Random Thursday: Yes, We Have No Bananas

So, why didn’t any of you lovely people tell me I misspelled the day of the week in my post title yesterday?

Just for that, no more erotic 13th Century poetry for you.

Ha!  Made you look!

‘Course, it’s actually there, which kind of spoils the—Ha!  Made you look!


And while I’m complaining, no one mentioned that Monday was Labyrinth Day, either!

‘Twas the twenty-fifth anniversary of a girl (with my name!  Squee!) making the wrong wish at the wrong time and falling headfirst into Jim Henson’s looking glass, ruled over by Ziggy Stardust in the most fabulous tights ever.

I think my best friend and I wore out her copy of the video over two years—we watched it every single weekend.

If you haven’t seen it, please do—I’d loan you my DVD, but it’s slightly melted from overuse . . .


Overheard in a restaurant last week:

“He’s the kind of person who, when you ask him for the time,  will teach you how to make a watch.

I couldn’t tell whether this was an admirable trait or not. 

Suppose it depends on whether you have the time or  . . . wait a minu—

I mean, wait a sec–



My brother-in-law and his wife are coming up from Ohio tomorrow night to visit for the weekend.

Should be fun, as long as my MIL doesn’t work herself sick getting ready—we keep telling her he won’t care, but she does and is busy scrubbing the ceiling on her hands and knees.*

The kids are excited—their uncle, who was constructed to a larger-than-life scale, is better than a jungle gym.

But if there are fewer posts over the weekend, their visit may be why.

And if there are a few extra, their visit may be why . . .


It’s hard to beat last Thursday’s last cool thing, but Joshua Allen Harris comes close with his singular take on recycled urban art:

There are Air Bears, too, but I think they look more like dogs—really life-like dogs, though!

He also makes monsters:


*My job is to clear away the writer’s nest on the dining room table.  It has been stated it no uncertain terms that if I don’t, it will be done for me.  I’m almost done.  Sort of.  They’ll be coming in late, anyway . . .


Poetry Wednesday: Rumi

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.

I remember half-listening to NPR about four years ago—I think I was in the kitchen, scrubbing gunk out of the oven, in anticipation of a visit from my MIL—when a woman with a beautiful accent started reciting a few stanzas of poetry. I dropped what I was doing and listened.

It was possibly the most intimate, erotic poem I’d ever heard, like something that is whispered between lovers only when love is absolute.

Not something one usually hears on public radio, especially, as I discovered, on a program called “Speaking of Faith.”*

The woman was Fatemeh Keshavarz, who is, among many other things, chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages & Literatures in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. The poem was written by a 13th century poet and Sufi mystic named Rumi, who, among many other things, inspired the creation of the whirling dervish, an ecstatic dancing meditation.**

Oh. All right then.

Dr. Keshavarz mentions during the interview that Rumi saw no boundary between sensual and emotional love and knew that longing is a powerful force. All I know is that the imagery of Rumi’s poetry is achingly physical, even when it speaks of spiritual love:***

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,
Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this.

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Like this.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,”
point here.

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob’s sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us
Like this.

I won’t pretend to know all the symbols or references in this poem. I’d like to, but it isn’t necessary—the poem simply is and the feelings are, and the whisper is there, in my ear.

Like this.

*The podcast is here in case you’re interested.

** I’m not particularly interested in discussing or debating religious beliefs here. I gots mine and you gots yours (or not, as the case may be). But in my opinion, refusing to experience Rumi’s poetry on religious grounds would be a grave loss. I’m just saying.

***Translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne. There are other translations available, but not where I can put my hands on them at the moment.

Image taken in Isfahan, Iran by milads2001

The Public Admission

I admitted that I’m a writer today.  To an author.  Face-to-face.

It was more difficult than it should have been.

I know the lady—she’s a local historian who does her research in our library.  Many of her books are in our library as research materials—I’ve cited her I don’t know how many times.  She and I became close while she was writing her first historical fiction, a children’s book centering on the construction of the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi.  In fact, she asked me to beta it,* which was a serious honor.

Somehow, I never told her that I wrote, too.  I guess I didn’t want to look like the wannabe I am—or one of those people who goes up to authors and drawls, “You know, I thought about writing a book , too.”

The author came in today to gather some basic information for her next project, and since I haven’t seen her for a while, she stopped at the desk so we could catch up.

She asked after the kids and I bragged on them a little and asked how her family was, and so on.  And then she said:

“So, I hear you’re writing a book.  [A  mutual friend]** told me.”

“Uh . . . Yes?”

“Great!  What’s it about?”

“Uh . . . Crime fiction? Sort of?”

“Oh?  What’s it about?”

“Uh . . . ”

I answered all her questions with questions, as if it was a pop quiz and I wasn’t quite sure of the answers. 

Did I think she would secretly roll her eyes?  Patronize me?  Or turn on me with rabid scorn, this nice woman who probably doesn’t read in my genre, but who wouldn’t  think less of me for writing in it.

What was the matter with me? 

I’ve written so many posts about Pigeon that the majority of my five regular readers can recite  the premise along with me, and at least two of you have read most of it.  I’ve scattered the news all over the Internet—on the blogs of agents and editors for Pete’s sake:***

I write.

I’m writing a book.

I’m writing a book about (say it with me) a group of reformed ex-cons who are searching for the family of their boss and mentor, a former con-man himself, who needs a bone marrow transplant.^

I’m almost done with the first draft, I have this idea that it might not totally suck, and I might not stuff this one in a drawer after I type The End.

In fact, I hope to have it revised and polished by September, in time for a mystery convention during which I may practice pitching.^^

But I couldn’t seem to say any of this like I meant it, not to this woman, my friend, the author, who was standing three feet away.  Looking at me.

She seemed puzzled at my doubt at first, but then smiled.  “I knew you were a writer when I read your notes on my manuscript.”  She patted my hand.  “Keep going.  I’m sure it will be terrific.”

“Uh . . .I will,” I said, finally relaxing.  “I only have a little left on my first draft.  I think . . . I think it might be good.  You know, for a first draft.”

“Really?” she said, then leaned over the desk a little.  “How can you tell when you’re getting near the end of your first draft?  I have a terrible time finishing, even with an outline.  I always want to know what comes next . . . ”

So we talked shop a little, she and I. 

Writer to writer.


*It’s in the hands of her editor right now, so I’ll give more details when it’s cleared for takeoff.

**Who used to belong to my old writing group and is the only one I still see on a regular basis.

***Though not many authors, it’s true, unless they’ve blogstalked me back here (and isn’t that an awesome word?).

^Yes, I know.  I’m working on it.

^^Although I’m still going if it it isn’t and I decide not to, because Bouchercon is supposed to be a blast.

In which a writer and a librarian confuse each other . . .

funny pictures of cats with captions

The other day, I was hanging behind the reference desk waiting for a fax to go through when I overheard the following conversation between a patron and a one of my co-workers:

Patron:  “Excuse me, but don’t you have a copy of [Specific Book by Specific Author]*?”

Librarian (consulting catalog):  “Yes, we own one copy, but it’s checked out right now.  May I put a reserve on it for you?”

Patron:  “Checked out?  But it’s my book!”

Librarian:  “Um?”

Patron:  “I wrote it.  I gave it to the library.  It should be on the shelf.”

Librarian:  “Well . . . I can flag the record and when it comes back, we could make it part of the local author collection so it can’t be checked out.”

Patron:  “I want to check it out.  If I’d known it wouldn’t be here when I wanted it, I would have kept it for myself!”  (Stomps away)

It was surreal on several levels.

I mean, I know—boy, do I know—that that the majority of writers consider their stories to be their babies, their own precious offspring whom they’ve labored to bring forth,  raised and molded, sworn at and cried over, and occasionally kicked out of the house.

But  I’ve never before encountered a writer who demanded visiting rights.   Or who wasn’t thrilled when someone wanted to set up a play date.

Several theories were offered by witnesses.  A few of us starting looking around for the hidden cameras.  One of us may have muttered that medications should only be tweaked under a doctor’s care.  Another stated that while all writers were crazy, some were obviously crazier than others.** Most of us were wondering how the patron thought libraries worked and if it would be possible to explain it, supposing the patron was in the mood to listen.***

I can’t help thinking, though, that this particular writer might have hit on a pretty savvy marketing strategy—because at least three librarians and one eavesdropping patron now have that book on reserve.

Hmmm . . .


*This is all you get, as I’m not identifying the patron any further.  I don’t even know if s/he actually wrote the book in question, though it was self-published.

**”Right, Sarah?”

***One of us was shamefully glad the patron hadn’t asked how the local author collection worked.

You are Cordially Invited to a Potty Party!

The proud parents of Sunny Wesson would like to invite you to a celebration of her ability to finally use the Big Potty on a permanent basis.*

It took years of practice, strong determination, and—ultimately—height, but her training is finally complete!

  The potty is over!


* They would also like to celebrate the enlargement and fresher scent of the bathroom, qualities that they hope will last until the Era of Grandchildren.