Saturday, September 26, 2009


Wow. I just realized I haven't written anything in a week, which isn't like me. Except it is, because I'm the one forgetting to write. I've actually had quite a few blog ideas this week that I keep thinking I should write about. Eh. They'll keep. Right now, I just want to share a gross story.

So this morning I went to the dentist. I was fully prepared for the run of the mill, 6 month cleaning experience but it was to be so much more. Let me start with the back story. Growing up, I had horribly crooked teeth. Jewel-crooked, maybe worse. I wasn't able to get braces until my early twenties. Prior to the orthodontics, I had to get my wisdom teeth removed. All eight of them. Two behind each back molar. Apparently, this is freakishly rare, though I didn't know that at the time. Their presences probably contributed greatly to the crowding. to me getting my braces off. They cemented a top and bottom retainer in behind each row of teeth. I was supposed to have it in for two years. It's been close to ten. I won't let them take them out. I know my teeth. My teeth are from Kentucky. My teeth are from holler. My teeth can play the banjo. THE RETAINER STAYS.

So today, they told me my teeth looked good, only how often do I floss between my front teeth, in front of the retainer? Floss there, I asked? I didn't think I could.But I floss everywhere else. That's good, right? This set off a flurry of activity in the office and several hygienists came over and then the dentist had to come confer. It seems that by not flossing between those teeth, my gum tissue had started to GROW OVER the metal wiring of the retainer in the back.

Now, I am not a wuss. I have a pretty high pain threshold and suffer zero dental anxieties. I can take a shot in the gums like a champ. But then the dentist used a special device to thread floss through my two front teeth (right at the point where they join the gum)and I YELPED. I actually got halfway up out of the chair and clamped my hand down on the dentist's wrist, so bad was the pain. They were pushing through the gum tissue, tearing it away from the metal.They basically busted my mouth hymen. I went home and slept for five hours.

There are two morals to this story:

1. Floss
2. Never schedule a dental appointment on a Saturday. It will ruin your Saturday. Schedule it on a weekday and make it your job's problem.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Dane Cook Bit

You know what joke always gets a laugh out of teenagers? Going "Awwwwwwwwk-ward" when something is awkward. I've touched on this before,but today I had to go work at a different club with different teenagers and experience the dread that one of them will accidentally comment on something about my physical appearance I had heretofore been unaware of (true story, why do they always gotta say random shit?). So, I wanted to tear down some walls and I thought "I'm gonna lay my 'awkward' bit on them." Sure enough, it wasn't long before something awkward happened and I was able to pull that reliable, old comedic workhorse on out. It gets laughs every time, but with each usage, I feel more hollow inside.

Now I know how Dane Cook must feel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Four Is a Long Time Ago

Once, when he was four, they told me that everyone was going back to Mexico. Just as soon as their mom got out of prison in California. The oldest, the only girl and the baby. Their Abuelita, too. That only leaves him. He didn't have the right papers. But he could stay. They would find someone to take him in. And so, for a week once, I was a maybe-mother. But that was before the notion passed back into that haze of abstraction from where it had been prematurely plucked and handled ever so briefly, molded into something tangible.

Five years passed and mom got out of prison. She was there for awhile, but then went away again. Nobody I talk to seems to know where. She left behind a new baby. A girl. But I went back and I saw him, same baby face but perched atop a nine year old's skinny body and gangly legs. He ran like a boy, kicked a ball like a boy.I ran up to him and hugged him and felt him stiffen. His eyes betrayed mistrust. Who is this strange white lady, he must have been thinking.

But I didn't mind. It only makes sense. Even at nine, four is a long time ago.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Undone Manifesto

Many thanks to the friends who gave me some encouragement and kind words as I hit my blogging seven year itch. In reality, I think it's been about five months, but the time flies quickly when you're trying to think stuff up.It also goes really slowly.

A few friends touched on the fact that it is hard to put yourself out there for scrutiny and I would agree, though I don't think it should be overly hard. As an old boss of mine at the bookstore used to say, "This is not an inner-city emergency room we're working in, people. It's just books, so don't take it so seriously." He's a little right. It's just writing, but I continue to be inspired by people that put themselves out there through any means of expression. The same modicum of guts it takes to write something and push button publish it are the same as those it takes to sing in public or ask somebody out on a date or dance even if you're afraid you look really stupid. And you usually feel better for having done any of those things once you try it. What's the worst that can happen?

One of the things that has been inspiring me lately, is the Done Manifesto. It got some publicity awhile back when it was first making its rounds, but I came back to it recently. I actually put it over my desk at work and read it every morning. It's as effective with regard to lame work tasks as it is creative endeavors. Here it is, in its entirety:

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

Of course, being a manifesto, it's easy to parse the logic of some of these statements, but taken as a whole, goddamn.... I think they're onto something.#10 has been particularly inspiring to me. I am in no means a perfectionist, but I think I have the tendency to let ideas (in any arena of my life) incubate to the point of stagnation. Not because I am afraid of failing, but maybe because it is more comfortable to hang onto something and assume that something external will call you to action with it. I'm trying to get over that.

A good friend from Cincinnati, for whom I have enormous respect, once theorized that there are Makers and Appreciators. Makers make and Appreciators sit back and assess. He made these statements to another friend (in his eyes, an Appreciator)who was arguing passionately against him. At the time, I didn't regard myself as particularly worthy of any kind of assessment. It was clear to me where I fell on that spectrum. The friend with the theory was as close to a working artist as can be found in Cincinnati and instead of taking stock and thinking about how I felt about his idea,I just took it as truth. With all due respect to a great guy, that was a big, fucking mistake. For too long, I thought of myself as an outsider to the creative process and that because anything I created in private was unknown, that it was not worth knowing. We are all Makers and we are all Appreciators. To divide people unnecessarily like that is to say that art or expression is only best handled by those with some sort of expertise, who, with pedantic wisdom, show the rest of us the way. I call bullshit on that.

And thank you guys for sweetly calling bullshit on my attitude. I'm done with it. Done is the engine of more.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blogging: Am I Over It?

Friends, I am just not feeling it. Can you offer any words of wisdom? What do you do when the problem is not that you don't want to write, but that....nothing is going on or at least nothing that can be interpreted in any kind of meaninful or interesting way that would make it blog-worthy? I speak to whomever is still reading this.

Here's the poem Danse Russe, by William Carlos Williams because I don't have a single interesting thing to say:

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Poem on My Birthday (Because I Can)

Adult Epigram

The romance of the precise is not the elision
Of the tired romance of imprecision
It is the ever-changing same,
An appearance of Again, the diva-dame.

-Wallace Stevens

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quarters: Our Nation's Most Valuable Currency

Don't believe me? You obviously have a washer/dryer in unit and haven't had to ask, hat in hand at every retail establishment, for anything they can spare.Renter? Pariah? Renter? Pariah? It's so hard to tell the difference sometimes.

Live that dream.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What the Kids Are Doing

The Jerkin' obsession seems to be waning a little bit among the teens I work with compared to its summer high, so I should probably address this issue before it goes the way of the Crank Dat, the Roger Rabbit or the Tootsie Roll and slips away into the ether of pop culture. And probably before it gets resurrected by VH1 in 3-5 years and turned into something evoking far more nostalgia than it merits.

But anyway, The Kids. This is what they like. Every year brings another frivolous dance craze, but I got really excited when I first saw this one because I thought to myself....something about that dance looks familiar.

Here's the video that started the craze:

And, for the record, it is a weird hybrid of The Charleston.....

And Cossack dancing:

It is also murder on the quads and not for those who value their knees. Still, it's nice to see the kids getting their cardio in. And in skinny jeans, no less! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. We can all go back to our adult lives now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

All Day Long I Write Novelty Songs in My Head

Today, I only wrote one and I'll share it, but the entry is about something else. Here's my verse:

"Like thievery with words
Break in,
Crawl 'round inside n'
When you least expect,
I flip the script like Joe Biden"

But want I really want to talk about is how irritating mandatory minimum numbers of discussion board posts are when one is enrolled in online school (or "Computer College" as I sometimes think of it).

Forfuckinginstance, I just had to respond to four introduction posts by classmates. That means I have to find four unique things to say to people who are all essentially some version of the same working adult as me. The standard bromide (that's my second Ayn Rand reference this week if you're counting) is to blandly congratulate the classmate about how it sounds like they're really busy and to wish them luck this semeseter. The worst is the follow-up. "Do you and your husband plan to stay in Utah, then?" Not because these people aren't lovely, but because each new semester of school is like one of those wedding receptions where you're not seated with anybody you know. And you're being graded on it.And you've never worked this hard at small talk in your life.