I think I'm funny with the title--last week, one of the topics I was teaching was how the brain processes linguistic ambiguity, and one of the sentences whose ambiguity my students had to explain was "Kids make healthy snacks." Lexical ambiguity three ways--can you see all three?
I love how my stream of consciousness on Simic yesterday segue'd both into the essay I had to write on Simic and into an aspect of this personal essay on which I've been working furiously the past month. I've been writing every spare minute since my last post! Even the harder prompts have been generative and helpful this month!
Yes, the HAWMC prompt for today is to imagine a dinner party to which we can invite five guests, yielding MFK Fisher's ideal party of six, I notice, including anyone, either living or dead. I agree that six is a good number for a dinner party--intimate enough to allow melding of ideas and sustain a single conversation rather than having people break off into little groups. But how on earth am I supposed to pick just five people from all of history? Additionally, am I to envision a dinner party based just on conversation, or am I to take into account food preferences too? Do I need to invite people who would be content to eat carrots with me, or do I plan an elaborate spread, none of which I'll eat, and spend the party bustling in and out of the kitchen like my grandmother does (did)?
Actually, I can make eating carrots seem fairly attractive, between this carrot cake...
...and these carrot brownie bites...
...and this carrot cream cake!
But anyway, who's for dinner? One of my first thoughts in response to this question was to recall a post from Lori a month back in which she and Amber and their partners met up in San Francisco. Since I used to live in the Bay Area too, and love both these ladies so much, from afar, at the time of reading all I could think of was that I wished I could have been there too. Add my Phil, and we'd have a party of six--we could all go to Cafe Gratitude or Millennium, if we left it in SF! I'd love to spirit Joanna down from Portland too. And definitely make sure Meredith joined us. That's the West coast...
If I stayed in the blogging world, there's several other ladies whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting in person and with whom I'd love to spend a relaxed evening. Basically, everyone whose blog I read is someone I would like to know. I imagine a wonderful evening in NYC with Gena, Lori and Michelle, Shannonmarie, my dear friend Bitt, and perhaps we could spirit Lisa down from Toronto to join us too--if I'm in NYC, anything is possible! There's a lady in Boston I'd love to have join us there too.
For another spin, as part of the prompt, they also suggest including some possible reference to your health condition. Well, one of my health conditions isn't exactly conducive to dinner parties (!) Another of my 'conditions' is one shared by very many artists and poets, so perhaps I'll just give my imaginary dinner party with artistic ladies (funny that all my dinner parties are mostly ladies) from across the years. This will be a spiritual banquet of souls, because I have no idea how to devise a meal that would please palates from two thousand years ago and from the present day and from across the world, as clever as I am about "dishes dissolving difference." So, around that table I would have Sappho, and Sei Shonagon, and H.D., and Adrienne Rich, and Naomi Shihab Nye. There's one other person I would invite, if I could exceed the "five" stipulation, and that would be my great-great-grandmother Rachel of Basra. I don't even know her last name--I don't know my great-grandmother's maiden name, and they all changed their names when they moved to Israel anyway. This Rachel, for whom my mother and several of her cousins are named, never left Iraq. She died before the expulsion of the Jews in 1950. But I would love to get to know her, to give her the opportunity to know one of her descendants, as she was apparently a barefoot doctor. My mother's healer persona and my own fascination with herbs and remedy-concocting, as well as nutrition, probably comes from her. Naomi, she, and I (ha, sounds like "Naomi Shihab Nye!) could talk about peace in the Middle East. Myself aside (if I am alive), Naomi is the only living poet in that bunch, and she exemplifies the life-affirming, welcoming spirit that would cement the group.
I would love--love--to be present for a meeting between Sappho and H.D., and to be able to participate in that conversation myself. Last month I wrote a huge essay about H.D., some of it about how she uses Sappho in her poetry as a bridge to enable expression of deeply personal material behind the mask of translation. If you know me at all, you'll understand why that interests me so. I'd love to see whether the Sappho that H.D. projects is the same Sappho who lived on Lesbos in the 600's BC, and how H.D. would respond to getting to know the real woman. And I'd love for all of us to meet with Sei Shonagon from Japan, with her medieval courtliness and her feminine strength. I'd love for Adrienne Rich and Sei Shonagon to talk about the role of women in the world. Gosh, wouldn't you love to be at that party?
Who would YOU invite to your dinner party?