Saturday, January 17, 2004

Finding Allen Ginsberg

I just read that Allen Ginsberg died... six and a half years ago. I didn't know. Nobody told me. I liked him. Here's my Allen Ginsberg story.

One damp and snowy night in Prauge in March of 1996, I was wandering around an Easter market that I'd happened upon, trying to keep warm by drinking cup after cup of mulled wine. I kept wandering, and soon got lost in a puzzle of twisty winding streets that all looked the same. I tried asking for help, but I do not speak Czech, except to order beer and ham, and experience had already taught me that Czech people seemed suspicious of me. Or maybe it was just me. Cold but not scared, fuelled by wine and a by the thrilling idea that "Holy Fuck I'm in Prague By Myself," I tried to wander my way back in the direction of my tram stop. Instead, I ended up getting a little more lost, and paused to check my tattered map in front of a little book shop. The only English poster in the window announced that on this very night, Allen Ginsberg would be reading a selection of his poetry.... in a matter of minutes! My first thought was "English!!!" My second thought was "Holy Fuck I'm in Prague with Allen Ginsberg."

I had a great time. My mulled wine buzz lasted deep into the night. I was a lone nerd amidst a group of Dead Heads and granolies. Each of us was fixated on the legend in front of us, all listening with enraptured awe. He was almost a performance artist, rather than a dodgey-looking poet reading from a book. He was friendly, too. I think that he was very, very drunk that night, which seemed appropriate. One does expect one's beat poets to be on... something.

After the readings, two backpackers from New Mexico helped me find my way back to the Malostranska tram, which would take me into the "Prague 6" neighbourhood where I was staying. It had gotten even colder, and I realized how tired and hungry I was. And surprisingly, I was a little sad. This is one time in my life that I remember feeling lonely. I depserately missed Mr. Crabby, who was then my fiancé. I was bummed that this wonderful evening, filled with serendipitous surprises like the Easter market, and finding Allen Ginsberg, hadn't included the love of my life. Because Mr. Crabby was across the world, about to wake up and start a day that I wouldn't see for hours, that evening felt like an imperfect gift - like a new book with a torn cover.

But it was a gift.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Look over there (where?). There goes my Crabby with her scanner again.

This evening I sorted through some photos, which are scattered in drawers, jewellery boxes, albums, and storage bins throughout the house. I'm very disorganized about this type of thing, but at least some good came of it. See my new Family Album, on the left. No apologies to those of you who are sick of cat pictures on the 'innernet'. Leave now.

There is one picture of me that is about three years old. It's the most recent picture I have of myself. Unfortunately, in the photo my face is covered with clarifying mud. If I ever go missing or get murdered, that's the most recent photo that the police are going to get. That's how I will be remembered to the world - with guck on my face. "Have you seen this woman?" Egads. At least the two dearhearts beside me in the photo look just as fetching!

I guess at least in this house, I am usually the one behind the camera. Perhaps other family members have more up-to-date shots of me, but I probably don't want to see them! Does everybody hate the way they look in photos?

I always enjoy looking at photos. Mr. Crabby whips through a stack in seconds, but I prefer to linger. Having said that, I detest being held hostage by someone who has to explain the subtelties of each and every one of their seventy five vacation photos to me. I get it, you went on an Alaskan cruise, there's a ship, some ocean, ice, tiny stateroom, got it. I will look at each photo, and I will enjoy doing so, but without the monotone narration please.

I need to organize this mess. Family and personal photos are very important to me. One day, they'll be even more important. What's the status of photography in your family? Do you place a high value on pictoral record-keeping?

My Happy Place
At the end of a frigid, blustery week, this photo taken by our cottage is my gift to you.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

It's A Boy!
Nephew #5, Joey, born today!

"Hey Crabby canyoujust tell me whether the e-lert has been translated...."
"Hi, canyoujust help me find my APA manual..."
"Canyoujust show me how we format footnotes..."
"Sorry to trouble you... canyoujust let me know when you'll be finished with..."

This must be banished from our lexicon. It drives me batty.

Here's How It Works
It's snowing, so you wore your hat today. Smart thing to do. However, because you are wearing a hat, or a hood which obscures your field of vision, you must take extra care before stepping into traffic. I didn't enjoy watching you nearly become one with that taxicab last night.

And you, you idiot, racing up beside the streetcar. You nearly killed that girl. The whole city is frozen in mid-blizzard gridlock. You can clearly see the mile-long line of cars ahead of us, so why are you speeding? Why is your car moving at all? When the streetcar doors are open, you stop. End of lesson.

Praising Incompetence
A contracted Web development specialist has accidentally deleted an offline database that we were scheduled to test this morning. Now I have time to sip tea and surf. I may also write another poem, and find some amazing recipe to make for dinner tonight. I will also do some real work, but later.

Monday, January 12, 2004

How to rot my socks

Send me an e-mail to tell me that you are too busy "to handle administrative details," and to suggest that I drop by your office for a "briefing" on how I should handle them. Don't you know who I am? Sheesh.

How to break my heart
Tell me that my angel-faced kitten is "difficult" (we knew this), and what do I think of "putting her in a box and gassing her until she is unconscious, so that we could take a blood sample at her next appointment"? I kid you not.

How to make me smile
Upon hearing of my recent eye injury, tell me "tsk tsk, how awful, for one with such pretty eyes."

How to earn my respect
Write a really awesome bestseller, and on page 697, throw in a plot twist that changes everything.