Her Green Figs

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

28 February 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

Fresh contacts are stunning. Colors have never been this bright before; edges never so sharp, my hair so big and shiny and wonderful! Yeah, except for that last bit.

Remember the sad dark days before disposable contact lenses? I remember my first pair. I was twelve and I went to the ophthalmologist all by myself (for some very strange reason) there on Finchly Road. I couldn't insert them for the life of me. It took me an hour and the nurse got so fed up with me she had to leave the room. That night I couldn't get them out. Mom held down my eyelids while Dad stabbed his fingers in my eyes and popped them out. I got stern lectures on sanitation and not losing them since they were so expensive. These days I buy them in bulk and throw them away! I don't own a bottle of saline solution and I don't even know if they sell that de-calcification stuff (remember how much it burns when you squirt that directly into your eyes instead of the lubricating eye drops!) anymore.

I finally got disposable contacts because I broke up with my boyfriend and broke two pairs of specs by falling asleep in them. He always used to take them off when I fell asleep reading (and I was in graduate school, so this happened a LOT) and put them safely in their case. After I moved out, nobody took them off anymore and I smashed them on desks or rolled over on them sleeping in my bed, and other really smart things like that. So, I gave up my daily wear contacts and my specs and started with the nonstop wearable contacts. And a fresh pair are a lovely treat.

Up in the choir stalls on Sunday, MS asked me to make one of our baritones a character in my next story. Since I'm largely incapable of writing about anybody I haven't fallen in love with a little, this is a particular challenge. This man is in his 60s, snorts and snarfs like a warthog (I'm just assuming that warthogs make despicable noises to match their name), is gay, and lives with his mother. I told MS that I couldn't do it (this conversation is all happening DURING THE SERVICE, mind you) due to my handicap, and she was disappointed. I can't bear to see MS disappointed, so I'm having a go. In my story this man is the 60 year unrequited and oblivious love interest of a spinster parishioner lady. So, you see, I am not overcoming my handicap at all.

It was a strange Sunday. One soprano ran out crying, a baritone snuck in late, another baritone snuck out to see what was wrong with the soprano (his wife), two sopranos and an alto slipped out after the offertory, one alto crossed the aisle to the other side of the choir (most of the missing people had left just one side in a really obvious way that would have been problematic for the final procession), and a couple of us had to juggle the crying soprano's folder and hymnal in that procession (I'm paranoid about dropping my OWN hymnal when I process, so carrying a second frazzled me). Oh, and somewhere in there the soprano who hates me gave me a big smile and wink from across the aisle, mysteriously.

I applied for a second full-time teaching job today. This one is at the school where I adjunct. I don't know how in the world I could handle FIVE CLASSES per semester (and doesn't that just seem UNGODLY!), but I really want to get out of libraries (again). It would be different if I were a reference librarian or public services librarian, but, no, I fell into an extra-specialty in academic libraries. I hate being an expert. I think I'd be happier going back to school. There I'd only have to teach three classes a year. That would be better. And more poverty-stricken. With bad health insurance. Anyway, there's no sense in making this decision until they offer me the job, and they can't do that unless I apply, so...

I think my humidifier is stinky. I think I'm going to go give it a bath.

27 February 2006

Voodoo Child

I've spent the last three hours making one voodoo doll from scratch and improving on one I made earlier. This is exactly the sort of thing that, if anyone saw or even found out about, would render me officially "nuts." In my defense I must state that I have studied hoodoo in actual college classes and recreationally, so my own dolls should be viewed less suspiciously (or, perhaps, MORE suspiciously) than those of your average nut. There's some actual data behind my creations.

So, some time ago, I made a voodoo doll of me. She is made of two popsicle sticks (one raspberry and one grape), is stuffed with squiggly red yarn and a few cotton bolls, and has a big red felt heart under her rag dress in lavender. The dress is bound with lavender yarn. Tonight I removed the hairbrush-rescued hair that was tied to the top popsicle stick, glued on a flattering photograph for her face and glued the hair to the back of the photo. I made a tiny book (including an embossed cover and individual pages sewn in) and glued that to her hand.

Tonight's primary creation, though, was a HeartThrob voodoo doll. He's made with one strawberry and one raspberry popsicle stick, has squiggly red yarn innards and a matching red felt heart, but with my name written on it. He also has a very large and very hard lower male appendage made of a round rubber stamp of an arrow being shot into a heart-shaped target. He's wearing a rag suit of blue marbled print (one of the fireworks from Elizabeth's doctoral quilt) bound with red yarn. He also has a photo glued to the top for his head. I may make him a guitar to hold.

I have several ceremonies in mind for these two, including binding them to each other in various ways, but I'll need some pink candles first.

I'm hungry. I've been so good today! I didn't eat the pizza that I really wanted, I didn't eat any of the Cadbury's Dairy Milk that's sitting around tempting me, I ate strawberries plain and didn't even squirt canned whipped cream into my mouth when I took them out of the fridge. Likewise, I did not stuff a pinch of two of fancy shredded sharp cheddar cheese into my mouth. I gorged myself on strawberries and ate probably half a pound of collards, but those just aren't as satisfying as, say, a big drippy cheeseburger. I should work on thinking of HeartThrob's big hard piece everytime I want cheesecake or something, although that will probably only make me crave it all the more! I have sore places all over my body today. I lifted weights yesterday and ellipticalled today.

My hair is gorgeous today! It's a shame I haven't taken it out to show it off somewhere. Like to HeartThrob.

24 February 2006

Bury the Child! PLEASE!

I wasted away most of the day, accomplishing almost nothing. Rearranged the fridge, grocery shopped, scrubbed the tub. Blah, blah, blah.

Went to the first half of a fellow chorister's recital this afternoon. Her diction is excellent. Our conductor played organ for her and our head alto played piano while one of our baritones filmed it. It was a big festival of love. Everyone was there.

I ducked out early to have dinner with friends, one of whom had to be back for a rehearsal. After they told me another fantastically uncomfortable sex oriented story, the other one and I went to the theatre to see the WORST PLAY EVER (Buried Child)!

Including my little brother's 7th grade musical.

Lighting, okay.
Set, okay.
Costumes, bad.
Props, bad.
Makeup, bad.
Script, bad.
Sound effects, bad.

Plus, the seats were so horrible I had to stand up for the entire second act. My knees were hurting so badly I was actually crying. There simply wasn't enough room for legs as long as mine on either end of knees as bad as mine. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

I am fantasizing about HeartThrob standing behind me, wrapping his arms around me, kissing my bare shoulder.

I am also fantasizing about a huge old school or church transformed into my new home. I found a great place, 38,000 s.f. former school, but it's in Anderson, almost 2 hrs. away. That just won't do. I drove around the Mill areas this afternoon to see if I could find an old ice warehouse or something for sale, but there was nothing. Although, I did find a quarry, which is a strange thing to discover downtown in your hometown when you're not expecting it.

I am also fantasizing about a musical career. Me, a competent pianist, a friendly recording engineer, and my album of lullabies (finally). Wouldn't it be something if HeartThrob and I did that when I got pregnant? I like that idea a lot. I'm still so bashful about performing though... I wish I could sing out as skillfully and enthusiastically in public as I do in the car or my dining room.

What I wish I were doing right now instead of sitting here (with aching knees) blogging:
1. Standing around a little stage in a bar, drinking a bottle of beer, with HeartThrob's arm around me,
2. Attending the Willie Nelson concert I intended to get tickets for but forgot,
3. Watching HeartThrob and our friends sitting around the living room joking and playing music while I get more pretzels from the kitchen,
4. Looking in the mirror to admire myself with Angelina Jolie's body,
5. Lingering over dinner at home with HeartThrob and Elizabeth and Marc, who've come to visit for a week,
6. Flying home to HeartThrob during a weekend break from the book tour for my WILDLY SUCCESSFUL first novel.

What I will do instead of these glorious things:
1. Soak my sore knees in my crappy apartment bathtub,
2. Have a couple of glasses of wine,
3. Try to learn our anthems for Sunday morning,
4. Play my gorgeous guitar and belt out a few folk songs.
5. Take some sleeping pills and collapse into my wonderful fabulous perfect bed.

22 February 2006

Every Breath You Take

Am (sadly) home too early from the HeartThrob show at the favorite bar. I didn't quite feel up to waving 'bye to my escorts and holding onto the 4-top table alone in so crowded a place. The band was great. However, though I enjoyed them tremendously, I would really have only stayed there alone in hopes that my HeartThrob would come sit and talk with me at the end of the second set. Unlikely, so it's okay that I left. Really. really. rrr.

So now I have FORMALLY met my HeartThrob, and have finally made use of the friendship I've nurtured since last June towards this end. I need to qualify that. I STARTED that friendship in order to finagle an introduction to my HeartThrob, but I've sustained that friendship for its own merits. ANYWAY, HeartThrob is less spectacularly gorgeous than I first thought, which is not to say that I now find him unattractive. Oh no, now I consider him more attainable, and that makes him even more attractive. He has an abnormally big mouth and very active lips. They were a little distracting and almost seemed disconnected from his teeth or something. Distracting and abnormal it may be, but it bodes very well for making out in a porch swing or other mouth-related activities... SO, he's friendly and funny and was really appreciative that we had come out to see them.

Perhaps more importantly, I met HeartThrob's girlfriend, and SHE'S LESS ATTRACTIVE THAN ME!!!!!!!!!!! Her hair is mousy blonde and frizzy, her face is blank and moony, her eyes are small and squinty, and she's a bad dresser. She's not as lumpy and bloated as I am, but she's no skinny, or even curvy, little girl. As much as I hate and despise my ugly, awful, fat, horrible self, even *I* would pick me over her. I may be a little bigger, but my hair is gorgeous, my eyes and mouth are lovely, and I have good style. Plus, I'm smart and interesting and well-read and clever. FrizBlob is... well, I only talked to her for 10 minutes or so, so she might be those things, but for the purposes of my fantasy life, let's just say that she's dumb and boring and pedantic and dull. The really important part of this is that she's fat, and I'm fat, and HeartThrob likes her well-enough, even fat, so POTENTIALLY he could like me without me having to starve myself into that size 8--he could like me if I was a 16! This alters my view of the universe. Perhaps I should craft a plan to overthrow FrizBlob and take HeartThrob for myself. Good idea? Suggestions? Support?

My friend (from the second paragraph) is friends with HeartThrob, but she's trying to discouraging my interest in him. She has done this by 1) pointing out his girlfriend then introducing her to me, 2) talking about how much both HeartThrob and FrizBlob stink, 3) insisting that HeartThrob is a cokehead. She has been so far unsuccessful in her discouragement. Instead, I'm increasingly convinced of the appropriateness of the match. She's proven that I'm better than his current girlfriend and that being with him could also solve my wish for a new local dealer too. Perfect!

21 February 2006

Bon Voyage Little Story

I am sending away my little story, "Billy at the Beach," to lit mags across the nation. Glimmer Train has already rejected it (of course), but I believe that it's a story that will be appealing to and acclaimed by at least one slush pile reader in this great world. Look out Carolina Quarterly, American Literary Review, Ontario Review, Ploughshares, Oxford American (if only!), Gettysburg Review, Threepenny Review, New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly, Tin House, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, New Delta Review, Zoetrope, and Paris Review! Simultaneous submission policies be damned!

Here are some of the comments from my crit partners:
1. Well done. Reading this was a pleasure. You have a well-crafted story of a destroyed human being here in just as many words as necessary.
2. This is a very dense story for so few words (considering), and you really got a lot in here. Details are great, as are the scenes you've constructed.
3. What a sad, subtle piece. Your descriptive technique is exceptional, drove me to a point of envy.

And this is the comment I would like to have for a future cover blurb:

"This is a kind of story that does what any good story should should: grab hold of the cerebral cortex or the limbic system, or whatever part is responsible for fundamental visceral reactions, and squeeze like a vise. It's a story for which phrases like "exquisite pain" were designed. And it is exquisite. It depicts terrible pain with a kind of frantic slowness, measured and desperate and anguished and a little bit, for the reader, like being sliced very finely and very shallowly with sharp thin knives."

I am only a little embarassed to admit that I have visions of book contracts dancing in my head. Meanwhile, I have a few more story ideas I should work on.

Is it possible that short fiction is harder than long? Not the writing, necessarily, but the concept. I find it much easier to imagine carrying out a novel than I do a short story. The few novels I read anymore are, for the most part, little stories told with lots of words. The stories I write are, however, humungous stories told with very few words. I think the most artistically excellent writings are those huge stories told not quickly, but frugally. Take, for instance, Justin Haythe's first novel, The Honeymoon. It's both a huge, gigantic, long, old, neverending story and a miniature portrait story he's got there, but it's a teeny-tiny little book. Yet, it takes longer to read than something like Harry Potter or Dan Brown or (I don't mean to pick on popular writers really). Justin's book takes longer to read because half of what you're reading there isn't actually printed on the page. He writes his miniature portrait in his thin book, but the story he tells is enormous. I believe that this is the best sort of literature and is, in many ways, poetry. That's the stuff I seem to write and it scares the bejeezus out of me. Of course the other poetical ingredient is the use of language that is juicy and tender and spicy and that you want to keep around in your brain for a few minutes to analyze and memorize before you chew it up quietly and send it down to your soul for nutritional extraction. This is the kind of writing I aspire to.

Perhaps, though, I'm reading more into Justin's book than I should, and that's because I know him. Or, used to know him, anyway, pretty well, and I tend to read more carefully the books where I expect to run into a character or situation I've experienced. I suppose that other people choose their readings to find out about stuff they know nothing about (Dan Brown, Harry Potter again), but I usually choose books to find out about me. Selfish, selfish, selfish, I'm sure. I've read Dan Brown and Harry Potter though--I actually know more than a little about the library/archive parts of Dan Brown, and he makes me laugh. I don't know where I am in Harry Potter though. Feeling alone in the world and overburdened by having to save it when you still don't know how to chat up that cute student across the room? Maybe that's it.

So, I have asked my Tivo to please look out for any program featuring Mary Louise Parker since I adore her (especially her West Wing character, Amy, and especially if Amy is rocking out to Van Morrison on a lazy morning), and, recently, Tivo recorded something on the Hallmark Channel (gag), Cupid and Cate. Since someone mysteriously changed the title, I was a few minutes into the movie before it seemed familiar, and quite a few minutes in before I recognized it. It's Christina Bartolomeo's book, Cupid and Diana, featuring my very good friend David split into two completely different characters and including not a few people and places I know quite well.

Now I've forgotten why I brought that up. It's another case of a book I've read that features someone I know (though, in this case, not the author), but, in this case, I didn't even recognize the movie version of the book several years later and, clearly, didn't take away as much from the reading experience as I did from Justin's book. I guess this disproves, to some extent, my theory that, inherently, I get more out of books involving someone/thing I know well. Oh, nevermind.

I wish I could write like Ms. Bartolomeo, though I don't aspire to it. She has good stories and she tells them in a friendly way. I'm not too good with those things.

Tomorrow I will introduce The Definition Essay to my class of aspiring auto mechanics, paralegals, respiratory therapists, and bartenders. They're going to hate me even more than they do already. I have so small a response to their questioning of the value of such an assignment in their lives. They reject my argument for cultural literacy outright. Nevertheless, this was my second most successful lesson last semester, and I am looking forward to it. I ask the students, as homework preparing for the lesson, to look up their favorite words in three different dictionaries, write citations for the entries (to reinforce MLA style), and to choose their favorite definition and justify their preference. We spend most of the class cracking on each others' favorite words and talking about the many reasons to prefer one word over another and one definition over another. It's a successful lesson.

Also tomorrow, I have a choir rehearsal and then am going to see my heart-throb's band play at my favorite local bar. He doesn't know he's my heart-throb and I probably don't want him to know it until I have a new hair cut, am a perfect size 8, have my first book coming out in paperback and sold in England, and have finally bought my perfect farmhouse and ordered the trees for my orchard. Then again, I'd also like just to go ahead and drink some beers and make out with him on a slanty porch, other stuff be damned.

Friday, I have a date with a friend's husband, and yes, it's just as weird and creepy as it sounds.