30 November 2007

upsetting and yet unimportant things

I mean unimportant in terms of being upset about them -- these things have available solutions, unlike world hunger or the AIDS epidemic or war:

1.) mold infestation in my apartment. Am I serious? I think so. My coffee pot grows mold (that's more my fault that the pot's). My trash can just recently sprouted a 3" x 6" area of gray fuzzy mold in some rotting vegetable liquid. The tile grout behind my toilet tank, the caulk around the bathtub, the seals on my fridge -- all black mold. Is it real black mold, or just mold which is black? Do I want to know?

And are Noah and I both allergic to mold? Yes, yes indeed. Folks, I grew up in a house that could grow mold on bell peppers in the FREEZER. I have no idea how that one happened. But this seems even worse.

2.) Noah and sleep disorders. They keep getting worse, and the doctor we saw today was so uninterested and unhelpful. He said, go back to the $1400-a-night sleep lab; we said, we are poor and we don't know if we still get 100% charity assistance from them; the doctor said, in sum, go see them anyway.

3.) Kyle and I are being moved to a different office with a woman who probably hates Kyle. We hear it's warmer. Grrr.

27 November 2007

oh yeah, I made legwarmers

and I did NOT knit them. I cut the feet off a pair of my mom's old double-knit socks. Double-knit in flame red and navy snowflakes, above the knee, full of holes. But man they keep me warm. In a way I did not think possible.

new illness list:
super-inflamed sinuses
super dry nasal passages (oh neti and humidifier, be my salvation)
uh, general malaise
coughing junk from the lungs and the postnasal drip together.

Keep your babies and old people away from me. And wash your hands, please.

I like the course of leeches idea. I like the idea of sitting in a sauna, too, but I don't have one. Maybe I'll make my bathroom into one; it's small. But not hot enough.

I hear that yoga and massages are bad to get when you're sick, what with all the moving lymph system junk around. I also hear that raw garlic is the key to staying well.

I'm back on my drugs (allergy and killer decongestant), out of sick days, remember, and it's only just now getting cold.

In other news, any recommendations for hard-to-kill, hanging-friendly, not-needing-too-much-sun houseplants? My five-year-old aloe is dead. Post the splitting it up and giving it new soil. I just kind of forgot sunlight and enough water.

I'm thinking philodendron. They work for me.

26 November 2007

the many loci and foci of my musical heritage

So my dad and I had this talk about Memphis, and how when I heard an American Roots episode all about Memphis, I could belt out every song they played, and I always forget I have this real country background, not just a rock/country background in k.d. lang and Lyle Lovett with a dash of Willie.

These were the other foci of my musical heritage:
Mississippi Delta
Chicago, when the blues moved north
San Francisco

Yes, David Bromberg, the Grateful Dead, Aretha, Muddy Waters, John Hartford, k.d. lang, Lyle, Willie, Los Lobos, zydeco, on and on. The basic elements: it has a beat; it encourages movement; it has a voice.

"Lula Lula Lula
Oh don't you go to bingo
You're gonna lose your money
You're gonna lose your honey" ...

21 November 2007

My dreams are all about legwarmers

I dreamt last night of, well I don't really know, but the dream featured, as one of the passerby, a young woman wearing some kind of long cardigan or coat, black capri tights, tall-shaft black boots, and little legwarmers that closed the gap between the tights and boots.

I am a genius, no?

Today's to-do list:
-- roast the biggest, ugliest, promised-to-be-tasty pumpkin for pies, etc.
-- do work from home
-- pack for Thanksgiving in St. Louis
-- stay warm! leave at 5!

The other important question is what knitting to pack. I think I've already decided -- one-year-old nieces will not have Christmas spoiled if I let them see the presents I'm making them. They won't remember. They will remember being able to pull on my long, dangly earrings, however. But not if I don't give them the chance.

I've been looking at the Anthropologie catalog -- bad idea, bad idea -- but at least right now it's fueling a desire for making snowflakes, hanging them from our ceiling ... using slightly shiny paper, something silvery too ... and making them three-dimensional. I guess to do that, you just make four or six at once, fold the vertical diameter, and attach them to each other that way? I guess?

In my head, in a few weeks before friends start leaving town for break, I'm hosting a holiday party. Snowflakes hanging down, mulled wine and cider on the stove, cookies and little things to nosh. Not a dinner, not even a cocktail party, but something cozy. Maybe not cookies, even, but cake. Cakes are faster to make, you know. Well, I think so.

I pulled out my 1982 first-print run of Martha's ENTERTAINING, looking at pie recipes. Man, that Martha. Always able to convince me I could be a caterer and host a wedding reception for 250 at my home. If I had her home, of course. You just boil 100 lobsters one day, 100 the next, and so on ...

This is the first break I have that has no work accompanying my vaca. No work at all. Knitting only. I think I might freak out. No job search, no homework, no grading?! No syllabi-writing? No plagiarists to track down?!

For all these reasons I'm bringing knitting to both Thanksgiving dinners. Yes.

19 November 2007

Chicago again, buying less things this time, eating out more, and helping a dear friend move out of her studio apartment and into her boyfriend's place for real.

Wandering around downtown today, calling my grandma, I learned my (older and second) cousin Keith has severe pneumonia and a recent heart attack. Dear friend Karen's dad has chest pain and is in the hospital in Austrailia, v. far away. Chests, I implore you to loosen and calm yourselves. Loosen and calm.

I think winter might be here. Or on its way. Autumn, at least. Not that you Midwesterners didn't know that already.

16 November 2007

more on the Doty

Doty talked about Stanley Kunitz, and read his poem "Heaven for Stanley," and talked about how really old people seem like they're always about to die and then they don't. Sounds like my great-grandmother Nana. She died at 98 1/2.

Anyway, about Kunitz: he said Kunitz wrote his best poems in his 70s (true), and wondered aloud, How does a poet get better? How do we become more vulnerable? More open to experiencing the world, better at describing it, better at letting our feelings be real and be open?

I am walking around wondering, now, how do I become vulnerable in the first place?

sickness and fashion and Mark Doty

All those things do combine in Mark Doty. I drove with Laura and Christy to see him read last night in Indianapolis, despite being certain I would vomit in her car a block from my house. Dramamine was helpful; no vomiting occurred.

Oh Mark Doty, Mark Doty. The reading was perfect.

So for me and sickness, it's still around, but mutating, maybe? Noah says I should be less negative and not assume it's mono or pneumonia, and maybe instead eat soup and drink tea and think well thoughts, basically. So I worked from home yesterday, used my "get your immune system in gear" sugar scrub (rosemary, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and sugar itself has antibacterial properties, and vitamin E oil), did the Neti thing, and drank a pot of black tea and a pot of echinacea tea.

Today, more Neti, more water, at work, wearing my warmest red wool cardigan with the high neck and the double-knit cuffs. My boss just told me I look good in red. I just told my other boss her vest is spectacular; she told me she thought I'd like it. And on Wednesday, before the imminent vomiting, my favorite stylish coworker told me I could pull off the things no one else can.

Me, fashion? I'm just trying to stay warm and a little funky. I can't help wearing scarves and wool. And colored socks and funny shoes and .. jewelery .. yeah.

I think I need to start wearing my mom's really old and beat-up royal blue leather gloves. And to knit myself some fingerless mitts to wear exclusively over the gloves. The gloves are windproof and provide dexterity, but they stop right at my wrist bones. Way too short to keep me warm. So I need some wool action. Maybe with the teal/blue thick and thin. Maybe with the royal blue bulky. Haven't decided.

Knitting, you can go on forever. Fashion, you too. And Mark Doty, leave us with some sequins:

by Mark Doty


Peony silks,
in wax-light:
that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
candled into-
what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
About gowns,
the Old Masters,

were they ever wrong?
This penitent Magdalen's
wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
she seems to wear
all she's renounced;

this boy angel
isn't touching the ground,
but his billow

of yardage refers
not to heaven
but to pleasure's

textures, the tactile
sheers and voiles
and tulles

which weren't made
to adorn the soul.
Eternity's plainly nude;

the naked here and now
longs for a little
dressing up. And though

they seem to prefer
the invisible, every saint
in the gallery

flaunts an improbable
tumble of drapery,
a nearly audible liquidity

(bright brass embroidery,
satin's violin-sheen)
raveled around the body's

plain prose; exquisite
(dis?)guises; poetry,
music, clothes.


Nothing needs to be this lavish.
Even the words I'd choose
for these leaves;

intricate, stippled, foxed,
tortoise, mottled, splotched
-jeweled adjectives

for a forest by Fabergé,
all cloisonné and enamel,
a yellow grove golden

in its gleaming couture,
brass buttons
tumbling to the floor.

Who's it for?
Who's the audience
for this bravura?

Maybe the world's
just trompe l'oeil,
appearances laid out

to dazzle the eye;
who could see through this
to any world beyond forms?

Maybe the costume's
the whole show,
all of revelation

we'll be offered.
So? Show me what's not
a world of appearances.

Autumn's a grand old drag
in torched and tumbled chiffon
striking her weary pose.

Talk about your mellow
fruitfulness! Smoky alto,
thou hast thy music,

too; unforgettable,
those October damasks,
the dazzling kimono

worn, dishabille,
uncountable curtain calls
in these footlights'

dusky, flattering rose.
The world's made fabulous
by fabulous clothes.

From Atlantis by Mark Doty, published by Harper Perennial. Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty. Used by permission of the author.

14 November 2007

A new kind of sick, really?

Despite Adam's advice that I can decide not to be sick if I only choose it, I am sick again.


This time, though, it's swollen belly, chills of course, aching body, chest soreness, ear soreness, super-fatigue (the kind that shows up and you suddenly can't hardly walk), and that kind of nausea that isn't just nausea ... more like imminent vomiting. I haven't yet, but I wish I would. Oh and no appetite. And swollen lymph nodes, which could be anything, from the scratches I have from my cat to a deathly disease. Oh and I'm coughing regularly, as opposed to my big, deep, postnasal drip coughs that make everyone think I've sneezed. I get blessed a lot. No, this is one of those frequent, mucus-producing coughs.

Mono, anyone? Mono? I've never had mono. The flu?

Pneumonia? I had pneumonia when I was 10; we thought it was an ear infection. My pediatrician listened to my chest and said, Hey, you have pneumonia. I remember just resting and maybe taking antibiotics.

Maybe I should have a doctor check me out. I do have a good one. She likes to press on my sinuses really hard when they're inflamed; maybe she'll beat me on my chest like my last good doctor did when I had a sinus-bronchial infection. That was a blast.

Dr: [pressing hard on random area of chest] Does that hurt?
me: Ow! Yes!
Dr: [pressing somewhere else] And there?
me: Yes! OW!
(continues for ten minutes)

Well, it's me and the kitten so far. Me, the kitten, knitting, freelance editing, work to do, on and on. I can't figure out what to eat, so I'm not eating. Water's okay. My thermometer says my temperature is 97.7, which is what it always says, except for earlier today when it said 97.0. This makes me suspicious.

Chest soreness? Weak leg feeling? Burny eyes?

Shouldn't someone take me out behind a barn and put me out of my misery?! Or at least change out all my blood or something.

13 November 2007

I want my own Thanksgiving.

Not that the two family dinners I'll attend with Noah, on the same day no less, are sub-par. They are exquisite. One is on a farm in Grubville, Missouri; the other in one of the Cohen homes in Saint Louis. All delicious, traditional foods.

But lately I'm feeling like my friends here are my family, too. Not in a replacement way. More in an add-on way. I'm from a big extended family, so I'm always expecting huge parties with everyone I care about.

I think I need one of those here in Urbana. And I think I need it to be vegetarian.

I'm just not feeling the meat lately. Not enough of an anti-meat feeling to make it official, but still, enough to choose what I want to eat. And to recognize that the list does not include meat.

Ideas for a veg Thanksgiving shebang:

--stuffed squash. Either another pumpkin, or stuffed butternut, or acorn squash.
(The non-veg idea prevailing is cornish hens. Because Lord knows I am not making a turkey.)
--three sisters stew: Native American mythology names squash, corn and beans the "three sisters." Sounds tasty!
--roasted celery or fennel
--mashed potatoes with chives, garlic, and goat cheese
--apple cranberry tart or crisp
--pecan pie, if I can get that far

I do love that pecan pie.

When to do all this? Next Wednesday? I don't know. Still working on that part.

12 November 2007

My company prorates sick time. Since I started after July 1, I was given 20 hours of sick time.

I've used 24. It's not December yet. I am due for a million more colds.

Any ideas on how to not get sick? Some kinds of sick I can't control much, but the other kinds ... what to do.

-- sleep more, and regularly
-- keep drinking 3-4 liters of water a day
-- keep eating lots of vegetables and fruits
-- keep taking vitamins
-- keep using the Neti pot
-- keep drinking echinacea tea

What else, what else? Wash my hands every ten minutes? I do wash them often and well. I did work in food service; I know what the hand washing is all about.

As for allergy flare-ups ... I guess I can attack dust and mold a bit more vehemently. I guess? I guess so.

-- start using my humidifier at night
-- wash all linens once a week
-- purchase and use mattress cover and pillow covers

Migraines, well, I really can only sleep regularly and not get stressed. Sounds fine to me. A bit complicated, though, by living.

-- exercise more?
-- lower my levels of chronic fatigue and cortisol?

Out of options. I am a sick girl. I am sad about all this and a bit confused. Please lend me your ideas, friends. Please.

09 November 2007

I wish I could sew well.

Because I can sew; it would be inaccurate to say I can't do it at all. But my seams, they are not straight, and the machine, it scares me, and my handstitching looks fun and funky to me because I usually use contrasting thread and make a big mess.

I am not one of those neat seamstresses. I may not be one of those neat knitters, either. I can't decide on that one.

Some talk of knitting is going to have to start being discussing in "mystery code language." I am knitting for (perhaps) some of my readers. And you will not have your surprise ruined! No no no.

Things I am dreaming of knitting for myself:
-- socks with the exquisite yarn from Christy (thank you thank you thank you!)
-- a scarf in black bulky alpaca, 100% alpaca, folks -- I will be warm
-- fingerless mitts a la Weekend Knitting -- the kind that will fit over leather gloves, but add warmth, without destroying dexterity
-- bulky mittens, for the days when nothing else will do and I might as well be wearing a white fur muff (which I had as a child, briefly)
-- legwarmers with anything I can find
-- a cuff bracelet with buffalo yarn
-- maybe an iPod cozy ...
-- maybe a cowl out of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and a wool/silk blend I do not yet own ... could viscose work? Or tripled linen and silk? I do have that silk ... Hmm.

Back to work to work, then to Karen to Karen!

08 November 2007


I always sing that in my head. With lots of bravado.

I'll arrive to see Karen, the goo-faced katchu herself, w/out her mom's meatball curry (sad! Hi to mom in Australia!), around 9:30pm Friday and leave her at 9am Sunday morning. What to do, what to do ... we usually seek out good wine, lots of food (we eat a lot together unabashedly, as good friends should), chocolate, chic and cheap clothes (hello H&M), maybe some makeup and fragrance. Last time I visited her I ended up with a free clinical skin analysis. It's like that.

This time I'm wearing my new boots, very warm sweaters and coats (oh wind in the City), maybe multiple scarves. As in more than one at once.

So if you see Noah this weekend, ask him if he's brushed his teeth and how he's sleeping. He's planning on going to a dress-like-a-video-game-character party, and studying, I think. I'm planning on lounging in pj's and doing my nails with Karen. Then returning to Urbana and doing some freelance editing.

Also of note: two good shows next week in town. The Mountain Goats. AND The Rocket Summer. In a row. Man. Put your party clothes on.

07 November 2007

06 November 2007

trying something new, i.e. manicotti

Not a manicotti recipe yet; that's on the way. Thanks to Adam for the shout-out.

Okay -- here it is in brief (that didn't take long, did it?):

several manicotti tubes (maybe 12? maybe one box full? I overestimated with 1.5 boxes)
a 9x13 pan, greased
freshly made marinara, heavy on the onions, 2 cans diced tomatoes with a T. of tomato paste

to stuff:
2 c. ricotta
handful mozzarella
handful parmesan
two eggs

And oh my lord. Cook the shells, make the sauce, stuff the shells, cover them with sauce, bake for 20 minutes or more at 350. And die of delight.

Sad news and happy news comes together, doesn't it? One friend let me know today she's been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, at 24. Another friend let me know she's quit a job she hates (and I hate in kind). And it's fall, and it's beautiful, and my nose will not be warm until April.

Also, for your future notes, deciding to fight winter weather with fashion is not going to leave you on the winning side. I do love the over-the-knee red and navy snowflake-patterned socks I wore today, with boots and a denim non-mini, but oh my. Socks will not save me from winter. They might save my toes. But it's time for pants, and underlayers of pants, too. Maybe I'll get some of those leggings and thigh-high socks that seem so chic.

Let's knit some socks, eh?

01 November 2007

sharing a poem

Though I am not hungover, not even close, not even imbibing much these days, I do love this poem as much as ever. I want to share.

My horoscope today said, "Feed yourself well today." I'm taking that and running with it. Somehow that means, to me, that I should post one of my favorite poems for yall.

Also, I'm sleeping a ton more than I was. Think four hours a night becoming nearly 8. Man. The effect on one's mood ... oh sleep, you are precious. So is James Wright, "suicidally beautiful" as he is.


James Wright's “Two Hangovers”

(From The Branch Will Not Break, 1963)

Number One
I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two:
I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.