Saturday, September 22, 2012

Coffee Poetry Napoleonic Mystery Hour

This morning I was reading some Elizabeth Bishop poems and found this quote in Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems "Objects & Apparitions:"
"One has to commit a painting," said Degas, "the way one commits a crime."

I love the quote. And I started to research it out. I am searching for where Degas wrote or said this, the original reference/source, but I can't find it. I am wondering if EB made it up. When I first started writing, I could not resist making up quotes from famous people. Like what if Napoleon said, "I like big butts and I cannot lie." That's fantastic isn't it?

Anyway, if you can find the source of the Degas quote for real [not in your funny imagination] send it my way. I need some context.

[Back up: yes, it sounds very haughty to say that I woke up and read poetry, but know that I was reading while S was watching Shark Tale (which I dislike, but she calls "awesome") and we were chucking apple slices at each other and I had an eye out for her knocking over or trying to drink my coffee which has happened now like 10 times and man, a kid on coffee is special. Not that I am apologizing for being a poet at heart or for reading and loving poetry, but I would hate for you to be sitting there thinking what a charmed life I have. without knowing that it's perfectly "charmed" if that means full of messes and fun and apples and poop and pretty much just the way I like it.]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Tells (for KP)

I can tell from what you are listening to on Spotify that your heart is broken. Who did that to you? Do you want me to punch his lights out? I will. And are you going to be okay or should cash in my high-yield CD to buy a plane ticket and fly to you and scoop you up and hold you until you feel better? Just tell me. I will do that for you. God, remember how we used to get drunk in the day time and be blinded leaving the bar at 4 pm, our squinty eyes giving it all away, we’d climb out from the bar-cave into the brilliant sun and search for cheap food and more drinks and dancing…remember how noon brunch turned into 4am dancing on the subway platform and falling asleep on the train and waking up in Coney Island, just to laugh at the ocean until the sun came up? Remember when you loved me more than anyone else loved me and when I loved you the same way? I would certainly cash in my high-yield CD to get that back again. Too bad time is not-for-sale. Without getting all Carol King on you, if you need me, send me the bat signal, or an email, or a message in a bottle. You know what to do. Breathing is hard, but you have to keep doing it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What You Eat When You Eat Alone

Those of you who know me, know that this is a favorite topic. I like to ask this question at dinner parties. It is a topic that absolutely fascinates me.

What do you eat or cook for yourself, when it’s just you to consider, no one else, just you? Do you cook? Do you order? What do you eat?

As a woman and as a woman who cooks, food is so much a part of my life, my fabric, my core. Women are taught to love and nurture using food. My grandmother made cookies and desserts and casseroles and popcorn and grilled cheese because she loved me (and my mom and grandpa and all of us.)  My mom makes great guacamole and  killer potato salad. She made food for me because she loved me; for both my mom and grandma cooking was an act of love since neither of them loved to cook—both good cooks, both willing cooks, neither had the love for cooking.

Maybe it skips two generations? But whatever the reason, I love to cook. I love food. I love to feed and nurture with food. It started early. My mom would give me Tiger’s Milk bars from the health-food store and yogurt-covered pretzels from the Peanut Shop downtown. It was a treat. It was a nod from her to me to say “I love you and thought of you today.”  Just something small, but little yogurt-covered nuggets of love nevertheless.

Whatever it is—and please know that I could write about food, and dig in deep and go on and on forever—whatever it is that makes food so important to me, the reason isn’t as important (because there isn’t one reason but a multitude) as the effect. I cook with love. I make food because I love you. I make my daughter and husband dinner because I love them and want them to have healthy food to nourish their bodies and minds—those bodies and minds that I love and cherish and adore.  Cooking is an act of love. (And love is an act of will, remember?)

So, then, how do I love myself? What do I eat when there is no one else to please, no other tastes to consider? When I want to honor and love me, to nourish myself a little?

These are a few of my favorite things (to eat alone)
-       tapas: sardines in olive oil, simple crackers, goat cheese, capers, red onion, tomato slices, lemon wedge, new sprouts
-       macaroni and cheese with canned tuna and frozen peas (poor woman’s tuna casserole)
-       popcorn, cxtra-sharp cheddar,  crisp apple
-       red wine
-       chocolate bar to dip into peanut butter
-       sushi (at sushi bar)
-       cold pizza or cold leftover spaghetti 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Good Is an Egg-Corn If You Are Just Adding Salt to Injury (for RD)

Until I was 22 I thought the phrase was "adding salt to injury." I had the connotation correct, just not the denotation. It was something that my grandmother said, a lesson that she taught us, "No need to add salt to injury, Heather dear." That's what I heard in my head as a child. I'm sure that I didn't know what an insult was (when I was very little) but I did know how salt stung in a freshly scraped finger. 

So, even as I grew up, I still heard salt. That's what I knew it was. I am not sure if my grandmother said salt or insult but if I had to guess, she probably said insult. She loved words and writing and reading. (Unless she was the inventor of the egg-corn---which I will start claiming now!!!) 

I think I stumbled upon the phrase "add insult to injury" in a book. It took me a minute to realize that salt and insult sounded so much alike. By that time, the Internet was invented (thank you Al Gore) and I looked up the etymology of the phrase.


Alternative forms


This was derived from the fables of Phaedrus in the first century AD. The story was of a bald man who swats at a fly which has just bitten him on the head, but instead hits himself on the head. The fly comments, "You wished to kill me for a touch. What will you do to yourself since you have added insult to injury". The actual wording appears in English from the middle of the 18th century. This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.


  1. (idiomatic) To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavourable situation
    As if the hostile takeover weren't enough, to add insult to injury they scrapped ninety percent of our products and replaced them with their own.

[edit]Usage notes

[edit]Derived terms


[edit]See also

I love that "rub salt in the wound" is also another related and commonly used phrase. 

If I could go back to school and study anything I wanted like for fun, I would study linguistics and etymology and vernacular. 

I also would become an architect and a detective. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Places I Want to Go (Non-U.S.)

St. Petersburg
Ha Noi
Rio de Janeiro
Newcastle Upon Tyne

Where’d You Go, HD?

I read this:

It was great. Here’s why.
Bernadette, the mom, is a creative genius. [This should sound familiar to you already.] She is married to Elgie, the dad, and he is a patient, hard-working, nice guy who works too hard to provide for his family. [yes, yes, again, familiar.] Then, there is their only daughter, Bee (short for Balakrishna), who was born premature and blue.

When Bee was born, Bernadette made a deal with God. She promised God that if Bee would live and be healthy that she would never create again.

The glitch with making a deal with God is well illustrated by all of Greek and Roman mythology and half of the Bible. We are human, not gods. And if we are God-like (or made in his image) then we are as like God as a shadow is like the person standing in the sun. We are a likeness, a reflection, a shadow of god. We are attracted to light, love, and beauty, and creation, but also pulled toward struggling darkness, treachery, wrongdoing, betrayal, and sin. We rebel against god and his likeness. Maybe it’s just too high of a standard for any human. What pressure?!?! People love to rebel against the people/the things that we are the most like (um, the second that we think we are becoming what our parents want us to be, we start shaving our heads, and piercing things, and drinking and smoking, and driving too fast, and having teenage sex or find any way to rebel to distance ourselves from the inevitable likeness of our creators.) All over the world we have different fundamentalists fighting each other. Why? Because their sect and their neighbor's sect are equally fired up—it’s a treat when you have that much in common but have only a slight difference (be it a generation gap, or a language barrier, or a different name for the same god, town, government); see also, the presidential election.

When we make a deal with God we always use the biggest, baddest bargaining chip that we can muster up—the chip with the most enormous emotional and personal heft. As if to deal with God, we have to go all in (how else could we even contend?) What is the one thing that I have that God might want or respect? I will trade my creative genius for my daughter’s life/health or trade my soul to play the blues. The deal will never work for us. It will always backfire. God really can’t be “dealt” with. It’s our naive and desperate mistake. How could we win? It’s a terrible gamble.

How could giving up your genius or soul make God happy?  And who are we to make that kind of deal? It never works (go back and read every myth ever written); mostly it doesn’t work because we are human. We barter the most important essential thing to us (or second most), and then later we can’t keep the deal because that thing that was so important to barter with is our very essence—it is who we are. It is the cotton of our lives.

The deal is always better for the deal taker. Think Rumpelstiltskin. That fucker. He always knew that people would bargain away anything to get what the thought they wanted in that moment—we are so into instant gratification that we will trade our hair for a fancy comb. Ol’ Rumpelstiltskin will always win. It’s human nature.]

Back to Bernadette: the genius of this story is that Bernadette made the deal with God and never told Elgie or Bee. She just rotted away inside and lived in a decaying house and disappeared from herself and her family all because she made a bad bet and never told her family the truth.

The story is a great lesson (for me right now). Don’t make deals with God. Tell your spouse the truth. Let your family love you. They will love you. And if you don’t create you will become a menace to society. Do I want to be a menace to society? No. So, HD, create. Talk to your family. And stop making deals with God.

Where'd You Go. Bernadette? is a great, fun, interesting beautifully written, funny book. You should read it. 

Listening to: Violent Femmes "Fat"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sketches of My Sweetheart, the Drunk

I am writing more. it's just happening. I am writing two stories for ePublication. They are totally shit, genre fiction--but have potential to make a quick dime or two. And then there is the longer thing (not at all even close to calling it a novel...) that is more like a response (call-and-response) to We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Then there's the blog.

Ok, so here's what's up, I need to take more time for myself. I keep getting sick and it's because my life is out of balance. I need to get more exercise and more time to write and read. 

Why is time so fucked up? When I was a yout(h) I used to burn time. Like I was always "killing" time, waiting for friends to meet me, waiting for night to come, waiting for my mom to leave, waiting for school to end, waiting for godot. Now, I never have enough time. Does time actually go faster the closer we get to death? I don't think so. I have seen people die and dying and it doesn't seem fast. It seems to drag. Maybe time is slower at the ends (if your life was a line) so, it's slower at the end and at the beginning. Do you remember being a kid and waiting for your grandparents to show up and being so excited that you would get ready and run downstairs and sit on the couch and stare out the window? those moments seemed hours. (is that just "a watched pot never boils" coming true?) Now it seems that when I'm waiting for company, that they are always here well before I'm ready for them. House still a mess, hair wet, cheerios all over the carpet.... 

So, how to get more time to/for myself? Where does that time come from?