number crunchers/ electoral euphoria

mai 30, 2008

a) this primary season i’ve found a lot of ‘idols’:) among the political junkie pool. such smart, dedicated people. i remember one day telling lora (with a sulk in my voice) how al giordano was in vancouver and i didn’t get to see him (actually i was telling her how he subsequently complained about smoking being prohibited in vancouver hotels:)) – but really, these people are to my mind of a totally different sphere than me. i could post anytime on DKos or the field, but i’ve got solidified into shyness and i’m not starting now. the point of this blabbering here is my happy surprise to find out today who the totally mythical poblano is. poblano rose to absolute fame in this sector:) this primary, by making predictions on percentages state by state…he’s got a blog called 538 and also writes on DKos…today he outed himself as being a baseball writer, initiator of some sort of a statistical system for baseball not dissimilar from what he does in politics. the news just made my morning…i couldn’t say why…of course there’s the underlying idea that these brilliant people are gathering for a good cause…

b) first it was the obama fellowship grants (please don’t tell me the primaries aren’t over yet! i think they are!). a string of lucky ‘fellows’ announcing on the blogs i read…exchanging info about which states would need them most (the O campaign is training them in getting out the vote and other organizing stuff)…now that they’re coming to terms with it, everybody’s starting to freak out about going to denver to the convention. there are a number of credentialed blogs, which will report from the floor…people with a reputation of sorts are doing blog fundraising for denver…lay persons are talking dividing gas money and crashing on other lay persons’ couches…i love it i love it i love it. and there’s 3 months to go…


skagit :)

mai 29, 2008

*chiar inainte de border check, El Jean (soferita noastra) ne-a reamintit mie si lorei ca nu avem voie cu fructe sau legume proaspete peste granita. ooopsie. am oprit ca sa mancam o gramada de mere si portocale (si sprouts), dar tot a trebuit sa dam o punga intreaga plina de fructe la niste oameni in fata la un mall. sa plangi de jale, nu alta. dar nici macar: cand ne-or dat jos la granita sa verifice masina si sa-mi dea mie un cartonas de om din lumea a treia care intra in US, s-a constatat ca eu lasasem niste coji de portocale in masina, ceea ce era pasibil de amenda 300 de dolari:(.  am denumit incidentul „OrangePeelGate” si lora a continuat sa ma tachineze pe tema asta vro 2 zile, pana a descoperit un mar intreg, canadian, in propria ei geanta – smuggler!!!

*pe drum am vorbit numa politica, in principiu eu si el jean o puneam pe lora la curent cu subtilitatile sistemului etc. nu ca toata lumea nu e de aceeasi parte ca mine, e doar ca vehementa mea ii amuza. el jean a votat obama, si yael spune in principiu „it’s time for boomers to give up on control”. am oprit in bellingham ca sa ne uitam la o librarie draguta si sa mancam (african peanut soup:)) – si deja incepeau bumper stickerele si steagurile americane pe tate casele etc. ce natiune nebuna. in rest, cea mai remarcabila diferenta in peisaj fata de…previous sightings…a fost pt mine forma acoperisurilor de hambare.

*la conner (oraselul cu festivalul) arata ca o statiune de vacanta, care in general suna a gol on any non-festival day. (nu stiu cat de mare – 10-15 mii ?? mic.) dar plin de hosteluri si guest houseuri si country inn si muzeu si etc. city hall, din alea. cochet intr-un mod foarte canadian, cu diferenta notabila: obama lawn signs plenty. tin minte cum mergeam pe drum in zilele cu program de festival, si cineva din grup urla: carmen! look! si era sau inca un bumper sticker, sau un poster…lora le depista ff repede dar de obicei nu-mi zicea nimic, de frica sa nu ma manifest…dupa ce o data am sarit si tipat in mijlocul strazii, aratand cu degetul, si am speriat-o. era de asemenea plin de flori. (la conner). si e la ocean, duuuh, sau ma rog, la o apa cu legatura directa – de genul, exista un doc si chei si toate alea.

*anacortes, oraselul in care sedeam noi la motel (pt ca era mai ieftin, in caz ca e nevoie sa intrebati) e la vro 20 km de la conner. eram 6 femei in grupul anacortes (cate 3 in camera) plus inca o tipa care era cu sotul in alta parte, si el jean care si-a luat o camera draguta in la conner. existau 2 masini, asa ca sambata a fost necesara o naveta ca sa ne care pe toate la locul cu pricina inainte de 8 a.m. totul a fost foarte distractiv…cel putin eu n-aveam nici o treaba, zburdam p-acolo. needless to say ca eram cea mai mica din grup, si culturally challenged, asa ca aveam voie sa sar in sus si sa fac poze; sau nu aveam, da imi dadeam eu.

* in prima seara nu sosise inca toata lumea, asa ca am fost numai eu cu lora in camera. la inceput am mers sa catam un bar pt fries+beer, haha – anacortes era absolut pustiu: poate ca e un orasel mai mare un pic decat la conner, dar e total mort. nu ca am vizitat noi mult:), dar cica motelul nostru era la vro 300 de metri de ocean si nici nu ne-am obosit sa ne deplasam pan-acolo. am nimerit la un bar foarte fain, care mi s-a parut foarte standard american: cu numere de masini din toate statele si cu poze de fotbalisti pe pereti, si aveau open mike asa ca am stat cu lora pana ce-au inchis, pt ca oamenii erau misto. cred ca toata audienta erau localnici; o trupa de tineri au bagat niste (renditions, obviously) gangsta/hip-hop, de genul „no diggity” si noua ne placea ff tare, asa ca vocalistul a venit pe la noi dupa, sa ne multumeasca:), si avea un tricou cu „diebold-machines that vote for you so you don’t have to.” a trebuit neaparat sa-l complimentez pt tricou!!! (desi, din nou, jena ca acu un an n-as fi stiut ce inseamna!)

* dupa aia, pana la 3 a.m, eu si lora am avut o tura de girl talk, si am citit poezii ca niste nebune. ea mi-a dat un recital din propria opera (vrusese sa se ofere la open mike, da ne-am prins prea tarziu si inchideau) si pt ca eu nu aveam nimic, i-am citit citate de prin caietul meu. si am facut ceai si am mancat crunchies. camera era maaare, si foarte decent separata in 2 parti, cu cate un pat de 2 persoane no problem, si in mijloc cu o zona de bucatarie, (cu frigider in care cineva uitase o bere!! si cu toaster, oven, sink etc). eu radeam ca e mai bine decat la mine pe dunbar, in principal ca exista cada de baie, asa ca am facut o baie ff lunga – prima baie in cada, in 9 luni! can you imagine!!

*a doua zi urma sa fie destul de lejer workshop-wise, asa ca am plecat spre la conner numa catre amiaza; a venit el jean dupa noi si ne-am dus „la plaja” intr-un loc care se cheama deception pass – how great is that! era o plaja ingusta langa padure, si acuma sa nu va inchipuiti ca astia au nisip pe plaje de te poti plimba descult – nope, numa pietricele enervante; si apa era rece de paralizai in ea, asa ca am stat cu picioartele p-acolo cam 1 minut overall. in schimb pozele arata foarte bine. de asemenea lora a gasit niste ochelari de soare pe care mi i-a dat mie, pe care i i-am „imprumutat” lui yael si nu i-am mai vazut de-atunci:))

update follows shortly (m-am plictisit, si am de iesit in oras). 

not really unpretty, not really undumb

mai 29, 2008

„there were other things a guy might think i was, and he wouldn’t be entirely wrong – nice, or loyal, or maybe interesting. not that i was always any of those things, but in certain situations, it was conceivable. but to be seen as pretty was to be fundamentally misunderstood. first of all, i wasn’t pretty, and on top of that i didn’t take care of myself like a pretty girl did; i wasn’t even one of the unpretty girls who passes as pretty through effort and association. if a guy believed my value to lie in my looks, it meant either that he’d somehow been misled and would eventually be disappointed, or that he had very low standards.”

„prep”, by curtis sittenfeld – an author 5 ys older than me, w/ 2 (or 3??) published novels by now. i wasted 2 days rereading her debut (first time i found it was right pre-prague 2007) and bashing myself for feeling 10 years behind, in age – i.e. i’m feeling at 28 the way curtis’ character felt at 14 to 18, but whatever. it’s all smart girly insights much better than ‘simple’ chick lit. i’m still ambivalent about it being based on curtis’ real life boarding school experience in new england…also feel extremely dumb realizing there are class nuances i had totally lost one year ago and now „I KNOW WHAT SHE MEANS” – it’s not pride, it’s reatroactive humiliation.

also (4.02. 2007): „you only ever try to pin a person down because they are not yours, because you can’t.”

i’d like to say

mai 29, 2008

the things that keep crossing my mind re: immigration, integration, work ethics, culture shock, canada as countersolution to the american dream etc etc etc. are so tangled and obsessive, that requiring me to articulate them  (to english speakers??) is not unsimilar to having an english graduate teach EFL to first graders.  the future is theirs, but they don’t understand. i am mad with frustration and convinced my education was all in vain (and i am not a good teacher). they think, who’s this crazy lady saying stuff that makes no sense. i am having to distill my observations into clichees, repeat ad nauseam, trick them individually into paying attention. in the end it’s kinda fun, but only a drop drained off the ocean of mutual miscomprehension. we just learn so little so slow.


mai 26, 2008

sudden feeling of hit bottom on a lovely day, and then you wake up at 4 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep . on the up side, it makes me feel young again, as if i had things to decide or lose. then when i look at what i’ve got, there’s really not so much – and that’s where the exciting panic, the shaker-breaker-twister-summer cleaning stuff stops, and the new undertone creeps in, and any new undertone, by way of it being the unknown, untested, brings pure fear in the mix. that’s it.

so i looked around, at the objects i have. (yep, happens every time: inventorying.) and except for a huge collection of glass jars and plastic cups of various sizes, not really anything i’ve accumulated in one year – if you exclude the quantity of paper, that is, but well. not even books, people! i’ve seen nothing, NOTHING over one year in this wonderful city of vancouver BC that i want to have – and afford. just a step to the left, and it’s plain what the problem is. not the lack of nice objects on this continent, for sure. it’s the state of mind that tells me i’m not in a position where it makes sense to want or to get things – not even the smallest, not even the precious.

increasingly i’m thinking i’m upping the stakes, now for a simple easy cleanup i will have to evacuate this space. so what is there to show for a year? what will anyone with expectations to share expect of me in july, if they want to see me. 20 pounds fatter, all my clothes worn and slimey with 2 continents, my mind clogged with the same naivete, and no new certitudes to preach; also, the schizophrenia of how i act when i’m around people (canadians) as opposed to the hours and hours and hours i’ve been here pondering – or non-pondering things. but no souvenirs, no fashions or trends, no whiff of superiority or of knowledge; what is it, then?? what am i supposed to bring you?

and of course – of course! who the hell are you, any more? who am i?

sylvia plath, in a letter – quoted from a „bio of a bio” about her, terribly confusing/ if good/ stuff: „Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything it is because we are dangerously near to wanting nothing.”

„culture”(bits and pieces)

mai 23, 2008

1) i’m just back from seeing a documentary about joe strummer of ‘the clash’ (was gonna visit elizabeth and she was just going to the cinematheque. oh well 🙂 ). i realize, again and again, to what extent i totally missed the ’80s, and – moreover – used to think it was all bout fluorescent colors, shoulder pads and madonna flashing in traffic. some shadows of perception of the cold war have been passing me by from time to time these months…politics details…obviously everything is political, and now the punk. how easily, from an isolated spot, in a detached future(cluj ’00s), one can cherry-pick….y’know: ‘hippies are good and fuzzy, punkers are gross and vicious’…then it’s all of a sudden ‘they’re all too extreme anyway…and they’re so last century’…then you get a job, get a husband, shop at kaufland, make children and die. there never seemed to be a chance for me to look at this punk age as a reality of sorts. (inainte sa implinesc 18 ani, fetele s-au prins ca nu citisem ‘habarnam’, cartea copilariei lor, eu crescand evident cu ‘rustem’, tolstoi, ‘pe aripile vantului’ si alte dracovenii. asa ca mi-au dat termen sa parcurg ‘habarnam’ pana la majorat, si am incercat: am citit-o. nu-mi amintesc aproape nimic din ea…decat sentimentul, in zilele alea, ca nu are rost, ca momentul nefiind potrivit tocmai ratez un test de integrare…ca imi lipseste o etapa necesara din drumul spre maturizare.) and it doesn’t really matter how much i like or dislike punk, because i’ve made it about more than that.

2) from richard ford; i certainly think it’s true for a category of people – i just don’t know how tiny:

„it could get to be addictive, he believed, not understanding what people were saying. time spent in another country would probably always be spent misunderstanding a great deal, which might in the end turn out to be a blessing and the only way you could ever feel normal”

and pretty much linked to the same feeling:

„<for spoiled people the real thing’s never enough. don’t you know that?> – <i don’t think i’m spoiled,> M[…] said. – <and spoiled people never do. but you are, though.> she said this sweetly, not to accuse him, just to acknowledge the truth everyone knew and needn’t talk about. <not to want to be the center of things, that’s what spoiled people think they want,> she said.”

3) chuck palahniuk is gay, and this (well, finding this) troubles me deeply. i will admit here what i was doing yesterday at 1 a.m.: looking for specifics on obama’s LGBT policies, because i had just talked to lora and april, and april seemed certain that mrs. clinton is waaay more pro-gay rights than obama and i couldn’t respond as i should have. so i get to a LGBT site where there’s this article about palahniuk, and i’m like, wtf??? half of me rolls her (my) eyes, as in, duuuuuh, you should have known, wasn’t it obvious? the other half is crestfallen, as in, why didn’t anyone tell me? i go to palahniuk’s wiki page, and sure enough there’s a reference to his having refused to talk about his gay relationship for an interview. and i do understand why, i do understand he thinks it’s not relevant to the public view of his work, that he is not a „gay issues” writer and does not want to limit his range…but i still feel as if „we” the readers should have been warned somehow. i feel as if my knowing that palahniuk is gay would have had me read him differently; the importance of reading the writer’s bio which years of obedient school/apprenticeship impressed upon me. ethically i know i am wrong, but logically i am correct, and personally i feel confused and a bit betrayed; betrayed even by the lack of curiosity that c.p. as a writer figure managed to induce in me 4 ys ago, that kept me from googling him before.

skagit festival quotes

mai 18, 2008

this will go nowhere, but whatever. the main thing to know and say so far is how great/magic/etc. my skagit experience was, although it will take about a week (at least) for all the pieces to settle in my head, or/and elsewhere. there have to be certain small steps to take, and i am assuming this here is the first. step.

15.05 jane hirshfield: „there is more and more i tell no one”….”something looks back from the trees/and sees me for what i am”…..”grief and hope – twin daughters of impatience…skipping ropes – one end wool, the other cotton.”; plus a poem about a button, which i liked so much i didn’t even take notes.

16.05. real men writing poetry: a philip levine quote (levine wasn’t there): „if you’re old enough to read this/you know what work is/ although you may not do it.” ( then a panel on narrative poetry, during which, i later surmised, not only i but everybody in our group, was sleepy; then the evening readings, at which i listened raptured and took no quotes, although everyone was so good: but then i bought a book by sam greene – my favourite guy 🙂 – so i could give a hundred quotes out of that. maybe just one, from the festival booklet: „some reasons why i became a poet”:

„because i wanted to undo each stitch/in time, unravel the nine seams/that inhibit remembering; because i wanted/to roll a stone with such tenderness/that moss would grow and hold light/on all sides at once; because i wanted to teach/every old dog i saw a new set of tricks; because i wanted to lead a blind horse/to water and make her believe her thirst/mattered[…]”

17.05. morning, Kurtis lamkin, with his kora (that’s an instrument!): „may you meet your best self in the worst storm”. i bought a CD, i was just listening a few moments ago. it made the perfect start to a perfect sunny day of poetry. just so good. (i realize i’ve veered off quoting, but i don’t think this is very quotable. lora loved a poem about birds mating/building and testing a nest…and he had stuff about sunrise at the marketplace, days at the beach/sea… fishing, selling/eating yams…and he had one called „leave iraq”. yep. we were trying (i was) GRE analogies at one point, and one of mine was approx. „kurtis lamkin is to skagit festival what barack obama is to the US politics”. whatever. (and NOT JUST because he’s black.)

poetry and politics panel: „the poetic is political”. „Viva la poesia!” (david huerta), „this government has incensed artists” (someone on the panel said during the discussion). we think thomas lux is just awesome! also: „money doesn’t produce happiness, but it does produce a feeling so similar that you can’t tell the difference.”

going public with private feelings: „life is not as much invented as composed”…”i needed your love but i recovered without it; now i no longer need anything.”

bridging cultures: „no matter what language you speak, the journey is the same”; vs. „what words we share, divide us from our blood” (michael spence on his interracial relationship). my personal discovery of rachel rose as a poet: because it’s one thing to be told by her SFU students that she’s good, and a totally different thing to hear stuff like: „what we heard about the japanese/what the japanese perhaps heard”: „perhaps they heard we don’t understand them well. perhaps they were pleased”; „for us grief is an endless cornfield, silken and ripe with poison.” also, tom crawford: „look at us: the strain of citizenship shows in our faces”; „that i can’t imagine something greater/than i can imagine/really pisses me off”. exactly!!!

sampler: tony curtis, a crazy irish poet, on a man cursing him: ” i have felt his coldness over my grave/his spittle run down my headstone”. the wonderful kurtis lamkin: poem about his daughter learning to speak („you’ve opened up your royal language to social language”); also, poem about how condoleeza rice is a liar and someone else 🙂 she was abetting is the biggest thief. really. also, rachel again, at her best: a poem about shit; more than one poem dealing with a pattern of death/love, kind of like this: „who will clean you as you lay dying? who will change your sheets, pare down the rinds on your soles…{…} has despair got your guts in a knot? but you are not dead yet! go! love someone THAT much!”

talking poetry with music: it was good (kurtis and gloria burgess) but it was my sleepy hour and i felt slightly alien, because i had no idea about the million-man-march and segregation, and maybe because i can’t connect personally to hiroshima stories, although i probably should…? anyway, lora thought the panel was great, so there. then immediately, a panel on race: that was good. gloria burgess’ „the open door”/ door of no return – the african coast departure point for slaves, and i finally made a connection with what kurtis was talking about earlier. but it’s still foreign territory to me, which may be why i’ve got no clue about racism, which brought me to my close to hysterical moment of the festival. i said something which lora wrote down and demanded i should follow up with a poem: approx. „how can we start healing when we haven’t even gone there with the wound?”

final reading: the presenter, tony curtis, so tired that he was exuberant (someone during the day had apparently told him „you’re going in the wrong direction”, and he said „finally you’re getting to know me”). the readers were: thomas lux (we like him a lot!!! yael in particular has a monkey poem by him which she loves; i like the „pier aspiring” poem, about a man who starts building a pier deep into the ocean: „the theory is it will be a bridge”. ha!). then george mcwhirter, had a nice quip on a cotton t-shirt needing 257 gallons of water to grow: „so get out and try the rain/before it hits the bloom, or the loom/it’s so much cooler than cotton”. d’oh. nancy pagh (nice name 🙂 )has some fat poems, but otherwise, whatever she read last night has just slipped my mind…sorry…the last was our (=canadian) celebrated lorna crozier, who basically said she misses the days of drinking and smoking. and that sex with her partner after 26 years is no longer poem-worthy, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.

there ya have it! great job everyone.

*update: via yael, nothing much to do with skagit, but poetry nevertheless, so don’t you dare say i’m off topic. off topic would be to start talking about the 50 000 ppl rally in oregon today(** 75 000 apparently, yay portland OR!!), or the rules&bylaws committee meeting on 31st, same day as a NYC fundraiser where dean and gore…wait a minute…