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April 9th, 2014 by admin

Apollinaire’s formula for happiness.

Le Chat

Je souhaite dans ma maison :
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.

Guillaume Apollinaire

April 5th, 2014 by admin

Salvatore, c’est ich: the life of a linguistically confused girl

If you were to ask me which fictional character I most identified with, of course I’d say Lizzy Bennett or Cathy Earnshaw. But there’s another, rather less appealing one: the 14 c. hunchback Italian monk Salvatore from Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, who speaks no one language but a mixture of at least half a dozen, including Latin, vulgate Italian, French, Spanish, English, German. Here’s a sampling of his speech:

penitenziagite! watch out for the draco who cometh in futurum to gnaw your anima! death is super nos! pray the santo pater come to liberar nos a malo and all our sin! ha ha, you like this negromanzia de domini nostri jesu christi! et anco jois m’es dols e plazer m’es dolors…cave el diabolo!

That. Is. What. Speech. Sounds. Like. In. My. Head. And it’s alienating. And lonely, unless you are around people who are like you. Which is why in some ways it’s fitting that this character would be a hunchback, and burned as a heretic (spoilers fair game; if  you’d wanted to read an Eco novel you’d have read it already.)

I only know 4 languages. And I do mean “only”–Americans think 4 is a great deal, but I know loads of people who speak a lot more languages than 4. But I often can’t think of the word for something in one language and I get very frustrated when the correct word, but in the wrong language, wants to trip off my tongue. I honestly feel like some kind of feral child sometimes. Like those nightmares some people have – and I am one of them – about wanting to say something but finding you are mute. Or trying to text someone and finding it keeps texting the wrong words.


March 30th, 2014 by admin

I’m not a snob. You just make me homesick.

Those consonants at the end the phrase “coup de grace” are not silent. So if you pronounce it coup de “graaahhh,” I will laugh. Not to be mean, but because phonetically speaking, you have just said “a blow of fat.” (coup de gras, as it were, which I hope is not a real thing)


March 30th, 2014 by admin

Don’t say you can’t help who you fall in love with. Of course you can help it. That’s how the incest taboo works.

March 25th, 2014 by admin

élégie aux chats

I had to put down my cat Bilbo on Saturday. He was about a week shy of his 14th birthday. I knew he wasn’t going to be happy ever again after his sister Diana died over the summer. Dying from a broken heart is a real thing.
I actually used to not be fond of animals at all. I quite liked fur. I associated cat ownership with weirdos who never really seemed to be able to put on clean clothes before leaving the house. I didn’t initially want any cats; my ex insisted we adopt them. And it never occurred to me until now that they were the only ones who really saw EVERYTHING. They were with me through marriage and divorce, in New York, Frankfurt, Berlin, Washington, Berlin again, Paris, New York. Blackouts, hurricanes, unemployment, madness-inducing midnight shifts. They were born in NY so it makes sense that they would die here.
I don’t think I really understood very much about life until I became a pet owner. Some of that was general immaturity on my part, but I think I was also kind of terrified of something depending on me. And so of course I was surprised that those cats didn’t really need me at all, except in the most basic sense that I could operate a can opener. And this was a profound discovery. They were such elegant, noble creatures. Cats are not capable of shame–they stole food off my plate with impunity–but they are hilariously capable of social embarrassment. If they did something clumsy or fail an attempt to leap on a high bookshelf, they’d try to pretend nothing happened and look sheepish. Grace was important to them.
And so was simply Being There. At university I studied Heidegger and all these dumbasses who would talk about abstract stuff like Dasein (there-being in German) and how the point of everything was just to be. And I wrote countless papers on that nonsense without understanding what it was. Having cats can teach you what Dasein means, in an instant. Why didn’t Heidegger (fucking Nazi fyi) just say, “Look at a cat”?
Cats know they are God’s creatures — which is almost definitely why they were deities in ancient Egypt. Far from becoming a crazy cat lady, I learned a kind of elegance and élan that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. And confidence. As in, “I’m kind of great and it’s not important that I explain why. Life is kind of jejeune and the world is full of stupid people but whatever, man. I’m comfy and warm and I take pride in my glossy coat whether anyone is around to see it or not.”
It was having cats that allowed me to take up theism again. Because as they were dying I could see that they were absolutely certain they would be going to another place full of prosciutto and freshly made Thanksgiving turkey and belly rubs. If they are sure, then so should we all be. Goodbye, my darlings. From kitties I learned to be human.
Both these pictures were taken in Paris:
Euny Hong's photo.
Euny Hong's photo.
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March 10th, 2014 by admin

Haiku to friend asking me to read manuscript: I won’t read your book/You don’t know what you’re asking/Friends don’t ask friends this

March 10th, 2014 by admin

Ode to Disappointed Cab Driver Haiku: You saw my luggage/ “Airport!” you thought, 50 bucks/Ha! West 30s, please.

January 31st, 2014 by admin

I wrote this: Tiger Mom is many things—but she’s no racist

Read it on Quartz here.

January 5th, 2014 by admin

Spike Lee’s “Oldboy”: Revenge is a dish best served Korean

Read it here.

December 27th, 2013 by admin

Pertinent facts from some web analytics site: this domain name is worth $145, keywords are Sandy, June, Jew, Admin, Hongs, Irony, 10th, and there’s a corset sale being brought to my attention.