about bliss

Sunday, December 09, 2012

daily bliss: snowflakes

The first snow of the season has danced through the sky all day long, prompting two passes by the city plow, and creating a soft landscape. I've been ensconced in fleece inside all day, still trying to overcome this late semester cold. Besides a walk through freshly fallen snow on a crystalline, blue, sunny, crisp winter morning, this is my favorite way to experience snow: from the warmth within.

As I watch the Lions-Packers battle on the frozen tundra (also from a safe distance), I cut several snowflakes from copy paper. Folding, snipping, playing, experimenting, I created six lacy flakes to grace our front and back door windows.

And I felt a little like a kid again, playing with snow.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

daily bliss: taking care

Mrs. Grass' chicken noodle soup, flavor enhanced by a wee golden egg. Kraft macaroni and cheese. Tea. Juice. Warm blankets. Mom's soothing care.

When I'm feeling under the weather, these are the things I long for.

For many years, living alone, I had to drag myself to the store for the provisions, and fix my own soup, brew my own tea, and feel sorry for myself in silence, regaling my Mom with details of my illness over long distance.

Through the years, I turned to friends and neighbors for supplies the very few times I was sick enough to not leave home.

Since Gregg and I have lived together, we've taken on the loving task of caring for one another in sickness. We've discovered that I like to be taken care of; he mostly wants to be left alone. And so we nurture each other in the ways that suit us best. This time around, he fixed me tofu noodle soup following my detailed directions, brewed me tea, brought me water and juice, cooked oatmeal for breakfast, and gave the bed over to me the night I was tossing and turning, shivering and sweating.

Today, when I started feeling better, we made homemade mac-and-cheese-and-broccoli together, and diced peppers and onions for black bean soup, taking care.

There's an art to taking care, balancing the needs of the person being cared for and the person caring. We're finding our way, and giving each other comfort.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

daily bliss: haiku

Scratchy throat heralds
One last semester cold
Just in time for finals!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

daily bliss: tree

At one time, my Grandparents V. had a Christmas tree farm. And, when my Dad was younger, he and my Uncle sometimes drove trucks full of trees for another farmer. I'm not sure of the logistics of these stories, but I know Dad tells some interesting tales about his brief stint trucking...and I know that for many years, my family would traipse in the woods behind my Grandparents' house in search of a Christmas tree from the stragglers left behind after the switch to a more fruitful form of farming: blueberries. 

Looking for the tree was an adventure, with snowflakes and chilly temperatures adding a certain charm...and discomfort...to our task. I loved trudging through the snow, and I liked watching my dad, and later, my brother, run the saw through the tree trunk. As my feminist consciousness grew, I wonder why I couldn't help with the cutting...until I tried and readily relinquished that task. Mom and I scouted and commented on tree shape. 

After college, when I lived in a series of apartments, I would waver on a tree. It seemed a waste to buy and decorate a tree for a short period of time, as I always spent several weeks back at my parents' house at the holidays. Trees were sporadic. When I moved back to Michigan after grad school, I would trudge through the now sparsely tree-d fields and find a small tree for my apartment. I decked it with my growing collection of keepsake ornaments from my Grandma C. 

In all of these years, I've never had a taller-than-me full size tree.

Until this year. 

Our new living space and higher ceilings, our expanded collection of ornaments (what perfect shower and wedding gifts!) demanded a bigger tree. G and I headed to our favorite tree lot, a family owned business at a local coffee and ice cream shop, where we've purchased the cutest small trees the past few years. This year, we measured our designated tree nook ahead of time, and then unfurled the tape measure in the tree lot. We selected a tall, slender-ish balsam tree on a damp, grey December 1st. We tucked her into the corner of the dining room, where her lights will be seen from outside, and where she will stand at the center of our home. 

Tonight, we gilded her with our ornaments, and dressed her with the skirt Grandma V. made for my bridal shower gift. The stockings I made are hung on the Hoosier cabinet, and memories are everywhere. Each ornament tells a story, represents a moment in time, a friendship, a family connection, a craft project. 

Welcome to our home, tree. We're so glad to share these weeks of love, laughter, stress, baking, shivering, planning, tears, and singing with you. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

daily bliss: books, identity, possibility

My Women and Popular Culture class is currently reading one of my favorite books, Stealing Buddha's Dinner, a memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen, and today we discussed identity. Specifically, we talked about the struggle to claim your identity as an adolescent, torn between being yourself, and competing visions of what's cool or right or comfortable. One of the many aspects I love about the memoir is that Bich reads voraciously, piling up library books, delighting in the free books on Reading Is Fundamental Days, and ogling the Scholastic Book Catalogue. I should note that she's my age, so her examples resonate in that deep "you're of my moment" way.

But I digress. Bich finds herself in books. As the class discussed her identity struggle, I shared some of my story—how being the bookish girl, more comfortable and happier in books than real life, made me a target for some of the "cooler," jockier girls in middle school. I mused to my class that it's a wonder we make it through those times, and bragged that despite, nay, because of my bookish past, here I am, with a whole room of people, who are listening to me...talk about books! Take that, J-- (I named the most obnoxious middle school girl I could remember). My students laughed.

This evening, as I sit here feeling a bit blue, a bit overwhelmed with all the non-reading bits of my job, I realize a few things. One, I'm fairly certain that J- had issues of her own. We all did. Two, I don't think I've entirely made it through that struggle yet.

I am confident with who I am, knowing all too well my flaws and strengths. I know my quirks, and I realize elements that might still change and grow, and elements that are likely fixed (insert detailed list of your own here, dear reader). But as I age, I realize the identity issues remain. They simply take another form, and I don't turn to books as often as I used to for solace, comfort, or understanding (something I need to fix).

My mind keeps circling around motherhood, as that window inches more closed everyday. My fingers ache to trace out gorgeous, achingly true poems and stories, but my mind-heart-soul holds them close out of fear that they will not, ever, be good enough. My soul longs to reconnect with so many friends who've been my saving grace and delight through the years, and who now seem just out of reach. I long to spend as much time as possible with my family. I dream of ways to make my already strong marriage even stronger.

I think about the years I've spent and the years I have left. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? How much time do I have? I'm at turns urgent and contemplative, anxious and laissez faire.

When the questions and longings seem too much, I cull one of my favorite lines of poetry out of my memory (or flip over my iPad, on which it is engraved):

I dwell in Possibility

And I try to transform the struggle into a wide, free expanse where the future is open before me...sublimely.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Sunday, December 02, 2012

daily bliss: weekend breakfast

Back when G and I were dating, I made special breakfasts most Saturdays and Sundays. These days, I strive to create a non-oatmeal breakfast at least one weekend morning.

As I attempted to fall asleep last night, I conjured up this morning's breakfast: sour cream pancakes (made with part whole wheat flour and touched with cinnamon), with quick strawberry sauce, maple syrup, and toasted almonds.

G magically appeared, bed-headed but bright eyed, right as the last pancake was bubbling in the skillet. Excellent timing.

What a sweet start to a domestic day of holiday decorating and leaf hauling and essay grading and laundry.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

daily bliss: purple haze

Purple Haze, Sequim, WA

As the days grow gloomier and colder, small pleasures become more meaningful. 

A wee bottle of lavender essential oil offers tranquility, and happy memories every morning (and some nights), as I shake a few drops in the shower before turning on the water. 

On our honeymoon, Gregg and I stopped at Purple Haze Lavender in Sequim, WA. It's one of many lavender farms in the area, planted with abundant varieties. While Sequim is known to be a sunshiny spot amidst coasts and mountains of grey, on the day we visited, the only color came from the fields of fragrant blossoms. 

And so, as December makes her cool, damp, and grey debut, I conjure up the lavender fields of the Pacific Northwest, and dream of long days of exploration, fueled by love, with every drop of essential oil. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

daily bliss: happy pie day

Thanks for all the blessings:


Family, near and far, old and new.

Abundant, healthful food.

Friends, near and far, old and new.

A safe, warm home, nestled near Lake Michigan.

A healthy, if increasingly stiff 38 year old body.

Sunshine and starry skies.

Fresh water.

Yoga and strolls and other meditative practices, like stirring soup.


Meaningful work.

Dreams and possibilities.

Soft sweaters and well-fitting jeans.

Lavender and vanilla.



Be well, dear readers. And Happy Pie Day!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

daily bliss: the dress

I remember sunny summer afternoons, before or perhaps after blueberry picking season, when I toted my red plastic briefcase of art supplies to the backyard. Our canvas tent, airing out after one of our family vacations spent at Michigan state parks, made a perfect work space. I flipped the pages in my drawing tablet and selected my pencils and began to sketch. It was always the same: a woman's body, with little detail on face or hands, the emphasis on the dress. My favorite dress was inspired by Anne of Green Gables' early obsession with puff sleeves, as well as the contemporary fashion trends of big shoulders and sleeves that bespoke empowerment. I still remember the white dress, with big puffed short sleeves, adorned with bows. The fitted bodice erupted into a ballgown skirt, and the dress was embellished with pastel floral and swirl embroidery. I loved this dress. I wanted this dress. 

And, a few years later, when I was a sophomore in college, I tacked up my favorite Estee Lauder Beautiful ad, featuring a bride in a puff sleeved confection of a dress. I would, according to the elaborate timelines my friends and I created, marry at age 24, in such a dress. I also imagined the romantic repartee between myself  (J) and my future suitor (FS):

FS: What scent are you wearing?
J: Beautiful.
FS: How fitting, because you are beautiful. 
J: (beaming, rapturously in love)

Clearly I was in college, and soon to be majoring in English literature, for a reason. I needed better  romantic repartee (hello, Mr. Darcy!).

Fast forward some decades, to early August 2011, when my beloved boyfriend G and I have just become engaged. Within two weeks, I was wedding dress shopping. While my fashionista tendencies have ebbed and flowed depending on paychecks and student loan payoffs, as well as proximity to shopping centers, I still love clothing, especially fancy dress clothes. The kind of gowns that have a limited use, that stun with well-cut lines and sensual fabrics. The kind of clothes I have worn, well, almost never in my life. This was my chance. 

I previously blogged about the first wedding dress shopping trip here, and these first two photos show my interest in tea-length gowns and lace. I dreamed of a tea-length, fitted bodice and floofy skirted 1950s vintage style. I even had one such dress, purchased on eBay long before our engagement. This bargain dress featured a pink taffeta underlayer and lace overlay, with a pink chiffon embellished bustline. Somehow, though, this look wasn't flattering, and while I loved the party feel of a short dress, I didn't feel sufficiently bridal

Bridal. What does that mean? I knew what it meant in the 1990s when my friends and I had a strict, conventional timeline to adhere to: graduate, marry, wait two years, have kids. The bridal phase would truly be one of transition, from the newly minted independence of recent college grad to a wife, soon-to-be mother. This narrative alluded all of us, in one way or another, and I think we're all better, stronger, truer selves because of it. But what does bridal mean when you're engaged at 38, in your first serious relationship, cohabiting, and sporting enough degrees to justify your student loan payments? What does is mean when your plan, post-marriage is to move to a bigger (rented) home, earn tenure, and consider a canine "child"? 

This question, and the corresponding question of what a wife is when you follow a more progressive, feminist, deeply spiritual but not religious, ethical model, accompanied me throughout our engagement. 

I realized that I wanted the long gown. I wanted the sweep of some kind of train. I wanted a dress that would trail romantically across the beach, where our wedding would be. I wanted a gown with some kind of sleeves, and I hoped for a gown made in America. I found Premiere Couture, a perfect bridal shop in Madison, Wisconsin. When I told Laura what I wanted, she pulled several dresses, including one that met all of my wishes. 

Since strapless dresses are so ubiquitous, I tried a few here, and loved the previous dress, an airy silk dress by Canadian designer Lea-Ann Belter. As rivulets of sweat manifested everywhere during our ceremony, I thought back to this dress and had a moment where I wished I was wearing one lightweight layer instead of double-faced satin with a double lace overlay. 

Alas, that gown, nor this classic, elegant strapless lace couldn't compete with the gown that felt perfectly me. 

With a flattering v-neck line, a ruched satin waistband trimmed with satin covered buttons in the back, to the a-line skirt and short train, from the scalloped edges of the Italian re-embroidered lace, my gown, Amber by New York designer Janet Nelson Kumar, was everything I could hope for. I felt bridal, but most importantly, I felt me. 

The dress was hot on a 90 degree day when the reliable Lake Michigan breeze had apparently absconded, but was keeping the white reception tent, some five miles inland, relatively cool. Still, I had no trouble lifting the dress and traipsing into the chilly waters post-ceremony before greeting and hugging family and friends. 

My dress was one of the clearest links to bridal and wedding tradition, as the color, style, fabrics neatly fit into conventional trends. And while G and I eschewed many wedding traditions, we agreed that the dress would be secret until that moment he saw me crest the dune, walking with both of my parents. A little mystery creates a greater allure around the dress. 

Later, my mom helped bustle my dress for the dancing hours to come. And, yes, I was true to the claim I made to post-college roommate K that I would dance all night at my wedding. And, yes, I can be added to the long list of brides whose bustle falls out with an errant step. The ribbon tie came loose, but my dress is just fine. 

I wore my dress to the hotel, and reluctantly took it off, hanging it in the closet after inspecting the hem for beach and grass stains. The mystery was gone, the dress worn, sweat-slicked, and a little frayed and dirty around the hem. Soon it will be cleaned, then I'll hang it in a muslin bag in my closet, in our new home, and in subsequent homes to come. I'll slip into it on random occasions and twirl around my bedroom, remembering a day of such great happiness, such beauty, so perfectly me and G and us. 

Will I trash my dress, wading deeper into the lake for soulful, artful photographs? Doubtful. Will I throw a wedding gown and other fancy dress party? Perhaps. 

G is packing some of his wedding garb for our honeymoon to Seattle, and I'm envious on one level. Will he wear the clothes and relive the memories? Will the linen shirt and purple Chuck Taylors bring him back to a marriage of water and sand, of smiling faces, and swirling dances? Or will they lose their allure in the everyday? I can see both outcomes.

A wedding gown holds dreams, desires, intentions, and mostly, the woman who is moving between fiance and bride to wife. Ultimately, through all my questioning of what these roles are, I've found that the answer has always been to be, well, me. To live and love in the ways I know, and some ways I've yet to learn. And that is as, nay, more beautiful than a once-in-a-lifetime gown. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

daily bliss: diy multi-themed homespun dream wedding

A few days before our wedding, I fretted: "We don't have a unifying theme! We have beach, DIY, vintage, homemade, literary, local...what would the magazines and blogs say?" My family and friends assured me that our amalgamation of themes would be united by love.

And they were right. It is also no surprise to anyone who knows me that our wedding themes were several. I am, after all, the same person who begrudgingly gave up art classes in high school to add a foreign language, along with my other elective, orchestra. I am, after all, the same person whose professional development plan at work includes creative writing across the genres, scholarship of teaching and learning, undergraduate research, and dibble-dabbles into literary analysis. I am the same person who would go back to school in an instant, and study geology, art history, gastronomy, gender studies, history, creative writing, yoga, AND enology...

So, yes, multiple themes. United by pink, and love.

We made so much ourselves, from the invitations and programs (glued onto craft sticks, doubling as fans, genius for a 90 degree day), to the endless cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, folded into glassine bags sealed with our custom, homemade labels. We designed and printed signs for every table, named after authors, and made library cards for escort cards, stowed in a vintage library drawer. We commissioned not one but two original poems from poet friends, to be read in our wedding ceremony.

I took a letterpress printing workshop at the Hamilton Woodtype Museum and created signs for our wedding in our favorite colors.

We purchased beautiful flowers from local farmers, and my best women and I filled (borrowed) blue mason jars, twisted corsages and boutonnieres, and hand-tied bouquets.

We selected and purchased our own beers, favorite microbrews from Wisconsin and Michigan (New Glarus Moon Man and New Holland Full Circle, respectively). And we sampled and selected wines, including the delicious Michigan sparkling wine from L. Mawby (Sandpiper, with custom labels made just for us).

On the days leading up to the wedding, we worked together, my best women and best men, family and friends, to piece everything together, from setting up chairs and decorating the outside of the royal restroom, to decorating the tables and frosting the cupcakes, to crafting and assembling a birch wood arch.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to throw a DIY, multi-themed, original wedding celebration.

And some of my favorite memories, just over a week later, are those moments of creation and preparation, the deep connections made while picking up flowers and wandering hardware stores in search of galvanized tubs for icing wine. I will cherish those moments, hours, days, weeks, and months for a lifetime, as I remember all of those family and friends, but especially my Mom, Dad, Groom, Brother, and Brother's girlfriend K, who tirelessly and joyfully worked by my side to make a beautiful, amazing day to cherish.

photo credits: RM, SG, LP

Saturday, July 14, 2012

daily bliss: epithalamium

"An epithalamium... is a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber" (source: wikipedia (yes, i know this is not an authoritative source, but it's what i have to work with now).

Since poetry has shaped so much of our beginnings and settling-ins, I wanted to try my hand at this ancient form, for Gregg, on this, our wedding day. This is a rough, rough draft that I will polish for the next 50+ years of our life together. I love you Gregg, and I can't wait to be married.

for Gregg 

One plus One
is magically Three—
You and Me and
the Space in between:
the curve of the ampersand,
where everything conjoins
and expands; the shoreline, 
where water and sand reshape
one another...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

daily bliss: singleton

I remember one Christmas, in the late 90s, crying in my parents' kitchen that I was spending another holiday, alone. (Cue the Bridget Jones' soundtrack.) My dad very seriously and kindly told me that I wouldn't always be single. "You will get married. I know it." I wanted to believe him. But the years kept floating by. Good years. Great years. Finishing degrees and landing jobs and publishing articles and making amazing friends years. Learning to live comfortably in my skin years. Cooking and baking and writing and reading and yogaing and running and walking years. I dated some, but I was never, ever the kind of person to give myself easily. I needed deep meaning. I craved soul connection. It took me 35 years to find it. And then, suddenly, I was dating. And then I had a boyfriend. And then he moved in to my quaint, cozy second floor house apartment. We set up house. We delved in deeper. We made a cohabitory commitment to each other. And then, he asked me to marry him. And on Saturday, I will marry him. My heart soars, and my soul feels at home when I'm with him, or thinking about him. I think of all those years I pined after unsuitable suitors. All the hours fretting about my singleton-ness. All the wondering, hoping, despairing. I know now that it wasn't yet my time. I hadn't met G. Now, it's our time together, to say farewell to our single days...to the crooked paths that led us to each other. And time to say hello to a shared path. I can't wait to make the rest of life's journey with my best friend and love by my side.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

daily bliss: wedding baking

G and I co-write a monthly food column for the local weekly paper that G works for, and this month I wrote about our wedding cupcakes. I hope you enjoy! 

blossom, dressed in flour and chocolate

This week we're deviating from our usual he-ate, she-cooked format since Gregg is consumed with Groom duties as the wedding date approaches. I jest. I think. He's back in Wisconsin; I'm in Michigan helping with landscaping the reception site (my parents' home) and being showered by friends and family. 

On my last trip to Michigan a few weeks ago, I toted my trusty pink Kitchen Aid mixer (named Blossom); pounds of Pine River Dairy butter; bags of flour, sugar, nuts, and cocoa to my parents' house in Michigan for a baking extravaganza. I've dreamed about baking my own cupcakes for our wedding, and in three long morning baking sessions, I created 250 cupcakes for our special day.

Gregg and I taste tested recipes for the past six months, and finally settled on vanilla, chocolate, and carrot as our three flavors, and we selected recipes from some of my favorite cooks--Dorie Greenspan, Martha Stewart, and Deb from the Smitten Kitchen blog. We were looking for moist, flavorful cakes that would stand up well to a month in the freezer. 

Each baking morning, I tied on my favorite all-purpose apron and set out my ingredients. While I know all of the baking rules about room temperature ingredients and precise measurements, I often relax these standards in everyday baking. Not so for these cakes. I followed the recipes religiously, carefully rotating the pans in the oven as they baked for even temperature distribution. I nicked my hands on the hot oven racks once or twice, but the burns are already faded. 

As I creamed butter and sugar and roasted nuts and scraped vanilla beans, I also thought of Gregg and our celebration to come. I love baking recipes we previously enjoyed together, and I love the idea of sweetness and celebration. For what else is a wedding about? I thought of one of my favorite novels, Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate. Tita, the main character, infuses her emotions into the food she cooks. The wedding cake she created for her sister's wedding (to Tita's true love), causes the guests to sob and fall into a deep sadness over unfulfilled love. On the contrary, I want our guests to taste our love, and to feel joy, lightness and laughter with each bite. Thinking of my family and friends eating the cupcakes while happy music plays made the joy infusion even easier. 

The baking wasn't without some glitches. As the first batches of vanilla cupcakes cooled, they pulled away from the beautiful golden papers I had specially purchased for all of the cakes. Apparently grease-free also means quick-release, not ideal for neat, contained cupcakes. I plan on removing these cakes from the papers and placing them in new papers when it comes time to thaw and frost. For the rest of the baking, however, I used classic foil grocery store papers for a simple, elegant appearance, with no more mess. 

I baked all morning, three days that week, while my Mom was at work, and when she arrived home at noon to a house scented with sweet vanilla, cinnamon and spice, or warm chocolate, I was pulling the last cupcakes out of the oven and loading the dishwasher with bowls and spatulas and measuring cups and spoons. Each day, I offered her half of a cupcake--the leftover test cake I had previously sampled. Vetting the recipes ahead of time paid off, as each test cake met our expectations of moisture, crumb, flavor, and shape. 

chocolate cupcakes everywhere!

The kitchen table was filled with cupcakes until we packed them away for the freezer, sealing them in foil baking pans. Mom and Grandma generously moved around their stash of last year's berries and venison steaks to make room in their chest freezers for the cupcakes until it's time to frost, decorate, serve, and eat them under the stars on July 14. 

My wedding party and I will spend the day before the wedding carefully spreading frosting on the cakes. While I've seen gorgeous cupcake creations on the Food Network and in cooking magazines, I have a simpler, more realistic vision in mind: a generous spread of buttercream, topped with something that hints at the flavors inside, whether a carrot slice or chocolate covered espresso bean. 

I can't wait to set the cake table with my collection of vintage cake stands and depression glass plates in shades of pink, jade, milk glass, and clear glass. I also baked one six inch layer of each flavor, which I'll stack, fill and cover with cream cheese frosting (Gregg's favorite). Crowned with a vintage bride and groom cake topper, this will be our cake to take back to the hotel with us, to freeze and eat on another happy day when we celebrate our marriage, tasting the love in every bite. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

daily bliss: market time

Saturday morning I giddily walked downtown with G, soaking up the warm sun, gentle breeze, and anticipation. We noted the bright tents dotting the parking lot across from the library, next to the river. I prolonged my excitement a bit longer as we stopped at our favorite Saturday breakfast spot, Wrap it Up, for a large Alterra coffee. Then, the moment was upon us: the first market day of the season.  

We chatted with friends, vendors, and even a local newspaper reporter. Then, we bought veggies—so much green. 

Sunday night, after finishing addressing and assembling and sealing our wedding invitations, we made risotto primavera. I sauteed asparagus and set it aside so it wouldn't be soft and overcooked. Then, I made a delicious base of butter sauteed carrots and onions, added rice, and a generous splash of wine. A simmering pot of homemade veggie stock made an easy, taste task of ladling stock and stirring rice. 

I baked squares of tofu and made a sort-of chimichuri sauce of cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. It was bright, tangy, and delicious on the slightly dry tofu. A bed of steamed spinach completed the plate. 

Some meals come together even better than in my mind, and this was one. I like to credit the fresh, local veggies, as well as my less stressed frame of mind: a Sunday night when the semester is finished and all the grading in is luxurious. And, that first Sunday off the academic calendar: magical. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

poetic bliss: day thirteen

you open your arms
your heart to the lowliest
lambs and we leap—

poetic bliss: day twelve

i believe in poetry
the divine heart body soul
within and beyond.

Friday, April 20, 2012

poetic bliss: day eleven

sometimes poetry isn't pretty, and sometimes it's provocative, and sometimes it's political. 

they want us to think
pregnant possibilities
every single fuck

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

poetic bliss: day ten

To the Sharpie-wielding Women in the University Bathroom

Where someone has scratched I ♥ Sex
on the blue bathroom wall, you print I ♥ School
in wide tip exuberance, your boldness shining through
the white-out I ♥ Sex, the wall a chiaroscuro of
conflicting desire. In the next stall, you witticize grammar,
pondering the proper use of the semi-colon. You explain,
plainly, and provide an example, erroneous, and then
provide corrective notes. In the last stall, you quote
Bob Marley, urging us to swap the love of power for
the power of love, and I believe you, in your permanent
black ink voices, in your civil disobedience, in your reclamation
of this wall, the space, for something positive and true.

poetic bliss: day nine

The Introvert Professes

In front of class, I ask questions
they stare at desks, windows, wrists.
The bold ones meet my exasperated gaze
and say nothing. We play this game
twice a week and my soul recoils, dreads
the energetic tugs I must now make. I
stifle sarcasm, disappointment, ridicule,
tears. I try to be my best encouraging self.
I call random student names until predictable
hands spike and wave, brains engage, words
tumble out of unhinged mouths. That moment
of silence, before these machinations, is everything
I dread, and nowhere I want to be.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

poetic bliss: day eight


I wake with Cat Stevens' words lilting
through my mind morning has broken
like the first morning and I remember
those Easter sunrise services, the voices
joined in song, the pervasive hope, and,
after, the pancakes, chocolate, eggies-I-
can-hold-in-my-hand. This morning, I
walk along a pine needle strewn path
with my parents, watch the tightly held
blueberry buds sway, hold my fiancé's hand,
the thrum of transformation, possibility,
and love radiating everywhere.

poetic bliss: day seven

Holland Spring

Chartreuse leaves unfurl
across the Midwest, and
pollen swirls through the air,
ending in a collective sneeze.
We sit at a high-top table,
sipping beer and watching
the tourists stop amid the tulips,
snapping pictures, thawing smiles
backlit with pink and purple,
yellow and orange petals,
opening to the sun.

poetic bliss: day six

beautiful morning
afternoon of endless road
forgotten poem.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

poetic bliss: day five

Today was the last event for the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars group I've been privileged to be part of this year. We had a full day: we met, shared stories and posters, ate bad hotel meals, presented at a formal poster session, and then celebrated with a drink in the hotel bar. I believe it was P's comments about the dreamy Mr. Darcy that started a good 20 minutes of multidisciplinary "hot or not," in which my friends named key authors, musicians, and social scientists and I searched google images on my phone and we declared them hot or not. At some point, M reminded me that I still needed to write a poem, as I had announced this poetic bliss project earlier in the day. I recruited their help, another M decided the topic/title, and in the true collaborative spirit we've developed over the past 11 months, we wrote the following poem.

Hot or Not

I'd take the road less traveled with Robert Frost;
Orville is the Wright brother for me.
The whole month in High School that we read the Scarlet Letter,
I was dreaming about Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Viggo is the true Lord of the Rings.
Melville can call me "Ishmael" anytime.
Did you notice Charlotte and e.b. in the corner, touching?
Without Ernest, I bid farewell.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

poetic bliss: day four


The yoga teacher demonstrates
the mudra for grounding, hands
framing a triangle just below the
navel, but I want the mudra for
above this terra firma,
this body.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

poetic bliss: day three

for Trayvon

I pull you over my head, escaping this world,
these glances. I focus: the path ahead, where
I am going. Safe, secure, warm, dry, home.

Monday, April 02, 2012

poetic bliss: day two

Free to B
for B

Imitation is flattery,
and I wanted your pink
pumps, your wardrobe,
your car: white, fast, turning
heads of young boys.

My whole life, we've loved
pretty, dresses, words,
photos, flowers. We've run
distances, towards and away
from something.

Herbivores, seekers, teachers.
Almost sisters.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

poetry bliss: day one

in celebration of National Poetry Month, I plan to write and post one poem each day.


These clothes don't fit—
winter wool weighs,
denim waistband gaps.
I cannot be contained.
I long for floaty, flirty,
floral, feminine—young
and dream, not this 
aging exhaustion, these
feet grown tired, the
aching arch in patent
peep-toe pumps. I stare
at 40 and quake, 
barefoot, naked,

Monday, January 02, 2012

wedded bliss: carrot cupcakes, take one

This morning, as I lay under the layers of warm covers and stretched my sleep-cramped limbs, I counted on my fingers. Six.

"Six months!"

Gregg laughed, knowingly.

"We only have six months! We'd better start planning!"

In our defense—and with many thanks to my mom—many plans are already set in motion. Venue? Check. Caterer? Check. Royal Restroom? Check. Wedding gown? Check. Bride's Attendants notified? Check. Groom's wedding band? Check.

I will spare you the list of pending tasks, except for the most delicious one.

My biggest DIY project is to bake my own wedding cupcakes, a true labor of love that I couldn't be more excited about. We've determined that there should be at least two cupcakes per guest, and we want a variety of four or five flavors. Now begins the arduous task of selecting the best recipes.

Yesterday, I began with carrot, at Gregg's request. I made the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with a few tweaks: half whole wheat flour, brown sugar instead of white sugar, chopped candied ginger in lieu of ground, and a mixture of toasted pecans and walnuts. I also played with decorative toppings, though I did not play with my frosting technique. I'll save that for another chilly winter day.

The verdict? Gregg loves these cupcakes for their moistness and flavor. I love the flavor but would like a little less moisture, which is always tricky in a carrot cake. I'm going to try my mom's stand-by recipe next, with the spice combinations from Smitten's recipe.