Thursday, March 11, 2004

My very first, actual real advance copy of my new book,
Year of the Snake arrived in the mail today. It's just such a deeply satisfying moment to actually be able to hold the physical, tangible book in your hands . . . turning it around and around, and gently leafing through the pages. It never seems quite entirely real.

I'm very happy with the look and layout of the book. The people at Southern Illinois University Press have been terrific to work with, and they've done such a lovely job. All the promotional materials, advertisements, catalogue listings, etc. have been so nicely done. Click here to check out the on-line catalogue listing, with back-cover blurbs and such.

So, the next two months will be very exciting and busy with readings and such. At the end of March, I'll be reading at the AWP Conference in Chicago, where SIU Press will officially launch the book, and then throughout April I'll be giving readings at SIU-Carbondale, SUNY-Fredonia, and UNC-Asheville.

For the meantime, though, I'll have a few more weeks at home to keep plugging away at the fiction project, while attending to more mundane matters such as paying bills, attending to the mountainous glob of laundry shoved in my bedroom closet threatening to avalanche and about which I am in deep deep deep denial, and remaining ever-on-the-alert, it goes without saying, for any further baffling and unauthorized manifestations of cat poop.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 2:40 AM |
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I woke up this morning (okay, it was afternoon, but let's not mince hairs or whatever) to find
Genji the Kitten (a.k.a. The Bean Bean) nosing around my face in a friendly and inquisitive manner, stepping on my forehead with his cool little toe pads, and purring a big slow purr that sounded like the lazy thwup thwup thwup of helicoptor blades.

Here's the thing, though . . . even through the Horrible Demented Killer-Pea-Soup-Brain-Fog that typifies my initial waking hours, I was sure that I had caught a slight whiff of, well . . . cat poop.

And I'm a bit of a psycho about cat poop. Uncontained cat poop on the loose all willy nilly makes me extremely uneasy. I have very strict rules about cat poop, whereas I am otherwise rather lenient with the feline members of the household. (Just ask my Japanese Mother: "You mongrel cats so bad behave I never can come visit you again, unless you decide to give away to pound. All jump up here or there or wherever they please and do whatever they want, no punish. Your father and I so shock make us run away as soon we can.") Well, okay . . . I have one very strict rule, which is the NO POOPY PAWS ON THE BED OR FUTON RULE UNTIL THE POOPY PAW CRISIS HAS BEEN SATISFACTORILY RECTIFIED! (Hee. Rectified . . . no pun intended, at least not initially.)

So . . . there was this whiff of cat poop, leading me to suspect that someone was in major violation of House Code I(A)(1)(a)(i) -- (i.e., the NO POOPY PAWS ON THE BED OR FUTON RULE UNTIL THE POOPY PAW CRISIS HAS BEEN SATISFACTORILY RECTIFIED code -- otherwise known as "Code Brown"). Upon inspection of kitten paws and kitten posterior, it seemed that perhaps it had all been a hoax . . . an Olfactory Hallucination induced by excessive caffeine the day before and too much time spent on eBay cruising for paperweights. But after some more sniffing about (and believe me, there's just no way to glamorize the act of sniffing around for cat poop, either on the cats themselves or around the house on ones hands and knees, for that matter), it appeared that the source of cat poop was smack dab on the kitten's head!

Yes. There seemed to be a minute smear of cat poop on the kitten head, thereby rendering him a literal, and not even remotely metaphorical, Poopy Head.

What was it doing there? How did it get there? What did it mean? I tell you, it was like something out of the X-Files.

Admittedly, it was not the same magnitude of Code Brown Crisis as the time when Muku (only several months ago, as a matter of fact), gave himself a rather alarming case of diarrhea by an unauthorized chow down of kitten food. Not only did he give himself diarrhea, but there seemed to be some sort of concomitant diarrhea-related debacle in the litterbox. I came home from running errands to find Muku in a very sorry state of affairs -- with scarily semi-solidified cat diarrhea all tangled up in his posterior, tail, and tangled all throughout his (very hairy Persian cat) haunches. Furthermore, he'd managed to get it everywhere . . . on the futon cover, on the bed, on the chair. About a gazillion loads of laundry later, and after several lengthy sessions of holding Muku wedged between my knees, upside down with his head on the floor and his tail clamped down in my armpit, wherein I had to cut out the offending matter with scissors . . . about ten pairs of latex gloves and two pairs of dollar-store scissors later . . . the Code Brown Crisis was at least temporarily allayed, and Muku had the earliest appointment I could make for another Lion Cut with the local cat groomer.

So, the little dab of cat shit annointing my kitten's head was, of course, Small Potatoes, by comparison with the aforemented Code Brown Crisis.

But still . . . how on earth did it get there?

What was it doing there?

What does it mean?????
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 12:00 AM |
Monday, March 08, 2004

1. That song? "If I'd known you were coming, I'd a baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake. If I'd known you were coming, I'd a baked a cake. Wacka doo, wacka doo, wacka doo!" It sure is, by golly, a real finger-snapper and toe-tapper (particularly when spiraling and drilling its way through one's brain as the most maggotty of all ear worms), but what the fuck is up with the wacka doos?

2. My cat, Kenji (a.k.a. The Pickle), died of a sudden heart attack in early July this summer. I have been too depressed about it to consider mentioning it on the blog it until now. At least it was instant. But Yuki and Muku witnessed it, and they were both extremely upset about it for quite a long time. When it happened, Yuki kept grabbing Kenji by his throat, and shaking him, and then she'd just look at me and cry. My friend, J., from whom I'd originally adopted Kenji when he was a kitten, said that his mother also died at around age 10 from a sudden heart attack. Somehow, it made me feel a little bit better. At least I didn't have to obsess about the times I smoked a cigarette inside the house, or ran the vacuum cleaner or blow dryer even though I knew they upset him, or maybe I let him lick too many bowls of ice cream, etc. etc. etc.

3. I am absolutely, hopelessly, chronically, psychopathically, and sociopathically obsessed with
paperweights at the moment. Art glass in general, as a matter of fact, but particularly with paperweights. Something about a paperweight strikes me as being a lot like a poem: miniature, non-utilitarian, existing for it's own sake, existing for art, perfected, and opening up a tiny amazing world when you look inside.

4. My Japanese mother, who has been battling just the very early stages of adult onset diabetes, has freakishly decided that since adult onset diabetes is potentially hereditary, I must now logically have adult onset diabetes myself. She keeps calling me on the telephone to tell me what I can and cannot eat. "You in exact same boat as me, and it suck. You can't eat any more carbo. What you eat today? No! You can't eat that when have diabetes! You going to lose eyes and get leg cut off!" Recitations of my exceedingly normal glucose levels in my most recent bloodwork do not seem to have any effect.

5. In related news, tests have shown that rises in phone calls re: diabetes from Japanese mothers signal a concomitant rise in ritualistic abuse of Pepperidge Farm baked goods products and Fiddle Faddle. (Mostly, I just wanted an excuse to say Fiddle Faddle).

6. I had to give the Canadian Dyke the boot around X-mas.

7. I have been writing fiction. I'm unsure if I'm working on a book-length collection of densely interconnected short stories, or if I'm working on a novel. Some of the stories have the appropriately taut rhythm and feel of short fiction, but some of the stories have the more leisurely rolling pace of a novel. I suppose that I will have to just keep writing to find out, and I may even have to do two versions of the book -- one as a collection of short stories, and one as a novel -- and see which one ultimately reads/works better.

8. Documentaries are the shizznit. I recommend: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg: Speaking in Strings, Regret to Inform, Sound and Fury, Brandon Teena and Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse. Fascinating stuff. I think I would like to make a documentary.

9. Number nine, number nine, number nine . . . ?

10. There is a new kitten at the Artichoke Heart House. His name is Genji (a.k.a. The Bean Bean). I love him to bits.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 11:04 PM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

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