It's down to the homestretch for when The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception makes its way into stockrooms, bookstores, and warehouses. I know that the book has been on a remarkably fast production schedule. From acceptance to publication took less time than it takes to gestate a human baby. However, I'm a woman who felt like each of her pregnancies lasted several years, so it comes as no surprise that January has been the slowest month in the history of time-keeping. Will it ever be February 3? Will the book ever arrive at my doorstep? From the vantage point of this interminable month, it sure doesn't feel like it.
But, but, but . . . Amazon.com has my book on pre-order, and it shows a February 8, 2011, release date: only 13 days away. And in actuality the book will be out earlier than that (no fears, folks--it will be ready for purchase and signing at AWP!).
Those who stop by and see me/purchase a copy of my book at the Saturnalia booth or come and hear me read at Bardeo with my other Saturnalia buddies will be able to choose from a variety of book-related swag items, including alien spaceship and little green metallic men key rings, space alien playing cards, and the famous space alien in a bottle. Ooh-la-la!
To those of you who will be in DC, I hope to meet as many of you in person as possible. For those unable to make it to the conference this year, make sure to check out my live and up-to-the-minute AWP blog postings at The Best American Poetry Blog from Jan 30-Feb 6.
I am excited to learn that poets Kelli Agodon and Susan Rich are hosting a Weekend Writing Retreat for Women at the Sylvia Beach Hotel this coming Sept 9-11 at the venerable Sylvia Beach Hotel. For the low, low price of $250 you can work with both of these talented ladies on creativity, generating new work, and one-on-one mentoring sessions. Sounds like a screaming deal to me, plus if you book early you can stay overnight in one of the inexpensive rooms--I recommend Gertrude Stein's--for only $70 a night. Also, the price climbs considerably after Feb 14, so no time like the present for hitting the PayPal button!
I dried out for two weeks, and then I decided to have a glass of wine. It tasted good.
The next afternoon, after a long and mule-ish slog-jog in the rain/slush/wind, I consented to a cup of spiced hot rum before descending into a hot tub.
Bad, bad idea.
I had a headache the rest of the day, and I started to feel like a first-class chump for trading in my coarse vestment for a cheesy polyester tank top that made my neck and shoulders ache. (Don't ask me why, but drinking makes my body ache.)
So now I am once again trading the waters of life for pomegranate juice spritzers, Knudsen's sparkling sodas, or, best choice of all, calorie-free aqua puree.
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For those of you who live in/near Seattle, you are in luck because Lucia Perillo is going to be in town tomorrow night, reading for Seattle Arts & Lectures. Starts at 7:30 pm. You just don't want to miss this, okay? I mean, really.
If you don't know Perillo's work, you are truly missing out on some powerful medicine is all I can say. She is smart; she is funny; she is brilliant. Her poems are musical, and strange, and risky. And did I say she was funny? And wise? And oh so very smart?
If I am not careful, I start to think I can write like her, do a decent imitation of her, or okay, sometimes I downright steal from her--which is probably the biggest compliment of all, right?
Anyway, if you have time and a little money to burn: GO. You will not regret it.
So, we're a little slow on the draw, my hubby and I. For the last month or so we've been coming up with award-winning captions for the weekly New Yorker cartoon caption contest, but every time we go to submit we learn that although our current issue has just arrived in the mail (up here in the north-left corner), we've already missed the caption submission deadline. Today we were greeted with the same disappointment when we saw this cartoon (above)
and viewed the finalist captions:
"I didn't get where I am by trying to please."
"This department has become loyal to a fault."
"Let's keep this brief. I need to get back to staring out the window."
All decent possibilities, but hubby's All in favor say meow definitely would've come in first.
However, we now know we can submit our captions online, so be forewarned: soon we'll be a finalist and asking you to vote for our sure-to-be-a-winner caption. Stay tuned!
Well, here's the thing: after a few days, the shirt feels less itchy! In fact, you stop feeling the pain (does this mean I have to upgrade to a coarser vestment? Start sleeping on a bed of nails?). I'm actually looking forward to eating homemade pizza tonight with a glass of non-alcoholic Cabernet (have I gone completely batty?). Seriously, here are the two sides of me talking:
This suuuuuuucks! I have no time for unsalted pistachio nuts and cut up fruit. I am craving sushi like nobody's business. Is sushi okay on the austerity plan? Okay, how about if it's brown rice? And no mayo? Can I please have the Trader Joe's brown rice California roll, or does it have to be the 100% veggie roll?
I am loving this clear-headedness. Who needs wine? I like my sober evenings and popping out of bed refreshed and ready to greet the day. I am way more productive when I do not overindulge. Much more efficient with my time. I really have my mojo working today.
And while we're sharing, unbelievably, miraculously, on my first day wearing the mohair suit I came across this poem called "Book of Hours" by Kevin Young in a recent issue of Poetry, from which I quote (I kid you not):
Check this thing out: a scratchy garment meant to align the wearer with her sins and trespasses, better affording her to feel the pain as an act of repentance. I kid you not. This sort of thing went on quite regularly back in the day, or so says Wikipedia:
It was the custom in Biblical times in the Hebrew religion to wear a hairshirt (sackcloth) and ashes as a sign of repentance and atonement. Such garments or adornments have been worn at various times in the history of the Christian faith, to mortify the flesh or as penance for adorning oneself. Being made of rough cloth, generally woven from goats' hair, and worn close to the skin, they would feel very itchy.
Okay, full disclosure: my in-laws "don the hairshirt" each January 1. In other words, they eat sparingly, forego the booze, and get thee to a gym. They do this not exactly because they have "adorned themselves," but because they've been living it up big time for the past month.
They are, of course, not alone. Many of us slurp, sup, and succumb to high-calorie delicacies from late November through New Year's as if there might not be any consequence at all: buerre blanc with capers, piles of warm, fresh-from-the-fat-vat donuts, rib roasts, turkeys and their greasy, sausage-y dressings, yams smothered in butter and brown sugar, mousses, parfaits, and meringues. And then January 1 rolls around, and we wonder who pulled a dirty trick and shrunk all our clothes.
When I first met my in-laws, I found it both amusing and enviable how they could forego all the worthwhile comestibles for an entire month. I knew I couldn't do it, so I didn't even bother trying. Okay, once I tried, and I think I lasted ten days.
This year I'm at it again. Because I don't think seafood and sausage gumbo, pizza, and Chinese take-out are diet foods (no apologies; I was stuck in airports all day), I donned my nasty garment o steel wool around 24 hours ago.
Today I ate:
for breakfast: hard-tack toast (no butter);
for lunch: a tuna salad sandwich made with canola mayonnaise;
as a snack: a tiny bit of brown rice sushi and a handful of unsalted nuts;
and, for dinner: a small serving of pasta with white beans, kale, yams, and a tiny bit of sausage (okay, I know, sausage probably isn't okay on this austerity plan, but without it this stew has no flavor).
My drink all day and with dinner: water.
Also, as part of this self-torture, I went out and sprinted for twenty minutes in the freezing cold.
At the moment the dreaded hairshirt feels worse than mohair, but soon I will emerge phoenix-like from the ashes, my clothes veritably loosened, my body revved up to take on 2011 with great gusto and glitzy-glitz.
But hey, don't be surprised if I don't make it past Jan 15.
Like Anne Sexton, the business of words often keeps me awake. My favorite tulip? Queen of the Night. My books include The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception & Reckless Lovely. I also wrote a book of 366 writing prompts, one for every day of the year, with Kelli Russell Agodon: The Daily Poet. I also serve as poetry editor at Crab Creek Review. New work appears in Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, Orion, Southern Indiana Review, & Crab Orchard Review, among others.