Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trying not to be boring...



and failing. I am weary from travel and work and gift-wrapping. Beauty blogs would have you believe that the holiday season is one non-stop party, with brief pauses during which you can change from one sequined outfit to another and touch up your lip gloss before having another champagne to ward off the hangover. That sounds rather grand, if you have a driver, but I got to my in-laws' in Connecticut on Monday night and then didn't leave the house at all (literally, not even to stand in the driveway or stick my hand out a window) for three days. (I just broke my streak for a quick trip to Target.)

Here's the crappy thing about time: Everything doesn't start over fresh just because the last digit of the calendar year changes. So, yeah, 2013 was not our best year, and some of its badness will probably bleed into 2014. We can't just put the bad year behind us. Alas. One plus side of suffering (aside from all the art): Resolutions seem truly meaningless! So this new year we'll be making wishes instead.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few quick links with you. The Self Unstable popped up on a few "best of the year" lists this week and this made me feel nice:

  • The New Yorker asked contributors to name their favorite reads of the year. Teju Cole writes: "I found Elisa Gabbert’s The Self Unstable a wonderful surprise. It was the most intelligent and most intriguing thing I’ve read in a while, moving between lyric poetry, aphorism, and memoir, and with thoughts worth stealing on just about every page."
  • In the Poetry Foundation's Staff Picks for 2013, Art Director for Poetry Fred Sasaki writes: "Let the lyric essay here be poetry, and thank you Black Ocean for sending Elisa Gabbert’s The Self Unstable in time for Xmas."
  • And Christopher Higgs includes TSU in his 2013 Holiday Shopping Guide.

Thank you Teju, Fred, and Chris!

One more thing: I reviewed Une Rose Chypree, an amazing perfume, over at Bois de Jasmin. My first draft started with an elaborate metaphor involving accommodation, a concept in linguistics. The idea is that speakers accommodate to their interlocutors' speech patterns, meaning, if you have a conversation with someone who talks faster than you, you will start talking faster. This is especially true when you want that person to like you. I notice myself doing this all the time.

I have terrible posture when I'm sitting down. Bah, I just made a resolution.

7 comments:

  1. Try as you might, you could never be boring. And you're right...badness bleeds from one year to the next. But thankfully, so does the good stuff. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you too Sweet Josephine!

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  2. I've noticed the linguistic accommodation thing quite often. A lot of the work I've done for a living over the years has included talking to people on the phone, all over the place. Sometimes when I'm talking with someone who has a different regional accent from mine (for instance, someone in a southern state -- I've lived most of my life in Minneapolis), I'll find that I'm taking on a slight hint of southern accent when I talk to the other person.

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    1. Linguistic accomodation. How to account for my nephew. Though he grew up in the bull's-eye of Michigan--Bill Knott country--and has never travelled anywhere except Canada, at some point in his early teens he repudiated western culture and began to affect an Indian or Pakistani accent. For years he's sounded like an outsourced telemarketer. It's like a weird T.S. Eliot or Robert Lowell thing. He's always clad in desi attire, too. And he rarely accomodates. In fact, when he's most punctilious outwardly, he passive-aggressively thickens the Aziz Hafiz accent. This happened when I took him to a writing workshop. He read a story about Muslims--all of his stories are about Muslims, though he's a devout Baptist--in an accent so thick no one could quite understand him. Despite my patient remonstrances, he won't drop the accent. Inexplicably he regards me as a mentor, though I'm as western as an omelette with diced ham and he never knows what the fuck I'm talking about. William Blake? Never read him. Taxi Driver? Never saw it. Rock 'n roll? Never listen to it. Once I bought him a couple scotches and smoked a couple cigarettes with him, and he acted like I was shooting heroin into his arm. I don't know...

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    2. I also always notice when people get tired and revert to their former accents -- Long Island, Connecticut, what have you.

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  3. If I'm not mistaken, linguistic accommodation is one of the NLP's techniques (not that I subscribe to that, just wanted to mention).

    I have to ask: how do you know about your posture? And what exactly do you plan to improve - esthetics or ergonomics?

    I'm not sure if it's the right thing to say (so, I'm sorry if I'm breaking some unwritten rules) - but congratulation on making to those "best of" lists.

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    1. It's the right thing to say -- thank you!

      Whenever I see a picture of myself in a sitting position, I'm slouching/hunching over. It's a bad habit. Not sure if it's actually bad for my back but doesn't look very elegant.

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