Monday, February 23, 2004

Back from NYC and New Jersey, where I gave readngs at the Ear Inn and the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, where my mother was once a member and my dad and stepmother still are. I feel more than a little ambivalent about Unitarianism, given that I identify as a (secular) Jew, but it was a very important place in her life and it felt right to read there. Some of the women who had been part of a poetry group she'd led were there for the reading, and they said sweet, moving things afterward—one described my mother as a "poetry shaman," which sounds about right. Sometimes I imagine that my life as a poet is my mother's afterlife. In one sense at least, that's literally true.

Both readings went very well (you were missed, Shanna—but I will indeed see you at AWP). But in some ways the most memorable evening was Friday night, when Emily and I, two of her best friends, and their boyfriends, went out on the town in Brooklyn. Almost everyone had something to celebrate: I had passed my A exam; Jen and Rachel both had new jobs in the film industry; Rachel is five months pregnant and her partner Al couldn't stop beaming about it; and Emily was recently promoted at her job. We went to a brand new restaurant in Cobble Hill called Blue Star, where Al and Rachel are friends with the chef, a manic Deadhead with a genius for what I can only call gourmet white-trash cooking (example: a delicately fried pastry filled with macaroni and cheese served with garlic mashed potatoes). He wouldn't let us order anything; instead plate after plate of delicious seafood and three bottles of wine came without our asking. I enjoyed oysters for the first time, and king crab, and lots of wine. Afterward came another first time: karaoke at the Hope and Anchor (our host: a transvestite named Kay Sera) where I tore into Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" like I had been born to sing it. You hadda be there. Maybe now I'm ready for Dan's karaoke big time—but I do think a hefty minimum amount of alcohol will be required.

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