Friday, January 28, 2011

B film.

“Hippy Dippy” was how the substitute acting teacher kept referring to the morning’s exercise. Hippy Dippy. Hippy. Dippy. “Excuse me,” she had said, hands on her hips, dramatic flare ready to be exercised at any given moment. I needed to be careful. I didn’t want to send this woman into a flamboyant tirade. Or would it be a tirade of flamboyance? Either way, I was dealing with an adjunct professional.
Looking directly at me, she asked, “Why aren’t you participating?” Because you’re a substitute acting teacher, is what I had wanted to say. What I said instead was this: This is a really nice sweater. I don’t want to get it dirty. Now would be a good a time as ever to mention that the morning’s activity was to sit Indian style on the floor, grab your feet with both of your hands and then roll around on the ground (ridiculously) for an unspecified period of time.
            I spent the rest of the class period sitting at my desk wondering what the fuck Dippy meant.
Much to my humbled surprise, I discovered that dippy was, in fact, a real word.
            –Adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est. Slang.
Somewhat mad or foolish: dippy with love.

It was my assumption (and remember, when assumptions are made, so are asses) that dippy had a close relation to the word dickory. I was shocked and amazed when I discovered that dickory was not a real word. Dickory’s second closest relative was “Dicty,” a word that describes someone’s behavior as high class or snobbish. I’m writing this in a closet right now. It doesn’t get much more un-dicty than that. 

Lamentations of an Unintelligible English Major . . .

            And by you, I mean me. I’m not trying to walk a tightrope act here by means of daring second person narrative. I just want to vent. Why didn’t anybody tell me English was going to be so hard? The revelation that I am, in fact, an idiot, was difficult to come to terms with. Do you have any idea what it feels like to have to relearn a language you’re already supposed to know? Do you have any idea how many grammatical errors I’ve already made on this page? Because I sure don’t, and I doubt you do either. Or maybe you do, actually, and I really am just that dumb. How in God’s name have I been articulating? How on earth am I going to survive the pedagogic environment? Do I even know how to use pedagogic in a sentence? And my ultimate goal is to teach?
            Ultimately, the decision came to me because I wanted to dedicate my life to meaning, to purpose. I had accepted the fact that my fragile emotions would be shattered mercilessly in corporate America, that my kindness would make me a target of the ruthlessness that thrives in the Advertising world (Where the focal point of my studies had previously resigned). I thought it would be great fun to make commercials, sitting in a room full of barcaloungers in a semi circle, while we talked about the best way to sell Coors Lite.
            “I think it would be best served cold, guys. Whaddya say?” 
            “Great! Let’s expand on that. But first, let’s discuss the semiotics of this Victoria’s Secret commercial, and how we can cross-promote Lubriderm, Kleenex, and Viagra.”

Ah yes, the holy trinity.

            But that wasn’t the case. And little did I know, there would be even less encouragement in the Literary world. An example of this would be my writing professor’s praise of a short fiction piece I wrote, to which he said: “Well, I didn’t totally hate it.” When I tried explaining to him that I had purposefully injected a meta-fictional nuance into the story – he laughed at me. “Oh, that’s rich,” he said, chuckling to himself. He then proceeded to write my statement down onto his hand, presumably so that he could recite the hilarity later to his friends, verbatim. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I switched my major. I switched because I wanted to ask all the big questions.
What is honor?
            What is love?
            What is the meaning life?
Advertising asks all of these questions, too; their problem is just that they have all the wrong answers.

            Q. What is Honor?
            A. Armor All.            

Q. What is Love?
            A. Snickers.

            Q. What is the meaning of Life?
            A. To have lots and lots of things.

            I recently read an article in GQ that said Coke-a-Cola actually owns the rights to happiness. Excuse me for dropping my pseudo-articulate guise here for a moment, but – what the fuck does that even mean? I learned very quickly that advertising was actually a PR term. I was in the market of Corporate Racism.

            Black people will buy anything if you embroider it with gold.
We need to face the facts, class. The Hispanic community doesn’t eat peanut butter.
White people will buy anything if you put it in a funny commercial. 
Jackie Chan can sell anything to the Asian market.
            Tide understands that lower class families can’t afford to keep their colors from fading, that’s why they don’t market to them!

Everyday I would sink lower and lower into my seat as these advertising mantras bored their way into my skull. They haunted me. Pretty soon I became depressed. I hated what I was turning into. I could have done something about it; I knew every available medication on the market used to treat depression because we had studied their commercials and even wrote a paper titled “If I Was Depressed, I would take . . .” But that only succeeded in making me feel worse. I couldn’t even see a newborn baby without thinking: Yes, but can I make you a Gerber baby?
So, I switched tracks, assuming I would be met with open arms by the study of the greater good. What I found instead was an austere rigidity. This is English, you fool, it seemed to say. And just because you’ve read all seven Harry Potter books doesn’t mean you can just dance your way in here. No, my friend, you must earn your keep! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to masturbate over a thesaurus . . .
I’ve been trying to write my statement of transference.

             I wrote this instead.


Drop outs.

He dropped his pants. She dropped hers, too. They stood on opposite ends of the room, heads cocked, squinting, staring. He would have walked to her but he didn’t have it in him to make the next move. She would have crossed that line to where he was standing, but she had too much to lose. The clock ticked audibly, and one of them sighed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Shake that notion; 
It is not a sleeping bear. 
Tell yourself that
Science and Literature are 
New best friends. I know
Because I read it in a magazine.


Look up, Sweet. 
God is juggling lemons again,
Talking about summer.


Maybe we should spend more
Time upside down. All that
Blood has to go somewhere.
We can't stay friends forever. 

Monday, January 24, 2011


It was August when the rocket came in the mail. It was late September when he finished putting it together. The first weekend in October, he brought the rocket to the backyard, carefully sheltered the match he struck to light the fuse that he had cut too short, and, with a precipitous eruption of light and sound, he blew off his hand.

It was his first and last year trick-or-treating as Captain Hook.

Mark Twain's hyperbolic South.

When I think of American Realism, and the way the movement tried to counteract Romanticism, I can't help but think of the statement made by one Mr. Oscar Wilde: "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life." It seems to me that realism's answer to this maxim was to create an art that no life would ever want to imitate ever - no matter what the circumstances.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reflections of a dead uncle.

Or maybe he isn’t related.
Maybe he isn’t dead.
He’s just sick, is all,
Or someone you hardly know.
But, probably, it’s not.

Just something you heard in passing.

He passed away earlier today.
Oh, you know.
He did? How sad.

And when the doctor came in to give him the bad news –

It’s cancer. I’m sorry.
Well, it’s about time.
I’m sorry?
Are you asking me now?
No, it’s just – why do you say that?
I’ve been smoking - this isn’t news.
You’re sorry. I know.

I wasn’t there –
But he knew it was better
To have a sense of humor

At least, always
When you get bad news.

I wasn’t there when he died.
But I wouldn’t have been able
To make him laugh,
Even if I was.
He deserved as much, anyway.

Just someone you barely know,
Or heard about
In passing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is it really all right?

This morning when you wake up the first thing you think about was what she told you about the wedding. You didn't even really look at her. You thought it was raining this morning. It's winter. Why would it be raining? You go back to sleep. You wake up again when your phone rings. You think it's her; the other girl, this new girl you met. She smokes, too, which is something that's usually repulsed you, but some women for whatever reason can pull it off, like a black and white movie. She tells you she wants to go to India. She wants to ride an elephant. "They're called 'howdahs'" you tell her, and she squints at you like you've just proposed to her after only knowing her for a week. Considering how easily you fall in love, this isn't totally out of the question. "That's what they put on the elephants backs to ride them: howdahs."

"Oh" she says, and the two of you leave to get breakfast.