Monday, March 26, 2012

a first stab at translation

Last night and this morning, I took up Douglas Hofstadter's challenge (posed in Le Ton beau de Marot) to translate a little French poem by Clement Marot, using a super-literal English gloss as a guide, and conforming to the form, elegance, and playfulness of the original as much as possible. Behold the result!

A une Damoyselle malade

Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour;
Le sejour
C'est prison.
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et qu'on sorte
Car Clement
Le vous mande.
Va, friande
De ta bouche.
Qui se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Sit tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
Dieu te doint
Sante bonne,
Ma mignonne.

To a Sick Little Girl

Duckie mine,
A most fine
Day to you.
Though you rue
Do not scream--
Then progress
Out the door
Quickly, your
Clement begs.
Hollow legs,
In your cell,
So unwell,
Bread and jam
You should cram
Once again.
Dangers lurk,
Swift to work:
If you snooze
You will lose
This red cheek,
Plump physique,
And sweet grin.
Mend within
God's design,
Duckie mine.

P.S. Speaking of poems, I forgot to tell you: one of mine was just accepted at Room Magazine, and appears in the Fall! They are paying me.

perils of work

Our new apartment is a bit darker than your average, respectable hobbit hole, but in the evenings the setting sun hits the top of the fridge just beautifully. We're settling in, and every day my bones are a little less restless, my feathers a little less ruffled. Today I went around with a little cast-iron pan in lieu of a hammer, hanging the remaining pictures on the walls.

Between the two of them, moving and settling have contrived to make us re-examine
work habits
one little household's flow of cold, hard cash
interior decorating

Though it is probably not much of a shock to anyone who really knows me, I am shocked to admit that I do not want a "career"--ever or at all. I do not want to work for anybody or spend 80% of my day away from home, or leave myself with only the scraps. And I don't want to smear that smarmy gloss over the issues at hand, as if the world is one big corporate interview.

I want to attend to my life, of which earning a living is only one part, ever moving towards true center. You know I have plans. I want to write books (and so does Tim). How should we do it? We are not crazy.

This house is terribly important.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

transplanting the jasmine

Oh those roots with nowhere to go. Forgive the shrubbery metaphor; witness the state of things around here.

It's been so long since I held up my end of the conversation. How are you? I'm mostly well, if a little uncertain of the details.

Things I do know:

- I have a study. I've moved in to the second bedroom in the new house with my books, desk, red couch, violin, sewing machine, plants, yarn, cupwarmer, notebooks, ballpoints, and microscope. I've been sitting here in the mornings. For the first time in 2 years, I have a space of my own. (It does not have a mirror. Trying to write in a room with a mirror is like trying to swim laps with people drowning all around you.)

- The bike route from home to work is settled on, down to preferred sides of the street. Every morning that I barrel through the NAIT campus, groups of men in mechanic's coveralls turn and wonder what's happening. This is not Garneau, where girls on bikes in dresses and tights are pretty commonplace.

- Although the stress of moving is dissipating, I am left with an unsightly five pounds--the result of eating bread and jam three times a day. I am nudging it off, slowly. I am seriously considering joining Weight Watchers online. Does anyone have thoughts on WW, especially as related to developing a mindful, healthy relationship with food?

- I am frankly astonished by how much of my internal dialogue has been chock full of self-loathing. How poisonous. It's this song, all day, every day.

- Ladies and men, I am so glad to be back, you have no idea.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Having had, seemingly, an inappropriately mute response to my experiences in Ethiopia, I have given up on a written account and leave you with only the pictures.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

oh happy day

Oh delightful world.

Make a grocery list! Wash the sheets! Water the plants! Hang the pictures!

(Tim told me two nights ago that "our home comes with us". He is right.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

status quo

A post of little eloquence.

It is February's fault. I am at loose ends, split ends, and split fingernails.

I quit a job I loved in spite of hating it. And we left our first little home in a neighborhood we never hated, but did not love quite enough. Winter arrived late. Taking the bus for the first time in six months brought it back very clearly--this city is not something I want to have to experience stripped of a sense of belonging to certain streets and shops. My ideal I is a bicycle commuter, a barista, a student, a local writer, a hipster--and all tied to our old neighborhood. You could say we've moved to a white trash area.

The difference is all of 30 blocks, so why do I hardly recognize myself? I've bought more clothes in the past two weeks than I did in the past year preceding them. I work in a different cafe, living off cereal, and I'm sure I've gained five pounds. I haven't written a word or taken a picture or sewn a stitch. But I have gotten my nipples pierced--is this something you'd rather not hear? It's hot though. Today I am dressed all in black. (I just want to be Lisbeth Salander.)

I feel a disconnect. If I've learned anything of myself, it's that I need a home.