Saturday, August 31, 2013

Candles and Kippot

I may have mentioned we're all Jews here. Ari and B and I. Here is what I know about my Jewish identity:

  • Everything causes cancer, but cigarettes are most effective.
  • They give you two extra Hanukkah candles in the box in case you lose some, but you always lose one, leaving stragglers collecting in the junk drawer which do not match and will be a full set in 45 years. (Of course, by then they will be broken.)
  • Don't throw that away! It's still good. (See above.)
The candles can be useful, though, because recently our lighter ran out of gas, and the matches got used up. We light bug-away candles for porch sits in the summer. I got the genius notion of using rogue birthday and Hanukkah candles as lighters. Because, you know, the lighters are an add-on at Amazon, and I can't manage to get my sorry ass to an actual store that sells lighters. I take the broken Hanukkah candle from the junk drawer, and I use the oven (gas) to light it. As usual, the burner takes 16 minutes to light, and spews Noxious Chemical Toxic Poison Fumes into my face the entire time. Hours later, I (somehow unharmed) take the candle, which is happily long and dripless as well as wind resistant, to the porch and light my bug-away candles. Then I sit on the porch and blog.

From my deceased father, Seymour--Brooklynite/Floridian, bellower like Fred Flintstone, liar (in a good way--he told the kids on his block who used to beat him up for being Jewish that he was Italian. They never believed him, but he kept to his story, even when his nose was broken and his parents hit him, too, for denying who he was. He said it was stupid. I thought it was cool), money-maker, NASA engineer, print shop owner/seller, beach lover, sandal-without-sock-wearer, gambler, pasta chef, college drop-out, and the least sentimental person I've met--from him I learned this:

  • Every food that is small is a cookie. Baby carrot = cookie. Mini hamburger = cookie. Biscuit or roll = cookie. Slice of banana = cookie. Rugelach = cookie. Cookie = cookie.
  • The kosher laws saved lives. And we were never kosher, but those who are hold honor. Because they honor the lives saved by laws made by a people who had no science, but knew something about cross-contamination on instinct. They got it 3/4 right, which is pretty damn good, given what they had to work with.
  • Always flirt with the waitress.
  • The Torah is a metaphor.
  • God is a metaphor.
  • Everything's a metaphor, but knowing why we say what we believe in metaphors is the real question. And the answer is because it's prettier that way. It's more enigmatic and flexible and fun. You've gotta love humanity when we work so hard just to keep ideas from being dull.
  • If your daughter wants to run topless through the sun shower Every Single Day all summer long for the first 18 years of her life, let her.
  • Lie. 
  • But not excessively, just like, to get jobs and stuff.
  • Don't feel guilty. The Jewish race has got this. You, one individual Jew, can relax.
  • Live hard. Die fast.
  • The world has it backwards, pretty much constantly: Always let them see you sweat. The best lies are the ones you tell for selfish reasons. More is more. Less is half-assed. There will be many things you cannot do, no matter how hard you try. The early bird is always alone, so if you wanna be alone, get up early. Younger = wiser. Etc.
  • Oh, and (he didn't teach me this, but he would have, if he'd been alive when Harry Potter came out) this whole not saying His name thing: It works to give him power. Whoever he is. 
  • The Jew God could beat the crap outta the Christian God. 
  • Jews endure. This has meaning. We don't know what the meaning is, but that's ok. Maybe it's because in Russia, the winters were brutal. Like--evolutionary toughness or something. (Of course this only works for Russian Jews, but that's what I am, so. . .)
  • If you insist on believing in God, please, at least, be Jewish.
So. Ari is in a Jewish school. A private school. For kindergarten. He has to wear a kippah, and we can't pack non-kosher things in his lunch. On Fridays/shabbat, they wear blue and white to aggrandize Israel. (I'm more of a Palestine supporter, myself, but whatever--fashion choices really don't impact the situation at all.)
Cat kippah. He chose it himself.
The story is long and involved, but basically, B and I fell in love at the interview. The thing about Judaism is that no matter if you are an atheist or what, you have to agree it's pretty cool. A bad-ass God. You can't type his name. Here we still are. (Post-Holocaust) Marital duty = be good in bed. Be fruitful and multiply. (Kidding on that last one, though this is a good time to say that everybody in Ari's class has like three siblings, so we are doing alright on that, except for the queer Jews. But whaddaya say we give the queers a handicap? That's fair, no? We don't have a sperm factory, after all. And the dudes don't have a uterus.) But honestly, the administrators literally did not blink that Ari has two mommies. I know people say that all the time. They throw the phrase around--"didn't blink," but this was like, the non-blinkiest thing I've seen. I want to reassess all the experiences I saw as non-blinking, now that this happened. Then they gave us a lot of cash. Towards tuition, of course. It was not, like, drug money. (I wish.)

I think about my father, and I am almost shamefully glad. Glad that Ari will know as much Hebrew as his grandfathers (B's, too) did. Glad that he will, at least (since he already insists that God is real), be Jewish. Or at least--know Judaism. Glad, mostly (even though I am an atheist in the Great Jewish Secular Tradition of Secular Secularism) that we Jews are still here.

My father gave me the ocean, the Florida sun-storms, and a lot of cookies. I give him this: his grandson raised Jewish--God or not--it's more than that.

The end.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tennis Ball

I'm back at work after a lovely summer spent gardening and painting and writing and blogging and going to the beach and entertaining Houseguests and playing video games. Now I spend all day putting tennis balls on chair legs, in the Great Public School Teacher Tradition. My district is one of the wealthiest in the country. We have a lot of Promethean boards. But we don't have decent chairs or desks or tables. As in:
Our chairs are missing feet.
The solution to that, and to the horrid feet scratching against the floor noise as the children stand up incessantly, is to put tennis balls on the feet of the chairs. Last year I was the new teacher, and I wasn't in the same room all day, and I didn't have enough chairs, let alone tennis balls. There was nary a tennis ball in either of my rooms. There may have been like, one and a half. This year I'm in the same room all day, which is so wonderful I am trembling with delight as I type. Furthermore, someone was supposed to teach in my room during my planning periods, which would have been kind of a bummer because I'd have to vacate and find a computer to work at and such. But she got moved to some other classroom because she didn't want to be on the second floor.

In celebration of being in one classroom all day, I splurged and ordered 128 tennis balls from some bulk tennis ball web site. I paid for them myself and figured I would do that educator tax thing. Of course, then somebody came onto School (cannot actually name school) private group list (Is that what you call these things?) and said he had a zillion tennis balls for whoever wanted them. So, I guess I'll return mine.

When I went to get the tennis balls, he (we can call him Robert) told me how to cut them. You have to cut them to get the hole to put the leg of the chair in. Obvs. We were in Robert's classroom. He was teaching some kind of science. His eighth graders remembered me and started waving at me and trying to pretend they hadn't hated me last year, in that way they do. Somehow this makes them seem cool, to each other. I have no idea.

"Do you have a blade?" Robert asked me.

Self: um.
Robert: For cutting the tennis balls.
Self: oh.
Robert: Here, you can borrow mine. (Hands over knife)
Self: Thanks?
Andrew (8th grader): (Shouting and jumping up and down) Hi, Ms. S!
Robert: If you, by chance, touch this part of the knife, the blade will fall out. So be careful.
Self: Yes.
Lucy (8th grader): (Bellowing and standing up from chair) Did you have a good summer, Ms. S?
Self: Hi, Andrew. Yes, thank you, Lucy. (to Robert) Thanks?
Robert: Cut a small hole and then just kinda force them on there. If the hole's too big, they'll just fall off. It's easier if you cut along the seam. Oh, and don't tell the students that I have a blade.
Self: um?
Robert: (Whispering) Really, don't tell.
Self: You do realize they're here, don't you?
Robert: Oh! Indeed. Goodbye, Ms. S! Have fun with my PRETEND knife!
Gaston, Christian, Melissa, and Oliver (8th graders): (Together, as if to celebrity, while leaping over desks to bar the door) Ms. S!!! Don't go!!!

When I arrived back in my own classroom, I spent my entire two back to back planning periods and lunch (about two hours) with tennis balls. Somehow, I don't think this is what is meant by "planning." I got a blister on my hand. The knife was dull and weak, in that way that manages to slice a hole in your shirt (and your stomach) anyway. I got a few cuts. It is hard to slice a hole in a tennis ball with a box cutter! Who knew? In my two hours, I did maybe 12. I kept doing it through periods six and seven because my students were taking a pre-test. By the end of the day, I had 20.

This page turning story reminds me of Ari, because he says, when referring to tennis, "tennis ball." As in, he calls the game of tennis "tennis ball." As in, he will say, "oh, mommy! That boy takes tennis ball lessons!" And he will say, "Mommy!! Mommy! It is the US Open! Do you want to watch tennis ball?" Be still my heart, right? I mean. He does this, obvs, because of basketball and football. For some reason, he understands that soccer is just "soccer" and that bowling is just "bowling." All I know is that it is a good thing I wasn't thinking about Ari saying "tennis ball" while I was cutting mine up, because I would've been so besotted I'd have sliced my arm off.

The end.

Monday, August 26, 2013


There is not a photograph of the spider in this post. You're welcome.

OMG, I was sitting on my porch the other night, trolling the inter-webs for lovely smut and/or jewelry, and minding my own business, when suddenly a hideous beast walked across my computer screen. I do not know how he fit on the screen, given his enormousness, but he managed. I also don't know where my courage came from, but I was badass brave. Not only did I not piss myself, but I managed not to leap up, shrieking, and hurl my laptop over the edge of the balcony, as most normal people would do when confronted with such a thing. I mean: this scaley, fuzzy, black, leggy, creature had dangled from a thread coming out of his butt and plopped onto my screen. It was seriously so gross.  And yet, I did not faint, have a heart attack, leap over the balcony my own self, or puke. I was a fucking heroine. All I did was freeze, panic quietly to myself, put my laptop on the floor (by then he'd left the screen, thank goodness), and back away slowly.

I went inside where B was on the phone with her sister and communicated to her with our Language Of The Eyes that there was an insect situation. She normally would leap to my aid, and I don't want to make it seem otherwise. However, there was some complicated plane-ticket-miles-sharing discussion taking place. We all know that sharing airline miles requires you to complete multiple calculus problems while standing on your head and frying tofu, so I didn't blame her for ignoring me. I was on my own.

I decided I needed a broom to knock down the spider webs, since last I had seen, the spider was gallivanting about the porch, swinging to and fro with spider glee. How my family and friends had managed to sit on a porch so web-ridden all summer without noticing was confusing, but I quickly put it out of mind. I was traumatized enough. I had to think for five actual minutes about where the broom was because my brain was not functioning. Finally, I found it, but then I had to complete 649 further tasks in order to take on the spider situation.

First, I turned on the porch light. The bulb had burned out, of course, which meant I had to move the dining room chair into the kitchen and scramble onto the counter to reach the new bulbs. Then I had to move the chair to the porch and stand on it to replace the bulb, but the casing of the lamp was closed with a screw, and I couldn't open it. I had to get a screwdriver, which was upstairs, and then I couldn't see the screw in the dark, so I had to fetch a flashlight (up and down again). I finally replaced the light bulb, but I'd dropped the screw in the process, and because I am insane I needed to find it, in the dark, with a spider lurking. I for some reason decided the lamp needed the screw to hold the top on, even though the top weighs about ten pounds and is protected from wind, and the other screw has been missing for about 16 years, and nothing has happened. Still, I had visions of the top falling off and knocking Ari unconscious. I finally found the screw and put the top of the lamp back on. Then, before I could venture into the spider's territory, I had to procure body armor. I tried and failed. Why so hard? They should have it at the gas station for just such and emergency, no? I put on Ari's bicycle helmet instead, which makes no sense, as it is too small and full of holes, so the spider could still get into (heaven forfend!) my hair. But it made me feel better.

The spider had disappeared in the seven hours it had taken me to do all of these things, so I decided to move to the furthest corner of the porch from where I had last seen him. I gathered my things, which were many and fragile. Phone. Speaker. Full glass of wine. Laptop. Kindle. Sweatshirt. Bug-away candle (malfunctioning piece of shit). I had to tiptoe quietly back and forth to retrieve all of the things. Because if the spider heard me, he might attack. Never mind that he probably could see me perfectly well, what with the new light bulb, and my being about 9284023 times his size, and him having like 600 eyes. Yes, better not think about that because: scary! And yuck! (re: eyes) So, yeah, he probably saw me.

And listen here, you assholes who are thinking, "that poor spider is probably far more frightened of you than you are of him!" Bull. Shit. A spider does not have a big enough brain to feel this kind of fear. His little, spider heart would explode if he felt like I did. He couldn't handle it. I'm grateful that he left while I was preparing my attack because I didn't really want to go there. There is no way to rid oneself of a pest without looking at it, and I was feeling like his visage would subtract many years from my life. Here is a drawing of the spider, which is not a photo because I know you don't want to see that. (Also, he wasn't posing.) My drawing will give you some idea, though, of what I was dealing with.

The end.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

High Line

I got this email from J. Crew, which I mention far too often in this blog. It advertised a new line of t-shirts promoting the High Line. I had a sneaking suspicion this might be entertaining, so I went to the blog and read the post about the shirts. It is very important to me, in my liberal guilt, to make fun of the corporations I spend all my money supporting. I've gotten pretty good at it.
First of all, this absolutely gorgeous dude with some crazy prepster name like "Kaspar Whitley" or something was modeling the shirts. For free, I am sure. Because actual models are so gauche. Kaspar is a volunteer gardener for the High Line because J. Crew thinks its customers won't buy anything worn by people who work for money. They quote Kaspar, and I was amused/annoyed to see him refer to his volunteering as "my work." The shirts are described as vintage even though they are obvs new, and the damn High Line itself has only existed for like six minutes. And then! One of the shirts says "New York's High Line" on the front which I find dorky in a way I can't explain. Like the apostrophe and the location and the explanatory nature of it, as if to clarify for the poor, stupid reader which High Line they mean. (Is there another?) It is all just too much. I may have to stop shopping there. Nah.

I do not understand the whole J. Crew/New York relationship. Are we supposed to believe the wearers all live in New York? No way, right? Too cold! They must want us to think their customers live in the Hamptons, but only in the summer, and then ski in Vail or Vermont (yes, Vermont--totally) in the winter, with a short jaunt (and it is key to call it a jaunt) to some obscure coastal Italian village in the fall. During spring, though, they go really nuts and are off to safari in Zimbabwe, where they learn a bit of Ndebele and then come back to teach their friends Parker and Posey before it's back to the Hamptons again! Oh, but no. The Hamptons is too cliche. So is Zimbabwe, for that matter. Better make it the North Fork and Zaire. Can one learn Ndebele in Zaire? I hope so because how else are Parker and Posey (who cannot come on the safari because Mifi, their dog, has anxiety) supposed to become global citizens? The point is what does any of this have to do with New York? Answer: nothing. You see why I'm confused. They really ought to have a more sensible marketing strategy. This one is distracting.

This morning while I was lazing over the J. Crew blog, B and Ari had a terrible time with Legos. They wouldn't stay together, and Ari kept crying. B went to help him but ended up just as frustrated, and said quietly to herself on the 73rd attempt, "fuck me." Ari heard her and excitedly shouted, "fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!" B laughed, which encouraged him to continue with his monologue in this manner: "Fuck-ed-y fuck-ed-y fuck!" That's my boy. Fuck you, J. Crew, with your rich, volunteer models who garden for nothing, taking jobs while feeling altruistic for trying to learn the language of people who have no interest in talking to them. (Okay, I made that story up--but still!) Fuck you, Lego, with your poorly connecting pieces. Fuck all you corporate bitches. Who's with me?

The end.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shoes are overrated.

I know that I take my life in my hands when I write this. I know that many will be affronted, and those who are not will pretend to be. But sometimes you've just gotta throw caution to the wind because something needs to be done. 

Shoes are overrated, and it is not right. I am into fashion. I am! I'm not a clotheshorse, but my peops are. Casey rocks the Kurt Cobain look. B has that classic black chic thing going on, with a twist: cute, too big, fuzzy sweaters. Actually, Casey has a fuzzy black sweater, too, and she also looks great in it--but hers is men's, and she probably found it in an alley and ripped it up a bit before she wore it. My friend Mara makes everybody within 100 feet of her look like a schlub, and Ev can pull of a sweater vest or bow tie any day of the year. My peops can dress. 
These might make somebody's outfit, but that is only because a toddler is like 90% feet. Tragically, they do not come in my size.

I'm not a fashion idiot. I do, however, passionately believe that shoes do not, under any circumstances, make an outfit. Now, before you bitches all call the police and take my queer card away, you need to hear me out. I like shoes, but they are, at best, an accessory, and maybe this, too, will get me in trouble, but accessories do not save you. Sorry. Shoes are on your feet, people, and nobody is looking there much. And if you have a shirt or dress or suit that does nothing for you, no accessory, not even a shoe, will change it.

I've seen some awesome shoes in my lifetime, and at various stages of my emotional development I believed that all would be well if only they had those shoes in my size. But with the inter-webs I can have any shoe I want, and I have to say, not much has changed with my shoes. 
J. Crew names its boots--stupidly, if you ask me.

I have a leather jacket that makes heads turn. It makes my mornings better when it's cold. I have a pair of jeans I like. When I wear them I feel like I could do anything, and I'm right! But nothing ever got better for me because of a shoe. Nobody's looking--really.

The end.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I don't understand something. Please do not tell. I'm an English teacher, you see. I'm supposed to know this shit. But I think actually that nobody else knows either, so perhaps I'm safe.

Paragraphs are supposed to be broken up thusly:
1) All sentences in a paragraph must be about the same topic.
2) A paragraph must contain at least two sentences.
3) A paragraph should not be too long, as it may frighten the reader.
4) When you change topics, you should begin a new paragraph.
5) The introduction to whatever you say should be its own separate paragraph. 
6) The conclusion, too.

First of all, I do not understand the definition of topic. Like so much in life, and especially in grammar, it seems so arbitrary. For instance, we're still talking about paragraphs, so isn't that the same topic? Why is this the third paragraph? I guess you could say that each paragraph discusses a different thing about the topic, but once we start to parse stuff out like that, we are on a slippery slope, I tell you. Soon we will decide that each sentence, technically, is saying something new, since we aren't a sucky writer and would never repeat ourselves. What then? Rule four directly contradicts rule two in this case. I try not to panic, but this cannot be! What ever shall we do??

When I was very young, I read all of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Perhaps you have heard of her. She also has some young adult soft porn stuff. Oh, no, that's Judy Blume--never mind. Anyway, so like that. Does the part about the porn go in a separate paragraph? Really? I cannot bring myself to accept that. (Here I'm tempted to start talking about cannot and can not, which are supposed to be interchangeable, but I think my head would explode.)

Ramona, when being taught to write, is told that a paragraph has to have the same, single topic. In her example, she writes about a cat. She must be in second grade when this takes place. I'm not sure. Her paragraph is something like this:
Sentence 1: The cat is named Fluffy.
Sentence 2: Fluffy likes to play with yarn.
Sentence 3: Fluffy eats gourmet, organic cat food. (Okay this isn't what Ramona wrote because she was a pretend second grader in 1974 or something, when organic cat food didn't exist. I took some liberties.)
Sentence 4: Fluffy loves her owner, Millicent.
Sentence 5: One day, Fluffy got lost.
So, Ramona gets in trouble because getting lost has nothing to do with Fluffy's plaything/food/human preferences and/or proclivities. But the teacher is unclear. She does not say to Ramona, "sentences 1-4 are all about Fluffy's preferences and habits, while sentence 5 is not." She is useless and just says that getting lost has nothing to do with food. Of course Ramona is pretty smart, so she snaps back, "Well, food and yarn and the name of the cat and Millicent don't have anything to do with each other either!" And of course the damn teacher walks away, making teachers everywhere look bad. Thanks for that, Beverly Bitch.

The point of this ridiculous story, which I have twisted beyond all recognition, is that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL! And when I think too hard about it, I think about Ramona, and I get all stressed out. Because I am like Ramona. I do not know! Only, she has the excuses of being imaginary, in 1974 before any extensive paragraph study had been undertaken, and in second grade, while I am a bloody-English-freaking-teacher! Who doesn't get paragraphs. Oh, grammar, whom I abhor and adore, how nuanced and ridiculous you are.

The end.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giving It Away

I finally decided to give away all Ari's baby and toddler stuff. I mean--I'm a 41-year-old lesbian. Oh, and just for kicks I'm on the pill! (Actually, not for kicks, but because I do not particularly enjoy my menstrual cycle.) Whatevs. Let's face it. I'm not gonna get knocked up again without some serious planning all up in this place.

I have a few friends with babies and toddlers, so I gave them what I could. Even I, who was well prepared for a lot of stuff, was shocked by the number of car loads of crap I gave away. I still haven't given away the crib or the stroller or the high chair, either.

Most of this crap verged on useless when we were trying to use it. Ari wouldn't stay in his high chair, stroller, or crib. Okay, he stayed in the crib, but that's because I water-boarded him. (Kidding!) Now, of course, he shrieks at the top of his lungs when he sees me trying to give this stuff away. As you may have guessed, these are not shrieks of encouragement. He really gets into it, too -- cusses up a storm.

Ari: Mommy, where are you taking my tummy time pad?
Self (innocently): Oh, I was going to give it to Graeme. You know--he doesn't have one, and you don't need tummy time anymore.
Ari: No, mommy. (urgently) Mommy, no.
Self: Yes, Ari.
Ari (glaring): Mommy. You can't give that away. It's mine.
Self: Wanna bet, buddy?
Ari: Mommy! You are a bad mommy!
Self (sarcastically): Oh, boo-hoo-hoo!
Ari: You. . .chicken burger head! (takes spoon out of silverware drawer and hurls it violently to the ground)
Self (softening): Ari, sweetheart, you hated tummy time! What is the issue here?
Ari: The isssss-you is you're a banana moldy piece of pizza! (Stomps feet, hurls self onto couch in tears)
Self: K, bunny, you have yourself a nice cry, then. I'm going to Graeme's house. Graeme, (raises eyebrow) who is a baby. (meaningfully) Did I mention this is Graeme, The Baby?
Ari (who loves babies, clearly torn): Oh! (pause) Mommy! (punches couch pillow for emphasis while wiping tears away) You're a big, ginormous jelly sandwich!!

Which, translated into adult English means, "Look, bitch, don't fuck with me."

Here is Ari, enjoying his tummy time pad, just in case you don't believe me when I tell you he hated the blasted thing.

Does he look happy to you? Answer: no.
As I was stuffing things into bags, I noticed that we had 39 (39!) tubes of diaper cream. The friend I gave those bags to texted "Holy diaper cream, Batman!" I am not actually Batman, unfortch. But I do think B (my beautiful wife, not Batman) and I were stricken by a very peculiar form of mental illness in which the victim believes he/she can cure him/herself by purchasing more diaper cream. It didn't work, obvs, but I am glad, at least, that we didn't run out of diaper cream at 3:00 am when Ari was a baby because the complexity of such a situation might have done us in.

Ari is not, by any means, a weak-willed child. I suppose this will do him some good at some point in life, but for now it just makes me work. I've never worked so hard in my life. I have Good Baby Envy. I see, on occasion, a baby or toddler in a public place acting calmly, sitting down, even, and I just about go ballistic. This isn't just a short-lived thing. These babies are in the mall or a restaurant sitting calmly for a whole hour sometimes. And I just have to say: what the fuck?! Are they lobotomized? I suppose, when Ari is 37, he may be capable of such Zen-like behavior. Until then: sod off, parents of good babies. You guys suck.

The end.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Letter to Poets

Recently, Ari said to me, "Mommy, when you were in preschool, did you have Chinese class?"
"Why, no, bunny. I didn't."
Ari: Did you have Spanish class?
Self: Not in preschool. (Actually: never.)
Ari: Well, did you have music class?
Self: I did not.
Ari: What about French?
Self: Nope.
Ari: Then how do you know
Self: Know what?
Ari: Anything.

I come from a childhood which was sorely lacking in education. My preschool taught like: sharing and coloring and using the damn toilet. The global art focus isn't how they used to do it, people. And I have some thoughts! Of course, my child is perfect, and so shares beautifully and has never had an accident or even forgotten to wash his hands and can color like Mark-fucking-Rothko, but I've noticed! That some other children who are graduating from preschool do not do these things so well, especially the sharing bit, and I wonder if perhaps they've spent too much time in Chinese class. Some of them can't even seem to pull up their sodding underwear. At five! What are they going to do in kindergarten? Flash everyone? Ari, naturally, pulls his up like a champ, and has the extra bonus ability to get it on backwards without ever having taken it off! Impressive, right?

Speaking of foreign languages: I love poetry because am English teacher, but I do not understand why poets sometimes feel the need to use foreign languages (sometimes more than one!) in their work. Do they think poetry as a genre is not incomprehensible and pretentious enough already? Really? Or are they trying to trick us!!! Meaning: do they think we will be too ashamed to admit that we don't know the particular Swahili phrase they've used and will just assume it is something brilliant and never ask? When in fact! Maybe they are saying "pop goes the weasel" or "add two cups flour (sifted)" or something. Now, I know some of you people are on the verge of writing to complain that I am stifling somebody's spirit by saying "add two cups flour (sifted)" is not poetic. Whatevs.

In this poem, I can't even tell which words are foreign and which words I just don't know! I suppose the italics could have helped, but "dental" and "perfect" are definitely English, and "Artemisia" is definitely not.

Dear Poets, You are lucky anyone reads your stuff. Very few do. I am one of them. I pay money for poetry; I go to readings and events; I donate a serious chunk of my income to poetry support. There are about 16 of us left. You do not want to piss us off. I understand, of course, that you don't write for money. However! I think you do want us to attempt to understand your work, or at least keep trying to make a world where a poet can exist and not starve. I want you to know that every single time I see a foreign word (even if I do know what it means!) in a poem I stop reading. I want you to know that every single time I see a word that is italicized for no apparent reason, I stop reading. I want you to know that every time I see a word I don't know, I look it up, and then I (say it with me) stop! reading! I want to understand, and I will work hard, be flexible, and let it sit with me and demand no concrete meaning. But, I draw the line at you people being cryptic on purpose. I freaking hate that shit. So does everyone else. I mean it. You think I am kidding, don't you? But I'm not! Others may say, "Oh, I enjoy a vague poem, with some international flavor." Bullshit. They lie.

Using big words for no reason is snobbery. I think poetry should be accessible, and even though you don't write for the masses, so do you. What are you hiding?


The end.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Grrls, Grrls, Grrls

Here are the grrls I like -- only the famous ones, obvs, because the non-famous ones mean nothing to you people. (Just to be clear, though, there are plenty of non-famous grrls whom I like. In fact, I like them better because if there is one thing I can't stand, it's arrogance. Pretend arrogance is ok. Real arrogance smells bad.)

Catarina Scorsone
Would you look at her?!?

Hillary Clinton
Brittany Howard
Chimamanda Adichie
Drew Barrymore (who doesn't?)
Queen Latifah (see above)
Missy Elliot (ditto)

The end.