Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pink Eye, or Glass Half Empty



This week has been one big suck. It all started Sunday night when my eye started itching painfully and filling with an unsightly substance. Yeah, as my title has already indicated, the dreaded pink eye (a.k.a., conjunctivitis, a term which actually references the nature of the effluvium that quickly accumulates in the eye socket). I'll let it be known right now that I have never had pink eye; as a matter of fact, I've never had a single problem with my eyes. So you can imagine this came as a disgusting shock. I called the doctor to get the ointment (another unpleasant word) to cure myself, but she told me I had to wait another day, in case it was viral. As we all know, it's easier to get a gun permit than a prescription for an antibiotic these days. And this gatekeeper wasn't about to give me access to the goods until I had suffered long and hard.

It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I actually realized how unbearably loathsome this ailment is. After I decrusted my eye, I was left with a swollen, bloodshot orb that could not be calmed with ice or make up. Great. So off to work I went, oozing and pussing, to face the 100 students I teach every day, fully prepared to be ostracized in the manner only teenagers are capable of. Thankfully, the school secretary (another gatekeeper) saved me that humiliation by sending me home immediately after she got one look at me (as she simultaneously took three steps back from her desk, an incredulous look on her face. Didn't I know this was a high school? What the hell was I thinking?). The rest of the day was spent trying to get that eye salve, which I eventually did after hours on the phone with the covering nurse who, I am convinced, thought I was trying to obtain it to sell it on the underground market. Jesus.

The next day, cream in eye, I actually made it into the school. Sure, I was still hideously ugly and everyone avoided me, but I made it in. I was experiencing a momentary spike in optimism when I found out that I had been overlooked, yet again, to give the faculty commencement address. And worse, the man who had been chosen is the same man who is going "against" me in a bid for the department chair position next year.

A word about this man, whom I will refer to simply as "my rival." As rivals go, he's one in a million. He's actually just about perfect. My rival is an incredibly creative and demanding teacher, he has a wicked sense of humor, AND he's good looking. Oh, and his wife is a good friend of mine. As you can imagine, the discovery of the new feather in his cap left me (the pariah) feeling more than a little worried about my prospects even as I congratulated him heartily on his newly received honor. And THEN, today, he threw a surprise baby shower for a woman in our department during a meeting. My rival is playing hardball. He even bought her a bottle of gin -- there's that goddamn sense of humor I was talking about -- which tickled everyone to no end. For a moment, I felt like marching myself down to the office and pulling my application. Interviews will be held in the next two weeks, and I thought maybe I could still get out of this with some of my integrity... Is it really better to try than to never know? Smashed egos can be fixed, or so I've heard, but I have this vision of spending the rest of my career being the department loser. On the other hand, I do get to buy a new drop-dead suit for the interview, and Bev has already promised to take me out and get me smashed if I don't get it. What's the worst that could happen? A vomit-covered suit and two more bloodshot eyes?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pedigree



When my father was seven, he dug up a dead body.

What?

I know.

But when he was five, he also stole some cigarettes from his father, who blamed the hired hand, who was fired on the spot. And my dad never said a word about it.

This is the gene pool from which I spring. Which is why, I would imagine, I took the family car for a joyride (which ended in an unfortunate crash) when I was four and set ten acres ablaze when I was five. I stole my first cigarette when I was eight, but, fortunately, nobody lost his livelihood as a result.  However, when I was five I did leave my "boyfriend" lying on a cold rock after he took a nasty 20-foot fall from a bluff we weren't supposed to be climbing.  I thought he was dead.  I simply walked home, ate my supper, went to bed, and hoped he would be on the bus the next morning.  He was.  Phew.

Graverobbing, thieving, lying, joyriding arsonists. What a lovely family crest I could hang on my wall.

C'mon, then, make me feel better.  What's in your closet?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Prognostication



Last weekend Bev, my sister, and I went to a psychic for a tarot card reading. As is my usual experience, the results were half horrifying accuracy and half laughable miscalculation. In the "Accurate" column: there will be future upheaval at work, I have two brothers, one of whom is estranged from the family (and apparently in some kind of trouble), my oldest son is a gem, my youngest, the devil incarnate. Under "Laughable": I want to spend more time at home with my kids, there is supposed to be a third child (not on your fucking life!), I'm an intuitive. The rest was pretty vague and only came out after a little too much questioning on her part.

On one hand, visiting a psychic is fun, exciting, and a little emotional. Although I try to remain sceptical, it honestly is creepy when they hit the occassional nail on the head. Precisely for this reason, I always end up leaving feeling a little uneasy. What if she really can see/sense my past and my future? What if her lackluster divination proves true after all? When the bell sounded which marked the end of my reading, she insisted that I stay a little longer due to the large number of sword cards I had drawn from her three decks -- apparently a matter of some concern. She tried and tried to figure it out but could come to no solid conclusions (big surprise, right?). When I got home I made the sorry mistake of looking up the meaning of the card shown above. Why do I do this to myself? I think tomorrow I'm going to observe the flight of a crow then shoot it and read its entrails.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor."

(Warning: this will be an exeedingly long post. If you are familiar with Whitman's poetry, feel free to skip the samples of his work and go directly to the parody. If not, please read them! I can't help but love his astounding egotism; at least he encourages us all to be equally self-centric. That said, the parody best brings out all that is laughable in this man of many faults.)

If the above disclaimer didn't send you running to blogs you'd rather waste your time on, I guess you're along for the ride. Thank you for joining me and be not afraid! I think you'll find it worth it. Directly below, in blue, is a sampling of Whitman's work which best represents the references in the parody. If you read only one bit of it, make it the last bit about the 28 men swimming. My all-time favorite.

From Leaves of Grass:

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,

this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same,
and their parents the same,I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
****
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the
origin of all poems,

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
****
The little one sleeps in its cradle,

I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,

I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,

I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen.
The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,

The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs,
The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes,
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrain'd by decorum,

Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the show or resonance of them — I come and I depart.
*******
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,

Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,

She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best?

Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,

You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,

The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their long hair,

Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies,

It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,

They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

And now, for the parody. Please, somebody, tell me you find this as I do, hysterical.
FIRST EDITION, 2008
1.
O, I also enjoy singing about America
When I am in the shower O song-O awesome song,
O the mouth-song that comes out of my mouth,
Like food when I don't feel good.
O-hi-O, Cleveland is your capitol.
O, how this pen fits in my hand,
Like a magic microphone or something.
When I write, the words just plop out of it,
Out of me,
Me the poet.
I am a poet.
2.
I contain multitudes.
My poem is so incredible that if you don't love it,
You are probably mentally retarded.
Whatever you like in life, that's me,
Except I am better.
I am like a flying ice-cream cone
Surrounded by cute puppies and Webkinz.
I am a sunriseUnless you are blind,
Then I must be a beautiful noise.
I am that scene in the Goonies when that large kid hath to do
The Truffle Shuffle.
Remember when stamps only cost 29 cents?
That was me.
3.
I am a singing butcher and a tire maker and a quality inspector
And a street vendor and an RA,but not the lame kind that yells at you and takes all of your beer.
I am a convenience store clerk, singing about Things,
I am a financial analyst.
I am a philosopher-I explain platitudes.
I am a singing robot maker and that guy on the infomercials with a moustache
Who sells Oxy-Glow-I display multi-tools.
I am a farmer and a banker and a knight.
"But that's not possible," you say.
"How can you be all of those jobs?
You must be totally awesome.
But tax-time must suck."
4.
Washing and shaving is for faggots.
Don't worry though.
If you don't like that line,
I'll take it out for the definitive 2021 edition of this poem.
Just let me know.
5.
One time I saw a bunch of naked guys bathing under a waterfall like Niagra
My pants began expanding, like I'd taken a Viagra
I stood behind a window and couldn't look away.
I must've been thinking of Kathy Ireland or something, because I sure ain't gay.
Watching bathe multi-dudes.
6.
Hey Cap'n, get up, this is awesome.
No seriously, you're going to want to see this.
7.
I am the words in every book ever.
Even in ones from other languages like French or Irish,
And Klingon.
I am in every song on the radio, even the really bad ones,
Except for "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
But I am in every other song.
One refrain, many tunes.
I am on the walls of cavemen, and I am all over the internet like that Numa Numa guy.
And I will be in whatever technology comes up next,
Like a datachip that you eat like a potato chip.
But for now, if you want to read this on the subway
You can always download it and put it on your
Blackberry
Blackberry
Blackberry.
Sent as a joke to PoetryAmerica <http://www.poetryamerica.com/> , this poem is the 2008 winner of the Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Author Benjamin Taylor Lally received a cash prize of $1,359.

About Benjamin Taylor LallyMr. Lally teaches high school English in Massachusetts, and wishes to dissuade his creative writing students and poetic ramblers from imitating the style found here. His less ridiculous poetry has been accepted by The Formalist, the Illinois State Poets' Society and Troubadour, and has been rejected by many, many other places. He is exceedingly proud to be the 2008 Wergle Flomp Contest winner. It just goes to show, it pays to make fun of Walt Whitman. And handsomely. He would like to thank the editors at Winning Writers for encouraging such wonderful lunacy, and his wife for the exact same reason.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Question of the Day

What's for dinner?
(As you can see, I'll be enjoying live peacock to the mind-benumbing tunes of my minstrels. And my friends will all be standing around watching me eat. I'm the lady in the Cat in the Hat hat on the left. Oh, and one of my maids-in-waiting (see top left) is carrying on an illicit affair with the court astrologer. Either that or she's plotting my death so she can move into the marriage bed and wield power from behind the scenes; my husband always was a sucker for a woman with a star-shaped halo. )

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Plaything of the Gods


She prayed then to whatever power may care
In comprehending justice for the grief
Of lovers bound unequally by love.
Virgil, The Aeneid, Book IV, 720-722

Monday, March 2, 2009

Diplomacy



Another 12 inches of snow, another day at home. Will the madness never end?

While aimlessly surfing the web this morning, I made my usual online newspaper stops and found this article on America's brilliant plan to open diplomatic relations with Iran -- by sending our actors and directors to soften their hardened, intolerant hearts.

On one hand, this seems like a great idea. We are obviously too distanced at the moment to sit down and talk politics, human rights, and nuclear bombs, so a cultural approach makes some sense. I just don't know how successful this can be when one of the delegates, the director of Field of Dreams, begins his visit by saying, "Today is my birthday, and I cannot think of any other place I wanted to be other than here." He is either a.) lying, or b.) the most desperate and pathetic has-been to be nominated to an "official delegation." Shouldn't we be sending Oliver Stone or Martin Scorsese? Or how about Tim Burton? I can just imagine the conversation:

TB: Um, yeah, we're here to stitch together the jagged, bleeding edges which separate our nations.

MMA: This meeting is over. You insult us with your careless grooming habits and your general demeanor.

Wouldn't it be funny if some sort of serious international incident arose from all of this? Like if Annette Bening got her head sent home in a box? Or if Phil Alden Robinson were to be impaled on a baseball bat? Imagine the ironic possibilities!

If you ask me, we should just settle this by celebrity cagefight. (If I knew any current Iranian actors, I would give a list of contestants here, but on our side, we should definitely include Brangelina, Lindsey Lohan, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Fat Britney.) If our side wins, they must disarm, stop trying to make H-bombs, and just become nicer people in general; if they win, we'll just bomb the shit out of them anyway ('cuz that's the way we roll, sucka...) and then take over their film industry. But at least we could say we tried.