December 31, 2018
For years, kids have been asking me what's the greatest superpower. I always say luck. If you're lucky, everything works.
~ Stan Lee
Now there's a happy man, no?
Here's to a lucky 2019, also happy, peaceful, prosperous, art-filled, adventurous & all sorts of other good things, as you desire & are good for the world or your corner of it.
December 30, 2018
I have been doing my patented™ ® © Snow Dance for two weeks & this picture does NOT illustrate the results. Two damn flakes, that's all we've gotten. Poor me. What did I do to deserve this? I'm a nice person, I should have the snow I crave.
December 28, 2018
The only reason those books are on the floor is because Johnny broke one small bookcase & these are homeless.
I was going to write about the various books I'm reading but then I found an old poem that mentioned Williams's book Pictures from Breughel & I started looking for it. I've upended my house & office to no avail. I did
find a pretty good-size stack to get rid of (when the rain stops) but not the Williams. I have his collected, so I can read those poems, but I liked carrying around that ND pb.
I'm reading or half-reading or not-really-reading so many books it's making me sleepy to think about copying out all the titles. Books about fish & Circe & decluttering & WWI poets & by Horace, Angela Thirkell, E.M. Forster & on & on.
December 27, 2018
I got this a couple years back from the tree seller on my block. They used to be in front of the Rite Aid on 5th & 1st for years but not lately, probably because of the endless onstruction on the block. This year I remembered to pick up a branch to refresh its tail & antlers. Do I have to throw it out when I've mastered the Japanese art of tidying? Oh gosh I hope not. It brings me joy!
December 26, 2018
Steve (aka Willis) is someone I've loved since the day we met. I love him & I love our past: we met at the last big anti-Vietnam War demonstration on April 24, 1971, & have been friends ever since. I love knowing someone from such different circumstances: the South, after all these years of visiting him in South Carolina (& defending the state to my northern friends), the South still seems foreign at times. For example, I was down there recently & met a group of people, more or less my age, who remembered colored & white drinking fountains. I'm from a different South indeed.
Anyway, I love this photo, which Steve sent me recently. I could put up photos of old friends for a month & say why each of them is important to me. One of the great pleasures in life is having longtime friends, that's for sure.
December 25, 2018
The J street stop on the Q train.
I was already in Brooklyn twice this month, for the WWI documentary & to rehearse at Annabel's place on Avenue I for the Double Yews gig at the Poetry Project on New Year's Day. We have a drummer now, at least for that gig. We're doing poems by Bernadette Mayer (to Streets of Laredo) & Ron Padgett (to Turkey in the Straw).
December 24, 2018
We often meet our destiny on the road we took to avoid it.
~ Jean de La Fontaine
Somehow that seems to be about my relationship with Johnny. I didn't want a husband, I barely wanted a boyfriend. Somehow he caught up with me & convinced me this was a good idea—not by explaining but by being fascinating & lively & handsome.
I guess I don't know how to explain this quote at all...
December 23, 2018
I spend my time loving Johnny. It's what I do. It's probably why so much else falls out of my head.
December 21, 2018
& happy birthday to two friends, Ken K who I've known since high school & Bill McF who I met right after high school.
& now the long slide to Christmas, as another old pal memorably called it, is reversed. No wonder I'm a happy winter baby.
& it rained.
December 20, 2018
Wall on St Marks Place.
I love busy undramatic days. Today I went to class, stayed after & finally nailed one of my "new" katas + the first 10 (of 55) moves of a second. I told pregnant Mei I'd give her $1,000 if she named her baby (due in April) Galveston; she just laughed. Kyoshi Greg gave me a loaf of delicious rosemary bread as a thank you for assisting him with the kids. I went to B&H to say happy birthday to Mike & have a grilled cheese sandwich. I bought 2 books at the used bookstore on St Marks & 3 pounds of coffee (beans, baby!) at Porto Rico. I took 2 books back to the library & checked out 3. I took a bath. A satisfying day & if that's the entirety of my life, I'm OK with it.
December 19, 2018
What was especially striking in the WWI documentary was how awful most of the men’s teeth were. Men: a lot of them were teenage boys, yet had many black or missing teeth. Very few had all of their teeth. My grandma had full dentures, which she kept at night in a glass of water. I thought they were hilarious & always begged her to take them out & put them back in. Dentists used to tell people they’d be better off without the trouble of maintaining their teeth. F Scott Fitzgerald told Sheilah Graham she had good teeth for an English girl. I guess my mom does too: She’s 95 & has most or all of her teeth & they’re in great shape. I remember when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan the first time, my mother came into the den to see what the fuss was about, took one look, said “they all have terrible teeth” & that was the end of the Beatles for her.
December 18, 2018
World War I has always been "my" war. My dad, born 1906, was a child during it, & my mother's father fought in it—not gloriously: he was badly injured trying to open a box of ammunition by hammering on it. Until this week, I hadn't known that my dad's father had also fought (for Germany), after telling his wife, If they call me up, we know we've lost the war.
So when I read about a documentary that restored & colorized WWI footage & matched it with interviews with veterans, I had to see it. It was only playing for 2 days & I had to go to Brooklyn to get seats. So moving to see those scratched black & white faces come to life, grinning, scared, relaxing, adamant, to hear their thoughts from 50 years later.
December 17, 2018
He wins every hand who mingles profit and pleasure, by delighting and instructing the reader at the same time.
Aw, I just want to throw up something from my current poetry crush Horace, the Frank O'Hara of the Augustan world. So funny, louche, smart... I'd love to find a cheesy middlebrow novel about the Augustan age & BFFs Virgil & Horace, with Ovid & Catullus as part of the pack. Has it been written? So juicy! What are all the classicists waiting for?
December 16, 2018
I didn't even have very much of the strong punch but it didn't help my picture-taking eye any.
Sheila & Manny's December party is the best event of the holiday season if not the year. Full of extravagantly interesting & gorgeously well-dressed people, from babies through the very old, it could only be a New York East Village do. They live in a house on St Marks Place they bought decades ago, with high ceilings and a million cool objects. They cook for a week—or weeks: cookies, latkes, homemade applesauce, tables of fish & meat & pasta dishes. What makes it so great is how happy they are to welcome & feed us. There's never a martyrish whiff of "what a lot of work this is, are you appreciating it enough." I don't know them very well (we fell to talking on the street one day is all) but I get as big a hug as anyone.
December 14, 2018
My beanie (aka watch cap, stocking hat, & so many regional variations) in its ancestral homeland.
I was reassured when Maggie said lots of people are discombobulated this week. I sure am! I lost my beautiful Norwegian hat, & it wasn't the only place I could figure it had to have been so I immediately bought a new one, & it's fine but not the one I got in Lofoten with Robyn & Tone; it's just a hat. I put my socks down & couldn't find them, not by dumping out my bag or looking in the room where we'd changed. One of the students picked them up from the counter behind me: "Socks?" And on & on. I need to hire someone to follow me around & pick up whatever I drop.
December 13, 2018
This was taken at the same time as the picture I used yesterday. A little before or a little after. You can't see it but I'm giving him rabbit ears. I like this guy.
December 12, 2018
I was looking up the patron saint of failure (Bridget of Sweden) & when I pulled the book of saints off the shelf an envelope of photos came with it. They're from Tara's wedding I think 15 years ago. This is one of them. I like this guy.
December 11, 2018
Buster likes persimmons! (& enchiladas, lettuce, & other surprising foodstuffs).
Someone—not Buster—referred to himself in an email as a didactic dick, which of course made me love him all the more. Buster I couldn't love more. Sometimes—like when he wakes me by leaping onto my toes—I love him less.
December 10, 2018
Good sense travels on the well-worn paths; genius, never. And that is why the crowd, not altogether without reason, is so ready to treat great men as lunatics.
~ Cesar Lombroso
The more original a discovery the more obvious it seems afterwards.
~ Arthur Koestler
In other words, no one has any idea what makes for genius or originality.
December 9, 2018
In the summer we kids would get to ride in the back of the station wagon in our pajamas to the A&W on Minnesota Avenue & maybe 28th or 29th Street. We usually weren't allowed to order a root beer float with ice cream but we did get baby-size mugs of root beer. So delicious. I loved those heavy glasses.
December 7, 2018
ENJS at Johnny's nephew's house in Florida, a year after his catastrophic accident.
When I was in Egypt in 1989, I bought a silver cartouche engraved with our initials. At dinner one night, a woman leaned across the table & almost shrieked: "Is your name Enjs?!" Ever since, that's been a name we've used: Team Enjs. I call Johnny "Jsen" sometimes.
December 6, 2018
I suppose it's Father's Day in this picture or his birthday? He didn't wear a crown as a rule. That's me on the right. We all love him so much.
It's 32 years today since my dad left us.
Several of my friends are dealing with failing parents.
I envy that they've had their fathers so much longer than I had mine but not what they're going through now.
The only good thing about his death is that I don't have to go through it again.
December 5, 2018
This was Tuesday: I had to buy a new microwave. It's stainless steel rather than white. If stainless steel is more popular than white or black, as Silvio the salesman informed me, why does it cost less? I had to go to the dentist: OUCH, & it was work that was being redone because the lab lost the first impression for my new crown. I saw my beloved friend Liza & went to an event honoring a social-justice group we both do work for. I'm still pooped. I like those in-the-thick-of-small-things days.
December 3, 2018
When you are watching a dance performance, there is no research to be done and there are no special methods or, tricks to be studied before you sit in your seat. The big secret that dance lovers have discovered is that there's no secret at all. It's your experience, and the interpretation of it is all yours.
~ Arts Alive, on appreciating dance
Not infrequently someone will say to me after a reading, I didn't understand your poems but I liked them. And I say, if you liked them you understood them—you don't have to translate or critique them.
I happened to go to Alvin Ailey (more…)