Thursday, October 28, 2004

IC Job Blob & My Blue Velvet Scheme

Oh dear the following email is just so typical of the Iowa City job scene, I decided to keep a file of these jewels. I call it the IC Job Blob. This one was for a one time gig taking practice tests for American College Tiger Beat & Associates:

Thank you for your interest in the ACT fieldtest. However, at this time allof our sessions are full. We will, however, keep your name in case we havesome cancellations. We hope that you will consider ACT again should we haveany additional fieldtest opportunities.

While reading it, I remembered a link to one of the funniest pieces of animation I'd seen in years which - SURPRISE - is about not having a job. Here is the link:

Meanwhile I do have another freelance writing gig which I am finding no end of unurgent tasks to get out of working on. The situation has become ridiculous. Thank you notes are more important. That unorganized shelf in the bathroom closet can no longer be tolerated. I have not conducted quite enough interviews -- never mind the 320 I already have. Why just today, I decided it was time to find a "more fun" sig file for one of my email accounts and blew a good 40 minutes tooling around quotation sites.

People keep telling me to be gentle with myself right now. Is this what they meant? Oh, I heard a pretty reliable rumor that David Lynch has a house in Vedic City in Fairfield so I have a grandmaster scheme of revamping my personal cheffing(two "f"s?) business and hitting up the HollyMidwest Crew in TMville (shhhh-don't tell). Meanwhile, here are some pretty funny links I ran into while sorting through an inbox looking for the "no job" cartoon and deleting old mail (more urgent work - ha!). Enjoy 'em. ( "repeat it loudly enough and it will become the truth" -noam chomsky) (shouldn't that soap be in his mouth?) (what can I say? i can't watch this without howling.) (yes, you are old and losing your sight) (old pentagon conspiracy revealed!)

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Night Boys

Okay, no big surprises in my night life. My dreams continue to be pretty darn predictable in the wake of my father's sudden death. The theme for the previous two days has been losing other people I care deeply about coupled with Mighty Mousian "HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY" heriocs of various men from my past who have been especially kind and, well, fatherly to me.

Last night I was treated to gorgeous abstract expressionist graffiti-esque muraling all over the walls of my home by an old friend from the east coast. I came home from work to discover he had flown in and turned the formerly bland walls of my apartment into breath taking works of art. Now some people would have gotten angry at such a gesture -- he painted my walls without permission!!! -- but I was thrilled. It made me feel loved and cared for. He worked hard on them and, good gravy, walls can repainted!

Then in a later episode of REM, I had been traveling in Africa and another friend who I seem to have adopted as a sleepover paternal figure was eager to have me come stay with him in rural NY and talk about my travels. He was just so happy for me, knowing that Africa has been a life long dream (okay, redundant) and I had finally been able to go.

Hah! - one my sweet former beaus just called as I am typing this post. Haven't dreamed about him yet but I'm certain I will. He's been keeping me in good music for years. Last night I was at a meeting and a woman told me to let people love me through this loss. Hey, I think I've got my arms open in the right way this time. Bring it on, baby.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Rollerskates & George Jetson Fantasies

Write it down and, SHAZAM, I'm going to have a wish fullfillment dream about it. Last night's was a beaute. Yesterday I wrote about a recent "goofball" incident and how graceless I have a tendency to be. In what has lately become my favorite past time/reality -- early this morning in the middle of a hefty cycle of REM -- I was rollerskating effortlessly under a freeway ramp (no shit - "free" "way" - it's too rich!) We are not talking rollerblades here, but the type of skates I truly love -- four wheels on each boot with a stopper on the toe. Wow, I was so happy gliding around in them there shoes.

In the later 80's, a group of groovy gal pals and I decided we wanted to start skating like kids again and we wanted our own skates circa 1959. We rummaged through thrift stores for weeks. My friends eventually found vintage skates as they had small feet. Vintage clothes are so small. I wear a size 10 (I'm 5'11" for goodness sake) so I ended up having to settle for new ones which I lucked into at a Batimore County TJ Maxx. We went to roller rinks on Sunday afternoons. I practiced in my basement and at a track around a lake about a mile from my home. I got pretty good. Dare I say I may have even been graceful? I know I certainly felt free. Ahhh....

Perhaps it's time to begin the search for a new pair of skates. I miss that feeling. I certainly didn't want to wake up this morning. When my alarm went off I heard it in dreamland first. I was unlacing my skates and sitting with one of those unidentifiable persons who show up in your dreams in order to have a body around to make a comment to every once and awhile (not unlike a bad relationship - smile), when I looked up and saw a woman falling from the sky with a mattress. I said, "OMG, that poor woman is probably going to die." The anonymous other very calmly replied, "No, it's okay. She'll be fine." And I was. I got up. Made coffee. Took a shower. Kept my George-Jetson-on-the-conveyour-belt-in-the-morning fantasies to a minimum and started to do the stuff I'd committed to do.

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Typical Goofball Meg

On the advice post, I was just trying to make a point about irony. I have learned the hard way that it is important to remain open to things and be "teachable" -- within reason. It's a wonderful thing to have someone to trust (hopefully all of us have or will have many people to trust in our lives). What I have learned at the ripe (and not so ripe) age of 43 is that people have to earn my trust and, consequently, I need to earn theirs. There is a line in the Michael Mann film "Heat" delivered by Robert DeNiro's character that I am esp. fond of, "I say what I mean and I mean what I say." Certainly not a standard I can live up to all the time but I try. The folks I choose as mentors are peeps who do this.

Oh dear, that sounds kind of preachy. Sorry.

So I did a typical goofball Meg the other night. I met this woman who was new to Iowa City and asked her if she wanted to grab a cup of coffee. In the two short blocks to the Java House, I managed to trip on a curve and go crashing into the sidewalk. Please note this was on a Friday night before a football game so I had a hefty audience...YEH! I've now got a big fat bruise on my right hip and shoulder and a double doozy scab on my right knee -- not to mention a big 'ol hole in my favorite gray pants. Fortunately on the pants I can now wear black tights under them and do a Meg Redoes the Punk Years thing. The best part of this whole deal is that if my possible new friend had any delusions of me having my shit together or of my being the cool, together WASP chick -- I suspect they were immediately dispelled. God, I hope they were.

Hey, in case anyone has been wondering I am still considering the question of who should replace Frank Conroy as head of the Iowa Writer's Finishing School. To those who have written and suggested that I'd be the natural choice, I'm honored but I've made it clear to the necesssary parties that even I know I'm not up to snuff on this one. However, I did make inquires on that miracle spring water I wrote about some months ago and have a case or two to sell - did I wink or did I laugh?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Meg Does Manners - November Sneak Peak

Dear Meg,

A few months ago I began seeing someone who is apparently quite a good artist. She's had shows in many major museums. She just gave me one of her paintings and I didn't "get" it. I guess I'm an artistic dunce because I made the classic business man-meets-modern-art mistake and hung the thing upside down. When she saw it in my house she didn't say anything but her friend later clued me in. Now I'm really embarrassed. Do I turn it around or what?


My Dear Dick,

Why not use your gaff as a chance to make inquiries so that your new gal can teach you about something? In other words, don't turn it around, engage her in conversation about her area of expertise. Ask her she what she thinks of the location you selected, why she chose certain colors or shapes in the painting, etc. Most of us like to share our interests with those to whom we are attracted and, believe me, if she were not attracted to you she would not have parted with one of her paintings. Making these sorts of inquiries is common courtesy. As 19th century British poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in Idylls of the King, "The greater man, the greater courtesy."

I would be surprised if your friend was offended by the way you hung her painting and if she was, better to discover these sorts of sensitivities sooner than later, no? I understand how you feel. While visiting friends in Barcelona some years back, I picked up a wee ceramic pot at their home and asked, "Oh, did Olivia make this when she was a little girl?" The answer was, "No, Picasso did -- when he was all grown-up." Ooops. The bottom line here, Dick, is not to play yourself false with spurious raves or feign any continued pretense as the fool. Just leave some room for benign misunderstanding and remain teachable. Remember, we all make mistakes.



Dear Meg,

I've noticed over the past few years, that tip jars have become ubiquitous at takeout restaurants and other places where employees are not traditionally tipped. I'm generally happy to get rid of change, so I'll commonly toss my coins into the jar. My question is this -- what about my 2 cents? I often find myself stopping by a local coffee shop in the morning for Java and a pastry. The tab for my standard order is $2.98. The staff there is inevitably friendly and helpful, so I'd normally be disposed to dropping my change in the jar. I do worry that a 2 cent tip would be considered an insult (which is the opposite of what I'd wish). What should I do with my pennies?


My Dear Ellen,

Have you ever heard that advice about trusting your instincts? Well, I'd suggest you trust yours which seem to be quite astute. Ben Franklin's advice of "a penny saved is a penny earned" is often well heeded but a tip of two of them is insulting. This is a situation where you'd be better off doing nothing than something at all.

What I would suggest is speaking to the morning shift manager about the possibility and leaving a more substantial gratuity on a weekly basis with the understanding that it would be shared equally among the staff who waited on you that week. You might even decide to ask the manager to keep your identity anonymous. Giving with no expectation of recognition or reward can be especially rewarding and this may also spare you any feeling of obligation if you find yourself having a financially lean week.In the meantime take those Lincoln heads, find a good fountain, and wish for continued good judgment and counsel.



Friday, October 08, 2004

The Irony of Advice & Ann Marlowe

While browsing through email subscriptions earlier, I was interested to see that How to Stop Time author Ann Marlowe will be blogging from Afghanistan through October 23.

I found Marlowe's memoir (HtST) on her struggle with heroin addiction painfully analytical and could not stick around for the conclusion to her story. I generally try to finish a book once I start it but on this one I threw in the towel. Given the fact that some 40% of Afghanistan's economy has been dependent on opium farming and Marlowe will have a chance to be faced with the real dregs of addiction, it will be fascinating to follow what she has to say. Her autobiography was a little too insistent on the fact that she had not really suffered any consequences as the result of her addiction. Hhhhmm. This assignment seems subsequently ironic.

On the subject of irony, I had a very funny conversation last night. I had told a group of people about my father dying and a man came up to me and after prefacing his comments with a disclaimer about not usually giving advice -- he proceeded to give me some (it was decent stuff and counsel I have delivered myself.) I agreed with him completely about not generally giving advice. I like that little saying "No helpful suggestions". But as I was walking home later, I realized the absurdity of the situation in that I am a "professional" advice columnist and I was standing there saying, "Oh yes, I agree." and he was saying he hates to give out the shit but he was doing it anyway. The situation was kinda sweet, I guess.

We are such ridiculous creatures, we humans. If I didn't laugh at myself and others (in a primarily good-natured way), I would surely go insane.

Hey Franklin, good joke yesterday. Sorry it didn't quite make the cut but keep trying!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Help Me

I cannot figure out how to link other people's blogs from mine to save my life? Can any of you explain this to me in a way that is a bit more simple than the clowns at Blogger? I'm not a dumb girl but this is making me feel like a complete ninnie. Sorry to sound so desperate.

I've been living in Wendell Berry land too long (aka Luddite-ville). I'm getting hip to the "boy in the bubble and the baby with baboon heart."


The most gorgeous pieces of art I've seen in Iowa City for quite some time are at the top of the stairs of the Public Library. They are by a woman named Sheryl Ellinwood. Took my breath away. I hope any local readers I have will check them out. It's nice to see someone else is still working with strips of torn words.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Two Poems for My Father by a Nice Guy from Hutchinson, Kansas

I've been writing about my father for months but I'm keeping that stuff close to my chest until it's closer to fine. Over the years my own poetry has been compared to many fine poets by many fine poets and I've been honored each and every time this has happened. If I had to chose one poet whose integrity of work I would most like to match, it would have to be Stafford. "Deceptively simple" is how it is commonly described. I believe the best thing ever said about him was just a few days after his death, when WS Merwin was here in IC reading at Shambaugh. He said William Stafford was one of those very rare things -- a male poet and a very decent person. Wow, I loved hearing that. My favorite poet WAS a fine human being. His works shines with it. My father's life shone with it too but like most of us it was sometimes obscured by storms, a rotating axis or the occasional eclipse.

Waiting for God

by William Stafford

This morning I breathed in. It had rained
early and the sycamore leaves tapped
a few drops that remained, while waving
the air's memory back and forth
over the lawn and into our open
window. Then I breathed out.

This deliberate day eased
past the calendar and waited. Patiently
the sun instructed the shadows how to move;
it held them, guided their gradual defining.
In the great quiet I carried my life on,
in again, out again.

Passing Along

People who walk by carry something so light
that no one can tell what it is. I know that burden,
lift it carefully from them and take it away

as they go on walking toward the sky.
Waiting here still I cherish whatever they find--miles of lupine ghosting the hills,
an accurate bird whetting its call

beyond the hedgerows where they disappear.
"All I ask," my mother said, "no matter the years
and the life we have, is that when you leave you turn and wave."
That was long ago. I like to remember -- I turn, I wave.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Two Deaths & Getting A Kick

Well this time I've been away because my father died. Man, does that put things in perspective. I'd write about it but I'm in the library and I believe I've mentioned I am not much of a public weeper. I did have a moment of gut-wrenching sobbing on the deck of the house in NC when we (the family) poured his ashes over the side--down into foliage which had been ravaged by hurricane Ivan. My father would have loved that last FU to the property owner's association. Ash-spreading up there is strictly verbotten. His tennis club buddies arranged the entire memorial service and it was held in their pavilion. They seemed to have loved the old guy almost as much as I did.

In the mean time here is a link to website that has some pictures of me and of some younger pals and pals of pals. I'm with my birthday twin Kelly in the bathroom of the IMU after a Carol Gilligan lecture. The girl on the roof with her hands over her chest (party 2468) is dead like my Dad. Unfortunately, she did not live until she was 73 and leave behind 3 children and 4 grandkids. She was 22 and "accidentally" OD-ed. My God, what a waste. I wish I could have shown my father the picture of Kelly and me sticking our tongues out. I think he would have gotten a kick out of it.

oh yeah, "daniel" lives in town and marah mar is a local band (iowa city) and are quite lovely, check them out!