Goji Berry Sunset

Spotify Discover Weekly crushing it: Goji Berry Sunset by Jealous of the Birds.



"I have to pick up my suit, pick up the dry cleaning, get my hair cut..."
"Remember mindfulness—be in the present moment?"
"I'll be in the present moment in a few minutes!"


Like the Piano

I'm enchanted by Sampha's voice and (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.



At lunch, my friend tells me that the doorway to his apartment building was graffitied with the word "Fag." For the third time since March. The police think it may be the same person responsible for other vandalism in the neighborhood.


Long Overdue

Finally watched Paris Is Burning on Netflix. It's all there: reading, shade, voguing, and (surprisingly) Roy Rogers.


Poem in Your Pocket Day 2017

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! This year the poem in my pocket is "On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes" by Mary Szybist.



On Nancy, Peter Bresnan says he was in love with Joe. Peter wrote sonnets, but Joe doesn’t know. T. Swift runs through boyfriends like it’s going out of style. Adele is always parting ways with someone in her songs. Aimee Nezhukumatathil is asked Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real? Mine are real, and they’re spectacular. Kay Ryan says, “I could never ever write fiction. I have no idea what people are thinking.” Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White says, “Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong, and disposable.” Meryl Streep says that Carrie Fisher said, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” “It’s strange to imagine that it’s about us,” Joe says when he reads the poem years later. “This isn’t what I experienced…even a little. This does not describe what happened, as far as I’m concerned.” I say in the end what was worth more, the man or the muse?


Never Have I Ever

Never have I ever worked in an office with so much peanut butter.


Brian's Favorite Things

The teeth-brushing scene from Bring it On. Bonus: the dissolve from one pillow to the other!



I am excited about the new Nancy podcast from WNYC!

For me there is a tangential link to National Poetry Month. The second episode discusses the host Tobin Low's reactions to porn actor Brandon Lee. It reminded me of my bookstore browsing last weekend, when flipping through Chen Chen's When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, I stopped to read "Jerking Off to Koh Masaki."



A small screeching came from the corner of the laundry room, behind the row of dryers. A mouse struggled in a trap of glue, dying next to dead kin.

A week earlier: Ash Wednesday. I asked forgiveness as I crushed a spider in the bath.

The week after that: book club argued was the narrator a sociopath.

Then that mouse, pleading, stuck. Not giving up.

Foolish, pledging to abstain from killing things for forty days.


O, She Says

O, She Says, by Hailey Leithauser.



H/t to chorus member Jesse.
"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft." -- Karl Paulnack


Choralography Instructions

"Hide the bits!
Show the bits!
Judy's tits!"


The Flash

"This show is confusing."
"Maybe, or maybe it's your thing with time travel."
"What?! What 'thing' with time travel? I don't have a thing!"
(Why do I respond so strongly? What does it matter? It feels like he knows some detail about myself that I had refused to see, or wished to hide.)
"Wait, what do you mean? That I don't really like it? But I liked The Time Traveler's Wife..."
"Fine, you like time travel romances."


Blank Slate

Sitting alone in a cafe on Madison,
Enjoying a scramble of bacon, egg, and onion,
I overhear two women,
One of whom recounts her husband’s frustration
With some recent inferior decoration:
“I meant Bohemian! Not Overstated Bohemian!”



"Oh, that guy."
"You said he was in Royal Pains, but I always think of him as the eye doctor on Sex and the City. Or That Guy from the movie...She's...She's Out of Reach? Y'know, with Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz?"
"In Her Shoes?"


A Phone Call with Dear Michael (Y.)

I asked you if it's true that when it is the year of your animal you are supposed to buy new underwear.

You hadn't heard that, you said.

You asked me about physics, about the rate at which objects fall to earth. I thought of bricks and feathers.

You said the Year of the Cock is bad for cocks. But that the year is not as important as the day or hour of birth.

You said that balance is important. You have too much water. You need more wood and fire.

I asked you what the other elements are. (Earth, metal.)



Too much bourbon
buried names bubble up
burn my throat
threaten to burst out



I am writing a stupid poem about something I heard in Manhattan, while my friend's children are evacuated from a Jewish Community Center because of a phoned-in bomb threat.



From Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso:

Another friend wrote, “Marriage isn’t like having a boyfriend or girlfriend but a little more so any more than gold is helium but a little more so. The inner shell of electrons fills and then the next one goes into the next shell, changing everything.” 
Marriage isn’t a fixed experience. It’s a continuous one. It changes form but is still always there, a rivulet under a frozen stream. Now, when I feel a break in the continuity of till death do us part, I think to myself, Get back in the river.


Simply the Breast

Boobs are the new boobs.



The book I most enjoyed reading last year was Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She tells how she made a vow to writing. The vow was not that writing would have to provide for her, but a promise to spend her life doing it, to always stay close to it. Some of Gilbert's thoughts are written here.

So, thinking about the dedication of artists to the work. "Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” Last month I read Just Kids. The focus on the work is there in the lives of Smith and Mapplethorpe. Even watching the Super Bowl halftime show I was thinking about this, about Lady Gaga, theatrics aside, working her ass off (1) to get to that moment and (2) in that moment itself.

Today's professional research into Pinterest led me to click on a pin that took me to "Upper Moose Lake", from Am I Alone Here? by Peter Orner:
Lily accepts the fact that her mediocre paintings are going to end up either rolled up under someone’s bed or in an attic somewhere or, more likely, thrown out with the trash. Even so, she’ll paint. She’ll paint. What choice has she got but to paint? The only way to honor her visions of Mrs. Ramsay and those lost days is to try to get them down. Come what may. The failure to capture the vision is the vision.
This gets filed in my brain alongside the new mantra: "Nevertheless, she persisted."


Dear New York, This Is a Love Letter

"Home to the many, rejecting no-one
Accepting peoples of all places, wherever they're from" -- The Beastie Boys


Really Struggling Today

Really struggling today with the decisions of our new government and what defines "America." Have to find the joy in resistance so as not to be overwhelmed by fear. Exercise gives me a way to empty my brain. Rogue scientists give me hope.


My Mother

My mother, when happy, or especially when she receives a bit of good financial news, will clap her hands together and sing "We're in the Money."



Roll out of bed. Kill the alarm. Scramble up the spiral stairs. Rummage through coat pockets and fish out the headphones. Commence daily untangling. Plug the jack into the phone. Join the conference. Greet the others and mute the speaker. Open notebook, mark the date. As each person speaks, note their name. Indent. One new Roman numeral per person. Calm the cat that does not understand your lack of attention.

Spend two years considering in the recesses of your brain, at night, or on walks, the protagonists of two books. Stew in anger, in doubt at their lack of agency. Think about how “agency” is a word you have never used in that way. Think about the question posed, “When did you first know you were a powerful queer?” Struggle over an answer.

Go see the play. Delight in the blackout, the ghost illumined by flashlight, encounters with the Devil, escapes through rhyme. Go to the movies, remember the Devil; think how the stories that most moved a young you had witches, angels, or gods changing to cattle.

Listen to a recording of a poem in which there are no verbs. Bookmark it.

Send a message to an old friend. “Merry Christmas!” “Merry Christmas!”

Send a card to an old friend. Return to sender.

Send a message to an old friend. Message Send Failure.

Borrow the car. Get milk at Quick Chek. See an old friend. Hug. Trade family updates and compare dental problems.

Watch yoga videos. Fold forward. Focus on the breath.

Visit a church. Join in the songs. Listen to the pastor say we are headed into a tough period. Amen.

Read the news. Avoid the news. Read the news. Do not read the news before bed. Scan the news before bed.

Debate how to best engage. Decipher what she meant by “active constructive resistance.”

Sit at a Mexican restaurant in the East Village. Share guacamole and stories of who you each were in high school.

Withhold congratulations on his engagement, which you only know of through “social” media.

Make a list of the things you like in novels, and the things you dislike. On the list of things you like, include “coming-of-age stories, LGBTQ stories, stories with magical/supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi elements blending with real world, dialogue, memoir, stories about friendship or friend groups, mysteries sometimes.” On the list of things you dislike, write “stories that feel too preachy, violence, malicious unreliable narrators?”

Tell your family in a conversation about books: “I need someone I can root for.”

Wake in the dark. Dress for the cold. Start training for another relay. Regret selecting the indie playlist.

Take down the tree. Wrap the ornaments. Sketch a picture of the bow and the tree underneath an idea for a writing project: Whippany River Anthology? Contemplate how fulfilling it might be to write all those deaths.

Drink too much to start the new year.

Read Just Kids. Highlight “The things I thought would happen didn’t. Things I never anticipated unfolded.” Then listen to Horses.



Last year I embraced more completely the liberal cliche by subscribing to The New Yorker. (Shitting you not, as a gift for my donation to NPR!) I finally finished the election Aftermath edition and link to save it for the future.

  • "The hardest thing about democracy is the boring and irritating process of listening to people you don't agree with, which is tolerable only when each side strives not to hurt the other's feelings." -- Mary Karr
  • "There are many reasons for our troubles. But the deepest reason is inequality: the forms of political, cultural, and economic polarization that have been widening, not narrowing for decades. Inequality, like slavery, is a chain that binds at both ends." -- Jill Lepore
  • You might as well underline Toni Morrison's and Junot Díaz's whole essays


Jade, My Familiar

My familiar. Loud, affectionate, playful, pleading, selfish. Loathes the vacuum and the shriek of an unfolding ironing board. Bleached paw and marked forehead on black tortoiseshell fur. Her eye tears in a way she can’t control. Fearful of human sneezes but can tell when they’re faking. Wary, at first, of strangers, but warms to those who reach out to her. When she jumps she lands gracelessly with a grunt. I said once that her sister looks like the Platonic ideal of a cat, while she looks like what you’d end up with if you tried to draw one. Hunter of insects but less skilled at the kill. Chaser of sweatshirt hood laces, lover of sleep. Sometimes gets into things she cannot escape. Moonlights at daybreak as an alarm clock, shoving her head into my hand to fashion a caress. “Let’s cast some spells, Jade,” I came home and said.


New Year

Last year I avoided ResolutionPalooza (the annual effort to right the ship is welcome but a source of anxiety) by being in the Philippines. This year, I avoided it by feeling like death for the first two days of the year. And here we are!

There's only one big resolution this year: get married.

But what about this blog languishing here, visited by the occasional friend, family member, or spambot? The new year always brings some energy to creative projects. I think a realistic goal is to try to exceed the 57 posts from 2016. That is to say, a bit more than one post per week. Wish me luck.


Good As Hell

Thanks to NPR's Top 100 Songs of 2016, I'm trying to use Lizzo's Good As Hell as a mantra in the new year.