Tuesday, January 18, 2011

really, who writes that shit?

Who writes that crap for Facebook? The stuff you are meant to copy and paste into your status if you love your daughter, mother, son, dog, etc. Ack, in the words of Bill the Cat. Ack. Could we have an original thought, please?

Here is my new grand-nephew, born last night in Moorhead to Nicole and Jason. No name yet. Is he cute, or what????

I read something at the end of Anthony Bourdain's book this morning on my Kindle that I had to copy as soon as I got home. Finding a passage in a kindle book is not an easy task. I realize there is a way to mark spots in the book but I've never learned that. My kindle has a very limited range of usefulness to me. I read it on the treadmill and that's about it. 
Here's the passage I read:

My Bloody Valentine by Anthony Bourdain

At forty-four, I was, as all cooks too long on the line must be, already in decline. You’re not getting any faster- or smarter- as a cook after age thirty-seven. The knees and back go first, of course. That you’d expect. But the hand-eye coordination starts to break up a little as well. And the vision thing. But it’s the brain that sends you the most worrying indications of decay. After all those years of intense focus, multitasking, high stress, late nights, and alcohol, the brain stops responding the way you like. You miss things. You aren’t as quick reading the board, prioritizing the dupes, grasping at a glance what food goes where, adding up totals of steaks on hold and steaks on the fire- and cumulative donenesses. Your hangovers are more crippling and last longer. Your temper becomes shorter- and you become more easily frustrated with yourself for fucking up little things. Despair, always a sometime thing in the bipolar world of the kitchen, becomes more frequent and longer-lasting as one grows more philosophical with age and has more to despair about.  
After I finished the Bourdain book, I started reading The Road Home by Jim Harrison and realized quickly that this is a book I have to hold in my hands. Even though I paid ten dollars for the kindle version, I had to come right home and order the paperback. Jim Harrison is my all-time favorite author in the universe. I have, under duress, loaned out my Kent Haruff books, and even my Louise Erdrich books. But sorry, not Jim Harrison.

Here's a great poem I stumbled onto today. By John Engman, a Minnesota poet.

The Common Expressions Our Grief Leads Us To

John Engman
I step into the classroom cautiously,
clearing my throat to let them know who I am,
a somewhat unwelcome professor who is welcomed
with looks of suspicion, last man on a crowded raft.
I grip the lecturn with both hands. What can I say?
They wonder as I say them what my words want.
Some days, if I were paid to be honest, I’d say,
“Class, today I am having difficulty remembering
the names of the letters in the English alphabet.
And by the way, what class is this?” Trying to draw
an illustration of this circumstance in chalk,, I fail,
erasing it quickly. I emit a series of nondescript snorts.

“Class, today we’ll talk about how to resuscitate
a dead metaphor. You may ask yourself, why bother?
Is higher education really a punishment? But seriously…”
Already I have lost them. The front row glares
with that bewilderment freshmen usually save for fathers.
Some pretend to doze off, the smarter students ignore me.

Then I begin drawing diagrams in the air, waving my hands
as if flagging down a mirage. “The sea of life,” I say,
“is a dead metaphor that suggest the darkness of the sea
will suck us down in our final hour, the deep six.”
At the word suck, several heads rise from the desks.
Having caught their attention, I lean back, full of myself,
nibbling on my stub of chalk. Then, as it happens so often
when I an in a philosophic frenzy, I square my jaw
and inhale deeply: crushing the chalk and swallowing
a lump that blocks my windpipe below the epiglottis,
gags me like exhaust from a passing freighter.
Grabbing myself by the throat, pausing

one second to reflect on how much real learning
happens by default, I choke and gasp for air. “Water,”
I whisper, and everyone laughs. One student, who scribbles
notes as I turn blue, lose my footing and grab at the air,
contributes, “That’s not how you do the Australian crawl,”
and then, “Oh, the sea of life, I get it.” And the class applauds,
“Man overboard! Dead metaphor! King Neptune! Food for the fish!”
And as I crawl toward the door, they flutter above me, worried
as gulls by a man who throws signals instead of breadcrumbs.
And the voice that follows me into the hall is sure and swift
as the fin of a shark, “Will we be graded on this?”

Ha! Anybody who has ever taught anything, gets this.

1 comment:

Jill said...

1. I have Facebook issues already, and your remarks affirm my feelings!

2. Sweet, sweet baby.

3. Could the poem hit the nail on the head any better? Love it. I've been missing teaching so, so much lately. Engman's poem could make me think again and wonder why I feel that way!