Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Halloween Month!

Happy Halloween month, my lovelies! I'll be with you every Halloween day providing spells and the like. Happy Tuesday for now -- back early in the morning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love Note

Hi everyone! Still getting caught up from Mexico -- I'm also going to add some new links at the end of this week under Pick Your Poison so look for it! This is the shortest poem I have ever written, and the only one I can recite from memory which is helpful for special events like weddings, graduations, funerals, and birthday parties.

Love Note

I would kill myself for you
if I weren’t already dead.
Timing, I think, is everything.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Newman's first law: It is useless to put on your brakes when you're upside down."
Paul Newman

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie trailer suggestion: Milk

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Old Neighborhood

A shot from the first neighborhood in which I lived in the fair city of Detroit. I'll be back tommorow with more of the book. Still working on getting caught up on e-mail after my Mexico adventure! Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

All The Best

Hi readers! Here's your Saturday pictures. I'll be on the wedding/Mexico theme for a bit. Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Speak Now

Speak Now

In my women's studies class, an Iranian woman
used to say, I must speak now, I cannot be silent
any longer
whenever she wanted to comment on the
texts. She also often said, Who is this man, this
Billy Joel?
We mocked her in our own stupid way,
not far enough from our origins to feel comfortable
enough with anyone else. Our teacher spoke in a voice
tempered with years of cigarettes and booze, the kind
of woman that people would call a spinster or a spitfire,
depending. I read everything she assigned, but it would
be years before I understood much. Still silent too much
of the time, I could take some comfort in one of my classmate's
rendition of "Piano Man." Trapped in a bad marriage, but
making the best of it, he made the lyrics seem as bleak
and sad as they should without losing any of the humor.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I like to watch mankind in its futile attempt to understand the unknown, when they don't even understand that which they know." Terrence Howard

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: The Post Birthday World Lionel Shriver

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gold Stars For Days

As a child, I knew loads of Bible verses, gold stars for days. Still love them, both stars and the verses, especially the depressing ones about how the harvest is here and we're still not saved. That sort of business. Some verses were verboten though, like the one about the husband submitting to the wife. What horseshit, I thought even at ten, and I thought it again when it was trotted out at the last wedding I attended. The preacher, a crackpot fundamentalist type, picked it out special. I suppose the one about owning slaves was just a little too much. But I had to smile through a sermon about how if the wife submits to her husband, then all the planets will function and so on. As the maid of honor, I also got the honor of giving communion. Since the bridesmaid dress is going to be my Halloween costume (Elvira for the curious), I felt comfortable with this role -- I was giving people wine and saying, The blood of Christ. I did not get to wear my usual goth make-up, however, and got into severe trouble for trying to touch up my "natural" look with an lip pencil named Wicked. Wicked got taken away from me for the night, and I had to stick with Yawnfest, the color of the day.

I got asked for a suggestion about the wedding scripture reading and kept saying that I wanted the one about being surrounded by hardships as a way of knowing Christ. It's the one that feels true to me. Everyone thought I was kidding. But what is a union if not hard and wondrous and comforting? I don't know what any marriage is ever like, though, so I guess I shouldn't speculate. I tuned out a lot during the service, the way I do when I don't agree with something. We were surrounded by metal stars over our heads that never lit up. I kept imagining how spectacular the evening would be if they were to glow without warning.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Fame is only good for one thing - they will cash your check in a small town." Truman Capote

Cocktail Hour
Drinking cocktail suggestion

Charlie Mingus At The Village Vanguard
one shot of scotch followed by many more

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fire Hazard

Hi readers! Here's another excerpt from Second Day Reported. Thanks for reading!

I had my routines, sometimes a comfort, sometimes a noose. who knows when protection becomes a prison? In my childhood home, the windows were surrounded with long black bars . Vaguely Spanish-looking, Mother said they were both a safety measure and fire hazard.

My perfect life would be in New York City, and I would live in a penthouse apartment at the top of a large skyscraper by myself. Possessions minimal, I would come home from a day at the office and fix myself a drink, scotch over ice and sip it slowly. In my fantasies, I drank alone, the world outside where I could watch it, medicated.

But actual life did not afford such privacy. Only in nightmares would I find myself alone, running from building to building on empty streets full of menace. In daylight, I stuck to the standard rape-haunted schedule most women follow without knowing it, replete with warnings about where to go and when. My fantasies of ivy-league campuses devolved into a third-rate state university where female students, it seemed almost weekly, were cautioned not to walk alone at night.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Each time I play a song it seems more real." Robert Smith

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Visiting Life Bridget Kinsella

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Always A Bridesmaid

Hey guys -- this is the night of the rehearsal dinner. I'll be back at you tomorrow with more writing. xoxo, Michelle

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Demands Of Paradise

At the hacienda in Truncas last week, a man named Roy told ghost stories while serving tequila. I don't find it too much of a stretch to believe in ghosts -- the past serves as a continual palimpsest and so much of what we view is through a scrim of the other world, the lives we have lived, will live, and wish we could live. The tequila also helps. On the night of the rehearsal dinner, one of my fellow bridesmaids got wasted on it and started twirling me. We're both terribly clumsy, drunk or sober, and this was not the best plan. She fell into me, her tooth planted into my forehead. I caught us both as I wasn't that drunk -- I can twirl without much help. "We were so high, Michelle," she said. "We were in the clouds in the sky. Going so fast."

"When your aura is weak," Roy said, "you get illness and death." I thought about all the people that surrounded me that week, some so happy, some radiating misery and knew he was right. Twirling couldn't last forever. The demands of paradise were many. I often sat next to a wall where many people were executed years ago, bullets still lodged in it. Even though I had dodged many a bullet in my life and wear them around my neck, now I wasn't so sure.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"We create monsters and then we can't control them." Joel Coen

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Burn After Reading

Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks for all the comments and e-mails when I was away! I'll be getting to everything in the next few days. Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back In Black

Hey readers! I'm back in the land of the living. I've missed you all and can't wait to catch up with reading and posting. Paradise is wonderful, but it's a lot of work! I'll be coming at you tomorrow with some pithy wedding insights.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Greetings From Fantasy Island

All is well in Mexico -- it's cold and cloudy and there are lots of bridal details. The whole place where everyone is staying reminds me of an episode of Fantasy Island. It's cool and creepy all at the same time. I suspect I'll get a lot of writing material -- so far, I've eaten a lot of organic food (God help me, my body is in shock) and drank some margaritas (not as much shock factor there). Hope all is well at home in the D!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Coming At You From Mexico

Hi everyone! I'm on a shaky internet connection in the distant mountains of Mexico this week for Ang's wedding. My bedroom in the hacienda used to be a church and still has all the priestly items in it. Make of that what you will. I'll be posting as I can -- much love to all! Happy birthday to my buddy Cal!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jesus Saves

I once received a copy of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (yes, the dude that just killed himself this weekend for God knows what reason in this vale of tears) from a long ago love, someone who is not in a good way now himself. I read it because a) I read books, lots of them and b) I was in a race with my good friend John to see which of us would make it through the weighty tome. I don't remember a lot of it; Wallace's essays always left a stronger impression. When I taught, I often brought out his "The Nature Of The Fun," a biting look at the difficulty of writing. Reading it was a revelation. Fuck -- someone felt the same way I did, felt the pain of writing alone and hoping for the best, felt the all-consuming passion of ignoring everything else for it, and the deadness when you tried to please someone other than yourself with your words. To do so resulted in shitty writing. Shitty writing that wouldn't feed the vanity impulse you'd written it to satisfy.

Infinite Jest weighs in at over a thousand pages, much of it crazy, much of it brilliant. I don't have the book anymore; I don't know what happened to something so heavy, something that took up so much space on my shelf. I suppose we lose a lot over the years, even things we think we'll have forever. It's hard to understand that all that is solid will fade.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It looks like you can write a minimalist piece without much bleeding. And you can. But not a good one." David Foster Wallace

Cocktail Hour
Drinking essay suggestion: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again David Foster Wallace

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday Is Evil

Hey readers! Coming at you from the only North American featherbowling venue! I'm busy with wedding plans galore, but I'll be posting tomorrow with more of the story. Thanks for the help with it -- and the beehive is a classic hairdo! Ha! Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Where My Story Starts

Here's another section from Second Day Reported. Hope you're having a great weekend! I'll be coming at you from Mexico next week where Angela's wedding festivities will be.

Maybe that’s where my story starts. Or maybe it’s a little too clever. I’ve been accused of that, by my first graduate poetry professor. You’re really smart and a little too clever. It’s going to be your downfall. I thought about how I got there, the clever part, and my mind brings me to a point where I’m seven years old, trying to keep the garden-variety pedophile, my babysitter Betsy’s touched semi-retarded grandson Leland, locked out of the bathroom while I bathed. The problem was that the door locked from the outside. He could lock any of us kids inside, but we couldn’t really lock him out. Such was the world then and such as it would become. Leland had already treated us to the sight of himself pulling down his pants, yelling, You want Dick Clark, I’ll show you Dick Clark.

We ran into the kitchen where Betsy stirred the instant mashed potatoes. “Leland pulled down his pants and we saw his privates,” I told her.
“Ignore him, honey. He just wants attention.” But he’d already taken off in Betsy’s Pinto off for a Saturday night adventure. You could hear it revving up for miles.

But really there is no beginning to a story like this one. There was a haunted house in my hometown (nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town!) run by the Edgemeade kids, adolescents who lived in a group home for the emotionally disturbed. This quaint turn of phrase could mean anything from having a criminal record (it was the only state facility that took arsonists) to touched that gentle Southern expression which covered so much ground. Each year they’d take the abandoned barracks and turn them into a chamber of horrors for profit. The trusted ones got to play monsters -- Leatherface, Freddy Kruger, all the usual suspects. The locals called it Retards With Fake Chainsaws. The chainsaws were real, though. They just didn’t have blades.

One of my earliest memories consisted of watched a teenage boy chase the object of his desire around and around a fake guillotine, threatening to chop it off if she wouldn’t be with him. “I know where you live,” he told her. “You live with me.”

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams." H. P. Lovecraft

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Thin Is The New Happy Valerie Frankel

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Hi everyone! Here's one of my favorite Snoopy writing cartoons -- an accurate description of the writing life if there ever was one. Seven years since that fateful September 11 -- here's some hope for happier times and love for all that suffered irreparable losses. Back at you tomorrow with more writing and pictures.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day Of The Dead

First published in many mountains moving:

Day of the Dead

He left long after all the trick-or-treaters,
long after her neighbors have cleared out
because of the fire he pulled. Dressed as one
of New York’s finest, she let him in, and he
filmed her in different outfits, still as any
mannequin after the chloroform rag. She’d been
on his women to rape lists, stating he wanted
to take her down a notch. When the real
police found him, he slit his own throat,
and they saved him, despite his plea to let
him die. He’d been pretending to be a student,
but couldn’t pull off the costume now that
Halloween was over. I thought about all
the outfits I’d adorned myself with over the years
for various men. I hadn’t been drugged with
anything but the usual substances, and I’d been beautiful
or scary, a self-induced black-out here and there,
and in those moments I’m pretty sure I was both.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"My nature is to be in trouble again." Lauren Bacall

Cocktail Hour
Drinking HBO suggestion: True Blood

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Hi readers! Hope your Tuesday is going well. This is me at the Hoover Dam not so many moons ago -- crabby beyond belief, but alive and kicking. I'll be back tomorrow with more of Second Day Reported. Thanks so much for all your supportive comments and e-mails. I got the galley proofs for the final version from Iowa Review so I'll let you know when it hits the shelves as they say.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Reduced To Almost Nothing

Reduced To Almost Nothing

I like a place with light, my mother
always said even though her bedroom
didn’t have much, those last years trapped
in a hospital bed sometimes. The bed’s my security
blanket, she’d say when things got really bad.
She and my dad now share space on the dresser
in their urns, reduced to almost nothing.
Sometimes I sit on the bed, the one my
mother did not move from very often, and I
watch the play of shadow and sun, and I don’t
mind that it’s so dark because sometimes
I get sick of looking at everything so clearly.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It's easy to fool the eye but it's hard to fool the heart."
Al Pacino

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Hairstyles of the Damned Joe Meno

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Huge Box Of Angels

Recently, a douchebag I don't know very well (as opposed to myself and others that I do) told me that it was a lovely life, that every day was one delight after another. I changed the subject as fast as I could as I do not feel that way, not one ounce, and that while I believe life contains some unspeakably beautiful moments and many wonderful hours, much of it seemed a bitter grip and slog, that the heart becomes hardened and sad and that as much as we aspire toward desirelessness or love or following our bliss (yes, I heard this phrase used in conversation in an earnest fashion), we find ourselves bloodied and battered, sad for reasons we can never understand. The people I tend to like best are stoics, ones who come up against this pain and make it funny and real, not the ones in complete denial nor the ones in utter and suffocating martyrdom.

Che Guevara once said that he felt a deep melancholy upon coming to a border, a last glimpse at a lost world, and an excitement on the verge of a new one. Much of life has this quality as we are always losing things even when we tell ourselves otherwise. And even in our mourning, we seek the beauty that will keep us alive and make us whole. Once I got a Christmas package, a huge box of angels, all of them looking as if they had Downs Syndrome. This both made me glad and sad. I know angels can be evil and good, but never thought of them as touched. And somehow this touched me as I unwrapped their dim faces in the glittery paper, holding them up to the light and still finding more buried with their comrades.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Relationships in general make people a bit nervous. It's about trust. Do I trust you enough to go there?" Neil LaBute

Cocktail Hour
Drinking HBO suggestion: Entourage returns!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you're having a great day and am glad to see Charles and Lana back from the claws of Gustav! I'm still working on my big section of Second Day Reported and will post a few paragraphs tomorrow.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The End Of Summer

Hi readers! Hope you're having a great Friday. I'm posting my Saturday pictures on Friday as I am changing things up all the time. Back at you tomorrow with more of what I am now merely calling the book.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wedding Cheers!

Here's a special cheers to Angela and Nick on the eve of their civil ceremony! (The actual wedding is scheduled for the 20th in Mexico.) As for Mark's question about whether I tried on anything in the bridal store, I did. I tried on a mantilla as I am still a virgin and trying to figure out a real Diane Arbus look for myself should my time ever come.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Web Of Lies

Recently in a bridal shop, I took a pastel mint out of the complimentary container sitting innocently by the cash register. But be not fooled, dear reader, nothing is really free in a bridal shop -- I spent time with a dear friend who had been told that altering her wedding dress would be around thirty dollars -- five hundred dollars later, she was released from her pins and we were on our way to food and drink, a surefire way of easing pain. It is my theory that nobody has actually produced these mints since the fifties; they just recirculate them, much like fruitcake. And you can never tell what they will contain by looking at them. At any rate, the mint had a hidden nut in it, the kind of hard miserable molar-loosing kind and another friend had also popped one into her mouth and with a smile that implied, damn, this is some bad shit, she said, "I think we're committed to finishing it now."

I thought about writing a haiku about the experience called "Hidden Nut" that would be deep and profound, about the pain of expecting the good and getting the bad and having to suck it up. You bite/ pain/ life is bitter/ wrapped in a beautiful shell./ Cruel nut/ Web of lies. You get the idea. But I don't know much about form and can't remember if the whole 5/7/5 thing is passe or actually retro cool. I'm guessing that my dreams for "Hidden Nut" wouldn't be realized, that nobody would turn it into a movie or even do a youtube on it. I recently found the only poem I've ever written for a wedding which I mostly cribbed from Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach", making a few changes that made it less, well, damned. And as far as I know, that couple lasted even though the signs were bleak which pretty much tells me I'm not going to be able to make money by dressing up in some get-up and pretending to read the future. As much as I like poetry, maybe fiction writing is more my calling after all.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." Sun Tzu

Cocktail Hour
Drinking documentary suggestion: The Life And Times Of Harvey Milk

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sweet Georgia Brown

Here's me and my sister Beth in Detroit. Hope you're having a good Tuesday! I'm working on a longer post for Wednesday and will be caught up with all the wonderful blogs I follow soon. The mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, is up tomorrow for the big showdown so we'll see how it goes. If he's ousted, who should be mayor? Kid Rock? Eminem?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Between Heaven And Detroit

Hi everyone! Hope you're having a great non-working Monday. Here's a poem, a little bit in homage to Allen G.

Between Heaven and Detroit

I’m not kidding, the fruits started to pulsate,
glow with a violent light. It was like nothing
in my life, like everything, and I swooned,
I fainted, I fell before the altar where I was
at your funeral watching your mother faint.
It was all too much and not enough, a weird
abundance of absence. Before long, I was
back to the produce section where I looked
at all was before me, deciding I wouldn’t have
wanted to eat it anyway no matter what
happened. Outside the snow fell, turning
the color of steel between heaven and Detroit,
gunmetal before it ever hit the frozen ground.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"That the fear of death still owns me, is in its way, a beginning." Fred Exley

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Homesick Jenny Lauren

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Labor Day!

Sunday's Gone With The Wind

Yesterday was a hard day so I missed a post for the first time ever! But I'm backloading Grouchie as the real star of the blog for Sunday since he got out of the house thanks to his new support group, Agoraphobics in Motion. He's pictured here eating edamame and he did the hat himself.