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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.

 

 

 

Totally on top of things! Oh, except for

I’ve done something today that I have almost never done in almost 30 years of teaching. I finished grading a set of skill check assignments for my Creativity & Problem-Solving class, and the moment I finished them–BAM!  I am 100% caught up with grading.  There is nothing for me to grade, not even if I wanted to (which I almost never do, which is why this almost never happens).

Here’s how the rest of the day was supposed to go–I’d finish grading, work on my to do list for next week and do a Sunday meeting a day early, take a hot bath (it’s a nice, chilly October day here in Wisco), and then eat some supper and head to American Players Theatre to see Beckett’s Endgame, with some of my absolute favorite APT actors.

Except, when I bothered to actually look at my calendar, and then the actual ticket–it was a matinee. And of course the matinee had already begun.  I suppose I could’ve rushed out & gotten seated, but wow did I not want to do that in the very small, very intimate Touchstone Theater.

So, oh well.   The nice thing is that I got results yesterday from the battery of cognitive tests I took in September to get a baseline of my functioning.  My dad has Alzheimer’s, so I wanted to know what my baseline was, but I was also curious about various brain-farts and space-outs I had over the last couple of years.  The doctor I talked to yesterday said all of those could be attributed to being a middle-aged working mother who has a stressful job. He further said that almost all my test results were superior. Only one where I was on the low end of average.

Here’s the test I didn’t ace. It’s called Trail Making, and you have to draw a line from number to number, in order.  I remember not liking the test.  I remember feeling kind of dumb.  And bored. The visual part of it is part of what makes it make sense to me I was slower–I just don’t process things visually that well. But here’s a weird twist–the next test is harder because you have to do letters and numbers in order: 1-A, 2-B, 3-C, etc., and I did better on that one, apparently. It doesn’t surprise me, really–more challenging = more interesting to me.

And yes, now that I’ve found it online, I want to try it again and see if I get a better score.

Still, overall–very glad of the timing of the consult with the psychiatrist yesterday, so  I can, with confidence, attribute today’s space-out to just spacing out. It’s not a sign of any kind of decline. It’s only the second time in all my years of going to APT that I forgot I had matinee tix.

So no reason to freak out. And also, I’m really, really blissed out about being caught up with my grading. This bliss will last until Monday when I get two sets of essays and another skill check assignment.

Good news and bad news.  Like the rose below.  I dug it up when they redid the  street in front of my house and I really thought I had totally killed it, but n0–there’s a scraggly bit of rose that’s alive. The bad news is how sad my garage looks.  And yet–I’m caught up with grading.

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Foreground: mostly dead rose. One skinny living bit. And a sad garage.

“Cawwy me, Awnold!”

A friend reminds me that Frankenstein came from a dream of Mary Shelley’s.

So what classic will this dream of mine beget?

With a plot based far too much on “Bullets Over Broadway,” I dreamed a story the other night in which a rich man made the production of a play possible in exchange for a walk-on role.

But of course, as rehearsals began, he lobbied for a larger role, which he assured everyone he could improvise.

“I’ve got a whole backstory for this guy!” he said. “His name’s Arnold!”  (It was an unnamed character.)

The directors thought they had him convinced he shouldn’t do anything like that, but of course, the first preview performance, the guy started improvising and everyone on stage was just horrified, except this one little old woman, who sidled up to him, launched herself into his arms, and shouted,

“Cawwy me, Awnold!”

At which point the rest of the cast figured out how to hustle him offstage and everything worked out fine.

And that, my friends, is the main difference between me and Mary Shelley.* She dreams a literary classic; I dream a story with a lisp.

*Well, that, and the whole Percy Bysshe thing.

My favorite part is that the little old woman  who saved the day invented a speech impediment on the spot, solely for the purposes of distracting him.

She was a clever little old woman.  Maybe I could write it up as a slightly longer story….