Archive for March, 2007


On the road Author Functioning it up again for the next few days. Have figured out how to moblog from the cell phone, so check in here for (apologies to Elizabeth Bishop) Small Bad Cell Phone Pictures:

Artichoke Heart’s Moblog

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First, the newsreels of Hiroshima, in the movie taking place in Hiroshima, where the actress in the movie plays an actress making a movie about Hiroshima and peace. A movie about (re)membering what has been (dis)membered. A movie about the horror of forgetting.

It is here, in this movie, where I walk tonight. In the black and white streets of borrowed time, inside the movie set of a movie set, brazen neon flickering numinous promises, the fictional lovers first illuminated, then dowsed like a candle pinched between thumb and forefinger. Can you see me? Will you follow?

(You’re destroying me. You’re good for me.)

The late-night cafe. Cold pale crisp beer. The shadows of moths like tiny black hearts singed by the unexpected flashing burn of rice-paper lanterns. The insatiable koi mouthing the surface of the garden’s pond, like insects fluttering against a lit window, like your face illuminated by the quiet electric glow of your computer screen as you read these words. Like my face, as I write to you.

Here, on the other side of your screen, inside the movie taking place within a movie about Hiroshima, about the illusion of love, about the illusion of not forgetting, I will tell you my stories, I will tell you I love you, and promise you that I will never forget you. Here, in this place, at this moment, it will all be true.

(She: . . . on the fifteenth day too. Hiroshima was blanketed with flowers. There were cornflowers and gladiolas everywhere, and morning glories and day lilies that rose again from the ashes with an extraordinary vigor, quite unheard of for flowers till then. I didn’t make anything up.

He: You made it all up.)

Here, on the other side of your screen, by the River called Ota, which ran by the city where my mother grew up, where the clouds hang low and dark like bruised sulky pansies, and the glimpses of sky behind are a surreal, too-bright Dali blue (not that you would know this . . . don’t forget, this is black and white) I am walking in deeper into the interior of the narrative’s narrative.

Will you follow?

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Things here all flurry and hurry after returning from Wednesday’s road trip: visiting writer in town for the O, Canada! reading (exotic Canadian authors in the flesh + hockey fetish = “authentic” Canadian literary goodness), the newly-revived Women’s Research Conference this weekend at the University (among many other wonderful offerings, an amazing panel session with four iconically legendary American Indian women activists), best buddy P. in town for the conference (we read together on a panel and got to catch up in person, for once, instead of our usual M.O. of what S. likes to refer to as “teen phone”).

I read fiction here in the home stadium for the first time, as opposed to poetry. Mind you, I’ve read fiction elsewhere a number of times, but this was the first time most of my colleagues/students/friends had actually heard any of my fiction. Honestly? I was surprised at just how nervous I felt about it.

Then, at the conference banquet, I read some poems, after which I ate the most delicious chocolate cake of my life. It was so delicious and shiny that I couldn’t stop obsessively talking about it in embarrassingly fulsome sexual terms at the party I went to afterwards.

* * *


P: It’s amazing how it all fell into place and made perfect sense after meeting people I’ve heard you talk about.

P: Oh . . . so that’s what you were laughing about earlier? Those guys all standing in a circle?
AH: Yes! With the postures! And the pants! And the pockets!
[We all pantomime the postures with the pants and the pockets.]
P: Hee.
L: Hee.
A: Hee.

L: I’m telling you. You don’t want no scrubs, Artichoke Heart. (Pointing to her left.) See? Those are scrubs. You don’t want no scrubs. (Pausing.) Well . . . maybe I’m kidding. I guess they’ve got graduate degrees.

SK: (To B.) But you’re a lesbian!
B: But sometimes it’s just there and it’s long and it’s hard and you just want to take care of it.

BJ: I don’t know where the hood is.
L: What kind of a lesbian are you?

GF: So are you going to watch The L-Word or Battlestar Galactica tomorrow night?
AH: Well, I’ve been invited to The L-Word party. You, however, never invite me to your Battlestar Galactica parties.
GF: I’m not sure if I’d call it a party.
AH: How would I know? I’m not invited.
GF: Mostly it’s just me watching Battlestar Galactica by myself.
AH: Yeah?
GF: With a bottle of wine.
AH: Yeah?
GF: In my boxers.
AH: So I guess what you’re telling me is I’m watching The L-Word, then.

DL: My absolute favorite is tattooed handcuffed Barbie.

Happy Birthday to Lu and Anarcia!! You are both delightful, and wonderful, and amazing!!

From AH, Chocolate Cake Fetishist

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Nine hours round-trip driving today . . . my Author Function judging a Poetry Out Loud competition at the State Capitol.

(In an amusing non sequitur, Googling Googlers now arrive here searching for “author function.”)

Woke up at 5:30 a.m. The first two hours of the drive a complete misery. Potato soup fog. Ran out of wiper fluid, so grime on the windshield congealing into a stubborn gummy mud. Too cold from the smashed-in back window that I keep meaning to fix but don’t, so I have to wear the kooky-ass hat that keeps my ears warm. Yesterday, the mysteriously flattened tire on my Jeep that had to be completely replaced while I struggled with a migraine. It was not possible for me to be any crankier this morning.

So many times, it’s true, I’m just plain lost, but today it was a matter of my not being able to see what I needed to see. At one point, I had to pull over at an out-of-the-way gas station so that I could squeegee off the gunk from my windshield, because in between the fog and the grime, I could not see a damn thing. In fact, I couldn’t locate the turnoff for the gas station (which was, admittedly, an obscure dirt road), and so I accidentally missed the turnoff three different times going back and forth in different directions. By the third time, I was pounding my steering wheel like a crazy person and yelling a stream of profanity that I can’t even begin to repeat because it was just that nasty. Too nasty even for this blog, if you can imagine that.

(Don’t you just love the word squeegee, though? I do.)

Once the fog lifted, though, and once I began to achieve a state of sugary, buzzy, hummy, overcaffeinated near-religious ecstasy resulting from inappropriate and obsessive consumption of gas station cappuccinos (an indulgence with which I bribe myself during onerous road trips), I stopped being such a crank.

West River signboard: Dick’s Body Shop. Free Toe Service.

I arrived in the grasslands late in the morning: iridescent pheasant casually strolling about, hawk on the fencepost, expansively rolling dips and swales a calm wonderment.

Admittedly, just because one can take amusingly bad little pictures on one’s phone and then post them to one’s blog doesn’t necessarily mean one should insist on doing it. Nonetheless:

The Big Muddy

Buffalo Hiney Outside Al’s Oasis in Oacama, South Dakota

Al’s Oasis in Oacama, South Dakota

I wanted to keep driving. All the way to Deadwood. All the way to the Black Hills. All the way to the Badlands.

(I know I shouldn’t. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.)

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Libra Horoscope for Week of March 22, 2007:

If we were going to equate your relationship options with varieties of ice cream, we might say that in the next eight weeks you will have a choice between Black Raspberry Avalanche, Caramel Toffee Bar Heaven, Cherry Chip ba da Bing, Grandma’s Cookie Dough, New York Strawberry Cheesecake, Cashew Praline Parfait, Peanut Butter Truffle, and good old Vanilla. Oddly enough, Vanilla might turn out to be the most gratifying. Of all the varieties, it would certainly have the best aftertaste.

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Last week a crazed, awful, dervished blur.

One day spinning into the next, too fast for me to keep up, strange circumstances spinning painfully out of control, that unexpected moment of undiluted sweetness in the dark but it happened so fast and I was spun so hard that now I wonder if I made it up, Friday spinning into unrepentant dissolution spinning into Saturday’s dance floor: twirling dancers, art students gyrating their bright costumes like a scattering of leaves, searing flare of fiddle making me flicker all night long like a flame growing reckless on the wick.

I wake up the next day and find that I’ve lost my voice.

I walk and walk and walk, and try to find my words again, try to think of something/anything to say, but the cold green rush of the river’s current erases all my language, birds have hijacked my song and are holding it hostage for their own nefarious purposes like Patty Hearst, and even if I could find my voice, my breath’s been taken away by the same negligent spring wind that tangles my hair into a dark intricate knotwork.

At the end of the day, I’m too exhausted to do more than steep myself into a spent teabag in the bath. There, I dream of fish singing silvered scales, a pure a capella solfege, in the dark. I dream of jellyfish with their ribboned streamers, luminescing like a cascade of moons, or party lanterns. I dream I can swim all night underwater.

My skin pinkens, and steam’s elusive cursive writes to you in the air like my emanuensis.

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Where does that time taken away, those 60 missing minutes, that lost hour, go to?

(Is it a slender fold in the space-time continuum, a secret note, taut lacquered rib of a silk fan accordioning back down on itself?

If I were to unfold that hour back open, would the noisy rushing chunks of broken ice, the awkward branches, the unsettled gliding-too-fast ducks rewind themselves backwards up the river?

Would ink lift up off the page, black letters a magnetic tangle in the air, before clattering down to the floor?

Would all the cut flowers in the Wal-Mart seal themselves shut again into invulnerable, vise-tight buds?

You have a little hole in your heart, she said to me, pointing to the tie-dye heart on my chest.

Yes, but if I put my finger here just so, no one really notices, I told her.

What impossibilities exist within that lost hour:

(1) I meet myself coming. You see me take myself aside. I quietly confer. I shake my head. I look away. I’ve made myself sad.

(2) I meet myself going. You see me take myself aside. I quietly confer. I don’t take myself seriously. I laugh.

But no . . . I think I have it all wrong.

I am not there, coming and going, in that fold of time, those missing minutes, that lost hour.

You are not in that fold of time, those missing minutes, that lost hour.

You are that time, those minutes, that hour. The broken ice, the awkward branches, the too-fast ducks. The letters unwriting themselves from the page, the buds clenched shut.

I write you again and again, I reassemble you with forceps and glue like archaeological pottery, I shine light to make you bloom, I rip you open like an unexpected letter, I fuck you and unfuck you, sing and unsing you, unwind you like a tangled froth of ribbon on a present, or pull you back down to me like reeling in an extravagant goldfish kite out of the windy blue blue sky . . . )

But still: It is 12:18 a.m..

Much too late, or maybe much too early, with much too much to do.

Monday morning.

Daylight Savings Time.

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White Fish lives! Hooray for White Fish!

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Decadent debauchery and dancing with wild abandon all night long last night to the Poker Alice Band. Because seriously. What could be better than that?

Although I’m not sure why I was so worried last weekend about having all my private thoughts (were I to have left my house in comic form) floating over my head in a hideously transparent thought bubble. Because the truth of the matter is that if I drink enough Vodka and Cranberry, I will just independently blurt it all out of my own accord. (Yes, it’s sad but true. I have a problem with drinking and blurting. Truly. Chagrin-inducing, cringe-worthy blurting. Just call me Blurty McBlurty Pants.)

* * *

I know that I’ve been abusing the PhotoBooth thing to death lately, but hey, I find it much more amusing than I really care to admit. (Ooh! It’s a camera! In my computer!). Plus it also conveniently disguises paucities in Actual Blog Content. At any rate, here I am, looking for trouble, minutes away from embarking on last night’s Debaucherous Adventures in Indiscriminate Vodka Consumption, Dancing-Dancing-Dancing, and Blurtage (Spring Break 2007 Edition):

* * *

I’m off to cat-sit E.’s cats and give her poorly fish, White Fish, a pep talk. I really need him to hang in there for at least one more day so that he won’t officially die on my watch, thereby necessitating my having to awkwardly ladle him out of the aquarium with a slotted spoon (since I can’t ever seem to locate the fish net) and put him in E.’s freezer in a sandwich baggie to rest in state pending funeral services. I don’t want E.’s boys to think I’m a Fish Killer! But the evidence is mounting, given that White Fish’s compatriot, Yellow Fish, died on my watch last spring break. White Fish isn’t looking so hot, though. He has an exceedingly troubling case of fin rot, and it seems apparent that his morale is low. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel hopeful that White Fish will continue to hang tough, because he is a most excellent fish, and a nice fish, and a hungry fish, and honestly? Can I just say that I adore White Fish? So please send good thoughts for White Fish, oh blogosphere!

It’s a bright beautiful day today, and after cat-sitting and fish death-watch duties, I think I’ll take a long walk down by the river and watch the ice melt. I want to store up as much cold air, birdsong, and light as I can bear to hold. Then later tonight, I’ll soak in the dark in a hot hot tub with Green Tea bath fizzies, play the Wild Colonials way too loud (Angela McCluskey’s raw wild honeyed throb of a voice), and see if I can’t teach myself to bioluminesce.

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Perhaps it had something to do with the snow days: What with the onslaught of the Scary Scary Blizzard that Really Mostly Seemed to Be a Lot of Crazy Wind Blowing the Existing Snow Around and Making it Really Hard to See, causing the University (in a completely startling and unprecedented move) to cancel all classes for the last two days prior to spring break.

Highways and interstates shut down, no way in or out, coffee shop closed, poetry reading across the river called off. Couldn’t get to where I wanted to be. Couldn’t get to where I should have been.

(The snow, you see, keeps taking away the things I’ve quietly looked forward to. Twice this week already I’ve been sorely disappointed by snow. Although my disappointments are small overall, and my resentments sometimes petty. Maybe this is why the snow’s constant chiding of the too-many things I take for granted feels unwelcome?)

Perhaps it was the vaguely unnerving Thursday night spent monitoring the power repeatedly going off and on, off and on, while the wind pummeled at the windows and doors, roaring and beating its chest, spitefully shaking the wind chimes silly in its careless fists. (Sudden washes of blackness for minutes on end, the quick electric blip of appliances going mute, furnace silent, a long held breath until the unexpected gasp of light and hum and warm air and flashing digits of unstuck time cut through the dark like a sharp blade.)

So imagine my astonishment when I woke up on Friday morning to discover that I’d been turned into a comic:

At first I didn’t notice, what with the B-Movie Alien Killer Swamp Fog that (as I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before) characterizes my early waking hours. My first clue was when I dropped an entire filter of used coffee grounds on the floor on my way to the trash while attempting to get some sorely-needed morning coffee going. Holy fucking shit! What the motherfucking fucktarded fuckass fuck?!?! I said. (Sorry. I know. The swearing. So uncouth.) Only, instead of my usual salty fucknuggety clusterfuck of expletives, it came out: Holy !#$&!! !#$%! What the !@#$& %@!#$ &#!@! !@$&^ !!@$%!!.

At first I was bemused:

But then I began to worry. Was it permanent? Could I go outside, or would my pixellated dots simply dissolve in the snow and wind? Would all my most private thoughts best kept to myself start floating over my head in a trail of bubbles leading up to a hideously transparent thought balloon? !!%&#@!! (I decided it might be best to stay at home until things got sorted out.)

And then I began to wonder. Was this, perhaps, only the tip of the iceberg? Or were there, perhaps, wasps in the crawlspace who, seeking warmer climes when the power went out at night, would begin to swarm my apartment and slip into my ears until my head was full of a “furious Latin” and electric venom so that, upon receipt of a plagiarized paper, or upon having my picture secretly and creepily taken without my permission at the coffee shop, or upon being cornered in a bathroom stall and badgered by an ex at the bar, or upon having my Eeny Meeny Shy Delicate Flower Poet Feelings hurt in one way or another, I would then find myself undergoing further transformation?

But then again, perhaps the additional metamorphoses might not be as dramatic and glamorous as being transformed into Mistress Vespula. Perhaps it might be something more along the lines of finding myself transmogrified into a South Park character who then turns up in Cartmanland, where she ends up getting kind of hammered . . .

before stumbling off to howl at the moon at Stark’s Pond?

So stay tuned for these and other developments:

Is my Author Function a comic as well? How about my Doppelganger (who B. saw casually strolling across campus just last week!)?

Will these Instabilities of Identity resolve themselves, or will outside intervention be required?

Will I be able to leave the house without pixel dissolution?

How, for !$%&!’s sake, will I be able to manage without any !&*)#@!-ing expletives?!?!

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