Dang it All
Trials and Travails of a 20-something
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today's lesson:

Buy more than 1 belt. That way, when your oversized cat pees on your jeans, you don't have to choose between wearing a belt that smells like cat pee and having your pants fall down.

I think the camera adds 10 pounds to cats as well:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers.
~T.S. Eliot

I have no clear conception of why I like poetry. Kelsey asked me on our way back from the bookstore last night. When we arrived, she headed straight for the home decorating books. And I put off my usual coveting of the Douglas Adams collection to check out the paltry poetry offerings. A passing reference to Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" had made me realize it had been a while since I'd read it. So I found it, and read it, and realized why it had been a while. But even though Eliot, to me, is like trying to digest a whole block of cheese at once, I still enjoyed it. I just can't explain why very well.

Kelsey does not like poetry. She says it's too flowery and overwrought. Too many words trying to say one little thing. Me, I like that. Perhaps because I spend my working hours trying to "omit needless words," I enjoy it when someone who actually appreciates language takes those words and crafts something beautiful out of them. But I have to agree with my wife. There is a whole lot of bad poetry out there, giving the entire genre a bad name.

Everybody has five or 10 bad poems hanging around somewhere that they thought were the essence of their soul when they were 14. Most of us realize pretty soon how awful these poems (about sobbing hearts and uncatchable clouds) really are. Yet many bad poets somehow missed the telegram. Maybe because poems are relatively short, bad writers think they're within grasp. In order to write a novel you have to be at least a mediocre writer, with some grasp of plot and character. But anybody with 10 minutes and a thesaurus can slap out a sonnet.

But the good poetry, ah, now that's good stuff. I believe good poetry is good because it tells us something true, something about how the writer really feels, it captures one tiny moment of truth and tells us everything about it. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." Bad poetry tells us how the writer thinks he or she should feel. How the writer wishes to feel. How the writer might feel. Red Smith was right when he said, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." Real poets leave nothing out, they bare it all. Now, they may choose which parts of their lives to write poems about. But once a topic is begun, there's no going back. When Hopkins praises God in my favorite poem you can feel his joy. When Billy Collins rhapsodizes you're in the room with him. You have to be careful reading Plath or Sexton or you'll wish you had your head in an oven, too.

I certainly feel some connection. Well-written poetry makes me feel as if I know some part of the poet. But I still don't know why I really like poetry. Because I think it's edifying? Perhaps. Because I like to stand back and appreciate how artists can make words do acrobatics? Maybe. I really don't know. But after writing all this, I realize that I don't really care.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Today's joke:

What did the farmer say when his tractor went missing?

Where's my tractor?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A trip to the grocery store this morning meant we missed the UPS man. We returned to find his yellow and brown slip advising us that he had tried to deliver our package, but had, regretfully, found nobody home. It said that we could expect him to try again tomorrow. But, in addition, if we weren't the kind of people who felt as though we could wait that long, he appended a note offering to meet us "behind the bowling alley at 5:35."

Neither Kelsey nor I have ever experienced this sort of 1) solicitousness or 2) creepiness from a delivery man. Kelsey immediately decided it was a ploy to kidnap her. I couldn't imagine the average homeowner taking him up on this offer. I have had no experience in completing drug deals, but I imagine the whole affair would have "gone down" like a stock scene from "Shaft."

Kelsey and I would pull into the parking lot, wearing shades, around 5:25, just to scope out the place beforehand and make sure the cops weren't hiding inside the vet's office. We'd make nervous jokes and laugh to scare away the butterflies in our stomach. Around 5:32 a large earthtone UPS truck would nose its way around the corner and pull up 15 or 20 feet from us. I'd wait for the driver to exit. Then, after Kelsey assured me that she had my back, I'd slowly step out of our bright orange Vibe.

My eyes wide behind my sunglasses, I'd shuffle forward to the halfway spot between the two vehicles. My hand would shake as I nervously handed the man in khaki shorts the slip he'd left in our door. In return, he'd hand me our 2-Port PS/2 KVM Switch, and we'd head back to our respective cars, neither of us saying a word. Just another handoff in the seedy world of next-day delivery.

Now I'm kind of sorry I didn't bother to go pick up our package, just to see what it was really like.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A scrapbook of quotes from my week:

I'm an American; I don't need to see something to know I don't like it.
- Tommy Smothers

The history of the world
Step one. You need a lot of water -- from above and below. The water of heaven fills the lakes and rivers. Now add equal amounts of darkness and daylight. while there is light the sun draws the water back up to restock heaven.
- "Mister Pip"

Bless mommy, bless Jake, bless Darryl... bless Kate Jackson, David Hasslehoff, Vanna White and Suzanne Summers.
- Ronnie Simonsen in "How's Your News"

Carla: [about a male intern] You're right; he definitely has a cute little butt.
Elliot: It's almost like it's been sculpted.
J.D.: Who cares? Everyone has a cute butt; I have a cute butt.
Carla: You should bring it in someday.
- Scrubs

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The problem with trying to maintain a blog:
You have to have something to write about.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One more reason that eels are icky, via the Washington Post:

Remember the science-fiction monster with a jaw within a jaw that terrorized Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" films? Well, it turns out a similar double-jawed creature actually exists: The moray eel has a second set of jaws located in its throat that snaps forward to grab prey and quickly pull it down into the eel's digestive system.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie this morning and began C.S. Lewis' Letters to Children. Both books advocate the throwing off of our dour adult mantle and a return to the sense of wonder and glee embraced by young children. As Lewis wrote: "When I was 10, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50 I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

I am a person who still thinks it very important to act "very grown up." It's hard for Kelsey to elicit belly laughs from me, although this doesn't keep her from tickling me incessantly until they come. And I have a particular aversion to singing or dancing in public.

Luckily, Kelsey is my secret weapon in the fight against becoming too serious. As Mr. Darcy has his Elizabeth Bennet, I have Kelsey, who has no compunctions about splashing about in the ocean just for fun. And who melts into a 5'7" pile of goo at the sight of any small furry creature, be it cat, dog, squirrel, raccoon, meerkat or capybara. Her songs, made up on the spot about our cats Truffle and Marzipan, will never win any songwriting awards, but the love and whimsy they evince are priceless.

She keeps me grounded and pokes holes in my hot air, and I love her for that.

Thanks, Buster.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Happiness is...

A classic tale of English aristocracy and old money,
Sounds of la Nouvelle scène française seeping out the speakers,
Egyptian cotton pulled up just below the chin,
A glass of chilled gewurztraminer sweating on the nightstand,
A beautiful Cherokee-German princess on the next pillow,
And an American mutt cat sleeping on your toes.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Looking forward to seven days without work, I plan to take long walks, read good books, eat scrumptious food, polish off the rest of that box of wine that's been sitting in our fridge for a week and watch Kelsey beat me at Monopoly a few more times. I think it's something about the way she bats her eyes when she can't come up with the rent that does me in.

I might even be able to coax her back into the ocean sometime this week, if the jellyfish sting didn't put her off the idea forever. There won't be that many opportunities left this year.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Current favorite song:
"Massive Nights" by The Hold Steady

Library book sales have to be the best thing since sliced bananas. For a grand total of $2.75, I was able to read (and keep!) 6 great books in the last month, and I've just started a new one. I can recommend without hesitation The Shipping News, Eating Mammals, The Book of Guys, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Just so-so was Accordion Crimes. My favorite passage from the No. 1 Ladies:

Really, there was nothing that she felt she had to hide.
Now constipation was quite a different matter. It would be dreadful for the whole world to know about troubles of that nature. She felt terribly sorry for people who suffered from constipation, and she knew that there were many who did. There were probably enough of them to form a political party -- with a chance of government perhaps -- but what would such a party do if it was in power? Nothing, she imagined. It would try to pass legislation, but would fail.

Now it's on to the sequel. Library sales are my favorite.

About Me

My wife thinks I'm awesome. Counter

Days since Dan entered into wedded bliss:

::Required Reading::
My beautiful wife
The Slot
A Capital Idea
eegah, eliot!
Practicing Myrtle
Obscure Store
The Plug


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