As you know, Thursday night is our class play, “100 Years of Tragedy: America in the 20th Century.” The students put together the entire production themselves. As their teacher, I am extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished in such a small amount of time. (more)
Without spoiling any of the show’s surprises, I want to give special mention to a few things. You might remember Tommy Crain’s song, “Ringworm Summer,” from last years play, “Gross Out!” Well, he’s written another beauty for this year’s Appalachian segment, called “Black Lung,” which he’ll perform solo on banjo. It’s sung to the tune of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” and you know what? I think I prefer it to the original. McCartney could be such a hack.
Special thanks to the parents of the children in the Great Depression segment. I know some of you opposed this at first, but keeping the students on a daily diet of thin soup and one slice of bread for the past month brings a nice touch of realism to the production. I’ll make sure these kids have first crack at the bake sale after the show.
There have been some problems, but minor ones. The students in charge of the JFK assassination segment quickly divided into lone-assassination and conspiracy-theory camps. In the end, I thought it best to skip the segment and get right to Watergate.
A lot of the kids were disappointed that we also had to scrap the Tribute to NASA segment. While I can understand how the sight of an exploding space shuttle might be exciting for a group of ten-year-olds, there’s just no way we could’ve re-created something like that on such a small stage.
Aaron O Dell, 4th Grade, Fairlawn Elementary School
Apartments by train tracks sound
already like a trope. You can picture your own
sadness there, with your own
full ashtrays and collections of unfinished projects
like the cliche of dishes in the tiny sink.
This one was mine, and I, of course
(more) made it worse with my never leaving.
The best day was finding, on the top shelf,
on a dusty plate, some rumors of Flagstaff's
oldest dirt weed. That right there was my evening.
Cable was free and with that I was set.
You can maybe put yourself there
on my greif futon if ever you took
ringers out of phones or
maxed out a credit card on cigarettes.
You can see the quality of it. If you ever
wore regret down to tangibility and ran
your fingers over it like a sculptor
attempting to perceive its doneness.
If ever you gave up on sex,
gave up on work, gave up on friendship
because things seemed to be easier that way,
then you were there with me
professionally miserable, nowhere
near bottom. That would come later,
after many worse decisions, and
a few good ones. (less)
J watched. That is what he did. Every day, watching. Thinking. Imagining the could be's, the should be's, and the never wills.
A skirt hiked up so panties showed, but his eyes were fixated on the dark streak wrapping the thighs, end of the hose like a mouth(more) stretched wide.
A silver Rx-7 racing down a side street. Passenger and Driver both exclaming obscenities at pedestrians. He silently stood by and watched them speed through an intersection narrowly missing a shabby volkswagen.
A tattered math book eaten by the slow decay of weather. It's sopping pages bleeding ink. Reaching down he placed his hand gently on the cover, whispering apologies to mindless abuse.
A homeless veteran smelling of ass, stale beer and cigarrette butts. He dropped some change into the sleeping mans cap, three pennies to pay the ferry man.
A humming bird fluttering anxiously at his intrusion into its territory. Bowing his head J backed away, offering his hands, palms up, to show his good intentons.
When the sun finally crested the heavy grey clouds, when the rain finally ceased, when the temperature rose from 40 to 60, when the light of day lasted longer than that of the moon, He quit watching and started living. He took the girl in his arms and kissed her deeply. He hollered back at the idiot drivers killing senselessly. He dried out the textbooks and carefully recopied their pages. He gave the veteran a map so he might find his way once again. He stood his ground to the humming bird and walked on through the woods.(less)
Now it felt as if there was no humor in his life anymore. He needed to listen to music again. Maybe the music that got others thru the great depression or two world wars could help. He needed to hear jazz again, the music that died long before he(more) was born. Sure people still played it but the current rehash seemed like a recycled pizza box compared to a forest of Evergreens. He needed to hear Count Basie.
He needed to stomp and twist and remember to enjoy this ride, cause it was ending soon. Of that, he was quite sure. He needed to spend his money and flirt with women. There was a distinct lack of crying and laughing in the life he had made for himself. The middle path he told himself he’d been seeking was turning out to be nothing more than a sleeping bag that zipped up all the way. Enclosed, suffocating slowly, blind to what went on outside of him. He couldn’t sleep any more and he wouldn’t be able to live much longer, zipped up in there.
He made a pot of coffee and called the plastic surgeon.
“I’ve decided to go thru with the operation, Dr. Benway,” he said with the slightest flutter in his voice. Now was not the time to cry.
“Well, that’s wonderful Daniel. That’s a very wise decision,” Dr. Benway replied. “Now is not the time for tears, Daniel. It’s a time to rejoice. Stop thinking about what you’re losing and realize all that you will gain. Now, how soon can you come in?” (less)
The ebb and flow from project to project is the plight of the Freelance-Entrepreneur. It's definitely not for the timid, or faint of heart. Along with your impecable expertise, you need thick skin, patience, organization, and a sense of humor.
The life of a successful Freelancer i(more)s very attractive to those on the other side of the glass, but understand that the "glitter" is usually "gold"...but sometimes it is not. It can be "feast" or "famine" no matter how skilled or how well known you are... you are a contractor and are "golden" as long as you have contracts. In those times of "feast", we scurry like creatures preparing for hibernation to prevent "famine," but alas, all of the planning, belt-tightening and penny-pinching cannot shield us from things that are far beyond our control.
Occasionally, a harsh, unrelenting, economic tornado blows through on a blind seek-and-destroy mission weaving through our clients, our industry, our niche like a pinball in a machine on full tilt. Some of us are spared completely. Some of us narrowly escape with minor, yet recoverable damage to our lifestyle. Some of us are completely destroyed and left to suffer in our own personal great depression. Left to grasp at any and every measly opportunity to keep roofs over heads, food in mouths, heads above water. Selling ourselves short just to sell ourselves.
An ebb and flow indeed. If you have the thick skin, patience, organization, and sense of humor to weather the economic and entrepreneurial storms, your phoenix will always rise from the ash. If not, return to your cubicle. You are definitely not ready for this. (less)
Today, as I was out walking, taking my usual morning stroll down the road, I found a hole.
We're not talking some little post-winter-thaw pot-hole here, I mean a hole. Right in the middle of Gilmour street. A massive dip in the road, a great depression.
It was(more) still quite early, so no one was really around yet, but the astonishing thing was, that no one else seemed to have come across it yet.
I mean it was enormous. Two cars parked on the east side of the street were actually leaning quite precariously into the edge of this thing. And on one side of it, the roots of one of the massive old oak trees were protruding, tangled and torn.
I slowed down as I approached the place, not sure what to make of it. Tentatively I stretched out a toe and pushed the road in front of me where I had got to the very edge of it. The road seemed slightly spongy underneath the sole of my Converse.
I took a step back, alarmed, not wanting to slip in. Down at the bottom of the hole, which was about 15 feet deep, I saw a kid's purple tricycle. It had one of those aerials with ribbons attached at the back. The plastic coloured ribbons were crumpled and dirty looking.
A cat approached me from the other side of the hole, taking the sidewalk on the west side of the street, stepping carefully, and sniffing tentatively here and there. It came over and sat two paces from me, tail curling neatly around its paws, looking up at me, waiting, expecting something.
Behind me I heard a siren approaching, I stepped back and turned carefully. I saw my phone drop onto the ground as I raised my hands slowly.(less)
There was a great depression in the back of her hand, between the index and middle fingers and just back from the knuckle-line.
It was dark in there.
(more) Not the dark of blood in low light -- though she knew that was very dark indeed. Not the dark of a hole in the ground, or a hole in a log, or a hole in a heart. This wasn't a lurking dark, or the dark left by something once here but now there. This wasn't even the dark of a thing unfortunately present, blotting out the light that would, on a better more ordered day, reach into the hole.
She watched it. Maybe it would spread. It didn't.
Then -- she thought -- it wasn't getting worse, so maybe it would shrink. It didn't.
And she continued to watch it, and the season began to change from this to that. The clouds were thinner, even sparse on some days. Her hand tingled and warmed. She watched and waited, feeling an excitement that she stomped viciously back into her stomach lest it bring a jinx.
Her hand went from tingle to thrum and from thrum to itch. She curled her fingers, made a fist and squeezed until her knuckles poked white and the itch stung and burned and then...and then she heard the faintest of sounds. Like a pen through paper, like pus through skin.
And where there had been a dent, dark at the bottom and thick with mystery, there was green. Bright at the tip and wet with mystery. But this mystery was a different one.
How did it know? How could it have possibly been so perceptive as to detect what she was feeling, experiencing, suffering, at that precise moment? It was truly a strange phenomenon, yet considering what it was choosing to be accurate on, it was actually more ominous and disheartening.
The topper was, of course, the cheesecake falling to it's upside down doom on the carpeted floor. And nothing seems to look up from there. I am hopeful. Only as I can ever be, because sometimes if you're not the one, then there's no one, and the day seems to be all the darker. It wasn't that good cheesecake anyway, is what I reasoned. So we shared the fruit topped one instead. I like that better, this closeness that allows for sharing. But it was still sad, that it had to happen on top of everything else.
And then the other things weren't all that appetizing either. I can't help but live up to my name as a vulture and eat all that is offered to me, but when I deprive her of nourishment, especially when she paid for it, there is a bit of guilt.
The reason it's only a bit of guilt is because I'm a terrible and hungry person. It's sad in it's own way, espcially since I've gotten used to it.
I don't want her to get used to it. There's only so much that can be done, so much that can be said. The pen is mightier than the sword is actions speak louder than words. How can there ever be so much suffering? And why is it so much suffering that is ultimately undeserved...?(less)