Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm a Super Model

Ok, well not exactly, but my very talented friend, the amazing John Kenney agreed to be my photographer for my picture on the back of the book. So we shimmied down to Adam's Morgan to have a photo shoot--which consisted of me bringing a few shirts in a bag and taking pictures wherever we were inspired. We began in Idle Time books and then decided that we liked natural light better. After about an hour and a hundred pictures later, we went back and viewed all the digital prints (welcome to the world of technology) and ended up with these four as our favorites. And now, it's time for a vote, so lovely fivefeet readers, chime in. Which pic is the best for the back of the book?

un cheers to certain conference goers

This will be my first rant. There are a certain group of people in town who are here for an academic conference and had some cocktails in the bar (note: some attendees excluded here, this is a generalization based on the overall tip income this evening). Perhaps the ivory tower has you so far removed from life that you forget that people work for wages. Tipping ten percent is not appropriate behavior. I don't care if you are post modern or new formalist--there are industry standards. 20% is what you should least 15%. You tip 10% if you receive sub-par service. I know that there isn't any money in academia (I'm in the industry as well...which is why bartending is the main source of cash flow.) But employees who receive tips usually do not make a sufficient wage, i.e. the tip is their wage. Don't act like I'm telling you something new. If you can afford to come to the conference, stay in a swanky hotel (especially if it's on your university's dime) you can afford to tip 20% on a $40 tab. It's the difference of $4. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that I'll be the one writing the literature while you're still teaching comp.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

le Rouge Cheers

One of our signature drinks (2nd from right) was on the back page of yesterday's Washington Post---the Cherry Sparkler (formerly the Cherry Popper until censorship went into effect). Either way, you should come to the Rouge for some sparkle pop action tonight or on New Year's Eve. There will be a DJ and fun Rouge party favors! Do let me know so I can make you feel like a VIP if you're coming on New Year's. And here's the link to the story to entice you:

My fabulous manager Mike Hill is even quoted on page 3!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Coming Clean and Organizing

Today I got my teeth cleaned and cleaned my closet. No cavities and everything in color order. I realized I had twice as many hangers as I had clothes! I also got a shoe organizer so no more boxes and hunting in the back of the closet for the stray heel. However, some of my shoes are still too clunky for the hanging rack. Ah, the wild ones, they will not be contained. There is something to be said for being too loud, too wild, too brazen. Many people want to put you in neat little compartments, but I say rock on with yourselves pink Steve Madden mary janes and orange Mephisto all rounders. Walk loudly and don't care about the downstairs neighbors (lucky me, I'm on the first floor.)

Lately I've been thinking about shame and letting other people's opinions color how you feel about yourself. Most often we do this in relationships and many women often put the relationship before themselves. When you have to bend too much, it just isn't worth it. Then there are times when you should bend. It's all about balance, as I was reading in the latest issue of Latina at the dentist's office. The editor wrote about the importance of this for someone living in two cultures--how to deal with when American and Hispanic values clash and how to feel good about the choices you make. I think many of us often find our values and beliefs and various identities clashing. (A good topic for fiction, yes, even on break, I think of how every moment is a teaching one).

Caroline called and had lunch at Arucola--love being ladies who lunch. She shares my passion for passion. And my passion for the Mustard Seed (confirming a previous post about white chocolate, but then does that make her an oreo?). I think about the places in which we find comfort and find excitement in the ordinary. There are some people that grow with you. Caroline's one of them. I know she's going to be there through all this book business with me (in fact, working on some art for the cover) and tomorrow rocker/photographer/bartender JK is going to shoot some pics that may wind up on the back. Good thing I got all those new clothes from J's Hanukkah gift certificate and yeah me for organizing so I can find everything in a snap. And big Kool-aide grin b/c J knows what I like---he asked me to go to the open mic at Busboy's and Poet's tonight.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Where I Shop

As many of you know, I'm a bit of a fashion butterfly. Here's my favorite place to polinate the closet.

Friday, December 23, 2005

White Chocolate

Just call me white chocolate. That's what the girls from Rouge call me. Last night we had our holiday party at LOVE (a fab. club for those of you non hipsters who think love is an emotion). Apparently Love + Vodka + Dancing= White Chocolate.

While sipping on my vodka, I asked them to explain: You're white outside but black inside. Ok, hmmm, I suppose that means I'm a good dancer and I also seem to have the body of a black woman--curvy (if we're going on generalities). I asked one girl where she got her pants and I said I had seen some like it at Urban Outfitters and tried them but they didn't look right. She smirked and told me I need to come to one of her stores---they would know my curves better. Now I have always thought Black women and Jewish women had a lot in common, but fashion was not yet something I've explored.

Back in grad school, the Cave Canem readings were my favorite---because the poetry seemed like it mattered more---more narrative and rhythmic, less concerned with what makes poetry and more concerned with the self, empowering the individual while weaving a community. I remember Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez staying for 2 hours afterwards to sign books and meet everyone who wanted to come up to the stage and shake their hands. I remember Sonia hugging me the way she hugged the other women and called us all sister.

I remember feeling a part of something even though it wasn't normally a community I would think would instantly feel right. Perhaps they saw something in me that was a bit dark and sweet. Though I suspect when you are genuine and real with people and let them see inside your skin, we all will be able to see a piece of ourselves in another.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In Praise of Magnolia

For those of you who know about my cupcake obsession:

Barternder, I'll have my gratification now

Today I'm thinking about how fast things happen. Just last night I found out one of my co-workers who now works at another property got married. She had been dating her boyfriend for not even a year (I'm only making a point about speed, no judgement here), someone else I know was in love and then broke up with her lover (the relationship lasted perhaps a month or so), and I am in the midst of something chugging along quite smoothly. Whatever happened to that little engine who could? I think I can is now, I think I can, but it has to be today. Are we really carpe diem-ing all over the place?

Technology lets us do things a mile a minute. Just secured one of my blurbers over email in like a matter of 30 minutes. What ever happened to things being worth the wait? Today I'm googling more images, though my fabulous artist friend is going to be doing some sketches for the cover. Here's us last night and more cover inspirations...I can't say that I have found what I'm looking for. Though this time, I'm content to wait.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poetry Crush and Possible Book Covers

Baltimore is a lot funkier than DC. Yesterday I went to hear Piotr Gwiazda read at The Minas Gallery. I am so excited that he is going to be the lead editor for my book (his book, Gagarin Street, won the 2004 WWPH first book award). He's my first poetry crush in a while. I think what makes a poetry crush is honestly someone's work. When you just want to read more and more of their poems. So far my crush list is:

1. Jane Kenyon
2. Linda Pastan
3. William Stafford
4. Maj Ragain
5. Maggie Anderson
6. Honi Jeffers

Anyway, after a cozy reading in a gallery that has art and vintage clothes we had a beer at one of the most fun and divey bars--Frazier's and then dinner at the Golden West---kitch kitch! The menus are old records. A place that kind of reminds me of the Zephyr back in Kent before it turned bar.

Today I did my grades, wrestled with the dryer, and googled images for my book cover. This latter thing took a while as I still am not sure how I want my cover to look. I'm going to post a few here and please do vote or something. Keep in mind, the book is about memory, the Holocaust, and the poems are spaced out like steam...

Friday, December 16, 2005

The poet talks politics

Normally I am not a political person. I admit that I almost pride myself in not being political so I try not to read the paper or watch the news (because it's all skewd anyway and I'd much rather have my nose in a book (of fiction or poetry) ). However, as many point out, I need to live in this world and yes I agree that I need to be more up on current events. Especially in DC. You make a pretty bad conversationalist when you're like who? what? huh? Aloofness is not always endearing. Especially when it comes to matters that concern all of us. I guess that is why I was never into the news or politics. I feel so removed as if I can't make a difference. But as I'm learning from my students (who do write about politics and quite well) but more importantly say how writing has changed them and made a difference. And then I think about the power words can have. If writers aren't political in some way, that's one less way to move people into action. I began really becoming a poet back in 1996 when I was on the March of the Living--a trip that took Jewish teens to witness the concentration camps of Poland and then to Israel. This was an experience that changed my life. It was then that I became known as the bus poet and after that those poems were the portfolio that earned me a poetry scholarship at Kent State and perhaps what influenced my collection, the steam sequence. Yes, I did have to mention the book deal again---but here's the thing. People have been asking me what the book is about and I haven't formulated an answer yet, or at least one that I like, but what I will say is that it is necessary. Because there are people who will say the Holocaust never happened. Because there are people who discriminate and pursue hatred over love. It seems some lessons never do sink it. Some people do not learn or they choose not to see. That being said, please click on the link below and see what is happening in the world. Everything matters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alimentum and Mothertongue

Are everything you want writing to be. I was in NYC this past Sunday for the launch for Alimentum. I sat next to Mark Kurlansky (author of Salt and Cod)---more food lit people then poetry people. Michol Negrin (author of Med. Grill) hosted and had a fabulous spread. With good food and wine, how could any launch not be this successful? I was even asked to sign someone's journal while waiting in line for the bathroom. What really got me was that this was my first impressive people party---everyone was literate, articulate, fashionable, and very supportive of each other. (i.e. Mark Kurlansky talking about Ramona, Youngstown, and labor strikes with me). I've often felt young and green at these functions but this was definitely not the case.

And then last night at the Mothertongue reading. Natalie is the BEST mc ever to rock a mic. She really comes alive and connects, creating a space in which everyone feels her gratitude and comfort. A place where you can say something funny, serious, indecent and be respected and embraced for it. I feel very fortunate to have met her and Sandra (two of DC's hottest younger poets). All too often we judge and often unfairly and harshly. Though yes, constructive criticism is like sun and water, I much prefer singing to the seeds to let them rise. I think of this as I am in the middle of reading my students' final portfolios, which they have attached pictures, colors, printed on maps, and handmade books, and feel lucky to see what came about in a semester. That they, like me, all have a first book, and this is the one that matters most.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


In Summary

1. found out my first book of poems will be coming out in fall 2006 from washington writer's publishing house...guess where i was when i got the phone call...the powder room of the black cat!

2. sat next to mark kurlansky at the big alimentum launch in nyc. everyone has a crush on ramona. spent 15 minutes in line for the bathroom.

3. didn't pee on the train on the way up but surprisingly the penn station bathrooms are quite clean. went on the way home.

4. lost my cell phone charger but acquired 4 magnolia cupcakes.

5. am using book deal to justify things like eating big macs at 3 am and the like.

6. will be grading portfolios and bartending and will write something decent soon. apply said book deal excuse here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

That was one HOT party...

I'm talking about our Red Hot Relief AIDS benefit at the Bar last week...and look who's on page 6. Well not exactly but there are two of me. I'm pasting them here but feel free to check out the whole gallery---plenty of hot Miss Universe and Miss DC all glammed up.

On Tap Magazine has also posted additional event photos online:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Murphy's Law

Today, the last day of class my door is locked---and no one is in the English Department and no one knows how long security takes to let you 10 minutes I found a more premium location---a field trip to the 7th floor conference room and class went on as planned only 10 minutes later. We had better lighting and someone had conveniently left celery. Though my students all opted for the brownies and donuts. It's good to start the day off with a laugh and some much needed sugar.

After class I spent office hours just chatting about life and this and that with a few of my students. I have a bag full of their portfolios to open, but I'm letting the moment linger. Today they all went around and shared their books. There are poems with pictures and colors and well lions and tigers and bears oh my---no, really, the kinds of things that they will have years from now. Who knows what it will mean then. Actually, I have been devouring Memoirs of a Geisha and finally finished reading it on J--'s duvet. I mention that here because he likes seeing his name in lights so to speak. I also left him another little surpise at home but I won't elaborate anymore on that. Please excuse me dear readers for excluding you in the previous two sentences. Normally I hate when people use inside jokes as much as I hate the end of novels. I did not feel that way after finishing MOG. Here's a snippet: "Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper." J--do take care to get the encrypted message in the quote. Everyone else can enjoy it for the sheer pleasure of the language.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Winter Tidings

It was snowing in Cleveland over the weekend and now it's snowing here in DC. There is always something magical about it, the slow suspension and twirl, the soft wetness as it falls across your face and hair. I walked in it as much as I could today. Then I also enjoyed the opposite: drinking tea and reading inside. Mostly student fiction and Memoirs of a Geisha---have to finish the book before seeing the movie.

Jillian gave me new tea and a strainer to brew it in---so now I don't have to tea bag it all the time. Also good honey--ie not the one that comes in a bear. Though I got to see everyone, it wasn't enough. Perhaps that is why the snow matters to me so much. It makes me think of walking around Kent and laughing and sloshing between classes, parties, and whatnot---or gathering in the lounge and listening to Erin play piano and we all had our mugs and sometimes roasted marshmellows in the fireplace. I think of my students who don't have this on their city campus, but then again, I think of all they have that I never did. I suppose you can't have it all. I'm trying to bring them the poetry of Kent--notecards and community poems and brownies.

The mail today brought the first and new issue of Alimentum! Click on the right to see more and the email brought news of being published in Wicked Alice and an email from deep cleveland---things are slowly rolling for the anthology, kind of like the snowflakes as they slip from heaven and melt on our faces. May you find one on your tongue and think of me.