Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Harp-Snapper" out in The Mom Egg

That's right, my lovelies. My poem "The Harp-Snapper" is out in the new issue of The Mom Egg, their first online issue. This is an awesome journal that deals with themes of motherhood and mothers. So get in the genetrix groove and get reading!

Here's the link to the current issue

Celebrate poetry!

Irish Judge Makes Racist Statements Against Roma

Outrage fills me as I write this. The ridiculously one-sided and poorly informed Independent published this article Roma raise children to steal-- judge. The title, which should be in scare quotes and is stated as though this ridiculous claim is fact, tells a shameful story. Judge Aingeal Ni Chonduin made this outrageous statement after sentencing a 16 year old mother to 7 days in jail and a 200 euro fine for stealing clothes and children's shoes. The girl was brought over by her partner, 5 years older than her, when she was 13. She had her child at 15. The Health Service Executive had conducted welfare assessments into the girl's situation, but did not deem that any action was necessary despite the glaringly obvious fact that she is a victim of statutory rape.

Judge Ni Chonduin made this obscene generalization: "That seems to be the culture, that is the way the families function, unfortunately, to go about to steal," said regarding the girl's circumstances. She also said it seemed that the children were "raised" to steal.

"It is a different culture, it does not go with our ways and our shops are being robbed blind," she said.

What a complete OUTRAGE! This clearly racist woman should be removed from her post. How DARE she accuse an entire culture and ethnicity of raising their children to steal based on the case of one desperate young mother who was clearly trying to provide for her child! And saying these untrue, provocative remarks during a time of depression about an ethnic group that is already regularly discriminated against world-wide is not only disgusting and irresponsible, but also outright dangerous.

Thankfully, I'm not the only irate person. These quotations were taken from the far more responsible newspaper The Herald, Anger as judge says Roma children are raised to steal.

Pavee Point, which runs a Roma programme, expressed disappointment."It is not part of Roma culture or any culture that I know of to raise children to steal," a spokeswoman said."The vast majority of Roma parents would be horrified with that suggestion. It's not helpful for anybody in authority to make comments that only serve to stereotype and scapegoat an already marginalised community. I'm sure there are some members of every community who are not raising their children correctly and are engaged in deviant behaviour, but that doesn't mean the whole community is."

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the judge's remarks were "inappropriate and unfair", while Pavee Point Travellers Centre said they further "scapegoated" the Roma community.

Thaindian News reports:
Hindus have asked for resignation of the Ireland judge who reportedly accused Roma community of raising their children to steal.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was simply not acceptable from an honorable judge to blame the whole ethnic group of about 15-million people for a wild allegation like this one.

Dealing with a case of Roma teenager at the Dublin Children’s Court on Wednesday, Judge Aingeal NĂ­ Chonduin reportedly accused the Roma community of raising their children to steal saying they were responsible for “our shops being robbed blind”.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that this did not reflect well with one of the world’s most beautiful countries of James Joyce and William Butler Yeats and known world over for its warmth and welcome. They also urged leadership of Ireland’s majority Roman Catholic and other religious establishments and religious leaders to come out openly against this accusation as religions told us to help the helpless.

Few months back, Roma residents in the nearby Northern Ireland were reportedly terrified and forced to flee their homes due to repeated racist violence.

This was happening in the middle of Europe, which claimed to be the torchbearer for the entire world regarding human rights. Was this the way in which the civilized societies functioned in Europe, asked Rajan Zed.

-Sampurn Media

Speak out, my humanitarian friends! Demand Judge Aingeal Ni Chonduin's removal!! Make some noise! Remind people that Roma rights are worth supporting! The future of humanitarianism is in all of our hands! This judge has made a racist statement that shows that she is no judge at all. Lies about the Roma people stop now!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Words remembered and forgotten

And misplaced. I notice that since I have been moving and traveling around the USA and Europe my accent and idioms have become rounded, reshuffled, and resurfaced. I'm saying Irish idioms as though I've said them all my life. Instead of vite-a-mins I say vit-a-mins... and then there is my renewed love of bluegrass and funny little southern similes born from college, and all my New Hampshire, northern turns of speech have suddenly blended into the onslaught of new words and ways. Only the resilient stay, but, I'm not really sure that they were "the original" speech. German, Spanish, French, and Italian have slipped in too, jumbling with each other and poking fun at my English. At first, I was alarmed, and tried to re-instate my fading American accent and reclaim and my quirky New Englandisms as though my personality would disappear along with them if I didn't work fast to recover them, store them sagely, make back-ups.

But then more I tried to remember, the more I forgot. I remembered saying "I'm wicked tired of this jet-lag," in Italy, and "Auf Wiedersehn" to my grandmother in New Hampshire. And didn't I speak Spanish in Virginia? Didn't I order lunch perfectly in Madrid? Didn't I tell L's mom that getting financial aid from the states is like pulling teeth from a horse? What are the infinite ways to say, "It's colder than a witch's tit?" Didn't S murmur "Git 'er dun," in Dublin? Didn't that perfect gentleman say "Bonsoir" so sweetly?

This struggle quickly birthed a understanding. I wasn't losing anything. I'm gaining an accent that reflects all the places I've loved and the sounds I've soaked up. Every year that passes, every country I stay in, all the languages I learn shape my accent, shape my brain. And my personality has always been bigger than Epsom or Hampstead NH. It's all ok. Remember and forget. Learn.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Change War for....

I really liked this little montage in Cork city "Change War for ...." It's so sweet, innocent, and happy. And war sucks, don't you agree? Hugs, parties, and flowers are so much better. What would you change war for?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Decidedly not listening to jazz

The jazz weekend in Cork starts tonight and not having the bus fare into town and not wanting to walk 10 miles in the dark puts me in the house in the B-Ghetto. I know there are many things I could be doing: I could patch my other jeans, read about wine science, clean, or engage myself with a patronizing TV documentary. I just can't convince myself to embrace the joy of a domestic night in when I know that small city magic is occurring down the street just out of reach of my wallet. Is this myopia? Maybe. Sometimes a dirty kitchen just isn't enough adventure for me. Or maybe I need to be more creative, like making a replica NH state capital building out of expired ready-break and sultanas.

New Facet

I like to blog about subjects which I feel passionately about, such as Poetry, Literature, and Writing; Roma-Gypsy Rights, and Human Rights in general; Feminism; Nature and the Environment; Politics; Love; Baby Ducks and Puppies; etc. But I also love food. I'm going to talk a bit about that now too.

Food is weird for me because I have Celiacs Disease and a soy, onion, and a few other allergies. Plus I'm sort of a vegetarian (Yeah, I know that makes no sense). What I mean is, I was a strict vegetarian for 13 years, but my many recent health issues have required me to begin to incorporate some fish and chicken into my diet. I get quite sick without them and I haven't found a way around it. SO, really I'm a former vegetarian with good intentions. And it's difficult to eat at restaurants without getting really sick, but luckily I love to cook, especially Italian and Indian food.

Really quick suggestion: Roasted Kale

I discovered this 5 minutes ago! Take a few bunches of kale... adapt for your eaters. Wash and strip the leaves from their tough stems. Dry with paper towels. Spread onto baking tray and drizzle lightly with good quality extra virgin olive oil. Then sprinkle with good quality sea salt and pepper to taste. Stick in the oven at... oh, 350 F and let roast for 5 minutes, keeping close watch. Then flip the little leaves over and roast for another few minutes. They should be crisp, not burnt. Then, eat!

It has a high-ish fat content due to the olive oil, but they are good fats, and the entire snack is quite healthy and really delicious, even if you normally don't like kale. And kale is an extremely healthy green vegetable full of vitamin C and K, plus lutein, zeaxanthin, and calcium. It's also an anti-inflammatory and full of anti-oxidants.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


While L, his mom, and I were adventuring around the back of the island these swans came out of the sea and waddled us to us, hissing, honking, and looking for food. It was so magical to be so close to these creatures so often described in myth and folklore, but it occurred to me that their 'realness' was what made me love them. They carried off no Leda that day. They only wanted what everyone wants, to thrive. The swan represents poetry, spirituality, and the poets' spirit, so I'm taking their vocal appearance as a good omen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Goodbye Ireland, Hello Scotland!

Well, in September '10. I got into the MLitt Creative Writing programme at the University of St. Andrews! I'll be studying poetry starting next September. I AM SO EXCITED!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two New Poems-- The 13th Warrior

Hey Everyone,

Two of my poems, "Babysitting," and "In the Waiting Room," came out in The 13th Warrior recently, another groovy journal. Check them out here and support poetry! Hope you like them!

(This is some graffiti I captured in Cork city)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And Now I Look Like a Woman

I have been meaning to write this for a while now, but as with all new endeavors, I needed some time to process. I stopped shaving totally, all together about 2 months ago. Poverty put the idea in my head, and then fashion feminism cemented it. I couldn't really afford another razor blade, and my skin was so irritated from shaving with soap and dull razors that I just stopped for a week or so. I asked my husband if he "minded" and he burst out laughing, "It's your body and you are a woman, and grown women have hair. Of course I don't mind. And even if I did, why should you care? It's your body. You have a right to your hair. When did women start shaving anyway?"

I always considered myself a feminist in the true sense of the word. Why on earth would I ask my husband if he "minded"? Obviously culture has done some naughty things to my brain. So I did a little research and stumbled upon this article, "Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture" by Christine Hope. According to Hope's research, the fashion industry began "encouraging" American women to shave their underarms around 1915, when sleeveless fashions became popular. Harper's Bazaar featured an ad stating: "Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair," which appears to be the beginning of degrading women's body hair in America. The war against leg hair appeared when fashion shifted and allowed women to display more than just an ankle. According to Hope, convincing women to shave their legs was more challenging, so advertisers got creative. "Some advertisers as well as an increasing number of fashion and beauty writers harped on the idea that female leg hair was a curse."

Well that was the last straw for me! I stopped shaving that day, permanently. Despite my new freedom, I still felt ashamed of my body hair though, so much so that I actually became anxious in social situations! I'm bisexual and have had both male and female partners, but it was always my previous male partners who felt strongly about my body hair, one of them saying he preferred "hardwood floors" which was his stupid euphemism for "the pre-pubescent girl style." (P.S. This guy was also physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive). The extent of my anxiety alerted me that something was wrong. What did I think was going to happen? Did I think that men, women, and children would shield their eyes from the soft black patches under my armpits? Did I think that the bus driver would strike me as I hitched up my skirt to step on the bus? And, more importantly, did I think they would be justified? What a scary world that would be! I had to think more seriously about this, about taking control over my own body, owning my natural womanhood, loving every little hair because it's mine and it's supposed to be there.

This blog post "The Politics of Body Hair" by Anji on her awesome feminist blog, Shut Up, Sit Down is a wonderful exploration of culture, body hair, and looking like a woman. I agree with every word! I quote,
"Much of this can be attributed to the fetishisation of youth. Like glossy hair, bright eyes and unlined skin, hairlessness gives the body the appearance and feel of a young girl’s, or what I once saw described on the website of a hair removal product as a ‘prepubescent appeal’. It is curious that in a society where paedophilia is so reviled and such a huge problem, it is thought of as harmless and ordinary that men live out their paraphilic fantasies by requiring that the women they are exposed to look as young as possible. Pornographic media advertises its ‘barely legal teens’. Actresses are routinely referred to as ‘girls’ rather than women. The image of the ’sexy school girl’ is accepted and even desired, not just in pornography but in advertising, music video and themed nightclubs. Women slather on creams and apply blusher to their cheeks in order to attain a more ‘youthful’ appearance. Cosmetic surgeons and expensive underwear promise to give the illusion of the ‘firm’, ‘pert’ and ‘perky’ breasts which generally only occur naturally in adolescent girls. Most curiously of all, women are required to remove the most visible, prominent physical sign that they have entered adulthood – their bodily hair."
Just now, two months after the fact, am I beginning to relax with my new, adult woman body. The belief that body hair is ugly was so strongly ingrained in me by my culture, my exes, and my mother (who tirelessly degraded my body) that it really took a lot of positive affirmation for me to become comfortable. But ultimately, it is people like Anji and my husband who reminded me of all the fantastic feminist reasons why I was inspired to give up shaving in the first place (and no, not because of dull razors and crappy soap, although that helped). Also, the idea that I am supposed to look this way for a biological reason certainly gave me a wake-up call. Anji says,
"Grown women are, after all, meant to have hair on their armpits, vulva and legs. There is nothing ‘unnatural’ about a hairy woman; if there were then the hair would not grow there in the first place. Likewise, there is nothing ‘unfeminine’ about a hairy woman; if femininity is defined as ‘like a woman’ then a woman in her natural state is by definition as feminine as she can be. Indeed, one could say it is the hairless woman who is ‘less feminine’, as she removes parts of her natural, womanly body."
The fact is, it is a totally unreasonable "standard of beauty" that convinces women that they want to shave, or that they "prefer" themselves shaved. It's just another way to control women, to keep them looking like girls, and to deny them their natural bodies, which are ultimately the paragon of beauty. So ladies, what's it going to be? Repression and Razors or Liberation and Fluffiness? I love my fluffy self. I look like a woman.

Roma Children Drowned before an Apathetic Public

The Picture that Shames Italy EPA

I have read and re-read this story of the two Roma (Gypsy) girls drowned on a beach in Naples, Italy and the beach-goers continuing to sunbathe beside their corpses as if the dead children were nothing but seashells. This is a news story from July 2008, but it is just as pertinent this year. It is truly gruesome, but unfortunately, it does not surprise me. Racism has no boundaries, which is why it must be conquered by love. We are all people.

To be balanced, I have two news sources, The Independent "The Picture that Shames Italy," and EveryOne (a human rights organization) "Two Children of the Ethnic Group Roma Drown in Naples." Both are excellent articles covering the terrifying incident, but EveryOne has done some more digging, finding the story that the girls went into the water of their own volition a little hard to swallow.

Two girls Cristina, aged 14, and Violetta, aged 14, were selling trinkets on the beach with their two cousins, aged 13 and 11, and drowned in the rough tide. The Independent credits their drowning to their exhaustion and the temptation of the cool sea during the hot day, but EveryOne points out how unusual it would be for these girls to decide to go for a swim while they were working and when the Roma culture takes modesty very seriously. However, the most disturbing element of this tragedy is that the beach goers continued to enjoy the sun and such beside the washed up, lifeless bodies of these children as if they were not there at all. Peter Popham of The Independent writes, "The indifference was taken as shocking proof that many Italians no longer have human feelings for the Roma, even though the communities have lived side by side for generations."

"This was the other terrible thing," says Mr Esposito, "besides the fact of the girls drowning: the normality. The way people continued to sunbathe, for three hours, just metres away from the bodies. They could have gone to a different beach. It's not possible that you can watch two young people die then carry on as if nothing happened. It showed a terrible lack of sensitivity and respect."

Popham describes the Italians' relationship with the Roma people, "Roma have been living in Italy for seven centuries and the country is home to about 150,000, who live mainly in squalid conditions in one of around 700 encampments on the outskirts of major cities such as Rome, Milan and Naples. They amount to less than 0.3 per cent of the population, one of the lowest proportions in Europe. But their poverty and resistance to integration have made them far more conspicuous than other communities. And the influx of thousands more migrants from Romania in the past year has confirmed the view of many Italians that the Gypsies and their eyesore camps are the source of all their problems. The ethnic group is often blamed for petty theft and burglaries. According to a recent newspaper survey, more than two thirds of Italians want Gypsies expelled, 'whether they hold Italian passports or not.'"

Roberto Malini writing for EveryOne concludes his article, "'The Roma people are just a scourge,' say the politicians, the authorities, the journalists. The tragedy that took place on Torregaveta beach is not worthy of shedding a tear for, not worthy of wasting a prayer on.

On the sand lie two starfish."

Check out groups like EveryOne and Roma Rights and see what you can do. There are frequently efforts to contact government officials in countries like Bulgaria, Romania, and Italy (really most countries to be perfectly frank) that have serious human rights issues concerning the Roma people who are too long mythic scapegoats and targets of violence.

Love all people.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This is my kitten hat. I got it ages ago in Portsmouth at this great store called The Odd Showroom. I put it on and it has made me happy all day. I got some strange looks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fashion is Danger

I was never Fashion-Conscious. In high school I wore whatever I felt like, usually bohemian and gypsy-traditional, or just completely bizarre punky contraptions. In middle school I wore leather pants and shiny purple sneakers. I was made-fun of constantly, and usually for my off-key clothes. But I really didn't care. I still don't care, and I wear whatever I like, but suddenly I know that leather is so in this season and I'm lusting after this Top Shop dress.

Stud Leather Dress - View All - Dresses - Topshop

Shared via AddThis

But of course, this is when I can't afford to feed myself properly. So it's more like I'm a fashionista in a "oh-wow-that's-so-pretty-but-I'll-just-stick-to-darning-my-jeans-for-the-third-time-and boy-am-I-hungry" way. So I "shop" online and drool over the "click here for a larger image" images and that's how I sate my esurience. I've seen all the over the thigh boots and sheer dresses, plus Kate Moss' limited edition line at Top Shop... I've seen it all. I'm not complaining. I'm sure I'll lose interest next week anyway, and besides, I really like those jeans. Patches are still cool, right?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Neglected adventuring

This is a shot of Blackrock Castle which now houses an observatory for the astronomy students at CIT. L and I went on a walk a few days ago out here just for a change. It's been difficult to achieve a balance. We used to work compulsively but for the past year we are forcibly unemployed. We drove ourselves crazy for the first 10 months studying wildly, applying to literally hundreds of jobs, and scrambling for a new plan. I got 15 poems published, applied to the graduate programme of my dreams, and L took up piano and discovered that he is very talented. But we burned ourselves out with all our scrambling. So the last few weeks we decided to take it easy. But that made the stress even more salient. It's like we spend our time trying not to exist. We see our poverty, we feel the ache of homelessness and the discomfort of depending on others for shelter, and all the small dramas that we try to ignore become central, and we bicker. It's desperation. 40 percent of the city is unemployed. We don't have enough to sustain us and that feeling of not enough is exhausting. Aging. We wonder if we should have stayed in America, but all wondering does is remind us that there is no one to tell us what we should do now. What we can do, we realised this morning, is give ourselves some kind of plan. Balance work and play and be strict. Go on small adventures. And to remember love brought us here and love will see us through. And ask the gods to let us win the lottery today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bits of Vanity News Chosen at Random


Basically, I start Italian lessons on Thursday, and I am terribly excited.

Next, I seem to have Celiac's Disease. I've gone gluten-free. I'm chatting to my Dr. in a few hours.

And, a poem of mine us appearing in The Mom Egg mid- October. Yay!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

a poem I like tonight

I grabbed this poem from Ada Limon. She posts original poems in her blog which I became enamoured with shortly after her poem "Crush" appeared in the New Yorker. Enjoy!


The night opens cartwheel quick,
hiccups the moon into one electric
fit, and I’m so gullible that I still believe
it’s a miracle, still come surrendered
to the sky’s fantastic empty. But
let this one be yours tonight,
with the city’s audience of blurs,
an audience of applauding hours,
and I’ll take this quiet corner, like
a cat who sleeps on the furthermost
edge of the bed, with a look that says
only, I am happy to have just this.
It is enough that in this same sweet now,
you are somewhere existing.


I have not been a faithful blogger. What is there to say? 10,000 things and more. But what do I want to say? That is much more limiting.

Other people's cats are curled on cushions or left outside. There are spiders all over the walls wherever I haunt, the one critter that used to send me screaming, but I've gotten used to them. I can even put a teacup over them now until L can usher them outside. Small feat. I don't like the way they move. They remind me of every human predator I've ever known.

Insomnia curls up beside me again. I know it happens when something stressful happens with my family back in America. Knowing that I can't sleep because of trouble doesn't help, probably because my little equation isn't always true. Much of the time I don't sleep because I remember the things that used to happen in the dark, or darkened places, and I can't convince my awareness to desist until daylight hours. As I explained to my mother-in-law earlier, "It's just something about the dark, but then, I can't sleep in the light."

I don't like to complain about the limbo state we're in... even though we're poor and scraping by in other people's homes and waiting for work, I still feel lucky. I feel like someone is taking care of us. And it's nice to be in love with nowhere to go. This total rootlessness though that I imagined I would like when I was a teenager picturing myself in Europe in my twenties is not as rich and contemplative as I had thought. Actually, I found that I love having charming, kind, ebullient, warm friends surrounding me, and I miss the wonderful friends that I left behind in various countries much more than I thought was possible. That is my only real complaint, and it is one motivated by love, so I don't scold myself.

So all night I have been reading Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, which is a masterpiece of short fiction. Read this collection if you're into stories! It deals with immigration, loss, homeland, relationships, and travel so crisply and with such insight and succinct brilliance that I can't put it down. Wow. This woman will be remembered.

I suppose I bring this little dream to a close. So tell me, Reader, do you have a cure for insomnia? I've tried the drugs and they don't work.