strictures and structures

if only we stopped trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time

Month: July, 2012

This is just to update William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the frozen blueberries
that were in
the side drawer

and which
you were probably
for a smoothie

forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so crunchy

i have this terrible fear though

that I’ll never be able to write any good fiction, because my life was spent studying books and making good grades. How do you build a castle out of your imagination when there’s nothing in your head but suburbia, fractions and vocabulary lists?

I suppose the first step is to stop fearing and start writing.

a modern Chinese slimming cure

Jane: Dad, how many gallons of water do you think are in the air of a ten by ten by ten foot room?

Dad: Hmm, maybe a couple kilograms.

Jane: So a dehumidifier that could only suck out a pint every few hours would probably reduce the relative humidity by only say, two percent?

Dad: Why do you want a dehumidifier? Is your face getting too fat?

the roses you can’t see

I wonder if the mover would like to put down his box first, but he seems comfortable enough as he scans the pantry. “Frosting?” I suggest. “Peanut butter? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pointed out that one–it’s half-eaten already. Take anything you want, please, it all has to go.”

He mulls my offerings, the detritus of five lives sitting sadly on cheap wire shelves. “I’ll take the steak sauce.” I turn to his little son.

“How about some jello?”


“I completely understand your feelings. I quite despise jello, myself.” I take down a little plastic can of toothpicks, with a translucent orange cap. It’s pretty full, but not quite, and it looks clean. “How about these?”

“Yeah!” I can’t see the orange cap anymore as his little hand engulfs the toothpicks. Pleased with their treasures, the mover and his son leave.

And now it occurs to me to wonder, as I watch them go, what exactly a ten year old boy is going to do with a little can of toothpicks. Maybe he just liked the orange cap? Perhaps he’ll make a toothpick moat, or a little log cabin with exceptionally skinny logs? Glue them to some paper and make a miniature kite? Will the toothpicks be kindling for a child-sized fire? God knows. But if his father had taken the toothpicks, I’d have known exactly what he would use them for–to pick his teeth.

L’esprit d’escalier

Dad stares off to the side. And with the same detached voice he used when I told him I didn’t want children, he says, “You are spoiled. I have failed to educate you about the true nature of the world because I was too kind when you were younger. But you’ll make your choices, and you’ll have to live with them.”

I didn’t say anything, but if I’d had the wit, I would have said, “I did listen, I really am your daughter. I know the world is a bad place, I am thoroughly educated and thoroughly terrified! It’s because you taught me well that I’m not going to look for work right now. It’s because I’m so afraid of leaky roofs, of having to count on multivitamins because I can’t afford good food, of having to work for a boss who harasses me for clocking in five minutes past nine a.m., and never mind those things–because I am afraid to the core of the destruction of our species even–it’s because I fear all these things that I’m trying to enjoy my little bit of leisure now. I’m with you, Dad, I am–I respect the possibility of disaster just as much as you do, even if my reaction is the complete opposite of what you would do, and I wish you wouldn’t be so disappointed in me.”