Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Car Windows and Reverie

My car's windshield got dinged by a pebble some time ago. It started as a small crack on the passenger side. Daily, I think, it's grown a millimeter or two since the incident. Today it had a growth spurt--I think the cold outside air and the warm inside defrosting air pushed the windshield to the brink. Now the car has a crack across the entire width of the windshield. It was somewhat embarassing to be driving around Bellingham with a shoddy-looking car. And the sad thing is, it's fairly new! Luckily my insurance is taking care of some of it. But the gradual growth of the crack gave me something to obsess over.

Somehow, this all made me think of poetry. I really have no explanation as to how my mind works these days. My writing's been really episodic of late. I'll write a bit, then move on. Write a bit, move on, etc.. I do believe that it's been hard for me to buckle down with my writing because of this commuter lifestyle I'm leading at the moment. Here's the thing . . . I tend to think of myself as a "project" writer. When I have a project in mind, I hang on to that project. Some may call that writing from obsession. . . I suppose I do obsess.

But when I'm commuting every other day through traffic, much of my non-travel days are spent thinking of travel, gearing up for travel, preparing my classes which I travel to . . . Additionally, it's not easy traffic (though Meredith's got it worse). There are lots of nutso drivers traveling the strip of I-5 we negotiate. On top of that, the weather's far from ideal for driving in the dark. And yes, it's dark when I leave my house and it's dark when I get home.

Needless to say, I haven't found a place of reverie that I enjoyed the years when I was living closer to my place of employment. My preoccupations have been consumed by gas prices, 60 mile drives, the cars around me.


In other news, I have been writing, though not as spontaneously as I once have. It'll come. It'll expand. It'll crack.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Halloween's Coming!

I was trying to remember the last time I ever went "Trick-or-Treating." I think it was sometime around seventh or eighth grade. I can't recall what costume I wore for that last spin around the neighborhoods. It was probably something cheap, homemade, definitely not one of those glossy, plastic, store-bought costumes. I do remember that I didn't go as far into the neighborhoods as I had in my younger days. The whole idea of wandering in the sharp evening air left me with many doubts about the efficacy of "Trick-or-Treating" as a means of achieving a sick candy buzz.

I suspect I stopped dressing up for Halloween because I was tired of pretending. It all probably had a lot to do with going through puberty . . . I was in a hurry to be somebody, but I wasn't sure who that somebody was just yet.

Anyway, kids will be swarming the streets this Monday. We live in the suburbs, flanked by homes with children. Meredith's filling our candy cache. I did a little decorating around the house, stuffing a garbage bag witch with newspaper. The witch is a cheap 99 cent decoration, but she has her charms. There are also rubber bats, plastic spider webs, and jack-o-lanterns set here and there. Meredith has also bought me a costume. . . It's a felt Devil's mask. I suppose I'll carry my Halloween demons with me when I answer the door to the tune of sappy Halloween sounds (a disc Meredith also bought). Mere, of course, has a Frankenstein felt mask. The dog shall remain unmasked, though we do have a pink wig he likes to wear. He's pretty certain he's a dog. He likes being a dog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Back in the swing of things; talking about the weather.

October is always one of my favorite months. In New York, the early part of October is when all the foliage starts to really turn colors. Here in Washington, some of that is happening too. Folks are no longer wearing shorts (I hate wearing shorts, by the way), and the scarves, hats, and winter gear are getting taken out of their boxes and placed in the high-use drawers. Personally, I always enjoyed dressing for Fall. The mornings are crisp and cold, but in the afternoons it might be warm enough to wear a light jacket.

Also, school seems to be running full tilt. I know now I don't feel as wound-up about prepping for classes. A routine has settled in and that always seems good for both my teaching and my writing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dipping Back In

. . . to the Prose Poem all because of a graduate course I'm teaching this quarter. You know it's psychologically difficult to switch from "lineated verse" to "non-lineated verse." Quotes are up because the class is in the midst of grappling with the issues of genre.

If you're curious, here's the reading list:

Models of the Universe. Ed. Stuart Friebert and David Young. Oberlin: Oberlin College Press. 1995.
Edson, Russell. The Tunnel: Selected Poems. Oberlin: Oberlin College Press. 1994.
Volkman, Karen. Spar. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. 2002.
Simic, Charles. The World Doesn't End. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. 1989.
Tost, Tony. Invisible Bride. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. 2004.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

You'll want to strap on those dancing shoes for . . .

TAKES 3 To TANGO: A Dance Party Extravaganza!!!!

The even is co-sponsored by Cave Canem and Bloom Magazine.

TAKES 3 TO TANGO: A DanceParty Extravaganza

Ever want to dance true tango style? Rose in your teeth? Love in the air? Well, cariño, your time has arrived. Takes 3 to Tango features tango lessons, free flowing wine, glittering poetry and dancing to your favorite hip hop and funk beats! Come on out and shake your groove-thing for a fabulous cause. All proceeds will benefit programs for LGBT, African American, and Asian American writers. A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to The Red Cross Katrina Disaster Relief Fund.

• Free Tango Lessons from 8:30 – 9pm
• Open Wine Bar from 9 – 10pm
• Free Gold Roses given out (for dancin’ and romancin’ of course!)

Your Illustrious Host Committee:

Minnie Bruce Pratt, Mark Doty, Regie Cabico, Father Francis Gargani, Bishop Alfred Johnson, Walter Mosley, Vijay Seshadri, Patricia Smith & John Yau

The 411:

Saturday, September 24, 2005
The LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
8:00 p.m – Midnite

$20 Advance Tickets

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Here's why . . .

you should be jumping up and down: Clicky!

Congratulations to Barbara Jane Reyes!!!

More to come . . . But in the meantime, wander over to Barbara Jane's blog and give her the thumbs up and a big hug.

You'll see why soon enough.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fun with pet doors.

Fun with pet doors.
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Our new house has a pet door. Yay!


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
This is from the third day of our trip from New York to the West Coast. We stopped off in South Dakota to look at Mt. Rushmore. It was VERY cold and rainy. Of course, on the way back, I got lost. It was by far the worst travel day.

Tennis with Mike and Sue.

Tennis with Mike and Sue.
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
I needed a break from all the packing, so I played tennis with the tennis pro, Mike, and our friend Sue.

Jake the Dork.

Jake the Dork.
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
This is our dog with a goofy expresion on his face. As you can see, the apartment is bare.

Last days in Utica.

Last days in Utica.
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The last few days in Utica were gorgeous. This one's after the movers had come. Basically the folding chair on the porch is the last of the furniture. Jake's by the door.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Meredith and I arrived safely. So did our stuff, for the most part. The furniture had dings and a few glass items were broken, but for the most part nothing was lost. I've now got all my utilities up and running. We are, however, completely broke. Moving's so gosh darn expensive! I must say, that I am glad I wasn't driving the truck. The last time I moved across the country, I drove a Ryder truck towing my own truck behind from Arizona to Pennsylvania. I'd wake up every day feeling completely stressed out. It wasn't so bad for me this time, though I think Meredith was a bit overwhelmed.

And as for the Pacific Northwest. . . it's beautiful and sunny. I can see the mountains in the distance and there's a nice cool breeze blowing through the windows.

I'll write more soon.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Moving week

So many things to do, people!

I've been packing all day. Meredith and I have decided that some of the stuff we have shall remain in boxes for awhile, since we only plan on living in our new place for a year. Nevertheless, that's a lot of boxes. We're running out of places to put them. I've packed up all my books, CD's, and most of my closet. We just have the office and a few odds and ends left to put away. We've made pretty good time. The movers will be here either Friday or Saturday. I love how they dictate when the move will actually take place.

Anyway, I'm going to be away from blogland for what's likely to be a couple of weeks.

Until then, I want you all to be safe, be well, and write beautiful poems.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

After All . . .

. . . is said and done, proper credit is due to some fabulous people and organizations who made the Kundiman 2005 retreat possible:


Aaron Baker
Anonymous (The Love Song Scholarship)
The Chang Family
Nick Carbo (The Carbonator Scholarship)
Melissa Nolledo-Christoffels (The Wilfrido D. Nolledo Scholarship)
Oliver de la Paz (The Carlos Bulosan Scholarship)
Rigoberto Gonzalez (The Con Tinta Faculty Scholarship)
Mary Chi Kim
Carolyn Micklem
The Peters Ruston Bequest at The University of Virginia
Jon Pineda (The Alice Selover Scholarship)
Eileen Tabios (The Galatea Scholarship)
The University of Virginia Alumni Association
C. Dale Young (The Young Ten-Loy Faculty & Student Scholarships)
The New York Foundation for the Arts

Also proper credit to the faculty for the retreat: Lawson Inada, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Patrick Rosal

To the staff: Sarah Gambito, Joseph Legaspi, and Vikas Menon

And finally, to the fellows who were the stars of this retreat.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Front Row L to R (kneeling): Vikas Menon, Tamiko Beyer, Kelly Tsai, Yim Tan Lisa Wong.

Middle Row L to R: Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Patrick Rosal, Purvi Shah, Sarah Gambito, Chi Lam, Jennifer Fang-Chien, Phayvanh Luekhamhan, Ching-In Chen, Margaret Rhee, Melissa Roxas, Joan Dy

Back Row L to R: Oliver de la Paz, Jon Pineda, Gein Wong, R.A. Villanueva, Joseph Legaspi, Yuzun Kang, Neil Aitken, Lawson Inada, Jee Leong Koh, Marlon Esguerra.

Not pictured: Rona Jia Luo (Sorry Rona!)

Group massage!

Group massage!
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
We all needed massages after 4 rigorous days of poetry!

The lovely Sarah Gambito, Executive Director and co-founder of Kundiman

Sarah Gambito, you rock!

Veronica in concert!

Veronica in concert!
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Cutie, Veronica, gives Kundiman a piano concert. She plays a MEAN piano. She also reads faster than me. She plowed through the new Harry Potter book in one day!

Lawson directs(?) Group 3

Lawson directs(?) Group 3
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Lawson Inada is just as surprised by Group 3's fabulous collaboration as we were. Kelly Tsai danced while Neil Aitken, Tamiko Beyer, Melissa Roxas, and Joan Dy read a collaborative poem.

Pat Rosal reads from "Uprock . . ."

Pat at the faculty reading, rocking the house with his poems.

Pat gets serious in his workshop

Pat gets serious in his workshop
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yes, we sang songs and goofed around, but let's not forget that we were all at Kundiman for the poetry workshops. Here Patrick leads his workshop group in a writing exercise.

Lawson's workshop with Group 1

Lawson's workshop with Group 1
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Cool cat, Lawson Inada leans way back in his chair as his workshop group hands out poems.

Aimee's workshop

Aimee's workshop
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil gets into a meditative state before her poetry workshop begins.

Jennifer reads off her laptop

Jennifer reads off her laptop
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Poor Jennifer had troubles with the printer all week. However, she managed to print a copy of one of her poems for the final China Buffet reading.

Spark Exercise on Day 1

Spark Exercise on Day 1
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Chi Lam catches a glimpse of the camera as her group studiously writes an Exquisite Corpse.

The first salon reading

The first salon reading
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
All eyes are on Rona Luo as she reads for the first Poetry Salon.

Fiction Spy and guitarist extraordinaire, Jon Wei

Patrick's good buddy and honorary Kundiman Fiction Writer/Lead Guitarist Jon Wei tells us all that we're going to appear, in one form or another, in a story he's writing.

Kelly reads as Joan looks on

Kelly reads as Joan looks on
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Before the public got to see her on HBO, we got to see her.

Kelly reacts to her Def Jam performance

And Kelly was overcome with emotion after all of us cheered as she appeared on the big screen. She, of course, rocked! There's Yuzun to her left and Neil to her right.

The crowd at Orbitz watching Kelly Tsai on Def Jam

Kundiman took over a bar in Charlottesville. Orbitz graciously allowed us to change the channel from SportsCenter to HBO's Def Comedy Jam. One of the Kundiman Fellows, Kelly Tsai, was scheduled to perform. The whole troupe of Kundiman fellows, faculty, and staff attended.

Lawson accompanied by Pat and Jon on guitar

Lawson gave the Kundi crowd a great performance at China Buffet as Jon Wei and Patrick Rosal played music to his poems.

Kundiman Co-Founder and Program Director Joseph Legaspi reads his SEXY and SIZZLING poem

Joseph was openly challenged by Ching-In Chen to write a poem entitled, "I'm Sexy Hot Sizzle" or something like that. Anyway, Joseph came to bat, reading his hilarious poem at China Buffet.

Dorm Room Sing-Alongs

Dorm Room Sing-Alongs
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Almost every night, we closed the evening with sing-alongs in Joseph and Sarah's room. There's R.A. Villanueva, John Wei, and Patrick Rosal entertaining us. They're DAMN good.

We all wanted to pose with the babies

We were so happy to have Jon and Amy come to Charlottesville for the conference. Amy's right in the center with two kiddies on her lap.

Bald is beautiful!

Bald is beautiful!
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Marlon Esguerra, Jon Pineda, and myself pose in front of a wide-screen TV. We couldn't figure out how to turn it off. Note the right of the screen says, "Suga."

Like I said, Jon wanted to kiss everyone

Jon wanted to kiss everyone

Jon wanted to kiss everyone
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Joseph is the recipient of some lovin', courtesy of Jon Pineda who has his arm around Purvi. Jon just couldn't get enough love from everyone.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Kundiman Day 3 1/4

Quick Summary:

AMAZING day today. Jon Pineda taught the "Spark Writing" session and used Du Fu's line, "One by one the stars go out" as the prompt. The fellows went straight to work and churned out amazing poems that left many of us with our jaws on the floor.

Later in the evening, we had the Kundiman Gala retreat reading. There were lots of tears of love and lots of celebrations. It's hard to really describe it and do it justice . . . Anyway, each of the three groups had to designate a reader for the gala to read alongside the faculty. Patrick as always wowed us with his fabulous reading. Aimee was equally as spectacular. . . and Lawson offered his spot on the docket to his workshop students. Together, they performed a fantastic collaborative piece while Kelly Tsai did interpretive movements.

We loitered around for a bit after the reading and then we all headed to Sarah and Joseph's suite. Patrick, Jon Wei, Ron V., and Jon Pineda jammed on guitars while the rest of us were drinking bad whiskey. We capped off the musical celebration with the Kundiman rendition of John Cougar Mellencamp's Jack and Diane

After, we went as a whole conference to Orbitz, a bar on The Corner. They tuned the television to HBO's Def Poetry Jam and let us watch Kelly Tsai's fabulous performance.

All in all, we had a very busy day. I'm tired and again it's almost 2AM.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Kundiman Day 2 1/4

Last night, after the circle/salon reading (which was amazing, by the way) Patrick, Patrick's buddy Jon Wei, Ron V., and myself went looking for tennis courts. I swear I had passed them on my way to the dorms. Alas, my memory isn't as good as it used to be. I lead us straight to a lighted parking lot that had police tape draped from one lamp post to another (it looked like a lighted court with a tennis-net to me). So we ended up walking back towards the dorms to the lighted basketball court where I shot poorly. It started to rain while we were out there and we were more or less talking about what sports we were involved in during our youth. I think I was the only wrestler.

After we wrapped up on the basketball courts, we headed out to The Jabberwocky, a local college watering hole where other Kundiman folks were gathered. Patrick bought a bunch of folks some shots. Everyone was talking poetry. At this point it's close to 1:30AM, so I headed on back to the dorms.

Apparently folks were up until 3AM singing Bob Marley tunes. Again it was tough getting up this morning. Thankfully, Jon Pineda's leading the Spark Writing sessions today.

Stay tuned, more coming.

P.S. I guess you'll have to wait on Kundiman pictures until I get back. I stupidly brought the wrong adapter. Sorry!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kundiman Day 1 1/2

The students arrived yesterday and it was good to see some familiar faces. We had a circle meeting after dinner where we introduced ourselves and it rained. Outside one of the windows, you could see the water pouring down the steps in a large stream.

In the evening, we shared one poem. All the poets were fantastic. We were even in tears for some of the readings.

I picked up Lawson Inada later that evening and he was is usual self: charming as all heck. I consider Lawson kindred of sorts because we know some of the same Japanese American families from my home town.

The next day, we did the usual orientation stuff and students broke into their respective workshop groups. I'm a bit tired at the moment, since I didn't get to bed until around 2AM and I've been up since 7AM. I'm on a break right now, so I may take a nap.

Anyway, I've been snapping away with my digital camera, so I'll post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Post Fourth.

I'm cleaning out the office today. I've packed most of the book cases, now it's down to clearing out all the files I've hoarded for the past four years. The room looks much bigger without the book cases. The dog doesn't seem to notice, though.

In fact, he doesn't seem to notice much of anything. Last night I was doing a little more packing when the fireworks started to go off in the park. We live across the street from a ski slope where they launch the city's big Fourth of July Extravaganza. Anyway, the fireworks were booming above our heads. We both went to the back deck and watched a bit. Jake's ears just raised a little. He pointed his nose skyward looking at the explosions, then he sat down and demanded attention. Basically he sat in front of me obscuring my view of the festivities.

Everyone in Utica seemed to be at the ski park. Some annoying people attempted to park in someone else's back yard, citing that it was "Bob's house and Bob lets us park there." Maybe so, but the tenets who live there and pay Bob rent had no place to park. There were loads and loads of cars stacked fender to fender down all the side streets leading to the park. It's a wonder where all these people come from, since most of the time I find the place to be a little dead.

At the end of the night, around 10 or so, they fired all the fireworks. Jake didn't seem to mind that, either.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Lots of stuff goin' on

First off, I'm in the midst of packing all my books. For those of you who know me and have been to my various abodes over the years, you know that I have a lot of books. In the den, between Meredith and I, we've got four large 5-shelf bookcases plus another longer 3-shelf book case. I've also got 5 folding book cases in the office. All of these book cases are filled with books, some of which are stacked flat on their backs for more space. So far I've filled 27 file-boxes and I haven't even started on the office. A mover was here in mid-June. He took one look at all the books and said, "Well, there's your weight." Not a good thing, since they charge by the pound on these moving trucks. Luckily, I can get rid of a lot of my rhetoric and composition books, since I won't be teaching rhet-comp at Western Washington.

Also, Meredith and I settled on some movers after going through a lot of hoops in terms of scheduling site visits, negotiating prices, accounting for reimbursement with our various institutions, etc..

Finally, we found a rental house! It'll be in Lake Stevens. That's further south than I'd like to be, but it'll definitely be better for Meredith who has to commute every day. Moving day's only three weeks away!

Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm sore

This past Saturday, one of our "dog-walking-friends," invited me to her health club for "tips" with the tennis pro. I used to play tennis every day when I was in high school. I played a whole bunch when I was a grad-student, though Arizona's a really HOT place to play tennis. When I lived in Gettysburg, PA, I played quite a bit with the Gettysburg Review folks. In the winters, we'd convert the basketball gym into a tennis court with a roll-away volleyball net. After I moved to Utica, I stopped. I guess I got lazy about it . . . you know, moving to a new area, trying to find hitting partners, etc.. I tried to find hitting partners when I first got into town, but then it became evident that no one on faculty played. So, I gave up.

Recently, I got bit by the tennis bug. When we were in Paris, I tried to get tickets to see the French Open and got as far as the gate. Now Wimbledon's on television and I've been watching the matches. I've been driving out to the courts and practicing serves. I'm glad that I can still hit a serve, though it's pretty much the only shot I have left. It's funny, but it's one of the harder shots to execute after time off and yet it's giving me no trouble. The problem now is my groundstrokes are bloody awful. I've been spraying balls all over the courts. There's a hitting wall on one of the courts and I've been trying to hit against the thing. I'll be doing fine for a little while, then frame a shot and spray a ball over the fence. It's all quite humiliating.

Anyway, our friend scheduled lessons with a tennis pro at her club and the DUDE had me running all over the court. I think he thought I was younger than I looked. Let me tell you, I was sucking wind after twenty minutes. He did mention that he could tell I used to play a lot, and that made me feel better about my game.

So, if I've been away from blogging, it's partically because I'm trying to salvage my tennis game. Maybe I'll see you guys on the courts?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Just when I thought I was safe, paperwork has crept back into my life. I'm in the midst of choosing movers, doing the paperwork so that I can get reimbursed for my move, filling out forms for grant money, doing things for our upcoming wedding, and planning stuff for my Kundiman Spark exercise. And you thought Summers were for relaxation?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Books I'm TRYING to read . . .

I'm emphasizing "trying" because I've got ZERO attention span at the moment. On my bedside table are Rushdie's Satanic Verses and Catch 22. I tried reading Catch 22 on a train to New York a few weeks ago. Instead, I watched the man next to me consume four beers, two mini bottles of whiskey, three hot dogs, and two bags of potato chips. Sorry Yossarian, but this dude was way more interesting. He then tried to sleep, but these old ladies from some strange religious tour group from England were yak-yak-yakking about how glorious the countryside was, and how glorious their hats were. He kept shouting from underneath a coat he had over his head, "Excuse me!" The ladies would then lower their voices a few pitches, but then raise them as they got excited. This went on for four hours. As I said, it all made for better theatre than Catch 22.

I stopped reading Satanic Verses because of portability. There are a few things that crossed my mind as I started to read the novel: 1) It's a big book. 2) I'm going to travel a lot 3) I'm going to visit some folks in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia 4) I'm a bald Asian man and I don't want to wander airports carrying Satanic Verses when I know in my passport I have a stamp from Morocco. (By the way, on my recent international flights, my trip to Morocco surfaced every time I passed through customs).

So as you can see, these are my reasons for not finishing things. I guess I should read poetry books instead of novels, yes? Although I can say that I finished The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks while I was in Paris, so I have one novel down. The goal that I set every year is to read at least four novels for the summer. I'm well short of that goal at the moment. I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
It started as an overcast day but then turned sunny, bright, and hot when we left the site of the Sacre Coeur. After we scaled what seemed like thousands of steps to get to the top of the hill, we were accosted by several street artists who kept trying to hustle us for a portraiture.

Mass was in session in the Sacre Coeur and you're not supposed to take photos of the inside, anyway. Apparently it was kids day because there was a throng of children surrounding the altar to the front on their knees with several nuns.

Grave of Marguerite Duras

Grave of Marguerite Duras
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yet another grave from Cemetiere Montparnasse. As you walk through the front gate of the cemetary and hang a left past the information bureau, you'll see Marguerite's grave. There were two potted flowers on top of the stone, but otherwise it was an unadorned grave compared to some of the others we saw. I think it's time to re-read The Lover. She's always been one of my favorite authors.

More Snapshots from Paris

The Thinker
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
I believe Suzanne asked if we went to the Rodin museum. Indeed we did. As you can see, the weather was gorgeous. In fact, most of the time we were in Paris it was in the high 70's to low 80's.

We had just hit the Rodin museum before closing time, so the park was nearly empty.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Patrick's Sleeves

Patrick's Sleeves
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Aimee had a beautiful wedding ceremony.

I'd give you details, but I think Aimee should post first. Anyway, here's a teaser image. Our dear friend Patrick wore a shirt I covet. Check out the cuffs! Totally cool!

The Underside of the Eiffel Tower

If you've never been to Paris and you've always wondered what it looks like beneath the Eiffel Tower . . . here you go.

Blurry Placard for Susan Sontag's Grave

Meredith and I explored the Cimetiere du Montparnasse. I wanted to find the graves of Guy de Maupassant, Charles Baudelaire, and Man Ray. Instead we found the graves of Marguerite Duras, Bressai, Tristan Tzara, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and yes . . . Susan Sontag. Her grave, since it's new, was covered in flowers.

A Fountain Ornament

A Fountain Ornament
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
One of the famous fountain ornaments from Centre Pompidou. The fountain was drained when we were there, so I was a little disappointed. Earlier, we had coffee and sandwiches at a corner cafe facing Pompidou. Some Throat Singers of Tuva were performing right at the entrance to the museum.

Musee d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Meredith and I were lost in this beautiful museum. I still can't get over the fact that they allowed people to take photos of art-work (not flash photos). I couldn't bring myself to take photos of any of the paintings and sculptures. Anyway, at the very front, you may be able to make out images of shadow puppets near the clock.

Back from Paris

At the foot of Notre Dame
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
You've all seen monuments, etc. Here's an interesting shot of two young ladies sitting at the foot of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. They were laughing at all the "Silly Americans" posing for group photos.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Blog Hiatus

As you read below, I'm going to be "out of town" for a spell. I'll be sipping coffee, strolling down promenades, shopping, and museum hopping. In the meantime, don't do anything silly while I'm gone. Joseph.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Summer Vacation and Secrets Revealed

Hey, y'all. Many of you guessed my secret. Meredith and I are engaged! Ring photos to follow shortly. Anyway, to celebrate our engagement. We're going to Paris. If you're curious, here's our rough itinerary:

Wed. May 18

Arrive in Charles de Gaule airport, Bercy gardens, Pere La Chaise cemetary.

Thurs. May 19

Ile de la cite & Marais (Notre Dame, Place behind Notre Dame, Concergerie, Sainte Chappelle, Pont St. Michel, Petit Pont, Pont Neuf, Place des Vosges, Opera de Paris Bastille, Musee Picasso, Hotel de Ville) Ice cream across from Pont au Double “Le Bertillon.”

Fri. May 20

Beaubourg & les Halles (Pompidou Center, Café Beaubourg, Forum de Halles, St. Eustache church?, La Samaritaine dept. Store, Jardin des Tuileries, Le Louvre, Palais Royal, Rue de Rivoli, Hot chocolate on Rue Rivoli, Jardin de Tuileries.

Sat. May 21

St. Germain de Pres & Latin Quarter (Les Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp, Musee d’Orsay, M St. Michel, M Odeon, little streets back where toy shop is, Pantheon) Moules frites restaurant down from Pantheon Bateaux mouche daytime.

Sun. May 22

Jardin des Plantes & Invalides & Eiffel Tower quarter (Institut Musulman, Institut du Monde Arabe, Napoleon’s tomb, Musee Rodin, Trocadero, gardens at Troc., Eiffel Tower).

Mon. May 23

Place de la Concorde, walk up Champs-Elysees to Arc de Triomphe, Petit Palais, Grand Palais.

Tues. May 24

Dinner: Le Relais de Venise steakhouse, 271, bd Péreire (Porte Maillot) 17th Arr. Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur, St. Pierre de Montmartre, Au Lapin Agile, Place du Tertre, Place des abbesses, Moulin Rouge, Dali or Fourney museum).

Wed. May 25

Porte de Vanves--strolling Montparnasse-Crepes for lunch, La Defense (la Grande Arche, office buildings).

Thur. May 26


Somewhere in there, we'll see the new Star Wars movie. When we get back, we've got to high-tail it to Aimee's wedding. The Summer kicks off with a bang!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Finally, all done grading.

Yup. I'm finished for the semester. For the past week I've been a grading machine. Now I'm in the midst of cleaning out my office. It's amazing how much stuff I've accumulated over the past four years.

I just went through my closet. There were over two-hundred unclaimed portfolios handed in by students. I was going through some of them and I was shocked at how I had forgotten so many names/faces. I used to be really good at keeping names and faces of students straight, but now I found I couldn't remember 3/4ths of the folks.

So now, I'm offically on Summer Vacation. I lounged around the house today, drinking coffee slowly, and watching recaps of SportsCenter. I checked my e-mail a half-dozen times, and I read trashy pop-culture magazines.

By the way, Meredith and I are going to Paris this coming Tuesday. For those of you who are LOUSY at keeping secrets, it's sort of our pre-honeymoon.

I'll bring back some cheese for you guys.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fishouse is Live

Hey folks, Fishouse is live. Check it out. I've got a few poems posted as do fellow bloggers Aimee, Barb, and Patrick.

For those of you unfamiliar with a couple of folks, might I direct your attention to the work of Brian Turner and Steve Scafidi?

Brian's a sweet guy. I met him at AWP in Vancouver this year. His favorite drink is a White Russian. Check out his poem, "Here, Bullet."

And Steve's a cabinet maker living in West Virginia. He's also a sweetheart. If you listen closely to the audio recording, you can hear chickens in the background. I recommend "To Whoever Set My Truck on Fire."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Do you listen to music when you write?

I spoke with the poet/writer Eric Gansworth about this at length when he came to Utica for a reading in 2002. Anyway, Eric's one of the most prolific artists I know. He also does almost all his composition while music is blaring in the background.

I have to say that I also write when there's music going. The music has to be all instrumental, though. There can't be any vocals, otherwise I'm apt to get Earworms. So the music I listen to ranges anywhere from Classical (rarely), to Classical Jazz (most often), to odd-ball instrumental groups like The Dirty Three and The Rachel's.

Still, a lot of writers I know need complete silence. What type of writer are you? Do you need the background noise to compose? Do you utilize the sounds in your environment? Do you need absolute silence when you write?

Reading Conundrum

Dear Ruth is having a reading dilemma. Go help her here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Secrets part II.

Shhhhhhh. . .

Last day of classes

Today's the last day of classes. I'll be lugging around a ton of portfolios by the end of the day. Poor me!

I had promised my Advanced Poetry class a pizza party, but I have no money. I mean, really. . . I have no money. So I'm not sure what to do. I think I can scrounge together a few leftover pieces of candy and cookies.

One of my former professors came in on the last day with a bottle of port. I suppose I could do that, but . . . I don't really like port, and I don't want to part with any of the liquor we have in the house.

Got any suggestions? Should I just bag it and say I can't buy you guys pizza because I'm poor, or should I try to put something together with whatever's in the house . . . OR, should I bite the bullet and buy a damn pizza?


Welcome Ruth!

Please welcome my dear sister/friend, Ruth Ellen Kocher to the blog world!

Not only is she a fantastic writer, but she's one of the sweetest people I know.

Glad you could join us, Ruth.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Guilty Pleasures?

Fellow blog poet, Paul Guest has a thread on Guilty Pleasures. It's a lot of fun. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I say y'all on occasion . . .

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

20% Upper Midwestern

10% Dixie

5% Yankee

0% Midwestern

Summer Movies are Coming!

I want to see this and this, and this, and this.

Of course, everyone, including myself, will want to see this.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Student phrase for today:

Off the Chain.

Purification Rituals

When I'm about to grade a stack of papers, I have a few purification rituals (read procrastination).

The first ritual is to make sure all the dishes in the sink are cleaned. This is to ensure that when I pour myself a pot of coffee, I will not be setting coffee mugs on other dishes, in dirty sinks, on scummy plates. Chances are, I'll use the mug over and over again.

The second ritual is for me to clear my desk. Clearing the desk takes place in phases. The first phase involves balancing the checkbook. I make sure all the ATM receipts, slips of paper, etc., are accounted for, properly tabulated, and shredded. I then pay the bills. Papers seem to come at the end of the month or during the middle of the month when bills start coming in. Bills are also responsible for most of the clutter on my desk.

The third part of my ritual is settling correspondence. E-mail piles up in my virtual mailbox, so I weed through the spam, old messages, listserve nonsense, and other stuff. Because of the high volume of computer viruses at my current institution, I often have to run a virus scanner which usually takes an hour or two.

Fourthly, I vacuum. The floors need to be cleaned. When I'm walking barefoot in the apartment, I don't want to step on pebbles, chiggers, stickers, bits of staples, nails, or any serrated edges of any kind. It's important to be comfortable when grading and I'm most comfortable in socks or bare feet. Vacuuming is a safety precaution.

Fifthly, I scan all the television channels to make sure nothing important is showing or will show. I start from channel 1 and go all the way up to the 400's where the cheesy music channels reside. One time I settled on a Curling tournament and sat transfixed, trying to figure out the rules. I still don't get that sport. It's basically bowling on ice, right?

Sixthly, I call mom.

Seventhly, I walk the dog. Brisk walks are neccesary for hunting dogs like Jake. If Jake does not get his walk, he whines like a two-year-old. If I want an optimum paper-grading environment, noise like dog-whine must be eliminated, so I take Jake on a two-hour walk through the Switchbacks.

Eighthly, I delete all the phone messages on my school phone.

Ninethly, I recycle all the magazines I've read. For some reason I keep getting Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. I think I got roped into subscribing to them when purchasing something for my digital camera. I, according to Papatya Bucak, am a danger-prone consumer.

Tenthly, I call dad. He and mom use different phones.

Finally, I settle down to grade papers. I'm still wondering why it takes me so darned long to finish. . .

Friday, April 22, 2005

The NY Times on Poetry Contests, etc.

There's an article on the NY Times today, in the Books section. Here's the link.

You may have to register, but I don't think there's a cost.

The Students are Restless . . .

These days, teaching in the classroom has been extremely tough. Winters in Utica are harsh. They last from October all the way to mid-April. In our case this year, the Winter subsided in mid-April. We've had a glorious two weeks of sun and warmth. That said, the students have mentally checked out of the classroom. They're coming to class in their short-shorts and tube tops. They've stopped bringing their books if they show up at all.

They're now giggling in corners, passing notes, reverting into junior high kids.

All I can say is, the end is neigh.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sarah and Jon

They've got pages up at Web Del Sol. Check 'em out here!

Thanks to Bino for his fine editorial eye and supreme linkages.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Kundiman Gala 2005

Total Eclipse of the Heart: An 80's Prom Gala

Travel back to the past to your senior prom—it’s 1985 again!
Put on that Molly Ringwald pink, don that rhinestone glove and Get into the Groove.
Bring your main squeeze or your best friends. Or, better yet, come stag—awesome!

This multimedia Prom Gala will feature:

•Open Wine Bar, 80’s Cake Reception
•Dancing to Your Favorite 80’s and Hip-hop Beats.
•Performances by Award-winning Asian American Artists
•Favors: Choose between a Class Ring or a Satin Orchid Wrist Corsage
•Karaoke Election of Prom King & Queen
•Prom Pictures!

Friday, April 29, 2005
10 pm – 2 am
Open Wine Bar from 10 pm – Midnight, Cash Bar Afterwards

The Poetry Project
St. Mark’s Church
131 East 10th Street (2nd Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

General Admission
Limited Advance Tickets are available for $35. Click on below button to purchase.

At the Door, Tickets will be $50

Poetry Project Members may pay $30 at the Door
Email info@kundiman.org to reserve your space. Must show proof of Project Membership at the Door

Why go to The Total Eclipse of the Heart Prom?
•All proceeds from the Prom will benefit Kundiman’s 2nd Annual Asian American Poets’ Mentorship Retreat at The University of Virginia.
•You want another chance to meet “Ducky”
•You were in the closet and went to prom with someone of the opposite sex (who had a crush on you).
•You can’t wait to “get physical” to Purple Rain and Take on Me.
•It’s Totally Rad!

This is activism for the fabulous and mischievous. For one night only, Kundiman, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church and today’s brightest Asian American talents offer you the chance to experience prom as it should be.

Def Poetry Jam poet, Regie Cabico will host.

Performer Bios
Named one of A. Magazine’s hottest up-and-coming Asian American stand-up comics, Regie Cabico is also a spoken word artist and poet. He won MTV’s Free Your Mind competition and appears on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.

Ishle Yi Park is a Korean American woman who has been published in The Best American Poetry of 2003. She has been twice featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and performed her poetry on the NAACP Image Awards. She has a CD entitled “Work is Love,” and an upcoming book called “The Temperature of this Water,” which will be released this year. Ishle currently lives in New York.

Patrick Rosal is the author of Uprock Headspin Scramble And Dive. He has been a featured poet on BBC radio’s World Today.

Tina Chang is the author of Half-Lit Houses. Her poems have been included in several anthologies including Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation.

Lisa Ascalon, a Poet-in-Residence for Poets and Writers, has performed spoken word at Nuyorican Poets Café and Bronx Academy for Arts and Dance.

Meredith and Me

Meredith and Me
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yours truly and Meredith. We're dolled up for the gala.

Pat "Ladies Love" Rosal

Pat "Ladies Love" Rosal
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The rascal himself. Handsome, yeah? And who are the two lovelies next to him?

Joseph and Meena

Joseph and Meena
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Joseph Legaspi, Program Coordinator for Kundiman, with Meena Alexander, one of the featured readers from the 2004 Gala.

Pictures from the Kundiman Gala 2004

The Kundiman Gala is coming up.

Check out Kundiman's Website for details!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

Book Quiz

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Pulled this from Charles

Thursday, April 14, 2005


This is taken from a message board. It's a great organization and they need the help, so if you can offer aid in any way, be it monetary or publicity, please do so.

Dear Flipsters—

I’m writing to you on behalf of Kundiman, a 501c3 non-profit literary company dedicated to the discovery and cultivation of emerging Asian-American poets. One of our main programs is a Summer Workshop Retreat where nationally renowned Asian American poets conduct workshops and provide one-on-one mentorship sessions with participants. These year’s faculty include: Lawson Inada and our own Aimee Nezhukumatathil & Patrick Rosal. More information on the 2005 Retreat can be found here: Click here

I’m writing because 6 of our talented participants cannot afford the $300 for room & board for this Retreat. (Kundiman does not charge for workshops and programming) As Kundiman is such a new non-profit, we are not able to provide the type of financial aid we would like to be capable of.

If you are interested in sponsoring a scholarship for one of our 6 poets, please let me know at sarahg@kundiman.org $300 is all that it takes. Kundiman will name the scholarship according to your wishes. Your scholarship will be published on the Kundiman website. And, after the Retreat, you will receive a poem and letter from your sponsored poet. As most of you who are writers know, most poets receive little financial remuneration for their efforts. These emerging writers are coming to this craft for love of the word and the power of the word. Please help support this next generation of dedicated and enterprising Asian American writers—who are so worthy of your attention and support.



Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Monday, April 11, 2005

Filipino food quiz

Apparently I'm a sticky-sweet rice cake.

Take this quiz: Clicky

Moving soon.

Don't know if y'all know this, but I'm going to be headed out West, soon. Figured I'd make it an official announcement. Yes, it's true. I'm moving to Washington (state). So any of you West-Coasties want to hang out, give me a shout!

Moving sucks, in general. I hate moving. I think, in my adult life, I've moved a total of eight times. All of them were painful moves. I hate looking for a new place to live. I hate packing. I hate gathering up enough newspapers and magazines to use for packaging materials. I hate unpacking. I hate connecting up utilities. I hate driving with all my stuff and worrying about what condition they'll be in once I reach my destination.

When I moved from Arizona to Pennsylvania, I rented a Ryder truck. I towed my own truck on the back of this thing. On top of that, my dad and Rosie, the wonder pug (RIP) rode in the front with me. The truck had no cassette deck and a broken radio.

Anyway, I think I'm getting enough money to hire movers. Praise movers. Praise them.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Dear Random

The filing cabinet is overrun with magnitized momentos. Cuban postcard, Cuban postcard, Moroccan lamp.

I've tried to be magnanimous with my books, but I like possession. The greatest gift a person could give me would be a label-maker.

Here is my thesaurus. Here is my chair. This is my telephone with its bright blue buttons.

The window to my office shows my dowdiness. My jeans are from yesteryear. So is my mug.

I have an earache which makes me hum.

Students knock at improper moments--food in mouth, teacup.

Friends say coffee is my oeuvre. I make a mean vat of Supremo.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pulitzer Winners

This is from The Pulitzer Prizes website:

Pulitzers for Literary Arts:


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


Doubt, a parable by John Patrick Shanley


Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford University Press)


de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan (Alfred A. Knopf)


Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press)


Ghost Wars by Steve Coll (The Penguin Press)


Second Concerto for Orchestra by Steven Stucky (Theodore Presser Company)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Post AWP Notes

1. Lost luggage on return trip. Currently up waiting for the delivery person to ring my doorbell.

2. Still sick. Was sick Wednesday, got worse Thursday, got better Friday, got worse Saturday, much better today. Still sick, though.

3. Blogroll: Paul Guest, Aimee Nezhukumatathil (spell her full name program people), C. Dale Young, C.R. Jensen, Jennifer Thornton, Nick Carbo, Eileen Tabios, David Hernandez, Janet Holmes, Victoria Chang.

4. Rain.

5. Crepes are good for dinner.

6. More people reading from papers than I ever remember at AWP. I hope it's not a new trend.

7. Book fair drive-bys done: 22

8. Books purchased: 15

9. Journals obtained: 1 (It was free, and don't give me grief. I subscribe to a bunch)

10. Virgil Suarez had another of his famous random parties. I'm not sure if the cops came this time.

11. Alcoholic beverages consumed: 3 beers (HA HA HA C.DALE! Missed me!)

12. Cool people to chat with: lost count by Thursday.

13. Tired. Very tired.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Taxes, taxes, taxes . . .

I got my refund the other day. Big smile!

The sad thing about this refund . . . it's not really my money. It's going straight to debt-payment. Big frown.

I've learned a number of things from my tax accountant, though. I've learned that I'm not declaring enough of my purchases and I clearly need to be more meticulous in my record-keeping. In one instance, I had forgotten that I had bought bookshelves in the Fall. Lucky for me, the accountant asked me if I bought books and whether I had purchased shelves to house those books.

Hell of an accountant, I must say.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter weekend

Meredith received a basket filled with Easter chocolates from her mother the other day. The basket was lined with green plastic faux-grass that sparkled when you tilted it under our dining room lights. The basket's smartly situated on the table that's between the entrance to the hallway and the entrance to the living room. We have to pass by and dip our hands into the shiny faux-grass for the foil-wrapped chocolate eggs.

My parents never gave me Easter baskets. Instead, Easter was about church and going to three-hour-long masses. It was definitely not one of my favorite holidays. Mass was presided over by a humorless man who was Scottish. His booming criticisms of modernity shook the panes of stain glass. I hated going to mass. I hated it even more on Easter Sunday because of the length of the mass and the knowledge that after mass I would participate in the town's annual "Easter Eggstravaganza."

The one semblance of a "traditional" Easter in my household would arrive wheen my parents allowed me to participate in the annual "Easter Egg Hunt." Other kids got baskets and pet bunnies, and all that, but my parents were pragmatists. "What do Easter baskets have to do with god?" they asked. I never answered back because I could never think of a viable reason. And anyway, Easter baskets and Easter candies were never a part of their culture. A few blocks down, Ontario High School football field would be transformed into a mass of agitated five to ten-year-old bodies. Sprawled out before us were several thousand plastic eggs. This was no hunt . . . this was gladitorial combat. In October, I had witnessed one young football player's arm break and hang at his side after getting tackled. Teeth were knocked out on this field. Shoulders were dislocated. Now we were all young boys and girls on this same field, prepared to show the other boys and girls no mercy. High up above the lawn, parents would sit and gossip. Our payoff would be a sugar-induced high that would last for five hours. The payoff for the parents? A free viewing of the carnage.

The officials for the event lined us up at the edge of the track. The plastic eggs looked like they were melting in the sun. Once the starter gun fired, we were off, scooping the pastel-colored plastics from out of the grass and into our faux-wicker baskets. They were hot to the touch, but we could all tell that something was inside of each of them. Each of us had our individualized dream of wealth and power. Perhaps they weren't filled with chocolates. . . perhaps they were filled with cash?One girl had fallen and scrapped her knee in the grass. She was still in her church-going Easter clothes and her once-white dress was now a series of grassy smears and soil. The contents of her basket spilled all over the grass as swarms of children dove for the eggs tumbling in every direction. They looked like little piranhas we had seen on film during a biology class, tearing into a wild boar who tried to cross the Amazon. Bits of bone and the boar's snout would bob to the surface, then sink into the dark waters.

I was never one of the kids who grabbed the most eggs. Additionally, I was never the kid who was too slow, leaving the field empty-handed. I always had just enough eggs to take home. Invariably, the chocolate inside of the eggs would be soft, melting right out of their foil.

Easter weekend's coming and I'm helping myself to Meredith's basket. There's a pile of unpeeled chocolate egg wrappings making their tinny sounds as I set them down. I'll probably have to refill her basket at some point . . . Maybe I'll get her another basket.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Judging books by their covers

I do this, and I know Eduardo had a post about this awhile back.

Anyway, since AWP is just around the bend, I've been thinking about the book selling industry and how poetry is marketed. I had an interesting discussion with Karl Kageff, over at Southern Illinois University Press, and he said poetry books are very expensive to make with little return in profit. He spoke with me about the artwork and the imagery on the covers . . . he also mentioned the paper and the very unique editing needs that a collection of poetry has, as opposed to an academic book (what SIUP is used to publishing).

He's right, of course. We as poets are the top consumers of poetry books and there aren't that many of us (although it might seem like it come book-contest season). We also produce gorgeous books compared to these: Clicky!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

AWP is dangerous for the pocketbook.

Every year that I have attended AWP (since 1997) I have left the conference with an armful of books and journals. It's deadly. It's dangerous. I have to admit that I go to very few of the readings and panels. Rather, I hang out with friends and dine at the various restaurants. I cruise the book fair at least twenty times, and I hang out at the hotel bar (I don't drink much, but it seems y'all do). This year I have been asked to be a bit more . . . careful with the finances. So . . . if I'm doing any one-stop shopping, where should I go? Any of you setting up tables at the book fair? Got any discounts? ;-)

Monday, March 21, 2005



Nothing is so beautiful as spring--

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush

The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush

With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?

A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden.--Have, get, before it cloy,

Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,

Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,

Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Serenity Now!

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Here's my happy place. I go there when I have to grade papers. It takes me much longer to get my grading done when I go there. . .

By the way, this is the beach in Nerja, Spain. It's gorgeous there. Go when you can!


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yes friends. Spring Break is never really a break for college professors.

Alas, this has taken me away from blogging. Please understand.

By the way, this is a true example of some of the work I need to finish by Sunday. Spring Break ends on Monday. *sob*

Friday, March 11, 2005

When students analyze your poem . . .

So I went to Union College to give a reading last night. First of all, props to Professor Channette Romero for bringing me down. Channette, if you're reading, your students are fantastic and I had a great time.

Now, as far as the heading for this entry . . . her students used my book as one of their required books for the course. In fact, some students wrote papers on my book.

The sensation was flat-out bizarre. So then, when I sat down and started conversing with the students the following conversations started taking place:

/Hyperbole mode on

Student 1: So, can you tell me about your obsession with religious symbolism and religious terminology?

Me: Uhhhhh . . .

Student 1: Because, it seems that your defrocked Catholic thematic concerns are pervasive throughout this text. Care to comment?

Me: Uhhhhh . . .

Student 2: Yes, I noticed this too. Tell me about the halo symbols throughout? Are they really halos?

Me: Yes. I don't know. . . yes?

Student 3: And in another passage, your character, Fidelito, miraculously ascends . . . heavenward? How can that be because there's no direct mention of god in any of the pages.

Me: There's not?

Students 1-4: No.

Student 4: You also have your character return two poems later, after his ascencion. Is he a Christ symbol?

Me: Yes?

Student 4: Hmmmm. . . That's what I thought. But that's weird, because most of the religious gestures that your character makes are very . . . tribal? Is that correct? Maybe superstitious without the idea of a church organization would be a better way of putting it.

Student 2: Yes, because your character worships things like the wind and the rain, you know?

Me: Ok.

/Hyperbole mode off

Ok, in all seriousness, it was flattering and alarming to have had my work read so closely. I tell you, I discovered a lot about my poetic obsessions sitting in that class.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Evil ice

Saturday, Meredith and I opened up some windows to knock down several large icicles hanging precariously from our rain gutters. Before that, though, I attempted to knock them down from the street-level by hurling snow balls at them. That method only knocked down some of the smaller ones. Further, it severely damaged my ego. My pitching arm is definitely not as accurate or as strong as it used to be. The major culprit was an icicle that was roughly five-feet long and about as thick as a human torso. It was extremely dangerous. . . I had visions of walking under the thing and getting brained by it. I also imagined backing up my truck and having the thing pierce through my roof. What's more is that all the residue of the icicle was forming a mound of ice on the driveway, making it treacherous walking.

Anyway, I opened up the windows, grabbed a broom, and tried to whack the icicles off their ledges. It was more difficult than anticipated. I was literally winded after my efforts. Try balancing half your body outside a window while you're swinging away with a broom. It's not easy.

The forecast calls for more snow this week. *sigh*

In other news, I've got a reading at Union College this coming Thursday.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Thoughts of vacation

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
*sigh* After all the snow that hit us last night, I've been having thoughts of my summer vacation. Last summer, Meredith and I went to Spain and Morrocco. We had a HELLUVA time.

Anyway, I shoveled a ton of snow (we got about five inches of snowfall last night), and while doing this work, my thoughts returned to Sevilla.

Ah! Sevilla! We drank Sangria and had Tapas while watching the other tourists. Several bands wandered by while we were soaking in the sun. Every once in awhile, the bells from La Giralda would boom.

*double sigh* One more week until Spring Break, Oliver. . . One more week.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bad Haiku . . .

This one's from a student. For those of you in Tennessee, I completely apologize. This haiku in no way reflects my attitudes towards your state:

Tennessee is lame
don't let your best friend go there
because he will die.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

On this date . . .

. . . my mother says I was born at 10AM. My father claims that it was the hardest hours of his life. This is probably the reason why baldness in our family has passed on down to me.

Pisces have more fun.

Friday, February 25, 2005

If you want to see . . .

Reb Livingston's new baby, click here.

Beautiful baby and beautiful family, eh?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It ain't a reading unless . . .

. . . someone walks out. And someone DID walk out of Patrick Rosal's reading. In fact, they walked out of the reading seven lines into the first poem.

I've been battling these "easily-offended" types who keep returning to the reading series I'm currently running. Why they return, I'll never know. Anyway, this is directed towards the man who gave me suggestions on how to run the reading series:

My co-coordinator and I have decided that despite your recommendations, we will continue to have readings by authors who are Black, Gay, Chicano, Asian, Jewish, Native American, Risk-Takers, Mayhem-Makers, and Outsiders. We will also happily invite people who write poems and stories where there is sadness, violence, grief, death, general discomfort. We regret that we cannot provide you a solid venue for your anesthetized version of entertainment, but we can recommend a decent pediatric office where you can read Highlights and spend hours on end circling the hidden items in the "Find the Hidden Objects!" page.

I have no interest in playing Muzak over the loud-speakers for an hour for the benefit of said "easily-offended" types.

Now. . . disclaimer aside, Patrick rocked. The students loved him and many of them walked away excited about poetry. You should've seen the line of folks anxious to speak with him after his reading. The audience did sing-alongs and hooted and hollered after almost every poem.

Good show, brother!

In two hours . . .

Patrick Rosal is going to throw down.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Jake vs. the AKC champ

There's no contest, really. Our dog is clearly the more flexible of the two . . . and flexibility is key for dogs, you know. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for a dog to be flexible.