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Is it really almost here? It's been 2021 in Samoa for quite a while already, also Japan, New Zealand, & Thailand as I write this. The huge country of India has only one time zone. Indian Standard Time, & it's half an hour off from the rest of the world. During the British Raj, there were two, Bombay Time and Calcutta Time, but IST has been the story since 1950 (following a riotous Battle of the Clocks). It hasn't been that long since our global system of timekeeping was imposed. There's a good excuse for being late—you're in your very own time zone. In any event, happy 2021! 

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Pet peeve: training & being trained

Well, whadda ya know? I learned that Lefty has been training us because we have let him. We think throwing a few treats at him when he wakes me in the middle of the night will shut him up. Nope, it only encourages him to keep doing what works. So last night (on the advice of the internet), I played with him before I went to bed, wore earplugs, & ignored him when he started up in the morning. It worked a treat! He didn't start in till at least 4 & I managed to sleep till almost 5, when he threw a mug at my foot. Ouch! And that was that. I think wearing him out before bed, rather than letting him nap right before bedtime, did the trick. We are taking back control! We are the adults! 

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Musin' but not amusing

Short of sleep due to my cat having trained me to get up whenever he wants, which is earlier every day. He's shaving a half hour off the alarm clock each morning. Today it was 2 a.m. Aargh. So I'm not at my most, ahem, brilliant. All I'm doing is holding on till we can get shut of 2020. Irked that this catastrophic year added insult to injury by giving us an extra day. 2021: at least it'll be shorter than 2020. How's that for a half-assed motto? 


I went to bed feeling great—I did karate both Sunday & Monday & felt loose & easy for the first time in months yesterday. I read great poetry (Yehuda Amichai), listened to great music, had good talks & sent/received meaningful messages. But man, without enough sleep, the world feels chaotic & impossible. 


But is it? 


It's disturbing that being on the wrong side of a couple hours sleep changes everything. 


I sent in all my final 2020 invoices. PITA but it's done. What else can I do this afternoon with no bandwidth? Can I concentrate enough to read?


Didn't I have something I was leading up to when I started? Maybe. But this is where my typing fingers brought me & this is where I get off for now. Zzzzzzzzzzz. 

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Monday Quote

A sound poetic training is nothing less than the science of being discontented. 

~ Ezra Pound


Aw Ez, U the man. My pet peeve is ME.


Ted used to say once you're a poet you're a poet 24 hours a day & whatever you're doing, a poet is doing it. He said it to reassure me when my first book came out & it didn't explode everything, so I felt done in. 


The science of being disconnected. Meaning what, that I need to keep better track of what pisses me off? 


2020 has certainly been a sound poetic training.

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Poem of the Week

Starting Again


an old woman on parade

wants a glass of ginger ale

everyone turns to see why the drums

changed their rhythm


we start again & start anew

she sings above scarred birds

whistles for luck

finds a wind harp & a stone


to start with no one's home

one's home

follows like a tree

& a mardi gras beat puts us to sleep

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Snow snow snow snow snow snow

Doing my White Christmas dance but the best we got was a little rain.I think of my friend Steve, who has spent his life wanting snow at home on Christmas, & is still waiting. I'm thinking of friends in Norway who probably are having a koselig jule today. You can be Jewish & still long for harmony & a bright star to guide us to peace, no? In fact, if you're human, isn't this your wish? I want to say, If you're human, that is, not of the Republic party, but it's Christmas & I am full of goodwill. Maybe I'll read A Christmas Carol this afternoon....


But first a joke (stolen straight from Alexandra Petri's hilarious ranking of 100, yes, 100 Christmas songs)

What do witches sing while dancing round their holiday fir?

A Coven Tree Carol. 


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Thank you, Duo

Not hard to understand how I've learned so much Norwegian from Duolingo, is it, not when you see this sort of helpful hint. 

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Back row: my brother, Charlie, me, Johnny, Eddie, Alice, Doug; front row: Ruth (my dentist), her kids Noah & Mia, Tara, Eileen, Becky. 


Boy, it doesn't seem that long ago that living to be 29 seemed entirely out of the question, & now here I am, married for 29 years. I must have had my seatbelt fashioned, because there's been plenty of bumps, but Johnny & I are safely still here. 

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In the neighborhood

One avocado on a wall, on 6th St near the river. 


It ain't the 'burbs, baby. 

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Monday Quote: Jupiter and Saturn conjunction

You can see Jupiter in this photo! Exciting, right? 

When the moon is in the Eighth House

And Jupiter aligns with Saturn....
~ repurposed from "Aquarius," by Daniel Gibson, Robert Westerholt, Sharon J. Den Adel 


I hope I get to see it but I have to say, no celestial event in my life has ever lived up to its hype. That is, the idea is cool, that it's been (in this case) 800 years since we've seen Jupiter in conjunction with Saturn & it'll be 60 years till we get the chance again. The stupid comet this summer that we looked for every night... Halley's comet that we drove all the way out to Coney Island to witness... various meteorite showers... I've never really seen any of them, even when I was looking.


The only one I did see clearly was the lunar eclipse the day the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years— October 2004, & I didn't like it one bit. I was up in the Adirondacks & found it creepy to have the moon disappear & see stars I've only heard of. Chris M mocked me for my "primitive" fear.


Nonetheless, I'll get out there tonight, though I think it'll be too cloudy for us. 

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The snows of this year

Sure it's a little slushy outside, but it's glorious to look out at this. See the icicles? We did karate today next to what was shoveled to the side of a basketball court near the East River, 6 hardy & willing karatekas. The air tastes & smells right. It snowed a little (then sleeted & rained lightly, which was less pleasant). Snow is such an easy thing to love. 

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Musing on corruption

The plaid suit only enhances Brian Donlevy's thuggish charm. With Akim Tamiroff & someone else. 

Two movies have come into my mind lately as I watch our president's last con—claiming fraud, he commits fraud in fund-raising post-presidency bucks. 


One of the movies is Preston Sturges's terrific The Great McGinty, my first favorite Sturges film, which I saw so many times that I finally had enough. I'm not surprised that someone else got there first with an analysis. And here's a piece from 2010, long before anyone was linking the movie with you-know-who. 


The other is The Producers, which also got the tRump treatment, with Jimmy Kimmel's Trumped


Feeling the first steps away from despair... maybe....

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More snow than we got all of last year. 

I lay in bed last night looking out the window, watching the snow, remembering my first winter in Maine. I was 20 or 21, living at "Idiot's Point" in the little town of Prospect with 4 others. The first big New England snowstorm, one of the guys & I went for a long tramp in the pine woods, lost/not-lost, exhilarated, breathless.We came home to fresh bread & soup. I still remember tearing into that hot bread with complete satisfaction. Still one of the most vivid & happy memories of my entire life. There was probably butter.

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The best store in the universe

Raygun! They union-make witty, snarky, political t-shirts, postcards, magnets & more. I get all my Midwest gear from them, & you should too! Sioux York—yeah, that's from Raygun. London: the Sioux Falls of Europe—yup, also Raygun. Practically every day they have a new item, it seems, commenting on the news or just being funny. 

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Middle Collegiate

I can't even bear to take a photo of the almost nothing that's left after last week's fire. i know a church is not its home, anymore than the book is its words, but it's hard to see it open to the sky. That's a hard-luck block. I happened to be out very early the day of the fire, which we could smell from our apartment. Fire trucks everywhere. A guy in a cherrypicker (is that what it's called?) aiming a gigantic hose right into the church. I remember when St Mark's steeple burned in the late 70s. The only thing that might make me feel OK about 2020 is if it really does snow—I mean a LOT—this week....

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Monday Quote

Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; wisdom is humble that he knows no more. 

~ William Cowper


Isn't it both? Part of being proud of how far you've come is learning how far you have to go. When I had learned a little—of karate, of Norwegian, you nane it—the moment where I could see that I had gone from zero to 30 (say) was quickly followed by the realization that 30 was at best a very, very small portion of what there was to learn. I can be proud: I did learn something, I was no longer at dead zero. And humble: the vast unexplored world! 


One of the things they say when you earn your black belt in karate is that now you know enough to begin to learn. That was astonishingly, literally accurate. Everything I had absorbed mechanically now began to make sense. Proud & humble. 

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Poem of the Week

On Joe's Birthday, a Collaboration with Steve Carey


or stunned with numerous local papers

where the buttered world has carried us

the ash fallen off the cigarette

in days so careless we had millions of health in the bank

just as I dreamt it

the dream of restoration

upstairs the man has come back

& all I can do is step over

a fluttering of clues

a calendar of conditions

for reappearance —

it is green all around

there is love all around

in a northern town



Elinor Nauen

August 13, 2020

published December 13, 2020, on what would have been Steve's 75th birthday.

Steve Carey, Poet (1945-1989)

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In the neighborhood: Clouds

As a member in good standing of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I should be able to tell you what these are. I have books that ID clouds, but I don't feel like getting up to look for them. Nice, yeah? 

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"Ha det" to Norsk class

Last night was the last class of my Norwegian course. We sang holiday songs in norsk, drank gløgg (mulled wine) (some of us), & many people displayed their Norsk holiday treasures, like nisser (gnomes) & those beautiful sweaters. 


I definitely have learned a lot & am eager to start Norwegian IV in early February + talk & listen more.

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I know it doesn't look like a lot, but it's more snow than we got all of last winter. I was happy to go for a walk, & didn't even mind losing my St. Paul Saints baseball cap—jamming it down over a knit cap didn't work & no luck retracing my steps. I cheered up so much being out with flakes coming down, & nice to run into Shelley on her bike. Not sure she realized it was snowing. 

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In the neighborhood

Oh look, here's another one of Annie Silverman's posters. (See my November 24 post.)

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Monday Quote

Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. 

~ Herbert Hoover


Today is just one of many days that should live in infamy. 

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Cats & blood


I'm exhausted from 2020, which started with the death of our cat Buster & today (not quite the end) included a battle royale with our cat Lefty. Buster let me cut his nails but Lefty used his to spill blood when I tried. I'm afraid to go home. Is he still mad? I don't think I gave my mother such a hateful look even when I was a teenager as Lefty threw at me after we gave up. Had to—Johnny looked like a homicide victim. 

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Our house

Now that Johnny is doing better, I can say how worried & stressed I've been. What caused the many falls that sent him to the ER? No one is sure. The eyedrops he was allergic to? Something that didn't show up on all the X-rays, CT scans, MRIs & in blood & physical tests he was subjected to for 3 weeks in the hospital & rehab? My money at the moment is on his haste, because now that he is finally(!) being careful, things have gone OK. 

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How karate saves my life

My friends encourage me. 

They push me.

They don't let me bail. 

I move my body. 

It works the kinks out of my bad knee. 

It's something to talk about other than politics & disease. 

It distracts me from my flailing & worry. 

My friends don't judge my lame-o (& lame) kicks. 

We look bad-ass. 

They are serious so I am serious. 

I get freshh air.

I get out of the office. 

I get off my block. 


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