Friday, April 10, 2015

Minneapolis, MN

I do not know quite what to say about Minneapolis, except that, in my 48 hours here it has already been a city of extremes. Extremes of weather, extremes of energy levels, extremes of hunger and satiation, extremes of quality and quantity.

Yesterday, it snowed on me, and Hightouchmegastore as we were trying to find a restaurant despite Google maps. We did find it, but while we were walking there, we got snowed on. Sometimes it was hard pellets of water that felt more like angry BBs. Sometimes they were liked the triangles cut out of tissue paper snowflakes. But, in all these times, it was always cold, cold, cold. Honestly it was probably less than half-a-mile of cold & snow. But still. It is April. And we were on our way to have sangria! Which seems like it requires sunshine, etc.

But the bar, once we got there, was great. The sangria was great. A kind man who was just leaving gave us one seat. He was ridiculously handsome and he was carrying a kitchen store bag that had a cutting board in it. He was the gay friend in the Minneapolis sit-com version of my life.

At the bar, we had the delicious sangria, and chips and salsa and a delicious tamale. So delicious!

At the keynote address, first the mayor of Minneapolis came out and read us a poem. What mayor does that? Then she told us about how much she loves poetry and she told us to spend all our money in Minneapolis. (I'm doing my best!)
Then a writer who is, admittedly, not my favorite, gave a lovely keynote address. It was lovely, if a tad too long.
After that, the Utah friends came back to the hotel bar for some more snacks. This brings me to Sam.
Sam!
Sam is, without a doubt, our favorite person in Minneapolis, although today some other people gave him a run for his money.
Sam is our waiter in the hotel bar and restaurant. "Hotel bar and restaurant" conjures images of limp lettuce and watery martinis, but this bar is of the HNL. (Hole Nother Level). This hotel restaurant has the most delicious Brussells Sprouts salad in existence. Also, it turns out, they have a dessert which features pancakes and bananas that is crazy delicious.
But Sam is the distilled essence of Minnesota. He has the accent. He is stocky in that charmingly adorable Midwestern way. The way he says "Happy Hour" can only be pronounced in Minnesota. He is one of the reasons we want to eat all our meals in the hotel bar. The other reason is the Brussells Sprouts salad.
He was our waiter the first night, when, exhausted, we plopped in the hotel restaurant for dinner (after arriving around dinner time).  He was our waiter last night after the keynote. He said, "I'll be here all week," when we left last night.

Today when I got up, I was all cocky and happy. "At least it's not raining!" I exclaimed. Let me preface this by saying I did not sleep well on Tuesday night, I did not sleep well on Wednesday night...so, okay. But last night, I actually got some sleep! So this morning, I was all feeling good. So, yes, it was not raining. But when we emerged into the gray, Minneapolis morning, it was in fact snowing. So, okay, no biggie.
We had heard the legened of Caribou Coffee, so we walked there. A scattered riot of people stood near the espresso machine. Chaos! But we quickly figured out that they had ordered and were just waiting. Uh-oh....my coffee, when I got it, was strong and delicious, so I forgave CC for their understaffed chaotic whatever that was.

I went to a good panel on Experimental Writing.  And then a discussion about Creative Writing programs in Two Year Colleges. Got lost in the Bookfair. Wandered. Bought analog text items. Etc.

THEN, dear reader, I walked with HighTouch to the Center for Book Arts. Amazing! Delightful! Inspiring! Yet another opportunity to spend my money in Minneapolis! The kind cashier, quickly ingratiating herself onto my "Favorite People" list, told me that the round blue building was the Guthrie Theater and that we could walk out on their balcony (the Endless Bridge).
So we walked through Gold Medal (flour) Park while our friend Karin, who had gone on the tour of the old factory, told us about explosive flour! And flour that blocks the river!
Then we got directions for how to get to the Endless Bridge from the nice conceirge who told us that if we hadn't been, we should go to the 9th floor, and that "we were in for quite a treat."
The Endless Bridge reaches out from the building so that one can see the Mississippi River and all the other amazing things there (a railroad bridge that is now pedestrians only), the park, trails, etc.
On the 9th floor, the "treat" was yet a still more astounding view of the park and the river and the flour factory, etc.

What happened next is even more amazing & hilarious & Minneapolis-love inducing but it is So! Late! here in MSP that I will have to delay in telling you about the Speakeasy and the Farm to Table dining until tomorrow.

Adieu!


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Short Letters

I stole this idea from my favorite people, Hightouchmegastore and Nikwalk.


Letter 1

Dear Google Maps,
Because your name starts with "Google" I'm all "yes, I can trust this map in primary colors" and "yes, even when it takes me on a round about route, that's fine, okay, I can dig that." But today, TODAY, GM, you had us walking outside in the snowflakes made of little shredded tissues of ice, and we were wandering saying, Where is this restaurant which GM says is right here, on the very spot where we stand?
Well, it wasn't there, but instead about two blocks away. Two blocks in the wet snowy cold. But, LO!, when we got there, there was sangria! and chips! and salsa! and then, eventually, a tamale!
So even your fawning ineptitude could not take the shine off what was, indeed, a very Happy Hour.
Sincerely,
Unlost


Letter 2

Dear Minneapolis,
Seriously?
Coldly,
Should Have Worn My Coat

Letter 3

Dear Conference,
I know that when I was younger, say, in graduate school, that 8:30 seemed like a perfectly reasonable time for an event to start. But now, now that I am older and, yes, wiser, I want all the things to start one after the other so that they will be over sooner and so that I can go back to my room and put on my pajamas.
Okay?
Thanks.
Sincerely,
Sleepy

Monday, April 06, 2015

Zip Ode

I heard this awesome story on NPR this morning, and seeing as how I needed to write a poem today it struck me as the perfect assignment for a Monday!!

The upshot is that you write an ode to where you live based on your zip code.
So, here's mine!

Sugar House, where is the sugar beet factory
for which you are
named?


Razed, replaced now by restaurants. 

I like that a zero can be a blank line, and tried to explain the absence in the poem itself. Also, it's a short poem. I love short poems during poetry month! 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Being Behind

I think as a teacher and a writer and a parent one gets quite comfortable with being behind on things, such as housework and grading.
I am dismayed, however, that by Day 5 of Write a Poem a Day I was already behind! However I caught up.
The problem was, I was too ambitious with poem 3, so I got tripped up....but I chose to write short and easy poems for 4 & 5 and thus was able to go back and finish 3, trying to just finish it and not make it awesome.
I love the assignment part of NaPoWrMo. It's pretty fun and once in a (great) while I come up with something I like. But even without that, I learn something. (Like what a Golden Shovel is. I wrote one last year and it's the form that tripped me up on Day 3! Lesson learned! Don't be so ambitious on Day 3! Listen to William Stafford: Lower your standards!)
In any case, Easter is going quite well so far, because I prepped the lamb last night so all I had to do was pop it in the oven (popped!). Then cut up potatoes and make some herb salt (too easy!).
Then later I will make some salad which is pretty easy, though not as easy as EASY. In any case, pretty easy.
Also, Son is back in the fold and though we are back (less than 24 hours!!) to our disagreements about the computer, I also took Son swimming this morning, which makes my heart swell, just a little. I had a heart to heart with him, in the pool, about the fate that is his a la genetics: whatever sport he chooses he will be good at it. So just choose already! He is smart so, of course, he wants to debate with me about the value of teamwork and working the body, etc., versus the mind. I am willing to engage in such debates, but ultimately I will make him do some kind of physical activity.
Well, this catches me up on one thing: blogging!
If you want to read my poems and also Hightouch's poems, they are at our old and now New Again! blog, the Poem a Day. (see blog roll on the right).
Peace Out, Tulips!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Wanderlust

As a result of many conversations today (about Hawaii, about Ireland, about Scotland, etc.), I now am in the thick of Wanderlust. But LO it is still many weeks until the end of the semester and even more weeks until we go to Hawaii. Alas!

(I am about to punch the internet in the throat because I've been looking for a story I think I saw on line only I can't remember where. Oh! The agony!)

In any case, there is this guy who walks from his home, in England I believe, and he sleeps outside much of the time and he thinks we all should do that as well.
I'm pretty sure he wrote a book and if I knew who he was or what the book was, I would tell you. In any case, I think I will do something of this nature this summer, try to take Son camping close to home, or perhaps in our backyard?

I must go now, so no pieces of technology lose their lives.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Mid-day Oasis + Poem One in PoemADay Project

Now that I am at La Barba (Charming Beard inside Finca, downtown SLC) I've decided that I should start a thing which is basically to go out to fancy restaurants at a Non-Standard Time (NST) in order to eat Whatever the Hell I Want (WHIW) and Drink in the Afternoon (DIA).
Today, sadly, I am merely drinking delicious coffee and eating a Way Too Small Complementary Cookie (WTSCC). I have Grading To Do (GTD) which I am Consciously Avoiding via Coffee Addiction (CACA).
But I wanted you to know that I have a Project, which is this NSTWHIW project and that if you'd like to join me, that Can Be Arranged (CBA). Perhaps this will be my Summer Project (SP) not to be confused with my Summer Writing Project (SWP) or my Vacation at Home (VaH) project.

In other news, I started my (really bad) Poem a Day project, which I will post here and other places for your edification. The prompt today was to write a poem based on a joke. I give you....

Cat on the Roof

My favorite joke ends with the line, “Mom is up on the roof.”
Earlier, a man asks his brother how to tell a friend that his cat
died. “Break it gently,” he says, advice which tells us how to do
so many things: dump a lover, crack an egg, tell a student that
he’s failing. But there aren’t enough roofs for all the tragedies
that befall us, all the ways the universe thwarts what we want,
substituting instead  what fate ordains should be.  
Meanwhile, back in the joke, the brothers still can’t
deal with death. No surprise that my favorite joke has a death
wish: I’m obsessed with it. Daily, fear of death stalks me,
a stealthy cat, pouncing with claws out, or tamely rubbing against
me. In the mundane acts of life, we’re assaulted by profundity.
The punch line is: all of us will die. The joke, in this regard, is true.
The trick is how to get the body off the roof.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Malaise, Part II

Today my malaise is lessened, perhaps by the friends (real, actual friends, not those FB types!) who express concern about my general state.
It could be, also, that Wednesday malaise is always and forever a lesser malaise than Monday.
Or, could it be, the sunshine? The snow visible on the mountains?
Or still yet, could it be that from Wednesday one can see, shimmering mirage-like in the distance, Friday? And beyond that, the dry expanse of something known as the weekend which, surely, will contain an opportunity for recovery? Recovery, one hopes, from this general malaise.
Also, it should be said, the enormous amount of grading can not be insignificant in this general, overall malaise-type feeling.
One should also, perhaps, not sit, mooning over photographs of a younger, leaner self with a younger, more squishable Son while drinking coffee that is, admittedly, good and perhaps a cure for morning variety malaise. The photographs do no good! They cause regret! Put them away!! (but look first, again, at the general adorableness of the Son. Observe it, as well, in his actual self, silently eating cereal in the kitchen).
I feel, again and ever, like Alfie the child in "Annie Hall."
"What's the use?" he laments. "The universe is expanding."
Indeed, Alfie. Indeed.