Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Heading toward you

Part II

Flying to Australia
you slipped
across blue
to blow green dreams
in my sister’s ear.

Your time-capsule words
forming ice crystals –
free and glistening
on the table
between two stories –
once swallowed
melt my frozen mouth
long set in the shape of solitude.

It may not be your fault
but the fault lines wave real
from sea to c-shape
of my shell-echo ear
waving interference esses
into my crumbling castle of sand.

Although at first
all the words
you could spring
from bed
to my impassive face
was goodbye
with another sun
set and risen
you swam up
murky Scottish loch waters
with my key
to an open door
between us:

Thanks for coming, honey.
Love you so much.

Once dead
our connection
turns solid to water
exciting heat
with each new thing I learn.

Soon we will be
as close as I know how –
you crossing the threshold
of my dreams
to tell me in person
all the stones you’ve found.

Between us
we agree
not to throw pebbles
unless they can skip as easily
as lives off ice
across a frozen sea.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Heading toward you

In memorium, Lavena Fay Gober, February 17, 2006

Heading toward you
for our last goodbye
I don’t know what to say –
I never knew what to say to you
never knew who I was in your house –
non-favored daughter of your non-favored son.

You were always gnarled
surrounded by the blue of your veins –
your hands knotted around everything but my life.

I never thought that malformity would be me
but lately my feet
have taken the first steps
toward the shape of yours.

I have your feet
but never walked in your shoes.

And now, what am I to tell you,
as you turn from the grandmother
I hid from
to the ancestor I never knew –
who never understood or claimed me?

Your legacy of silent favoritism
a barrier I could never cross
built before I was born
and shored up with each of my mistakes
and years of my absent regrets.

Now the space between us flutters sheet-thin
and white like surrender.
Your breath and mine coming fast,
shallow, meeting somewhere past
where your stories end
and mine begin.

The overlap lies invisible
like our connection
like your influence
pulling me now to the right side of the bed
where you struggle for peace
and I reach for words to reach you.

Unable to hold your past
or our futures,
I will grasp your strong hands
soft if bony,
twisted like our familial love.

What will I say to you,
formidable, dismissive matriarch,
when my whole life
has been a silent, prolonged apology
buried in goodbye?


Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Planner's Thoughts During a Planning Meeting

I've forgotten
my chapstick.

I am sweaty
wit goldfish

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

2005 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Reminded today to look for this year's start of a bad novel contest winner.

I wasn't impressed with the top prize, but I sure got a grin out of the winner for best Western:

As soon as Sherriff Russell heard Bradshaw say, "This town ain't big enough for the both of us," he inadvertantly visualized a tiny chalk-line circle with a town sign that said 'population 1,' and the two of them both trying to stand inside of it rather ineffectively, leaning this way and that, trying to keep their balance without stepping outside of the line, and that was why he was smiling when Bradshaw shot him.

Keriann Noble
Murray, UT

Update and Next Steps

Sorry to be silent. Got some bad news on Friday. Had hoped to defend on the 17th of Feb, but it looks like I've got some substantial changes to make, so now I'm looking at March 10. It's going to be fine. The changes will make the monster better for sure. Just tired. Hard to keep going. It's like mile 20 of the marathon. Come so far, but still have 6 miles to go. Ugh.

What's interesting me lately is that as I finish the thesis, I'm realizing how much this project mirrors an interest I've had for years and years -- since heading to school in Chicago, actually. Back then, I wanted to look at a particular intersection (no, I hadn't noticed that particular similarity until just now) north of Albuquerque. It's actually a freeway exit from I-25. If you head west, you pass through the town of Bernalillo, then Rio Rancho on your left, Santa Ana pueblo on your right. If you head east, you reach Placitas -- a quickly gentrifying area. The land immediately east of the freeway exit is U.S. Forest land. In other words, within a 2-mile radius, you've got jurisdictions that range from town to city to federal to Indian sovereign nation.

What do you do with the intersection? How do you mark such contested territory? Originally, my interest was in how all of these players could coordinate and plan together for the development of place.

Hmmm.... sound familiar?

And underneath that question is the more theoretical -- but more and more vital -- question the more I think about it: how do cultures assert themselves in space? In a multicultural world, how do you create multicultural spaces that value all, work for all, and make visible all?

This has been a slow surfacing realization. The more I realize I don't know, the more fascinated I get. I just headed back to the library and got 10 more books about ethnicity in space, particularly in cities, but really, this goes anywhere.

When you look at the most dangerous example in the world right now -- the deadly contest between Israel and Palestine -- the assumption seems to be either/or. Only one culture should exist in a space at one time. That's sovereignty, isn't it? It's the purest form of segregation, yet there is legitimacy to wanting and valuing the places where a group can exert power and control and be able to "regroup" and recharge its members and practice its own traditions.

bell hooks talks about the peace and rejuvenation of black folks in the South having their own communities where they don't constantly have to be in opposition to others. There is a necessity in speaking among ourselves, if only in certain places we control.

Yet the world is not big enough for us each to separate ourselves in this way, and global capitalism takes away this separatist option, anyway. And isn't there value in interacting with otherness, as well? Seeing ourselves anew because of outside perspectives? Don't we learn tolerance from having neighbors? Being neighbors?

I've always had an instinctual attraction to the concept of connection, but the more I learn, the more I see the need for us to explore the concept from all angles. Not just place but economics. Not just economics but linguistics. Communication. Architecture. Politics. International relations.

The New York Times featured an interview with linguist Deborah Tannen, first famous in the early 1990s for her book about the interaction of men and women called, You Just Don't Understand. She's just come out with a book about mothers and daughters.

When asked about the theme connecting all her books, here's what she has to say:

There's certainly a thread. My writing is about connecting ways of talking to human relationships. My purpose is to show that linguistics has something to offer in understanding and improving relationships.

There are many situations where problems arise between people because conversational styles vary with ethnic, regional, age, class and gender differences.

What can seem offensive to one group isn't to another. I've long believed that if you understand how conversational styles work, you can make adjustments in conversations to get what you want in your relationships.

What's true here of conversation is also true of place. The same considerations should be applied to place-making, whether approached through politics or planning or urban design or architecture.

So much to think about. So much to understand. So much work to be done before we can all live together and assert our culture in space and create shared places where we all belong.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I'm so close that I'm already casting about for other things to focus on -- the classic diversion sabotage.

I have two more weekends of intensity, and it's all I can do to sit still and plug holes.

So I'm starting to see movies, starting to exercise, starting to see family and friends -- all when I should keep my blinders on and just FINISH.

I'm irritable and grumpy and soooooooooooooooo in avoidance mode that any reminder makes me irate. Yes, I know I should be working! Go AWAY!

And the news doesn't help. I want good news. Does anyone have good news? I feel isolated and vulnerable. And tired. And defenseless.

It all seems so difficult -- this life thing. This "making more of your life" thing. Can't it just be simple and beautiful and easy? When does that happen?

I need time off or a trip or ... okay. I just need to finish. I know. I know! But dammit, I'm sick of the whole thing. Why do I have to make everything so hard?