Category Archives: Uncategorized

Allure

Before the play I watched her sit, posed, on a rock,
one knee bent up, near her chin. She was covered just so
modestly with what can only be called a frock,
one bright red shoe dangling from a pedicured toe.
Let me say more about her fabulous dress
which I got to observe going down the hill after
the play. Sheer and sleeveless, white, a mess
of summer flowers painted on the skirt.
Everything looked expensive and just exactly right.
I haven’t mentioned yet how old she was.
Seventy-something I’m guessing, which is why
it wasn’t a surprise to see her favoring her knees
as we made our way to the parking lot and why
I can’t get the way I saw her first out of my mind.

______

 

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These are my red shoes. Not hers. Still.

 

______
I saw her before and after seeing The Unexpected Man at the Touchstone @ American Players Theatre (which is wonderful and which you should go see and which I will write about more if I can think of anything to say other than “perfect”) so of course I couldn’t possibly say anything to this woman about any of this.

The End of the World Will Be So Pretty

“I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burning in me”

some 80s band

Fallout will make the sunsets stunning
someone told me and I believe it,
just like pollution from St. Louis once
turned the sky above the American Bottoms pink
to contrast nicely with the deep dark green
of the Cahokia Mounds.

Those mound-dwellers had it all
but they don’t have what we have,
so much potential as wasted as
the best chocolate-chip cookie in the world
chewed four times and spit out
by someone with different body issues
than I have, having never wasted a cookie,
never not once in my whole life,
unless you count as waste that whole
eating more calories than you burn thing,
in which case I waste food all the time,
but I don’t count that way and I wish you wouldn’t.
 
If only self-loathing could contour
my shape! If only rumination paid off
in dollars and not cortisol!
If only the strange map of cracking
in the front left panel of my Ford
could show me the way to solvency.

Are all the mustards invasive?
The splash of yellow I see in fields now,
and Dame’s Rockets everywhere—
it’s hard to hate them
with their bright mauvey pink bouncing
in the breeze that is somehow not
strong enough to discourage mosquitoes.

Reconciliation comes before repair,
at least I think it does, and so I try
to love what’s here and who I am
and the massive disasters around me
and trust I will know what to fix when
it’s time to fix and until such time
as fixing is all I care about, I will just let
the fact that I am a large woman make me feel the same way
a bad song from the 80s can make me
happy, just happy, just really happy.

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Remarkable

 

Something remarkable happened today—
I looked in the mirror and I liked how I looked.
(I was wearing a swimming suit, by the way.)

There’s something you should know—how very much I weigh,
and the fact that my back is fused and strange and crooked.
Something remarkable happened today

in the locker room mirror. I thought, “Hey–
nice hip.” (The right one sticks out and I had it stuck.)
I was wearing my bright blue one-piece, by the way,

the one that inspired a very fit man last month to say
“New suit, looks good.” I mostly just said thanks,
which means another remarkable thing happened that day.

I didn’t make excuses. I didn’t say
I’m sorry I’m not leaner. I didn’t choke
for wearing a swimming suit. By the way,

I thought my entire body looked okay.
For me to think that—it’s like lightning struck.
Something remarkable happened today.
I was wearing a swimming suit, by the way.

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Thinking About Camille Paglia in the Pool

I think she’d have a serious suit.
I think she’d wear a swim cap, no matter
how short her hair was currently.
I think she’d have a lane preference
and I think she’d express it to anyone
already there. I think she’d get her way.

Would she be a swamper? A splasher? A drifter? No,
I think she’d move through the water cleanly,
like an angry little otter. An opinionated knife.
She might critique my stroke. She might admire my
persistence. She might have a theory about how I float.

What would it be like to care so much
about everything? My husband’s like that.
I am not.

______
She’s got a new book coming out, apparently–will probably buy it. Still think about Sexual Personae now and then. This article brought her to mind.

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The Bright Side of Confusion

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I am not currently confused but I have been thinking about confusing things. Not things that currently confuse me (although they might if I thought about them too much), but categories of things that are confusing. Such as

Things that confuse me:

How many cups are there in a pint? I think two.  How many pints in a quart? I’m guessing two.  How many quarts in a gallon? Is that also two? I don’t think so.   If the answer really is two for all of them, then why don’t I trust my answer? I have to look it up every time. Which doesn’t always help:

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No way I can remember that. I think it might not be right, also.

Things that confuse other people that don’t confuse me:

In my little town, our grocery store is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. We love having a grocery store here, so we try to shop there a lot.  For reasons unknown to me, the store closes early on Saturday and Sunday.  (Could be a lot of good reasons. Football might be part of it. Or church attendance. Not sure.  But this isn’t actually the confusing part.)  On Saturdays, they close at 6 p.m. On Sundays, they close at 5 p.m.  My husband can never remember which one is which, and he’s not alone. I figured out a mnemonic for it–I was born in 1965, so 65, so 6 comes first on Saturday and then 5 on Sunday.

This list actually isn’t very long.

Oh–I can absolutely still sing the Big Mac jingle perfectly. I did it for a class just this semester. We were looking at the Crying Indian PSA & I wanted them to also see a typical 70s commercial, so I showed them the McD’s commercial where people try to, and fail to, sing the jingle. I asked my students at the end if they thought I could do it & they looked skeptical, so I did it.  They seemed pleased. One of my proudest teaching moments, I tell you.

Things that would be less interesting if they weren’t confusing:

This is actually what got me started thinking about things that are confusing.  There’s that saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But usually, when people bring it up, they reference it as if it’s impossibly confusing.  Often the phrase, “how does that go?” is part of the conversation.  So people start making up variations, “The friend of my enemy is my….” or “The enemy of my friend is….” I think the fun of bringing it up is the automatic variation, the sense of uncertainty, which is appropriate when you’re thinking about enemies and friends and not sure which is which.

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Wikipedia is partly certain about it SANSKRIT, but then not sure CITATION NEEDED which seems appropriate to me with this.

 

(Now that I think of it, the McDonald’s commercial was probably aiming for this category, but since I can sing it so easily, I’m now wondering if there’s really anyone who can’t.)

And then I thought of “feed a fever, starve a cold,” which, when you say it, you almost always have to say “or is it….” and you trail off. I feel like this is from a Listerine commercial, anyway. (Which makes me wonder if the whole point of advertising is to pretend to answer a question that people are confused about, about which people aren’t really confused. Or wouldn’t be, if you didn’t put it on a commercial.) But my point is, if we knew for sure, we wouldn’t do it anyway, because when you have a cold, you usually have a fever, and if you have a fever and you’re hungry, you should probably go ahead and eat, and if you’re into intermittent fasting, you probably should take a week off if you’re sick. Maybe intermittent fasting is what made you sick.

And finally, that whole first-cousin once-removed, second-cousin twice-removed conversation that my family has periodically. The point is not to figure out the family tree. The point is to start talking about extended family and give ourselves an out at which point we can stop talking about extended family, and “I can never remember how that works” is a great way to cease and desist. One year we had a fun tangent, in which my Gran’mommy started talking about double-cousins. She meant when someone has a cousin by blood and by marriage, and we all knew what she meant, but Southern Illinois is southern enough we’d all heard jokes and hints and rumors about double cousins, and it was all related to incest, which of course isn’t funny.  Except that once, pulling into our family reunion, Mom told my brother and me that some of the cousins we would see that day were far enough removed that we could safely date them. I don’t think we asked “how many times removed?” I just remember making barfing noises together, a rare moment of sibling harmony for that time period.

I’m trying to think of more things that allegedly or certainly confuse us, that we’d enjoy less if they weren’t confusing.  Any ideas?

Monday Morning Nonetheless

“And all my senses rise against this coming back to you”  Leonard Cohen

Almost an ampersand of fog
against the bare trees on the bluff.
The wind must have swirled it around,
or maybe it’s smoke. It’s cold enough
someone could have had a fire last night.

Such beauty and such mystery right there
on a Monday morning, nonetheless,
I have to drive beyond it to where
light industrial meets water treatment
and everything is ordinary, planned, and organized,
and on the other side of that, my job.fullsizerender

Consolation for the Coming Dark

1
Call it what you want–global weirding,
climate change–it’s just flat-out wrong
to hit 80 degrees in mid-October, in Wisconsin,
mosquitoes swarming like it’s June.
Humid muck and sweat, it makes me long for snow,
reconciles me to the dimming of the light.

2
The third trimester has to be ungodly
uncomfortable, the backaches, the chafing,
the raw, red stretch marks. The pain
that’s coming seems at that point,
if not nothing, then at least something
bearable, something, anything, better
than lumbering around. Just get it out.

3
The love that died,
the job that changed,
the tree that lost its leaves.
Rusted muffler,
curdled milk,
worn out shoes.
The show that jumped the shark,
the friend who wouldn’t go home,
the skirt that fell out of style.
Insufficient postage
on the Star Wars stamp
you found in your desk.

4
What’s next and what’s enough and when
will all of this seem clear and would a funeral help?
To signal things are different now,
I know it’s different now,
the past is done, I know it’s done,
I’m ready to move on?
Tomorrow’s wonderful and awful
and so’s today and is tomorrow’s sunrise,
possibly orange and pink and lovely,
any kind of consolation for the coming dark?
__________

I’ve been enjoying Rob Bell’s podcast lately. He had Peter Rollins on a couple times (always blows my mind) and then a great one on Seasons, which made me think maybe we should have a funeral at my workplace, for the way things used to be.

See, budget cuts have made this a very different place to work. In the classroom it’s much the same (wonderful as always, I tell people, and it’s true), but outside class–really different. We’re functioning, for the most part, doing our best, but it’s really, really different.

Then I decided, no, we shouldn’t have a funeral, because there are already enough people worried my sweet little campus will close.  I don’t think it will close, and having a funeral wouldn’t have meant that I was thinking it would close, but I could imagine someone seeing it that way.

Having a funeral would have meant I understand the past is gone.   Whatever was, isn’t now.  Having a funeral would have meant I could feel what I’m feeling, really give it full vent, and then move on.  Look around and see things with clearer eyes.

So, no funeral.  But I might write down a couple things I particularly miss, and light them on fire in my backyard, and tell them goodbye.  I might sing a little song.  I might read this out loud, from Ecclesiastes 3:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

And then just because the changes at work come from budget cuts of which I don’t approve, I might also read this one from Ecclesiastes 9:11:

“the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to those with understanding, nor yet favour to those with skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

And then I think I might feel better. Or maybe not.