Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My Bad Vocabulary

I would say that my vocabulary is limited. I hated reading when I was younger. If I read anything that wasn't for a book report, it was usually a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I didn't get into the "high" English class in 8th grade because of (they say) vocabulary tests.

Although I've improved it over the years, it seems like I still have trouble accessing it sometimes. Thankfully, in recent months, it's been a bit easier. I think part of my brain had to be turned off when I was working retail. There was a limited selection of sentences I would need to say every day, simply because I was doing the exact same thing every day and also saying a limited number of variations of the same sales pitch. Yes, I tried to make it interesting, and I did enjoy non-fine-watch conversation with customers... and actually, one customer thanked me for teaching him the word "minimalist" when talking about Rado watches... but still, after the brief excitement of learning the language of retail, fine watches and jewelry, and also the office workplace, it was pretty linguistically boring.

Now that I've been out of that atmosphere for awhile, words are trickling in a bit more easily. Curiously enough, I've also learned a lot of words, or have been able to access some words more consistently, by playing Text Twist on my Palm. Bryan's vocabulary is much more well-rounded than mine, so I've also learned lots of words from him, as well as Southern or East Coast or places-where-it-is-cold-and-it-snows coloquial terms.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bunny Update #10: The Flying Fur

House rabbits need their nails cut monthly, or else they could grow too long and even grow back into their skin. So, today was yet another episode in the nail-cutting saga.

Captain Janeway: For some reason, I cannot get the Captain into a bunny trance. Still, I have to lay her in my lap on her back in order to trim her nails; she's always very stubborn and determined to escape. She also always pulls her paws away, as if I cut her quick, even though I never have. Somehow, I got away with no scratches on my arms; and the Captain even came back for a treat.

Chakotay: Since Chakotay started out with an owner other than myself, he's really calm for trimmings. He just sits there and generally doesn't try to get away. He's is also so sweet in that he likes to snuggle his face up into my neck. He sat with me a while even after I finished with his nails.

Me: I swear I get more allergic to the rabbits every day. The past two times I've cut there nails, I walk away with spots on my neck. They go away quickly, but they are itchy and annoying.

The bunnies will soon get knew carpet in their cave.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Taking Words for Granted

I want to remember that poetry is everywhere. Although there were many things I disliked about that movie, "Shakespeare in Love," I loved the scene where Shakespeare is walking down a busy street, where there are merchants and random passersby, and you hear different lines from his plays pop out from various conversations. The words sound profound and beautiful, and yet they are simply words spoken every day by common people.

When I worked in retail for the past few years, I could not see poetry everywhere. Well, I could, but I had to train myself to be blind to it. In some ways, to me, poetry is about resisting the luxury of taking words for granted. The language of sales is unapologetically manipulative; and the language of a retail workplace is unapologetically hierarchical and, where I worked, patriarchal. This was my 40 hours per week. This was how I paid my medical bills, how I got health insurance, and how I fed and housed myself and my rabbits. I needed it, and I needed to be blind to the irresponsible use of language that I witnessed and practiced every weekday.

But today is different. Today, I have the luxury of making no compromises to my understanding of the world around me. Writing about my daily life will not endanger my ability to take care of my basic needs. There were times in the past few years that I would sit down and write about my work routine, the things I said to people while selling things, etc.; but it would make me so angry and frustrated that I would want to quit my job. Even though today I am in a happy place, a healthy place, I am still locked into that partially blinded mode. When I sit down to write, I'm not thinking about today or even yesterday. I'm thinking about a situation from the past or the strange occurrences in my brain ;), but nothing of the present. I need to remember to incorporate the present into my poetry. I think this is the only way to move beyond the mindset that made it almost impossible for me to write for the last few years.

I just started reading Kaia Sand's interval. It's been inspiring for me to read. She came to San Francisco about a year ago, and I saw her read for Small Press Traffic, along with Rae Armantrout. Kaia's reading was so moving, passionate, smart, responsible, and many more wonderful adjectives. It is grounded in the everyday and also critical of it. I'll probably finish reading this today.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


What's new: I've started experimenting with woodcuts and linocuts.
Great news: I wrote a poem that I like!
What else is new: My friend, Kenny, just told me that he did a workshop with Catalina Cariaga a few weeks ago. Ah! I love her work.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Story, Behn, Slugs

Just started reading CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry. I was excited to find some poets that looked interesting and different to me; I've been doing some research to find more about them. They are Julia Story and Robin Behn. Story also has some interesting poems online at Octopus Magazine, edited by Zachary Schomburg & Tony Tost. Morgan (CUE editor) also has a really great interview with Karen Volkman. It made me think I'd like her work, but I haven't checked it out yet.

I'm sluggish and need to exercise.