Thursday, September 21, 2006

First I ate about 100 dried cherries, then

What do you think about this as a title for my ultra-long new poem:

Post Moxie

Does it need a hyphen? Is it pretentious and lame? Is it just plain stupid? If you need to see the poem, let me know and I'll send you all eight pages of prose (and then say You Asked For It). I'll email it to you. And then you can also tell me how to lineate it or if maybe I should put it into prose blocks. I need to have something to send out, so I don't feel so depressed about all the rejections I'm going to get again from my book manuscript. I have nothing else but this monster. I don't think it's anywhere near finished. I thought maybe it could be a chapbook but now I think it's just going to be another full-length collection that no one will ever read.

I don't think I ever talk about writing here. Have I? I don't think about writing very much. Well, I guess I think about writing, I just don't think about publishing anymore. I'm forcing myself to do it now but I'm not really sure why.

I feel really, oh what's the word, puny. My dog's stomach is making really strange noises. I lied and quit my temp job because I can make three times as much subbing in a private school. I'll be teaching sixth graders about the French impressionists next week. My latent protestantism has kicked in big time and I feel miserably guilty about quitting any kind of job, even one that sucked as hard and paid as horribly as mine did. Lame things about city life make me happy, things such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and IKEA. Cool things make me happy too, but I don't do those things. For example, number of times I have been to the amazing libraries/parks/museums: 0. Number of times I have been to Whole Foods: 9. Oh, but number of times I have been to the greatest used clothing store on earth: 1, and it was so choice.

Sorry this post sucks so much. I was going to write something witty and moving, but there's a ferret wedged between my brain and my eye sockets. I am definitely in hover-mode right now--not quite here. Not quite where I used to be. Purgatory. Purge-atory. Which is why I'm desperately trying to cuddle up with publishing thoughts again--it's familiar. It's an angst I can handle, because I've been stressing about it for nearly 10 years. It's an easy stress, because really who gives a crap. It's not a life or death thing, like finding a job. I probably won't die if I don't find a job, but eating will become increasingly more difficult.

I just pulled something out of my ear. I think it's a big piece of soap. I have no idea how long it's been there.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The F'ing Bureaucracy

I forgot to mention that in addition to being great, I am also kind of a wreck. After way too much whiskey on an empty stomach, followed by beer and weeping in an Irish bar, and before that driving around in a city full of the craziest drivers on earth and almost getting hit by a bus, and sitting in the RMV for 3 hours only to be told that I basically don’t exist unless I can produce an oil bill with my name on it (thank god I got divorced, as the decree is about the only document I can use to prove my signature), and now after drinking coffee prepared unlovingly by a well-known donut establishment (I said light! No sugar! And this has like thirty sugars) the shrew state of the union could be most accurately described as “ass.” Or “assy.”

At the same time, I’m kind of digging the challenge. It is clear that they don’t want outsiders here. Particularly people from my backwards podunk state. But goddamnit, I’m not leaving. You need a divorce decree to prove my existence—here it is. And the burned remains of my marriage license, why not. Would this DNA sample suffice for, say, date of birth? You know, I don’t think it’s that they don’t want me here. They just don’t want my car here. Oh, and they don’t want me to work. But that’s a whole other thing I’m too tired to get into right now. But there’s something about all of the obstacles that seem very New England to me. Hands to work, hearts to god, or something. Maybe I’ll convert to Shakerism, so I at least have a good excuse for ending my line. I think there are still Shakers, right? Like 6 of them up in Maine? In the part of the Midwest I’m from, we believe in hard work only if someone else is around to help out. And there’s plenty of port wine cheese spread and deer sausage and Schlitz around when the work is done.

I had to watch a security guard escort a screaming family from the RMV yesterday. I’m not kidding. And instead of horrified, I felt mildly entertained. So there’s that. But then I cried at a bar when the U2 song “Bad” came on. Fortunately NU was there to make me feel like less of a tool. I feel sad and overwhelmed. I feel ecstatic and depressed. I feel abandoned and that I’m finally where I belong. I feel really alone.

Ok, I’m just going to say it. This whole moving thing would be a lot easier with a partner. Fuck.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dead Crush #16

It’s 1986. Fall. For the first time in my life I have a locker. I’m wearing the teal mascara and the obscenely shiny lip gloss that I’m finally allowed. On the rest of me I’m wearing something fussy and shrimp-colored: there may or may not be fishnet involved. I feel grown up in 7th grade, where I get to go to a different classroom for each class and take real notes. No more recess. Just thesis statements and protractors from now on, and my own locker to keep my trapper and silver paint pens which smell really really good. And there’s something so, I don’t know, Degrassi about lockers. But as I open up mine, I hear a group of similarly coifed and outfitted girls whisper as they pass me: “Oh my god, she has dogs in her locker.”

While all of the other pubescent Whitesnake video wannabes were plastering their lockers with the Coreys, Kirk, Chad, and the occasional Benetton ad, I was carefully debating between the Pembroke and Welsh Corgi photos, clipped from my monthly issue of Dog Fancy. I also had dainty Chihuahuas, muscular Jack Russells, and shadowy Weimeraners there to greet me each time I needed my Algebra book, or at the end of a long day of bullying (I was the bullied) when I was most in need of comfort. Though I did have crushes on some teen stars (I preferred Feldman to Haim), my locker was the only thing at school and pretty much anywhere that was really mine, and who I was was a dog lover. So that’s right, bitches. I have dogs in my locker. Just let me get my coat out and get out of the building so I can get on the bus where you can continue to torment me.

Benji was the first dog I really remember loving. His film debut and my birth occurred nearly simultaneously in 1974. While my sister and I agreed on the necessity of Holly Hobby, Barbie, and Strawberry Shortcake, Benji was mine and mine alone. My first hospital visit was made much more tolerable by his stuffed replica, who wore a fake metal tag inscribed with his name, and who had to be pried out of my hands as I slipped out of consciousness in the operating room. My first words upon waking were “Who took my Benji?” I also remember sneaking a battered novelization of Oh Heavenly Dog in with my other less trashy selections at the library, to be taken up to my room immediately to be devoured before a sibling made fun of me.

Benji was played by the somehow appropriately named Higgins, whose progeny (none as cute as the original) went on to play him in subsequent films. Of course the greatest Benji movie of all time is For the Love of Benji. I cried every time I saw it, and not much made me cry in those days (things have changed). Actually, the only things that made me cry when I was eight years old were things involving animals: Old Yeller and the Beverly Cleary book Socks are two other tear-jerkers I remember from this dim vault. The first time I remember seeing For the Love of Benji was probably in ’82 during Christmas break. This was long before my town had a video rental place, so if you were a kid and wanted to see a movie after it was in the theater, you had to wait until they either showed it in the church basement or during Christmas break at school. I walked to the elementary school with other bored kids in my neighborhood, kids who also had parents at work and had run out of ways to torment their siblings and pets. It was always weird to go into the school when it was out of session, and to sit in the huge dark gym on the floor, while some stay-at-home mom served bags of stale popcorn. When the projector started whirring and the crackly sound system started, everyone would begin to cheer and whistle. The main things I remember about the film, which I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years, are that Benji has something tattooed on his paw that bad guys need, some kind of secret code, and that in order to find him they end up in Greece, where Benji faces all kinds of obstacles with a background of Greek ruins. He seemed so alone, clearly not understanding his importance or what might happen to him, in a world of adults and their money-grubbing ways. He was an innocent. Which is also what made me cry during the countless times The Incredible Journey was shown in the basement of First Presbyterian. Those poor animals. They didn’t ask for this life. I mean, for the love of Benji, where do these humans get off treating poor adorable trained animals like pawns in their quest for riches? These are the thoughts that plagued me as a weird little girl, wiping away my tears quickly before mean boys saw when they turned the lights on, before I trudged home in the depressing Indiana winter dusk.

Clearly the Benji pictured here is dead. This doesn’t make me sad; dogs don’t live long. What makes me sad is that there don’t seem to be animal heroes for kids anymore. Maybe some exist that I don’t know about, but do kids still worship animals the way I did? I don’t really know any kids right now, so maybe someone can help me out with this. Along with the other embarrassing things I never grew out of, such as a variety of colorful nervous tics, I never outgrew my obsession with dogs. I don’t really seem to need a male partner anymore, but when I was faced with the possibility of maybe having to give up my dog several weeks ago, I freaked. And realized that life without dogs isn’t a life I can ever have again. It’s very hard for my little dog to adapt to city life—peeing on sidewalks instead of in parks, wearing an anti-bark citronella collar so we can live in a building with other people, and being surrounded by more people, dogs, and trash than she is used to—but she is doing wonderfully. When I think of what she’d do for me, and what I’d do for her…well, I get a little choked up.
(We’re both doing great, by the way—as predicted, it turns out that we’re city folk after all).