A more poetic life

The other day I found an old notebook — the 6×9 spiral-bound steno kind, green-tinted and Gregg ruled. All but a few pages had been summarily ripped out—cleanly, of course, with no paper detritus clogging up the spiral—so I was curious to see what made it worth saving.

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On the first page, I’d scribbled down a William Carlos Williams poem.

There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded. They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said
and cut them and gave them to me in my hand.

I read lots of magazines nowadays. Not so many books … and almost no poetry. I’ve held on to the anthologies that were required reading while I was an English lit major, but haven’t often revisited the pages or sought out new/different work. Which is a shame, because my favorite pieces pack a wallop despite their brevity.

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

In just 16 words, Margaret Atwood conjures the vision of a perfectly matched couple—and shreds it by clarifying her terms.

I bookmarked “You Fit Into Me” during my breakup with Trainer Brian, alongside other acidic pieces like “Mock Orange” by Louise Glück.

“We were made fools of.
And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?”

But poetry is just as effective and enjoyable during happier scenarios. Back in the 6th century BC, the Greek lyric poet Ibycus described that moment when you see someone you’re smitten by:

I swear his mere approach makes me tremble
like an old champion chariot horse, as he
draws a swift cart unwillingly to the race.

I held on to that steno notebook, which has inspired me to figure out a method for compiling and collecting my favorite poems in one place—and likely in print, not just online. For now, I’m headed to Changing Hands Bookstore to find something new to enjoy.

WHAT SAM WORE: 7/12/15
shirt071215 shorts071215 shoe102613
The shirt: V-neck T-shirt from Uniqlo, New York.
The shorts: It looks like camo print, but it’s actually clouds and birds!
Above-the-knee cotton shorts by Michael Bastian, from Uniqlo.
The shoes: L.A. Runner sneakers by Adidas, from Sports Authority.

Stocking up for the zombie apocalypse (cocktail edition)

The Aviation did it.

I did it all for the Aviation.

There was a hot moment a few weeks ago where I turned into a hoarder.

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Murders, morgues … and my six-month cleaning

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“Welcome to the LAST CLEANING OF YOUR LIFE,” the hallway says.
(Don’t worry, they’ve redecorated since I took this.)

Tina is convinced this building is haunted.

My dental hygienist leans close and whispers, “There’s a morgue downstairs, you know. It’s eerie.” The former caretaker told her they did autopsies down there. The building’s been around since 1931, when it was and for years its mostly empty hallways and retro color scheme definitely gave it a vibe from “The Shining.” One client told them she couldn’t come in any more because the building gave her the creeps so bad.

(That’s a view from the front lobby down the main hallway above, although on today’s visit I noticed they’ve updated the carpeting to be Tasteful Greiges.)

From two bays away, the doctor’s weary voice echoes: “Stop telling people our office is haunted, Tina.”

WinnieRuthJudd

Winnie Ruth Judd, with bandaged hand (from “self-defense”)

It turns out that the Lois Grunow Memorial Clinic is associated with death, in a way: Back when it first opened in 1931 as the Grunow Medical Clinic, one of its offices was the workplace of Winnie Ruth Judd, who was convicted of Phoenix’s “Trunk Murders.”

It’s also where Judd first met Agnes Anne LeRoi, one of the two shooting victims. LeRoi’s body was stuffed into a large trunk, while the other woman’s body was dismembered and the parts were stuffed amid three different cases. Judd boarded a train with the luggage and made it all the way to California before she was stopped at the train station because the trunks smelled awful and were leaking. It’s a fascinating true-crime story that involves an insanity defense, an eventual conviction, multiple escapes from the state mental facility (and an eventual parole, followed by an absolute discharge).

In the here and now, though, I’m reclined in the chair while Tina polishes my teeth. I had thought she meant there was a full-on morgue in the basement, which a clinical building wouldn’t have … would it?

“You don’t believe me, do you?” she says, standing up. “Well, we’re done here—and we’re going down to the basement right now.” Continue reading

Creativity, collaboration and cupcakes

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Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, ready to wow the crowd at CupcakeCamp Phoenix.
(Recipe here—but you’re on your own for the decorations.)

There are worse ways to spend a Sunday than mowing your way through as many cupcake flavors as you can handle.

The CupcakeCamp Phoenix event at Co+Hoots on Sunday was an interesting concept: Invite dozens of amateur (and a few professional) bakers to hang out for a few hours and share their wares. You didn’t have to make cupcakes to attend, either—it was free to show up and sample, as well.

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No car payment? No problem … No, wait.

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I paid off my car today.

For the first time since the early 2000s, I won’t have a monthly payment—and rather than enjoying this development, of course I’ve spent the past month wondering and worrying about it.
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Paradise in Puerto Vallarta (Year 4)

Capturing the Puerto Vallarta sunset on the rooftop of the penthouse at Villa Blanca

Capturing the Puerto Vallarta sunset from the rooftop.
(Click any photo to bring it up full-size in a new window.)

At one point during last year’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, I stood on the rooftop patio of our condo and, instead of staring at the ocean, gazed enviously at the hills. “Who lives there?” I wondered to nobody in particular.

The Villa Blanca building

Villa Blanca, as seen from our rooftop last year

“There” referred to a unique, curvilinear building that stood about one block east of our beachfront building. While I watched, a woman puttered about on the top floor, which was a setup that didn’t appear to have any windows closing it off from the outdoors; I could see straight into the place, all the way to the mineral-yellow back walls of the living room.

I was fascinated by not just the aesthetics but the logistics: What happened if it rained? Was there anything to keep insects out? There were no curtains or shades I could see, so would the lack of privacy be unnerving?

This year, I found out for myself, firsthand, because I rented it.

Puerto-Vallarta-Penthouse-Condo-Great-Room Puerto-Vallarta-Penthouse-Condo-GreatRoom

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Mses. Mysterious

Rosemary and Thyme think YOU did it.

Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme think YOU did it.
And this time Laura happens to be obsessed with snacks—or donkeys, or pastries, or theater, or maybe has insomnia, depending on which episode you’re watching.

I just finished watching a series on Netflix called “Rosemary & Thyme,” in which—and let the eye-rolling commence … right now!—a pair of GARDENING expert/enthusiasts named ROSEMARY Boxer and Laura THYME team up on landscaping jobs, which invariably end with a murder mystery attached.

I am a sucker for an old-fashioned murder mystery—and have been ever since I was in elementary school—and despite the groaner of a setup mentioned above, I burned through the first season in two days. I had been sort of under the weather, so watching episodes back-to-back offered an escapism and a reassuring sort of familiarity.

But after awhile, that familiarity turned into pure-on repetition. Despite nosing around and solving literally dozens of murders, the title duo are frustratingly stupid. They almost always decide to confront the villains in some isolated environment—scary downstairs cellar, for example, or abandoned country villa. Just two middle-aged lady gardeners popping up by themselves, accosting someone—who usually has killed AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE, and then somehow being saved by some sort of random coincidence.

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