finally knowing the difference between bright and poisonous

Trying to decide what's as beautiful
as a bucket of nails on a deck, rain by rust
almost blood-colored, almost life
starting over from nothing. I pick the moment
I didn't kill a milk snake, diverted
the spade at the last, harmlessly cutting
the ground, finally knowing the difference
between bright and poisonous. Or when

I realized she loves me, she loves me not
explains why daisies avoid us
as often as they can, I say Run, simple flower,
away from my need to know
anything at all, everything
would be better. Or when

I was given an electron microscope
by the Tooth Fairy, that was beautiful
too, to sleep painfully
on a deeper seeing, and wake, and cut
my mother's tongue to show her the cells
by which she told me, Your toast
is ready, sweetie. Which it was

every morning, buttered and jammed
and cut in half, an application
of disorder that created
a different sense of order. As when Chartres
is broken into a thousand
puzzle pieces and becomes
a system on a table
more interesting when a piece or two
or three go missing.

[Bob Hicok {1960- }, 'You name this one', from Elegy Owed]


good manners are made up of petty sacrifices

  • What are your favourite smells?
    clean laundry, lemon, bacon
  • Can you go a whole day without caffeine?
  • Who knows more about you than anyone else?
    D, and D
  • What song did you last listen to?

    "Killing Me Too" by Sister Hazel, from
    Chasing Daylight
  • Do you have a crush on anybody?
    I wouldn't call it a crush.
  • Do you like The Beatles?
    in a battle with The Rolling Stones, the Beatles win hands down. Otherwise, I don't really seek them out all that much.
  • If you could choose one color to wear for a whole year, what color would you choose?
    it would have to be blue. Or black.
  • Do you cook often?
    not as much as I'd like, or I ought, but yes
  • What was the last film you watched? Did you like it?
    Bottle Rocket, the Wes Anderson's (and Luke Wilson's and Owen Wilson's) debut feature film. I didn't adore it, but it was pretty good.
  • Can you sew?
    I can make simple repairs
  • What is your favorite fruit?
    raspberries and peaches
  • Are you health conscious?
    I am conscious that my health needs some work
  • Go do the Kinsey Scale Test, what number result did you receive?
  • Do you curse a lot?
    far too often
  • When was the last time you had a pint of beer?
    reunion weekend
  • Are you pro life or pro choice?
    I wouldn't define it that way, as if there were equal and opposite choices. It's bigger, to me, than yes or no.
  • Is there a certain food you often crave for no reason?
    probably not. I think food cravings come from nutritional imbalance, so you crave salt when you need sodium and you crave meat when you need protein. Not too "fun," but logical.
  • What was the last book you purchased?
    James Ziskin's newest Ellie Stone mystery, Heart of Stone
  • Where was your last vacation?
    right here, when my theatre friends came to visit me
  • Do you shave your pits?
    that's kinda personal, isn't it? "Need to know," even.
  • Did you ever play Seven Minutes in Heaven?
    of course. That's what those middle grades were all about!
  • Girls, when was the last time you went out without a bra?
    Guys, when was the last time you went shirtless in public?

    Ha! That's for me to know.
  • Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how did it happen?
    I broke one when I was about a year and a half old, falling off a chair. The other, I've broken twice, tripping over books.
  • How do you like your eggs?
    scrambled, hard and dry, or hard-boiled. Runny yolk is not my friend.
  • What was your last argument about and who with?
    the last time I got really hot was earlier this week when I was "called into the office" at work. I was scolded, told to reform my poor attitude, and also directed to rearrange my workspace because it bothered unnamed colleagues. There is no end to the incredulity and disgust that I feel for the "management" that happens at that place. I'm hoping to get out without experiencing much more.
[random grab from here; the title quotation is by Ralph Waldo Emerson]


Vani tass, vani tatum, et omni i vani tass

I think of myself as an adaptable, intuitive person who is relatively unshakable. This last week, though, has been a severe test of that theory. Work was a combination of increased productivity, surprising sweetness, juvenile disdain and petulance, flashes of genuine humor, mass confusion, and, overall, the pervading sense that Something is Wrong and it's all [my] fault. But the funny thing is that the only people taking the blame are those probably not in the wrong. I don't know what's coming, but there is an air about the place that it's all coming to a head. I just hope that it doesn't get real ugly before this phase ends.

Also testing that theory, on a different side of things, is an almost crushing sense of disappointment with a couple of people who have let me down...again. What is it with me and expectations; will I never learn?!

Coupled directly with that, though, is the surprise that came up in relation to both of those disappointments, at the hand of my former, er, flame (?), Ulysses.  Although we're no longer anything like we used to be to each other, we've remained in (very rare) contact, probably as much out of habit as intention. However, this time around we told each other a little more truth than usual, in a little more detail than before, and the result was both revealing and practically helpful. Yes, he still owes me a great deal of money, but sometimes that's not the most important thing.

Finally--and yes, most important of all--I've been surprised and pleased and even stunned into silence by funny, inquisitive, tender, shrewd, clever texts, messages, and phone calls from and with someone I like very much. This sort of persistent attention is distracting, radiant, intense, and scary as Hell. For now, I'm choosing not to think about it unless I need to. Too much analysis can leach out the joy.

[the title quotation comes from Chris-in-the-Morning, channeled through Northern Exposure, season 2, episode 3, and translates as "Only when we understand all is vanity, only then, it isn't."]


never mistake motion for action

Day 31: "Sky"
Lone walker, Levee Park, Winona
Photo challenges are like the old quote: "Love is a bit like a vacation: anticipated with relish, experienced with inconvenience, and remembered with nostalgia." I'm always certain that it won't be a big deal to come up with 31 photos in a month - really, how often when I'm taking pictures do I take less than 31 in a day?! - and to post one per day. But it's the perfectionism that's the problem, which is not usually an issue in my life.

Work has gotten twelve kinds of crazy in the last week. My most annoying coworker...well, that's sort of hard to define, isn't it? Let's say, my newest team member...will no longer be a part of the team, coming up in a week or so. That would be great, except that now that person's duties will literally as well as figuratively fall on me and one other person. Only, that other person just found out that she needs to have surgery, and will be gone at least six weeks, more likely up to ten. 

That leaves ME. Doing the job of three people. For the price of one, apparently. Seems likely.

I'm looking for alternatives to this, short- and long-term. For the moment, though, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. It won't fix itself but maybe I can stay out of some of the mess.

[the title quotation is by Ernest Hemingway]


tonight, it's longing that fills me

Day 30: "Sweet"
Mocha coconut frapp from
Mugby Junction, waiting on my desk last Friday (the day before my birthday) -
sweet in two ways.
A cold front's blowing in; the fragrant air
rustles as if with the approach of rain
but the sky's clear and when I go out to call
the cat I see in the pool's deep end the lights

of a jet. They look sharp enough to slice
a diver's legs. Michael joins me for a moment, offers
a sip of his Lillet, while the cat writhes indolently
on a stone still warm with afternoon. How clearly

I see her, my mother, twenty years ago,
as she sorted through my summer clothes, deciding
which of my batiste slips should be mended,
which used for dust cloths. I sat on the bed

and watched her toss them into two soft piles,
the air so dense with light I'd have moved,
had I moved, slowly as a bell rung in heavy oil.
Last night Michael placed a bowl of apricots

on the windowsill and kissed the insides of my elbows.
Love swelled like vertigo inside me; shown the word
in print I'd have thought it foreign, nonsense,
an odd name. But tonight, it's longing

that fills me: I sense the season's end as I would
the bass line of a pavane played from a great distance.
Michael calls my name, suggests a drive. And so 
we head down River Road in my old convertible.

He pops in Miles Davis in the tape player--"Sid's Retreat,"
"Green Dolphin Street," "Round Midnight." Music
and speed fuse and for a moment I'm no longer
in the car but behind it, the only skier on the water.


this wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it

Day 29: "Critters"
Rups & Bels
  1. What is more difficult for you, looking into someone's eyes when you are telling them how you feel, or looking into someone's eyes when they are telling you how they feel? that would depend on the feeling more than the telling. If it's an ugly feeling or a hurtful one or one that's not reciprocated, then avoiding eye contact can be a blessing. If the feelings are all good, then it's a reinforcement of the good.
  2. Think of the last time you were REALLY angry. WHY were you angry? Do you still feel the same way? last week, someone that I work with (though not directly) slandered me to her colleagues and boss, and to my boss. I was angry because her allegations were false and a deliberate attempt to shift the blame from herself for something that she--objectively--did wrong. I am still upset, although not so intensely, because I've not been given the opportunity to respond.
  3. You are on a flight from Honolulu to Chicago non-stop. There is a fire in the back of the plane. You have enough time to make ONE phone call. Who do you call? What do you tell them? I call D., because her phone is never, ever charged, and I know it would go to voicemail. I would leave a message for her, but with the instruction that it be shared with the appropriate others as well. She would know.
    And as for what I would tell them--seriously? Isn't that apparent?
  4. You are at the doctor’s office and he has just informed you that you have approximately one month to live. Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? What do you do with your remaining days? Would you be afraid? it depends. Is it slow and painful (relatively)? Or will it be quick and painless, so that I can use every remaining day? If it were the latter, I would probably tell no one, and apart from some minor modifications, change very little. I don't tend to keep too much to myself as it comes to feelings that ought to be shared.
  5. You can have one of the following two things. Which do you choose? Why? - Love and Trust. I don't think that this is a reasonable question. Love without trust isn't love. Trust without love, in the ways that matter, isn't really trust. It becomes a silly game of semantics.
  6. You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late even once more, you are fired. Do you take the time to save the dog's life? Why or why not? I minored in Philosophy in college, so we're just going to forget that you pretended to be all intellectual there and call this a Free Space, Mmm Kay? K.

    “I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it's so easy to be sweet to people before you love them.”
    [Dorothy Parker, from
    Collected Stories]
  7. Would you rather be hurt by the one you trust the most or the one you love the most? You don't understand love and trust, do you? I'm sorry.
  8. Your best friend confesses that he/she has feelings for you, more than just friendship. He/she is falling in love with you. What do you (or did you) do/say? "that is some terribly convoluted grammar"
  9. Think of the last person who you know that died. You have the chance to give them 1 hour of life back, but you have to give up one year of yours. Do you do it? Why or why not? yes. Because I love him, and miss him every day, and want one more chance to spend an hour with him. What is a year compared to an hour I can never have back? Are you kidding?!
  10. Are you the kind of friend that you would want to have as a friend? sometimes.
  11. Does love = sex? no. You have some major problems, either in the dictionary department or in the basic human interaction department. Sex is sometimes an expression of love. It's also sometimes an expression of hormones. It's also sometimes about a hundred other things. Love, on the other hand, is about twelve billion things. Less easily defined. "Sex" isn't one of those things, per se.
  12. Your boss tells your coworker that they have to let them go because of work shortage, and they are the newest employee. You have been there much longer. Your coworker has a family to support and no other means of income. Do you go to your boss and offer to leave the company? Why or why not? once again, having passed Philosophy 101 once already (and answered this question on about seventy memes to this point), Free Space!

    “I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money.”
    [Dorothy Parker]
  13. When was the last time you told someone HONESTLY how you felt regardless of how difficult it was for you to say? Who was it? What did you have to tell the person? I tell people HONESTLY how I feel all the time. Like, probably every single day. Life really is too short to wait.
  14. What would be (or what was) harder for you to tell a member of the opposite sex, you love them or that you do not love them back? each of those things is difficult in its own time. Rejection is maybe harder, because the feelings are negative. Scraping up the courage to tell someone you love them for the first time (or at a difficult time) requires courage, too, but maybe not the same sort.
  15. What do you think would be the hardest thing for you to give up? Why would it be hard to lose? my keys? my ability to taste? an arm? my sense of humor? Open-ended questions are all well and good, but this is too open.
  16. Excluding romantic love, when was the last time you told someone you loved them. Who were they to you? yesterday. They were, and are, my parents.
  17. If there was one moment and one time in the last month what would you change and why? I said goodbye to someone in the last month that I would rather not have let go
  18. Imagine it is a dark night, you are alone, it is raining outside, you hear someone walking around outside your window. WHO do you wish was there with you? the person in the last answer. Or D&R, because between the two of them they'd kick ass, take names, and make the fool regret setting foot anywhere near me.
  19. Would you give a homeless person CPR if they were dying? Why or why not? oh my lord, I read that too quickly as "Would you give a homeless person a VCR if they were dying" and then nearly choked to death laughing...
  20. You are holding onto your grandmother’s hand and the hand of a newborn that you do not know as they hang over the edge of a cliff. You have to let one go to save the other. Who do you let fall to their death? What was your rationale for making the decision? OH MY GOD SHUT UP with the easy ass Philosophy questions what the HELL?! Free space!

    “It turns out that, at social gatherings, as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, I rank somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.”
    [Dorothy Parker]
  21. Are you old fashioned? in some ways, terribly so. In others, though, shockingly not.
  22. When was the last time you were nice to someone and did NOT expect anything in return for it? maybe never
  23. Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a broken heart, or never loved at all? Why? if it's TRUE LOVE, then it's NOT "guaranteed" to result in a broken heart - gaaaaaaaaaah

    This meme hurts my soul.
  24. If you could do anything or wish anything, what would it be? just good sleep. And early, easy resolution to all pending issues.
[random grab from here; the title quotation is by Dorothy Parker - naturally]


most men are not wicked... They are sleep-walkers, not evil evildoers

Day 28: "Far Away"
Smithsonian Castle, Washington, D.C.
Birthdays are funny. FB makes them strange - creates a sense that you're the center of the universe for a day. The weird thing is when the dust settles and you realize that there are friends who you always hear from - who, without fail, remember. And there are people who will sometimes notice, if it comes across their feed. And then there are those who, whether they are in contact or not at other times, wouldn't be bothered to say it.

Why does it matter if they say it? It shouldn't matter...but it does.

[the title quotation is by Franz Kafka]