May 252013


Senior Class Awards

Instructions Please nominate one girl (G) and one male (M) for each category of awards. These awards will be given out at our senior breakfast June 7th. Please include first and last names of the individuals you nominate.

Most Likely to Be President:  _____________
Best Smile:    _____________
Best Hair:    _____________
Best Personality:    _____________
Most likely to be a comedian:    _____________
Most likely to be a professional athlete:    _____________
Most likely to become a clown:    _____________
Best Dressed:    _____________
Best Laugh:    _____________
Most Likely to become a reality star:    _____________


When I say I’ll do my best, it means I’ll try. When I say I’ll try, it means I’ll reach down into the grab bag that is my “formed personality” and see what’s there. I’ll take out the attractive stuff and attempt to leave the total garbage at the bottom where no one can see it, especially you. But you’re going to be following me around all the time, so get used to the garbage. Get used to Oscar the Grouch. That’s what we have to work with, sweetie-pie.

Every day might be different. Let’s hope it is. Because you’re stuck with me for seventeen years. That’s about how long it takes to make a childhood. And because I REALLY want to do my best, I’ll pack you perfect little lunches with fresh carrot sticks. But you won’t eat them! Your teacher will send them home in the sweaty lunchbox and I’ll throw them away. This will make me mad. I won’t show it. I should show it. It’s healthier to show it. But my feelings will scare the hell out of you. And you’ll hate my clothes. . .


May 182013


“Just because a cat has her kittens in an oven, you don’t call them biscuits.”
–Vicki Lane, Art’s Blood  by way of 'In the Laurels, Caught' by Lee Ann Brown (Fence Modern Poets Series, 2013).


There was this man I used to know, I want to call him a guy, but he was more of a man to me than a guy, and he appeared to be very smart. He wore glasses, he was a lawyer, and he had graduated from Harvard. Smart. He said to me, and he was trying to be helpful and kind, he said, “I know that you are only playing dumb. That underneath your ditzy act you are a very smart girl.“

People wear jeggings, thong underwear, wallet chains.

My first true romance was in junior high school with Scott, a boy in the grade above me. When he called me at home he always said he was watching “The Three Stooges,” and I sensed that he was trying to impress me, though he didn’t need to. I was completely smitten, drugged with love. It was really about his eyes and his basketball uniform.

People enjoy watching horror films, sitcoms, and talk shows.

The first time Scott kissed me I was chewing on a king-sized bite of a Snickers bar. This failed first kiss was a source of shame and remorse for me. Then it became a joke between us. Scott put me down pretty quickly, though. He exchanged me for a cheerleader with shorter legs and when he did it, he did it on the phone. He quoted the parting scene in Casablanca. I took little comfort in the reference, as I had never seen the film. In fact, I had never even heard of it, and there was no Google or Youtube to help me out.

People miss the Twinkie, though we turned our backs when it was still alive.


film clip is from the Three Stooges, Three Little Sew and Sews, 1939
song is “Surround Me With Your Love,” Stephane Pompougnac, 2003

Feb 282013


“If somebody holds two doors for you in a row, do you thank him/her twice? (Up to you.) How do you handle a foil-clad baked potato? (Peel the foil off, but don’t crumple it into a ball.) On the morning of their departure, is it rude for the hostess to bowl into her guests’ bedroom, rip the sheets off the mattress, and suggest they leave early in order not to miss their plane? (Er, yes.) What should you say at a restaurant if your sister-in-law starts shoveling condiment packets into her purse?(“You know, you could get into trouble doing that.”)”

–Mark Caldwell, quoting Elizabeth Post, in A Short History of Rudeness


Dear Miss Manners,

My husband always hijacks my stories. I will be in the middle of telling our friends about something that happened, and Hank will butt in and say I’m not telling the story right. I do embellish my stories, but that’s not the same as lying. Hank thinks I’m a liar. So he starts correcting me, and I ignore him, but then he’s talking over me and he usually ends up finishing the story. For example, last week I had words with another customer at a furniture store. I’m very pregnant; I was sitting on a display ottoman and I was in this guy’s way. The guy gave me a lot of lip; I gave it right back. Next thing I know he’s threatening to beat up my husband. He wants Hank to meet him out on the sidewalk in front of the store. (Even this a-hole would not beat up a pregnant woman.) I was telling the story last night at dinner with our friends but Hank took over. He made it so dry and factual, like a towel-and-sheet inventory. He didn’t land the ending at all; it could have been so funny; I was really disappointed. What do you do about someone who is always finishing your stories for you?

Fat Lip

Dear Fat Lip,

Are the stakes really so high? It was just a story about a neurotic woman at a furniture store. If you can’t get perspective on that, then tell your stories when Hank’s not around. Tell them to the baby. Babies are good listeners, since they can’t talk. Also, you’re probably not as funny as you think you are. Maybe you take people hostage with your long tales, which is really just as rude as interrupting. Your husband is helping you out by cutting you off. Even your letter ran long.

Yours truly,
Miss Manners


film clip is from Naked by Mike Leigh, 1994 (Criterion Collection)

Jan 072013


“My family says: “Don’t ever see him again!” And implies things in a low voice.
But my eyes have their own life; they laugh at rules, and know whose they are.
I believe I can bear on my shoulders whatever you want to say of me.
Without the energy that lifts mountains, how am I to live?”

from “All I Was Doing Was Breathing” by Mirabai, Shiva devotee (1498-1565) found in Women in Praise of the Sacred, ed. Jane Hirshfield (HarperCollins, 1994.)


Are you mad at me? Because you seem mad. I don’t know. Your body language. Your eyes and mouth. You haven’t been laughing at my jokes. Some of them have been funny. You’re sure you’re not mad? Oh, okay. I knew it. What did I say? What? I didn’t say that. When did I say that? Wait, that was more than three weeks ago, when we went to Meg’s party. You can’t be mad at me for that. It doesn’t count anymore. Besides, that means you’ve been chewing on this for three weeks. How am I supposed to look at something as rank as that? The interaction has officially expired. All the planets are in different positions. Stars have exploded. Cells have regenerated. I’m not even the same person. It’s too late.



film clip is from Scanners, dir. by David  Cronenberg, 1981.

Dec 272012

paper ad, 1963, by michael hampton

“If a fir tree had a foot or two like a turtle, or a wing,
do you think it would just wait for the saw to enter?”

Rumi, from “That Journeys Are Good”


You’ve heard the one about turning lemons into lemonade. And you’re willing to try. But how are you going to do it without sugar? Cuz you got nothin’ sweet about you. Not at the moment. And you’re going to need LOTS of sugar, to go with all those lemons.

Only one thing to do. Manufacture some sweetness. All by yourself. Dig down deep and make some sugar. If you can’t make it, find some old stuff. It keeps forever.

It’s dark in there; don’t go alone. In fact, you might need Bruce Willis. But you’d have to be famous to get Bruce Willis to talk to you. So just find someone who looks like Bruce Willis. Shouldn’t be hard.

Now, don’t get hung up on the fact that you can’t get Bruce Willis, that you have to settle for the waiter at Applebees. Famous people have to stick together. They just do.

It’s our fault, for thinking they’re special, for knowing the names of their children, and where they buy shoes. For watching them make small talk with Ellen and the various Jimmies. It’s our fault for not thinking better of our own shoes, jobs, chins, etc.

At least we can’t afford plastic surgery. So we’ll still have facial expressions in our sixties. What a blessing! See, that’s a glass of lemonade right there.

Sour to sweet. Cheers!


Dec 212012


“This is the plot: Krazy, inoffensive creature of uncertain sex, loves Ignatz Mouse. Ignatz despises Krazy—for his inoffensiveness, for his inpenetrable silliness, and for his unshakable affection—and Ignatz, (therefore?) devotes all his intelligence and energy to the single end of hitting Krazy on the head with bricks.”
Robert Warshow, “Woofed with Dreams,” 1946  ♥found in Raymond Pettibon: A Reader (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1998).


dark light. reject accept. introvert extravert. popeye bluto.

Ma’am, I need to ask you to step out of the car.

drab splashy. cacophony harmony. pain of too much. pain of not enough.

Where were you two going so fast?

birth death. under over. cry laugh. dead alive.

Calm down, ma’am. Stop yelling.

winter summer. maxi mini. sad happy. fried steamed.

Who’s that in the passenger seat? Is she okay?

backstroke freestyle. broke flush. hate love. pity honor.

What’s she saying? If you’d stop screaming, I’d be able to hear her.

hopeful hopeless. calm panic. cat dog. soldier doctor.

No, it’s just . . . she looks too old to need a guardian.

black white. cloud cave. backward forward. forward backward.

She doesn’t need you. 

nothing something. nothing everything. nothing nothing. everything something.

 That’s what she’s saying.

Aug 152012




“One major situation in which people give phony or “plastic” strokes is when they feel they should give strokes and actually have none to give. Either because they are directly asked, but usually because a person is coming on Victim and hooking her, a person may feel that she should come across with strokes. Under such circumstances, it is often the case that people will manufacture strokes that they do not actually feel. Needless to say, in a free stroke economy this is to be avoided, since it throws it completely out of kilter by undermining its basic assumptions. People need to believe it that it is O.K. not to give strokes to a person when they are not felt, since, in a free stroke economy, someone else who feels them will.”Claude M. Steiner, Scripts People Live NYC: Bantam Books, 1974.

Film clip is from Altered States (1980) directed by Ken Russell, based on the novel by Paddy Chayefsky.


Dear G.

Some year, huh? I can’t believe I’m going to be a senior. Pretty incredible. I remember the last time I signed your yearbook I was only a rising sophomore. Well, you could say we’ve been through it all this past year and a half. It started off with you punching the shit out of my arm at your sister’s party. By the way I have a permanent bruise that will last forever. JK. Then it got worse when you tried to kill me with a tree even though it was my fault. I’ll never forget when you fainted in the gym that was probably worth the scar. It’s 1:30 so I think I will get serious for a spill. You and I weren’t as close as I wanted to be but for some reason I know if I had a problem, I could talk to you and you wouldn’t laugh, you might have smiled a lot but not laughed. Some day we’ll have to go back to Wendy’s and get a Frosty, that still seems like a dream to me probably because you must have been pretty far gone. By the way, next time you get a hangover and have a game the next day, bring your own sunglasses, okay? Good. Another thing, G, if you have a problem you better come tell me and not make me pry it out of you but next time I’ll wear my raincoat. Well, I’d better close so I can get some sleep. Take care of yourself this summer and please keep in touch, cuz you are very special to me.

Love always, T.



Jun 102012


“There is a moment in a sales pitch when an arm around the shoulder or a hand on the back will help swing the deal. . . But you must know that moment! Try it too soon and you kill the deal—too late and you’ve lost your opportunity.”
Julius Fast and Meredith Bernstein, Sexual Chemistry M. Evans and Co., 1983. Julius Fast. Such a good name. This book is the source of the questionable hankie armpit dance. The authors assign it to Greece and some Balkan countries. Dance ethnographers please step in.


The man in the yellow cigarette boat sees the drowning woman. He doesn’t think the men in the white cigarette boat can see her. The white boat is headed right for the drowning woman. (Boy is she ever in trouble.) The man in the yellow boat decides to aim his bow straight at the woman’s head; this will force the white boat to veer away because at that point the two boats will be headed for a collision. Woosh. The white boat heads off, and the man in the yellow boat pulls the drowning woman aboard and saves her life. He towels her off. She loves him instantly and for as long as he’ll allow it.

There may or may not be a traditional folk dance which involves handkerchiefs and armpits. Allegedly, in this traditional folk dance, the men put handkerchiefs in their armpits during the dance. After getting the hankies sweaty and foul, the male dancers wave these artifacts under the noses of attractive young ladies in the audience. The idea being that smelly, damp handkerchiefs have an aphrodisiac effect.

I read about this dance in a hardcover book. I also found a mention of it in the L.A. Times online. But I am suspicious.

In an unrelated reading adventure, I read a newspaper article which implied that a woman who is taking birth control pills runs the risk of being chemically attracted to men who aren’t going to be good lovers for her in the long run. I am not going to research this article or try to find it, so enjoy my thoughts on this topic as fiction.

Birth control pills simulate pregnancy in a woman, more or less, and trick her body into thinking it is already pregnant, so it won’t release eggs. A woman who is pregnant, the theory goes, has a chemical attraction to brotherly men, friendly men, as well as other women, gentle folks who will nurture the pregnancy and help the woman get to the finish line (birth.) When this same woman is not pregnant, or on birth control pills, her chemical draw is going to pull her towards a different type of man altogether. Perhaps the type who would run her over with a cigarette boat; a heroic, pomaded marauder.

All of this is very heteronormative and I acknowledge that. I am working with old images, that’s my excuse.
But really, what is that girl doing way out there in the water all by herself? Is she in a channel? A bay? A spit?

May 222012


“His affection for his present wife grew steadily. Her cleverness gave him no trouble, and, indeed, he liked to see her reading poetry or something about social questions; it distinguished her from the wives of other men. He had only to call, and she clapped the book up and was ready to do what he wished.  Then they would argue so jollily, and once or twice she had him in quite a tight corner, but as soon as he grew really serious, she gave in. Man is for war, woman for the recreation of the warrior, but he does not dislike it if she makes a show of fight. She cannot win in a real battle, having no muscles, only nerves. Nerves make her jump out of a moving motor-car, or refuse to be married fashionably.”

E.M. Forster, Howard’s End


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Feb 192012


Marie follows him into the rut: “When did you ask me to have sex? Go through it with the couples,” she says, gesturing around the room. “Was it last night?”

“Last night—and then several times last week.”

“Okay.” Marie pounces. “Now what was going on last night when you asked me that?”

“You were doing a lot of study.” Clem is a deer caught in the headlights.

“No, I was not doing a lot of study. It’s different, different.”

“Can I stop you both?” Marie and Clem both train their eyes on Coché. “I want the group to give you a little feedback. Let’s clue into the noncontent way you’re communicating.”


From The Husbands and Wives Club, A Year in the Life of  A Couples Therapy Group by Laurie Abraham.


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