Here in Seattle we have this program where you can hop on a bike and ride it around and when you’re done you leave it for someone else to use.
It’s a Greeny thing. Seattle is big on the Enviro Movement.
On Most mornings I see a gaggle of bikes parked in or around a handicapped parking space in a local business’s parking lot.
Why snag the Handicapped space? I don’t know- maybe the idea is if they don’t SEE a handicapped person in need of the space, they can take it. You know, it’s like the idea if you close your eyes the world disappears until you open them again.
Even if they don’t jam their bike (s) into the handicapped space they park them next to the space next to the Handicapped Space, which is a non- parking space because if you’re a handicapped person who needs to use the door on the passenger side of the car, having that room to navigate is essential.
It’s such a jerk thing to do.
So I guess I want to say, thanks for saving the planet. You’re awesome, please let me be first to kiss your Environment- First Ass.
But while you’re out there saving the world, just don’t be such a massive Dick about it, okay?
You’re reading these words on a screen. Screens — comforting, addictive, inescapable — are everywhere, especially when we read and write (and blog). Today, write a poem about, against, or in homage to the screens in your life. Or write about some other kind of screen — for example, the one stretched across your window, or the piece of cloth on which movies are projected at the theater.
It chased me in my dreams
it chases me when I wake
why do you follow me
into the bathroom?
why do you care what I eat
what I wear
what I think?
Are you a God? A Devil? A Demon?
You judge my harshly Facebook, you frown upon me, scold me
When I chose to think
or chose to be
You ask when I sin
when I vote
when I’m good
and when I’m bad.
Did I fly a Rainbow flag?
Did I weep for the kittens
left in a bag, on a road
defenseless in the cold?
Do you think you
My Mom or my Dad?
Because I know you are not
I’m glad you’re not.
in your cyberbones.
I wish we could
pull your plug, cut your cord
to the very end
of each and every day.
How can we turn you off, turn you away, live for the moment
One Summer I decided to learn about art, paintings and sculptures. So I studied the works of various artists-and found I wasn’t partial to any at the time.
Then I took class and ended up at a gallery.
It turned out that even though it was an Introduction class, most of the people in it could have taught the class themselves. Or maybe the ones who didn’t know about art kept their mouths shut because they were intimidated and were able to look really smart.
I’m sure I was coming across as one of the dogs who tilts their head to the side when you talk to them- but what the heck, I was there to learn.
As we went from painting to painting, people in the class took turns impressing each other with their knowledge. It was hard to sort it out, but it sounded like they were saying the same thing.
I finally sucked it up and I volunteered some info about what I saw and wouldn’t you know it? I was looking at the painting I had read about the artist, I scanned the cheat sheet- I mean ” program” they handed out at the door but was told I didn’t understand what what the painting was ” saying”.
From that point it went on.
I had never been called stupid in so many classy big words in my life.
I felt like a door had been slammed shut in my face.
Fine, I thought. That’s just fine.
Pompous jerks- why on Earth would I spend my hard earned money to be called ignorant…excuse me ” a novice…ho ho ho. “
It was years before I went into another gallery again.
It seems fitting that after being banished from the world of art, I should be welcomed back by this painting:
This is Lucifer by Franz Von Stuck.
He was hanging on a wall, in a place of prominence- or maybe it just felt that way on the day I saw it for the first time.
It was funny because people wouldn’t walk up to it and stare- they didn’t walk around it and stand in different spots on the floor to observe it the way you’re supposed to in order to see the painting from different perspectives ( I actually liked learning to do that ).
It was the biggest, loneliest picture in the room- given that I had no idea it was such a famous picture- but I knew I liked it because I understood it and I’m not going to eat it and say I’m wrong.
As I stood there admiring Lucifer, I saw the anger, the loneliness and the defiance of his situation. Maybe nobody wanted to be reminded how easy it is to be in that place. I don’t think anyone wants to be in that situation- and they probably don’t want to be at the receiving end of that anger burning in those yellow eyes.
Some of us have cast aside people we claimed to love, to care about. We have all held someone up and that dropped them to the depths of Hell and watched them burn.
If I were such a person, I don’t think I’d like this picture-because somewhere is someone thinking of you with the same exact look on their face.
I guarantee it.
Now there’s a thought that would scare the Hell out of people.
Since that day I have become a great admirer of Von Stuck. I love his paintings- the stories they tell, and I don’t really care if I’m ‘wrong’ or if I’m not seeing it the ‘right way’.
I’ve gone on to admire other works- but Franz is my favorite because he opened the door to a world that had been closed to me and my life has become a little richer for it.
As a writer I have learned that good stories take on a life of their own- that when someone reads your work and they see it in their head, you know you’ve struck a chord and your story will live.
It goes out into the world and grows and spawns new ideas and other work.
Some of you, who are not pure of heart and spirit, may remember the joke people made when they got caught reading Playboy:
” I only read it for the articles.”
We all knew that was balderdash- people weren’t reading Playboy they were LOOKING at Playboy.
I’m not here to judge- and if you want to look at pictures of naked people be my guest.
What I’m here to do is point out that people are dragging that sold old punch line out and they’ve applied it to…
Facebook is all about the pictures- we just have a hard time admitting that. So we write little quips and string together one liners and call it communication- but really it’s all about the pictures.
I think it’s fine if people are using Facebook as a way to communicate if they’re housebound or in a place where for some reason making actual human contact is a challenge.
Moreover not everyone can be a storyteller- so if you want to share your dinner or pictures of your dog and kids and night out with your friends with other people who do that- knock yourself out.
But if you’re a writer ( for example ) Facebook is a creative killer.
Instead of taking those ideas that could turn into actual stories or posts or articles, they disintegrate into a Meme. Or you skip it altogether and instead of turning a person you know or met by chance into an interesting character you just slam this on your wall and call it a day:
That’s not writing.
It will never be writing.
If you’re a writer don’t fool yourself, you’re not sharing an idea or telling a story. You’re doing the hi-tech version of writing on a bathroom stall.
In the old days picture above would have ended up in the margin of my notebook and I’d have turned it into a story about two people who end up willing to fight to the death for a parking space- and then when they realize they’re deadlocked they make a deal with the Devil.
Nobody ever will comment under that picture” and what happened next?”
The point I’m trying to make is, if I want to share something a story about my dog or how my same old daily bus ride is more then it appears or how I saw something strange or cruel or funny- I can do more then slam a picture on FB and post under it:
I’m supposed to be a writer. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be or do.
I shouldn’t settle for doing less when I know I have so much more to offer.
The trick is letting go of Facebook.
I’ve bought into the notion that this is where people ‘live’ now and if I don’t live there I will not be living at all.
I didn’t find this story on a piece of paper floating down the street.
In the real world nobody uses paper to send notes- they don’t even Write anymore. They print. Probably in blocky letters because that’s what we see on our phone screens and laptop screens and what ever screen is attached to the electronic device that we HAVE to carry with us.
I mean, all of these devices are our secondary brains now.
You know that right?
My sister told me this story and it was so weird and almost unbelievable that I went and looked it up.
Some schools are no longer going to teach cursive and do you what some of them have offered as a reason? It’s a waste of time. Funny considering most kids can’t tell time on a clock with or without numbers on its face anymore.
I have a theory, people aren’t writing at all anymore. They communicate in pictures.
Check your Facebook wall.
We use pictures with little quips to express complete thoughts and ideas.
The Egyptians did that. They wrote in pictures- but guess what. Those symbols made the same sound ever single time.
You couldn’t use random pictures to express random ideas or to let someone know your dog or cat died ( pictures of rainbows over a bridge…that’s all you have to ‘write”) You just slam that on the interwebs with your dog’s name and everyone will know what you ‘mean’.
I remember when I was learning cursive in the 3rd grade ( I’d have been about 9 years old ) , we had these workbooks and until you got the exercises perfect you had to print your schoolwork.
I worked like a son of a gun to be ‘perfect’ so did my friend Darren.
But we had the worst penmanship in class and the only reason we got to final write in cursive was the entire class had perfected their penmanship so we got in by default.
Still, I loved writing in cursive even though our teacher told me and Darren in front of our entire class if he could had held us back and forced us to print for the rest of the year he would have.
So he came up with a new grading system just for us. I could get an ” A ” on my spelling test and an “F” in penmanship so it would knock my grade down to a ” B” or ” C”. Didn’t matter if I spelled every single word write and got the answers right on my test, he still bust me down to a lower grade because my writing was bad.
He didn’t do that to anyone else but me and Darren- because you know, we had the worst writing so it was a special system just for us.
Just as a side note, our teacher went on to be a Missionary. I had hoped he’d end up in one of those places where there were head hunters and cannibals and he’d end up with his head on a stick or stewing in a pot.. Instead he ended up in a place where he hated the people and they hated him right back. So he returned to our school a few years later where he talked about the ” ignorant savages” who couldn’t be saved ( you really shouldn’t talk smack in a small town ) and when I saw him I said, with genuine disappointment:
” Oh. You’re alive.”
My point is this: I worked hard to learn cursive- and I had to learn it from a teacher who thought cetain kids were ‘savages’. So it was a struggle and the day I was allowed to write in cursive was a big day- even though I took a verbal slap to the face on the day it happened.
Cursive isn’t just putting pen to paper- along with telling a good story, or writing a letter it should be pleasing to the eye and the brain. It takes time and it’s worth it.
It actually helps you think about what you’re writing when you can’t just throw up a picture or race across a keyboard.
For a moment, just consider the Egyptians.
Consider all of the work that went into it when they wrote.
When you look at what they wrote you can see the beauty and the grace in it.
What’s wrong with having that in your life? With being able to create it, even if it’s just on a shopping list or a note telling your kid to feed the dog.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it at all.
We could all do with a little more of those two things in our lives.
Hmmm, how do I answer this…when the last time I ate Humble Pie or had it very nearly rammed down my throat with a backhoe?
I have chosen to live a life where being right is ALL THAT MATTERS, WINNING ALWAYS MATTERS, IF YOU ARE WRONG THEN DIE! DIE! DIE!
There is no coming back from being wrong in the Universe I live in.
Pronounce a word wrong…nose slap, wear the wrong color, shame on you! Support the wrong candidate- OMG if you lose you have to show up on your knees on election night and apologize for being such an idiot for NOT SEEING THE LIGHT.
So when do I not eat Humble Pie?
When I’m right.
When am I right?
Do I ‘fess up?
When you are surrounded by people who need to be right at all costs and you will never win and frankly it doesn’t really matter anymore so you spend a lot of your time smooshed on the road to Self Righteous and Smug all you can do two things: