Thursday, April 14, 2011

I slay me

I woke up laughing at 4am from what was apparently a hilarious dream that involved rather a lot of singing. Then the very fact that I had awakened myself with laughter cracked me up, so I just lay there chuckling (and humming the hilarious song which I have since forgotten) for about five minutes before closing my eyes and getting back to the richly rewarding work of sleeping.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


It is, we are told, forbidden to worship false gods. But surely it's just as sinful to fail to recognize the real ones when you see them. What if you should happen to find yourself in the enviable position of sitting at your kitchen table with two as yet unopened books--one by Peter Carey and one by Billy Collins? And what if, within minutes, it is clear to you that worship is really the only appropriate verb to apply to the situation? That were you to begin at the beginning: to admire, to appreciate, to would find most verbs simply inadequate to the task. You might as well skip ahead to "w" perhaps pausing at "v" to venerate.

Maybe there is a simple way out of the theological quagmire. Maybe they are the one true God--two parts of the Trinity. Billy, the Son, making it look human scale and decidedly easy (which Jesus would be the first to tell you, it is not) and Peter, the Father, making it look magnificently impossible. Perhaps the Holy Spirit just moves between the two of them. Or maybe I am the Holy Spirit. And you. And every reader who finds, bounding from phrase to delightful phrase, that it is suddenly 4pm and she is still in her nightgown.

From Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey

"[It] was one of those dazzling machines that are initially mocked for their impracticality until, all in a great rush, like an Italian footman falling down a staircase, they arrive in front of us, unavoidably real and extraordinarily useful."

From horoscopes for the dead by Billy Collins


The woman who wrote from Phoenix
after my reading there

to tell me they were still talking about it

just wrote again
to tell me that they had stopped.


Outside, on the landing, are two small boxes that have been left neither in front of my door, nor my neighbors' door, but snugly against the door of the third apartment, which has been vacant since January. They have been there since I left for work yesterday morning. One box contains the unabridged audio recording of Brideshead Revisited and the other the unabridged audio recording of Pride and Prejudice. Both sets are recorded on cassette. There is no note.

My neighbors and I have now passed these tapes several times and neither household has claimed them. My confusion is increased by the fact that I have a great fondness for both of these books (while also harboring enough general snobbery and specific hostility toward my clattery neighbors [who fill the shared recycling bin to the brim with their uncollapsed boxes each week] to believe that a similar appreciation cannot be attributed to them). Yet, I do not know of anyone who would sneak up the stairs in the late night or early morning to leave recordings for me.

Perhaps most vexingly of all, even if these are a gift just for me from the patron saint of dead English writers, I no longer own a tape player.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

John Hughes, eat your heart out.

Tonight at the school's spring concert:

A boy who two years ago was challenged by simply sitting in a chair (seriously, I saw him fall off a chair. Twice.) sang a rip roaring jazz solo accompanied by a full jazz band in front of hundreds of people.

A handsome, polished boy with a perfect suit and a shiny trumpet was the featured soloist on the next piece, after which he called a fellow musician onstage and formally asked her to be his prom date. (She said yes [who on earth would have said no?] and then went to get her bass for the next song.)

Another natty lad thanked his teacher, the band leader. "Scott," he said, "I wanted to say something, particularly on behalf of the seniors. For the past two or three years, you've guided us through the jazz desert. [Pause] We would have gotten you some flowers. Only they don't grow in the jazz desert. But I do offer my thanks."

If I could find a man of 40 with as much panache as the majority of jazz band seniors, I would marry him.