Monday, December 31, 2007

Allergies and Rainbows

Last night we went to First Night in Canfield.
Brady's Leap played--they were great. Really.

But I discovered I have a new allergy.
If I hear "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
(which I heard 3 times)
one more time, I will go into convulsions.
I might stop breathing. Someone will have to dial 911.
Between that song and that Celine Dion song
from the Titanic . . .
I'm sorry, but this is a serious problem . . .
No matter how well the songs are sung . . .

Allergies, my doctor told me a few years ago,
are very serious.
You should not laugh at them.

My mother didn't believe in them either.
She used to make me eat crab, shrimp,
and lobster, even when my eyes watered
and my throat itched. Just three more bites.
After all these were delicacies.
It was rude to refuse them.
I learned you could eat anything,
even if your throat itches
if you suck ice during and after.
You have to swallow chunks of it.
And keep swallowing. Ice cream headache and all.

I told Mom the doctor said I might die of an allergy.
Mom was indignant.
That's why kids are allergic to everything now.
Their mothers are soft on them.

I don't know. I really don't.
But no matter how fine a delicacy it might be . . .
I'm thinking if your eyes water,
and you start gagging
and people are looking at you funny,
you should probably stop doing whatever you're doing.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

To Tell the Truth?

I always wonder about memoirs. Biographies. How do you tell the truth? I like to tell little tiny tales about my family, but if I expand at all, there are too many contradictions.

My father, for example:

He cried when Hubert Humphrey was defeated but loved Ronald Reagan.

He insisted we go to church but also insisted we leave before the bellyaching about God began.

He worried about propriety --what others might think if only they knew -- but liked to burp, fart, and insult people to their faces. He always took his amazing farting dog to business meetings. He made a habit of accusing his associates of stinking the room up so much, he had to leave.

He also liked to dicuss his theory that Jesus was gay.

He was worried that my brother wasn't manly enough, while he, himself, loved picking out lipstick colors, dresses, necklaces, and all kinds of items my mother and sisters had no interest in. All you need is a touch of red lipstick, he'd tell me.

He was excellent at science, math, and logic, but he practiced every superstition known or unknown to man.

He thought it was unladylike to compete, discouraged his daughters from any kind of competition, and bragged outrageously when any of us won anything, even a sack race.

He blew up when any of his kids misbehaved but liked to brag about everything we did wrong. I heard him say once at a cocktail party: My son had a stellar marijuana crop this year. My one daughter was suspended for kidnapping the ice cream from the high school dining hall, and another one went grocery shopping in her underwear.

He was, I think, reasonably happy with his life, but he was just as happy to die. As he put it, I've been here way past my expiration date. It's good to be going now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Which takes the prize?

I've heard some pretty dumb things lately. Tell me, which is the dumbest?

1. A kid in Spanish class said he had to learn Spanish. Why? Because he works at Home Depot. He said there are these signs in Spanish everywhere. You mean the signs with Spanish words underneath the English words? Like in Best Buy when it says musica under the word, music? Yeah, he said. I need to know what they mean.

2. A friend's son-in-law was looking at a picture of the three wise men. Who are these three men, dressed up kind of like Santa? he asked. Those are the three wise men, she answered. Really? he answered. I didn't know they had black men back then.

3. Before break one college student was talking to another about how she was driving south for Xmas break. She was really excited to be headed to the beach. She figured it wouldn't take that long to get to Florida because it was south. But it would take a lot longer getting back because she'd be driving north.

I guess south means downhill?

4. According to an article I read recently (I think it was that same article as the one below about the hugs), women practically have an orgasm when they chat. That's why women like to talk so much.

5. I heard this minister speak at an Episcopal Church in Cleveland. He said sex is about as important to a marriage as washing dishes.

I'm still wondering what kind of dishes he was talking about.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How to Make a Woman Trust You in Just 20 Seconds

I went to Starbucks today with this idea I'd work. But of course I just eavesdropped. I can't help myself. I have a chronic listening habit. Especially when the women next to me start talking about sex. (I was glad it was sex this time instead of weight or money or in-laws.) They were both thin and done-up just so. Pretty, I guess, in a seasoned way. One was saying that her new man had this thing about hugs. She thinks she's finally figured it out. He must have read somewhere that thing about how if you hug a woman for 20 seconds, she will trust you forever. And once she trusts you, well, you know. But, the woman added, I hate hugs. I don't just hate them. I despise them. I feel like I'm drowning when people hold me too long. A 20 second hug is just way too long. If he didn't hug me, I think we'd be having a really good time of it.

The other woman answered that most men don't know how to hug. They don't have a clue. You can't just throw your arms around a woman and then squeeze like she's a blow-up doll that needs to have the air pushed out of her. You have to do it just right. But you know how men are. Men think everything is so f-ing simple. Like hugs, compliments, or how you say thanks, that was really nice . . . They don't get it, that you have to finesse the moment.

I've been wondering about that finessing of the moment. Hmm.

I went home and googled the 20 second hug and sure enough, it's supposed to work, just as the woman says. A 20 second hug is a magic recipe for a woman's trust. I'm getting claustrophobia just thinking about it.

Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum?

Yes, in answer to a recent email, that's the title of my new chapbook. I've had a couple of people ask me how they can order a copy. A few have found the Subito site and complained that they have to play a computer game in order to place an order. It's true. You have to get the Subito bird to land on a nest. Otherwise, no books for you.

You can also just send an email to: Ask for whatever you want, and they will get back to you. Hopefully, the books will be on Amazon eventually. But flying computer birds around your screen isn't all that bad either, even if the nest seems to escape the bird every time.
If you're interested, click on

Saturday, December 22, 2007

7 Weird Things about Me

in response to being tagged for this question.

1. I've never seen Leave It to Beaver. The first time I heard someone refer to June Cleaver, I asked if that was Eldridge's mother. (I grew up with no TV)

2. I've been drunk only once in my life, and that was when I was five years old.

3. I can't see out of both eyes at the same time, so I pick which eye to use.

4. When I was a girl, I was absolutely certain I flew at night. I even remember how I did it.

5. One of my earliest memories was of this man called Toby. Toby was an African American man who would come to our farm to catch turtles. He would take a burlap bag down to the pond and come back with a snapper bigger than I was. How did you catch it, I'd ask. He always said I just feel in the mud with my toes.

6. I've never eaten a Big Mac.

7. When I was girl, my mother used to like to show off her yoga postures for my friends. She would waltz into our game room and start into a yoga move. She did the same thing to my daughter and my daughter's friends years later. Watch me, she say. Then she'd stand on her head in the middle of the carpet. She did that until she was 87 years old.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Turtle Photo Essay by Jimmy

It's turtle weather again. I never go anywhere without one. You just never know when a turtle might come in handy, as Jimmy points out. A few other uses--a dog sweater, a tube top or jog bra, (or as Kelly would call them, a onesy for ones who fit into onesies), or a cover for books with embarrassing titles, the ones you read and don't want to admit, even to yourself, you are actually reading them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hotdogs and Good News

I've been away from my blog for so long, I almost forgot about it. It's that time of year I guess. The time to be too busy to remember your own name, life, thoughts.
I've been busy writing my Christmas story. It's called How to Love a Hotdog.

I'm very excited about How to Love a Hotdog. I mean I am so excited about it, I can't even say. I mean how does one love a hotdog? And I mean, really love a hot dog. A hotdog that is like no other hotdog?

Lot's of good things are happening. Karen Schubert's chapbook is due out soon. A little chapbook about all the places she lived, the lives she had as a child, and more. Much more. Karen is always much more. And in the best of all possible ways. The book is coming out from Pudding House.

Also, there is this wonderful essay by Kelly Bancroft called Boob Suit. No one writes like Kelly. She has this honesty that is beyond honesty. I love whatever she does.

Then Brady's Leap is playing for New Years Eve at that St. Michaels in Canfield. I love to hear them play.

My chapbook, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum?, is out now from Subito Press.

And it isn't raining-snowing or doing anything yet. I love snow. I love snow. I hate that snow-rain mix. I am praying it will just snow . . . None of that half-way stuff.

And my daughter, Suzanne, is coming home Monday night. She was a banana recently. I won't bother explaining. But I might post a picture. So please pray that the horrible storm that is forecast has blown over, and the travel gods let her fly in safely.

And my son, Jimmy, is flying in from California, the land of milk and honey, this weekend. I can't wait.

Even though I love snow, most of the time I really do, I hate anyone who has the luxury to live in California where the skies are blue, and the weather is warm. They always gloat. It's disgusting. And it just isn't fair. So if you live out there, and the sun is shining, I don't want to hear about it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Shoveling Manure

People used to tell me how lucky I was to live on a farm. They had this romantic idea about farm life.

I'd smile. Yep. But the truth is, it was really boring. And it was lonesome. And dull. And hard work. A lot shoveling manure, no matter what the weather, no matter how I felt.

These days people tell me how lucky I am to be able to write. And they have this romantic idea about a writer's life.

And I think oh yeah, romantic. But the truth is, it's lonesome and tedious. Not that I'd trade it. But I think about how many times I go over and over the same sentence. I never, ever get it right. It's like going back into a stall I thought I'd cleaned a thousand times, and finding fresh, steaming shit.

There is just no end to the manure you have to shovel in this world. I swear, this is the one and only truth.

I sometimes imagine there are invisible critters I never see, but the minute I turn my back or shut my eyes, they enter my rooms, stories, or poems, or any other place I thought I'd polished, cleaned, perfected, and they start crapping. Some are subtle, and leave only tiny marks, maybe little teeth punctures. I don't notice at first. (Even editors let me get by with a few mouse turds in between my better lines.) Other's I don't even want to think about. I mean, they let loose. It's just what happens. The evidence is everywhere. And what can I do about it?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Learning French from Buffy the Vampire

Today I talked to Mom on the phone about what she calls "my impressive children." She is so impressed with Suzanne. Especially for learning all those languages, she says. Tell me again how she became fluent in French? I'm not sure Suzanne is fluent exactly, but my mother doesn't want to be corrected. So I tell her again how Suzanne spent the summer in France with a family who lived in a tiny apartment and never went out. They sat on the couch and watched Buffy the Vampire reruns in French all day long.

Who is Buffy the Vampire, my mom asks again. You've never heard of Buffy? I ask, also again. I don't tell her that I think Buffy the Vampire sounds like a good name for a porn star. My mom is 90 years old, and she doesn't talk of such things. Shoot, she's going to be 91 in a few months.

Then she asks about Jimmy. That son, she says, who does those things I don't understand. He's brilliant to do them, she adds quickly. That's why I married your father. He made brilliant offspring. (My mother gives my father credit for all signs of intelligence on earth, esp. now that my father is dead.)

So tell me again what Jimmy does? I try to avoid the topic of computer science, but she loves the words, artificial intelligence and film graphics. I think they remind her of Buffy the Vampire.

Soon she's tired. I'm too old for all this, she says. I'll leave the vampires and the computers to your children. I'm glad they didn't have those when I was your age. She says goodbye suddenly, sounding happy to have chatted, and happy not to have what she calls "our lives" to look forward to.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What I Learned from the Heifers

I remember once overhearing my parents talking.

Dad: Don't you think you should talk to her about the facts of, you know, married life?
Mom: Which facts?
Dad: You know what I mean, Jane. Talk to her. She's going to be married soon.
Mom: She doesn't need me to talk to her. She's a farm girl. She's watched the heifers.
Dad: She's not a heifer, Jane.
Mom: If the heifers can figure it out, I'm sure she can too.