Thursday, February 5, 2009


When an era ends, it is silence.
Not like an atom bomb--
no feet scrambling down the street,
melting in Agent Orange.

It is an unanswered phone
and a yawning quiet
that catches in your throat
before the flames begin to burn.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to avoid collision with a dangerous object in winter.

The dangerous object would be me. I hate winter. I detest the slushy snow, the cold and having wet ankles no matter where I walk. And I hate the idiocy of girls who apparently don't own a thermometer or, failing that, a calendar.

My new city is deluged by snow. It's everywhere and in every shade: virginal white to muddy brown. But don't make a mud pie with it. You'll get frostbite. And that's no way to start an imaginary tea party.

But here's what I saw over the weekend when I went to see "The Wrestler," which was by the way unspeakably amazing and made me wish Rotten Tomatoes gave me a vote so I could bump the percentage up to 98.5 % fresh.

The odds of her ever reading this are slim, but let's pretend she is reading this and write her a nice little letter, shall we?

Dear Precious,

It is 12 degrees outside. Your feet are turning blue in your open-toed shoes. And, if the frostbite isn't a concern to you, at least think about how badly cerulean clashes with your magenta polish. Yes, yes, I know that Stacy London says things don't have to match as long as they go, but I don't think she's referring to toenail polish and bodily afflictions. If that were so, khaki would always go with gangrene and we know that isn't true, don't we?

Now we've covered the feet, so let's move upward, shan't we? Your shoulders are exposed. Your tummy is exposed. Here's a little rule of thumb I like: When your exposed skin matches the powdery stuff blanketing the ground, you should reconsider what you're wearing. But if that's too tricky to remember, then stop and look at your hands. If you have a clutch purse in one of them, your teeny-tiny shirt might be okay. But if you have a puffy, fur-collared coat in the other hand, time to go home and throw on a number of layers that at least corresponds with your number of feet.

I know this is hard to hear. But trust me. You'll thank me when your attempts at flirtation aren't being hindered by uncontrollable shaking. "M-m-m-m-m-m-my p-p-place o-r-r yuh-yuh-yours?" is tempting only to the most desperate of frat boys.

Kisses and hugs.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'Wish I'd written it' line of the day.

"I sit in fast food bathrooms just to remember your smell."

I can't read Anne Sexton or Kim Addonizio without thinking "Daaaamn. I wish I'd written that." That isn't mutually exclusive to the two of them, obviously. There are so many brilliant writers that leave me scribbling in my notebook, green with envy and wondering if I could bribe their muse into a quick meal from the dollar menu.

But they're usually writers--not teenybopper actresses with uberhigh cleavage and top billing in a movie about traveling pants, for sodding out loud.

Actors and actresses who decide they are poets irk me. See Jewel Kilcher (best-selling "poet" ever) and Billy Corgan for cringe-inducing examples why. It's awesome that they're giving it a try. But dear god, I'm not buying and I generally think their time would be better spent counting their money, polishing their head or yodeling than writing poems with such epic titles as "the poetry of my heart."

But Amber Tamblyn, she of "Joan of Arcadia" and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" fame, is apparently an exception. She talks poetry in "Bust" magazine this month and little girl can turn a phrase more compelling than the death rattle she made in "The Grudge," aka "The Ju-on That Never Should Have Been."

Don't believe me? Here's another: "My fist thinks you're ugly and would tell you to your face."

Sorry to ruin the one ray of hope: That skinny, beautiful, rich girls must be too stupid to read Dr. Seuss, let alone create their own verse worthy of a second and third look.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stop taunting me, Google.

A weird thing happens when you leave journalism.
When the last notebook is chucked into the trash and the ambient hum of your computer monitor dies, you think that must be the final sign.
But, no.
Google is.
Productive reporters can quickly amass thousands of hits on Google. You write a story that is picked up by a wire service, another newspaper scoops it up. That means Google hits.
But when you turn in your last byline, it's like Google knows.
The week after I quit reporting, my Google count dropped from four digits to three.
Does it make me vain that I know that? Nah. It just means that I had lots and lots of time waiting for sources to call me back. Not time enough to go anywhere, perhaps, but time enough to punch the old name into Google and watch the numbers roll.
But now, the numbers are rolling downward.
The sad feeling that has created makes me want to tender my resignation from cyberspace. (The irony of writing that on a blog has not escaped me.)
But that doesn't mean I'm not going to rob a bank in some spectacularly creative way (pink tights, Cher mask?) to up those beloved Google hits.

A metaphor you can walk on.

If I look behind me, the footprints I'm leaving in the sand look like a cluttered closet.
The socks I wear when I write poems.
The sneakers I wore as a checkout girl.
The Chucks I wear to the bar in search of music and inspiration.
The low heels I used to clack through the Statehouse as a reporter.
The galoshes I've donned to tromp through fields in search of a breaking story.
The bunny slippers I wear as a daughter.
The high heels I kick under my desk and unearth only when I need to make an impression.
The bee-stung and bare feet I wore as a child, racing from yard to yard in my 300-resident farming town.
The red-painted toes I wear as a girlfriend, a lover and someday, a fiancé and wife.
The shelves of my closet are cluttered, but far from full.

I'm working on a new style.

So I've traded my tiny town for a metropolitan area with about 2 million people. So far, I know about three dozen of them.
Flanked by a Mechanic and black cat worthy of her own sitcom, I'm embarking on a new career that is decidedly different than the one I've done for the past six years.
But I am delighted to be reacquainted with an old friend I have neglected for decades.
So, Writing for Pleasure, here I am.
In my own little corner of you.
Happy to see me?