November 26th

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today we went to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. 
I saw this Italian Futurist dog.
I ate a cup of vegetable bisque, half a brie panini, and some chocolate lava cake in the cafe. 
The baby fretted for a bit, and then he fell asleep in his carrier and I draped a napkin over the carrier while I ate my food.  Then he woke up and we went to look at the Anselm Kiefer exhibit.  He liked it pretty well.  A couple of the large pieces we bent over and looked at upside down, which he seemed to especially like. 

November 25th

Monday, November 25, 2013

1.  Sometimes a person may say they are doing a blog post for each day in November, but what they are really doing is a blog post for many of the days in November.

2.  The synchronicity thing:  My mom and I often reported to each other from my childhood on that we had read and heard a word at the same time.  Or wrote and heard.  We each do this separately and fairly often.  These synchronicities come in clumps for me.  Mid-November contained a clump of synchronicities.  I used to write the words down in a notebook [with brackets around them] but I have since ceased this practice.

3.  Did I ever tell you that I sometimes explain things to Ben Franklin in my head?  The other day, I was telling him what sushi was.

4.  The Indian buffet I had for lunch was ok/pretty good, but the dessert was especially good.  The baby tried some small bites of my samosa and then he got antsy and we had to go look at the statue of Ganesh while Clif finished eating.  Then we switched off, and I had some awesome rice pudding and chai.  I mean, it was sustaining

5.  "If your toothbrush is giving you vertigo, you may have bigger fish to fry," is what I thought to myself when my new toothbrush gave me vertigo.  It has, like, rubber whitening cups that threw me off balance.

6.  There's nothing wrong with taking your own life and work seriously and also finding joy in it.  Your own life and work can stand on their own four feet in front of a berry bush on an old wooden sign and delight everyone for miles. 

7.  Someone who used to sell suits for a living may enjoy putting on your coat at the end of the evening and then patting you on the shoulders.  This will be cheering, with a touch of pathos.

8.  "Life is short.  People die.  It's not cool."  I am trying to know this and just be here.  Be grateful.

9.  A flock of starlings doing their geometric swooping thing, but very close to the ground and as they are landing in a field near the highway-- it's a wondrous and terrible sight.

10.  When I was a child, I thought as a child, and when people drove me around town, I read signs out loud in a sing-songy voice.  When I became a (wo)man, I put away childish things.  Now I just do it in my head.  ("Suburban Veterinary Hospital . . .  Ideal Image Store . . .  Ideal . . . Image . . . Store.")

11.  Wait, there's a snowstorm coming?

12.  Welcome to Buffalo.

November 22nd

Friday, November 22, 2013

Well, I skipped another day.

Today I went to Cobble Hill to go to BookCourt. 

On the way, I saw these solid gold shoes. 
After the bookstore, it was suddenly dark.
And I saw this sad rabbit.
So I bought these brownies.

They were pretty good. 

On the way home I talked to a woman with five kids who told my baby that all her problems began when she spilled tuna in her backpack.  And I asked another woman where she had gotten her shoes (tan oxfords).  Shoegasm, she said.  I hadn't even eaten a brownie yet, but somehow I was talking to all these (two) people.

November 20th

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Occasional Poem for Wednesday

I wake up to someone in mid-conversation with me
about the conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining,
how Jack Torrance is the Minotaur and Kubrick reversed 
the carpet in some scenes and what about the moon landing?
If I had a nickel for every time someone close to me doubted
the moon landing, I'd have at least ten cents, and I'd put it
in the wobbly-looking handmade bowl on the kitchen counter
that I bought in Asheville.  "Wabi-sabi" is a term for that wobbly
kind of beauty or "I never know what to buy at craft fairs,
so I'll buy this."  I like the bowl, though, with its cream-colored
glaze, the slight jade-green tint.  And what if someone gave
you a green stone necklace in the shape of a heart when you
were, say, eight years old that you promptly lost because
you lost most jewelry given to you up until the age of
thirty-five?  Would you sometimes think of it and think
of the vibrations it emitted on your small little sternum,
which at the time was the only version of your sternum
you had ever known?  Would you wonder if it was buried
under a tree in your old apartment complex or buried in
the back of some strange person's drawer, and whether
it emits those vibes without you or needs your body
to activate them?  Would you then wonder why you're
thinking of "vibes" and "energies" and "emanations"
so much lately, wonder what kind of hippie you were
becoming?  There's too much wabi-sabi in any one
person's invented mythology, all wobbly and beautiful,
slipping on impermanence like ice, grasping at stars. 

November 19th

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today was cold and sunny, and Elias was in a good mood, except when he got his flu shot.  I'm thinking about how much of our discourse now is made up of little jokes and a sort of call and response.  I'll have to think more about how to describe the quality of that.  After the shots, we (well, mostly I) went for banh mi and bubble tea, and I had a long conversation with the pregnant woman sitting next to me, who said she's a singer and actress and sometimes a writer.  I didn't recognize her, but I think I've seen her husband before.  Or maybe not.  He's either this one actor or he isn't.  The woman, Adelaide, and I were given free chocolates by the guy behind the counter because "Happy Tuesday."

November 18th

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Three from Monday.

It was unseasonably warm on Monday, and we went to the playground and went on the swings.  The sky was beautiful, and I took pictures of trees coming and going.  (The middle picture is not at the playground, obviously.  This guy is serious about his kitchen implements.)

November 17th

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Today I met with two friends and did writing exercises, which was fun.  I get some good material for poems that way.  And some human contact, which is a good thing.  Today was cloudy and a little drizzly and oddly warm, but I didn't go out, even though Clif took the baby on two walks.  I ate cookies and drank tea.  I met with my friends.  Later I made some beans and rice and played with the baby and put him to bed. 

The exercise for the piece below was that we read a poem out loud and then had to incorporate some of the words into our own piece.  (For this one, the poem was from Notley's The Descent of Alette.) Here it is:

Attempted Dispatch 

I wish I had more to report, a dispatch back from my journey,
but I'm in it now and now hovering and now living it
but also an image of myself projected onto myself
by a movie camera, something from a Charlie Kaufman movie--
marionettes, tunnels, rebirths, dioramas, a warehouse containing
my life and all the paths I walk in Brooklyn with the baby
in the stroller or the baby in the Ergo carrier.  When I found out
I was pregnant, my mother remarked that we had embarked
on an alternate reality and we had.  We had all boarded a ship
or walked down into a narrow trench, or I had, walking willingly
and with interest and then with trepidation, and then it opened
out into a colossal cavern, and that was the night he was born,
when I floated there alone even though I wasn't alone,
eating pellets of ice and watching the window for some kind of sign
of attendant angels or of a soul cohering.  Really I was listening
to a comedian I don't know being interviewed on a podcast
I kind of like until they had to break my water and it was dirty
and they had to increase the pitocin to get him out, until I was vaguely
 threatened with a caesarean, until I began to complain of all
the pressure breaking through the epidural, until it was time to push. 

November 16th

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Often I find myself longing to be another sort of artist, so that my thinking would happen while drawing or moving clay about with my fingers.  The other night I dreamed that I was helping excavate a trench that was had been dug into some clay ground.  Buried in the side of the trench, I found the perfect book.  But I don't remember what made this book perfect, just that suddenly there I was, holding this perfect book I had pulled out of this wall of clay while sitting in this hole in the ground.  It's all very Jungian, right?  (I'm sure we could make something Freudian out of the clay.  But whatever.)  Also, I read the James Joyce story "Clay" in ninth grade and didn't really get it, but then later I read that the clay was about mortality and that's why it was so cruel to play a trick on the aging woman involving clay.  Or what?  I need to read that again.  Clay is what we are and what we'll return to.  It's the muck and it's also what grounds us and proves we're both of the earth and humble.  There's this passage from Their Eyes Were Watching God: 

When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over.  Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed.  So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song.  So they covered each one over with mud.  And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb.  Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.     

Well, it isn't always easy to show one's shine.  But that's all we have, right?  There's something to the mud itself, though.  The mud is also home.   

This is what I was thinking when I was putting the baby down for a nap just now and trying to "sleep while the baby sleeps." 

November 15th

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oh, oh!  My blog-post-a-day project is getting away from me. 

Well, ok.  Here's Friday night:

November 13th

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oh!  I missed a day.  OK, this falling darkness in the afternoon isn't so cute anymore.  A friend wrote me this email:  "This darkness is unworkable."  My thought yesterday was, "I need a butler and a fireplace to get through this."  But instead I made my own cambric-- half Lady Grey tea, half almond milk, a few drops of vanilla extract.  That revived me somewhat, as in a Victorian novel when one finds oneself wandering the moor all night before seeing a lit window in a lone house and being taken in by one's long-lost cousins.  One is welcomed in and given a warm cup of tea, only to realize that tea assuages 60% of one's angst.  Maybe 70%.

(I should write tea blurbs for the J. Peterman catalog.)

And here is some art inspired by Jane Eyre by the artist Paula Rego.

November 12th

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuning into Your Day in Almost Mid-November

What do you do with a wintry mix and a tiny human
who won't keep his socks on is a question your PhD
might help you with.  Gothic moments in American realism
is what your dissertation was on and also what happens when
you lean in at 4:30 a.m. to check on the baby and he's there
staring back at you with wide-open eyes.  Redeployment of Freud's
concept of the unheimlich is helpful in literary study and also
in thinking about how the baby looks when he's suddenly sitting
up looking around at the air above his head, when seconds before
he was deeply asleep.  Are families uncanny?  Only when
you can't fall back to sleep and start thinking about Salem witches
and spirit orbs and the job market. Whether you ever grew a small
human in your body or cared for one or regarded one with interest,
think about the strands of the Marvelous and the Real.  Think about
the cloud cover; the interplay of consciousness; the slowing down
which precedes a quickening of the imagination; a onesie made of stars.

November 11th

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm looking at this European toy website and talking to Clif like I'm Rain Man.  "I like the Color Tower Stacking Game.  You can make a wish list.  I'm making a wish list.  You can even share it.  I put the Color Tower Stacking Game on the wish list." 

November 10th

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is it too soon to start playing holiday music?  This morning, I put on Pandora and realized I have an "indie holiday" station (which-- ha, but I kind of wanted to put it on).  What I played was Bach and then some jazz and then the Smiths and Duran Duran, in case any of that helped the baby organize his mind.  He hopped in his jumper along to "Girlfriend in a Coma."  Oh, gosh.  When he was a fetus, I played him Talking Heads and Erik Satie, and I played him some Satie again yesterday to see if he remembered it, which maybe he did.  I have this feeling he remembers me eating tomato sauce when he was a fetus.  I love spaghetti sauce and so does he.  When I give him tastes of it, he shouts for more and twirls one hand about in the air for emphasis.

Today I stayed inside mostly and ate different foods, like French toast, honey crisp apples, Bloomsday cheese from the farmer's market (which I guess is actually named after James Joyce).  Then I took a nap with the baby, and when I woke up, it was getting dark.  Now I'm at a cafe alone and darkness has fallen just like that.  I like the idea of darkness "falling."  How interesting to think about the original metaphorical impetus behind cliches, and to think about how the over-used language of one time and place might be novel to people in another time and place.  For example, near the poles, darkness does not suddenly "fall."  (I've been reading a book that mentions this, but I will have to go home and look at the author and title.  They are utterly escaping me.  "Escaping me.")

The older I get, the more interested in seasons I am?  (I just put a question mark there without thinking about it.  Because-- really?  Maybe.)  I will just come out and use the word "energies"-- I like watching and feeling the shift of seasonal energies.  This is the time of year when I like to think about and write drafts of poems about going underground.  In yoga yesterday, one thought that floated up was the time a massage therapist in Asheville told me that New York City was a vortex of weird energies.  This is for metaphysical reasons that again "escape me" . . .  I think it had something to do with the city being built on rock and with water running underground?  (Question mark.)  And how weird, she may have remarked, that people pack into subways and ride around under there, right where the strange energy is congregating.  Then, back in yoga, I started thinking about The Descent of Alette and how I would like to read it again.  Perhaps I think too much during yoga.  Or perhaps I pay too much attention to the thoughts.

Last night, we watched The Conjuring, which didn't scare me as much as it scared Liz!  This morning I was thinking that it was because I am tired of people blaming Salem witches and their sisters for everything.  It was scary, though.  I like how families are always moving into large old creepy houses in horror movies set in and/or made in the '70s.  And how either the father or the mother or the teenage daughter begins soaking up the bad vibes and showing the cracks in the shared dream of the Family Romance.  Perhaps soon I will listen to indie holiday music and write an essay called "Are Families Uncanny?"  But first I'll go home and make soup.   

November 9th

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Two things from today:

1.  This morning I was having a dream that I found the perfect shoes.  They were like old-fashioned black leather men's shoes with laces and leather soles, and they fit me perfectly.  They completed my outfit.  They completed me.

2.  At Restorative Yoga class this afternoon, I was instructed to let go of any thoughts or emotions that arose as we did the poses.  What arose then was the sentence, "This aggression will not stand, man."  So, my inner yogi is the Dude from the Big Lebowski? 

November 8th

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A walk at dusk.

A book I found on the sidewalk a couple weeks ago.

Something that was in the book.

Shadow puppets.

November 7th

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Today was drizzly and chilly in Brooklyn.  We walked to the grocery store before afternoon naptime, where a woman looked at my baby and said, "So serious."  I thought she was going to say he was cute, so first I said, "Thanks."  Then I said, "Oh, serious.  Are you serious, baby?  Are you ready for a nap?"  The baby had no comment.  (Later we played, and he laughed and showed me his new teeth, so it wasn't all seriousness.  He is also talking now.  He punctuates our conversations with assertions like, "Ba!" and "Da!"  "Ba" seems to mean any object that he's intensely focused on.  "Da!" means "yeah!" or sometimes, I think, "Daddy."  Once he said it when he saw Barack Obama on TV.)  At the cafe, they were out of chai, so I had Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and vanilla, which they were calling cambric.  It sort of reminded me of a grooming product you'd buy at Crabtree and Evelyn, but I liked it. 

Here are the pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookies I made today.

Here is a Name Game I made for you. (Wait. Who is EF?  I suppose I knew at one time.) 

November 6th

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Today we took a long walk to Unnameable Books, where I bought the following books. 

Then, suddenly, it was getting dark.

November 5th

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the fifth, we played with a hand me down riding bee from my friend Catherine. He's not quite old enough to ride it yet, but he quite likes using it as a drum.

November 4th

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the fourth, I posted about my admiration for Winnicott.  (See below.)  On that day, after exchanging a series of messages about education with two old friends, I also found this piece I wrote a few years ago.

On Forming Questions

When I was in the third grade my mother and/or the school system decided I was “Talented and Gifted.”  This meant that a special teacher would come to my school and sit with me in a very small room—what looked like a converted broom closet—and have me fill out mimeographed worksheets.  The worksheets asked me to make lists and to draw pictures based on instructions.  I found some of these sheets in my mother’s garage recently, and the tasks I was asked to perform seem meaningless and potentially baffling for an eight year old.  “List foods you would cook on the stove.  List foods you would cook in the oven.  Which foods would you keep in the refrigerator?”  Perhaps there had been a mix-up.  Maybe they thought I was a cooking savant.  I wasn’t.  My mother was a graduate student.  We ate a lot of spaghetti, as far as I can remember.  The special teacher once asked me to draw a picture of anything.  Anything!  I drew a cow that had a town of small people living in its stomach.  She told me that I should have drawn something that made sense, something that could really exist.  I told her I felt a little sick, like I was going to throw up.  She wrinkled her nose at me and told me that it wasn’t polite to use the word “throw up.”  What word was I supposed to use, I asked.  She seemed exasperated by my question.  (I wasn’t used to this.  My mother was good at answering questions.)  “Oh, I don’t know!” the special teacher said.  “Vomit.  Upchuck.”  That made me want to throw up even more.   

Does this answer the question?

November 3rd

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the third I watched the marathon go by a block from my house.  I took the baby out to see the marathoners, and as they came by, I thought about how they each had a particular story of training and possibly of traveling to New York, or at least preparing to be at the appropriate place on the morning of the marathon, and, then, of running.  Some people had their first names or the names of their countries of origin written on their shirts.  A woman near me shouted out encouragement to the runners with names on their shirts, which I guess was the point.  "Come on, Gary!  Way to go, Gary, whooooo."  That made me tear up again.  I pointed out the different nationalities to the baby, "Look, bubby, France!  Denmark!  Look, a whole group of Italians."  The baby looked, scowled, then reached up and pulled off his hat.

November 2nd

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the second, I went out by myself (!) to Berl's Poetry Shop's grand opening, where I saw various poets read.  They each read one poem of their own and one by someone else.  Bianca Stone read a short prose piece by Elizabeth Bishop that I love.  It's about a fire at a neighbor's house when she was a very small child.  It made me tear up for some reason.  In it, Bishop describes being in her crib and seeing the flames reflected on the bars of her crib as her mother stood on the lawn handing out refreshments to the firefighters.  Bishop recalls being suddenly very thirsty and writes that her thirst persisted throughout her life.  (I have this somewhere.  It doesn't look like it's in the Collected Prose. I need to find it.) 

November 1st

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Oh, shoot!  I thought of doing a blog post a day in November, but am already behind.  Now I found out from my friend Liz's blog that this is an actual thing.  (OK, I've never actually met Liz, but we are internet friends, m'kay?) 

Here's my first make-up post.  On the first, I . . .  what did I do?  I don't remember.  Oh, I went to my pal Jen's house, where she watched the baby for an hour so I could finish a job application.  Jen and Elias played the guitar and harmonica, and then Elias fell over backward taking off his sock and started laughing.  That's a good way to start a month.

Here is a picture of E. playing a drum from India.  I think that was the same day.


I Heart Winnicott

Monday, November 04, 2013

I'm going through some writing I did in the past couple years, and I ran across this:  "Winnicott (1971) describes an area of experience that belongs neither to internal reality or to external reality. It encompasses all forms of play and cultural experience, and extends to the magic of love and intimacy, and to dreaming. Winnicott describes it as the place we are in when we are listening to a symphony, looking at art, reading in bed, playing, enjoying ourselves. At the negative extreme it extends to fetishism, lying and stealing, the talisman of obsessional rituals, and may even become the hallmark of madness."
                    --“The ‘Intimate Edge’ and the ‘Third Area’” Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. 12 (1976): 489-95, Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg, Ph.D.
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