(un)Sunday’s (un)poem post


The poem below is about an (un) family–one that appears to be something that it’s not–a family where things seem to be order–but are, in fact, far, far from ordinary.  It’s about family dysfuntion on a massively deceptive scale. 

We wear nice clothes.  We drive nice cars.  We go to church, to school.

But–we are, in fact, none of those things. 

We are the inversion of family.

(un)poem

everything begins and ends
     with appetite
                                the edge
 
of the photograph
     where the girl’s
     arm ends
                                and the tablecloth
 
begins again its
     grammar of red
                and white
                                diagramming
 
father / mother
     sister
     sister
                                plates
 
in their places
     knives to the right
     spoons
     roast chicken
                                relics of
 
10,000 family dinners
                                that swim
 
     white cat
     cadmium yellow
 
to the windowsill
     on the east side
               of the house
                                where we
 
have set blue mason jars
     absorbing particles
                of spring
                                the early
     face of april growing
                in the yard
 
seeming untime
                unspace
 
work room
wood floor
 
tangle of limbs
     jungled
     wet
 
always never
     arriving
 
 

Canines in Conical Hats: Lucy Does Vietnam


Lucy is a dog with wanderlust.  She loves to go just about anywhere.  And though she looks the part of precious pup–

My seven pound “princess,” in fact, behaves badly anywhere other than her black, backpack carrier—

Very badly!

Lucy does not possess anything remotely resembling a sweet disposition.  Her bark–loud, high-decibeled, and persistent–is her best weapon in an arsenal of ways to get what she wants.

But John Grogan, author of Marley & Me, insists that all dogs are great, and bad dogs–“the greatest of them all.”

And Lucy is indeed a great traveler—

Lucy is such a perfect companion on the road, that Sara and I have trotted the globe with her in tow—if for no other reason than she’s at her best, her most charming and well-behaved in planes, trains, and automobiles.

And on our world-wide odyssey to find canine obedience and tail-wagging good manners, our first stop with Lucy was Vietnam—a country Lucy traveled top to bottom, bottom to top.

Lucy behaved beautifully during our grueling 24 hour trans-global trip to Saigon.  Honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome. 

However, day-to-day living with Lucy in Vietnam proved more challenging, since, for the first several days, I couldn’t locate a blade of grass within a 10 block radius of our apartment.   There was a park a 15 minute walk away, but it was so far that even getting there involved rehydration stops along the way:

And once we finally arrived, it turned out dogs were not allowed on the lawn.  I kid you not! 

One morning, a security a guard reprimanded me, “Not dog on grass!  Not dog on grass!”  When I showed him the pink poop bag with which I intended to pick up any excrement, pink poop bag I had brought purposefully all the way from the US—biodegradable and environmentally friendly—he seemed not the least impressed and repeated his demand with all the more irritation, “Not dog on grass!  Not dog on grass!”  But Lucy refused to pee or poop on pavement.  What was an environmentally conscious, dog-toting-to-the-Far-East American to do?

What I did was find this lonely square of grass in front of the Indonesian Consulate:

But once she adjusted to only a tiny turf, Lucy was off to places like the Reunification Palace:

She visited famous fountains:

She even participated in a student survey:

She insisted on praying at Notre-Dame Basilica:

Lucy traveled the 1,100 miles from Saigon to Hanoi by train—a nearly 30 hour trip:

She loved lounging in our compartment and mooching meals from Sara:

In Hanoi she visited the Temple of Literature by back pack:

She enjoyed Sunday brunch at the world-famous Metropole Hotel:   

Lucy took us shopping in the Old Quarter:

There she bought the smallest conical hat in all of Southeast Asia:

Lucy continues to turn heads even now that we live in Haiti,  but she still insists no well-mannered Maltese would do Vietnam without a millinery consultation. 

Hats off to Hanoi!

Blog is the New Black!


I’m not much of a procrastinator, and as such, I’m going to deal with my second blogging “award” immediately on the Gucci-ed-heels of the last and pass this horror honor along today.  (In case you missed it—yesterday I accepted and “shared” the Memetastic Award.  To read the post click here.)

I wouldn’t want to keep all the glory to myself.  That would be selfish, and that’s just not me, because, according to my friend Wendy over at “Herding Cats in Hammond River,” I’m a “Stylish Blogger.”

Whether this means I’m a blogger with fashion sense or a wardrobe-malfunctioned writer, whose blog happens to be in good graphic order, I don’t know.

The only thing I’m certain of is this: I gotta pass this hot potato along today while folks are already hating me and I have nothing more to lose.

Now frankly, I’m horrified to do this two days in a row, and I apologize to any and all victims of this prize-passing plot.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I won’t be bothered in the least should you ignore this honor all together and move along to less coutured-concerns, like getting the kids off to school, raising your blog’s Technorati rating, addressing the issue of hunger in Haiti, or bringing peace to the Middle East.

But—as a good team player and perfect martyr to the cause of peace and good will in the blogosphere, I formally accept the Stylish Blogger Award, and in doing so, agree:

  1. To (sort of) write seven things about myself. (How’s that for open-ended—something any narcissist worth her blogging salt could pull off with posting pleasure.)
  2. To (almost) present this award to six other suckers bloggers (but the more the merrier).
  3. To (kind of) contact these victims people (as I see fit).
  4. To (by all means) create a link back to the sadist person who humiliated honored me.  (In all seriousness, Wendy’s “Herding Cats in Hammond River” is not only worth reading, it’s worth subscribing to and reading daily.  I wouldn’t think of missing it—truly!)

However, here’s where we get to mix it up, folks.  Because I’m going to ignore adjust the rules and ask instead that you share some little-known truth about yourself in the comments below—maybe even add a link to what you consider the best or most popular post you’ve ever written.  Come on now—toot your own horn here!

And instead of me passing this “award” along to six other bloggers who must then foist it off on six others, I’d like you, in the comments, to nominate a blogger who you don’t think gets the attention or traffic they observe.  Who have we not heard of?  Who have we not read?  Who has not been freshly pressed but, by God, deserves to be?

In fact, I suggest we officially revise the “Stylish Blogger Award” rules, so that the blogger with style, the blogger with class, in fact, becomes the one who asks you to share what’s best about you and bring a friend along for the fun.  Let’s create a little more community here!

Show some self-esteem, dress yourself up, take yourself anda blogging buddy out on the town: share a post of your own and/or a link to your favorite blog.

Because really, folks, a blog is only as good as its readers, and my blog rocks only to the degree that you shake things up and make a difference.

Feel free to do a similar “Stylish Blogger” post of your own, if you like.  Share the glory.  Wear the style.

Give your blog a little haute couture of its own—   

Because blog is the new black!

Haitian Presidential Elections and a DNA of Hoarding


Haitian presidential elections are tomorrow, and in preparation for post-election violence, people are stocking up on food and drinking water, ready to remain in their homes should angry protesters flood the streets once election results are announced.  Most NGOs, Sara’s included, plan to remain closed on Monday, believing that if history is any indicator, security problems are inevitable.  My Haitian French teacher told me that after the last election, she was unable to leave her home for 5 full days, and she expects the same this time around.

However, Sara and I may have gotten to the grocery store a bit too late this morning, a day after most Haitians had already stocked up.  The shelves, though they were not empty, were terribly picked over, and, for example, there was not a baguette in sight (and very little fresh produce).  But we got the fundamentals and finally found French bread at the bakery near Sara’s office.

At any rate, we are well-supplied in the event of violence or political unrest: plenty of fuel for the generator, batteries for emergency lighting, and a solar powered radio to hear election results via our guards.

We are so well supplied, in fact—that Saint Sara is laughing at me as I write this, pointing out that, including the 4 cans of diced tomatoes I bought today, we now have a grand total of 13, and including the 2 I purchased this morning, we now have 14 bottles of salad dressing—blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and honey mustard varies all lined in lovely rows.  Not to mention the 15 two liter bottles of Coke Zero, equally well-ordered.  Saint Sara’s soldiering of the surplus, so to speak

Okay, okay, I admit it—I’m obsessed.  I over-shop.  I over-stock.  It’s a sickness. 

But couldn’t I blame this on the political climate here in Haiti, the potential for civil unrest, the need to be well-supplied in the event of disaster?  Yes­—

—But I blame it on the DNA—

—Claiming, as my grandmother did when my aunt asked why she had so much toilet paper—a floor-to-ceiling-sized pantry full—

“I’m keeping it so all the hoarders don’t get it!”

What supplies are surplus-ed in your pantry?

Airing Family Secrets via Haute Couture


Two days ago, on her 72nd birthday, my mother shared her newest mnemonic device.   And I thought, in all fairness, I should pass along the technique, in case you want to remedy your own memory deficits by adopting my mother’s method.

This all came up when I asked my mom to call us in Haiti during our family’s annual let’s-celebrate-mom’s-birthday-event scheduled for yesterday afternoon.

When I asked my mother to make the call, she said, “Well, I’m afraid I’ll forget.” 

I reassured her that she didn’t have to worry.   I would email my sister and ask her place the call. 

“No,” my mother declared confidently. “I’ll just clip a clothes pin to my lapel.”

“Really,” I replied. 

“Of course,” she claimed.  “Someone is bound to ask why I have a clothes pin on my blouse.  And when they do, I’ll remember we were supposed to call you.  It works every time.”

“Every time,” I said, dumbfounded that my mother had used the technique enough to have gathered such data.

“Always!”

“Wow,” I added.  “I think I’ll have to blog about that.”

“Oh, you should! It works really well—-and everybody has an extra clothes pin hanging around!”

“Sure they do . . . “

. . . but—-for those of you whose laundry habits have surprisingly not carried the clothes pin over into the 21st century or, god forbid, who lack the sartorial daring to add clothespins to your accessory repertoire, my mother claims the piece-of-paper-in-the-middle-of-the-living-room-floor technique works almost as well.

But, of course, I wouldn’t want to hang all  my family’s dirty laundry out to dry.