Monday, September 28, 2009

Adequately Lashed

(Pre-Script: This post will open up to you like a secret crypt when read as the song, "Big Yellow Taxi," #28 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Be wary when you see a commercial that suggests that something about you may be inadequate, but when the term "inadequate" is not actually defined.
Let's define the term "Inadequate Eyelashes," which appeared in a recent commercial for a product that supposedly causes your eyelashes to grow longer than they already are.
An inadequate eyelash would be one that does not keep dirt and dust particles out of a person's eyes. An eyelash that does what it is meant to do, i.e., keep dirt and dust particles out of a person's eyes, is adequate. There is nothing wrong with it. But when a commercial starts off by saying "If you have inadequate eyelashes," it sends a deliberate message:

"You are inadequate."

and yes, that message was deliberate. Insecure people buy more things.

the word "Inadequate" makes a woman feel that there is no choice in the matter...


(wait for it, this is a very big "BUT.")

In this particular commercial, the term "Inadequate Eyelashes" is never defined. They just say "IF you have inadequate eyelashes," the lack of definition makes a woman wonder if she has this malady, makes her assume that yes, she most likely does, and she just never realized it before. Then she feels she needs the product, there is no choice in the matter, she had better sign up today. She becomes one of the cattle who must silently not ask questions, but must stand in line and take a number and buy the product, just buy it already.

-Someone wants to stop me here to tell me that my logic is becoming circular.

I already know. It's a good point though, and was worth repeating.

"Just moo and don't ask questions. You do not need to ask. Just assume the worst about yourself."-says the beauty industry, which is controlled by...

"But Michelle,"
(interrupts my Gentle Imaginary Reader),
"Who do you mean by 'we?'"
Great question, Dear Imaginary Reader.
"We" is the little person (or people) behind the curtain who pulls (or pull) strings and makes (or make) a lot of noise...

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
I would have no problem with a commercial for the same product that simply said:

"Use our product if you want longer eyelashes."

This statement does not assume that anything is inherently wrong with the woman, and it gives her a choice. What if a woman does not want longer eyelashes?

But see, if we lose all of our choices, if we all look the same, we cease to be individuals, we start to seem like stereotypical robots. If we start to believe this about ourselves, start to dress for it, talk and act like it, too, we will begin to restrain our natural impulses and question and quench our own original thoughts and ideas, especially if they differ from what we see happening in the world around us. This is very convenient for certain types of governmental systems, systems which no one says they want, yet everyone secretly wants. They want it because they want to sleep walk through life and not have to think or be responsible for personal choices. When personal choices are taken away, people have no one to blame but everyone else.
The buck stops at Big Brother's door, the same Big Brother who vowed to protect and nurture you.
But you see, I am getting way ahead of myself and talking goofy talk now.
Silly me, I'm just a girl...a girl who's eyelashes may or may not be adequate...what do I know? .


Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's wrong, honey?

(Pre-Script: The natural beauty of this post is enhanced when the song, " Closer To Love," #54 on the playlist, is playing in the background while it is being read. So please go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Who has the strength to be a woman anymore?
I am not strong enough.
The short story is that I have decided to stop reading magazines. They are not for the faint of heart. My heart is not strong enough to withstand the grief with which they bombard me. They make me feel bad about myself, and discontent when I realise that I want a whole bunch of stuff I cannot afford...on way more than financial terms. Why would I want to subject myself to that type of torture daily, weekly, monthly, when I was not feeling discontented or bad about myself before I opened the magazine? I dream of a world where make up and products are FUN, where experimenting with hair color and outfits is FUN, an expression of whim or whimsy, of how I am feeling that day, not something that affects my value as a human being from one day to the next.
One problem with the magazines is that the girls pictured therein are either 15 or airbrushed, or most likely, both, with every possible flaw edited out, and this is to what real world women are comparing themselves, even as each year they are growing another year past 15, another life experience past airbrushed.

...but wait, there is Botox, honey.

...but wait, there are things you can inject into your lips, darling.

...but wait, you can be cut open and have anything you don't like removed, anything you wish for added, my little love dove.

My hackles start to stand on end when purely cosmetic procedures for cosmetic sake are becoming more and more clinical and medically stale. When what was once fun and artistic starts to become standard and medical, it is no longer seen as a fun and artistic option, but is now seen as a necessity. The more women who have medical procedures done to them for cosmetic reasons, the more it becomes unacceptable if you are a woman who has not had a procedure. It does not always matter what the procedure is, but you surely have to have SOMETHING done, even a chin implant or SOMEthing, because no one is born with perfect everything, and perfection is becoming more and more not just a lofty ideal, but a necessity, the only acceptable way the world can stand to look at you. Oh, and This Makes Me Angry! (Said she, with a frown line marring her otherwise unruffled brow.)
It makes me angry when I see a commercial for eyelash growth, in case my eye lashes are "inadequate." (I believe this is the word they use) A commercial is telling me that yet another thing might be wrong with me that I had not yet considered.
...BUT, dear, it's okay, because we have this product here, and yes, it is medical, so see your doctor about it, YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR INADEQUATE EYELASHES, DO YOU HEAR ME, PEOPLE??? And then get this procedure done, oh, even though it may cause blindness. It's a small price to pay on your own personal road to perfection. WHERE DOES IT END??? IT doesn't ever end.
I dare you to find one woman who is content with herself, comfortable in her skin, not striving, striving, striving, not feeling inadequate in at least a lot of ways, when nothing is really wrong with her. All of her parts are working just fine. All of her eyelashes are the length they have always been. Her body type is the type it has always been. Her bone structure is the same one that has supported her frame for her entire life.
Here is what I think: I think that having yourself cut open and having unnatural things placed inside your self is not a good thing. Silicone does not grow naturally in or on a human body. Having your bones shaved down to fit a certain size ideal in a certain society or time period is not a good thing.
Botox injections are actually a form of a toxin that can kill you. My baby daughter was infected with Infant Botulism and hospitalized in the Intensive Care unit at the hospital for 8 days. When we brought her home, she had to be fed through a tube in her nose for a month. She was 2 months old. It's the same stuff that is in Botox injections. It's a muscle relaxant. But guess what, people, your muscles were meant to move. Even the muscles in your face. It is the purpose for which they were created.
It's one thing to brush on make up that you wash off at the end of the day. Elective cosmetic surgeries and injections are self mutilation in one of it's most highly applauded and socially acceptable forms.
With these standards getting higher and tighter the closer you get to perfect, each woman is an island on her own, against each and every other woman in the world. It's lonely. You can never rest, you can never rest because you must stay on this formula, this plan, to spend more and more and more money and time on being less and less and less okay.
So let's all keep trying to look more and more like each other, let's all keep correcting the things that were never wrong with God's design for your face or body, let's keep getting these things done to us, and let's see what it does to the next generations, how it weakens them. What messages do they receive when their noses do not grow to match the perfect noses that their mothers have had surgically fitted, but are instead the noses that their DNA said she was supposed to have? How can you love on your daughter what you determined was not okay on yourself? Better set up the fund now, the Forever For Every Generation Paying Through The Nose For The Nose Jobs Of All Of Your Descendants fund. (or, FFEGPTTNFTNJOAOYD.)That's what life's all about, right? RIGHT?
The perfect ideal of looking exactly completely just like everyone else?*


*Have you noticed that in the financially wealthiest circles, the women tend to look the most exactly alike? Doesn't it ever get boring?

Monday, September 21, 2009

My First Autumn

(Pre-Script: This post turns a whole new leaf when read while the song, " Everybody's Changing," #56 on the playlist, plays in the background. So go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When I was ten, I met a girl named Autumn. Before this, I had never known that girls with names as exotic (to me) as "Autumn" existed. When you are a ten year old girl, and you meet a girl named Autumn, instead of hearing it as a beautiful, artistic name with a nicely flowing rhythm, your thoughts tend to veer to the left, and go something like, "How unfortunate for her. What a weird name." Most 10 year old girls do not appreciate variations in the names of their peers. Fitting in is the ultimate. Being status quo and just like everyone else is the epitome of everything, to a ten year old girl, or at least it was to the ten year old girl who was me.
As grown ups, we appreciate variations and rhythm in names. We appreciate the flow and sound and meaning of a name, and if anything, when naming our own children, we probably tend to steer away from the most popular names of the year. You don't want your kid to be one of the 10 with the same name in his or her Kindergarten class. But we forget that to a Kindergartner, it's FUN to be one of the 10 with the same name. It's like you are a part of a special club. At least, it was to the Kindergartner who was me. I used to make mental lists of all the Michelle's or Michele's I had ever met. Spelling didn't matter so much, as long as pronunciation was the same. I was always pleasantly awed to have a new Michelle to add to my list.
So when I met a girl named "Autumn," I felt for her, in a "Sucks to be you" sort of way. understand, the empathy of a ten year old only goes so far, in certain least, the empathy of the 10 year old who I was. In other areas, my empathy was off the chats. The sight of an old man crossing the street could make me weep, for example. So I guess there was a trip in the wiring of my brain's empathy system...But gosh, I was only 10 years old, I was not half as mature as your 10 year old child, my Dear Imaginary Reader...For I am sure that you are reading this, thinking to yourself, "Not MY 10 year old son or daughter. MY precious little angel is ALways completely empathetic and sympathetic towards others."
Well, good for you.
But I am not your 10 year old.
To be fair to myself, though, let me back the truck up for a moment and explain that even as a 10 year old, it would never have occured to me to tease this girl. Make fun of her in any capacity?
Deny her friendship or kindness?
Feel sorry for her and SO SO glad not to be her?
Yes, yes, sure.
Here's what I remember about my first "Autumn": She had reddish hair. She lived in a house with a lot of cats. She ate brown sugar out of a little dish as a snack. She ate it by dipping one finger in, then licking the brown sugar off of her finger. She ate brown sugar for a snack because her Grandmother told her that it was good for her. That sounded fine to me. In fact, it sounded down right revolutionary to me. I have always been a big fan of brown sugar, so I was all in favor of this non conventional way of enjoying brown sugar that did not require a bowl of Malt O Meal or Grape Nuts. I was ready to launch a campaign for brown sugar snack time in my own home. My ten year old self was, anyway. My 33 year old self is more suspicious of these things, and will stick to happily eating brown sugar on Malt O Meal. But let's not forget, folks, that a certain percentage my 33 year old self is made up of my 10 year old self, that certain percentage being roughly just under a 3rd.
My 33 year old self wonders what Autumn is doing now, if she likes her name, and if she feels that she has grown to inhabit it. I also wonder if she still eats brown sugar off of her fingers, if she ever got rid of all of the cats.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nurse Punch and Pastries

(Pre-Script: While choosing a song to pair with this post, I was struck by songs with titles like, "The Story," "The End of The Innocence," even "Bring Me To Life," but in the end, I decided that the song, " Therapy," #43 on the playlist, sums it up completely in that one word, so please go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I am a big fan of current cultural craze called "The Modern Hospital." I think it's an ideal place for a woman to give birth, and to be pumped full of numbing drugs while doing so. However, there is a little known Post Partum Nurse policy that says something like, "In order to work in our fine hospital, you are to have very strong opinions on feeding and burping the newborn baby, and you are to give this advice whenever you enter the patient's room, and above all else, it must be advice that completely conflicts with the nurse that was speaking to this patient before you, and with whichever nurse will come after you. It must also conflict with whatever the new mother is currently doing." I swear this policy must be in the fine print before you can work as a nurse in The Modern Hospital, and that there is some sort of "disagree with each other" drug they put in the Nurse Punch.
"Michelle, there's no such thing as Nurse Punch"
How would you know that, dear Imaginary Reader? Hmm??
"Well, Michelle, I don't, but..."
Then stop interrupting, Gentle Reader. How else do you explain it?
"Good point, Michelle. Carry on."
Yeah, and with the drugged up nurse punch they are fed "tell the patient your opinion in very strong terms" pastries. Since nurses work long hours and are very hungry, they happily enjoy this free and tasty snack, and they never suspect what they are being fed.
I would even venture to guess that there is a reason for this exercise of new mother badgering until she feels thoroughly confused, hopelessly guilty, and utterly incompetent. The secret reason behind this policy is that they are instilling into the mom the idea that no matter what she does, there is always going to be someone who disagrees with her. This is a lesson she had better get used to from the very beginning, because it does not end once new born mom and new born baby leave the hospital.
But gosh, it's a hard initiation.
Maybe it's time that the punch got revoked.
Maybe, instead of obliterating the new mother's sense of common sense, the nurse on duty should please oh pretty please tell her own home birth story. She should remember to include the part about the *certain something* that ended up being stored in her home refrigerator for weeks and weeks until it could be buried beneath the cherry tree her husband kept forgetting to plant in their backyard.
"But Michelle,"
Oh, back again Gentle Reader?
"Yes, Michelle, I just wanted to tell you that that last part doesn't happen to everyone, it's just what happened to you."
Gentle Imaginary Reader, I guess you are right...
...And I purposely remained vague about what the *certain something*was that was stored in the refrigerator after the home birth, to spare you from sudden fits of horror and nausea. Let's just leave it at, I know too much about what is buried beneath the tree of a certain post partum nurse to ever eat any cherries she offers me from here on out.
It's all I'm saying.
Happy Birthing.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Lightest Things

(Pre-Script: This post reads best when read as the song,"Winter," by Joshua Radin, #29 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Sometimes a sure thing slips right off the surface-
you might think "earthquake" or "global warming"-
a shake up or a melt down, caused it-
but some things were glued down well,
some had substantial roots, before the slip slide into-
well, not oblivion, necessarily,
but certainly
a slip slide that rendered the thing
that used to be on the surface
no longer right on the surface
(table tops and ground cover or somesuch)
maybe it has gone underground somewhere to burrow
or "Integrate," you might say,
and is therefore more really there,
or sometimes it's gone forever,
dissolved, or floated on a wind,
too light a thing to hold onto;
(the lightest things fly away unless they choose to stay.)


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gold Toe Tube Socks

(Pre-Script: To take from this post what you will, please read it as the song, " Superman," #19 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
"DUDE! Gold Toe Socks are SO 2002. I mean, Right??"
-This is what the smiling guy posing on the blow up picture in the men's sections of large department stores, and in catalogues all across America, is saying to the other smiling guy model as they toss the football or Frisbee to each other in their underwear. Sometimes, they just stand in a casual pose, like "Hey, yeah, I stand casually cool like this all the time in my underwear, it is so natural for me. Sometimes to mix things up, I lean against a surfboard. That is why I am smiling like this...Hey, dude, hold up, why don't you toss the Frisbee to me, while I lean against the surfboard. Maybe I'll hold a tennis racket over my shoulder, or something, too. That'll really make for a super picture, I mean, Right??"


Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks"*

(Pre-Script: This post rocks when read as the song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," #41 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

If I ever decide to become a Teacher Of Geology, (an urge I have somehow squelched this far in in my life) I would teach thusly: I would take the children to a river of some sort and let them collect whatever rocks appealed to them. Then we would bring the rocks back to the classroom and research them...however you research rocks. I mean, I don't really know what you need to know about rocks, besides what kind they are, so that you can call them by name, ("Come here, Obsidian! I was not quite through talking with you, Slate Gray!") especially if it has potential of becoming a Pet Rock. Or maybe you'd want to know how common your particular favorite rock is, if the rock you found is indigenous to the area where you found it, or if it just fell out of some guy's pocket when he was here visiting from New Zealand one day. It will also be useful to know how precious this rock is, and if it is worth any money. Imagine getting rich off of a rock you found on a riverbed that you picked up because you thought it was pretty. Cue the next Gold Rush type of phenomenon, such as has never been seen in California or elsewhere since 1849. I'm not sure if California is still set up for the arrival and temporary housing of that many horses and ghost towns.
But I digress.
So there I was this afternoon, picking awesome fantastic rocks out of the riverbed, imagining the ranger coming by to rain on my parade thusly:" Excuse me, Miss, there is a law against removing rocks from the rivers in this state. Tell those children that the fun they have been having collecting pretty rocks for the past 30-45 minutes was in vain. Go on, dash their little hopes on their very own rocks."
Since the ranger did not appear, I just kept right on collecting rocks, and I told the children, "you can take home any you want, but you have to carry your own back to the car yourself." Good deal, right? I thought so, as I continued to pick up the smooth round ones that fit perfectly into my hand, and the gorgeous green ones that looked like jade, especially when they were still wet from the river. I thought "I wonder if jade is from this area? What a pleasant surprise to have discovered my own jade supply..."
Blink Blink
"...and I will hire a fine worker of precious stones to carve and create gorgeous jade jewelry, which I will wear, and eventually pass down to my children, and children's children, for generations to come."
-such was the nature of my delusions of rock grandeur, you see.
Oh, what a fun Geologist I would be, if I ever decided to become one, and take the time to study all those rocks, just so many different varieties, who knows, really, not just to know, but to understand rocks, rocks, rocks, like the back of my hand, so much comprehension that it would overflow, and I would have no choice but to teach it to the children, to impart my great wisdom onto their waiting minds, soft as clay, as they blink up at me in expectation.
A child can quite possibly become interested in any subject, even one as seemingly boring as ROCKS, for crying out loud(!!), if it is taught to them well**... Not like when I was in school, and Geology was taught as a rote thing, like "blah blah blah, there is this kind of rock and this kind of rock." Then one morning we took a quiz I had forgotten to study for, so I crammed for 5 minutes before the quiz and got a 97%. after which the teacher pulled me aside to let me know that she could tell that I had studied hard for this quiz.
I have retained none of the information of which I was an expert for 30 minutes.
Yet in my mind, I'd be an rockin' Geologist.
In the end, none of my own children took home any rocks. I alone brought home my precious handful. Did I look them up online? Nah. Who does that kind of thing, anyway, I mean really!? Gosh. I prefer to imagine that the green ones are jade, and to just feel the perfectly round brown and white ones as I hold them in my hand.


*Forrest Gump
**And this, my friends, is tricky, and may vary from case to case.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

...In Which I Daydream Thusly...

(Pre-Script: This post tastes like a dream meal when read while the song, " Going the Distance," by Cake, #53 on the playlist, or "Cornflake girl," #36 on the playlist, plays in the background. So go down to the playlist, click on one of those songs, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Come close and I'll tell you a daydream.
Are you even ready for this?
Warning: You might not even be ready for this.
I am a guest judge on Iron Chef America*. I am sitting at the table with the other two judges waiting for the battle to begin, then end, so that I can dig in to each of the 5 courses, count them, 5 each, which equals 10 courses(!!) that the Iron Chef and the Guest Chef have created in the hour they have in which to create said dishes. Now, in this daydream, it is important to note that there are no snobby judges at the table with me. You know, the ones with the perfect palates? Who look down on those of us who don't know the proper way to eat a quail egg or how to make "foam?" Who have never actually eaten off of a plate that contained foam or quail eggs? But I have eaten Robins eggs, those chocolate ones that you get at Easter.

"But Michelle,"
OH! I hear my Imaginary Reader interrupting!
"Michelle, those aren't real robin eggs, you know."
Yes, dear Imaginary Reader, I know.
"...cause real robins don't lay chocolate filled eggs."
Imaginary Reader, I already said I KNOW! GOSH!
"Just making sure. You don't have to bite my head off."
Yeah, so ANYhoo, speaking of biting off my daydream, The secret ingredient would not be any kind of seafood, because when there is seafood, the chefs often think it's awesome to make some dish that the head has not been cut off of, and you are sitting their looking at your dish that is looking back at you. Y'all, I am not cultured enough to eat things that look back at me. I am not cultured enough to lick foods that lick me back. I have no desire to ever be that cultured, or to sit at a table amongst those who are. I also don't wish for the secret ingredient to be anything gross like beets or broccoli or peppers or cabbage. Why? Because I don't like any of those things, and it's my daydream.
Some ideas for dream ingredients are: cheese.
Oh how I would love to be the judge of battle cheese!
What if the judges made that glorious thing with Brie cheese, where it's melted in the middle, crusty on the outside, and you pair it with almond slivers and apricot jam on a cracker?
Or what if they made blue cheese dressing in which to dip my mushroom pizza?
Or what if they made anything with feta cheese?
OH how I love and long for feta cheese.
"Everything's betta with feta."
-you know it, baby.
And now, I cannot think of any other single stinking secret ingredient.
So I will leave it at,
"I daydream of being a Guest Judge on Iron Chef America on episode: Battle Cheese."
Amen, let's eat.


*Of the Food Network fame.

Lemon Tree

(Pre-Script: This poem best paired with the song, " She Will Be Loved," #11 on the playlist, So go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

If you want to pick a lemon from my tree
you should know I will not leave-
guilt is not the thing left dripping in my garden-
too late have I tasted bitter regret,
too slowly have I seen the bleeding fingers
not dripping red, but caked on brown, (this is
old blood), these are old wounds
of late they must be scrubbed
with muscle, teeth clenched in resolution
washed until the water runs clear
If you want to pick a lemon from my tree
bend your bones deliberately
and weep over the soil softening dirt around
roots and dreams
buried together, now intertwined
deep beneath my little lemon tree.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Long in the feet.

(Pre-Script: This post will grow on you beautifully when paired with the song," Everybody's Changing," #56 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
Sometimes you might be having a growing pain and not even realise it, so disguised is it by falling down and tripping all over your self. It's like, "hello, didn't I used to be able to walk normally before, with these same legs and 2 feet? Yes, yes I did. But see here, these are not the same two feet, these are a bigger, newer version, and I have not learned how to balance my weight properly, how hard to step, how far each stride will take the rest of my body." Extra slips and trips do not necessarily mean you are losing your balance and losing it, and a total screw up. It just might mean you are experiencing growing pain. Because you are growing.
I knew a girl who's feet grew long faster than the rest of her grew tall. She had to go around all awkward like that.
("Did she ever grow out of it, Michelle?"
-whispers the wondering mind of my curious, dear Imaginary Reader.)
Boy, I sure THINK so...but then again, I only saw her one year at summer camp and never saw her after that. I would be really surprised if the rest of her did not catch up and match with the size of her feet, eventually. Really, seriously surprised. Most people emerge out of their awkward phases as gorgeous butterflies with colors and sparkle no one ever knew was there, so hidden was it under all that...cocoon of acne cream and what not.
And then there are those who never go through an awkward phase. Remember those kids who were just always cute, and stayed cute? Guess what, they don't grow up to be good looking adults. I know this is true because someone told me that once, and it made all kinds of sense to me, so I believe it now. Physical Growth spurts are gone as quickly as adolescence. Internal growth spurts happen all the time, often right directly on the heels of each other, and you're like, "WAIT! I am trying to catch my breath, trying to catch up with myself here!"
My advice to the perpetually growing is this: Have Mercy! Don't try to run. Walk slowly. You'll eventually find your rhythm.


Monday, September 7, 2009

I Know What Rain Clouds Look Like

(Pre-Script: In order to properly shake things up, this post must be read as the song,"Everybody's Changing," #56 on the playlist, plays in the background, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

They are flat on the bottom.
You can be in the middle of the grayest, cloudiest day, but if you look up and the clouds are not flat on the bottom, it's not going to rain. I have heard talk of earthquake weather:
"This looks like earthquake weather" I'm sure that on the east coast, they say things like "This looks like hurricane weather," and in the Midwest they probably say things like "This looks like tornado weather." In Hawaii and Pompeii, they probably say, "This looks like Volcano weather; like I have TIME to for instant petrification today. Like I WANT my eggs perfectly preserved so that generations from now can dig us up and see that I only had time to make hard boiled eggs and bread for dinner. GOSH."
But I live in California, and can assure you that I have never felt an earthquake on a day when anyone has said to me "this is earthquake weather." The earthquakes I remember have happened when no one ever expected them, when no one was thinking about earthquakes, when everyone was busy living their sure, safe lives, and no one was giving the sky a second glance.
In elementary school, I learned the drill. When an earthquake hits, get under a table, under your desk, stand in a doorway. Earthquake drills happen twice each school year so that kids and teachers know exactly what to do should an earthquake so rudely disrupt their learning process. Such earthquake readiness knowledge is poured into the minds of the youngest, most easily shaken residents of the state that has a tendency to shake like it's doing the Cha Cha from time to time. But then when the actual earthquake hits, you stand around looking at each other.
By the time it occurs to you where you are supposed to go, what you are supposed to do, the earthquake is over.
The last earthquake I experienced was about 4 years ago. I had just put my children to bed. The earthquake started, and I looked at my husband. I think I said something like "we're having an earthquake" this thought alone was solid. Every other thought was instantly liquefied, and poured out both ears as quickly as the hot melted lava poured out of Mt. Vesuvius that fateful night as it watched over the inhabitants of Pompeii circa 70AD.
I think I walked from one child's bedroom doorway to the other, wondering if I was supposed to pick the children up and carry them outside or just stand there or what. In the end, my just stand there reflex proved to be the stronger urge. And then it was over.
When an earthquake is over, It is not always over, there are aftershocks, and you stand there and say "Oh, that must have been an earthquake," because it shocks you, catches you completely off guard, every time. Then you or the person nearest you says something like, "Turn on the news, let's see how big it was."
You check for damage and knocked over shelves and knickknacks. If anything needs rearranging, you rearrange, you straighten yourself out, you tuck the kids back in bed reassuringly.
You brush yourself off.
You blink.
You blink again.
At least that is what I did last time.
It was only after all of this that I knew that I had been shaken my core, to the core of my belief and all I thought I held so carefully, and oh, how easy I had been to shake! How heavily fell the knowledge that I am only in charge of so very little! So I hold the little I have in my hand openly, and I hold my palm up towards the sky. When the first drop of rain hits, I fling back my head, open wide my mouth, and stick out my tongue to catch it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We're gonna get least I sure THINK so...

(Pre-Script: This post will get you where you need to go when paired with the song, "Closer to Love," #54 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Something is wrong with my directional feature. I have lived in this city for the majority of my life, yet I often have trouble getting to a place. If I can see the place I want to go in my mind, then I know how to get there. I can go from point a to point b, but then let's say I am at point c, and I want to get to point b, (whoa, Nellie.) where I have already been, you will recall, if you were paying attention, from point a. Then, it's like, Back the truck UP.
I have to stop and think. For a long, long time. If I can't see it in my head, then I just don't know where to go, even though I have lived in this city the majority of my life, as I said in the first sentence of this post, and you will recall it if you were paying attention, reading and absorbing, not just speed reading to get to the end of the post. If you are just speed reading to get to the end, what's the point? What are you learning? Who are you trying to impress? Only read if it draws you in, and you enjoy it, and you want to see where this post will take you, like a road, and you have no idea where you are going. Hi, I can relate to the feeling I am creating in you now, by writing all wonky so you have no idea where I am taking you. And now I feel like we understand each other, we both have experienced this feeling of not understanding where we are going, but yet somehow, at the end of the day, we both end up at home. Just maybe with some detours in between, but always at the end of the day, back home.


Write On

(This post speaks in a voice all it's own when paired with the song, "Unwritten," #5 on the playlist, so please go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I have recently been reading the poetry of Ogden Nash. If you have never heard of him or read his poems, Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore or Ogden Nash poetry website (Hello, Google!) to get a brainful of goodness. I recommend "Columbus," and "Come on in, the Senility's Fine," among others.
His poems make me smile, they make me laugh out loud. He's got his own bumpy style, meter, rhyme, and made up words. It's always his own voice, though. His simple life observations are brilliant, in a "why didn't I see that," or"why did I never say that myself?" sort of way. In fact, you may find yourself wanting to bang your head against the wall at the simple perfection of his words, so frustrated may you be that you did not write that very thing you just read. It seems so...Simple. it is just so very right there in front of your face, do you know what I mean?? Do you even KNOW that feeling I am describing here?
What people don't understand is that it takes a lot of talent and skill to write in such a fashion. No one can imitate Ogden Nash, his meter is sometimes inconsistent, but it works for him; it still sounds deliberately like his own voice, like someone who's voice is scratchy, and misses in spots.
People think Dr. Seuss is easy, too, but it's not. It's brilliant. His genius is always his own, his meter and made up words his own. Others have tried to write books in his style, and they are terribly NOT the great Dr.'s work. They are not even close.
They can't EVEN touch this.
-That last sentence I just wrote there is the great M.C. Hammer's original work, (except I took the liberty of adding the word "EVEN") and he was right, you can't touch his work, or that of Ogden Nash, or that of Dr. Seuss. You just can't. Because it's not your own. Don't even try. Well, okay, try, if that's what you need to do to prove to the world and yourself that you cannot do it. We will collectively roll our eyes at you and refuse to buy your book. You cannot talk in someone else's voice.
Now my darlings, please understand; you can be inspired by someone else, because it resonates inside of you with something that was already there, and now you have an example of how to execute that thing that was inside of you. Take inspiration from as many great writers as possible, but be sure that what comes out of you was what was in you all along, that is the place from where the process needs to emerge, as opposed to trying to imitate someone else on the surface of the thing, and trying to dig deeper from there. That sort just seems...forced and contrived, fake and phony, and quite frankly, it makes me feel nauseated. And we ALL know what happens when a person (in this case, me) feels nauseated. Let's just say I am temporarily unable to speak in my own voice because I am preoccupied. Let's just leave it at that.
"But Michelle,"
Oh, would you look at who's Imaginary Reader decided to show up just now?! Mine, of course! Hello, Gentle Imaginary Reader! What would you like to know today?
"Michelle, I am wondering who inspires you."
Well, Gentle Reader, I thought you would never ask. Let me think. I am inspired by great writers who's work I cannot touch, though I have tried, OH! HOW I have TRIED!!
These are a few : Ogden Nash, Dr. Seuss, Anne Lamott, Robert Frost. And then I am inspired by my own rambly thoughts, run on sentences, and a slew of made up words and eccentricities all my own.
"Michelle, thank you. I will go and look all of those writers up online, if I cannot get to my nearest bookstore."
Great idea, Gentle Reader, great idea.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Since she'll only be 2 for 5.7 more seconds.

(Pre-Script: This post builds beautifully when layered with the song, "Little Wonders," #55 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading; I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Natalie and I are building block castles,
then knocking them down, over and over.
I place a wooden block where I think it fits,
and she rearranges it to match her vision
as a master architect.
Then we knock it down.
Then we build again.
She says "This is a castle for a king."
I say "Who is our king?"
thinking she will say, "Jesus." But She says "Daddy,"
and I am comforted by this.
I remember that there is laundry to fold,
I remember that there are dishes to put away,
I remember that the living room needs to be vacuumed.
Natalie remembers none of this.
So the house remains in it's varying degrees of entropy while we sit in the middle of it,
building a castle.