Monday, January 25, 2010

Closed Blogging: Why Bother?

A couple of years ago I closed off a former blog.  I had written so much pain and rage and frustration into that one and I couldn't see a way of rehabilitating it.  But I couldn't just delete it, either.  It's still there; I am the only person who can read it.  Sometimes that will happen to a blog I used to casually read; I'll go there and the writer has shut that valve, sometimes forever.

Blogs are funny things; they are journals for most of us who write them, ways of communicating with the self.  As I type, I don't usually plan out what I'm going to say, and often I just have an undefined something that I need to think about.  But they are public, and there is an illusion of privacy being breached.  I suppose that illusion can be pretty convincing sometimes.

I don't actually have any IRL*  who write blogs the way I do.  I know some online folks who write, but most people guard their secrets their privacy pretty carefully.   Which I respect, but it's amazing to me those folks who write all those details, their lives, their disappointments and personal issues.  I respect both types of folks-- those who write it all out, sharing the warts & all, and those who keep their privacy as close as they can.

I love that my friends and family can keep up with at least a little bit of what I'm thinking through this medium; I wish that I could, in turn, keep up with some of them, as well, in a similar fashion.  Since I don't know very many people who blog, for realz, the blogs I do read are folks who I "met online".  I love to read a story about their day, see a cool photo, step a minute out of my own head.

Lately, talking on the phone seems so invasive, so hard to do right.  I can't unsay something on the phone, highlight a phrase that didn't come out right and retype it better, so it's less painful, nicer. So I don't give away too much.  So that I do it right.  I find myself, with some people in phone conversations, not doing it right.  Screwing it up.  Wishing I could start over.

But I am also well aware that reading a blog entry does not mean I know anything about this person in more ways than superficially.  I know what they are writing, what they are telling me, but I don't know everything.  It's a kind of connection, and sometimes I have felt I know someone better through the blog world than I do some people in that "real life" that I speak to every day.  Just as when I write a blog, I don't say things that I don't feel like sharing.  What I share is honestly far more superficial than people realize, I guess.  It seems like there is nothing I won't write.  I've written about physical pain, emotional pain, love, life, hate, rage, disappointment.

I write things when I am trying to figure them out.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't.  I wish I could give this gift to others, the ability to share this or that detail but not too much.  Maybe it's kind of a form of meditative practice; trying to know myself well enough to make the things that are selfish or greedy or wrong over into something better.  It's like my Tarot card readings.  I don't pretend to KNOW through magic or con-artistry what the cards REALLY mean; I just lay them down, tell you what the traditional symbolism would be and let you figure it out for yourself.  What do you THINK the giant head with the body of a cricket from your dream really means?  Your interpretation there is more important than my own.

I want to reach out, to take you by the hand, to give some kind of comfort from grief when that is needed, some joy when that is the thing that is called for.  Something good.  Pull out the good crystal goblets and expensive champagne and chocolates and share joy.   

Sometimes, when I blog, I can do that and more.

But what I have here today is a winter blue sky, windy, isolated clouds that imagination cannot shape into anything other than cold cloud, and trees that are mostly bare and shadows playing on my neighbor's roof. 

His Eyes

One of the things I remember most about the early days of my marriage to Andrew was how he would look at me with his intensely blue eyes, wide, serious.  Like he was memorizing me, and wanted to get it right.  There are more permanent crinkles around the corners of those eyes now, and his eyebrows get so bushy sometimes I have to trim them or he ends up looking like Lloyd Briges in Airplane!.  The photo is us, about five years ago, New Year's eve, and his eyes are the violet-y color of a man who has had a lot to drink.  ;)

I've seen those eyes pensive and scanning the wreckage of The USS Arizona in Hawaii, squinting in the almost too bright to stand sunlight of Alaska near the glacier.  I've seen them smiling at me as we kissed under that kissing bridge in Paris.  When we were having the kiddos and I was wide-open cesearean while he looked on, I could tell he was sort of woozy because his eyes were waaaay bluer than normal in his pale, about-to-pass out face. 

His eyes have always been a barometer to the things he doesn't say.

When we met, and he was a student aviator in Pensacola, he wore the ugly wire-rimmed aviator glasses he wears now.  I liked him because he was a little nerdy and didn't care about those uncool glasses, glasses they used to call "Birth control" glasses.  Weirdly enough, his and my eye prescription are almost exactly the same, and in the last few years, his eyes have not tolerated contacts, so I've mostly seen those ugly glasses.  He hasn't been vain enough to care to buy more stylish ones and I haven't really minded but...

However.  This week (tomorrow) we are going to Texas, where he will get LASIK to fix those pretty blue eyes so that he will see as well as I do now. (He has to have it done by a military doctor or lose his flight status). It will be a long week, and I worry way more about him getting the procedure than I worried about myself. 

But it will be nice to see those deeply blue eyes without anything in the way again.  Waking up in the morning, crinkles at the edges, eyes that speak to me of memory today and tomorrow and today again.   

Sunday, January 24, 2010

annoying neighbors

Today, it is we who are the above.  I feel really bad about it, to tell you the truth. 

We are draining our swampy pool. 

We tried so hard this year to keep it from turning swampy.  We cleaned leaves and leaves and leaves.  Tried to keep the chlorine content working enough with all those damned (like, five trees worth) of leaves in it.  I managed til sometime in mid December to make it.  But then, it just got too hard.  And too cold. 

And it's been getting really green in the last week because it got warmer.

So we rented the drain and it's been spewing algae infested water all afternoon, and being noisy as all hell, and smelling like gasoline, too.  And it's getting close to being done, but not yet. 

We plan to buy a pool cover to try to combat this problem for next year.  We had meant to get one this year but it's harder than you would think to get one. 

But I'm really self-conscious about it and feel bad for our neighbors having to hear the "rrwawar" of the drain pump still going.  Hopefully it will be done soon so it will hush.  Sorry!  Sometimes, your neighbors are aware that they are being pains in the butt but there really doesn't seem to be any not irritating way to handle the issue.  And you don't want my pondy-swampy pool in your vicinity, a perfect breeding ground for many many mosquitos, either. 

Sigh.  Sorry!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How it Was

there is no place for what is missing here
no empty spot to poke
like a child with a lost tooth

there is no thing to be done
no weeping or rending
of clothing

there is only this silence
this refusal to be there
there is only this word
that will stay unspoken

and yet I search anyway
send out feelers
remember a time
when there was something there

and I can't, for the life of me,
be sure of when that last was.

I pat myself down, like
looking for lost keys.

I just had them. Right?

There is no way to say this.

You are gone. 
And the sky is still blue.

Is STILL Not Too Sensitive!!

Last winter, teaching the freshman seminar class I did, we worked a bit on the Meyer's Briggs personality spectrum.  I am, and have always been, an INFP.  When I was looking for info for the little slide show I did with it, I found this cool graphic. I've even written about it before, apparently, cause when I went to look for the graphic, I found a post about this, by me.  Duh!  :) 

It makes me laugh because I AM totally too sensitive.  I take things way personally.  It's not that I think the world revolves around me, not by any means, but I overanalyze EVERYthing.  I think "what did that guy mean, when he cut me off" or "what did she say about redheads" or whatever.  Everything has to be the universe attempting to smash my feelings. 

I know this is self-centered.  I think it's just the way I'm wired, to expect to be hurt by things that other people say "dude, get over it; it's nothing personal."  And the intellectual part of me knows this, but the emotional little girl in the picture does not believe the intellect.

So anyway.  I will go now and get some lunch and perhaps a new book and NOT obsess over slights that may or may not be directed towards me.  I am NOT too sensitive. 

Or maybe just a little.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


There used to be a place
for dead letters.

"What a terrible room to work"
we said, reading Bartleby.

Now so much is electronic.
The email comes back undeliverable.

No lingering paper scrawled in a dusty box
in a dusty room
for a sad man to file.

How rapidly we learn of
       our disconnection

Poetry 101

Once upon a time,
for a class taught by a very funny man
I wrote a poem

Cornered him after class
in a hallway, to show
my work.  I
praise, genuis,
I didn't know
how awkward that was

He liked the line about cool refrigerated fruit.

We learned that a sonnet is a 14 line poem
(I missed that question once on game night--
argued it could be a 16 line poem, too.  English majors
are too

We learned that slugs
just need a good PR campaign.
Lawn dolphin entered my vocabulary forever.
But I still squish them beneath my shoes
(and sometimes with a squeamish stomach
between bare toes at night).

I think about him every time
I post my magazine.  Think about sending him a link to see
my work.
Know (now)
how awkward that might be.

Forever a student,
forever a little bit wrong.

Forever waiting for praise.
And eating plums.

KAW January '10

for Jim Bertolino

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Housewives Don't Write Good Poetry

Set aside for the moment Anne Sexton.  She was a terrible housewife, by all accounts, and a great poet much of the time.

Housewifey duties don't seem to bring out the poet in me.  Who wants to read about the applesauce I cleaned out of the fridge?  Maybe an Adam & Eve metaphor thrown in there?  Nope.  Me either.  I don't even want to THINK about what it would take to write that sort of poem.

It's similar to when I was in early grad school and was really pretty darn happy & only wrote poems about writing poems, which defined narcissism & solipsism and a few other isms about self-love (and not even the interesting and infinitely more poetic kind of self love, hubba hubba wink wink nudge nudge). 

And frankly, even I am kind of bored by this post.  I really need to get a good book to read. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Facebook Citizens:

Yesterday, I was perusing the list of people who graduated from my high school in or around the same year as me and in the process, was noticeably disturbed by a few trends.  Let me give you a short list, therefore, of things I think grown up people (and/or people in general) should never do in their facebook profile picture.

1.  Do not sit with your legs wide open like a porno queen.  You graduated the year before I did; that means you're at least 40.  Maybe you're hot, but that pose is NOT.
2.  Do not pose on your motorcycle.  You're not a teenager and it's not that impressive.  The same goes for posing on your big, expensive boat. 
3.  If I have to guess whether your hair in the picture is one of those wayback photos or if that's you, now, you could probably use a restyle.  For the love of God, man, mullets?
4.  No shirtless pictures showing off your "guns" and looking surly.  I see you tucking your hands back there to make them look more bulgy.  Please.  It's not convincing me.
5.  Did you take that picture when you had a hangover?  Is that REALLY the best you can look?  Wipe off some of the eyeliner and brush your hair. 

And, just so I don't sound TOO grumpy and pissy, a few Dos.
1. DO leave that photo of a Corona w/ a lime on a beach with your feet in the picture.  That's kind of fun, and quirky.  It does look a little bit like an advertisement, but I still like the whole "wasting away in Margaritaville" vibe to it.
2. Person who had the Nude Descending Stairs as your picture?  I didn't recognize your name so I probably didn't know you but that is AWEsome.  I wish you wouldn't think I was a freak for the friend request.
3. Well done professional photos with your family are cute.  Keep them up there.

If we all follow these simple rules, the Facebook experience will be much more pleasant for all of us. 
Thank you, and good night.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

People I sometimes google

I think I've written about the phenomenon of googling old flames, old friends, lost to the water under bridges, before.  It's akin, probably, to drunk dialing except you don't have the number.  I've had people look me up on Facebook probably that way (more so, probably, now that I've added my maiden name to my profile.)  I've found a few folks from high school that way, too.  I sent out a few unanswered friend requests recently and wondered whether they did or didn't remember me.  If they did, what was it that made them click "ignore?" 

It's something to ponder after having had a couple of Mike's Lemonades. 

After a soul-searing argument I had this summer with someone, I've thought a lot about myself in a way of really trying to analyze.  Do I do this? That?  Am I empathetic or just narcissistic?  It's something some people never think about, something some probably think about too much. 

Especially after a couple of Mike's Lemonades.

40 years on a planet and I am exactly ten times my daughter's age.  Today, when I told her I was 40, her eyes got wide.  She finally understands enough about numbers and math to realize how many differences that is from her. 

Why do I feel an urge to google people I really do NOT want to reconnect with, and a sense of both relief and regret when it appears those folks are not really all that Internet Savvy (or maybe more than I am so that they hide their presence-- but I doubt it.)

I guess because my own life has been a series of losses; I've lost cities, friends, entire lives of things.  It's okay, because those losses made me the person I am. 

Or is it?

Time to have another Mike's Lemonade and think about it.

Monday, January 11, 2010


In "Where I Lived and What I Lived For," Henry David Thoreau wrote:  "Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify, simplify! ... Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose."  His mentor & freebie landlord, Emerson, wrote in response:  "Don't you think one 'simplify' is enough?"

Yes.  Enough. One simplify works just fine.

This year is, for me, a year of simplification.  Jobfront, lifefront.  I am, in January, cleaning house metaphorically and literally.  No need to wait until Spring for this cleaning; if it makes me sad, or angry on a frequent basis, it is gone. 

I'm done with saying "well, this etiquette is weird, I will understand and accept."  If it hurts my feelings, and it's not the first time, then there's a compatibility problem and "Simplify" will be the word of the day.

And, to end with a quote from Stuart Smalley* that sums it up too:   "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!" 


*And yes, I'm quite aware that in many ways Smalley is an example of the 12 step ideals gone wrong.  I never said I was perfect.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happiness for a Lazy Procrastinator

It's no accident that, years ago, my first blog was called Kim Procrastinates.  Somewhere along the way I had totaled up the numbers and found that if I had spent that time on my dissertation rather than my blog I would have finished years earlier.

I am a procrastinator,* and I am a bit on the lazy side.  I'll own that, fully.  I'd rather fiddle around on the Internet, for the most part, than do anything other than perhaps read.  I am also so NOT a neat freak, preferring to spend time doing anything other than cleaning up things.  Short of world peace, the one thing I would wish for should a Genii pop out of a lamp in front of me would be a non-defective Robot Maid to keep my house clean and laundry done.  Seriously. 

So this past week of cleaning up rental properties and running around like a crazy woman to Lowe's to pick up supplies (all but our annoying fake snow day when I was home with kiddos all day) has been a surprise to me. I know I like painting rent houses & remodeling; that I've figured out already.  But cleaning them is something I've always hired someone else to do in the past.  (I mean, since I've been able to do so.)

I've been having fun! Yes, the three baseball player college students who lived in our one rent house really really had a filthy refrigerator that stank when it was turned off and had this brown teriyaki sauce goo EVERYwhere.  But cleaning up after these folks & the other place (that wasn't actually as bad, to be honest) has brought out my inner Monk.  A little bit, at least.  I now have a real preference for a cleaning product (a couple of them) because of how much better they worked than other things I've used before.  (I like 409 and those Lysol wipes & this orange cleaning stuff.)

There's a certain satisfaction in just looking around and knowing that a few hours ago the place was trashed and now it's gleaming, and the fridge looks like new and you did that.  Now, heaven help the tenants who trash the place I spent so much time and effort cleaning.  They're going to be SO busted. 

Andrew has been joking that he has the "most educated cleaning lady on the planet."  Now, it's entirely possible that there are other PhDs who are doing professional cleaning, for whatever reason.  It's a tough job market out there.  I am kind of overeducated for the position, and yet, I do NOT mind it.  The whole point of this rental property landlord business is so that we can make enough moolah to retire early and live on a yacht in the Med.  Seriously.  Daytrips for the kids to the Louvre for art history class.  Etc.  And thus, it really does NOT suck to be working on this.  It takes up a LOT of time, and sometimes it's darn hard, but it's worth it.

But I'm really fine to not be worrying right now about making syllabuses and getting ready for another semester.  Next week's plan is to post my killer issue of Women Writers and work towards making it into a nonprofit organization, and possibly  squeeze in some more on my novel.  This last week of manual labor has been kind of cool, and I'm channelling my inner cleaning lady on my own house a bit, too. 

*surprisingly, I didn't even have procrastination as a tag until now!  Funny!
**and, by the way, what the heck happened to blogger's spellchecker?  ANNOYing.