Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Drive from St. George to Mesquite

is an hour and a half of tensed nerves,
knotted stomach,
of fantasies filling the arid void,
chambers of loaned,

and parts of Arizona.

May well be my last voyage here

No sense of self;
no sense of home,
now. Tonight

cast frustrations in the river valley with
the lot of them.
Tee-off in case

saints and their mothers get the shakes.
The heavy-laden palm of straddling knowing and yet still wanting
holds me at the table.

Friday, July 22, 2005


“Must be nice…” I managed to muffle, smothered by the heaviness of my TS Eliot texts and Wordsworthian criticism books. I was already short of breath focusing so hard on carrying the load, but I couldn’t help but notice them. The two. They were like haunting shadows on campus. I saw them everywhere, and on days like this I wonder if they purposely made efforts to follow me. If they conjured up some stalker-like game in their twisted lovebird minds on just how much more miserable they can make me. They made my bowels loose just watching them look at each other. I’m so sick of it. Of them. The two.

So sick of me. Alone.

I boarded the bus feeling numb and hollow. In disgust, I dumped the weighty books on the velveteen seat beside me. I looked out the dirt-smeared window hoping to catch a glimpse of the clouds, but instead I saw them by the Vari Hall fountain. Snuggling. Who the heck snuggles on a 95 degree day? The two. Always the two, blocking out the sun with their butterfly kisses. I closed my eyes for the sake of my sanity and felt the bus jerk me backward as it took off.

I whispered a prayer of thanks under my breath and opened my eyes.

And that’s when I saw him...

This little Asian kid making funny faces at me. He had ring of dried red popsicle dye encircling his mouth, which cradled an extended tongue directed my way. His little arms flailing away, hitting the business man sitting beside him. Where is his mother? These kids have no manners nowadays, I swear.

I sighed, slumped lower in my seat and closed my eyes again for the rest of the journey home.

I cringed with defeat and accepted this single fact: soulmates don’t ride on the 4 o'clock bus.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

October 5th

Eight o'clock came and went without so much as an annoying friend's call, or even a wrong number. Nine trawled by bringing with it, one minute at a time, swollen waves of both the good kind and the bad kind of anxiety. Would Simon ever call? First Beah had absolutley convinced herself that Simon was an hour ahead of her and that she had missed his call. Then she wrapped herself warmly in the possibility that Framingham was an hour behind, and that he'd call at any minute--any of about one hundred minutes that she'd already spent waiting. In the worst case scenario, she worked out, he was really only twenty-five minutes late with the call. Twenty-five minutes can easily and understandably translate into a long line at the supermarket or traffic or, better yet, a long line at the supermarket AND traffic. Or, if you're a light sort of person bound by uncontrollable dark tendencies, which is how Beah fancied herself, twenty-five minutes can easily become the first fifteen hundred seconds of heartbreak.

Beah had a Wal-mart mirror duct-taped to her dorm room door. Above the mirror was a plastic sticky-hook useful for hanging notes to her roommate, or keys, or a visitor's jacket, or a bedsheet...Beah had only done that once this month; she was diligent in keeping track of her progress. The sheet idea actually helped some. Ironically, it came from a magazine Beah read while waiting at health services to see her real doctor (real is such a relative term). Incidentally, Beah had to wait for three hours to see the doctor that day and she barely noticed it. The doctor couldn't find anything wrong with Beah, and suggested that she drink plenty of water and take a walk whenever she felt anxious. It's not hard to see why Beah placed more stock in her magazine.

In a few steps, Beah crossed the small room and touched the sheet. The linen floated to the ground to reveal Beah's reflection staring at her gut. Beah turned on her toes to her left, her eyes never leaving her midsection. The same move (to the right) allowed her to study herself evenly. Beah's brow and lips curled up in a defeated frown. She was still ugly. And she was just getting started. Beah locked the door and glanced behind her. The venetian blinds were slanted upwards, and nobody could see in. She lifted off her shirt and stared at the fat girl in jeans and the bra and. Ugly still. Sexy underwear didn't do its job right either. Shedding her pants only revealed a fat pelvis oozing out of the sides of her bikini bottom. She grabbed at the flesh and smoothed it away imagining what a thinner pelvis would look like. If anyone else had been in the room, they'd have seen Beah's peaceful look. She only got this look whenever she drifted far away in her mind. If that same person could have been an observer in Beah's mind, they'd have learned something quite shocking. "Thinner" was indeed the operative word. Contrary to an educated man's guess, Beah's ideal vision of herself was not a cold and angular frame with sunken features and spindly limbs. In her fantasy, she was only a few inches smaller and simply daring enough to wear clothes that didn't hide her curves, but hugged them. In fact, Beah's vision of "thinner", may easily have been another girl's vision of "ghastly". Naturally, it goes almost without saying then, that Beah's current vision of "ugly" very well may be the plateau of perfection in a larger dreamer's cross-hairs. But other girls never mattered to Beah, because Beah had it fixed in her mind that she was ugly. And why would Simon want to call an ugly girl? Not caring at all to gaze upon her own fat cleavage, Beah closed her eyes, knelt for the sheet, and hung it back on the hook. Beah would have to remember to make a note that now she had used the bedsheet twice this month.

Monday, July 18, 2005

How to Interpret a Joke

Why you never question a drunk:

A woman was shopping at her local supermarket where she selected a half-gallon of 2% milk, a carton of eggs, a quart of orange juice, a head of romaine lettuce, a 2 lb. can of coffee, and a 1 lb. package of bacon.

As she was unloading her items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind her watched as she placed the items in front of the cashier. While the cashier was ringing up her purchases, the drunk calmly stated, "You must be single."

The woman was a bit startled by this proclamation, but she was intrigued by the derelicts intuition, since she was indeed single. She looked at her six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about her selections that could have tipped off the drunk to her marital status. Curiosity got the better of her and she said, "Well, you know what, you're absolutely correct. But how on earth did you know that?"

The drunk replied, " 'Cause you're ugly."

I got in trouble some months ago for sending that e-mail joke along. I learned a lesson. People tend to take jokes at face value. If it's crude on one level, the logic goes, so is the content, form and subtext.

The punch-line may indeed be crude. It's not crude to the extent of a Howard Stern toss-off or the rudeness of most sitcoms - this reliance on sarcasm in the form of a dubiously archetypical family unit. But rude nonetheless. The form of the joke itself, however, is pure jackpot gold. What made me laugh out loud after reading it - silently, with, I swear, my lips pursed - was the pacing of the joke itself, its rhythmic paydirt. The misleading direction, the faux voice of wisdom, the succinct four syllable epoch. They all contribute to a sense of bamboozlement and bedazzlement that is rare in the written word - or at least mass emailings.

However, language purists (By that I mean those of an opinion, like myself, that the semiotic relationship between language [signs] and their remnants [in the case of the positive or negative signified] is strong in the mind and hence the soul. Therefore, language should be carefully construed in a positive manner. The difference between this and political correctness is that the changes are made at an individual and community level, from the bottom around, not through academia or regulations on down.) may have a point. The skill in telling a joke in itself does not justify the poisoning of the communal wells and individual psyches. Are not too many people affected, embittered and embattled by socially induced and eventually internalized claims of ugliness, of unwantedness?

The argument, of course, has merit. But to dismiss a joke as merely the set-up to a crude comment in purpose is to miss the essence and existence of a joke: a telling of a story. And, as with any fine story worth being told, there is not only the text, there is the subtext - the underlying story in the reading of the elements against and within the whole of the text. Through this effect, a different message or moral emerges. Those who look only at the surface text of the above anecdote and read it literally see merely a mocking. They hear a disparaging speech-act by a wizened and world-weary voice from the corners of the market place. A man who has been around long enough to understand the ways of the world and has opted to step out, to offer his Ecclesiastical pearls while casually rummaging through the remains of the capitalist infrastructure.

The reader assumes that the message that the drunk gives is informed and is therefore the message that the protagonist - and therefore, the reader - should accept.

With all that being said, the drunken man - the voice from the shadows - is not a voice of wisdom. He's drunk! It's the voice of foolishness!

Singles: We are not alone because we're ugly. We are alone because our standards are high.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Charmaine's Law

My name is Charmaine Chaffe. It's French. I am six years old.
I have a big brother named Duke (that's not his real name; his real name is Donald) and a little brother named Charles. Both me and Charles' names start with a "Cha" but that wasn't on purpose because everyone is always asking, and our last name starts with a "Cha", so I'm telling before you ask, that the answer is "No."
Today is my parents' annualversary. My dad is going to buy my mom some flowers, and bring them home in a long box. Then they're going to go out to an adult restaurant where you have to dress up before you can eat. Duke is mad because my dad is still getting a baby sitter. Duke is 10 years old (going to be 11 this August) and he says that he can handle me and Charles, and he doesn't like Missy the daughter of our next store neighbor who is usually our babysitter. I like Missy because she always lets us watch TV, but only NickJr. or PBSKids. We used to be able to watch TBN, but there's too many demons getting cast out and Missy doesn't want them to fly to our house and scare us when we're sleeping. Anyway, I like Missy because she also always reads us a poem from her journal before we go to bed. Charles is too young to even remember Missy. Duke doesn't like Missy because Missy doesn't eat lots and lots of sugar, and one of our other babysitters, Ida, used to make us chocolate chunk cookie bars, but even though it was good, Missy said that it was only good to your mouth, but bad to your tummy, and that's true because once I ate 3 bars all by myself and I got ingestation. I thought I was going to pop. Missy makes carrot cookies with ginger and honey. I didn't like them the first time, but now they're good. Duke never likes them, and my mommy likes them so much that sometimes she pays Missy extra just to make some cookies. Missy said that she would teach me the restapee, but I think it's okay for now because I'm not even allowed to touch the stove. I only got allowed to touch the plug when I turned 6. My mom got me a veggie tales lamp that plugs in and lights up. It's kind of plastic, but I like it anywyay. So that's why Duke doesn't like Missy. I was going to tell you about how I'm going to be a policelady when I grow up, but I have to eat now. I'll be back and tell you that part later.
Bye bye,,,,

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Physician, heal thyself!

The implied irony is that the physician, despite vast powers of restoration at his fingertips, despite immeasurable knowledge and experience, is incapable of letting his own bad blood. Although he knows the innermost workings of the body, he doesn't understand the precise locality of his own functions and organs. And no dim mirror or lamp could correct that. He has saved so many before, yet now is left utterly alone and disdained, shunned by a world incapable of understanding that the procedure is much too daunting to attempt, let alone succeed.

The physician cannot heal himself, no matter how loud, earnest or vulgarly we demand of him.

The task is left to the creator, then, to restore, to make whole again, to bring back to the original state of creation.

The last of the minor, non-apocryphal prophets assured his hearers in the closing chapter of the Hebrew Old Testament that, "For you who fear (God's) name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings." The attention is not on the individual or even on the community, but on God and his healing. (Malachi 4)

The winged sun. It would seem to be an Apollos-style metaphor, a glorious god-figure riding high in all his splendid majesty. But to my mind, the association rings Phoenix-ian, a rising bird from the ashes and clutch of death. A being alive, fully alive.

Another prophet, working during an intense civil war and painfully aware of an impending devastation, Isaiah points to a future where things will be restored for his people, the Israelites. Again, the worker is God, who breaks in order to heal.

Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your cattle.... The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter - like the light of seven days! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.
"The wounds he gave them."

For who can hurt like the Maker? And who can heal like the Maker? It's interesting to note that the LORD doesn't just heal indiscriminately. Before this passage, it is noted that the recipients will shun - no, despise and dispose - their previous gods in favor of this everlasting One. "You will throw them out like filthy rags. 'Ugh!' you will say to them. 'Begone!'" (Isaiah 30)

The wounds God gave his people then are transposed to his Suffering Servant, a man willing to take the punishment and wrath of God on our behalf. It only shows how much our rebellion is against God to see that God was delighted "to crush him and fill him with grief" when he was filled with our wounds and our trespasses.

Trespasses. The word is weightier and more fitting than sin. Sin, in the modern vernacular, has positive connotations. To call someone a sinner means that she does not abide by an archaic and stringent set of societal and personal rules. It means that he lives by the standards of the day, by his own rules. To trespass, on the other hand, is to make an affront to someone else, to violently set yourself, your body and all, against someone else's right and space. And, in this case, the other is the Other; it - or he - is God.

The Suffering Servant, then, the Man of Sorrows acquainted with bitterest grief, takes those trespasses committed by all - those grievances against God and his place - and carries them, puts them upon himself. He miraculously translates them into the positive, into the restorative process.

"He was beaten that we may have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!" (Isaiah 53)

The physician is impotent. The doctor is diseased. We cannot afford to stare at our wounds and wonder. Decisive action is imminent. Healing (pardon the pun) is in the wings.

* All quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

Friday, July 08, 2005

1.54 Angstroms

A revolutionary author has saved the world with his newest book.
What happens when teenage Christian carbon atoms begin a pattern of bonding and breaking up and bonding and breaking up with no real sense of lifelong commitment??
You guessed it. Atomic explosion happens. For the rest of us composed of atoms, this is bad news. Atoms on fire are bad news atoms. We don't want our atoms to burn. Thankfully, carbon atoms everywhere are looking at their bonds in a new way with the advent of the book:
"I Kissed Carbon Dating Goodbye"
A Darwinist who, too, treasures his atomic compostion commented:
"Despite my ideological stance, and my hatred for Creationist propaganda, the danger of split atoms is clear and present. I'm mad, but I'd much rather remain metaphorically incensed, and not literally so."

Well put.

Guys....what now? this freakin thing is sparse....maybe we need to get a webaddress or something....and jump into some dreamweaver...oh, I'm sorry Gabi, I meant...NOTEPAD....


now what?
But I think I goofed, because I don't know if you guys can add to this yet...
just a sec..