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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

mamie: would like to step off the bridge that is monday.

the reocurring nightmare goes something like this: i am a waitress at a crab shack and the eighteen-top of elderly people has just demanded i split up their check in all these weird ways. which wouldn't be so bad if the two-top i can't get to weren't jimmy fallon and tina fey. also, because i'm a poet, the dream relies on constant and variation. so, while the above information stays the same, what differs is which of my parents brings in his or her mistress/lover. then one of them, most of the time my mother, is yelling to me, "it was all a sham! it was all a sham!" meanwhile, jimmy and tina are mercilessly berating me from their table.

until two days ago, i have often thought that this is what my personal slice of hell might be like. but then, THEN, my life became a sequel to that michael douglas film, falling down. the following section is going to work like bullet points, because if i crafted it any differently, it might allow me to go spiraling into a dark, dark, place resembling narnia. with voices.

first, paul newman died. then it took me twelve minutes to get a veggie burger at burger king. they offered me an apple turnover as an apology. i feel burger king is forever offering apple pastries as peacemakers. then sarah palin said something to katie couric that resembled miss south carolina's pride-inducing response. and i quote, "that's why i say i like every american i'm speaking with i'm ill about this position we've been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bail out." then something about an umbrella. then my mother called, asking what leftover issues of bon apetit/real simple/garden and gun/vogue i'd like her to keep for me. so i wouldn't have to spend any money on my own. then she called back and said, "would travel and leisure be like salt in the wound?" then citi group bought wachovia. let's just say, if any of you boys are looking to take my dowry, get to steppin'. then my phone broke, began yelling ERROR each time i dialed hannah's number. and my students, my beautiful students, want me to revise their sestinas...which i'm pretty sure you can't really tweak. and paul newman remained dead. and i saw that nights in rodanthe alone and ugly-cried like claire danes for hours. then there wasn't any gas in our city. and the house rejected the bailout BEFORE GOING ON HOLIDAY TILL's like bush and a round of golf during and after katrina. then i knew it was bad when my mother used the words "motherf*ckers" and "constituents" in the same sentence.

and finally, finally, i waited on a business dinner this evening. i hate those, begin feeling like one of those stuffy french servers who no one likes anyway. and if you do, it's in the same way you like those people in london who stand rod straight in funny hats. and they began ordering stuff that wasn't on the menu. it was like twelve of hannah's dads (who orders on a yellow legal pad so he doesn't have to speak to the help). and, little do they know, when they pull shit like that (excuse me) chef basically burns my arm with the lit end of a cigarette.

Friday, September 26, 2008

customer service: part deux

alltel called and texted me all day long yesterday, yelling HIGH USAGE over and over. which makes little sense, seeing as how i'm relatively boring and talk only to a handful of people every day: my family, maybe george or scott, hannah, bo, and my two friends who are both named adrienne.

keep in mind, also, i've had the same alltel account for five years.

after awhile, i ducked into the parking garage pre-shift to call customer service. after providing for them my cell, social, address, other possible contact numbers, and the maiden name of my first pet, claire said:

"it seems your bill is right around 350$ this month."
me: that's odd, claire, seeing as how it's never been more than 127$. ever.
claire: well, we see you've been a valued customer since 2006.
me: 2003!!! 2003, claire!!!
claire: apparently, there have been QUITE a few calls to some 910 number...

from there, it began to make sense. hannah decided, about a month ago, that she HAD to have the new iphone. necessary. and why shouldn't she? what TEACHER doesn't need a touch-screen, weather-controlled alien for a phone? and so, of course, she left alltel for greener pastures. (both of us, you might recall, have been escorted out of alltel in our past, gangster lives.)

but still, she's supposed to be a member of my circle. i know this to be true because when j.r. or r.j. or whatever the cute guy's name is asked me to write down five numbers i call most often, i could think only of hannah's. embarrassing, really, to not recall a single other telephone number.

what happened after that between claire and me is none of your business. what i will say is that i hung up on claire while she was talking and she, in turn, DISRUPTED MY SERVICE. my bill is never late. nothing. she just disconnected my service for personal reasons. which is dirty and i'm sure a bit illegal. fortunately, i'm already turning into one of those curmudgeons who threatens to sue over anything.

this is all to give a warm thank you to hannah, who has now placed even my telephone on a champagne budget.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

race for the cure

when i was six, my mom's best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. it is difficult to describe here the sort of relationship we had with one another. to say that she raised my sister and me would do my own mother a great disservice. they lived next door to us (in not one but two different neighborhoods). if my sister hogged the shower, it was not at all unusual for me to run next door in a towel and hop into theirs. she had two boys--my brothers from another mother--and a passionate relationship with her husband.

while connie was supposed to survive only a matter of months, she lived six years. a full, well-traveled, well-loved six years. but if those years were a blessing--and of course they were--they were also extremely difficult. i spent a lot of time trying to impress her in those final years, but also trying to stay out of her way. her final months were spent with a tank of oxygen attached to her and while, at the time, we joked about the clink-clink awkwardness of the tank over deck or porch planks, the injustice of it all seemed rank. even to a twelve year-old.

that final autumn, connie and i sat at the foot of her staircase and watched hundreds of ladybugs attempt to invade the windows and doorframes. perhaps they don't do this where you're from. but i wondered, then, why the tiny and beautiful bugs would go to all that trouble only to die right there on the inside sill. i must have, stupidly, said that aloud at some point to connie. and when she died, she left for me a tiny ladybug pen.

i say all this because, no doubt and unfortunately, you too have a similar story. and while this grief has shaped my life, and her illness as much as her spirit also shaped my life, it is a shame that we own such stories, and by the thousands.

susan g. komen's race for the cure is being held in greenville this saturday, september 27th. if you live in wilmington (i think), the race is october 17th. if you can't run a 5k or if you don't want to wear pink, then you're a f-ing pansy in my book. please give in any way that you can--if not with money, than with your time. please contact me directly for more information (my friend julia's even hosting a raffle!).

Monday, September 22, 2008

da beers

about a year ago, as my friend matt o. and i finished our beers at a local irish pub, he took one last look around the room (at the group of girls who had taken off their shoes, were throwing darts various places other than the dart board, and were, mostly, bedecked in very few clothes) and said, sadly, "i don't wanna meet a girl at connolly's. i want to meet a girl at whole foods."

it brought to mind the various inorganic ways in which we go about meeting people. this is not to equate "inorganic" with "ineffective." my cousin met his very cool wife on i've had many friends of both sexes seek out a partner at church/temple, coffee shops, gallery openings, the gym, concerts, etc. but the thing is, history repeats itself. i know with a level of confidence that if i walked into the blue post in wilmington, smiley's guitar bar in greenville, or starbucks on pleasantburg drive at 8 am, i could predict roughly (i.e. exactly) who i'd run into. i'm a person of routine. the hot contractor who's forever in front of me at starbuck's orders a red eye. richard, the guy who runs beside me at the gym, is a crime reporter who likes to have an amstel light after working out. it's as predictable as those articles in glamour which tell you that men like to return home to a woman wearing only a men's oversized shirt. (why IS that? why are people always saying that?)

so it's rare--at least in my daily life--to actually bump into an interesting stranger. which is just what happened, i swear to god, at whole foods on friday afternoon.

i'd picked up hibiscus sorbet to take for my sister's birthday and was standing in front of the beer cooler, panicked. on the one hand, i'm thankful that whole foods doesn't carry that shitty, lime flavored beer my sister's always requesting. but it's ALL she drinks. so i didn't know, beerwise, where to turn.

"let me know if you need help." daniel, a whole foods rep in funky glasses, said from behind me.

"oh, i'm good," i said, taken off guard. this daniel person was cute in the telling way. as in, i know by looking at him he likes tom waits and also thinks palin should be shot with one of her own rifles.

only, five minutes later i was still standing there, picking up six-packs of beer and putting them back.

daniel: do you want to sit down and taste some beers?

seriously. i tasted everything these stone people out in san diego brew. we talked about the insurgence of low gravity beer, how i hate chocolate stouts, etc.

i will probably never go out with this daniel person, which is absolutely beside the point. he's smokin' hot in the dorky way i require. he helped me shop for molly (thomas creek dockside pilsner). he said he liked my ring. and the meeting, itself, was unplanned, not something i devised or could control. which made me feel a little light in the chest all the way to spartanburg...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

to the men we've been kissing: you're middle-aged; get it together.

mame: ...and you have to be working really hard to be a bad kisser with me, because i'm so good at it.
me: what do you mean he was a bad kisser?
mame: he was acting all into it--
me: too much face.
mame:--exactly, but he wasn't all into it.
me: oh. OH.

beyond weird. and too much face? i mean come ON. sicksicksick. i had to speak the following sentence to mamie a few months back: "He was a slurpy kisser." sorry, gross, but are you kidding me. right then, i could have run to greenville, picked up mamie, and kept running with her to a prettier land where there are no men kissing like horses.

recently, cnn published the following: Bad kissers have little chance of getting to second base. In a study published recently in the scientific journal "Evolutionary Psychology," 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women said they've been in the position of being attracted to someone -- until they kissed the person. **please note that men are more likely to just keep right on going

and also, it's not supposed to be an assault, the kissing. fergodsakes, CALM DOWN. there's a level of intensity that's just weird. i actually made a face during one of these kisses (w/ someone i immediately stopped knowing). a get-me-the-hell-outta-here face. because in that moment, i was so wildly uncomfortable, i'd rather have been in some sort of mandatory five hour business meeting at 8am on a sunday.

you can bet your ass brian williams doesn't kiss like that. fucking hottie.

wack arnolds

autumn, boys

she says she's blogging today, and that's the thing with relationships. sometimes you just have to trust in the power (sorry. we both hate when people talk like this, so i'm just trying to mortify her into coming one step closer to the computer). in all seriousness, our priorities have gotten the better of us. like, hannah's got all these crazy ideas about the book being more important than the blog. on my end, busy at school. busy at the restaurant. and busy with family. (p.s. there are few things i will actually fight for. that being said, to the people who are making my mother's life harder at work: i'll ruin you.) also, my friends like to have babies all at the same there has been a hell of a lot of cooking as well. "oh, and there's sarah palin." which is what my mother keeps tacking onto the end of stories. and i'm like, "what does that have to do with anything?" and she says, "nothing. it's just awful." also, hannah won't stop singing "we're on the bridge to nowhere" to the tune of talking heads' "we're on the road to nowhere."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

two moments with my insightful niece:

today, the family trekked to our mountain house for my dad's birthday. after lunch, morgan hauled me up to the top so she could play on the zip line. she spends several minutes pulling a chair to it and hoisting herself up while i, i lay purposeless in the grass, all but chewing it:

me: need help?
morgan: whatever.
me: painfully stupid silence
morgan: you know, mame, if the world were smart, we'd have no cars and lots of string to zip around the world on.

last week, morgan begins what i think is a knock-knock joke:

morgan: hey, what's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?
me: what?
morgan: nothing. that lady's stupid.

this is after my sister astutely said, "i mean, she ran what, exactly? alaska? i mean, i could govern alaska. it's hardly a state. they're, like, nine people up there."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a few catastrophies...

it's the straw that's breaking me after having done been broken by that palin nightmare and ike, the abusive husband hurricane. i mean, it's call-the-lawyers-we-are-SO-over time.

i'm stammer-typing. it's just awful, and there is no defense for her. she does not NEED to work in these, no matter what she tells you. and today, she used the word cute.

but, at least one of us has kept her head in the midst of these disasters. while mame was handing over her soul to those ridiculous clog families, i spent my rent and someone else's on these... loeffler randall's prettiest creation. i read them fairytales before bed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

i am not the only woman who loves johnny.

johnny has been my mechanic since 1996, when i bought my first honda civic. johnny has been loyal, even when i've pulled up with friends wearing lip liner and blaring that old bone thugz album. here's the deal. johnny, who is eleven years my senior, "yes ma'am's" me. johnny asks about my family.

when i arrive at the shop and there are 7 acres filled with sleepy, waiting, broken fords, johnny says, "busy? i ain't busy." johnny has a mustache, and he doesn't wear it ironically. nor does he wear it with a band of horses t-shirt and skinny jeans. johnny invented the mustache. johnny, who wouldn't laugh at anybody, would keel over at the sight of the seventies version of burt reynolds. he'd wonder what all that puttin'-on-airs was about.

and, when i drove the forty minutes from my house to his shop, with a bulb out in the dash, he did not make me feel stupid when he leaned in and, simply, flipped on the light switch.

johnny is probably a republican and i don't care. even though i always show up unannounced and in work out clothes (prepared to jog for miles while he works), johnny asks each visit if i need a ride somewhere until he fixes the car. "into town," he says. i can't remember the last time anyone else said "into town."

the suit at subaru whose arms were too short for his body told me it'd be a little over a grand. 650$ of that would be for a "major tune-up."
listen, major tune-ups are for city folk. i've never heard of anyone actually getting those things. well, i think my friend katie does, but she's a little too together by anyone's standards.

johnny laughed when i told him about the tune-up. he did the same work for half the money and even changed out my front right tire. "i couldn't bear to think of you drivin' on that thing."

"is it weird that i love johnny the mechanic," i say to my mom. she looks at me as if i've said the most naive thing in the world. "mame, we all love johnny." had this been a film, hundreds of women might have stood up in some otherwise abandoned high school gymnasium.

and perhaps i appreciate it so much in the face of those guys from million dollar listing. or because, sometimes, i miss that particular southern man. i couldn't bear to think of you drivin' on that thing. where have they gone? perhaps we've scared them off...with our abrasive jokes and standoffish demeanor that caves only sometimes, and perhaps not often enough at all. if we have we're screwed. totally screwed...