Tuesday, November 30, 2010

vinyl, like me

So here it is again. My birthday. I got some snow!

I got some other gifts, too, including a bilingual volume of Cesare Pavese poems. And a Black Pearl Amaryllis. And some earrings. And two generous Amazon gift certificates, making me the near-equivalent of millionaire.

Anyone have a good book recommendation? Something weird and exciting?

I’ve always liked having my birthday here in chilly November’s last ditch. But I admit that for years I was sorry to have to share my birthday with Mark Twain, who never appealed to me. And then of course Fernando Pessoa died on this day (in 1935), which can’t be fair.

But my birthday was redeemed last year when I found out it is also the birthday of Allan Sherman, famous (once) (in America) for his song parodies. Whenever I fly to my mother’s, the first thing I do is put on his 1962 record My Son, the Folksinger on the old turntable. Scratches and all.

I won't be doing anything special, having already gone out to dinner with the family on Sunday (and thus flying in the face of German superstition). I'm too tired anyway, after working until 10.30 last night, way past my bedtime. Maybe pizza instead of cooking...

Monday, November 29, 2010

you see she is yet young

I recently saw that Jane Eyre is being made into a movie. Being made into a movie “again” seems to be more correct, but I never saw a Jane Eyre movie, so it’s all news to me. I have read the book, however, though I remember little about it – just a few of the Mr. Rochester bits, the psychopath in the attic, and the BOOM sentence: ‘Reader, I ....’

I do enjoy a good British period film with costumes and rain-slapped trees and fireplaces and overcooked porridge. So after I saw the trailer, I pulled the book off the shelf to reacquaint myself. Honestly I thought the reacquaintance would last four minutes, but soon I was on page 8, then page 11, then page 16 and by then I’d committed to re-reading it.

I know that re-reading books is enriching and often necessary but I confess I rarely do it, mostly because there are so many books I haven’t read, ‘important’ books, supposedly ‘great’ books, supposedly delightful books, books with “the answer” that has hitherto been hidden from me! Poetry! Memoirs of suffering! Considering I have to work and sleep and walk the dog, I’m kind of stingy about my reading time.

Still, it’s wonderful re-reading Jane Eyre. I’m sure it kicks the ass of Super Sad True Love Story and Mr. Peanut and all the other flotsam out there. I’m really enjoying it. Suddenly I’m an unloved, unattractive 10-year old orphan girl again, no matter that I was never an unloved orphan girl. I am now.

The whole cult of the Brontes went by me, but it’s never too late. And I seem to be enjoying a British era. The other day I did one of those “favorite character” surveys and the top spots went to a trinity of Dickens boys – Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Tiny Tim. I was as surprised as anyone, not considering myself any kind of diehard Dickens fan. Most surprising was the appearance of Tiny Tim. I was never a declared admirer of his, but being a huge emotional sucker, and with Christmas around the corner, he simply materialized there on Throne #3. I think he’s there more for what he represents than for what he is, which is kind of cardboard.

So may I now address your attention to the butterfly collection? I fell hard for the graphic whimsy of this. The UK artist, with the unlikely moniker of TerrorDome, has done pieces like this Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Alice in Wonderland and other books as well as maps. I took a shot at it myself, and now have a butterfly box for Oliver Twist. It’s hardly as lovely as this, but it’s sweet, and Oliver was my first crush.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

reasons to be cheerful, a gratitude post

Plaid, which livelies up the place
Francis Ponge, who reinvented
The Ampersand, shorter & stylisher than ‘and’
Investigative journalism
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which I am all over
Foreign movies, dubbed or subbed
Good hygiene, always appreciated
Starbucks in my town!
Oskar Schindler, who lived down the street
Understandable IKEA instructions
Subject-verb agreement, please
Never having gone to Las Vegas, a mercy confirmed after my mother went and came back sorry

song of the day: oooh child

Monday, November 22, 2010

what can china give me that my soul hasn't already given me

I coughed so much at work this morning that I was pretty much told to go home. In fact I'm much better than last week, when I missed four days of work and spent a lot of time in bed breathing. I also finally watched Blade Runner (let-down) and Tideland (groan). Now it's just a cough and the general murky wonder.

I'm reading Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet. There is no better book, and Pessoa was already the center ptych in my triptych of favorite writers. I'm around p. 120 or so now, just past entry 122 -

"The idea of travel nauseates me.
I've already seen what I've never seen.
I've already seen what I have yet to see."

We've got a terror warning going in Germany, and today was reportedly hot. So far, so good. I don't want anything messing with the anniversary of the assassination of JFK. I don't want anything messing with anything.

Friday, November 19, 2010

them days

Stunned by Jack’s proposal, Mallory gushes an exultant yes before realizing later in the day she is already married to Seamus. Confusing STD for SUV, Liza assumes the rash came with the car and refuses treatment for her illness. When Jim doesn’t like Carol’s new haircut, she shows their dinner guests the videotape of his mother’s nervous breakdown. (On the edge of the woods. Family picnic be damned.) After Reese finds out about Clay’s betrayal, she throws the ancient past in his face, Nile and all. Jody explains to Mark that she has immaculately conceived. He spends the rest of the show writhing in the chaos of his own stupidity.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Moon in the Daytime

There is a difference between the sympathetic show of being “able to relate” and the conviction that everything that happens is inextricably and primarily bound up with oneself.

When I stopped believing in God I knew I would have to give up the Devil, too, which I resisted more stubbornly.

I’d like to see schnapps made from birds rather than fruits. There’d be Wren Schnapps, Raven Schnapps, Schnapps aux Flamingo, etc.

So much of opinion is instilled. In America, the majority of the population considers the death penalty just. In Germany, the majority considers it unjust. Did these people form their opinions on their own, through reflection? Of course not. At a tender age, they read what’s right in the newspaper.

Although anyone who looks can see it, and even explain it, the daytime moon always strikes me as a fine little secret.

It is good to put an hour aside for thinking. Slow down. Behold your horses.

not funny

I have been ailing. The headache component has eased, only to be replaced by a swollen eye the size of a golf ball and the texture of crepe paper.

Then the kids' school caught on fire.

Friday, November 12, 2010

just mad about saffron

there’s slow food.
there’s the slow cooker.
there’s slow motion.
the slow reader.
slow children at play.
there’s the slow lane.
there’s sloe gin.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

half-shelled peas

The most important thing I learned on my last trip to America is that I don’t like Taylor Swift. Really don’t like. I’d say hate, but then I’d be devoting too much energy to the whole project. Anyway, of the 6 or 7 songs being overplayed on American radio last month, one of the favorites was Taylor Swift’s song about the careless careful dude’s waitress daughter, or some such. And boy does that song suck. And worse was Taylor Swift’s squealing. My daughter didn't appreciate my imitation. I’m sorry.

One of the more remarkable experiences I had was at a nice leather goods store, where my 12-year old son was actually helping me pick out a purse. The saleswoman came over, all agush! It turns out my son is the spitting image of Justin Bieber. He is so adorable he should be a model. She was going to tell her niece all about him. Seriously. I have to say we non-residents are just not used to so much friendliness. I know it’s completely normal and even natural to American ladies, but my son, while half-smiling, was also completely shell-shocked.

Monday, November 08, 2010

'Jesus' by Novica Tadic

Our Jesus
Our Jesus a pincushion

I like this poem because each line builds on the last.
I like this poem because it’s simply constructed, like a cross.
I like the three of it: 1) Jesus, 2) Jesus defined by our possession of Him, 3) His pincushionness.
I like this poem’s three also because of the trinity.
Another three would be the three nails that went into Jesus.
I like how this poem is actually about voodoo.
I like how Jesus makes Himself useful.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


We took a stand at the Kindergarten flea market yesterday, where we put a good chunk of childhood up for sale. We came home about 130 euros richer, which I consider pretty good, especially since I had to talk everybody into it. I made the kids help and gave each of them 22 euros when it was over. They were thrilled.

We sold a lot of books. Books are expensive but they’re one thing where I won’t say no. It was good to recoup at least a little of that outlay, and think it’s some other kid’s turn to enjoy the book (for much less money). People are also crazy about Schleich animal figures. We were always crazy about them, too, but at 12 and 14 my kids don’t touch them anymore. One father alone bought about 12 of them. I saved the squirrel for old times’ sake.

Okay, I also saved the donkey and the seal.

I also saved a book of children’s jokes – "Das megadicke Buch der Superwitze." One of my favorite jokes ever comes from the section on “Dummhausen,” a fictional village of very stupid people.

“Have you heard? Just a week ago the Dummhausen library opened, and already it’s had to be closed.”
“But why?”
“Someone stole the book!”

Thanks to esoule at etsy for the seal!

Saturday, November 06, 2010


The sky is gel-grey and peppered with birds; the wind gusts and swirls the leaves in their insane circles. Autumn is sure. Gold and red and cold. If I walk early to the store, it’s not yet crowded. A stray old lady is also on her way; another’s heading back. Both carry dark straw baskets, the favored shopping bag of that generation. I pull my squeaky trolley. November is my birth month, and I feel at home here. This is the cold I come from. The sky will hold this grey all day and not rain. Germany and its pleasant inclemency. I come around the corner of the brick church. Someone has hurled a pair of Birkenstocks at the front door.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Which Wallace Stevens personage would you choose to be

1. The Interior Paramour
2. Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan
3. Peter Quince (at the Clavier)
4. The Sleight-of-Hand Man
5. The Emperor of Ice-Cream
6. Nomad Exquisite

the sublime

Yet farther above super and superb is sublime, which I encountered early this morning on the UBahn. Sublime is no one talking on a cell phone, no one’s bad music leaking from the headphones of an iPod, no couples fresh out of bed traveling together, whispering, loudly smooching, no one with a relation to anyone else at all that would require them to speak. No one drinking coffee or eating a roll, no one suffering a cologne overdose or a fit of coughing. In fact the sublime seems to have a lot of nothing about it...
Related Posts with Thumbnails