Thursday, April 21, 2011


The song "A Chore" by Tom Vek makes me want to jump for joy.

At first I was so confused. I thought that Ziggy/Debbie girl was singing it. Why does she sound like Tom Vek?

I love everything about her. Her fangs and her size 13 pink tranny pumps and her yellow pants.


I want that girl to come to my birthday party next year.

UPDATE: My husband watched the video and told me, "First thought, best thought, That IS Tom Vek." I have no idea. I still want her to come to my party.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Geeks, rejoice!

I am going to this USABILITY WEEK 2011 conference, and I am not ashamed to say that I'm so excited about it. Don Norman, the head honcho of Usability 2011 actually set up the usability lab at my company (well, my company three incarnations ago in 1998).

Being a usability expert is the worst job in the entire world. The majority of the time the job title "Usability Expert" is synonymous with the job title "You Can Decide Not To Believe Me If You Want, But The Fact Is, Ten Hours of Footage Show That Indeed 87 Percent of Users Mistook Your New Disk Drive For A Coffee Cup Holder."

It takes a special person to be a usability expert. Here are some points that illustrate the worldview of a good usability person.

1. People deserve the best and I want to help them get the best because I love people.

2. Everybody has worth and everybody's opinions have worth.

3. Even the most hopeless things can get better with the right feedback.

4. I believe my eyes.

5. One day somebody will listen to me and believe me and do exactly what I think they should.

6. I hear what you're saying, even though it sounds insane. I withhold judgment.

7. No matter what you say or do, my face will stay exactly like this page of computer code. And why is that? Uh huh. Which part in particular was like that for you?

8. Everything is right in the universe, or at least the universe of testing.

This is why I'm a designer. Here's my worldview.

1. People deserve the best--to a point. I want to please people, and I want to try to give people the very best but, in the end, if they don't appreciate and like and understand what I am giving them, then they deserve something that's worse than they already have--or, at the very least, nothing.

2. Some people have worth and those same people have opinions that have worth.

3. Some designs are shit. You can shine a turd if you like that sort of thing but I don't.

4. What the hell just happened there? There is just no way that the simplest explanation explains THAT. I'm obviously witnessing a great anomaly. This scene has strange and uncommon attachments which will later be revealed.

5. Nobody ever listens to me. I see that you are listening--but in total disbelief for some reason. Why is nobody ever on my program? It doesn't make sense because I'm so smart.

6. Given W, X, and Y, why would ANYBODY decide that Z is the best way to proceed!?"

7. Eye brow scrunch. Eyebrow raise. Mouth open. Askance look, left eye facing subject. Nobody is this stupid. I refuse to believe that there are more of you. In fact, I refuse to believe in YOU. You are performance art.

8. We called in the wrong people to test. The users should have been more techie. The users should have been more Masters level than B.A. The test was set up wrong. We should have done the interview THEN observed. We should have skipped both the interview and the observation.

With the help of this conference, I hope to change my worldview to be more user-friendly.

Given my current worldview, I have doubts that my worldview is capable of such change. But my company is paying for this conference, not me, so what do I have to lose?

I love people! That's my pre-conference mantra/pep-talk.

On that note, I leave you with YOU KNOW THAT I COULD USE SOMEBODY. I am a romantic and that sentiment, I think you will agree, is one very romantic sentiment.

Friday, April 15, 2011


L: I have an interview and I have to get three questions over to my friend because he's waiting.

Z: Well, just give them to me and I'll tell you the answers.

L: I'm sorry?

Z: Go on. Just ask me. I can tell you what you need to know.

L: Uh . . . okay. Well, why are some of your poems easy to understand and others aren't?

Z: Because I'm unique.

L: Oh.

Z: I said I would give you the answers and I was right, wasn't I?

L: You were.

Z: Well what's the second question?

L: The second question is, 'What do you think makes a good poem?'

Z: A good poem is . . . your way.

L: Oooh, that's a good answer.

Z: I told you, see? I'm giving you everything you need. What's the last one?

L: The last one is 'What are you working on now?'

Z: What am I working on now?

L: Yeah, what are you working on?

Z: Oh. [Nods] My work is writing. [Slower and louder.] WRI-TING. That's my work.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Hi All,

I've been working with Switchback for almost two years, and they're having their annual competition, The Gatewood Prize, for a first or second-length collection of poems by a woman writing in English.

If you're looking for a home for your first or second book, please consider submitting.

SB puts out beautiful books by brilliant writers. And, having judged the contest last year, I can tell you, it's an absolutely dead honest and ethical judging process. Anonymous as they come and extremely deliberated and thoughtful in consideration.

I've seen that a number of our finalists (thankfully) have had their books picked up by other great presses this year, so the manuscripts we're seeing are of amazing quality and diversity.



The Gatewood Prize is Switchback Books' annual competition for a first or second full-length (48-80 pp.) collection of poems by a woman writing in the English language. It is named after Emma Gatewood, the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

2011 JUDGE: Harryette Mullen

READING PERIOD: April 1-June 1, 2011

HARRYETTE MULLEN's most recent books are Recyclopedia (Graywolf Press, 2006) and Sleeping with the Dictionary (University of California Press, 2002), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mullen was the 2009 recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Fellowship Award. She teaches African American literature and creative writing in the English Department at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Please visit our website for more information and guidelines.

Download our contest flyer.

Thank you!

Hanna Andrews & Becca Klaver, Editors
Whitney Holmes, Managing Editor
Dolly Lemke, Assistant Editor
Brandi Homan, Board President


It's likely you don't want to admit this but . . . when someone you've known (in a friendly/naked way) dies . . . after some time has passed, you think of their body and wonder what percentage of the good parts are still intact.

Then you think how you were once in close contact with these body parts which are now, no doubt about it, in the decomposing process.

With new coffin technology (I'm sure there is such a thing and that it's always improving) this process is probably delayed somewhat. Still, no computer program or super sealant made by NASA can stop bodily disintegration. That's a fact of life. Or death. However you want to think about it.

I told my guy friend Chuck that sometimes I think of this big barge of a man who used to come see me in my last dog days of NY, and who died sometime after from liver failure.

Chuck told me he that sometimes he thinks of this blonde flower of a girl whose mother hung herself and who, soon after, moved across the country to hang herself.

I explained to Chuck (at the time that we had this conversation), "It's almost been a year so there's probably nothing left by this point. But I don't know how fast these things happen."

Chuck said, "I used to think about that, too. But it's been 20 years. She's definitely nothing but bones by now."

I asked Chuck if he thought the conversation was deranged and disrespectful. But he said no, because he's convinced everybody thinks such things--they just won't admit it. And obviously, if we're still thinking about these people (and fondly), they've influenced our lives.

"And anyway," he said, "don't you want someone to think about you after you die?"

"Think about my decaying . . . uh . . . body?"

"Better than nothing," he said.

Then we went back to sipping our coffee at McDonald's on Chicago Avenue.


I know I've been talking a lot about death lately and I don't mean to be gruesome but I'm totally obsessed with bog bodies.

Imagine this.

It's 1950 and you live in a tiny village in Denmark. You're just cutting peat for your little stove. Suddenly, your wife calls you over like "OMFG Viggo! Check out this face in the peat layer! This guy musta just got wacked!"

Who have figured he's a human sacrifice victim? He looks so peaceful! Doesn't he look like he just tied on his little bonnet for a long winter's nap? And he did--in 4 BC.

My greatest wish is that when I keel over, my dead body just so happens to fall into a bog so somebody can find me some day in their backyard in 2,000 years.


Friday, April 8, 2011


Kate Schapira is guest editing the poetry blog TRUCK and she included my poem "Hammering the Screw." Thanks Kate and thanks TRUCK!

I have an interview up at Bookslut right now with Paige Taggart and Justin Marks about their chapbooks, Digital Macrame and On Happier Lawns, respectively.

It's a flipchap and it's really beautiful to look at and touch and it's published by Poor Claudia. Thanks Paige and Justin and Poor Claudia.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I have no idea how to meditate, does anybody?

Even if you think you are doing it, I have a feeling you aren’t. The fact that you can tell me "I meditated last night" seems like proof that something else was happening, something like you saying to yourself, "I want to be meditating, and here I am doing it, meditating, it's happening right now, and tomorrow I’m going to tell my friend I meditated."

I told my friend that trying to meditate makes me anxious, and my friend told me that his doctor [mine at one time too] taught him how to meditate during an office visit.

He said I should ask her and she’d show me how—-right then and there. Then he said, "Did you see that picture on the reception desk with her and Andrew Weil, their arms all around each other? Hilarious."

I couldn't stand that office because they had a little waterfall fountain that they plugged in, so you could get a peaceful feeling. But then the receptionist was all mean and disapproving if you were five minutes late, like raising her voice over the gentle lapping of water, IN FIVE MORE MINUTES I WOULD HAVE HAD TO RESCHEDULE SO IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE HERE AT LEAST FIFTEEN MINUTES EARLY FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT.

Why would I arrive 15 minutes early for my appointment? Why not just set my appointment 15 minutes earlier? I don't believe in arriving early to make bossy people happy. I also don't believe in bossy people. I believe in myself. My magic is real.

So anyway, what I'm saying is meditating is not healthy for me. My heart rate actually increases. Even though I look very peaceful in the picture below, you can believe that I wasn't.

I don’t like concentrating on my breathing; it makes me nervous. Breathe, step, breathe, step, breathe, step [aaaaaa....fall into my little death hole]. That's what I'm thinking.

I listened to a reading with Li Young Lee, and he said his father taught him how to meditate in this really terrifying way, by chanting: "Deep breath in, thank you, deep breath out, goodbye."

Somebody trying to be helpful once said, "Maybe just don’t concentrate on your breathing? Maybe say a word like 'om' over and over."

I said, "I really don’t want to say that. I think I would feel funny saying that."

“Well, it doesn’t have to be 'om,'" she said. "It could be anything, like 'one' or something."

So I said, “one one one one one one,” and I felt extremely anxious.

I’m not afraid of death, so I’m not sure why listening to my own breathing alarms me. Actually, sometimes when I think about death, I get excited. I’ve always been a very curious person, even about things that may end up being terrible.

I don’t think death will be bad, and I’m not religious, so I don’t know why I say that. I just feel in my bones that it’ll be fine, but even if it isn’t, I’m interested to see what kind of misery it is. It may be nothing, and that would be fine, too. But I’d rather have misery than nothing. I hate when I take long treks out to places and then realize nothing is happening.

I also find those near death experience websites, reading the personal accounts, very comforting. My friend was really sick and she died for a few minutes. Her heart stopped. She swears it was just like in the books and movies. She left her body, watched her own body from above, saw the white light, and walked toward it, feeling nothing but absolute peace and serenity and harmony with all things on earth and other places. Then the doctors used those paddles (CLEAR!] and she came back to life. She said coming back to life was so depressing.

My other friend has a recurring dream over and over. He's walking down a path in a forest alone.

Then he sees a house in the distance with all the lights on. He knows the house is evil and he also knows he has to keep walking toward it and go in.

Then he wakes up, filled with fear and dread.

I said, "But that doesn't mean anything. That's just because you're afraid of dying." He said, "I am afraid of dying."

The dream does sound scary. It's so simple. Aren't simple things scary? There's nothing to misunderstand. You will die.

Lately I have had dreams that are so boring I want to cry. The worst part is that these dreams are lucid, so while I'm dreaming them, I'm thinking to myself, "God this dream is boring." Sometimes I'm scrolling through screens on a computer. Sometimes I'm clicking a mouse. The other night I had one and I was cleaning something, or I had a cleaning feeling.

I was thinking to myself in the dream, "I can't believe I'm having another one of my totally boring dreams. And why can't I get this clean? How hard can it be to clean something?"

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Lately there’s a ringing when it’s quiet.


It’s physical I’m sure, but I don’t like that idea, I don’t like the idea of making an appt with an audiologist. It seems boring and expensive, and I don’t like to pay for boring things, I don’t even like to pay for exciting things, so I try to work the Eeeeeeee out of my ears and project it onto the landscape, and sometimes it works.

Like right now. The eeeeeeee was happening. As soon as I heard it, I thought, You are not happening, and at that very moment, somebody started screaming outside.


Not like "Eeeeeeeeeee, I'm dying." Like "Eeeeeeeeeeee, I'm drunk. I love ya!"

One early Sunday morning I found a furry bra on Wayman--on the north side of Isaacson and Son's Fish Market. It was on the ground by my car.

There it is again:


My head is so full of ringing lately, I’m not sure there’s enough room for necessary data.

Today I couldn’t remember how people greet each other—-I don’t mean appropriately, given the situation—-I mean greet each other in any way given any situation.

I read in a book, “And then we greeted each other” and my mind vaguely could feel what the word was, the physicality of the word, but it wouldn’t go any further than that.

I knew a woman once who claimed she was addicted to dopamine. I don’t know if that could be true. I’ve never heard of such a thing. She’s South American--though I’m not sure if that might make her dopamine addiction story more true. Anyway, she said when she was trying to get off shooting dopamine, she became psychotic, and she couldn’t remember what money was. She went into a store and her husband said, “Wait, you have to pay for that!” And she was like, “What is this ‘pay’?” And he was like, “You need to give them money,” and she was like “What is this ‘money’?”

This woman was a seamstress and had her own dinky little store, and she told me she was a stylist for Cher way back in the day and that she was a stylist for Shakira (at that time) and also that she fitted Iggy Pop, which was the highlight of her life because he was her idol. Or maybe she said if she could fit anybody, she would fit Iggy Pop? Because he was her idol? I don’t remember.

I remember thinking at the time Man, I wonder if she’s full of shit, this girl. But I had a feeling she was telling the truth because she seemed so unimpressed with herself.

Once I was in her shop, and a customer came in and wanted her money back for a pair of leather pants. The customer said, “They’re too tight. I can’t even wear them.” And the leathermaker said, “No they’re not.” And the girl said, “Yes. They are. Look at them. I can’t even get them up. They are hurting my bones, like my bones hurt from these pants.” And the woman said, “I’m not making those bigger because they’ll look like shit. Go home and put Vaseline all over your legs aand then pull your pants up and don’t take them off for three days, and they will be perfect.” And the girl was like “But...” and the leathermaker said, “Okay. Goodbye.”

I googled her recently and she was listed as a stylist for one of the Lady Gaga videos. I guess it is possible to be addicted to dopamine.