Notes from Lithuania (4 of 4)

The word taip in Lithuanian means yes. Well, actually it’s taip! that means yes, it means a whole host of other things as well when it’s attached to certain words. I’ve taken to adding it to whatever I’m saying, turning it into a suffix of stupidity.

Ačiū, taip? Laikas, taip? Gelbėkite, taip? Ačiū, a word for thank you. Laikas, a word for time. Gelbėkite, a word for help. And for murder.

Tikras, taip? Or tiklus, taip? Tinkamas, taip? Am I saying this right? Am I saying this right, this thing I need? Is this correct? Should I be doing something? Or not doing this other thing? Is this the right word? Can I repeat that again? Can I pretend I will remember and return to this place tomorrow and forget the word when I need it more than I do now and ask you again to repeat the word and can I then repeat it back to you? Like this? Yes?

Then the new meaning of taip when said in return.

Yes, that’s the word. Yes, that’s right. Yes, you repeated me. Yes, that’s the word for that. Yes, I can bring you that. Taip. Yes, you’re welcome. Yes, you are a foreigner. Yes, thank you. Yes, the blessing. Taip. Yes, you are not from here and taip, even the word for affirmation is closer to some other thing in the place you call home.

Notes from Lithuania (3 of 4)

My hunger for English sneaks up on me. It follows me around, jumping out when the loud British guys walk by, when I pass the Australian couple at a café. My lack of Lithuanian is complete in ways that my Japanese was not. I can’t even say God bless you. I’ve tried a couple of times, and reverted immediately to Salut! or worse Gesundheit! I push that one down pretty quick, as I think it would only be worse if I tried to bless people in Russian.

It’s possible they don’t say God bless you in Lithuania. I mean, the Danish have no word for please.

At the bank, I happily chirp Aš nesuprantu as I’m leaving the currency desk, only to be gently reminded by the teller that it’s viso gero. You are understanding, yes. And saying goodbye, yes. Viso gero.

I want to ask my barista for a drink on ice, but while I can find the iced drinks on the menu, I can’t figure it out. She points to the word: “For us, šaldyti? This is freeze.” She points to another word and another one. None look like what she said, this šaldyti. Different cases of the same word. Frappes, lattes, and coffees lay out their relationship to ice. With ice, on ice, iced, can be with ice, cold like ice. I stammer through a pronunciation, only to have her laugh and correct me. When I order my drink, and then I say the word again, she laughs and corrects me. Different case. Different word. I tell her that English doesn’t have as many differences.

She stirs the ice in my latte with a purple straw. “This is American thing, I think. We have more shades.”

Notes from Lithuania (2 of 4)

2. I see things like JCDecaux on a kiosk above a city map, and I think hey look, that’s the same typeface as JCPenney. I wonder if decaux is Lithuanian for penny?

Which would mean that Penney was actually penny, which it isn’t. Which would mean that Lithuanians had pennies at all, which they don’t. And it would also mean that some kiosk in Lithuania could be made by an American department store, which it isn’t.

Long story short: decaux isn’t Lithuanian for penny. I’m just a font nerd done in by my delusions. But I’m pretty sure that JCDecaux and JCPenney use the same typeface. At least in Lithuania.

Notes from Lithuania (1 of 4)

I wrote a bit in Lithuania but didn’t have the chance to update the blog. Without further ado, those brief observations, in no particular order.


I’m certain the irony of playing “Californication” at the café of a modern art museum in Lithuania is lost on the Lithuanians.

They serve wine by the 100ml in Lithuania. To get a nice full glass of wine, you have to ask for a double. Just the wording of that is a little lascivious, especially as a woman, eating alone, a lot closer to forty than thirty. I look around after I order, wondering what comes next. The coral tank tops with beaded trim, the zebra-striped capris, and the gold gladiator sandals? Good god, the pressure to not become a horror show stereotype is enormous. It’s enough to make you want a double wine.

Recordings at Kenyon Review Writers Workshop

They recorded every single one of the amazing readings at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop last month. They’re up on SoundCloud for only two weeks or so; download them now!

Here’s the master list.

Here’s the recording from the night that I read. My 3-minute contribution starts at 53:00.

I was so happy to be a part of this lovely group. Thanks to everyone for putting this together.

Heading to Lithuania

I’m leaving Copenhagen today and heading over (with a fellowship!) to the Summer Literary Seminars in Vilnius, Lithuania. I have no idea what to expect, either from the workshop or from the country. Excited? Nervous? Yes. My poetry workshop is with Dorothea Lasky, about whom I’ve never heard a bad thing.

And for those of you following along with my work, I’m branching out while I’m there… I’m finally taking a memoir workshop with Josip Novakovich. That’s probably the number #1 cause of my nervousness right there.

First Copenhagen, now Vilnius, and in a few weeks, Munich. Such a jet-setting life!

Returning from Kenyon College

I just returned from Gambier, OH, home of Kenyon College and the literary powerhouse Kenyon Review. I was attending the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and words cannot express the soul-wrenching joy, sorrow, and wonder I felt during that week.

Many thanks to my esteemed workshop leader Linda Gregerson, and her fearless fellow Page Starzinger.

And here I am now, sending embraces from the West Coast to all of my new family. I can’t wait to go back.

Copenhagen and CIID Summer School

In two weeks, The David and I will be teaching a five-day course on Storytelling in Design at CIID in Copenhagen as part of their Summer School. This will be the first time David and I will be (officially) teaching side by side, so we’ll try not to break any brains.

Litquake! Thursday 10/17 at Cat Club

I’m so excited to be a part of the MFA Mixer 2.0 Reading for Litquake. This is my first time as a Litquake reader – I promise not to pass out in the bird cage.

Cat Club, 1190 Folsom, in the City. Same time as the usual reading, 6:30 doors, 7:00 awesomeness. Free.

Here are my fellow writers for the evening:

California College of the Arts: Carolyn Abram and Scott Newton Allen

Mills College: Molly Daniels and Rex Leonowicz

Saint Mary’s College of California: Robert Andrew Perez is my partner-in-crime.

San Francisco State University: Sarah Broderick and Yume Kim

San Jose State University: Jessy Goodman and Erik White

University of San Francisco: Chris Carosi and Kate Folk.

And don’t forget the unbeatable 80s dance party afterward. So much goodness.

Big thanks to the hosts/curators of this series, Sean Labrador y Manzano, Nick Johnson, and Jeff Von Ward.

For more information, check the Litquake website.

Poeti della Notte


This will be part one of a three part reading series at our local heavenly pizzeria/unicorn tears purveyor: Il Pizzaiolo. 5008 Telegraph in Temescal.

The whole she-bang starts at 8:30pm and runs until 10:30.

The door may say “Closed for a Private Party,” but that means YOU! Come on in to the patio and sit with us under the big tent. Music, poetry, food, drinks, and friends.

Can’t wait to see you there.

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