Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner
Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’”
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~ Thomas Merton
Tuesday, early evening. Cold.
It’s hovering around 40° F; yesterday it was 78° F. That’s how it’s been for the past five or six days. One day, unseasonably warm winter temps, and the next day, temps at least 30 to 40 degrees lower than the day before. I seem to have developed a scratchiness to my voice. Could be the temperature fluctuations, or it could be pollen. Then again, it could just be Wisconsin Governor Walker grating on my nerves (and why is the mainstream media totally ignoring the Wisconsin situation?)
Just for fun, I thought that I would interrupt regular posting to insert Jon Stewart’s latest commentary on the Wisconsin happenings:
Today I had the first of three gastro tests to try to find out why my system does not work like a normal person. I’m not even going to list the name of the test that I had to undergo. Suffice it to say that personal privacy and boundaries are not respected during this test and that it involved barium, which, if you have never been near this contrast medium, you should thank the powers that be as barium is made of chalk and bird poop, which is what gives it its lovely white consistency and delectable flavor . . .
Thankfully, I did have two really great radiology technicians, which helps the nerves. Next test involves having to swallow a contrast marker and then have x-rays taken on day five; I already swallowed the marker last week because the woman in the doctor’s office did not tell me not to take the marker before today’s test, which means that I have to do it all over again. Third test involves putting a tube in my nose for 24 hours. Just typing that makes me shudder, no lie.
February was spent in a haze of doctor’s appointments. Little wonder that it is the first of March, but my brain is still January-engaged.
“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.” ~ Theodore Roethke
Two Fridays ago I had my eye exam, the first one I’ve had in a couple of years. It was only after this exam that I found out that the vision rider for which I am paying is essentially worthless. “Well it covers this, but there is a fitting fee . . . but if you want to get glasses, then you have to pay $80 for the contacts today, but if you want contacts, then we deduct this and add that and if you’re really lucky, on the full moon, you can wish for glasses or contacts, but not both. Whatever.
I went back last Friday for the optometrist to check the contacts that she had prescribed. I told her that I was having problems seeing out of my left eye. We talked for a few minutes about my previous experiences with contacts, and she said—I kid you not—”Well, you are older now, and your eyes are older, so you can’t expect to see the way that you used to.”
Really? No shit? I’m older? Thank you so much for that moment of truth. I was completely unaware that I had gotten older. In her favor, she just seems like a very matter-of-fact person, not snotty, just telling it like it is.
So my old eyes tried another contact prescription. I could tell before I left the waiting room that they weren’t working. Another hop onto the exam chair (which is really hard to do, hopping, that is, when you’re old), and we decided to go with two different lenses: near vision in the left eye, and distance in the right eye. I was certain that my brain would rebel, but it actually works perfectly. I can see everything on the dash in the car, and I can see the computer screen. I always find it beneficial to see the car’s dash, so I’m feeling better. Now I just have to wait for another payday to get updated glasses.
(Oh, this part made me feel old as well). Corey and I were looking at frames, and I picked out a frame that pretty much mirrors my current frame. I know what flatters my face and what is comfortable. Seemed like a no-brainer to me . . . Corey says something along the lines of shouldn’t I try something that is a little more stylish?
What??? My frames are old-fashioned? Is that what you were implying with your comment? Poor man. Simply cannot catch a break. We left Costco with neither of us very happy. As it stands now, I don’t have a clue as to what kind of glasses I want to get. Every pair that I try on leaves me feeling less than attractive. I mean, if Sophia Loren can put her name on a line of glasses frames, why can she not append her visage with the frames? Loren looks cool in glasses. I look like . . . well, probably what I am: a bookish teacher type.
“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again.” ~ Frank O’Hara
In other news, remember that poetry contest that I entered? Well, I didn’t win, but I was a finalist. Pretty cool, huh?
Now if I were an optimist with a good self-image, I might see this as a sign that I should probably work on my craft more and actively work on sending things out for review. However, we all know that this is not the case, so my immediate first thoughts were, “A finalist? Are you kidding me? Did you not have a lot of entries?”
A Poet Reflects, the blog that hosted the contest, asked poet Allen Braden to judge the contest, which is why it took longer to find out the results. I had decided that because so much time had passed between submitting my entry and hearing anything that I was definitely out of the running. This is how my mind works: no news = bad/horrible/catastrophic news.
Anyway, after I received the good news, I got an e-mail requesting that I create an MP3 of myself reading my poem. Seriously? I hate my voice whenever I hear it recorded; it always sounds like a little girl. I don’t mean that I have one of those Jennifer Tilly squeaky, breathless voices, just that I would prefer a Lauren Bacall timbre.
So after I get over the request itself, I realize that I have no idea as to how to create an MP3. I know. I know. It’s really not hard, but what can I say? I panicked. Then I settled down and gave it some thought and realized that Brett’s gaming headphones have a microphone on them. Voila! Recording action can be had.
Several attempts later, I finally came up with a reading with which I was actually pleased, so I shipped it off before I could change my mind. My poem and the reading are supposed to appear on tumblr tomorrow or the next day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to post them here, although I’m not sure why this blog or that blog really makes a difference. It’s not like I’m beholden to my privacy or anything. I do plan to post some of the other finalists’ poems as well as the winner. Stay tuned.
“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people . . . Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too.” ~ J. D. Salinger
So that’s how things have been around here for the past week or so. Each time that I’ve sat down to write a post, something has kept me from achieving said goal. For example, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I felt less than creative on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was not much better. I have been trying to put up a few small things here and there (I loved the no elephants picture).
Meanwhile, Corey has already lost two shifts this week, but last week he worked 55 hours. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were responsible for scheduling these people for shifts, I would make darn sure there was more balance. I mean, that’s one of the things I had to do in retail, schedule over 50 people at a time, and believe me, it’s not easy.
Speaking of retail, a Marshall’s is opening in the shopping center just down the road; I’m talking a mile away. Part of me longs to apply for a management position there, but who am I kidding? Retail management means working at least 50 to 60 hours a week, and a lot (emphasis on lot) of physical labor. How do you think those clothes get on those racks? Oh well, I can wish.
Not much new on the kids’ front. Spring break is sometime in March. Neither son has anything exciting planned (that I know about). Alexis? Well, that’s a post all by itself and a subject that I’m honestly not up to dealing with at the moment. So that’s it for now.
By the way, I have changed the name of my tumblr from “Slow Dancing in Quicksand” to “Frenzy and Lightning,” which is the url. It just seemed to make more sense, at least, to me.