Dear Diary

Rewrote two stanzas of Charles Bernstein’s “Foreign Body Sensation” in preparation for my reading tomorrow.

Ironed the black wool Morticia dress with the sleeve cutouts also in preparation for the reading. I bought it several years ago at Love Saves the Day in the East Village, a kitsch vintage store that is soon to close. I had wandered in there with Tonya Foster, was not “looking for” a dress but there you have it. It hasn’t fit me in several years but I’ve lost a few pounds and can now get into it, even if I can’t breathe all that well once it’s zipped up. Well, I’ll hardly eat tomorrow.

It’s a fabulous dress. G. accused me of looking like Adeena in it. Here it is, with me squeezed into it:

Tried to write another poem from the “words of the day” on my yahoo page. These poems are not very exciting, I think. Mere finger exercises.

Lightly researched Louise Colet and Emmy Hennings, as they were both mentioned in Chris Kraus’ book. Louise Colet’s letters to Flaubert have all been destroyed. A pity. She took up with Alfred de Musset (wasn’t he the guy who stabbed his hand with a fork?[later note: no, he appears to have stabbed his brother’s hand with a fork, at least in the movie version]) after she broke up with Flaubert, who really wasn’t all that nice to her.

I chided Gary today for his daily beer habit. He just came in smelling of it. Boys always smell like beer. I have never had a boyfriend who didn’t smell like beer.

We went to 86th St. and ate at Nyonya. I had these incredible curry mee noodles ( I know that’s redundant as “mee” means “noodles,” but perhaps most readers of this blog, all six of them!, won’t know that). I took many photographs as I always do these days, one reason being that when I take photographs I feel less of an urge to buy things, and yet I can still take something home from my travels. Here are the noodles (did I mention that Noodle was my childhood nickname?):


Atop the soup: “young” tofu, a hot pepper and a slice of eggplant both stuffed with seasoned fish paste, and roasted shallots. Divine.

Besides ironing and the Charles poem, I am procrastinating REALLY preparing for the reading. Perhaps I will do that tomorrow. I am also procrastinating on a huge project I’ve set for myself, which is creating a book partly from this blog and partly from uncollected & recent poems. It’s just so daunting. but I have made some progress.

Feeling keenly that my blog has not always been all that intelligent (I haven’t tried to make it so). At least not compared to Chris Kraus’ book. I am so easily given to a kind of gee-whiz breeziness. Maybe the book needn’t be all that intelligent? Like, it might have other virtues?

Gary discussed memoir writing with Kenny and Christian. Both Kenny and Rodney have urged me to write a memoir, and I like the idea very much, except that I would have to focus. Gary says my strong points are memory and description – anecdote, not so much. I am afraid of having to somehow connect or analyze the events of my life. It occurred to me that the events could be discretely described. Why not? Like I Remember without the I Remember. But then that might become a constraint, too. Kenny reminded me that Swoon was a kind of a memoir, at least in parts. This blog was too, at the beginning.

I have a drawer of diaries from I don’t know age eleven or so all through my time in Japan. Every time I think to “do something” with them, something literary, I find myself getting completely absorbed by nostalgia and thus paralyzed.

Apropro of journals, here’s a quote (that itself nests a quote) from the first page of my M.A. thesis on Bernadette Mayer:

Mayer demands from her writing a formal plasticity that matches? mimics? uses? the fluidity of experience. In this she emerges from a tradition of modernist realism whose foremost aim is to capture, in Baudelaire’s words, “the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent.” Here is an exaggerated, internalized realism — Proust or Woolf without the scaffolding of fiction, for she focuses on the details of the quotidian. She aestheticizes her own daily life in her writing, but her writing is not diaristic because it is designed to operate in a public sphere, conscious of itself simultaneously as art and as diary: “you better start doing things, like, the diary as book — ‘the lowest form.’ Everything’s high or low, Germans, everything’s perfect.”1 In his essay, “The Distribution of Discourse,” George Steiner writes about the “fantastically loquacious world of the diary,” claiming that “loquacity, copiousness and temporal duration characterize the idiolects of diary writers” — as they do the writing of Bernadette Mayer. Also, the diary has a history as a “woman’s form”:

Barred from public expression of political, ideological and psychological conviction or discovery, the intelligent woman in the ancien regime and nineteenth century makes her journal the forum, the training ground of the mind.2

The journal form permits the integration of the process of writing into everyday life, using daily experience as the stuff of the writing, but it also permits the inclusion of otherwise ineffable material, and a way out of a repressive world.

It’s funny, but when I look back at that thesis, written more than two decades ago, I realize that my concerns and enthusiasms haven’t changed all that much.

Apropo of enthusiasms… a chapbook is in the works… called Interests… composed of lists of interests culled from Blogger profiles of people whose interests linked to mine. A chapbook, ugh! A chapbook!

Too many projects all at once, and the new semester around the corner, I’m like some kind of crazy poodle, really.


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