Archive for December, 2010


from this to that, by Eamon Grennan

I get goose bumps every single time I read this. The imagery, both through the word-painting (flap-flee, blackwhitewhiteblack) and the descriptions (the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, the surprised cormorant) is absolutely stunning.

From This to That

Stepping overboard from the dream-laden vessel of sleep–
its cargo of foreign tongues, sunsplit stones of Italy, one
colored bundle of kindlewood, and the music of God knows who
played on the French horn by the poet’s only daughter–

you walk awhile by the actual tide-line, the ocean drawn back
to expose sea rocks colonized by purple-painted tribes
of young mussels, where three oystercatchers grown hysterical
at the frightful sight of you leave their lethal business

among the molluscs and flap-flee over the waves in baffling
blackwhitewhiteblack Escher flashes. You attend, then,
to the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, take in
the shoreline glint of scabious and coltsfoot, the quick ignitions

of a few leftover leaves of pink thrift, see one short-masted
black trawler riding the waves, and spot the head
and periscoped neck of a cormorant as it vanishes
between breaths, reappears, and looks about as if surprised

to find the world as is–sky, sea, the rugged bulk of Mweelrea
keeping one from the other–as you yourself look about, minding
the seabird’s amphibian gift to live underwater and in air,
to stand on its isolate perch in the wingspread very image

of a black phoenix rising. So stumble on to true wakefulness,
all dreams dissipated, and stop silenced on a seal-smooth rock
half-buried in sand, knowing nothing but the burden of
what you’ve seen, weighing the simple specific gravity of it,

the jag-line heading from this to that, before you turn for home.


don’t use that tone with me young man!

Apparently there’s a new feature available for certain email software programs called ToneCheck. This works much like spell-check, except rather than correcting your misspelling of “recommend” and overlooking the fact that you wrote “you’re” when you meant to write “your,” ToneCheck highlights content which exceeds some kind of preset filter for negative (or exceedingly positive) emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment, elation, etc.

ToneCheck was released as a plug-in with Microsoft Outlook in July, and will “allow for personal variations in tone, gauge a sentence’s level of emotional ambiguity and offer suggestions for revision.” Click here if you want to see it in action.

I can’t decide if this is really terrific, or laughingly absurd. We’ve all sent an email we’ve almost immediately wished we could unsend (the only thing I miss about AOL), we’ve all cringed at our own words when they come back to us at the bottom of a reply, many of us have probably adopted the if-I-write-it-when-I’m-upsetangrybitterlydisappointedresentfulstarkravingmad-I’ll-wait-for-24-hours-before-sending-it policy. But can we really expect a software program to be able to recognize the subtleties and intricacies of adult communication?

I guess the assistance of an objective “third party” giving us a virtual nudge and asking “are you sure you want to say it that way?” wouldn’t be a bad thing. I could always choose to ignore it. Maybe someone should develop a real-life version, something along the size of a digital recorder, which we can speak into for feedback before saying what we REALLY think at the next office meeting.


Let’s take that Christmas spirit on the road

As in, extend that spirit of generosity, patience, and consideration to:


people waiting for 11 minutes to make a left turn

people waiting for a parking space (that goes both ways — i.e. don’t run 3 people down to get into the finally-found open parking space, and don’t take 17 minutes to arrange all of your packages in your trunk while 3 cars vie for position and wait with their blinkers blink blink blinking)

the 3 people waiting to get into the grocery aisle that you are blocking as you catch up on your family’s goings-on over the past 11 months with a long-lost friend

postmen and UPS people who are working 12 hour days to get everything delivered

etc. . . .


In a not-entirely unrelated story — if your car is too big for you to maneuver it into a normal-sized parking space within 5 attempts you should DRIVE A SMALLER CAR. Or maybe just don’t drive.




now isn’t that ironic?

The “confidential” report of Julian Assange’s alleged sexual assault of two Swedish woman has been leaked to the press.

I find this to be very amusing.

Maybe it’s just me.

Also ironic is the fact that I couldn’t get the very funny ad at the beginning of this video to play again so my husband could see it.


what we all wish we’d known

from I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron; (with omissions, with which I do not agree)

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money. (HA!!!)

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.

Write everything down.

The empty nest is underrated.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters (or too many black sweaters of any type).

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

When you’re children are teenagers it’s important to have a dog (or a husband who loves you) so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship is more important than this,” watch out, because it almost never is.

The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyer and file the peprs.


Never let them know.

If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re ahead of the game.

There are no secrets.



Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)

“We feel a lot of affection for public people and project our fantasies of something like perfection on them. . .and it turns out they’re not only imperfect, they can be deeply disappointing.”


I mean, it’s not like this surprises me or anything, but seriously? It’s no wonder we have such a hard time dealing with all of our political and civic problems; we’re still waiting for someone Perfect to come along and fix everything!

Elizabeth Edwards was a smart, capable, strong woman who loved her children and her family, someone who apparently thought it was more important to stay married to a man she obviously cared about, and to stay focused on the objectives upon which their lives and their marriage was built, than to avoid “betraying her following.”

What following is that, that she would have so woefully betrayed? The one who idealized her? Who thought it was appropriate to advise her to “focus on her children” or for her and John to “take care of each other”? How condescending! How about those who found her to be “domineering, aggressive and opinionated,” but still worthy of their admiration? Do any of these feel they are worthy of her consideration?

How dare these people, who know virtually nothing of this woman, her personal pains and joys and triumphs, the intricacies and cohesion of her marriage, feel they have a right to judge or criticize? Even the tone of the article, written in apparent tribute, condescends, with its referrals to her substantial hips and frumpiness, to this “hearty woman of substance.”


Can this article not be written without buying in/selling out to the culture of lookism and female-body-criticism-masked-as-praise we are so saddled with everywhere we look? Does the size of her hips have anything to do with the contribution she may have tried to make to better this country? Are we supposed to imagine John to be that much more noble because he stood by her, despite her frumpiness and the fact that she had the nerve to get cancer, twice?

“We all have very firm opinions about marriage. . .What it consists of, how far it stretches, what kind of deal it entails, and a woman whose husband humiliates her publicly just invites us to dilate on the subject, for our own sakes.”. (Stacy Schiff)

John didn’t humiliate Elizabeth publicly. John betrayed her, yes. But he didn’t broadcast it around the world — others did that. Why do the American people of the 21st century take it so personally when a public figure has an affair? What can we POSSIBLY know of their lives, their marriage, their choices, their struggles? What can it possibly have to do with us?

Jan Hoffman, the writer of the article, redeems him/her self a bit with the final paragraph, although the gist of it comes from Elizabeth herself:

“With her messy, tarnished life, Mrs. Edwards could never become the idealized role model that supporters from so many corners needed her to be. But did that mean she failed them?. . . Fallible, three-dimensional. On the day before she died, she wrote on Facebook: ‘There are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human.'”


which boy?

I sat, once, at the top of some back-stage steps

and listened to a twenty-year-old

(with a shy smile and red hair)

practice one of the Bach Suites for violin;

my back against one door jamb,

my feet against the other.


He commented once, after rehearsal,

on how clean my counters were,

and shyly ate four pieces of my banana bread.

The next day I listened to Jeff Buckley sing

“Lover, You Should Have Come Over”

twelve times in a row

and wondered about what I was too old for,

what I was too young for,

if it was, in fact, too late.


Today as I carried the screens to the basement

and checked the litter box I caught a

glimpse of Second Son sitting on his unmade

bed strumming the chords to some unknown

but recognizable tune;

and his features were blurred,

his hair over his eyes,

and he could have been any young man,

every young man.


I caught myself staring at his picture just earlier today

laughing toddler eyes and sailor hat

tiny little teeth

unsullied joy.


I can’t help but wonder now if the things

we can’t let go of are the things which kill us

slowly slowly bit by bit

and if the things that really matter always

have to be the things we lose.


Jeff Buckley; Lover, You Should Have Come Over

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