Saturday, June 30, 2012

20things : Dream Cake

1. In my dream there was cake. 

2. Dream cake is better because you can eat as much as you want and not get sick or fat.

3. I should mention it was in a ballroom or banquet hall with small clothed tables, each set with a tiered cake.

4. The cakes like small castles constellating the room. I walked carefully, afraid I was going to tilt into one of them and knock it over.

5. Along a long wall, in front of a bay window, was the biggest cake. It looked, perhaps, like a wedding cake to feed overflowing guest list.

6. It was taller than me. No way could I touch that top tier.

7. The icing was sort of a champagne color, and there were sugar bows (the color of hammered brass) rivering up and down. 

8. I didn't say it was pretty, just impressive.

9. The piping was also impressive.

10. And then a waiter came, magician-like and tugged the corner of the cake (I was beginning to see the illusion)...

11. ... and whipped it off like a blanket, to unveil a coffin.

12. The bottom tier of this cake was in fact a coffin.

13. I read the script on the side. My mother's coffin. 

14. I turned to my mother and instead of asking why have you picked out your coffin already or why have you picked out such an ugly coffin I observed your name is spelled wrong. They left out half the letters in your name. She has a long first name.

15. She kept her usual stubborn, impassive face on. 

16. I was like, Mom, you gotta send it back.

17. She did not puff her lower lip out, but if she were a child, she would have.

18. She just said it doesn't matter what it's spelled like and huffed off.

19. I turned away from her. What else could I say? After all, this had happened so many times before.

20. I wish I could state that then I went and sampled the other, more cake-like cakes. After all, dream cake is so much better.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ink Me Up (pt 1 of a series on tattoos)

Awhile ago, Andrea Scarpino started this facebook thread about the importance of tattoos. Her status update was Andrea Scarpino "is interested in knowing why you got a tattoo --what does your tattoo mean to you?" Knowing the woman who asked it, this is not an idle question. Andrea and I went to grad school together. Her main focus was poetry, but she also pursued creative nonfiction, women's studies, disability studies... you know, in her free time. So I wrote a lengthy --I had worried at the time, *too* lengthy --and personal reply. Andrea and I haven't been in touch too much since grad school and I thought simultaneously a) this is too forward, to take up so much room on her thread and b) maybe this is a way we can reconnect. I held my breath for a few days until she wrote back... and it was very encouraging. She said some kind things about my writing that sort of surprised me (it always surprises me when people say kind things -- it's not false modesty; I'm horribly awkward at receiving compliments) and motivated me to write more on the subject on my own blog.

To say I've always wanted a tattoo would be exaggerating, but I've always thought that well-done tattoos are beautiful manifestations of art. Since I was in my late teens I coveted other people's ink. I waited to get my own, though, for quite some years after that. And it was good that I waited. The images and symbols that I craved during my adolescence were not personal to me. It was sort of like looking at a designer dress on a mannequin and admiring the color, the line, the beading...and still thinking it would look that way on me.

I got my first tattoo when I was 30 or perhaps 31... it was in late autumn, close to my birthday when I went for it. That year (2005) I had graduated from OSU with an MFA in poetry, and moved back to Pittsburgh about a month after graduating. I don't think I allowed myself to process the fact that I felt suddenly dislocated from my writing / academic / disability community... I had no idea what I was feeling or what the right way to live my life was. What I mean is, I sort of put Columbus in a box, taped the lid down, and pushed it to the way back of the closet. I stopped using my white cane, even though it meant more running into people, falling, nearly getting hit by cars, walking into plate glass, etc. I was a new me trying to stick myself back into a life that felt someone reverted-to-pre-Columbus. Many of my friends were moving on too, but then were moving on to PhD programs or teaching jobs. They had mentors that were guiding them through the process, mentors who acted as stepping stones until they got to the next safe place to alight. 

My mentor, David, had MS. Throughout my time in grad school, I could see that he was slowly getting more symptomatic. But he was still good. There. Believed in me. Pushed me. He appeared, and I mean this in a relative sense, *well*. In retrospect, I think how he must have worked so hard to do this. 

About a month after I left Columbus, I heard that he'd gotten leukemia. I sent him a drawing, a mandala for health... After working so long and hard on words together, I didn't have the right words for him. Everything I wanted to say either felt contrite or was inappropriately complex.

News arrived sporadically over mass emails. He'd been admitted the cancer hospital and was being treated. He was going to be released because he'd achieved remission. And then, double-shock, right after his release... he passed away. The obituary said it was from complications of MS. I went back for the funeral and just... had absolutely no idea what to say, once again. The celebration of his life was held in a packed theatre. Shame on me: I allowed myself to be lost in the crowd. I don't think I even approached his widow. What the hell could I say? I'm not a great talker in the first place. I didn't know his family or anything. Everyone, everyone loved him, and rightfully so. He'd had a whole life outside of school... wife, children, grandchildren, a billion other students and ex-students and colleagues and... yeah. 

When MFAs were getting ready to graduate, many of us made our mentors going-away presents for all their help. I think Carrie knitted a scarf. I don't know if this was tradition or what the whole present thing. But I'd wanted to do something for David. As June approached, I hit on the idea. I sort of "do art" as a hobby. Mixed media, collage, altered books. Cutting and pasting I jokingly call it. I was going to make David a book. And I did. I took snips of his poems and illustrated? illuminated? them. When I gave it to him it was very moving. I didn't want to say goodbye. I think I'd already defended and packed up my office and... practically out the door. This felt like the last thing. I'll never forget how he paged through it so slowly and looked up and me with his smile. I'll always remember the way he smiled... and he said "this is us." 

So fast-forward back to November-December. The tattoo I got was something from one of the collages in the book, and a snip of poetry to go with it. The picture is of two melded faces, a flower amidst brambles... one of the buds on the flower is not a flower but a dragon's head. The writing below it says "lines we work to know by heart / and measure out the distance of a life." 

Even after all my other work, this is still a tattoo people comment on often. They need to get up close to me and read the text. Despite my personal space issues (I need a lot of it) I let them. Many times, because of the two faces melded together (it sort of looks like a mask, I guess) and the bit about "lines we work to know by heart" they ask if I'm in the theatre. I laugh and say no. Seriously, I would make the worst actor. Sometimes I will tell the full story. Most often I just say, "It's for a friend who died."

This is a shitty, distorted picture taken on a cell phone using my non-dominant hand. It's probably a crime against art that I didn't wait for someone to take a better pic before I blogged this... but I figured if you read all the way to the end, you would want to have an idea of what it looked like.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

20things : Boxed

1. I made this box out of words.
2. I built it up, each layer thin as tissue. 
3. None of the angles are right.
4. If I set it on the porch in the rain, the walls will collapse. 
5. There is no box.
6. There is only me, and I am tender all over.
7. A strong wind will sway me back and forth.
8. Or there is a box, but it was formed before I was born.
9. If you open the box, you may see a lake on fire. 
10. Will the pain cease to exist if I can find a way not to believe in it?
11. Forget the fucking box already.
12. I played decompensate.
13. It grew from sate.
14. How ridiculous is that?
15.. Sleep is for the sated.
16. Does pain occur at the site of injury, or when the nerves fire and tell the brain, hurt now?
17. It makes complete sense that desiring nothing is the ultimate state of perfection for a Buddhist.
18. Having been raised Catholic I was taught my reward would be in the next life.
19. But nirvana strips you of need.
20. To desire nothing. I could sleep then.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And then this happened.

Sometimes these incidents seem unbloggable. I wonder why I do this. The documentation of them. They are humiliating. Also, I think, people have worse problems, and don't bitch about them. I was raised like that. To suck it up. I'm sharing this because I feel like the more disability narratives that are out there, the faster they will spin into a thread, weave into a net. The net will connect us, and only good things can happen from that.

I might be sounding loopy right now. That's because after this happened I was so shattered that I just came home, cried for two hours and lay in bed thinking for another hour or so. I held out as long as I could. Then I drugged myself. Don't worry: prescription. Everything above board here.

My energy has been off for a few days now. It had been better, until about two weeks after getting back from Vegas. I felt good. I dyed my hair this crazy magenta. I love it. I think to myself, now people have a choice what to stare at. The cane or the hair. I can pretend it's the hair. 

I know... I stick out for many reasons. I'm an embodied contradiction. I always have been. I like to think there's beauty, somewhere, in being so... what is the word.. confounding? I've made many friends, and they seem to support me in all my ... originality. I am happy that there are people I can share my true self with. My sense of community grows by the day, and I'm grateful. Especially since exiting my last job. I can't believe I've only been not-teaching for six months. It feels like a year. And I also can't believe I'm stepping back into the classroom in about two weeks. Yipes. Whew, tangent.

Anyway, my energy was better. Then yesterday, it sort of ... tanked. I get impatient. I'm trying to rebuild six years lost (not entirely, but mostly lost) of poetry community, of academic community where I will be respected and my gifts will be wanted. But I get impatient. I get impatient and then I let my anger get to me. 

Anger, from me, was not an acceptable emotion to have, growing up. You got hit for it. Notice how I switched into the second person there? Yeah, it's still sensitive. You know that scenario, where the teenager stomps up the stairs and slams her door screaming something like, "I hate you," because her parents wouldn't let her borrow the car. That didn't happen in my house. For many reasons. Also because why would I ever borrow a car? Ha, bad bad humor.

I'm in a bad humor right now. I'm trying to tell this story, but it's not coming out right. I have mentioned that in my neighborhood, people don't just do the stare-and-look-away thing, or the move-to-the-other-half-of-the-sidewalk thing. They get all up in your business. See there again, I switched to the second person. 

I do not see many people with visible disabilities in my neighborhood. I don't know where they are. Inside? I would say it is a working class neighborhood. At least the people who aren't on welfare are working. There's a lot of people struggling with addiction as well.

I once came very close to applying for SSDI (basically welfare). Something or someone came to my rescue and I did not. I remember though, how that felt. I also once almost lived in a group home because I could not pull my shit together. I bet you didn't know that. 

So, in my neighborhood, people tend to do things like micromanage my bus embarkation/ disembarking. And my street crossings. It happens so frequently now that I'm really starting to weary of it. It feels like harassment. I want to carry a thought bubble above my head that says SAVE YOUR HELP. In the other neighborhoods I visit, I do not have this problem. As much. 

After a morning full of these incidents sprinkled throughout, I am (I think) headed home for a break and then out to do another event tonight. I get off the bus at my intersection. A man comes up from behind me and says, "You crossin?" I ignore him. 

I ignore him because I am so so SO sick of people asking me questions about what bus I'm waiting for or whether I need their help to do X. I covered this in previous blog posts. I would say 90% of them are men, who ask this. If I need help. Do I look like I need help? 

I'm so glad oversized sunglasses (think Jackie Kennedy) are still in style. I buy bigger and darker pairs each time I lose or break them. I look like an alien, in the mirror. I feel like my face is encased in a glamourous carapace. I try to keep my mouth neutral all the time. I am practicing a certain half-smile though, for pedestrians who are not assholes who acknowledge me as an equal or are kind to me in some way. And I'm writing a poem about the practicing. 

"You crossin?" he says again. No. Yes. Thank you. No. "Yes." My voice comes out harsh, like a bark. I don't turn my head to look at him. He could have been talking to five other people at the corner, but it was me. I knew it was me. In an instant he was at my side. My light turns green. I swing the cane into the street, start to cross. "Wait!" he says, and ... here's the thing that really set me off -- he puts his arm in front of me, to block my crossing of the street. 

I have written before about how I don't like strangers touching me. I'm not a snob. I genuinely have a bad neurological reaction to it. When people touch me, especially strangers, I make this awful half-screaming-half-yelping noise. I can't help it. 

The involuntary noise happened the other day on the bus. I ran into a girl as I was disembarking --not uncommon. I said I was sorry like three times and then she PINCHED me. I made the noise then, and felt so embarrassed. Also violated, and all the panic and disordered thoughts that come after.

It is not that hard to become my friend, but you will probably have to make the first move. I hug my friends. I hug my acquaintances. I warn them first. "I'm a hugger," with the implied statement and question, "Our meeting / parting meant something special to me. Can I please hug you now?" I think it is appropriate to ask before touching, especially if I have not touched someone before. 

So, a strange man has just done a worse thing than touching. A man has actually prevented me from moving through the world. Literally, with his arm, he has prevented this. And there is not a good reason. 

In the past, there was once a good reason. When at CMU, during finals season, I was once so tired I swore I could have lain down on the sidewalk and fallen asleep. I crossing the street, headed to a final and a man snatched me by the shoulder, back onto the sidewalk, out of the way of an accelerating bus. I was glad he did that. To me, that is appropriate touching. He asked if I was okay. I said yes and thanked him profusely. I enjoyed not getting hit by the bus and completing another semester. I was not using my cane then. 

At that point I'd never been introduced to a white cane. As a consequence of mainstreaming, I was given 18 years of specialized training, at the expense of the state of Pennsylvania and at some psychological expense to me, to function solely using the vision I have. As with many situations where one is vulnerable, the psychological expense one incurs, and the intellectual gains one makes, depend greatly on the quality of the actual human contact one receives. I had good mobility instructors, and bad ones.

Now I use the cane. I use the cane to see the ground so I can employ my usable vision to, for example, look for stoplights, and their color. Vehicles, and what their turn signals, their front wheels, may be doing. 

The good thing about stoplights and vehicles at an intersection is that they are most likely where you'd expect them to be. So my shred of vision and the object I'm seeking line up. I also use my ears to listen to the characteristics of the engine noise at the intersection. These things have become pretty routine, but I cross the street with a greater amount of concentration than perhaps the average person. This is why my friends who jay-walk, and want to take me with them on their death missions, freak me out.

When a man jumps in front of you, yells something at you, touches you, and bars you from moving, he is not where you expect him to be. I did not expect him there. My vision dances like a movie shot on a handheld camera by a drunk person. That is what my vision does, much of the time. It used to give me nauseating attacks of vertigo, when I was a kid. I threw up a lot. My mom thought I was "faking." Faking what? 

He has barred my path and this has set off more than panic. I've never screamed at a person in public before, for "helping." But this is, like, totally, this is off the chain. "What the fuck? Dude! He's got a red light! He's going to stop!" I don't know how much of this is coming out in words that another person can understand. My voice sounds underwater, to me. He backs away with that hands-up-I-surrender look and says... he really says this...

"Oh man. My bad! I thought you couldn't see!"

And now I have stepped from reality into post-modern land. I have stepped from the curb and I am in the middle of the intersection, of the cultural intersection, of the liminal intersection, of the literal intersection, while he backs up onto the sidewalk. I know this traffic light won't last forever but I am just... pinned in place by the utter -----

I cannot muster the words for what I need to say. I cannot get them out of my mouth. And later, when I cry for two hours so loud I fear the neighbors can hear me, saying "oh god" over and over... it is a little bit because he has touched me, but it is mostly because I am so inarticulate at this moment. I gesture like Vanna White at the full length of my cane. "I... I sort of... " the next word was either "can" or "can't." It doesn't matter which, because the truth is, I sort of can and I sort of can't. See.

However, even if my eyes are being all "can't" instead of "can," I can fucking handle it. If he thought I couldn't see, why does this still give him the right to interfere in my travels? I can sense that truck, perpendicular, to the left of me. I can't see the light or what color it is. I'm done with him. I think I'm done with the fucking world. I charge ahead toward my destination, muttering fuckfuck fuck FUCK fuck fuck loudly and softly and loudly, so that I probably seem crack-addled myself, and I don't care. 

20things : Proofreading

1. I am trying to proofread the manuscript this morning.

2. I go through this at least once a month and still find things out of place.

3. I am working from home. I work from home now. Or coffee shops. But right now home.

4. Wrong verbs.

5. There's a thin line between revision and proofreading. I cross and recross it.

6. Somewhere in this four-story house a smoke alarm is low on batteries.

7. The poem is never done.

8. I have trouble letting things go. I get too attached.

9. Each time it chirps I can feel the sound actually reverberate in my head.

10. I wouldn't say I'm a word hoarder or anything. Perhaps verbose.

11. One cat whines for food. One cat is trying to quietly destroy something in the next room.

12. Chirp.

13. Why does it say "no section break" when I meant to write "no stanza break?" Section?

14. Mike says the offending alarm is in the attic but I went to the attic to collect some papers and you can't hear it from up there.

15. My work area, with the big monitor, is down here. The one I can most easily see from. Still ... how am I finding all these mistakes?

16. It's like each revision washes away the previous efforts at proofreading.

17. The cat who whines for food has now gained the top of the filing cabinet. In my blindest spot. He means to jump quietly but sends books and papers into the furthest corner behind my desk, where it hurts to bend and reach.

18. My hips are iffy this morning. How am I so--

19. Chirp. Meow.

20. Next page.

Monday, June 25, 2012

20things: Talking points

1. I don't think it's exaggerating to say that in January I began to emerge from a six-year fugue state called wage slavery + chronic illness.

2. I looked around for my comrades but they had scattered or fallen away.

3. In the meantime I'm trying to carry out everything I meant to do in those six years. To pick up conversations where I dropped them. [not drowning, but waning]

4. Please write me back. 

5. And considering not killing this tomato plant.

6. It's really hard to kill a tomato plant.

7. Keep in touch. Take care.

8. I used to have a thick garden. I would wander among the containers, watering, pruning, testing. It felt like immersion, like not-thinking. When was that?

9. Last summer I let two small basil plants die. Every day I made the choice to neglect them, until their stalks shrank and crawled along the porch floor. Pent anger was starting to leak out of me like when you view a house, on fire, from the street, but the fire is still furtive. Was that a flamelet creeping up the siding? Does anyone else smell smoke? Did you hear an alarm?

10. [Casually]: Did you get my email?

11. Sometimes you can't anticipate a full system crash. And sometimes you can just feel it coming... a spirit haunting the circuitry. You take steps, make preparations.

12. She made an observation about my heart chakra but I wasn't paying attention.

13. The writing is going great. {{{{take large sip of cocktail}}}} I have so much material I don't know what to do with myself. {laugh now}

14. Sometimes I fantasize: I push my hand down into the dirt, scrape away the superstructure until I find the root ball... and then just pull hard and fast until the whole thing comes up in my palm. And then throw it as hard as I can onto the concrete.

15. You're canceling the next workshop? 

16. Nothing will stop the thoughts from revving behind my eyes, between my ears. Nothing that I'm willing to mention here, anyway.

17. Did you get my friend request? I don't mean to seem needy. No, delete that. Don't send.

18. My latest bruise is dissipating in the form of an eye, an arched eyebrow. I swear I can see a hint of cheekbone. These things don't show up the same in pictures.

19. Hello. Hey. Hiya. Halloo. Howl. The speaker in this poem says what?

20. pls wrt

Monday, June 18, 2012

one vegas moment

More than once, someone has looked at me quizzically and said, "you don't seem to me like a Vegas person." That makes sense to me. I don't gamble, easily get overstimulated by crowds and loud noise, and can take-or-leave massive entertainment spectacles. Liking Vegas happened by accident. Five years ago this January, Mike and I were searching (and *searching* --he kept vetoing my ideas) for places to elope. I was getting rather cranky. I would have gone down to the courthouse and signed a document, except I wanted a good wedding story to match my good engagement story. We both did. So we ended up getting married at Valley of Fire State Park. The photo on the main page of their site is rather boring. If you are curious google-images "valley of fire" to get a better idea of the glorious nature that surrounded us. And so we spent a few days in Vegas. The place has become special to me. While I don't really take advantage of the high profile opportunities that it offers (mostly opportunities to lose lots and lots of money) I'm sort of obsessed with the interior design of the hotels.

The place we stayed this time was a delicious resort built around at least three separate water attractions. There was a wave pool, a "lazy river" pool, and a topless beach. Guess which one we didn't go to? Anyway, it's not often that I go in the water, even though I love water. I guess the last time was jet skiing on the lake near my uncle's house in Georgia. I'm rather shy about my body. It's pretty average looking, I guess, but I have all the stereotypical female insecurities: too small here, too large there, lumpy, etc. And I inherited my father's translucent skin and varicosities in my legs and ankles.

When I asked Mike if I could blog this next part, he sort of scowled and said, "you'd better make it about your other husband." So to be clear, this is about my *other husband*, not the one I married five years ago. My other husband, for reasons he has no control over, is a bit short-statured and slender. If you know him, you know why, and if you don't, he'd probably say it was none or your business (or he might just tell you... he is a gracious person-- moreso than I) He has trouble keeping weight on. While I, like many women, work to keep it off. It's not hard to feel, well, kind of big, around him. Even though I'm not "big." I would say I'm medium. But I'm bigger than my husband. (I mean, my other husband.) I know he feels the counterpart of my feelings. The man is "supposed" to be built this way and the woman built this way. Even though we are both intellectuals and know that this is socially constructed BS.... well ... we live in the world.

But here's why I bring it up. Because this was the best moment in Vegas. And I'm blogging it, even though it was a sort-of-private-in-public moment, because I have shared lots of shitty, demoralizing, sad, and achy things on this blog and I need something to balance it out.

We, my other husband and I, went into the wave pool. I don't think I'd ever been in a pool with him before. And here's the thing about a pool. You're weightless. He carried me in his arms and we whirled and spun around. I almost cry just thinking about it. I almost choke on this beauty. I wished all the other people gone, or at least to the edges away from us, just so we could dance and spin and feel completely alone. I feel like I got my fairy tale moment, you know? I'm sharing this because I want the positive energy to radiate among you, readers. And so that I can look back on this entry when (24 hours from now) I write about something sad or complicated or weird.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Apparently procrastination is on the axis of behaviors called "impulsiveness."

I have at least three blog posts rolling around inside and they're sort of all jamming up the pipeline. In the meantime, you get words from someone else.

* * *

I'm either a narcissist or naive, because I can't tell you how often (and every time) I am shocked, SHOCKED when someone else has the same specific, complex emotional response that I have.

I can handle the pain... the shame, / I've been practicing all my life. What I can't / handle is the fire that flames my gut -- / anything might touch me off. All I've swallowed / has poisoned me. Don't you know this? Do something / ... fix me. No. Fix the world.

from  "Dear God" (Jim Ferris)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last Day in Vegas

So it's 7am here and I'm not supposed to wake up until 8. This didn't work though, because I'm sunburned everywhere and the weight of the comforter on me was starting to be irritating. I'm barely awake, so ... fun blogging! This whole trip I've only used my cane in the airport. In this and other hotels, it's been all "sighted guiding," which for Mike and me means careful hand holding. I don't know why I made this decision. It sort of made itself up out of my unconscious. Certainly, I'm never going to see any of these people again.

So venturing down here to the Orchid coffee lounge by myself was like what I am now considering "the old days." Walking slowly and hesitantly. Really paying attention to sounds to figure out my distance (and closeness) to the world. You know what has a lot of ambient noise in it? A casino. Friendly Me is out this morning, especially to baristas doing the morning shift. I got a soy mocha because I only have one of those little pills that mitigates lactose intolerance left, and I want to use it with Mike at breakfast. They don't have soy in the breakfast place. But that means I had to forego a pre-breakfast mini cupcake... I gotta say these are real beauties. The supermodels of mini cupcakes, with an elegant minimalism. If the light was better I would have tried for a picture.

Things are so surreal at this time of morning. There are gamblers coming in from what looks like all night sessions. They look sort of baggy and rumpled. There are many behind-the-scenes people scurrying to make sure the "guest experience" is ongoingly even and nary a leaf of asiatic lily is out of place.

I would post you my pics but I forgot the cord that connects the phone to the computer in our room. Mike sleeps. I kiss his forehead and he murmurs something. His hair trails over two pillows. It's so long! Like butt-long. When I suggest cutting a few inches off, those last ratty few, he says cryptically that it might be "time for a change" hair-wise. One can only wonder what that means. I know that when I had my hair at its longest, which was only at about chest level, it felt like I was constantly minding a small child. Don't get caught in my backpack. Don't get snagged in the door. Now it's cut close to my head on the left and either a sleek cascade or a wavy wildness on the other side. When I pull a piece down, it hits just above my clavicle. My right-side, normal clavicle, not my left-side, crispy crispy crispy clavicle. I have the weird sunburn pattern of someone who went in the pool and was then haphazard about re-applying lotion. The ends of my hair on the long side are dry from the chlorine. Not used to having dry ends. They needs a deep conditioner or something. I was thinking I'd dye it raspberry when I got home. It wouldn't be the first time, but the first time in awhile.

[Alaina, if you are reading this, do you remember the cherry kool-aid dyeing experiment you did in high school? Your long dark tresses had that raspberry gleam. Do you mind if I write a poem about it?]

I actually got to read! books! while I was here and love the experience of sitting by the water reading. Wish I could re-create that. Part of me is like, why can't you dummy? I've managed to crawl out from under the panic and guilt long enough to have some fun. Whoa. Mind-blowing. I've read The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which Carrie sent me as a gift. It's by her friend Emily Danforth. If one had to categorize it I would say: a queer coming of age novel. It was really riveting. I had to make myself put it down, attempting to pace myself. My plan was to finish it on the flight back but too late! It's done. I intend to write Carrie with all the books this one is "better than." There are MANY highly touted volumes, and also some noir, which I've tried and failed to read on the plane --just gave up and fell asleep. After about an hour I get super-claustrophobic on plane flights. Mike will sometimes stretch his legs by walking the aisles, but my limited vision plus unlimited shyness make this plan not a good fit for me.

[When I went back to add the link from Amazon, I noticed that Miseducation is one of Amazon's Best of the Month in Young Adult selections. Rock on with your bad self Emily!]

I'm also reading Jim Daniels' book of ghazals All of the Above. Adastra put it out last year or so. Good. Soooo goooood. Like, these poems surprised and impressed me with their leaps of language and image. I think of "the Jim Daniels poem" as being fairly straight-forward, narrative, and sort of tough. I'm a little in love with these ghazals though. Of course then after getting about halfway through the book, I had to write a ghazal. So yay, one vacation poem.

And then I picked up on Kindle, Nancy Mairs' Waist High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled, which I'm also knocking out much faster than I intended. I'd wanted to read the whole thing instead of scattered essays in anthologies. I need to get something lighter for the plane though. Mike gifted me Christopher Moore's Bite Me: A Love Story at Christmastime. I adore Moore's humor, but I don't know if I can do vampires right now. Maybe I'll see what Amazon thinks I should want.

Then again, when I went back to add the link for Bite Me, I noticed that this book has "a huge shaved vampyre cat named Chet" in it. I think of Rus, my oldest at 13... soon to be 14! Tall, strong, and meaty with giant fangs. He won't let anyone stick their hand in there but me. Let's hope he doesn't go all vampire.

Uhhh, speaking of sharp things, I'm getting new ink on Friday. It will pretty much trail down my left arm the way the leaves-and-eyes trail down my right. Again, I designed this one myself and it's kind of wacky. Jason said holy fractals! when he saw it. I don't really think the fractal is super apparent.

Okay, now I'm babbling, because I haven't had enough coffee, and I don't have much more to give you right now. It was nice to get away. I'm restless to get back already. But I don't want to lose this otherworldly relaxed feeling.