I can't lose five verses!

The following quotations are from an interview Tom Waits did on NPR at the end of October. A friend caught it and told me about it, and I was able to find the entire thing online. I love Tom Waits so much, even moreso after listening to the interview. He has a permanent spot on my "ideal dinner party" list.

[She asked if he ever saw himself as being a husband and a father.] "No, no I didn't. But I do remember disciplining imaginary children in the back seat of my car."

"They say that life itself is really just the dead on vacation."

"I would take a tape recorder, and I would put it in the trash can - the ones that are on wheels, you know - and I'd turn it on, and then I'd roll around in the yard with it, and then play it back and see if I could hear any interesting rhythms that were just part of nature. I tell you the best snare drum on earth is a trampoline in like, November, when all the branches have landed and they're heavy and they're wet, and when you jump on the trampoline they all lift up and come down at the same time."


things I like this week, vol. 21

They showed me a block of calligraphy ink, which was very specific: it was one of the traditional ones that the Japanese and Korean artists use. I loved the way it smelled, it was very unique, and I said, ‘You know, this could be a good idea.’

The entire interview with Ben Gorham, a perfumer, is on Into the Gloss. it's absolutely one of my favorite websites - the interviews are fun, and I enjoy hearing what products actual people use. This particular one was probably my favorite out of all of them, though. I love reading about people who are doing something intensely creative, and doing it differently than everyone else. Plus, perfume in particular is something I've been pondering for awhile.

. . .

I finally ordered the samples Frederic Malle recommended for me after I filled out their online survey. They advised Lys Méditerranée, Portrait of a Lady, and Une Rose. Lys Méditerranée is by far my favorite, which is ironic, since although it was the one they most highly recommended for me, it was the one I was least interested in from the description. Portrait of a Lady is too formidable for me to wear, but it (also ironically) smells great on Colin. And Une Rose, which was the one I was most excited about getting, is quite nice, though not totally "me."

When I called the store to order the samples, the phone was answered by a woman with such a French accent that I thought I'd accidentally somehow dialed the Paris boutique - and my brain did that flip where it tries to remember French and fails. I think she must have just been saying the name of the store, though, for when I began to speak in English, I understood her replies just fine, and it was almost a treat to get to talk to someone with an accent I've always loved.

. . .

This post from Slim Paley is full of beautiful images (no jokes about my affinity for ice), but these dresses from Armani's S12 collection were my favorite. And they almost made me wish we'd decided to do a cocktail party New Year's instead of a pirate theme . . .

. . .

This is the first of two posts on craft process by Style Bubble. This shot is from the post on Smythson bespoke stationary, which was fascinating (the gold leaf!) and also slightly absurd, as I went on the website and figured out that if I got personalized cards they'd be at least $600 for 50 of them. Worth it, I suppose, if you have that sort of money, but since I don't, I'll stick with my animal set that I won from PaperInkPress a few weeks ago.

Incidentally, she has a set of 15 personalized cards for $37.50 that are quite nice.

The post also brings up the question of handwritten thank you notes - do you still do them? I'm horrible about them myself, but I've been having Joley do them religiously this month, and she seems to be enjoying the process. Having cards with her initial on them helped.

. . .

The second process post. Apparently it is possible to have custom made Dr. Martens, which sound fantastic. I love the ones she chose, too, and the process shots are fascinating.

. . .

Tyler candles fill the room without being overpowering, and the fragrances smell luxurious despite being cheaper than, say, Yankee Candle (whose scents I usually find rather tawdry). They're available locally at Paloma Art Gallery and Grand Central Clothing (I think), though the fragrance selection is better at Paloma.

. . .

StyleMint.com is somewhat of a guilty pleasure, specifically the mystery bags. I got one for my birthday, and loved it, even though I only got a bracelet, a shirt, and some coupon codes. $30 for one tshirt is more than I will usually spend, but I can justify, essentially, $15 each for a shirt and a piece of jewelry with the chance of additional gifts. The shirts are soft and well designed, and so far have been quite sturdy.

This mystery bag is unavailable after midnight on the 27th, so get in on it quickly if you're going to. They'll sign you up for the service, but you can opt out of getting charged pretty easily within the first five days of the month. They send you emails with the new monthly collection, so you don't have to worry about remembering to opt out.


so he took his dog, Max, and he took some black thread . . .

. . . and he tied a big horn on the top of his head.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. <3

(photo cred goes to my sister)


things I like this week, vol. 20

There's something about this time of year I really enjoy. The weather was perfect today; not too cold, but crisp and damp, and the clouds were thick jagged strips of cotton that partially obscured the mountains. We ate a egg and bacon croissant with fruit in a small bakery near our house; I've put up most of the Christmas decorations, with pine branches spread over the wood mantle, silver stars speckling the green, and white lights on our tree.

I have sipping chocolate and wine, and we had a rich dinner, and friends are over and we're writing with the rain dribbling down outside. And even though I still have inches left of papers to grade, I can feel the end drawing near, and it comforts me.

. . .

I love the drama of platinum hair. And her attitude about organic vs. big guns - I'm sort of similar. I'll do what's healthy/organic/responsible only up to a point. Although I'm almost contemplating following a gluten free diet for awhile and seeing what happens.

. . .

Give it your best. All anyone can ever ask for, and a perfect book inscription.

. . .


. . .

It's a shame that I only found out about McQueen after he died. His aesthetic is one that I adore.
. . .

Totally unconcerned.

. . .

I am in love with macabre jewelry, although I still really just want Keith Richard's skull ring.

. . .

It's a great concept, but this is the only photo whose composition I enjoyed.

. . .

Love the atmosphere of this print, and of several of his others.

. . .

NG's picture of the day.

. . .

My current favorite off her new album.

. . .

Red baubles in white snow. <3


things I like this week, vol. 19

So apparently I've been saving up things for this post for the last month and a half. Not going to do it all in one post, though. That'd be crazy.

. . .

So surreal.

. . .

I don't remember who the designer or the museum was, but Andre Leon Talley curated the exhibit somewhere in the south, and I really want this dress.

. . .

Not very trashy, for a Suicide Girl. And I love her tattoo.

. . .

The Library of the Future.

. . .

Awesome cat.

. . .

Love the concept, not sure about the execution.

. . .

via Bookshelf Porn.

. . .

Damien Hirst.

. . .

"There are no black flowers in this world. Only flowers that appear to be black."


lying up

The other day, as a joke, I told my students I was turning 40 today.

(The little smart things that they are came back immediately with, "Really? We thought you were older." Zing.)

But it got me thinking . . . the stereotype is to lie and say you're much younger than you are, which has always seemed perfectly silly to me, especially once I realized that if people believe you, they're very likely going to think you look a little haggard for your age.

How much more intelligent to lie up instead of down? Then people think you look fantastic, and endow you with assumed wisdom and experience to boot.

I think I'm going to be turning 40 for at least the next five years.


snowy evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I'm not a big Frost fan. His poems are so often bandied about (and beaten to death in high school literature classes) that they've become cliché.

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," though, has never lost its appeal to me. The simple use of repetition to create the underlying metaphor always, always resonates - and the imagery is so clear and lovely it makes me long for snow and winter.

I miss the northern part of the state very much, especially around this time of year.


love poem on a rainy evening

Madrigal Written in Winter

(English Translation)

In the depths of the deep sea,
in the night of long lists,
like a horse your silent
silent name runs past.

Lodge me at your back, oh shelter me,
appear to me in your mirror, suddenly,
upon the solitary, nocturnal pane,
sprouting from the dark behind you.

Flower of sweet total light,
bring to my call your mouth of kisses,
violent from separations,
resolute and delicate mouth.

Now then, in the long run,
from oblivion to oblivion the rails
reside with me, the cry of the rain:
what the dark night preserves.

Welcome me in the threadlike evening,
when at dusk it works upon
its wardrobe and in the sky a star
twinkles filled with wind.

Bring your substance deep down to me,
heavily, covering my eyes,
let your existence cut across me, supposing
that my heart is destroyed.
-Pablo Neruda



I've been saving up for a massive "things I like" post (read: I haven't had time to actually put it together), but I decided this was too important to wait.

Steve McCurry, the man who shot that iconic photo of the Afghan girl with the green eyes for National Geographic, has a blog. He just recently made an entire post on Afghanistan, and the photos are incredible.

The story he tells is nearly as moving as the pictures. I'd strongly recommend reading it.


black friday

So I'm not a Black Friday fanatic, but this is the second one I've shopped with some intent, and made out pretty well. (I went out at about 9 am - early enough to get the deals, late enough to avoid the rabid crowds.) I was going to share my Black Friday tips, but then realized that there's no point now that it's over.

Suffice to say: I spent $85, and saved $42. I'm quite pleased with myself. And that's not even counting the pre-Black Friday coupons I used earlier this week.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, in which I am also partaking, but of course it is now also too late to register your AmEx card for the $25 refund.

I do wonder about the ethics using a big corporation to refund me money to show support for small businesses, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, either.

Hope everyone had as lovely a Turkey Day as I did. <3


a sunday dinner

Insalata Caprese; prosciutto, salame, and capocollo; kalamata olives; garlic and thyme bread. Accompanied by the Arizona Stronghold Site Archive '09 Sangiovese (only 99 cases made).



So I spent the latter half of the summer and into what passes for autumn here listening to Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," and feeling like it was very beachy and laid back and sort of exactly what I wished my summer had been.

At some point, I finally (finally!) looked up the lyrics:

Robert's got a quick hand.
He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan.
He's got a rolled cigarette hanging out his mouth, he's a cowboy kid.
Yeah, he found a six shooter gun
in his dad's closet hidden with a box of fun things, and I don't even know what.
But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

Really?! And now when I hear it, half of me still loves the sound of the song and the other half is saying, "those lyrics are really fucked up."

So I just end up feeling vaguely uncomfortable when it comes on. The video, unfortunately, sticks with the mood of the music and so does nothing at all to enlighten or resolve the complete disconnect between the lyrics and the song.

Then there's Bruno Mars' "Lazy Song." I heard it awhile ago, because someone showed me the Leonard Nemoy version of the video (hilarious, by the way, and much better than the official one).

I realized yesterday that the song basically outlines the symptoms of clinical depression, again while sounding incredibly upbeat:

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the tone
'Cause today I swear I'm not doing anything
Nothing at all

Someone needs to start telling these people that dark lyrics and upbeat music do not go together unless you're purposefully being ironic.


a sunday secret

(inspired by PostSecret and the lack of any significant contribution I could make to the website)

I choose which of our three bathrooms to use based on where the magazine I want to read is located.

feel free to share your non-so-secrety-secrets in the comments.


autumn grows, autumn in everything

Everything feels autumnal, lately. The weather has obligingly cooled off, and I am craving the color orange.

Luckily, that's not so hard.

Second fire of the season.

Crackling fire accompanied by pumpkin pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, maple syrup, eggs over medium, Arizona Stronghold's Tazi, and coffee with a dash of Bailey's.

I'm going to say this only once, so pay attention: Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix is divine. Bless yourself and purchase it immediately.

And Tak, who is gorgeous in all seasons, but seems especially so now, given how she matches.


things I like: poetic tattoos

Lilies, laurel, roses, and the refrain from "Dirge Without Music", by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

The full text, by Margaret Atwood.

(both via The Word Made Flesh)


all souls procession

This is my second time at the All Souls Procession in Tucson. It is based on the traditional Mexican Día de los Muertos processions, and honors the spirits of those who have passed away. It has been put on every year since 1990, and is one of the largest in the US (at least, that's what I've been told. I can't find any sources that support that). There were 20,000 people at the one last year.

I first went to it two years ago. We took Joley and just watched the parade go by, our faces unpainted. I took some awesome photographs, and loved the entire experience. Because J was so young, though, we didn't say around for the finale.

Last year, I was so busy we completely forgot about it. This time, I was determined to go and see the entire thing.

I thought that especially my out-of-Tucson readers might enjoy a bit of a montage and explanation, so that's what you're getting.

Preparations. I decided to go with a more realistic depiction because those have been my favorite ones in the past; plus, the lack of hair made doing a full skull too cool of an idea to resist.

It was a bitch and a half to try and do the back by myself, though (and an unanticipated problem when I dreamed the thing up).

These are good examples of how artistic and colorful other people's renditions can get.

Something about the attitude of this woman I loved. She walked behind us for quite awhile.

Kites in honor of the 116 transgender deaths this past year (presumably to violence).

She had a little maraca that looked like a skull.

So beautiful.

This girl was so gorgeous, standing on the railing on the side of the tunnel and leaning against the pillar. She'll be my inspiration next year for a more artistic rendering of the skull face paint.

My friend Diana, who we were walking with, told me that going through the underpass was always her favorite part. I didn't understand why when she said it, but she was totally right - something about being able to hear everything, and the intimacy of it, was really cool. You could also, when standing on either end, see the mass of people before or behind because of the curve of the road; even though it was just a fraction of the procession, it seemed like an immense number of people.

I had a couple clearer pictures of the crowd, but I really like the blurry ones - it makes the figures look so much less human.

The moon as seen while emerging from the underpass. It was obligingly half-hidden by clouds the whole night.


Cowgirl dead.

I love this picture. There were two little girls, and I had to run to catch up to them to even get this shot - and they were even more ethereal from the front.

You'll notice that there are no ropes, no police to keep the crowd on the edge of the route from merging with those walking. It's an incredibly peaceful event; I didn't see anyone acting raucous or disrespectful, and there was something significant about the unpainted alive merging with the mass of walking dead.


A giant silk puppet. The simple skeleton ones are my favorite.

The dancing dead.

A Joley skeleton and a Mommy skeleton, at the finale, before I realized that I wasn't strong enough to hold her on my shoulders until something decided to happen.

I held her on my hips for nearly the entire finale once it started, though. It took place in a giant dirt field at the end of the parade route, and there were thousands of people there.

The urn. It had a metal frame and what appeared to be semi-sheer fabric sides; people put prayers and things they wanted to let go of into the urn. Before the performance started, when the crowd was waiting for things to get set up, someone got on the mic and asked that if anyone had anything else to add, if people would please pass the prayers forward through the crowd.

I loved that.

Beneath the urn is a Mariachi group from a local middle school, and stilt walkers with torches.

I don't know how this shot came out so perfectly.

There were three women (I believe) on that ladder + silks apparatus, being swung back and forth by the crane about 100 feet in the air (or at least, that's my imprecise guess). Shortly after this shot, one of them climbed down onto the silks and started doing those impressive drops they do. The other two were on the circle just above the silks, balancing her out.

Prior to this, the urn was unlit. You can just barely make the dancer out halfway down the silks in this shot; it appeared that she dropped something down into the urn to make the whole thing catch fire.

After the urn ignited, there was a ton of incensed smoke. Down at the bottom are the stilt walkers, who were dressed in bird costumes (they were Joley's favorite part).

The beginning of the long walk back: Amanda in the Tunnel of Questionable Enlightenment.

This wasn't the angle I wanted, but people kept walking between us.

A very sleepy bitsy on the way home. The flowers were given to her by a man standing behind us in the crowd at the finale. She was a pretty good sport - she walked almost the entire length of the two-mile parade route on the way back before Diana picked her up.

I love the halos on the people in the background.

It was an incredibly good experience. The energy in the air, although there was something strange and otherworldly about it, was positive. This parade is one of the reasons I am going to really miss Tucson, if I ever get around to leaving.