Archive | February, 2011

RE: Mr. Darcy. I mean, Colin Firth. Same person.

28 Feb

  1. I choose to believe that Mr. Firth, to the far right, won his Academy Award for his role as Fitzwilliam Darcy on the A&E presentation of Pride and Prejudice. Never mind that the miniseries was for television and not for film. Never mind all of that. It’s all about perspective.
  2. The show itself was predictable, super boring, and not very well-hosted by Hathaway and Franco. Next time, instead of appealing to the younger set, I think choosing a tried and true entertainer as host is the best way to go. (And cutting out all the silly animation spots and silly filler and silly banter would be terrific.) That’s if I watch next time. The end of a long era may be soon coming, at least for me. It’s just not the same anymore…
  3. Please see #1. After 3-plus hours, Dreamy Firth’s win was pretty much the only highlight. To celebrate, I intend to watch a certain miniseries this coming weekend…

I’d like to thank the Academy, my mother, my dentist, my gardener…

28 Feb

It’s the only awards show I eagerly watch. (Sorry, Blockbuster Awards). These days, I may be longing for the old days of Hollywood glamour and kind of projecting that longing when watching, but it’s still fun—to guess the winners before they’re called, to watch with friends, and to make fun of the crazy outfits. Not too excited about James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting tonight, but we’ll see. Almost time for the show to begin…I miss you, Billy Crystal!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abundance

27 Feb

Abundance, indeed.

Foiled again, Carpenters!

25 Feb

I was ready.

This morning, as rain roamed through the atmosphere and I frowned like a 10 year-old, I thought about the song you see above. 

I planned to use it to lead into the painfully long missive/manifesto/diatribe that I would quickly compose here at home base Kitten Heel Marvel, regarding my deep, deep distaste for rainy mornings. It didn’t matter that it was Friday (“Rainy Days and Insert Day Here always get me dowwnnn…”). I had a plan.

Then I looked out of the window.

At the powder blue sky. At the clouds coming apart. At the absence of rain.

I should be happy, after all.


Improving Weather: 1 / Kitten Heel Marvel’s Intent to Express Anger by way of Manifesto and The Carpenters: 0

I’m Gonna Do It! *gulp*

24 Feb

Ok, so this will be interesting. I’ve decided to sign up for the WordPress PostADay challenge.


Yes, every single day. We’ve had issues before with my regularity. Nevertheless, the past is the past! This is the beginning! I will be posting on this blog once a day for the remainder of 2011, oh, yes, I will…

I’m also promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog (thanks to those who do!!), I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and goodwill along the way.



it’s just been me dialing myself then following the ringing to another room.

24 Feb

This is Billy Collins.

I’m in love with him.

Mr. Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 – 2003. His poetry is witty, tender, and thought-provoking; he writes poems about everyday things like the suburbs and snow days that, on the surface, seem simplistic, but are bursting with all kinds of meaning underneath.

How, how, I love him so.

The title of today’s post is taken from his poem The Breather, which…let’s just say that it evokes something heartbreakingly familiar in me. The text of the poem (and a few other ones from him) is further below.

Poets rock.

I think it’s high time I look for poetry readings in the area to visit. And go here! And make my way to the bookstore for some anthologies by Billy Collins.

The Breather

by Billy Collins

Just as in the horror movies
when someone discovers that the phone calls
are coming from inside the house
so too, I realized   
that our tender overlapping
has been taking place only inside me.
All that sweetness, the love and desire—
it’s just been me dialing myself
then following the ringing to another room
to find no one on the line,
well, sometimes a little breathing
but more often than not, nothing.
To think that all this time—
which would include the boat rides,
the airport embraces, and all the drinks—
it’s been only me and the two telephones,
the one on the wall in the kitchen
and the extension in the darkened guest room upstairs.

Snow Day

by Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,   
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,   
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost   
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,   
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,   
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,   
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.   
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,   
as glad as anyone to hear the news
that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,   
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,   
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—
the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School   
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,   
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,   
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,   
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

The Death of Allegory

by Billy Collins

I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractions
that used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintings
and parade about on the pages of the Renaissance
displaying their capital letters like license plates.
Truth cantering on a powerful horse,
Chastity, eyes downcast, fluttering with veils.
Each one was marble come to life, a thought in a coat,
Courtesy bowing with one hand always extended,
Villainy sharpening an instrument behind a wall,
Reason with her crown and Constancy alert behind a helm.
They are all retired now, consigned to a Florida for tropes.
Justice is there standing by an open refrigerator.
Valor lies in bed listening to the rain.
Even Death has nothing to do but mend his cloak and hood,
and all their props are locked away in a warehouse,
hourglasses, globes, blindfolds and shackles.
Even if you called them back, there are no places left
for them to go, no Garden of Mirth or Bower of Bliss.
The Valley of Forgiveness is lined with condominiums
and chain saws are howling in the Forest of Despair.
Here on the table near the window is a vase of peonies
and next to it black binoculars and a money clip,
exactly the kind of thing we now prefer,
objects that sit quietly on a line in lower case,
themselves and nothing more, a wheelbarrow,
an empty mailbox, a razor blade resting in a glass ashtray.
As for the others, the great ideas on horseback
and the long-haired virtues in embroidered gowns,
it looks as though they have traveled down
that road you see on the final page of storybooks,
the one that winds up a green hillside and disappears
into an unseen valley where everyone must be fast asleep.  

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.

18 Feb

I read a pretty dismal article in the newspaper this morning. Borders Books has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will close about 30 percent of its more than 600 stores. Apparently, they were late in joining the Internet/ebook/iPad revolution and have significantly suffered (more than $1 billion in debt) as a result.

That royally stinks.

I have a special place in my heart for Borders Books. Not only because I suspect I’m part of the rapidly diminishing number of people who actually love the feel of an actual book in their hands (not on a computer screen, not being tweeted, not Kindled); not only because stepping into a bookstore fills me with the kind of giddy anticipation that I can’t fully describe (but oh, what a feeling!); but mainly for reasons quite close to my heart.

For three years, ages 19-21, I was a bonafide Borders bookseller (never cashier; always bookseller, they told us on the first day). It remains—despite growing up and “real” jobs and all that—one of the most interesting and eye-opening places I’ve ever worked. Why? Make way for my beloved bullets:

  • Desire of a Book Nerd Fulfilled: it was the best environment for a happy English major and her obsession with books. I worked at Borders during college and I relished it. I literally cried when they hired me. Next to wanting to work in a library, it was my dream job.
  • Of Like Mind: I was working alongside people with whom I had a lot in common, which meant something at age 19. (These days, forget commonality. Give me a paycheck and send me home at 5pm.) Fellow writers, avid readers, just plain awesome people.
  • Um…: a fellow bookseller, pure infatuation, but it felt like love. A wonderful, wonderful him. I think about him still, from time to time. ANYway, that’s entirely another Kitten Heel discussion, after I’ve had a few drinks and am quite ready to sink a few ships with my loose lips. Ok–currently inundated with memories, moving on.
  • A Little Learning, For Sure: I got to see and learn about the merchandising/business-y side of the book selling game. Pretty interesting.
  • Oprah, Power, Still Blows my Mind: She released a book on her show. MINUTES after the airing of this show, a gaggle of women raced into the store and asked for the book. It hadn’t even been released yet. Their disappointment (“But Oprah recommended it. Why don’t you HAVE it?”) was utterly comical. That scenario happened more than once. Yeah. Power.
  • Java Girley: most booksellers work all over the store. The front check-out area, the music desk, the information desk, and the café. During my stints in the café, I really took to making the cappuccinos and the mochas and the other coffee drinks (because of my deep, abiding love for caffeine? maybe?). I still remember how make those drinks, many moons later…

End of my beloved bullets. A few memories from that sweet, kind of incredible time in my young life.

I find the situation with Borders undeniably sad and disconcerting, beyond my personal memories. Universally, it would be a terrible loss if these stores disappeared. That giddy bookstore feeling really can’t be beat.

Take these Delusions of Grandeur and Shov…uh, Kindly Put them Away.

15 Feb

So, I’ve been on a tiny (well, not really tiny) sabbatical from the gym. I won’t go into why, per se. Let’s just say that the couch is really, really comfortable. And when you combine that oh so comfortable couch with a carton of ice cream, well, there you go. Anyway, I decided to stop being a baby and get back to exercising regularly. 

Last night began my weekly ritual: after work, I headed to the gym for an hour or so. And you know what? I enjoyed myself. (For the most part, I do enjoy exercise. It hurts, I complain, my limbs cry out for relief and said comfortable couch, but deep down, I like it. Yikes. Quite an admission. But it’s true…)

The delusions of grandeur came during the drive home: That was a good workout. But it’s really better to work out in the morning. At least that’s what I’ve read. Ok, here’s the plan: I’ll go to bed early, wake up at 5am and go the gym, which gives me plenty of time to get ready for work when I get back home. In fact, maybe I can do 5am workouts every other morning during the week. Shouldn’t be so bad. Good plan!

Here we go…

Delusion #1: This “waking up at 5am” business. I am sleep-deprived. Therefore, getting to bed at a reasonable time (Delusion #2: I’m a career night owl) and waking up bright and early to work out? Nope. I went to bed to early last night and slept right through the 5am wake-up call, mostly because my body needed that rest and will always need it. Not going to happen.

Delusion #3: This “waking up at 5am” business every other morning. See above. Ha! Ha!

Again, Ha!

In hindsight, I recognize that I was happy and excited that the initial plan came together, that I was able to get to the gym last night. I also recognize that this happiness and excitement led to promise-uttering/visions-of-leaving-the-house-at-dawn/crazy talk mania. In reality, I’ll stick to the evening workout routine and take advantage of weekend mornings where I don’t have to rise too early in the morning.

Reality is so much better than 5am.

Reflections of the Weekend that Used to Be.

14 Feb

This past weekend was interesting.

A dream is an answer to a question we haven’t learned how to ask. I had a pretty vivid dream during the weekend. Other than the fact that reading all these mysteries is clearly having an impact on the old subconscious—I was solving a crime with a ragtag group of amateur investigators—the dream was intriguing for another reason. At one point, a dream character (i.e., no one I know in real life) turns to me and says, “You need to move to Los Angeles.” So…yeah. Curious, being that my initial desire, before the desire to move to Europe manifested itself, was to head to the West Coast and settle down there. I was actually looking for jobs, readying my resume, the whole process. I recognize that it was only a dream, but…have I learned to ask myself whether the West Coast is the viable choice? Viable in comparision to Europe, which is far less about practicality and wanting to satisfy my Europhile wishes? Was the question cushioned somewhere in the back of my mind, waiting to be answered in a dream? Heavy questions for a dream that was largely about solving a crime in the Hollywood Hills. Nevertheless, very, very interesting…



After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. I’ve long discussed my passionate love of music on this forum. This quote takes all my exclamations and feelings and oohing and aahing and pontificating and wraps it up in one startling, amazing sentence. Not much else needs to be said. As far as the weekend is concerned, other than crazy dreams, I overdosed musically. Downloading songs, getting lost in them, allowing music to push my days forward. For the record, I’d just like to say that Sara Bareilles’  album, Kaleidoscope Heart, may be one of the more touching, honest, heartbreaking, and intelligent records I’ve heard in a long time. It would be nice to see artists like Sara drowning in media love, instead of artists like the Bieber. Just saying.

The short end of my interesting weekend. Onwards with this Manic Monday…

I Love You, Madeline Chrytzer!

9 Feb

There was a lovely, thought-provoking article in this morning’s USA Today about thanking the teachers that inspired us.

Like the article’s author, there were several teachers and professors that inspired and mentored me, both academically and personally.

However, there was only one Mrs. Chrytzer.

Madeline Chrytzer was my fourth-grade teacher and undoubtedly the singularly most influential teacher I’ve ever had. Why? It can be summed up in one brief conversation: one afternoon, I walked up to Mrs. Chrytzer’s desk and told her how much I loved books. I can vividly recall how excited and passionate I was about my little declaration, which probably startled Mrs. Chrytzer, being that I was definitely one of her quiet, shy kids who hardly said anything at all. But that day, I couldn’t help myself. I told Mrs. Chrytzer how books and stories were my favorite things in the world.

You know what, Girley? One day, you can write books, too.

(She didn’t call me Girley, but that’s my online moniker. Onwards.)


Of course, you can. You can write the same kind of books that you love.

Many, many years later, I still remember every aspect of that conversation. I remember her kind face, her kind eyes, how she smiled at my shock, how she repeated that, yes, one day I could become an author, too. She was aware of my gigantic imagination, of the books I devoured, of how going to the library was the most exciting part of the day for me. She was simply aware.

Thank you, Mrs. Chrytzer, wherever you are! I love you! Thank you for assuring that wide-eyed 9 year-old girl that she could follow in the footsteps of the same authors that brought so much joy and wonder into her little life. I never question where my genesis as a writer began: it began in your classroom.

*Honorable Mention: Mrs. Kristin Leedom, my 11th grade English teacher. If Mrs. Chrytzer inspired the genesis, Mrs. Leedom gave me a significant tool to put it all together: translating my love of writing into a viable college major (English).



Sincerely, Taj

Dear World, I have stuff to say, so get cozy. Here, I've got cupcakes.

Fully Awake and Alive

A collection of poetry and essays on politics, social justice and the condition of humanity

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