Friday, April 30, 2010

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Today's special: two poems for the price of one!

It's the last day of April, and glorious outside. Therefore instead of agonizing at my computer over which Dorianne Laux poem to post, I'm going to post two short ones. And then I'm going to get myself the hell outside to enjoy the day.


Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor--
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn't elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That's how it is sometimes--
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you're just too tired to open it.

for Honeya

After the stroke all she could say
was Venezuela, pointing to the pitcher
with its bright blue rim, her one word
command. And when she drank the clear
water in and gave the glass back,
it was Venezuela again, gratitude,
maybe, or the word now simply

a sigh, like the sky in the window,
the pillows a cloudy definition

propped beneath her head. Pink roses
dying on the bedside table, each fallen
petal a scrap in the shape of a country
she'd never been to, had never once
expressed interest in, and now
it was everywhere, in the peach
she lifted, dripping, to her lips,
the white tissue in the box, her brooding
children when they came to visit,
baptized with their new name
after each kiss. And at night
she whispered it, dark narcotic
in her husband's ear as he bent
to listen, her hands fumbling
at her buttons, her breasts,
holding them up to the light
like a gift. Venezuela, she said.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Put it in your mouth

This post shares its title with one of my favorite all-time songs, a ridiculously explicit anthem about oral sex by Akinyele. If you're not familiar, you should download it from iTunes, like, yesterday.

But this post is not about sex, but one of life's other great pleasures: food. Mmmmm.  Like Harold and Kumar, I like food that's tasty AND delicious.  So here's a little list of my favorite things in Boston to put in my mouth:

1) French toast from Allston Cafe (nee Herrell's)

You can order breakfast anytime at the Allston Cafe, so it's not unusual to see people enjoying their legendary french toast at 4 p.m. On my birthday, they put a candle on it for me and gave me a free side of sausage. Now that's what I call service.

2) Mussels from Silvertone

A heaping portion of succulent bivalves for something like $8. Add fries and a glass of their Cab Franc. 

3) Butterscotch pudding from Lineage

Ok, I'm a little biased because I work here, but I don't even like butterscotch and think this dessert is amazing. The consistency of the pudding is perfect and it comes with homemade whipped cream and caramelized nuts on top.  YUMTOWN.

4) 57 T-Bird veggie dog from Spike's Junkyard Dogs

I'm not a vegetarian, but I live dangerously close to Spike's and feel it would be detrimental to eat actual hotdogs all the time. So I have found a solution in their fat free veggie dogs, which can almost pass for the real thing. The T-Bird comes slathered in swiss cheese and honey mustard. I always tell myself I'm going to forgo the fries....and that works out about 50% of the time.

5) Prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras from No. 9 Park

It's stupid how good this tastes. Should possibly be against the law.

6) Pizza from Pizza Pie-er

The name is terrible.  Looks stupid written and you sound equally dumb saying it out loud. But the pizza is tasty and healthy, as far as pizza goes. You can get whole wheat crust and fat-free cheese. Also, you can order online and they take credit cards. So far, I've tried the Pizza Al Noci (spinach and mushroom with a walnut-pesto base sauce) and chicken, artichoke and ricotta. My next ingenious topping combo: bacon, feta, and black olives.  

7) Fried pickles from Jacob Wirth's

No explanation needed.

8) Tuna tartare coronets at Cuchi Cuchi

Cuchi Cuchi has such a vast selection of small plates that it's often hard to narrow it down when it's time to order.  I never skip the tuna tartar coronets, though; they come with a little bit of avocado mousse and have the perfect amount of cream and crunch to complement the fish.

9) The North Ender at Boston Burger Co.

An 8 oz. burger with mozzarella, tomato and balsamic mayo.  It's messy and thus best enjoyed alone, but don't let that deter you.

10) The clam chowder....anywhere    

Boston's known for its chowdah and most places don't disappoint. I haven't found one bowl that stands out from the rest....suggestions?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hell hath no fury... know the rest. Basically, chicks don't like to be scorned. Ever. And if you scorn a woman writer? You're just asking for it, really.

Case in point: my friend Julie Klausner's new book
I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated. Julie is a very funny lady with whom I had the pleasure of working with on a few different occasions while living in NYC. And her book is a very enjoyable read, especially if you're newly single like me and a little bit cynical about those copious fish in the proverbial sea everyone's always raving about.

Julie's book inspired me to reflect on some of my dating snafus. Now, I don't want to be rude and I know that some of my exes read my blog, so I won't use names. I'm not a total bitch. Here, in no particular order and for your schadenfreudic pleasure, are some of the less-than-stellar moments from my love life:

1) A month before my 21st birthday, I broke up with the guy I'd been dating. In the spirit of trying to be "just friends," I invited him to my birthday party, which was held in my dorm. He decided it would be a good idea to show up with another girl and have sex. In my room. On my desk chair. Classy, right?

2) Meanwhile, also at this party, a guy I'd gone out with once and not even so much as kissed showed up very drunk and then disappeared. I thought he went home. Then when my friends were carrying me to my bed (I'd had, ahem, a bit to drink), we found him: He had stripped down to his boxers and was (presumptuously) waiting for me in my bed. Or at least he had been until he passed out. My friends had to wake him up, hand him his pants, and show him the door. There was no second date.

3) A roommate who worked as a bartender was really excited to set me up with this guy who frequented her bar. She insisted we would hit it off and arranged a group outing where we could meet. He showed up and seemed perfectly nice. When he found out I was from Missouri, he got excited and said, "Oh, then you'll totally appreciate this." He pulled out his cell phone, which had a Confederate Flag cover. Like this:

I laughed nervously and said, "Ironic, right?" He shook his head and said gravely, "No, it's not like that." Two possibilities: 1) he truly believes the South shall rise again or 2) he didn't know what "ironic" meant. Both were kind of deal-breakers, as was his comment later that evening about lesbians being "awesome." I mean, they are, duh, but when you're a straight guy who's clearly never met an actual lesbian, it doesn't quite count.

4) I haven't had many one-night-stands, but one that I did have yielded one of my very best stories. I already wrote about this incident on a sex blog, so click here to read it.

5) I broke up with someone the day after Valentine's Day and unfortunately, his belated V-Day gift to me was already in transit (but had not yet arrived). Now, I know for a fact he bought and sent this BEFORE we broke up, so considering that, the gift's message is amazingly prescient:

That's right, I got a T-shirt telling me to "bug off" just days after my bf and I had essentially, albeit in politer terms, said the same thing to each other. Also funny is the fact that said T-shirt (the top half of pajamas) is size small, meaning that despite having unlimited access to my breasts for 2+ years, this guy still thought I was a size small. Strange.

6) I once invited a boy I'd hooked up with a few times over for dinner. I was trying upgrade our relationship from drunken fumbling to something more meaningful. He showed up for dinner 45 minutes late, completely tanked. He actually had been at a bar about a block from my house drinking with friends. Then, throughout dinner, he proceeded to repeatedly check his phone and respond to text messages. It was pretty insulting, especially considering I had spent a good part of my day cooking on his behalf -- and cooking risotto, which takes FOREVER. Ugh. At least I got some good leftovers out of it.

I'm sure this year will bring some more entertaining dating stories, and hopefully some with less ridiculous endings. I'm considering venturing into the world of online dating-- I even created a profile on the free site OKCupid, only to freak out an hour later and take it down. I just want to find/be found by someone without having to look for them...and as I type that, I realize how incredibly lazy that makes me sound. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Lost love is a popular theme in poetry; all poets attempt to write about it at some point. Nothing quite sucker-punches you like reading a poem that perfectly captures the mess of emotions that often accompanies seeing an ex. This poem, by Jeffrey McDaniel, delivers said punch-in-the-gut. I'd say "enjoy" but "read it and weep" is more apt.

The Benjamin Franklin of Monogamy

 Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice
the ring that's landed on your finger, a massive
insect of glitter, a chandelier shining at the end

of a long tunnel. Thirteen years ago, you hid the hurt
in your voice under a blanket and said there's two kinds
of women—those you write poems about

and those you don't. It's true. I never brought you
a bouquet of sonnets, or served you haiku in bed.
My idea of courtship was tapping Jane's Addiction

lyrics in Morse code on your window at three A.M., 
whiskey doing push-ups on my breath. But I worked
within the confines of my character, cast

as the bad boy in your life, the Magellan
of your dark side. We don't have a past so much
as a bunch of electricity and liquor, power

never put to good use. What we had together
makes it sound like a virus, as if we caught
one another like colds, and desire was merely

a symptom that could be treated with soup
and lots of sex. Gliding beside you now, 
I feel like the Benjamin Franklin of monogamy, 

as if I invented it, but I'm still not immune
to your waterfall scent, still haven't developed
antibodies for your smile. I don't know how long

regret existed before humans stuck a word on it.
I don't know how many paper towels it would take
to wipe up the Pacific Ocean, or why the light

of a candle being blown out travels faster
than the luminescence of one that's just been lit, 
but I do know that all our huffing and puffing

into each other's ears—as if the brain was a trick
birthday candle—didn't make the silence
any easier to navigate. I'm sorry all the kisses

I scrawled on your neck were written
in disappearing ink. Sometimes I thought of you
so hard one of your legs would pop out

of my ear hole, and when I was sleeping, you'd press
your face against the porthole of my submarine.
I'm sorry this poem has taken thirteen years

to reach you. I wish that just once, instead of skidding
off the shoulder blade's precipice and joyriding
over flesh, we'd put our hands away like chocolate

to be saved for later, and deciphered the calligraphy
of each other's eyelashes, translated a paragraph
from the volumes of what couldn't be said. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend update

I rarely use my blog as a forum to merely recap my activities (I like to kid myself by thinking people who don't know me might enjoy reading this), but sometimes, a weekend is so epic that it merits some 'logues love. This past weekend involved celebrity sightings, trips to two cities where I used to live, and a lot of singing women.

On Friday, I took the bus to New York City. The purpose of my 16-hour visit was to see
"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" at the Public, directed by my friend from college, Alex Timbers. Alex is pretty much a celebrity now in his own right -- when the New York Times profiles you and describes your show as "devastatingly shrewd," you've pretty much made it. (Though my personal favorite description of Alex came from performer/writer Mike Daisey, who described him as "a cross between Jesus Christ and Ashton Kutcher"). I had the pleasure of being directed by Alex back in 2006, when I played a roofied-and-raped suicidal rave girl in Hell House:

Another sign that you've hit the big time? When STEVE MARTIN comes to your show. That's right, I saw Steve motherf*cking Martin on Friday night. I walked past him on the way to the ladies' room at the Public. We locked eyes and I gave him my best "I know who you are but I'm going to be cool about it and not say anything or ask for your autograph" smile and he responded with a relieved "I know you know who I am and thank you for not making a scene" expression. We had a moment, it was nice.

The show is incredible -- definitely check it out if you're in the New York vicinity between now and May 9th. I mean, it's an emo-rock musical about Andrew Jackson and the Populism movement. What's not to love?

After the play, I went to a fundraising party for an indie film some friends of mine are involved with. And who walks into the party just after midnight but Zachary Quinto, a.k.a. Spock from the new Star Trek movie (or Sylar, if you watch
Heroes). Now, keep in mind, when I lived in New York, I never saw famous people. Apparently, they don't ride the G train or frequent the midtown Kaplan center. So seeing two in one night was pretty nifty. ZQ was very affable and charming, btw.

So that was Friday night. Saturday morning I boarded a Metro North train bound for New Haven. Now, a lot of people hate on New Haven -- sure, it's a little ghetto and not as shiny and gentrified as, say, Cambridge, but I still love it. I came back to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The New Blue, Yale's oldest women's a cappella group, which was founded in 1969, the first year of coeducation at Yale. New Blue is actually the oldest women's organization of any kind at Yale. And I was lucky enough to be a member, from 1999-2003.

At the reunion, I met women from the original class of New Blue and it was incredibly moving. There was a lot of singing, hugging, and crying. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing there's really no way to describe what I felt singing alongside true pioneers, the first women to graduate from Yale. It sounds cheesy, but they paved the way. And being in a room full of strong, powerful, beautiful, smart women is an experience I can't really put into words.

At one point during reunion, we sang a song called "River of Birds." The lyrics are as follows: "There's a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings." Those simple lines are repeated, starting with one voice singing alone and slowly building until there are multiple harmonies and voices. While we were singing, one alum's four-year-old daughter ran up to the stage and started singing along. Not a dry eye in the place, trust me.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What a drag

Allow me to introduce my drag persona, just created with
the Dragulator. Her name? Vagnino Dentata.

As you can see, she's totally fierce, not to mention well-accessorized with a hotdog and a dove. I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessed with drag queens. This obsession developed when I was cast in play alongside several of them: The Jack of Tarts, which played at La Mama in New York in February of 2008. In one scene, I had the pleasure of tap dancing with Lance Cruce, a veteran Village performer/queen. Check it out:

That's me on my knees on the right. Damn, my tits look great from that angle. But I digress.

I met a number of fabulous, fabulous people in that show. And it was easy to get friends to come see it because I'm fairly sure there won't be another opportunity to see me tap dance, much less with a drag queen.

I myself have technically been in drag on stage a number of times. Since I went to an all-girls camp as a kid, I played a number of men, such as the Butler in
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Kurt Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. I have also played male animals in children's shows (Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Mole in The Wind and the Willows). I was cast in these roles because I had short hair and no breasts. One of these is still true.

I think my affinity for drag queens can be partly explained by the fact that when I talk to myself, the inner voice that responds is that of a sassy gay man (Katie: "I'm so sad about my break-up"; Inner Voice: "Grrrrl, you know he couldn't find your clit with a map and a flashlight.") I'm not sure how normal this is -- I mean, everyone talks to themselves from time to time, but does everyone have an inner drag queen talking back?

Of course it follows that I LOVE the reality competition on Logo, RuPaul's Drag Race. It's "the search for the next drag superstar" and subtly satirizes both America's Next Top Model and Project Runway while also being wholly original and laugh-out-loud funny. Season 2 is down to the Final Four: Raven, Jujubee, Tatianna, and Tyra Sanchez (a.k.a. "The other Tyra"). I was devastated when my favorite, Pandora Boxx, was eliminated after having to Lip-Synch for her Life:

Sigh. I love you, Pandora. You were robbed. Call me, ok? We'll talk shit about Santino.

So now I'm rooting for Raven and Jujubee (who's from Boston!). Tyra is too much of a bitch and Tatianna's drag persona is not developed enough -- as one of my friends pointed out, she's more of a transvestite than a true queen. She makes a pretty girl, but doesn't really transform into her female character the same way the more experienced queens do.

Well, now that I've completely lost/alienated my straight male readership, I'll wrap this up with the same wise words RuPaul uses to close out every episode: "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

Can I get an amen, sister?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Civic responsibility

In case you were curious, I have located the creepiest restroom facility in Boston: the ladies room on the second floor of the Suffolk County Courthouse. It's dark and narrow and you might get shivved on your way to wash your hands.

What was I doing at the Suffolk County Courthouse this morning, you ask? It has nothing to do with my recent penchant for stealing. No, for the first time, I was reporting for JURY DUTY!

Now, most people dread jury duty, but me? I was a little excited. I was summoned a few times when I lived in New York, but because I switched apartments so frequently, I never actually had to serve (every time you switch counties/districts, you're in a different jury selection pool). And the one time I actually still lived in the apartment where the summons was sent, my boss basically demanded that I postpone because apparently, she thought she needed more than the justice system on the week in question.

I think it's weird to want jury duty, so of course, I've been feigning irritation and cracking jokes about what I could do/wear to ensure I wouldn't get selected. Like showing up wearing this:

Nothing says unstable like a seasonally inappropriate Halloween costume.

Secretly, though, I've been looking forward to today ever since I got my summons. So what happened?

For starters, I got up at the ass-crack of dawn, otherwise known as 6:30 a.m. I wanted to give myself an hour to get to the courthouse, where I was due at 8:00 a.m. This was unnecessary since people continued to roll into the courthouse well past 9:00 a.m. Around 9:30, a court officer made a short announcement and then put on a video explaining how jury selection works. This video was made before I was born, I am pretty sure. A white-haired judge thanked us for our service and assured us not to take it personally if we were not picked for a jury. The difference between civil and criminal cases was explained. Some basic details about courtroom proceedings were mentioned, though come over, we all watch Law and Order, we don't need to be told what a "verdict" is.

The video made no mention of jury sequestering, which is another strange fantasy of mine. I've always thought it would be kind of glamorous/exciting/surreal to have to be cut off from the rest of the world. Though I've always wondered: is all T.V. prohibited or just news? I doubt America's Next Top Model would really affect my impartiality.

Anyway, the video ends and the court officer tells us we can take a "break" (a break from what? Sitting?) but we have to be back at 9:50. He emphasizes the importance of coming back on time.

Jump forward to 9:50 -- nothing happens. 10:30 -- no sign of court officer. Good thing we were all so punctual. Finally, at 11:15, some folks are called out of the room, maybe 1/4 of the total people in the room. At 11:45, we are told to go on another "break," until 12:05.

12:05 comes and goes.

Finally, at 12:50, the court officer says that all the other cases on the docket have been settled out of court and we can all go home.

Well, I'm a little underwhelmed. On the bright side, I don't have to show up at 8:00 a.m. again for another 3 years. But it might have been kind of exciting to be "impaneled." Oh well. I fulfilled my civic duty by showing up. And I got some good reading done. And my presence apparently intimidated some defendants into pleading out and saving taxpayers' money. Justice was served...I think.