Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I wrote this draft as part of a multi-genre research project for one of my classes. 
these birds are not angry
they’re all twitterpated
tweeting madly for followers
                John Cleese calls them “twats”
                Hannah Hart calls them “tweeps”
                i call them “fans”
                to inflate my own ego
tweet, retweet, favorite
create a hashtag punch line
hope that the Bloggess will see it
                shouting into chaos
                140 characters at a time
                how does one bird
                stand out from the rest?

at least the mafia requests have died down
should i add events before 2007?
i just edited my subscription to you
                are you only friends with me to be polite?
                what is your subscription to me?
                why did you like this picture
                and not that one?
Mark Zuckerberg keeps tinkering
so hard to control privacy
it’s not just my words, it’s my whole life
                how do i separate the ‘book’ from the ‘face’?
                how do i invite discussion without asking for a fight?
                is it better to be stalked or ignored?
                can’t i just sing my song?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Overheard in the Office 17

me: "Blah Blah Blah College Admissions, this is Diana. How can I help you?"
her: "Oh, hi. I was trying to talk to (unintelligible murmur). Are they there?"
me: "I'm sorry; who were you trying to get in touch with?"
her: "Admeezhons?"
me: "Admissions?"
her: "Yes, Admeezschons. Is anyone there?"
me: ". . . This is Admissions."
her: "Oh. Are you sure?"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Overheard in the Office 16

me: "Dick Smith's office. How can I help you?"
caller (long pause): "Hello! Could I speak to Mr. -- " (another pause) " -- Richard Smith?"
me: "He's not available at the moment. Can I take a message?"
caller: "Is this Mrs. Smith?"

First of all, you are clearly a telemarketer. And you are clearly bad at your job or 1) you would not have had to consult your paper for my boss' name after i just said it (especially considering what a simple name it is), and 2) after hearing me say it and consulting your paper, you would have gotten his name right. Please endeavor to suck less.

Secondly, what part of our conversation made you think you had called his home line? This is clearly a professional office. You can tell by the way that i said, "Dick Smith's office. How can I help you?" instead of "Hello?" or "Smith residence." Please endeavor to suck less.

Thirdly, what did i say that made you assume i was his wife? Were you really trying that hard to avoid listening to me? Please endeavor to suck less.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the essential perhaps

In my junior year of college, i participated in the annual Magnetic Poetry Contest during Arts Week. And i won second place. I got a basketball t-shirt from the clearance rack of the school store. This remains my proudest poetry accomplishment to date.

Two of my professors asked me to read the poem in class the next day. It was a weird time for everyone involved.

The original version was a pretty random mish-mash of words and phrases; in other words, it was exactly what you'd expect from a magnetic poetry contest. But the one line that the contest judge kept repeating, the one line that i think won me my prize, was a line that stuck with me.

I won't share the original version here, because i do have some pride. But now, two years after my glorious victory, i have edited it almost beyond recognition. Only one line remains. There is still a lot of work to be done, but at least it's something now, instead of word salad.

there is a throbbing in my bones:
i am in reckless pursuit
of the essential perhaps
nothing is as seductive
as possibility
it is the only certain alchemy
turning disappointment to hope

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Boyfriend Shot My Brother

My very first boyfriend, Fusco, was also a good friend of my brother Adam. He was my first boyfriend, and i was the first of my siblings to date anyone, so it was not very familiar territory. However, we mostly managed to all hang out together without too much awkwardness.

As i settled into the relationship more, i would sometimes hang back and let the boys do things together when Fusco came over. On one such occasion, they went into our back yard to play with Adam's pellet gun. They had set up some paper targets and were having a grand old time.

They were almost out of pellets, and they reloaded the chamber one last time. There were not quite enough pellets to fill the whole chamber. Neither of them counted how many pellets went in.

When the gun stopped firing, Fusco asked Adam to shoot him in the hand so he could feel how powerful the blast was. Adam obliged. Then, Fusco wanted Adam to feel the blast.

The pellet lodged itself in Adam's diaphragm. It was centimeters away from his aorta, his spine, and lots of other things the severing of which would have resulted in death. The doctors struggled to remove it, as it moved with each breath he took.

He survived and was totally fine in a few weeks, but we always joked about the "war wound" he sustained, right after Hurricane Katrina and in the middle of the War on Terrorism. Of course, this was six years before we knew that he'd have actual war wounds from Afghanistan, but Fusco still felt pretty terrible about the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Overheard in the Office 15

"He has a busted hand, because he got in a fight over the weekend. But I think he could be The One."

Monday, May 14, 2012

If I Won the Lottery

The first thing i would do would probably be a shopping spree on Amazon, buying every book and DVD i have ever wanted. Then i'd start looking for my dream house. I'd be able to actually hire movers this time, instead of making friends with people who have trucks and/or vans. I'd be out of Beer Street, and my boyfriend and i could move in together.

Then i'd pay off my school loans. All of them. I'd give my two weeks' notice at my job, train my replacement, and leave to focus on school. I'd be able to do my student teaching (one whole semester of unpaid, full-time classroom instruction) without worrying about bills.

I'd give to my church and my school. I'd be their new favorite alum.

I'd put most of it into my savings account, for future emergencies and kids and more grad school.

Oh, grad school . . . I'd definitely go back, again and again and again. I'd get an MFA in poetry, a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, maybe something in theology or Biblical studies or history. Or all of them.

I'd teach for a while, until John and i were ready to start having kids. I wouldn't mind being a stay-at-home mom, as long as we could pay the bills without too much stress. And i could write. Between the diapers and the Cheerios and wiping off the kitchen table and kissing boo-boos and hiding the cookies and the endless nursery rhymes and laundry and wiping off the table again, that is. I could blog, and i could write poetry, and i could get back to my secret novel, and i could write journals for my kids, and i could Tweet, and i could write letters to my congressman, and i could doodle on my own skin and paint words on the walls of my home and write labels for our organizational plastic bins and copy out my mother's best recipes and transcribe quotes and update my Facebook status and scribble letters to my brother and sisters and put love notes in my husband's and kids' lunchboxes and go through my old diaries and frame my thoughts anew.

Oh, the writing i would do!

I'd give to charities. I'd give away my car and buy a hybrid. I'd sponsor and foster and adopt kids. I'd fund microloans. I'd install solar panels on my roof and plant my own vegetables. I'd plant trees. I'd buy organic.

I'd teach part-time, here and there. I'd only take the jobs i really wanted, though. I'd teach English and psychology and life skills and writing and decent behavior to others and kindness and unconditional love and developmental reading and poetry and patience and assertiveness and looking out for others and philosophy and journalism and close reading and literary analysis and humor and surrender and romance and practicality and interview skills and research skills and debunking internet myths and budgeting your money.

I'd buy lots of really comfortable, flattering clothes, like jeans and cardigans and ballet flats. I'd get Lasik eye surgery, and maybe laser hair removal. I'd go to the doctor more often. I'd be able to go back on birth control. I'd buy myself a really long strand of real pearls. I'd buy myself some chocolate. I'd buy one set of really nice underwear from Victoria's Secret, and then go back to Marshalls for the rest of it.

I'd pay for my sisters' college, and any of my brother's bills not covered by the VA and the Marines. I'd give generous loans to my siblings, to college students, to my own students and friends, when they needed help, because i've been on the other side of that before and likely will be again. I'd take college students out for dinner, because sometimes they can't afford food and are too proud and self-sufficient to ask. I've been there, too.

I'd give to local homeless relief efforts. I'd make socks for clothing drives. I'd feed my kids' friends who maybe couldn't always count on a meal at home. I'd buy Christmas presents for children of prisoners, kids in orphanages, kids in homeless shelters, kids in institutions and rehabs, kids in dingy apartments far from home.

I'd save, not so that my kids never had to work hard or worry, because these things are good. I'd save so that i would always be in a position to offer them a safety net or a hand up in times of absolute emergency, because these things are good, too. I'd save for my retirement. I'd save for if (when) the economy falters again. I'd save because how could i ever spend that much money in one lifetime?

Oh, the things i could do if i ever won the lottery . . . Unfortunately, i understand that you have to actually buy a ticket to win. The odds are stacked pretty high against you either way, but they do improve marginally when you participate. I guess i'll just keep holding out hope that one day, someone will give me a ticket that will turn out to be the mega-million-jackpot winner. Until then, i'll keep on working and saving and trying not to worry too much.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Love

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last week, North Carolina recently passed the first ever amendment to their state constitution, banning gay marriage. This in spite of the fact that the amendment was redundant and that the language of it may also restrict heterosexual marriages.

One day later, President Obama went on CNN and told the nation that he supports the legal right of same-sex couples to marry.

Here's the thing: at no point did he say that being gay is or is not a sin. At no point did he talk about morality, or personal values, or what he and Michelle teach their children.

What he said was that there is no reason for same-sex couples to be denied the same legal rights that heterosexual couples already have.

I've written about gay marriage before, and while i'm still formulating a lot of my opinions, i want to say here and now that yesterday, i was proud to have voted for our President.

I also want to say this: stop saying that changing the legal definition of marriage is going to destroy the sanctity of marriage. If the gay couple next door is threatening the sanctity of your marriage, your marriage was already on the rocks.

Marriage is between two partners. Sometimes, it is between two partners and one God. Sometimes it is between two partners and many gods. Sometimes it is between several partners (there is a reason that polygamous families call one another "sister-wives". The marriage is between them all).

But never is marriage between two partners and two other partners. My marriage may be rocked by your infidelity, but if my marriage collapses because of your mistake, i was already doing something wrong. Someone else's marriage should never be the last straw for yours.

I still don't really know what i think about the morality of homosexuality, and i still don't think it's entirely up to me to say. But i do know that a country which allows people who love one another to make a lifelong commitment is a country i am proud to live in, and a President who supports the civil rights of all human beings, regardless of whether or not he agrees with their choices, is a President who has my vote for a second term.

My freedom of speech only exists if you are also free to speak, even if you say things that offend me or that i disagree with.

My freedom to worship only exists if you are also free to worship, even if you worship a god i don't believe in, or worship my God in a way i don't like.

My freedom to marry someone i love only exists if you are also free to marry someone you love, even if i think your love is sinful.

If we give more freedom to one group of people than to another, it is not freedom. Freedom means sometimes being exposed to things that make us uncomfortable. Just know that shame, fear, and loathing will never win souls. The only thing that can reach a person lost in sin is love.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reason #11 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

After our lunchtime quickie, he was talking about how excited he was to go again later in the day when we would have more time. "Yeah, that's right," he concluded, "we use sex as foreplay!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Adulthood 101

To bring in a little extra cash and to practice for my future job, i do a little grading for one of my former professors. She recently brought me a stack of papers to look over for her. In sorting through them together, we discovered one handwritten piece with no name.

"Well, someone is going to be squawking about their grade, and I'll have to look through a whole file of assignments with no names to find it, and then I'll have to change their grade, and . . . " she trailed off, exhausted by the mere prospect of the work ahead.

Here's the thing, people: PUT YOUR NAME ON SHIT. For the love of all that is holy, when you have done an assignment for a class and are ready to turn it in, PUT YOUR NAME ON IT.

If your name is not on it, you cannot receive credit for it. If you do not receive credit for it, your grade will be lower than you may have hoped for. If you do not talk to your professor about why your grade is low, you may not discover that there is one very easy solution for your troubles: putting your name on your paper.

I'm in classes with graduate students who don't do this. Do you think the professor is psychic? Were you confused by the absence of a line saying "name" under it? We just assumed that, by the time you had graduated high school, you would be able to find a spot somewhere near the top to cram your name in. We assumed you would have the intelligence and good sense to put your name on your work, ensuring that you get credit for it.

Put your name on EVERYTHING except anonymous surveys. Take credit for your work. Make sure everyone knows who did this amazing work. And if it's less than amazing, guess what? Still your fault. Write your name on it.

Adulthood means taking credit and/or responsibility for all that you do. It means exercising common sense. It means asking questions when you feel you haven't gotten full credit for your accomplishments.

There will be a pop quiz on this. Many times. For the rest of your life.