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Although I haven’t been devoting much time to poetry lately, some of the pieces I sent out earlier this year have been accepted and published. First, a poem called “Awake at All Hours” appeared in the most recent issue of Ardent! The piece was inspired by reading Eavan Boland (though is not an attempt at imitation), and is one of my final poems about insomnia (since soon after that, I quit having insomnia.
And earlier this week, I got my copies of the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar, which includes a piece of mine entitled “Traversing Houston by Bus.” Although you wouldn’t know it reading the poem, it was inspired by riding around on a party bus with the fabulous folks at D’Amico Dance and performing a west coast swing flash mob routine at various spots in the city. That was the day I started to love Houston, and I tried to capture that in the piece – the fact that the city still confuses me, but I’m finding things to adore about it. I’m really happy with that poem, and glad to see it found a home in the calendar.
I got up to page 55 today.
In recent months, I’ve complained quite a bit about literary fiction. Much of what I read in literary journals bores me. It’s beautiful, elegant – and nothing happens. I’ve gotten quite enamored with well-written genre fiction which, as one person put it, has both action and ambiance. Given that just last week I was complaining about lit fic, I was nervous about whether or not I’d really enjoy Infinite Jest. I was beginning to wonder whether or not I could still appreciate literary stories. And then, on page 49, I realized I was going to love this book.
I can’t quite explain the specific reasons why I’ve suddenly decided I like the book. There was nothing specific. I just read “Hal likes to get high in secret, but a bigger secret is that he’s as attached to the secrecy as he is to getting high.” I don’t even get high. But something about that line – it hit me on such a visceral level, that I was hooked. It doesn’t matter what our secrets are; for many people, what mattes is that we have a secret at all. There’s something about having that hidden nugget of your life that helps you feel in control, despite all the variables and chaos you have to deal with on a daily basis. Just a thought, something worth exploring later.
There’s no turning back now. I’m looking forward to the journey of this book.
Most of what I read today touched on themes of secrecy, and since that’s what really stuck with me today, I’m looking forward to seeing where the secret motif goes as the book continues. I might try to focus on that throughout my reading, because I know this book will go in so many directions, it might be good to pick a thread and use that to guide my explorations. Or maybe I’ll go off in another direction. Or maybe I’ll end up directionless. We’ll see.
Finishing out today on page 42. Reading this was a lovely way to spend my lunch hour.
- Forget the footnotes. I can’t read this book unless I’m in the presence of a dictionary! Not that I’m complaining. This will be the most work I’ve done to expand my vocabulary since I stopped being a student.
- “I’m an O.E.D. man, Doctor. If that’s what you are.” – I’m totally an O.E.D. woman. I hope to be able to use this line someday in conversation.
- “Praying for just one conversation, amateur or no, that does not end in terror? That does not end like all others: you staring, me swallowing?” - I feel like an unfortunate number of my conversations end this way. I pray that I get one, sooner or later, that does not end in terror.
- I’m not a big fan of the medical attache. Interesting that 47 pages into a very long novel, I’ve found two characters that I don’t like, and I’m still inclined to keep reading.
- “Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar” broke my heart.
I’m ending day one a bit ahead of schedule; I read halfway through page 27 on my lunch hour at work.
Some miscellaneous thoughts:
- I skipped the Eggers introduction. I don’t typically like to read introductions when I’m starting something new and exciting. I wanted to go into this book not knowing anything (other than it’s awesome, and it’s long, and there are endnotes). I’ll read the Eggers introduction when I’m done.
- This book is going to expand my vocabulary. I’ve already had to look up three words. Whee!
- “My chest bumps like a dryer with shoes in it” - best line of fiction ever?
- “The integrity of my sleep has been forever compromised, sir.” - I hope I get to use this line someday.
- I don’t like Erdedy. But I love that Wallace has made him so unlikeable.
- “He . . . realized intellectually that the feeling of deprived panic over missing something made no sense.” – I need to remember this more often.
I realized as I sat down to write this post that I didn’t actually take any photos this weekend. I guess after weeks of travel and taking touristy photos at every turn, I needed a break from the camera.
This weekend was fairly low-key. Last weekend we were in NYC, two weekends before that I was dancing in Philadelphia. I’ve had a lot of travel, and I just needed to chill out and relax.
Well, chilling out didn’t happen much in the literal way. Our air conditioning went out at 5 a.m. on Friday, and by the time we got home from work, it still wasn’t fixed. Fortunately, I kicked the weekend off eating sushi with my friend Missy in the blissfully temperate Korea House. After that, though, it was off to the toasty apartment. We had repair people in and out most of the night trying to diagnose the problem. As it turns out, it was a mechanical issue with the A/C unit, AND we had a problem with the circuit breaker. The A/C unit itself got fixed, but we couldn’t run it until the breaker was taken care of, and that wasn’t happening that evening. Fortunately, a neighbor loaned us his portable unit, so the bedroom was comfortable.
Since I was already sweaty, I decided to head out to Kick Butt Blues and dance for awhile. I stayed for a few hours and got to socialize with some of my favorite dancers. And I was actually cooler than I would have been at home!
After a still-sweaty night, I woke up on Saturday, took a cold shower, and then went for a dip in the always-cool Barton Springs. Afterwards, I made my way to the downtown Farmers Market. I picked up eggplants, yellow tomatoes, leeks, chipotle-cilantro pasta, whole goat’s milk, and antelope sausage. I hadn’t been to the market in months, and I was excited by my finds.
After hanging around the cool bedroom watching Veronica Mars, Jon and I went climbing at the Austin Rock Gym. We took the basic belay course. Unfortunately, I still have a lingering fear of heights, so I didn’t have the best time. I hope that Jon gets a climbing buddy soon, because rock climbing is not my ideal way to spend a weekend.
I wanted to cook dinner with my fantastic farmers market finds, but I wasn’t about to attempt it in my hot kitchen. So we went over to my dance partner’s house and cooked him dinner! I made a quiche with the antelope sausage and some of the tomatoes. Then we watched a film called Red Belt, which was quite good.
Today, I woke up and did some yoga, and then met my friend Gillian at Curra’s for brunch, followed by more time at Barton Springs. Then I went to visit my friend Reesa in the hospital. While I was out, the electrician came by and fixed the breaker, so I arrived at a cool apartment! To celebrate, I made the pasta from the farmers market, using the rest of the tomatoes, the goat’s milk, and some goat cheese to make a sort of tomato sauce/roux blend.
Tomorrow begins another week! I have a lot of plans, including beginning Infinite Jest. If all goes according to plan, I’ll write about my reading experiences here. Stay tuned!