Ireland, Part I: Frosted Shreddies Beside the Bog

bog country
Boggy stretch of Connemara.

When we were diverted in the pouring rain on our way to County Mayo, exactly halfway through our road trip around Ireland, we wound up on a twisting, narrow, and nameless road through a boggy stretch of Connemara.  I remembered our trip the National Museum of Archaeology in Dublin a few days before, where we saw the bog bodies— human remains found, eerily intact after hundreds and hundreds of years, in Ireland’s many peat bogs. One of them, known as Old Croghan Man, is believed to have been over six feet tall and was found with a braided leather armband around his left bicep, which, along with his manicured hands and his varied diet, suggest a person of high status.  Cuts to his body, including the removal of his nipples, may evince a ritualized, tortured rejection of Old Croghan Man’s kingship, as suckling the king’s nipples was a sign of submission. The old kings were symbolically wedded to goddesses of the land and harvest; famines were signs of displeasure with the kings’ leadership, and the kings were therefore murdered, their bodies buried in the bogs that would later fuel the fires needed to cook the fruits of later harvests and keep the people warm, the same bogs that also hid gold and illuminated manuscripts, animal bones and broken pots.  I thought of all this as I ate Frosted Shreddies, bought from a Tesco outside Wicklow on the other side of the country, straight from the box in the passenger’s seat of the car, as we listened to Van Morrison. I tugged on my polka dot raincoat to leave the car and take pictures of the landscape both lush with green and desolate with cloud and exposed turf. 

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Can’t Take Me Anywhere 5/27/19: Cleanliness Is Next to Harvey

oliver-hale-705232-unsplashI moved a small bookshelf in my apartment on Saturday, and was greeted by a dust bunny so large that it was more like a dust Flemish giant rabbit.  I was moving the bookshelf in the first place because I’d decided it was time for some redecoration: I had framed some posters and pictures, and had some others I’d just never gotten around to hanging, so I enlisted Dakota in this fun project for the long weekend.  We were trying to finalize the placement of the print from the recent Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum when I found Harvey, and in some ways, it’s been downhill ever since.

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Take Me to a Wedding 4/27/19: 1 John 4:16

k wedding
Photo credit: Mom

It’s hard to believe, when one is standing over a pile of grimy white folding chairs at eleven a.m., surrounded by a Pinterester’s nightmare of wooden crates and beer growlers and baby’s breath, that a wedding is going to happen in a mere six hours’ time.  We’re short a table, unless ten folks want to try to jam ten pairs of adult legs under a table more ideally intended for six or perhaps eight; the high winds knock over fragile centerpieces, spilling water already discolored from plant matter in cascades over the rented robin’s-egg-blue tablecloths; there aren’t enough scissors or extension cords or wine glasses, the latter issue having already sent no fewer than four relatives on a desperate errand to Party City the previous evening.

Donna told me, when I was panicking the night before my own wedding, that things always come together, and that it was important to remember that it would be one of the very few times that so many people I loved would be all together in one space.  I imagine something went wrong at my wedding, but who could say what anymore?  I do remember all those people in that one space, and the way it added up to the only memory that really matters: that of being surrounded by love at the moment Dakota and I promised more of that love to each other.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Les demoiselles d’Avignon

Pablo Picasso, Les demoiselles d’Avignon.  Oil, 1907.

Trying something new: I’m going to post a short-short (aka flash fiction) on Fridays, at least for the next few weeks.  Let me know what you think!  This one is about the upcoming AP Art History exam, with (of course) a cameo from Hannah Gadsby.  (You haven’t seen Nanette yet?  Come on!)

Les demoiselles d’Avignon

Aidan asks me to skip the afternoon with him and go to MoMA.  “It’s basically studying,” he says. “We can get in for free. Calc is going to be whatever because Popov isn’t here today, and then, like, what, you have studio?”  He leans up against my locker, all that long curly blonde hair slipping out from behind his ear, hiding the curved row of silver studs climbing up his left earlobe. I’ve looked at that ear every single day in AP Art History.  I know how many earrings there are (nine) and the shapes they’re in (a skull, a cube, an X, and six little balls).


“I can bring my flash cards,” I say, and instantly know I’ve said the wrong thing.  But I was planning on flipping through them during studio while spacey Ms. Abrams just drifts around our easels, so I don’t want to miss my study time.


He rolls his eyes and smiles.  “Whatever, Swann. Let’s just bounce after lunch is all I’m saying.”

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Poem: Anemoia

Anemoia is defined as “nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.”

Top photo: Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash; right photo, on Unsplash.

I’m going to paste the text below the collage in case it’s too small to read; I feel like it might be but I’m having a hard time making it bigger.


Remember— the long late summer evenings
we never spent beside the canals,
bicycles not leaned against lampposts still unlit,
witbiers with their drizzles of orange never drunk?

No.  We never sent postcards back home,
bright with foreign stamps; never stacked
up Polaroids with garish magnets from Munich or Prague,
never ran up phone bills with calls lit with tears.

I was never there.  I gave the best years of my life
to a different sorrow, monochrome and beyond redemption.
April in London, Christmas in Sydney— it happened somewhere,
for someone.  Not for us: tender, forgetful, young too late.