I’ve been to the Willie Wonka Factory. Be jealous.

I was in Atlanta last weekend for SEWSA and my presentation on the Victorian Supernatural. And- major plus- I got to see my sister, who made the absolutely insane decision to move away from me to live in Atlanta some three years ago. Ahem. And a moment of silence.

Ok, moment’s over. Anyway, we’ve both been kind of insanely busy this year, so even though we’re less than three hours away, this is the first time we’ve gotten together since December.

We had lots of fun. We went to Atlantic Station for dinner. Atlantic Station isn’t a restaurant–it’s an area of Atlanta that has streets and streets of restaurants, bars and stores, all topped with fancy-schmancy lofts. The whole area is beautiful: great architecture, convenient sidewalks, gorgeously decorated store windows, sidewalks, street lamps, trees and grass. I’m a fan of trees and grass. It’s like an old-fashioned town center for the rather wealthy. The stores are all quite upscale and the loft prices are astronomical. But they let even us poor academic-types in to look, so we had fun.

We wandered around after dinner critiquing window displays and talking. And lo and behold, we found Willie Wonka. He says his name is Kilwin, now. (Maybe he’s trying to put the creepiness behind him with new nomenclature. If so, I just inadvertently outed him. Whoops.)

Here is what is fabulous about Kilwin’s:

And they had karaoke! The girls in the middle are singing, the blue screen is partially visible in the far right of the picture. I had Poker Face in my head for the rest of the night. No, I didn’t join in- what happens in Japan, stays in Japan….

And best of all…

Chocolate macchiato cup ice cream.

Life is good.


It’s all right if we do nothing tonight.

The Ant


The ant moves on his tiny Sephardic feet.
The flute is always glad to repeat the same note.
The ocean rejoices in its dusky mansion.

Often bears are piled up close to each other.
In their world it’s just one hump after another.
It’s like looking at piles of many melons.

You and I have spent so many hours working.
We have paid dearly for the life we have.
It’s all right if we do nothing tonight.

I am so much in love with mournful music
That I don’t bother to look for violinists.
The aging peepers satisfy me for hours.

I love to see the fiddlers tuning up their old fiddles,
And the singer urging the low notes to come.
I saw her trying to keep the dawn from breaking.

You and I have worked hard for the life we have.
But we love to remember the way the soul leaps
Over and over into the lonely heavens.

Lake Barkley, Kentucky, July 2010

I don’t always read the poetry in The Atlantic; the poems are kind of oddly smushed into the rest, so if I skip them while focused on the articles it’s likely that I’ll forget to go back. I’m so glad I caught this poem in last year’s July issue.  The third and sixth stanzas have become talismans, unnecessary, but oh-so-necessary, reminders that regardless of the looming work, sometimes it is more important to spend half an hour watching the squirrels with the dog.

I think this poem is just beautiful– the introductory acceptance of the vastly differing forms of existence, the acknowledgement of the necessity of work, the underlying pride in the jobs well-done, the recognition that work, however well-completed, is not the purpose of life.

It’s all right if we do nothing tonight.

eta: There is so much more here, in this poem, that I haven’t quite grasped–which, I suppose, is the beauty of poetry. There is so much striving in the 5th and 6th stanzas–the singer (inevitably ineffectually) trying to keep the dawn from breaking… but (that pivotal conjunction) we remember (it doesn’t happen now) the way the soul leaps (and keeps returning to earth) to the lonely (love that) heavens. The triumph is qualified, but real: the striving, not the achievement. Matched with the theme of the entire, the necessity of rest, this is such a perfect image of the tension, the necessity of balance, in life. In my (as it is my blog) very humble (well, I’m posting it, so clearly not that humble) opinion.