September 30, 2015
We're midway through the holiday of Sukkot, "the season of our joy," where it's traditional to eat even live in temporary shelters. In the synagogue we read the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). This year, in my shul, we're reading it over 4 days of the holiday, with 4 different people offering brief intros. This was mine:
September 27, 2015
Back on Wednesday
September 25, 2015
My other husband, Derek Jeter, that is. My friend Danny Peary put together a terrific book, Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter: Career in Quotes.
The worst thing about it is that there are 3 colons in the title (because it's part of a series). The best is that it's entertaining & insightful. Given Jeter's reputation for only saying the blandest bromides, you'll be surprised how much he really has shared over the years. The caption links to a funny review that mentions my 10,000-page poem about Jeter's ass.
September 24, 2015
One of 3 deaths on Tuesday that affected me.
Not ready to write about the others.
I guess I'm not ready to write about Yogi either.
Why are we sitting on a bale of hay?
Is he the equivalent of a Nobel laureate?
September 22, 2015
OK, Yom Kippur starts in a little more than an hour. Have I bathed? No. Have I eaten before my 27-hour (-year) fast? No. Have I apologized to all those pedestrians I terrified when they walked into the bike lane without looking or heeding my horn, & instead of politely swinging around them I yelled & (more…)
September 21, 2015
Quilt of the states.
I've been dipping into a fun anthology called State by State: A panoramic portrait of America,
edited by Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey. Inspired by the Federal Writers' Project that employed some 6,000 people & produced guides to each of the states, their goal was to "put together a book that captures something essential, something fundamental and distinctive about each state... something broad-minded and good-hearted... a road trip in book form."
So far so good. (more…)
September 20, 2015
I am having a hard time thinking about much else than her, her messy life & her unmessy poetry.
Simultaneously reading poems, prose, & letters.
From a 1948 letter to Robert Lowell:
Let's publish an anthology of haunting lines, with a supplement on how to exorcise them.
September 18, 2015
I went to Becca and Lina's wedding at 8:30 this morning at the Brooklyn Municipal Building. It's amazing how quickly your life can change. One minute he or she is merely a passerby in the eyes of the state, and the next, you are permanently connected. (more…)
September 17, 2015
This week & last I went to the 7:30 a.m. karate class. I think that's possible partly because I'm detoxing—replacing caffeine with decaf in preparation for my 27-hour fast next Wednesday, Yom Kippur, so I'm waking up a little more ready to go. I stopped making it to that class a couple of years (more…)
September 16, 2015
Just 20 miles from here is a place absolutely inhospitable to life.
No, not New Jersey.
"Space is almost close enough to touch. Only twenty miles above our heads is an appalling, hostile environment that would freeze us, and burn us and boil us away. And yet our enfolding layers of air protect us so completely that we don't even realize the dangers." —from An Ocean of Air: Why the wind blows and other mysteries of the atmosphere,
by Gabrielle Walker, one of the dozen wonderful books I'm reading at the moment. (Nothing makes me happier than knowing that there will always be something wonderful to read.)
September 14, 2015
Off Monday & Tuesday for the Jewish holidays. A sweet, healthy, adventurous, attentive 5776, everybody.
September 13, 2015
I love Johnny Stanton & have for half my life, but my name is Elinor Nauen not Mrs. John Stanton. Likewise, my name is Elinor not Eleanor. People surprisingly (shockingly!) often respond to an email from me & misspell my name. "Elinor" is in my email address twice & 5 more times in the signature. It's one thing if I didn't spell it out for them but they have SEVEN chances to get it right.
September 11, 2015
George Ortman is an artist who lives in the building where Johnny works. His work is remarkable, his constructions much more so than his drawings, in my opinion. In this show he had a large work with items like cigarettes in sand, an egg, and broken glass, about Beckett's "birth, death, and legacy," which caught the writer's mystery and pungent humor, and a piece about Detroit (where Ortman taught for 20+ years) that hit you with the life/decay/life of that city. The caption to the invitation links to a long interview in a publication called geoform, where you can see a wide sample of his art of six decades. "I have always been interested in what makes art. How is it that space, form and color painted on a flat surface can create a kind of magic?" (more…)
September 10, 2015
I finished 3 good books in the last day or 2:
= Prudence and Jane, by Barbara Pym, the great observer of English life and human foibles. I haven't decided whether I have to ration her or not. It's possible I could reread any of her novels with as much pleasure as I got the first time through.
= On Elizabeth Bishop, by Colm Tóibín. Short & insightful. I haven't been reading much poetry other than hers this summer, & it was great to live her work with this smart Irish novelist.
= Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose. It's taken me months to finish because she sent me (back) to many of the writers she talks about: Katherine Mansfield, Chekhov, Joyce, & lots of others. She points out techniques that it would be easy to miss, and is undogmatic: Every time she finds herself formulating a rule, she almost immediately finds a brilliant, convincing exception.
September 9, 2015
I didn't even know if they still existed. I remember having dinner long ago with some people who lived in the Bronx, across from the Stella D'oro bakery. So much better smelling than when I lived near the paper mill in Bucksport, Maine. I stayed with some folks in Homestead, Florida, near a fertilizer factory; (more…)
September 8, 2015
"See, if you were here you could have told me what you think of the yellow face poetry scandal while we did a morning walk before this insane heat set in."
And I suppose I'd better send you to the great Jim Behrle if you think you need to know more about the scandal: studio360.org/story/sideshow-best-american-poetry-annotated-jim-behrle/
September 7, 2015
I come from a Chevy family, probably because Jews notably didn't buy Fords, as ol' Henry was such an antisemite. That was the days when you stuck with a brand. I've owned a lot of Fords, since I bought whatever was cheap & ran OK: Dodges, Fords, Toyotas. "Ford" was said to stand for "fix or repair daily" but you could have said that about all my cars.
September 6, 2015
I agreed to learn—in three weeks—a three-column, 63-sentence Torah read (Deuteronomy 28:7–28:69). That's the longest single read in the entire Torah, and I feared I was building Rome in a day.
All I did until yesterday, when I chanted it, was work on it. I practiced when I got up throughout the day, on the train to the Adirondacks and (more…)
September 4, 2015
I first noticed Robyn when she told this story at a party: It seems that her mother was bothered by raccoons on their land. She would catch them in hav-a-heart traps then drive them down the road. But was it far enough that they wouldn't come back? She figured she'd find out, so she painted their toenails before she released them.
Robyn's telling of this story made me fall off a couch laughing.
Here's another bit of Ann-genuity in protecting a very old cat who likes to lounge in the road.
September 3, 2015
For most of his life, Arthur Heming (1871–1940) painted using just black, white, and yellow, apparently because he was color blind. (However, at the age of 60, he suddenly grabbed all the colors on the palette.) He traveled the Arctic for the Hudson Bay Company. "His best work is transcendent, calling to mind the rich velvety grayscale of Gerhard Richter’s realistic paintings, while his weakest work is the sort of mystic wolf lore that later became the vernacular of furry bedspreads and black crewneck sweatshirts," writes Abigail Walthausen in The Public Domain Review. I'm reminded of the straightforwardness (without the cobalt blue) of Maxfield Parrish. More illustrator than artist, perhaps, but still, with enough heart to make one linger over his work.
September 2, 2015
First it's Memorial Day, the next weekend is the 4th of July, & the weekend after that Labor Day, and the summer's over. Pretty much how it happened this year as always, even though Memorial Day was early and Labor Day will be later, so summer had two more weeks than it often does. Still, (more…)
September 1, 2015
I had a great time up in the Adirondacks, lounging at Robyn's family's camp on Lake Champlain, occasionally bestirring myself to eat a piece of the pie that her mother baked every day or paddling a kayak down to the island. One exciting day included a trip to the transfer station (i.e., the dump) and (more…)