Sunday, December 31, 2006

In 2007

I'd like to welcome in the New Year by wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2007. Be safe and be well.


Should I make a New Years resolution? I'm not too great about keeping to them, though it's good to have goals. I suppose I should, eh?

Okay, I resolve to do the following things:

1. Eat healthier foods. I get the occasional snack attack, but I've been bad this holiday season. Atlanta had fried this and fried that. Needless to say, I gained a few holiday pounds (though it may because I'm off thyroid meds too).

2. Create a new exercise routine. I've sort of plateaued with my current routine and I should probably do more cardiovascular exercises.

3. Prepare for classes sooner. I'm not bad about this, I just would like to be prepared a week in advance as opposed to a day or two in advance.

4. Read more poetry. Nuff said.

5. Write morer poetry. See 4.

6. Make more friends.


Farewell 2006.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tales of MLA

Oh, the stories to tell! For my writer friends out there attending the conference, I wish you good luck. Smile a lot.


MLA's a strange place. I've gone to every MLA from 1998 to 2004, and I've always thought that it's a time when many people in the humanities act inhumane.

For starters, it's held at a terrible time. The weather's bad, so there's the inevitable travel delay. People are getting over illnesses. People are pulled away from their families during the Holiday season. I totally understand how it can make people grumpy. And of course, there's the stress of the job search for both sides of the table. It's stressful for interviewers because they have to sit with some colleagues who they may not like but must sit with for the duration of the conference. There's the interviewees who've got the hopes of future employment. There's the crush of people everywhere you turn, making the whole process a lot more daunting.

I believe an MLA in Chicago had me in one of the slowest elevators ever. I only had one or two interviews, so I wasn't too pressed. There was a pregnant woman (she was clearly in her third trimester) in the elevator riding along with me, and she was towards the front of the elevator car while a fidgety middle-aged man with glasses from an Ivy League school groaned and griped. More people boarded the car, until it was quite full. Finally, our elevator car reached the floor the middle-aged man was trying to get to. He bullied his way to the front and said, "Get the f*%k out of my way, under his breath to those of us in the elevator car, but clearly to the pregnant woman.


I've also found it funny when scholars who study working class lit. show up in tailored Armani suits. You can tell pedigree by the cut of the cloth.

And there's always the ever-present "look at me, not my name tag. Look at me, not my name tag" thing, when we check each other out like new dogs at a kennel.


I've had bad interviews, too. I was ten minutes late for one because I kept missing the elevator up to their fifteenth floor hotel room. It wasn't that I made it to the hotel late. I had been there for 30 minutes. The interviewers generally ask that you call from the front 10 minutes in advance. Any earlier and I'd be rushing them. Meanwhile, the small elevator galley was filling up with people. There were six elevators in a cramped rotunda, and each one was taking a long time. I'd go to one, only to find it stuffed with people. Then I'd wait for the next one and see that it was way across the room. I'd park in front of one, and I'd see that all the elevators except the one I was waiting for had all touched down in the lobby.

Finally, I realized it wasn't going to happen. I had five minutes until my interview and I knew I was going to be made even later if I took the elevator. So I ran up fifteen flights of stairs to my interview.

The interviewers were good-natured about the event. I arrived at their doorstep, panting, perspiring, and full of jokes about the ordeal, which certainly helped me get my breath back.


Still, there are fun times that can be had after a days worth of interviews. I had a great time in San Diego. The MLA in New York was a blast, and I went to see a few plays. And of course, there's the close company of writers that can be found at the end of the day. Sure, you're all going after the same jobs, so there's a little tension, but in the end, commiserating about the interviews is a good way to ease the tension.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Hoops Live

I'm heading into Atlanta to watch the Hawks play the Pacers. Not the best of games, but the seats are free. Really, though, I want to catch up with Adrian and Stacey.

As a child of Oregon, the Trailblazers used to be my team, but when Clyde "the Glide" Drexler left for Houston, I gave up on them. I couldn't stomach the players that came after those title runs in the late 80's, early 90's.

When I lived in LA, I watched the Lakers a few times, but I mostly watched the Clippers because they stunk, but mostly because there were lots of seats available, and you could get up close to the floor. Hell, I went to LMU not for the Jesuit education, but for gym seats to watch Hank Gathers play.

In Arizona, it was the Suns. Rich and I were both hoops junkies. We went to a bunch of the ASU games, and we went to the pro games to watch Jason Kidd play.

These days, I'm not as much of a hoops fan. I'll watch an occasional game, but I'm more inclined to park in front of the TV for pro football.

At any rate, the tickets to tonight's game are free, and it's an excuse to go see some good friends.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Colonies etc.

I'm reviewing all the stuff I need for colony applications. I wish I could attend during "off peak" times, but my calendar is not my friend.

Breadloaf would be fun, but I'm not sure I'm eligible, since Names Above Houses is past its four-year freshness date and Furious Lullaby won't be out until September, though I'll have galleys/proofs soon. And I can't afford to attend without any assistance at this time.

Cornshake's lovely MacDowell photos have me yearning for a studio space. Yaddo looks great too. Unfortunately, EVERYBODY'S applying for the summer. I suppose the one benefit of a quarter system is that classes don't begin until late September, so I can apply for a late August - September date.


I've actually been working quite a bit during this vacation. Part of it is that I'm going to have to go off my hormones, which'll have me fatigued in the next few weeks. I figure, I better get as much done as I can before the new quarter starts.

For those of you unaware, I had a thyroidectomy in October. The endocrinologist needs to zap any remaining thyroid tissue, so he's taken me off the hormone.

Should be fun. I'll be puffy, slow, tired, and constipated. Great Christmas, eh?


Finished reading Major Jackson's Hoops. I'm still thinking about it. It's one of the books I'll be teaching for my graduate course where I'll be talking about manuscript structure.


All the Holiday shopping's done. Huzzah.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I just received the timeline for the book. Looks like we're aiming for September 07. Here's the current Table of Contents:


Hour of Dawn
Aubade with Scorpions and Monsoon
Constricting Aubade
Aubade with Doves, a Television, and Fire
The Devil’s Book
Aubade with a Book and the Rattle from a String of Pearls
God Essay
The Devil’s Hour
Aubade with Constellations, Some Horses, and Snow
Penitence Essay
Aubade with Bread for Sparrows
My Dearest Apostasy


My Dearest Conflict
What the Devil Said
What the Eye Said
What the Scapula Said
On the Pores of the Flesh
On the Pulse Residing Behind the Lobe of the Ear
On the Fenestra Ovalis
What the Ear Said
What the Dead Said
What the Devil Said
On the Epidermis
On the Motions of Death
Epitaph for the Musculature of the Neck
My Dearest Transgression


Aubade with Starlings and Kerosene Muted by Glass
Mysteries Essay
My Dearest Recklessness
Aubade with Memory Crystallized into a Figure of a Dancer
Widening Aubade
Aubade with a Heel of Bread, a Heart, and the Devil
Prayer Essay
Aubade with the Moon, Some Bones, and a Word
My Dearest Regret
Aubade with a Thistle Bush Holding Six Songs

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Possible cover?

By Joel Sheesley entitled
Interior with Crucifix and Nothing Special

The case for the image: I like the quiet of the image, the shadow of the bird house, how mundane everything is.
Does it say Furious Lullaby? I'm not sure.

**Note: Click on the second link on the left**


I'm in Douglasville, GA, at the home of my in-laws. We had a heck of a time getting here. Our flights were scheduled to fly out of SeaTac, which meant we needed to drive south to Seattle. What's more, our flights were at 9AM, so we'd have fought commuter traffic. We decided to stay overnight in Seattle, near the airport. But booking a hotel was a bit of a hassle. A lot of the hotels didn't have power when I initially called. It seems the windstorms from Thursday had wiped out power to much of International Blvd., so all the hotels on that grid were in the dark. Anyway, we managed to get in touch with an Econo Lodge at the 11th hour. The hotel sucked and we got little sleep, but at least we didn't have to drive the horrible I-5 traffic at 6AM.

Our flight connecting from Chicago to Atlanta was delayed for about an hour due to "mechanical problems." So that messed with our itinerary a bit. I'm really not fond of travelling these days.

Regardless, we got here safely, about two hours late.


I spent the morning drinking coffee and bird watching with my mother in-law while my wife slept.


No plans. I'll probably finish reading Major Jackson's Hoops. Quite interesting. He's using a ballad form for some of the early poems, which makes sense, since the poems speak of playground legends. More after I'm finished.

Also, going to re-read Mark Strand's The Making of a Poem for my advanced poetry class next quarter.

Finally, I'm going to work on a few new projects and my tenure review file. We've got lots of down time over here. Maybe we'll catch a movie or two.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Grading in Progress


Yes, it's that time of year. I taught a large, 61 person lecture course. So, rather than reading 61 essays, I chose to give a final exam. Now I'm paying for it. One Bluebook's author has handwriting that looks like this: ........................ And that goes on for 16 pages.

At least I'm putting a dent into my grading. I've finished 'bout half of 'em. I'll try to get through another 15 or so, before I go to bed.


On top of that, I've got poetry portfolios to read. Those aren't as bad, 'cause I've seen most of the poems already and the poems are typed.


One of my favorite children's books was Charlotte's Web. I'm always worried about movie adaptations. I was pretty disappointed by the adaptation of James and the Giant Peach.

I suppose the reason why I'm not disappointed by the Harry Potter series is that I haven't read any of them. . . not a one. To you Potter purists, I know I'm missing out, but I have only SO much reading time.

Anyway, E.B. White's classic is coming out this Friday and I'm going to see that instead of Eragon.


I'm heading to the ATL to visit the in-laws for Christmas. We'll be there for a whopping 10 days. Yeesh. I don't mind Atlanta, but we'll be in the burbs. At least we're bringing our laptop.


O! Blog! Tool of procrastination! How I love thee!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An Interview

The wonderful Kate Greenstreet interviews me at Kickingwind.

Friday, December 08, 2006


There's a tentative AWP Conference schedule online.

And like every year, there are panels/readings that I'd like to go to that take place during other panels/readings I'd like to attend. They need to make the schedule fit MY whims.

St. Cassian of Imola

December the 8th, I will celebrate the martyrdom of St. Cassian of Imola, patron saint of teachers. Yes, I know his date of martyrdom lists August 13th, but it's the end of the quarter and what better way to celebrate the end of the quarter than to eat shish-kabobs, toothpick weiners, and other skewered goodies.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wrapping things up.

Tonight, I make my final exams for my literature class. Should be fun . . . for me, anyway.


I've got the last batch of poems from my intro class. Pretty soon I'll be collecting portfolios. The quarter seemed to go by so slowly. The winter quarter will be fast, but the spring quarter, I remember, seemed to crawl. That's probably because all the schools in the semestral format are finished a month before us. That's okay, I guess. The trade-off is that we start at the end of September.


Speaking of weird calendars, I had to turn down an offer to teach for a low-res. Alas, my full-time teaching doesn't synch-up with what would've been a great part-time gig. Maybe in the future.


My parents don't read my blog, so I can ask you . . . I need good recommendations for non-fiction. My mother LOVED The Knife Man. She also enjoyed The Professor and the Madman. I need a recommendation that's similar. I don't think she'd be interested in political history, or anything of that nature. Suggestions, please.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm a geek.

I'm excited about this trailer.

Here comes the paperchase

I've got to track down permissions from all the journals, presses, and anthologies. The press has spoken. I'm also thinking about cover art. Rigoberto mentioned that it'd be hella hard getting a cover image for a book with my title. I have one in mind, but I'm not sure if it fits the tone.


It's the last week of classes and I've got a million things to do. I have to finish up my article. I have to make my final exams. I have to prepare my tenure-review files. I have to buy presents. I have to apply to residencies and apply for grants. Overflow!


I'm quite relieved that it's the end of the quarter. It's been a strange one, with the surgery and the weird weather. But it's also been a good one.


THIS SUNDAY, December 10th

POETRY ON WHEELS Floating Bridge Press with support from 4Culture and Washington Center for the Book will host a reading to celebrate "Poetry on Wheels: an Anthology of King County's Poetry on Buses Program" 2pm Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Microsoft Auditorium, Level 1. Local poets Madeline DeFrees, Martha Silano, Dana Elkun, Paul Hunter, Joan Swift, Kelli Russell Agodon, Peter Pereira, Jeff Crandall, Susan Rich and others will read selected poems. This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


After coming back to the house from running the dog, I was getting ready to head back into town to work out. I heard water running, sounding like a faucet was on inside the house. I wandered around, trying to locate the source of the noise. Still no luck. Finally I went down to the basement. As soon as I walked in, I stepped in a puddle of water. Almost the entire basement was covered in a half an inch of water. And it was still spewing forth from behind a wall in the corner. I quickly ran upstairs and shut off the water to the entire house. Luckily, I ran into one of my neighbors as I was taking out the garbage. She told her husband what had happened. Her husband told another neighbor what had happened. Pretty soon, the whole neighborhood was in my basement, fixing the problem. They pulled back the boards, removed some insulation, and voila. A copper pipe that fed a faucet outisde had iced over, blowing the pipe. I'm ignorant about all things house-related, but I'm quickly learning (it helps that neighbor #2 is a contractor/architect and the man who built the house I'm living in now). I had to rush away to pick up Mere from school, since the roads are horrible and the Honda she usually drives doesn't have four-wheel drive. Anyway, when I got back home after picking her up, the pipe was capped. The leak was stopped. The water was back on.

My neighbors rock. That's all I can say.


As far as the roads are concerned, when I went back to Bellingham to pick up Mere, I had one incident where I was in my lane, and the ice in my lane had formed an icy rut, like a skateboarding ramp. I found my car's tires rocking from one side to the other because the roads were so choppy. Soon, I found that my car's tires had been ejected, sending my car veering into the other lane towards on-coming traffic. Luckily, we were all travelling very slowly and the cars in the other lane were about thirty-yards away. That gave me enough time to get back into my lane. My heart was in my ears after that.


I bought an XBox 360. I'm never writing poetry again.

Actually, the truth is, I haven't had time to play it all that much. Mere's happy because it frees up the TV so she can watch her homeowner porn.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Word on the Street

. . . is that my second book got picked up. I found out about its acceptance in September, but I didn't have anything to show for it. I've been mum about it until the contract rolled in, but it was SO hard keeping it a secret. I received the contract this morning and I fully intend to sign the contract, of course.

The title of the book is Furious Lullaby, and it's slated for release in Fall 07 with the Crab Orchard Poetry Series run by Southern Illinois University Press.

All I can say is, finally and thank god. I've been working on the book since 1998. It's an uplifting feeling, to be out from under the weight of that manuscript. After the copy editing, I'll feel like I can fully devote my time to this new collection of pieces I started on this summer.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Jake's HUGE Paw

Jake's HUGE Paw
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
As you can see, Jake is quite large. Don't mess with us.

The Root of the Problem

The Root of the Problem
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Here's the under-side of one of our felled Hemlocks. The thing's about thirty inches in diameter (not girth). My chainsaw couldn't get around it. Anyway, the tree was about seventy-feet tall. Good thing it fell away from the house.

Fourteen Inches of Snow

Fourteen Inches of Snow
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Western Washington University cancelled Monday classes because of all this.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Our Turkeyday Antics

They were rather sad antics. We didn't have a big sit-down meal. Rather, we had lentil soup and cornbread muffins. All the while I was slupping my soup, I was dreaming of mashed potatos, sliced turkey breast, and stuffing. I watched a wee bit of football, but for the most part I worked on school stuff. We couldn't have gone to Oregon to visit my folks, anyway. For one, we're broke. For two, the passes over the Cascades were snowy and I don't own any chains. We had way too much work to do, anyway.


I've been hunkering down writing criticism. Oh, it's so hard. And I've got a deadline! Egad. So far . . . six pages. Four to go, and no sign of an end in sight.

I've been comparing a book to a gallery exhibition of Picasso's "Las Meninas" study in his museum in Barcelona. Wish me luck.


Our roof leaks. The roof's still under warranty (10 year warranty), but it seems the roofers who installed the thing the first time have been making appointments they haven't honored, dodging calls, and complaining about the distance to our house. What's apparent is that they don't want to honor their warranty. So Meredith's written a very eloquent letter, consulted with the Better Business Bureau, and is fully prepared to take these roofers to small claims court.


I've also been taking the necessary time off from work during this holiday to chainsaw through some of the trees we lost in the windstorms of last week. Most of the trails are cleared (just buzzed through the middle of some trunks for a path), but the eyesore in the front yard's still there. (I promise you'll see pictures, I just can't find my camera charger).


Round 2 of the doctor stuff begins in December. I'm bracing myself. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. At least I won't be missing classes.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Elipses . . .

I just skimmed the titles of my posts. I use " . . ." too much in my poetry, in my speech, and in my blogs . . .

Hmmmmm . . .

. . .


Saw Casino Royale yesterday. I thought 1) I want to be tough like Daniel Craig 2) at times he sounded Sean Conneryish 3) he's a better Bond than Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore. I do think there are pacing problems with the film, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I liked the fact that there wasn't so much gadgetry or camp.


I've got three more weeks until the Fall quarter is over. WOOSH! And I still have to write letters of recommendation, review a book, work on my own stuff. Man oh man oh man.


Finally, I stepped into Kmart to see if they had any PS3s. They did not. Which is a good thing. I REALLY need to buckle down and work.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I want to cry . . .

I stood in my front yard with a newly purchased chainsaw and surveyed the damage. There are far too many trees we lost in the wind storm. All told, I found 14 fallen pines on our property. They've also fallen in bad spots . . . over the trails we spent weeks trimming back. I started pruning back some tree limbs, but after awhile I realized I didn't have the time nor the strength to clear back as much as I want. It's only been three weeks since my surgery, so I figured I had better not push it. Maybe I'll have a little more strength during the Thanksgiving vacation.

Driving to Bellingham today, a couple of the side roads had road closure signs. I also saw a big tree leaning over highway 542.


Albert Goldbarth is reading at WWU tonight.


Ski season starts today for Mt. Baker. I expect our road will get very crowded soon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And Speaking of Trees . . .

I drove home in the dark. There was debris from tree limbs everywhere. Whatcom County has been drilled by 60mph winds. When I got home, two 70 foot pines had toppled over in our front yard. Luckily they didn't hit the house. I'm now eyeing the two pine trees near our deck. They're about 30 feet tall, but they're still a hazard. When I chop the felled trees down tomorrow, I may whack back the two shade-giving trees in the back. Photos to come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One Tree

I bought a Japanese Maple today. It's a sad-looking tree. 'bout half of its leaves are crinkled up fists. The other half's on the ground. The woman at the tree store assured me that it'll survive our zone 6 winters. I have my doubts. Anyway, I picked this tree because of its color. We're already saturated in greens. I'll have to find a nice sun/shady place in our wilderness. It'll be a minor improvement to our landscaping. As I mentioned before, the previous owners of the house maintained the house well, they just were crappy with the outdoor bits.

I may buy a dogwood or two later. They were on sale, but they also looked pretty sad, since all of their leaves were gone. There were a couple of nice cherry trees I'll be considering as well.


I'm not writing right now, which is okay. I've been doing a lot of reading and grading, so the poems have taken a back seat. Plus all the medical crap that I went through and am going through has affected my routine. I probably won't get around to being a productive writer until February. I need another summer.


I'm going to try my hand at some colonies this year. I didn't apply last year 'cause I know 1) I'd be broke, 2) I'd be moving into a new house. I'm not sure if I have the temperment for a colony, though. I may wind up mowing their lawns or maintaining their gardens. THIS poet cannot idle.


Tonight, I'm going to Village Books to hear my colleagues Bruce Beasley and Suzanne Paola, read to support Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets. Should be fun.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Finishing Touches

I spread out my manuscript on the floor this morning and re-ordered the darn thing for what appears to be the tenth time. I pretty much kept the second section the same, but I distributed poems from the third section between the first and third sections. I also yanked four poems from the manuscript because I was repeating myself. Originally, I stuck all my aubades there and several folks suggested moving them. Stubbornly, I had kept them there through this latest round of submissions. However, performing that little visual exercise I realized a difficult thing: even though many of those aubades are my best poems, they're not great for the manuscript. They're just so off, tonally, and to concentrate them at the end like that really weighted the manuscript down.

I figured that structure was a function of my not having a series of "devil" poems that I had recently written. Now that I've written those pieces, there's more of a tonal balance.

Also, words I'm no longer allowed to use: birds, song, moon, stars, heart, ghosts, breath/breathe/breathing. I fall in love with sounds and find myself using them over and over again, even though they're clearly abstract.


There's snow on Slide Mountain. Outside our kitchen window, it looks like a sugar-dusted scone.


I'm trying to talk myself out of wanting a Playstation 3. If I had a console gaming machine, I'd stop writing poetry.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is it bad . . .

to be smiling in your author photo? Meredith doesn't like my new author photo, even though she took the picture. . . Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some News

Rumsfeld Resigns.

Rumor is that Lieberman may be appointed to take his place.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Moving Archipelago Satellite Readings

Sorry I didn't post this sooner, but there are/were some great events taking place in New York. Do check 'em out:

Moving Archipelago:
A Century of Writing Filipino America

Satellite Readings::: New York City
(November 5, 9, 16, 2006)

Sunday, November 5th, Open Bar 4-5, Reading 5pm
Featuring: Bino A. Realuyo, Lisa Chen & Purvi Shah
(sponsored by Kundiman & Verlaine)

110 Rivington St. between Ludlow & Essex (212) 614-2494.
Subway F to Delancey or V to 2nd Ave
$5 includes Open Bar 4-5 pm,

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006 , 6:00pm
Featuring: Luis Cabalquinto, Leslieann Hobayan, Joseph O. Legaspi, Ricco Siasoco, Dionisio Velasco and R.A. Villanueva

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia St., NYC

$6 (includes 1 house drink)

Thursday, November 16th, 7pm
Featuring: Gina Apostol, Sarah Gambito, Lisa Ascalon, and Tai Yo. Hosted by Luis H. Francia.

Asian American Writers Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor
btwn Broadway & 5th Avenue
$5 suggested donation

Saturday, November 04, 2006


At the UW reading, someone from the audience asked me about the characters in poems. I don't feel I gave him a suitable answer to his query. For the life of me, I don't remember the exactly what his question was, but I do remember that it had to do with that juncture in the writing process when you know you need to stop. It blossomed into the "why poetry and why not short story" question.

Here's the thing about character in my poems . . . I never try to resolve their crisis. It would be a difficult thing to do, especially in a single poem. Also, I never feel it's my aim to attempt to resolve a character's crisis at any moment of the poem. Rather, I'm more interested in the context of the crisis and what that context implies about the world of the character.

The other thing about characters in my poems, if there's a 1st person narrator, that narrator is rarely the focus of the poem. Often, the 1st person narrator is describing someone else. I think this is mostly because I don't trust my characters to do an honest job of describing themselves.

Finally, I don't think I have the patience to sustain a scene as a writer, nor do I have the patience to meet the demands of the revision process in fiction. I'd spend far too much time editing one sentence. I use character in poems because 1) I like masks, 2) taking on another POV allows me to toy with perspective 3) both of those things allow me to lie far more than my Catholic guilt would normally allow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rainy-day Reading

Many thanks to Jennifer, Jeannine, and Peter for coming to the reading yesterday. It was great to hear Rigoberto and Rick, two writers I greatly admire. Rigo read his "Tiara" of sonnets, and Rick read his wonderful "Abe Lincoln" poem.

Before the reading, I visited Open Books. It was my first time there, and I'm in love. I wanted to buy everything in the store, I swear.

I wish I could've stayed around longer. Sometimes I regret living so far from Seattle. On the way back, however, I realized why I moved to the country in the first place. Traffic was SNARLED. I left Seattle around 6:00PM and didn't get home until 9ish. Zounds.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Shout out to all of you who've been sending e-mails. Much thanks. I'm feeling much better. The surgeon even told me I could start exercising again (I won't be heading to the gym for awhile, since I'm far too vain).

Anyway, a little love goes a long way and I totally appreciate it.


As you see in one of the posts below, I'll be driving down to Seattle for a reading at UW. I hope to see some of you there. Before that, I'll be taking a detour and visiting Open Books for the first time ever. I've heard so much about it, and I'm totally excited.


I went on a horror movie binge this week. I watched The Exorcist, House of 1000 Corpses, and Hellraiser. I think I've gotten more sophisticated as a viewer. They didn't scare me one bit.


We have a large cache of reserve Halloween candies. No trick-or-treaters this year. :-(

Monday, October 30, 2006

Snow in the Foothills

For a brief two-hour period, there was snow in the Foothills of Mt. Baker. I had been swaddled in blankets watching television when it started to hail. Then the hail came down slower. Then slower yet. Soon there were large flakes settling to the ground, pressing against the deck-railings, clumping up in the flower boxes. I was sad to see the snow melt away before 2PM, but I expect we'll have a few more sudden storms in the weeks ahead.


It's still a bit hard to talk and turn my head. I'm slowly starting to push it, as my surgeon had recommended. He didn't want me walking around with hunched up shoulders. Meredith frowns at me everytime she sees me walking with my shoulders arched up. She'll stare me down and tell me to relax my right shoulder. I've been deprived of Hershey's Kisses for not following her commands.

The dog seems to know something's up, too. He's been resting his head on my knee a lot. He's also been good about not waking me up too early in the morning. I do suspect that the sudden turn in the weather has more to do with this . . .


I'm back in the classroom today, though it's still tough for me to move around. I'm giving out mid-quarter exams, so I won't be speaking much. I just hate missing time, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. It screws up the whole calendar.


I filled out a Marketing Questionnaire this weekend . . . that's all I'm saying. ;-)

Saturday, October 28, 2006


For those of you who were wondering, I'm fine. I'm home now, and I'm as comfortable as I can be, given the circumstances. The surgery took longer than originally anticipated (add an hour and a half to the two-hour estimate). The compliment from the surgeon was that I had a lot of well-defined muscles in that region which made it hard to operate.

The night at the hospital sucked. It's hard to sleep when your head's elevated and you've got nurses checking your vitals every hour. Lucky for me, my parents and Meredith were around regularly. I basically watched a lot of Top Chef and drank a lot of clear liquids. Marcel is a jerk.

Anesthesia's a funny thing. I remember smelling the ether-smell. Then I remember looking at what appeared to be a drop-ceiling with the texture holes. I remember hearing the anesthesiologist telling me to breathe deeply, and then I remember seeing the dots and holes in the drop-ceiling whiz back like I was seeing them blur by from a car window. Then I'm out.

I hope to see some of you at UW this Thursday. By that time I should be able to move and function better. I'll probably not read too much. I don't want to get fatigued. Anyway, I'm perfectly fine. Thanks for asking.

Monday, October 23, 2006

UW Poetry Reading

A Poetry Reading on the campus of the University of Washington.

Thursday, November 2

3:30-5:00 PM

Johnson Hall Room 175

Poets Reading:

Rick Barot, author of The Darker Fall
Oliver de la Paz, author of Names Above Houses
Rigoberto Gonzalez, author of Butterfly Boy, Crossing Vines, and So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until It Breaks

The reading is sponsored by the Department of American Ethnic Studies and the English Creative Writing Program.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The World Series

So it's the Cards vs. the Tigers. Baseball is alive and well in the Midwest. I'm actually rooting for the Tigers, 'cause I like Jim Leland.


Lyric in my head:

"One shot, one beer, and a kiss before I go."


I was floored by the outcome of Project Runway. I thought Michael's stuff was totally disappointing and overly "hoochie." I thought Laura's pieces were gorgeous but predictable, and I thought Uli's stuff was going to win. But I think, in the end, Jeffrey won the vote because he KNEW what his point of view was and he could articulate his aesthetic the most effectively. I didn't like his clothes so much, but he knows his audience and he knows who he is as a designer.


I'm slowly becoming addicted to Battlestar Gallactica.


I love wearing Fall clothes. Scarves, yes. Elegant wool jackets, yes. Knitted caps, yes.


Should I watch "Flicka" or "Flags of Our Fathers"? I'm still puzzled about a piece of dialogue from the "Flicka" trailor. So the wife of the father tells the father that he is like his daughter. . . At some point, someone tells the daughter or says the daughter is like the horse . . . therefore, does that make the father a horse?

The film I REALLY would rather see that isn't here is "Marie Antoinette." I curse this rural life-style.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So . . . I have to go in for surgery. It's not a big deal, or so I've been told, but it's still surgery. Yuck. What I'm most concerned about is the recovery time. I hate being bed-ridden. Anyway, I think I've got my classes managed. Gosh, I really really hate messing with syllabus calendars.


Still listening to Alt-Country. Currently spinning Neko Case's "Fox Confessor . . ."


Project Runway tonight. I hope Jeffrey doesn't get kicked off because he out-sourced. A big part of me believes he IS that fast with a needle and a thread.

It's been a busy academic year for reading appearances. I've got one coming up at UW on Nov. 2nd with Rigo and Rick. I've also got a few in the Winter and the Spring. Oh happy day.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The new Beck album . . .

. . . has stickers!!!!!


Re-spin on the iPod = Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, "Magnolia Mountain"


honky-tonk |ˈhä ng kē ˌtä ng k; ˈhô ng kē ˌtô ng k| noun informal 1 a cheap or disreputable bar, club, or dancehall, typically where country music is played : country bands at highway honky-tonks. • [as adj. ] squalid and disreputable : a honky-tonk beach resort. 2 country music : good-time urban cowboy fare with a hint of honky-tonk and a healthy measure of rock. 3 [often as adj. ] ragtime piano music. verb [ intrans. ] listen to or dance to country music : come on, let's go honky-tonking. ORIGIN late 19th cent.: of unknown origin.


Going to work on the well with the neighbors tomorrow. I'm a county boy, now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Waltz, Foxtrot, Rumba . . .

My parents are taking dancing lessons. Initially, this was an embarassing point. The thought of my father "sweeping" my mother off her feet had originally made me want to hide. But now, I'm getting used to the fact that my parents have a life outside of my own. I suppose I've been going through this phase as a married man, where I recognize the necessity for a private moment with one's soul mate.

I swear, growing up, I had never seen my parents hold hands, let alone kiss. Now, whenever I see them walking side by side, they're hand-in-hand. Oh don't get me wrong . . . my dad still tries to shout conversations with me while I'm speaking with my mother on the phone. They still have their tiffs, their spats, their disagreements. But now, I can see them as a married couple and not just my parents.

I tried calling them tonight, but I then remembered it's dance night. I'll call tomorrow.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Some poems of mine online

. . . in the new issue of Siren: Clicky

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

AWP here I come . . .

Spent the better half of the morning getting all the forms together so that my department can pay my way to the AWP conference. I had to fill out blue forms that weren't blue, pink forms that weren't pink . . . Anyway, I'm looking forward to going as I do every year.


I'm finally getting settled into my quarter. The first week's always messy with students dropping, adding, scrambling for books and spaces.

I've got a routine now, and it seems to be working for me. My summer was too good to me, you know? Now I've got to rein in my scattered brain. I had spent a lot of time thinking about my own poems, writing my own poems, now it's time to give.


I'm sad I'll be missing Patrick's book launch party. It'll be a lot of fun for many lucky duckies.


Finally, Project Runway is on tonight and I'm DVR'ing it again. I think it's a gripe-fest night . . . we'll see.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Been slammed . . .

Sorry all. I've been slammed by the start of the new Fall quarter and I've been trying to get things up and running. On top of that, I've got several projects on the hot plate.


The Seahawks stunk it up yesterday. I fell asleep during the game. Not good. Not good at all.


We invited all our neighbors over for a Southern meal: Grilled Pork Loin, Collards, Baked Mac & Cheese, Cornbread . . . It was quite tasty. We were up way past our bedtimes and that messed with our sleep patterns for the rest of the weekend (see above).


I've resolved to get all my classes prepped a week in advance. We'll see how long THAT lasts.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Confession . . .

So . . . I love Project Runway.

Meredith and I are addicted. We both loved Laura's cocktail dress. We both were shocked when a French citizen egged Michael Knight's couture gown. We both think Jeffrey's an ass, but we liked his couture gown.

Help. It's being TiVoed right now and Mere's not home. I want to sneak a peek, but . . .

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fall Cometh

Meredith and I are enjoying the last of our Summer vacation. The weather has gotten palpably colder, and the sun has been setting sooner than I've been used to. I've also been feeling sleepy at 10PM. That's a sure sign to me. We've been trying to watch X-Files Season 3 DVD's and I've been falling asleep through some of the episodes (I've already seen all of them, but I need to stay awake to field questions from the significant other).


Many folks have been talking about the Best of American Poetry series. To be honest, I stopped buying the series years ago. I'm less interested individual poems, these days, and more interested in what an artist does over a long series. Anyway, what's evident is that poetry, or for that matter, the arts, is operating in a patron/patronage system, and many people wish for a more democratic system. Rather than the wealthy or the nobility commissioning writers/artists to create a portrait or write an ode, nowadays we have grant-giving institutions issuing monetary grants--mentors bestowing blessings upon their betters. We hope that such an institution, again, would be more democratic but often the selection committee members know of a dude who knows a dude. What we need to be clear about is that the arts and many other ventures function under a gift economy (quid pro quo). I do like what what Charlie has to say about this whole affair.

To be sure, I've participated in this gift economy. I've told friends to check out this journal or that reading venue. I've also been solicited by friends to submit work to journals, anthologies, etc.. At the time I've done these "favors," I didn't see them as "favors," but as community-building. Would I like a system that allows for a broader democratic participation? Of course. I would also love more acts of charity as well as humility. Meantime, I'm going to continue writing, sending my work out to journals, filing my rejections in a large folder, filing my acceptances in a small folder, and I'm going to do my best to model my understanding of what it means to be a writer.


I've been cleaning up my office. I finally hung up some curtains. They're quite ugly and they don't fit correctly on the posts. At least I won't have the administrators staring at me while I surf blogs . . .

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Woman Warrior at 30

The Woman Warrior @ 30

September 29, Friday
1pm-5:30pm panel discussions
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South, Shorin Performance Studio, 8th Floor

7pm Reception at the Asian American Writers' Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor (between Broadway and Fifth Ave)

RSVP by Tuesday, September 26 to (212) 992-9653, or
online at APA

Join the afternoon panel of writers, artists, scholars, and the author
herself as they pay tribute to the legacy of Maxine Hong Kingston's
seminal 1976 semi-autobiographic novel The Woman Warrior. The afternoon
panel topics include: The Woman Warrior, Literary Forms and Other Genres;
Women and The Woman Warrior; and Politics, Immigration and The Woman
Warrior. The tribute culminates in an evening reception at the Asian
American Writers' Workshop.

Panelists include:
Meena Alexander
Christine Balance
Fay Chiang
Luis H. Francia
Gloria Jacobs
Susana Lei'ataua
Sunita Mukhi
Crystal Parikh
Cyrus Patel
Sheridan Prasso
Kate Rigg
Svati Shah
Karen Shimakawa
Ellen Wu

In collaboration with the Asian American Writer's Workshop and the
National Book Foundation

For more information:
Alexandra Chang
Events Coordinator
Asian/Pacific/American Institute
New York University
41-51 East 11th Street, 7th floor
New York, NY 10003
212-992-9651 office
212-995-4705 fax

Friday, September 15, 2006

The end of summer

Yesterday, Meredith and I went shopping for decorations. We've redesigned parts of the house, most notable being Meredith's office. It's a cute little cubby, but she needed flooring and bookcases. Anyway, it rained almost all day and it's slated to rain for most of the week. I suppose it's fitting that the last days of Summer serve as a transition into Fall. A part of me is grateful for the rain because it means I can start planting trees to patch up some of the dead spaces on the grounds . . . the other part of me dreads the coming Fall because I know it means the long rainy season is upon us.

We were stacking wood that I had chopped earlier in the evening and the cedar smell was reminding me of my first days of school when I was a kiddo. I loved getting those packets of #2 pencils. I'd have 'em all sharpened that evening. WWU's first days are coming. I've got meetings, etc., that come with returning to campus. I've been slacking with my course prep, partly because I've taught the classes before. However I am using a new text for my Introduction to Poetry Writing. One thing I know about the students I've taught is that they're nowhere near as well-read as they THINK they are. I had taught the earlier classes with a handbook (thin with no examples/poems) and three collections by poets. The students weren't taking the time to actually read the collections, even though their grades depended on their discussions and analysis of these collections. I suppose they hadn't learned how to read a collection because they hadn't seen enough variety. This time I'm using a thicker handbook with more examples by other poets. It's so difficult choosing a "good" textbook for an introductory class. Most of the time I supplement a great deal of the resources.


Currently spinning in my iTunes: Before Night Falls soundtrack. Thank you S.B. and A.M.


Also bought seasons 2 and 3 of The X-Files. Meredith is hooked. We were watching DVR's of the X-Files from TV, but they were out of sequence and she was getting confused. It's funny to see the transition in Gillian Anderson's appearance. At the start of the series she's dowdy and her hair's fairly long. By the end of season 2, she's glammed up. The camera's panning closer to her face, her skin's flawless and her hair and her clothes are much more fashionable.

Meanwhile Meredith has fallen in love with David Duchovny. That's okay, I suppose, if you like tall, dark-haired guys with good abs, conviction, and intellect with a deep emotional scar that fuels their passion . . .

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Busy day

I was an industrious little bee today. I mailed off manuscripts to contests and spent nearly $200.00 in the process. Why are these things so damn expensive?


After my month of rapid writing, I'm feeling kind of tapped. Out of the flurry, I think I wrote about ten or twelve pieces I can revise and submit. And I need to toss them out of the house soon or I'll go mad.


Reading Ann Lauterbach's book of essays as well as Steve Scafidi's new collection (thanks Pat).

Check out this poem by Mr. Scafid from his book For Love of Common Words:

The Boy Inside the Pumpkin

At five hundred and thirty pounds it won the blue ribbon
at the Fredrick County Fair and because all such vegetables
are too bitter to eat something had to be done--

and it was decided to haul the pumpkin to the river and the boy
inside the pumpkin meanwhile lay curled in the dark mash
while they rolled it to the edge of the tailgate and heaved it

to the ground and he must have been in there all spring and all
summer and through the long hot hours must have grown
restless in the goop although he looked almost peacful lying

naked by the river among the broken leaves and the seeds where
the ambulance drivers stood on their knees amazed
beside the boy opening his eyes as the slow Potomac moved

to the Chesapeake bay and the ocean where the waves make
their way to every coast in the world and the boy inside
the pumpkin lies quietly in this world like a fact of the unlikely

and the most unlikely things happen everyday in this world
and we go on unchanged and a body was found
on a baseball diamond in Frederick Maryland last spring

wearing only a t-shirt face down with both arms underneath
the body and the details are listed in the Metro Section
of the Washington Post and so when you read about the child

you learn he was only nine years old and had a faint birthmark
the exact shape of Kentucky on the small of his back
and could talk like a duck when he wanted to and you learn

the most unspeakable things in the slender Metro Section
of the Washington Post and it corrupts your sense
of the world to know how often the impossible happens upon us

without mercy and it is not the fit subject of poetry and it is
offensive to redeem the horror of that boy's last hours
but I can't stop trying to salvage something from the murderous

and the poisonous and last spring some small ordinary blossoms
grew suddenly more gigantic everyday and the boy inside
the vine became the boy inside the pumpkin who became

a turning in the darkness no one noticed although for a week
hundreds of people at the fair stroked the fat sides of
the pumpkin and were amazed and a boy leans up on his elbows

now in the moss beside the river and looks around bewildered
and asks for his mother and his father and they are delivered
amazed and these things never happen. They happen everyday.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lesson #8573

iTunes store purchase+ dial-up connection = 5 hours downloading a single album.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wait for it . . .

. . .

(looks around for muse)

. . .

Patrick Tickling the Ivory

Patrick Tickling the Ivory
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Patrick came up to Bellingham/Maple Falls for a visit. We had pizza at the North Fork Brewery. Then we took him up to see views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. He was quite freaked. :D

Later that evening, he played some piano. After dinner, Meredith and I scared him with our stories of coyotes, bears, snakes, and brown recluses.

So if you're ever up near Bellingham, look us up. We'll give you acrophobia and then we'll talk about all the scary wild animals in our wilderness.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Doodling . . .


Let me prove it to you. I’ll sit here
and look you in the eye with a knee
to my back and blood
dripping from my nostril. I’ll batter
my head against a brick wall, cut
my knuckles on teeth and bleed
a few more ounces. I’ve been knocked down
more than once. I’m sick
enough to know not to quit.
I’m not tired just yet. Listen, I can swing
like a windmill. I’ll ground you
to powder. I’ll not bat an eye
or blink at your flurries. I can take it.
I can stick my chin up and receive
the grace of your upper-cut. Lord,
is that all you can dish? Are you not
heart enough? Are you not ghost
enough to give me a lickin’? Quick,
jab my nose. Kick my shin
and toss me to the ground. Shovel
the dirt on me. Split my lip.
Crack my rib. Spit on my grave.
I’ll fight filthy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Farewell to Andre

I watched Agassi's last professional tennis match. He fell to B. Becker. I thought it was rather amusing that he would lose to an old nemesis. *wink* Anyway, Agassi looked old and tired. As someone who has experienced back pain from tennis, I could sympathize with poor Andre. He was wincing in pain when he had to bend down to tie his shoes. Anyway, I was hoping he'd get into the quarter finals or semi's to top Jimmy Connor's last run at the US Open, but alas. Outside of that, Steffi Graf was looking good and I wish Andre well in his retirement.


My parents were here for the weekend. They were quite impressed with the modifications we've made. Last time they came to visit, the house was dark, unkempt, old-looking. My folks are looking for a retirement house. They've JUST realized that their market for houses is not the same as THIS market for houses. Mere and I rode in the real estate agent's car with my folks. I could tell the agent was getting frustrated, so Mere and I took it upon ourselves to explain the differences between desire and availability. The tours weren't fruitless, though. We saw some items we'd like to integrate into our own living spaces.


Writing day today. I had to put the desk on hold while the parents were in town. I've been really into this poem series . . . So far, about ten drafts of poems that I'll need to tidy-up. I've also got a couple of essays I need to spit out soon.

I spoke with Adrian Matejka and Stacey Brown the other day (HI! If you're reading). It was good talking to them. I'm alone with my thoughts on poetry for most of the time, so I enjoyed talking to them about the state of poetry these days.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Country Boy

Fear my blade
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yes. That's me chopping firewood. Cue the fiddle and the banjo.

Got my bloodwork done . . .

Therefore I will eat many cheese thingies with butter, salt, and sugar. And I'll make sure to deep-fat fry them. Also, I will eat lots and lots of red red meat and chitlins and pork rinds and salted nuts with salted buttered popcorn sprinkled with molasses and sugar. And I'll eat M & M's coated in fried twinkie bits, fried in fried chicken with eggs. And I'll add to all that a turducken with toasted and fried chicken fried steak and eggs with twinkie bits and salted pork loin with melted butter on top. And then I'll fry my chocolate bar in red meat with lots and lots of egg yolks, basted in a turducken, grilled, seared, and blenderized with Butterfinger pieces, then re-fried with Cherry Garcia ice cream. After that, I'll polish my meal off with a chocolate milk shake fried in pork fat and lard, smothered in a turducken with lots and lots of twinkie bits, a kielbasa, and some bacon.

I'm going on a fried-food bender. Scrape me off the carpet when I'm done.


I just finished watching the Agassi vs. Baghdatis match. I was screaming at the television. Meredith kept wondering what the hell was going on.


Revisiting books by Frankie Paino and Killarney Clary.


Mere and I have been watching much homeowner porn. Design Star is great.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

From an Assignment

Here was the assignment: Untruth

Here's the poem I attempted, since some of you were curious (and some of you doubted whether I was honestly doing the assignments myself . . . you know who you are):


We were half baked in the filaments of light bulbs
and conveyors spitting potatoes past our hands
when Jose said the most bald-faced bullshit I’ve ever heard

starting with him taking the McGregor girl out
for a spin in a set of borrowed wheels with a bottle
filled with mash, the harshest the brewers in the canyon

ever dredged up, and he took this girl and this whiskey
and drove past the shift boss’s house, past the railroad
where the vagabonds wait to jump the next train,

past all those row houses along the farms near the back side
of town, where the old church judges all, and he took this girl
up the canyon to the bluff overlooking the city

and Jose leaned in real close while the tubers sped by,
telling me that the McGregor girl smelled like sampaguitas,
that her eyes could break men’s knees the way a mallet

strikes a spike, and that she was “familiar” with men, whiskey
and other worldly pursuits, and I wanted it to be
true as the potatoes in the factory were true, as the noise

crackling through our ears was real, and I wanted
the McGregor girl to be all freckle and corporeal
like my hands, reddened by the speed of work—I wanted

to believe that a few hours of rest could be spent
driving nowhere with a girl and a bottle, and how some roads
open into vistas and some roads lead the hell out of here,

that you could see the half-mile over the shacks in the valley,
standing next to a beauty who’s crazy about you or maybe
crazy about your danger, and that you could crack a smile or

laugh at youth and the shift boss’s stupid dog
somewhere away from the ball-bearing noise on a dusty,
wheat-colored road as far away as the truth.


I had a hard time chopping out prepositions. Making the poem one sentence was tough!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Painting Again

Yes, I've been painting again. We finally took on the ceiling of our den. So far we've painted half of the ceiling. We'll conquer the other half tomorrow. Ceilings are no fun to paint. Period.


Has your summer been a productive one? The jury's still out on mine, since I'm still on summer vacation until the 27th of September, though technically I start doing school work much earlier.

It's hard for me to measure what's productive for me nowadays. In grad school, I remember I was banging out poems weekly. Nowadays, it's taken a lot more prodding to get me to come to the writing desk. August was a productive month, but mainly because I've been forcing myself to write.

I suppose my mantra should be "You can't revise a blank page." I've written lots of stuff this month that definitely needs revision.


Rick's writing fabulous stuff about the sentence on his blog. Check it out.

It's made me think about my process with the prose poem vs. my lineated stuff. I tend to write in longer independent clauses with my verse. In my prose poems I mix and match a lot more. In a sense, I'm more economical with my prose poems which may make them a bit more abstract, language-wise.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

House Cleaning

I cleaned up some of the broken links. I've also added a few new blogs to the list. Enjoy!


Just finished re-reading BJ's Poeta En San Francisco. It changed quite a bit from the copy I saw in 2005.


Why is it that I tend to write narratives with my poems and I'm much more episodic with my prose poems?


"Haulin' Ash" came to fix our chimneys today. They were here for several hours. They drilled holes. They left soot-marks in the carpet. They mixed cement. They cussed and spat. They jiggered the mirrors and the thingies.

We now have a fireplace that is "up to code." Who are these mysterious code people? Why do they keep on making me spend money?

Friday, August 25, 2006

On the fly . . .

I've been revising poems. This one started with line breaks which I completely obliterated like the Death Star:


As in rope. A filament, thick or frayed.


Frame the neck of the lynched. Hold—bare. Hang and snare. Drag lace against pavement. Hear fiber split, the pith of the hemp long since dried. Hear the noose crackle.


The staccato of a jump rope’s skit-skit-skit. Shoes up, then down, then up again. O stutter my heart. The fibers spin, touch, and spin again.

Hum and arc.


How do you say it? Open your mouth as one receiving water. Then explode, the mouth filled with air, then released. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Exhale.

How do you say it? Open your mouth. Pull the breath by each syllable.


I am a decadent boat. That I should succumb to you, wavelet, I fear. Tie me to the dock. Tether me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Feeling My Age

Here's a news article my buddy, Joseph L. forwarded. Zounds. . .

Beloit College's Mindset List
By The Associated Press Wed Aug 23, 12:27 AM ET
Every year, Beloit College releases its Mindset List to give a snapshot of the world view of the incoming freshmen class. The list for the Class of 2010:

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.

2. They have known only two presidents.

3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.

4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.

5. They have grown up getting lost in giant retail stores known as "big boxes."

6. There has always been one Germany.

7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.

8. They are wireless, yet always connected.

9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.

10. Thanks to pervasive head phones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.

11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.

12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.

13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.

14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.

15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.

16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.

17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.

18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.

19. "Google" has always been a verb.

20. Text messaging is their e-mail.

21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.

22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.

23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.

24. Madden has always been a game, not a Super Bowl-winning coach.

25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.

26. "Boogers" candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.

27. There has never been a "sky hook" in the NBA.

28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.

29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.

30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.

31. They grew up in minivans.

32. Reality shows have always been on television.

33. They have no idea why we needed to ask "... Can we all get along?"

34. They have always known that "In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups."

35. Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.

36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.

37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.

38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.

39. "So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.

40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.

41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.

42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.

43. They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.

44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.

45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.

46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.

47. Small, white holiday lights have always been in style.

48. Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.

49. They have always been searching for "Waldo."

50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.

51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.

52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.

53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.

54. There have always been live organ donors.

55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.

56. They have never put their money in a "Savings & Loan."

57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.

58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.

59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.

60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.

61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.

62. Acura, Lexus and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.

63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.

64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.

65. Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.

66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.

67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.

68. "Outing" has always been a threat.

69. "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.

70. They have always "dissed" what they don't like.

71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.

72. Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.

73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.

74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.

75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Empire of the Dandelion

Our lawn has been overrun. Their imperial helmets jut out all over the yard. It's been two weeks since I've mowed. If we hadn't had that very brief rainfall, I could've lasted a third week. Alas. :-(

To be clear, though, the majority of the lawn is moss and broad-leafed weeds. I'm going to have to kill the lawn and re-seed everything later. It's a total bummer.


I have a card for a Bikram Yoga center. I've never taken a yoga class, so Bikram Yoga is probably out. I can't imagine attempting 26 postures (I only know one or two) in a super-heated room.


Deadlines this week:

5 prose poems, 3 regular poems, a revised manuscript for contests. Additionally, a new syllabus for Introduction to Poetry and some changes to my Asian American Literature course.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dear Machine

I've loved you by accident.

There are happenstances and there are happenstances.

Once, there was a sea and it saddened me with its shells and its starfish.

The starfish were tiny hands, each a gradual transition into empty.

Empty story. Empty galaxy. The sand torn away by the tide.

Then, like a piston, the hard teeth of you.

If I were a vestibule I would remain silent. I would let you in. I would ajar.

Meanwhile the sand grit hushes the floorboards even though

I am a hallway. I am the gasp of a match on a heel.

Dear silica, shine on. Grind the oak to powder.

Buff the skin, the last erotic fever

And be the buzz of the engine, gassed up on rocket fuel.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Freakin' Hot

It's still quite hot in Eastern Oregon. Yesterday, we were sitting on the patio in 90 degree weather. Why, I don't know. It seems it would make a bit more sense if we chose a cooler place to sit and read.


We basically bummed around the house all day yesterday. I didn't feel inspired to drive to Boise, ID. I mean, after ten hours in a car, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour driving to watch a movie. Besides, as I mentioned it was quite hot yesterday and there's not going to be any let up.


I've been watching a lot of "Homeowner Porn" lately. HGTV is either on the screen or it's the show that's queued up on my recall button for the remote.


There are cowboys out here with big hats, big belt buckles, and hay-scented cologne. I've seen them. They walk up and down my street in their tight Wranglers. They water their horses at my hoses. They talk in honky-tonk. They lie to me. They sit in the dirt and watch the sunset with their pointy boots before them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Headin' Out

. . . to see the parents tomorrow. I'll be on much more sporadically until Sunday.

They still live in Ontario, OR. Yes, Oregon. Not Canada. Not California.

Anyway, Mere and I will be heading to the land of the Chukars. We may stop off at Burger West or Brewsky's Broiler for some famous Ontario, OR, pink sauce for fries.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Canadian Radio

We don't get NPR up here, but we do get 93.1FM.

Punjabi radio at its finest. We listen to this station all the time and it comes in quite clearly, unlike most of the American stations.

In fact, many of our radio selections are in French as part of the CBC radio networks.

Forestry Day

I did more forestry work today, cutting up a felled Douglas Fir and clearing some bramble for a set of trails Meredith and I are working on. We could hear an owl somewhere in the wilderness. It was quite cool. As for the trails, they're coming along. We've managed to link two trails together. They just need to be raked back. We ran into a bit of a snag, since the newer trail skirts the edge of our property. That edge goes up a steep incline and it'll be tough clearing a walkable path. There's a set of trails above the incline, but they're a ways off, and there's some serious debris/bramble in the way. I expect lots of thicket.

We spent a good deal of time moving the cut sections on to our cement basketball court to let 'em dry in the sun. We were a bit fried, so we went out for Thai food.


The bird feeders are getting savagely attacked by the Stellar's Jays. We've seen other birdies, though. This morning a Chimney Swift had made it's way from our chimney to our sliding glass door. I helped it back outdoors.

We've also seen Pileated Woodpeckers jumping from a dead tree. There are other woodpeckers, though . . . we had a Hairy Woodpecker climbing up our elderberry tree. That elderberry tree has been attracting a bunch of Western tanager and Evening grosbeaks. I thought the grosbeaks looked at parrots at first.

Anyway, things are getting interesting, bird-wise around here.


Currently listening to The Dirty Three


Thicket is my new favorite word. Thicket, thicket, thicket.


Conversation re: chainsaw:

John: Yer gettin' powdery bits now.

Oliver: Huh?

John: Powdery bits. Yer chain's strugglin' a bit.

Oliver: Is that what that smoke's all about?

John: Ya.

Oliver: Oh.

John: 'shouldn't cut them logs that close to the ground.

Oliver: Oh.

John: Ya. 'cause there's rocks or somethin' down there and it'll dull yer chain right up.

Oliver: Oh.

John: (singing) "tea, no thanks I'll have a beer"

Oliver: What's that you're singing?

John: Oh, it's somethin' from the Simpsons. Ya'know the episode where Homer's singing to "Do-re-mi?"

Oliver: No.

John: Ol' buddy o'mine, when we went on our raftin' trip was humming it.

Oliver: Oh.

John: So now you've got a dose of yer pop culture for today!

Monday, August 14, 2006

I have an attraction . . .

. . . to messy poems. This is a recent thing, and by recent I mean two or three years. Akin to an obsession with Sodoku, I call it my Rube-Goldberg sensibility. Remember playing Mousetrap? I wanted that game for the longest time, and yet I never ever really played the thing. There's something about poets who can reconcile disparate images . . . I really admire that ability.

Anyway, years ago, I was a science major. I think my scientific brain tickles my poetic sensibilities at times.



Write a poem with the following items:

1. A freezer car on a train.

2. Use a lyric by Marvin Gaye

3. There must be the plumage of a bird somewhere in the poem

4. There must be a flashback to a foreign city.


Still uploading songs to iTunes. I'm at 6794 songs, 18.8 days worth of music.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oh my iPod . . .

Currently updating the songs in my library . . .

I've got 6714 items listed in iTunes and I'm all over the map. I've got some Portishead, some Vic Chestnut, some Lyle Lovett, some Yo Yo Ma . . . some Dirty Three, some OMD, some PJ Harvey, some My Morning Jacket, some Seu Jorge . . .

And the thing is, I really only listen to my iPod when I'm working out or on long road trips. I do, however, listen to iTunes quite frequently, so I suppose my big library makes sense.

I've been playing a lot of Alt-Country lately. I think it has something to do with summer.


I'm drifting aimlessly - - the way bad monks think.

A busy weekend

First off, I totally want to go to The Subdued String Stringband Jam. That's taking place this weekend just a few miles from my house.

Secondly, there are a number of cool events taking place in Bellingham and the surrounding area this week.

The music festival's taking place so there's a bunch of musicians popping up in town.

This afternoon we went to La Bella Strada and walked on a chalk drawing entitled "OMG, Fish With Legs!!!" Indeed, the fish did have legs.


I had too much pizza this afternoon.


All told, I love where I live.

Friday, August 11, 2006


This past week's activities have caught up with me. I'm sore all over. Of course, after lifting weights, I went on ahead and did forestry projects. I could barely get out of bed this morning.


It's surprisingly cold this morning. The dog was shivering. I could hear his teeth chattering in the other room so I put a blanket on him.


Been reading manuscripts this morning. I enjoy reading collections in nascent forms. Only trouble is, I hate looking at my own work in the early stages. Revision isn't my favorite thing, but I don't mind making suggestions to other folks. It's very weird. I sent "Furious Lullaby" off to various people to read. Truth be told, I'm sick of revising the thing, but I know there are some holes that need to be patched.

One of my former undergraduate students starts her MFA this month and another one of my former grad students starts his MFA. I'm so jealous. I loved being a graduate student. Those lucky ducks.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Zen of the Chainsaw

Mind you, I don't like the idea of cutting down trees. In fact, part of the reason we bought the place we did was because it was surrounded by Hemlock, Western Cedar, Douglas Fir, Spruce . . .

A wind storm had blown down several large hemlocks. The trees are about seventy-feet tall, if they were upright. They're basically an eyesore now, cutting across several deer paths. We also need wood for our stove; it gets quite cold up here, so I've been told. Normally, I'd let nature take its course and I'd let the forest floor munch up all that good fertilizer but this time, I decided to cut the trees into 16" chunks.

While using the chainsaw yesterday, I tuned all the extra stuff out. Usually I walk around with a load of verbal baggage in my head, whether it's a new poem, a new project, a to-do list . . . but when you're using a dangerous machine, you really can't be distracted.

With the help of my friend/colleague/neighbor, John, we managed to cut two seventy-foot trees into several chunks that I'll dry over the Summer and chop later for fire wood.


Latest obsession:

I've been obsessed with Filipino migrant workers from the 30's to the 50's. There was a lot of labor unionism up in this neck of the woods and I've been fiddling with some poems. The trick--making politics soluable in art.


Meredith's friend Matthieu is scheduled to fly in from New York. With all the crap that's taking place with air travel today, I don't expect him to arrive on schedule. Messy messy travel day. . .


Another 1:

Write a poem with the following elements--

1. The poem must take place inclement weather.

2. The poem must contain the word, "loomery"

3. The poem must have a steel object.

4. The narrative must go in reverse.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In case you were wondering

I've stopped posting exercises because . . . I've stopped doing them and found a personal topic sufficient enough to obsess me for some time.

Anyway, if you want an assignment, here's one for the road:

Write a poem that takes place from your current global quadrant (parallel), and follow that parallel using images from places along that line all the way around the globe, ending back at the original starting quadrant.

See Steve Scafidi's poem, The Latitudes of Desire for a hint on this one.


By the way, I'm busting out my 20" Poulan Pro chainsaw today. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Farewell to . . .

Sleater-Kinney. They've officially broken up. I'm sad. :-(

Friday, August 04, 2006


Write a poem based on a painting/picture/sculpture that has haunted you for a long time.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Write a poem based on a lie, lies, liars, or half-truths.

The poem needs to be one long sentence.

The poem has a minimum line-length of 20.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Now that you've written Poem #1, place it on a timeline.

Have that poem be the middle point of your timeline.

Assignment #2 requires you to write a poem based on a moment that comes before what took place in Poem #1.

Good luck!

While you weren't looking . . .

Rick Barot and David Dodd Lee snuck in.

Howdy, guys!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Write a poem with the following elements:

1. A car, which is the subject of the poem
2. An unpredictable "Fall" scent
3. The name of a boy from childhood
4. An agricultural tool
5. A lyric of a song from a past era
6. The color "perse"
7. The number "twelve"

Good luck.

Monday, July 31, 2006

More Trouble with Bird Feeders

So . . . I spread some seed on the ground as David had suggested. However, it seems the deer also like the stuff. I caught two just now eating it all up! I gave 'em a good scare. Hopefully they don't mess with the feeders.

Oh, and I wrote my imitation poem. So far I'm on task.

The Poetry Challenge

Slowly my Summer is slipping away. I just turned in my course descriptions for the Fall and I'm feeling the pressure to get stuff done. So I've given myself a "Poetry Challenge" for the month of August. The "Poetry Challenge" is simple. I need to write a poem or a fraction of a poem each day, and I'm not counting revision.

Writing everyday is something that's hard for me. It's not my normal process, but it's something I often encourage my students to do. I also remember getting fed this message from my teachers/mentors. I remember writing everyday in graduate school, but I had oodles of time back then. So now the circumstances are different . . . a bit more challenging. On top of feeling the pressure to remain gainfully employed (publish or perish!), I have the privilege of being married and also have the privilege of being a new homeowner (I had no idea it was this much work).

For starters, I'm going to write an imitative poem. My poem homage will be based on a poem by Alberto Rios entitled "Rabbits and Fire" from his book, The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body.

Feel free to join in.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why oh why . . .

don't the birds eat from our bird feeders??!

I mean, we've got the goods! We've got two big big feeders and a bird bath. C'mon now! I know they're out there. They keep flying into our windows.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Behold Summer

For I have eaten cereal at 4:30AM.
For I have not shaved my face for three days.
For I have given myself to leisure and the watching of many hours of Court TV.
For I have punctuated a bird feeder with Hosta.
For I have hacked a felled Western Cedar in two with an axe.
For I have kissed the neighbor's puppy, Sophia.
For I have planted zinnias and astra.
For I have handled mice poison and lived.
For I have exercised my dog on someone else's property
only to clean up after him (since I am a good neighbor).
For I have gone to my new post office multiple times with change-of-address forms.
For I have made the post master repent.
For I have joined a new gym and have yet to see "the new you."
For I have been approached by a former student at Home Depot
and asked to write a poem.
For I have read poetry well into the morning.
For I have triumphed over the grasses with my weeder.
For I have mowed two acreas of lawn in two hours.
For I have painted for seven days straight and have survived sciatica.
For I will lay on tennis balls to press against my lower back.
For Jake will seize the tennis balls and bury them in the yard.
For I have seen the holes in the yard and have made amends.
For I have surveyed the check book and am full of woe.
For I have eaten cereal for dinner.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It comes back eventually . . .

The poetry bug, that is. It's bitten me. I've been working on poems all morning and I'm excited about the thing I'm working on now. Yes, the poems will need to be revised, but for now I have a stronger sense of scope, scale, density. What's helped is the fact that some of the house chores have slowed down.

Rick Barot asked me in June whether I was planning on revisiting some of the characters in Names Above Houses. For several years, my answer had been no, but recently I had been thinking about returning to my Tiresias-like character, Manong Jose. I looked at childhood in that book and he wondered whether I was going to explore adolescence. I told him that I would, but as I've been writing, I'm seeing something else . . . It's funny how my mind revises all my best laid plans. Still, Manong Jose may pop up. There just hasn't been a situation for him yet. I do know that if he were to creep back in, he wouldn't be called "Manong." How's that for a hint?

The other question that came up is whether or not I plan on returning to the prose-poem form. To tell you the truth, it's hard to get out of writing that form once you start, and I think revisiting the form may prove hazardous to my lineation. I spent six years un-writing prose poems with Furious Lullaby.

Time will tell.

Poetry kept me up last night

Woke up around 4AM this morning after having gone to bed at midnight. I've been thinking about this new manuscript a lot and I think I happened upon a better point of entry. I enjoyed writing the abecedarian pieces, but I never felt like there was anything at stake in them. I may come back to them later, but for now I've got something on my brain. So, I wandered around the house a bit at 4AM, not putting pen to paper, just thinking.

Strangely, I've been listening to the Smithsonian Folkways American Music collection and I came up with some ideas.

. . .

Know anything about Murder Ballads?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


They say that children who take up an instrument at a young age are taught discipline. I had piano lessons when I was a young boy and I quit in the sixth grade. I never practiced. Never.

So here I am blogging instead of writing poems. To be frank, at the moment I'd rather weed a whole forest than write right now. I'm trying, though. So far, twoish poems, both of which are not very good. My editor brain needs to shut up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Creature Comforts

I have joined a gym. I have been the member of a gym since grad-school. For the past month and a half, I haven't had a chance to workout, but now I'm back at it. I'm sore as hell. I started going on Friday. I couldn't walk on Saturday. Really. I couldn't walk. I'm in pain as I write this.

There's something calming about being in a gym. Folks wonder why I don't go to the gym at school, but I don't feel . . . safe at a school gym. I remember when I was teaching at ASU and I was using the gym there, I had one of my students walk up to me while I was running on a treadmill and ask me about an assignment. There's nothing more unnerving that not being able to separate work from life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

I haven't continued my alphabetical musings yet. I've been a wee bit distracted. I hope to continue this week. If you haven't guessed, I'm back from Atlanta. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Still in Georgia . . .

We're still in Georgia, but we're heading back to Maple Falls tomorrow. Anyway, some of you have been asking about the decorating we've been doing to our house back in Washington. While I'm hooked up to a high-speed pipe, I'll post as many photos as I can.

Meredith's Office/Guest Bedroom

Meredith's Office/Guest Bedroom
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
This is Meredith's office which is also a guest bedroom.

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Right now we have bunk beds in the room to save some space. My old computer desk is to the bottom left. We'll probably get rid of that desk and change the bunk bed to two twin beds.

TV Room

TV Room
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The room's a bit of a mess, so apologies.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
We haven't figured out what to do with this space. The sliding glass door leads to our grill. Hanging from the window is a piece of art by Carolynne Whitefeather and on the table is a statuette that Meredith bought.

Dining Room

Dining Room
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
We need a few more chairs, but this is our current dining room and dining room table.

Refurbished Wet Bar

Refurbished Wet Bar
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Meredith tore down the accordian doors that used to be to the right side of the bar. We plan on painting over the mirrors to the left of the bar. They're kind of cheesy-looking . . . gold frosted and whatnot.

Painted Kitchen

Painted Kitchen
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The cabinet doors used to have formica sheets on the front. Meredith and I peeled those off, removed the adhesive with a solvent, scrubbed off the residue, and painted each individual cabinet door with multiple coats of primer and paint.

Painted Den

Painted Den
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The den took us three coats of primer and one coat of flat latex paint to cover. We left the ceilings as they were.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
We've been painting. My mother painted this room. She did a great job, didn't she?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

South Carolina

It's hot here. Meredith, myself, and Meredith's mother are visiting Meredith's Grandma who's 99 years old. She's got quite a memory. Anyway, there's not much to report. I'm just stopping in to say hello.