Tuesday, June 03, 2003

One bachelor day remains. (I borrow the ominous style of this from Donnie Darko, a film I found almost unwatchable while I was watching it but which stays with you.) Feeling empathetic toward Catherine on both the Newsweek and cohabitation fronts. It's only a matter of time before somebody sends me that article, which I haven't read and have no intention of reading. I don't find its existence particularly provoking—somebody is always saying poetry is dead, and then they die, and poetry continues on—but I'm all too familiar with the experience of receiving clippings from well-meaning family members who see something, anything, that mentions "poetry" in the mass media, and then they think of me. What I find more disturbing, actually, is when they send me articles whose implication is that poetry is not dead, but on life support—something about Poetry Chicago's millions or Dana Gioia, for instance. But they mean well. My dad became a member of the Academy of American Poets, which is an incredibly sweet and supportive gesture, and sends me their newsletter American Poet now and again. It's a bit of a rag, but the last one he sent me does have some interesting bits in it: what Nathaniel Mackey's been reading lately, a piece about the collaboration of Joshua Beckman and Matt Rohrer, a piece on Karen Volkman and the James Laughlin Award (for which my old teacher and friend Mary Jo Bang was one of the judges).

As for cohabitation, yikes. I too had a disastrous experience when I was younger, though at least the person I was habitating with still talks to me (and is a regular reader of this blog: hi Chris!) Yesterday Emily and I had our first look at the new apartment since the last tenants moved out and tried to have an intelligent discussion about painting—something neither of us has much experience with. It's an enormous place—if you clap your hands in the living/dining room there's an echo—and I don't know if we have time to paint it all before we move in. In the meantime, she's packing up her things to move into the apartment tomorrow; then tomorrow night she'll be moving in here with me for the ten days or so it's going to take for our landlords to fix up a few things (like the hole in the ceiling). Probably those ten days will be the hardest part—I love my apartment but it's small. Anyway. This is probably more sheer biography than you want to know. We were having dinner yesterday at this restaurant next to a couple who were like us, possibly, a couple of years hence: youngish, Jewish, her with curly hair, him with glasses, driving a Volvo (it was parked across the street)—and they had a baby named Josh, which just makes the whole thing odder. They seemed very happy and very self-involved with their little family unit. The most disturbing thing about having children, I think, is how narcissistic it makes you, even as the society at large gives you a free pass for it. And I speak as someone who likes kids and would like to have one or two of his own someday. Anyway, listening to their conversation was a little bit like reading the blog of a stranger who's nontheless familiar—they had a kind of witty banter going on between them, largely concerning the baby, whose behavior (spitting up, wandering around the sidewalk, sucking on a lamb chop bone) they found endlessly fascinating. And their fascination was intense enough to make me a little fascinated too. Or maybe it's just my own narcissism: every time they said "Josh" I couldn't help but prick up my ears.

This is sheer ramblingness. You'll have to forgive me: it's a beautiful day outside and I'm moving in with my sweetie, and the whole thing just STRESSES ME OUT. Looking forward to the other side.

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