Wednesday, July 18, 2018

You know when life is sort of shitty and most things really aren't going your way, and I don't mean just the little things, but the big things, things having to do with keeping the roof over your head, things having to do with food on the table, those sorts of big things, when those things are shitty, you know, that's when I want to throw everything real aside and sink into my own personal fantasy land. 

By personal fantasy land I mean sleep. 

When everything has turned to shit, I want to go to bed. 

I think that's what I'm trying to say. 

I start to wonder, am I ever EVER going to get my shit together? 
At this point I don't need a Magic Eight Ball to tell me, all signs point to NO. 

And then I have to wonder, does it matter?

I'm getting old people. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Here's a first draft of a little poem for Tonks the Cat.

To the white cat sleeping on the chair

yellow eyed beauty
your purpose in this world
to be lovely
you sleep on the chair
spread across the seat,
like you were poured there
the dog, tiny thing
I can pick up in one hand,
but you I can barely lift
with two
as though you double your weight
just to make the task more difficult
the chair you occupy
is mine
overstuffed and tucked between the book shelves
I scoop at you and push you
and you move begrudgingly
with palpable disdain
as I lower myself
into my seat with my book
you jump back quicker than
a creature of your luxury should be able
you spread yourself thick and languid,
as though you'd never moved
you are certain the laws of gravity will bend to your will
you are
ready to take your chances
certain I will catch myself
before causing you harm
I gyrate and scramble
to prevent my awkward bulk
from crushing you
I concede the chair to the superior
you blink your golden eyes shut
like the headlights of a Lamborghini
I topple myself
onto the bed
next to the dog
who is happy to share
a corner of the pillow
with me.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Just thinking about poetry after reading Kenneth Koch

In his collection of poems, New Addresses: Poems, Kenneth Koch has written poems in praise of everything from mundane objects to profound states of being: To Life, To Some Buckets, To Old Age. 

The reason I don't read more poetry is that I worry about copying voice or content from others. When I let go of that fear a little and I read some poetry, I realize other people's work can be pretty inspiring and I don't feel nearly as concerned about inadvertent theft.

It just occurs to me that these poems are odes (which I keep trying to spell "oads"...because rhymes with toads) which is kind of nice, odes are kind of nice. Since it's a pretty common sort of poem, I thought maybe I'd write some odes myself. I won't steal from good old Kenneth but I will gladly help myself to the ode, because the world is full of things to praise.

Poetry isn't for everybody, I get that, I mean, I actually don't get that. But I hear it and I try to accept it.

When I think about the world through the lens of poetry, everything becomes worthy of notice, everything, every tiny thing becomes exquisitely worthy.

And a random thought:

We become annoyed when other people repeat themselves,
but will listen enraptured to the birds singing the same song repeatedly

I wonder if the birds tire of one another
"A cat! A cat! A cat!"
"Come and mate! Come and mate! Come and mate!"
Is it just so much chatter to the birds?
"There he goes again.
Again with the cat and the mating!"

But for the not knowing
we are willing to call it song

Thursday, July 12, 2018

three more recent poems

Honest Question

Why is poetry
monopolized by academic
who make their poems
mercury elusive
like a noodle
you can't pierce with your fork?

Reading Koch and Kenyon

in the past, I was 
afraid to read other poets
for fear of inadvertent thievery
and lately
not an idea
in my head
just my bland life, 
And then to read
of the bland lives of others,
buckets, full and empty, 
insects crawling in a book
I remember 
the big secret
every fucking thing
is a poem


I wander
the house 
there is nothing
to say
I have 
to say
"My mind is a big hunk of irrevocable nothing..."
ee cummings wandering my barren
internal landscape, 
with that lamment
"My mind is a big hunk of irrevocable nothing..."

but the shadow of my 
arrogant self
hiding behind 
a tree of charcoal and soot
Why "Big" mr cummings?

I think 
it would work better
without the big. 
Hunk is a word that 
sort of hulks around
and there is a connotation 
of largeness
about it

To think, 
me an unpublished 
self proclaimed poet
has the temerity 
to edit 
one of the greatest poets 
of the 20th Century.

The temerity
Who do I think 
I am?
the words of 
ee cummings
linger in the
burnt out bunker
I call 
my brain
I am there too

I say, 
Big Hunk. 
No, not you, 
Big hunk of irrevocable nothing...
It doesn't work for me
I mean, 
it works for me, 
I feel it,
I live it, 
you nailed it, 

in the quiet
exploded minefield 

I imagine 
my bored and dirty face
looking into his face, 
white round
quietly exasperated 
the face 
I've seen 
the book jackets, 
balding and thoughtful

My personal essay and recipe for French Bread

I wrote personal essays, I really enjoyed writing them, too.

I mean, I still do write personal essays, but it doesn't give me the same pleasure to write them, and frankly, I find myself at a loss for material or bored as fuck.

I wonder who really wants to know about what I find funny, frustrating, or sad?

I know I personally have a hell of a time reading personal essays.

There are people I love to read and I could read their stories every day, David Sedaris comes to mind first and shows like This American Life beguile me. I almost didn't use the word was the first word that came to mind and then I was like, "nah, beguile? Really? Isn't that a bit much?" and I realized, no. These stories beguile me.

Then there are the personal stories of people I love, and I love to read those too.

But then I'll read some other stuff, and I'm bored shitless, and I think to myself, why the fuck should I care?

For example, I'll be looking for a recipe, maybe I'm settling in to make a cake or a loaf of bread, and I'll Google whatever it is, and up will come a bunch of cooking blogs, and I'm not picky, one cake is much like the next, and bread recipes are pretty standard, whatever, and I'll have to scroll down past pages of written text to get to the damn recipe.

I've got to read all about how this recipe was this person's spouse's favorite recipe and the birthday when, oh my gracious! Some pedestrian funny thing! and then Grandpa did a thing, and Bobby-Jimmy-Bob said this HYSTERICAL thing, and then MOM...oi. Really. I don't care.

Would I want to write a story to go with my recipes if I had a cooking blog? Hang on, I was going to say no, but the more I think of it, I realize you bettcha, I would.

Do I want to read the heartwarming story of Belinda in Iowa's husband's birthday that one year when all that funny shit went down?

No I do not.

But I want to write about my shitty life. I do. I have found the way to liven up my own personal essay writing. Eur-fucking-reeka!

Here's my recipe for basic white french bread.

Once there was this one time, well not just the one time, several times, several times, we've run out of bread before we've run into payday.

On those occasions I make bread.

Usually we only have white flour on hand, why I don't know. I could think on that question, but I don't feel like it. I am a bloated lady whose eating habits suck white dough balls. Okay?

So I don't want to use up our eggs or milk just to make some bread, so I make the sort of bread with the fewest ingredients, that would be french bread. True story.

you'll need:

1 packet of yeast
2 C. lukewarm water...why Luke? how about Hanswarm? Or Leiawarm?
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS salt
some table spoons of oil...I'll get back to you on that.
5 or so cups of flour, I use cheap unbleached white, unbleached because even if I'm a health disregarding bloated lady, I have standards.

Dissolve the sugar in the Leiawarm water in a large bowl, add the yeast, stir that yeast around, watch it start to orgy and bubble, you're watching yeast sex, you're a perv. Add the oil, that will show those licentious fungi.

Toss in a couple cups of flour, don't mix anything yet, toss the salt in on top of that flour, now mix it around. Salt can kill your yeast. Years ago when I worked in a bakery making this shit for a living, only it was made with wheat flour, some wise Zen baker dude told me about the salt thing. I still think of Dave the hippy baker dude when I make bread. How could I not?

Now you can think of him too.

mix that shit up.

add more flour.

Stop when you get to 4.5 cups, it mix it up more, get your hands in there. You can oil your hands first, or flour them in an effort to keep the dough from sticking to you. It may work for you.

If the dough is still wicked wet, add the .5 flour. kneed it around some more. If it's still wet, add some bit more of flour, do this a little at a time until you have a dough that is not too dry and not too wet.

HAHAHAHA!! If you've never made bread before you are a little lost! What's not too wet nor too dry look like? That's sad but also funny to me, because right now I'm feeling like an asshole and I might not tell you. Actually, I don't know how to tell you. Just wing it. You really can't fuck this up unless your yeast is dead. So don't worry. It's perfect.

Flour your work surface, dump that dough down, now you're going to knead it for 8 to 10 minutes.

This is the best part.

to start, flatten that dough a bit, fold it in half, push down then forward with the heel of your hand. A bit like you're trying to give Resusci Annie a chest compression. Only not down, but down and forward a little, so, if it were Resusci Annie, you'd be breaking the ribs on the side farther from you.

Now turn that dough clockwise from 12 to 3 o'clock, give her another compression, turn from 3 to 6 o'clock, etc. Do this as many times around the clock as you can in 8-10 minutes.

Now your bread should feel like a chubby lady's thigh. Woowoo. You're welcome.

This is good.

Keep your dough intact, don't be stretching it around, don't pull on it, you want to keep this dough in a nice tight little ball of slightly firm slightly squishy doughness.

grease the bowl, grease the top of your dough, toss that dough in the bowl.

Some recipes call for covering the bowl with a kitchen towel.

I have 4 cats and a dog...there's hair on every fabric surface in the house. I use plastic wrap.  I use plastic wrap because of the hair issue and because I hate the Earth. I bet you could use parchment paper or wax paper instead. Or maybe you don't have a small zoo, so use a damp clean kitchen towel, but be prepared to pick dough out of your towel and that's going to suck. So do what you will in this regard.

Let that shit rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Now, the next thing is to PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH. But you don't want to punch, that's violent and mean to the yeast.

You want to gently press the air out of the dough, then turn it onto your floured surface and give it a few kneads.

Here's my technique. It might suck but this is what I do. I go all gentle on this dough, ok?

I gently push the air out. I gently roll that shit into a 6 inch log. I cut that log in half. Now you have two loaves of bread.

Flatten 1 out and gently stretch it to make a rectangle about 12 inches long and some length, maybe 6 ish inches wide, start at the point in the middle closest to you and roll that dough 1 rotation pretty tightly, now roll the sides to catch up. Do this rolling thing till you have a loaf, pinch the seam closed. Don't be afraid to really pinch that shit shut. Give it a roll. Place on the cookie sheet I should have told you to prepare before now. I'd grease that cookie sheet with olive oil, toss the loaf on that sheet.

Do it again with the other loaf. Cover the loaves with the whatever you used to cover the dough in the first place. Let rise for about 1/2 hour or until it's doubled or close to.

Take a sharp knife, slash those mother fuckers, three or four times diagonally.

Oh. You should have preheated your oven to 350...or is it 400?

400. Toss the pan in the oven.

Now here is the greatest thing, take a handful of ice cubes, toss those on the floor of the oven. Shut that door. Do not open again until at least 20 minutes have passed.

This will give your bread the wicked hard crunchy crust that will lacerate the roof of your mouth, like proper french bread should have. Those French. Here's something so delicious! Hahaha! And it hurts you!

Bake for 25 minutes or until your white bread baguettes are goldeny brown.

There you go.

As I said before I make this bread when the family is low on provisions, and I do, but the ironic thing is, we inhale it so fast, we still don't have any bread when it's time for breakfast the next day.

And there you go.

My chatty personal essay and the first and possibly last of my cooking blog recipes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Once again talking about mental health issues

I have written about mental health issues in this post and if you're feeling low, you may not want to read any further. 

If you are considering suicide or if you are in any kind of mental health crisis, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 or head to your local emergency room. Please reach out and get help.

I've been sick for months, too sick to work, too sick to do much of anything. 
I've slept a lot like one does when one is ill. 
It's embarrassing, because when I say I've been ill what I mean is, I've been depressed. As far as I'm concerned, mental illness is a real thing, and those suffering are actually ill, but there are still folks around who don't think depression is a life threatening disease, or a disease at all, and that those of us afflicted are merely lazy whiny "snowflakes" who'd rather lie around and do nothing than make an honest living. 

I am certain I internalized that negative appraisal of the mentally ill, no doubt about it. Those messages seep into our minds without our knowledge and only become clear when we become clear to ourselves. For as lowly regarded we are by others, we judge ourselves the same, and that self hate adds to the illness and multiplies the already debilitating self loathing that comes in the depression goody bag. 

Anyway, lately I think I've been feeling better. Not entirely better, but somewhat better. I've been pacing the house, antsy, bored. Sleep is no longer something that can occupy me for several hours. This increase in energy has brought me a whole new level of guilt. Even though I could acknowledge the severity of my illness these past 6 months I can't quite get my head around the fact that despite my increase in energy, I may still not be well enough to work. I'm not at death's door, nor am I working. How dare I? 

It's one thing if I'm sobbing uncontrollably for hours a day. Of course one can not go among the people and toil away for wages. One is in a state, and unfit for decent company. One should keep out of sight, one is a friggin' emotional disaster, that's pretty fucking clear. But when one is pacing the house, bored out of one's ever loving mind day after day, it's a little harder to figure out why exactly one is not out in the world doing what other adult ones do all day. 

Despite not weeping like a Greek chorus, the truth is, I'm still not well. I still become fatigued easily, I still become panicked in social situations, I still have days when I pull the covers over my face and say, nope. Not going to happen. I still cry for no apparent reason. I still, though not as often, I still think about suicide. 

When depressed folks start to regain some of their energy and appear to be firmly on the road to recovery, that is a crucial time. It's then that many depressed people take their own lives. 

At the deepest depths of despair, suicide was nearly impossible for me to carry out though I thought about it all the fucking time. I longed for it, begged for it. I couldn't stand being alive. But, I could barely move, there was little chance I would have been able to coordinate all the actions necessary for taking my own life. 

But NOW, I'm well enough to wander the house muttering to myself, and the full impact my illness has had on my life, my family, and our finances is sinking in, and I'm blaming myself for the whole freaking mess and it's overwhelming and terrible.  

I won't kill myself, of course, but I can understand the thinking of those who do at this point in their illness, at least I think I can. 
Everyone is different, so actually what do I know. But I think I might know. 

A couple of days ago a new idea hit me: you know after a bad bout of flu, how it takes a few extra days to get over feeling shitty, even after the worst of the illness has passed? I think maybe for me the same is true for my depressive episodes. And because the descent took a long while, and because I was sick for so long, the time it takes to crawl out of the hole is equally protracted. 

So, I'm up and around, taking solid food, even though I'm not still puking my guts out, I'm still not well, and it's okay for me to be scuffing around in my slippers and pajamas. 

I'm doing better, but I'm not 100% okay and I need to make sure I'm well before I go out into the world again, or I risk setting myself back and that's not going to help anyone. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Haven't had a compelling thought or written anything interesting in a very long time. On the other hand, my spelling seems to be improving. Not much solace in that though, not a fair trade.