Monday, May 30, 2005


The rarity of Utah rain is what makes it so great. Even though this has been the rainiest spring I can remember in Salt Lake--not Portland comparable--but still, wet and gray, the minute the clouds come, I'm thrilled to death. 6 and a half years of drought makes every drop seem like rescue. Plus, you can sleep in. You have a good excuse to avoid gardening. The gray hides the crevices of dirt in the house so you don't feel so compelled to clean. The sound is good for writing.
The only grim thing is that the dogs are looking at me like I'm killing them for not taking them for a walk. But the last time I walked Cleo the dog in the rain, I came home with even my underwear soaked.
And it's still Utah. I'm not about to dig up the old Portland Gortex.
So even though it's raining on Memorial Day, I'm happy. I get to type all day, maybe do a load of laundry and not feel guilty for sucking down the reservoir, and go to a barbecue tonight where the porch is fully covered and the mosquitoes will be so drenched they'll be too heavy to bite or fly.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


I'm going to have to turn myself into Blogging Anonymous. As I was speaking to Dr. Write earlier, I used the phrase "blog you later." This is a sign that perhaps I need to rethink my priorities. For instance, it used to be:
Wake up. Feed cats. Let dog outside. Get newspaper. Read Op-Ed columns. Read rest of paper. Take a shower.
Now it's:
Wake up. Check email. Check blog. Check other people's blogs. Shoo the cats off the computer. Let the dog eat the paper.
It must be because I started this in the summer and lost all normal human contact. I must take up a sport. Perhaps prenatal yoga. Or lunch.
I've found it difficult to blog and eat. I've taken to eating food with only one hand --trail mix and apples, granola bars and slices of cheese. Beware of cutting cheese single-handedly. I also eat handfuls of lettuce instead of salad.
Perhaps to start my Bloggers Anonymous program I can begin by cooking food. With both hands.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Last night, when Erik got called in AGAIN at midnight, I thought about how much time I spend in crisis mode. Early pregnancy is nonstop worry. Applying for fellowships. Finishing novels (I still think of things I should add to the novel--the word "quenelle" in the food, a speech by Simon post "realization," Mr. Heraldson saying "Simon sure is one for Damsel's in distress," Vastar telling more stories while Quinn lies comatose...... . Applying for jobs. Traveling. Wondering will I ever write a poem I like again ala the Darwin poem? Will wolves move to Utah? Is my neighbor across the state a pedophile? Will I be able to teach AND stay awake? Money. Money. House. Remodeling. Will the tomatoes get planted? Will the Cialis spam ever cease? (I do want to please my wife, I really do, but...) Will Erik come back from Vernal ever? Breaking news has become anaethma at my house.
I don't mean to imply that crises are bad. In fact, I'm sure I somewhat thrive on them. Living is that crisis energy running through everything. But my nature is fear and worry and I always have to counter that with some more optimistic balancing perspective. Fear is paralyzing. So I look for ways to incorporate the crisis into something positive--hence the writing, I suppose. As if you can transform the energy from one thing into another.
My little sister Paige got car-jacked last night--her car, her wallet, her purse, her books, her i-pod are all gone. And on a teacher's salary, she must replace all this. Our family has a tendency to just deal--get the insurance check, buy a new car, wonder what one could have done differently....
I hope something good comes out of it (which is my optimism speaking), but I can't imagine what (which is my cynicism speaking).
Here's a cynical statement. And I swear I'm not in as bad of a mood as this sounds but : I've decided pessimists are the happier people. They don't worry because they already know that everything will turn out crappy. If something good happens, they are pleasanly surprised. Optimists are eternally disappointed. I'm working on being more of a pessimist but I just got the Life of Brian song stuck in my head--"always look on the bright side of life."
On to crisis number 8 of the day: What to make for dinner.
Perhaps it's time to hand of these major issues to the pizza delivery man.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Foods of summer

Strawberries and nectarine and icecream cones and raspberries and popsicles. But the tastes that remind me of my summer years as a teenagers, tanning with foil and babyoil on our unbearably hot redwood deck are oscar meyer smoked ham and crystal light iced tea. I think this may have been one of my first "diets." I also think I watched General Hospital a lot that summer.
What a difference a decade makes. Now I make myself eat a handful of lettuce BEFORE I eat the overly salty, overly processed slice of ham. And instead of ham I have a morningstar farm sausage patty. I'm waiting for the ice cream truck. But the sound of The Entertainer is not forthcoming.
My point is--I'm not very good at feeding myself. I like to cook for other people, but when I'm alone, trail mix and cheerios are all I can think of.
Perhaps when the tomatoes start producing I can at least combine enough ingredients for a caprese salad. Except the basil is mysteriously absent from this year's garden.....

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dogs in the New World

As I just commented to Dr. Write's blog--Global Warming is here to stay. An extreme heat warning has been issued for Southern Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Isn't it always extremely hot there? Not in May, one presumes.
But here in the Northern Regions, it is not soooo hot. My sister Val and Erik and I all combined forces and planted tomatoes and got the swamp cooler running. Strangely, Erik only worked 16 hours yesterday, so he had enough energy to weed and plant today too!
I took Dog Dog for a walk. The black, She came back too hot. So out came her wading pool. We filled it with cold hose water. She tried to eat the hose. She tried to dig through the bottom of the plastic, sprinkling the whole water with her joyous kicking. She rolled side to side and then ran the yard's perimeter and jumped back in.
Yeah! It's summer. (I prefer to spell "yay," as in "gleeful exclamation," "yeah," but if you all have any opinions as to the spelling of "yeah," let me know. Glen Scott Allen, who taught at fiction at Reed in 1991 after getting his PhD in Fiction from the U--who knew, I once thought, that the University of Utah had a Creative Writing Program? Who knew people got their Doctorates in Creative Writing? Anyway, he didn't know what I meant when I wrote "yeah" in a short story. Although in that case, I think I meant "yah" as in "yes." Hm. Maybe my preferences are murkier than I suspected.)
I plan to spend the rest of the day Quarterly Westing, which means I'll be missing the hot. Let me know, dear world, if there's any more flooding.

b.t.w. Laura Bush looks hot in a veil.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Poetry Readings

The ethics of poetry readings are complex. And I call them "poetry" readings even though people read aloud in all genres--but there's something poetic about the way one has to perform their verbal acrobats on stage, in front of friends and strangers.
Some self-imposed guidelines:
Read brief.
Read loud and clear.
Go to other people's readings, not just my own.
Read as interesting and funny a piece as I have, even if it's not that funny--it's fun for me and fun for them.
Invite people out for drinks after even if I'm not drinking.

I LOVE reading. It's one of my favorite things to do. I'm sadly going to get pigeon-holed as the Darwin poem reader because I like to read that long poem best. But regardless of what I'm reading, there's something so generous about people giving up Lost or Star Wars or Dinner to come see me read. And, for all the readings of my friends I've missed, I'm sorry for all the dumb reasons.
Speaking of reading for friends and family--I love reading in front of people who are kind and know my work and who love me no matter what. However, reading in Evergreen in front of 45 strangers was exhilarating. I was nervous but SO pleased that the audience was receptive and interested and had enthusiastic, and relevant, questions to ask. After that reading, even though it was in front of students who may be more generous than other audiences, I decided that reading really is the truest venue for delivering one's work. Publishing is so private. Who knows who reads what you wrote, even if it's in a great magazine?
The only time your reader is more invested is in a workshop environment. And that's fun but not nearly as much a presentation.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

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Monday, May 16, 2005


I'm alive. No crabgrass death for me. No, I'll die a slow death of deferred promise in debtor's prison. Now that Bush has signed the new bankruptcy bill into law, the poor house will no longer be a metaphor. All this is about the job I may not have next year. I'm pretty sure I have the opposite of the midas touch--everything I touch turns to pennies. Not even full-copper pennies; regular old nickel-plated ones. For instance, I found out I would only be paid half as much in May as I had thought. This is fine, since Erik worked 42 hours overtime in Las Vegas. But still, I'm turning into a money pit. We'll blame the baby. Now is a good time to start.

I was also looking, happily for Quarterly West and for most of my publications, at I think his justifications for his rankings are ethical and interesting, but I doubt Missouri Review is less renowned than, say, Callalloo. But long-runningness plays into the rankings, which explains a lot of his partular system.
What are magazines I'd give some of my pennies to get in to?
Tin House
Southern Review
The Canary
Hotel Amerika

Why these? They seem so elusive & cool. I'm hoping the Drunken Boat picks up one of my poems. They're weird AND cool.

And, last rant, related to this post only via the massive amounts of crabgrass that I lamented first: Why do people think sunny weather is "good" and rainy weather "bad." It's so prejudiced. Jeff Chapman and I were discussing this dumb weather categorization. I say, to be contrary, that wet, cloudy weather is best--it's darker so you can sleep in, there's more water for your plants, driving is more fun, and it's better for your skin. And it's cooler. I'm in a bit of a panic about how hot it's going to get.......

And for that matter, perhaps crab grass is just grass should be left to grow.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Of 3 a.m. and crabgrass

Erik got called in last night at 3 in the morning. He had to report in for regular work at 6 a.m., so instead of coming home and waking me up twice--he slept on the couch at work. Little did he know I was awake, waiting for him to get back, hoping he could get at least another hour of sleep. Still, I went back to sleep at 5 and slept until he came home to take a quick shower. O'Henry-esque moment in our relationship.

I'm off to conquer whatever crabgrass I can. I'm conflicted. It will break my back to dig it all up but I can't spray--for all the pollutants it would put into the general atmosphere as well as in my body. But if I look at it one more day, I'm going to scream. Plus, it's encroaching on where I want to plant my tomatoes.

If you don't hear from me again, imagine that I'm out back, collapsed under shovels, wheelbarrows, and gloves, having been bested by a carnivorous batch of weeds.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The fact that one can make it from the Avenues to the SLC International Airport, pick up a Misty Renee friend at 5:10, drive to the Red Iguana, wait five minutes for a table, order margaritas and mole, pay the bill by 6:30 and have said Misty back at the airport by 6:40 for a 7:25 flight makes Salt Lake a fine place and record-breaking driving a fine talent.
Driving across town is less pleasant. I drove twice to sugarhouse today and hit every light red--1st South through 17th. You would think Rocky would fix this for me--all that waiting is bad for the air. But with the rain, I suppose no one cares about how many PMs I'm idling into the air.

Erik's work requires that the photographers drive Chevy Suburbans or equally gas guzzling monstrosities. Plus, they need to idle their live trucks constantly to keep their battery power optimized. Mini-generators, these beasts.

All of this is by way of saying, if we (and by "we" I mean people who know what sort of disaster we create) can't get it together to stop spewing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, who can?

Erik, as the unofficial photographer of the apocalypse--landslides, floods, flying locusts, raining frogs--will be the first to recount the End Times. At least the environmentalists and the fundamentalists agree on something.
More on thislater.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I owe all my interest in blogging to Mary Anne Mohanraj
We knew each other at the U of U, but I only started reading it after I saw her at the MLA conference in December. Her blog is the exemplar of all good blogs--It has day-to-day news, deep thoughts, historical perspective, humor and, most important, she is willing to reveal stuff that is personal while maintaining a sense of privacy. I'd like to follow in her path, but I a) commit typos, b) have boundary issues (and therefore may reveal too much or too little c) find blogs interesting right now but tend toward peripetetic interests d) may use words like peripetetic incorrectly e) may make really dull posts.

But, I'm willing to give it a whirl and join the blogging universe.
Here's my plan:
Write what I did today.
Muse on said doings.
Commit to the otterbutt paradigm (to be defined later).

So, today, I revised novel for the millionth time.
I successfully got Bret Lott to come for the Writers at Work conference in 2006.
Erik and I went to my sister Val's for dinner--she invited my grandma, my aunt shelle and my mom for dinner. She made delicious lamb chops and greenbeans and potatoes. We played Shrek Monopoly with my nephew Cameron and Erik and I tortured our niece Lily by changing her diaper AND her outfit. We gave up and handed the baby off to Val. She promised it gets easier.

Then, I came home to start my blog and Erik went out with his KUTV Channel 2 friends to the Bayou. I was invited but decided hanging out with partner's work buddies is easier with a glass or six of wine.

Now I'm watching the news and am thrilled by the rain. I want it to flood. If people are in the flood path, they should get out of the way. After 7 years of drought, I want the ground to be drenched (these selfish natural bits are part of the otterbutt paradigm).

Speaking of otters, the department of wildlife released some otters in Escalante after citing some specious evidence of their being at one time native. Though I think the Dept. of Wildlife is full of it, I plan to head down for a camping trip to see if I can find them.