Friday, May 09, 2008

Cuddle cuddle cuddle

When Snowdoll was first introduced to the family she tried to sleep close to Romanov who would have none of it. A few months later, oh how things have changed!

Actually, they are not snuggling in this picture. They were playing and Romanov had managed to get Snowdoll pinned down. If you look closely you can see that her muzzle looks a little mushed. Why? Because she's trying to bite his ankles.

Sometimes, when I am doing my bellydancing, Romanov will sleep in the bedroom while Snowdoll prefer the cool of the kitchen tile. But lately I catch them sleeping side-by-side more often.

Even when I am in the living room, applying for jobs via the internet, and catching up on my emails, the two of them can occasionally be caught lying close to one another.

And here we are, at the end of the day. Actually, what you can't see is that Romanov had already stretched himself out and Snowdoll came over and sort of just plopped herself behind him. His eyes are open and just after I took this picture he turned to look at her as if to suggest that, while it was tolerable on cooler floors and in cooler weather, now that it is getting hot she may want to reconsider her need to lie so close.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tivo and Design and the Elastic Mind

Today I was watching something on Charlie Rose that made me wish I had Tivo so I could share it with other people. This was the first time since Tivo became popular that I was even remotely tempted to want it. However, thanks to the glories of the internet, I don't need Tivo because I was able to find the program online. I thought this all sounded incredibly exciting and made me ache with desire. (And in case the video doesn't work, you can find it here: Design and the Elastic Mind)
Now that it is in my blog I can share it with other people. Woohoo!
Aries Horoscope for week of May 8, 2008
For many Aries, independence is a virtue that flows in abundance -- so much so that it's sometimes on the verge of becoming excessive and turning into a vice. That's why I'm thrilled to inform you that the mysteries of dependence could be especially intriguing and useful to you in the coming days. They might also lead, paradoxically, to a form of interdependence that would in the long run nourish your independence. So how about it? Without compromising your free-wheeling spirit, can you blend yourself more thoroughly with trustworthy souls who care about you?

Foolsgold by Susan G Wooldridge

Foolsgold: Making Something From Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process by Susan G Wooldridge is a loose connection of very brief essays. Anyone familiar with that author’s Poemcrazy will know what I mean. The longest is still under ten pages. Sprinkled with a few quotes and poems, I thought I was in familiar territory. But where Poemcrazy succeeded, Foolsgold falls somewhat short. If I had read these in reverse order, I would have enjoyed Foolsgold more but I didn’t and I can’t help but compare the two books.

In Foolsgold Wooldridge discusses her process for healing from two losses—her father’s death and her own divorce. She talks about making small collages in little boxes, picking up flotsam and detritus on walks she takes along creeks and in her own neighborhood. But while Poemcrazy is flooded with examples of poems and how she plays with words, there are no images of these collages and her words do not provide the reader with a rich enough vision to appreciate what she is doing. I went to her website in hopes of discovering some examples of these miniature collages but found nothing there.

And this is a shame because there is little a reader can carry away from this book. I didn’t find anything that inspired me to free my creative process. What few creative exercises there were, and there are far fewer in this book than in Poemcrazy, were not stimulating. Or perhaps they simply were not as stimulating as those in Poemcrazy. I don’t know. What I do know is that although there is some thematic connection between the essays, the thread is tenuous, at best.

All of this makes me wonder if it is Wooldridge who has not lived up to my previous experience with Poemcrazy or if I myself have outgrown her writing. Was Poemcrazy really as charming and quirky as I remembered or was my experience with poetry immature? Have I read so many memoir/essay collections since then that a loosely gathered collection of experience no longer serves to interest me? Above all else, do I dare to reread Poemcrazy now, risking the possible disappointment of not being able to go home again after all?

I don’t know. I only know that I wish her web designer would take the time to upload some images of her mini-collages because I am curious even if I am left uninspired by a book that promised to awaken some creative fervor.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The SS Have Taken Over Television Programming

One of the local television stations has movie theme weeks. When Joe first moved back in he said he was probably going to have to get cable for us because he’d gotten used to having cable when he was living with his roommates. I said, “Don’t be silly. There’s stuff to watch on regular television. This week their showing Steven Segal movies.”

Needless to say, I was being sarcastic.

Last night, while watching a rerun of Frasier they announced next week’s movie theme. I immediately told Joe. “Hey! You still don’t need cable because they’re having another theme week. This time it’s Sylvester Stalone. I wonder what they’ll have next time.”

Without missing a beat Joe said, “Susan Sarandon.”

I hope so. I love Bull Durham, one of the few Kevin Costner movies I can tolerate. And I've never seen Dead Man Walking. But I guess that would be too much to hope for. Odds are it would end up airing such glorious movies as Stepmom, Cats and Dogs, and Anywhere But Here (which, by the way, is one of my favorite movie soundtracks).

Oh well. She's in Speed Racer. That's pretty exciting!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Turning Points

Yesterday marked a few significant things.

I saw Dr. Tusa and he gave me a clean bill of health. I briefly saw although I did not work with my physical therapist, Dr. Heardman, and made one last follow-up appointment with her six months from now. But I am officially healed/discharged and am free to go. (The look of concern on Dr. Heardman’s face when I said I was still not working . . . well, it echoed my own concern.)

But far more importantly is the anniversary Rob and I celebrated yesterday. Eight years together. Eight years. Because of Marc’s accident, he drove Marc to the campus to drop off a paper that was due (final’s week!). Rob came home with eight long stem red roses.

Traditional gifts would have been bronze or pottery. Modern would have been linen and lace. But that is how other people traditionally celebrate. Rob and I celebrate with roses and desserts. Gooey yumminess.
[Middle English anniversarie, from Medieval Latin (diēs) anniversāria, anniversary (day), from Latin, feminine of anniversārius, returning yearly : annus, year; see at- in Indo-European roots + versus, past participle of vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.]
The writing group meeting for Saturday has been canceled although we will be sharing writing and critiques via email. I read an interesting blog post about using copyright symbols when posting writing on the internet. I am especially impressed by how diplomatically Robert Brewer handled this issue.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson is such a delightful surprise that I’m disappointed it took me so long to get around to reading it. I should confess that my exposure to the Beats is limited to the occasional poem or quote. I have not read On the Road or Naked Lunch although I did read Burroughs’ Junky.

Not being the type of person who is enamored with the whole Beat scene, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy or even appreciate Johnson’s memoir. I needn’t have worried. I loved reading about Johnson’s growing up in Manhattan, near Columbia where Ginsberg and Kerouac were soon to become notorious. Her excursions to Greenwich Village learning to play guitar much to her mother’s chagrin was fascinating for me because she was writing about an experience that preceded my own by a decade. The memoir ends, for all intents and purposes, in the same year I was born.

I have to say that I love the way Johnson draws not only from her own immediate experience but parallels what is happening in the lives of other people. When she is hanging out in Washington Square park, Kerouac is on the road going to meet Neal Cassady and escape NY. These “meanwhile, back on the ranch” asides serve to contextualize and contrast Johnson’s experiences with those of the men in the Beat movement. She was younger and admittedly more bourgeois. She tries to conform herself to the lifestyle but never quite aligns herself with the expectations and freedom implied. Caught between the stark conservative 1950s and the extreme liberalism of the 1960s, she sways in the balance of the bohemian and the banal which adds an interesting tension to her memoir. Had Johnson been so cautious as to stay too far removed from Kerouac et al the memoir would have likely been more judgmental. Had she immersed herself too fully she would have sounded narcissistic or even nihilistic.

It is that dilemma of going to work as a typist and getting high, of wanting love and indulging in lust, of facing the sober truth while wanting to believe in fantasy, that makes this memoir a compelling read. Kerouac comes off as sympathetic mostly because the reader is never allowed to forget that Johnson was so young and incredibly naïve when she was in her relationship with him. Doomed from the beginning, it is hard not to wonder if any of the women who people these pages are not doomed. Edie Parker, Elise Cowen, Hettie Jones are all paired with someone significant but never participants in the significance. Manipulated by the Peter Pan inability to grow up, these women love their men and devote themselves to them unquestioningly. Johnson is able to show how easy and understandable such choices are in her own experience with Kerouac, constantly getting drawn into his fantasies of what he will do and create. His frequent invitations for her to leave NY and join him are almost always followed with his relocating, forcing Johnson to readjust her own plans to accommodate his fancy free spirit irresponsibility.

Kerouac comes off as incorrigible but also charming. How Johnson manages to do this is beyond me but is a testament to her talent. She admits that his misogyny is evident in his writing as well as in how he approaches relationships. The doomed nature of her own relationship with him is clear from when they first meet and he whispers in her ear that she is not his type. She knows he is not going to stay and she never allows herself to fully believe in their relationship as fully coupled. Yet, she doesn’t believe it is transient, a manifestation of her own transition from daughter to woman to mother.

It is odd how much I carried away from this book. Her willful ignorance, knowing that Kerouac made no promises to her, is something I see in relationships all of the time. What Johnson does is show how easy it is for women, anyone really, to close their eyes to the obvious in hopes of seeing something better, something they hope will be there but isn’t. And what Johnson further manages to do is show the hopelessness of her relationship with Kerouac without ever sounding bitter or betrayed. Remarkable and worth reading.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Living Under a Car Curse

As a follow-up to the earlier incident in which a tree limb fell on my car we have a new incident this time involving my son's car.

Marc parks his car in the street because of his peculiar hours and how they conflict with Rob's. It is easier and since there are other people in the neighborhood who park their car on the road it isn't that big a deal. However, it is when you live across the street from someone who doesn't know how to back out of their driveway.

The first time this happened the neighbor said that if Marc would park his car further back, just to the other side of the bush, it would be better. In other words, he'd hit the car because it was parked in the wrong place and if Marc would just not park there this sort of thing wouldn't have happened.

I guess the neighbor was wrong because today he did it again. Slammed his car into my son's vehicle. What I want to know is . . . how fast was this guy backing up to do this much damage to my son's car???

In this picture you can see that his car is to the right of the bush, where the neighbor asked him to park it. Clearly not on the left side of the bush or even in front of the bush but behind the push as requested.

So once again my son's insurance is going to go up thanks to the carelessness of our neighbors across the street. Tomorrow he has to turn in a paper first thing in the morning. Then come home and take his car to drop it off for repairs and pick up a rental. And then he has a final exam in the afternoon/evening. His manager is going to drive him to work today and Rob can pick him up from work.

It's Just a Slam . . . How Professional Should it Be, Really?

Yesterday Rob and I did our usual Saturday morning routine. At the Smyrna Community Center we saw a sign announcing a poetry slam competition. I was curious and looked for and eventually found a flyer for the event. I grabbed it and brought it home where I looked at it more closely. I was caught a little off guard by the odd use of the word “gifting” which should have been more correctly “gift” in this context but it is a poetry slam after all and it is not unusual to see the English language played with nearly to the point of abuse in poetry. So I went to the website that is presenting the slam competition and quickly saw a pattern of imprecision as nearly every page had an error on it. Some are less obvious than others but faulty parallelism and misuse of commas seems to be acceptable for this particular marketing company. That’s right. The company sponsoring the poetry slam is a promotions company and they are there to help you promote your business. How? By providing your event with poorly drafted and copyedited materials like flyers, direct mailings, etc. Some examples:
whether it's a special event planning, direct mailings, market research, website development

A lovely example of faulty parallelism.

we must equip ourselves with the proper resources, and knowledge

Unnecessary comma.

call today and set-up your consultation

Unnecessary use of hyphen, although this one is somewhat forgivable if still amateurish.

This poetry slam is (name of company here), way of allowing artist to freely share there gifting,freedom of expression, opinions, and emotions.

Good God! What isn’t wrong with this sentence??? For one thing, the name of the company should have an apostrophe “s” after it but doesn’t which seems to be par for the course because the word “artist” is also missing an “s.” Unless of course they plan on only one poet to participate. And there’s that misused “gifting” again. There should be their and there (not their) is one too many commas in that sentence. Actually two too many but I've already ripped this one sentence into tiny shreds already. The only pages on this site that do not have errors are the lists of seminars, things they offer, and the list of their (not there) clients. And this is where the really big surprise is because, no matter how hard I try, I find it almost impossible to believe that American Express would hire these people to do anything for them when it is obvious that the company cannot even create a website that is free from the most obvious mistakes. Isn’t learning the difference between “there” and “their” something one should have mastered by middle school? I found more than the above errors but I think these are enough to suggest that the company does not present itself in a highly professional manner which I suppose is okay for a poetry slam but makes me less than interested in actually going to the slam. But it gave me an excuse to write a blog post so that’s something.

Too bad they aren't hiring someone to write copy for them. I sure could use a job and they obviously need my help.