olive oil * aceite de oliva

For Memorial Day, I made quinoa with lima beans, fresh baby spinach, and toasted pine nuts. Well, not exactly toasted: I fried the pine nuts in olive oil, even better! I ate this with a homemade hummus of blended chickpeas, lemon juice, and fresh garlic. One of these summer days, I will make pesto… but I am too engrossed in reading Tsitsi Dangarembga and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to leave the house often. 

It’s fresh basil I’m usually missing.

Over the phone, I told a friend what I ate for my Memorial Day lunch. She said, “What about the barbecue?” What barbecue, I said. “You’re supposed to barbecue on Memorial Day.” People barbecue on Labor Day, I said. “No, we barbecue on Memorial Day, too. Where is the BBQ meat? And what do you call garbanzo beans?” Chickpeas, I said. “Chickpeas aren’t meat.” What do you call toasted pine nuts? (I didn’t mention they weren’t actually toasted.) “Toasted? You call that a barbecue? And are you calling garbanzo beans… chicken?”

Something about the conversation – the chickpeas-not-meat, the toasted-not-barbecue – made me laugh. I couldn’t help thinking of the “eat more chiken [sic]” cow waving to me at a corner Chik-Fil-A as I drove to a neighboring town to buy fish. This Chik-Fil-A is located next to an In-N-Out, where the cow, presumably, might’ve escaped. I always wave to the cow, which makes him or her happy (jumps up and down). I’m awaiting the friendly cluck-a-cluck of chicken mascots one day, too.

Those of us at the top of the food chain are certainly consumers in every sense of the word… I am thinking about all this while typing this blog entry… and jotting notes for a conference paper on the poetics of surrealism, which isn’t due until the 2011 MLA convention, but a number of recent adventures have put me, serendipitously, in the right mood to contemplate the politics of surrealism in literary contexts.

* * *

As for the near future, it looks like Los Angeles, and possibly Washington D.C, according to a new poet-friend Sawnie Morris from Taos, New Mexico, whose invitation was a blessing out of the blue.  

2010 West Hollywood Book Fair
Poetry Reading & Signing

2011 MLA Convention, Los Angeles
Presider: Karen An-hwei Lee
Panel Session: Transnational Feminist Spaces
Panelists: Erin Ninh (UCSB), Josephine Park (U. Penn), and me
Respondent: Sandra Lim (U. Mass)

2011 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Poetry Reading & Signing
Contact: Elena Karina Byrne

2011 West Regional Conference on Christianity & Literature
Thanks to the collaboration of stellar colleagues, my department will host this conference on our campus – a wonderful opportunity for our undergraduate English majors!  Go English!!  Our students presented a Senior Capstone version of CCL this past year, and next year, we’ll organize the West Regional CCL.  I am so proud of our department.

2011 Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles
Poetry Reading & Signing
2011 AWP Convention, Washington D.C.
(in progress… we’ll see how things go!) 

prayer postscript:  It is a blessing to share God’s creative works with a spirit of love. I am grateful for an ever-increasing circle of this love, which requires that I take risks, fortifying the substance of faith.   

second prayer postscript:  If you have  moment to pray, please add these women to your healing list… a woman with cancer in the lymph nodes (was in remission, now returned), a woman with paralysis in her left hand (it’s her “writing hand”), a woman with cancer & an estranged husband, and a woman with silent gallstones.

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