Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 2012 Wishes for You, Blog-Followers

31 of you follow my blog. A thankless job, blog-following is, really. As we approach the new year, let me take this time to thank each of you individually, and express my well-wishes for the year to come. 

I wish you'd get a raise. Really. Unless you make a butt-load of money, in which case I wish you'd give some of it to Argel. If the raise comes to you, I wish for it to be in large, unmarked bills. I wish for you to flee the country and have an adventure. Send a postcard to Argel, at least.
I wish for you to unexpectedly have the most delicious meal of your life in the year 2012. Like, you weren't even looking forward to eating the meal. Maybe everything will taste like sawdust for a week or so prior. Then....WOW! Did you taste that? HOLY COW! Like magic. Magical-tasting food. Flavors like you've never imagined. And at that moment, you know what it's like to be Cher.
Amy Hauser,
I wish every part of your body, down to the little cells doing their cell thing, to join together and make for you the most healthy container for your beautiful soul.
My 2012 wish for you is to go on the trip with waterdog and Argel. In a very remote village, I wish for you to be welcomed as the villagers' long-lost leader. I wish for you to enjoy this reign as long as feels comfortable, or until there are no other village women to marry. Then come home.
ryan o'malley,
I wish for you to not experience once single leg-ache in the year 2012.
ian miller,
I wish for you to have a year in which everything is funny. Everything. But you've learned to stifle your laughter so as to not get any dirty looks.
My wish for you is to wake up each morning in 2012 feeling the kind of refreshed you see on cereal commercials. Spinning around the kitchen refreshed. I also wish for you to eat cereal. And be in a cereal commercial. 
In 2012, I wish that one guy would stop bugging you. And that that other guy would start. 
My wish for you is to reconnect with your childhood dream of what you wanted to be. Remember that? that. Just for, like, a day. 
My 2012 wish for you is to open your closet and look way back behind everything. Go look. Right now. There it is! Ah....I wasn't supposed to tell you about it. It's a secret shield, and it makes bad stuff bounce off of it and only good stuff get in. And it's invisible. So no one will make fun of you or try to steal it.
I wish for you to have "lay in the grass and feel the warm sun on your face and forget why exactly you've ever been worried about anything ever in your life because in this moment everything is perfect" moments. Several times throughout the year. 
Linda DL,
I wish for the funny spirits of your old pets to visit you in your dreams.
I wish for you to let it roll. All the mean things mean people say. Blippity-blop-bloop. There it goes. Letting it roll. If that doesn't work, get the secret shield from milena. 
My 2012 wish for you is to experience a funky hairdo of epic proportions. It's just hair. It will grow back. Rock it, jennisess! Make heads turn!
You will be tired, no doubt, from your trip with kniz and waterdog. I wish for you a radiant glow from that last 5-hour energy drink you had in 2011 to last all of 2012.
josie wales,
I wish for you to expand your business idea by hiring the elderly couple that lived on the street when you were a kid. I wish economic prosperity as a result. 
I wish for you to be visited by magical faeries in your sleep. There won't be any evidence, really, but you'll feel slightly faery-ish when you wake up. And that's a good thing for 2012.
Do you know emily? Because there's about to be a shit-load of faeries at her house at night. I wish for you to get an old nikon and have a year of faery documenting. I wish for you to become famous and publish a faery magazine with Josie Wales and her elderly neighbors.
I wish for you to uncover your mad dancing skills. How free you will feel when your feet take sudden flight in the frozen foods section at the grocery store! Twirl, bka925, twirl!
siddharth dude,
May 2012 bring you the joy that losing things and finding them again gives. Or losing things and never getting them back, but finding something even better in its place. The joy of loss is what I hope for you.
When is the last time you went up in the arch, CathyStl? Is it not time? Indeed. I hope for you that 2012 is a year of arch-going-upping and zoo-train-riding and steinberg-rink-skating and crown-candy-malt-drinking and all things Stl. 
That last guy was a jerk. I hope that in all of 2012, you never return to his lame attempts at connecting with another human being. You're better than that. Begone! 
Rochet Huffman,
I hope for you that in the year 2012, your cast comes off and you can finally climb...Rachel's mom.
In 2012, may you never stoop to the poor and immature humor modeled above. It hurt me to write it, even, but I did it for you. Here's to a year of fine-tuning your humor and taking it on the road. Perhaps you can go with Argel and his troupe of travelers.
Queen Dean,
I wish for you a year of momentum. Projects completed. Beds made. 1/2 marathons run. You won't be able to stop. You'll be on fire! Not real fire. Man, that would suck. I'd feel really guilty if that happened. I mean to say, you'll be unstoppable in 2012!
Styrr Cobalt Indigo,
That thing you've been wanting to stop doing? In 2012, I wish for you to stop. Easily! Bam! No more chewing your toenails! Bam! No smoking butts out of the library entrance ash tray. Bam! No more letting air out of the tires of your parents. 2012 will bring great restraint for you!
I wish for your husband to clean every poopy diaper in the year 2012. I mean, every poopy diaper belonging to your baby. Because if it were every poopy diaper, man...he'd never come home. 
Colleen K,
I wish you'd get a puppy in 2012. That's all. 
I wish for you a lifetime movie type of reconnection with a childhood friend in 2012. And not because he/she needs a kidney or anything. Just because, dang, it's nice to talk with someone who has the same childhood memories as you. 
Epiphany of Tiffany,
Seeing as you've already had an epiphany, I feel silly wishing anything for you in 2012. But, I will wish that you forget an epiphany you already had and then suddenly remember it while pumping gas sometime in April. Man, that will be fun. 

Happy New Year to All in the Playground! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Lifetime of Confessions

This is Just to Say

I have licked
the faces
on all the handmade ornaments
hanging from the tree

and which
you were probably
planning on hanging on the tree
next year

Forgive me
they were delicious
so salty
and so forbidden

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the powdered coconut
that was in
the refrigerator

and which
you were probably
for some recipe

Forgive me
I didn't think I'd eat the whole bag
I'll never eat
coconut again

This is Just to Say

I have dipped
your toothbrush
the toilet

and with which
you were probably
planning on
brushing your teeth

Forgive me
you had said something that made me mad
so quick
and so unhygienic

This is Just to Say

I have peed on
your gym towel
that you had hanging
by your gym locker

and which
you were probably
planning on using
when you got out of the shower

Forgive me
I was dared to do it
I tried to keep
one side dry

This is Just to Say

I have stolen
a strapless bra
that was several sizes
too big for my flat chest

and which
you were probably
hoping to sell
to an actual customer

Forgive me
I needed some street cred
something to tell
my sister's friends

This is Just to Say

I have borrowed
the white oxford
that was in
your closet

and which
you were probably
planning on wearing
to work tomorrow

Forgive me
I had to have it to wear with my black leggings
so much longer
than my own shirts

This is Just to Say

I have been buying cigarettes and candy bars
with the money
that you've been giving me
for school lunches

and I've helped myself to a few extra bills that
you were probably
saving to buy things
other than a package of Marlboro's for your teenage daughter

Forgive me
I had to have them
slipped past a habit
and into a real addiction

This is Just to Say

I have stolen
some almond cookies
that were in the jar behind
the register

and which
you were probably
guessing your employees
wouldn't do

Forgive me
they were fresh out of the oven
so crunchy
and so warm

This is Just to Say

I have coerced you
into asking me something
that you weren't ready
to ask

and which
you were probably
for some other woman years later

Forgive me
we had just graduated
and everybody, it seemed, was doing it

This is Just to Say

I have said
things to you
that I'd never say
the anyone again

and which
you were probably
why you were the target

Forgive me
I needed out
so sure of it
and I didn't know how

This is Just to Say

I have shown up
at your doorstep
at night
and delivered a guitar

you were probably
not guessing I'd
ever do

Forgive me
I might have been in a bad place
a wee bit manipulative
and maybe a little psychotic

This is Just to Say

I have perhaps had a little too much of
the alcohol
that was sitting
on the restaurant table

and which
you were asking the waiter
not to give me
at all

Forgive me for a second
I need to go lay down on the bathroom floor
so cold
on my cheek

This is Just to Say

I have threatened
to "kick you in the balls"
if you were ever mean
to any of my employees

probably took you for quite a surprise
as you are my boss's boss's

Forgive me
I've been on a little drinking binge
so bold
and a little without good judgment

This is Just to Say

I have locked myself in
the garage
with the
car running

you were probably
wouldn't ever happen again

Forgive me
I can't figure out how to keep
doing this
and I can't figure out how not to

This is Just to Say

I have gotten into
a relationship
before I was
actually ready

and which
you were probably
hoping would last
for a long time

Forgive me
I wasn't listening to my gut
so inconsiderate
and so dishonest

This is Just to Say

I have searched
your internet history
which led me
to sordid sites

and which
you probably 
didn't even know
I could do

Forgive me
I was suspicious
so tempted
and so sure

This is Just to Say

I have pretended
to like
that shitty music
you were playing

and which
you were probably
thinking was
rocking my world

Forgive me
I thought you'd think
my not liking your music
was a sign that we shouldn't be dating
which it probably was

This is Just to Say

I have embraced
the life
that's unfolding
before me

and which
you were probably
for me to do

Forgive me
I had no idea your plans were so much better than mine
so sweet
and so kind

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Have a Great Capacity for Like

a) I like the way it feels when you smoosh two pumice stones together and they kind of disintegrate into each other with a crunchy sound.

b) I like eating granola and taking one little piece between my front teeth and and biting it in half.

c) I like breaking up dried mud with a stick in the summertime, preferably under a swing.

d) Speaking of swings, I like the way it looks when I throw my head back and watch the sky come close. go far. come close. go far. come close. go far.

e) I like how some babies have multiple folds of skin under their mouth. Chins, I guess. Baby chins. Anyway, I like to go flub-flub-flub-flub on their chin parts with my pointer finger.

f) I like the way it feels when I'm utterly exhausted and sink into my bed for a good sleep.
g) I like a cold pillow on my face.
h) I like to nap with my shoes on.

i) I like the way a Q-tip feels twisting around in my itchy-spot-ear and
j) the way it makes the world sound muffled

k) Sometimes I like to talk to God by rapping my prayers.
l) I like to think God thinks that's funny.

m) I don't particularly like Suzanna Vega, but I like that my brain player just starting playing "My Name is Luca" right now.

n) I like to stretch my wenis and watch it slowly go back to its original shape.
o) I like to say "wenis."

p) I like to look at a dog's tail wagging and pretend that it's a faceless little worm-like animal with a mind of its own attached to the butt of the dog I'm looking at.

q) I like the sting of a tattoo needle.

r) I like remembering how my grandma used to take my temperature by simply placing her lips on my forehead.

s) I like the fact that ears are bendable.

t) I'm not at all a fan of "bow pose," but I like how when the pose is over and we're told to lay flat on the mat with our heads turned to one side, I can hear my heart thump-thump-thumping loudly in my ear and this always makes me feel alive and happy and a little like giggling.

u) I like to giggle at inappropriate times and at inappropriate places.

v) I like the way copies come out of the copy machine all warm-like and
w) I like to hold warm copies up to my face.

x) I also like to hold a fresh serving of a non-buttered pancake up to my face before eating it.

y) I like the sense of accomplishment I feel when I spray Pledge on things. This is mostly because it smells like I spent a lot of time cleaning. But really I just sprayed some Pledge.

z) I like how God is tricky and funny. And how He's all "Oh, really? You think you want that? Okay...I'll let you want that for a while, but that's not really who you are." And then minutes/days/weeks/months/years pass and the ache for what I wanted has detached itself from my gut and gone to seek someone else who has the wantings. And by degrees, I turn and face what is and I'm like, "Holy shit. This is awesome."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Wasn't Looking For You

I wasn't looking for your help
your shoulder to lean on
god forbid, your company

I wasn't looking for your
your dark apartment
your stink of cigarettes

I wasn't looking for
your dancing hands
to hold my spinning head

your writhing fingers
to tangle in my hair

your twisting tongue
to cut-off my shallow breath

your suffocating weight
to pin me down

I wasn't looking for you

And yes, I cried
I think I did
I felt tears make their way from my
eyes to my ears
filling them up
muffling your sounds

You had me underwater said
like you were soothing a baby said
like what you were doing was kind

I wasn't looking for you

I awoke to an empty apartment
the stink of you
on my skin
in my hair
under my fingernails

I looked around your room
for things to steal
I wanted something to be taken from you
the way you took something from me

I shoved my pockets full of your tips
wads of bills stashed in dresser drawers
change scattered across your floor
I took it from you

I took it from you

Years later, I saw you in a restaurant window
from behind
I knew you from your scar
the place on your head where your hair won't grow
I saw you
and I felt sick

I wasn't looking for you

And now
you send me a "friend request"
on facebook?


So we could, what-
Chat about the good old days?
See what we've each been up to
over the past 20 years?

to be

I thought you were
pretty sick before.
I had

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Brain-Talk

"These are not cockroaches," I say to myself as I'm moving a semi-crunchy chewed ball of oats around in my mouth. My tongue clears the front of my gums like a windshield wiper and adds the collection to the oat ball being worked on over in the left side of my mouth. Crunch. "That's not a bug. It's oats."

"Seriously? Cockroaches? Come on. I'm trying to eat here." I chastise my brain, because it's the one that pops thoughts like this into my awareness. I can't tell it not to do something, or it just does it more. More cockroaches. Louder cockroaches. I try ignoring it like a bratty child.

"Your hair's rolling up like a curtain. Fwop-fwop-fwop-fwop!" Now, that's kind of funny. And I can eat to that. I imagine my curtain hair spooling up to the top of my head. "Neck sweater." Yes, brain. I agree. A neck sweater would be nice. "Made of lard." Um. Well, that doesn't seem very practical. But, have it your way. "And make soap from it." Now, you got that from Fight Club, which you were just talking about today. "Meatball sobbing. Man boobs." More Fight Club. I'm not impressed. "Helena Bonham Carter." Now you're just naming actor-"Johnny Depp." And he wasn't even in Fight Club.

At any given moment, I can hear my brain-talk. "Crab it, maestro!" Most of it makes little sense to me, "Shine it, boys! Mail it right to your momma!" And some of it makes me laugh.

When I was in art school, I was among other brain-talk people. People's brain-talk thoughts were splattered across canvasses and molded into clay and slowly becoming clear while bathing in chemicals and getting tickled by tongs. Brain-talk was encouraged, if not understood, even if the dialects were different.

"Fifi put sixteen eggs in the green drain. Oh, you green drain!"

Then, I graduated. I borrowed a suit from my mom because, as I understood it, retail managers didn't wear art school clothes. I bought a pair of pantyhose from Walgreen's and set out to be the best damn seller of wicker and wax that I could possibly be.

And my brain-talk followed me, as noted by the time I told a customer (while helping her with some mini salt and pepper shakers), "I'm just a sucker for anything miniature!" I'm not. I'm not even sure what that means. But I said it. "Miniature cow plows in the candy corn pasture, Grandma!" is what I did not say. But I was thinking it. Or something like it. Brain-talk never reveals itself with a single thought.

Hark. Listen closely. Lend me your ear. Do you have a moment?

I stuffed cotton in my brain. In all of the empty spaces in which the thoughts which aren't already attached to something float. Here's where I stuffed the cotton. I shook my head to the left. I shook it to the right.


I could not hear the brain-talk.

And this is how I worked for several years, tying papasans to the roofs of cars and wrapping scented candles in tissue. I could not hear the brain-talk while saying, "You're a wonderful person, but you're really not working out here. Good luck to you," or "We have a lot of very qualified applicants. I'll be in touch." Luck be a lady. Workin' hard for the money. Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh touch me. Creature of the night!

Then I left. I left to teach. Kindergarten: gold tooth I wanna be a rapper my daddy sells crack p is for pimps if you wanna know if a gun is real pick it up and do this bang! bang! bang! uhn! she just doodied I got to use it the teacher pooped in the closet? really please. someone help these kids. honey how did you get those marks on your arm your mom what? pinched you? oh my god they are all over your body let's go see the nurse no sweetie I'm taking your bag of sugar because it's not a healthy snack it's okay they aren't saying anything mean about me stop crying it's okay honey, I AM white it's okay.

There was no space in my head for the brain-talk. The cotton was pulled out and the day's events were packed in so tightly that many days I couldn't retrieve the thoughts that said, "Eat." Or "Breathe." Or "Everything is alright."

Three years and goodbye, Latray. Goodbye Sheron. Goodbye and yes I'm leaving you like everyone else has it's just that I can't breathe and my heart is so heavy I drag it around like an albatross and your crack-smokin', prostitutin' parents I can forgive but not those who are supposed to be providing a safe place for you and lending their office out so that you can get whooped with a belt by your auntie while I'm teaching across the hall and SNAP! and SNAP! and SNAP! and SNAP! and Ms Bow-wuh, why you be cryin'?

And I left you because it was inevitable.

And the brain-talk is quiet now so I can sit with that last sentence and see it for what it is. And the brain-talk wants to make sure I see it.

And this is when I realize my brain-talk serves to perhaps busy myself when the thought of what is or what has been is more painful than a dozen jellyfish attached to my ceiling, falling to the floor with a thwap! as they dry up. Thwap!

And I see them.

Thwap! And one hits my head. I flip it over and notice a tiny face inside where its belly would be. (Do jelly fish have bellies?) and I see it wink at me.

Oh, jellyfish. You little flirt.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seemed Like A Good Idea to Me

My 8th grade students are writing children's books to demonstrate the concepts about light/color that they learned in science class. We were doing a little bit of plot brainstorming the other day, and it became clear that without some intervention, I was setting myself up to read 40 similar (and painful) children's books:

Fluffy, the bunny, wants to know how rainbows are made but he doesn't know, so he sets out to find someone to tell him.

Johnny and Daisy want to know why we see color, but they don't know, so they ask the teacher and she takes them on an adventure to find out. 

Bob, the student, didn't know how prisms worked so he asked someone who did and he found out.

I imagined sitting in Starbucks, the stack of completed children's books piled on the table, and while grading the 28th one, standing up on my chair and yelling "I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!" I imagined tearing the book apart with my teeth and throwing bits of it up into the air, where it takes a gravitational turn down onto the heads of those waiting for their lattes. I imagined using my foot to kick the rest of the books from the table's surface and letting out a terrifying "HEEEEE-YOP!" while doing so. I imagined my hair, sticking to the sides of my face with sweat- the sweat formed from grading so many bad pieces of writing, and I imagined my red grading pen being crushed in my uber-powerful teacher hand, the ink dripping down my forearm.

I imagined the shock on the faces of both baristas and coffeenistas and I imagined making it all come clear for them by yelling, "THESE BOOKS! THEY'RE ALL THE SAME!" I imagined shocked faces turning to faces of concern and empathy as the baristas and coffeenistas understand how terrible it must be to grade the same horrible plot over and over and over. And over.

I snapped out of it and suggested we brainstorm a little more, pointing out that each proposed story was basically like the one before it. And the first one wasn't even that good. Boy doesn't get concept so boy finds someone to explain it.

Students were nodding their heads in agreement, but seemed unsure of how to come up with anything else. "Tell your brain the concept and then see what it does with it," I explain.  "Don't work so hard at it. Just toss it up there and see what happens."

Students started looking upwards, as if trying to see into their brains. The brains appeared to be momentarily inactive.

"Ooh! Ooh! I've got it!" I shouted. "Feel free to steal this one. Okay. So two teenagers are on a date at a drive-in. And the movie is black and white, but has a color component. You know, like "Pleasantville" or "The Wizard of Oz."

"We saw that last year!" a kid yelled.

"Right. Wait for it...So, they're watching the movie and the guy goes' 'Kind of cool how it went from being in black and white to color.' And the girl goes, 'What do you mean?' And he says, "You know, color! When it turned from black and white to all of those colors.' And the girl is all confused and doesn't know what he's talking about."

"Okay," one student said. "I'll use that!"

"No, wait. It gets better!" I explained. "So they get in a big fight about it and the guy ends up getting out of the car and slamming the door and leaving her. And when he does, he says something to the effect of 'I didn't want to go on a date with you anyway! You're a real dog!'"

"Ooooh!" (This was said collectively. In the "you just called to the office" kind of "oooooh!")

"No. Here's the good part," I continued. "After the guy is gone the girl reaches up and, like, pulls her face off. She just reaches under her chin and peels away her face and under it, she's a DOG! An actual DOG! Which makes sense! Because dogs only see in black and white!"

(Silence in the room.)


(Stunned faces.)

"Anyone want to use that story idea? It's a good one, right?"

(More silence.)

Then finally:
"Um. Ms. Maret? That's kind do you come up with these ideas? That's...."
"Disturbing!" a kid shouted out.
"Just...weird," another kid muttered.
"Really, Maret? Really? She peels her face off? Seriously."
"Yeah, Maret. That'"

"Too much?" I ask. "Okay. Oh! I have another one! How about this: There's this weird substitute teacher guy who is obsessed with plants. Like, plants are his only friends. He's named them all and talks to them all each morning and even dresses some of them."

"Dresses them?"

"Wait for it...So, he gets called in to teach a science class and he's so nervous about it that he brings one of this plants with him. A little potted one. Named Lucy."

"Okaaaay," they mumble, skeptically.

"So, he gets to class and sees in the sub plans that he's supposed to teach about light and energy and stuff- you know, you guys studied that. But he doesn't know anything about it and the kids are filing into the classroom and he's really starting to freak out."

"We had a sub like that once!" a kid exclaims.

"Okay. That's neither here nor there. But, anyway, the kids are all seated now because the bell rang, and with a very nervous and shaky voice he says to the class, " will be learning....about..." and he hears a tiny voice shout out 'photosynthesis!' It's the plant! Lucy! It talks but only he can hear it! And because she gets her energy from the sun she's able to explain it so the guy is able to teach the lesson."

"Um," a kid says.

"Right? The PLANT talks!" I say, enthusiastically.

"Well, it's better than the girl who peels her face off, but it's still kind of...weird."

"Seriously, Maret. I mean....seriously."

Huh. Seemed like good ideas to me.