Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I-dot-I-dot-ippi (part 2)

It occurs to me in applying to G- that we have awakened the interest of the FBI. I have a file? Then I would hate for it to be flagged for any reason. I should follow through with the check promptly though it is just for a wait list. Is there an additional fee for this phase in the inquiry? The form is to be filled out in the presence of a notary, yet I filled out the form already, at the interview, not realizing it would need notarization. Do I get extra forms from you?

It occurs to me that I should retain a lawyer or contact the ACLU -- not with the hope of causing disruption at G- -- but to defend my interest in working pro bono for G- in the first place.

As I said, I am a liberal and was arrested at 11:30 p.m. in a conservative precinct on election night in 2002 -- November 5, the wedding anniversary of George and Laura Bush -- for having one of four headlights out and for being .02 over the legal b.a.l. limit, over by the equivalent of one drink. The polls had closed at 10 p.m. I had already heard that via cel phone from my mother, who was an election judge and the retired director of the community foodshelf -- in a community that imagined itself as not needing a foodshelf. It was days after Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane had gone down up north, killing him, his wife, and their daughter. Quite a large number of Republicans were out celebrating the victory of Wellstone-then-Mondale's opponent, Norm Coleman, a defected Democrat and friend of the Bushes, now opponent of Al Franken, and responsible in part for the Republicans holding their 2008 national convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. By now, we have all heard reports of what police there did to protesters. I should not have been at the restaurant/bar that night to watch Republicans drink while Coleman and other Republicans were winning; I should have been at home commiserating with my mother, an impartial and registered-Independent voter. The punishment for my error was long and arduous -- how long and arduous I have written about elsewhere -- and it seems that it is an error that cannot be regarded as "over." It seems necessary to mention that I am a moderate, infrequent drinker who has never hit nor been hit by anyone else in 30 years as a driver.

The suggestion that I perform pro-bono work with "mentors" half my age is unacceptable in that it would only encourage them to think piteously of me -- I would be the older woman with the record -- not how I would want them to view me and not how you would want the world to view "mentees" should their traumas resurface in the future.

A few years ago, I was advised to have a second breast biospy performed, but when my doctor told me there was little chance it might be cancer, I waived the procedure, knowing they had left behind a little metal clip the first time. It was written in my record at the breast clinic that I was "uncooperative," a fact my doctor mentioned to me. I told him that I had been suspicious that they were poking around in women's healthy boobs just to scare them for the money. A year later I had a clear mammogram. Then this August, a large lump appeared in the same breast -- the right one. Alarmed, I rushed to the doctor, who ordered a series of tests. My baseline records were in Minnesota. My Manhattan doctor and the surgeon skipped past the clear mammogram and focused with frustration on the clip and the note and on not knowing what the result of the missed biopsy would have been -- "inconclusive" the Minnesota clinic reported to them. For a day, it seemed I'd lose that breast, but it turned out after surgery to be a benign cyst. The scar is 2 inches long and will serve to remind me.

"Obedience School" by John Ashbery

Let us leave the obedience school.
The door is open. Outside the sun is shining.
Why do you hesitate? Why do you hold back?

If there were some warts on the obedience school
we should have known about it before this.
You don't learn the cancan at obedience school.

Yup. But the parkway night is festering.
Besides, there are so many trained-dog acts now
nobody wants any competition.

That's why I bought Flossie the ticket
back to Puyallup. Her ladies-in-waiting
were flouting the scent of incense smoldering;

her high heels provoked 'zounds!' of acclaim
from the wrong kind of gent-customer
we want no truck with.

And when the old school shudders
in a sudden ray of March sun,
accusers and behoovers alike will be believed;

behemoths and mammoths struggle and give up
in the aquarium dawn. Then a run on the feedstores
ensues. Causes are given up for lost. The queen's pony

capers on its hind legs, quite as if narcissism
were going out of style. Poor children! Why, it broke their heart,
but Dad's with them now. Dad can conquer this thing.

Can You Hear, Bird (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 1995, p. 80.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Writing, an essay by W. H. Auden in Narrative Magazine

It is the author’s aim to say once and emphatically, “He said.”


The art of literature, vocal or written, is to adjust the language so that it embodies what it indicates.


All those whose success in life depends neither upon a job which satisfies some specific and unchanging social need, like a farmer’s, nor, like a surgeon’s, upon some craft which he can be taught by others and improve by practice, but upon “inspiration,” the lucky hazard of ideas, live by their wits, a phrase which carries a slightly pejorative meaning. Every “original” genius, be he an artist or a scientist, has something a bit shady about him, like a gambler or a medium.

Literary gatherings, cocktail parties and the like, are a social nightmare because writers have no “shop” to talk. Lawyers and doctors can entertain each other with stories about interesting cases, about experiences, that is to say, related to their professional interests but yet impersonal and outside themselves. Writers have no impersonal professional interests. The literary equivalent of talking shop would be writers reciting their own work at each other, an unpopular procedure for which only very young writers have the nerve.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

57 tees from the hey

1. What time did you get up this morning? Morning.
2. Diamonds or pearls? 40.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? No.
4. What is your favorite TV show? I don’t have cancer.
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? A teacher.
6. What is your middle name? Butterflies at seeing an old friend.
7. What food do you dislike? Cake.
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Iris.
9. What kind of car do you drive? Sept. 14.
10. Favorite sandwich? Ann Margaret Bogle.
11. What characteristic do you despise? Drone of TV down the hall.
12. Favorite item of clothing? Bagel with lox.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? No.
14. Favorite brand of clothing? Olive.
15. Where would you retire to? Muggy.
16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? My sister.
17. Favorite sport to watch? Ginger ale.
18. Furthest place you are sending this? Knickerbocker.
19. Person you expect to send it back first? Dark blond.
20. When is your birthday? Lee-lee.
21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Summer.
22. What is your shoe size? Hugs.
23. Pets? Vanilla.
24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? Coffee.
25. What did you want to be when you were little? Yes.
26. How are you today? Last week.
27. What are your favorite sweets? Garment bags.
28. What is your favorite flower? Watched a CNN show about Joe Biden.
29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Malice.
30. What is your full name? Sweet.
31. What are you listening to right now? Six.
32. What was the last thing you ate? 14.
33. Do you wish on stars? Friday.
34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? 1 in 18 yrs of age; 5 since.
35. How is the weather right now? Yes.
36. The first person you spoke to on the phone today?
37. Favorite soft drink?
38. Favorite restaurant? 7:30 a.m.
39. Real hair color? Pearls.
40. What was your favorite toy as a child? A John Sayles film.
41. Summer or winter? House.
42. Hugs or kisses? A breakfast sandwich.
43. Chocolate or vanilla? Margaret
44. Coffee or tea? Twinkies.
45. Do you want your friends to email you back? Joni Mitchell.
46. When was the last time you cried? 1989 Volvo.
47. What is under your bed? Eggplant.
48. What did you do last night? Ill-will.
49. What are you afraid of? Boots.
50. Salty or sweet? South America.
51. How many keys on your key ring? Tocca, Vince.
52. How many years at your current job? A 2BR cottage.
53. Favorite day of the week? A private jazz recital.
54. How many towns have you lived in? Figure skating, hockey, tennis.
55. Do you make friends easily? Outer space.
56. How many people will you send this to? Someone in or from Texas.
57. How many will respond? May 3.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The sponsors are inclining, declining, and deciding. Let’s agree not to miff them.

The names of the hurricanes were German: Katrina in 2005; Gustav, Hannah, then “I” as in ice storm, I-I as in Ike. Slow down, Ike. We prayed or “thought along" with the midnight radio broadcaster for Ike to slow. Hannah whipped our trees around, but we stayed dry; we didn’t drive anywhere. “Leave Galveston Island or face certain death.” We could say the same to Ike.

Ms. Palin got her first passport last year to go to Kuwait. Before that, she had left the country for trips to Canada and Mexico. Just as George W. Bush lost the popular election to Al Gore, just as the Supreme Court appointed him to be President, just as they are not yet awaiting impeachment, so is Sen. John McCain appointing Sarah Palin to be Vice President before the Supreme Court ... "The only constant is change." The more I look at Ms. Palin, the more I think she ought to be ambassador to Turkey.

Friends, oh loose ends, robbed corners, distant errors, remote dissent, a husband, a wife, a literary life in the balance, in the wings, a coop in the hand, a house in the bush, countrified gents, hermits, guests, cancer everywhere but here – sign, sign.

Free the peace activists charged with hatching terrorist plots in Minneapolis!

Exclamation grave.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


TIME magazine reported in a cover story that Sarah Palin was plucked from "obscurity" to be McCain's running mate. How does it follow that an elected governor of one of the fifty states is obscure? Had environmentalists and first-amendment rights activists been following Palin's rise this whole time? Was she really beyond liberals' and other leftists' or the media's telescope? The media are still acting "pleasantly stunned" about Palin's selection and claiming that it upstaged the entire democratic convention. One of our friends, a D.C. bureau correspondent for a major U.S. paper, attended the democratic convention and sat in the front row for all the major speeches. He said that in all his years of covering political rallies, he had never been so moved, so transported, so blown away by events on stage. How could the sudden emergence of Sarah Palin s(t)eal the election we have for this long witnessed? She's younger than Hillary, has slenderer ankles, fewer wrinkles, loves all babies ...

One of her daughters is PIP-er.

An article by Andrew Hacker in the September 25 issue of The New York Review of Books, "Prejudice Against Obama," persuades me to do something: write poems for people in cities & rural areas who lack driver's licenses or other photo ID, which they need to register. I'm voting absentee in MN, where the race will be tighter.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why do they stay?

When M. abused me in TX, was it deserved for past behavior w/ other men? I was sort of thoughtless when leaving someone -- just did it. I was devoted to B., like a relative, and it didn't occur to me to be serious for long about anyone else, to really stay by them. Until MS, that is, and he was abusive, also addicted. He cheated; I cheated. We broke up a lot. I moved. I returned. I lost P., a great guy set to be an heir who could more than walk. Why am I sleeping in pee? Is this, too, karma? The cheating, the debts for being in a low- or no-pay profession, are all of these rectified? I tortured myself for years about it and gave myself hopeful little promises about life after debt. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment. I feel I have yet to experience a really true & great relationship w/ someone. I used to believe I could never marry a paraplegic. Through it all -- until my lights were knocked out in AA -- I stayed kind in daily ways. Then I went just crazy and very creative. My sister & mother caught it from me but no one else. I caught it from them, too. BB called this a.m. to ask for money again -- this time for a tradeshow -- and prefaced it w/ her claim (true) that T. had invited her to NY free of charge. He is such a funny rich democrat -- the phone ringing off the hook as if it were a fundraiser in reverse. Cherokee called five times and let it ring 30 times each. Today he isn't drinking, is a little ill from it, and good company, why I stay. The aroma of urine fills the living room. My handwashed jeans are drying in the bathroom after being covered in yesterday's urine on the couch. CN wrote to complain that she hadn't even asked for money, but there was a large outburst from her that my sister is crazy and T. is supporting her. My sister is depending on my mother, as I said. T. called Grace Church about getting married and the realtor about a pied a terre. The words "pied a terre" came to me just in time, spontaneously -- I thought it meant garden apt., wh. it could mean, but in NY it means second dwelling, and co-ops don't like them. Condo then. He'll actually make $$ on one, instead of blowing it at hotels or on rent. I want to dive into an apt. w/o pee. I thought about it -- the pee is the hardest part -- it seems impossible, but I pretended that something great could happen -- something out there in the real world of NY -- something exceptional, that could help me transcend the pee & the namecalling. I never believed you "deserved" abuse from someone from another religion. If you "deserved" it for displays of outrage in childhood, why not from someone of the same religion as you, meaning it sounds like a religious explanation for what happened. Your M's displays were so much later than childhood as are T.'s. T. said the other day that it felt really great to attack me verbally. He must be so pissed that I can walk, and I'm handy. And I couldn't care less. I have enough $$ to leave & live somewhere, but I want to stay. Why do they stay? You know the women's magazine question. Why do they stay?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Letter to BL

B., T. has been out of his mind here. I feel it's been 26 hrs. of name-calling w/ a few little moments of affection. His doctor called to speak to me about my getting a follow-up sonogram, and T. threw the phone across the floor telling us to fuck off. I told her he's gone incompetent/incontinent. She thought of catheterizing him, but part of it is his joy at pissing in his $1.7 million apartment and on the furniture and bedding. I cannot escape. It's like he's my employer 24 hrs. a day for the chance to be in NY, and then I rarely go out, anyway. I've been thought by friends to be in a funk lately. I get too quiet & distant. I feel shame to be lying in pee at night for a place to stay. So when the three women asked us for money -- really, it was four, including my sister -- I ask, on whose back? I've said to him that his bankers don't abuse him when he earns in the market, but he abuses me, who work here. It's as if I think C. should work for her "writer's grant" by sleeping in pee. Also, he doesn't allow the use of the computer -- like many employers -- how would she write? No, she wants a no-strings policy toward monetary gifts to her. My sister says no harm in asking for free money from T., but and now we're less sisters for it -- there is harm in it. He assails me for hours when someone I know approaches him for money. They pretend he's a sane jerk of a rich guy who owes them, but really he's a developmentally disabled alcoholic who doesn't think straight long enough to set up a writer's slush fund. We did (together) working on this get $2,000 for a novelist we knew in Houston, whom Donald Barthelme praised as being the best writer there and whose eight novels have never been pub'd. But I didn't get a chance to tell C. about it, bec. she was so indignant that a rich man of her acquaintance wouldn't just write her a check to live on for a year. This is C.N. I befriended her last Oct. in NY. She's a "giant" but has no pub'd book. She is very gifted and hates my sister, bec. she knows T.'s helped my sister financially -- says my sister is crazy. I tell her my sister is a good artist, a devoted heterosexual girlfriend of certain men over the years, and a healer of old animals. C. says it doesn't matter if I think my sister is talented or if she has cared for a cancer patient or animals. C. owns houses but won't sell one. Bec. I am this very calm person w/ bipolar -- I'm very tall -- people say model-like and usu. quiet -- they ignore the bipolar thing until moments like these then tell their friends I'm mentally ill. So I've thought along the lines of economics again -- had been doing that already. C. is a boss-type, must be in charge, is always right, never wrong, and talented, as I said. A retired lawyer. If I pay her, and she's the boss, she writes her novel and buys restaurant meals w/ the money, then I am a customer of her unpub'd novels? Am I like the school who hires the writer to write? Am I a school? Or a customer buying a carload of her imagination-theory? I don't own houses I could sell. I feel that I should have a place to call my own that is dry & clean & good for doing my own work. If I am a patron, and C. the star-boss who dictates my expenditures ... can you make sense of these dynamics? L., my friend who cut her visit to NY short and wanted compensation from T. for her travel expenses, is set to inherit many millions from her stepfather but didn't buy me lunch for years of poverty in my mother's house. I've been volunteering in literature a lot -- editorial, attendance at readings, help in fundraisers -- all of this is scoffed at. Helping T. is denigrated as hopeless activity for me. C. covers her tracks by saying she is a Marxist/Progressive/atheist -- I've only claimed to be a liberal. I need as the buyer of C.'s talent -- she keeps the rights to her talent? -- to understand the position. I have no home, yet she wants checks from me, and T. abuses me in his home in exchange for paying the bills here. Dump C.? Just quietly avoid her? She's a town gossip. She'll tell everyone she meets to stick up for her right to T.'s money. She hasn't even considered what he already pays in taxes.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Marxist-capitalist flowers for believers

The screamer gets the worm. I had given up men for dating; I had redoubled attention saved for women, who, it turned out, were all big drinkers or members of AA. I could put myself in with both strategies. I could admit that I had begged for money, but not over steak. I had pleaded to be paid to work – that was true. In the old days, it was understood that one got paid for paid work; in the new era, it wasn’t true. Work had come to mean something we as women did for cheap or free, something men did without breaking even; men were struggling to live, their bills in danger of not being paid, other expenses. Divorce was lining women’s pockets with men’s higher wages and turning liberals into misogynists: the name calling, alone, was an indictment of heterosexuality; the women, too, blamed women for giving up on or giving in to sex. Since I am not rich (though my boyfriend now is), I had decided to give my time freely, amply, to indulge in volunteerism, to lend whatever expertise I had to the gift economy. I had not thought that the women (except two of us) – acting no better than scratchy cats and whiny terriers – would interrupt my healthy strategy and demand etwas Geld from me. It was not hard to forget times we didn’t even meet due to my relative poverty, years of it, times I had worked but not been paid, times I had asked for “gas money” and jolted administrators younger than I to change not-for-profit policy for the next group. I had not asked outside my immediate family for assistance. That meant being a caregiver without resources in a down economy with a fallowed training for a “fiancé’s” family of young and old people, for a house I didn’t own, for an ideal still at work in this downslide: love – while my women friends courted and lived engaged with the sons of rich men. That b'cy alone took 10 years ...

It is the fourth time in a week a "friend" has asked to be paid for it. I had wanted to give a special gift -- a scarf in a favorite color, gold-toned earrings -- to friends who wanted cash, and not because she didn't own her own house or two, and not because she wouldn't soon or one day inherit, but because she had "cared" during a cancer scare or mopped up after a broken plan, while I, who own no house and running for free, had dared a union. Tuna rare, then.