March 29, 2008

Blast from the past

Reading and surprised to see a piece about the Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Company . I clicked on the links and there were the windows I remember looking out of with very sleepy eyes when I crashed on a sleeping bag on the floor in the late '70's, (my second week there, a bed upstairs emptied out so I got a mattress). The beds were placed here and there around the bookstore and if George liked you, he'd let you stay (you had to convince him you were a book lover). The perks were a free place to crash, an ever changing mix of people passing through (each with an interesting story to tell) and any books you wanted to read. You also had to help out a little bit in the shop which I enjoyed. He came off as gruff but was actually quite kind, and he put up with all of us starry-eyed travelers passing through - I think he enjoyed our vagabond dreams as much as we did. I remember being so pleased when he gave me a rare compliment for dealing with a difficult customer in a polite but firm way with my high school french. The kind of experience you look back on and think, hey, I did do some pretty cool stuff back in the day.

March 27, 2008

the kind of gray

I know I saw buds on the forsythia, but we are still clutched in gray here.
Currently reading: Go With Me by Castle Freeman, Jr.
Recently viewed: Invincible - great football movie since it is about, as old great football movies are, overcoming.
Of note: Mr. Grimshaw has one front foot out. I'll keep you posted.

sorting, sorting...

Still sick, clearing out a basket of papers and lists of books to get to: Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions - one of my favorite things about having an essay in Brain, Child was that it appeared in the same issue as an essay by her. Such fantastic company! Donate your shoes clipping:, why not? beautiful house shots of a jewelery designer's dwelling in Bali..., she's young, beautiful, and carefree, and I am holding onto this why? Toss. NPR's American Life: Stories of Hope & Fear audio...why can't I interlibrary loan this? No library in Westchester has it. Well, last time I tried listening to stories in my car, I drove through a red light when they got to the good part. The Seventh Daughter, a memoir/cookbook of Cecilia Chiang sounds like a must get to eventually, as does the 1080 Recipes best-selling cookbook in Spain. Two biz cards, keep. Program from my son's first Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, keep. Notes about a short story I am working on (I say that in the loosest possible manner since I tend to work on many projects at once in a vague manner until something kicks in and I go into a take no prisoners writing mode). A note about what would be a funny name for a goat. Hmmm. Notes on a middle reader that has two chapters a vague way (see above)... submission guidelines to Greatcoat, a lit journal that had a nice tone (important to avoid snarkiness). Pages of notes about illustrators I like that draw animals and people well...long story. Notes on where I want to live (Isla Negra) only reinvented. email about agents and writing from one of my old friends who is in way better health and that news made me deeply happy this morning. More sorting ....

March 25, 2008

I heart e.e. cummings

Spring) and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves."

we got the fever

"Eggs are eggs," he barked. Yup, the dog thinks we are being far too artsy- well, you know, with these Easter eggs. Especially when there are far more crucial things to do like chasing squirrels and threatening cats (well, actually the last cat he took on beat him up - as you can see, he's not that much bigger than an egg). Well, we're home sick, got Spring fever on top of sore throats and headaches...Moky, go chase something.


March 20, 2008

Mr. Grimshaw

Mr. Grimshaw now has rear legs and is working on the front ones. According to our worthy dime purchase of a used book, Frogs, once his front legs sprout he will cease eating (algae tablets, plants) and only use the food stored in his tail as his mouth will be changing and make it impossible for him to eat.
He is named after a trip to Vermont where our youngest, only five at the time, insisted we call him Mr. Grimshaw for most of the trip and also on calling me "Mean Judy". I am not named Judy and I don't think I am mean, but I think that was besides the point. Not sure what the point was actually.

March 18, 2008

poetry season

I write more poetry in summer than other seasons. Perhaps it is because in summer my husband removes the giant tropical plant that has been with him longer than I have, and is housed in an urn that weighs about the same as my car. This plant is ceremoniously carried outside when summer's heat is a sure thing and then the white bookcase, where most of my poetry books live, is free to access. Now, in yet iffy weather with possible frosts and the long chills of spring, I am crouched on the rug trying to snake a hand behind the urn and retrieve various books...and I end up with the unexpected, a notebook filled with gathered children's poems, Necessary Light by Patricia Fargnoli, Weather Central by Ted Kooser, all good things, but not the thing I set out matter. I have earlier already sent two poems to a friend - a poem is a good envelope to wrap your heart in.
Once you dip into a poem, your mind kicks into poem mind, and like a Zen mediation, tosses the monkey mind with all its annoying and mindless prattles off over the hedge for awhile. Reading poems sets your mind to writing poems. Gets you thinking poem mind, better mind, connected to your soul mind. All good things worth doing and worth waiting for - like summer. When the plant gets moved - it gets sun, I get poetry. Good deal.

March 15, 2008

Some good silly and Dan Zanes

This is the most inane thing I have seen in a long time - so of course I have watched it a couple of times.... . Thanks to J. for turning me on to it but maybe not for keeping me up so late...oh exhaustion. Amazing how funny stuff is at one thirty in the morning that might not be otherwise.
Not just for the kids:
Been listening to Dan Zanes' Catch That Train cd in my car on my way to work - especially love the Miss Mary Mack song done Zanes style. A link to his webpage:
His song, Jump Up, from the picture book of same name with cd inside, is the perfect thing to play if you are on your way to work (especially with children and the public) and need to get up and into a good mood. this amuses. Particularly the Ulster Scots. Well particularly to me anyway... (image of Scottish guy shaking his head and typing it...maybe you have to be part Scotttish). At any rate, a great and creative response to computer glitches.

March 10, 2008

and I am grateful for...

I never get the whole celebrity thing - those contests where you can win lunch with someone famous. I think why would I want to eat with them, make uncomfortable small talk across the table, pretend I saw their movie, whatever. Then my daughter pointed out who my rock stars are...poets and writers. Yup, leave it to the kids to set you straight. So here's one of those people who writes words that find me when I forget I need to be found, words that help me remember the best parts of myself, the parts I am always losing in my everydayness. Assorted links for your edification and pleasure:,,,,, and need I say the obvious - get thee to a library and read their poetry books, get thee to a (small, independent) bookstore and buy their poetry books. Especially Lucille Clifton. Whom I would love to eat lunch with.

March 8, 2008

HBO teen poets

An HBO special, Reading Your Heart Out, was just on (catch it if you can) on young teens (none over 14) reading poems they have written about their families to their families. The poems: raw, honest, painful, were intense and direct. What amazed me was that they read their poems to their families. I so admired their bravery and also the bravery of these parents to stand there and listen to words full of accusations and hurt. It seems the lot of parents and teenagers to have a chasm between them. I have seen the look of "you're not listening" frustration shadow my own children's faces even as I strain to make it clear I am listening. I think they say oranges and I hear apples. I say apples and they hear pears. Maybe it has to be that way so they can pull away and become their own people, separate. As parents, you just hope they know they are loved. As human beings in the world, you know that even their knowing that is still not enough to shield them from life's difficulties. But bravo for the courage on both sides to keep trying.

"We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness. "
- Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

March 6, 2008

The best book review ever

My youngest son is telling me about a book he just finished. It had at least 14 chapters and was 90 pages and was about people who vacationed in an elevator.
"Want to know what my favorite page was?" he asked.
"It was page 72."
" What happened on page 72?"
"I don't remember."

That, and seeing the Spiderwick movie at the IMAX after a dinner out with the same boy, was the highlights of the last two weeks. Other than that, it seems that no writing is getting done, I am waiting to hear on some work and getting that edge of despair thing, other news is two poems accepted and one turned down. So, of course, one fixates over the one turned down. Are there any writers out there who are not mental? I mean, really.