Friday, May 29, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

In class the other day (I'm taking a nonfiction writing workshop this summer), I watched "Storytellers," a documentary made in 1985 by the PEN Center featuring a bevy of famous writers (Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion) talking about their craft. Essayist Fran Leibowitz described the process of writing as "slowing down your thinking to 1/100th of its pace." Didion said she writes in order to find out what she's thinking. Morrison, who said she unapologetically focuses on classic themes like love, loneliness and death, decried the lauding of originality as a virtue in and of itself. Wolfe, as expected, talked about co-ed dorms and X-rated movies.

Seeing all these writers together was inspiring -- but also, wow, what a bunch of oddballs.

One such oddball is poet Andrew Hudgins. Here's one of my favorite poems by him; it's very funny and the language is refreshingly idiomatic, and yet he manages to sneak some profundity in at the end.

Praying Drunk

Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.
Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.
I ought to start with praise, but praise
comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you
about the woman whom I taught, in bed,
this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form
keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.
Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,
I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,
Poof! You’re a casserole!—and laughed so hard
she fell out of the bed. Take care of her.

Next, confession—the dreary part. At night
deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.
They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,
of course, they’re beautiful. But why? What makes
them beautiful? I haven’t shot one yet.
I might. When I was twelve, I’d ride my bike
out to the dump and shoot the rats. It’s hard
to kill your rats, our Father. You have to use
a hollow point and hit them solidly.
A leg is not enough. The rat won’t pause.
Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, back
into the trash, and I would feel a little bad
to kill something that wants to live
more savagely than I do, even if
it’s just a rat. My garden’s vanishing.
Perhaps I’ll merely plant more beans, though that
might mean more beautiful and hungry deer.
Who knows?
I’m sorry for the times I’ve driven
home past a black, enormous, twilight ridge.
Crested with mist, it looked like a giant wave
about to break and sweep across the valley,
and in my loneliness and fear I’ve thought,
O let it come and wash the whole world clean.
Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair—
whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.

Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,
that nature stuff. I’m grateful for good health,
food, air, some laughs, and all the other things
I’m grateful that I’ve never had to do
without. I have confused myself. I’m glad
there’s not a rattrap large enough for deer.
While at the zoo last week, I sat and wept
when I saw one elephant insert his trunk
into another’s ass, pull out a lump,
and whip it back and forth impatiently
to free the goodies hidden in the lump.
I could have let it mean most anything,
but I was stunned again at just how little
we ask for in our lives. Don’t look! Don’t look!
Two young nuns tried to herd their giggling
schoolkids away. Line up, they called. Let’s go
and watch the monkeys in the monkey house.
I laughed, and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,
we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,
which is—let it be so—a form of praying.

I’m usually asleep by now—the time
for supplication. Requests. As if I’d stayed
up late and called the radio and asked
they play a sentimental song. Embarrassed.
I want a lot of money and a woman.
And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know—
a character like Popeye rubs it on
and disappears. Although you see right through him,
he’s there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,
and smoke that’s clearly visible escapes
from his invisible pipe. It makes me think,
sometimes, of you. What makes me think of me
is the poor jerk who wanders out on air
and then looks down. Below his feet, he sees
eternity, and suddenly his shoes
no longer work on nothingness, and down
he goes. As I fall past, remember me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's wedding season, y'all!

I have a big announcement: I'M GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!

Someday. Groom TBD, but I'm working on it. (For explanation of the above photo, keep reading)

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of Wedding Season. For the past several years, I've been averaging two weddings per year, which is manageable. And while yes, the gifts/travel involved are tough on the wallet, I gotta be honest: I love weddings. I always have -- in 1st Grade, I dressed up as a bride for Halloween. My 1st Grade boyfriend, Colin, was supposed to dress up as the groom. When he showed up in a pirate costume instead, I knew the relationship was doomed.

This past weekend, I attended my first 2009 wedding in Rochester, NY. It was a beautiful ceremony and, as usual, I cried during the vows (as did the groom). At my own wedding, I'm sure I will start bawling as soon as my Dad starts walking me down the aisle. My Dad giving me away might be the thing I'm looking forward to most in my wedding. I mean, that and the whole committing-to-the-person-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with business. That will be pretty cool too.

Getting married strikes me as wonderfully hopeful. The odds are against you, though the oft-repeated claim that "60% of marriages end in divorce" is not statistically accurate (according to the Census Bureau, 60% of
second marriages end in divorce; the rate for first marriages is closer to 40%). When you get married, you are making a promise. You are saying to your partner, in front of your family, friends, and whatever God you believe in if you believe in a God, that you hope to love and stand by him/her no matter what. Your other relationships may have failed, but you think this one won't. You hope it won't.

But enough philosophy. How much do I love weddings? Well, for my 22nd birthday, the theme of the party wedding. To Jon, my gay best friend (also celebrating a birthday). We decided we liked weddings so much that we had to have one. Check out the photos -- realistic looking, no?

We even had a cake, courtesy of Shaw's supermarket:

Who knows, maybe for our joint 30th birthday, we'll have a bar mitzvah!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Waxing poetic....about waxing

For a long time, I resisted the Waxer. For several reasons, including low pain threshold, a vague sense of feminist outrage, and being a cheapskate. I am a woman, dammit! I have pubic hair!

But eventually, I became curious. Many of my close girlfriends confided that they liked how it felt, being hairless down there. It wasn't just about pleasing a man or giving the illusion of being prepubescent. Educated, sexually-empowered women were going bare. I was already toying with the idea when the guy I was seeing mentioned he thought it was hot, so I decided to go for it.

I made an appointment at a salon in my neighborhood run by middle-aged Polish women. I was nervous and asked a lot of questions. Once I was pantless and on the table, it suddenly bothered me that I didn't know my waxer's name. I mean, she was looking directly at my lady parts and about to cover them in hot wax. I needed to feel like we knew each other, at least superficially. So I grabbed her hand en route to my bikini line and said, "What's your name?"

She stared at me, confused, then said: "Dorothy."

"Ok," I said. "I'm Katie. Nice to meet you. Go ahead."

I have to admit, I didn't love how it looked at first. My "vagnino" somehow seemed less dignified. I was worried it was uglier than average. But the boyfriend seemed to approve, so I made another appointment a month later. When I came over afterward, he dumped me. I was outraged. And every time I went to the bathroom, there was a reminder of him. My hairless crotch was mocking me.

For the next two years, I stayed away and did my own maintenance. I got no complaints, but recently, I decided to give it another go. My new boyfriend didn't pressure me at all, but I thought it might be a fun way to mix things up. So I made an appointment at
Milano Salon, which is less than a block away from my apartment in Allston.

Let me now sing the praises of their waxer, Joan. The woman is awesome. Friendly, but no nonsense. And just chatty enough to distract you from the pain. She gives good, clear directions ("Lift your ass!") and is happy to share amusing anecdotes too, about bizarre shapes she has been asked to create (Celtic crosses, lightning bolts, initials).

So I've come full circle (full bush?) from not waxing, to waxing, to not waxing, and now waxing again. I think women should do whatever makes them feel comfortable and sexy -- it's definitely not wise to get a Brazilian for someone else's benefit. No one is worth that much pain. NO ONE.

This is a picture I found on Google Images, searching under "Brazilian waxing." Let me just say that I would definitely not allow this man anywhere near my privates!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Just spent 10 consecutive days with my mother and though she is a great lady (and a reader of this blog!), I admit that I'm a little wiped out. My mom has a lot of energy and charms most that she meets, but we are very different people. Emotionally, we are wired the same way -- to put it bluntly, I get my "crazy" from her. Which might be the best part of me and also the part that I struggle to keep in check. Though incredibly smart, my mom leads with her heart and makes no apologies for it. And while her irrationality can be exhausting (for instance, when she refuses to take public transportation because while radically more expensive and slower due to traffic, cabs *seem* more convenient), it's also sometimes refreshing. Logic schmogic!

My mom is also very vocal and opinionated -- whenever I watch a movie with her, in a theater or at her home, she can't resist commenting on everything. This tendency is now referred to in our family as "mom-mentary" and it came out on this trip, when I took her to the comedy club where I used to work. My mom....well, she kind of heckled. The mom-mentary comes from a good place and my mom was just trying to participate, but her outbursts led one comic to pronounce, "We've got a live one!" I was a teensy bit embarrassed. But also a little proud.

My mom is a huge foodie and we went to a number of awesome restaurants when she was in Boston, including Cuchi Cuchi, Maurizio's, and Top of the Hub (read my Yelp reviews here). We also took a day trip to Salem, where we took an odd pedicab ride with a tattooed guy named Jimmy who knew very little about Salem's history and couldn't pronounce "Episcopal" ("Here on the right is the, uh, Escobal Church"). We ate oysters and drank raspberry martinis. We also took in a Jane Monheit show at Sculler's Jazz Club. All in all, it was a fun visit. I'm probably ten pounds heavier, but whatever. It's not quite swimsuit season yet.

I have 3 brothers and used to wish for a sister, but ultimately, I think I prefer being the only girl. I get to see a special side of my mom and we have a unique bond because I'm her only daughter. If I didn't exist, whom would she give crazy gifts to, such as my collection of Barbie dolls dressed as Scarlett O'Hara? Or this wooden plaque that I hung above my shoe rack:

In short, my mom rules.

p.s. This is my 100th post! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Puppets + pot

This weekend, I was watching a cable access channel in the wee hours of the morning and happened to catch an episode of a show called
Pothedz Couch. It's a puppet show chronicling the adventures of Pothed (a flower pot), Mr. Bongo (A waterpipe) and Nic (a pack of Marlboros). The show was clearly conceived and created under the influence of a ton of marijuana, and the production values are, unsurprisingly, low. And yet, at 2:00 a.m. when you're chilling on your couch, listening to a little Al Green*, it really hits the spot.

Here are some choice clips:

The Weed Fairy

The Bong of Eternal Stench

*euphemism for smoking bud

Friday, May 8, 2009

Networks, take note

I'm in NYC for the next few days and don't have much time to blog contemplatively...also, I just officially completed my first year of graduate school (!) and my brain is a little fried. So when I received a hilarious e-mail this morning from my friend Timothy Cooper, writer-comedian extraordinaire, I decided it would be a good idea to plagiarize him for today's post. Except I guess since I'm giving him credit, it might not count as plagiarism...regardless, he's a funny mofo and if you live in NYC, you should totally check out his improv group, Gluttony.

Since fall pilot season is right around the corner, Tim put together this list of show concepts to pitch to the networks.

Jeroboam Sneed was already the biggest nerd in school...THEN he died.

(No logline available)

Jamie Foxx stars in the true story of a man who was born, lived, and died on the F-train.

OUCH (Food Network)
Foods that poke holes in your stomach.

Between the sixth sense (dead people) and the seventh sense (smell again) lies the sexth sense, which allows you to see desperation. Parental guidance suggested, for brief nudity and light counting.

FARKLEHEIMER! (The History Channel)
The honest life and heroic death of Edward "Tibberton" Farkleheimer!, the first man with an exclamation point in his name.

A mind-bending series cowritten by Charlie Kaufman, about a janitor named Charley who wants to kill his writer twin, Charlee, before she can finish her masterwork, "Kaufka," which is about their stepmom, Charlé, and her husband, Charlo, and their adopted daughter, Charlequa, who forgot why this was supposed to be interesting or clever.

Jack's a well-to-do banker and wife-beater, but Tonya really likes new shoes. Will they EVER make this marriage work?

Black Edison.

EVERYBODY DIES (Nickelodeon)
Every dead mom of every lead character in every Disney movie discusses different ways your parents might die soon.

Will a modified '93 Chevy pickup be able to keep its cabin—and William Shatner—pressurized at an even 14 lbs/sq. in. while orbiting the earth at 1,320,000 feet?

SQUID! (National Geographic)

And I'd like to add two of my own to this list, which I devised with the help of my bf, Noah Tarnow (host of The Big Quiz Thing):

See the Angels and Demons star in his home, sleeping.

SLUT CRUISE (Fox Reality Network)
A cruise ship sets sail with $100,000 and dozens of men trying to figure out the one thing they have in common: that they've all slept with the same, slutty girl.

Monday, May 4, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Ekphrastic Monday
(to the tune of "Manic Monday" by the Bangles)

It's just another ekphrastic Monday
I wish it was Tuesday
'Cause that's my haiku day
My I-don't-have-to-write-a-poem-about-a-work-of-art day
It's just another ekphrastic Monday

Ekphrastic poetry is a "conversation between two pieces of art. The writer interprets a work of visual art and then creates a narrative in verse form that represents his or her reaction to that painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic creation" (

Today's poem is "Edward Hopper and the House by the Railroad" by Edward Hirsch. Check out the 1925 painting, then read this incredible poem.

Out here in the exact middle of the day,
This strange, gawky house has the expression
Of someone being stared at, someone holding
His breath underwater, hushed and expectant;

This house is ashamed of itself, ashamed
Of its fantastic mansard rooftop
And its pseudo-Gothic porch, ashamed
of its shoulders and large, awkward hands.

But the man behind the easel is relentless.
He is as brutal as sunlight, and believes
The house must have done something horrible
To the people who once lived here

Because now it is so desperately empty,
It must have done something to the sky
Because the sky, too, is utterly vacant
And devoid of meaning. There are no

Trees or shrubs anywhere--the house
Must have done something against the earth.
All that is present is a single pair of tracks
Straightening into the distance. No trains pass.

Now the stranger returns to this place daily
Until the house begins to suspect
That the man, too, is desolate, desolate
And even ashamed. Soon the house starts

To stare frankly at the man. And somehow
The empty white canvas slowly takes on
The expression of someone who is unnerved,
Someone holding his breath underwater.

And then one day the man simply disappears.
He is a last afternoon shadow moving
Across the tracks, making its way
Through the vast, darkening fields.

This man will paint other abandoned mansions,
And faded cafeteria windows, and poorly lettered
Storefronts on the edges of small towns.
Always they will have this same expression,

The utterly naked look of someone
Being stared at, someone American and gawky.
Someone who is about to be left alone
Again, and can no longer stand it.