Sunday (sprouts, potatoes, broccoli oh my!) Musings

The title of the post indicates what we bought at the farmer’s market this morning. Because our brussel sprout experiment was such a success, we went back for more. It’s fun picking out your own produce. I’ve also decided to start buying cage free/organic eggs with at the farmer’s market or the store.

In my continuing love affair with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I was amused to discover that Barbra Kingsolver is listed as the 74th most dangerous person in America. As my sister would say, wtf? Obviously, it is highly to dangerous to promote public awareness when it comes to our own food consumption. Kingsolver addresses her dangerousness in her book, which is how I found out about it. Intrigued I did what every good investigator does, I googled it.

Apparently the book was written by Bernard Goldberg, who seems to be a well respected journalist at CBS. His book, Bias, won some critical support but the customer reviews on Amazon for 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America, seem lackluster at most. It appears to me that Goldberg is criticizing trends that are screwing up America, which is all well and good but Kingsolver isn’t responsible for people misinterpreting her message or making the information a trend. To be frank, it seems like a throw away book to make money. Speaking of trends, books like this are very trendy. Maybe Bernie should look in the mirror.

I continue to love her book and while I agree that we’re not all going to live our lives the way she has chosen to live hers, there is nothing wrong with thinking about what food we put in our mouths and knowing where that food comes from.

I’m still chipping away at last weeks New Yorker. There was segment in the Talk of the Town section entitled “Family Jewels” and it was about Bernie Madoff’s victims and how they’re all selling valuable family jewelry to CIRCA. CIRCA is a jewelry buying firm located in New York. The little snippet goes on to introduce Tracy Sherman, the company’s Palm Beach director, who had been going around to homes scoping out the jewels for sale. One of her quotes really got me. In regards to the people who are selling these jewels, Sherman advises “Be glad you had these things, and be glad you had great taste, so now you can sell it in order to continue.”

Whoa. Back up a second.

First of all, these are not mere trinkets. We’re talking about family heirloom pieces that can be worth upwards of $50,000. Second, the past tense disturbs me. Be glad you had great taste, because even if you sell this diamond pin from Cartier, you’re not ever going to be able to afford jewels like this again. Also, what does this word “continue” imply? But by far the more disturbing aspect of this little snippet is, what about the people who don’t have Cartier to sell?

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather at the Lincoln Memorial today for the “We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration.” Times reporters are at the event and will regularly update this post throughout the day.

I won’t lie. Bono gets on my nerves. I know this is shameful considering I am a child of the U2 generation. I like some of the music (older is better) and I embrace Bono fully as a musical icon. However, I can’t quite swallow Bono the diplomat/government activist. I have similar problems with Angelina Jolie going to Africa. What frustrates me about celebrities and political and cultural issues is that they make it trendy to care about the world, and that irritates me to no end. I was not impressed with Live Aid, mostly because Africa has been a place of concern for decades. It will continue to be a place of concern long after all the teenagers have abandoned their Live Aid t-shirts for Greenpeace or Habitat for Humanity or whatever Miley Cyrus happens to think is cool at the time.

I know people who are less jaded and judgmental will say that these celebs are just “wetting the interest” and then evenutally, these teens will become interested in these issues and want to help regardless if it’s Hilary Duff or Hilary Clinton speaking. While this could be the case with young adults (17-20), I’m skeptical about 16 and below. Their whole being is wrapped up in being fickle.

I really liked this play when I read it in college, and I’d forgotten what a disturbed woman Hedda Gabler is.

Imagine a White House where the Oval Office faces an interactive media wall filled with live commentary from citizens and visitors. Or a White House that is raised and lowered according to poll results, with an unpopular president brought down to the level of disgruntled constituents. How about one that changes colors according to the Homeland Security Advisory System? Or that has been emptied of human content and made into a central server for United States democracy?

Saturday Musings

We’re supposed to get freezing rain and 1-3 inches of snow later this evening. If I were back east, I wouldn’t think much of this forecast. It is fairly typical of this time of year and usually the snowfalls are much greater. However, I’m not living back east. I’m living in the Midwest and we don’t handle inclement weather well. I know this seems odd. I live four hours from Chicago and they’re perfectly capable of dealing with snow and ice and any combination thereof. However, here in Indy, citizens worry, drive to fast or too slow, and more often than not, end up in a ditch. Therefore, we’ll be hanging pretty close to home this evening.

We went to two farmers markets this morning. One was the winter market that we try to go to every Saturday. We got some meat, sweet potatoes, and squash. All the products there are fresh and locally grown. The second market is closer to where we used to live and offered brussel sprouts and green beans. This market is owned and operated by a local chef and once again all the items are fresh and local.

I think it is important to eat well. I’ve always thought this, but until recently I have not worked actively to follow my own advice. However, one of my resolutions this year is to eat better and cook more. I like cooking and in order to support that idea, I signed up for four “Cooking with Culinary” sessions at school. Also, I think it is important to support local growers and buy their product. I was psyched to learn that this newer farmer’s market we discovered is open till 9 AM Monday through Saturday! This is huge.

Finally, we attended an open house this afternoon for my school dean who is leaving for a new job in Minnesota. It was fun. I like my colleagues. Although, I do think it’s amusing that most people don’t think I’m old enough to be a full time faculty member. I am the youngest faculty member in the Liberal Arts Division, but there are several of us that are all in the same general age range. However, whenever I’m meeting spouses or other faculty members from different departments, they ask me if I’m administration first.

Another brilliant idea from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. This is in reference to celebrating Kingsolver’s 50th birthday:

“Camille made the call, and it was inspired. The tiniest posy, anything would serve. And truthfully while we’d put prodigious efforts into our vegetable gardens and orchards, our front yard lay sorry and neglected. Anything people might bring to set in that ground would improve it. Thus began the plan for my half century Birthday Garden: higgedly-piggedly, florescent and spontaneous, like friendship itself” (106).

To say that I’m an animal lover, is probably an understatement. Whenever a commercial comes on concerning the Humane Society or the World Wildlife Fund, I usually change the channel. It’s not because I don’t care, but these commercials really bother me. One of the worst ones I’ve seen is in regards to polar bears. This is put out by the WWF and has Noah Wiley (past ER fame) looking bright eyed and down in the mouth and he explains the plight of the polar bear. There are numerous shots of polar bears frolicking in the snow and diving for fish. However, the commercial ends with a mama polar bear and her cub jumping off a piece of ice and swimming off into the vast unknown, because of global climate change, the ice is melting and they will eventually drown due to exahuastion.

The first time I saw this commercial I bawled for five minutes. I’ve avoided it ever since, until the other night when RJ made me watch it again, at which point I started to cry when explaining how the fuzzy fur cub would end up as shark food. Needless to say, we immediately logged onto the WWF’s website and adopted a polar bear cub.

As you can imagine, there are many animals you can adopt, in many price ranges, on the WWF’s website, so RJ and I decided we would continue to support the cause (as our funds allowed) every month. If that’s not a successful public awareness campaign, I don’t know what is.

Tuesday (Back to school) Musings

Classes don’t start until next Monday, but we have a week of in-service before then, so today I came on around 10 and started to prepare myself (physically and mentally) for the new semester. I want to revamp my syllabus for creative writing and comp, but that’s tomorrow’s project. Today, I attended a meeting for Phi Theta Kappa, which I am faculty adviser for and organized my office. I also sent an email to sign up as a volunteer at the humane society. It is something I have been meaning to do for years, and now I finally have the time.

I discovered something interesting this afternoon, while I was procrastinating and copying poems into my reading journal, I want to write. I know. I know. No kidding, right? I’m a poet. I write. But here’s the thing, when I finished my masters I spent a long period of time not writing. In fact, I actively avoided it. I was burnt out. Bad. This is not to be mistaken for writer’s block, which I’ve also dealt with. In comparison, this was more disturbing because it was as if my thesis had robbed me of the joy I feel in writing poetry. Luckily, I am not experiencing this feeling this time around. In fact, I want to work on a poem this evening. The idea has been marinating for awhile, but now I’m ready to dig in.

I woke up at five o’clock this morning to the sound of a dog barking. At first, I thought it was Kwe but then realized the barking was somewhat muted. My next thought was, Bam Bam, but the bark was too big for him. My third thought was, wow, this dog is still barking. This lovely canine continued to ruff until I got up at 8 am, at which point RJ had been rolling around and cussing for three hours while I had tossed and turned. I love dogs. I do not always love their owners.

I’ve gone back to reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I have another quote to share. This is in regards to eating your vegetables:

“Overcooking it turns nearly black. To any child who harbors suspicion of black foods. I would have to say, with the possible exception of licorice, I’m with you” (57).

This comes with perfect timing, because one of my resolutions this year is to read poetry by poets I’ve never heard of. These are the best according to Virginia Quarterly and I don’t know any of them:

1. Kevin Prufer, National Anthem
2.Chris McCabe, Zeppelins
3.C. D. Wright, Rising, Falling, Hovering
4.Dan Bellm, Practice
5. Aaron Baker, Mission Work
6.Claudia Emerson, Figure Studies
7. Todd Boss, Yellowrocket
8.Katie Ford, Colosseum
9.Fady Joudah, The Earth in the Attic
10. Chad Davidson, The Last Predicta

Thursday (Winding Down) Musings

This could explain why I always look forward to winter:

Snow is the weather to which poets’ imaginations are most beholden; more often than any other it’s given centre stage in a poem rather than providing the incidental music, as rain or sunlight might…


I am slowly but surely making my way back to my stack of unread books. This new job and my thesis have kept me away from recreational reading this fall, but I am bound and determined to read more this spring.

I finished Lee Martin’s River of Heaven about a week and half ago, took a brief respite to decorate my Christmas tree and do laundry, and then began Barbra Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I love Barbra Kingsolver. I read Bean Trees when I was a sophomore in high school and read The Posionwood Bible last fall. I think her writing is beautiful and this new nonfiction book is no exception. I’m only about 30 pages in, but I’ve already copied some of the passages down so I won’t forget them. This passage is from the opening of the book:

This story about food begins in a quick-stop convenience market. It was our family’s las day in Arizona, where I’d lived half my life and raised two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, taking our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride her bike; the exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was kist the first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.
These days, poetry readings might seem a strange concept. Why would you give up an evening of watching The Biggest Loser or Dancing with the Stars to listen to someone read what you could easily read, and perhaps more easily understand, on your own?

Tuesday Musings

Mark Sarvas is once again off on his book tour, so his guest blogger for this week is Todd Hasak, whose post this morning really resonated with me. Check it out.

I do remember when I just loved reading. I still get that feeling a lot, but I think a “love” of reading is complicated. For instance, I love Woolfe’s To the Lighthouses, but I don’t think I’d necessarily curl up with it on a rainy morning. It is beautiful and complex and even though I’ve read it and studied it, I’m still not convinced I completely understand it. I’m OK with that. I think that’s partly why I like the book so much. On the other hand, I read books like Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim At Tinker Creek or Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking or Barbra Kingsolver’s The Posionwood Bible and I can’t put them down. These are books I would curl up with. I like reading books that challenge me and I like reading books just to read them (Harry Potter falls into this category) but it is a complex question to ask, why do I read?

Speaking of reading, I started Harry Revised the other night and am now on page 48. I love books that make me laugh and so far this one is doing a smashing job.

I like to follow the blog of Sara Tracey, Mindful Ramblings, because I feel a certain kinship with her. Her post this morning takes me back to when I was in grad school at UNT and I was trying to teach three comp classes, work on my thesis, and finish up theory and literature classes. When she says that begin a PhD student isn’t really helping her poetry, I want to chime in with an exuberant “Yes!”

It is difficult being a full time PhD, MA, or MFA student while teaching and working and writing. I always say that after I’m done with my MFA, I will have more time to devote to writing. As it stands I have a few ideas for some new poems, but I have yet to sit down and committ those ideas to paper, because, well, I’m f**king swamped.

Recently I came to the realization that this problem will not get much better once I’m done with my MFA. I’ll still have a full time teaching gig, I still have a dog, and friends and family, and an apartment. In other words, I will still have many demands on my time, and the MFA will soon be replaced by something else. I used to think my graduate professors were trying to screw with me when they would assign a poem, a 300 page reading assignment, and a literary critque on top of the mound of narrative essays I had to grade for my comp classes, but now I understand. They were not screwing with me. They were teaching me how to be a writer, specifically a poet, and survive in the real world.

So cheers to you, Sara. Hang in there and know that I’m out here too trying to figure out just what the hell I’m doing.