Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dear Diary

I started trying to write a diary in the first grade. It was red and locked with a key. I think it may have even had Snoopy on the front. Of course, I couldn't make coherent paragraphs yet, so I drew pictures to further communicate my ideas. There are only a few entries, but as I recall, they consisted mostly of mundane things. In one entry in particular I explained that we had fish for lunch and drew myself eating a trapezoidal plank of mystery meat. I also wrote about the kid who sat next to me. His name was Brad and I seemed to think he was funny. I remember him telling me that he was allergic to milkshakes. I brought this up to him, some years later, in the seventh grade. He thought it was funny too, but admitted that he couldn't remember ever being lactose intolerant.

In the second grade I graduated to a Cabbage Patch Kids notebook. There was no lock on this one. Obviously, I had begun to live dangerously. Somewhat more adept at creating a coherent sequence of sentences, though by no means a master, I continued to sketch pictures to emphasize certain points. However, I branched out even further that year. I wrote my first poem, which had something to do with flowers. I also wrote a play about a princess and attempted to recruit classmates as actors. This didn't go over as well as I thought it might, considering my teacher had several conferences with my parents in which she expressed some concern that I preferred to hold auditions during class time, rather than working on assignments. Naturally, I loathed her, though that word wasn't yet a part of my vocabulary.

Third grade proved a pivotal one for my writing career, as I moved on to short stories. My style had naturally improved and I sounded less like a dyslexic robot. Compound sentences entered my repertoire, and my audience was understandably impressed. I distinctly remember writing a story about a door-to-door snowshoe salesman. In it, he explained that he found selling his wares more difficult in the summer time, as people had little need of snowshoes during that season. I think it was actually my father who suggested that the town should endure a heat wave that caused the corn in the fields to get so hot that they popped their skins and created a blizzard of fluffy, drifted popcorn. Naturally, snowshoe sales rose sharply that summer.

I've blocked out much of fourth grade, considering it was one of the most hellish years of my academic career. I focused on my drawing skills that year and don't recall writing anything of great significance. However, in fifth grade I got a typewriter. I think I began two books that year. Of course, they took too long to write, and I abandoned them after a couple of months. Despite my discouragement, I had found my medium: novels.

Throughout my three years of middle school I began and abandoned roughly twelve books. I remember most of the general ideas. I spent most of my time on characterization, but also developed my sense of setting. Therein lay my weakness. I could come up with a million characters with tons of cool names and attributes and place them in the most interesting situations, but once I put them there, I didn't really know what to do with them.

In high school, I dug into poetry. Now able to comprehend poetry more easily, I also found I could write it. Here, I didn't have to come up with characters or plots. I could develop one idea through suggestion. Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch became the sole means of my expression. I could hint at a thousand different scenarios with a few short lines. My obsession with this form continued into college, but I've moved away from it in the last few years. In fact, I'd moved away from writing anything for myself. I've poured all of my creativity into essays and research papers for the last three years.

Now, I'm back where I started. With no outlet for the ceaseless voices in my head (yes, I know they're all me), I've made myself an electronic quasi-diary. Not only is there no lock, but it's out there for everyone to see. I've never considered myself an exhibitionist, per se, more like a compulsive scribbler. However, there's something oddly comforting about the fact that I know I have a very small audience. They're the same audience I've always had, my friends and family, but they could grow. No, I don't mean procreation. I mean, someone else, someone I've never met could read this and find something comforting or funny or, God forbid, educational. I suppose that's why any person blogs. They may want attention for its own sake, but I think they're also looking for some kind of connection. For some people this medium may be the only thing that actively ties them to the rest of the human race, and I find that comforting too.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Squint Your Eyes

Yesterday was my brother's birthday. He's 36, which is quite a bit older than me, I'll have you know. Yes, we do have the same parents. Mom calls me her "bonus baby." I guess I was a bit of a surprise. Despite the large difference in age, I usually feel like the older sibling.

Actually, he's a typical older brother in the I'll-kick-your-ass-if-you-touch-my-baby-sister kind of way. He was the popular, athletic one, and I was the bookish, anti-social one. He's still partying like it's 1999. In fact, it's hard to imagine my brother without a Miller Lite in his hand. He was a professional bartender, despite a marriage, a mortgage, and two kids, until last year. Ever the "cool guy", my brother sounds like Pauly Shore when he talks: "Whaaaas uuuup buuuddy!" Seriously. He calls me racetrack. I don't know why. He's actually developing a receding hairline because he never removes his baseball cap. And I swear to god his eyes used to be blue, but I couldn't tell you for sure because I haven't seen him without sunglasses in over a decade. He was the oh-so-cool jock who never would've talked to me in high school but would've rolled my yard with toilet paper. Luckily, I was in the first grade when he graduated, so it's not like we had to endure adolescence together.

Growing up, I think I went to every single one of his ball games. Actually, I think I was born during half-time at a pee-wee football game. As an infant I gave everyone else's little sister something to do on the sidelines besides shake a pom-pon. I think the first sounds I remember are shoes squeaking against glossy wood floors, a rubber ball smacking frantically across a court, and the hoarse yells of sweaty, jumping fans. I learned to tie my white Nikes with the blue swoosh sitting on the hard, wooden bleachers at the top of my brother's high school gymnasium. To this day, the smell of popcorn reminds me of a basketball game, not the movies. And the taste of Gatorade always carries a patina of wet mud and torn grass on a soccer pitch.

My first crush was a soccer player on my brother's team. I was three and he was fourteen. Toby had that kind of golden hair that, when wet from sweat, becomes a dark, translucent red. His eyes were a large, round blue, and he had those blonde eyelashes that are almost transparent. He smelled like sweaty socks and freshly mown grass. And, he would always give me a ride on his shoulders, whenever I asked. Mom likes to tease me about him now, though I barely remember him. She says he was very sweet, but not so bright.

It seems I've always had a penchant for older men. The summer I was five, I went to this summer camp my preschool offered. It was actually a small, private school, so there were kids as old as sixteen there. Case was one of the older boys, about thirteen, and I was attached to his hind leg. I always remember him looking like Corey Haim in that movie about the nerdy kid, Lucas. He had that messy, brown hair and those cute dorky glasses. Plus, he always had sickly brown bruises on his arms and legs, not so much from playing outside, as from his two older brothers beating the crap out of him. I think his dad was in the military because he always wore pea-green undershirts with his hand-me-down jeans and grubby white sneakers. I don't really remember his face, but I thought he was so damn cool because he played baseball in this vacant lot a block down from the school. I always wanted to play with the big boys too. That sounded so wrong, but you know what I mean. I was a tomboy. My brother used to tease me about Case because I talked about him so much.

One day, I followed him to the grassy lot because I wanted to play ball too. All the other guys groaned and said I was too little. The counselor who chaperoned the group excursion let me swing the bat a couple of times, but mostly I just watched, sitting cross-legged on the spiky, bleached grass. I cheered for Case like I cheered for my brother, clapping and yelling his name when he batted well enough to run for a base.

"Why do you have to follow him around like a little puppy dog?" some kid asked me, voice rankled with scorn. Recall the fact that I am five years old and therefore think puppies are neat-o. This comment confused me. However, I was old enough to recognize the disgust in his voice. Case's cheeks burned scarlet, but not from his recent exertion on the ball field.
"Shut up!" he told the other boy. I looked away, lagged behind as we walked back to school.

The next day, Case and his brothers got into a knock-down, drag-out fight at school. Afterward, he sat on a bench in the hallway outside the kitchen. From the cafeteria, I peeked over the bottom half of the dutch door to watch. I heard the incoherent murmurs of adult voices, and I could see Case. The left side of his face was darkly bruised, and blood dried to his nose and upper lip. His pea-green shirt was torn, and he gripped his knees with both hands. He glanced toward the kitchen, saw my eyes over the top of the door and looked away. I never saw him again and I never let any other boy know I liked him again.

I didn't understand then, but I've always been attracted to anger. I've always been a miss fix-it. Give me your trouble-makers, your tortured artists, and your depressives yearning for therapy, or at least someone to listen. I guess I see something familiar in them. I've always felt an affinity with anyone who feels pain. Maybe that's a human thing, not just a me thing. At least, I'd like to think it is. I see someone in trouble, I want to help. I don't know if my parents taught me that, or if it's some innate urge of my own.

I'm a problem-solver, at least for the people who want their problems solved. My brother has a lot of problems. He's a functional wreck, though. He gets up and goes to work everyday and does his job well. He's honestly a great dad, which has always mystified me. When it comes to him, I want to fix his relationship with our father, though now it seems hopeless. I also want to make sure he doesn't kill himself in a car accident after he's been out drinking all night. But how do you care for someone who, for all intents and purposes, is an adult already? Maybe he has enough people to worry about him, but that's what I think about on his 36th birthday. Despite all that, I love him like I couldn't love anyone else on this planet. There's something about being raised by the same parents, even if their parenting style changed over the years. I understand his actions implicitly. When he does something stupid, I know why because I would do that same stupid thing for the same reasons. A sibling is a skewed mirror of yourself, a foil, a complement. My brother is the answer to the ultimate "what if" in my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Soap Opera, Schmoap Opera

People always ask me about the picture of my feet. It started out as a joke. Evidence, really, to prove that I actually own a pair of orange and white checkered socks (go Vols! *cough*). Next, they're naturally drawn to ask about my ratty-ass shoes. I've had those since the eighth grade. Seriously. They've got a hole in the sole, but I still love them. I wrote poetry all over them when I was fifteen. Not my poetry. It's Lewis Carroll. The first/last stanza from "Jabberwocky:"

Twas brillig in the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabe

No, I don't know what it means either, but it sounds pretty. The whole poem is a fantasy epic in short form nonsense. You gotta love Lewis Carroll, weird pedophilic tendencies notwithstanding. He fell in love with the real Alice when she was about eight or nine. There's no report that he molested her, but he asked her to marry him at least twice after she was "of age." Eventually, she joined a convent. Became a total religious nut.

Man, I love the Victorians. And the Romantics, actually. People seem to think they're quite different, but they're not, really. Victorians are just disappointed Romantics. Well, they're kind of disappointed in general. Repressed. In the most desperate ways, which makes for a lot of interesting poetry. They're sort of thirsting for this romantic fantasyland of love, earth, singing birdies, dark shadows, and ghosts, but they find everything is grey. There's not much light or dark, which depresses them equally. Oh, and they desperately want a God from Whom they feel hopelessly disconnected. We, I mean contemporary people, actually have a lot in common with them. Not that I'm an expert.

I just love Gerard Manley Hopkins. Oh, and Michael Field. Not so much because Field wrote fantastic poetry, but because he was actually two women. Lesbian lovers who were also aunt and niece. How messed is that? Robert Browning called them his "Greek ladies." Apparently they were very attached to their dog, whose name I can't recall. They wrote tons of poetry about him. And after the dog died, they went back to the Anglican church and repented of their sinful lifestyle, though they continued to live together. Seriously, you gotta love the Victorians. Days of Our Lives be damned.

You Can Pick Your Friends...

My husband thinks "Roots" is an angry poem. I don't think of it that way. I remember writing it. In fact, I remember writing every single one of my poems: where I was, what I was feeling, what sparked the thought. I wrote "Roots" eight years ago. It was the latter half of my junior year of high school. I remember because there are some lines I cut out of the beginning of that poem. Lines that, when I looked back at the poem some years later, seemed blatantly out of place.

It was a week night. I remember I was up late because I'd worked that night. By the way, the number of grocery stores staffed almost completely by high school students is staggering. I was trying to finish my ecology homework, which was putting me to sleep. I took ecology because I'm terrible with math and I didn't think I could survive physics. I know I was doing ecology because one of the lines I cut said something like, "my undone ecology homework looks up at me, blinking, blinking," or some nutty stuff like that.

I think I'd been collaging too, because there were National Geographics all over the floor around me. I always used National Geographics in collage. They have the best pictures. What got me started thinking about this poem was a map of Jerusalem. It was folded up, sitting next to my foot. You know, one of those maps they insert into the magazine when it has some relevance to a story? I remember the map because of another line I took out. Something about, "the Bird schmoozing with his sax, a map of Jerusalem at my foot." I used to always listen to Charlie Parker when I did my homework in high school. Anyway, I started to think about Jerusalem, and how the three major western religions claim ownership of that holy city. Then, how we're all connected, all "standing on the shoulders of giants." How, if you really think about it, all the religions are connected in some way because they all share oral traditions and themes like rebirth. This naturally led me to think about my ancestors.

Well, maybe not my ancestors, per se, but my family. The older people. The ones who helped shape both my genetic makeup and my personality. Especially my father's family. I have less contact with them, but I was feeling pretty lazy, and feeling guilty about being lazy. My dad's family, and by them I mean my grandfather's brothers and sisters, are not the most productive bunch. But mostly, I thought about Daddy Hoot, who was my great grandfather.

My father adored Daddy Hoot. Mostly, I think, because Daddy Hoot was the exact opposite of my grandfather. Daddy Hoot was laid back, he drank (maybe a bit too much), and he was very earthy. I mean directly connected. The man worked as a gravedigger. However, my grandfather was very cold, ethereal, more concerned with the spirit. Anyway, my dad spent summers with Daddy Hoot and my great grandmother.

Dad and his younger brother loved digging graves with Daddy Hoot. They ran around barefoot, didn't take baths, rode on the tractor, and helped their Uncle Bit on the farm. It was your typical CountryTime Lemonade commercial.

I mean, they weren't exactly lazy. They had a little subsistence farm going on, but Daddy Hoot was always doing a different odd job. When he got paid, he'd go on a two- or three-day bender until he turned up at home one day filthy, hungover, and with very little cash left. It's not hard to see why my grandfather turned out the way he did.

I guess, in that moment, putting off my homework and feeling guilty about it, I felt pretty connected to my irresponsible great grandfather. I'm a procrastinator, an idler, a forgetter. If there's any anger in that poem, it's directed at me. But at the same time, that poem is a celebration of my heritage. I mean, all those images remind me of the south: the food, the river, the blackberries. I've always felt a visceral connection to this land, and I think I expressed that fairly well. You can be angry at something you love, but that doesn't mean you don't appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More Self-Absorbed Blather

As an addendum to my earlier post regarding roots, here's one of my poems, same name.

Lazy, lazy bones
shiftless and ungainly
rough-hewn, sparsely-stitched
virtueless gifts
handed down
from my very drunk
and very Irish
who dug their existence
out of the slick and gritty
clay heart of the Tennessee mountains,
who wrenched themselves
from poverty to trash
in five generations.
Proud and shameless
gleefully adorning their
dirty laundry in the hot,
breathless mouth of summer.
Faces brown with earth and sun
bellies lily white
at the green nape of the river.
Poor and plain
ignorant and content
pinto beans and cornbread.
The dark purple juice
of a million wild blackberries,
streaming down the chins
of my kith and kin.


Roots and Wings

I started a post about work, but decided it was best to think about other things. Otherwise, my brain might implode. However, since I am presently at work, this will be difficult.

People keep interrupting me! Can't they see that I'm trying to goof off here? I will not post about work, will not. If I post about work, I end up sounding alternately like a mewling harpy or a heartless mercenary. Nice, eh?

Dude. I'm even starting to write Canadian. July 1st, I will be out of here. No more embarassing co-workers or oxycontin-seeking time-wasters. Yeah, my neck hurts too. Unfortunately I don't have TennCare and am not "allergic" to percoset. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

So, my husband is Canadian, and I'm moving there. Canadians are like Yankees with manners. Sorry northerners, but y'all are pretty rude. I can't get decent service north of the Mason-Dixon, even at freaking Cracker Barrell. That's not to say all Yankees are rude, but there sure are a lot of them.

I know, I know, what about our rednecks. Well, yeah. They used to bother me, and some of them still do. But more of them are bathing now, and some of them painted the cars on blocks. So, you know, progress. Plus, come on folks, this is my home. I can't help but love it. Even if some of my neighbors are a little eccentric.

Unfortunately, I grew up in the "ritzy" end of town, please note here that my neighborhood was built way before the west end was "ritzy," but you get the general idea. Therefore, I did not live in a trailer, own six hound dogs, have a brother/uncle named Cletus, or have scabies for friends. As you can imagine, my life was very unfulfilling until I went to college.

In college, I lived with a Bassett Hound, which is like an apartment-sized, low-rider hound dog, used coffee filters for toilet paper, and, of course, ate Ramen noodles for three meals a day. So it was almost like embracing my heritage. Really, though, there's a lot of cool stuff about Tennessee.

First of all, the Smoky Mountains are gorgeous, and I fortunately live about 45 minutes from them. Despite the fact that SEC College Football is more popular than the Baptist churches on Sunday, the college's mere presence makes for some cool nightlife. Plus, bluegrass music, James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, barbeque (no barbeque in Canada, wtf!?), the blues, rustic cabins, tobacco and therefore smoking sections aplenty (possibly the only upside to RJ Reynolds), and last but not least, the immortal David Keith.

So, as you can see, the Big Orange valley kicks a little bit of ass. Plus, when I visit up north, I'm like a celebrity: "Pleeease tell us what a corn pone is again." Actually, my husband's friends make fun of him for adopting the incredibly versatile "y'all." But they do enjoy my folksy euphemisms, such as: "He don't know his ass from apple butter!" and the ever-popular, "She's been rode hard and put up wet." I think it's possible to both embrace the 21st century and appreciate my heritage. Who was it that said you can have both roots and wings?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Perchance to Think

I have this thing, or tendency, you might say, to watch the same movie over and over again. Really, it's an almost obsessive tendency. For an entire year I was stuck on episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (no laughing, it was a cool show, darn it). I owned some of the DVD sets, but operated mostly from re-runs that I taped from television. For three months, I couldn't go to sleep unless "Hush" was playing (the Emmy-nominated episode where nobody speaks for, like, 40 minutes?).

As far as I can tell, it started when I was about 11. I had to watch The Princess Bride before I could sleep at night. I stayed up until midnight and snuck back into the den when my dad went to bed. That is, until he caught me. I slept badly for a week, then got over it. When I wasn't watching it, I replayed it in my mind, especially when I was bored at school. Then I was obsessed with The Committments, then A Room With a View, then Lady Jane, then The Neverending Story, on and on, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I can safely say that I've seen these movies and many others at least thirty times. So, I've been doing this for almost fifteen years, and I often wonder why. What do these films have in common? Mostly, they're set in another country, another era, or a fantasy world.

At first, I think my obsession was a diversion from an unhappy home. I mean, let's psych 101 this. I began thirsting for fantasy worlds when my mom moved out of the house. Then, as an escape from school. Now, I think I do it to keep my mind off the fact that my husband lives in a different country. When we're together, I don't watch the same movie again and again.

Despite the slightly manic quality this habit contributes to my personality, I think it also feeds back into my need to tell stories. Sometimes the movies aren't enough, and I have to make my own worlds. I'm compelled to do so. "Use the force, Luke." No, really. That's how I feel when I write fiction or poetry. If you've ever felt a surge of inspiration you know what I mean. I could just crawl inside my own world and never come out.

Maybe it is just a coping tool, but is that wrong? I remove myself to a better place, a creative place. I've built a cathedral inside my own mind. Somewhere I read that people in concentration camps and refugees often do the same thing. Not that my life is that bad, I'm just a refugee from reality. But who says my highly-developed inner-life isn't real? If I make something from it, something beautiful, or touching, or thought-provoking, doesn't that contribute to what we, as a collective, cognitive race would call "reality?" Well, Descartes might agree with me. I don't know about anyone else, but that won't really stop me. I'll just continue to think and therefore be.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Nostalgia, you say?

Nostalgia is Onion-Flavored
Road trips meant Funyuns
onion-powdered O's
crunching like the popping of rice
crispies in dad's old Mazda pickup
white with maroon stripe
that chortled through small East Tennessee towns

the first house dad remembers
white clapboard and blue shutters
the first church Grandad started
(the second, the third)
where the boy with one blue eye, one brown
fell off his roof-
into soft green tufts of grass and dandelions-
and lived.
where dad found his class ring
weeks after, thrown by a jealous girlfriend,
the emerald glass scratched,
obscured high school letters.

We munched and licked fingers
washed down with Mountain Dew
the Eagles crackled through speakers
the green and his years swished by open, breathing windows
while mountains towered leaf-topped, hung with clouds.
Yellow food, yellow drink, yellow
sun peaked through the hills
glinted off my fifth grade metal smile.

I think I wrote this for a creative writing class my sophomore year of college, but mostly this poem reminds me of my childhood and my dad. When I was a kid, he took me on these short day-trips to all these tiny towns around East Tennessee where he grew up. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher, and they moved around a lot. My dad's family would move to a new town, set up a church, and when they finally got it going, they would move on again.

In particular, I remember visiting this very tiny town called Flag Pond. I always thought it was the smallest town I'd ever been to, and I doubt you could find it on a map. My father showed me the house his family lived in while there and pointed out the small crick in back of the house, where, Dad explained, Grandad baptized him. For a long time, I imagined this scene, my dad in a white, kid-sized choir robe and my grandad in his shirtsleeves, dipping my father's small body beneath the water.

Of course, I doubt if my father's family had money for anything as fancy as a choir robe, but the image sticks with me. Besides the choir robe fantasy, another memory always comes to mind when I read this poem. When we pulled into Flag Pond, Dad parked his truck in a dirt lot across the street from a small church. As we walked across the two-lane highway, baking in the sun, he explained that my grandfather started this church. It was a Sunday, and all the churchgoers hung in small groups outside the meeting house, chatting, while kids chased each other on a grassy knoll near the treeline.

Dad walked up to a lady I'd never met before and asked if she remembered him. She stared at him for some seconds before admitting that he looked a little familiar. When he explained who his father was, she was delighted and hugged him excitedly. A few years older than my father, she had been his babysitter, and she told us that she now lived in the house where his family had. She gave us a tour of the sanctuary and gushed endlessly about what a great man my grandfather was.

Come to think of it, my grandfather died the year before I wrote this poem. He had always been a detached relative. I only saw him a couple of times a year, usually at Thanksgiving. My father always described him as cold and stern. Grandad barely acknowledged me except for the hug hello and the hug goodbye. Yet, to this woman, he was a great man. In fact, she called him her savior (small "s" here), because he introduced her to Jesus, because he baptized her. Grandad gave meaning and purpose to the lives of so many people, yet he seemed unable to truly connect with those who were closest to him. I couldn't understand this as a child. I was just afraid of him.

However, a couple of months ago, I visited his grave for the first time since his funeral. And I wept. I wept because I never really got to know the great man who brought love, acceptance, and hope to so many. I wept because I knew he loved me, but he couldn't show me. Not because he was emotionally crippled or had a bad childhood, but because he loved people by bringing them to Christ. And I never let him do that for me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

18 Minutes of Blog

So, I have 18 minutes until I can leave work, and I have nothing to do. Nothing. Of course, you might say, "Heck! I wish I had nothing to do!" However, I must inform you that this is entirely untrue. Since graduating college back in December I have been plagued with boredom, lethargy, and a general sense of malaise. Yes, I have a job, and no, it is not the job of my dreams. Far from it, in fact. My job has nothing whatsoever to do with my college training. Oh, besides the fact that it involves reading and writing.

You see, I work in an emergency room. Not the exciting kind, either. Think Scrubs rather than ER. No, I am not a nurse. Or a doctor. Though, that would be cool if I had any kind of retention for scientific or mathematical information. Alas, I am but one of the thousands of English majors doomed to roam the earth, cold and alone. Not to mention jobless, or at least subject to mundane secretarial duties. This basically describes what I do in the ER. Paperwork. The nurses and doctors care for you, and I make sure you or someone, i.e. your insurance company, pays for it. Thank you, privatized healthcare.

Anyway, I've decided to devote my remaining time, length unknown, in this somewhat entertaining, if unfulfilling job to learning new skills! Yes, new skills. Right. Which ones? I've made a list, you see, including but not limited to the following: Judo, copywriting/editing, HTML and other web-publising thingies, web writing (like with words, not codes), and ninja sword-fighting (do ninjas fight with swords?). Well maybe not that last one, but ninjas are cool! At least, I like that word. So, do you know anyone who needs a technical writer/editor with no professional experience? Please post in comments section.

p.s. this blog-posting spellchecker sucks.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Name

Before you ask, "girlspit" does not indicate some XXX, sexbot persona I created so that I could indulge in various forms of cyber-debauchery. Besides the fact that I think it just sounds neat, I ripped it from the title of a poem by Lisa Coffman (just to give credit where credit is due). The name and the poem's main idea incorporate a sense of matter-of-fact femininity. By this, I mean that the person Coffman describes exudes the confidence of one who is absolutely comfortable in her own skin. Don't misunderstand me. I am not always comfortable with myself every second of every day, but I have come to both know and accept myself as a matter of course. I am what I am, in the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor-Man.

With that taken care of, what, you may ask, is a cuspidor? Well, it's a fancy-shmancy, old-timey name for a spittoon. I chose this because the name of my web-site is "The Spittoon," and I'd like to differentiate between the two. Oh, and "The Spittoon" was apparently taken. As was the very simple "Cuspidor, " but those people haven't posted in years. So, I can lull myself into a deluded sense of originality. Beyond that, a cuspidor is, simply put, a spit receptacle. Here, I intend to use it as a place to unload my blather. What better name, I ask you?

With no further ado, Coffman's poem in all its simple beauty.


She presses her dark lips
in a pleased way, as if she has said
the word whiskey again, or tucked
into a corner of her mouth a grass blade
which she briefly squatted and chose
before standing, and with a slap
to her back pockets, slouched
into the length of herself.

It's the hook-thinness of her smile
that draws something like the beaded
metallic chain of a lamp
down my spine and stomach, toward the pucker
her smile has pushed to its corner--
the flutter of that cheek
working down on itself, working spit
and finding its own taste sweet.
The flower floats all night in a glass,
the kitchen lit in other places by the moon.

Lisa Coffman