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, October 24, 2008

how kid rock and sarah palin are standing up to the empathetic, fair, humanitarian left:

i love going to the movies. the cherry coke. the camaraderie of strangers experiencing the same thing. the "dirt off your shoulders" cell phone ring just as the protagonist is dying. above all else, i enjoy the previews. as in, i didn't have to actually see nights in rodanthe, as it turns out. crying through the trailer was enough.

which is why i was alarmed when, sitting with hannah in the dark, kid rock began screaming, "i'm a WARRIOR!!!" at the audience. something about the national guard* and, inexplicably, nascar. it's all a blur, now, but what i remember is this: a soccer ball kicked by a middle eastern kid into an oncoming tank, a white soldier saving the ball and returning it to the kid (note overt symbol of ball as democracy), dale earnhart jr. winning some race, and kid rock on a dimly lit stage. it was just awful. and about as carefully woven as this blog.

in a recent interview with NBC, palin was asked if she considered herself a feminist. she responded as follows: "you know, i don't like labels, bryan. which i think is what people don't like about me." to be fair, in a september 30 interview with katie couric, she said she was a feminist. for the sake of this post, i needn't trip off on a tangent about how curious it is that she told a woman she was a feminist and a man she was not...also, i think it's adorable that she thinks we don't like her because we don't "get" her. yeah, she's slippery, that one.

it has been my understanding that any half-witted person living today is, in fact, a feminist. if you subscribe to the belief that women truly hold equal rights as men, should hold equal rights, then you're a feminist. i don't think sojourner truth and the other embattled women from three different waves of feminism in america would appreciate the timid, eyelash-batting withdrawal from such a term.

* i am pro-military, pro-national guard. i am offended by the misrepresentation of these institutions, not the institutions themselves.

**Hi, it's Hannah stowing away on Mamie's post. But I just found the Warrior lyrics, transcribed by some idiot savant who can't spell, but turns mistakes into gold--i.e. "Engage and Destory."


So Dont Tell Me Who's Wrong And Right When Liberty Starts Slipping Away
And If You Aint Gonna Fight Get Out Of The Away
Cuz Freedom Is So Free When You Breathe Red White And Blue I'm Given All Of Myself Cuz Thats What I Do

And They Call Me Warrior
They Call Me Loalty
They Call Me Ready To provide Relief N Help I Wherever You Need Me To Be
I'm an American Warrior
Citizen Soldier
I'm an American Warrior
Citizen Soldier
Ahhhhh Yeahhhhh

Citizen Solider

I'd Never Leave Another Behind I Will Never Except Defeat I'm A Solider In War Civilian In Peace Cuz Freedom Is So Free When You Breathe Red White N Blue I'm Given All Of Myself How Bout You

And They Call Me Warrior
They Call Me Loyalty
And They Call Me Ready To Deploy, Engage And Destory, Wherever You Need Me To Be

I'm An American Warrior Citizen Solider
I'm An American Warrior Citizen Solider

Warrior Citizen Solider
Warrior Citizen Solider

Ohhhhhhh Yeahhhhhh

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how could they get together? they were like two people who couldn't get together.

I’m obsessed with this place, Mamie said.

I mean, I’d never seen her this happy. Her big, blue eyes were all glittery and psychotic, and her body was perched on the very tippy edge of the white, plastic, and therefore Swedish chair. She was shaking from the high-voltage combo of old school hip-hop and sparkling. In the background, a thirty-seven year old woman was dancing with herself. We both know her and, not so long ago, this woman was rude to me.

Mamie spots her, crooks a finger at me. I lean in for her to whisper, I will fuck her up. I know it sounds redneck, but. Fuck. Her. Up. If she so much as looks at you the wrong way.

Clearly, this is what I need in a relationship, because my wayward heart swelled to bursting.

It was the pinnacle of our night since, before then, we’d gone everywhere else and hated it in a way that had us walking in and out without sitting. We were completely happy, and then we saw him coming. That’s the problem with being stationary, this guy will inevitably walk up to you. He looked fairly normal, even though he sat down beside us and said in one breath: Nice boots, look at those boots, did y’all plan on wearing those boots together.

It only got worse.

He told us he was there by himself and had premeditated the boots comment in order to come over and talk to us: Sometimes, you got to go out solo, and then you need a line you know. When you’re on your own. Without your friends. Sometimes, you and your friends need a little space.

Jesus, I thought. Poor bastard.

It came out, by which I mean it was completely unsolicited, that he lived in Snead’s Ferry-(God, said Mamie later, it sounds like a place where evil wizards live)—and also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

What else do you do, I asked.

Excuse me?

In addition to being a volunteer firefighter.

Oh, nothing.

And it’s beyond me how this came up, but suddenly he was talking about South Africa. I’ve been there, I piped up annoyingly. But you’d think it would have thrown him off from this track.

One rand is about seven dollars, you know.

(See, this is not even remotely true.)

So when I was there, I was buying beers for, like, two dollars! And then I’d tip. And they all thought I was like some rockstar.

Like a rockstar, I repeated like a moron.

Yeah. Just like, everyone was looking to see who I was. This bigshot American dude. I mean, some of them, they probably hadn’t ever seen an American before. The chicks were all looking at me.

(Americans in Capetown? Unlikely.)

Then he left as all we were capable of doing was grinning at each other. Mamie's little shoulders were doing that incessant and adorable hiphop lift thing. It was weird, Mamie said later, like he couldn’t decide which one of us he was hitting on. To simplify everything, he drifted up to a girl momentarily alone, poor thing. That guy, I told Mame, was almost as bad as the guys who started to chant Obama at the bar because you had an Obama sticker on your clutch.

Then we went to Slice and everything was predictable. Mame fell asleep in her pizza and I thought I lost my wallet. Cue me trying to get into Odessa after close, while Mamie slept in the car, where my wallet was sitting on the front floorboard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

decorum, etc.

neither hannah nor myself is much of a prude. by which i mean we both are when it comes to certain our own, shy, repressed ways. yesterday she sent me a poem by brenda shaughnessy that she likes very much. only, in the first line lay the phrase, "unf*cked, ever-f*cked." and i sort of recoiled. i feel like swearing in a poem is not unlike yelling in a poem, and then i conjure up all sorts of bad thoughts that form an awful marriage between anne sexton and performance poetry. like, i'm still mortified by my twenty year-old self who, upon realizing i was allowed to swear in class, began doing so whenever possible. keep in mind: i was a religion major.

it doesn't help that i am religious, which is another battle altogether. i'm often reminded of this short poem by czeslaw milosz:

if there is no god

if there is no god,
not everything is permitted to man.
he is still his brother's keeper
and he is not permitted to sadden his brother
by saying there is no god.

but it's beautiful, the ways we can be empathetic while disagreeing. i mean, at our best we can be empathetic. while disagreeing.

then hannah sent me this hayden carruth (who, unfortunately, passed away last month) poem. i find the camaraderie of it beautiful. it is, i assume, for d. levertov?

letter to denise

remember when you put on that wig
from the grab bag and then looked at yourself
in the mirror and laughed, and we laughed together?
it was a transformation, glamorous flowing tresses.
who knows if you might not have like to wear
that wig permanently, but of course you
wouldn't. remember when you told me how
you meditated, looking at a stone until
you knew the soul of the stone? inwardly i
scoffed, being the backwoods pragmatic yankee
that i was, yet i knew what you meant. i
called it love. no magic was needed. and we
loved each other too, not in the way of
romance but in the way of two poets loving
a stone, and world that the stone signified.
remember when we had that argument over
pee and piss in your poem about a bear?
"bears don't pee, they piss," i said. but you were
adamant. "my bears pee." and that was that.
then you moved away, across the continent,
and sometimes for a year i didn't see you.
we phoned and wrote, we kept in touch. and then
you moved again, much farther away, i don't
know where. no word from you now at all. but
i am faithful, my dear denise. and i still
love the stone, and, yes, i know its soul.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

dear blog:

you are the child we have stayed together for. while hannah sits cross-armed on the balcony watching kayakers turn themselves in circles on the sound, i am waving my arms in front of your face and gifting you with thoughtless, easy things. and, while i would take this opportunity to post a playlist, seems i've only been listening to three albums this month: jenny lewis' acid tongue, langhorne slim's restless, and (obviously) T.I.'s papertrail. i just don't see how i could make that cohesive.
only, hannah and i are fine. we're not splitting up. i'm visiting this thursday for beers and dinner and sparkling wine and ping-pong and nick and norah's infinite playlist and walks on the beach at sunset. so, blog, perhaps you are the affair we can't quite move past. something like that.

what i will do in this post is shamelessly promote two books:

I. as you all know, george and i have taught alongside each other for 43 years (move on. he's the only one who's supposed to get that joke). he hates the blog, which doesn't stop him from reading it. when especially bored, he likes to make fun of me in his work (please check out the latest kenyon review, wherein a ten year-old named may-may is portrayed as a spoiled brat who's always hungry and trails behind all the other kids, drinking coffee). he even does so in his new book, pep talks, warnings & screeds:

number 30: if at all possible, take a poetry-writing class or two. please don't hang out with poets a bunch--this is a vast generalization here, but what the heck--because inevitably one of them will say, "poetry is so hard!" or "i worked twenty minutes today on a quatrain!" or "do you want some room for cream in your coffee?" or "i can't stand poets who rhyme" or "i love poets who rhyme" or "we have a special today on bran muffins."

daniel wallace (author of big fish) illustrates the book. anyway, it's pure awesome.

II. i thought i was done with this whole crying in the classroom business. i did it once out of pure frustration two years ago when i didn't know quite what i was doing and the students didn't seem much to care anyhow. but last week, i cried for a much more embarrassing reason. we were reading galway kinnell's strong is your hold and i read the first poem aloud. in the middle i just got all choked up and proceeded to try to stop crying by explaining myself and, inexplicably, snapping my fingers. anyway, you can imagine: i looked nuts, and couldn't stop repeating, "it's just so beautiful. it's just so beautiful."

the stone table

here on the hill behind the house,
we sit with our feet up on the edge
of the eight-by-ten stone slab
that was once the floor of the cow pass
that the cows used, getting from one pasture
to the other without setting a hoof
on the dirt road lying between them.

from here we can see the blackberry thicket,
the maple sapling the moose slashed
with his cutting teeth, turning it
scarlet too early, the bluebird boxes
flown from now, the one tree left
of the ancient orchard popped out
all over with saffron and rosy,
subacid pie apples, smaller crabs grafted
with scions of old varieties, freedom,
sops-of-wine, wolf river, and trees
we put in ourselves, dotted with red lumps.

we speak in whispers: fifty feet away,
under a red spruce, a yearling bear
lolls on its belly eating clover.
abruptly it sits up. did i touch my wine glass
to the table, setting it humming?
the bear peers about with the bleary undressedness
of old people who have mislaid their eyeglasses.
it ups its muzzle and sniffs. it fixes us,
whirls, and plunges into the woods--
a few cracklings and shatterings, and all is still.

as often happens, we find ourselves
thinking similar thoughts, this time of a friend
who lives to the south of that row of peaks
burnt yellow in the sunset. about now,
he will be paying his daily visit to her grave,
reading by heart the words, cut into black granite,
that she had written for him, when they
both thought he would die first:
or is he back by now, in his half-empty house,
talking in ink to a piece of paper?

i, who so often used to wish to float free
of earth, now with all my being want to stay,
to climb with you on other evenings to this stone,
maybe finding a bear, or a coyote, like
the one who, at dusk, a week ago, passed
in his scissorish gait ten feet from where we sat--
this earth we attach ourselves to so fiercely,
like scions of sheffield seek-no-furthers
grafted for our lifetimes into paradise root-stock.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the battles we choose

directly quoted from the new york times:

the latest conflict between lebanon and israel is about food: a lebanese trade group is accusing israel of falsely taking credit for traditional middle eastern dishes like hummus. fadi abboud, president of the lebanese industrialists association, said on tuesday that his group planned to sue israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as israeli. "it is not enough they are stealing our land," mr. abboud said. "they are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine." he said his group would also seek to claim baba ghanouj and tabbouleh as lebanon's own.


what, to me, was more infuriating than the debate stage set-up (it looked like the phil donahue show) were the number of voters (in the audience, at bowling green) who claimed to be undecided. who the hell, at this point, is undecided? i don't care if you want to marry mccain and have his babies; at least you're on board with something. who, on october 8th, is saying to themselves: my gosh. it's just so apples and apples. some kid, poor bastard, actually said, "fundamentally, they're no different." yep. couldn't differentiate between 'em in a line-up.

Monday, October 6, 2008

looks like this ain't your first rodeo.

let's start with this: just like in the movies, our in-laws are coming/have come between us. since hannah's mother has arrived (SIX days ago), we've talked three times. for the average friends without codependency issues, this might be normal. for us, it's roughly fifteen conversations short. and, if you enjoy hannah's blog posts more than mine (which, with any sense, you do), you'll note that she hasn't posted since donna martin graduated. doesn't look like she's planning to either, kids.

i should preface this post (i know. you thought the hannah stuff was preface enough) by saying that, at work on saturday, i looked precious. i washed my hair and put on make-up and and wore earrings and did everything i could to detract from the annie lennox outfit we wear. so, when a really nice gentleman winked at me a la sarah palin and said, "looks like this ain't your first rodeo," i had no idea how to take it. at first i thought it meant the same as been-around-the-block and i felt like that fifty year-old woman named cookie who runs the after-hours bar here in greenville. i physically recoiled...although, looking back, i believe he meant i appeared to know what i was doing.

also, the hostesses i--on a daily basis--refrain from beating have been giving all the bachelorette parties to me. all of them. which hardly makes sense. we have the sexy colombian guy, the funny bartender, and the hot waiter. twenty intoxicated girls don't exactly want me, a woman, waiting on them. and they keep being, like, nineteen years old and bedecked in feather boas. it's totally creepy. and the photographs they ask of you! it's like, "okay, we're going to do a silly and a serious." i guarantee, friends who in the future might be at my bachelorette party, i'll never use the word "silly." or make you wear things you wouldn't normally. there will be no flirtinis, no cakes shaped like boy parts. no straws with obscene accoutrements. and, absolutely, no decorated wine glasses.

oh, and, not to worry about the whole hannah thing. she'll be back, begging, soon enough. they always do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

we have exactly half of our life in common.

our mothers are coming today.

which seems like the very same thing, only hannah's mom has flown from saipan to japan to california to minnesota, stopping there to golf with her boyfriend for two weeks, and is flying to raleigh today. where hannah will meet her with carriage.

my mother takes a similar route, if by similar you mean I-85 south thirty miles. and if you also mean grabbing my father by the shirt collar and bringing him also. break.

i wrote that part of the blog before my parents came early and unannouced, carrying with them a gift bag of: twelve magazines, clinique facial wash, contact cases (i'm serious), and several eye shadows my mother doesn't want. my mother actually thought that, at 27, i keep my contacts in petrie dishes.

hannah's mother likes danielle steel paperbacks, long walks on the beach, and slot machines. my mother likes to clean your baseboards and watch catherine zeta jones movies.

i said to han, "i'm cleaning because my mom's coming. are you?" she said, "yeah, if you mean by cleaning that i got all my meds refilled."

that being said, we might be on back order for a few days. you see why. we'll give you exactly what we have left these next weeks.