Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pablo Neruda & I


You've been elected to the government!

I received something exciting--& HEAVY--in an envelope the other day.

McDougal Littell's 9th grade Literature textbook.

Why? you might ask. No, I am not back in the 9th grade. (thank whomever!)

On page 703 is my photograph--right beneath one of Pablo Neruda!--& on pages 710 & 711 is "egg horror poem." I am so excited, my brain is scrambled. (ah, the horror, say the eggs.)


I think I'll see if some classrooms want to have me do some author-in-the-schools presentations. Should be fun.

Blog alternative:
146. Education means to draw forth. The thing we currently call "education" would be more properly termed schooling or training. Draw something essential from yourself. From a child. From a lover. From a friend. From a stranger. Don't "pour in" something from outside. Draw forth.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Eating coleslaw with my fingers

Gas in Asheville isn't expensive--it's unavailable. At least yesterday. (I'm lying, I heard reports of at least one station open, with long lines at the pumps, but that wasn't my experience, so I'll just say what I saw: plastic or paper bags on ALL the pump handles of the 5 gas stations I drove through or past.)

I have suggestions on how to deal with this, & global warming, & teenage pregnancy:

1. Eat coleslaw with your fingers.
2. Purchase & use art supplies (see coleslaw in the previous line for an example) even if--especially if--you don't think of yourself as an artist.
3. Take a long bath or luxurious shower. Don't just shampoo--give yourself a scalp massage. Worship your body with soap & water. (Plus you just might need a good washing up after suggestions 1 & 2.)

I am really not joking. The things one might do to directly combat diminished gas supplies caused by a hurricane & anything that starts with "global" & anything that starts with "teenage" are likely to be miniscule, a drop in the Mediterranean Sea, & also extremely likely to make you feel inadequate because you can't solve the problem and/or pissed off because you are made to believe you ought to (whether you actually do or not) park your Rambo 9000 that gets 7 mpg/highway or give condoms to kids that you think ought to keep it in their (or at least out of her) pants or quit taking long baths & luxurious showers.

What do my three suggestions do for the environment & global & moral climates? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. I don't care. What I care is what they do for you. Make you feel creative. Make you feel cherished. Make you feel bold, daring, childish.

Please do NOT knock these until you have tried them. All of them. It needn't be specifically coleslaw, of course. Mashed potatoes will do as well--even better with lots of gravy. I picked coleslaw because I had some the other night, with barbecued ribs & sauteed vegetables. Now, it's perfectly common--even de rigeur--to eat ribs with ones fingers. Coleslaw? Not so much. It's not that I didn't have a fork. There was one on the table beside my plate, courtesy of my dining companion, who was NOT eating coleslaw with his fingers. (But I will not hold that against him. Grin.) It was a whim, a barbarian child whim, which caused great pleasure on the execution of impulse. So I continued, fingers dripping white stuff (what is that white stuff anyway?) & a big silly grin on my already-barbecue-stained face.

So what.

Who's more effective? More likely to come up with big ideas & creative solutions & have fun doing it--or at least to enjoy life to the max no matter what's happening?

Someone who's smiling, messy-fingered, creative-brained, no-limiting-factors-need-apply?
Or someone who's fearful, whiny, rigid, I-can't-do-that-&-I-doubt-if-anyone-else-can?

I have my opinion; I'll let you have yours.

I just read the BEST book, which was recommended by my brilliant son Nick, he of Skritter fame.

(Another best book, you sigh. But you know Superlative is my middle name. (Oh, & also Parenthetical.))

This one is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by brothers Chip & Dan Heath. This book rocks, expanding the concept of the sticky idea first introduced in one of my other best books, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.)

(Oh, & Dan Heath lives in Raleigh, a mere few hours away. I think I'll invite him to lunch. Ribs & coleslaw, perhaps. After I can buy gas again...)

Blog alternative:
145. Eat coleslaw with your fingers. Bonus if you use that white stuff to draw on the (I hope it's plastic) tablecloth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Disappoint Olaf

evolution of each & every femtosecond:
to love
to awareness & preference
to flower & fruit
My parents' 50th was a splendid celebration. Get 200+ of your dearest & best together & you get--well, tired. Many other things as well, but by the end of it you're ready for a nap. Or hibernation, at least for a few days.

At the beautiful gathering, one dear friend, Olaf, who we used to buy potatoes from (hundreds of pounds of potatoes, for us & our friends & relatives--we'd go to Big Timber in the pickup & hang out with Olaf & Gladys & their kids & then drive home with the pickup bed loaded with burlap sacks, each containing 100 pounds of potatoes. & who was lying in the back of the pickup, on top of those lumpy sacks, barely fitting between the spuds & the topper? me, & my sisters. & then we had to peel them & sprout them... at least we got to eat them. mashed. fried. boiled & smushed with a fork & covered with butter & salt. baked. mmm. oh yeah, I was telling a story that wasn't about potatoes, but rather about being true to ones self. & so I return to it) one dear friend, Olaf, invited my folks & my uncle Bud to come over to Big Timber the following Friday, a mere 5 days from the spectacular gathering that was occurring at that moment. Olaf had a busload of 45 Norwegians coming & there was to be a party & he'd dearly love it if Mom & Dad & Uncle Bud would attend.

Now my parents have nothing against Norwegians (if they did, they wouldn't be nearly as fond of themselves & their children as they are, for we are all lousy with Norsky genes) but you could hear the sighs as they spoke of this possibility. The weekend before the anniversary they had hosted their annual corn party, for the seed corn customers. Now the anniversary, which lasted for some 7 hours, & of course there were post-party-parties & visiting & dear friends from out of town sticking around for a few days yet, & this daughter from North Carolina hanging out for another week-&-a-half. & yet--

& yet, they were seriously considering going off to see the Norwegians. "Olaf would be disappointed," they said. I got all mouthy & eldest-child-ish on them. "So. If you don't go, Olaf will be disappointed. If you do go, you will be disappointed. If somebody has to be disappointed, I vote Olaf!" I don't know whether my plea for selfishness tipped the scales or not, but they did indeed call the next morning & talk to Uncle Bud, who was kinda sorta feeling the same way, & then let Olaf know that they would let him welcome the Norwegians without them. Yee-haw! This is big for my parents. They frequently try to be all things to all people & that can be a bit tiring. So, congratulations, dear Mom, dear Dad. I'm proud of you. Way to look out for your own best interests.

Blog alternative:
144. Disappoint Olaf. Well, not specifically Olaf, but someone who would like you to do something that you would just as soon not do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Appreciation: an individualized 75-step program

self portrait as intersection
of therefore & because
pulled pork. brown paper with white pencils & graphite. a little coffee in my cream. peacock feathers. cosmic energy flowing through my awareness. cobalt blue glass. sticky notes. angels. new metallic pencils. hot stone massage. the Eye of Horus. a picture of my grandmother & I when I was a fat little baby in the secret garden. philosophy. physics. glass block. waterfalls. fast cars with 5-point racing harnesses. tea pots. sesame kale. daisies. vinegar. long bath in a clawfoot tub with sudoku. wisdom. ancient egypt. things with wings. chocolate buttermilk cake. light switches. independence. folding bookshelves. college. playing cards with my parents. internet startup companies. walking. the change of the seasons. lambswool slippers with leather soles. the sun. symbology. ink. exuberant neighbors. poetry. my body. placemats. community ed classes. empty lots with shared driveways. miniblinds. roses. magic. peanut butter. naps. cell phones. opportunity knocking knocking knocking. ideas. fountains. spacetime. flush toilets. shadows & reflections. heartmind. wine. evolution. femtoseconds. leapfrog. magazines. quantum superposition. fried chicken thighs. eyes. re-realization. round tables. sex. peace. spiral anythings. inventing. silver linings. the kitchen sink.

Blog alternative:
143. write down 75 things you appreciate

Friday, September 12, 2008

Half-price manicure

I have returned!

I Minnesota'd briefly & North Dakota'd even more briefly, especially since I was riding with race car boy. (We only got up to 125 mph for a little while, but there were long stretches at 90, 100, 110...) (btw, it was a blast, & I'm even more excited by my son's potential racing career.)

My parents' 50th anniversary party was a tremendous success, enjoyed by all & sundry. We didn't succeed in getting everyone to sign the guest book, so we're only estimating that there were 200 people there. Maybe more. Probably not less.

Besides the party, I helped freeze corn & make pickles--the cutest baby dills you have EVER seen in your whole life--& ate bunches of great food, including steak & burgers & salmon my daddy caught in Alaska earlier this year.

Mostly though, I played cards. Pinochle. Casino. A little cribbage--one game to be exact, with my dad, & I won. This is an unusual occurence for persons playing cribbage with my dad, so I instantly retired at the height of my career. Grin. & then there were endless games of Pitch. Pitch is a really excellent 3-handed game, unlike Pinochle, which is a mean, nasty, ganging-up sort of 3-handed game, so Mom & Dad & I played game after game of it. We didn't keep track of who won how many, but each of us had great winning streaks & not-so-great losing streaks. It was a blast.

I got to see my sisters & brother, & their families. Both of my kids came, one with a girlfriend in tow (hi Chloe!), & dozens of other relatives.

I'll end this with a story of one of my cousins. If you don't like blood, skip right to the blog alternative. She was in the process of building a shelf with her husband & there was a staple in the end of the last board they cut & that made the board twist & she cut off three fingers of her right hand at the knuckle. Yep, she's right-handed. (Although perhaps less so than she used to be...)

I don't tell this story merely to titillate you with blood & gore, but to illustrate a fabulous spirit. She's planning on continuing to have a marvelous life & learning to operate so she can do everything she needs & wants to do. The day she cut off her fingers she joked that perhaps she'd get half-off on manicures, for that hand at least. I don't know if this impresses you, but it does me. I will guarantee that her healing process will be astonishing.

Blog alternative:
142. Appreciate your fingers & all they do for you. Give yourself a little hand massage. A manicure? Maybe, like my parents' pastor, you're already missing one. (A similar accident to my cousin's.) You know what he does? (A similar magnificent spirit.) He holds up that hand & says, "Give me four!"