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Making Room for a(n online) Poetry Box

1 Nov

Twitter has brought so many amazing things to my attention with a simple scroll through my daily feed, things like Casey N. Cep’s essay about the online Emily Dickinson archives and this piece by Maud Newton on meeting the writer Donna Tartt (with bonus Instagram photo of Ms. Tartt’s inscription in Maud’s copy of The Goldfinch). For all its haters, there really is nothing like Twitter for getting you up close on all the action, whether that action is from the literary world, the art world, the sports world, or the Kardashian world (I know, I cringed as I typed that – does that make it any better that I’m referencing THEM? Probably not.).

So today’s tweeted nugget of super loveliness came via Ms. Dorianne Laux, another writer who I drop-dead love.

I saw her and her husband read many years ago in LA and it was a thrill beyond compare, for both the astounding beauty of her poems and her forthright approachability. She is the first poet I think of when recommending poetry to my non-poetry reading friends. She is that good.  Continue reading

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To Workshop, To Workshop, With My New Poem I Go

19 Jan

One of the great joys of my life now that I’m back in Long Beach is my real-life contact with my writer friends. These are my true peeps – they have sweated and suffered through bad poems with me, we’ve congratulated each other and hidden secret envy over good poems, but we’ve managed to stick together for eleven years now. (I had to do some mental recalculating. Eleven years?!? Really? How did this happen?)

My core ladies, the spitfire Ms. J and mother-lion Ms. K, and our various friends who have joined our workshops when they could, have sustained me as a writer whenever I have questioned why I bother or why any of us bothers. I’m just so proud and thankful to have them in my life, as fellow writers and sister-friends.

Which is why I’m so happy (or at least CityBoy will tell you, so happy for me, by my standards of constant pessimism and that-shit’s-fucked-up-ism) that we’re workshopping on a real, regular basis.

workshop notes, baby!

workshop notes, baby!

Maybe we’re not always all bringing our A game. Sometimes crap is what we’re bringing, real C-level crap, but we’re writing and thinking about writing and talking about writing. By which I mean, we’re telling stories and helping each other find ways to tell them better.  Continue reading

Jho in the City of…(wait for it)…Paris!!!

3 Nov

Wow, it has been a whopping four months since my last post here, four months in which I have worked at work, driven hundreds of miles and watched many, many hours of television. I also have read a few books – I’m now working on Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, seen some bands, eaten lots of interesting (and not so interesting) things and in general, lived as my brethren do, inching (though sometimes it feels more like slaloming) into that eternal dirt pile waiting for us all.

Sheesh, sorry guys, didn’t mean to get so weird there at the end. Anywho, rather than bore you with (apparently halfhearted) promises of writing more and recommitting myself to The Artistic Pursuit, I’ll just get on with it. Perhaps some of you are still slightly interested.

So…without further ado, I bring you:

Ah, Dusk Lights the Tuileries Garden in Paris!

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Long Beach Digs: Southeast Farmers Market

4 Jul

Gorgeous fruits and veggies + Southern California sunshine + handmade tamales = the Southeast Farmers Market, held every Sunday from 9:00AM to 2:00PM in Alamitos Bay Marina, a place near and dear to my heart, so dear in fact that almost every Sunday since we’ve moved to Long Beach, I haul myself out of bed, suit up in my most comfy of comfies, strap on my Guatemalan “shopping purse” and motor on over.

I mean, I love a good farmers market just as much as the next Toms-wearing boho hippie, but honest to god homemade tamales?? And hand-mixed strawberry lemonade?? Hello – get outta my way! In exchange for five of your measly dollars (I can’t get a grande Starbucks mocha in NYC for that little), the lovely man at Me Gusta Tamales will graciously spoon green and red salsa over your piping hot pork tamale (the only way I roll) and expertly eyeball-mix the most perfect blend of homemade lemonade and strawberry juice. If this guy set up shop any closer to my house, I’d be 300 pounds by now.

dude! you and your man purse – outta my way! i need a tamale!

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How Jho Got Her West Coast Groove Back…

18 Jun

So what happened was that I went into work one day intending to ask about the possibility of relocating back to California (as I had diligently discussed with my hubby) and ended up giving my notice, albeit for 30 to 60 days in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things I loved (and miss) about living in New York City, but the daily grind, coupled with a total lack of private living space and a completely unfulfilling (and often crazy-making, I-am-going-to-kill-someone-and-end-up-in-jail) work life made for a decidedly unhappy Jho.

CityBoy and I discussed the pros and cons, got out our lists of potential relocation cities, and started thinking about dates and times and tasks and things-to-do. Then I jumped the proverbial gun. I asked for a sit-down with my then boss and in a space of mere minutes, decided “fuck it, let’s just do it” and committed to my leave-taking. About two seconds after that, I remembered that I was no longer the sole decider of my destiny. Many “shit”s and “oh crap”s floated through my head.  Continue reading

Book Culture: Where to Find It in NYC

18 Jan

I’m routinely asked how I like living in New York City. If it’s by a New Yorker, this is usually phrased as “Don’t you love it here? I mean, I love it. I could never live anywhere else. Could you imagine? God!” or something to that effect. I think this billboard sums up this attitude best:

classic

And while I have loved parts of the city, especially the (often) perfect months of May and October, those parts haven’t added up to enough to allow me to respond with a resounding “Yeah, I love it. It’s amazing.”

My commute crosstown to work each morning  is enough to make any sane non-New Yorker break out in a machine-gun-toting killing spree. Especially in the winter, when it’s 20 degrees out (okay, quiet already, you Midwesterners, I know it could be colder but you have to remember I grew up in Southern California and my peoples are a tropical peoples), and the wind makes that feel like 12 degrees, and you’ve taken great care in dressing so as to not allow one chink in your cold-fighting layers only to have something ride up or ride down, usually where you just can’t reach, and winter’s icy fingers jab you right in the back or hairline or across your presumably boot-bundled toes.

Sorry, I digress. But one of the main things that always, always delights me about New York is the plethora of art/culture offerings, especially for someone like me who is obsessed with the written word. There are book readings, discussions, panels, festivals, award ceremonies, performances – all highlighting that great and magical thing.

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Field Trip: Wave Hill, Bronx NY. . . with Bees

30 Oct

Last weekend, CityBoy dragged me out of the City for one last, pre-winter hurrah. As you probably know, Jho and cold weather do not mix. I am a very unhappy camper. CityBoy jokes that it’s always too hot or too cold in New York for me. Which is almost the truth. There are about four weeks each year that I enjoy. Two weeks of spring/heading into summer and two weeks of fall. Otherwise, it is an abominable mess out here.

But back on topic, being the impressive planner that he is, CityBoy realized that last weekend was going to probably be one of the last nice weekends we’ll have for a long while (how depressing is that?), and he decided that he really wanted to get outside of the city for some Nature, with a capital N.

the Pergola Overlook

Which is how we ended up trekking out to Wave Hill, a gorgeous public garden and center set atop the cliffside in way upper Bronx. If you’re familiar with the area and/or have taken a MetroNorth or Amtrak train heading north from New York, you’ll remember seeing these amazing red cliffs from the train as you’ve speed along the Hudson. That’s where Wave Hill is.  Continue reading