Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The People Will Give Strength Unto Their Poet

This is not my only post for the day but I just had to share this from The Writer's Almanac:

One of Czeslaw Milosz's poems was inscribed onto a monument in Gdánsk, Poland, for shipworkers who were killed by the government in a protest. At the base of the monument was a line from Psalm 29, translated by Milosz: "The Lord will give strength unto his people." When he went back to Poland the following year, members of the trade union put up a banner that said: "The People Will Give Strength Unto Their Poet."

Rock the fuck on!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hey, I could blog!

It's almost 4:30 in the morning. I've begun a new writing schedule that involves getting up this early because I don't like myself. No, not really. It's because I've decided to approach this writing thing like a real part-time job. Wait, I might have mentioned that. Yeah, yeah, I did! In my last post! Oh dear God, I need coffee and have not brewed it yet. Anyway, my schedule is two hours a day every day before the kids wake up, and five hours on the weekends that I don't have the kids. I like. I'm a momma first, and I'm still getting the writing done, which was only happening sporadically before.

So when the alarm went off this morning the first thing I thought was, "Need to get up. Need to to get my rough draft notebook." Ok, that's a lie. The first thing I thought was, "Did I see Cameron Diaz in my kitchen last night or was that a dream? Must have been a dream because I can't imagine why she'd need to borrow my cheese grater when she could easily buy one of her own. But maybe she's a cheapskate." It went on like that. But eventually I started thinking about writing and while I was lying there convincing myself to get up I realized, "Hey! I could blog! Blogging is writing! It counts! AND I HAVE INTERNET AT HOME!!!!" This last bit is something that I will probably rejoice over for a while, so my suggestion is that every time you read it take a deep breath and know that my excitement over things like Internet, central air/heat, and movie stars in my kitchen will subside over time.

I haven't written anything too personal in a while, have I? It's mostly just been about condiment sprees and whatnot. I like whatnot. That IS something personal about me. It's just that when I think of personal updates for some reason I automatically think of a romantic update and unless you count the mosquito that sucked the blood out of my ankle, which is the most action I've gotten in a while, then there are no romantic updates.

The kids are good, and things at home are going ok. Grief over the divorce is eeking out in weird ways. Last week when I was at work Chris called to say that he had my child support. It wasn't a bad conversation. He said he had money for me and the kids and I said, "Ok, great thanks," I hung up the phone and then burst into tears. At my desk. Luckily there were no customers in the office. I went over to my coworker Lisa to talk to her about it. She's been divorced before.
"I don't understand, why am I so upset?" I said. "It was a good conversation. It was fine."
"Sometimes that's worse."
I stopped crying and gave her the kind of confused look that you can imagine giving someone who has just told you that good is worse than bad. This conflicts with what we learned in kindergarten. Good is good. Bad is bad. Bad is when you eat finger paints because the colors are pretty and then you throw them up. Good is when your ex husband calls and says that he has your child support. Right?
"When the conversations are civil, or even when they're nice, they remind you of the things you like about him," she explained.
"This is just going to take time. You're gonna be ok, it's just hard to get through, especially the first year. Why don't you go take a walk?"

I went out of the back of the hospital around the hazardous waste dump, which I actually kind of like. It's where those red containers go, the ones that the nurses pitch the needles into after they give you a shot. The hazardous waste dump is where all of the containers go to have their contents incinerated. I just think it's neat to know where they go, and comforting to know that they're not floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The good thing about crying at a hospital is that it's not considered unusual. Most of the people who go there are emotional. Either they're upset about a dying relative or their own diagnosis, they're worried about a loved one in surgery, or they're happy because someone just had a baby. Let's just say that in the last few months, I've gone outside to cry a couple of times and no one's looked at me funny. It's not like crying at the mall. This is a place of high emotion and grief. I walked outside and let myself cry, not thinking any thoughts in particular. It was just a purge.

This isn't something I do often at work. Most of the time I'm just silly. I think I might have annoyed Audra the other day, in fact. A nurse came in and explained how he had lost his I.D., and then ordered a new one but then found his old one and I directed him towards Audra because she processes the badges. I walked in with him and both of us began to tell his story at the same time. Audra held up her hand and said, "Ok, wait. Start from the beginning."
"In the beginning," I said, "God created light. And it was good."
Audra closed her eyes. "Thank you, Gen."
"Or was it Earth?" I asked, suddenly doubtful. "I don't know, I don't read the Bible. How did all that go?"
"Thank you, Gen, I can take it from here," she reiterated and left me in the wake of my theological confusion.

That's what I'm like most of the time at work. I'm not usually crying out by the hazardous waste dump. Besides, sometimes that place smells horrible. It's not only where used needles go to die, but pieces and parts too. Lungs, spleens, fingers, and random bodily tissues. Sometimes when I walk past that place the stink will stay in my nose for an hour.

Jess, the character I'm writing about, is a medical librarian. She loves literature, but she also loves the pulmonary artery on display in a jar in the library window. It's a warning to everyone about what can go wrong. What went wrong in her marriage is not visible. She can't remove it and study it in a jar. She can only get rid of the things that remind her of it, which is partly way she's having the garage sale.

Her driveway is aligned with power tools she can't identify, a folding table with glass vases she never used, mismatched dishes, and the rice steamer that she got at her wedding shower, which she used twice in ten years. She arranged these things and others on either side of her driveway, and when she walks down the middle of it, it reminds her of walking down the aisle on her wedding day.

I'm going to try hard as hell to change the story just enough so that no one reads this thing and says, "Oh my God, she's writing about Chris and the kids!" I don't mind writing about myself and my own grief. I just don't want to libel them. So Jess's kids, her ex husband, and her in-laws are different. They're fun to write about, actually. But the grief is the same, and some of the circumstances. I did have a garage sale to get rid of stuff that neither Chris nor I wanted anymore and I was tired of looking at it. And the kids' hard questions are in the story, but then they are questions that children of divorce generally ask.

I'm going to go work on that now. It was lovely to blog at home!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jess & Pam

I, me, Genevieve, that chick who answers the phones, have been sticking to my writing schedule. I know, I know, it's crazy. And I feel fucking awesome. I LOVE it. What I am writing has no structure, has no plot at this point, it's just stuff about Michael, Betsy, Betsy's sister Jess, and Jess's friend Pam. I love these people. Michael and Betsy you've met. Jess and Pam are two single moms who live next door to each other. To get an idea of what they are like, here is a sampling of them talking to their neighbor Lindsey.

Lindsey, a middle aged woman in tight workout clothes, tennis shoes, makeup and jewelry, has stopped by to talked to Jess at her garage sale, but not to buy anything which is what Jess really needs her to do because her electricity bill is overdue and if she doesn't pay it in four days it will be shut off. And her ex-husband is late on childsupport. So she's really hoping that Lindsey will buy something that was his, like the table saw or the free weights or the juicer. But instead Lindsey is asking her about Greg, her ex, and how he's holding up, which is the last thing she wants to talk about.

Lindsey shakes her head when Jess tells her that Greg has had his own apartment for five months now. "I am just so sorry you two split up. You were so happy when you moved onto the block."
Jess nodds, definitely not wanting to talk about happiness. She picks up the juicer off of the folding table hoping that Lindsey will notice it and will suddenly need to buy it. But instead she makes it worse by saying, "How are the kids?"
"Lindsey! Jess!" says Pam, walking across the yard with a glass of orange juice in her hands. She's wearing jean shorts and a blue tank top with her hair pulled back. Pam and her daughter Alex are always dressed like they're ready to climb trees. She sips and says, "What's goin' on with my bitches?"
Jess smiles. Pam always makes her do that.
Lindsey sneers. "Hello, Pam."
"How are things in Troop 11?" she asks Lindsey.
"All right."
"You through fattening up the neighborhood?"
"I think she means cookie sales," Jess explains.
"That's right, the cookies," says Pam.
Lindsey beams. "We did great! Farrah was the top seller again."
"You should be proud, ," Pam tells her. "Cookies are a tough racket. No room for pussies."
Lindsey's mouth drops open and she walks off.
Jess turns to Pam. "What the hell was that?"
Pam shrugs. "Chattin' up the neighbors."
"Why'd you have to talk to her like that?"
"Come on, Jess. Cookie sales? Her mom's troop leader, of course she's got to prove herself. You think she sold all those cookies because she wanted to? She was FORCED."
"Well, could you chat up the cookie moms after they buy something? I need to make atleast $112.23."
"That's specific."
"Electricity bill."
"Shit. When's it due?"
"Ask for an-"
"I've already asked for an extension. That's the last day before they cut it off."
Pam stares at the ground. Then she looks up and says, "I've got some stuff I've been meaning to sell."
"Pam, I asked you if you wanted to go in on it with me yesterday and you said no," says Jess, aggravated.
"That was when profits we're going to me. Now they're going to you," she says, heading to her garage to fish for things.
Jess doesn't say anything. She wants to tell her that she doesn't need the help, but she can't.

That, as always, is a shitty rough draft. Don't know where it's going. It's somehow loosely connected to Betsy and Michael. It's also in past tense, by the way. Don't know why I was compelled to right it in present tense here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Harper Lee - woman of mystery

I have one hope about Harper Lee and it's that she's been writing her ass off for the last 50 years. She hasn't published anything, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been writing and, maybe, stashing it all under her bed. Fifty years is a long time so maybe she's had to buy a few beds just to cram novels underneath them, or maybe she just has one really enormous bed or maybe she sleeps on top of a storage unit. That would be more convenient if she really stopped to think about it.

And let's say that she will not stipulate in her will that she wants all of it burned in the event of her death. Let's think happy thoughts like that. Because that means that when she dies there will be an entire body of work just waiting to be published. Twenty five new books, maybe? 38? I don't know, however many fits into that storage unit that she sleeps on top of.

I'm not waiting for Harper Lee to die or anything, I'm just saying that when she does, as sad and horrible as that will be, maybe there will be more of her stuff to read. Because I do so love her writing.

I say all of this because on Sunday I went with my friend Thomas to see the play version of To Kill a Mocking Bird. I couldn't imagine it as a play until I saw it. There are so many different settings in the book and then there's a narration which I love even more than the dialogue. The prose in that book is gorgeous. But it works on stage. The narrator was there - Scout as an old woman. She sat on a rocker in one corner of the stage telling the story. She also played the knothole of the tree where Scout and Jem find the presents that Boo Radley leaves for them. Scout would pretend to go up to the tree to take something out of the knothole and she was really going up to the old woman who was handing her the trinkets. I thought that was neat, the old Scout passing things on to the younger version of herself.

And I think what I really love about theater is how much of the setting is in the actor's imagination. When Atticus had to shoot the mad dog down the street, none of us had to see the dog to know he was down there. We didn't even have to see the street. The actors were just pretending the dog was coming down the street, and they pretended so well I forgot that, really, they were flipping out and pointing at a wall.

So I would like to read more by Harper Lee. And I can't because it's all underneath her bed. Why would someone who writes so beautifully keep it all to herself? Seems selfish. But then maybe she's like Boo Radley, just afraid to come out, and maybe I should respect that. Maybe I would be more inclined to if she left me some prose in a knothole. Just a paragraph, perhaps.

Egad, what if she did and I discovered that her style has completely changed? What if she genre-hopped into scifi? I'll get an excerpt from To Drill a Mockingborg. Or mystery! Who Killed a Mockingbird? Or worse. Bird erotica. To Thrill a Mockingbird. You can't make a play out of that! Well, you could but I imagine that it would be restricted to brothels and aviaries.

Jesus. Maybe Harper Lee should have all this stuff buried with her. Who knows how her style has evolved in the last 50 years. Still. It would be nice to know.

You don't have to win another Pulitzer, Harper! We still think you're awesome! And we are torn between wanting to respect your privacy and wanting to raid your storage unit for possible short stories! Or maybe, dare I say it, a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. A western called Scout's Last Stand. Where...she's 45 years old and she finally admits that she should start wearing something besides overalls. Hmm, there's no Western angle to that. Uh ok, also, there's a cow in it. This is gold, Harper! Quick! Write it before I am compelled to!

Monday, June 21, 2010

4:55 pm

I've got five minutes left of work and nothing left to do but stare at the clock. It would be so much more classic and dramatic if a whistle blew but then that might disturb the patients in other parts of the hospital.

4:56 pm
Yesterday I drank so much coffee I think that it has now replaced the water in my blood and so now my veins are filled with coffee and whatever else blood is made of.

4:57 pm
What the hell IS blood made of? One of my smart friends is going to answer that, aren't they? One of them who is incredibly intelligent but also a smart ass will say, "It's made of red."

4:58 pm
Does it really take me a full minute to type a sentence? Wow, I thought I was faster than that. Do you guys remember the band Faster Pussycat? Man, they sucked. I don't even remember any of their songs, they sucked that bad.

4:59 pm
Maybe I should have another cup of coffee before I leave. I hear it's good for my circulation. The coffee-to-red content in my blood is off. Need to balance out.

5:00 pm
Time to hit the road.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Condiment Crime Spree

Last night I did not watch the president's speech about the oil spill, even though loved ones and I are directly affected by it. I heard snippets of it while I was flipping through the radio in the car this morning, but I really wanted to listen to music and not the news. But when my bud Jennifer sent me an article about a 74 year old woman who was arrested for pouring mayonnaise into a book drop, I couldn't put it down.

Super villian Joy L. Cassidy of Boise, Idaho was arrested moments after she dumped a jar of mayo into an Ada County Library bookdrop. According to the Associated Press, police said that she is suspected in "10 other condiment-related crimes" that have occured since May 2009. Librarians have also found reading materials covered in heinous toppings such as syrup and ketchup. Despite this, "Cassidy was released from jail and faces a misdemeanor charge of malicious injury to property."

She OUT? She's loose?! There's a maniac out there with a refrigerator full of ammo! Do the cops think that just because she spent a night in jail she's reformed? She probably spent the whole time cooking up a scheme with Grey Poupon! Who knows when she will strike again! I don't trust her as far as I can throw a cup of molasses.

Quick! Lock up your borrowed books and periodicals! Return them directly to the librarian behind the desk and avoid any suspicious characters as on the way in, especially if they're holding a jar of relish! And don't be fooled if there's a hot dog in her other hand! It could be a prop! That relish could have malicious intent!

See why this is more fun than news about the largest oil spill of all time? Which is messed up in so many ways and on so many levels that it makes me sick to hear too much about it so I have to force myself to stay informed? I'm not saying it's a good thing to ignore big news completely, it's just that every so often when your head gets full of Republicans and Democrats slinging horseradish at each other, and environmentalists are telling you that the world will soon become an uninhabitable place unless you stop using fossil fuels and you know it's true but still haven't changed your lifestyle because no one else has changed their lifestyle yet and the few Americans who have are considered freakazoids, and fishermen are out of livelihoods, and hoods are out of oysters to eat, and oysters have no place to live anymore, and it feels like no matter who you vote for they never turn out to be Superman or even the Green Lantern, and just when you begin to lose your Peter Pan-like innocence and belief in hope, goodness, and a sense of humor, you can turn to articles like this:

"Soccer Officially Announces It Is Gay",17603/

ps- If you want to read the mayo article here 'tis:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beastly Misspellings

This will be short, but it didn't fit in with my other entry today and I wanted to share.

The kids have a new babysitter and I went over the rules with them as I always do when a sitter comes. No other kids over, do what she says, brush your teeth, be on your best behavior, etc. So Emma made a list of expectations for herself while in the sitter's care. Though I don't remember all of them word-for-word, I remember the last one precisely:

1 - Brush my teeth
2 - Keep my room clean
3- Be on my beast behavior

The question is, since this is Emma, was that REALLY a misspelling? We'll never know. But if she's is ever in a rock band I'm going to insist she call it "Beast Behavior."

Also, in other kid fun, I made Christopher eat all of his corn last night and he tilted his head back and cried miserably, "OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH! I WISH CORN NEVER EXISTED!"

Dig the drama.


Today I am wearing scrubs in the office. Just in case I need to do emergency surgery on the fax machine. One must always prepare for the unexpected!

But seriously, I am wearing scrubs because I have become a clumsy bastard. Scratch that. I have become MORE of a clumsy bastard. Two weeks ago I was sipping a cup of coffee at my desk when I accidently spilled some on myself. I don't mean that I sneezed and lost control of the cup. I don't mean that someone bumped into me. I mean that I went to take a sip and spilled it down the front of my shirt instead of into my mouth. Like a baby trying to stuff a spoonful of applesauce into her mouth.

"No big deal," my boss said, when I showed him the front of my shirt. "I got extras."

He leant me an oversized button down shirt that's meant for security guards. It wasn't the most flattering apparel, but then neither is a light brown stain in the shape of South America across my chest.

The office had a good time with that. For the next couple of days, any time I drank anything I would hear, "Careful now! Sloooowly." But it died down after a few days of successfully getting food and drinks into my mouth without incident.

Until this morning. I was driving to work with a red plastic cup full of au lait. (environmentalists take note: this will be a strong argument for me not to use disposable cups) It was in the drink holder next to my left-over red plastic cup from yesterday. Sigh. Yes, my car is just a big garbage can for used coffee cups. As I got closer to work I decided that I would take the time to toss the cups when I passed a garbage can on my way to the office. So I lifted my fresh cup and set it inside my old one, the logic being that when I finished the coffee I could toss both cups out at once. I wondered if there might be a little coffee left from yesterday, but then I thought (and I am not making this up), "No. I wouldn't leave any left. I always drink it ALL." So I didn't even check.

So the next time I took a sip I was surprised when yesterday's coffee splashed onto my shirt. All of it. All down my light blue blouse. Five minutes away from work.

Then I remembered a quote from a book I was reading last night. It's the one that the judge gave Chris and I each a copy of at our divorce trial, called Mom's House, Dad's House: Making Two Homes for Your Child. This book is...not fun. It's informative and helpful, and at times comforting but only in a way that I would imagine it would be comforting to talk to someone who was bleeding from both knees if I, too, were bleeding from both knees, because we could commiserate and say things like, "Is this normal? Do you feel this way too?" and the other bloody kneed person would say, "Yes! I'm going through that too!" Much nicer is when one is comforted with words like, "Everything is going to be better from now on. You're going to be ok." And not, "You MIGHT be ok if you are able to make it through this chaotic period without becoming bitter, getting stuck in your breakup, fighting in front of the kids, putting the kids in the middle, getting involved with someone else too soon, getting involved with someone never, getting drunk every night, starting a sleeping pill addiction, and or going bankrupt. Just jump those hoops. You'll be fine in eight years."

Anyway, the quote is about this stage (there are seven, according to the book) that I'm apparently going through called Stage 5 "Off the wall- Troubled but separated." During this phase, and also phase four, which is the intial breakup, "Sometimes day-to-day functioning seems impossible or continues at only marginal levels This dysfunctional reaction is common but dangerous as people are especially accident-prone in both this and the next stage. (p.31)"

So. What this means is that I won't be filling my cup with any piping hot coffee for a while. Just iced for me, thank you. But it won't help with clothing stains. Or flack from my coworkers, who were actually, nicer than expected about it. Melissa went down to the laundry room and found me some clean scrubs. Then she dug out a bottle of Tide and told me to soak the blouse so it didn't stain. Then she told me to get help with my drinking problem. Which was funny.

But not as funny as when my boss came in and found my wet blouse hanging up on the back of his office door. He had taken vacation yesterday and we all thought that he was going to be gone today too, so I figured it would be ok to dry my shirt back there. When I walked into his office, he was standing there transfixed by the blouse before him, brief case in hand.

"Um, Boss, I can explain..." I said.
"I don't I think I've worn this before," he said, in a daze, like he was really trying to remember if he'd worn it or not.
"It's mine."
He looked at me. "Well, that makes more sense."
He went to his desk to put down his things. Although he didn't ask why it was it in his office, why it was wet, or why I was wearing scrubs, I felt the need to go on.
"I kinda spilled coffee on myself. A lot of it."
"Goodness gracious, girl!" he said, in full Alabama accent that usually comes out when he begins sentences with, "goodness gracious."
"I know."
"You're gonna have to start bringing spare clothes or wear a rain jacket or something."
"Sorry. I can go get a new shirt at lunch."
He waved his hand at me. "Naw, don't worry about it. It's Friday."

So at my office if you spill coffee on your shirt on a Friday you get to wear scrubs. I'm learning the rules as I go along.

The next stage according to the book is Stage 6: Learns to wear bibs to Starbucks. I will be reading that chapter closely.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back in the schwing of things

I have returned! Well, really, I retuned Sunday night, but this is the first opportunity I've had to write. At all. Kinda been slacking with the writing and sending things off to be published on a regular basis plan.

"Really, Gen?" I say to myself. (aren't you glad to be privvy to my inner monologue?) "Really? Do you REALLY want to be a writer? Because if you do you might need to write on a regular basis sometime."
"Well, goddammit!" I yell back at myself, shocked at my own audacity. "I'm a busy woman! There are children to feed and clothe! Dishes to do! Bills to pay! Pets to walk! And - and - so forth!"
"And whining to do about how you're not further along in your writing career than you'd like to be. Don't forget that," I add, because sometimes I can be a sarcastic pain in the ass.
I raise a finger to argue with a staggering point, and fail to come up with one.
"Fine," I say. "I'll write."
"On a regular basis!" I fuss.
I sigh. "Yes, on a fucking regular basis."
"No matter what's going on!"
"...Well, how the hell am I going to make that work?"
"The same way you make all those other things work. Find a way, dude. You whine and worry atleast 15 minutes a day, why don't you substitute it with writing?"
"But then I don't get to worry and whine."
I give myself an exasperrated look.
"Alright. I'll do it. Are you happy now, mother fucker?"
I smile. "Yes."

Wow, I swear at myself a lot.

But in other news, the kids are back home as of yesterday! Yay! And I'm getting internet back in the house today! Yaaaaaaay! Which also means that my next blog entry won't be rushed because I won't be writing from work! Yay for everyone, including my coworkers!

That's it. I promise a more entertaining, adventurous post next time, where in I am not mostly talking to myself. Oh! By the way, the trip was great. Jennifer fed me homemade sopapilla cheesecake and hanging out with her and Tom rocked.

But just so you don't feel that you've walked away from this post with nothing to gain, here is useful trivia: By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand. One should carry a stout pole while travelling in quicksand country...when placed under one's back, it helps one to float out of the quicksand.

And here is useless trivia: Francis Bacon died in his attempt to find a better way to serve food. He caught a case of pneumonia while attempting to stuff a chicken with snow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This weekend I am going to Tenessee to visit the Jenn. Who is this, you ask? What do you mean, who is this? Don't you know me and my life story? How can you claim to know me so well and not be familiar with the main characters on the stage that is my life? Do we really know each other AT ALL??

Sorry. Didn't mean to get all crazy girlfriend on you. We still buds? Will you still accept my text messages and coffee invitations? Awwww, you're like the best blog-reader in the world!

Aaaaaaaanyway, this weekend I'm going to visit THE most bitchin' Jennifer in the whole wide world - Jennifer. We've been buds since the tenth grade when I sat in front of her in English class, and both of us for the most part just exchanged shy smiles in the way that unpopular kids communicate without talking. Eventually we did start talking and we haven't stopped since. Jenn is actually the basis for the character Ana Pritchard in my book. Together Jenn and I wrote short stories, drew comics and wrote blood and guts stories to go with them, established The Bullshit Bandits, suffered from a Beatles obsession, ate too much cookie dough, ogled boys that we were too shy to talk to, ogled John Cusack who I think liked us and couldn't decide between the two of us so he had to let us go. You know, normal teenage stuff.

As an added bonus I am meeting someone that you blog commentators know as Tom. Tom the word verification master. The cool thing about this is that, though the Toms and I have known each other for a couple of years, we've never met. He's meeting up with Jennifer & I and the three of us are going to hang out. What will happen when three naturally shy people get together? Shy, creative people who all enjoy John Cusack, cookies, and The Beatles? That's easy. All hell breaks loose! The citizens of Jenn's hometown won't know what hit 'em!

Seriously though, during this time when I'm learning that my friendships with truly good people are (que the sensitive, New Age music) one of the greatest treasures in my life, it is absolutely stellar to have one of my oldest and bestest friends meet one of my newest and bestest friends. Whom I have never met (I can only say that for the next two days, so I'm trying to cash in on that shit). I may (sniff!) cry when we all get together! And then Tom and Jenn will feel uncomfortable, look at each other and one will say, "Sensitive, isn't she?" The other will say, "I KNOW," and while they commiserate I will eat the rest of the cookies.

In other related traveling news, yesterday I took a field trip to the pulmonary department on my lunch break. My boss, also a former smoker, once told me that there are blackened lungs in a display case there. He said any time I get a craving it might not be a bad idea to take a walk up to the 9th floor and check it out. So I did.

First of all, I think it's interesting that they've put a department of people who have a hard time breathing on the 9th floor. It's like they're purposely trying to wind these people. If the elevator should break and patients are forced to take the stairs, the ER will have to send stretchers to the third floor to pick up people who have passed out trying to reach the 9th floor. Sickos.

Anyhoo, It took me a while to find the display. They don't have it out there right in front of the patients or anything. Though part of me wonders if they should, in a "this is what could happen" kind of way. Of course, that department is for people who have already developed problems so it would really be more of a "this is what has happened" or an "I told you so" kind of thing, which isn't very helpful. Walking through that wing of the hospital was almost as good as looking at a diseased lung. I heard the inhale and exhale of machines breathing for people, and once I looked into a room and saw a young man getting out of bed with the struggle of someone who was 40 years older than he was. And there I was walking along, breathing unassisted, having jumped out of bed that morning in the pink of health.

I had to ask a nurse where the lungs were. Took me a while to build up to that too. I felt funny pulling someone aside and saying, "So where are the lungs?" But in the end, that's just what I did.

"Hey, uh," I said, suave as ever. "I work in Safety and Security and my boss said you guys have smoker's lungs on display?"
She smiled. "Yeah?"
"Um, can I see 'em?"
"Are you a smoker?"
"I was. I quit. I want to stay quit."
"Well, come on."

They were in an office passed the break room, a place I never would have barged into on my own. There were four of them.
"Are those real?" I asked. "Or are they replicas?"
"They're real," she told me.
"They're not soaking in anything."
She explained something to me, something about why they didn't need to be in formaldehyde. But I wasn't listening. I was looking at them, those parts that were once part of someone, that looked like giant, moldy cauliflowers behind the glass.

I walked out of there, not wanting to ever smoke, or frankly eat, ever again. I know that this is something that I'll forget in the throws of a craving. That's when I make phone calls and wait for that moment to pass. But it helps to remember for the most part.

I think I'll enjoy this weekend's field trip much more. Everyone's lungs will be in their proper rib cages! No respirators! Only company that rocks!

Word verification: bigbagofawesome - (of Turkish origin) What happens when three, non-smoking shy persons get together for the purpose of introductions and silliness.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Here is some random stuff

I know this isn't like my usual posts because I ordinarily like to blog something with a storyline to it. This will not. Here is some random stuff, for no particular reason.

May Swenson said that poetry is "based in a craving to get through the curtains of things as they appear, to things as they are, and then into the larger, wilder space of things as they are becoming. This ambition involves a paradox: an instinctive belief in the senses as exquisite tools for this investigation and, at the same time, a suspicion about their crudeness."

When I talked to Emma on the phone this morning she said, "Momma, I'm going to be a scientist and a writer and a traveler when I grow up. And when I'm rich and famous I'm going to give my money to poor people, manatees, and panda bears. Poor people are kind of like endangered animals aren't they?" I told her they were in that they could use help too. And also, everyone - pandas, manatees, the poor - are happier and brighter when Emma is in their lives.

There is a book called The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in 19th Century America. It's a true story about a riot that started over two actors' different interpretations of Hamlet. Twenty people died as a result of this disagreement.

Here is an edgy poem:
The Murder Suspect, Moments Before He is Confronted by Police
by David Starkey

He sits in the driver's seat of a borrowed
Corolla, Red Sox cap tilted low over
his anguished face. Across the street, two cops
huddle together, whispering, gesturing
once in his direction—yet he can't find
the will to turn the key and pull away.
In the passenger seat, a Styrofoam
container of half-eaten beef chow mein,
cold rice stuck to the tines of a plastic fork.
The backseat is piled high with clothes.
In the glovebox, a loaded .38
snubby and half a box of cartridges.
He cracks the window to better hear the swish
of willow branches in the November wind.
There's a gingery taste on his mustache,
and he wipes it with his sleeve as a blast
of heavy metal erupts from a pickup
rumbling down the street. His fingertips
tingle—probably with cold, possibly
from something else. There's a needling twinge
above his heart, a flash of memory:
purple blouse, a braid of golden hair, a splash
of crimson on gray tile. The cops begin
to saunter over. Then, as he reaches
down, fumbling for his pistol, they run
toward him, guns drawn, shouting out his name.

Here is a fact: Yesterday I went grocery shopping for myself and picked out things I like to eat. I usually pick out things with the kids in mind and compromise. What can I feed them that all of us can stomach and that will be good for us at the same time? Before Chris moved out, he was also a factor in my shopping. After years of shopping for other people, I'd forgotten what I like. Turns out it's mostly fruit.

Here is something beautiful:
Since Feeling is First
by ee cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Here is another fact: I really miss my kids. They come back from their dad's next Wednesday.

Here is something else: "lady i swear by all flowers" is my favorite line.

And finally, here is something I've been listening to a lot. It's a Fleetwood Mac song that comforted me as a kid because of the way it sounds. I love the visuals in the video.