Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leaky aura?

Do you Suffer from a Leaky Aura? Take this quiz!

I am offended by this on many levels. In terms of language and communication, it's a travesty. Not only does "Leaky Aura" sound awful, but who would admit they suffered from this even if they knew what it was? Secondly, don't tell me you're going to "correct" my aura, plug my leaks or anything of the kind. All you're going to do is take my money because I'm stressed out and desperate for a change.

I fully believe other people can affect our moods. Obviously, right? I believe that some people are more susceptible to the moods of others. And, as a bodyworker, I've seen the damaging effects of stress on people's lives. But Leaky Aura Syndrome(LAS)? The only reason to package it that way is because it allows you to market your wares under a new angle. The wares might even be legit, but the marketing stinks.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh so slowly, my stories are trickling out into the world. pacificREVIEW has published my story "Homes" in their 2007-2008 issue. Holding the thing in my hands is not nearly as satisfying as getting that acceptance letter (email in this case) that said YES. And really, that letter was far less satisfying than the day I finished the story and got to say DONE.

As much as I long to be published and give my words some larger life, I have to say that the process of writing them is, by far, the better part of this bizarre life. It has to be, right? Of course, I wouldn't mind testing this theory against an acceptance from, say, The Paris Review. Just a thought.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another draft done. How done, I'm not sure. What feels good is the concentrated effort that went into finishing this round. I could have been more focused, but for a lazy girl like myself, this was pretty damn good.

Unlike other moments in the revision process of this book, this feels like the right moment to take a real step back and turn my attention to something new. There's another novel that's been brewing for a while. There may be a short story in there somewhere. Maybe even a poem in the spirit of my 2008 More Poetry Manifesto.

Leaving these characters behind for now feels great, like finally getting out of my parent's house after a long visit. I love them dearly, but a little time away is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And speaking of sea creatures...
Last night I was part of a birthday celebration at Toro Bravo. This Spanish tapas restaurant has garnered much deserved praise 'round these parts. It was one of the best meals I've ever had, partly because there were enough of us to try a ton of different dishes and because we didn't hold back. Spendy? Yes. But I always like to compare my indulgences to my own hourly massage rate. How many massages is a plate of fried anchovies with fennel and lemon worth? How about a salt cod fritter that was indescribable (partly because describing it goes like this: they're these little balls of fish that were kind of whipped or something...eeew). Even the cauliflower was amazing because those wacky Spaniards know to serve it with chopped olives and salsa verde.

I'm not a foodie. Today I had a PBJ for lunch and a bowl of microwave popcorn and I liked it just fine, dammit. But if you have the money, every once in a while it's worth showing your taste buds some real respect. And if you really have the money it's probably worth packing up your bags and going to Spain for some regular feedings of goat cheese and scallops and little balls of fried, whipped fish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I bought my friend this book for his birthday and can barely stand that it's all wrapped up in plastic, guarded from my greedy fingers. My friend would love to see these creatures close up in the watery depths. I prefer them on the glossy pages of a book.

I love the water, or rather, I love the surface of the water. The surface and a few feet below the surface if it's nice and clear. I love to float in it, swim in it, look at it from a sandy beach or warm wooden dock but I'm pretty sure if I came in physical contact with one of these alien creatures I would scream my head off and in doing so would swallow a ton of water and probably die. They are the beautiful beings of my nightmares.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Listen to this from Rush Limbaugh, the big racist hypocrite.

Watch McCain say permanent occupation of Iraq is okay with us as long as soldiers aren't getting killed.

Hang on until the end of this clip of Huckabee until he starts joking about blinking in morse code.

What kind of insanity do we live in? How are these people getting away with talking like this? Howard Dean lost all of his support because he shouted a little too loudly but these idiots get away with being foolish, uninformed and hateful. My head is going to explode.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No joke. I used to work in the basement of this motel. It was my first job as a massage therapist over eleven years ago. The place had "spa" in its name and the two workspaces each had a jacuzzi tub and sauna, but they were also converted motel rooms and retained quite a bit of their motel feel. Their clientelle were mostly male businessmen. One of my coworkers was a woman in her late fifties/early sixties who used to be a stripper but became an LMT when her boobs started sagging. She also did out-call massage without a table, which meant she went to people's houses and gave them massages on their beds. She was a hoot, a nutjob and extremely sketchy depending on the day.

Don't get me wrong, the place was legit, though I got the job because another therapist was fired for stealing and giving happy endings. The good thing was that she was fired. The bad thing was that one of her favorite clients wasn't banned from the establishment and decided to test the limits of the "new girl." I think I quit soon thereafter.

My massage career since then has largely been free of any sketchiness. Largely. The problem of men wanting more, taking more, or insinuating that they should get more still happens in this line of work from time to time. I hear this from all of my LMT friends. It's extremely unfortunate, especially since the weekly papers and craigslist are chock full of women willing to give them just what they want. I think I am most resentful that a lot of these men seem to like the legitimacy of seeing a licensed LMT as well as the mind games or power that comes with pushing the limits of that legitimacy. Sorry, but I'm not a substitute for the prostitute or lap dance you think you're above getting because you're a "good family man."

I'd like to think that some day this will no longer be an issue. We will be completely accepted as legitimate health professionals. With that would come a shift that says sex workers are equally legitimate in their own field and that there's no shame in hiring them. I wonder, do they have this problem in Amsterdam?

Monday, January 14, 2008

We were promised sun yesterday and sun was indeed delivered. We are promised it much of the week and as my friends basked on the back porch, we made plans for it. We'll rotate our days to align with the light and hope it's enough to get us through to the first pink buds.

Here's a winter poem from James Wright that makes me happy that I don't live in Ohio.

Late November in a Field

Today I am walking alone in a bare place,
And winter is here.
Two squirrels near a fence post
Are helping each other drag a branch
Toward a hiding place; it must be somewhere
Behind those ash trees.
They are all still alive,they ought to save acorns
Against the cold.
Frail paws rifle the troughs between cornstalks
when the moon
Is looking away.
The earth is hard now,
The soles of my shoes need repairs.
I have nothing to ask a blessing for,
Except these words.
I wish they were

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kitty Mao makes out

My cat is a slut for Joe, or rather, for Joe's clothes. All it takes is a drop of this man's sweat and she goes nuts. Go figure. . .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The richness of waiting

I've been thinking about letters today and how much I miss them. Being phone-phobic the way I am, I love the alternative that e-mail gives me, but I miss the ink and stamp, the flutter of surprise at seeing my name hand-written on an envelope when I lift the lid of my mailbox. "The richness of writing and the deeper richness of waiting," Stanley Plumley writes in an essay about literary letter writers in the most recent Poetry Northwest.

That waiting always felt a bit like flirting to me, the tease of it. Today? Will it be today? And then the pay-off which sometimes disappointed in its banality and sometimes thrilled with its secrets.

It makes me sad, not only in my own life, but in general, that this form of communication has disappeared. Whether or not the recipient tossed the letter or hoarded it, there was a level of implied permanence to the process that inspired thoughtfulness. But now we've traded intimacy for speed. We've thrown away our private thoughts and instead spill them recklessly across these windows that everyone can see.

Monday, January 07, 2008

You know I like a good laugh at my own expense. Well, I find it pretty funny that ever since the New Year I've been living in Sean's track pants. I'm no fashion monger, but this is much further than I'd usually go, even within the confines of my home. And yet, here I am...

I've always embraced my elderly tendencies. Somewhere in the family albums is a picture of me dressed up as an old woman for halloween. Painstakingly needlepointed into my childhood Christmas stocking is an image of Mrs. Claus that reminded me fondly of my grandmother. I've always loved eating dinner early and going to bed early. I even wrote a poem once with the line "I'm going to be what they already see/a bitchy old lady of twenty-three."

But now in comes the new year with a fresh supply of old. In the last week or so I've come across at least three people who knew my name and I had no idea who they were. All I could manage were vague half-graspable memories of their voices, hair or smiles. I've since discovered who two of them are. The others continue to nag my swiss-cheese brain.

And then there's the track pants. If I had my own velour leisure suit, I certainly would have been wearing that instead. In the last week I've managed to acquire and largely recover from an ailment seen mostly in people over 60 (let's leave it at that. It's both better and worse than you imagine). And so I've been housebound, slipper-bound. Old, old, old.

Maybe I'm getting it out of the way now. Maybe I'll grow charmingly childlike in my golden years and not simply because I've got Alzheimer's. It could happen, right? It could.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Without TV I have time to do things like review my story submissions. Each time I've done this over the last year I've come across my submission to Orchid's short fiction contest in 2006. No reply. And no reply to my email inquiry. Their website says that winners will be announced in July. That's July of 2007. Still no news here in 2008.

What gets to me about this is not the idea that I might have won this contest if only they hadn't decided to suspend communication with the outside world. What bugs me is that on the same page is an invitation to submit to their 2007 contest. There's a fee for this contest. Surely, two-year's worth of contest participants would like to know if the magazine has folded or suffered some other fate. Meanwhile, the only evidence I could find that they were still in existence was a rejection letter published at Literary Rejections on Display.

I feel for these small magazines. It's got to be a largely thankless job. But I find this irresponsible as well as annoyingly mysterious.

Day four of no TV. Most of the people I know might think this is no big deal for me, a reader and writer, a lover of my twelve-block walk from house to world. In its deliberte absence over the last few days, however, I've seen how the minutes added up. A quick, lazy shot of a talk show while I eat my lunch. A relaxing lounge after finishing with my clients for the day. Just one bad cop show because, damn, I'm tired. No more. Good riddance.

Today it got sunny and warm. Actual bright blaring light. We all know how miserable the cold wet rain has been these last few weeks. What we forget is just how GOOD sun on your skin feels. More necessary than nice. Forget the TV. I ate my lunch outside and watched the grass and shadows.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Manifesto 2008

There are many facets to the new plan: No TV, less spending, more poetry, more walk to the talk. I'll let you know how my lifelong love of good enough meshes with my new love of diligence. I expect a painful but rewarding trip.

And now on with the poetry:

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.