Octopus' Garden

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WHOOSH!

The entire last week like an old-fashioned Coney Island roller coaster creaking and clattering and inching up, and up, and up . . .

Tomorrow grinding up to the very top to teeter on the precipice for a moment, and then whoosh!

* * *


On Friday night, my exceedingly marvelous friends threw me a tenure party. There were mojitos! And amazing Fat Tire beer! And meat on a stick and pot stickers! And a lemony refrigerator cake that was better than sex! And sitting in an old corn bin in the middle of the country with party lights and the sounds of late-August insects rolling in and out in great windy waves of sound!

* * *


Today was New Student Convocation and okay, so I’m kind of a dork, but I love how New Student Convocation officially kicks off the start of the school year. And even though I always feel a little bit bittersweet about letting go of that precious summer writing time, I love fall, and that bright copper penny, shiny apple, tangy-sharpened-pencil-smell, circadian back-to-school newness that sets in this time of year.

* * *


Ticonderoga No. 2! (Just say it a few times to yourself. It’s kind of compulsively irresistible, isn’t it?)

* * *


Tonight my house is clean, my office organized, my summer projects (more or less) wrapped up, my manuscripts out, my classes prepped, and my school clothes hung out and ready to go. I feel too excited to sleep, in that same way I used to feel when I was a kid before the first day of school.

Whoosh!
posted by Artichoke Heart at 1:48 AM | link | 8 comments

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BITS OF TID (SORT OF LIKE TIMBITS, BUT NOT): AUGUST 2006 EDITION

1. The Knife, The Ice, The Glove . . .

With the recent obsession regarding clams transpiring as of late, it seemed slightly ironic that, following a complete lock down (or was it a lock up?) of my neck last week (that prohibited my even being able to turn my head in either direction!), I had to put myself on ice for an entire day. Does this mean the knife and the glove are soon to follow?

2. Blueness Update

I’m pleased to report, however, that I recovered from the condition of Blue-Leggedness arising from the aforementioned Hinky Blue Jean Debacle. There was an actual day or so where I’d convinced myself that the only thing to do for it was to cultivate an air of insouciance, simply dye myself blue in my entirety, and pretend that I’d meant to do it all along. Then, perhaps, I’d have to hook up with a Blue Man, or at the very least, start pimping Pentium on the T.V. with the Blue Man Group. Except it would first have to be renamed the Blue Person Group or the Blue (Wo)man Group or somesuch, I suppose.

It also occurred to me that I could also pretend that I was a blue Delvian plant princess, like Zhaan, from Farscape. I have always been both fascinated and mildly envious of Zhaan’s blueness. (And is it just me, or was Zhaan always both scary and, frankly, a little bit hot when she pollinated?) The problem with this blue Delvian plant princess schema, however, is that not only must one have really great cheekbones to pull this kind of blueness off (the kind of cheekbones one could slice cheese on . . . Li-Young Lee cheekbones, am I right?), one must also be exceedingly tall. Which I am not. Although I’ve always had aspirations for this magnitude of tallness. I would love to be WNBA tall! Or Anne Rice’s Taltos tall! But as of yet, these aspirations have remained, sadly, unfulfilled.

3. Jennie O! (Or Things I Hope My Neighbors Don’t Overhear)

Me (to Cats): Hey! That’s my lunch! Stop licking my lunch! Go lick your own lunch! You wouldn’t like it if I went around licking your lunch all willy nilly, now would you?

Cats (in unison): Turkeyturkeyturkeyturkeyturkey! Gimme! Turkeyturkeyturkeyturkeyturkey! Gimmegimmegimme!

Me: OMFG! I can’t believe you just did that! Stop spleening me! (Sigh) Oh . . . all right, then.

Cats (now simultaneously scarfing turkey and chanting, with mouths full, as an uncontrollable mob): Jennie O! Jennie O! Jennie O!

Me: Okay. Stop with the Jennie O-gasm. It’s freaking me out.
posted by Artichoke Heart at 2:21 PM | link | 3 comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

HEARTS OF CLAM

1. Pulse and Grind

The Dog Day Cicadas in full swing now, their rotating cycles of singing like bright insistent blades of sound slicing into the quiet and blending the air all around me. Soon, the students will be back, unloading their trucks of stuff onto the sidewalks and waking this small town out of its summer sleepiness, and soon, these easy quiet days of writing, reading, thinking, walking, and just simply being will need to be relinquished. The cicadas are a reminder. They make the work that happens during the Dog Days just little bit more urgent. They saw and puree and imprint themselves and they will not be ignored: their exhausted, world-weary tone is cynical, but their need to make themselves heard is shyly earnest.

2. Suet and Seeds: What Brings You Here

rainy planet and sci fi and rubber trees
glamorous swim caps
stomach system of polar bear
I want you to notice when I’m not around
flowered octopus
animal totem albino squirrel
courier font heart
ancient griots
scritti politti north America
pig licker
octopus drowning humans
how to make paper asters
tornados shaped like a heart
ferret habitrail
nun belly button
hive, sunlight
proxy dog
katoni aster
I want an octopus
dreaming of ferrets what does it mean
tiny bubbles swim school
lee aster
garden coffee grinds cats
why do I have no tolerance for humidity
octopus proxy
accidents, she said  but she lied
haldol ephemera
open the lights portugese
silk kite song
moths with crumpled wings
ice caps made me sick
imagine an octopus, imagine one without any arms
are artichokes dangerous?

3. Apertures and Pinholes

Once I had an opportunity to purchase a fleece hat in the shape of an eggplant. I happen to be exceedingly fond of eggplant. I realize now, in retrospect, that this was somewhat of a missed opportunity.

Currently, I am in the grip of a gustatory obsession with Paul Newman’s Own Light Honey Mustard Salad Dressing. To the point where I can, and often do  indeed, I often must  eat it several times a day. I make a huge salad of mixed greens, add a lot of fresh green sugar snap peas, and then put thin-sliced deli turkey on top, drizzle on the PNOLHMSD and voila!. (Nota bene (or do I really mean Nota banal?):The cats are very rude about providing their assistance in eating up all that pesky deli turkey.)

I think that wine makes me a little bit crazy. I think that I really need to keep this in mind.

Last night I put on a pair of brand new jeans (the jeans were, I must confess, somewhat suspect in my mind all along, which is why they’d been sitting around unworn for so long) and I took one of my long, rambling night walks. When I came back, I discovered that my uneasy suspicion that these pants were, in some vague way, slightly hinky, was not mere paranoia on my part but entirely justifiable, because these suspect jeans had turned my legs a weird shade of blue! Even after taking a shower, my legs are still, to be perfectly honest, a little on the bluish side. I am really, really hoping that this condition is not permanent.

At this very moment, I am sitting on my futon, in front of my laptop. I am simultaneously writing this blog post, taking notes for new short stories, and working on a new poem. Her Terribly Important Catness, Miss Yuki, is snoozing on my lap and snoring a little bit. I am taking turns reading out of four books: Nina Auerbach’s Our Vampires, Ourselves, Camille Norton’s volume of poetry Corruption, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, and Reading the Vampire Slayer: ASn Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel, edited by Roz Kaveny. I’m drinking coffee out of my favorite, handmade frog mug, and listening to The Bad Plus. I am, for the record, at this very moment, Happy as a Clam.

Readers, what are you doing/drinking/reading/thinking at this very moment?
posted by Artichoke Heart at 5:40 PM | link | 12 comments

Sunday, August 06, 2006

WHY ARE CLAMS . . .

supposed to be so happy?

What is their secret?

And why is it never:

Mad as a clam.

Disgruntled as a clam.

Lachrymose as a clam.

Ambivalent as a clam.

Wistful as a clam.


Does the happiness factor apply to all bivalves in general, or only to clams in particular?

And why even clams? (And why singular? Only one clam happy at a time.) Why not wombats or terriers or giant squid?

But really. What makes clams so happy that their alleged monopoly on happiness has become a cliché?

Maybe it’s the quirkiness of their names: Quahog for example, which makes them sound like a sort of oceanic hedgehog or groundhog or other similarly winsome but mildly eccentric creature, although the word in fact was derived from the Narragansett word poquauhock. Isn’t Quahog an intrinsically happy sort of aname?

But it’s always more complicated than that, isn’t it? Because clam shells were used by native New England Indian tribes to make beads used as currency, their rather beautiful genus and species names were derived from the Latin word for money: Mercenaria, mercenaria. I suppose this is probably how “clams” also became a slang word for money. But all of this makes clams seem vaguely dangerous and unpredictable and mercenary, like a film noir femme fatale, as opposed to happy. Unless it’s meant to suggest that money can buy happiness. Or maybe the saying’s meant to be taken ironically?

Maybe clams are happy because they are benthic fauna, residing all the way down in the benthic zone, and they can survive the cooler temperatures, lower oxygen levels, and absence of light other than that created by bioluminescent organisms happening by like liquid, glowing science fiction apparitions on a deserted highway at night. Maybe the suggestion is that they have learned happiness by figuring out how to get by with very little?

What is their secret?

How to eat a clam (or Do not suck! Sucking is Improper!):

If you feel determined to have them fresh on the halfshell, which is highly recommended, you will first need a clam knife. Hold the knife in your dominant hand, and in your other hand position the clam with its lip facing out towards your fingers and the hinge facing in. Apply the knife carefully in the groove between the two lips, and use your fingers to apply steady pressure to the back of the knife. Do not try to use your knife hand; this increases the chance of slipping. Simply squeeze the knife in and use it to cut the two muscles holding the clam closed. If you are careful you can run the knife along the roof of the clam and sever these muscles without cutting the meat. Next simply cut the other ends of these muscles, apply a little of cocktail sauce and put the clam to your lips and throw your head back. Do not suck - sucking is improper! If you are trying this for the first time or are not good at it, a heavy glove for the hand holding the clam is highly recommended, though those who are proficient often do it barehanded since this allows a greater degree of control. If you are looking for a leg up on these clams, ice them first as this causes the muscles to relax, and never handle the clams roughly before trying to open them as this is a recipe for frustration of even the most deft. If all else fails there is a “backdoor”: apply the knife to the hinge in the back and work it until you break the hinge, or, if you have one laying about, use a mallet the drive the knife through the hinge. Good luck and good eating.

What is their secret?:

Mercenaria, mercenaria.

The knife, the ice, the glove.

Tell me . . . is this happiness? Do you feel happy?
posted by Artichoke Heart at 3:24 AM | link | 1 comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

JAVAJAVAJAVA

Confession: Sometimes the only reason I get up in the morning is (yeah, yeah, for those of you who know me in real life okay, "morning" is, at least during the summer hiatus, egregiously euphemistic) because I get to drink the coffee!

Confession: Sometimes I bribe myself into going to bed a little bit earlier by reminding myself that when I wake up, I can drink the coffee!

Confession: Sometimes, I facilitate the gap / mediate the distance / negotiate the existential abyss / attempt to cheat the space-time continuum by loading up the coffee maker the night before so that, in the midst of the B-Movie Alien Swamp Fog that (as I've mentioned before) characterizes my first few waking hours, all I have to do is stumble about in my Swamp Fog Zombie Stupor into the kitchen, squint and jab and squint and jab and squint and jab at the little button a few times until I actually hit it (yes, that’s a lot of squinting and jabbing, but hey, it’s the B-Move Alien Swamp Fog Zombie Stupor), and voila! I am that much closer to the drinking of the coffee!

Which was my thinking tonight  i.e.,, to prepare myself to be that much closer to the drinking of the coffee!

Which I did. Then sat back down at the laptop to resume my work, only to become dimly aware of the blissful gurgling and puffing and snorting sounds of the coffee maker preparing the oh-so-delightful coffee!

Yes. I loaded up the coffee maker and, on auto-pilot, apparently went ahead and hit the button. And so now it is 1:00 a.m., and I have a hot, fresh pot of the aromatic, and most-delicious coffee!

The sad part? I really, really, really want the coffee!

I want it now. I want to drink the coffee!

Damnit.

* 4:00 a.m.-ish Update
Dear Internets:
Sometimes I'm a total fuckwit.
Guess what?
I drank the coffee! (It was delicious. So French Roast-y and robust.)
Love,
AH

** 5:00 a.m.-ish Update
Shit.
posted by Artichoke Heart at 1:44 AM | link | 7 comments