Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Truly puffy jackets—ones that billowed, ballooned, marshmallowed to twice your size—were en vogue. I, an 18-year-old college freshman from Hawaii facing the first winter of her life and in fashionable New York, was not about to skimp on warmth, style, or the most current fad. This coat was retired circa 1999–2000, because, you know, the fad died, and instead I had have a long black wool coat, or a short colored pea coat with military embellishments, or a fake-fur hip-hop star-looking coat, or a black leather motorcycle jacket, or a long suede coat with a fur color that didn’t even tie closed with its beautiful suede sash and therefore was not at all warm but boy did I look good sauntering across campus, shivering.
This, I think, is the only look that has not ever been brought back. Now the down jackets are slender and held close to the figure. They contain the same amount of down, provide the same amount of warmth, but have about 80% less air to them.
But this coat of mine is huge. I could wear several layers of sweaters and scarves under it and still have room to smuggle out a small child. I’ve been rather sheepishly wearing it about campus, chagrined to be reduced back to the unfashionable self I was at 18, constantly out of vogue and not even aware of it, and ironically feeling so because of this coat that at the time was all the rage.
Yet I will admit this. I am not cold. Not even the teensiest bit. I don’t even have to zip that thing closed or wear any of the many scarves I packed. I haven’t brought my gloves out once because I can just shove my hands in the roomy pockets.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I hate packing.
Really, really hate it.
Anyway, in case I don't remember to post before I join Suzanne, Caitlin, and Jenni for the car ride up, at 7:50 AM I might add!!, I'm off to Vermont tomorrow!
Happy New Year, beloved readers!
Friday, December 26, 2008
But check out this great essay by Kīhei de Silva about which Hawaiian music songs should never be played at ceremony or reception; interestingly enough, many of them have to do with cheating lovers. Certainly not appropriate for a day during which two people vow many things, among them, usually fidelity. Just to round things out, de Silva also provides a list of his top five choices for wedding-appropriate Hawaiian songs.
The rest of the essays on the site, which appears to be the website of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, are great, too, if you are as obsessed with Hawaiian music and language as I am.
(Thanks, MOM, for the tip!)
very, very mysterious.
i like this man so much. and he is always on the money.
I am moved by the fullness and luckiness of my life.
Because out of the blue, I just received a wonderful care/Christmas package and card from a friend that was so thoughtful—and so unexpected—that it actually brought tears to my eyes. I’ve known this woman for years, less and more well, but it was through our mutual love of writing that we’ve recently connected so deeply.
Because I went to a lovely Christmas party last night at the beautiful home of one of my Vermont classmates, Caitlin, and spent the night drinking and talking with her and another classmate, Suzanne, and their respective fiancé/husbands. Suz and Caitlin finally met Dave, and Dave liked them and their guys and so, instead of going shy on me, was chatting up people left and right at the party. And I see game nights and more postpacket parties looming in our collective graduate future. I remember how nervous I was all of last spring, waiting to hear whether I’d been accepted into graduate school and then, once in, doubting whether I was of the caliber to belong there. I was nervous about the graduate part, the writing part, the people part, and the being away from Dave=home part. Finally, June came and I went to Vermont, and my life sprung open as sudden and full as those first buds of spring. And what I have to look forward to now is simply more and more of that springing, and that opening, and that budding, and that blooming.
Add to that the holidays cards we’ve been getting—and the e-mails, and the texts—and a feeling returns to me that I haven’t experienced in years. A gratitude to life. The aforementioned being moved by the fullness and luckiness of my life. A feeling born fully formed within, one that swirls rapidly inside until it cannot be contained and bursts outward, like Athena stepping delicately but with war-like purpose from the split head of Zeus. It leaves me in overwhelming love with everything.
I want to hold onto this feeling forever, because this is how I want to live my life: fully present and grateful for what I’ve been given.
Too often I get caught up with the whole dog-eat-dogness of it all—what with the endless to do lists and Big Dreams That Call For Capital Letters Here—and I forget the most important thing.
People. All the people in my life and the ways—littlest to most profound, and how often I don’t know which is which—that we touch each other’s lives. All the ways we are connected.
If I accomplish nothing else in 2009, let me just remember that.
As a person who copyedits and proofreads obituaries as part of my job, I’ve become a little obsessed with them and how they read. This is not as dark and weird and inappropriate to the holiday season as you might think—or at least, I don’t think so—because the best obituaries, like the best wakes, are about the life lived, not the death, uhmm, died, I guess.
I often think of what I’d like my obituary to say. First of all, I’d like it to read that I died in, you know, 2070 or something, survived by my loving husband Dave and just oodles of devoted children and grandchildren.
And I used to add onto that that I wanted to be remembered as a highly skilled editor. As a successful and prolific writer who took chances and wild leaps and never stopped experimenting but who still always made Oprah’s book club.
Actually, I’d still want those things, I think.
But careers … money … real estate … even fame and publication and rights to one’s novel for the making of Very Lucrative Film Deals … well, it's all well and good and I certainly wouldn't turn any of it down, but you can’t take it with you.
Holding onto the long aforementioned gratefulness, before I get sucked into stressing and grumbling about all I need to get done between now and Sunday night in preparation for my back-to-back trips to Vermont and Dave’s birthday surprise extravaganza, I’d say if there was only room in my obituary for a single line, I’d like it to be this:
SHE WAS LOVED AND SHE LOVED.
LUCKY IN LOVE; ALL KINDS OF LOVE.
SHE GAVE BETTER THAN SHE GOT.
GOOD ENOUGH. SMART ENOUGH. AND DOGGONEIT, PEOPLE LIKED HER.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
This is the kind of book that people want to grow up to write.
This is the kind of book that makes you say, wow, I am so inspired to write something so pitch-perfect about Life, and Love, and War, and Peace, and Et Cetera.
This is also the kind of book that makes you say, Oh shit, that book was so perfect that no other book will be so perfect again, so I might as well give up and go drink some more wine instead of ever trying to write a book so good.
I had just finished reading my friend Rich's blog entry about getting ready to head to VCFA and was mulling over his comments about the Talent Show. I've sort of been wondering if all that stressing I did over doing the talent show last June was worth it and I was going to subject the school body to the hula at every residency, or whether having done it once, I could consider it, you know, done. Wound up in my thoughts, I started to wonder, IF I were to dance again, what would I dance. And next thing I knew, I was trying to remember a hula I learned in, oh, 1997 or something in our tiny bathroom. There not being enough room, I danced the dance into the kitchen, and then the doggyface happened.
While I kaholo'ed across the kitchen, Nahe made that crazy face, got up on her hind legs, and hopped about and then proceeded to howl at me at the top of her little lungs. I don't know if she was trying to join in or vehemently oppose me in thinking I have any talent whatsoever. haha!
3. finish reading VCFA packet
4. finish part iii of Atonement
5. write Emiko sections of "Constellation of Bodies"
6. read through VCFA other materials (teacher bios, lectures, schedule, etc.)
7. check in with AA visual reviews editor/remind of deadline
8. check in with AA obituaries editor/remind of deadline
9. check in with AA book reviews editors/remind of deadline
10. Target exchange
12. plan Dave's birthday trip (detail)
13. mail omiyage home
14. write to father
15. 2009 postcards (instead of xmas cards, because clearly that didn't happen)
16. print photo of Dave, Nahe, and me to take to VCFA in case I get homesick
17. get Dave to download all pictures off both cameras
18. get Dave to "rip/burn" (whatever that means) "Pua Malihini" by Kamehameha Schools choir for Relle, Jenjen, and Hina in preparation for a hula at Relle's wedding
19. reorganize self and lists
20. edit Cattelino article for AA
21. walk and play with annoying puppy who wants my attention 27/9--yes, that is three hours more than there are in a day, and two days more than there are in a week
That's ummm ... really realistic, Self. I think I'll start with Numbers 22 and 19.
And I have to admit I'm a little tickled that I finally got to use my 96 box of crayons for something other than making snarky birthday cards.
I mean, it's those things, too.
But it is ALSO spam musubis (eaten even by President Elect Obama!), and vog, and flesh-eating Ala Wai canal, and live mines on Kaho'olawe, and turtle-poop and coral spawn contaminating the beach water.
HEY! Welcome to Paradise!!
(Thanks to Shaun W. for the Obama article tip!)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Well. Turns out sometimes when you ask, you receive. Who knew.
Before I get to the posting, let me just say that this essay is 100% still Suzanne's creative work and SHE RETAINS ALL RIGHTS TO IT. And if you steal or borrow so much as a single phrase from it without correct attribution and/or her express permission, I will so hunt you down. Don't think I won't.
Okay, then. The legal stuff dispensed with, without further ado, here it is!
The Little Things. Truly, Little.
by Suzanne Farrell
I love the little things in life.
I don't mean little things like a baby's smile or a rainbow. Who doesn't love a baby's smile or a rainbow. God. You'd have to be such a douche.
What I love are the really, really, really, really little things. Like, when I was about to get off the 5-train at 86th Street and I stuck my bookmark, currently a color card from a paint store, in the back of my book, and noticed, in the few seconds before the train stopped, that the inside cover was exactly the same color as one of the choices on the card, and I knew that the people who put the book together must have been thinking "First Snowfall" when they chose the paper for the inside cover, and I figured I was probably the only other person in the whole world who knew it, too, and I silently appreciated their choice for its gentle and pleasing effect on me, the reader.
I also love that the elevator in our building has finally been programmed to remain on the floor at which it last opened, in order to conserve energy, and being on the 10th floor I've never, never been able to get on the elevator until it made its long vertical journey on its 50-year-old chains, and now, every once in a while, when I press the button, the elevator door – just – opens.
I love that Obama won the presidency, but what I love even more is that our Time Warner Cable connection worked for just long enough to allow us to watch the festivities. It was just enough time for one piece of blue confetti to make its way down from the rafters and participate in the smothering of Andrea Mitchell.
I love that my mom sends my sisters and me coupons, mailing what she calls a "first choice packet" to one of us, along with pre-stamped envelopes to send the our rejects to the next sister on the list. But what I love more is that recently, my mom has been putting a single dollar in with the first choice packet, tucked in between coupons for Air Wicks and Chi-Chi's. Though I suspect it's her way of making sure we look through the coupons carefully, now I just flip through to look for the dollar, like an excited, expectant puppy. I love those once-a-month dollar treats.
I love new mathematical discoveries, like one I had this week at the gym, when I realized that I burn ½ a calorie more per minute when listening to Snow Patrol than when listening to any other music on my iPod, save for Dolly Parton's version of "I Get a Kick out of You," which for some reason inspires me to increase the incline on the treadmill.
I love when a first impression is followed by a second, and the second is nowhere near as unflattering as the first, as happened this week when I actually spoke with a neighbor I'd seen many times but had ignored because he always seemed to want me to acknowledge the adorableness of his kid, and I always wanted to say look, just because I work with kids doesn't mean I need to universally acknowledge their adorableness, and you live only a floor below me so it's a long way to make chit-chat with you and your pre-verbal little guy, but now I've learned that the man I was ignoring is an Economics Professor who is on a crusade to make our building a model of conservation, and this fall he single-handedly convinced the board to reprogram the elevator which now opens on my floor every so often. The discovery changed my impression so much that I didn't throw Professor Efficient a smug look as we passed the third floor and his kid ran over my suede shoes with his 2008 toy Hess Oil truck. I think I even smiled warmly.
I love moments of utter cosmic perfection, like this week, at our building's holiday party, when I was cornered by a drunk fifth floor resident named Omar who called me a Commie because I studied Sociology and then got my master's at the New School for Social Research, and although it was a thrilling moment in my own personal-is-political life that for an entire plastic up of pinot grigio, to Omar, I was a Commie, what's more is that I'd chosen to wear a dark orange tank top that looked red in the warm glow of lobby light, and a sort of mustardy gold sweater to the party and, even better than that, the sweater was an anti-capitalist garment, as I'd borrowed it from my sister, who had borrowed it from another sister, who had originally borrowed it from me, after I took it off the lost and found rack during the end-of-year clean-out at the private elementary school where I worked. The only topper I can think of is my new earrings – if they had arrived from a friend who just started making beautiful jewelry, I would have worn them, too, those lovely earrings I chose because I thought hand-hammered hoops sounded classy.
And I love that tonight is tonight, and it is Salon, and Salon is on 12/12, and the next time the month and date of a Salon might match exactly is September 9, 2011, and for those of you thinking yeah, but what about February 22nd, 2008, I can say that it's true, that Salon was on 2/22 and it was also here in Eric's apartment, but it's not the same as February 2nd would have been, and so this, tonight, is not the same as that night, nor is it the same as any other wonderful little, little, little, little thing that I love.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
What I'm thinking about now is that I need to learn to content myself with the smallish things in life.
I've been thinking about this ever since last Thursday night when, at Writers' Salon, my friend Suz read a piece about just this: the very small things in life. (I wish I could link to it somehow, but alas Suz keeps a lowish profile when it comes to the online stuff. If I ever wrest from her the rights to that piece, I will post it here.) I thought about it even more when yesterday a friend burst into tears in front of me because she felt like she was a big fuck-up at life.
I don't mean to say we shouldn't dream big and try harder, always, on behalf of our aspirations and friends, but we should also give ourselves a break.
Today, I decided to be happy with myself. Because there was a lot of slightly wet but lovely and lacy snow falling outside the windows of Krissa's Sunset Park apartment, in which I was esconsed, writing and enjoying her delicious butternut squash soup and gruyere toasts. Because I got to see her little Nanito, a rather nervous chap at times, run with utter abandon and a huge doggy grin through the snow sticking to the grass at Sunset Park (the park). Because Nahe did not pee or poop in her house, for the fourth week in a row. Because Nano and Nahe had some six solid hours of tumbling. Because it's hilarious when Nahe humps Nano, despite lacking certain equipment. And because, despite my rapture at the dogs and the constant deleting I do while writing, I still emerged with 884 words.
Wow. This is going to take practice. I totally almost just lied and rounded up that number, still judging myself. I was going to say a thousand, because it sounds better, for having sat there for the better part of six hours. But you know, the six hours fly swiftly, especially when you're brainstorming, and chatting about homelife, and asking each other pertinent questions, and then posing the nonpertinent questions, and writing a little, then deleting what you wrote, and watching the dogs play, and eating delicious soup, and nursing your coffee/then Coke Zero/then tea, and eating apples, and having a flash of inspiration about a character's intentions and writing a whole paragraph, and making the dogs do tricks, and realizing you have your character all wrong and deleting said paragraph, and basically constantly banging your imagination against the walls of your head. Yeah. Writing. So Fun.
BUT THIS STOPS NOW. When you make a little goal like "write some today," instead of a huge overarching set of goals like "finish 'Constellation of Bodies' story today; balance checkbook; reorganize planner; run to bank; buy groceries; make dinner; do dishes; walk dog 4x; etc.," here's a secret: you can actually hit the goal. Dumb down your expectations of what is possible in a day and you might actually make--or even exceed--them. Don't overkill. Make your life liveable, with room for some tv watching, magazine perusing, and novel reading. Some crossword doing and some cuddling.
I think of how much happier I can be simply by being more realistic.
So, no more judgment. I have 884 words I didn't have before and that is an accomplishment. I walked Nahe three times today, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I did a shitload of dishes that needed to be done, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I put some spare buttons that have been sitting on my bedside table for six months into the sewing kit, finally, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I changed the dead tealights in our bathroom shower, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I finished the September 2008 issue of The Sun, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I drank a glass of wine, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Excuse me, I have to go pat myself on the back and reward myself with Glass #2 of wine, now.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Here, in this episode of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart talks with Mike Huckabee about gay marriage. The thing that "got me" was the moment towards the end of the video, when Huckabee tries to stress the point that supporters of "traditional marriage" aren't all homophobic. I don't know how Stewart reacted because the Hulu video I was watching cut out just then and I'm too lazy to go searching for the rest of the particular episode.
But here's a question for Huckabee: DOESN'T it mean exactly that?
How can you say you're not afraid of someone different from you if you're going to use the thing about them that makes them different from you to withhold the rights that you so easily enjoy? How can you uphold an argument saying you love your brother--you know, metaphorically, not in a gay way--but not his actions? How can you be such a hypocrite as to use the Bible (which is, hello, a collaborative work of creative writing--to me, fiction; to others, perhaps, creative nonfiction, depending on how religious they are) as an argument to prove that marriage hasn't changed in however many thousands of years because it shows unions between a man and a woman, yet conveniently leave out the fact that women were chattel, marriages were business transactions, and polygamy was also favored during our illustrious past? How can you say marriage hasn't changed over how many thousands of years, when it has changed, constantly, to allow for interracial marriage and for the right to end a marriage that wasn't working out (no fault divorce, 1969-1985), to disallow the treatment of women as property and to make illegal polygamy (except for the Mormons)? And how can you keep a straight face when you use the argument that, hey, if we allow gay marriage, we'll have to allow everything: polygamy! bestiality! marriage between minors and senior citizens! the world will go craaaaaazy!! in fact the world will come to an end! don't you see it, gay marriage clearly leads to APOCALYPSE!!!!! Which is why we totally cannot allow it. FUCKING IDIOTS.
And then, rather soberly, I think also how can we be surprised by this? We are a nation, sometimes, of hopeless ignorants, I think, because, hi, we used to enslave African Americans; we still like to stomp in our Big Boy Boots around the world, blowing shit up and killing in the name of democracy for Those Others; we thought it was okay during WWII to lock up our own citizens just for their misfortune of being Japanese in race, though American in nationality, during a time when our enemy was Japanese; and we still, to this day, do not uphold totally equal rights for women, who are still fighting to get a fair shake in the workplace (salaries, benefits, positions) and for rights over their own bodies (Roe v. Wade).
On Election Night, many of us had the feeling of being amongst our fellow Americans, of being part of a citizenry of which we could be PROUD. I have the exact opposite feeling right now. I feel so disheartened to be living in a country so divided that some of my fellow citizens can use such straw-man arguments and really believe it will hurt them to make someone else's dreams come true.
(Thanks to The Indulgence of Self for the original posting of the video.)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This friend, another friend, and I are famous for these ridiculous e-mail chains that get to about, oh, 58 exchanges back-and-forth before it occurs to one of us that we are no longer even talking about whatever the original subject line was, and so someone will open a new e-mail chain and that one will then stretch for another 58 exchanges. It's hilarious. But it's also free and quite effective therapy to have people you love commiserate, swear viciously (at least in MY case), and tell you that you are smart, loved, pretty, and most importantly always right. In this particular case, my e-mail was #46 in the chain and was just bursting full of how right she is and how wrong the world.
I think living in the liberal bastions that these two friends and I have lived in—Hawaii, New York, San Francisco—we're all a little surprised when we actually run into people who think that French fries are a vegetable and vote for war and against the rights of others (Roe v. Wade, Prop 8) and shoot down wolves from their planes and sincerely believe they are not being racist when they teach a child about the INVENTED PARADIGM of race by using a MAMMY doll. (Which my poor friend witnessed during her Thanksgiving. OMG, wrong on so many layers, I can't even pick where to start...)
But one of the more upsetting things about Thanksgiving was that her sister has been in a committed relationship for twelve years with another woman--and a good number of those years, they have been married in the eyes of those who love and support them, although not in the eyes of the state. And one of these unfortunate, accidental new in-laws had the nerve to compare her own son's two-week long fling to my friend's sister's twelve-year-long relationship. This is pretty much word-for-word my response to that (with some corrections of typos, which if you know me, you know I can't stop myself from correcting).
Dude, WTF about XXXXX* comparing her son's fling to your sister's marriage. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. 'NUFF SAID. No, you know what, not 'nuff said. This is why we need a new Prop 8, a flipped one that is FOR the ACTUAL EQUAL RIGHTS of everyone. Because as long as our law-makers don't make marriage for all a priority, it sends a message that relationships that are not between a man and woman within a heterosexual couple are not to be taken seriously, which leads to people saying stupid things like a 12-year-long-and-going-strong, committed relationship with the equivalent of a marriage ceremony if not the legal benefits is the same as a boy's week long fling. I mean, what the hell, right. Did you know that in Virginia you can marry at sixteen? In Indiana, marriage between cousins are permitted when both individuals are at least sixty-five (65) years of age. In North Carolina, you can even marry your FIRST cousin, but NOT your double first-cousin. In Louisiana, you don't even need both parties to be present when applying for a marriage license, you can just bring the absent person's birth certificate. And these were just some of the weird rules I found when randomly picking some states off this site (http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/). Let's review, shall we? To a good majority of these here United States, it is more taboo to allow two individuals who love, cherish, and want to commit to each other to marry simply because they are of the same gender, but we still think cousins should be allowed to marry each other and we think, ehhhh, the other party probably consented to this Louisianan marriage and we think SIXTEEN YEAR OLDS are mature enough to make a lifelong commitment of love and respect to another person. I mean, DAMN.That's an extra slap in the face: how can you think a sixteen year old boy and girl are more mature than grown adults of the same gender? Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.
* Name omitted to protect the asshole.
Monday, December 8, 2008
(Thanks to A Candid Life for the tip.)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
* who we already know, for real, in real life. Sorry, lovely Internet friends and lurkers, but putting our beloved pup's life in your hands is not the way I want to first meet you. I'm sure you're 220% good intentions but . . .
You are getting S-L-E-E-P-Y . . . You are entranced by her B-E-A-U-T-Y . . . You have always wanted a D-O-G-G-Y . . . You deeply, deeply want to dogsit for thirteen days an adorable P-U-P-P-Y . . .
Thursday, December 4, 2008
"I don't have much of an attention span. Books need to accost me. They need to be hard backed thugs that grab my face and say, 'Give me your time, bitch!'"--Kaui Hart Hemmings, author and blogger extraordinaire, on how she chooses what she reads.
Then Wife said:
From K., adding on:
And he took my miniature pony
But to me, it looked more like this:
If you don't like to cook, ignore this whole entry. But if you do like to cook and have not yet made Bittman's acquaintance, check out his blog, Bitten--and yes, yes, it's awfully punny that he has the name he has in the business he is in. In fact, here is the recipe I'm about to tackle, oh, in five minutes: Savory Pumpkin Pie (on his blog, but recipe by Laura Anderson). I'll let you know how it goes . . .
As for me, oh, Bittman, I leave laurels of thyme and rosemary gratefully at your feet.