Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

My Photo
Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Poetry Thursday

Lost Sister

In China,
even the peasants
named their first daughters
the stone that in the far fields
could moisten the dry season,
could make men move mountains
for the healing green of the inner hills
glistening like slices of winter melon.

And the daughters were grateful:
They never left home.
To move freely was a luxury
stolen from them at birth.
Instead, they gathered patience,
learning to walk in shoes
the size of teacups,
without breaking--
the arc of their movements
as dormant as the rooted willow,
as redundant as the farmyard hens.
But they traveled far
in surviving,
learning to stretch the family rice,
to quiet the demons,
the noisy stomachs.

There is a sister
across the ocean,
who relinquished her name,
diluting jade green
with the blue of the Pacific.
Rising with a tide of locusts,
she swarmed with others
to inundate another shore.
In America,
there are many roads
and women can stride along with men.
But in another wilderness,
the possibilities,
the loneliness,
can strangulate like jungle vines.
The meager provisions and sentiments
of once belonging--
fermented roots, Mah-Jongg tiles and firecrackers--
set but a flimsy household
in a forest of nightless cities.
A giant snake rattles above,
spewing black clouds into your kitchen.
Dough-faced landlords
slip in and out of your keyholes,
making claims you don't understand,
tapping into your communication systems
of laundry lines and restaurant chains.

You find you need China:
your one fragile identification,
a jade link
handcuffed to your wrist.
You remember your mother
who walked for centuries,
and like her,
you have left no footprints,
but only because
there is an ocean in between,
the unremitting space of your rebellion.

Cathy Song

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On My Favorite Subject

Okay, so this post is going to be about one of my pet peeves. I hope that none of my friends will be offended. Of late I have heard several of my friends utter this phrase: "I'm not good at math". If you would like to understand how I feel about this, dear friends, imagine someone saying to you, "I don't like music". You would be understandably baffled. How can one not like music? The word encompasses so much. From classical to punk to country to the sounds that wind chimes and birds make. It seems utterly impossible to not be able to find one form of music to enjoy.
Well, the same is true with the word math. There are so many facets of it. There is no way for one person to be bad at them all. One does not need to be able to do addition and multiplication in one's head in order to succeed at math. That is what calculators are for. So many people have trouble memorizing times tables and figuring out fractions as children that they don't even give themselves a chance when it comes to geometry or algebra or calculus. There is an art to geometry and many who are not so good with abstract equations will find that they love geometry if only they give it a chance. The same is true with parts of calculus, but we are trained to be afraid of that word.
I happen to be good at manipulating equations. I love the perfect combination of formula and ingenuity that must be used to solve a tricky proof. It makes me feel like a detective. Did you ever play detective as a child? You follow various clues and finally solve your problem and it makes you feel like the smartest child in the world, even if your problem was that the cat was hiding under your bed. That is how certain types of math make me feel. I cannot say that that is how math makes me feel, because that word means so much. There are parts of math that I am not so good at. In college I was pretty good at optimization and matrix math and I was very good at probability and stochastic processes, but I was not so good at real analysis or multivariable calculus. Now, I'm afraid that you I'm not good at math peple saw some of those words and were afraid and automatically assumed that you would not be good at those things. Therein lies the problem. How can you assume that you are bad at something if you don't even know what it means? You might be really good at it.
This problem is extremely pervasive and starts with very young children. If a child doing homework asks mom, "what's the square root of 49?", and she doesn't remember she says, "oh, I was never any good at math". What the child hears is, "that's not important, it's okay to dismiss it by saying you're no good at it". If the child asks, "what's the capitol of Peru?" or "Who wrote The Secret Garden?" or "In what year did Lewis and Clark start their expedition?", her answer will be, "Let's look it up". The thing is that math problems such as the square root of 49 are nothing more than memorization. Knowing it requires the exact same skill as knowing the answers to the other questions. So, why is it okay to dismiss math as too hard, but not literature, history or geography? This child will begin to think that she too is bad at math because she has trouble with all the memorization involved in early math. Then she will grow up thinking that she is bad at math and she will never give herself a fair chance. This is especially common with girls, who are already expected by society to be bad at math. So, please cease saying that you are bad at math, especially around children.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Why Do I Do That?

Okay, this is kind of a silly memory. Schuyler and I went to Atlanta for the weekend while we were staying in Georgia for a few weeks. Guess what? Atlanta is kind of cool. We enjoyed it there. This was pre-Levi, so we partied it up in Buckhead, which is a really cool club/pub district. We really had a lot of fun. This is me in some random club with (this is the silly part)... I have no idea. The thing is, when I go out to clubs or busy bars, I tend to make friends with random strange women. I have no idea why. I'm not one of those types I've read about that gets drunk and makes out with women (is that still a cool thing to do by the way, or did it phase out?). I just make friends with them. I get a little tipsy and strike up conversations with women, never men. This is especially weird because I'm normally kind of shy. So do any of you amateur psychologists out there have any theories about why the heck I do this? I'm dying to know what you think.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Poetry Thursday


Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new
Whose name you meditate--
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

-- Sylvia Plath

Monday, September 19, 2005

On Some Fun Girls

This is a picture of my girls in a really big frying pan. We went over to the Washington coast for my 18th birthday. My sister Leah, my friend Jennifer and my friend Sarah went on a road trip through Portland to pick up my friend Annie. It was really really a lot of fun. But Annie is not the best direction giver. We were driving around Portland looking for the "Gothic bridge" which is not really called that. And, when we stopped to ask people they looked at us like we were maybe dangerous and didn't answer us. But, we eventually found Annie and made it to the beach where we met up with my family. It was a small beach town and we explored and swam in the (very cold) ocean and drove on the beach in the middle of the night. The car got stuck but we managed to unstick it. Looking at the picture really makes me miss my friends. My Leah is here with me now, but she has to leave tomorrow. My Annie lives in Seattle and my Jennifer lives in Yakima, but I don't know where Sarah lives and that's sad. I resolve here and now to do my best to find her.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

On the Dailiness of Life

Well Water
Randall Jarrell

What a girl called "the dailiness of life"
(Adding an errand to your errand. Saying,
"Since you're up . . ." Making you a means to
A means to a means to) is well water
Pumped from an old well at the bottom of the world.
The pump you pump the water from is rusty
And hard to move and absurd, a squirrel-wheel
A sick squirrel turns slowly, through the sunny
Inexorable hours. And yet sometimes
The wheel turns of its own weight, the rusty
Pump pumps over your sweating face the clear
Water, cold, so cold! you cup your hands
And gulp from them the dailiness of life.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
the Sphinx. Oedipus said, "I want to ask one question.
Why didn't I recognize my mother?" "You gave the
wrong answer," said the Sphinx. "But that was what
made everything possible," said Oedipus. "No," she said.
"When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
Man. You didn't say anything about woman."
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "you include women
too. Everyone knows that." She said, "That's what
you think."

-- Muriel Rukeyser

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On a Good Girl

I would like to introduce you to a girl named Claire. She is 16, she is my sister and I am so proud of her. This girl has been through a lot. She was basically forced to become an adult starting at age 12, because of some problems between my mom and stepdad. Claire was forced to take much too large a role in the raising and daily care of her little brothers and sisters. She didn't have any time to grieve for her situation or be comforted for the pain she might have felt. She was too busy doing that for the others. And, rather than rebel in high school and act out to draw attention to herself or cry for help, she has grown into a wonderful and responsible young woman. She is a joy to be around. She is even honest and candid about how she feels. I am writing this because I read an article written by her in the Yakima paper. I am so impressed that I have to share it with you.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

On Some Silliness

I thought this was cute, although I think they may have gotten Hagrid confused with Popeye in a few places. The penultimate one is my favorite.

Monday, September 05, 2005

On a Cute Little Car

This is a picture of me, my sister Claire and my brother Peter in front of my very first car. No, we were not giant people, the car really was that small. It was a Honda 600. The 600 refers to the engine size - 600cc. I believe that it was the first car Honda made, they just stuck a car chassis over a motorcycle and called it a car. I absolutely loved it. Down a big hill I could get it up to almost 80mph and up a hill I could get it to almost 30mph. Sometimes, if my passenger was willing to press up on the bottom of the radio, I could pick up a few AM stations. I would get gas every couple of weeks and $5 filled that puppy up. One time, during school, some boys turned the car sideways in the parking spot so that I couldn't leave. It was still inside the lines, but just barely. I had to find some more boys to turn it back for me. One of my friends was not allowed to ride in it with me for safety reasons. Her mom bought her a huge volvo wagon. On hot days, the rear view mirror hung limply and I couldn't use it, but it would work fine when the weather cooled down. It was a four speed and I learned on an automatic. My mom gave me one lesson and then I drove it to school on my own. It was not an easy stick to drive either. I killed it three times on the way to school but then I was fine with it. I think that there are some people from my high school that still remember me as the girl with the little green car. I do miss it sometimes, but only nostalgiacally, I wouldn't really want to drive it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

On a Sonnet about God?

Sonnet 29
William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my place with kings'.