The Battlefield Where the Girls Say I Love You

That's just the thing: we will never tell you we love you. In fact, we're here only to hold hands across state lines and yell at the world. We're here to try to touch you across this chasm of flown things. Not even that. At most, I will teach you how to make a gin smoothie when there's nothing left in the house. Hannah can teach you several languages and what to do when your car breaks up with you. Thanks for coming out.

Friday, August 31, 2007

how i met my husband

i don't want to do this. but if i don't give this to you, she (mamie) will. and i can't allow this to look any worse than it already does.

let's just say that there is no reason for me to know anything about cars. i mean, my father taught me boats--i'll help you chip barnacles off a hull, refinish the wood trim, even sew you up a spinaker so you can swinging on the halyard.

but cars, i know nothing, zero, squat about. and apparently, neither do my male friends (oh, you know who you are--and yes, i blame you for this, you HEARD the noise).

so a week ago, my car broke up with me. it said, Listen, things aren't working out. it said this with a crazy rattling noise and convulsions. people (you know who you are) shouted: alternator! starter! belts! coils! plugs! five hundred dollars! twelve hundred dollars!

for a week, a whole WEEK, i've been bumming rides, eating chinese, and staving off the desperate need for independence. today, the tow guy comes for the car. he is the nicest man i've ever met. you are, steve. he wants to know what the car is doing. i give him the key--the car does its signature we-are-so-over noise and steve looks up at me: "yeah, it's the battery."
in the background, my next door neighbor is watching and laughing. i hate her and want her to go away.
--"but, all my guy friends... they seemed so sure," i mumble.
--says steve, "what do THEY do for a living?"

i don't tell steve that they're writers. what i do tell him, promptly, is that we should get married. he agrees, but doesn't get off work until 7. which works for me.

while we talk about the wedding, he manages to reattach this entire rubber THING that's been dangling off the front of my car for a year now. i have to say, it was pretty hot.

p.s. it would be possible to misread parts of this as sexist. it just so happens that the only people who offered a loud opinion were men. i'm fully aware that women are equally capable of auto repair as men (prob more so, bc you know, we're smarter), just not this one.

p.s.#2 our friend eric's blog, the heaviest bike, is back up. check it yo.

oleanna meets m. butterfly in "have you ever been successful in these bathrooms before?"

in case you woke up this morning, and felt like you wanted a little absurd with yr coffee... some of my favorite moments:

LC: ...Ah, your foot came toward mine, mine came towards yours, was that natural? I don't know. Did we bump? Yes. I think we did. You said so. I don't disagree with that.

DK: Okay. I don't want to get into a pissing match here.

(later, in take 2)

DK: Okay. Did you do anything with your feet?

LC: Positioned them, I don't know. I don't know at the time. I'm a fairly wide guy.

DK: I understand.

LC: I had to spread my legs.

DK: Okay.

LC: When I lower my pants so they won't slide.

(SERIOUSLY? yes, ok, thank you senator for explaining the choreography for us--it all makes perfect sense now.)

DK: Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes.

(well spotted, Karsnia.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

hi from cabo! i'm blogging on behalf of hannah and myself while she's getting her toenails repainted beneath the palm cabana! things we are not doing:

1. being introduced at wofford's faculty orientation as "lecturer professor mary frances morgan." also, after i haven't sat down, the academic dean is not bellowing into his tie microphone, "mary frances, stand up again and wave at the audience so they know what you look like!"

2. blogging.

3. waiting on table 2, who leaves 3$ on 49.97. whatever. like their babaganuj wasn't off the chain.

4. definitely not yelling at hannah for being tan (as in, "how is it happening?! i'm tanning every day and hardly look darker than liam neeson!") to which she is not replying, "it's my ethnicity! i can't help it! stop yelling!)

5. not recovering from a surprise performance/interview from/with kathleen turner at govvie's school, who is bellowing at the students to BE BRAVE!!! DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO FOR YOUR ART! EVEN IF THAT MEANS WAITING TABLES!!! but she's addressing 16 year-olds. i'm not sure she means 26 year-olds should be doing the same...

6. not listening to my mother tell my father about the blog, then ask him: do you know what "hits" even means? he, in turn, is socking her on the shoulder repeatedly, going: 1, 2, 3...

omigod. can't even. just. nooooo.

jesus. no one tell her what just happened.

she'd kill me. szymborska? crying? never happened. you remember nothing.

1. my car should be fixed tomorrow. thank god. i've been eating chinese for years now.

2. last night, i was in bed at 930. in a stunning reversal, mimosa was out until 2. oh no, but it's not just that. she was out until 2 singing karaoke. singing MADONNA. just like a prayer, your voice can take me there. ALSO. whitney houston. i waaaannaaa dance with somebody. with somebody who loves me. somebody whooo, somebody whoooooo...

3. and no, we can't talk about our dates. stop asking that. why you WANT us to do this is beyond me. i mean, it's like this: mamie and i are both in love with two fairly famous writers. they are both geniuses, they are both introspective. as mamie says, the main reason we stand no chance is simple: we're just too lively. we can see them, these brilliant men, sitting there barely blinking while we're running around the room shouting something nuts like fight/flight, juggling, riding unicycles, what have you. and the other dates, such as they are, will not be spoken of here. i mean, i just took DOWN a depressing post.

4. tom. you can't talk about my poverty on your blog--she'll SEE it. it's only a click away. don't listen to him mames. i'm definitely NOT turning cartwheels that tomorrow is pay day. just like, when my mentor (who i will not embarrass by naming on this thing) said, Why are you even teaching? Why not just write? Do you NEED the money or something? i did not battle back hysterics.

5. the owen wilson news DID bring me down.

6. in the midnight hour, i can FEEL your power....

sarcasm is the body's natural defense against stupid.

mark cox says that "irony (is) the intellectual posturing of a mind afraid of genuine tenderness," that irony and sentimentality are the downfalls of a writer who is not ready or willing to investigate and develop honest emotion.

i always felt that carolyn forche was too honest. reading her poems felt like staring directly into the sun for seasons, for decades. and, to a point, that remains true. if forche's work were my lover, it would be my natural inclination to sneak out in the middle of the night to meet up with an episode of "flight of the conchords" or a copy of "instyle" or, hell, a mix cd consisting only of akon and t.pain.

she is remarkable, all the same. in her introduction to the anthology, "against forgetting," she states that we are a society on the brink, that to hold political and personal poetry in mutually exclusive realms is irresponsible, that those who turn their backs to the stories of witness are those who lack compassion. it was synchronistic that i read this yesterday, on the anniversary of katrina.

so at times hannah and i seem flip (i mean, we're f-ing bloggers). and at other times, perhaps, we will seem too earnest. but anything written, i guess, is the translation of experience into form. forche writes that translation is "an attempt to mark, to change, to impress, but never to leave things as they are."

which brings me to the james taylor tribute i watched on ETV last night with my parents. i get through the dixie chicks covering something or other. i only seriously lose it when sting sings "you can close your eyes." i had made that ugly-claire-danes-in-my-so-called-life i'm-about-to-cry-face for, like, the previous hour. by this point, it's all over. but this is the truly embarrassing part. this is my karmic fate for making fun of john mayer and james blunt and the like: keith urban comes on stage. KEITH URBAN. and he performs "country road." sobbing. KEITH URBAN. the guy who sings, "take your bags but leave my sweater, cause we've got nothing left to weather."

so how is it that hannah and i make it through an entirely tragic summer without so much as a watering of the eyes, and yet...ETV. i guess it makes sense. we all have that artist or writer or musician who remains the soundtrack or backdrop or dialogue of our childhoods. that one band or singer who returns us to the backseat of our parents' car twenty years ago. who knows. keith urban. jesus.

oh, and owen wilson???!!! what is happening?

don't patronize us.

we know what you're thinking (tom and eric). that we can't possibly keep this up. that we're going to cave, run out of funny, whatever. it'll be like anything one couple puts a lot of stock into: destined for ruin. like, remember the one happy couple from desperate housewives (transamerica & the melrose place guy)? they opened up that pizza joint and--wham!!--she ends up with the sous chef and he winds up in the walk-in with some 18 year-old hostess (okay, maybe it wasn't exactly like that).

well, you're wrong. hannah and i support one another. (skip to scene: i'm barrelling down I-85 this morning; hannah's yelling into the phone, "why haven't you blogged? what are you doing?????" and i'm screaming, "LOOK. i've got shit to do. i've got meetings. i'm trying to keep it together here.") we don't fall prey to insecurities or the expectations of others. (skip to scene: i'm brewing tea in the restaurant and trying to score cheese from the pizza guy. hannah calls: "do you think it's bad we don't blog about important stuff? like darfur. or politics. do you think people think we have no souls?") so, you're not going to win this one (tom and eric). i don't do failure.

i mean, just look how happy we are? that picture was taken just yesterday during our archealogical dig.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

this is why i'm not the maniacal tyrant of this blog.

so i'm standing outside ultra tan this morning, and hannah calls. i sit down on the curb to tell her a funny story about last night, a guy from work, and yet another cheese plate.

hannah: you've got to blog this.
me: no. i mean, i care about this guy. he might even read it.
hannah: (annoyed sigh) mamie, sometimes you have to exploit the people you love in order to gain the world.

oh, and this photograph? it was taken during one of our stops along the tuscan hillside. we made it a habit--each day--just to throw down the tandem bike, run through the field of broom, and have a picnic consisting only of olives.

oh, and i asked my students to write down the function of poetry in society:

"few people have had encounters with BOTH red wheel barrows and white chickens, but a poem can make you remember them as if you have."

Happy Birthday Mimosa!

In honor of my roommate’s birthday, a post. Most of you know her, but Mot Znuk suggested I hide her behind Mimosa, which I can’t resist.
For those of you who don’t know, Mimosa is gorgeous in that way that is almost unsettling. In Mot Znuk’s words: she’s so radiant and clean.

Story One: It’s Sunday morning and I’m coming home at 730 from a friend’s because I was too drunk to drive.
Except, I’m clearly still drunk and my hair is offensive and I’m holding my shoes. Mimosa is on the couch in a pink dress reading the Bible, radiant and clean. She takes it all in stride, which one of the reasons I love her: ‘Hi honey, how was your night?’ Say movies, say sleepover, say… “I got drunk,” I tell her and my bra falls out of my purse.

Story Two: Last night, we’re making grilled cheese sandwiches and listening to Bird. She’s telling me about how she’s been drinking fresh goat’s milk smuggled in by the Amish (seriously).
‘But it’s not as bad as smuggling in pot,’ she says.
‘What’s wrong with pot?’ I ask, flipping my sandwich.
‘Wait… Hannah, have you ever smoked pot?’
‘Um. A little.’
She takes a step closer to me, hesitates. ‘Hannah, I’d like to try smoking pot with you.’

She is, by the way, the absolute best roommate/person/woman in existence. And she knows I would do anything for her, including eating the yoghurt cheese with live culture. Happy birthday Mimosa! I’d tell you here that I love you, except it’s against Mamie’s rules—will tell you later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Masochistic Spanish

Preface: I’m trying to take a nap. I need a nap. But Mamie (who is rolling silverware at 1:15 pm—I don’t even know anymore) is screaming, BLOG! BLOG! MOOOVE! And so I am. Because we’re afraid if we don’t do this all the time, if we don’t keep the energy up, we’ll lose you. You. All two of you. So.

Late summer, and I’m on my way from Greenville to Wilmington for the millionth time. I’ve called Mamie to complain about being stuck in traffic for the last hour. ‘I never hit traffic.’ She sounds both disapproving and accusatory. I get back at her by calling every time that song ‘I wanna buy you a draaaank,’ comes on and blasting it into the phone because I’m not a day over twelve.
All eleven Pride and Prejudice cds from 1989 are long gone. Likewise, Under the Banner of Heaven. And all my This American Life episodes. So I pop out to put in some Spanish language cds. It’s the best I can do people. No one loves traveling more than I do. No one knows better the value of immersion, but it’s slowly dawning on me: I’m not a millionaire. I don’t know how I’ve ever afforded travel, but whatever fantasy life I was living is slipping away.
So, I’m sitting there. The engine is off (to save gas, to save money) and I’m earnestly repeating the Spanish. At first it’s normal. Where is the bus, what time is the train. Thirty minutes later, I’m STILL sitting there. The road is a pile of melting cars. I’m vacant. And then suddenly, I realize something vaguely disturbing: I am fat. I am fat. This is what I’m saying. What the cd people are making me say. I suspiciously chant, I used to be skinny, but now I’m fat. I used to be skinny, but now I’m fat. Those women, over there, are beautiful….
And THEN: I thought he liked me. I thought he liked me. I thought he was going to kiss me, but he didn’t. I thought he was going to kiss me, but he didn’t. His parents do not approve. His parents do not approve. I mean, wtf??
I skip to the next lesson. WORSE AND WORSE. I am poor, I am poor. Totally panicking at this point, I jump to the next disc. Swear to God, this is what I get:
He cannot find the correct lubricant. He cannot find the correct lubricant.
Followed by…
All of these activities are unsafe. All of these activities are unsafe.

Nap now. Goodbye.

Monday, August 27, 2007

don't let these glasses fool you.

you wanna meet me alone in an alley in austin? i don't think so. i'll cut you. even though i already have what you have. i'll track you down at that mexican place on concord and not think twice.

hannah, i hate you don't leave me.

so, i'm riding in the yellow school bus on the way to our class field trip tonight, thinking about blogging. (jesus. this is mamie, by the way. this blog is like the best/worst three-legged race.) and then, i'm thinking that i'm on the school bus thinking about blogging. thank god i deleted mespace, or else i'd never get any of that real writing i occasionally do done.
in all seriousness, i was looking for a way to embarrass hannah (what with her posting "sentance" so early). then i remembered that she has this picture of me where i look like a deranged carrot top. she says, "i'll do it. i'll post it at any time." really, then, the only stuff i can use is that which incriminates us both. on top of this, the district sleeps alone (tonight) has been in my head--i'm not kidding--for close to three weeks (we can all thank one mac leaphart for that.)segue.
i often eat at the bars of restaurants alone. grading papers. reading larry levis and trying not to sob. so i go into O tonight and the bartender's like, "a glass of such and such and a cheese plate?" i'm mortified. i pretend to have no clue what he's talking about. i order the opposite, whatever that is, out of sheer shock. i feel like the old couple who eats dinner at 5:15 every night. so i open a book and can't when you're really hungover trying to read marquez and you read page 11 a dozen times before turning the page.
i call hannah, which is what i do when a) i can't read or b)the bartender tries to play get-to-know-each-other games. like this is what i want on a monday. so, it's like we're having dinner together. alone. which brings me to:
we have no pictures together, other than the one posted where she looks like a portuguese gangsta and i look dominant and exhausted. i hate this feeling, like our life never happened. this happened once before when morgan moved to brooklyn and there was nothing left of us. not her cat or the ford focus or our walks about the neighborhood holding mixed drinks in solo cups. it's like when you see an old boyfriend/girlfriend at a bar and merely tip your budweisers at each other. your life together never happened.
which is all to say, that was hannah talking about counting crows "across the wire." jesus. i would never admit to such a thing. although, best opening to a song ever is mrs. potter's lullabye: well i woke up midafternoon. that's when it all hurts the most...


that's how you spelled it Mamie. for your students. on the board.

meanwhile, in the creative writing office (where i am the frat kid who will never leave--someone called me a fixture a bit ago), i am frantically prepping--i.e. looking up 'personal narrative essay' on google. there's 20 mins to class and i'm freaking and dug (that's how he spells it) bourne is sitting there telling me about some frog that hibernates underground in the winter, how it freezes, even its brain. i'm going uh-huh, totally, yup. until he says, i'm going to get one and keep it in my freezer when i'm on vacation. me: .... dug goes, 'you know, in a container.'

Dinner with the Morgan-Abramses

We are the perfect picture of domesticity, of happy marriage. I, at the kitchen island writing. Mamie, at the stove. She's cooking us dinner (read: we're both broke). It's her dinner, the one she knows how to make. So what if tonight she's forgotten a few ingredients? So what if what she thought were snow peas are really edamame? Music spills, life is glorious, we are basking in the perfection of our lives.
'Would you like some more wine?' I ask, tenderly.
She starts the risotto, and a few moments later furrows her face. 'It doesn't look right,' she tells me.
We inspect it. The risotto, usually golden with saffron is a deep mud color. We decide the butter has burned. The color is scary, is clearly saying, Don't eat me. But we're optimistic. I go back to writing--struggling with 'clothed' versus 'dressed.' Mame says, 'Who the hell says clothed?' I frown at her. Notice that she is marinating the swordfish in something that looks like barbecue sauce. I vaguely remember language like 'something different.' The oil in the pan is smoking. At this point, I could say something. Prevent the collapse. I take one look at her face--that forbidding, no one talk to me look.
The swordfish goes in, the sugary sauce burns, the smoke begins. My eyes are tearing. It's hard to make out her shape a few feet away from me. The house is a solid wall of smoke. The whole place reeks of barbecue and fish.
The best part of this is that Mamie's roommate (her real one) has put in a ten thousand dollar alarm system. It is now shouting, FIRE ONE, FIRE TWO, FIRE THREE...
Mamie swirls around irritably. 'What is HAPPENING?' she demands.
I peer through the smoke, bat my hands at the air in front of my face. 'We need to act,' I tell her. 'Grab a towel, wave them at the detectors, open the windows!'
'But where,' she snaps, 'is it COMING FROM?' Behind her the pan is on fire. Literally. Flames are leaping up around it.
FIRE FOUR.... 'Jesus, what if the sprinklers come on?' I bellow stupidly over the alarm.
'FIX IT!' she screams. We've both lost our head. I'm jumping up and down waving Mamie's bathrobe at the detector: 'HELP ME!' I'm bewildered--where IS she? From a distance, I hear her. Something about not being able to leave the fish. Fuck the fish. The police will come. I keep thinking of sprinklers. Nothing will make the smoke disperse, not the fan, not the towel not anything. In the kitchen, I hear the wet slap of swordfish as it hits the floor. 'Shit,' I hear her say before she walks over with a broom and dismantles the detectors. She turns to me--we're both sweaty, shaking--says 'You fix this' and walks outside. And yes, we ate the dinner.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

jesus. i'm so insensitive. here's the play list that'll get you through this trainwreck:

the postal service...the district sleeps alone tonight
bob of spanish leather
the avett brothers...please pardon yourself
chris thile...heart in a cage
missy elliot...bring the pain
spoon...the underdog
loudan wainwright III...strange weirdos
wilco...hate it here (clearly, tweedy is trying to make us miserable)
ryan adams...these girls
little wings...sing wide
young jeezy...go crazy
nina simone...ain't got no
phish...limb by limb
notorious b.i.g....hypnotize
modest mouse...these walls are paper thin
the beatles...paperback writer
amy and mr. jones
livingston taylor...get out of be

phantom limbs, the word "frigate," what have you...

okay, short story longer: hannah and i moved in together for a month this summer. we were to teach high schoolers creative writing. we had thought that, during this time, we would complete our books (as in, hannah would finish hers and i would burn mine so that i could start over). instead we ate cheese plates and drank wine and listened to sad indie music on my back porch. for a month. ("where do you go when you're lonely; i'll follow you." christ, ryan adams.) i have no reason to lie to you. but during that time, we talked and argued and laughed incessantly...we learned from each other in that collaborative way you learn by complete accident. so now the joke is that she's my phantom limb. i go out back each night half hoping she'll be there.
here's the deal. i have no shame. it's as adorable as it is awful. i mispronounce "goethe" and "frigate" in front of schools of people. i don't spell check. i move constantly. i have three jobs and try to run 4 miles a day. it's awful, clearly. i go to target to get blank cd's and return with a jump rope. hannah is much smarter than myself. she is meditative. she reads divisadero and wants to talk about it, while i have nothing but usweekly's stashed in the outback. oh and finally: we have no idea what we're doing. so there's that. we don't plan to know what we're doing in the future either. thanks again. for everything.