Water Strikes

  “Alright everyone, I’m only going to explain this to you once so pay attention.  The motion you make with the oars requires minimal effort.  It doesn’t take much to move these vessels, but you have to follow instructions.  If you do not, I will give you three chances to fix whatever you’re doing wrong and then . . . the coach comes out.  The coach is six-foot two and a nasty SOB.  He will get in your face, and trust me, you do not want that.  I am strict and demanding, but you will learn the correct way to paddle today ladies and gentlemen.  I will not hesitate to send you back to shore if you slow us down by not following directions.  Do not force me to let the coach out, gentlemen.”

Dan, our kayak instructor, finished his tirade with a long hard stare at Rodney and me.  Instinctively, I turned around.  Not seeing any spider, snake or shark, I considered that Dan had already singled me out as the ‘problem child’ of our little excursion.

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TTWA: Plath on Xanex

TTWA Assignment:  Write a poem by Sylvia Plath on antidepressants.  

Ha, okay.  So, this one’s a bit of a challenge for me, as I’ve never read much of Plath’s poetry.  In fact, that which I do know stems from her feminist roots, daddy issues and depression-induced suicide — which I might be able to glean from the assignment anyway.  Providing antidepressants to tortured artists has always intrigued me every since I saw that Dr. Who episode with Van Gogh (Watch it, yourself.  It’s excellent.).  Imagine Van Gogh happy and successful, but the world without Sunflowers or Starry Nights.  Which is more important: human life or immortality?  

Anyway, I based this poem after Plath’s ‘Daddy,’ which after reading it seems poor taste considering it’s Father’s Day here in the States.  Then, I thought . . . well, if a young troubled Sylvia received treatment at a young age, then she might think more kindly of her father.  We might turn this poem into a Hallmark card . . . 

Dear Daddy

You do not buy, you do not buy
Any more, black shoes, dad.
They do not fit, the wrong size
For thirty years, you buy my clothes,
In this dress, I can barely breathe.
This fabric makes me sneeze
Achoo. 

Daddy, I’m gonna kill you,
if you keep buying sweets.
Chocolate, cakes, Thin Mints.
I feel heavy, a bloated bag, God.
Oh, this diet ruins my life.
Feelin’ big as a circus seal. 

Did you hear, Daddy?
There’s a big dance in the town
In a flat, that got me thinkin’
Of boys, boys, boys.
Even though we have so little in common.
I hope he calls soon, my Polack friend. 

The black telephone rang near the root
of my bed, just as I thought, ‘Screw it.’
He asked. And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through waiting.
You warn me to be careful and sober.
But your voice just can’t worm through. 

Post-dance, Twilight movie.
Monster killed one man, then killed two——
Ew, the sparkle vampire watched Bella sleep.
I’d let Edward drink my blood for a year.
Seven after ten and home, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back in Lazyboy now. 

There’s only one man in my big red heart
And if the whole village hates you.
If the world dances and stamps on you.
I will always be there for you.
Daddy, daddy, with this poem, I’m through.

TTWA:  Yelp Review

 TTWA Assignment: Imagine you are on Yelp.  Write a review of the restaurant everyone is talking about.  In the fourth paragraph, admit you’ve never eaten at the restaurant, but argue why your misinformed opinion is still more important than the other reviews on the site.  

I based this story on a girl I once worked with at the National Institutes of Health.  Most of the story is true to a point.  She was my first real ‘love’ I guess you could say.  As is the way with these things, you tend to romanticize the past a bit, an error I’ve tried to remedy by mixing in a little farce.

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Ideals of the Past

Over the past year, I’ve been reviewing the world through gold-rimmed glasses.  You know, the kind that rest on the back of your head and coat the world you’ve left behind in gilded shades of light to the point that all your youth might appear a continuous Christmas, filled with joy, beauty and adventure.  Over the past year and a half, I’ve been coping with this new  phase of my life and the responsibilities that accompany ‘adulthood,’ or whatever life at 34 is called.  The transition has not proven especially kind to me: anxiety, panic attacks, self-doubt, ephemeral goals, and an influx of nieces and nephews, who remind constantly that I am no longer a thirteen-year-old playing at ‘adulthood’ by babysitting his siblings, but simply an thirty-four year old trying to reconnect with his youthfulness.

Mostly, I’ve found myself idealizing the past: gazing at my college years and post-college interim at NIH with a fondness, which I never felt in the midst of it all.  I spent so many years begging, searching, fretting over finding myself a job, and now that I’ve found it, the sensation leaves much to be desired.  Thus, my mind idealizes those past moments, when the freedom to choose still lay before me, when life felt infinite and unexpected.

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Menacing

“Am I some kind of condescending prick for feeling mildly embarrassed for these kids?”

“Well,” Kevin said after some consideration, “it’s a Sunday night in May and this IS a Walmart parking lot. You would think that there’d be some better way of spending your time . . .”

Kevin and I had parked our car and stared in wonder at the convocation of pick-ups and supped-up Hondas at the far end of the Walmart. Carroll County Maryland has never proven itself the most . . . urbane area in the state, but occasionally my neighbors go out of their way to check off every stereotype in the book.

Local teenagers leaned against the bumpers and sat on car roofs, watching some kid attempt to drop-kick a basketball at one of the parking lights.  Occasionally, he’d routinely lose control, and their heads would turn with the syncopation of a Wimbledon crowd to gaze at kid and ball bouncing across the asphalt.  Another weird feature: there was no music.  Nothing audible at least.  It seemed the kid and his basketball was the main event here.
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Jersey . . . Sure!

Charley yelled at me Monday night.  Apparently, my sibling readers have missed my posts lately (Work and school have proven a leech on my time and energy — even sleep has been forestalled until June).  I’ve been sitting on this post for the last month-and-a-half, not wanting to post until I’ve added a few pictures, a few humoroous vignettes, a few notable insights in the human condition . . . but as this pile of labs-to-be-graded accumulates like a malignant tumor on the desk before me (“Friendly neighborhood Spiderman-mug save me!”), I figure “Screw it!  Move on!  Post the blog!  Scribble an A on the labs!  Take the day off!  Move to Orlando!  Marry a Disney princess . . . preferably Belle or that Tangled-chick!  Use more exclamation points!!!”   Carpe diem guys!  Whoo ah!  

Like many pilgrims before me, New Jersey welcomed me with open arms and a cocktail of  …. grotesque aromas:  sewer vents, tire-mushed polecat, and bilge.  We had passed most of the evening on I-95, driving  to upstate New York from Baltimore via Jersey, much like Dante’s trip to Paradiso via Inferno.   Not being a native New Yorker, you might think this an unkind comparison, but few trips through New Jersey have taken me off the turnpike; thus, the landscape of tangled grey pipes, desiccated fields, and smoking chemical factories encompasses much of my sense memory.  Still, despite the momentary assault on my lungs, the party on Saturday proved well-worth the visit.

After years of pining, dating, failing, blubbering, and ultimately dismissing the whole female race as ‘shallow sluts,’ my friend and brother, Frank ‘The Chainsaw’ had finally discovered  — how had O Henry coined it? — “the one missing face from his heart’s gallery of intimate portraits.”  That was two or three years ago; this weekend Frank had invited his whole ‘adopted’ family to a country club to celebrate his wedding.
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