Existence & if it were another world

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Ancient and modern: An ancestor of Jon Langford? (Benvenuto Cellini’s bust of Cosimo I de Medici, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Firenze.)

Listening to the Mekons EXISTENTIALISM this morning, I spoke parts of the following to my husband…jet-lagged, and not as precise as I’d like to think is my usual, here’s an attempt to capture my words/thoughts, after a little more caffeine:

I can’t believe I never knew of the Mekons until I met [you] my husband. Not because I knew so many bands, but because the music of the Mekons goes straight into the body, to reach the tender bit that is humanity, or something else I can’t articulate. Anyway, their music feeds that part. As I listened this morning, I thought, why doesn’t everyone see this? Maybe it’s just an inescapable fact of independent art-making, the small batches that come from not being a Big Famous Commercial Commodity. Microbrew of sound. An acquired taste? We should all acquire it. If the world were just, their sounds would spill out to all humanity. We’d hear the Mekons piped through the air in sports bars and over sidewalks. (Wouldn’t that be a different world?) If that happened, we’d have to wake from complacency and consumption; I wonder if we’d ever get anything “done.” If the trains could possibly still run on time, if making and selling widgets would still be relevant, or if our inner parts would thrive better, if we’d get off our rumps beyond widget-making, and make art.

…help me answer these and other raggedy questions by purchasing EXISTENTIALISM from Bloodshot Records here. (And add the most excellent ANCIENT AND MODERN for just $8.95 more!)

(Who are the Mekons? If you’ve never heard of them, now’s the time.)

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Cosmio I, is that you?

Summer reading’s even sweeter

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Behold a great summer sale at Undertow Publications: Go here!

For just $50 (shipping included) you can get all four of our fantastic 2016 titles:

Meet Me in The Middle of The Air, by Eric Schaller (Starred review in Publishers Weekly)

Almost Insentient, Almost Divine, by D.P. Watt (Shirley Jackson Award Finalist)

Singing With All My Skin and Bone, by Sunny Moraine (“… beautiful terror.” -Gemma Files)

Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3, edited by Simon Strantzas and Michael Kelly (“A triumph!” -Nathan Ballingrud)

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Photo stolen from my mother

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Cloth pads!

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Beauty Sleeper (by Party In My Pants)

If you want to try some well-made, long-lasting, environmentally friendly cloth menstrual pads, I recommend Party In My Pants. Their pads are great, and their customer service is, too. (And look at that adorable sleep mask!) If you’re curious about how cloth pads work, check out their Frequently Asked Questions.

If you want to shop there and save a little money, you can use this code for a 10% discount: RebeccaK10. Just type it in at checkout for 10% off of orders equal to or over $3.99. It can only be used once per customer and has no expiration date.

(And yes, this post is mercenary: for each 10 customer who use that code, I benefit by getting $10 off my next order. However, you know me. I would only endorse a company and product that I feel 100% great about. This is them.)

Everyone gets an A

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Summer 2016, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY

“Everyone gets an A for napping.”

—Lynda Barry, 7/25/16, WRITING THE UNTHINKABLE, Rhinebeck, NY.

Blackbird project at Emerson College

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Last year at Emerson College, Senior Writer-In-Residence (and my friend) William Orem created an installation called THE BLACKBIRD PROJECT from photographs of multiple sections of the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” projected onto the walls. (My voice was among those of several poets and writers who recorded stanzas of the poem, which played throughout the gallery. You can watch the video here.)

A great book for parents & teachers

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Time for another episode of Rebecca Recommends!

I recently read Talk To Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “”Go-To”” Person about Sex by Deborah Roffman. Alongside books like the Robie Harris sexuality books (It’s Not The Stork for ages 4 and up, It’s So Amazing for ages 7 and up, and It’s Perfectly Normal for ages 10 and up), and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex, Roffman’s book is an excellent, excellent resource for parents who want to encourage healthy sexuality in their kids.

Roffman’s book is about much more than sexuality. Really, it’s about how we talk to children, and what children need from the adult nurturers around them so that they know how to make smart, thoughtful decisions. She talks about what children need, and based on those needs, she describes communication as a five piece suit, composed of 1) affirmation, 2) information, 3) clarity about values, 4) setting limits, and 5) anticipatory guidance.

Soon after I started reading it, I had a conversation about something else difficult (I can’t even recall what it was, but I know it didn’t have to do with sexuality) using Roffman’s ideas, and was able to navigate the awkwardness with grace and honesty. In terms of discussing sexuality, I have my own baggage and tricky spots—and Roffman’s book helped me approach some of those things that previously felt too scary or uncomfortable.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to help guide children toward strong, healthy adulthood.

Interview on Angela Slatter’s blog

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In the shadows and tall trees of Glen Helen, with little book and little friend.

Australian writer Angela Slatter was gracious enough to interview those of us who have stories in Shadows And Tall Trees 7. The interview with me is posted here.  Enjoy!

p.s. You can read my story “Curb Day” if you buy the book in paperback, or hardback from Undertow Publications.

Clotherings and other silky prose

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The Iron Gates by Margaret Millar

Lately, my daughter has referred to a book we’re reading (The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman) as “silky.” She’s talking about the prose. I had said it’s really good to read aloud, and she said yeah, it’s silky. I agree. And I love the word “silky” to describe prose.

The Iron Gates, by Margaret Millar, is blowing me away for many reasons (great noir fiction, really effective point of view stuff breaking many rules, depiction of broken womanhood, etc.) including that its prose is silky. A few passages I love are below. I’m not bothering with context. You can read the book if you want to—and I hope you will. You might need to hunt on abebooks, or find it at the library, either of which is good for you, anyway!

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“When she had gone Lucille sat down on the edge of the bed. She was barely conscious. Though her body was upright and her eyes open, it was as if she was almost asleep and her mind in labor and heaving with dreams, little faces, willow fingers, roses of blood, clotherings and a pellet of rice, did you count the spoons, nurse?, hard dead flesh of macaroni, doing as well as can be expected, are these roses for me, for me, for me?

Willow drowned in a tub. Soft dead willow floating hair and headache in a tub.

Superintendent!

How smooth, how dear, how dead. Come Cora Cora, come Cora.

Super—in—ten—dent!

Grape eyes mashed, rotten nose splashed on a wall, I’m sure you’ll love the soup today, it floats the willow, nursie, nursie…

Suddenly she leaned over and began to retch.

Miss Scott came running. ‘Mrs. Morrow! Here. Head down. Head down, please.’

She pressed Lucille’s head down against her knees and held it. “Breathe deeply, that’s right, that’s better. We’ll be fine again in a minute. It must have been something you ate.’

Miss Scott took her hands away, and slowly Lucille raised her head. She knew Miss Scott was there, she could see her and hear her, but Miss Scott wasn’t really there, she was a cloud of white smoke, you could wave her away with your hands, blow her away, she didn’t matter, she couldn’t do anything, she wasn’t there.” (p. 117)

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“While he was waiting for the attendant he opened the newspaper and read the want ads. Later he would read the whole thing, but the want ads were the most fascinating part to him. He could, offhand, tell anyone how much it cost to have facial hair permanently removed, how many cocker spaniels were lost and mechanics were needed, the telephone number of a practical nurse and what you did, supposing you owned a horse and the horse died.

Bird’s eye view of a city.” (p. 149)

**

“Miss Eustace opened the window and sat down on the edge of her cot to take off her slippers. The last thing she did before she went to bed was to cover Lucille.

Lucille tossed and turned in her sleep under the light blankets that seemed to bind her legs and waist. Her sleeping mind was alive and sentient in her fingers, her nipples, her hips, her thighs, the sensitive palms of her feet; but it seemed to lie caught in a net of words. Miss Eustace my father and my murther flusttering in the aviary tower in vanity all inanity ah night my sweethurt take me out of the dunjuan through the griefclanging door to the godpeace of sir night. She struggled in the web of words, the blankets fell to the floor, and the web parted.” (p. 162)

**

“He stood on the veranda for a moment and looked across the park where the phallic points of the pines were thrust toward the sun. He felt outside time, naked and frail and percipient. Evergreens and men were growing toward decay. Time was a mole moving under the roads of the city and imperceptibly buckling the asphalt. Time passed over his head in a thin gray rack of scudding clouds, as if the sky had fled away and its last remaining rags were blowing over the edge of the world.” (p. 241)

Craving Omega (an ode to tahini)

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(Me, Barbi, and Divyam, after our last meal together at Omega)

Last summer, I went to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, for a workshop with Lynda Barry. (I’ve blogged about her here.) The food at Omega was really good and really healthy. There was a lot of tahini, especially in a delicious salad dressing, as I recall, though it was so good, and there was a lot of dreaming that week, so I might have dreamed it.

When I got home, I realized it had been a couple days since I ate any tahini and my body felt weird, so got out the Moosewood Cookbook, and from it devised/improvised a tahini salad dressing which I shall now unveil for you. Sometimes (often) my body craves this stuff. When I eat it, it sends me back to the magical experience of WRITING THE UNTHINKABLE, and I feel good. Enjoy!

Crush a clove of garlic and put it in a small jar or cup or bowl or something you can easily stir within. Add a few tablespoons of plain (unflavored) yogurt, and about the same amount of tahini, and stir/mash it all around. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice, and about the same amount of tamari. (I never measure any of this, by the way.) Mix it well (with a fork or whatever you have handy). There’s no precise way. I learned to put the yogurt in first so that the tahini goes into the yogurt and doesn’t stick to the walls of the vessel as much. Experiment! You could add any number of herbs, etc. If it’s too thick, add some more lemon juice, or tamari, or a little bit of water, just enough to thin it but not dilute the flavor. Taste as you go, and you’ll see how you like to change things.

It’s especially good on cabbage and blanched broccoli…really any healthy veg will love this dressing, and will remind me of Omega. I have even eaten apples dipped in it! Delicious.

Dreaming of Omega…