. P
32. Dr. B
33. Dr. L
34. Martin
35. Cathy
36. Jodi
37. Lauren
38. Lynette
39. Jennifer
40. Aunt B.K.
41. Uncle J.K.
42. Aunt P
43. Uncle L
44. Dominic
45. Amanda
46. Ross
47. Chantel
48. Grandma
49. school
50. books
51. writing
52. Naomi
53. Natsuko
54. Mia
55. Mary Oliver
56. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
57. Allen Ginsberg
58. Naomi Shihab Nye
59. Gloria Anzaldua
60. Daisy
61. Isabelle
62. Indigo Girls
63. No More Deaths
64. my church
65. the head pastor at my parents' church
66. my home church
67. Venice
68. Cinque Terre
69. Arenal
70. London
71. Paris
72. Xena
73. Touched by an Angel
74. Designing Women and other progressive tv shows
75. Whosoever
76. cross country
77. Coach S.
78. people who work for gay rights
79. ACLU
80. MASH
81. sleep
82. my favorite Italian place
83. my favorite Mexican place
84. iced tea
85. netflix
86. poetry
87. really bad fiction
88. really good fiction
89. Frank O'Hara
90. Jasper Fforde
91. lilacs
92. sunflowers
93. lupin
94. Harry Potter
95. cheese enchiladas
96. my favorite feminist board
97. email
98. cell phones
99. summertime
100. Christmas

Age Quiz, Just Fill in the Blanks

This is sort of fun. And I'm trying not to torment people with forwards. . .

1. Name the Beatles.

2. Finish the line: "Lions and Tigers and Bears, ____ ____ !"

3. "Hey kids, what time is it?" _____ _____ _____ _____.

4. What do M&M's do? ____ ____ ____ ____, ____ ____ ____ ____

5. What helps build strong bodies 12 ways? _____ _____.

6. Long before he was Mohammed Ali, we knew him as _____ _____.

7. You'll wonder where the yellow went, ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ________.

8. Post-baby boomers know Bob Denver as the Skipper's "little buddy." But we know that Bob Denver is actually Dobie's closest
friend,  ______G._______.

9. M-I-C: See ya' real soon; K-E-Y:
      _____? ____ _____ _____  _____!

10. "Brylcream: ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____."

11. Bob Dylan advised us never to trust anyone _____ _____.

12. From the early days of our music, real rock 'n roll, finish this line: "I wonder, wonder, wonder...wonder who;  ____ ______ _____  _____  _________?"

13. And while we're remembering rock n' roll, try this one: "War...uh-huh,huh...yea; what is it good for? , ____ _____."

14. Meanwhile, back home in Metropolis, Superman fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and _____ ____ _____.

15. He came out of the University of Alabama, and became one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He later went on to appear in a television commercial wearing women's stockings. He is Broadway  _____  ______.

16. "I'm Popeye the sailor man; I'm Popeye the sailor man. I'm
strong to the finish, ____ ____ ____ ___ ____. I'm Popeye the sailor man."

17. Your children probably recall that Peter Pan was recently
played by Robin Williams, but we will always remember
when Peter was played by  ______ ______.

18. In a movie from the late sixties, Paul Newman played Luke, a
ne'er do well who was sent to a prison camp for cutting off
the heads of parking meters with a pipe cutter. When he was
captured after an unsuccessful attempt to escape, the camp
commander (played by Strother Martin) used this experience
as a lesson for the other prisoners, and explained,
 "What we have here, ____ ____ ____ ____ ___."

19. In 1962, a dejected politician chastised the press after
losing a race for governor while announcing his retirement from
politics. "Just think, you won't have ____ ____ to kick around anymore."

20. "Every morning, at the mine, you could see him arrive; He
        stood six foot, six, weighed 245. Kinda' broad at the shoulder,
and narrow at the hip. And everybody knew you didn't give
no lip, ____ ____,____ ____ ____."

21. "I found my thrill, ____ ____ ____."

22. ____ ____ said, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, ____ ____ ____."

23. "Good night, David." "____ ____,____."

24. "Liar, liar, ____ ____ ____."

25. "When it's least expected, you're elected. You're the star
        today.  ____! ____ ____ ____ ____."

26. It was Pogo, the comic strip character, who said, "We have
       met the enemy, and ____ ____ ____."

1. John, Paul, George, Ringo
2. Oh, my
3. It's Howdy Doody Time!
4. They melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
5. Wonder Bread
6. Cassius Clay
7. when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent
8. Maynard G. Krebbs
9. Why? Because we like you.
10. A little dab'll do ya.
11. over 30
12. who wrote the book of love
13. Absolutely nothin'
14. the American way
15. Joe Namath
16. "cause I eats me spinach"
17. Mary Martin
18. is a failure to communicate
19. Richard Nixon
20. Big John, Big Bad John
21. On Blueberry Hill
22. Jimmy Durante - Wherever you are.
23. Good night, Chet.
24. pants on fire
25. Smile you're on Candid Camera
26. he is us


24-26 correct - You're probably 50+ years old

20-23 correct - Most likely in your 40's

15-19 correct - Are we in our 30's?

10-14 correct - Must be in your 20's!!

1- 9 correct - Teenager

Four Things Survey

Four Jobs I've Had
1. Poetry/101 teacher
2. the only writer at a weekly newspaper
3. radio station intern--I wrote the news bites
4. poetry journal editor

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
1. A Walk in the Clouds
2. A League of Their Own
3. The Long Walk Home
4. The Fellowship of the Ring

Four Places I've Lived
1. Mauney Hall
2. Spangler Hall
3. Myers Hall
4. Linville

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
1. Designing Women
2. Xena: Warrior Princess
3. Touched by an Angel

Four Places I've Been on Vacation
1. Costa Rica (to study abroad)
2. Italy
3. Paris
4. Rhine River (backpacking through Europe anyone?)

Four Blogs You Visit Daily
1. frogblog
2. Postcards of Grief
3. How to Be Lovely
4. Compostcompote
5. One Good Thing (who can pick just four?)

Four of Your Favorite Foods
1. Wendy's chicken fingers
2. tortellini in petso sauce
3. spaghetti
4. French toast

Four Places You'd Rather Be
1. in bed
2. at my grandmother's house
3. Italy
4. An Indigo Girls concert

Four Albums You Can't Live Without
1. Retrospective, Indigo Girls
2. All That We Let In, Indigo Girls
3. Mindy Smith's self-titled album
4. Hymns from the 49th Parallel, kd lang

Four Vehicles I've Owned
1. 2000 Ford Focus
2. none
3. none
4. I drove my parents' depcrepit van for a while, does that count?

Four Books I Can Read Over and Over Again
1. Harry Potter series
2. The Giver
3. 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye
4. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

Monday, January 09, 2006


I love it. It's the best haircut I've had in a long long time. It's short, it's cute, and it's professional. I've never been quite able to manage all three. This one is perfect, though. I'm pleased. And I'd recommend my sister's friend any day of the week.


I'm going to get my hair cut today. I always have trouble deciding how to get it cut. My sister is taking me to her friend, a queen who works in town. He has really long fingernails and uses a ton of hairspray. Nonetheless, her hair looks really nice, so I'm trusting that mine will, too.

I am looking at pictures of women with short hair, trying to decide how I want it to look. I always have trouble doing this because I never know if it is the hair I like or the model.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Poem

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

One Reason I Love My Sister

The incredibly ignorant and cruel Phelps gang is going to be protesting the miners' funerals. Since the funerals are going to be fairly close to where my sister is, she is helping to organize and planning to participate in a counter protest. She rocks my world. She's one of the most giving, selfless, openminded, and caring people I know. I love her tremendously. They won't make it to all of the funerals by any means, but they should make it to some at least.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I finished this book several days ago, but I failed to blog about it. It is an absolutely awesome book. I found it just as magical this time as I have every time I have read it. It is one I will be reading to my children when they are about 7 or 8. I haven't continued on with the series just yet because I needed a break, so I'm reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde right now. I recommend it. It's hysterical and smart. When I finish it, I will write more about it.

Mini Survey

via the frogblog, which everyone should read

Running--I have missed it, and it is a healthy thing to do.

Short hair--I'm getting it cut tomorrow.

Bras that actually fit--My sister helped me find some. I wear 34B. I think this is the first time I've ever had padded bras that fit.

Beat poets--I don't care how old they are.

Mornings--I have learned to like them more than I used to. I find them peaceful.

Community Service--I want to do more of it, starting with working at the homeless shelter at least once a month, more if there are openings.

Art Museum--I don't go often enough.

Writing prose--I hope I can wrap my mind around that one. I signed up for a fiction class both because I was interested and I want to have some idea of how one is conducted in case I ever get to teach one.


Using the credit card. At all.

Neglecting the car--Audrey needs an oil change as soon as I can scrape together 16 or 18 dollars.

Missing my sister's stuff--I want to see everything her senior year.

Apologizing when I should not be apologizing--I tend to do this a lot. I'm going to try to stop doing it.


I've been going to my parents' church, the church I grew up in, this month since I am home. It is a Methodist church. At heart, I really am a Methodist. I love the style of the service. There is just enough liturgy but not so much that a newcomer would be confused by it. I love the pastor who is currently there, and I love the emphasis on preaching. I will not rejoin the Methodist church, though, at least not at this time.

I refuse to go to a church that does not fully welcome gays. I will not be closeted in church. I'm not closeted to God, why should I be closeted to her/his followers? I was able to announce my engagement to my church (the United Church of Christ) last spring, and people were genuinely happy and rejoiced with us. That was very meaningful and important to me. A church family is a family of choice. I choose to be open and honest about who I am there.

There is a Methodist organization called Affirmation that works on the inclusion of gays in the church. I hope they can help the denomination get some sense. I hope that someday it is not an issue whether someone is gay or straight in a church.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fuzzy Emily Update

The fuzzy member of the Emily clan is doing quite well. She was even brave enough to come watch my family play dominos tonight. I'm quite proud of her. She's a brave girl.

Cinderella Man

My rating: ****

The acting in Cinderella Man is stellar. Russell Crow and Rene Zellwegger lead a superb cast that few movies can compete with. The movie itself is based on the life of a boxer during the Depression. I hate boxing. I love history, though, and that was enough to allow me to enjoy the movie. The boxing part really was the least interesting to me. Watching Crow and Zellwegger work through their poverty as a family is what kept me interested. They succeeded, and the movie was an all around heartwarming underdog story. I recommend it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


via the frogblog, which I encourage everyone to read

20 years ago I was: [5]
* in kindergarten
* not talking in school
* making beautiful fingerpaint mush
* happy go lucky

15 years ago I was: [10]
* in fifth grade, one of the hardest years of my life
* feeling really enormous and geeky
* reading constantly
* playing solitaire in the basement as a way to get alone time

10 years ago I was: [15]
* a sophomore in high school
* had a big crush on a classmate and was mourning her up-coming graduation
* running constantly
* studying for exams

5 years ago I was: [20]
* a junior in college
* just switching roommates
* happily finishing up my Spanish major
* trying to find an English internship

1 year ago I was: [24]
* ring shopping
* gearing up for my uncle's heart surgery
* getting ready to study under a visiting poet
* making arrangements to come home for my birthday
* really nervous about my thesis

Yesterday I:
* played dominos
* watched Xena
* went out for iced tea with my mother
* got new glasses

5 Snacks I love:
* salt and vinegar potato chips
* cheese puffs
* chips and dip
* Doritos
* peanutbutter Oreos

5 Songs I Know all the Words to:
* All That We Let In, Indigo Girls
* Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls
* Small Town, John Mellancamp
* Imagine, John Lennon
* Devotion, Indigo Girls

5 things I would Do with A Million Dollars:
* Pay off the credit card
* Take all of my relatives on a cruise
* Buy a house in Italy
* Pay off my sister's college
* Give some money to my cousin with the new baby

5 places I would run away to:
* Venice
* Cinque Terre
* My grandmother's house
* My college town
* My mother's best friend's house

5 favorite movies:
* Fried Green Tomatoes
* Steel Magnolias
* Fingersmith
* A Walk in the Clouds
* Lord of the Rings trilogy

5 bad habits:
* isolating myself
* staying up too late
* procrastination
* worry
* general laziness

5 biggest joys:
* my cat
* my family
* my friends
* netflix
* traveling

5 Fictional Characters I would date:
* Isabel in Fools Rush In
* Kim in Better Than Chocolate
* Xena or Gabrielle
* Geraldine in the Vicar of Dibley
* Florence in Tipping the Velvet

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Near Sighted

I got new glasses today as part of my Christmas present from my parents. I have needed them for a couple of years. I'd been wearing my old ones since college and could no longer see the chalkboard from the front of the room. Not a good thing when you're trying to teach. I have new ones now, though. They don't look as dykey as my old ones, but they're pretty darn snazzy.

Someone on the feminist board I post on told me that the way to get through a breakup is to take life hour by hour. I have found this advice to be very helpful. I have been keeping (extremely) busy and have just dealt with each moment as it comes. I had a really hard day all day yesterday. Today I am feeling a little more optimistic about life. At least right now. I try not to look too far into the future because that is depressing. At the moment, the near sighted approach to life has been easier. It hasn't been an easy journey, but I am surviving right now.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Nitney Lion: lion who pops out from behind trees and trash cans and offers passersby its latest knitted treasure (for example, hey you, you need a hat. This one has a great little bobble).

--my sister

Family Stone

I saw this movie on New Year's Eve. What I liked most about it was that it didn't follow the typical romantic comedy format. The premise of the movie is a man bringing home his girlfriend to meet his family at Christmas. The family hates her, and the woman has a hard time. Pretty straightforward. The movie took an interesting turn when it revealed that the mother was dying and her son wanted to propose to his girlfriend in the hope that it would somehow heal his mother. It is obvious from the beginning of the movie that he can't stand his girlfriend, though, and she calls her sister to come and help her cope with Christmas there.

The family is made up of a college-age sister who is really snide and mean, a pregnant older sister with a daughter who is maybe eight, a deaf gay brother and his partner, and a brother who smokes pot (a really bad explanation but I can't think of a better one). The family is extremely liberal, which is a nice change from many movies of this genre.

Christmas is a disaster, and people start switching partners. The pot brother ends up with his brother's girlfriend, and the boyfriend ends up with his girlfriend's sister. The chaos surrounding all of this is truly hysterical.

So anyway, that's the plot. The part of the movie that I found completely out of place and intolerable was a series of homophobic comments made by the girlfriend during Christmas Eve dinner. The family was obviously offended, and the gay brother and his partner were hurt. The family still put up with her, though. They didn't strike me as the sort of family that would have.

The end of the movie, which takes place the following Christmas, is truly touching in a very understated way. I ended up liking it quite a lot.

My rating: * * * *

Monday, January 02, 2006

Because It Keeps Coming Up

Twice today I have discussed issues of immigration with different family members. Immigration is one of the most important issues to me. I have taught students who first arrived in this country as illegal immigrants. Their families have taken hard jobs for very little money, less than the minimum wage even. The students have grown up picking crops in fields. They work hard and are constantly put down by ignorant white people. It makes me angry.

I want to highlight one issue and organization in this post. When immigrants from Mexico first cross the border into the United States, they immediately encounter a desert, where many of them die without ever being identified or given proper burial. Hundreds die each year. It makes me ill thinking about it. These people are coming here to earn money to take better care of their families. These "family values" politicians and organizations are usually against helping illegal immigrants. Imagine that.

So anyway, they cross the desert, and many of them die. It is illegal to drive them across the desert, punishable by five years in prison. That option for caring for people is out then. However, there is an organization that has found a way to help. No More Deaths is an organization run out of a Presbyterian Church that sets up tents in the desert to offer immigrants food, water, medical attention, and temporary shelter so that they can continue on their journey in good health. If I had a million dollars, I would give it to this organization. They are good people. If you have any plans to tithe to an organization this year, I recommend this one.
These Miners are trapped near where my sister goes to school. Pray for them and their families. It is a terrifying situation.

New Year's Poem

In Memoriam by Tennyson is one of the most moving works I have ever read. I first read it shortly after a friend of mine was killed in a car accident my senior year of high school. The work is a series of poems that Tennyson wrote in the years following the death of his best friend. This work is the most honest expression of grief that I have ever read. Here is a piece written on New Year's Day:

From In Memoriam
by Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


for Rennick who is also mourning

Hand me Downs
by Amy Ray from Indigo Girls album Nomads Indians Saints

I've taken so many down, I've helped them all to dismount.
I've followed so many down, I take their hand me downs.
All with hope, all with hope that
Emptiness brings fullness and
Loss of love brings wholeness to us all.
Everything that I believe crawls from underneath the streets.
Everything I truly love comes from somewhere high above.
Everything that I believe is wrong with you is wrong with me.
Everything I truly love I love in you and I love in me.
So give me hope, give me hope that
Emptiness brings fullness and
Loss of love brings wholeness to us all.
Swear you can't swim the river,
I saw you running to jump in.
I swore I would never be your sinner,
Until I held your sin.
Now you ask me why I'm here.
The same as you, I'm scared - it's fear.
I've become the beggar now, you've become the saint somehow.
Twist the words and place the blame. Tell me now aren't we the same?
Tripping in our yellow feet, checking underneath our sheets,
For some hope, give me hope that
Emptiness brings fullness and
Loss of love brings wholeness to us all.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Antidepressants Actually Work

Gee whiz, whooda thunk. They sure work for me.

New Year's Resolutions

These are a work in progress.

1. Spend more time with friends
2. Tithe
3. Exercise
4. Lose 15 pounds
5. Get a college-level creative writing teaching job with benefits
6. Join the singles group at church
7. Read at least one prose book each month in addition to all my poetry
8. Grade my student's papers within one class period
9. Pay off at least half of my credit card
10. Call or email at least one out of town friend per week
11. Set aside an hour or two each week to clean my apartment
12. Keep a regular writing schedule
13. Go to the art museum more often
14. Smell the lilacs as much as possible
15. Get a houseplant

Book of Daniel

AFA and The Book of Daniel

This article is enough to make me want to watch The Book of Daniel. Of course, it is the kind of show I would have watched anyway. Personally, I am quite happy that the American Family Association has published a list of the show's sponsors. I will be sure to support them when I need products.

I could go on a tirade about why I hate the AFA, but I will not. I will only say that they get all of their research from a person who was kicked out of the American Psychological Association because his research was often intentionally wrong. He is a man who has built his life on spreading anti-gay propaganda. I often wonder about people who are so vehemently anti-gay. They must have something to hide in themselves. Either that or they are so insecure that they need to build their life around prejudice and hatred of those who are different. Either way, they are incredibly ignorant and spread more bullshit than most farmers.