But Can You Do THIS?

What the WHAT? Two blog posts in a mere nine days?! That’s right peeps. At Mama Kat’s prompting, I have created and shall now share a list of 10 random and totally useful things I know how to do. Don’t be intimidated.

One: At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I can sit Indian-style, then stand and walk on my pretzel-ed knees. How not at all creepy! Editor’s Update: My sister, Jamie, has informed me that the proper, 21st-century term for the position I’m describing above is “criss-cross applesauce.” 

Well hullo there, Millard
Well hullo there, Millard

Two: Since buck-toothed third grade, when I accidentally memorized a poster Mrs. Snow hung on our classroom wall, I have been able to name all U.S. presidents in order of appearance. Millard Fillmore is my favorite name on the list.

Three: I can read the Russian and Hebrew alphabets (sort of). Nyet, I do not understand what I’m reading.

Four: Call it trivial, but I can identify the innards of any chocolate from a Russell Stover assortment. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it when I save you from picking the weird strawberry nougat.

Five: Along those lines, I am a dessert sommelier. Tell me your entree and I will tell you the complementary confection.

Six: In just a few minutes, I can compose an “alphabetical poem.” What in THE hell is an alphabetical poem, you may be asking? I will tell you. Or should I say, “Ah. Be calm.” It is a poem whose first word starts with an A, second with a B, third with a C, and so on through Z. You can see one example of my freakdom at the end of this post about Conan O’Brien.

Seven: I cannot address the physics involved, but it’s somehow possible to bake chicken in a brown bag without burning down your apartment. I learned how to do this in Philadelphia, when the very feisty Lil – whom I refer to as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” – came to visit Dave and Rob from Oklahoma. Note: the brown bag can’t have any ink on it, unless you like colored chicken and scrubbing your oven.

Eight: I am excellent at recognizing B-list actors (aka “the guy from …/the chick from …”) or former child stars in supporting TV roles. Usually, they’re playing suspects on Law & Order and judges on The Good Wife.

Nine: If you are having a conversation remotely within my hearing range, I’m listening. Even if I appear to be deeply engrossed in my own.  I call it a throw-back to my days as an enterprising young journalist. Keith calls it proof that I’m nosy.

From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy
From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy

Ten: Upon adopting a new stuffed animal, I’m able to immediately sense and start channeling his/her personality and voice. Come to my abode and I will introduce you to Milty the nervous, nearsighted moose who communicates by nodding, shaking or scratching his bulbous head.  There’s also Rodney, the alcoholic reindeer; Horsie, the Texan womanizer who fears being washed in a pillowcase, as his tag suggests; and of course Piggy, the innocent little swine who never quite gets her words right. She thinks investment bankers get a “Jonas” every year (Nick, Joe …) and that The Letter T is a “clog.”

Once again, may thanks to Mama Kat for her continued inspiration and motivation. 

But Can You Do THIS?

I Am (So Not a Poet)

Please do not be alarmed if, when you click on the links within this post, you suddenly hear the irksome music of a Philadelphia cream cheese commercial.

With Monday’s writing prompts, the guru Mama Kat directed her followers to this nifty template that, when completed, yields an “I Am” poem. What exactly is an “I Am” poem, you ask? Read on!

There were a lot of different ways this could have gone – hilarious, melodramatic, flowery, rhyming – but I didn’t think too much about my answers. I just filled in the template with the first things that came to mind, then did some minor linguistic plastic surgery.

Thank you again, Mama Kat, for your inspiration!

I Am
I am funny but anxious.
I wonder why I am wired this way.
I hear a cherry ice cream smile.
I see where I went wrong.
I want to live without the doom cloud stalking me.
I am funny but anxious.
I pretend I am the much-applauded guest of a late night talk show host.
I feel an amoeba crawling in my eye.
I touch the past, one of the few things I can always reach.
I worry about losing the people I love.
I cry when I think about what might happen and also what might not happen.
I am funny but anxious.
I understand the appeal of other places.
I say most things are not that simple.
I dream there is no clean bathroom.
I try to be nice.
I hope someone discovers the untapped brilliance that is me.
I am funny but anxious.

I Am (So Not a Poet)

Poetic Injustice

The 2004 Dell Dimension 4800, aka "Grandpa"

After more than two years in this apartment, we have almost found a proper place for every random item from our past lives. And by “proper place” I really mean “donation box at Housing Works.” The lone holdout was the desktop computer that came into my possession in August of 2004, when I first moved to Michigan. I probably don’t need to tell all you tech-savvy peeps in the blogosphere that seven human years and seven computer years are not the same.  This bad boy (shout out to Lew, who, of course, paid for two-thirds of it) is now elderly, about to receive its last rites, and slower than a Sunday night check-out lane at the uber-depressing Jackson Road Meijer in Ann Arbor. Lemme tell ya. That is SLOW.

I had no emotional attachment to the computer itself, but I had to retrieve its files before I could donate it and get on with my laptoppy life.  In the meantime, it sat like an eyesore on a snack table in our dining room area.  I like to think of that area as a computer hospice. But these files included some of my finest freelance work, such as the press kits for “Slavery” and “Do You Speak American?,” for which I interviewed Robert MacNeil at great length, and a series of Thirteen/WNET radio scripts that ran on WQXR. The files also included all documents relating to my ill-fated first wedding (DELETE) and a folder of my 20-something poetry.

What’s that you say? POETRY? REALLY?!

It’s true. In my unhappier days, I was a closet poet. A published poet, in fact! And upon opening the folder, I realized I’d forgotten how prolific I’d been. Unfortunately, I had cunningly password-protected these masterpieces with a some obscure French word I couldn’t remember. Fortunately, I had suspected this might happen and put a small red dot next to the word in my vintage French dictionary. With the files unlocked, I couldn’t help but read through them. And I have to say that while I am horrified by their melodrama and shallow, not-so-hidden meanings, I am also strangely proud. I don’t know if I’m proud of the poems themselves, the fact that I’ve evolved since I wrote them, or just my ability to actually get them onto a thumb drive. In any case, I hereby share one of these “lost poems.”

K-Turns (September 1999)
It was everywhere, but in case I missed it
Lurking behind the endearing little stories and punchlines
Waiting to pounce under late night phone calls from bars and beds
Hiding amid the sweeter minutes and triple-word scores
Rising up in the steam off the street
Crammed into subways and on TV, in lines others spoke about anything else
In ink as it flowed, in tears as they fell,
It would smack me across the face, every so often
The mismatched truth no just-right sentence
Or act of kindness
Amount of patience
Or self-inflicted lashing
Could begin to alter
No matter how it seemed or felt
All that was there for all this time
Had happened already or couldn’t yet
Better then to come close but stop,
Letting go that slim chance of actual joy
Without risking the aching disappointment on its other side,
And that way ensuring the survival of hope.
Because it wasn’t just giving up now and you,
It was tomorrow too and all its details,/
A set too strong to kill in self-defense,
Full of all the safe and simple things in the world,
Like the soft gray carpet in an apartment that doesn’t exist
Or the buzz of conversations between sisters who will never meet brothers
At holidays that will never come
Or the perfect sleep only resolution can bring.
So I revoke the one thing I can
And realize too late
There are a hundred kinds of exploitation
But still the delusions of maybe
Are too much to lose …

Poetic Injustice