Saturday, January 31, 2009
I'm trying to help generate content for a website that a friend created called HealthAngle. The purpose of the site is to give people a place to read real stories about medical procedures, and write/vent about stuff they've experienced to guide others. For instance, last summer I had to get a CT scan (as part of the Frances kidney stone saga) and it would have been nice to know what to expect beyond the Wikipedia explanation of the test.
So if you've had surgery or any kind medical/dental procedure in the last year or so, I encourage you to write about it on this site. It only takes a few minutes and your full name won't be included, just a first name (and you don't have to use your real one if you're feeling creative). They are looking for write-ups on EVERYTHING, from totally routine stuff (teeth cleanings) to more unusual things (spinal taps, lobotomies). Well, maybe if you got a lobotomy, your assessment of the experience wouldn't be that helpful. I'm just saying.
Anyway, click here to start writing. It's for a good cause and the more people that contribute, the more the site can do what it was designed to do....so get to it!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
In my poetry workshop this week, we focused on blank verse (a.k.a. unrhymed iambic pentameter, e.g. what Shakespeare wrote his plays in). We discussed all the various substitutions for the weak-STRONG stress of iambs:
Trochees (STRONG-weak), as in "ASShole"
Spondees (STRONG-STRONG), as in "DOUCHEBAG"
Anapests (weak-weak-STRONG), as in "sonofaBITCH"
Dactyls (STRONG-weak-weak), as in "MASturbate"
Ok, I suppose it's kind of childish to use bad words to illustrate the types of accentual meter in English verse....what can I say, I have the mind of an 8th grade boy sometimes.
This week's poem I think you'll have trouble disliking is "Rock Polisher" by Chris Forhan, which appeared in the New England Review last year. Enjoy!
Your father bought it, brought it
to the basement utility closet, waited
while a test pebble tumbled in it.
One week: he’d willed it to brilliance.
The grit kit’s yours now, the silicon
carbide pack. Split it, have at it.
Jasper, agate, amethyst crystal,
it’ll churn to a luster. Listen
to small rocks grind the big one down.
Stones in the driveway, pry them up, why not,
they’ll fit, glass knobs on your mother’s
bathroom cabinet, your baseball
and mitt, polish them, polish that
zero-win Peewee League season.
The thing your sister said and then
took back, you still have it, polish it,
polish the snowless Christmas
when all you’d hoped for was snow.
It’s way past lights out now, you’re crouched
above the barrel, feeding it
your school shoes, your haircut
in eighth grade—flat bangs
to the bridge of your nose—the moment
that girl on the track team touched
your wrist, then kept her fingers there,
the way you loved dumbly
and do. If the sun’s up, it’s nothing,
you’re polishing, you’re pouring in
the ocean rolling rocks into cobbles
too slowly, and the sky, it was
Mozart’s, was Christ’s sky,
no matter, dismantle it, drop it
into the tumbler, and you too, get in there
with your Dad and your Mom and the cat,
one by one, the whole family,
and God’s mercy, perfect at last.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
In intimate relationships, it is only a matter of time before one person suggests, "Why don't we take a shower together?"
In case I'm ever in bed with you, let me just be upfront about this: I do not shower well with others.
I know this makes me a weirdo. But the truth is, I'm not someone who loves the shower in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I shower daily, but I've never been the type who loves being in the shower and looks forward to showering and showers for as long as possible. I'm all business in the shower -- the business of getting myself clean.
If I have to shower with another person, suddenly a whole new element is introduced. I might need to make conversation in the shower, even if it's just "Can you pass the shampoo?" I will have to think about how I look in the shower and more specifically, do I look attractive to you, i.e. the person I've just been in bed with. That's a lot of stress. I don't think many people look sexy in the shower -- I don't think I do and no offense, but I probably won't think you do, either.
Here's what happens when you shower in a normal-sized shower with another person. No one wants to hog the water so there's an awkward back-and-forth shuffling. And you feel obligated to try to wash each other and try to make it sexy and romantic. The result is that NO ONE ACTUALLY GETS CLEAN, i.e. the entire purpose of the shower is lost.
And trying to have sex in the shower? Please, that is a logistical nightmare wherein variables like height and weight must be carefully considered before attempting.
My solution is what I call the Tag-Team Shower. Person #1 gets in, showers, and leaves the water on for person #2. There is maybe a moment or two of overlap in the bathroom. Both people get clean and get some alone time in the shower. Everyone wins.
Am I alone in this or does anyone agree with me here? Comment if you want to weigh in on this very important issue.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I thought it would be fun to just post a compilation of things I've been enjoying recently. If a dog bites you or a bee stings you, maybe some of these things will improve your mood. It worked for Julie Andrews, it can work for you.
1. Favorite YouTube Video (at the moment, this will probably change by tomorrow)
2. Favorite Inappropriate Hip Hop Song: "One More Drink" by Ludacris
The lyrics in the chorus suggest date rape:
"If I take one more drink, I gonna end up fucking you"
Much like Red Lobster's "Endless Shrimp" campaign, that sounds like equal parts promise and threat. Also, if you're out on the dance floor and singing this to someone as your grinding with them, isn't that kind of offensive? Like "Baby, I'm almost trashed enough to try to take you home. One more drink, and I'm THHHHEEEEERRRREEE."
3. Favorite Joke (told to me by Shane Mauss)
So these two guys are at a bar, having some drinks, and in walks this dude with a gigantic orange head. He sits down and has a drink, while the two guys next to him try not to stare. But finally, curiosity gets the better of them and one of them says, "Man, I have to ask: what's with your big orange head?"
Orange-Head Guy sighs and takes a sip of his beer. "Well," he says, "the truth is that I found a magic genie in a lamp and the genie gave me three wishes. For my first wish, I asked to be married to a supermodel. And I am! She's fucking gorgeous. Then I wished for 10 million dollars-- and wham! I have more money then I know what to do with."
"Yeah, I think where I went wrong was when I wished to have a gigantic orange head."
4. Favorite Exchange with a Patron at the Hong Kong
Me: (handing the man a menu) Let me know if I can get you anything.
Man: Do you guys have pizza?
Me: (puzzled) No...this is a Chinese restaurant.
Man: (clearly disappointed) Oh. (suddenly brightens) Do you guys have calzones?
5. Favorite Urban Slang I Sound Stupid Using
It's a tie between "clutch" and "gangsta"
Monday, January 19, 2009
Ok, I usually don't use this blog to just vent about shit that bothers me, but I can't help it. In the past few days, I have had some run-ins with uptight old white people in Boston. There are a lot of them and I'm sure many are quite lovely, but two occurrences bear mention re: unacceptable uptight cranky behavior.
On Saturday afternoon, I went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" at the Fenway AMC Theater. I was with two friends and we were QUIETLY chatting during the previews. Not the film itself, the previews. I'm sure you see where this is going. This old guy in row in front of us turns around and very nastily tells us to keep it down. Look, it drives me up the wall when people talk during movies, but I thought the commerical/preview portion was fair game for talking. I mean, we've all seen the Fandango ad a million times before, do you really need to hear it again? It's paper bags with fake hair talking, people.
Also, you can politely ask someone to keep it down. If you think someone is being rude, you don't have to be rude back.
But even more amazing is what happened tonight, not in a movie theater, but right outside one. I went to see a bizarre documentary about the inventor of the Theremin at Coolidge Corner. Waiting in a long line outside before we were allowed in the theater, my friend Alexis lit up a cigarette. And moments later, a crazy woman who was at least 15 people ahead of us in line comes up and says brusquely that the smoke is "bothering everybody" and that she should put it out immediately.
I want to reiterate that we were OUTSIDE. Now, I'm not a smoker and I love that when I come home from restaurants and bars my clothes don't smell like smoke. But to my knowledge, smoking outside is still legal. It's the one place where I really don't care if you smoke because there's this nifty thing called wind that makes the smoke go away. My friend didn't want to start a fight with a senior citizen in Brookline, so she apologized and put out her cigarette. I think I was more outraged than she was.
Then in the movie theater parking lot, right next to where the line had formed, a car alarm started going off. The owner of the car immediately tried to disable it but didn't succeed for about 30 seconds. And would you believe it, the same crazy woman starts yelling "READ THE MANUAL!!!" to this poor embarrassed dude.
Does this woman live in soundproof oxygenated bubble? Well, now that I think about it, if she lives in Brookline...then, yes. But if smoke and noise bother you, you might want to never go out in public. And staying away from heavy metal concerts might also be a good plan.
On a side note, theremins are totally fierce instruments. Listen to the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" if you don't believe me -- the theremin is the weird high-pitched spooky sound that happens during the chorus.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
As promised, here is another poem that I challenge you NOT to like: "Introduction to Poetry" by former poet laureate Billy Collins.
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Collins is one of our most accessible and popular contemporary poets and some even feel (cough, J.D. McClatchy, cough) he's too mainstream, as if accessibility is somehow a bad thing. I happen to like his work quite a bit and think that this poem captures the anxiety and frustration many people feel when asked to read a poem and "get it." Sometimes there is nothing to get-- a good poem is like a room you wander into for a little while, a nice place to get lost.
This concludes your weekly dose of poetry.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Chris at PC Boston restored my laptop to its industry settings and then gave me all my personal files on a DVD. First I thought he gave me the DVD in a blank CD jewel case:
Then I flipped the case over.
Is there a hidden message here? The song list is blurry, but "Forbidden Pleasure" contains such smooth jams as "I Will Always Love You" and "That's the Way Love Goes." This is the kind of CD you get for free when you buy erotic massage oil. Or so I hear. I wonder if Chris would let me exchange my boring files for "Forbidden Pleasure." He did charge me $125, so I feel entitled to something extra.
I mean, it's just a little bit more than I needed to know about my computer technician's personal life and music preferences.
Apparently, you can't buy this CD through regular channels anymore, but I did find this copy on eBay for $2.95 from a merchant who goes by "sonic-chicken." My birthday is coming up in 6 weeks, folks....just a hint. For the cover art alone, I might have to own it. Behold:
Well, I'm turned on.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Since film awards season is upon us, I've been going to the movies a lot lately. I recently saw The Wrestler and Frost/Nixon and have plans to see both Revolutionary Road and Slumdog Millionaire. But you know what I have no desire whatsoever to see?
You got it: Gran Torino.
My antagonism toward Clint Eastwood films hasn't always existed-- I thought Mystic River was amazing and I wept through most of Million Dollar Baby. But it is interesting to note that if I never see either film again, it will be too soon. Watching those movies is a harrowing, gut-wrenching experience.
I feel like Eastwood goes out of his way to make his films not entertaining. The second you're enjoying his movie, he does something like paralyze Hilary Swank or kill off Tim Robbins. It's like a sucker-punch to the stomach.
I see previews for Gran Torino and the pull-quotes from reviews are what you'd expect:
"Vintage Clint Eastwood"
And so forth. With the exception of "vintage Clint Eastwood," the other descriptions could also apply to my last root canal. Don't get me wrong -- I don't need my movies to be total fluff (I would rather have another root canal than see Bride Wars) but do they have to be so, well, grim and joyless?
Clint is getting kudos for his acting in Gran Torino. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing he plays a hardened old coot with a soft spot. Just a wild guess.
I know, I know, all my film buff friends are doing the alive equivalent of rolling in their graves. I'm sure Gran Torino is an excellent film, I just have no desire to see it. Just like I had no desire to see the pair of black-and-white movies Eastwood directed about Japan during WWII that won raves a couple of years ago.
In his films, Eastwood takes himself pretty darn seriously. I wonder what he'd be like as a dinner companion. Is he as tight-lipped and gruff as the men he plays? Or would he be a loquacious dude? Would he joke with the waiter and do over-the-top lines from Dirty Harry or stare him down when the bread basket was empty and leave the tip in pennies?
These are the questions that keep me up at night.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
My laptop is getting repaired and I have only sporadic access to the interwebs; therefore there will be a (hopefully brief) hiatus in terms of new posts on this site. I have many exciting things I want to blog about, so be sure to check back in a few days to read about:
1. Why I never want to see Clint Eastwood movies
2. My theory on the two types of women in the world (those who use lotion and those who do not)
3. My predictions on who will win Bret's heart on Rock of Love Bus
I apologize on behalf of my broken laptop....I hope to be back in business soon. But some good news: I got a new watch!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Last week, my Swiss Army watch, the same one I have worn since high school, broke. No, the battery didn't just die -- the face became detached from the insides. I know I could get this fixed and I probably will, but for the time being, I have no watch. And it drives me CRAZY.
I don't understand how people exist without watches. Many claim they just use their cell phones to keep track of time. But it's so much easier for me to glance at my wrist than locate my cell phone, which at any given moment could be buried at the bottom of my purse, in my coat pocket or left at home/on the T/in Starbucks.
So my world is rattled by being sans watch. But it goes further (farther? I never know when to use further vs. farther...) than that-- the clock on my laptop is also not working. It has said that it's 8:28 p.m. for the past two weeks. My laptop is running very slowly and gimpily and I need to take it in to get fixed, but since the internet still works, I keep putting it off. To make matters worse, the only clock in my apartment is the one on my microwave and it runs consistently ten minutes slow, no matter how many times I reset it. I have no alarm clock -- when I have to get up early, I use the alarm on my phone.
So I'm existing in a sort of timeless vacuum right now, folks. It's disorienting, but also a little liberating. Right now, I have no idea what time it is because I'm too lazy to go check the microwave. I know it's afternoon, but beyond that, I got nothin'.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Whenever I explain to someone that I'm in a graduate writing program, the inevitable next question is, "What do you like to write?" And when I say "poetry," he or she will get this strange, uncomprehending look on his/her face as if just finding out for the first time what calamari actually is.
People are scared of poetry. They think that they don't or won't understand it and that makes them not like it. If I wrote fiction, that would be easier to grasp -- the logic would be something like, "Katie wants to write a novel. I like to read novels, so I understand why Katie wants to write one." The poetry logic is harder to follow-- who reads poetry these days? Awareness of poetry for many of my friends, even the exceptionally well-read ones, consists of skipping over poems in The New Yorker.
So I'm going to post one poem a week on this blog that I challenge you NOT to like. I won't post my own stuff -- that you can read by clicking on the links under the Poems sidebar. I'm going to post poems that are so undeniably awesome and accessible that you will not be able to claim you don't get them or like them. I'll only post things written in the last decade, to prove my point that poetry is not antiquated or obsolete, but very much alive and still kicking.
This week's poem is "Eggrolls," by Alan Shapiro, published in 2005. It's funny (did you know poems could be funny?) and unexpected and, in my opinion, impossible not to like.
The gregarious babble
muffled the sharp
words the couple
in the next booth
were trying all
through dinner not
No you, you
listen for a change,
or How dare you
or I can't believe this
above the barely
god not now
not here rhythm of
an argument they wanted
both to swallow
and spit out.
Then the pause,
silence in which
the whole place
to be listening
to the woman say, at last,
clearly and slowly,
so everyone could hear,
the eggrolls, Harry,
it's the last ten years."
Oh, Harry, can you
the young couple
in the next booth
who laughed out loud
but really did
try not to—
you heard them,
how could you not have?—
as you ran past,
hurrying after her,
your disappearing wife?
And though it's nearly
would it console you
or amuse you now
to learn they didn't
last a year,
they strolled home
hand in hand,
a little less estranged
for all the laughter
and meaning it and
lying back, they heard—
they couldn't help
but lie there wide
awake and hear—
the couple from the next
for all they knew
could have been you and her,
go at it longer
deeper into the night
than they themselves
had ever thought