Friday, December 10, 2010

Kim Calder's poems

Here is one stanza from "Sweet Land,"

We usurp and pay. In splinters, alongside the road,
are animals we'd wished to see alive. Sun moves through
a man-made waterfall, making it glitter well.

That's so true and simple-- part of our reaction to road kill is that we want to be able to see them alive.

Kim does an amazing job of moving through concrete images to abstract ideas and back. I look forward to a future collection.

Lithuania dates announced

I got an email yesterday with the dates for the Summer Literary Seminar in Vilnius. It will be July 31st-August 13th. Somehow I didn't realize that the program was two weeks. I thought it was only one, but I guess I just made that up.

So, wow! Two weeks in Lithuania. I think two weeks is a good amount of time to get a feel for a city. Back in 2000 I spent two weeks in Amsterdam and by the end of that trip, I felt connected to the city in a less touristy way. It's also great to not have to pick and choose which things you want to see, you can see them all.

I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. I'll be staying in a hostel. I'm about to get online to see how much the flights are and how many layovers it will require. Maybe I can get to spend a day in London and see old friends.

Having the date makes it real now. And it makes me really have to buckle down and save money!

Monday, December 6, 2010


The editor, David McLendon, asked that every contributor take a picture holding the journal and post it to Facebook. This is the photo I took.

My piece, "Scouts," is between work by Anne Valente and Peter Markus. Wow. Wow.


Talk about being grateful!

I can't wait to start, to read every page.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's 4:30 in the morning and I have been awake all night....

nasty, nasty insomnia

my cat is stalking crickets
and eating them

the dogs and my hubbie are sleeping

I went on facebook for the first time in like, months.
I was going to do one of those quiz things, but then
it asked for access to all of my account info,
including email
and I decided it wasn't worth it
to find out
when the program says I would have
my first child.
I was interested in this quiz only to see the
questions that would determine such a thing.

A friend had it on his wall. It said he would be a father
at age 21. He is now 30, childless.

I am not thinking about children
I am thinking about questions.

I watched most of a movie, "Why Has Bodhi Dharma Left for the East?"
A Korean film, beautiful.

I am going to be no good at work
in a few hours.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I did it! I wrote a novel!

I finished today, at 50,103 words. I sort of can't believe that I did it, that I finished it. The story was really hard to keep going after 46,000. I had to force out the last few thousand words, but it was challenge and I was up for it. Wow.

Now I have lots of editing and rewriting to do, but I'm looking forward to it. I still haven't seen how many pages it is after I normalize the fonts and sizes-- I worked on three different computers and each had different settings that I couldn't be bothered to change.

Now real life starts again, to some degree. I let all house work, physical activity and laundry go. I wore the same shirt all weekend (and it was a long weekend). I could see my random eccentricities increasing two fold after spending so much intense time in my own head, my imagination.

Can I say this changed me? It did. Hopefully I will get some good sleep tonight and not be running plot lines over and over in my head.

I also want to mention how awesome it was to be charging forward in a pack of people. Marylanders wrote about 35,000,000 words at the time I finished. I can only imagine what the final word count will be for our state. 197 people in MD had already finished this morning. That's an awesome number and an awesome community to feel connected to.

I'm really grateful I did it and that the organization exists.

There were some great pep talks, the best coming from Dave Eggers and Aimee Bender. Eggers used "goddamnit" four times in his post-- surprisingly casual for a mixed audience, but, he did that because he wanted to tell us to just do it, write the thing.

And I did.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Difference and Desire

This is a picture of a wrapper from a candy I ate in DC. Why save a candy wrapper? And, why take a picture of that wrapper?

It was part of an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. There were 175 pounds of candy poured into the corner of one of the rooms. The weight symbolized the artist's lover who died of AIDS. Each person was asked to take a candy from the pile. The artist hoped that by the end of the exhibit, all of the candy would be eaten; his lover gone, again. I was hit pretty hard by it. The act of eating a body is familiar-- hello, every Sunday of my young life-- but that body is always renewing, coming back again and again to be eaten by the faithful. This body was not. This "body" was also wrapped in colorful plastic foil.

Walking around outside the building I saw that a few people had dropped their wrappers on the sidewalk. It was strange to see them discarded like that. Justin suggested that we drop them on the floor of the museum, next to the pile of candy. I thought this would be the best option, the husk and the body, the consumption a cycle. I ended up pocketing it instead. What are the final implications of this interactive piece? Each person participates in the grief of the artist and in the larger grief of AIDS.

That is, unless you find it funny, like two ladies who were just happy to eat the candy. Which is to say, it was a success. People took what they wanted from it-- but they still interacted with everyone else who also took a piece.

I also enjoyed a photograph of a man holding a canary on his fingers, raised over his head. Around him were three cats, all looking up at the bird, wanting it. It was shot in a hazy, overexposed kind of way that was both dreamy and a little frightening.

How about a monocle and some dachshunds? Weimer- sexy? Yes, that's a shiver.

Loved how the naked men looked so much happier than when clothed-- especially O'Hara!

We drove around, guided by a pizza slice. We shook our bodies to mash-ups. We admired a bass-player-- funk, please, funk!-- we drank beer and talked movies. All in all, a good evening in DC.

Now I'm typing by a window, looking at a bell tower and feeling so incredibly, incredibly


Friday, November 19, 2010

A week, a weekend.

I am up to 23,207 words on my book. I've reached a tough point and feel a little discouraged. But, I'm gonna finish it. I am!

Many things to look forward to this weekend, including the new National Portrait Gallery exhibit: Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. It's about gender and sexuality and spans from Walt Whitman to current day. HERE The Portrait Gallery has long been my favorite museum-- seeing Lincoln's death mask? whoa-- and they are breaking ground with this exhibit.

On Monday I move into my new office. It has a window! No more cubicle for me!

In order to make a TOOTH SWITCH PLATE: one must first discover the need, then draw it, then form a mold, pour it, harden it, market it (in catalogs

sent to dentist's offices), ship it, include two screws-- to be generous-- paint the wall, mount it.

Only then, can I stare at it while I wait, while suction and such happens, x-rays, water pics.

I brush my dog's teeth with turkey flavored paste.

Still life, Pear Mouth

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drum avalanche... on my head!

Last night my husband and I went to a music store in Catonsville. My husband has been saying, "I want to learn how to play an instrument before I die," a statement that sounds dramatic, but one that I can get behind. This music store was selected because I knew they had a large selection of "lefty" guitars. Clint writes with his left hand, but paints with his right, so he didn't know which had he would prefer when it came to guitars.

We met a great guy, very helpful, not pushy, not rude-- like so many music store employees I've run into in the past-- and they started to experiment. As they were having fun, I walked around the store, playing a few chords on this guitar and a few on that one. I saw a resonator-- one of those guitars made out of metal with cones built in as the first amplifier system. The guitars have a great, chunky and rough, sound.

It weighed about twenty pounds, so I decided to sit down to play it. The only available spot was on the platform that held some drum kits. The platform was double high. Well, based on the title of this post, you can guess what happened... the platform tipped over and drums and symbols came crashing down, crashing on me, crashing on the guitars in front of the display. Can you imagine that sound?! So, I was trapped under two drum sets and a crappy platform-- trying to hold it up with my back so the whole thing wouldn't fall over and also trying to put down the twenty pound guitar with one hand without banging it up.

Yes, I am sore today, but okay. The store employees were so kind. After everything was righted (and everything was determined to be okay) I started to shake from adrenaline and embarrassment. I decided to stick next to Clint for the rest of the night.

And the funny thing is, he ended up getting a resonator! Last night I gave him my old glass slide and he immediately started in with some amazing riffs-- a guy that has never played before! I think it is so important to find the right instrument. Something really clicks when you do. In all, a great night. And next time I go to that store, I'm wearing my glasses and a hat... incognito!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some NaNoWriMo!

How much more awesome would it be to see ourselves in the transition of elements? In the dust clouds of a volcano, the purple red of a maple leaf, the segmented body of worm or the flashing blue of an Atlantic octopus? That was my fear and trembling, the finding of a rounded and smooth moon snail shell on the beach, picking it up, happy to find one without holes, only to have my thumb pinched by a hermit crab that had made it its home; how perfect a home, vacated and then filled, vacated and then filled until the shell could no longer be used; the creature that had created it, had built it around its soft body, long gone.


Corbina. A name that surprised me, a roundness I discovered on her mail after I had seen her working a stand at the farmer’s market. A tall stone of a woman, a strong jaw with large teeth that she probably grinded in her sleep. She was selling heirlooms, giant ugly tomatoes that split their own seams. She was concentrating on a book about soil Ph, barely registering anyone around her. She pushed her toes into the ground, digging them in, wriggle by wriggle, impatient to absorb what she needed to know. I took a dark purple tomato and kept walking. I didn’t look back until I was in my truck. She was standing there, eyebrows gathered, lips in a slight frown. I bit into the blackness. Juice ran down my chin.


Those are two paragraphs from my two narrators, a young woman and an old man. I'm at 8,000--- way behind where I'm supposed to be if I want to finish at the 50,000 goal. But, 8,000 words is the most I've ever written for a story and I'm proud of that. I'm setting up to write more tonight.

Aimee Bender wrote the most encouraging NaNoWriMo post the other day. I'll have to cut and paste some of it here later.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New York was just what I needed!

I actually forgot that things were going on here in Baltimore this past weekend. What I mean is, I forgot that it was also Halloween in Baltimore, like it was Halloween in NYC. Funny, right? But it felt good to be so disconnected from home base.

I would have preferred to be on the beach for vacation, but for a gorgeous weekend in October, NYC is perfect. My husband and I walked and walked and walked. We visited the Guggenheim. We heard Anne Carson talk about Odysseus's wife, about Bridget Bardot and about selling out. Lou Reed walked into the lecture and sat down right in front of Carson. It was quite an electric room. Then, oysters and beer. More walking. Breakfast outside in the Village. Bleeker Street and Marc Jacob's new book store, called "Book Marc." It was super well edited and a lot of fun. Chelsea, costumes, dogs, dogs, dogs!

I know that getting out of town was just what I needed. I signed up for the NaNoWriMo today! That book is finally going to get out of my head.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whoa! Best of Web nomination

Hey-ya, I just got an email alerting me to my nomination from LITnIMAGE-- my deranged love poem to Saakashvili has been nominated for the Dzanc Best of the Web Anthology! Super happy time. (Sorry, I think Eunice from SSTLS is rubbing off on me, that book IS so super sad and so super funny, truly frightening and hilarious at once. That's an incredible feat and why I love satire.)

NYC this weekend!

On Friday I'm going up to NYC to see Anne Carson deliver a lecture at The Philoctetes Center. My husband and I are staying the weekend. I'm so excited to get out of town! And it's Halloween weekend-- an extra bonus.

I've been finding it hard to concentrate on writing. I've blamed that on a lot of things, but mostly attributing it to feeling so underemployed at work. I try to make the most of it, but it seems pointless.

Man, don't you miss the old days when I would have just gone ape-shit about it on my blog? Let it all out? I guess those days are over. A new maturity? Perhaps.

Damn, though. I just sound depressed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mountains and other naturally occuring things

Hooray for a weekend of walking the woods. Hooray for Berkley Springs, Katie F and Katherine O! Woodpeckers, chickadees, prehistoric mud ponds, the most poorly marked trail ever-- numbers? what do these mean?-- earth dog, green bean's long lost brothers, Jazz Masters and crayfish. Yes.

Also, reading A Super Sad True Love Story and loving it!

Get ready for Helloing!

Monday, October 18, 2010

small post

I had a peaceful weekend. I met a super friendly Matt Bell, heard him read about a mechanical messiah, was captivated by Joanna Howard's lyrical internal meter and got drawn in by Brian Evenson's "Wind-Eye." Wind-eye is the Norwegian word for window in English. I love how one word can grab someone and make them create a story.

Then, Chris Toll held mass on the 11th floor of the Bromo Seltzer tower. The room was white and full of afternoon sun. There were benevolent armchairs. Joe Young brought us "When Light becomes St. Paul" and a discussion followed. I brought original sin and some stuff about taproots. I thought it was a good pairing.

I slept and woke and played Irish music on my mandolin. I bought my cat a jungle-gym igloo. I bought him catnip, but will dispense it carefully because I read cats can give themselves brain damage because they have such little self control when it comes to inhaling the herb.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Birkensnake Three is GORGEOUS!!!

These came in the mail the other day. They are handmade-- the cover is hand printed, the pages sewn in two signatures. The entire layout is inspiring. I love that the cover folds over the book. The wooden men are from one of the stories-- that's the other thing, I love all of the writing in here. I feel lucky to be in this journal.

Please click here for the free online version-- Birkensnake Three

OR HERE to purchase your own copy. They are only four dollars an issue-- pretty unbelievable for all of the work that went into making them.

Here is my story: White Knees

This has given me a small shot of happiness, something I've been lacking this summer.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sad day at the admission unit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My weekend

We traveled one mile into the mine on a blind
mule. Red water ran down our ears and
necks, our toes black with coal mud.

Everyone's sweat cooled in rings.
And the man said, rats know when
the rumbling is coming.

We stumped around in the dark, small
flames on our heads.
Upon leaving the mule kicked out
an angry breath.

My great-grandfather was drowned 600
feet down when he discovered an underground
river with his pick and dynamite.

We drove past the tenement house where
my grandmother lived as a child.
Many people were entering and exiting
the house as we watched from across
the street. That can't be good, I said.
A neighbor came out and we told him about grandma.
Oh, yeah, he said. That house is going back on
sale. The guy bought it for 12,000 and wants 20,000
for it! It had last been rehabbed in the seventies,
based on the dark wood paneling and long mirrors we could
see through the screen door. A doll baby and a purple

We are looking for the Lithuanian graveyard, we said.
Do you want the haunted one? We don't know we said.
We were given the wrong directions. My mom woke up
early and went driving and found the Polish graveyard, the German
graveyard, the Irish graveyard, the Ukrainian graveyard
and finally the Lithuanian one, too.

We didn't find our dead because they didn't pay for
"perpetual care" and their head stones must have
been grown over. I picked wildflowers and we drank
cognac. My aunt prayed to St. Antony to help us find
them. A man and his son came up and my uncle asked
him about the other Lithuanian graveyard we had heard about.

He took us there. It was in the woods, grown over with moss
and ferns. The stones were felled by roots. Only the largest
monuments remained.

We left. We ate lunch where the Molly Maguires had a secret tunnel.
We saw where they were hanged for being a terrorist sect--
or, to say it another way, for fighting for labor laws for the miners.
We ate chicken wings.

I came home and attended the viewing for Panda. It was a closed
casket because of his self-directed anger. I cried at the horror of it.
His mother came over and thanked me for coming. We hugged for a long minute and
she talked about his smile. I sat down, my ears with the sound of
my pulse. My stomach rolling.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

interview at The Collagist

Here It's about avoiding consciousness.

Overlea plot

I will demonstrate the hardiness of commercial brands of tomato plants (in my case, Roma and Cherry) vs. the wimpiness of heirloom tomato plants(Black Crim and Yellow something). It's quite remarkable. I think it's the lack of production and not the color of the produce that forced them out of the mainstream. Both have been fertilized only with egg shells (for calcium).

Imagine this:

You are in a small room, maybe six feet wide by twenty feet long. There is one TV placed in a central location on the wall opposite of where you sit. Regis and Kathy Lee, no, I mean Kelly, are on. You and six other women are reclining in pale green vinyl chairs. You all have IVs hooked up to different liquids. Nurses come around every so often asking if you are nauseated, if you have a headache, if you feel flushed. They provide the ice packs that you must punch to activate. They put these ice packs behind your neck to lower your body temperature. Every so often they draw blood.

Husbands must sit in the even smaller waiting room. One husband sings just under his breath to his wife. You have chosen the recliner by the window. You look out at the vastness of the hospital. You can see where Hopkins stops and the poverty begins. You think about what a hard time you had finding the transfusion unit, how it was like trying to navigate an airport-- not Heathrow, but maybe Atlanta. Your pituitary gland has been activated, which in turn activated your adrenal gland, which in turn spiked your cortisol, which, in theory, your body has a very hard time processing.

You need to eat graham crackers so you don't vomit. You look at the IV in your arm and think about how there is a needle in there. You wonder what would happen if you moved your arm in the way people do to show their biceps, if the needle would bend with the movement of it or if it would puncture the vein. You are, of course, interested in the absurdity of all of this.

Your time is up. The nurse, gently, even lovingly, removes the IV and all the tape. You press down on the opening in your arm. The nurse puts your three vials of blood into a plastic bag with your name on it, she puts an orange piece of paper in the bag, then seals it and deposits it in the type of vacuum tube banks use for their car side service windows. Your blood is pulled to the lab through hidden shoots in the walls.

You walk out of the hospital into the heat. You order an everything bagel with low-fat cream cheese. You want a latte with skim milk. You are given a plain bagel with cream cheese and a small black coffee. You don't fight with the clerk, you just sit and eat. You drive home.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Mind Says,

when I get to heaven, I hope I can work for Safeway.
We all long to be used by God.
I have a clear idea of what it means to work. A work/life balance? What a gimmick.
God’s never heard of it. Even in heaven, people stand around and ask each other,
So what do you do?

I bag God’s groceries, that’s what. And there is shame in that. And there is pride in that.
And I have formed my entire
analog self around the job.
My mind’s representation is in uniform.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The recommended Hmong translation for "X chromosone" is forty-six words long

1. I'm reading a great book. It's titled, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. The Hmong are an ethic minority from the highlands of Laos. The CIA trained them during the Vietnam war. They were given refugee status after the conflict. The book is about consciousness, really, the way we indoctrinate our beliefs, the way we practice our cultures. The girl of the title has seizures of the grand mal type-- only her heels and the crown of her head touch the floor during a fit. You can imagine the "collision of two cultures" that occurred when her family tried to get her help. I couldn't settle on a quote. I could have given you one about how opium funded the Vietnam conflict, about how the placenta is the "life jacket" you return to after you die, about how the soul must be tied to the body by ceremony-- souls like to wander away, how American soldiers were paid 400 dollars a month for service, while the Hmong got 3 dollars a month, the Americans got "turkey loaf, ice cream, beer, ham, eggs, etc., the Hmong were only given rice...

2. *^&$(#&(

3. I'm going to host a charity for Women for Women. It's a non-profit that benefits women of the Congo. It won't be the first charity I've hosted. The first one, for the Potomac Conservancy, raised two thousand dollars. I think I could make that much again, but I'll be aiming higher this time. Oh yeah, by the way, 5 million people have been killed in the Congo, the worst conflict since WWII. It's happening in my lifetime! Jesus H. Christ.

4. Completely non-writing related posts of late. I'm still doing it, writing, that is.

5. It is hard to form words without teeth. Conversation takes a lot of repeating.

6. I am taking a modern dance class. Last night was fantastic.

7. My friend KFO sent me a link to an article about how Facebook, Twitter, etc, are all ways of distracting ourselves from ourselves-- of really being with our thoughts. Solitude and Leadership It's well worth a read.

8. I've eaten a few zucchinis and two handfuls of peas from my garden. Several tomatoes are a gorgeous orange right now, almost ready to top homemade pasta!

9. After almost a month and a half of not duotroping, I blitzed it today, boys.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A ligature risk

is what the CEO of Spring Grove called a gas lamp chandelier in a picture of the hospital in the 1920's. Electricity was still unreliable. Doctor's operating theatres always had picture windows to let in natural light, in case the bulbs went dark in the middle of a procedure. Procedure.

A veteran of WWII, a former employee of the hospital, told me, "You better get some combat boots."
I said, "Oh, you mean for the tour of the campus?" We were to walk about a mile and to be shown where buildings used to be ( and be warned that sometimes sink holes open up when the earth settles into subbasements.)
"No," he said, "When the Arabs come, those shoes won't cut it." I was wearing two and half inch wedges.

I had some hesitation about repeating this, after thinking about how I presented the homophobic and racist comments of my brother-- that my repeating them was giving them audience.

My reply to the man was, "Oh my." The small circle of people dispersed.

He later said, to the roomful of people as the conference ended, "Go home and have a martini-- don't take Thorazine, that stuff will kill you." He was responding to a speaker that talked about how a woman had had 80 electro shock treatments and a partial lobotomy and was still uncontrollable. She was in the first Thorazine trial and within a year was employed in the community. I don't know how she had any brain left.

It was a full day. I learned that it was the Great Depression that broke taboos about family attachments. Prior to the GD, if you had a schizophrenic aunt, you took care of her at home. This meant a basement, usually. After the GD, people no longer felt shame about giving their relatives to the State. It broke all kinds of codes of behavior.

I saw a "psychodrama theater" from the 70's. It was attached to a laundry building from the 20's and an office building from the 40's. The hospital now uses that mash up of a building as storage. They don't use psychodrama anymore. I'm sure they can't "bill" for it.

The CEO pointed out that the grounds offer the same soothing qualities as back when the patients and the staff played baseball games together. That's something, considering over 60% of the people there are forensic -- court-ordered, and they aren't allowed outside at all...

One last thing. One photo from the 60's featured a doctor measuring out prescriptions. He was smoking a pipe in the pharmacy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That’s It!

Think of the dark boil on the mitochondria,
the individual angina pectoris, that is, heart ache, of each cell as it divides
and carries the hereditary handicap of Original Sin.

It’s molecular, this badness.

That’s why you stole buns from the street vendor and stuffed them
into your bra.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Overdue things

One thing that isn't weeks old: Read my story, "only of motion" here PANK

Two weeks ago I took the Megabus to NYC for the Bushwick Open Pages fair. I've been on Ugly Duckling's mailing list for at least a year and when this invite arrived in my inbox, I jumped on it. I started following them because of their Eastern European writers focus. And, the letter press journals they create are beautiful. I sent a query letter to Linda half a year ago, but they aren't publishing books outside of their series. It was an exciting day. I talked to editors of Gigantic and BOMB as well as UDP. I have to say, I expected to walk up the subway stairs and fall in love with Brooklyn, but no such thing happened. It reminded me too much of South Jersey, with its abandoned warehouses and chop shops.

I then interloped at a DOGZPLOT reading. Barry was kind enough to let me read, oh wouldn't you know, I do have some stories on me... It went well. When a woman says the "p" word it gets laughs. The after party was fun. KGM is as lovely as you imagine. Peter S. in his underwear, flashes the audience. Such a long walk to PENN, but it was worth it. Took the late late bus back.

Sometime between the fair and the reading I stopped into a Russian Souvenir shop on 2nd Ave. The elderly owner was born in Belarus. He kept calling it "White Russia." I didn't ask him about that. I bought a small lapel pin of a bird with a word that doesn't translate well. He said it means something like museum. I don't know. He smelled like sausages, but was very kind.

Last week I attended the On Our Own conference at Rocky Gap in Cumberland. On Our Own is a peer support organization that helps people with mental illness live fuller lives. My work sponsored me and one of my co-workers. Last year I attended and spent too much of the time drunk or hung-over. This year I walked some ten miles of trails and swam in the gorgeous lake. I mark this conference's anniversary as the time when I really slapped myself in the face and demanded I make changes. And I have.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Baltic people know a good time...

So many thoughts about this. After talking with my friend Peter I've become aware of themes in my writing that have to do with identity and belonging/being outside of a culture. He could say that much better than I just did. I've had trouble with this fascination of mine after reading about how Romantic irony (I am both in the world and have an awareness of the sublime and I am isolated because of my private self awareness) birthed nationalism. And nationalism, as we know, birthed many of the horrors of the last century. I've been moving towards a more neutral stance about preserving this "pride" (although I was happy to read that the Lithuanians were the absolute last European country to adopt Christianity and when they finally believed in Jesus they depicted him with an outrageous amount of Pagan symbolism) of culture or heritage and thinking that I should consider myself nationless. This parallels what Zizek was saying about environmentalism-- in order to actually preserve ourselves and our planet we have to see ourselves as alien, not part of the natural system. So, in order to preserve the order of government, we must move away from identifying with the symbols, the flags, the colors that represent it.


The first thing a colonial power or a Christian power, oh that's redundant, does is remove language and indigenous culture. Economic dependence follows, poverty follows. Nationalism through Romanticism is what preserves identity. "I am different in these ways, different like all of these other people." And colonialism, not nationalism, is what continues to create the horrors of this century... that rough individualism that allows Brazil to import milk after exporting it first to Europe. By colonialism I mean capitalism, of course.

I suppose I am saying that I am going to continue to identify, in a Romantic way, with my Lithuanian roots. I've just now worked through any ambivalence I was feeling about this.

The photo is of a famous singer from Chicago-- a city that has more "Lithuanian" people than the capital of Lithuania. He was pretty fabulous, what with his aluminum sneakers and tinfoil pants. The rhinestone "R" is what really got me, though.

One last thing. This celebration of Lithuania took place at the Catonsville Armory. With tanks and army recruiters. Ha!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Gosh, I hate to admit it, but I think doubt is creeping in. I'm starting to feel self-conscious when I write and that automatically kills the piece. I'm twenty-three pages into the book. I'm very pleased with what I've written. I know that this story hasn't been told. I am confident in that. I'm starting to worry that maybe people won't want to read about a six year old and his idea of what sex is. Or matricide. Do people want to read about that? I'm just feeling lost. I feel like my poetry collection is strong, but I know better where not to send it then where to send it. I am very aware that I need an editor. It looks like I am going to start going to those Buffalo things. Or, I just need to start going out again. I've been cloistered at home, content. The need to shake things up is in my genes. I can blame it on my dad's side, if blame needs be assigned.

Maybe this is because I am reading, get this, THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND! (exclamation point is mine) Summary of the first 68 pages: Language is the root (ha, see) of consciousness. Language evolved from concrete things-- like the word head-- that then developed into metaphorical uses to symbolize other things-- the head of an army. Metaphor is what created consciousness because it allowed us to see ourselves in a distinct way, as separate from the reality of our environments. Here is a quote, "Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world."

I want a vacation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

telephone........................................................... ring

Ah, what a day.

I've been tracking 63 people that were discharged from Upper Shore Hospital when it closed because of budget cuts.

About twenty-five of these people have been incredibly hard to find.

Today I called a number I've tried a bunch of times before. A family member picked up and told me that the person I'm looking for is dead. He died last week of natural causes.

The average lifespan of someone with persistent, severe mental illness is twenty-five years shorter than a peer without mental illness.

Another father I spoke with said that he kicked his daughter out because she won't take her medicine. She is living in the car in the front yard.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

FENCE contest

I placed as fellowship winner of the FENCE SLS contest. That means I wasn't in the top three, but I placed high enough to be granted a partial scholarship to attend the writing conferences in either Montreal, Kenya or


You get one guess as to which program I'm going to attend.

The Lithuania program isn't until next year. It will celebrate the 100th birthday of Lithuanian born Milosz. I'm glad that it won't be for a while, even though it's hard to wait. I'll have time to save up.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What passive violence we allow (draft)

a strange humidity in the house--
a cat gut glutted with grass
i will permit this
stink and judgement
this etc of sounds
that all sound like
an awful start I can only tell


that something is building,
not what, where
something that won't allow
me to loose the muscles
of my shoulders this is a quiet
poem, full of timid
things, like the belly hair I shave,

more, more, more, yeah yeah yeah
where's a cigarette

Thursday, March 18, 2010


"Scouts" is gonna be in the next issue of Unsaid! I can't tell you how excited I am about this. My hero, Anne Carson, has been published in Unsaid. It makes me giddy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday night, Friday night, Sunday night

A Mexican crow/hawk called a Caracara in front of a defused U-238 atom

A PET scan of the brain.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I am going to eat this

Broccoli Romanesco
ordered the seeds from Cooks Garden

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend, what weekend? I don't remember Friday. I think I feel asleep on the couch in front of the fire. Saturday I wrote and wrote. And painted the house. Sunday-- the reading! An awesome crowd of friends, wonderful support. Earlier I rode my bike for the first time this season. I got sunburned. Only nine miles-- but mostly hills. Then pruning the rose hips, deadheading the chicken and hens, bagging up leaves. Larisa Shepitko's The Ascent (glad Bigelow won for a war film)this wild Russian should have won in 1977, what's wrong with the Academy?

I cannot wait to start the growing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And, Afterward

The first two pages of the project: Joe Young (left) and me (right). Please click here to see all of the updates.

Thank you, Joe, for being the first to contribute.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I pushed "Faeries Wear Boots" and the jukebox died






the end

workie workie

The DSM V is online and open for comments. This is a revolutionary way to present such an important academic text. It allows the public the same level of access and input awarded to professionals.


I am particularly interested in the renaming of "Gender Identity Disorder" to "Gender Incongrunce." It's still very controversial to include this aspect of human sexuality in the manual.

Being gay was codeable as a mental illness until 1987.

The new version also attempts to be more sensitive to cultural factors that contribute to a person's self. This should be common sense, no?

I spent several hours online looking over the revisions.


The Cezanne and American Modernism show at the BMA lacks energy.

Here is something that does not lack energy:

Thanks, Katherine, for the link to the LA Times article about Iva Gueorguieva. She studied philosophy at Goucher because, "I knew that I could paint a bucket to look like a bucket, but so what? I needed to learn how to think." Then she studied painting at Temple.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

whoa, tomorrow is Friday

SO many hours in the car this week, only about a third of them planned. I think the city should hire people to walk around with propane flame-throwers to melt everything down. I think it would be an awesome sight-- yellow jumpsuits with SNOW in a circle with an X, special goggles, gloves, little backpacks with propane tanks and the blaze, the blaze melting it all into the Harbor. Nothing could possibly go wrong...

Yesterday I woke up with a smile. I dreamt that James Joyce was texting me. I'm not making it up! Imagine-- I think Joyce would have gotten a huge kick out of the randomness and the language screwiness of texting. I wish I could remember what his text said, but that part of the dream is gone. I'll have to invent it.

The i.e. reading went well. Only a handful of people showed up, but that kinda worked in my favor. My voice cracked at times and I lost my breath more often than I'd like to remember, but I read my new stuff and it went over well. Michael Ball invited me back to read with Chris Nealson and maybe, quite possibly

Cole Swensen!

What an exciting thought.

My husband bought me the new Salt Hill. It's hands down my favorite journal. Here are a few good quotes from an interview with John Robert Lennon:

"The thing is, I really like flawed novels when other people write them."

"I think overwriting is the tendency not to exercise judgement in the accretion of detail... The eye and the ear of a reader want to go to certain places; the overwriter forces them to pay attention to elements chosen not for their importance to the story but for their significance to the writer."

"My other interests--music and photography-- inform and influence my fiction, to some extent, but for the most part they're the product of an excess of desperate creative energy that I lack the patience to plough entirely into my fiction."

Friday, February 5, 2010

Netflix for the weekend, books, books, books

In January I watched 15 movies. Here are the top three:

Lion's Den (terrible name)

Goodbye Solo

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN (awful, awful name)

The first two are instant-- so when you are snowed in this weekend, watch'em and let me know what you think.

Lion's Den is about a pregnant woman accused of killing her two lovers/tormentors and the Argentine prison system.

Goodbye Solo is so painful/beautiful to watch because of the exuberance of Solo, the cabbie. ( I have to say that I LOVED Chop Shop, though. This is also instant. It's by the same director, an earlier movie. Two children living above a chop shop in NYC, making it on their own)

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN isn't some anti-consumerism movie by Naomi. It's a gorgeous sci-fi/mystery/art film created on Super Eights. The first two chapters of the story are a little too fast, the director really hits his stride at chapter four. Mother issues? Yup, this guy's got them. It's freaky and sexy weird.

I only read one novel in January.

The Cave by Saramago.

I was so taken by his Death with Interruptions . I was surprised by how hard a time I had finishing this one. The last thirty pages are mind-expanding, though. I had a hard time with the book because it's all about normal life, normal worries-- like making a living, marriage, pottery. I could appreciate the story and the subtle message, but I've developed an intolerance for normalcy. The Death with book is an idea book and that got me off big time.

I hit the absolute book jack-pot in Westminster, MD of all places. I was out there for work and stopped at the biggest Goodwill I've ever seen. I took home 12 books:

A FIRST EDITION (hardback) Invisible Cities Calvino
Identity Kundera
A Wild Patience has Taken Me This Far Rich
Anil's Ghost Ondaatje (another first edition, hardback)
Anna Karenina Tolstoy (hardback)
Moscow Women, 13 interviews
Between the Acts Woolf
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion
Virginia Woolf (bio)Gordon
And two art books.

What an incredible find! Usually I spend about two minutes in the book section of Goodwill-- long enough to see all the Clancy and romance novels and leave. This time, I spent about forty-five minutes treasure-hunting. I have (had?) a kindred spirit out there in Westminster.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy happy happy happy birthday Gertie!

Ah, the girl slow to realize. Not, no, not slow to realize. She knew right away and why not? It's Gertie's birthday today and it's strange how the dead still get birthdays and the unborn do not. That's because they haven't been born yet, obviously. Once you get borned you get to celebrate that even after you die. Being born is big. Which is true, they celebrate the father's birthday by spitting wine on the cold of December and they run in circles with the wine coming from their mouths onto the frost-bleached ground. But, they do not even acknowledge the death day, which happened in April, the "earth day" and a week or two after the girl's birthday and is April the cruelest? Of course not. Hey Gertie, how are things on this birthday that we are celebrating long after your bones have given up all their minerals? After the heavy brown burial gown is dry-rotted and brittle? It is a happy day to remember, the day you were a baby sucking at a servant's breast and pawing at her tender buttons.

Today is probably not a good day for the girl, even though it is a good day for Gertie. It is a good day for Gertie. It's always about the breast, full breast, come flying. Today the girl is taking stock and still shivering; it is more like a deep tremor coming from the inside of her dark torso. It happens in the legs, too, and the neck, it's clear that there is a disconnect, a misfire between the brain and eyes. There is only so much standing on one leg, that is, testing of one's balance. Suck down hard on a peppermint and the nausea will forget how to tumble. She expected as much.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Justin Sirois is doing

a lovely remembrance project for the poet and prankster David Franks. I contributed a poem that is up today:

And Amen and Amen and Amen

Please visit the site to find other poems about Franks and great links to stories about him on The Signal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How about it?

I'm very excited about this weekend. I think (and hope) that the reading is going to be well attended and that I've put together a diverse group of artists and poets. The freak flag is a gonna be a flyin.

Long week of interviewing-- I logged 25 interviews at three different places around the state. Lots of driving and talking. I met God and he was lovely. I'm not being a smart-ass.

I started a new poem after hearing my mom describe the sound of the siding being torn off her house by the wind.

I think that I am going to attend Jen's workshop at the Creative Alliance tonight. I have to see how much it is. I haven't been in a fiction workshop in years and years. The workshops really killed fiction for me, actually. So it's dangerous that I'm considering attending.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I almost forgot!

Issue Ten of Robot Melon is live. My story, Glass, Clay, Agate is included. It's about two Russian immigrants squatting in West Baltimore. That, and grief, and welding.

New Year, New Year, New Year

I made it out of the house to visit the Gorky retrospective at the Philly M of A. I highly recommend that you make the trip before the show leaves on Jan 10. It was truly incredible to see how many studies ( some of them included grids) he created before painting. It was inspiring to see how something so chaotic and unplanned-looking actually had so much thought and reason behind it. I drew parallels to writing, of course.

I am working on a critical theory. It's exciting to be thinking this way. It has had me digging up essays on Modernism and Naturalism, etc.

Today is my first day back at work since the 24th. God, it was good to have that time off, even though I spent just about all of it sick and feverish.

I'm starting a new project, too. A "living book." I plan to start it and then pass it on to book artists and have them grow the book and the story. At the end of the year I'll display it and the other works of the artists that have participated in the project. I'm calling it, And, Afterward. If you would like to join me, please email. You don't have to local, either. I'd like to mail the book around the States. Maybe the world? But I don't know how much that will cost. Whatev-- if you want it, let me know.

Let's get started, 2010.