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I'm doing a tour of duty over at Didi Menendez's brilliant Oranges & Sardines right now, featuring several new poems from NANOPEDIA as well as a little interview with Grace Cavalieri.


Only in AZ can you experience the best in contemporary art and follow it up with a ride on a mechanical bull.


You who are getting obliterated in the dancing swarm of fireflies

I've been attending the Americans for the Arts's Emerging Leader Council's winter meeting in Phoenix for the past few days, convening in the amazing Phoenix Art Museum. Today we got a guided tour of the modern and contemporary art exhibits, with some background and explanation of several pieces.

My favorite is "You who are getting obliterated in the dancing swarm of fireflies" by Yayoi Kusama. You enter a dark space with what appears to be hundreds of small LED pendent lights hung on black cables from the ceiling, and must determine how to walk to the exit.

It is the closest thing to being removed from your body.

The lights glow and change color, then fade out intermittently. The space creates an almost nauseating vertigo because, despite your best efforts, you cannot perceive depth or distance. The walls are mirrors, multiplying the lights several times over so that it feels endless, formless. And the floor is black and polished, somewhat reflective as well. It was just so stunning.

There were many fantastic pieces we saw. One was made out of 7 tons of paper laid edge-out, color-graded from yellow to blue and pink to yellow (on opposite walls). Another featured charred beams and bits from a burned Baptist church threaded onto wires and then hung vertically from the ceiling.

I wish I had another day to go exploring. They have a significant fashion collection as well, and I heard today they were given several Halston pieces that I really would have liked to see. But, as it was, I did get to sneak through their Geoffrey Beene exhibit....


Mr. Bright Side


Sometimes I get annoyed about men's fashion. Men's work clothes are so bland and uninteresting--pants, shirts, ties, jackets. Period. Khakis. Whoo hoo! Dangerous. I used to get irritated that the women in my offices could wear things that were basically more casual and comfortable (say, by not having a bolt of silk knotted at their throat, for example). In Arizona, it was worse, because women could come to work in what were essentially muscle shirts with collars on them and it was fine. When it was 116 outside, I totally considered putting a collar on one of my sleeveless shirts rather than put on the thick, biohazard suit-like clothes of the office guy.

Maybe there's something in the air lately, but I've read and heard from several writers this simple sentiment:

"Thank god I don't make my living through writing. I'm so happy I have this other job as a nurse/math teacher/graphic designer to keep me going."

The remarks stunned me a bit. While I feel lucky to have a job where I get to work in the "literary world" somewhat, and meet writers, and plan events for them, etc., I sometimes wonder if things would be better (would it be awful to say "easier"?) if I were teaching college. For poets, I think university jobs are sort of the elephant in the room (if you don't have one). I wonder, for example, if it would be great to have summers off so I could trot off to writing residencies, or how great it would be to work three or four days a week so I could travel for readings and everything.

And it's hard to remember all the unpleasant parts of teaching that I don't have to deal with, like paperwork and tenure review committees and politics and bureaucracy. Because it's easier to focus on what I want and don't have rather than what I have and don't want. (It's a personality flaw, admittedly.)

So, I don't get to go on writing retreats longer than a long weekend, and I don't get long summer days to read books and write new poems. I work about 50 hours a week in one of the most fun jobs a writer can have. And I'm good at it, too. I don't know if I would feel so excited to do something I was only 75% good at.

So what's the bright side of fashion? That although my closets are full of pants, shirts, ties, and jackets, most of them don't ever go out of style. Thanks, black pants, white shirts, etc! That's money in my pocket. To go buy more clothes.


Beau's Buffy the Vampire Slayer exit interview

You may have heard that Beau recently completed the Herculean task of watching every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me. It was kind of an agreed-upon prerequisite for living with me. I'm very proud of him for not only sticking it out, but also finding much to love about the show.

Beau and I sat down last night to talk Buffy, just one night after he watched "Chosen," the show's final episode, in our bedroom. Here's what he remembers about Buffy:

Ten Favorite Episodes (in no order)
"Once More, with Feeling" (Season 6)
"Hush" (Season 4)
"Two to Go" (Season 6)
"Doppelgangland" (Season 3)
"Killed by Death" (Season 2)
"Help" (Season 7)
"Halloween" (Season 2)
"Witch" (Season 1)
"Life Serial" (Season 6)
"Storyteller" (Season 7)

Favorite Season Overall
Season 7

Favorite Character
Anya, the 1100-year old ex-vengeance demon

Least Favorite Character

Favorite Big Bad
Glorificus the Hell God

Favorite Little Bad
The Gentlemen from Hush

Best Buffy Hair
Season 7

Worst Buffy Hair
The bob in Season 6

Character He Most Aspires to Emulate

Character He Would Make Out With the Longest

Saddest Moment
When Xander leaves Anya at the altar in "Hells Bells"

Marry, Boff, Kill: Angel, Riley, Spike
Marry: Angel, Boff: Riley, Kill: Spike

Favorite song from "Once More, With Feeling"
"I'm Under Your Spell"

Will he read the season 8 comic books?
He's thinking about it, even though it's supergeeky.

Other Comments
Beau says he really started liking the show once they went to college in season 4, and that it kept getting better after that.

He also says, "I will be watching the whole series again."

And he also says, "And I love you, Angel."

"And Tara. And Anya."


Happy birthday, Arden!


Today is Arden's fourth birthday! In honor of the occasion, she asked that I share some of her impressive stats and fun trivia with you:

Arden Lily Jensen

Arden Lily, Ardentina (as in "Don't cry for me, Ardentina"), Ardenza (rhymes with "credenza"), Bug, Lady, Lil, Missy, Muffin, Muppet, My Boo, Nugget, Snugglebunny, Stinkerbell, Stinkerella

Astrological sign and dominant traits
Capricorn: can be hard-working and obedient but also stubborn when she wants something

Commands learned
10: Sit, lay down, stay, come here, shake, crate, get down, go to bed, up, kisses

Larger, hairier dogs who are dominant

Knocking, door buzzers, chatter in the stairwell, poorly behaved children

Secret shame
Consistently sneaks in and eats cat food

Favorite treats
Rawhide chews with Omega-3 for sensitive skin, any kind of biscuit treat

Great accomplishment last year
Losing 6 pounds! Good job, lady.

And now, a trip down memory lane:

Arden 7
Her first day at home (7 weeks)

After she learned to climb the stairs on her own.

Cozied up during a chilly Arizona winter!

Hanging out at home with dad.

Showing off her Christmas parka and Pablo, her fake boyfriend until she chewed open his flank.

Her first "glamour shot" (vaseline on the lens)

Awww...who can go to work after seeing a face like that?

Lounging in the summer sun at Grandma and Papa's house while dad's out of town.

Still as "Offred" from her one-woman production of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Dressed for dinner the only time she's been able to fly back to Phoenix to see Grandma and Papa.

In DC with her new stepsister Kitty.

Happy birthday, beautiful!