Monday, December 31, 2007

bye 07

Although good things happened to some people (or thoughtful people made good things happen for them), I'm personally happy to say farewell to 2007--a year of great loss and challenges.

If I didn't work precisely where I work, and live exactly where I live, and have the family and friends I have, I would not stick around this old town.

Most disturbing local news: three generations of women in a single family team up to kill a teenage girl.

Looking beyond the county line, Benazir Bhutto's assassination is an awful exclamation point at year's end. Mike Huckabee's rise in popularity is gut-wrenching. The fact that only 6% of Iowa voters decide the winners of the first caucus (and can kill a campaign) is just ridiculous.

Looking for a sea-change in 2008. Maybe it's already on its way.

Best to you and yours.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I'm responding LATE to being tagged by Sara to "share 7 random or weird things about yourself."

1. I think about God most days, usually with irritation.

2. I hate literalism, but want people to be precise.

3. I love to travel, but hate to leave home.

4. I am righteously indignant about righteously indignant people.

5. Favorite childhood memory: twisting the tire swing up very tight, jumping on, and spinning out till very dizzy.

6. I learned a lot by watching my grandmother slip money to my mother under her kitchen table while they talked about other things.

7. I don't believe humans are always the most important creatures.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

holiday feasting

Best part of the holidays was feasting with friends and family. First, the fancy, heritage, organic turkey at my sister and bro-in-law's place.
Next, a sweet but blurry pic from the 11th annual Nella Cucina mostly Italian feast, featuring the chief chef and host, Guy, and BFF Pam.
Last pic is said bro-in-law wrist deep in said turkey. (His T-shirt says "Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism Since 1492," with an image of Native Americans...)

Alas, no pics from 15th annual christmas eve feast for orphans on the lakefront. Still trying to figure out camera phone...

Happy New Year to all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

happy solstice, good news

More light per day starting tomorrow. And tomorrow is the annual Nella Cucina feast--old friends, robusto food, gallons of wine, much expansiveness (photos to come).

We planted spring bulbs today (finally!). Apricot beauties and elegant ladies, azureum and white wedgewood iris. Have to finish my thesis by the time the flowers pop up, by the time my BFF Pam starts her new job in Seattle, proving that it's possible to leave the Cleveland gravitational force.

And two poems of mine were accepted today by Hobble Creek Review. Yippee!

As the world turns...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

my ex, xmas

What happens if you don't celebrate Christmas? I've been withdrawing from it for years. This year I think I'll break up with it for good (or for at least this year). I don't think Christmas will miss me.

My old friend Kirk Anderson once rebelled against Christmas and gave his friends and family special rocks and stones he had picked up on beaches. This was not well received.

Last year I made ornaments out of shells and small stones. The tree looked a little, uh, rustic.

The dead are not coming back to visit.

I predict the lake will be grey, and with a lighter grey sky.

The solstice, however, is welcome. Pretty soon it won't be dark at 4:30 pm. That's something to cheer about.

eggers, kimmelman

Dave Eggers and Michael Kimmelman were good. Eggers is self-taught in everything he does--drawing, writing, publishing, etc. He was very refreshing. He talked about working for Esquire, which has 1.2 million readers, compared to McSweeney's, which he founded so he and his friends could publish what they wanted. He said he couldn't have done what he has without the internet, but he has some "Luddite" tendencies (my word). He likes publishing tangible, limited edition books which are art objects themselves.

Three young men from the Lost Boys community in Cleveland were there, and eventually Eggers spoke about Sudan, stressing that the Darfur nightmare and the plight of the Lost Boys (and girls and their families and villages) are connected: the same regime in Khartoum has perpetrated years of horror.

Eggers and his McSweeney crowd have developed these tutoring centers for kids. The founding one in San Francisco is simply called 826 Valencia. There are now similar places in six other cities. One audience member asked if we could get one in Cleveland. There was a visible stirring among folks in the crowd. (Humorous fact: the landlord of 826 Valencia wouldn't let them just have a nonprofit tutoring center; they had to sell something too. So the front of the place is a "pirate supply store," complete with fake parrots, eye patches for special occasions, etc.)

I'd love to hear Michael Kimmelman speak alone, and speak frankly, about the art world.

(Sorry, this is a long post.)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

reading, Dave Eggers, winter

The new NEOMFA grads all gave great readings on Friday. Anthony, especially, entertained us (if not the deans....?). Although very different in style, both Jessica and Sara were wonderful. And Jason Mullin, a PROSE writer, read part of what is a great short story.

Their readings made me think more seriously about the next few months--writing and rewriting my thesis, pleasing everyone (an impossible goal), and preparing to read and thank everyone properly and not tell stupid jokes because I'll be nervous. How many readings have I given? Hundreds? Thousands? In how many cities? Dozens? But this one will be very different, and important.

Am procrastinating my Emily Dickinson paper by reading Dave Eggers' What is the What, partly because Eggers is in town Thursday evening as the second in the Spectrum series at Cleveland Public Library, funded by the late Lockwood Thompson. Eggers will be with NYTimes art critic Michael Kimmelman. (Earlier this year, Kimmelman appeared onstage here with Art Spiegelman. It was supposed to be a dialogue, but Spiegelman overwhelmed the stage, and chain-smoked.)

What is the What is Valentino Achak Deng's story of being one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, one of the thousands of refugees driven from their burned villages and massacred families by (mostly) northern Sudanese ethnic Arabs. I had read much about the Lost Boys earlier, when I was interested in whatever stories there were of the Lost Girls of Sudan. 4000 Lost Boys were brought to the U.S., mostly from the Kakuma refugee camp. Only 89 Lost Girls came to the U.S. The stories of the rest of the Lost Girls are too horrible to even recount.

It's no brighter now than it was at dawn today. The winter pot lid has descended.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Congratulations to these NEOMFA graduates, who receive their MFA today!

Jessica, Sara, Anthony, and Jason