Monday, August 18, 2008

Farwell, my dear friend, Time.*

I like to think I have a sunny disposition. That I'm happy, warm, lovable.

That I spread my joy to all who know me.

Until this week. (Don't worry, next week I'll be fine.)

This week, though, is my last week of summer. And today is the only day that is going to be totally mine. Therefore, I must make it count. I will cross off these six things on my to-do list today: swim, finish reading Rachel Zucker's The Bad Wife Handbook, finish the first draft of a new chapbook, dry the Blue Basil leaves I have no idea what to do with, wrap FD's bday presents while snacking on cheddar cheese and NutThins or raw baby carrots (I'm not much of snacker but I LOVE cheese, to put it mildly), oh, yeah, and complete this blog tag** from Stokes.

Easy enough.

10 years ago I was entering my 4th year of undergrad, just taking filler classes like yoga and ice skating because I finished all my major classes in 3 years and I was going to the gay bars to dance my off ass because I didn't want to be worried with being assaulted by drunken frat boys and I was discovering the world of poetry. It's funny to think today I'm the teacher, preparing for the first-year writing students, who dances around my house while dusting, a Swiffer as my imaginary microphone, and who knows full-well that the world of poetry isn't all that magical.

It's this last week of summer, though, that makes me wish I was a billionaire. That I could teach a few classes here and there when I felt like it. And set up a pretty fat retirement plan for me and FD as well as for both of our families too. And build my prefab dream house with a guest house and two detached offices (one for me and one for FD) all with the arty, expensive appliances and furniture I see in Dwell each month. And give money to worthwhile foundations like Alicia's Voice. And travel to cool places like Japan and India. And do yoga whenever and whereever I want. And hire a cleaning staff, a chef, and, because if I was rich why not have kids and hire a few nannies. Finally, of course, I would be a shareholder of The Grey Colt and wear extra fabulous clothes all the time.

Yeah, that'd be the life. But then if I was billionaire, would I really appreciate the days when I cleaned residential construction sites, sweeping wood and dust into piles and shop vacuuming it all up? Or when I cleaned model homes, how I adored making perfect vacuum lines in the never-used carpets? Or when I worked for a cleaning service and scrubbed the settled cigarette smoke off cheap vinyl floors in some office that could totally be in a 70s sit-com, even though clearly we were in the 90s? (God, no wonder I'm a clean freak!) Or when I managed Hons' clothing resale shop & every Thursday Stokes & I would go to Applebees for dinner & drinks b/c she got a discount there. Or how about when I was the women's clothing department manager at Off Fifth & I went into debt buying hoity toity designer clothes. (No wonder I'm a label whore!) Or my days struggling as a TA, trying to figure out what kind of poet/teacher/woman/person I wanted to be until I finally figured out & became the poet/teacher/woman/person I always wanted to be.

Really would all that be lost if I became a billionaire? How would my values change? Or how would I teach my children values, that is if I decided to have kids?

Maybe it's simpler knowing I start teaching again next Monday and life will regain it's schedule, a schedule that I know & have come to love.

That doesn't mean I won't dream of living on Captiva Island, FL; or in Portland, OR; or Martha's Vineyard; Napa Valley; Boulder, CO; Ireland; Scotland; or even just plain ol' Clevelend, OH.

I guess as much as I don't want to, I need to look on the sunny side of this summer, the good times had, the time that I wasted doing God-knows-what.

Last week of summer, please treat me well. Be kind to me. Help me accomplish my to-do list in the best of moods. And help me smile when I wake up in the morning of the 25th, ready for school to begin again.

*Said in a unbearably tight hug that turns into a sloppy sob fest 08.
**I tag SEM, Chop, & C.L. Jones.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Last of It

It all began with the shoes.

The desire to see each pair without opening the box. (Thank you countless fashionistas in NYC & Martha Stewart.)

Campers are precious shoes that deserve full exposure.

Now the masterpiece is almost complete. Closet domination!

After going to bed I realized I hadn't taken pics of my favorite accessories. And I realized I hadn't showered.

This morning I took those pics & will be adding the accessory photos with stories to the closet binder very shortly. After taking a shower.

(Side note: Walgreens online photo center is the BOMB. Easy to upload photos & easy to pick them up at your local store after receiving the photos-are-ready email.)

Looking at this first pic my closet looks like a mess. But it's small & cramped. (One day my dream of California Closets will come true!) For now, I promise you, dear reader, it is well-organized & exceptionally neat.

For the shoes that are boxless, such as my Orla Kiely wellies and Coleman hiking boots, I hung their pics on the top shelf as reminders.

The only things I would do differently are write stories on the back of the shoe photos, take photos of every t-shirt and tank, take photos of my winter sweaters too (which I can do during winter break...), and print doubles of shoes so one set can go in binder (which I can do during winter break too).

I was thinking this little project is perfect for organization & outfit preparation, but on a morbid note, it's good for insurance purposes & casket attire too. (If that sounds weird to you, clearly you don't know how weird I am.)

From Tuesday night to Thursday morning. Not bad. For pics with stories, outfit suggestions, and level of love codes.

According to my closet, the most loved designers are Orla Kiely, Johnny Was, Lilly Pulitzer, Free People, Boden, and Gap Demin.

The best deals were $188 Blue Cult jeans for $19.99; $130 Campers for $25; and countless of designer (Juicy Couture, Lilly Pulitzer, etc.) finds by Hons at the resale shops in Ft. Myers, FL.

I'm serious about hiring myself out as an organizer. If you're interested leave a comment with your email & we'll discuss.

I just might have a new calling in life.

But before I answer that calling I need a shower & a great summer outfit.

Oh NO She Didn't...!!!

28 hours later. I'm done.

Booya! I am motivated after all.

After 3 hours of taking pictures of my wardrobe.

4 hours after uploading pics to Walgreens, petting Bleu in between uploads (approximately 20 minutes for each 12 pic set of 136 pics).

2 1/2 hours waiting for Walgreens to call on my order.

4 1/2 put together time. (Well, calculate in 45 mins of Project Runway [We have the original DVR TIVO]. Thank God for Tim Gunn giving me a break while firing me up!)

AT 12:30, here I type, should-be-drunk-on-wine-but-exhausted-and-accomplished-yet-still- looking-for-some-pics-that-seem-to-be -missing.

Each pic in the binder contains the buttons & tags as well as the story behind the garment.

If only I was this motivated & OCD about my writing. Maybe one day...Maybe...

However, b/c I'm a label & money whore I'd be willing to this for your closet at a fair price. Fair being a very subjective word depending on your warobe & care of it...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun in the Sun

New Buffalo, MI. Harbor Country.

I met up with a very close friend from grad school, KLA, recently for a girls' getaway--something we both really needed. (Thanks for a great time KLA! You rock!)

Of all the pics I took this one was my fav. I took it from the balcony of our room at the Harbor Grand. The hotel was exceptionally clean and comfortably spacious, and its central location made getting around town on-foot or bike a cinch. The pool area was goregous too! However, the staff were not-so friendly or informative. I would recommend Harbor Grand if you know the area and/or don't use the concierge service much. If you rely on the concierge, I suggest finding another hotel with better customer service or figuring out your way around BEFORE staying there. The concierge at Harbor Grand were force-ably nice, not reliable, & a little put-out with our questions and requests that were not of of the ordinary and were encouraged by their website.

The area is fantastic, though! AB FAB!

Best memory of our trip: The first night there as a horrible storm where lightning struck one of the marina's piers, creating a human-sized sparkler. Of course we gawked from our patio door with it open & our heads hanging out. Then the tornado siren went off. Instead of huddling down in the lowest level of the hotel (a 1/2 flight of stairs down from us), we braved it in our room, swearing (literally dropping f-bombs) & swearing to dive into the bath tub if we see any twister action. It was AWESOME. I haven't laughed that hard in a really long time!

If you find yourself in New Buffalo or Harbor Country, check out these great restaurants or places of interest:

Redamak's: Great for lunch, especially if you're hungover. Burgers are the specialty. Milkshakes are grainy in that powdered-milk way, so avoid those. They only accept cash. Remember to bring cash. ;)

Timothy's: AWESOME for a swank dinner out while wearing casual attire. It's a seafood place, so know they're not the best at cooking filet mignon. Portions are huge and the food is intoxicatingly delectable. Prices are good. Homemade blueberry martinis are a MUST!

Gordon Beach Inn: Where Timothy's is located. This inn has a woodsy, homey vibe. Definitely a place worth investigating for future stays.

Bentwood Tavern: Rumor has it that one should be asked to sit on the roof of this marina restaurant.

The Stray Dog: No Black Dog Tavern but decent food in a beachy setting. Again large portions.

Vickers Theater: KLA & I talked about going here just b/c it looks purely radical. However, why see a movie when there's so much to catch up on? Therefore, I plan on going there with FDR sometime.

Go to the Beach: Of course!

And explore all the fun that can be had in MI!

In the words of Sufjan Stevens, "Say Yes to M!CH!GAN!"

And said YES to MI we have! KLA & I both loved the area so much we're planning next year's trip with ourselves, husbands, and dogs. I can't wait! Lounging on the beach, swimming in Lake Michigan, and eating at fabulous restaurants like Timothy's with good friends sounds beyond fabulous.

I just wish we were going this week. But, no, a year from now.

This week is dedicated to lesson planning, uploading Blackboard sites, and general readying for the semster, not fun in the sun.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Book Review: Zucker's _Eating in the Underworld_

Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan Poetry Series) Eating in the Underworld by Rachel Zucker

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I worship Rachel Zucker.

I wouldn't say I worship _Eating in the Underworld_, though.

This poetry collection was beautifully crafted, perfectly lyrical, and all-around well-written, but it wasn't exactly for me.

I like that Zucker puts a new spin on the Persephone/Hades myth, but sometimes it felt more like a project than a book that could change my life forever. However, without this book and the grappling between mother and daughter/child I'm not sure _The Last Clear Narrative_ would have been so life changing.

If anything _Underworld_ gives me hope that my younger poems are building towards something grand.

I'm happy I've read and I own _Underworld_. It is after all written by one of my fav poets...

View all my reviews.

Book Review: Bonomo's _Installations_

Installations (Poets, Penguin) Installations by Joe Bonomo

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bonomo's _Installations_ is mysteriously gorgeous and intellectually haunting. Each prose poem (beginning with the lines: "A large, well-lit, white-walled room. You walk to a red line painted on the floor.") serves as an installation art piece that is examined by a "you." These pieces (the poems/prose/memoir) replicate the art pieces in an innovative way--one that realistically enacts viewing art into written word. Like viewing art sometimes I just moved on to the next piece without hesitation, sometimes I lingered, other times I obsessed and forgot the time, and almost always I acknowledged rigorous thought and felt some kind of emotion.

Note to self: One emotion I felt several times was jealousy (over the form, language, concept) but, of course, the kind that is from the most loving place.

Like minimalist contemporary art some of the pieces "seemed" easy or underwhelmed or repetitive in a non-repetitive way. Though these qualities could be viewed as shortcomings, they appear to be intentional, at least in my reads. These are aspects I would like to hear Bonomo discuss, though.

The pieces (as identified by their last lines) that I gravitated towards were: "6:47," "Planes and birds glide in eternal gravity," "Your body, in mourning and great reluctance, received you back," "With history in front of you, you feel a tingle at the back of your neck, and you turn around," and "You want to open that drawer."

My all-time fav for its ability to articulate my own art viewing emotions most closely: "What is that small bloom of dread in your chest that you can't name?"

_Installations_ is full of real and surreal surprises, lockets of images, and invitations to join in. And join in, you should.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Just Might Be A Dog: A Tribute to Bleu

As Bleu and I rounded the corner onto our block this morning during our walk, I remembered being called a "dog" by my middle school bullies.

Based on how much I love BooBoo, I'd now take being called a dog a compliment.


Last night I bawled my brains out when Sam the Dog in I Am Legend died. As GLM pointed out too, I'd much rather see humans die than dogs. What has happened to me?

To comfort me, FDR paused the movie and said, "It's ok. You now just get 'it.' You're now a dog person."

I'm a big black lab person who also loves a mouth-less white kitty.

Oh, the pangs of being a Gemini...


The only other living creature I know who is as food-obsessed as me is my dog.


In the past 7 months we've spent enough on Bleu to qualify his furry ass as a smooth-bottomed baby:

environmentally-friendly premium dog bed for the living room (check), dog bed for our bedroom (check), specialty collar (check), back-up designer collar (check), Gentle Leader (check) all-natural, allergy-free food (check), 20 vet visits to get rid of parasites picked up from his birth kennel and to figure out his food allergy (check), throwing out the food that he had allergic reactions to (check), new vet (check), flea, tick, heartworm, & other monthly meds (check), pet shampoo & wipes (check), obedience lessons and puppy playdates (check), dog art & bed time books (check), an XL kennel for when he grew out of his L kennel (check), eco-friendly poop bags (and Mama's favorite dog store!!!) (check), deshedding brush (check), pet vac (check), hunting gear (check), countless supposedly "indestructible" toys that we have thrown away (check), Nylabones: the only indestructible toys (check), self-help dog books and dog owner memoirs (check), brake-fast® dog bowl (check), countless-other things-I-can't-remember-b/c-there's-just-too-many-of-them (check). A good $1000 or more.

Bleu resting his little-big head on my feet while I write this blog post; Bleu licking my tears away during I Am Legend; Bleu wagging his butt when he prances out of his kennel when we come home from errands; Bleu swimming like a little gator; Bleu performing any command perfectly for an ice cube; Bleu play-bowing at the words "walk," "eat," and "hunting"; Bleu carefully watching bunnies hop across the yard; Bleu barking to guard his mama from the mailman; Bleu rolling over so I can scratch his belly even more; Bleu trying to sleep in my lap like when he was a puppy; Bleu flopping down and sighing before taking a nap in the shower; Bleu snoring. Priceless.


At nine months I couldn't be more proud of my canine best friend. He's still a crazy pup-pup, but he's starting to mature into a handsome dogus.

Happy 9th month birthday, my little moose!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (updated edition) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Review of Kitchen Confidential

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Written in the sarcastic, harshly honest, vulgarly funny tone that viewers of "No Reservations" have grown accustomed to, _Kitchen Confidential_ is nothing short of fabulous. Of all the chefs out there, I trust his opinion on what knives to buy--mostly because he's leave pot or pan unturned in this memoir. The only draw back for me was that it felt a little repetitive at times--perhaps that was intentional. Regardless, a must read for those interested in food, travel, and hilarity.

View all my reviews.