zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
Here in Nashville, we've been under frost advisories this week, which in my case has meant re-covering the hydrangea, bringing in the plants I over-optimistically set outside last week, and snapping photos of the rest:

tulips, season 3

There was a sandwich board outside one of the bars down the street advertising a drink called the "Angry Gardener." I was tempted. But there was a magazine release party already on my calendar, and I was glad about prudence prevailing over temptation when, at the gathering, Emmely Duncan handed me a glass of strawberry vodka punch laced with black pepper syrup.

front of the house

Earlier in the day, I had been thinking it was time to bin the University of Michigan sweatshirt I was wearing. It was probably ready for the ragbag a couple of years ago, but today was the day I registered all the stains it had accumulated -- as in, I should've changed outfits before leaving the house. (Considering how laid back and grunge-tolerant my neighborhood is, this is saying something.)

Of course, when I realized this, I was already too far along just to turn around, so I went into the drugstore anyway. As I looked at a display of brooms (so many things in my house getting ratty...), an older African American man walked by me. Then he turned back, exclaiming, "Michigan?" He was wearing a Detroit Tigers cap. Oh, I wish you could have seen how his face lit up.

Speaking of clothing and identity, the New York Times published a piece this past Sunday sparked Harvey Fierstein's new play. The article is titled Clothes Make the Man, and -- potential trigger warning -- it raises all sorts of unsorted-out-ness about authenticity and beauty and comfort and gender, and, and, and ...

This paragraph had me nodding in recognition -- I may not share the specific need to wear boy vs. girl clothes, but do I relate to how certain clothes are me and others are not, and how what I wear can affect how me I am at a given moment? Oh yes.



"One person I spoke to said: 'When I have my boy clothes on, I feel like I'm at a party full of strangers, and there's great effort that goes into putting my best self forward. And when I put on my women's clothing, it's like walking into another room, and my best friend is sitting there, and I can breathe,'" Mr. Mantello said. "There's a certain poignancy in a transformation that feels cellular."


And immediately following that is the passage that spooked me the most:


If the guests at Casa Valentina love looking in the mirror at their femme selves, some of the actors have struggled with it. Mr. Birney recalled having a hard time making peace with how he looked as a woman.

"I was heartbroken," he said. "I asked the makeup artist, 'Can you make me prettier?'"

Mr. McGowan and the seventh man in the play, Larry Pine, said they had to reckon with their sagging middle-aged bodies, and the girdles and corsets used in the play.

"I look in the mirror, and I see a hideous woman, absolutely hideous," Mr. Pine said. Asked if that hurt, he replied, "Yeah."
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
[Subject line from Toni Morrison's "I Am Not Seaworthy," song 5 in Honey and Rue]

A year and a couple of days ago, I was in Charleston. Photos under the cut )
USPS bicycle
zirconium: corner of dormant tulip bed (corner)
[Subject line from May Sarton's All Souls (1957)]

My mother would have been seventy years old today. When I was a very small girl, she used to wear this cloak:

Mom's cloak

Fun furry tassel

At some point, it was banished to the back or the bottom of my bedroom closet, perhaps for being too impractical or unfashionable. There may have been a matching skirt that I gave away when she died.

Memory plays tricks on us -- all these years, I'd misremembered the cloak as something she'd made (probably because she made a skirt and shawl set for me with similar fabric); I don't recognize the manufacturer, but it was probably something she purchased either in Taiwan or Minnesota.

Anyhow, I wore it the day before Thanksgiving, to a brunch with my in-laws, and finally admitted to myself that the cloak was too tight around my neck and the material too scratchy.

But it's just as well that I didn't have time to shlep it to Goodwill until three days ago, because I'd completely forgotten about it having a hood, which I unearthed early last week from a bin with other things I haven't yet revisited. Reuniting the hood with the cloak one last time -- slipping the little buttons through the thin little loops -- felt both right and awkward.
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
In the February 21 print issue of Women's Wear Daily, Lorna Koski has a full-page feature on Pioneers of the Possible, a book by Angela M. Nazarian on twenty visionary women, including Taiwanese Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, and Simone de Beauvoir. I'm mulling over this paragraph in particular:


One insight that has come to her, Nazarian notes, is that the most impressive women are not striving for balance, but for fullness in their lives. "They pack their lives with things that are really meaningful," she says. "They concentrate on their strengths; they know what their talents are, so they aren't so bothered by their weaknesses."


(I'm not sure this is a helpful construct for me, but it is thought-provoking. I do like the quote from Estée Lauder that ends the article: "If you want to succeed, make the best of what you have. That's a secret to beauty, as well.")




I became curious about Maria Nazos's A Hymn that Meanders after reading her essays at Boxcar, in particular "Silence in the Rough: When Your First Book Breaks Through the Truth." It contains bold, lush lovesongs about and elegies of broken people, and reminds me quite a bit of Lynda Hull's work. My eyes were probably as round as the proverbial saucers by the time I finished reading "My Mother's Nipples," and I also marked "Mink Rooftop," because of these lines: "Now I'm stuck / in this room telling myself we were more than two broken sticks rubbing / together.



Back to WWD. In the February 22 issue, Huang Hung writes about Guo Pei. My kind of gal:


Guo's husband is a Taiwanese businessman who runs a family textiles business. "When we got engaged," Guo said, smiling, "he asked me whether I wanted a rock on my finger or 50,000 yards of free fabric. I took the fabric."





Finally updated the front page of my website and the writing-for-hire resume. Time now for errands...

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