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Jackie Robinson

Happy 100th birthday to perhaps the greatest male athlete of the 20th century. I read yesterday that baseball was his fourth-best sport, after football, basketball & the long jump.

This is a great opportunity to recommend a wonderful book, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, by Bette Bao Lord, about a Chinese immigrant girl who becomes American through her love for the Dodgers.  Read More 
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Snow Wednesday

It was a brief intense blinding squall. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. By the time I got my coat & mittens on, it was over. Pretty exciting.

I mean, I know that the really terrible cold especially in the Midwest, and the tire-melting heat in Australia isn't exciting or lovely, but but but but I live for snow so I get to take a tiny personal satisfaction, izzat right?  Read More 
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No-snow Tuesday

What the hey?! They promise & don't deliver. It's cold but it's raining. Everyone else gets snow. OK OK frigging climate change.

My office has minimal heat. I want to write a sweet memory about my childhood snowsuit but my hands are trembling. I want to tell you about walking to school in South Dakota winters in skirts with nylons, but I want to go home & have dinner. I want to read some more Horace but the thought of him in Italy & me in dank watery Manhattan is making me think I'd rather read a mystery.

I don't know how to finish this & I don't know how to move on. Read More 
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Monday Quote

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.
~ Gustave Flaubert

This is so exactly what it's like. The frustration & the glory! The hope & the disappointment. I want nothing else.
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A day in NYC

Breakfast from B&H. First workshop session in the third iteration of "Writing Your Life," Bob & I have our patter down, 8 fascinating & hard-working writers, happy to be back doing what we do. Barnes & Noble for some Horace, my current favorite poet. The Danish notions store Flying Tiger for an assignment: spend $25 on frivolities: cute notebooks, cute (OK, everything there is cute) napkins, clothespins, bobby pins, stickies.

Coney Island was a couple weeks back but I had this one last photo.  Read More 

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Laundry & Burns

I have been trying to remember where I did my laundry between 1970 & 1976. For much of that time I lived in vehicles or cabins without running water. Did I haul it to town & go to a laundromat? Wash it by hand in the kitchen sink (when I did have water)? In Maine we did our laundry at the home of sleepy, generous Sandy, mother of 5 & mother of all. Reading Lucia Berlin's story "Angel's Laundromat" makes me wonder. I could have been the girl in her story except for not writing down anything about clean clothes: my interests ran to boys, hitchhiking & being as undomestic as possible. Still, right now, I would like to get that back.

Also & unrelated (probably), happy birthday, Robert Burns. Where is haggis to be found in NYC? I'm sure it's here. I remember Doug Oliver reciting Burns excitedly, which probably meant, I see now, that he was drinking scotch.  Read More 
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If only

If only it had been 30° colder today, all that rain would have been a foot of lovely snow.
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A poem

I wrote this quite a few years ago, revised it more recently.

Esto Perpetua
            for Linda, Ron & Jessi

Ida, my Ida, my Idaho

famous for her taters
& Alene’s French heart
& golden thighs
grab rollicking hills

the golden wheatfields of Moscow
the wheatfields’ soothing monochrome

where we  Read More 
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Happy birthday

Close enough to February & in the sign of Aquarius to start being excited for my birthday in 4 weeks. Today I say happy birthday to:
* My warm-hearted, funny friend Roberta, who always stands up for the damaged & undefended.
* John Donne, a favorite poet of mine.
* Sam Cooke, beautiful gospel singer with the Soul Stirrers & later a pop star.
* And the great Byron, from whom I got the title to a book of mine, from his wonderful short lyric "So We'll Go No More A-Roving."* And the second line of which Johnny has tattooed on his back (that man!).  Read More 
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Monday Quote

Random, unconnected photo: Katz's.
He who chases two hares will catch neither.
~ Publius Syrus

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.
~ Lewis Carroll

Aren't these saying the same thing from different directions?
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The start of a brilliant career

Kyle Dacuyan read at the Zinc Bar as part of the long-running Segue series. Was it the most stunning reading I've been to in 20 years? 30? 40? Yes, quite likely. If there's any justice in the world, in 10 years, 10 thousand people will claim to have been there.

I only met Kyle last summer, when he was hired as the director of the Poetry Project. From the start I found him impressive, particularly for his listening ability. Not many people can (or are willing to) listen closely without inserting themselves.

That quality drives his work. What he read was based on his previous job with PEN, traveling around the country, where he spent days in groups discussing freedom of the press & nights at gay bars. He managed to illuminate those dual activities thoughtfully. I think a lot of younger people & poets are very much ego &/or hectoring ("you messed up, old folks, & here's how! Fix it now!"). Kyle can see the failures but he has a tougher & more noble plan: to show your errors without making you defensive. Outward-facing with a sure core, alive to dilemmas & contradictions.

One anecdote  Read More 
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From the vault (photo edition)

My parents: too familiar for me to see myself in either of their faces.
My parents in front of our old house on 23rd Street in Sioux Falls. That is, they are facing it. I suppose that's their car but I couldn't tell you anything else. What year? Mid-70s? My mother had her 95th birthday this week; my dad died in 1986 at the age of 80. They were the same age almost till the end of his life, despite the fact that she was born 18 years after him.  Read More 
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I decided to write a line or 2 every day about something in the news—& not take the easy out of detailing Yankees negotiations for pitching. It's been depressing. Shutdown, ugliness, financial disaster, Brexit. (The good thing about Brexit is it makes us not the only idiots.) I don't know how long I can keep it up.

But then this: 99 pieces of GOOD news from last year, assembled by Medium:
= Conservation (e.g., the Seychelles created a 130,000 sq km marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, protecting their waters from illegal fishing for generations to come).
= Global health (cigarette use in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level in 50+ years).
= Human rights (female genital mutilation has fallen from 57.7% to 14.1% in north Africa, from 73.6% to 25.4% in west Africa, and from 71.4% to 8% in east Africa).
= Living standards (For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty).
.... & much much more (click on photo caption for the whole list) Read More 
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Jury duty concluded

Under the boardwalk.
I finally got called for a voir dire at 3 in the afternoon. So sure I would at last get on a case. I guess I don't seem delicate & I'm not, not really, but it was a horrible stomach-turning crime & I just couldn't. The judge & lawyers were the kindest people ever in dismissing me, & a fellow juror gave me a hug & an Altoid. I walked home & felt cheerier, glad that someone can bear to take care of business like that, even if it turns out not to be me.

It's a 20 minute walk to Chinatown even if I was no longer on duty, so I kept my lunch date with a friend from karate who works in the courts, a happy, uxorious man, & now I'm OK except for a headache.  Read More 
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Doing my civic duty

This has nothing to do with the court, but we're not allowed to take pictures (they'd be boring anyway). So hot in here, I wish for ice & happiness. This was Coney Island a few days ago.
I kind of love jury duty. That is, I believe in it. I like meeting my fellow citizens, even though all I've done so far is watch one person's bag while she went to the bathroom. I would want people to take it seriously if I was involved in a case & they were on the jury.

That said, it is so frigging hot in here that I am about to pass out.

That could also be because I'm trying to understand (& translate into English) a scientific paper full of riveting information like this: "(DL: 14 [5.5%], SRD: 6 [2.4%], RF: 7 [4.5%], XPE: 17 [5.5%]). Using thresholds of 8 for the HADS-D and of 9 for the HADS-A, rather than 11, the number of participants with ...."

It was a nice walk downtown & we got to watch an inspiring video about jury duty. My brother, a lawyer, texted me: "I think it is one of the two crucial bases for citizen participation and respect for government. That and voting."

I've been on jury duty a dozen times but never made it through voir dire to get on a case. Why? M— thinks I have a sarcastic demeanor. Things have happened to me. It's hard for me to give neutral answers. Could be any of these reasons, or just bad luck.

I always think of my beloved father, who wanted so badly to be called for jury duty & never was. As a refugee & naturalized citizen, he knew better than most that he wanted to stand for justice.  Read More 
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Monday Quote

Flowers from the aquarium. Look closely: see all the tetras?
There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.
~ Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, good ol' Midwestern optimist. Me, I'm getting smacked down by a cold (allergies?) & kigami biraki yesterday. (KB is my dojo's official first training of the year—we do an hour of nonstop kicks & punches, then hear what Kaicho wants us to consider spiritually. This year: Wake up!)

And yet, I can't shake my inbred, ingrown orientation towards the positive. Or is it just a middle-class assumption that things will work out & I'll be OK?  Read More 
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At the Project: g e o d e s i c   l i n g u i x

This was a very strange event. I'm not sure I exactly liked or followed, but I felt like if I'd seen it 40 years ago it would have changed my work forever. Strange to have two such different reactions simultaneously. One problem was that it was impossible to hear any of the film's audio & the transcripts were small & went by too fast.

Here's what the Project said about the evening:  Read More 
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Lester Young

Hey I'm gonna listen to some jazz, I thought.

I chose Lester Young on a streaming service.

Wow, I'm digging this cat. Much more up my alley than I expected.

Johnny says, That is NOT Lester Young. Where's the sax? Where's Billie Holliday?

Whaddaya know, two Lester Youngs!

I won't say which one I l like better.  Read More 
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Busy week

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul "warmed up the crowd" (as she said later on Twitter). She was funny!
I suppose it's a January thing but I am crossing things off my to-do list at a mighty clip. This includes items that have been there for months, like going down to the Social Security office to reset my security code (yeah...) & buying sneakers (I overcompensated & got 2 identical pairs). I picked Johnny up from getting cataracts removed on Eye #1. I know it's not a big deal but seeing him with that giant bandage makes me weep. (I didn't think to take a photo, although he wouldn't have let me.) There was karate & work & winning HQ Trivia for the 4th time (but apparently not the grand prize of a new pickup; they would have called by now). There's a lot of staring at myself in the mirror as I get used to my new haircut. Downtown Women for Change's January meeting was focused on Albany, where the Dems now have a super-majority & should finally be able to pass the Reproductive Health Act, according to our panelists state senators Liz Krueger & Alessandra Biaggi, and Assembly members Deborah Glick & Latrice Walker.

I love my life.  Read More 
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Monday Quote

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
~ Umberto Eco

Doesn't this make you want to read Eco? It puts in mind The Good Soldier Shvejk & Oblomov & maybe A Confederacy of Dunces (which I never got very far in, to tell the truth)—characters unapologetically unable to deal with the world's insanity, responding by being obstructionist idiots.
 Read More 
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Hair: before & after

Besides "looks good," I'm getting 2 responses:
= I need a haircut.
= Brave! To which I say: it's hair! it grows back!

The weight is gone. The constant tugging & tucking & tying away.
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Johnny has his thinking cap on?

Another mysterious photo from the vault. Johnny as an alien? Johnny vs. the aliens? Johnny in costume? What the hell shirt is he wearing? Did he get caught mid-word or is he doing that on purpose with his mouth? Is this the man I married? That is, did I marry a man who looks like this? (Of course I did! I love this picture!) Read More 
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"I will sleep in my little cup"

Here's Buster, resting on my head.
Thanks to my cat who's taken to galloping across the bed at 3 a.m. then nibbling my toes at 4, I have been short on sleep of late. Yesterday I fell out at 6:30, woke up around 10, read for an hour, & back to sleep as solid as an anchor till 6 a.m. I've felt good all day but ready for bed again (it's 4 in the afternoon)! I usually sleep like a machine so it's odd to be out of whack.

That's a Ron Padgett line that the Double Yews sang in our "Turkey in the Straw" version of Great Balls of Fire.  Read More 
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January 1, 2019

‎*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
╔╗╔╦══╦═╦═╦╗╔╗ ★ ★ ★
║╚╝║══║═║═║╚╝║ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
║╔╗║╔╗║╔╣╔╩╗╔╝ ★ NEW YEAR ☆ 2019!!
╚╝╚╩╝╚╩╝╚╝═╚╝ ♥¥☆★☆★☆¥♥ ★☆

from the 10-hour extravaganza of poetry & performance that's the annual Poetry Project Marathon.
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