— this is really happening

March, 2008 Monthly archive

I’ve never had to work a graveyard shift, so it is with an air of privilege and creeping meatballism that I say, I’d like to try living nocturnal for a week. Not to watch every episode in the fourty-two season Days of Our Lives marathon that TBS will air every midnight to 8am until August (sorry Jon, still no Tivo), but because the first three hours of dawn are perhaps my favorite three hours of the day (if I manage to be awake). I need to determine if this is just romantic infatuation, or if easy living is more possible at night. Really, if the work day consisted of three segments of dawn piled on top of each other, I’d already be a double PhD, I’m positively sure of it. I can work faster, with more pleasure, and with less distraction when I am at the computer machine at dawn. Plus, nothing beats a 4am visit to a supermarket, especially if it’s been raining and your shoes are squeakers. You may have to wait for the checker to emerge from the stocking shelves, and you still have to contend with the 11 million watts of fluorescent, but it’s front of the line every time.

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These are words and phrases that rhyme with monica. It’s important if you ever want to write me poetry. Or something. Although I probably won’t answer, feel free to call me by any of my rhymes, especially the last one. 🙂

3 syllables:
bonica, donica, konica

4 syllables:
harmonica, japonica,

5 syllables:

6 syllables:
genus veronica

7 syllables:

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(I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s fun, and it’s "funner" to repeat it.) Observe, the child’s plea for an instant grilled cheese to arrive warm and crackly on a plate: "Daaaad, I’m hungry."  To my request, my Dad used to say, slapping his knee, convinced he should be a writer on The Tonight Show, "It’s good to want things." My Dad was full of stuff like that. When I was cold I’d say, "Daaaaad, I’m cold." He’d say, "It’s always colder somewhere else." Great, thanks.

But today, I say to you, it’s always colder somewhere else

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I am leaving momentarily. On my way to go celebrate the life and living of my mother, Sabina Baral on her 60th birthday. She is a light of lights. A tremendous giver and teacher, a ball breaker, a saint. I love her infinitely.

A few words from Billy Collins on the subject. I intend to read this poem at some point during the weekend’s festivities. I hope it is a sort of gift, however uneven.

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

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"What is truly disappointing about television is to realize that in its vast landscape, there is only one character I would hold up as a role model to you—the Class of 2002—a single character, a lone beacon. I am referring, of course, to Lisa Simpson. I would hold her up for her fierce curiosity, for the courage of her numerous convictions, her outspokenness, her sensitivity to environmental issues. Here is a character who will not graduate—not because animated characters never age—but because, for her, life is a learning experience. And then there is her patience in a family environment most inimical to learning—patience in the face of her father’s profound density, her brother’s cruelty, and even, yes, she must be included-her dear mother’s vacuousness. And let us not forget her commitment to the saxophone, regardless of the results. What I am saying, I think, in this regard, is find your own saxophone. There is one out there for each of you graduates. Your saxophone might be growing orchids or taking photographs of clouds—it might be learning sign language or driving an ambulance. Or your saxophone might be the saxophone itself—that would make things very simple. In any case, find your saxophone and play what you feel on it-even though it might result in your getting tossed out of the school band. That’s the lesson, I think, of Lisa Simpson."

— Billy Collins ’63, U.S. Poet Laureate, Holy Cross’s 2002 Commencement Address

Thanks all for the various warm & intoxicating words to ease my literary parch from a few day’s ago. The above was lent by the southern amiga, B. Bless! I feel fuller and my palette is wet. Off to find and play my saxaphone!

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It’s a big pain in the ass when someone moves out. So, cheers and hats off to my housemates. It is not without a heavy heart that I will soon depart my long-time castle in North Berekeley to venture toward the geese and pigeons of Lake Merritt and to join the solo living festival there.

My housemates were admirable when I shared my news. They were warm, positive, and excited for me. There was support lent by way of hands laid on back of neck and plenty of long, sweet stares conveying all the "it won’t be the same without you" a girl could ever want. All in all, the news-breaking of my departure was the sketch of simplicity, and of the good feelings that can come only from the unique relationship of being housemates with others that you trust and love. Maybe you’re wondering, "well, duh, what else could they do? Of course they’d be positive!" But see, I’ve moved a lot and I’ve lived in scores of multi-folk houses. The hassle of finding a new housemate could make anyone sour. Leave it to S., M., and K. then, to do it right and dress the housemate search in pleasure thick as a Polyphonic Spree song.

After a brief run of open houses, they quickly settled on D., the woman who will move in to my upstairs spot. A fresh, sprightly redhead with two cats and short bangs. Now, grab your notepads, and file this under ‘Inventiveness.’ After Craigslist’s ‘Casual Encounters’ made its way into the conversation they’d had with fair D. the day they interviewed her, my housemates decided to inform her that they wanted her to move in by using nothing other than craigslist to do the talking. That is, they posted a listing on Craigslist’s Casual Encounters and waited for her to see it. Please check the subject line of the post they wrote.


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