Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Life in the Slow Lane

Yesterday I was at the bank, waiting in a fairly long line, and a guy came by and offered to take my deposit and give me a receipt 'so i wouldn't have to wait.' I needed cash back, so he couldn't help me.

But as I was standing there, I realized that I DID want to wait. That I LIKE to wait in lines. That I LONG to wait in LONG lines.

Waiting in a line is about the only time, during the day at least, that I can just Zen out...go into that zone where you don't think, but let your mind focus on nothing, like a cat staring at a wall. Or you CAN think about things that matter, like rolling a line of poetry around in your head, what color to paint a wall, what kind of sunflowers to plant, what a friend said, sex and how you want it, elegant numbers, etc.

Along the same lines (NPI), I think grocery store checkers are too speedy. No, I take that back. Sometimes I'm in a bitch-hurry, and then they are too slow, but most of the time, I love to languish at the grocery store, study the cheese section, wander the cool aisles, stand in front of the ice cream freezers spending too much time deciding to buy any or not, read bad magazines while I'm in line, then put them back without buying them.

This takes me back to my childhood, going to the store with my mother and brothers on summer nights at, like, 11 pm, playing football with a roll of paper towels, running around getting things for her. Then we'd stand in line while the checker took forever, chatting. It took forever, and was a lot of fun.

Now, I get to the line, and they zip you through SO fast that the next person is staring at you while you stuff your debit card back in your wallet and shuffle past, even though it took all of 70 seconds to do the WHOLE transaction even if you have a FULL cart. What with the conveyer belts, UPC code scanners and all.

Don't get me wrong. I don't need to be overly friendly with my checker. I don't need to chat about their dog. When I'm in a hurry, I'm TERRible. I'm a total bitch and stare at people (even poor little old ladies) who write checks in grocery store lines - "now HOW much was that? WHAT's the name of this store?" I'd never say anything, but I seethe. When I'm in a hurry. And that is altogether TOO often. I even go through the self-check-out line when I'm irritated just so I won't be grumpy...it is usually SLOWer, but at least I'm in control of my own grocery destiny...I'm just saying that sometimes standing in a line is the only brain down time a lot of people get in a day, and I KNOW I don't get enough of it. Hence brain fatique, bitchiness, and a sense of go, go, going....

I know, I'm a hypocrite and a whiner. But if I had more time to stand in lines, thinking, perhaps I could reevaluate my own morals and align them with my chosen ideology (if I weren't a nullifidian).

Reinstate lines! Create SLOW lanes. Serve tea.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No Confessions Today



Ok, so i'm back in the land of the living, after four solid months spent preparing for a conference in St. Louis. Then the actual fact - 7 days up at 6, to bed at 2 craziness. I took this picture on the first day i had off, which was my last day in st. louis, spent on a massage table, and passing through this old cathedral, before visiting the Saarenin arch. I thought it appropriate, since I'm not going to feel guilty (or try not to) for not posting for so long. Who cares but me, it is just a personal goal/thing i'm interested in exploring...bob's yer uncle.



Here are a few pictures from the trip - spent with 1200 of my new best friends, glass artists/educators/gallery owners, etc. I'm not too hot on most glass art (chihuly was interesting initially, but he just repeats himself...) but there are some that do pretty fascinating work, for instance Elizabeth Swinburne, a crazy brit living in Amsterdam and Steffan Dam, a Dane who makes huge 'scientific slides' of what look like undersea creatures, very delicate.



Also visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis to see the largest (yes) collection of mosaics in the world - every surface is covered with glitter. And our closing night party was at the City Museum, a slapdash patching together of oil drums, an old bus that looks like it is falling off the roof, architectural facades from old Chicago edifices, license plates and the like, old Big Boy statues, etc. A kitch-lover's wet dream. I like St. Louis. Had a great bison filet at Lucas Park Grill, and excellent calamari at Copia Winery (they make three wines from Missouri grapes - the white is chardonelle, which grows in this very hot, humid climate.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Souvenirs from My Sunday



Last Sunday was the first day in a long time that I had to myself, just to wander and relax. Work has been a bit crazy lately, hence no postings! And the old 77 Bronco's outa commission, so my paths have been a bit restricted. Now it is not pouring rain, at least, so I will start riding the bike (thanks for the inspiration, Tinarama!) Anyway, one of my favorite places is the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market, about a mile from my house, in old town Ballard, originally the Scandanavian neighborhood of fishermen and sailors, mostly. Now on Sundays, there is a lovely collection of hawkers, including the BEST oysters (Taylor Shellfish Company from Shelton, WA), a couple of different cheesemongers including Estrella, who make this lavender and juniper berry covered goat cheese that is to die for, the forager guy, that brings Washington truffles, fiddlehead ferns, foraged mushrooms of all sorts, stinging nettles, and fresh huckleberries; and the pasta guy, Pian Pianino is the company, who makes the best dried and fresh pastas...Also, Fishing Vessel St. Jude Tuna, the best fatty albacore (canned) caught in deep waters off the coast by Joe Malley and crew...if you want some, let me know!

Also, though, there are the storefronts of Ballard, and today i just want to show some pictures of my favorite shop, Souvenir (even though it says Frank's on the sidewalk in front). They sell handmade cards, old buttons, jewelry, but mostly just found objects as you see in these window displays. You can also see the resident pooch, surveying the 'hood.


These pictures are for the benefit of Paul, who will enjoy their retro nature and photographability (even though these are just snaps)...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rules of the Blues

okay, this amused me ... Blues music - the fundamental rules - my friend Jessica (great poet, lives in Japan) sent me this, and I just had to post it. Partially because i haven't posted for a while -- busy and lazy at the same time. And partially because it will make a friend of mine in New Orleans laugh...

read on, friends.

If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood
the why/wherefore, here are some of the fundamental rules.

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you
stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with
the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it.
Then find something that rhymes sort of:
"Got a good woman with the meanest face in town.
Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town.
Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weighs 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a
ditch... ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, old Cadillacs and broken-down trucks.
Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most
Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet
aircraft ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the
Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults
sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the
electric chair if you shot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere
in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just
clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the
best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place
that doesn't get rain.

8. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting
is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot and sit by the dumpster.

9. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

10. Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you
happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you older than dirt
b. you blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied
No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you have a 401K or trust fund

13. Blues is not a matter of color, it's a matter of bad luck. Tiger
Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people
also got a leg up on the Blues.

14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the
Blues.

Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee
The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues
death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to
die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a
broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis
match or while getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Alma
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and
Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shot in
Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name starter kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi
Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you cannot
sing the blues

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There's a Pawnshop on the Corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


My father, having grown up during the depression, used to sing that song to me -- and many others.

(This pic of a stainless steel car (1936 Ford Deluxe Sedan) is so indicative of the hopefulness in the future and the wealth that floated around, even in the depths of the Depression. So different from my father's poor upbringin'. I snapped it at the Pittsburgh History Center).

I've always been drawn to the meager. I remember as a child playing by myself, which I did often, being the youngest of seven (by seven years). I'd take my little red riding hood basket into the quiet living room on quiet afternoons, and pretend that all I had in the world was in that basket -- I was an orphan, I was abandoned. Once I even wrote a runaway note as part of my fantasies, and left it on my desk in my bedroom ... my sweet mother found it, and I felt terrible because it wasn't real, just part of a game, but she thought I really wanted to run away.

And I would make up games with Barbie in the backyard where she had lost her "Grand Tour" party and was left with nothing in the Sahara -- remember the contrast between rich and poor in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo ("We'll have a grand time at the Copacabana")?

Here are some lines:

Well, ain't life swell?

Hey. Open the champagne. I feel
like getting plushed to the scuppers.

(woman) I can't wait to get out of these
clothes and hit some of the nightspots.

Children, don't waste time. The floor
show at the Copacabana starts soon.
I didn't know any of you wonderful
people, and here I am now.

I'm on the verge of
a madcap Manhattan weekend.

I hope you like your martinis very dry.


These characters are rich, of course, and come back from an Egyptian excursion just in time for cocktails at the Copacabana...I was recently in Pittsburgh for work, and felt a strange connection to decades gone, with all the turn-of-the-century architecture and inner city decay goin' on.

I visited the Pittsburgh History Center and saw a great exhibit on the history of commercial glass production, a big industry in the Steel City between 1840 and 1880 (could be a bit off on the dates) & saw a 1903 film of glassblowers making windows from LONG (8 foot long!) tubes of handblown glass, then cutting them up, laying them flat and those became the wobbly glass windows we see in old houses. They found this film in the dumpster of the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company), just as they were creating the history museum. An excellent collection of glass history, a subject I am learning more about with my new job. AND, in Pittsburgh, I stayed at the William Penn Hotel (built 1916), and surruptitiously snuck through the staff doors up to the 17th floor to the roof to look out over the city (74 steel bridges in the city limits, they say). The top three empty floors reminded me of Barton Fink or Jacob's Ladder...scary and old and worn. But somehow fascinating. I love forgotten/imaginary places (such a sap!), almost as much as I love the Copacabana, wherever that is...

And my heart beats so
that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together
dancing cheek to cheek
Heaven, I'm in heaven
And the cares that hung
around me through the week
Seem to vanish
like a gambler's lucky streak
When we're out together
dancing cheek to cheek

Here's that song, and another pawnshoppy thing I love -- one of my favorite poets who wrote about Chicago and New York during the depression and into the 50s:

The poems of Kenneth Fearing (writer of the FIRST Film Noir, the Big Clock)


(There's a pawnshop on a corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
And I walk up and down 'neath the clock
(By the pawnshop on a corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
But I ain't got a thing left to hock

She was peaches, she was honey, and she cost me all my money
'cause a whirl 'round the town was her dream (was her dream)
Took her dancin', took her dinin' till her blue eyes were shinin'
With the sights that they never had seen (never seen)
If you should run into a golden-haired angel
And ask her tonight for a date
She'll tell you somewhere there's a rich millionaire
Who is calling again about eight

(There's a pawnshop on a corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
And I've just gotta get five or ten (five or ten)
(From the pawnshop on a corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Gotta be with my angel again

Gotta be with my angel again

Friday, December 30, 2005

Do Not Golightly Into That Good Night, or What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

When I was a mere freshman college student at BYU, I met a drama professor named Max Golightly. What-the-hell-kina-name that is, I don't know. Navajo, I think, actually. But he told me he went to a party once in Greeenwich Village in the early fifties and met Truman Capote, who was sort of strangely, quietly, fascinated by his name.

There you go.

Two days before New Year's Eve, I'm sitting here watching Audrey Hepburn at her party, with the long cigarette holder, the leetle teeny black dress and the up-do with the white-stripe, "reinforcements" showing up with boxes 'o bourbon and ladies with big pink fuzzy hats, and mickey rooney with that bad japanee getup. This is what joni mitchell meant in 'people's parties' -- I had hoped, in a certain way, that this is what would happen on New Year's Eve, my 41st birthday. I'm always of the mind that if you want your birthday done right, do it yourself.

Last year, on my 40th, the party was definitely Golightly-esque. People I hadn't seen forever, a girl group singing 60s three part harmony with a rockabilly guitarist, Festivus goings on (the airing of grievances, the pinning of the head of the household). Me of the last day of the baby boom -- December 31, 1964. Last day of the last year of the baby boom. Maybe that's what's wrong. Not a boomer. Not an gen-x-er, not a gen-y. That's okay. I'm happy here, in the middle ground, middle earth, the birthday cake between. Last year, a huge gingersnap cake with eggnog creme anglais frosting with little sugar handmade can-can girls on top, to be precise. This year was more mellow, barely.

What happened for all y'all? For me and mine, we had dinner at the Pink Door (first cocktails at ours, then cocktails there -- I wore a long green sequined thingypie I bought at the Pike Place Market garage sale space for $15, fit me nicely, nicely -- have a pic I'll publish soon as I find my camera cord) ... My brother and Didi & Sharkey, A & P, too -- pasta, lamb (i ordered something expensive just because). My brother gave me the best present, (which I advised him to), a Holga toy plastic camera! Found out about these roundaboutly from Paul's Modernistic World (a nifty site!)

And then to Il Bistro for a sort of irritating midnight. The sailor wanted to go outside to the clock, and I was too connected to inside, for which later I apologized. Drama. Ah well. Then too much hornblowing and singing from the boys, and too many cocktails at zigzag. In a way, not so different from Holly's evening. She wakes up with her eye shades and tassled ear plugs shutting out the world. I wake up not so different. Just 44 years later. The more things change...

Am approaching the new year with questions. I stumbled across this, and it is endlessly fascinating to me. Check out Keith Devlin Strangely comforting, for someone who has grown up in an American-Calvinist-Protestant-Mormon tradition. Strangely comforting, the thought that we are entirely alone.

What is your dangerous idea?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Not Surprisingly, I'm an Existentialist



Here's a picture of a gravestone from a cemetery in Cobh (Cove), Ireland, where the victims of the Lusitania are buried. I just loved the lettering on this headstone. I think there is a typo (Stepen? should be Stephen, wouldn't you think?) Sort of the ultimate irony...a typo on your headstone! It seemed appropriate for this posting:

Here's an interesting quiz...What's Your World View?

My results scored me as an Existentialist. I am surprised about the Postmodernist part...I don't feel that cynical. Although there might be a certain joy in obsessive maximalism...postmodernism IS sort of baroque, don't you think? I would have thought I'd be more of a Romantic, actually. The feminist sort... the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley sort, sort of. Although I guess Frankenstein is the ultimate postmodernist/existentialist symbol, really! Patched together from leftovers of a fallen world, creating new life. Read on:

This is what they said of me:

Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Mankind is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.

Existentialist 94%

Postmodernist 88%

Cultural Creative 81%

Modernist 63%

Materialist 56%

Romanticist 44%

Idealist 38%

Fundamentalist 13%