Keeping it Real: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

WWHL pajama party with Ralph Fiennes & Holly Hunter

Okay, confession time: I watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Religiously.

I know. I really do.

I've given myself the talk about all the other things I could do with that hour Monday night. Didn't work. I've justified watching "the ladies" as a kind of pop culture anthropological experience. Right. I started lifting weights and doing fifty sit ups and a set of Pilate's 100 during the commercials to feel better about watching very privileged women behave like brats. Tuesdays are sore muscle days.

I have watched every single episode, reunion, interview, and video preview. I read the blog posts and twitters. I watch Andy Cohen's after show, Watch What Happens Live, and love the wide variety of guests and eclectic bartenders, the mazels, Plead the Fifth game, and Sandrology, (Bernhard is a droll wit). If you missed Ralph Fiennes and Holly Hunter pajama party a few weeks ago, well, that's just sad. (I've posted my own scratchy iPhone photo above - squint a little and it looks better).

I've kept my housewife viewing a secret. Why? I don't know, maybe I'm a tv snob and think that I should only admit to PBS programs.

I think about these women and their problems, their families, thier hopes. I want things to turn out for them. A couple I want Karma to take out for a good spin. I know I will never know any of them. I have no aspirations to be them. I just want to tune in every Monday to see how they navigate their lives.

Admitting this feels similar to how I felt seventeen years ago when I confessed to a friend as we sat on her porch sipping champagne, that I liked country music. I had happened upon Independence Day by Martina McBride while speed dialing stations driving. Well, that song was my gateway to other songs, and pretty soon I was singing along affecting a bit of twang crooning about country roads, and men that did you wrong, and angels with broken wings.

And while I'm at it, I love to sing Gaga at the top of my lungs, and really believe I do a mean Louis Armstrong, Hello, Dolly!

So now you know.

Here's the reality of watching reality TV: our better selves may be embarrassed for us, that we side with Queen Mother Lisa, love Brandi's directness and irreverent humor, are happy that our first impression of Camille was wrong, want Taylor to just stop crying, need Kim to stay away and stay sober, need to never hear or see Dana ever again for any reason, feel annoyed that Kyle got under our mean girl radar, (but we'll put up with her as long as we get to see Maurico), and that we may just harbor a little obsidian shard for her and her partner in passive-aggressive crime, Adrienne, with a intensity of our former brutalized junior high selves, but, these women, are a window into the secret lives of others.

At some point, the housewives forget the cameras and reveal themselves. They are our mirror, and we see our reflection, sometimes through a glass darkly, but many times, all too clearly.

I've posted a link below to Kate Arthur's view on the Taylor-Russell story within the housewives stories. Camille made a thoughtful point when she voiced that the season shouldn't have been aired. The reality of this reality season, is that domestic violence and its effects, knows no socio-economic boundaries.

It was difficult to watch the Russel-Taylor segments knowing how it ends, and many times felt prurient. Taylor's meltdowns were especially painful and unsettling.

Read the article and decide what you think.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Season 2: Taylor and Russell Armstrong’s Riveting Story - Kate Arthur

I Like Big Books & I Cannot Lie

I Like Big Books & I Cannot Lie

I like big books and I cannot lie
You other readers can't deny
That when a books walks in with an itty bitty spine
And a thick page count in your face
You get...

Try and read my take on Sir Mix A Lot's Baby Got Back without hearing the original lyrics. If you can, you haven't heard the song.

This artist has been on etsy all of two days. Whoever Ex Libris Paper Design is, (no bio provided), you'll like the witty prints.

Here are some big books to get excited about courtesy of thedailybeast:

The Sex Diaries Project: What We're Saying about What We're Doing - Arianne Cohen
In the tradition of The Vagina Monologues and PostSecret, this provocative collection takes a peek behind bedroom doors—satisfying our insatiable desires to look into the private lives of ordinary people.

The Last Nude - Ellis Avery
A stunning story of love, sexual obsession, treachery, and tragedy, about an artist and her most famous muse in Paris between the world wars.

White Girl Problems - Babe Walker
Babe Walker, center of the universe, is a painstakingly manicured white girl with an expensive smoothie habit, a proclivity for Louboutins, a mysterious mother she's never met, and approximately 50 bajillion Twitter followers. But now her "problems" have landed her in shopping rehab--that's what happens when you spend $246,893.50 in one afternoon at Barneys--and she's decided to write her memoir, detailing White Girl Problems.

The World We Found: A Novel: Thrity Umrigar
The acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The Weight of Heaven returns with a breathtaking, skillfully wrought story of four women and the unbreakable ties they share.

The Fat Years: A Novel- Koonchung Chan
Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history.

Drifting House - Krys Lee
An unflinching portrayal of the Korean immigrant experience from an extraordinary new talent in fiction.

The Map and the Territory- Michel Houellebecq
The most celebrated and controversial French novelist of our time now delivers his magnum opus—about art and money, love and friendship and death, fathers and sons.

This Moment: 7:39 a.m. January 28, 2012

The small dog is curled into my back, his thin ribs pressing into me with each contented breath. His rhythmic breathing sparks an image of him traversing a river in a carved ivory boat. It is not the first time I have imagined ribs as a kind of boat. The trees outside my windows are dark images of their former selves. A few withered leaves hang from branches. It is a scene of desolation. The winter months are cruel. The old dog barks her latest protest. She is old and her bones conspire against her, even resting on her favorite pillow. I can see that both feeders are out of seeds. I filled them yesterday. The birds must be ravenous. A small dark bird is inside the bronze dish, claiming the last seeds. A dove mourns, it's sad dirge an accusation. The dove chases the small bird away and bobs a quick circle around the dish before it flies off. Although I can't see her, I hear her insistent treble- note call. A train is passing through town. If I sit still enough, I can feel the bed beneath me sway. The same white truck has passed the house three times now. I wonder what the driver keeps forgetting. Another train is heading down the tracks, it's voice a deep baritone. The eyes of both dogs are on me, waiting for me to throw back the covers, let them out and back in again. Waiting for me to feed them. The morning light is quickly becoming daylight, and although my mood dictates the day to be the kind I could spend under the covers, books and writing pad strewn about me, this Sunday will begin with an appointment for coffee and politics and conclude with a winter stew, and perhaps a mock sword fight or Lego fort building.

Artist of the Day: Garden of Glee - Heather Martin

Garden of Glee Heather Martin

It's cold. The driveway is a sheet of ice, despite my early shoveling. It's a world made of shades of white.

It's good news the snow is here. We waited for a long time for it to arrive. This desert needs the moisture. But now that the snow is here and turning dingy grey, it's like a house guest that has stayed one day too long.

I miss color. Yes, the sky is a blue so piercing it could break your heart, but it's not peony fuchsia, King Tut green, geranium scarlet or dahlia orange. Sigh.

The only blooms in town are forced bulbs. Not that I'm complaining. African violets, peace lilies, and little purple hyacinths line the grocery store rounders.

This painting reminds me that the raucous blooms of spring are just a few months away, and that summer is that much closer.

Artist Bio:
In case you are curious:

My art is inspired by elements of nature. I love small things I can hold in my hands like seedpods, pebbles, twigs and leaves. I love the limitless array of colorful flowers and how they bring such beauty to our world. My paintings come from a heart full of love and thankfulness.

I have a passion for original art, therefor all of my paintings are originals. Because I do not sell prints I try to keep my prices affordable so everyone can experience the fun of having original art in your home and life!

Some of my favorite things. . . . . . in no particular order : )

hot tea with milk and honey
all things Jane Austin
walking the beach on a stormy day
apples and peanut butter
primitive and naive art
my family
handmade soaps
the sound of the wind

One Sentence: 9:56 January 27, 2012

What is there left to say when all the words have been eaten?

Sundance Film Festival 2012 - Monsieur Lahzar

Monsieur Lahzar

Monsieur Lahzar is the only film my daughter and I saw during this past week's Sundance Film Festival. It was a very early screening Thursday morning at Rose Wagner. The director, Phillipe Falardeau, sent his regrets that he would not attend, and, was very likely still eating his breakfast, or preparing for yet another interview, since his film had just been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

First, I think I should tell you that I hate teacher movies. Really hate them. I love teachers, I just hate films about them.

I hate the contrivances, the heavy handed messages, the overreaching give-give-give, and sacrifice your life and marriage and financial security, and save those kids from their choices-fate-parents-destiny, and the ludicrous fight the man plots.

Honestly, in real time, some of those plots may be based in fact, but, in real-real time, teachers are incredibly dedicated and seriously exhausted, and maligned and discounted, and made the targets and whipping boys of legislatures and political pundits, high and low, all across the nation. And they take it.

The reality behind the majority of most teachers that films are based on, is that they lasted teaching, on average one to five years, and then said that's it. They quit. Found another, less maligned, less overworked, less public, job. Or, wrote a book, that is held up as the standard.

Okay, so, why did I chose this film? Subtitles. The film is French. Oh-la-la!

I love this film. And it's about teachers, can you believe it! I love Monsieur Lahzar so much that I really hope you'll see this film. I'm not going to gush or provide spoilers or get too far into particulars. No spoilers here.

You'll want every thread of this delicately woven tale to unfurl in the darkness, just for you.

What I will tell you is that Mohammed Fellig is brilliant as Monsieur Lahzar, the Algerian immigrant, who steps into the role of substitute teacher after the suicide of an elementary school teacher.

The children are equally brilliant, especially Alice played by Sophie Nélisse, and Émilien Néron as Simon. I dare you not to tear up when Simon commands your entire being to tell him what he needs to hear. And then again in the final moments.

What is truly brilliant is the questions at the heart of the film: how do we talk to children about tragedy when we ourselves don't have the the words or answers to articulate our own grief and outrage, or our inexplicable pain? And, when did all the adults agree that it is close to near criminal to be human, parental, despite the teacher title, when a child needs comfort or reassurance?

You will believe in this complicated story, and the stories within the main, and be grateful for the nuances.

I know Iran's "A Separation", directed by Asghar Farhadi, is favored to win, but I will keep my fingers crossed for "Monsieur Lahzar".

One Sentence: 3:21 P.M. January 27, 2012

The long bleak days are breaking open.

Artist of the Day: What Grows from Your Heart - Frances Clements

What Grows from Your Heart Frances Clements

I love this image.

I have a three basil plants and four geraniums in terra cotta pots lined up on my office window ledge. The geranimus are in bloom, the basil is trying to go to seed. I like to think that each plant has a tiny heart inches beneath the soil keeping them alive,even in the heart of winter. My brain knows their survival is due to environment and constant watering. My brain thinks it knows everything. It doesn't. I think my heart does, though. It's just really difficult to shut off the constant chatter and analysis and ticker tape stream of ideas long enough to listen to its steady beating.

I think the saddest thing is not doing what your heart tells you to do, whether in love, or vocation.

The heart is the only barometer, (if this sounds familiar, it's because it's from The Orchid Thief). The brain lies and justifies and excuses itself almost every second of every day. The brain lies to the heart with such conviction that the heart believes and ends up wandering down the wrong road, into the wrong arms.

My brain tells me stories with such emotion, that even though I know I shouldn't listen, I do.

It's my heart that always sets me down for a little talking to, gives me a gentle nudge, or swift kick, and gets me back on track.

Story and art grow from my heart.

What grows from your heart?

Artist Bio:
I am a wife and mother of two who likes to try new things. I am currently fascinated by the things that can take shape in my mind when I look at an ink blot. I believe that God can take the chaos of our lives and make order. In my own microscopic way, I imitate him by taking the chaos of a blot and turning it into something recognizable.

My shop is simply named after me for two reasons: 1. I am interested in all sorts of things. I might one day add macro photography or stuffed animals or art dolls or beaded jewelry. 2. I tend to like complicated names that others find hard to remember. If you would like to go to my shop, here is a link.

Poem Therapy: Self-portrait as a Thousandfurs - Stacy Gnall

Alexander McQueen

Self-portrait as Thousandfurs
Stacy Gnall

To have been age enough.
To have been leg enough.
Been enough bold. Said no.
Been a girl grown into that
negative construction. Or said yes
on condition of a dress. To be yours
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam
celestial, appealed for planetary pleats.
And when you saw the sun a sequin,
the moon a button shaped from glass,
and in the stars a pattern
for a dress, when the commission
proved too minute, and the frocks
hung before me like hosts,
to have stood then at the edge
of the wood, heard a hound’s bark
and my heart hark in return.
To have seen asylum in the scruffs
of neck—mink, lynx, ocelot, fox,
Kodiak, ermine, wolf—felt a claw
curve over my sorrow then. Said yes
on condition of a dress. To be yours
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam
just short of breathing, my mouth
a-beg for bestial pleats.
And when you saw tails as tassels,
underskins sateen, and in entrails
damasks of flowers and fruit,
when the bet proved not too broad
for you, and before me, the cloak held
open as a boast, to have slipped
into that primitive skin. To have
turned my how how into a howl. To have
picked up my heavy hem and run.

Clothing may not make the man, or woman, but it certainly communicates a message.

The Aztecs flayed their enemies and wore the skins. Ancient peoples wore fur to keep warm,and later to communicate wealth and fashion consciousness. Some people today still wear fur. Have you ever seen fox fur stoles with the the heads, feet, and tails, still attached?

When I was a young girl, I remember discovering the bear coat in the basement of our family home. It hung on a hanger next to fraying jackets and discarded clothing on a clothesline nailed into a post. It was massive and heavy, and it smelled. The coat was my grandfather's. I can't imagine him wearing it to football games. His thin frame must have disappeared inside its mass. I don't own fur coats, other than synthetic, but whenever I discover one at a thrift shop, I stop and run my fingers through the fur.

If I were to turn my how how into a howl, the heavy hem I would pick up in order to run, would be the Alexander McQueen gown pictured here.

Artist of the Day: Conspiracy of Nuts - Elisa Vegliante

Conspiracy of Nuts Elisa Begliante &

It's one of those mornings. It's a very loud morning filled with broken glass voices.

And there's this little conspiracy theory I've harboring the last few weeks. Not the Illuminati kind, or are Kennedy, Elvis, Tupac, etc. still alive kind of conspiracy, but more of a conspiracy of dunces, my reconfiguring of Jonathan Swift's dunces of confederacy.

My conspiracy theory isn't much of a conspiracy. It's probably more of a Matrix-based philosophy , but here it is: isn't it possible that the current political morass, the past political morass, and the future political morass is proof of a parallel universe, where we're really hamsters running on a giant wheel, and even though we know we should get off because we're tired and hungry and need to rest, we just can't, because, you see, there's this delicious-looking treat suspended from the ceiling, right in front of our wheel and if we hurry, we'll get it. Plus, nobody's ever got off the wheel. Safely.

So are we the conspirators or the dunces? You decide.

In any case, I'm officially taking a news break until my sense of humor returns (and reason and healthy bias returns to voters and news media).

Comedy Central is allowed and considered mandatory viewing, though.

I found this painting from New Haven artist,Elisa Vegliante,during my early morning snit, and unlike my got up on the wrong side of the bed I've been following politics too closely for my own good "discussion", it is irony-free and humor-infused.

I love art brut and outsider art,(out side of what?). Check out Elisa's painting.

Arist Bio:
Greetings! I have a wild, wild imagination and I love to paint. Inspired by the symbolic splattering of small children, I enjoy the freedom of expressing my experience directly without mediation from markets or culture. My paintings have been shown in galleries primarily in CT, NYC, and Mass, although presently I am representing myself on the Internet. My work is in the collections of a few daring people worldwide. Thanks For Looking! Please visit my website

I am also a member of CAAT

CaaT is the acronym for Complementary Art and Things. It represents a group of artists & crafters from various backgrounds, creating in various mediums and styles, gathered together in order to support, promote, encourage and enjoy one another's art and company. If you use CAAT TEAM in a search here on ETSY - you'll find these many gifted artisans and their fine array of various creative offerings.

Artist of the Day: California Quail - Abigail Brown

California Quail Abigail Brown

I just lucked on to this site. Brilliant! Every one of London-based artist Abigail Brown's birds are made of fabric. I'd love to include images of every one of them.
Make sure you check out Brown's Rufous Collared Kingfisherand Little Bee Eater, and the Green Cheek Conure, and...

This beautiful Californian Quail stands at 18.5cm tall.

He is made entirely by hand, by Abigail Brown, from both new and reused materials, carefully selected the replicate the colours and markings of the Californian Quail. He is both machine and hand embroidered, with immense detailing.
A truly beautiful little piece to delight any home or display space.

Your Californian Quail will be made to order and can take some time, please enquire before purchasing. As a handmade piece no two will ever be the same so you must expect variations from the one shown here

Artist Bio:
I am a textile artist and illustrator.
I am an extreme hoarder and tremendous mess maker!

Indecision 2012 - Stephen Colbert Saves America

If you've paid any attention, at all, to politics lately, watched the logic-defying ads, and especially if you've watched even five agonizingly cynical minutes of any of the debates, you know for certain that the inmates are running the asylum.

Lucky for all of us, there is one sane, smart ass voice in all the insanity: Stephen Colbert.

Colbert's noncandicacy is our lifeline to sanity, people.

His exploratory committee of a mountain climber, explosives expert and a brain in a jar, is just as plausible, if not more so, as the current candidate's committees.

And best of all, his Super Pac, transferred by otherworldly green light to Jon Stewart, just hammers the lunacy of corporate personhood campaign finance to pulp.

Take a look at some of the video posts. Google, YouTube for more. Hold on, because we are going to be in deep water for some time.

In case you don't know, Stephen Colbert is in South Cain-olina running for President of South Carolina in his Rock Me Like a Herman Cain Rally.

I am so in.

If you can't vote for Herman Cain for Stephen Colbert for President of the United States of South Carolina! because you don't live in South Carolina, well, you can always purchase this t-shirt from waycooltshirts.

The people at way cool have this to say about their commemorative tshirt:
Attention Colbert Nation! As part of his Exploratory Committee efforts to gauge the thirst of the country for a Stephen Colbert run for President, Stephen is asking all fans--um...supporters--in his home state of South Carolina to go the polls on Saturday, January 21, 2012, and cast a vote for Herman Cain for Stephen Colbert for President of the United States of South Carolina!

We are offering to the Colbert Nation this COMMEMORATIVE TSHIRT to honor the zany but serious antics of this brilliant political satirist (we love you too, Jon!) in his efforts to illustrate to the American public the inane and corrupting influence of Citizens United and Super PACs in our political system.

Paid for by The Definitely Not Coordinating with The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC & Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

January's Books - 2012

All of the excerpts and links are from Powell's Books, save for Magnificent Mistakes from Ravenna Press.

Currently Reading:
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers - Betsy Lerner
Quickly established as an essential and enduring companion for aspiring writers when it was first published, Lerner's sharp, funny, and insightful guide has been meticulously updated and revised to address the dramatic changes that have reshaped the publishing industry in the decade since. From blank page to first glowing (or gutting) review, Lerner is a knowing and sympathetic coach who helps writers discover how they can be more productive in the creative process and how they can better their odds of not only getting published, but getting published well. This is an indispensable user's manual to both the inner life of writers and the increasingly anxious place where art and commerce meet: the boardrooms and cubicles of the publishing house.

Making a Literary Life - Carolyn See
Carolyn See distills a lifetime of experience as novelist, memoirist, critic, and creative-writing professor into this marvelously engaging how-to book. Partly the nuts and bolts of writing (plot, point of view, character, voice) and partly an inspirational guide to living the life you dream of, Making a Literary Life takes you from the decision to “become” a writer to three months after the publication of your first book. A combination of writing and life strategies (do not tell everyone around you how you yearn to be a writer; send a “charming note” to someone you admire in the industry five days a week, every week, for the rest of your life; find the perfect characters right in front of you), Making a Literary Life is for people not usually considered part of the literary loop: the non–East Coasters, the secret scribblers.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story - Diane Ackerman
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw--and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants--otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

On the Nightstand:
The Book of Dead Birds - Gayle Brandeis
With great beauty and lyricism, The Book of Dead Birds captures a young woman's struggle to come to terms with her mother's terrible past while she searches for her own place in the world. This moving mother-daughter story of migration, survival, and reconciliation resonates across cultures and through generations.

Self Storage - Gayle Brandeis
Set during the year following the September 11 attacks, Self Storage explores the raw insecurities of a changed society. With lush writing, great humor, and a genuine heart, Gayle Brandeis takes a peek into the souls of a woman and a community — and reveals that it is not our differences that drive us apart but our willful concealment of the qualities that connect us.

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement-Jane Ziegelman

No One Is Here Except All of Us - Ramona Ausubel
It's 1939, and a remote Jewish village in Romania feels the war closing in from every direction. Yet, the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an 11-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, and children are reassigned. For years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one. This beguiling story explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths.

Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female - Tania Kindersley & Sarah Vine
This smart and frank collection distills the trials and triumphs of being a woman, all in a gifty volume filled with whimsical fullcolor illustrations. In 15 subject-driven chapters relevant to women of all ages, authors Tania Kindersley and Sarah Vines essays cover topics ranging from feminism to face cream, motherhood to money, and politics to perfection. Titles like “The Danger of Romantic Love,” “Why There is No Such Thing as a Guilt-Free Working Mother,” “How Not to Go Mad,” parts 1 and 2, and “Why There is No Excuse for Bad Sex” develop into a tuned and sophisticated voice that is at once a mother, best friend, and shrink, revising expectations, bashing stereotypes, and illuminating the experience of life.

Magnificent Mistakes - Eric Bosse
The world we think we know shifts and turns otherworldly in the short stories and flash fictions that make up Eric Bosse's Magnificent Mistakes. In smooth, subtle prose, Bosse moves through the lives of a menagerie of misfits, crackpots, and odd ones out. A bookstore clerk can’t shake the feeling of being watched. A son uses a camcorder to cajole his mother into assessing his life. A kinky, submissive inventor struggles to let go when his girlfriend dumps him. A widow pleads for a rabbi’s advice as her houseplants grow wild. A Zen master takes drastic measures to teach a young monk about impermanence. And a guy with a cold befriends a duck. Lit through from start to finish with an oblique sense of the darker side of life, this imaginative collection of stories evokes tenderness even as it refuses to forgive.

One Sentence: 9:46 January 18, 2012

Supercilious Oppressive Pernicious Albatrosses.

The Line in Poetry - Mei-mei Berssenbrugge & Alberto Rios

I chose one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver for this exercise with line.

1. Read the poem, first line to last.
2. Print the poem, or use your monitor screen.
3. Take a piece of paper and cover the line below the line you are reading.
4. Move the paper down the page as you read.
5. Examine what each particular line communicates or evokes.
6. Examine the where and why of each line break.
7. Read the poem, first line to last, again.

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field
Mary Oliver

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —

as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

I don't think it's possible to read this poem, the individual lines, in or out of context, and not feel the clutch in your throat. I much prefer thinking of death as an owl, a Buddha with wings, as light wrapping around us, as being washed and washed out of our bones.

I've posted two of the seven featured poetics on line from

Collaboration is a kind of collage. Artist Kiki Smith and poet Mei-mei devised the following exercise detailed below, and shown here.

I'm trying this tonight.

Two Lines
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

A line of poetry on a page exists in space, but I think of it as a kind of timing, a measured flow of poetic energy, a dynamic. My sense of a line is given, as my way of walking or my voice is given and bodily. I walk a path from here to the edge of the woods, I read or speak a line, taking time. My line that required the page to go into landscape orientation was written in the wide landscape of New Mexico (subtle colorations of open, parallel ridges receding into distances, sun moving across during a day). As a person looking at the horizon, my sight line is perpendicular to the horizontal line of mountains. This compares to a person looking at a line of writing on a page, and the line length, the horizontal, is generated by your body's sense of extension, or periphery. To register many small colorations or distinctions, I needed a long pliant thread. I was also transforming some philosophical ideas into the lyric, and I needed room. I maintained the line's tension with internal rhymes and internal caesurae.

During a collaboration with artist Kiki Smith, while cutting up a poem to lay out on the page, I came upon a new lineation. Today, I use a line that varies in length, because each sentence is a line. Line length is determined by the length of the sentence, and I allow the line to break at the page margin and wrap around until the sentence comes to an end. Then I double space before the next "line." There is a dynamic tension between the extending sentence and the mini-breaks at the page margins, which adds geology to my landscape, and can also be architectural. Most recently, this lineation has given me enough structure to allow the poem to become very soft and still be contained.

Here are fifteen ways to think about line.

Some Thoughts on the Integrity of the Single Line in Poetry
Alberto Ríos

The best line in a poem better be the line I'm reading.

This is an almost impossible standard, of course, but there is nothing wrong with that fierce ambition. I am an advocate—or rather, an appreciator—of the long line in poems, though by that I do not at all mean lines with simply more words. I mean instead lines that are long in their moment, that make me linger and give me the eff ect of having encountered something, something worth stopping for—the antithesis of our times, which seem to be all about getting somewhere else, and fast, and we're late already. The following are some thoughts on what might be your best line. They are not rules, of course, but they do stem from considerations likely important to you as a writer, whatever your decision in these matters.

1. A line is a moment, and a moment is intrinsically non-narrative. That is, a moment does not move forward, not readily, not right away. A moment stops, and stopping is the friendly nemesis of narrative. A line is a moment that has value right then, and which deserves some of our time. To go past a moment is to lose something. In our lives, fi nally, it is the moments we savor and it is the moments we savor in our reading as well.

2. The half line, or "poetic" line, goes something like this: I went to the store and / bought some bread. It breaks the line that otherwise would read: I went to the store and bought some bread. Which is more sincere? Is there anything to be gained by the break? Is there news in it, or insight? The break presents a moment of small melodrama, as if whatever follows the "and" is somehow more meaningful presented in this way. Inserting a line-break does not add to the poetic nature of the moment. If anything, this delay keeps us in the commonplace longer, and even exacerbates the problem by giving the line drama that it cannot sustain and does not honestly own. At least the second version does not misrepresent itself.

3. Longer lines keep us in the moment, and out of the prose or story of the page. The story will take care of itself, and can claim the whole page, after all. The moment has only itself.

4. The line-break slows us as readers by making us wait until the next line to get whatever information follows. If that information is not something new, then perhaps it should in fact be on that immediate line, and not broken up at all. Think about television newscasts, with sound bites that give you a tantalizing bit—This just in: the end of the world is at hand—and then they say, More at eleven. In that moment, they cheat you. Similarly, a line-break should help, not hinder, the reader. Why wait until 11:00 p.m.? At that moment—withholding news on a news program—we believe the newscast less. It's the same with news in a poem. If it's worthy, say it now, and say it all. Use your words in service to the moment, not in place of it.

5. Complete lines help you discover your own line, your own intellectual unit, your pace. The length of the line is how long you take to say something. This is the size of your step. With this in mind, you must ask yourself how and if half-steps help you move forward in the ways that you want. Concurrently, you must ask yourself how they move the reader forward, who after all is following your lead.

6. Enjambment is often offered as the reason—and not simply the definition—for lines that keep moving down the page. Enjambment is cited as the way to keep readers moving forward. But why? Enjambment is a fine classification of what one might be doing, but it is not an explanation. As readers we move forward by default. Where else are we going? So, what is the greater necessity for enjambment? Forward movement needs to say something about the moment, finally.

7. A good line can find employment in any poem, whereas a good poem cannot employ just any line. The demand is squarely on the line. If every line in a poem is good, chances are that the poem itself has little to worry about in this regard, and can put its shoulder to other things without having to make up for anything that the lines are not doing.

8. A line is an easy chair as well as a line—not half an easy chair. Another line is a lamp, another is a fi replace—not parts of each. Together they make the room you are describing, then the house, then the street, then the city. Whole lines make the city. Half lines do half the job. In the city, that will give you incomplete directions. In the kitchen, it will get you toast and. Stanza, as a point of information, means "room" in Italian.

9. Play no tricks on the readers, and exact no requirements. Readers do not have to do anything, which includes reading the next line in order to understand the line they are in. If you have to tell your reader, just keep reading, it'll all get clear in a moment, then you are writing prose, which is dependent on progressive clarifi cation—a device called "plot"—rather than singular and memorable elucidation.

10. Integrity of the line as I am describing it suggests that the line is itself contained, though not necessarily complete. This is a lyric moment at its best, something on its own terms and part of a greater whole as well. It is the complete moment and part of a poem.

11. The line—the moment—is not subordinate to anything else. It does not need the other lines in a poem, though it clearly lives in their greater community. Still, a line does its own work. And in this way, it is a contributing member of that society.

12. A line suggests, for the moment, lateral, rather than linear, movement. It stays with something until the thing is done, or understood, or some understanding is gleaned. A line takes the time to listen to the words it holds, and asks the reader to do the same.

13. Lines are what distinguish poetry from all other art forms, and therefore they intrinsically mean something. They help us to see what makes a poem a poem. When they become simply part of something else, and not something on their own, they stop being lines of poetry.

14. A line-break is what defines a line. A line-break means something or it doesn't, but it can't sometimes mean one thing and sometimes another. In general, a line-break suggests a pause, however slight. Does what you are saying have a pause in it? If so, then this is the way to go—break your line there.

15. A preposition, by definition, expresses a relationship—in other words, it tells, rather than shows, breaking a foundational piece of advice in all creative classrooms. This does not mean you should stop using prepositions. But you should try to see if the juxtaposition of the two things you are relating might work just fi ne without the preposition. This is often the case.
There are, absolutely, other ways to think about a line. An argument can be made for the absolute opposite of everything that's said here, with unqualified historical backing. But the point is, every argument invariably suggests thinking about the line, not simply using it to make the writing "look like a poem," or simply to tell a story without regard for what a poem as a form might have to offer. Poems are not stories, after all. Poems are the fire that stories explain.

Artist of the Day: Do You Ever Think We're Starting to Look Alike? - Ashley Goldberg

Do You Ever Think We're Starting to Look Alike? Ashley Goldberg

Yes, I've had this thought, and it is way disconcerting.

Artist Bio:
I have loved arts, crafts, creatures, and nature my entire life. I enjoy focusing on portraiture and capturing a brief moment in time. My artwork tends to be simple, but with a sophisticated or stark color palette. I believe great emotion can be conveyed in a simple gesture or look. The characters I create, whether monsters or little girls, are simple, humorous, empathetic, and a little bit pathetic.

I strongly believe in what you're happiest doing at five is what you will be happiest doing your entire life. Growing up, I endlessly drew and embroidered onto washcloths that my grandma gave me little creatures and animals that I desperately wanted to live in the woods of my backyard. In my mind these creatures had tiny, magnificent, ornate lairs in the trunks of old trees (which I also drew, along with maps of how to get there). And although these creatures were elusive and shy, they always decided to befriend me. Over the years, my creatures have become decidedly more design-driven, put a part of me is still just drawing little friends to have.

This Moment: 3:48 A.M. January 14, 2012

The old dog wakes me with her whining and restlessness. Her too long nails click on the hardwood. I stand on the warm heat vent until both dogs bark to be let back inside. The small dog is back on the bed next to my snoring husband. The old dog has settled on the rug, her nose pressed against the front entry door. I am on the living room couch, wrapped up in my velvet patchwork throw, listening to the warm air push out of the vents, and to the low rumble of a passing train. The heat cuts off and I am left with house sounds. The old dog growls in her sleep. I wonder what enemy stalks her dream.

One Sentence: 8:20 January 13, 2012

Sitting opposite me on a sea green ottoman, a distressed yellow table between us, the woman pointedly told me that not every door I see open before me has to be either black or white.

Artist of the Day: Mercedes Laguna

Mercedes Laguna

I am so taken with this artist and her paintings and collage paintings, I'm speechless. Hurry over to her website and etsy site, and you will be as well.

Artist Bio:
Mercedes Lagunas is a Spanish artist who lives near Madrid with her husband and their son. She has been painting her whole life. She studied Art History at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and later on a master in graphic design at CICE. She has traveled all around the world while she worked as a flight attendant. Eventually she transitioned to graphic design. She has taken part in art exhibitions in Madrid and Valencia, her work has been featured as a Spotlight in IllustrationMundo, in magazines like Carpaccio Mag (Spain), and has worked with high-profile clients like The New Yorker magazine.

Oh Darling, let's be adventurers!

Izabella Dennis

Yes, let's, you and I, drop off our serious veneers, throw away our sensible clothing, dye our hair red, and take off to the edge of the map where there be dragons.

Where shall we go? What shall we do?

The Land of Deseret: The Gayest

Ever since Salt Lake City was named the "gayest city" last week, I've been thinking about what that distinction really means. On one level, perhaps it means that we have an oasis of equity and tolerance in the desert, or more likely, that love, especially the love that cannot be named, always finds a way to flourish in the strangest, most oppressive of places. But then again, it may be a mix of both. What I know as a long-time resident, is that many, many things are hidden in plain sight in this culture.

I've been thinking a lot about my first real job right out of college. I worked in an art department in downtown Salt Lake City with four on-site artists, directed by an off-site team of a revolving baker's dozen of artists and designers (revolving because the artists were always quitting and moving to California, New York, London, etc.), and four quasi corporate types, and three totally corporate types. All, save for five were gay.

I was newly married to my first husband, and he'd accompany me to the official work parties, and the very unofficial after work-work parties, until after one very lavender themed party, in which he was the only man present that had ever played team sports. (and who would never wear lavender under any circumstances), he decided he'd rather stay home and watch TV from now on.

I enjoyed my job and my co-workers immensely. All of us had our relationship issues, and we'd grouse and exult over lunch and after work coffee, but only to our inner work circle, a kind of what is discussed here, stays here, understanding.

It was understood that my boss was gay. There was a tacit agreement within our department that although our boss's boss may know our boss is gay, and that her boss probably knew this as well, nobody was ever to speak of it, allude to it, acknowledge it in any way, whatsoever. As far as the collective bosses and staff and company was concerned, everybody was straight, and assumed Mormon.

My boss's partner never, ever attended the official work parties and events. My boss always brought the same tiny blond woman, his quasi-girlfriend/wife. Even though the majority of us barely knew her, we played along. We said nothing when she was difficult or sulky. All I remember of her was that she always wore red lipstick, and that she sent her food back with special instructions on just how bloody the center should be. I think she lived in the same building my boss did. Until now,I've never wondered what she thought of this arrangement. Perhaps she was in love with him, or annoyed that yet another weekend was lost to this game. Maybe this explains her chronic petulance. I remember that it wasn't until the after after party, that my boss's partner would arrive and take his rightful place.

Since I've never had to make a choice like this I'd never really thought of the cost, for my former boss, his partner, the diminuitive blond, and my colleagues.

I'd like to think things have changed over the years and that SLC being named the gayest also translates to something much more. I really don't know. But I hope so.

My husband's niece, my step-niece, recently married her partner of five years. Both brides were lovely, both father's of the brides walked their daughters down the aisle. The ceremony was moving. I cried. The reception was a genuine reflection of their eco-concsiousness and genuine love for friends and family. Later, there were toasts to the couple's happiness, and then after more wine and champagne, there was the customary late night freaky dirty dancing.

As the evening wrapped, I overheard my step niece remark that there was nobody there who would tell her she wasn't really married.

I hadn't considered this fact or the pain behind the words. I've never had to.

One Sentence: 4:04 P.M. January 11, 2011

Dark roast coffee and vanilla bean creme brûlée, a sweet conclusion to a tart day.

Occupy This: OWS Books

This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement
Occupy Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America

The article is from two months ago, so I'm certain a quick google search will show new offerings for your Occupy reading pleasure. You can also head over to Occupy Writers and see what writers, from Alice Walker to Salman Rushdie, have to say about Occupy.

Wall Street Spawns Its First Books
Nov 17, 2011 2:04 PM EST

As prominent writers are arrested on the streets of New York in reinvigorated protests, others are putting their stamp on Occupy Wall Street through new books. Jimmy So reviews the movement’s first written accounts

How will Occupy Wall Street be remembered? It ought to be to the advantage of OWS that some of the world’s best writers are supporters of “the 99 percent.” A number of staffers from the journals n+1 and Dissent, among them Keith Gessen, Kathleen Ross, and Sarah Leonard, were arrested along with dozens of other protesters on Thursday (which marks two full months for the movement)—The Day of Action.

Yet progressives are often disillusioned by their own causes—in hindsight. Give them enough time and their unwillingness to be delusional sometimes works against them in this age of maximal American confidence. In the beginning of the book The Sixties, author and activist leader Todd Gitlin (who’s on the board of Dissent) tells his readers that the question he’s most often asked is what that decade has accomplished, besides giving us tie-dye shirts. Through more than 400 pages, Gitlin, now a journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University, shows us that the years were filled with “wrong turns and missed opportunities.” “The riptide of the Revolution went out with the same force it has surged in with, the ferocious undertow proportionate to the onetime hopes,” he writes—not exactly a ringing endorsement. And those were the days of the civil-rights breakthroughs and the antiwar movement!

Does OWS stand any chance to be looked on favorably in the long tail of history?
Those who can’t handle acid trips but still wish to understand the ‘60s should turn to the defiantly clearheaded assessment written by Gitlin, who, as president of Students for a Democratic Society in 1963 and 1964, probably couldn’t be bothered with mushrooms. Drugs or no drugs, most of us can’t quite grasp the full measure of OWS until we read about it in a book. But The Sixties came out in 1987, almost two decades after the ‘60s ended.

We no longer have to wait long in this age of iPhones and e-books. Today, two months after a group of protesters answered the magazine Adbusters’ challenge to bring their tents to Wall Street, comes This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement, the first substantial book about the OWS cause, which will receive all royalties from the sales. (And just in time to coincide with a possible rebirth; 500 copies will also be distributed for free at occupied sites.) Edited by the staff of YES! Magazine, an ad-free quarterly based out of Bainbridge Island, Washington, This Changes Everything is a collection of spirited if uneven essays, by writers both affiliated with and not connected to Yes, the two big names that stand out in the latter group being Naomi Klein and Ralph Nader.
Most of us can’t quite grasp the full measure of OWS until we read about it in a book.

Klein’s chapter is the now classic “The Most Important Thing in the World,” a speech the Shock Doctrine and No Logo author gave Oct. 6 at New York’s Zuccotti Park, using the “human microphone,” her every few words repeated by hundreds of protesters until the address was completed. It is an affectionate letter to the activists, and begins, “I love you. And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout ‘I love you’ back.” It is also a powerful indictment of early criticism of the movement. “Here are some things that don’t matter,” Klein says, “what we wear” and “whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media sound bite” being two of them. (The text will be familiar to readers of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, the official newspaper of the protests, and The Nation, which might as well be the official magazine. The speech was printed in the two publications last month, and in a shorter form in The Guardian.)

The highlight, however, comes from Yes! cofounder and editor Sarah van Gelder’s introduction, which puts the achievement of the “99 Percent” into sharp psychological focus, for the demonstrations have transformed the way much of the world sees itself:

The shame many of us felt when we couldn’t find a job, pay down our debts, or keep our home is being replaced by a political awakening. Millions now recognize that we are not to blame for a weak economy, for a subprime mortgage meltdown, or for a tax system that favors the wealthy but bankrupts the government. The 99 percent are coming to see that we are collateral damage in an all-out effort by the super-rich to get even richer.

There are moments of utter clarity like this in This Changes Everything, but the book is still a basket of journalism pieces, after all, and one can’t help but imagine a greatest-hits version. Such a mix tape will have to include the two Naomis—Klein’s speech, and also Naomi Wolf’s account of her arrest on Oct. 18. The Occupied Wall Street Journal stands as a serious primary document of history, and n+1 has also put together two gazettes that are worthy companions in their descriptive detail. (Leonard’s observations are included in the first edition, while Gessen’s is in the second one.) The likes of Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler), Alice Walker, and Jonathan Lethem have also contributed original pieces after signing a petition to form the Occupy Writers group.

I can go on and on, yet what we yearn for is not a mish-mash but a cohesive account, a sort of People’s History of the occupation.

To that end, the 200-page-long Occupy Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America, will be released as an e-book or a print-on-demand hard copy one month from now (with all profits also going to the movement). It comes courtesy of the publishing house OR Books, whose collection Going Rouge: An American Nightmare helped render Sarah Palin irrelevant once again. Occupy Wall Street will still be a collaborated effort. About 20 writers active in the protests have been conducting interviews, and some of them are beloved, famous authors. The publisher, Colin Robinson, is so far keeping mum about who’s involved. He doesn’t want the media, and their hunger for name recognition, to hijack the project from the (larger) percentage of writers who aren’t well known. But the book will be in the form of one long narrative, the end product shaped and written through by one or two final editors. The emphasis will be on everyday details of the occupation—a recreation of texture, in all its unfiltered smells and brain-bursting sounds.
Now that the honeymoon phase of OWS has come to an end—no more tents, generators, kitchens, or libraries at Zuccotti Park, and one protester described the next step as OWS 2.0—it seems as good a place as one can find to offer a recap of sort. The early books will not be definitive assessments, but first drafts of history written on the spot can offer eyewitness testimonies that later researchers can’t match—they can only draw on such a sensory report.

OWS is a movement that, as some have pointed out, hasn’t accomplished much. But skeptics say the same about the ‘60s to this day, prompting Gitlin to preface his history with bullet points on some of the decade’s greatest achievements made in the name of equality and awareness. “To start with, the irreversible entry of blacks, women, and their concerns into American politics and professional life,” he writes, which ought to be enough to silence critics. In the occupation’s case, nothing like this has happened yet, but the book is still being written. Most likely this is just the first chapter. “This is the moment when we realized we would have to act for ourselves,” Van Gelder writes in This Changes Everything. Whether that action can deliver the book title’s promise is still up in the air. The answer is blowing in the wind.

Artist of the Day: In Nature - Sarah Ogren

In Nature Sarah Ogren

This is a lovely piece. Perfect to help me refocus and get my snarl behind me.

Charles Simic, noted poet and mystic of words, stated that, collage is the medium of the mystic. I think so.

I believe my thoughts, my inner world, my entire life is one giant collage. Yours probably is as well.

What an interesting idea. What if we started see each other as collages, works in progress, rather than a finished piece? We're all a little bit of this and that, and perhaps need a good coat of gel medium to shine us up a bit, or one more thing pasted on to make the day a little more on the rosy side.

Artist Bio:
Artist StatementMy work is often a reflection of my current life difficulties, triumphs, and questions with a childhood influence. I guess you could say I have a strong existential philosophy and I am using my art to figure out what life means to me. I often take conversations and experiences from my every day life and incorporate them into my work. These conversations and experiences are expressed in the subject matter of a collage but also can be hidden in the imagery and titles of the work as well.

I have a background in Professional Counseling and through my work with my clients, I have always been amazed at how complex and often surprising a person’s inner life is. Often, first impressions are misleading and I have found that there is this secret life within each person, which is why I choose to work in the medium of collage and choose to use animal heads on my figures. Collage for me is representative of the layers of human experience. The animal heads are a kind of mask. A way of presenting to the world what we want others to see and not having to reveal our true selves. I find it intriguing that we all try to hide our weaknesses, but that our weaknesses are what make us human and make us similar and revealing them is what helps to bring us closer to one another. It is my desire to expose some of the weaknesses of the subjects of my collage work, and to do it in a light-hearted way that everyone can relate to.

The whimsical feel of my work comes from my own child-like qualities, but also because I’m especially drawn to individuals who maintain that certain level of curiosity, fearlessness and spontaneity that many of us seem to lose as we get older. It is this energy that I wish to capture in my work. To remind us all that life doesn’t have to be so difficult and that sometimes a change of perspective is all that is needed to make our lives a little easier.

Occupy This: OWS moves back to Zuccotti Park

They're back!

New York Daily News: Occupy Wall Street, again

Wall Street Journal: Zuccotti Barriers Come Down

Salt Lake City: The Gayest City in the United States.

Salt Lake City Karen Young

If you live here, you know this already.

“While those unfamiliar with the Beehive State are likely to conjure images of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, far-less-oppressive-than-it-used-to-be Salt Lake City has earned its queer cred.” Advocate Magazine

Advocate Magazine: Gayest Cities in America, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Salt Lake City named the "gayest: burg

Q Salt Lake: Salt Lake Named the Gayest City in America

And the runners up are:
2. Orlando, Fla.
3. Cambridge, Mass.
4. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
5. Seattle
6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
7. St. Paul and Minneapolis
8. Knoxville, Tenn.
9. Atlanta
10. Grand Rapids, Mich.
11. Little Rock, Ark.
12. Portland, Ore.
13. Austin
14. Long Beach, Calif.
15. Denver
16. Washington, D.C.
17. New Orleans
18. San Francisco
19. Pittsburgh
20. Salem, Ore.
21. Madison, Wis.
22. Eugene, Ore.
23. Oakland, Calif.
24. Boston
25. Kansas City, Mo.

One Sentence: 11:45 P. M. January 9, 2011

Ice, fall, blood, ambulance, emergency room, broken nose, lacerated hand, seventeen stitches.

One Sentence: 10:53 P.M. January 8, 2011

Born a dragon the year before the market crashed and compressed into a worldwide depression, you have occupied this life and the spaces between a world war and countless more, a red scare, harnessing the atom into capital a & h, freedom ringing, then the staccatto of gunfire, a kind of peace, mother, father, childhood friends disappearing in the soil you love, two wives, one wretched, one beloved, and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren multiplying like wild poppies, filling eighty-four years in this new dragon year.

One Sentence: 10:08 P.M. January 7, 2011

Early morning, a caravan of geese barking overhead, the winter sky blinded with their electric wings, then late afternoon, a legion of strangely quiet crows fill the Suessian-like trees surrounding my property like dark sentinels.

This Moment: 7:41A.M. January 7, 2011

The insistent drone of a snow blower crows the morning awake. The first snowstorm arrived without introduction during the night. The trees are bent, laden with weight, as if burdened with a heavy secret. The multitudes of crows and geese that have harried the fields these past weeks will be forced south now. It is time for them to go. A lone car passes on the snow packed road. Other than the snow blower, the fire's crackle provides the only sound to break the silence. The old dog readjusts herself on her pillow. She looks like a pasha, forearms crossed, resting on tasseled green satin. The small dog stands at the foot of the bed, a low growl rumbling in his peasant throat, begging a fight. The neighbor across the street shovels his walk and drive as if the snow were a personal insult. In the spring he mows and trims his lawn daily, lying on his side, armed with scissors, cutting renegade blades. After I finally leave the warmth of my blankets, and fire, I will shovel a quick path, then pack the snow on my long gravel driveway. For now I will watch snow falling in muted showers from branches. The view outside my window is a tangle of white.

Occupy This: Because One Ring Should Not Rule Them All

Occupy Mordor

Admit it. This is funny.

Click on the Occupy Mordor link above and have yourself a little Lord of the Rings geekout levity this weekend.

Occupy This: Where in the World Is Occupy?

Occupy Together

Starting with the Arab Spring and then the OWS protests of September 17 to the present, the Occupy movement has spread all over the world.

Here's a map from The Guardian, which provides a list of places where Occupy protests are mapped around the world.

Take the interactive quiz to see which type of revolutionary you are. turns out I'm a champagne revolutionary. Hmmm.

Artist of the Day: One January Day - Kristina Davidson

One January Day Kristina Davidson

I have to credit etsy for pulling me out of my legion of woe is I funks and I'll never make the deadline freak outs. The site is my go to place when I only have a few minutes and need a way out or a way up.

This morning was full of woe. How can a morning be woeful? Seriously. Well, it was, until I found Massachusetts artist Kris Davidson, and her expressive paintings. If you head over to her site, there are only a few up for sale, but be sure to check out her sold work images, which go on for pages.

I finally chose this image because it captures the month's tone so well. January is the start of the new year, but also, the start of winter at it's most cruel. The snow has yet to fall, but the temperature if bone-chilling. And the light disappears at 5 pm sharp as if your mother came in and caught you reading under the covers with a tiny flashlight and confiscated it without letting you finish the sentence you were reading.

For me January is the introduction to Dante's Inferno. By February I've been to the ninth level and circled back to the beginning, but, March is out there on the horizon.

Even with this painting, I have just a little woe hanging on, so back to etsy. See you there.

Artist Bio:
Welcome to The Quirky Artisan. My name is Kris and I have been making art since I can remember. I create a wide range of paintings and mixed media work, some in galleries, some here on the site. My mission now is to make art accessible to all pocket books. Some call me quirky, but, I think it's important that original art be made available to all audiences. So, whoever you are, thanks for visiting I hope you enjoy yourself. When you visit, my wish is that you leave with a smile on your face and know you can buy art and still have something left over for dinner and a movie.

One Sentence: 9:47 P.M. January 5, 2011

The small dog licks my hands and face, greedy for salt.

Artist of the Day: you are what you eat, so be nice to plants and bees and (therefore) your own self - Ashley Adair

you are what you eat, so be nice to plants and bees and (therefore) your own self Ashley Addair &

I love Knoxville, Tennessee artist Ashley Addair's life story as much as her art. After you read her bio, head over to noroomforhipsters: The Occupation of Ashley and Levon to check out Ashley's paintings and Levon's music (start with Grace I Know).

Artist Bio:
Born to a ballsy moto cross racer and a beautiful trailer park gypsy, each right out of high school, we lived in a van while following Dad’s race circuit until my brother was born. Upon his arrival we settled in a double wide nicknamed “the brown house” at the foot of my grandmother’s hill. For several years, and every childhood summer after we moved, my brother and I ran barefoot with a dozen or so cousins building forts, riding bikes, and catching crawdads in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

After our parents divorced, Mom, my brother, and I went to live in Virginia Beach. We moved at least once a year but we always stayed near the water. Brokenness hung around, but we grew and healed and smelled salt water.

We moved again, and I went to high school in a suburb of Chicago: white collar and wealthy. We stayed culture-shocked and cold for a full year but found our warmth in a few sturdy Midwesterners.

I decided to go to college in Lexington, Kentucky because I wanted to escape the fate of so many college women: to find a suitor and marry him happily ever after. I thought for certain I wouldn’t find that in central Kentucky.

That was the year I would meet Levon and drop out of college.

He was charming and handsome and we decided there wasn’t any sense in having separate life adventures any longer. Two months after he graduated we were married. No plan, no money, and a bad honeymoon later we landed in Madisonville, Kentucky where he bill collected and I attended community college. Not the adventure either of us had in mind. We moved to Nashville. Then Knoxville. Levon worked a dozen or more desk jobs while I finished an English degree and half of a Masters in Education. In the last year we moved from Knoxville to New York City to Grace Acres Farm to Virginia Beach to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. All to find that actually, we really like Knoxville.

During our Brooklyn stay I saw a graffiti slogan. In blood red paint it read, “You are not your neighborhood.” I think I understand that the author was reminding us that our worth isn’t measured by the status of our surroundings but I don’t think we can easily separate ourselves from the places and communities we inhabit.

Moving around and seeing things has given me a healthy dose of audacity. There are many ways to live a life; and so I’m trying out a version of my own.

(read the latest at
find me on facebook and twitter too)

One More Resolution

I'll Catch You Kelly Puissegur &

It is far too easy to lose track of friends,especially online or outofstatecitycountry friends. I'm not offended or in a fight with any of my friends, but I've let them slip away. I'm busy. They're busy. We have so much on our plates. Correct?

With the shock of learning of my friend's death yesterday, especially that she was terribly ill, and that I had absolutely no idea, I started looking up everyone I've lost touch with. I thought about my friend Carol, many times over the last year. The last time we emailed was last November. I've thought to call her and catch up. But didn't, just as I have thought about calling, writing, emailing, texting old friends, but haven't.

I'm adding one more resolution to my list.

It is too late in the case of my departed friend, and it may be too late with other friendships as well, but I am going to write, call, reconnect, check in, this year.

Keep Track: All we have is each other. In this life it is comforting to know we have friends who love us despite our many failings. Accept us for ourselves. Love us despite our quirks and tempers. Take our calls at unreasonable hours. Know our secrets and still like us. Defend us against our enemies with a fury worthy of myth. Break our fall. Catch us when we trip over ourselves. My goal is to contact every friend I've let slip under the horizon.

Artist Bio:
Feel free to visit my website-

My drawings are little appreciations for found objects, plants, animals, people who inspire me, family, music, shapes, textures, and what ever else pops into my head. I change mediums frequently because I get board easily but my work generally maintains a child like, playful quality. My goal is to make affordable art that people can appreciate or relate to in some way.

Retrowhale is a member of Etsy for Animals: Artists Helping Animals (efa):

This Moment: 6:27 P.M. January 4, 2011

David Bowie's Glolden Years is playing at Starbucks. I'm sitting in an overstuffed orange chair facing a wall of mirrors. Strange how sobering your own reflection can be. The barristas are laughing. A woman orders a skinny caramel mocha. A girl next to me stands with her legs spayed, her feet encased in buckled military style black leather boots. The store is a cacophony of music and conversation, punctuated with the whir of machines. A young woman discusses her scratched corneas as if discussing the weather. I only have twenty minutes more to hide. Starbucks will close and I will have to leave and go home to my mailbox and it's contents, the laundry, dinner and dishes. I will have to sit with the news of the day. I see myself already on the couch, the dogs vying for pets, an open magazine willing to draw me into it's prose. A piano piece offers an essay on dissonance. Sugar packets are stuffed at odd angles in it's container. The New York Times is focused on the amazing number eight. On very rare occasions such as this moment, jazz can seem like a taunt. A young man with his long hair and abbrieiated soul patch, comes over and apologizes that the store will be closing in fifteen minutes. The woman with the scratched corneas says she's not leaving, then laughs. Two women lean into each other laughing. I know there are tears welling, but I feel nothing but cool air from the outside rushing in when a woman holding her coffee opens the door and leaves.

Rest in Peace: Carol Novack

Oh, this lovely, irascible, hilarious, infuriating, marvelous woman will be missed! I just learned that she left us just this past Friday. When she'd call, it was an hour long expletive-laced conversation, at the very minimum. They were filled with raucous laughter, minor, sometimes more than minor disagreements, but we always parted friends. I remember a moment of shocked silence after I casually mentioned my paternal grandmother's surname, Hertzog, and she accused, "you're German!" She emailed that it had been a long time. It had. We emailed a few times. She'd left New York City for Ashville. She had just published her memoir. We hadn't spoken in real time for at least two years. I had no idea she was ill.

It's true you don't know what you had until it's gone.

Until I can find the words:

I am not who I think I am or is I whom?
Author's Bio
Carol Novack is the former recipient of a writer’s award from the Australian government, the author of a poetry chapbook, an erstwhile criminal defense and constitutional lawyer in NYC, and the publisher of Mad Hatters’ Review. Fictions and poems may be found in numerous journals, including American Letters & Commentary, Caketrain, Drunken Boat, Exquisite Corpse, Fiction International, First Intensity, Gargoyle, Journal of Experimental Literature, LIT, and Notre Dame Review, and in many anthologies, including “The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets,” “Diagram III,” and “The &Now Awards: the Best Innovative Writing.” Writings in translations may or will be found in French, Italian, Polish and Romanian journals.
I would say that I'm an outside of the box writer, if I could recall where I put the box. I write and have led workshops in poetic/musical, genre-blending (hermaphroditic) "fictions." Samples of my work, along with reviews, may be found on;; & (links to writings, reviews & interviews).

Publications and Prizes
Giraffes in Hiding: The Mythical Memoirs of Carol Novack (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2010), Living Alone Without a Dictionary (Makar Press, 1974)

New Cross Musings on a Manic Reality (Dog Horn Publishing, 2011), Heide Hatry: Heads and Tales (Charta Books, 2009), The &NOW Awards (&NOW Books -- Lake Forest College Press, 2009), Diagram III (Del Sol Press, 2008), The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets (Penguin, 1986), The Tabloid Story Pocket Book (Wild & Woolley, 1978), Mother I'm Rooted (Outback Press, 1975)

5_trope, Action Yes, American Letters & Commentary, Anemone Sidecar, Apostrophe, Big Bridge, Caketrain, Cellar Door Magazine, Diagram, Drunken Boat, Elimae, Exquisite Corpse, Fiction International, Gargoyle, Journal of Experimental Fiction, knock, La Petite Zine, Lamination Colony, Laura Hird Showcase, LIT, LITnIMAGE, Mad Hatters Review, Metazen, Milk, Mindfire Renewed, Mississippi Review, Muse Apprentice Guild, Necessary Fiction, Newtopia, Notre Dame Review, Opium Magazine, Otoliths, Pindeldyboz, Retort Magazine, Salt Flats Annual, Salt River Review, Scythe, Scythe Literary Journal, Segue, Sein und Werden, SmokeLong Quarterly, Susurrus, Tears in the Fence, The Angler, The Beat, The Del Sol Review, The Jivin' Ladybug, Underground Voices, Unlikely Stories, Unpleasant Event Schedule, Void Magazine, Wheelhouse, Wild Strawberries, Word Riot, Yankee Pot Roast
Prizes:Creative Writers' Grant from the Arts Council of the Australian Government
Personal FavoritesFavorite Authors:Beckett, D. Barthelme, DiLillo, Stein, Rilke, Kafka, many others, including friends of mine.

Artist of the Day: Imam Reza Fighting with a Monster - Ausgezeichnet

Imam Reza Fighting a Monster - from Iran, the Book of the Presages Ausgezeichnet &

Other than my new emotional attachment to this artist and that I absolutely adore his work, I chose this particular piece because of the news of this morning. I'm talking about the new sanctions proposed for Iran. And, all the saber rattling. The former Administration tried this, then dropped it when the country let out an exasperated sigh all at once. Can we please not be so predictable and go from one war to the next to the next! Let's all hold our breathe, and let out a giant wind of exasperation and see if it does the trick. All I'm asking for is a little peace.

I love this artist from Samur, France and his joy inspiring paintings. His paintings are irreverent and wonderful. What I love most about his homage paintings, is that, from what I can tell, he reimagines famous painting with himself as the subject. From the few pieces I've seen of his work, other than the painting featured above, is the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadeloupe.

Artist Bio:
Please see my blog : It would be for me a great pleasure, thank you.

Poem Therapy January, 3 2011 8:20 A.M.: Losing Track - Denise Levertov

Losing Track
Denise Levertov

Long after you have swung back
away from me
I think you are still with me:

you come in close to the shore
on the tide
and nudge me awake the way

a boat adrift nudges the pier:
am I a pier
half-in half-out of the water?

and in the pleasure of that communion
I lose track,
the moon I watch goes down, the

tide swings you away before
I know I'm
alone again long since,

mud sucking at gray and black
timbers of me,
a light growth of green dreams drying.

It's easy to lose track of where you are in your own life.

After a period of anxiety, hope, anguish, resignation, it is easy to leave a year, a job, a relationship, long before you actually say the words, pack up your stuff, and go. Perhaps you've said the words, but you were met with a look of disbelief, or worse, a blank stare.

It's disconcerting, when you've left, really said goodbye in your mind or heart, when the year hasn't finished with you, or your boss is ticking off the list of expectations required for the next five years, when you know, know, the paint has sealed that window shut. Or your husband,or wife, or partner enters the house and starts asking your opinion about some minor change to the house, when you know you've closed the door already.

How could they know you've left when you are still sitting right there where you always are?

Perhaps you've said the words and haven't been heard. Say them louder.

That is how this new year feels only three days into it.

One Sentence: January 2, 2011

A brisk day of sunshine, quail and pheasants running for the underbrush, more early March than January.

One Sentence: January 1, 2011

Tearing pages from magazines to the sound of snoring and television chatter coming from the bedroom.