Sunday, March 25, 2012

No Idle Hands Here

We've had another full, fun weekend around these parts.  The rust bucket Durango retired at the Ford dealership Friday, and Brandon and I did a little happy dance that it did NOT begin belching smoke in the parking lot when they started it up.  We pulled away with a 2004 Ford Expedition, pleased with our purchase and resigned to investing our money in a small oil field in Iran. 

Friday night is Sarah-does-not-cook-if-the-husband-is-out-of-town night, so we ordered a small pizza for the kiddos, and Henry and I ate avocados, leftover roasted carrots, and bananas.  I think - some combination like that, anyway.  And after the kids went to bed, I watched the Ashland University women's basketball team play in the NCAA Division II national championship game with some friends here at the house.  They lost, but boy, what a game! 

After Pancake Saturday morning (now modified a smidge with these fantasmatic Paleo Pancakes for me and Henry and regular ones for Lyd and Elvis until we're out of pancake mix), we pulled out of the driveway in the new tank and headed to Mansfield for some spring shopping at Kohl's.  After seven solid years of maternity bathing suits or post-baby swimsuits, I bought with confidence a swimsuit that is actually cute.  The kids helped pick out the swimsuit.  Kohl's is a ridiculously dangerous place to shop, because EVERYTHING'S ON SALE, which makes me feel like I can buy more than I actually need.  So... we got Easter dresses, Easter shirts, shorts and pants for skinny-dad, and presents for my mom's 50th birthday.  There's a good chance some of the stuff I bought will be returned later this week, since I found about a dozen Easter-appropriate shirts for the boys when we came home.

The other things I found when we came home were ants.  Loads and loads of ants piled up on the floor in the kitchen.  Apparently I dripped something from breakfast onto the floor and didn't get it cleaned up.  Their congregation on the floor made extermination a breeze, though, and I haven't seen another one since.  I'm sure everyone else has noticed the alarming abundance of insects out already this year.  We don't usually have ant issues until summer.  It's March (in case you missed it).  Looks like we're in for a buggy year.

To sum up the rest of the weekend, there was a visit to the bookstore, a symphony event at the university, a trip to Medina for dinner with my folks, and church this morning.  I'm hoping to spend the rest of the afternoon finishing up the clothes sorting and getting the house in order before the work week.  We're heading to D.C. for a long weekend over spring break (woo hoo!), and I'd like to have most things in order before the week gets going. So, I'm planning on trying blackened chicken and guacamole with some sweet potato wedges for dinner tonight, something quick to prep and cook without a whole lot of attention. 

It's been a full weekend, for sure, the kind of weekend that makes you feel like the time was well-spent.  We milked every minute. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book One - Best Spiritual Writing 2012

Well, I finally finished a book.  It took me a while, mostly because I've been a lazy reader, but also because this fine book was just thick with the stuff that gets you thinking.  The Best Spiritual Writing 2012 is a diverse and stimulating collection that includes both poetry and essay, work about wonder and awe, politics and chapels, evil, light, Cesar Chavez and the Dalai Lama, Judaism after the Holocaust, apparitions and visitations, and much much more.

The advantage to an anthology like this and the other Best Ofs that come out each year is that it's likely the reader hasn't really thought much about the majority of the topics, at least not recently.  I can't say I've considered how to reconcile faith in God after the Holocaust as a Jew.  And besides those things that I haven't thought about there are the subjects I wouldn't have even known about if not for the selections made by the editor.  I love this kind of stretching, this kind of push to understand more of the world, spiritual and otherwise. 

I was particularly moved by Tony Hiss's "Wonderlust", originally published in American Scholar, and Billy Collins's poem, "Gold" has stuck with me.  Also "A Chapel Is Where You Can Hear Something Beating Below Your Heart" by Pico Iyer (from Portland).  And "Rescuing Evil" by Ron Rosenbaum, from First Things is an extremely accurate reflection on what happens when we eliminate the concept of evil and write it off to all sorts of other things, as if crimes and violence are biological and not choices we make.  The essay ends with a powerful line I'd hate to share and give away too much of what is so good about the work.

So there you have it - the first of ten books I intend to read for 2012.

In other news, I think I'm going to give the poem-a-day in National Poetry Month (April) a go once more.  At the least, I'll get back into the habit of thinking poetically, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First World Problems: An Encounter with Infomercials

Excerpts from tonight's airing of THE PRICE OF SEX: A documentary on human trafficking. 

"I was locked inside without a passport.  I was inside all the time.  I wasn't allowed out.  Even the windows were shut.  We were always working.  Sometimes 50 clients a day.  I have the same thoughts now that I did then: I wish I'd never been born.  I'd be better off dead than living like this."

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"'It was the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the Turkish men are not allowed to have sex with anyone but their wives.  So we had no clients.  I woke up, got dressed.  I went to the balcony and the door was open.  I went down the pipe.  But I didn't get very far.' She jumped, falling three floors. When she woke up, Jenya couldn't feel anything below her waist.  She spent nearly a month in the hospital but before she could receive surgery, the pimps were allowed to take her back to the brothel... no one cared that she was partially paralyzed from the fall, or that she defecated on herself.  The clients continued coming, it was business as usual."

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"There were girls who had been there for six months, a year, three years... They got used to it.  What's to like there?  That everyone violates and tortures you?  A man gets on top of you, does his business, gets off, and leaves.  It's pure evil.  Plain and simple."

Oh, dear. Oh, dear!  Ooh, dear.  I'm not exactly sure what happened here last night.  I was out helping people save money on car insurance.  Geico, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.

"As you can see, on all the corners are the police, the pimps, and the girls... When you go into the brothels, what's the first thing you see?  First?  Meat... But that's not the right question.  Not the first but the last... the last thing you see... is pain... Those girls are new entries.  They're so young.  Yeah, no more than 20... Fifteen years ago Erina was trafficked to Athens.  Men aren't the only ones to blame.  As the saying goes: If you lift your skirt, the man will come.  I can't be alone.  I can't.  I gotta talk to beat the blues.  When you feel sad, what do you do?  What do I do?  I cry and cry, go out for a smoke... I think... But mostly I go and lie down so I can stop thinking.  I offered to take Erina back to Bulgaria, to the children she left behind.  She turned my offer down."

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"Who were the clients?  Who?  Arabs, Moldovans, Russians, British, Americans, everyone.  Everyone. Hindus, Pakistans.  From the lowest class to the highest.  Understand? ..."

"Men here prefer the new girls who have been used less.  Their bosses slip drugs and ecstasy into their drinks so that the girls are flirtier and more fun.  //  What? Am I saying too much?..."

"Criminals avoid prosecution, it's the women who bear the burden.  Alessia chose to deal with the consequences.  'I will tell my son. They'll say, 'Oh, your mom was like that.' Of course now he doens't understand but when he's grown up, I'll be ashamed.'"

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"The Price of Sex" is written, directed and produced by Mimi Chakarova.  Visit to find out how you can help.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hello and Goodbye, AWP

Hello, home.  Hello, dog, whose behavior seems miraculously better after a week apart.  Hello, thermostat set at just the right temperature.  Hello, eastern standard time and your accommodating capacity to keep my baby asleep until a godlier hour than central time.  Hello, taller, smarter, better enunciating children-- has it only been four days??  Hello, patient and dessert-producing grandparents, and thank you.  Hello, town whose population might know the name of one contemporary poet (besides me, ah ah ah).  Hello, DVR and free wireless.  Hello, sweet potatoes and grilled chicken and food I didn't have to order or inquire about the nutritional content.  Hello, eight dollar bottle, and goodbye eight dollar glass, of wine.  Hello, open space to breathe.  Hello, mud and trees and snow and tulips pushing through, and goodbye black and wet asphalt, icy, breath-sucking wind, marble, concrete, glass, concrete, and concrete.

Goodbye, friends from other places, friends who can carry a conversation about truth and narrative, farms and marketing, about poets and writers and panels.  Goodbye, five hour ride across Indiana.  Goodbye, Sirius XM radio.  Goodbye, husband, and time alone (almost) with you.  Goodbye four days with no pick-up or drop-off or gymnastics or homework or babysitter.  Goodbye, ethnic variety.  Goodbye, writers I know and writers who might know me (ha ha ha).  Goodbye, high-heeled dress shoes, black-and-gray wardrobe, standing and talking all day, and hello, clogs and blue jeans and t-shirts.  Goodbye, extroverted Sarah, and hello, introverted Sarah.  Hello alarm clock.  Goodbye "going out for a drink" and "where do you want to eat tonight" and "it's just a few blocks away" and "we can split a cab" and "should we take the train?" and "I think we'll walk" and "do you see the shuttle yet?" and "sorry I missed you!" and "so good to see you!" and "see you next year!" and "Brrrrrrrr!"  Goodbye, Chicago union workers picking up my empty boxes and discarded discount subscription flyers.  Goodbye, brand-new rental Chrysler Town and Country with the video rear-view monitor, and hello, Ford Fiesta, Dodge Durango.  Goodbye, toll roads.  Goodbye, AWP, goodbye.