Category Archives: I Do Not Know

Let’s Play a Game

Let’s play a game called “It’s 9:46 p.m. and I got home about 30 minutes ago and the reason for that is I was at FedEx Kinkos grappling with a printer that needed to be taken out onto Ashland Avenue and run over swiftly and repeatedly with any passing Chicagoland-area garbage truck and an 8:45 p.m deadline for FedEx shipments and I was trying to send out a play that had to be postmarked September 27 and if I didn’t send it today I was toast and the Lord alone knows what happened to the plot there at the end of this play because I was writing like a crazy person writes who has not interacted with other human beings in twenty years because they elected to live out their lives in a remote heavily wooded area far away from the nearest town and so their perceptions of the human experience no longer make any sense to anyone let alone strangers who have never met me personally and have absolutely no reason to give me the benefit of the doubt that I’d write much much better if I had more time and much more sleep and much less on my mind generally at the moment because THERE IS A LOT on my mind right now that needs to be sorted through big time but it might be Thanksgiving or let’s face it President’s Day before I get to it.”

 

 

THANKSGIVING 2010

I’M READY

LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN

More next week, everybody! Time for bed.

Love,
Me.

 

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Independence

On the morning of the Fourth of July, I purchased a small packet of “colorful smoke bombs” at Target. Since the city of Chicago does not allow its citizens to purchase real fireworks–a memo which, based on the yearly volume of spectacular city-wide neighborhood displays, hundreds of individuals do not receive!–we are forced to purchase items like colorful smoke bombs; items which a baby kitten could safely consume in its small dish of milk without undergoing bodily harm. 

I got carded.

CASHIER: Yeah…They just started doing this a few days ago.
CASHIER + ME: [roll eyeballs all the way into the back of our heads until our whole eyeballs fall out of our heads]

***

I cannot purchase spray paint in Chicago. I am carded for buying a paper smoke bomb the size of an unshelled walnut.  I pay extra taxes when I want a bottle of water.

GET OUT OF MY FACE.

***

Oh, and sparklers! I can’t buy those, either.  Sweet, sparkly focus of a million childhood memories: Now I am a woman grown, and I cannot obtain you.

SPARKLERS.

Do you think George Washington would be happy, knowing that I’m not allowed to buy sparklers? 

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Was it for thus that I forded the Potomac?

***

For about two years now, I’ve said, “I’m not going to Pitchfork again. They shall have to line Union Park with cupcake-bearing bald eagles. I shan’t stir one step.” And then…I go. I thought that when I said it last year, I meant it; meant it in the way that you mean the Pledge of Allegiance.  But I guess I didn’t, since here I go, there, again.

It’s summer, I think. You forget your need to be out in the summer sun while you can, at such events, such festivals and fairs, until they’re upon you. Then only the heedless could turn away. “I would rather sit at home in my snowsuit,” you might as well say, and you wouldn’t say that.

***

New in the world of poetry: A new poet laureate! Yoink! W.S Merwin!

You can find two of his poems here, in previous Wheat Dear blogs:

The Nails”

“Fog”

I enjoy W.S Merwin greatly, but I will miss Kay Ryan, poet laureate before him. [Click here and you shall see what I wrote about Kay Ryan, back when.] She is a magical lady, and sees clearly.

If you have the time, and the inclination, you must and must read a piece she wrote for “Poetry” several years ago [here]:

“I Go to AWP”

AWP is basically the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference [something-or-other]. Kay Ryan went to their conference in Vancouver in 2005, and then she wrote about it; what she wrote about it is earth-shatteringly high on my Favorite O’Meter.

It’s got to be good, to register on the ol’ Favorite O’Meter. Sehr gut.

***

She writes:

“Make mine the desert saints, the pole-sitters, the endurance cyclists, the artist who paints rocks cast from bronze so that they look exactly like the rocks they were cast from; you can’t tell the difference when they’re side by side. It took her years to do a pocketful. You just know she doesn’t go to art conferences.”

I love.

***

Anywho, W. S  Merwin.

W.S apparently lives on the edge of a dormant volcano on Maui. [What?] From the New York Times:

“Although raised in the Western tradition, he said he feels more affinity with an Eastern one, ‘being part of the universe and everything living’. With that exhilarating connection comes responsibility, however. ‘You don’t just exploit it and use it and throw it away any more than you would a member of your family,’ he said. ‘You’re not separate from the frog in the pond or the cockroach in the kitchen.'”

These are the kinds of things I don’t need to know about the people whose writing I enjoy.

 [I am a jerk?]

***

Katie and Bridgid and I kept e-mailing each other lines from “The Nails” for a day or so, but I had to stop, eventually; there are only so many lines you can send your friends from “The Nails”, and receive from them in return, before you start crying your eyes out.

We’ll close with another Merwin poem. 

It gets the job done.

 

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

W.S Merwin

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Feb-Boo-Ary

Maybe this is why I didn’t post anything last week. Maybe my heart had turned to ash, okay?

***

Landsakes–there’s been ever so much-and-so many goings on,  just generally speaking, that one scarcely knows where to dive in!

For example, we could talk about Scott Lee Cohen, the embattled former Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois:

If by “embattled” you mean “hoist by your own petard”, and if by “hoist by your own petard” you mean “police records”.

Because if Illinoisans do one thing right, it’s ensuring–via the democratic process!–that only the most hilariously untoward individuals are placed in a position of potential power.

COHEN: I’m a pawnbroker who assaulted my ex-girlfriend with a knife!
CITIZENS OF ILLINOIS: Cohen for President!

Ugh, embarrassing! Embarrassing. Illinois, I can’t take you anywhere.

MY ROOMMATE, THE NIGHT THIS STORY BROKE: [cheerfully.]     Well, the national media doesn’t seem to have picked it up yet!

***

That same night, I was reading a poem on a webby-site. The poem was about the death of a father. In the comments section below the poem, another reader spoke of how his own father had died; of how the poem moved him. The poet responded: “Thank you.” That is the perfect circle.

I read this to my roommate, and she told me a story.

Several years ago, she sang in a choir. The choir had some sort of show, which took place on two consecutive evenings. There are other details to the story, but the important detail is this.

On the night of the second performance, their conductor congratulated them on their performance of the previous evening. Then he told them that a man–an audience member–had approached him, that night before, and explained that his wife had died some months ago; and that as the man listened to their singing that night, it was the first time that he had been able to forget his grief.

***

That is everything. 

***

On February 8, the space shuttle Endeavour [what’s up with that “ou” spelling? That is traitorous, treason-talk spelling] took off for the International Space Station.

They–the astronauts–have attached what’s basically a new room to the space station. The room is known as

TRANQUILITY

Though its technical name is

NODE THREE

[This is not a joke]

After this, there will be only four more manned shuttle launches. President Obama’s  proposed NASA budget does not allow for the continuation of the Constellation program, which was developing the next generation of spaceflight vehicular na-na. The plan is to develop such things with the monetary support of the “private sector”.

I am a fan of the private sector. But I am nervous. Some of the space glamour has been stripped from life, it feels like.

[And I know that there are other ways to channel our monies in the here and now and Earth-bound, and who am I to take food from the mouth of a starving baby, but?  But. There is merit in exploration and knowledge, in discovery. It strikes me right to the heart to think that these concepts will somehow continue down a long, downward slide of devaluation. I think there is room for all of it, food for babies and cylindrical space nodes alike. Once I fix my Whole World Calculator, I will set things to rights. I promise.]

Also, do you want to see a manned space vehicle soaring through the hushed, sparkling outer reaches of the universe with a Doritos ad on it?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

The Nails

I gave you sorrow to hang on your wall
Like a calendar in one color.
I wear a torn place on my sleeve.
It isn’t as simple as that.

Between no place of mine and no place of yours
You’d have thought I’d know the way by now
Just by thinking it over.
Oh I know
I’ve no excuse to be stuck here turning
Like a mirror on a string,
Except it’s hardly credible how
It all keeps changing.
Loss has a wider choice of directions
Than the other thing.

As if I had a system
I shuffle among the lies
Turning them over, if only
I could be sure what I’d lost.
I uncover my footprints, I
Poke them till the eyes open.
They don’t recall what it looked like.
When was I using it last?
Was it like a ring or a light
On the autumn pond
Which chokes and glitters but
Grows colder?
It could be all in the mind. Anyway
Nothing seems to bring it back to me.

And I’ve been to see
Your hands as trees borne away on a flood,
The same film over and over,
And an old one at that, shattering its account
To the last of the digits, and nothing
And the blank end.

The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.

I’ve had a long look at someone
Alone like a key in a lock
Without what it takes to turn.

It isn’t as simple as that.

Winter will think back to your lit harvest
For which there is no help, and the seed
Of eloquence will open its wings
When you are gone.
But at this moment
When the nails are kissing the fingers good-bye
And my only
Chance is bleeding from me,
When my one chance is bleeding,
For speaking either truth or comfort
I have no more tongue than a wound.

W.S Merwin

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_________________.

GUH. I’m struck dumb by my total inability to post in a timely manner, of late. I wish I could tell you that it’s all due to a groundbreaking sculpture-in-progress, or something–

ME: Just a few more chisel-hits, and I’ll go post this week’s Wheat Dear!
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART: No! Do not keep us waiting, here at the Museum of Modern Art!
ME: Well, all right.

Yeah, I’ve got nothing.

***

Last Friday at work was apparently

HILARIOUS MAIL DAY

Like every piece of mail was the funniest mail I’d ever seen.  One envelope was stamped thusly [this is true]:

FOUND LOOSE IN THE MAILS

Whhhhuuuuh?

A large postcard was sitting on top of the stack; I picked it up. It was from Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art –an invitation to view their upcoming exhibit, devoted to the Day of the Dead . The face-up side of the postcard was as blameless a piece of mail as you’re likely to see. Then I flipped it over.

DOD2009

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

***

For the rest of the day, I wreaked havoc with the postcard. Woo, boy!

CO-WORKER: Can I borrow a pen?
ME: Sure! [I flash them the postcard.]
CO-WORKER: [Seizure]

***

Now we must turn to more serious matters.

***

On Saturday afternoon, I was waiting for the bus at the Belmont Blue Line station, which is a well-traveled thoroughfare; aside from the El stop, three different busses stop there. This is just to say that multiple people were standing around when What Happened Happened.

Behind me, I heard someone screaming. Then I heard someone screaming, “Help me!” I turned around.

A man had his arms wrapped all the way around a woman, who was screaming, for help. He was restraining her from walking away from him. Several able-bodied men stood within touching distance of this occurence.

They did nothing.

I pulled out my phone and called 911, and said what I had to say, and told them what was happening, and what they were wearing, and where we were. I ended the call with: “The sooner the better.” [Like an idiot, I ended the phone call in this manner. As if the dispatcher would say: “Nah. After lunch?”]

As this was happening, the woman had broken away from the man and was trying to move away from him, as he screamed in her face. I could not hear what he was saying, but he was doubtless explaining to her how totally worthless she was.

They began to get further away from the train station. One of the Do-Nothings ambled up to me and commented on the situation. “Look there,” he said, pointing. “They’re holding hands now!” This he said with surprise, because he has never left his house or observed or spoken to another human being in his entire life.

 My bus arrived, and the police were not there. The couple had walked down the street, away from where the police would head once they arrived.

ME: Aaarrrgh.

It was at that moment that I realized that I had left my CTA card sitting on the kitchen counter, at home.

GOD:

god

So I made my way back to my apartment, and as I did so, I heard the sirens of the police car roaring down the street in the opposite direction. And I turned around and ran back to the train station as fast as e’er I could, and flagged the squad car down, and told the policewoman inside where they had walked, and repeated what they were wearing, and she said thanks, and peeled on outta there lickety-split-like.

***

I do not know if the policewoman found them, or what happened if she did. I have no doubt that the woman reassured her that she was fine, that nothing was wrong. She walked away holding his hand; either she’s a good actress, or she thinks she deserves it. Maybe both.

I share this story to point out that THIS STUFF HAPPENS IN THE BROAD LIGHT OF DAY. The broad. Light. Of. Day. In the broad light of day, a man held a woman back with physical force while she screamed for someone to help her. I don’t care that this is Chicago, in the big cit-tay. This isn’t supposed to happen. This was an easy call, men who stood there and watched this happen without lifting a finger. Afraid to take this guy on alone? Band together. You don’t have to beat him up; you just have to get her away from him. Please, somebody, explain this to me. I don’t understand. And I’m sorry I didn’t get in his face myself, but I can barely lift a bowling ball.

Let’s end on a high note.

Perched

Mmmmmm. Madeline Stamer.

What, you wanted LOLcats?

 You did, didn’t you?

Why do you stay up so late?

I’ll tell you, if you really want to know:
remember that day you lost two years ago
at the rockpool where you sat and played the jeweler
with all those stones you’d stolen from the shore?
Most of them went dark and nothing more,
but sometimes one would blink the secret color
it had locked up somewhere in its stony sleep.
This is how you knew the ones to keep.

So I collect the dull things of the day
in which I see some possibility
but which are dead and which have the surprise
I don’t know, and I’ve no pool to help me tell–
so I look at them and look at them until
one thing makes a mirror in my eyes
then I paint it with the tear to make it bright.
This is why I sit up through the night.

Don Paterson

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Remember That One Time?

Remember that one time, when I said that I’d post on Wednesday or Thursday of last week, and then–sure as the sun will rise–I never, ever did? I just–I–you know, let’s just look t’other way on this one, and act like it never happened. 

I would have been no good to you, anyways. Imagine, if you will, a ghost made of strawberry Jell-O trying to write a blog. Your fingers don’t even hit the keys. You’re a ghost, for one, and for two, Jell-O isn’t very substantive.

“Electric Jell-O,” is what my friend Lisa called me, to be fair. How can Jell-O be electric? It can. I was there. I saw.

 ***

Saw the movie “Born Yesterday” in Grant Park, last Tuesday; have you ever seen it? My God, my God! The audience laughed and laughed, giddy and appreciative, in the way we modern audiences simply don’t laugh at our modern comedies, what with their high ratios of throw-up and bromance [both good, in their way–believe you me].

I’m going to be imitating Judy Holliday for the rest of my life. Her voice sounds like a cross between a mallard duck and a five year-old girl trying to sell you a Bratz doll out of the back of a truck. 

See?

***

For the record, I am vehemently opposed to Bratz dolls.

bratz-um02

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY

My daughters are going to play with crude dolls their Pa fashions for them out of corn husks. No lie. If it’s good enough for Laura Ingalls Wilder, it’s good enough for me. Those Ingalls girls! They could get fun out of an empty flour sack.

LAURA INGALLS WILDER: The train’s* pulling into the station! Choo, choo! I sure hope it’s got some millet on board, to get us through this hard prairie winter!

*Flour sack

***

Corn Husk

What do you mean by “That looks terrifying”?

***

Many family members in town this weekend, for the seeing of my play. I wonder if I will ever see anything I’ve written performed without working myself into a sixty-seconds-from-heart-failure state. It’s a problem.

*Lights up*

ME: This is my last night on earth.

Somewhere in there, tears of nervousness/joy/laughter  usually start running down my face, although this year I blame that on the fact that, in the piece’s climactic dance-off scene, one of the characters pretended to shoot an AK-47 and throw it off-stage. I nigh on to cracked me a rib, laughin’!

It was all him.

***

I spent the last week of July on a temp assignment which required me to stand on the street and assist passers-by. Each day, a different street intersection, a different Chicagoland area neighborhood; a different temp partner-in-crime with whom to while away the sunny hours. [You learn lots about someone, in six hours. You learn L-O-T-S. How people want to be FBI agents, or start a business making parasols. You talk about God.]

The entire experience was like a sprawling, street-level sociological experiment, honestly: Who wants to be helped? Who doesn’t? And who takes the opportunity to sink an arrow shaft into a friendly-faced temporary employee?

THE BEST PLACE I WORKED AND PEOPLE WERE SO NICE AND MY HEART: Hyde Park.

THE WORST PLACE I WORKED AND PEOPLE WERE SO DISMISSIVE AND RUDE: Old Town

Other workers surveyed said that Lincoln Square topped their list of Largest Amount of Individuals Behaving Like Sanctimonious Na-Nas. Multiple workers, in point of fact. Lincoln Square! Pull it together, Lincoln Square, and stop acting like you’re God’s gift. You’re cute, and all. I get it.

***

Ah, Hyde Park…Hyde Park, where I had never been, to my great shame; Hyde Park, blissful and light-dappled and eclectic; Hyde Park-I-want-to-live-in-you. The further away I got from Hyde Park, the more acutely my heart ached. It knew that I had found my home. I blinked when I got off the Metra at Millenium Station and came up onto Michigan and Randolph, with one berskooillion people walking the streets. “Not Hyde Park,” said my heart. I walked to Daley Plaza to get on the blue line. Critical Mass bikers were waiting there [on a side note, a personal breakthrough in the act of Not Having A Heart Attack When I Suddenly Come Upon Hundreds Of People On Bikes] and my heart said, “Not Hyde Park.” Nothing and nobody was Hyde Park, and I need to get back there, soon.

Poem very hard to pick this week. This is a thing that happens.

One goes on.

 

Crush

Maybe my limbs are made
mostly for decoration,
like the way I feel about
persimmons. You can’t
really eat them. Or you
wouldn’t want to. If you grab
the soft skin with your fist
it somehow feels funny,
like you’ve been here
before and uncomfortable,
too, like you’d rather
squish it between your teeth
impatiently, before spitting
the soft parts back up
to linger on the tongue like
burnt sugar or guilt.
For starters, it was all
an accident, you cut
the right branch
and a sort of light
woke up underneath,
and the inedible fruit
grew dark and needy.
Think crucial hanging.
Think crayon orange.
There is one low, leaning
heart-shaped globe left
and dearest, can you
tell, I am trying
to love you less.

Ada Limón

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For Your Information.

Posting on Wednesday this week/maybe Thursday. Way, way, way too many moving parts in life right now to post tonight, or on the morrow. It literally can’t be done. My headspace is many miles away.

I’ll see you then-sies.

Beauty

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Half-ing It Up

I have to write and post tomorrow night. ‘Cause guess when I woke up this morning? Three-sies in the a.m-sies. Three-sies in the bludgeon-my-face-ies. That’s what happens when you go home for Mother’s Day, sometimes. That’s what happens.

This is a cake baked by my sister’s mother-in-law for my niece’s birthday.

P1010297

Ava wants to be a monkey.

Bad.

Like I’m not kidding.

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