Poem for July: Love Song, I and Thou

Love Song: I and Thou
Alan Dugan

Nothing is plumb, level or square:
the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature, no piece fits
any other piece without a gap
or pinch, and bent nails
dance all over the surfacing
like maggots. By Christ
I am no carpenter. I built
the roof for myself, the walls
for myself, the floors
for myself, and got
hung up in it myself. I
danced with a purple thumb
at this house-warming, drunk
with my prime whiskey: rage.
Oh, I spat rage’s nails
into the frame-up of my work:
it held. It settled plumb,
level, solid, square and true
for that great moment. Then
it screamed and went on through,
skewing as wrong the other way.
God damned it. This is hell,
but I planned it, I sawed it,
I nailed it, and I
will live in it until it kills me.
I can nail my left palm
to the left-hand crosspiece but
I can’t do everything myself.
I need a hand to nail the right,
a help, a love, a you, a wife.

I’m right now listening to Peter Sagel (12/26/2003) talk about this poem and his story of meeting this poem is great. Plus you get to hear Alan Dugan reciting it.

And now that I’ve heard him read his poem, I have to say that I prefer the way I recite it.

I think I squealed with glee when I first read this poem. For a literal standpoint, I am often mid-project, working a bit beyond my abilities, and somewhat frustrated. I’ve got three unfinished projects going–or rather stopped–right now. I’ve often found myself “drunk on my prime whisky: rage” and feeling rather martyrish. It’s at this point that Matt usually talks me down, or peps me up, if that’s what the situation calls for. I think every Amish-type, project person needs a counterpart to keep them going, or resting, if need be.

I’ve never been a fan of the big, extravagant wedding, because I think the vows that really matter are the ones that are said repeatedly in small ways over a long period of time. I believe that helping with projects, whether physically or emotionally is one way that makes a couple solid and actually married.

Books read in July

July equals good month for non-fiction, not-so-good month for fiction.

How to talk to a widower.
Jonathan Tropper
Eh. I didn’t really like any of the characters. One of those books I just kept reading until I was finished. I will probably have trouble remembering anything about it three months hence.

Amy Bloom
The best part about this novel is that you the reader get to find out what happens to the people the main character, a Russian immigrant named Lillian, encounters as she makes her way across the 1920s United States of America. My main problem with this book had to do with the map in the front cover. There are dots on the map–which to me imply that something happens–that have no bearing on the story. Fargo is clearly labeled, as is Spokane, and absolutely nothing happened there. It distracted from the story.

Steven Levitt & Steven Dunton
Recently I looked over my transcripts and noticed I got a “B” in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Those were tough classes, but I enjoyed them, just as I enjoyed the first book by these authors. This book was fine, but didn’t reach the fabulous level that the first one did. I felt that the topics the authors explored were broader and that made this book not the delight that the first one was. I enjoyed learning why prostitutes are like holiday Santas, and all the things connected with that fact, but the data wasn’t quite as crisp as in the first book.

One Magic Square
Lolo Houbein
Thank goodness I checked this out from the library. This hasn’t been the greatest year for gardening, and this book reminded me that I don’t have to give everything up–I can plant now and still get good food for autumn.

This book combines a sort of backyard permaculture theory with the Square Foot Gardening concept, although she uses many things planted in a square yard, rather than one thing planted in a square feet. The author lives in Australia, so some of the plants are called by names we wouldn’t use, but this “ease-into-things” guide would be a great start for someone just beginning gardening.

There are a couple of great ideas I will use from the book. For instance, plant your starts in toilet paper rolls. The roots can grow a long way down the tube before you put them in the ground. When you do, the roll disintegrates over time as the plant grows. Also, cut a three-inch diameter PVC pipe into sections to place over your newly planted seedlings. She then puts screen over the top to protect the seedling from birds, which I’ve never had a problem with, but this will be perfect to keep the cats away from the newly planted seedlings. They labor under the mistaken notion that all of my vegetable beds are their best litter box and I lose seedlings to their scraping every year.

Essential Pleasures
Robert Pinsky
Finished! I’ve been reading this collection of poems FOR-EV-ER! I had one library copy for at least six months and then someone requested it, so I had to send it back. But I was so close to the end, I reserved it again and was able to finish it. To figure out which poem I want to memorize each month, I need to read a lot of poems. This was a good anthology, ranging over many centuries with a suitable mix of men and women. It also includes a CD of Pinsky reading some of the poems, which I’ve not listened to. It does not include a blurb about each poet, which I would have liked, but otherwise, a good book that has yielded seven poems I have memorized and a nice list of potential ones.

Sad side note: I had a list of potential good poems to memorize which accidentally got returned to the library with the book.

The Blind Side
Michael Lewis
I loved this book! Love, love, loved it. Interest in football? Zero. Interest in the surge of importance of a single football position I maybe could point out on the field, but probably not? Nope. Interest in the motives and actions of a white Christian Republican uber-rich Memphis family? Not even. Interest in this book which contains all of the above? Incredible. I couldn’t put it down. That is the mark of a very good non-fiction writer. Do you like football? Read this book. Do you not like football? Read this book.

River Kings’ Road
Liane Merciel
I really disliked this book. First off, what does every medieval fantasy novel worth its salt have in the front cover? Yes! A map. This is handy for several reasons, but mostly because when I read that Brys and Odosse traveled between Willowfield and some border town in Oakharn I need a visual to understand how far that is and also where everything is in relation to each other. Without that, all those town names are only made-up words on a page. The map makes the narrative real. Other problems? There are too many characters that flit in for two paragraphs and then don’t return for 50 pages. When they do return, they appear without reintroduction, which would be fine if they were memorable characters in the first place. Unfortunately, they weren’t and I didn’t care enough to flip back and find out who they were–and here e-readers with their search function would be very handy in this instance, though I suspect I wouldn’t actually use the function– so I spent substantial portions of the narrative thinking, “who is this?” Also, the author employs the abhorrent Steven King technique of killing off a very nice innocent minor character whose kindness should have been rewarded. Overall, this was an entirely unsatisfying 388 pages and I don’t recommend this book in any way, shape or form.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Elizabeth Gilbert.
I loved this book. I love Glibert’s glib, funny, thoughtful and research-informed writing style. I am a skeptic about the issue of marriage too, and suppose I would get married if it was the only way to keep my partner in the country. But because I don’t have to? This book just added a lot of fuel to the “not getting married” fire, which I see as a good thing. The section about her mother was particularly heartbreaking to read.

Started but did not finish.

10-10-10: 10 Minutes, 10 Months, 10 Years. A Life-Transforming Idea.
Suzy Welch
I didn’t make it even halfway through this short book because there is not much there. At this point, I get that when I have a problem, I should think about it from a perspective of 10 hours, 10 months, 10 years. The many ways she is presenting the information has become repetitive. She does her best to show it from brain research perspective, but I’m yawning. Plus, I just got some medieval fantasy fiction from the library.

8 of 8 on zero copies.

Hmmmm. Maybe I should start checking weekly to see if Dennis Lehane’s new Kenzie/Gennario novel that is published on 30 November is available to put on hold.

What’s this? It’s already in the system? And seven other people have placed holds? Sign me up!

Now the long wait until November 30 (and probably longer as I think they have to take time to process the books) begins. But at least I’m first in line. There are 37 copies on order.

Good point.

From Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert

“And this is my beef, by the way, with social conservatives who are always harping about how the most nourishing home for a child is a two-parent household with a mother in the kitchen. If I–as a beneficiary of that exact formula–will concede that my own life was indeed enriched by that precise familial structure, will the social conservatives please (for once!) concede that this arrangement has always put a disproportionately cumbersome burden on women? Such a system demands that mothers become selfless to the point of near invisibility in order to construct these exemplary environments for their families. And might those same social conservatives–instead of just praising mothers as “sacred” and “noble”–be willing to someday join a larger conversation about how we might work together as a society to construct a world where healthy children can be raised and healthy families can prosper without women having to scrape bare the walls of their own souls to do it?”

Three sentence movie reviews: Inception

I’m not the biggest fan of CGI, but this is the kind of movie CGI was made for. An incredibly complex story explained so well you become completely absorbed, it is peopled with fabulous actors and stunning visuals. Fabulous and highly recommended, you can resume breathing after the movie ends.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/inception.html

Three sentence movie reviews: Dan in Real Life

I really liked this movie and I think it was because it was a humorous drama about tension in a family, yet no character was bad, or stupid, or the obvious one you should hate. In fact, this was the kind of movie family I wouldn’t mind being a part of in real life. This is a nice way to spend two hours, and also a good movie to watch with the often-mentioned church going Grandmother.

Note: I think the poster implies this film is much more “zany” than it is.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2007/dan_in_real_life.html

Three sentence movie reviews: Walk Hard. The Dewy Cox Story.

Funny in that “heh-heh” way, and very well done by everyone. I particularly enjoyed the songs and obvious setting of place and age via character dialogue a la: “You are the best 14 year old son I could ever ask for.” The DVD extras include a funny feature wherein actual famous musicians pretend Dewy Cox is real.

ps. Dan Bern is a songwriter on some of the songs and there are also THREE actors from The Office in this movie.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2007/walk_hard.html