Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things you can do when you quit your job #7

Play Canasta with your grandma.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crab salad

1. Why do I bother to bring my own mat to yoga class when other people walk on it with their bare feet? I don't want your fungus, people.

2. To the troglodyte in traffic who called my mother a 'bitch': I realize she delayed you by five seconds, which must have cut into your evening of watching "America's Funniest Home Videos," downing a couple of forty-ouncers and chucking the empties at your kids. However, aside from the word's obvious vulgarity, the editor in me must point out that it's simply incorrect. This is, after all, a woman who recently bought me a box of chocolates because I gave her a stamp. A woman who cared for orphaned squirrels and raccoons, despite the fact that one day they would wind up on your dinner table.

3. To the museum nazi at Ten Chimneys: Yes, that is really water in our water bottles. And thank you for informing us that your sister is an alcoholic and you "know that trick." And no, we weren't planning on opening the bottles inside the estate. We thought it was okay to open them on the shuttle bus, which was a regular shuttle bus and not a shuttle bus belonging to the Queen of England. By the way, you can't expect us to keep listening to you when you tell us that "these chairs were made in the 17th century, just about the time Columbus discovered America."

4. To the corporate goon who decided to change Hershey's chocolate to save money: You are one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I hate you.

5. Sarah Palin. The $700 billion bailout plan. McMansions, McShopping, McCulture, McMorons.

6. It's Monday -- a good day for crabbing. Add your own in the comments section.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things you can do when you quit your job #6

Meet some alpacas.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Drop and give me 20 paragraphs

Sleep deprivation does strange things to the mind. It strips it of its armor, removes the protective layers built up by ego, experience, false connection to identity. It exposes raw, sometimes dangerous emotion. Innocuous events can trigger floods of memory buried and unremembered, or remembered and filed under "over that." Vulnerability. Suddenly, your environment is everything; there is nothing else. It's probably why new military recruits, young doctors and subjects of interrogation are deprived of sleep.

Graduate students, too.

I started writing this entry back in July, when I was in the middle of one of the twice-annual residencies for my MFA program, on the edge of whatever's on the other side of the edge.

It's not that the program is designed to deprive us of sleep -- it just seems to happen that way. Eight days of digging deep, workshop after workshop, the collective psychic buzz of lots of strong, hopeful, energetic minds together. It could be the place itself -- it's haunted, they say, and each residency someone has something to tell: Footsteps on the back stairs, a window opens after it's been closed, violent dreams. These events could be read as allegorical -- hidden reaches of the psyche, subconscious opening up and whatnot. But when you're there, it's just damned spooky.

Of course, so is the mind and what can be pulled out of it. Writing is exploration, which for an artist exposes possibilities, and exploration is both external and internal. Writing also is psychology, and the residencies are boot camp for the brain. (Doesn't help that the residencies are held at a former military base.)

Peel away the layers. What's really under there? Forget about what you want to be there or what you think should be there -- what's there? How does it relate to what's going on in your world, or the world in general? How might another person relate, given her experiences, her tragedies and her joys? How might the differences between these reactions cause conflict?

There's a story in there somewhere.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Just something kinda cool

My dad shot this video of a flower kaleidoscope at the Green Bay Botanical Garden. There's a pot of flowers underneath the kaleidoscope which is rotated by hand as you look through the lens. Below is a photo of the contraption.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Things you can do when you quit your job #5

Go for a walk and find an itty bitty snapping turtle.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Words I Made Up While Doing Schoolwork in a Hurry #11

What is "poopulation?"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things you can do when you quit your job #4

See the cat show.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In one direction, a forgotten railroad carries bikes, horses and runners. In another, the railroad survives and a massive freight train covered with graffiti rumbles through twenty-three times a day.

At this point stands a crumbling switch house that's become a monument to destruction, self and otherwise. Angry words sprayed on the pavement. Broken green glass and empty cigarette boxes. A man's tennis shoe that once was white but is browning with age. Bullet holes in the remaining plywood over the windows, a spray-painted message pointing them out in case you hadn't noticed. A toppled Victrola, smashed, the music gone. Burned places on the cement floor. Among the debris, the bleached jawbone of a deer. It seems both out of place and not.

I emerge from the octagonal bunker disoriented.

Which track? Which direction?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Things you can do when you quit your job #3

Hang out at the local cafe.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why I love retro TV

From the popular 80s detective show, "Simon & Simon":

Rick Simon searches through a suitcase for clues, tears away a liner to find a hidden pocket. He pulls out a small object.

A.J. Simon: It's a data disk!

Rick, A.J. and Downtown Brown marvel over it.

A.J. Simon: Can we borrow this for an hour?

Downtown Brown: But where will you find a machine to read it?

Imaginary ending: Cut to the future, where we see Bill Gates lounging on a 50-foot pile of money, laughing his ass off.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Words I Made Up While Doing Schoolwork in a Hurry #10

Please define "goodle."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Movie previews will never be the same

Voice-over king Don Lafontaine died Monday at age 68.