Thought Trafficking


Never put off until you are pregnant and working what you can do when you are 16.
July 18, 2013, 4:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

That is, in my case, an upper-level piano exam with the RCM. My poetic brain has been replaced by a tactile one. Not that they aren’t part of the same larger organ, though I’m not sure which one. The liver? 

At a time when I feel like maybe I should have more to say than ever, I’m mostly wordless. Toronto is no place for human beings in the summer; I rhapsodized the hot summer evenings of Victoria. Now I just hide. This baby must be a baby of the West, destiny manifest, wanting nothing more than an absurdly long drive through the mountains in either direction, or a compelling flatland. Already at 5 months, it scoffs at the ubiquitous Eastern metal silo, prefers the grain elevator as linchpin of the landscape. Already the first kicks are like the needle of a compass drawn by a magnet: will it insist on being born facing toward the Pacific?

A scant three years ago I learned to fast for Ramadan, now I am learning how to not fast during Ramadan. Tonight I tried to make koofteh for dinner. Then, while they were cooking, I googled what I will rightly call real koofteh. Mine was the right colour, but other than that… Real koofteh can be a giant meatball with a cooked egg on the inside, or, in some cases apparently, a whole chicken. Mine was the right colour, but the consistency was inconsistent. Then I checked and there were no chickens inside my meatballs. Where did I go wrong?

So at this time of night I lie on the couch, wanting to go to bed, wearing old starched cotton pajamas in an attempt to mitigate the heat, wondering whether I should go downstairs and water the tomatoes, resenting the night air or what I imagine the night air to be. Later, I’ll try to sleep, hugging a water bottle that I’ve had in the freezer all day and setting my prayers on the kind of thunderstorm that breaks the heat. 



ChaRage…
May 13, 2013, 12:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

It’s all the cha-Rage! (apologies)

We recently invented a new kind of party game with our landlords’ children, modeled on Charades. The rules are very much the same, except that the scenes/professions/feelings acted out have to be extremely conceptual, and/or so complicated as to be almost unguessable. For example, to act out “tree” is unacceptable. Suggestions for scenes include “Mermaid gazing at a kingdom,”  “Almighty God,” “Bactrian camel,” “Man on a rock looking at a lion.” Many of the suggestions of that particular game were inspired by religious imagery, but we suggest no particular theme.

I think it’s probable that most of us played a game of charades something like this as children, but why not make it official and try it again as adults? You get the fun of guessing without the pressure to be correct and, more than that, you get to witness the intense concentration it takes for one person to briefly inhabit these personas or situations. 

Party time!



Focus
November 7, 2012, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

After spending the last 10 days mostly sleeping, everything in my waking life is fresh. Do epidemiologists conduct studies in piano studios? They ought to. Germy little keys. 

Since finishing a shrug before moving, I’ve lying fallow, craft-wise. Piano stood in as a substitute: Beethoven Sonata Op 2 No 1 in f minor, Chopin Nocturne Op 9 No 1 (b flat minor), and Debussy’s Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum. Working on breathing and relaxing my shoulders.

Today I keep trying to get things done but every time I leave one room (one of only two), I get distracted by something else in the room I just entered. Still, making muffins, mailing cards, and returning library books (on time; I am turning over a new leaf) made me feel productive enough for one morning. 

I have been very interested in this blog lately, for the author’s description of her life in Belgium, of taking Dutch lessons, an experience that now sits 6 years in my past. Not something I miss, necessarily (though I do miss trying to speak Dutch), but something still worth recalling.

In writing this post, I forgot that I was frying some eggs for lunch. Focus.

Image



Just Deserts [sic]
April 12, 2012, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Removed from its geo-ecological referent, the terrain became a trope, a cipher signifying deficiency, lack, absence. ‘Desert’ henceforth became ‘any place lacking in something’.

-Catrin Gersdorf, The Poetics and Politics of the Desert: Landscape and the Construction of America



there are books that describe all this
March 29, 2012, 4:34 am
Filed under: listening, Reading, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

The internet is abuzz with tributes tonight; both Earl Scruggs and Adrienne Rich have died. I like the banjo, but I have more to say about Rich, so I will add a selection to this, this, and this (among, I’m sure, many others).

I first read Adrienne Rich in an American Poetry class taught by Prof. Luke Carson. It certainly one of the best classes of my undergrad, and Prof. Carson would read each poem aloud before we talked about it. I still have the anthology used in that class, and I still find the notes very useful. Adrienne Rich was one of the first poets that I really struggled with, because as much as I liked some of her poems, others really frustrated me, in particular “Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff”: I felt, at the time, like she was completely denying the grief that Rilke had felt in composing his elegy for Becker. It was only this summer, reading a book of essays on female poets and ekphrasis, that I realized why some of her poems bothered me the way they did: her tendency is to appropriate a “male” way of speaking (and on occasion, of gazing) for “women”–it’s a strident voice, sometimes a confrontational one (I put those in quotes because, who knows, gender in writing is often a fluid thing). Which is also what I so enjoyed in certain poems, my favourite being “The Burning of Paper Instead of Children.” If you would like to hear it read, you can go here (it goes a little quickly, but you can hear a train in the background).

We are fortunate to have, to have had such people in our world, fortunate that they left us parts of their lives.

And then there’s this, this amazing thing.



Spring Fever
March 21, 2012, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Reading, Toronto, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The urge to write here always strikes in the spring. The sun comes out, the grass is warm enough for sitting on, I dig out my password for this blog. Inevitable.

Lots of things have happened since last June, many of them nice, some of them difficult. I am in between readings watching the neighbourhood’s muscular black squirrels shimmy up trees.

I turned 27 a few weeks ago. I thought I would be more uncomfortable with that than I am. Time is moving faster than I expect, faster and faster every year, but the people and the experiences I gain so much more than make up for it.  In a certain sense, however, I am aware of living on borrowed time: we are already experiencing highs of 25C or more during the day, here comes summer and the trees have been caught without their leaves on. 

With daylight savings, what Joan Didion (and surely others) calls the blue nights have returned, now there is ample time to enjoy the evening, enjoy being north, or northish. In the sky these nights, Venus and Jupiter are aligned to the west, and opposite them, Mars is visible to the east (or southeast). This is visible from my city balcony, Jupiter and Venus particularly bright and huge. I can remember as a child visiting that I loved Toronto’s sunsets.

And now, since I apparently like to post poetry here, and since I don’t want to type up all of Charles Wright’s “Homage to Paul Cézanne,” here is Lisa Olstein, from her collection Radio Crackling, Radio Gone. Here is what I like: the colour blue, the idea of God as an absence we feel, an absence we need to search out, or a book we open. I like unrhymed couplets, especially the enjambments straddling the gaps. I also like reading all of this while picturing a bear and a man.

Man Feeding Bear an Ear of Corn

What we need is an allegory.

What we want is a parable.

What we remember is a face,

movement of hands like wings.

If God is an absence, what’s missing

is blue. If God is a book, its pages

are blue. Doorways appear green.

Night is a small patch in the distance

where everything swirls inviting–

a place, from this distance, you might like

to stay for a while. An arm extends

an ear to an arm extended.

If you have a hand, place it over your heart.

This necklace will not be mistaken for its chain.

One last thing before I go, from Agamben’s The Open: Man and Animal, from the chapter called “Tick”:

He then draws the sole conclusion that ‘without a living subject, time cannot exist.’ But what becomes of the tick and its world in this state of suspension that lasts eighteen years? How is it possible for a living being that consists entirely in its relationship with the environment to survive in absolute deprivation of that environment? And what sense does it make to speak of “waiting” without time and without world? (47)

Waiting loses its meaning without time. But what constitutes a living subject? The chapter on the tick confused me most, and interested me most, because it describes the way in which we can attempt to conceptualize the tick’s relationship with the world. More than that, thought, I wondered how limited our own perceptions, our own relations with the world, are. This is, of course, not a new thought. We do not know it is blue that is missing, blue that we are looking for, if we’ve never gone looking, yes, but if we find it, we can’t even be sure of really, really seeing blue. “Everything that is readable with the eyes is not everything”–Arvo Pärt.



No Moose Yet
May 16, 2011, 2:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The back of the neighbourhood, visible from our balcony.

Husband, plus homemade skirt.

The only good pictures are balcony pictures.