Sunday, January 4, 2015

Things to try in 2015

Let's not think of these as resolutions; let's think of them as strategies.

1. Go to the library more

I've been underusing the library for the past few years, mostly because there are so many books in our apartment. J is kind of a book collector, so we have a huge library, and new books are always coming in: we get review copies, friends who are writers send us books, and J goes to the library weekly. So there is always something around that I could (or feel I should) be reading. The problem is, they're mostly J's books, and I've discovered that if there aren't lots of books around that I'm specifically excited about reading right now, I won't read as much. So my new strategy is to go to the library more and have more books around that speak to me at this moment, even if some of them inevitably get returned unread. I also think the due date works as a kind of hack to get me to read faster, similar to the way a workshop deadline might get you to finish a poem.

2. Spread out my drinking

I read an interesting article this morning about the under-reported health benefits of alcohol, and this point in particular resonated with me:
Second, drinking 10 drinks Friday and Saturday nights does not convey the benefits of two or three drinks daily, even though your weekly totals would be the same: Frequent, heavy binge drinking is unhealthy. But then you knew that already, didn’t you? If you don’t distinguish binge drinking from daily moderate drinking, that would be due to Americans’ addiction-phobia, which causes them to interpret any daily drinking as addictive.
I do think I have ingrained cultural anxiety about "drinking every day," which is seen as a problem or a sign of a problem. So what happens is, I feel virtuous when I don't drink on weeknights, which in turn gives me a sense of permission to drink more on the weekends. But I really enjoy having a glass of wine while I cook dinner (which makes the whole process feel like more of a ritual treat than a chore), and a second glass while we eat. So my new plan is to give myself permission to do that every night if I want (or not, if I don't feel like it), and hopefully I'll then feel less compelled to overindulge on the weekends.

There are other things I should commit to doing (go on more walks so I get more ideas for poems and can finish my manuscript; buy fewer lipsticks) but I don't want to overcommit here and feel guilty later.

14 comments:

  1. The meds I take have severely curtailed my drinking though on those rare nights out I love an ice cold martini. The library on the other hand is my second home so much so that I am often mistaken for a librarian. I see a title or read about a book and order it online. My library is so close I can easily walk there. I can't afford books so it is my heaven. And while Seattle has its faults like too many lumbersexuals for instance we have one of the best library systems in the country.
    xo

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    1. I want to be mistaken for a librarian in 2015! I've got a bunch of requests in for new books now. The list for that Sarah Waters book is like 200+ people long.

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  2. I am on a couple of those lists though I got Citizen right away which surprised me and Cronenberg's Consumed was brand new so new the pages were kind of sticking together. An altogether terrific book btw lots of technosex.

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    1. I still need to read Citizen. Though I may wait until the hype dies down so I can read it with a clear mind.

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  3. I keep on leafing through Citizen at the book-store, and the leafing has yet to make me want to buy it--even as I am very glad it exists--the ultra plain language has yet to click with me, even as I think the Boston Review piece on it does a good job of proving that the writing is very aesthetic; but this is largely because I think literary work should be free; commercial fiction I am, however, happy to purchase--especially if discounted! I guess this is problematic seeing as I am engaged with poetry worlds...but poets make money via teaching (or some other job--likely often another job) and grants and fellowships etc; Jackie Collins needs book sales! "Lumbersexuals"--grins! And smiles at the a bad poet should write plays--bad poetry out a character's mouth could be other than plain sad...love this quotation.

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    1. I'm kind of writing in ultra-plain language now, I mean in my current MS. Maybe my last book was too?

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  4. I don't mean to dismiss plain--it can just be a tougher mode to get jazzed by when briefly leafing. And I love what I'd call really fancy plainness--aka George Herbert's "The Collar." Or many May Swenson poems. Or Gertrude Stein. I think I prefer florid Wallace Stevens, lol; and maybe I don't--I wouldn't want to excise his less gauche wordings: the modes/poles light each other beautifully.

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    1. "fancy plainness" -- I like that! I think that's what I've been shooting for lately, possibly inadvertently.

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  5. Plain is an interesting concept; it should seemingly be synonym to simple but I'm pretty sure it's not. I think of it as involving clarity, and clarity needn't be simple: Gaudi's cathedral is clear--it's just so flagrantly there, but in the most elaborate manner possible! Bishop's "One Art" I'd argue is a bit like this too--hmm, or maybe not. Do you like Gwendolyn Brooks' poems? I'm not sure I'd call much of her work plain, or even fancy plain; but I do LOVE it! I like thinking through this plainness frame, unstable as it's proving for me.

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  6. I am glad you enjoy the notion of fancy plainness.

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    1. I probably prefer simplicity or clarity to plainness in the end....was reading Joy Williams recently and marveling again at how she manages to make superficially simple sentences very interesting.

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  7. How does lucidity fit--does it make for triage? Is it just me or is Anne Carson an extremely lucid writer? Surely she somehow fits in this convo. I don't love her work, but do love its authority--it's the podium 24/7, such that I can't imagine an hour off.

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    1. Most of the time yes, which I think partially explains her broad appeal -- you don't need poetry "training" to read her ... did you see that Courtney Love was all excited to meet Anne Carson?

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  8. Nope, didn't see that bit of news. I'd love to hear her speak archaic Greek free-style, where she's not quoting Archilocus--I do love Archilocus though, at-least in Guy Davenport's translations: "listen to me cuss"!!!--but just talking about what's in the room or out the window or passing by on the sidewalk. I wish she'd write in Archaic Greek too, then translate it back, maybe with a layover in contemporary Greek before it got to English.

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