04.10.19

we were chatting about werner herzog's nosferatu the vampyre at ye olde charity bookstore today. "did you know V found him in her bed once?" B asked me. nosferatu?! "no, werner herzog." i made a beeline for V. "well, yes, but he wasn't there for me," she said. "i had an assistant back then, and i came home one day and just found them both in there. i shouted for them to get out, and she whispered to me, 'but V, it's werner herzog.' 'i don't give a shit who it is,' i said." she knows that i'm heading overseas tomorrow, and she asked me to report back on mayhem in the UK this weekend. i, in turn, made her promise to rule the store with an iron fist in my absence. "yes, the corrupt republic of V!" she exclaimed.

03.19.19

i don't tend to read during the day, unless i'm in transit or it's saturday or sunday. though the sort of work i do certainly benefits from my sucking up books, i tend to feel like anything i do during the week that isn't directly related to pitching or writing (or, you know, chores) is stealing from myself, o freelancing (one of the few reasons i miss office work). the reading i allow myself before bed, then, can get ridiculous: i try to set a cutoff of three or even four o’clock if something is really marvelous, but i don't always honor it, since i know i won't have more time for a whole day. joe doesn't usually wake up as i read, unless i'm being really theatrical about sitting up to pet the cat sleeping on his feet, but he's been stirring lately, mumbling that it's time for me to go to sleep. when i was little, i was under the impression that growing up meant never having to turn out the light!

so i'm reading this space opera, and while i'm not at all sure that it's any good, it is propulsive, and i knew at some point last week that i would only have a bit left when i turned in for the night (and that the next installment was still in transit from a remote library branch). that was unacceptable, and i hadn't bought anything from our local indie bookstore (which is only about a mile away) in a few weeks, so i laced up my running shoes and headed out. i called my dad en route, as is our tradition: he's a different kind of freelancer, and we've discovered that the best way to talk is to rattle each other's cages as we're in transit. when i reached the store i told him i'd phone him back in five minutes, and when the store didn't have book two and it looked like the strand would be open for another hour or so, i dialed again and headed uptown. success! all of the books, and i called him one more time as i turned south from union square. joe was nearly asleep when i got home, and i told him that dad and i had made a formal pact to reconvene at our family's little cabin in big bear for his seventieth birthday in a few years. my phone informed me that i'd walked eight miles, then illuminated my pages for a few hours as i read, sat up to scratch the cat, read. this adulthood is alright.

02.22.19

i've been reading advice for future corpses (and those who love them), a book on death and dying by a writer who's (among other things) a buddhist and a palliative-care nurse.
The lovely Japanese film After Life is a fable about where people go right after they die; it turns out to be a run-down hotel in the country. People arrive one by one, a little disoriented. Each person is given a room and told they can stay until they pick a single memory in which to live forever. Once they pick the memory, the staff re-creates it and the person settles in and disappears. Some people choose immediately and happily fade away. Another person spends days reviewing the jerky black-and-white films of his life, trying to pick one. A few people have no happy memories and just sit on their beds, lost. A few others find it impossible to decide: their lives are full. (One of the key parts of the plot is what happens to the ones who can't decide.)

When I showed After Life to a group of people, we did what every viewer will do, and thought about which memory we would choose. I was struck by the common thread, for me and for many people: it was the moment after. Not the adventure, the experience, the unfulfilled desire, but afterward. The moment at the end of a good day when you are going home and are a little sore and sweaty, you are getting hungry, your feet are dirty, and you are going home to rest.
i turned to joe in bed. "hey, can i tell you something?" he was almost asleep. "no, no! well...okay." "my book is talking about a movie where dead people have to choose the one memory they'll live in forever, and mine would be when we were standing in the rain in the garden in oxford." "oh. that's really nice. i thought you were going to tell me about a dead duck."

02.12.19

the dirty baker's dozen {excerpts from comments on jim lahey's no-knead bread recipe}


01 I used to enjoy this recipe. It's a decent recipe for beginners. But as all things Bittman, and Clark go, you sacrifice a great deal by being lazy and knowing nothing.

02 We decided the dog loved it even more than caribou!

03 Rocky Mountain Help!

04 450 degrees of what? Sorry for asking just does not seem to be clear to me.

05 Whoever said that one should place the bread on a tea towel for the second rise should be shot.

06 Help! I have attempted to make this bread recipe 3 times. I even bought a metal bowl and watched the video.

07 I am a beginner baker and I felt triumphal as my husband inhaled a whole loaf in one seating; and, he supposedly watches his figure. This recipe opened the joy of baking for me.

08 This might be very good bread, but you are making a completely different recipe. Not helpful for this project.

09 I personally love messing about with bread dough and handling it, but I recognize from my classes that many Americans just don't want to get involved with their food or "get messy."

10 Baby blankets from the hospital,the ones with pink and blue stripes, work great for bread.

11 The best bread is the bread that you like and if you like the bread that comes out of your bread machine that's the best bread for you and you have absolutely nothing to apologize for.

12 The last time I attempted to bake bread, my husband (now ex) threw it across the room and it made a dent in the plaster. Enough said. This recipe is nothing short of amazing. My dough did not look sticky after mixing, so I threw in about a 1/4 cup of Prosecco (I was drinking the dregs of it anyway...) and tossed the dough around.

13 Bought the book, My Bread, for several friends and have taught some including men at age 86 and 94 the technique for this simple but excellent bread. The 94-year-old German recently experimented with using soy milk for half or more of the liquid and he and I think it improves the bread.

01.20.19

23 years (more than three quarters of sylvia plath's life) after ted hughes published "the rag rug," i am making one of my own. i hacked up an old dress, a tee shirt joe has never worn, and a tee he conceded to me.
I remember
Those long, crimson-shadowed evenings of ours
More like the breath-held camera moments
Of reaching to touch a falcon that does not fly off.
As if I held your hand to stroke a falcon
With your hand.
did ted hughes ever handle raptors? i buried myself in my "plath and hughes" seminar at the end of college—my professor, diane middlebrook, would have written me the only letter of recommendation i ever earned—and i don't know. i feel confident that he didn't experience raptors the way i do at my wildlife hospital, but that is probably neither here nor there. i know that sylvia and ted did not have cats, and i imagine that she did not have to shut herself in her bathroom to weave (they love a strip of tee).
Later (not much later)
Your diary confided to whoever
What furies you bled into that rug.
As if you had dragged, like your own entrails,
Out through your navel.
a charity bookstore friend of mine, the dear fellow who found me my latest copy of nineteen eighty-four (a title i have been collecting for the last six months), has a new wildflower tattoo on his wrist; i complimented him and he told me it was a drawing of sylvia's. half an hour later, he asked me to help him display a ten-volume collection of shakespeare in german at the back of the store. i balanced the last five against my hips as he teetered on a ladder: "achtung, K, achtung!" "i don't know german," he said. "i am not as cultured as you are."
Played on by lightnings
You needed an earth. Maybe. Or needed
To pull something out of yourself -
Some tapeworm of the psyche. I was simply
Happy to watch your scissors being fearless
As you sliced your old wool dresses,
Your cast-offs, once so costly,
Into bandages.
a boyfriend who had a penchant for wearing my clothes gave me a copy of ariel. he inscribed it with a gregory corso quote: "standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power." the green brocade pants i wore in paris after another teenager spurned me were so much lovelier stretched across his hips than they ever were on mine.

my material is black, and the pale cotton butcher's twine i wound around the cardboard i found in my neighbors' recycling pile looks like the stitches in a kantha quilt. joe requested a shot of fluorescent color in my rug, so i'll snip a few strips out of the pink turban he wore at our friends' wedding in delhi this november. i do not think he thinks of raptors as i sway at my loom, but you would have to ask him about that.

01.02.19(ii)

a large box of books crushed my foot at ye olde charity bookstore just before christmas, which made me feel very sorry for myself (who stacks boxes like that?!) and left me with a bruise like a venusian moonrise. "you should wear closed-toe shoes," joe noted. i was wearing closed-toe shoes, is the thing, and anyway, how often does one end up under a bunch of books?

i was dismantling a ramshackle fort of donations in front of the store this afternoon and a six-foot stack of novels i'd piled on the counter tipped over on my head and shoulders as i squatted on the floor below. i felt terribly sorry for myself—my back felt lousy before the book avalanche, i'd underdressed for the weather, and my mean old psychiatrist had just yelled at me for showing vulnerability for the first time in our decade-long adversarial relationship—so i joined a couple of fellow volunteers for a tea and snack break in the cafe. one of them was reeling from the unexpected death of her dog, and she showed the rest of us images of the fancy pet cemetery where she and her family had buried him. i confessed that i had a couple of cats' cremains in my closet because i've never felt like i found the right place for them. "i have a person in my closet," my friend V said in a husky, german-accented sigh. "one of these days i'm going to die and someone will find that salt shaker and then there will be bruno on their food."

01.02.19

2019: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

I heated some Trader Joe's spinach-and-artichoke dip.
I read a book.
I cut some baby carrots in half.
I napped with the cat.
I took a bubble bath.
I finished the Wednesday crossword puzzle.