Monday, June 23, 2008

Things I Have Heard at Buddhist Teachings

1. There is a flower that grows in the Himalayas and only blooms once every 100 years. It is a rare person who ever sees it, even in passing, but even she rarely stops to realize its beauty.

2. In one moment of anger you can destroy a lifetime of good karma.

3. The myth of the western hero, replayed in popular films in the west, is of a hero who conquers evil by war and/or violence. But modern warfare is just a funeral pyre on which we heap the bodies of loved ones. (This was the topic of a talk by the Dalai Lama in NYC in --I think- 1996.)

4. Teachings on anger are like the texts on fire management read by forest rangers. There is always a lot of debate about the question of controlled burns.

5. Certain Buddhist masters, it is said, are magicians. They can levitate, manifest in two places at once, walk on water, and leave fingerprints in stone. Some of the greatest still fail to accomplish the most important feat of all: to leave an imprint on another’s heart.

6. The heart has a door which must be opened if one is to become a buddha. The door can only be opened by another human. Never by oneself.

7. A buddha is simply one who is awake. Everyone wakes up--if only for a second before s/he begins to dream again. Ah, what dreams! What nightmares . . . . We must keep our eyes shut tight to see what happens next . . .

8. But this is my question. Are the poems and stories only in the dream state? Would one be able to write if one woke up? Or would there be, as I have also been taught, no words for what/where/how one is then . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Fastest Literary Reviews and the Slowest . . .

Okay, in my last post I mentioned reviews that take a really long time to respond (up to a year and often longer). I'd also like a list of the reviews that are the fastest, the ones that run like well-oiled machines. These reviews often give you a yes or no in less than 2 months. Happily, I think it's probably a long list. I'll add to it as I go along . . . I'd love some help with this!

On the fast list so far, I've heard from friends the following names.

Michigan Quarterly Review, Agni, Gargoyle, DMQ, The Barn Owl Review, Muse, Diagram, The Cincinnati Review, The Pinch, Mid-American Review, Mipoesias, Zyzzyva, New England Review, Poetry, The Atlantic, 2River View, Beloit Poetry Journal

The slow list:

Rougarou, Rockhurst Review, I-70, Pegasus, North American Review, Kalliope, Artful Dodge, APR, New Letters, Cutthroat

Ah-Mary showed me this! Amazing!

And thanks Jeannine for this:

Monday, June 16, 2008

A list of literary reviews that . . .

I was out to lunch with S and other writer friends a while back, and S suggested we writers should make a list of literary reviews that take over a year to respond (or never do). She mentioned APR, Cutthroat, New Letters, Artful Dodge (I love Artful Dodge) and some others that never responded to her queries though she sent SASEs.

Is there such a list? It isn't that I would not send to these places. But it would be nice to know that I might never hear . . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Summer at last. Sigh. Long days. And travel.

Suzanne, my daughter, will be home this week from El Salvador, and we will visit my 91 year old mom in Virginia. 91 years. Phew.

Then we'll fly together back to El Salvador. S. will be done with the Peace Corps in November. I can't wait to have her living in the same country.

Next, there's IMAGINATION in Cleveland . . . The second week of July. Probably my last time teaching there. It's always different, always fun, always inspiring. I hope I am back to feeling like writing by then . . .

I've been spinning my wheels lately. Though I am such a bad judge of my own work, I've realized that often when I think I'm writing well, I really stink. And vice versa . . .

But lately my critic has been on full volume. Change this, fix that . . .

I wish someone would teach me how to turn the volume down.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Teaching Physics, Physics Humor, and the Perfect Excuse

Is there such a thing as physics humor? S asked me the other day.

I don't know. I hope so. I mean, I did write a book of physics humor.

And if I were teaching physics, I'd need a sense of humor. And a lot of compassion.

Students (and not just physics students), btw, make up the most wonderful excuses.

I have been wondering lately if there is such a thing as a perfect excuse.

If so, there should be a prize for it. Every year. A national competition.

But the perfect excuse would have to be subtle. And convincing.

Like a lover. It should convince you it is telling the truth, that it has nothing else to offer.

If it comes on too strong, you won’t believe it. Or if it is too weak, too vague, who would listen to it? Or forgive it for all its trespasses . . .

No, the perfect excuse has to be just the right size and shape and temperature. And it must move at the right speed and rhythm . . .

so that you move with it into an alternate universe where all answers are yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!

And all endings are happy.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Dear Professor Do You Live in a Vacuum?

can now be ordered on Amazon. It's a collection of poems based on emails, comments, and notes students sent to my husband, a professor of physics.

When I first started collecting these, I sent a few to Lawrence Krauss at Case Western Reserve University, and he encouraged me to put them together in a book. I had this fantasy then of a mini-book of physics humor--and if it ever took off, I'd use it to promote science education . . . (Oh, such fantasies I have from time to time . . . )

Here's a sample:

Dear Professor,

You gave us that problem
about driving down the freeway at 60 MPH
in a VW bug and hitting a truck
that was driving at 75 MPH,
and you wanted to know what happened next . . .
I figured the answer was simple.
Drive a truck from now on.

Writing about the Past and Dairy Farming and rBST and r BGH and . . .

I've been writing a little about my past. Not a lot. It bums me out, writing too much about my childhood. Not sure why. But once I start, I hear my mother's voice in my sleep. A dairy farmer, she loved to lecture about milk, cows, organic food, CAFOs, you name it. I wake up sometimes, mid-lecture . . .

She was like a fact machine. You couldn't just sit back and relax, once she got started.

Here's the kind of thing she would say to anyone who happened to visit . . .about cows and milk and . . .

In case a person wanted to know about such things:

Grass-fed cows produce less milk than grain-fed, but it’s sweeter milk, as long as they don’t get into the onion grass.
Grain-fed cows gain weight and grow faster, but not as fast as those hormone-dosed cows.
But everyone knows. Hormones aren’t good for women or cows. In the case of cows, the hormones, rBST and rBGH, can increase milk production by 15%.
But these hormones are banned in Europe and Canada.
And if it weren't for Monsanto, they'd be banned here, too.
They make the cows sick. A cow isn't designed to be producing but so much milk. And who wants to drink the milk of a sick cow?
The farmers in the States inject the cows with antibiotics, and it’s hard to say just how much of the antibiotics get into the milk we sell. And into the ground water.
Some suspect rBST and rBGH increase the risk of reproductive cancers in humans.
Of course there’s always the others who say everything’s safe.
Go ahead, eat, drink, and be merry.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Things I've Been Thinking about

1. If we don’t elect a D in November, the Supreme Court will become even more conservative. McCain has promised to anoint another Alito or Roberts . . . Or how about another Scalia . . .

2. Grist is still the best source of on-line news.

3. I wish Hillary would stop wearing pantsuits. If she wants to wear a suit, why not a nice Italian men’s suit, 3-piece (navy or black or pin-striped) with a tie. And a hat. I like men’s suits and hats. They compliment every body type, and so far as I know, they don't usually come in yellow and aqua.

4. I think certain chain restaurants should be banned. They remind me of CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. CAFOs, in case you don't know, fatten animals up on hormones and grains, esp. corn. If you eat steer (or steaks) from CAFOs, you consume lots of hormones and bad karma.

5. My mom used to rant and rave against CAFOs. And my dad said he felt sorry for each and every steer. "But if I were a bull with no balls," he added, "I’d want to eat all day, too. I'd be just as happy then at CAFO. Or a Pondersa."

6. On the farm, where I grew up, the term "corn-fed" was synonymous with fat. "She's just corn-fed, that's all. You just need to give her a little time in the pasture . . . "