Sunday, June 05, 2005

guest post 6

More from Kep:

When Nina first asked me to guest post here, I was skeptical. How many readers do you have? I wanted to know.

Two – she answered.

I’m doing this for two readers?? Christ, tell them to pick up a comic book in the interim, what’s the matter with you – you’re worried about pleasing two readers?

No, I’m only worried about pleasing one. The other is an add-on.

Okay, ha ha ha, so funny. How many then?

Forget about numbers – she tells me. Write for the person you respect most as a reader and don’t worry about the rest. I switch back and forth. Typically there is a person or two in my mind’s eye when I’m thinking of a post.

Alright. My sister – hey, are you reading this, sis? I hope not! I just insulted you here yesterday – but maybe her anyway. She’s pretty loosey-goosey about stuff. So this story is for you, sis:

Nina once told me that one of her earliest memories is from back in Poland, playing with her sister, saying to her -- I can, too, stick string beans up my nose if I want to! Then she proceeded to demonstrate. Up, up, up, went the skinny bean. Her sister watched, horrified. Eventually, parents were summoned and all hovered over Nina with her nose plugged by two very far-reaching beans. Special tweezers had to be used to get the damn things out. She says she’s glad her grandparents farmed organically (this was Poland in the fifties – I did not think anyone farmed organically then, but she assures me that her ancestors were the original composting anti-pesticide freaks) because it made the beans stronger and therefore they did not fall apart and cause trouble up her nose.

So look what we have here: a sib who is an audience for her, who will allow her to perform and test new things, even if it is just sticking beans up the nose. Today it’s beans, tomorrow it’s some impressive cure for the common cold. From buggered beans to the Nobel Prize in chemistry maybe. Of course, I don’t think Nina is on anyone’s short list for a science prize, but still, you could say that her experimental, daring-to-be-different nature started to develop right there, with her sister watching.

Hey, sis, at least I wasn’t a handful for you: I don’t remember sticking anything up my nose, your nose, anyone’s nose.

Not that I wasn’t tempted sometimes.

guest post 5

More from Kep:

We have this Deep Throat thing going. I am to get a cryptic signal from the Ocean author herself when she is ready to resume her blogging duties. No sign of anything this morning, so here I am posting again.

I woke up this morning thinking that bookstores are overrated. I see it this way: I go to one, I pick something and either it’s interesting and then I am there reading and getting cramps in my legs, how stupid is that, or it bores the crap out of me and I feel like a complete moron, not worthy of the various academic degrees stuck in a moldy box in some basement. (Mom? Dad? Do you know where my degrees are? Yes, I finished school already! Jesus!)

Nina is in love with Borders. She told me that when it was abandoning its original Madison building, she felt emptier than when her last kid left for kindergarten. She has one of those frequent everything cards – buyer, drinker, Internet user, all for Borders Borders and more Borders. Sick.

I asked if she was equally fascinated with bookstores in Poland and France and she gave me one of those “you poor pathetic chump” looks. Apparently bookstore-love does cross oceans. Of course, it’s not like Borders. At Borders you can eat, read, drink and play footsie with your loved one for all they care. In Paris, she tells me, the atmosphere is more serious. In fact, after her last trip to one this past month she wrote me this: God, I love how all the bindings there are so white that when you enter a bookstore you feel like you’re in a book hospital!

These days, she says she is especially drawn to leafing through Gogol. Okay, fine, make me feel like a moron. It’s not as if I hang out at Farm and Fleet on my days off. I have my special places. If I blog here long enough, I’m sure you’ll hear about them.

I need to say this: everything I write here about the Ocean author is true. She swore that if she ever caught me doing anything more than giving slight poetic flavoring to a story about her, she’d fire me without pay (the compensation being our friendship). I take her seriously. Polish women can really deliver on the threats, I’m told.