Friday, June 29, 2007

A Drawing from Last Year: Bone & Meat Have Another Miserable Conversation

White, Three-Prong Plug Seeks Friendly, Easygoing Outlet Who Enjoys Staying In

A mystery: After finally installing my AC in the window yesterday, I discovered that the plug inexplicably fails to reach the outlet, despite the fact that it must have last year, given that I used the same machine, same window, & the same surge protector then. If I used an extension cord, it is nowhere to be found, and why would I have chucked such a thing? I wouldn't have.

In other news: monstrous headache leftover from last night. Regret. There's also a white streak (toothpaste?) down the front of my black shirt, which I only discovered right after getting out of my car at work. Lovely.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Papaya Dog Is Becoming A Nasty Habit

Pulled into the city today & immediately headed for Papaya Dog. Mustard, kraut, hold the ketchup (a grave mistake I made last time and exacerbated by asking for relish. Relish! What was I thinking? J looked on, shaking his head). Then raced down to Chelsea & visited numerous galleries, taking cryptic & illegible notes as usual and snapping flashless pictures for memory-retention purposes. Then visited Printed Matter and, happily, spied Jen Bervin's Nets among their piles. (For those who don't know, Bervin "wrote" a whole book of found poems by literally lifting her text out of Shakespeare's sonnets, hence the title, i.e., SONNETS - SON = NETS.) Took pictures of auto parts store until camera battery died on me. Went to street fair. On train ride home, read, among others, John Lanchester's article in the most recent New Yorker on Princess Di. Laughed out loud to the following bit, causing young Cuban father and toddler son to stare at me across our double-seater: "Diana said that the sexual problems [with Charles] were 'geographical'..." Ahem.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bad News to No One Else But Me

My whole adult life I went around telling people (doctors, partners, friends, family, the DMV) that I'm 5 foot 8, which I generously rounded up from what I believed was my actual height, 5 foot 7 and 3/4. But lo, I have been lying! The nurse measured me on Monday and said, indifferent, naturally, to the unfortunate news, "You're 5 foot 6 and 1/2."

"But, but, but... I thought I was... tall," I said softly.

"I break bad news to people all the time," she said, snapping her gum and pointing me down the hall.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Heart is Prepared Somehow

Would like to crawl under great low clouds, or the sinks in the women's bathroom, and sleep for days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tchambuli Society

An excerpt from Men and Women, 1975, Time-Life Books, about the New Guinean Tchambuli culture, observed by Margaret Mead in the 1930s. It reminds one strongly of the gender reversal passage in Maxine Hong Kingston's Chinamen, in which young men were forced into foot-binding practices, constrictive clothing, and then married off as reproductive chattel:

"The most conspicuous feature of Tchambouli society was the division of labor. Fishing and mosquito-net weaving were exclusively the work of women, who went unadorned, shaved their heads and were much given to loud and raucous humor as they hauled their nets by the lake. While men carried their wives' wares to market and often did the actual buying and selling, they took little part otherwise in providing for the community. The work of the men, who paid considerable attention to their dress and to their elaborate hairdos, was the creation of art: almost all of them were trained as musicians, dancers and wood carvers.

"Polygamy was permitted but rare. Ostensibly, a man chose his own bride, paying a bride-price to her family, but in practice, courtship meant, for a man, a process of being chosen by a woman. In the early stages of child rearing, women regarded men as interfering nuisances. Boys and girls were treated alike until they were six or seven, when the women began including the girls in their work activities. ... Generally ignored in the jealousies and petty conflicts that seemed to set the tone for adult men, the boys grew up devious, gossipy, passive, dependent on the opinions of others for their self-esteem, and, in many cases, neurotic."

Reading in Princeton

I will be reading sassy poems and the like next Wednesday in what is arguably the nicest public library in the country. Do come if you can.

Two poets read for 20 minutes each followed by an open mic session in this monthly series coordinated by poet, writer and educator Lois Marie Harrod and cosponsored by the library and the U.S. 1 Poets' Cooperative

Debora Kuan and Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Kuan holds degrees from Princeton University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded a Graduate Merit Fellowship. Her poetry and fiction have appeared American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Opium magazine, The Iowa Review, and The L magazine. She is the recipient of a Bread Loaf fellowship and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Beaumont's latest book is Curious Conduct. Her first book, Placebo Effects, was selected by William Matthews as a winner in the National Poetry Series. She is co-editor, with Claudia Carlson, of the anthology The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales. Her poems have been published in numerous publications, including Boston Review, DoubleTake, Harper's, The Nation, The Norton Introduction to Literature and Verse. Her poem Afraid So was made into a short film by award-winning filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, which has been shown at two dozen international film festivals. She has taught at Rutgers University, the Frost Place in Franconia, NH, the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and recently joined the faculty of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program in Maine.

Wednesday June 27, 7:30 p.m., Princeton Public Library, Community Room

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Four Women Are Sentenced in Attack on Man in Village"

Patently hilarious, from today's New York Times. I love the aside about sound engineering:

During the trial, Mr. Buckle, 29, testified that he was sitting on a fire hydrant on Sixth Avenue at West Third Street about 2 a.m. on Aug. 18, promoting DVDs of his low-budget independent film when the women walked by.

He testified that he said "Hi" to one of the women--he couldn't remember which one--because she was "slightly pretty," and that the group responded by calling his sneakers cheap and saying he would never make it as a filmmaker. He admitted that he called one woman an elephant and told another that she looked like a man, but said that he never attacked any of them physically.

The women said he began the confrontation by calling out, "Let me get some of that!" and then boasting that he could have sex with them and make them straight.

Mr. Buckle, whose film credits are mostly for sound engineering, did not attend yesterday's hearing...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wintry Cold in June

Conversation I had today:

Me: Is that The English Patient? Where'd you get that?

Eccentric, Brilliant Friend: Downstairs, I think. No, wait, I got it from the woman who [] left his wife for. Yeah, that's right. Why?

Me: I just can't see you reading that book.

EBF: Oh. What is it about? Because I don't like reading books about the human condition. Or feelings.

Me: (pointing to book) This book is all about epic feeling! Are you kidding? Michael Ondaatje? He's a High Romantic.

EBF: Oh. I guess I shouldn't read it.

Me: No, stick to reading your physical science stuff. Inanimate stuff. Like soil.

EBF: Soil is a reliable subject!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two Words

Herculean. Effort.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Used & discarded.

Indoor Outdoor

Swam indoors on Saturday and outdoors on Sunday. Nothing beats poolside people-watching: Russian grandmothers decked out in make-up and gold jewelry, the men's soccer team, fraught parent-child interactions. I watched L purchase and eat a porkroll from the concession stand, which is a far and, needless to say, astonishing, cry from her lacto-vegetarian days. We lay under a tent and reminisced about going to the swim club when we were twelve. Then tried to come up with witty captions for the New Yorker cartoon; failed miserably for about half an hour. The women's changing room is an open concrete box with a dark row of toilet stalls and a few clustered, stainless-steel showerheads. I wandered around looking at the lockers and benches and women's feet behind plastic shower curtains. Watched a woman in a red bikini, who'd been sunbathing for hours, check out her tanlines in the mirror. She was as dry as a matchstick. Felt briney inside and afraid, the way there was no light anywhere, except where there was no ceiling and the sun held dominion. On Saturday, watched "Jesus Camp" and was in a state of rapt terror, goose-bumped and more, the entire duration. Couldn't sleep Sunday night. Nightmares. Went to bed with a great cavernous longing for the ungraspable past.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

We Are But Desiring-MACHINES

Dreamt of news from wells. Lengthy, but garbled message. Mild happiness.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Jersey humidity in full summer force. Escaped to polar-temperatured bookstore & read Deleuze & Guattari's Anti-Oedipus for a while, shivering in my shorts the whole time. Looked for friend's mini-review in Art in America, but didn't see it. Bought giant MW unabridged dictionary & lugged it home in a bag. Nothing is sexier than a dictionary so humungous it can only be carried with the use of both arms. And only $14.98! Terribly exciting. Got home & realized the fly on my shorts was down the entire time. Huh. Earlier today conducted a brief phone interview on cellphone with woman on the left coast. Had just woken from a nap and was in a completely groggy, half-conscious state. Probably slurred my questions. The fable's moral? Copious amts of time spent alone dangerous for those such as the author prone to compulsive brooding. What else have I learned about myself? Despite hard evidence that summer is bearing down hard and will continue in this brutish manner for the coming months, I have yet to haul my air-conditioner out of its dark corner of the closet. Thus, I am also, inarguably and categorically, lazy. What I have learned from Deleuze & Guattari: "Depression & Oedipus are agencies of the State, agencies of paranoia, agencies of power. Neurosis is the result of power on individuals." Will continue to chew this one over, while I read about feminist art.

I Am So Sick of American Apparel

Everytime I see one of their ads, it's more offensive than the last time. Maybe I could be okay with this--maybe--if there were some gender parity, but there is none. The female models in American Apparel are prone or contorted on white-sheeted beds, braless, their legs spread or lifted, their arms between them, and wearing clothes no woman with a lick of body-consciousness would possibly buy (gold lame jumpsuits, tank thongs, shiny stirrup tights). And the latest photos on American Apparel online depict a young woman pressing her breasts against a glass table and shot from beneath.

The men? They wear ethically made T-shirts. Nothing to see here.

Ethical labor practice should not, and does not, absolve a company, or its lecher CEO Dov Charney, of sexual harassment and blatant exploitation of women. Are our standards so low as consumers that as long as we're sure that seven-year-old children in Indonesia aren't chained to factory tables making the clothes, we'll buy them?

Not only does Charney exploit images of women, but he has a reputation for jerking off while reporters interview him, and he shamelessly refers to women employees as "sluts" and worse.

Here's a lovely little interview with him in a deposition tape. Fink is the attorney for a woman employee who brought charges against Charney for sexual harassment:

Charney: During the period when she worked, did I use the word c***?
Fink: In the workplace?
Charney: Absolutely, as she did.
Fink: I didn’t ask you if she did.
Charney: I’m telling you a little more. I’m volunteering a little more ha ha [sticks out tongue].

And frankly, their clothes are boring. They're not even well-made. I own a red turtleneck from them that I bought years ago, and it made me itch like crazy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Have A Nice Time Ahead

One of the computer technicians told me the above after he'd fixed some software glitch on my PC. I like the notion of going forward, having a nice time. Or, from here on out, I hope all your time is nice. But it could also be construed, if one wants to be more faithful to the event that provoked the well-wishing, as, Just around the corner, there's a good time waiting for you and your PC.

Oh yes. There is.

The other day I got an email from someone on Myspace saying, "Your (sic) so young-looking! It must indicate joyful living." Little does he know of my decades of hard-drinking, chain-smoking, skirt-chasing, insomnia, heartbreak, and general pissiness at the world.

Last night I lay in bed, heart pounding for no good reason, and called up a friend in a state of mild alarm. "Are you having a panic attack?" he asked. "No," I said. "I just can't breathe." He said, "I have Xanax." "Oh," I said. I am anti-medication most of the time, like a Christian scientist. It is a moral failing, I admit. "Have you ever taken Xanax?" he asked. "No," I said. "Well, I can bring it over if you like." "Really?" "Yes," he said. "There is no reason to suffer needlessly." (What? There isn't? He's obviously never read my personals ad.)

In any case, here, a new definition: A real friend is a person who comes over in the dead of night to bring you prescription pills.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Good Hound

Found this in an old email of mine: A woman's upbringing is mostly cautionary.

Someone else's email: And then and then and THEN...!

I always go in the wrong direction on the mile-long track behind my house. Everyone else is coming at me: joggers, rollerbladers, mothers with strollers. Today I turned around and went the right way.

8 o'clock. Avoiding work. A stack of notes to go through and form intelligent questions out of. In an hour, must swim. Like a good hound.

There is a coolness on the top of my head, but from what.

A Bubble Is a Balloon & Moment Both

Blustery yesterday. Got home & changed & ran out to the yard when I saw E with her daughter, M. E is 8 months (?) pregnant. Ready to burst any day now. Another girl. They are building a hexagonal picnic table in the backyard, benches attached, but it keeps raining, halting progress. I love unnecessarily complicated forms & projects like that. E sat on the bench. M played in the dirt. She showed her mother the dirt on her hands. Then she ate it. I found her bottle of soap water and made giant bubbles for her with another unnecessarily complicated thing: a battery-operated bubblemaker. The wind was a little too rough and the bubbles too unwieldy. Some floated toward M and she lept at them and broke them. Others never quite formed. Glee on her face anyway. E told me that my photo is up at the library for the reading. I haven't seen it yet. Later her husband shouted down from the attic window, but M couldn't see him. "Where's Daddy?" E and I asked her. She turned around and around, searching. I pointed upwards and she looked, but it was too high above her.

Went back in. For some inexplicable reason, dread crept over me. And I was cold. Tried to watch the French black comedy "Delicatessen." There are bubbles in that too. And a great scene of a flooded bathroom and a couple near-drowning it--two or three inches from ceiling. Too sad to concentrate. Didn't really even register what was happening in the movie. Sadistic butcher bent on killing people: the gist. Later, in bed, underlined this line from Kafka: "How the two of us, Ottla and I, explode in rage against every kind of human relationship." Went to sleep at 10. Returned no phone calls.

more from Kafka's diaries

1 July. Too tired.

2 July. To have to bear and to be the cause of such suffering!

23 July. The tribunal in the hotel. Trip in the cab. F's face. She parted her hair with her hand, wiped her noise, yawned. Suddenly she gathered herself together and said very studied, hostile things she had long been saving up.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

M. Ward Saved My Life

"He only sings when he's sad, but he's sad all the time, so he sings the whole night through."

The other one is thunderous. He shakes the entire house, and I am powerless to stop it. I live inside, a loose tooth, ready to fall out.

How close, for example, are his lead footsteps. Or his slams of the door--gunshots going off in my lungs.

He isn't angry. He is just awake.