Friday, May 29, 2009

100 Things About Me - Part II

26. My brother had the kind of temper that would make a huge vein pop out on his forehead.
27. I was afraid of that vein.
28. My fourth grade teacher was a recent divorcee. One day she told us about her wedding dress and what a colossal pain in the ass it was to put on. She described hundreds of buttons all along the back that took her bridesmaid an hour to secure.
29. I won grand prize at the town-wide Fine Arts Fair, circa 1989, for my book titled “Witchimina Fafner and the Popularity Elixir.”
30. In junior high, I would wear sneakers on gym day no matter what else I had on. It was not unusual to see me in a sweater, a suede skirt, nylons and white Reeboks.
31. I ran for eighth grade class president on the “Don’t Clown Around, Vote for Binky” ticket.
32. I lost.
33. I hated junior high.
34. My sister was born when I was thirteen years old.
35. As a pre-teen, I became infatuated with the movie Young Guns and the series Young Riders. I wrapped a sheet of blue construction paper around a coffee tin, cut a slot in the cover, and christened it my “Wild West Fund.” I called the 1-800 number advertised on television for a free Texas travel guide. I never saved up.
36. Subsequent infatuations included the Italian mafia, racecar drivers, and the men of the United States military.
37. The best teacher I ever had was my ninth grade civics teacher. He took a group of us to Yale to see Norman Mailer speak and another group of us to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. He gave me a copy of Armies of the Night; Ben Bradlee’s autobiography; and a written recommendation that my college interviewer said she would never forget.
38. The worst teacher I ever had taught Shakespeare as an elective. His was more of a core curriculum mentality. On the second occasion that I forgot to bring my big, honking anthology to class, he took me out into the hall and berated me for several minutes. He had closed the classroom door; it shook from the screaming.
39. There were days when the only person who would sit at my table during lunch was the learning disabled boy who bagged groceries for me at the supermarket where I worked as a cashier.
40. I hated high school.
41. I was a member of the creative writing club and editor of the literary magazine.
42. One day, just before I turned seventeen, it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from having sex.
43. So I did.
44. It was a marvelous epiphany.
45. I started looking for colleges based on two criteria: distance from home and the quality of the creative writing program.
46. When I found the school that fit the bill perfectly, I was not deterred by the fact that it was an all women’s college.
47. I figured I could do without the day-to-day distraction of men.
48. I did, however, make sure there was ample supply nearby.
49. My early decision application was accepted.
50. I got a D in English on my final high school report card.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

100 Things About Me - Part I

1. I am a New Englander born and raised; I used to think that stoicism lacks story, but now I know it’s just a different way of telling.
2. There’s addiction in my blood.
3. I was an only child for my formative years. Though I have a brother and a sister, as well as a half-brother and half-sister, mine is more of a sole child psychology.
4. I remember very little from those years, except for:
5. The time we stayed in a cottage on the Sacandaga and bats flew in my bedroom;
6. Dad’s weeks-long stay at that place in New Hampshire, which I visited wearing my corduroy coat with the faux fur trim;
7. The smell of Marlboro hands;
8. And throwing up once at daycare.
9. My parents were cops.
10. They dated only a few months before they married.
11. They were married a year and a half before they had me.
12. I was conceived after the wedding of a good friend of my father. Mom brings up this fact whenever the couple’s anniversary is mentioned, which, thankfully, is not often.
13. Mom is similarly free in divulging the fact that I was a conehead at birth. Personally, I don’t see why she has to draw such attention to her vaginal canal.
14. My first bedroom was wallpapered with pale blue partridges.
15. I hated naptime.
16. I remember reading my first word. It was S-T-O-P on a sign near the supermarket. I was in the back of my father’s small pickup, sitting on the wheel well under the cap. One could travel like that back then.
17. Each of my grandparents died when I was small. Well, not my mother’s father, but we were estranged from him, so it was all the same to me.
18. I had four uncles on my father’s side and three on my mom’s.
19. I was six years old when my brother was born.
20. We moved to a house with a pool when I was seven.
21. I have a summer birthday.
22. Uncle Bob was the lifeguard at each year's pool party.
23. I always wanted an ice cream cake, but I seldom got one.
24. My mom once gave me a horrible home perm. Combined with my Coke bottle eyeglasses and that fact that they were consistently focused on a book, it is no surprise I was the biggest nerd in town.
25. In third grade, I was the teacher’s pet.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Spring Landscape

There’s no rain now, but the fog is thin everywhere. It mutes the foliage just starting to show. The green is more startling at ground level, where a lawnmower could stand to chug if the rusting heap weren’t still parked next to the shed, enmeshed in a pile of detritus from last year’s fall.

On the tree where pears will grow, there are white blooms in leaf jackets. The evergreens nearby haven’t changed. The bee baum looks coarse in all this wetness; when the sun shines again I will clip the stalks low to make room for new growth that will become a base for humming birds and for the fuzzy flying buzz that lends the plant its name.

Up high, it could still be winter. If there are buds there, then they are no brighter than the gray. Bony knuckles clench in a wave; if it’s “hi” or “bye,” I don’t know. I can’t hear above the wind, but I can see them clearly, the vapor accentuating their witchy plainness: fat for stalks but thin for trees, bending high but unmoving where bark meets root.

It’s steel in the sky, a woody mold just below, and then, at my feet, so much lushness where the slush used to be.

Green rises like heat. Soon it will eat the trees. It will mix with the sun to turn the sky blue.