Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

This poem by Robert Pinsky really needs no introduction and I'd be hard pressed to actually explain what I like about it. I like basically everything about it.
It is incredibly simple, yet profound.

Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had

No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.

When I had no ears I thought.

When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made

Care my father. When I had

No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made

Quiet my friend. When I had no

Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have

No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune

Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment

Is my strategy. When I had

No lover I courted my sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

This job would be great if it weren't for the customers

As previously discussed on this blog, I am fully aware that I don't *have* to wait tables, that I am capable of getting and holding down a more "stable" day job. But I like working in a restaurant most of the time. People behave rather astonishingly when they are dining out. Usually, I'm amused by the oddities I witness and strange requests (such as a martini with a straw) but sometimes my friendly, professional veneer cracks and I want to pour scalding hot coffee over all the patrons in my section. To avoid this fate, here are some handy tips on how to not be an asshole in a restaurant:

1. If you don't want ice in your Diet Coke, the time to tell me that is when you order it, not when I bring it to the table.

2. If it's not on the menu, we don't have it, even if you had it the last time you were here.

3. If you have a gift certificate, you should still tip on the amount you spent INCLUDING THE GIFT CERTIFICATE. If the gift certificate is for $50 and your total before that's deducted is $100, you should tip on the $100 (i.e. at least $15).

4. I heard you the first time when you asked for decaf. Ask again and it might be a looooog, jittery, sleepless night.

5. Please just sit where the hostess tries to seat you. You will get the same food/service no matter where you sit and it throws everything off sometimes if you insist on sitting where you want.

6. I am happy to make suggestions and tell you what I like, but I don't know your life. Chicken or salmon? Mushroom omelet or brioche french toast? It's all delicious. MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY, I HAVE OTHER TABLES.

7. I mean, it's your dollar, but if you're ordering your steak well done and your fish cooked through, might I suggest dining at the Marriott down the street? The chef there is masterful when it comes to overcooking protein.

8. If you order a $75 bottle of wine with your meal and pay with a black Amex, I think you can manage an 18-20% tip, unless I do something egregious. My hourly is $2.65 and your annual fee is $2500.

9. Don't ask me to split the check 5 ways. Unless you're dining with total strangers you will never see again after this meal, I'm guessing you can work it out somehow.

10. Please don't talk to me like I have the IQ of a seared sea scallop. I'm a college-educated, self-supporting professional earning a graduate degree. I also happen to know a lot about food and wine, which is why I'm at your table. And I want you to have the best experience possible, so if you're polite, I promise everything will be lovely.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I really hope this guy runs for President

If there's one thing I admire in a candidate, it's unbridled enthusiasm.

You have to admit, watching this guy in a debate against Obama would be pretty entertaining.

Republicans. They would make me laugh if only I didn't find them so scary.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nail polish puns!

So, I generally don't wear nail polish. It chips too easily and I can't afford regular manicures. And I pick the hell out of my cuticles so I don't generally like to draw attention to my hands. However, I have always been amused by nail polish names. My friend Heinz created some
fictional racist polish colors after discovering that "Black Rage" was, in fact, a real color. I'm more entertained by OPI's recent country- and region-themed collections which take bad puns to a whole new level.

Consider, for example, the colors in their new Swiss collection:

From A to Z-urich, Color So Hot It Berns, Just a Little Rösti at This, William Tell Me About OPI, Ski Teal We Drop, Diva of Geneva, Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous, Glitzerland, Yodel Me on My Cell, and Cuckoo for This Color.

GROAN. And I thought Carrie Bradshaw's puns were bad.

Inspired by OPI, however, I'd like to propose some Boston-themed colors:

Ben A Fleck of Gold
Boston Teal Party
Creamy Chowdah
Mayor Menindigo
BU-tiful Blue
Red Sox Rage
Louisa May Top Coat
Saugus Chartreuse
Orange You Glad You Don't Live Off the Orange Line
Kelly's Roast Beef Green
Jamaica Plain Beige
Concord Grape
Sam Adams Apple Red

I'm sure I'm missing some obvious ones....fellow Beantowners, feel free to chime in in the comments!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

I wish I had written a great love poem. I wish I had written a great poem, period. So far, I've written some poems that don't totally suck, but a great one? I have yet to write one. That's ok, that's why I'm in school, and I think someday, it might happen. I might write myself accidentally into a great poem.

This poem by Marilyn Hacker is great and about one of my favorite subjects -- love gone wrong. It's well-tread, familiar poetic territory but Hacker, with all her unexpected similes and images, makes it seem new. The first time I read the poem, I didn't pick up on the rhyme scheme -- that's how subtly and brilliantly it's incorporated. I know so many poets who are terrified to rhyme, worried about it sounding too Dr. Seuss or whatnot, but this poem is proof that when you pull it off, it can be incredible.

What I also relate to in this poem is the intensity of the relationship described -- intense, all-consuming love can be disastrous/toxic but for better or worse, I always crave it. When it comes to me and love, it's go big or go home.

But enough about me -- here's the poem.

Nearly a Valediction
You happened to me. I was happened to
like an abandoned building by a bull-
dozer, like the van that missed my skull
happened a two-inch gash across my chin.
You were as deep down as I've ever been.
You were inside me like my pulse. A new-
born flailing toward maternal heartbeat through
the shock of cold and glare: when you were gone,
swaddled in strange air I was that alone
again, inventing life left after you.

I don't want to remember you as that
four o'clock in the morning eight months long
after you happened to me like a wrong
number at midnight that blew up the phone
bill to an astronomical unknown
quantity in a foreign currency.
The U.S. dollar dived since you happened to me.
You've grown into your skin since then; you've grown
into the space you measure with someone
you can love back without a caveat.

While I love somebody I learn to live
with through the downpulled winter days' routine
wakings and sleepings, half-and-half caffeine-
assisted mornings, laundry, stock-pots, dust-
balls in the hallway, lists instead of longing, trust
that what comes next comes after what came first.
She'll never be a story I make up.
You were the one I didn't know where to stop.
If I had blamed you, now I could forgive

you, but what made my cold hand, back in prox-
imity to your hair, your mouth, your mind,
want where it no way ought to be, defined
by where it was, and was and was until
the whole globed swelling liquefied and spilled
through one cheek's nap, a syllable, a tear,
was never blame, whatever I wished it were.
You were the weather in my neighborhood.
You were the epic in the episode.
You were the year poised on the equinox.