Archive for June, 2009

green grass

(image from swisscan on flickr)

1.  The smell of cut grass.  Even though it’s 102 degrees here, I went for a walk, and had a wonderful time– everyone had mowed their lawn over the weekend, I think, and every time I turned a corner I smelled cut grass.  Even the heat was scented with grass.

2.  The Dairy Queen.  The DQ was the only restaurant we had in town, besides a few local diners (where only men and old people went.)  I didn’t go to a Burger King, for instance, until I was in college.  The high school had an open campus, except for the athletes, who had to eat in the cafeteria so the coach could make sure they were eating good things.  My parents gave me two dollars every day for lunch; when the bell rang, it seemed like everyone walked up the street and across the town square to the DQ.

The DQ also figured prominently for us as teenagers.  Because there was no where to go, no movie theaters or malls, we “made laps” once we had cars, or friends with cars.  The circuit went out on the highway to Pat’s (aforementioned diner), through the empty parking lot (older kids often parked to talk in the parking lot), back up the main drag and around the square. We’d go through the drive through at the DQ, and hang out in the parking lot when it closed. I grew up in a dry county, so we really were only driving, talking, parking, and drinking Mr. Mistys.

3.  Little neighborhoods where all the streets have ladies’ names.  I once lived on Annalee, which was in the same neighborhood as streets named “Eulalie,” “Rosalie,” “Florence,” “Anna,” and “Madge.”  I heard that when the city planners were creating those streets in the 1950s, they all named a street after their wives.  The neighborhood I’m staying in now, with friends, has streets named, “Fayette,” “Lucia,” “Kit,” “Coral,” “Darlene,” and “Daisy.”  I like the idea of people naming streets after other people–but first names, more quaint and less austere, and I like these 1950s names.

4.  Chatty people.  I am a chatty person, I think, and I forget that not everyone in the city wants advice, a conversation, or details.  Sometimes someone will ask me a curt question on a train, or in a shop, and I’ll be ready for a full explanation, with what I think, what might be possible, and other details.  In the Midwest, in my experience, people are warmer and more likely to join in a conversation, or enjoy one.


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I love it when I discover that someone I care about has a blog.  I recently found my friend Derrick’s blog; we were floormates for two years and he is an amazing writer, pastor, speaker, scholar, and singer.  Some of my best memories from commencement this year are of hearing his voice stream through various hymns, prayers, and songs.

Given that I’ve been thinking about marriage rights lately, I was really interested to read some of his thoughts– you can read them on his blog, Touched Enough to Speak, in a post entitled, “Answer to: ‘Why do They Want to Marry?'”

In part, he describes how LGBTQ life can be a matter of losing “proscribed ideals,” and needing to re-form identity.  I particularly like the way he imagines the loss, the refashioning, and the way one lives in that process: 

“In LGBTQ identity formation, those building blocks that are cultural, familial, and societal are the hardest to reframe because our input on their importance in our lives has been so limited. It is like the game Jenga-trying to build an identity while with each round of life you realize the pieces of your identity that culture and society takes away from your foundation.”

He continues, writing:

“I think marriage represents much of this foundational identity formation. Now that there is even the remotest of possibilities of putting this foundational piece of identity formation back in place, people are reclaiming the piece.”

I’m not sure what to add to this, except to say that I’ve been thinking about these ideas a lot since I first read them.  I think one of the reasons it speaks to me, and maybe everyone, is that one part of being human is dealing with loss, especially of “pieces”– even large blocks–parts of our life that we expected, or took for granted, or thought would happen.  A piece gets removed, and we have to continue to grow, live, and rebuild on a shifted foundation.

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Although the weather hasn’t felt like it yet, it must be summer.  I saw four very different people wearing the same blue seersucker print this afternoon.

First, I saw the photographer we share a suite with in the hallway.  Very dapper, seersucker slacks.  Then, my co-worker Amy came in, in a perfect slip of a dress–the exact same pattern.  I wanted to take a photo of them together, with lemonade.

On my way out of the library, a bedraggled man with paper bags full of books was wearing seersucker shorts, knee-length.

Finally, as soon as I stepped on the train, I saw another man, young but portly, with a seersucker jacket.  All four wore the same classic blue and white striped.  As the train pulled away and I settled into my seat, I started to think about the kind of long short story that would wind around all four characters–four different ethnicities, different ages, different levels of scruff and dirt, doing different things.  Carrying different things, with different expressions.  Clearly, the cover of the book would be that distinctive pattern.  I’m not sure about a title for it yet…

I want a little pleated seersucker skirt, with a matching scarf for my hair.  With a canvas bag, the kind with large wooden hoop handles.  And a dachshund, on a navy blue lead.

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Ahh, Internet.  It was actually nice to not have it at home, for a while.  Just reading, or listening to music, or looking at cookbooks.  I did miss my favorite blogs, and news pages, and Etsy, none of which I look at while at work.  Here, for the curious, are the four blogs I opened as soon as I was back online:

Grammar Piano.  And was treated to a very excellent poem, which I keep going back to read.

Leaf-Stitch-Word.  Consistently great writing, interesting topics, cool photos, and ideas that I keep thinking about on my own.

The House of Nana.  One of my favorite artists, wonderful spirit about that blog.

Scented Glossy Magazines.  I haven’t ever seen any of the shows she recaps, but her writing is so funny–it doesn’t even matter if I don’t know the characters she’s writing about, I always laugh out loud.

Add Jezebel, LiveJournal, Luckybeans, and A Mom and Her Camera for more great photos, and a little evening of checking in on my favorite spots is complete.

To my surprise, The House of Nana had tagged me for a me-meme.  Perfect for coming back from a blogging hiatus.  Here we go:

What is your current obsession?

Finding small, old books in a variety of muted colors.  They’ll be part of the centerpieces at my wedding this winter, and the favors as well.  I also love the way they smell, and the marbled endpaper, and the occasional inscriptions.

What is your weirdest obsession?

Old photographs– when I studied the Victorians, I spent a lot of time reading about and thinking about how people thought about photography, and having a permanent record of an ephemeral moment.  I think about this idea frequently.

What’s for dinner?

I don’t know yet– we eat at church on Sunday evenings, so it’s whatever the chef is cooking.  His last name is “Church,” so his name is actually “Chef Church,” which I like.

What would you eat for your last meal?

Butter, cheeses, bread, figs wrapped in bacon, sweet corn on the cob, asparagus marinated in soy sauce and grilled, red wine, hush puppies with ketchup, watermelon, a bison burger…  it seems like what I would want is a very, very fancy picnic.

What’s the last thing you bought?

Shhh… something from LuluSplendor for a friend’s birthday.

What are you listening to right now?

The box fan blowing in cool air from the bedroom.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I actually think St. Louis, my hometown of sorts.  I miss it, and would like to settle there.  But I’d consider one of those pastry colored houses around the town square in Prague, a little A-frame in Laurel Canyon, or a little farmhouse in my real hometown.  But I’d want to keep my own furniture.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be?

Wow, only an hour?  I’m tempted to spend time with friends.  Also by something monumental like the Louvre– I like the idea of rushing through there with time to see properly only five or twelve things.  I did that once before and don’t remember anything but the wild rush.

Which language do you want to learn?

I’ll be lucky to keep the ones I’ve got.  But I’m trying to decide between Coptic and Syriac for the next one.

What’s your favorite quote (for now)?

Here’s one from Dickens: Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?

My ball gown.  It’s fabulous. It’s a deep red color, and has a full skirt, and is very, very v-necked.  (As in, needing special, er, underpinning planning to wear it.)  So my skin looks perfectly pale just as it is, and it feels amazingly comfortable on, and I can hear the skirts rustle around me when I walk.  

I ordered it online, and when I picked up the package from outside my door, my then roommate Jodut and I were on our way to Starbucks at 5 AM before going to school to teach.  I was so excited, that I had to open it right then, in the Starbucks bathroom, at five o’clock in the morning.  And it was perfect.  Now, if only I had more reasons to wear it…

What is your dream job?

Running my own school for kids.  

What’s your favorite magazine?

I’m not sure.  I like to pick up the fancy low-tech poetry magazines at bookstores, and also either The Paris Review or The New England Review, but I generally read those online.  I also like that cooking magazine without photographs–everything is the hand-drawn drawings of the food and implements.

If you had 100 pound right now, how would you spend it?

I’d buy the fanciest, plushest, most soft and luxurious bathrobe in the world for Matt’s birthday.

Describe your personal style.

Um– I like to wear skirts, I have heaps of jewelry, I like to wear more than one of something at  a time, I make things to wear myself out of ribbons, I like colored tights (especially when I’m teaching; nothing says “Adverb Day” like hot-pink tights), and I always say, “More is more.”  I like feathers.  Lace.  Mirrors and buttons.  I like it when things don’t match, and many patterns at once.

What are you going to do after this?

I’ll wash my half of the dishes, then get ready to go to church to teach Sunday school.  On the way, we’ll stop to buy fancy olives and balsamic vinegar.  I’m reading a good mystery and look forward to getting on the train so I can keep reading it.

What are your favorite films?

The Royal Tanenbaums, Chocolate, Corrina, Corrina, The Big Sleep, Pride and Prejudice (the BBC six-hour version), Bridget Jones’s Diary, the Horatio Hornblower series, Water…

What’s your favorite fruit?


What inspires you?

The way people love stories, the way people say, “You have to read this,” when people memorize poems they love, ladies who read the Bible on the train, trying again, monumental architecture, places that make me realize the world is old and I am young, old people singing with solemnity…

Do you collect anything?

Old pictures, Super 8 and other old cameras, sugar and creamer sets, bits of paper from gifts or art projects. Ribbon, broken bits of glass and china.

Any advice that comes from bitter experience?

If you have to choose between the truth or a lie, choose the truth.  Even if it seems more painful.

What plant makes you happy?

Peonies.  Overblown roses.  Little perky aloe plants.


This was a long one.  I’d like to hear answers from A Voice from the Chorus, Red Bay Dreamer, and my friend Amy.

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