Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Mother As A Garmin Nuvi GPS

Where to?
Please drive the highlighted route toward a career in medicine or law.
Detour. Poetry?
Set as via point or a final destination?
Lost satellite reception.

Restore settings?
Your brightness is set at 100%. You could become a TV personality cardiologist and a Nobel-prize winning poet like my book club friend’s daughter’s friend’s cousin who went to Harvard -- hey, you know what?!? You should call her. Don’t email. Call.

Fine. Don’t.

Return “Home” avoiding highways, for shame that you’re still single.
In 500 ft, turn right, onto I’m Just Saying Rd.
Enter roundabout.
Exit roundabout onto 180th St. NW, also known as But Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Your Mother
Heavy traffic.
Choose alternate route?

A faster time and shorter distance to Nice Young Men is available.
Recent selections: One of my friends in book club has a son.
Favorites: He seems nice.
View Map.

Navigation tools update: You’re avoiding having children.
Do you want to keep avoiding having children?
How about “avoid traffic?”

Search for…
Spell name.
Search in “Nearby Cities” and “Near Where I Am Now.”

We just passed Nice Young Man!
When possible, make a U-turn.
Make a U-turn.

Let me roll down my window and lean way, way out and flail at him, hooting, Hey! My daughter’s right here in the car, and she’s a poet with a chapbook! But single! Almost 40 but still pretty!
Searching for intersection.
The Rest of Your Life.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Captain’s Log from H.M.S No Sugar

March 14: Just made up my mind to give sugar up. Just like that. Considered all the health benefits -- then threw all the canvas bags of sugar over the gunnels. Ship considerably lighter, easier to steer. I imagine this is what the captain of The Golden Hind felt all the time. The crew grumbled. But I told them it’s all good -- I stowed away stevia for our breakfast smoothies. And we’re going to start a morning cardio workout on the forecastle.

March 18: Crew testy, hard tack breakfast smoothies “not enough,” they want rum…and donuts. I should keelhaul all of them for not caring about their blood sugar or resting heart rate.

March 19: No one joined me for Cardio Abs.

March 24: Was that an albatross that flew over us at 0900 hours or the spread white wings of an angel food cake, light as when I was a boy? The doc says no, it was neither a flying cake nor an albatross. He identified it as an “albino frigate bird,” but he’s a know-it all little shit, like Darwin was, probably.

March 24 (like five minutes later): Question: Did they have pudding aboard The Beagle? Never mind. I need to focus my attention on my Pilates 100s.

March 30: Did captainish stuff, like putting the doc in irons and rereading Proust --- just the madeleine parts. I read about sugar cookies from France in the shape of tongues until my candle sputtered out leaving a fragrance not unlike…dare I say it? It is a love that dare not speak its name!?! Boardwalk Salt Water Taffy.

April 2: All of us weak; some of the worse-off men calling out for their mother’s “apple cake,” “linzer torte” or “mango rice,” depending on port of origin. There is wildness in their eyes.

April 3: I miss my mother’s pecan sandies. I have had to clamp my hand over my mouth to prevent myself from shouting, “Mommy, I want another pecan sandie. Please!” and disturbing the faith of my men.

April 5: I fear mutiny, but the men’s HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio is much improved and my resting heart rate is the lowest it’s ever been so….that’s something, I told them. Someone, I think it was Willikers the mizzenman -- my eyesight is hazy -- tried to pick up a cannonball and heave it at my head, but being weak in body and mind, he lurched over the gunnel.

April 7: I netted a kilo of brown algae and formed it into shapes approximating petit fours, hoping to appease the men. But the doc (I now realize he has zero “people skills”) said in a loud voice, “Capt’n, that’s genus sargassum, and not fondant”; and the men panicked.

April 10 (drifting): I tried to get my men to take their pre-diabetes seriously and their chronic inflammatory conditions, but they heaved me into this raft, with my log and pen, a bottled water. Should be sad. But look at my obliques! Dribbled a little water over the raft’s prow, dubbing it Glute.

My plan: I am drifting in that general direction of South Beach (I think) so it will only be a matter of time before I’m going to have a smoothie with a wheatgrass shot, do some power jacks, check my pulse. Then I’m going to refurbish that sinking ship The Quinoa, get a crew of good-looking health and fitness professionals. Do a circumnavigation sugar- and gluten-free with people who care.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hipster Mom Must-Haves



Giant Reusable Cloth Diaper

Box of Organic Whole Grain Graham Crackers (the box has seeds embedded in it, when composted it will become a heritage tomato vine)

Pacifier (phalate-free, in a muted earth tone)

Oversized Ceramic Mug (hand-crafted by incarcerated artisans)

European Stroller (converts to a mini van and a richly-hued batik-fabric yogamat carrier)

Bison Bone Kegel Exercizer (gleaned naturally from bison territory)

Soy Mascara (with wind-powered vibrating wand of sustainably-harvested bamboo)

Gardening Clogs

Outdoor Fire Pit (for roasting the acorn-fed neighborhood pig)

Mushroom Foraging Basket

Sheets of Unbleached Papyrus, Stick, and Sustainably Harvested Squid-Ink (for blog)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recipe from The Joy of Cooking or A Kama Sutra Sex Position?

The Clam

Clams Casino

Fragrant White Clam

Congress of a Cow

Donkeys In The Third Moon of Spring

Bran Rolls

Raised Missionary

Sparrows In The Air

Steamed Chocolate Feather Pudding

Doves and Noodles

Wounded Dove

Basque Chicken

Half Pressed

The Cuban

The Filled Angel

The Yawning Lion

Viennese Oyster

Oysters On The Half Shell

Suspended Congress

Assorted Fruit Kuchen

Crab Dip

The Crab


The Pinwheel

The Side Dish

The Side Car

Creamed Spinach

Wilted Spinach

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Little Known “Cheesemonger” School of Poetry

so much depends
a red wheel
of Edam.

-- William Carlos Williams aka “Dr. Cheese.”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Men are losing their Stilton and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt your mozzarella…
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Dairy Man, my son!

-- Rudyard Kipling, known to his friends as “Sag Paneer.”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden real English cheddars.

-- William Wordsworth, a towering wheel.

Let us go then you and I while the mascarpone is spread out across the sky.

-- T.S. Eliot. The T stands for Compte.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways Havarti both with and without caraway.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning frequently dressed as a milkmaid.

Because I could not stop for a raw goat’s-milk feta,
the Whole Foods cheesemonger kindly stopped for me and offered me a Tasting.

-- Emily Dickinson, a total curd nerd.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, Maytag Blue, thou hast thy music too,—

-- John Keats whose doctors in Italy prescribed little medicinal bites of Gorgonzola.

O casein, My Captain!

-- Walt Whitman washed his entire body electric with whey.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
from the cheese plate I took a chevre
And that has made all the difference.

-- Robert Frost, nom de blog: "Apple Picker" and a very frequent contributor to New England Chowhound.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Had St. Francis of Assisi Been A Foodie

Lard, make me a cooking utensil, perhaps a spatula, of your peace
where there is hatred, let me sow langoustines
where there is injury, poi
where there is doubt in the freshness of cheese, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light golden brown caramel with fleur de sel,
and where there is thin plonk, joy, and a bottle of 1982 Chateau Margaux.

O divine Konditor Meister,
grant that I may not so much seek to be served risotto
as to serve others risotto;
to be understood as having great palate,
as to understand that not everyone does,
to be loved, as to love the maitre d’;
for it is in giving wicker baskets of seasonal organic microgreens
that we receive,
it is in pardoning those who eat protein shakes, we are pardoned,
and it is by "Death by Chocolate" cake
that we are born to the masthead at Saveur.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Mating Habits of American Poets, Voice Over by David Attenborough

[The cracking of brush underfoot, as the camera moves through landscaped shrubbery]
[Camera left, to suburban mall parking lot]

David Attenborough: Pushed out of their natural downtown habitat, American poets have taken up residents in mall food courts and the cafes of big box bookstores like this typical Barnes & Noble in Owings Mills, Maryland.

David Attenborough: Their numbers are few. A winter of rejections left them in weak condition, with ruffled feathers. But it is finally spring and they, like all other animals, respond to the lengthening daylight: they resume “pecking.” Let’s watch the unusual display of the female American poet that scientists who study the mating habits of American poets call, “Dog-earing A Page Out Of A Book by Merwin, Or Some Equally Famous Poet, But Not A Stupendously Popular Poet Like Billy Collins.”

[The female American poet enters bookstore cafĂ©, clad in jeans, scarf, and laptop. She opens her laptop, flips through Mark Strand’s “Blizzard of One” dog-ears a page, puts the book down and commences “pecking”]

David Attenborough: In so doing the female conspicuously leaves the male American poet evidence that she is, “Open To Discussing Favorite Poets They Have in Common.” The male American poet can now come out of hiding, sitting as he was, cross-legged in an anorak in the Modern Poetry Section deep within the bookstore.

The male American poet now does a millennia’s-old ritual scientists call, “Pulling From The Deepest Recesses Of His High School Memory A Line From Shakespeare About Spring Or From Romeo and Juliet.” He also may offer the female American poet the uneaten half of his “blueberry scone,” though very few females accept and he has more luck later, when he offers to buy the female a cup of “Starbuck’s Verona.”

[Camera does a 360 around the male and female American poets, now deep in conversation about a profile of Kay Ryan they read in The New Yorker. They both feel the article “nailed Ryan’s anti-confessionality.” Scientists who study the mating habits of poets call this, “So Much Depends On A Red Wheelbarrow” because, at this point, anything can happen.]

[The image of the couple quickly dissolves and is replaced by an image from “later.” The American male and female poets are in bed, deeply asleep, in a nondescript suburban townhouse, which is only 30-45 minutes from downtown, depending on traffic.]

David Attenborough: Success! [Dramatic pause] At least for the time being.

[Camera pans the male American poet’s kitchen, as if searching for something it is not finding]

David Attenborough
: Scientists who study the mating habits of American poets say the next move is so important to the long-term happiness of the couple, they call it the “T.S. Eliot-O-Meter.” The male must have an impressive Italian espresso maker and must offer the female an espresso and they must agree on T.S. Eliot.

If the female stirs her espresso and says coquettishly, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” and the male replies, “T.S. Eliot, what a jerk,” and the female doesn’t immediately respond, “T.S. Eliot: a dry pompous anglophile,” the relationship is doomed; it’s back to the mall for both of them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Locker Room Talk from The Joy of Cooking

What she wanted was a "Quick White Icing," no "Doves and Noodles," no "Raspberry Grunt" or "Apricot Cherry Slump" and definitely no "Woodcock in Rosemary" so I gave her the "Basic Fondant."
She said is that a buckwheat "Mini Blini?"
I was all, no, that's a full size blini.
And she was like, oh, we'll have to make "Fresh Focaccia" some other time, meaning never.
"Codfish Balls" I said. Who do you like better than me? It is that wanker "Jefferson Davis Pie?"
She said, that "Transparent Pie?" No way. "Lavender-Scented Madelines" and "Charlotte Russes" is what I'm into and that was so hot. I like girls who "Snow Pudding" and "Nesselrode Sauce." Who doesn't?
See ya, she said, thanks for the "Quick Dill Pickle," I'm going to meet "Rich Fruit Bavarian."
Anyone know who he is, what team he plays on? I bet he's a soccer player foreign exchange student type. I'd like to "Chocolate-Dip Fudge" "Lemon Curd" the guy. Who's with me. You? "Pineapple Upsidedown Cake?" You? "Jugged Hare." Awesome.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Key Tax Time Personality Indicators

Introvert / Extrovert

I-90 / W-2

Accountant friend / Fancy accounting firm

Dog people / Cat people

Take-out / Eat-in

Filing for extension / Filing on time

Rolling Stones / Beatles

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How To Be Happier: A Poet’s Guide To The New Cognitive-Behavioral Science of Positive Thinking

No whining.

“If only I had the vacation time and the money to live on the beach in Provincetown like Mary Oliver….” If only Jorie Graham was my godmother…” Um, hello? You’re whining.

Think positive thoughts.

What’s a positive thought?

A review: a positive thought is a thought you think that makes you feel good.

For instance, here’s a positive thought: “I totally could have written that drivel that was just published The New Yorker. Totally could have written.”

Create a feel-good mantra. “Though my poems have been rejected, “I [fill in this blank with something that affirms your inherent worth].”

Picture in your mind, a wonderful place. Like a podium at Mt. Holyoke College.

The auditorium is packed with good-looking, poetry-loving girls who still have their jodhpurs on; they’ve just come from riding.

Though it is a full-time job, ruminating on the genius of Mark Strand is not aerobic.

Get outside. Walk. Run.

Get a dog, one that does not read The Paris Review.

Vitamin D has been proven to be good for poets. Go outside, seasonally, for haiku.

Divide a page of your Moleskin journal into two columns. On the left side, write down all of your negative thoughts.

On the right side, refute them, with “I can choose not to be jealous of Kay Ryan; I have my own voice -- if not right now then very very soon.”