Thursday, November 29, 2012

Starts and Stops

I've been working on a blog post for the last few days, and when I saved it (worrying that I wouldn't actually finish it because I have a unfinished-work phobia) I wondered if there were other posts that I'd started and never finished. It turns out there have been a few over the last few years, and I thought I'd string them together. They're interesting in that they shine a penlight on moments of my life in the last four years. Usually it's something heavy, and I was probably paranoid that what I was writing was too depressing to share. Like when I began transcribing a journal I kept in the Food Stamp line a couple of weeks after Hurrican Katrina....

8/29/08 -  A few weeks after Katrina hit, and me and the kids returned home, I went to a dingy little office by the local high school to apply for food stamps. Chris was working in Lafayette, three hours away, because his New Orleans office had flooded, and my sister, her friend, my sister-in-law and her two kids were living with us. The water hadn't been pumped out of the city yet, and nobody was allowed in. The bulk of the bodies hadn't been found. There were military guys everywhere, even pushing grocery carts through the frozen food section of Wal-Mart - armed. It was surreal.

Everybody has a Katrina story. This is mine.

September 13, 2005

I brought a book to the food stamp line. It's not a line, really. You take a number and wait. Right now I'm sitting on a wooden palette waiting to be called. I'm under a big blue tarp so it's not like I'm standing in the sun like I did when I was waiting in line at Wal-Mart.

I'm sitting between two women. The white lady to my right is wearing purple scrubs and tennis shoes. She's got her hand to her forehead and her eyes closed. She did not bring a book. The black lady to my left didn't bring anything to read either, but she's eating a bag of complimentary Cheetos and talking with an older gentleman in a folding chair.

Chris Rose was right in his article the other day. Everybody talks about the hurricane, but no one says the word Katrina.

The lady just called out....

My journal went on, but I stopped transcribing at that point. Another interesting one was three sentences from 1/12/12: I don't want to sell my things. I just want them to vanish. I' m tired of pushing, tired of purging.

As dreary as that sounds, things were worse on 6/23/09 when I began to write about my desperate job search, and then for some reason, stopped writing about that and copied the first lines from the song "Tomorrow Wendy" by Concrete Blonde, which is possibly the most random display of hopelessness I've ever blogged:

"This job search has officially reached a new low," I thought, pushing open the door into Applebees and forcing a grin at the hostess who forced a smile back. "This is who I'll be soon," I thought. "A burnt out woman with no natural smile."
"Hi!" she chirped.
"Hi!" I sang back, strained and pathetic.

It is complete now

Two hands of time are neatly tied

A one way street

She's walkin to the end of the line

And there she meets

The faces she keeps in her heart and mind

They say "Goodbye

Tomorrow Wendy you're going to die"

Some months before that, there was this:
2/8/09: I was standing outside of the AA/Al-anon building on Elysian Fields, and I had to bum a cigarette. I was so shaky that I couldn't keep my hands steady when I held the lighter up to whatever-nasty-brand I'd been given. But me being me, I forgot that cigarettes make me dizzy so I went from feeling rattled, to lost.

Then there's a post with just this:

My friend Ray took the picture of me by the payphone and he said, "Look mysterious." And so I made that face, which just looks pissed. Two things are apparent from this picture. One, judging by the ring, I was still married, and two, I hadn't washed my hair.
Below is another picture of a payphone that I liked for some reason. It looks good because it has washed its hair.
I'm going to go finish my post, but wanted to share these little tidbits, and just say that I'm glad my posts don't end with "Tomorrow Wendy" anymore. As beautiful as that song is - bleh! I might as well listen to it with a plastic bag over my head.
Instead I will leave you with the lyrics that I found to "The Ghost in You", which I found on another unplublished blog post. I don't know why I decided to write them down. They must have had something to do with how I was feeling at the time.
Inside you the times moves
and she don't fade
The ghost in you
She don't fade
Inside you the time moves
and she don't fade

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Minute Delivery or Your Blog is Free

Let's ignore the fact that my blog is free anyway. My point is that I'll be freewriting for the next 30 minutes before I have to get ready to go to work. So prepare for me to change subjects on a dime (told you this blog wasn't free) and lots and lots of typos....What do you mean you're used to that from me? Ok well today I'm doing those things on purpose. How do you like THAT, smart guy? I could just talk to you like this for thirty minutes, pal, wiseguy, smarty-pants. Or maybe not.

How does certain spam end up in my email? This morning a message showed up in my spam the subject of which was, "We fuc. U not call!" Whatever indiscretions I may have had in my life, it was never with someone who was learning English. Not that I wouldn't be interested in such a person, but I've just never had the opportunity. Maybe I should hang out at more Englsih as a Second Language classes. Regardless, I don't know who this person was writing to, but it wasn't me. Being the security-savvy person that I am (stop laughing), I did not click on the email and write back what I was thinking, which was "Madam, you have me mistaken for someone else." No, I clicked on it and replied, "Fuc only so-so. We try more?" because I haven't had a date in a long time.

Speaking of sexuality type stuff, why is it that my post "Hetero Spleen" has gotten more page hits than any of my other posts lately? While posts that contain the word "poetry" get maybe 1-4 views. What are the odds that it's the word "spleen" that does it? So if I wrote "Poetry Spleen" my blog would go viral WHICH BY THE WAY is a term that I really don't like because viruses aren't good. But that aside, I was nervous when I wrote that post because it revealed something personal about myself so I'm glad that people are interested in it and at the same time I'm thinking, "That means that people really, really know that about me. Maybe they're comforted by it because they identify, or maybe they're amused, or maybe they find me interesting, or maybe someone printed it out and burned it along with books, blogs and Ellen Degeneres recordings behind a church....cooool!"

My kids are obsessed with the show "Teen Titans" and now the theme song is in my head. I'm posting it here so that you can listen to it too and the song in my head will go viral. This, despite what a certain English as a Second Language student might tell you, will be the first time I've spread a virus ever.

I wonder if you know when I'm kidding and when I'm not. The people who read this and who know me know when I'm kidding. But the rest of you who only know me as this quirky chick who prefers payphones to cell phones, do YOU know when I'm kidding? I don't know. We'll figure it out together, sometimes I don't even know. But I will say that what I do is take a little bit of truth (Truth: I got spam mail that said "We fuc. U not call!") and embellish (More truth: I did not click on it. I laughed when I saw it and then deleted it). And I've never had a one night stand with anyone in an ESL class, and I'm also pretty sure that I've been spreading viruses since I was a toddler, when I would wipe my nose on the couch.

When did I start writing this? Are my thirty minutes up? Do I count the 20 seconds that it's going to take me to get up and refill my coffee mug? Nah.

What if someone googles English as a Second Language, finds my blog, and is deeply offended? Well, Gen, that probably happened when someone googled "spleen" which is why they're burning it behind a church.

I have to get ready for work now. Have I mentioned to you, my lovelies, that I detest my job? I switched departments in July so I still work for the hospital but I don't like my new position AT ALL. So I'm sticking it out until I can find something else. Writer/editor jobs are hard to come by in New Orleans, but I am applying for them, and over the weekend I applied for an entry-level univeristy librarian job which I am trying not to get my hopes up about. You know, with the reputation that New Orleans has with writers like Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner (hence the two literary festivals) you would think there would be jobs for writers everywhere. Do you have to have William somewhere in your name? Because if that's a requirement, I'll do it. Lady William Genevieve, Esq. that's it, that's my new pen name. Look for it on shelves, and look for me fanning myself under magnolias waiting for a streetcar named William because that's what New Orleans writers do AND I shall be that writer!

Now I really have to get ready for work. Do I really? Yes, really. It's been over 30 minutes and now this post is free. No one's paying you to do this, William. Not...yet. Muhahahahahaha! Which is also what I'm working on. But that's another post for another time. Have a wonderful day, my dears.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Bonus Poetry Share!

I just found this and I wanted to share it with you guys because it's beautiful writing and because it justifies not cleaning in the most eloquent way possible.

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

The Pre-Dawn Blues

Have I ever mentioned, and I know I must have but humor me, that the sound of my typing wakes up children? It's 4:00 in the morning. That's 4 am, still dark outside, chickens aren't even nudging farmers awake yet, BUT because I have gotten up to write my 11 year old is wide awake. She's not even bleary-eyed and groggy, she's asking me questions that require thought like, "Mom, why do some of your friends call you Gwenevere?" My answer was, "Go back to bed," which didn't answer her question and made her frustrated.
"I've told you before why some of them call me Gwenevere, don't you remember?"
"Well...who does?"
And she knows the answer to this question too, so I glare at her.
She smiles. "Mooooommy...."
"Go to bed."
"I love you."
"For God's sake, go to bed."
"But I'm not tired!"
"Fine, but don't look over my shoulder while I type."

She sits next to me on the couch and dutifully looks everywhere else but at my laptop. The problem is, she has a running monologue.
"Mommy, why is that plant there? Can we put it somewhere else? Will it grow flowers? Did you buy that coffee cup because it has hearts on it? Why do they call you Gwenevere?"

It is her turn to glare at me.
"I'm going to go write in my bedroom," I say getting up and unplugging the laptop from the wall.
"But WHY?"
"Because I need to write in peace."

She's in the living room now, probably writing letters to a therapist that she has't hired yet. "Year 11 of my life: mom still thinks she exists separately from me. I wish she would stop writing and fix me pancakes with money in them. PS- I'm going to start calling her 'Gwenevere' instead of mom."

The kids have off of school this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, which means that this child can sleep in. She can sleep until noon if she wants. Why won't she do this? Someone explain this to me.

Ooooooooh, wait I know why.Silly me. It's because I'm writing. If I stop writing, she'll fall back to sleep. She's like one of those babydolls that open their eyes when you tilt them back, only her eyes rolling open is dependent on my typing. Actually, it doesn't have to be typing. Pen scratching does it too. I think it even makes the dog have to go to the bathroom. I get up at let's say 3:30 in the morning because I'm that desperate for quiet time to write, take out the rough draft of my book (the first of which I always hand write) and suddenly the dog's eyes pop open and she realizes that her bladder is about to explode. "And hey!" she says, "A human is awake! She doesn't mind putting down her pen to take me for a walk! And I should wake up the rabbit too, she's probably hungry. And a kid! I'll jump on a kid who'll think he can't make his own breakfast! This is an awesome plan! Thank Jesus I have to pee!"

I want to get up to refill my coffee, but am afraid to because the sound of coffee pouring into my cup wakes up 13 year olds. And ooooooh my, that can be sticky.
"MOM! Why is my hair ugly!!!!!" she screams, tossing her clean, beautiful blonde hair around as if it's a dead raccoon on her head.
"Your hair's not ugly, sweetheart, it's-"
"YES IT IS!!!! I HATE IT!! AND I HATE THIS HOUSE!!!" (runs from room, slams door)

Thus my hesitation. I'm going to figure out what to do. Perhaps I could figure it out if I'd gotten that Brain Transplant I mentioned a couple of years ago. I keep forgetting that I was blogging two years ago. I must have gotten up at 1:00 in the morning. Anyway, the reason I bring up that blog post is that I came across it the other day and I can tell that I must have really embarassed myself in a conversation but I don't remember what it was and I don't mention it specifically. What did I say that could make me want to have my brain surgically removed? Maybe I don't want to know. I'm going to go get my coffee, dodge the child and appreciate my selective memory.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I have the internet at home again! I just set it up last night all by myself and nothing exploded! Hooooooraaaaaay!!! If only I could show you how I feel! I these guys:

Oh, internet. Let's never take a break again.
Internet: Ok, but you're a little too enthusiatic about this and it's creeping me out.
Me: Am I? Should I act more casual?
Internet: No, you can be excited. Just stop offering me flowers and lighting candles around my router.
Me: No candles? They're vanilla cupcake scented.
Internet: I have no sense of smell.
Me: Sigh. Then I guess I should eat the breakfast I made for you.
Internet: ...You made me breakfast?
Me (tauntingly): Yeeeees.
Internet: You can have the biscuits. Shove the bacon into the USB port.

I knew we'd get along again.