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Help me out, people. Which is a better slogan for my presidential run:

If you're for it, so am I.


It's possible. [Which is a good response to the pesky questions about my past that may arise.]

First 10 people to answer are guaranteed an ambassadorship.

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Tommy's Friendly Grocery

I couldn't find a photo of Tommy's but here's a nearby street, same era.
Someone asked a FB group I'm in, "You Know You're from Sioux Falls...," what stores people missed. Before I posted "Tommy's Friendly Grocery," I scrolled through & was excited that someone named Jerry had already mentioned it. We got in a conversation: turns out he grew up 2 blocks away and had gone to Lowell, Edison & Washington with my next-older sister. A vivid little moment of home sweet hyperlocal world.

Tommy's Friendly Grocery was the scene of me getting dumped by my first "boyfriend," Bart. (Not to be confused with the first boy I kissed, when we were lining up for kindergarten—I loved Michael S. because when he went out in the sun in the summer, he got deep dark the first day; this impressed me no end!)  Read More 
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I didn't age & then I did

One day I wasn't old, & now I'm old, & I won't ever not be old again.

I always thought it was gradual but it turns out there's a day with your name on it. You can duck it for a long time but then your day arrives. I'll remember it because it's my friend's birthday (also JFK's).  Read More 
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Monday Quote

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.
~ Jean Rhys

This might be my favorite quote ever. It totally gives me a place, no matter where or what or why.
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The Jewish Lear

Totally great to see a melodrama of Yiddish theater, The Jewish King Lear, by Jacob Gordin, written 1892, translated by Ruth Gay. Another play of his, The Kreutzer Sonata, (based on the Tolstoy novella) was the first Yiddish play to be translated into English. This Lear had a happy ending like the 17th-centure Nahum Tate version  Read More 
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I sat in the gravelly backyard at Unnameable Books, waiting for the reading to start, when I got hugged from the side—by none other than my niece Hannah, in town from Portland, OR. She decided to surprise me at my reading, since "if you post on Facebook, I know where you're going to be." What a great girl! In her honor I read a poem ("How Hans Became an American") that features her dad.

It was a pretty nice night—wonderful work from the young poet Tony Iantosca, & an interesting jam from musicians that included Eddie Berrigan, who I had dinner with beforehand. The day was gorgeous, too.  Read More 
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And so to bed

I always wanted to write a history of the bed, using Pepys's famous line And So to Bed as the title. If I ever do, I would talk about sleep patterns, like first and second sleep, and pillows (once thought suitable only for women in childbirth) (others put a log under their heads).

I was a good sleeper till Johnny made me aware of him every minute.  Read More 
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From the vault

I was an activist all the way back in high school.

And early to understand the usefulness of a concocted quote. We wrote that, the few of us "radicals" who were at the meeting, but I was the only one who would put my name to it. "My parents would kill me" is what I remember everyone else saying. After this article came out in the Argus, I got hate & "turn to Jesus" mail from around the state.

I remember around the same time going door to door in a driving rainstorm trying to get people to sign a petition to free? reconsider? Thomas White Hawk, in the state penitentiary for murder. People were very polite to a bedraggled baby-faced teen but no one signed.

So many memories of my early activism. A girl in my class who declared that all the Indians were drunk. "And don't think I'm prejudiced. I'm not—it's true." A fund-raising walk (for Indians from South Dakota and India, if I recall correctly) I organized and walked the whole route in—on crutches. Sneaking out with my boyfriend Ken to drive to Vermilion to hear Julian Bond.  Read More 
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Barbara Barg (1947-2018)

Oh damn, it happened so fast, oh damnit to hell Babs, what are you doing dying on us? I keep thinking of your sharp wit, your Arkansas drawl, your complete acceptance of who you are, your hilarity, how you made yourself into the charismatic singer of Homer Erotic, of you as one of the Joans of Arc in our play from 1979, of how rare & pleasing it was to truly surprise you, how long we've all known each other, another bit of the texture of our world thinned out. Yes yes I know it happens & will keep happening but so what. This is now.  Read More 
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Books books books

Every once in a while I am struck again by how totally great it is that there are endless piles of books that I haven't read yet. Great books, riveting books, illuminating books, books on subjects I'm amazed someone took the time to think through.

I once understood mortality to mean that life wasn't long enough for me to ever read Ivanhoe.  Read More 
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I heart my neighborhood (#516,218)

Joe, the "Santa Claus of bread," as he referred to himself.
I was hanging out in the rain in front of my building when a guy came by & offered James the belt man a baguette. He turned around. "How many more baguettes are in my bag?"

"Two," I said.

"Do you want one?"

I did indeed.

Joe lives near Vancouver, Canada, where he is currently in IT but is in NY for a couple of months to learn bread-making. He walks home every day distributing the loaves he's made during the day. A happy man making others happy.  Read More 
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Ready to go

The moment before the processional... is everyone ready? are you nervous?

The flower girl was stoic, the ring bearer reluctant, the marriage went fine.

I'd never seen anyone jump the broom before.
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Albuquerque II

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.
Random thoughts about New Mexico...

So clear & dry, I didn't wheeze the whole time I was in New Mexico.

Did the people of the pueblos have any idea that their homes would be abandoned? Do I believe that one day people will stare at the ruins of Manhattan & not believe the population estimates? ("It says here that over a million people lived on this one island. Ha.") I know it's true but it's hard to fathom.

I think there are the people who see something different—for both Mark and me as small children it was Albuquerque's Indians, sitting outside La Placita on blankets, selling turquoise jewelry—and feel the world get bigger & more compelling, imagining themselves as part of that bigger world. And some folks already know their place & don't have any desire or intention to see where they might fit differently—the world is other. I guess you are  Read More 
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Monday Quote

Nothing ever becomes real till experienced — even a proverb is no proverb till your life has illustrated it.
~ John Keats Read More 
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Alabama Av

To have lived in New York all this time & never been on the J.
To never have heard of Alabama Av
Or that there was an Alabama Av stop.

I was homesick for somewhere else.
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Albuquerque I

This would look more like the roadrunner you expect if its tail was up.
There's a lot I love about Albuquerque, & I had a fantastic time eating New Mexico food (cheese enchiladas with onions!), seeing ruined pueblos & churches, breathing the piney air, seeing a roadrunner! I have much to say about all of this & I will.

But the real reason I went was to be able to have as long a conversation as I needed with my old friend Mark. I feel like Tietjens in Parade's End saying the reason you get married is to be able to finish a conversation. Phone just isn't enough.

In that regard, it was the  Read More 
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Lal! II

I was honored to be asked to introduce Michael Lally at the Poetry Project last night. Here's what I said:

I love the close harmonies of old country blues singers, in particular brother acts like the Blue Sky Boys, the Louvins, the early Everly Brothers. The way these siblings sing together is sometimes called blood harmony.

In a way, you could think of Michael Lally as being in blood harmony with the whole world—the  Read More 
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Poem (Mark)

Mark had this poem, which I have no memory of writing. How long we have loved each other!

Hi Mark
If I had 3 hours to write your birthday poem
it would take that long,
If I had 3 years I couldn't say enough,
If I had 3 $ million I would buy you a radio station,
a river
& a snowstorm.  Read More 
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Hello from Albuquerque

Posting this in advance to say I won't be writing here till Wednesday, May 9, because I'm on vacation, sans laptop. I'll be hanging out with mi primo Markos, going to see the Isotopes (the Rockies' AAA team), & in generally breathing deep of that piney air of New Mexico.
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Could I love NYC more? II

I came across this plaque on East 13th St, a little hidden behind decorative ironwork, which is possibly why I hadn't seen it before.

Here's the text:
The French forces that occupied Mexico were bitterly defeated on May 5, 1862, in the battle of Puebla. They nevertheless captured the capital and Napoleon III imposed Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg as emperor of Mexico. While leading the resistance to the victory that restored Mexican sovereignty in 1867, President Benito Juarez sent his wife Margarita Maza de Juarez to New York, where she lived, from 1864 to 1867, in a house that once occupied this site.

Since I leave off blogging on Saturdays, I can't post this on the 5th. A day ahead will have to do.  Read More 
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The meaning of toast

I love toast as much as the next breakfast eater but I don't have deep thoughts about it.

However, an academic named Arthur Asa Berger sees toast as a "miniature stage on which the homogenization and industrialization of the United States is played." He sees the toaster as a sign of the end days for American bread and even diversity.  Read More 
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Could I love NYC more?

Do people elsewhere find treasures like this in their backyards? It seems unlikely. I don't know which neighbor threw it out. I don't know which neighbor has just realized THIS is what she needs most in all the world. There are some pans too. I think you could move into a Manhattan apartment & furnish it entirely from stuff you find on the street. In fact, I know you can, because that's what I did. I moved in to an empty flat & brought home mirrors, books, a couch, and dishes that people had tossed.  Read More 
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On 17th Street

These were built almost 200 years ago & are on the National Register of Historic Places. We stopped to admire them & a yongish man said, Want to buy one?


He paused, posed, & said: It's no coincidence there's always a contractor's truck parked out front. Think about it.

He tipped his cap & went back to work.
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