Posts Tagged ‘montreal’

wordplay and allegory

I’m already halfway through “The Euguelion” and am loving it! It has much homage to Wittig, lots of wordplay and 70s feminism, very fierce and hard-hitting. It certainly belongs on the list of feminist science fiction classics! I’ll be typing up excerpts and musing upon it for a few days.

And what a surprise — I opened it thinking “Montreal – it’s from ide_cyan.” and then the book was translated by Howard S. and I know him from translator-world… He and Phyllis are always so kind to me, with an obvious deep reservoir of amusement that I don’t mind at all, because it’s the nice sort of amusement, a bit affectionate or as if I remind them of someone. Very “young grasshopper”. (And they always seem very much a Them.) I was very happy to read the intro by Howard on how he likes best to translate feminist works… no wonder…

I like the translation, very much in the spirit of SJL, making the wordplay anew with whatever it takes to do so. Not that I have the French, but it’s totally clear!

Oh it’s fierce and nasty! The Forest of Squonk! The Massacre of the Paramecia! amazing…

I feel so lucky that people bring books to my attention that are exactly what I wish I knew! The reservoir never runs dry. Thanks, Ide!

constant chaos

My mom-in-law and I had fun trash-talking in spanglish. i made pompoms, and pilgrim hats, and bruschetta, and walked kids to the beach; in general trying to shine with virtue to make up for yesterday’s total disappearance. Kids

yesterday rocked – Steph came to get me (so much driving! she is saintly!) we had lunch – we walked around 5th/7th st. in Park Slope in the rain and hung out in Community Books – went to her house – she gave me an awesome massage – i saw her paintings – fell lin love with the dragonfly one – we talked about art and poetics nonstop – a little old gossip as we re-re-re-reinterpret everyone we know in common from 18 years ago – I will blog all this in detail later – she fed me bread and butter and tea which I didn’t know i needed, but did – and to dinner in the east village with Kirin from New Mexico, who I met in Montreal. Yay! It was so much fun! I felt like a civilized human being! I was able to eat food and walk around without pain! I was hyperactive with excitement though often i couldn’t breathe out of my nose for having a cold… but who cares! Was all annoying like, “yay, bouncy, i’m in New York talking about Art and stuff, duuuuude!” where is my beret and my snotty attitude to go with? nope, that will never happen! i will never get used to being a real grownup with keys and all.

back into the fray, downstairs.

my travel journal… offline

highlights of the day:

It’s not just allergies – I’m getting a cold. If I don’t hold a kleenex to my nose every few seconds, snot drips out uncontrollably in large hideous spatters.

The lady in the seat ahead of Moomin, at the end of the plane ride, leaning over to tell us that he is an amazing child, so cute, we are so lucky, he’s so well behaved. He did not kick her seat. I might as well have won a Nobel Prize. Watch me swell up! I know, it’s insufferable of me, and you’re all hoping that someday Little Lord Fauntlemoomin ends up in jail for forging checks.

I read “The World Beyond” by Karen Traviss. Dim memories of reading… maybe an excerpt of the first book of this series? I will go back and read the others. It was a good book – an alien contact novel that made me think about the book “Just and Unjust Wars” so much that I am ready to bet 10 bucks that Traviss has read and studied it. I am so crass as to wish for more hot alien-human gene-exchanging polyandry sex scenes. I was slightly annoyed at the ass-kicking cop girl having an unconvincing moment of insecurity about her hair and being unsexy. Maybe if I knew the character better from the first two books. At that pt. I was like, oh, screw it, I don’t care about her anymore, give me more of the isenj spider guy, Ual, and the cute, scary, little-girl alien bipedal seahorse matriarch-in-training, who reminded me of Squid’s daughter Iz. It was how she kept jacking the U.N. around over the comm link. Iz would totally do it just like that.

I enjoyed the Miracle of Food. I’m stunned with happiness that I can eat without keeling over in pain. How did I even live through the past month or two? It was horrible! It’s still not better but now just on the level of “hmm, my stomach kind of hurts” annoying. I can totally deal with that. My god, in Montreal two weeks ago I could barely WALK.

I am 114 pounds. Not on purpose. It does not feel healthy – I have not been this tiny since before I hit puberty at what, almost 15 years old. When I was that weight I did not even have boobs beyond the mosquito-bite-nipple stage. At this point I’m so fucking emaciated I don’t even need a bra. What sucks is, you know how anorexics don’t get their periods anymore? You’d think I’d get a cool side benefit – but NO. I’ve been bleeding like crazy for 2 weeks! fuckity!

In line for a taxi at the airport – two little girls taught me a variant of “Miss Mary Mack” and a new rhyme which I have mostly forgotten… I re-taught them Miss Susie.

Our cab driver, when we said we were going to Far Rookaway, snorted derisively. I was dying to know what he meant by that, but didn’t ask.

Moomin is, by habit, skeptical of anything we claim is going to be “fun” or “an adventure!” Astute of him.

Instant hullabaloo upon our arrival. I helped, and set the table a little bit, and then disappeared for a short “nap” – the sort of fevery haze where you just keep blowing your nose even though you’re mostly asleep. Dinner, always rather gross, especially so maybe because I have no sense of smell or taste from the cold, and you have not been to Hell until you have sat with people with dentures who chew with their mouth open and one of whose cultural differences is that you are supposed to show appreciation for your food by slurping. Sort of like saying grace, but much longer duration. Kids all cute as hell. 3 cousins in bathtub. Mostly shoved onto air mattresses in the 3rd floor kitchen. The youngest cousin, Lollipop, has toilet trained herself completely at 23 months. (Except of course for competent butt-wiping – always a problem.) Moomin discovers Rook’s ancient stash of Tintins and Aster1x and slips right out of reality. (I am jazzed! they were on his xmas list! ) Then, strangely, a mellow jolly moment in the kitchen with all the siblings in a delirium of exhaustion; we gossiped amiably about the character of the children. Everything startlingly normal. Everyone looks older than I tend to think of them; Jane’s husband has notable grey in his hair. I was cheered by my nap and the prospect of Steph picking me up tomorrow to whisk me away. My nose is smeared with comforting vaseline. I am very proud of making a mitten-string for Moomin and sewing his mittens to it and stuffing it through the sleeves of his fabulous thrift store winter coat – for once I feel thrifty, wise, imbued with all momly virtues. No one has said anything mean about Rook’s hair or his lack of ability to do yoga. Though I may be in the doghouse over here for not having finished my degree and the general uselessness of that degree anyway, and in general for dragging Rook into the gutter of low-lifes who don’t have Ph.D.s and aren’t doctors, due to the scholarly and bookish bent of Moomin (and apparently reading TinTin in bed counts as scholarly around here) I am exempt from any criticisms of my parenting as is Rook.

I did not blog about the pre-visit hullabaloo over where we all sleep. Last year, wtf? I don’t even remember. The year before was the blizzard and the house was all under construction and we were in the attic bedroom while Rook’s parents sucked it up on the air mattress in the laundry room. !!! all through the blizzard! i’m still traumatized from it. the next year i can’t remember what happened but we got the attic again while the rest of them just duked it out somehow. This year there was a Thing where … I’m still unclear on the sequence of events, but a lot of phone calls flying about. Ching-erh and Rook determined that someone should stay in a hotel and Ching-erh said it should be us but we should maybe switch off who stays in the hotel in order to spread the blame. (Because it would be frowned upon and it would be insulting…) Infinite recursions of who someone thinks might think or want what, but no one ever comes out and SAYS. Finally I just flat out refused to be on the floor on an air mattress. Chaos of phone calls! Swirls of guilt, echoing through the corridors! 7am phoen calls to me from Rook’s dad, who is so polite, and seems under the impression that I am mortally offended for some reason he can’t understand and therefore am boycotting their house. (aaaa! nooo! ) There are no hotels within 20 minutes of here! I thought it couldn’t be true, but it is. In fact, we woudl have been near the airport, which is more like 40 minutes though it looks so close on a map. I said we would rent a car and buy a futon and set it up. Whoosh! Rook’s mom obtained a futon on the weekend. How hard is it to consider one’s house, and that there are 8 adults and 5 children, and realize that there are only 2 double beds and one single bed, and that won’t work? Even with the futon, there is suffering in Whoville tonight as everyone in Rook’s family is over 6 feet tall. The new futon is small even for me and I’m 5 foot 2. Rook’s parents who as I mentioned are not short, are on a single futon in a tiny office. How do they do this? What’s their deal? Do they discorporate at night, or merge into a single gruesome being, maybe hanging upside down in the basement…?

Well, I love them all… I am making sweet resolutions to be nice, helpful, play with the kids, etc.

I had a luxurious bath in the new bathroom. Either Rook’s mom has the same taste in bath stuff I do, or it’s 10 years of fancy bath stuff that we’ve all given her that she never uses. I reek of patchouli-ginger-mint-rosemary-verbena.

It’s raining hard. The house is warm for the first time ever since I’ve known Rook’s family. Usually it’s a place where husky Manchuriians wearing icelandic wool sweaters briskly race around, red-cheeked and happy as if they are off to go cross-country skiing before going to herd their caribou and parachute off of Mount Chimborazo – naked – with blocks of ice strapped to their heads. And I huddle in blankets with a cup of tea, like one of those special genetically engineered “humming” mice who are bred to tremble all the time, or a tiny purple bird whose magnetic compass fucked up for the winter. What happened? Is it a mistake? Will tomorrow be chilly? I have 4 layers of clothing all prepared, and my leather pants to protect me from the rain.

When Rook came home last night from Ambercon, I was wearing my footie pajamas (which I will continue to mention proudly every day for at least a week) and his jaw dropped and he couldn’t even speak. He just stood there gesturing at me with both hands open – like the illustration of Hatta in Alice through the Looking Glass! I ran and made him pose that way again for a photo but it didn’t come out the same.

planes make you sit in one place, fancy that

I was afraid of the trip, but it’s so odd! On the plane I felt amazingly peachy despite eating actual food. I had cookies and half a sandwich. And it hurt a lot less – I think because I was sitting still. (“Still” meaning not walking around. Of course I was fidgeting like a maniac.) In the New York airport I ate a pancake and felt quite ill, then realized – oh yeah! rest! and laid down and tried super-relaxation techniques.. Yes, I lie down on the floor in airports… so sue me. It worked, sort of! An hour later I felt almost normal.

The hotel is amazingly fancy. I’m sure it’s the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in! The bar is swarming with madly chattering translators!

I’m unbearably hyper.

I love hearing French! somehow it seems less snooty than when actual French people from France speak it! It doesn’t scare the pants off me!


I was trying to explain to Rook the other day how the “new poem” feeling builds up like the aura to a migraine or the feeling before an epileptic seizure. Finally the dam burst. In the plane to montreal I started writing, well, I started writing before the plane left the gate and didn’t stop until we landed. Some bits got rewritten already. I love that feeling! That’s part of why I’m manic now… It feels so good to get that crap out of my head and onto the page when it’s been building up for weeks. (since the hurricane, really. and no I am not writing about that, yet. actually i can’t stand that Thing where everyone writes a Current Events poem. it’s so lame and forced!!!

cabs in montreal

Haiti must be very full of people who drive with casual, masterful insanity. The cab driver explained all about it.


Oh and by the way I’ll be in Montreal, Wednesday- Sunday so if you live there and are reading this, email me! I need native guides!

H. and P.’s montreal page


I had a nice day lying around and pottering but I can’t even begin to express my bitterness that I have not been able to do the things I want to be doing. I am missing tagcamp, not working on my thesis, not ready for my conference, translations I wanted to read are unfinished, poems that are rocketing around in my head are unwritten. Stuff is happening all around and I am not part of it. I am coming unhinged. I keep thinking maybe today will be different and then it isn’t. Monday I will be having gross endoscopy and will feel like crap. Tues. I hope I will recover from that and I still have the vague dream that I might get my translation of Perlongher together somehow (tomorrow??) AND finish composite #2 which I guess should be the priority. Since I can read some other perlongher or some of my other translation at the conference. Which suddenly feels like a huge waste of time and money anyway. and all the joy is sucked out of getting to gallivant around montreal if I can’t even gallivant properly but instead will be shuffling around drearily and collapsing into armchairs trying not to look ill.

Meanwhile, half of me is still convinced that by sheer effort of will I could feel better if only I would cheer up.

it’s you again, gandhari…

I have this moment of BANG realization at times reading a very very good book of a certain sort that I think of as my secret elitist canon, my Golden Bookshelf, my best of the best… where I realize OH. IT”S THE MAHABHARATA. the pancatantra? yup. dance to the music of time? yup. saga of burnt njal? oh most definitely and in fact nearly every really good norse saga or maybe All the Norse Sagas together. And not very far into Time Regained the sense of doom was building and I just BANG had that realization while driving home from the dump. Oh my god it’s the Mahabharata again! Oh fuck!

It’s the relation of the understanding of human relationships and families, which is almost understandable, to the most important and momentous and frightening thing, WAR. Which is not understandable. (“Why is there evil” being an important question to try to answer and War being the ultimate reality-destroying expression of evil, because it destroys what has been built and building is love, but maybe i’m just saying that as an avatar or worshiper of creating. ) And it is not just about War it is about how not to have War, but then if you have War, what happens. it is to express the buildup and the inevitability once the buildup of doom reaches a certain point, it is the juggernaut wound up like clockwork and released and unstoppable. it is the fire demons from Nausicaa. individual evils and jealousies and misunderstandings in a cacophonic feedback effect like compressed and compressing air in a spraycan jouncing around in there under high heat and pressure – so dangerous – it is the attempt to understand the 3-body or 5-body problem of the predictions of the orbits of planets or molecules but times millions and millions and colliding with another complex system and those complex systems are nations.

So that the pettiness between Arjuna and Dhristadyumna when they were little kids and their uncles and how their parents met and what happened back in their great-grandfathers’ time ALL INTERRELATES AND INTERSECTS with “Now” making war horribly inevitable. Anyone who reads the Bhagavad Gita is familiar with Arjuna in the chariot begging Krsna to help him not be able to kill the enemy. “O my uncles and cousins!” if you read the whole Mahab. then you start to get it — they are his uncles and cousins and friends that he grew up with, it is not “the enemy” in “war” — he really knows them all and that makes it all the more unspeakable but you understand that all war is that way becasue of course the enemy is always on some level your uncles and cousins. You have to understand that when marcus aurelius writes of the individual self, or the family, or the city, being a microcosm of the State or Nation, it can be really true.

As Marcel keeps emphasizing that his neurotic microanalysis of his love and jealousy of gilberte and albertine and the lies and m. charlus’s complexities have made him able to understand france and germany: “But just as there are animal bodies and human bodies, each one of which is an assemblage of cells as large in relation to a single cell as Mont Blanc, so there exist huge organised accumulations of individuals which are called nations: their life does no more than repeat on a larger scale the lives of their constituent cells, and anybody who is incapable of comprehending the mystery, the reactions, the laws of thses smaller lives, will only make futile pronouncements when he talks about struggles between nations. But if he is master of the psychology of individuals, then thesee colossal masses of conglomerated individuals will assume in his eyes, as they confront one another, a beauty more potent than that of the struggle which arises from a mere conflict between two characters; and they will seem to him as huge as… [blah blah blah] .. And considered from this point of view, the body Germany and the body France, and the allied and enemy bodies, were behaving to some extent like individuals… but since, even if one chose to consider them as individuals, they were at the same time giant assemblages of individuals, the quarell took on immense and magnificent forms, like the surge of a million-waved ocean which tries to shatter an age-old line of cliffs, or like gigantic glaciers which with their slow destructive oscillations attempt to break down the frame of mountains which surrounds them…. People, as they go about their pleasures, do not normally stop to think that, if certain moderating and weakening influences should happen to be supsended, the proliferation of infusoria would attain its maximum theoretical rate and after a very few days the organisms that might have been contained in a cubic mmillimetre would take a leap of many millions of miles and become a mas a milliion times greater than the sun, having in the process destroyed all our oxygen and all the substances on which we live, so that there would exist neither humanity nor animals nor earth, nor do they reflect that an irremediable and by no means improbable catastrophe may one day be generated in the ether by the incessant and frenzied activity which lies behind the apparent immutability of the sun; they busy themselves with their own affairs without thining about those two worlds, the one too small, the other too large for us to be aware of the cosmic menaces with which they envelop us.”

(and I totally disagree with H1llis Wanker about what P. is doing with it and why)

It is horrible to realize I am living in those times, that we all are…

Everyone please savor the moment and appreciate everything and love everything, because of the possibility and reality of war…