Category Archives: poetry

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

Dad yells at me all the time about this.


Mostly he’s yelling because I don’t know what’s happening on Fox News, but he has a point. I don’t usually know what’s up in the world. I mean, if it’s something HUGE, I do. Because it gets posted on Facebook or something. Or someone is talking about it at work. Or Dad yells at me about not knowing about it when I call him. (Listen, though, a lot of what he yells about are things like “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU HAVE A LIBRARY CARD THE GOVERNMENT TRACKS YOUR EVERY MOVE?” This explains, in Dad’s mind, why he doesn’t have a library card. I said, “Dad, you don’t read books, I think this explains why you don’t have a library card, not the government thing…” and he was all “NO NO GOVERNMENT TRACKERS!!!” so I dropped it.)

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I'd make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I’d make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

So we get to thank Mom for telling me about the news story I’m talking about today. Thank you, Mom, for understanding I don’t have time to watch the news. Well, I suppose I COULD watch the news. But it’s kind of depressing and if I do watch the news, I watch the local news. I like to know what’s happening around me, I guess. I used to keep up with the news on Twitter. I should probably get back into that someday. I miss you, Twitter, I’m sorry I’ve been ghosty. I’ll come back someday. I’ll put on a pretty dress and everything. Witty repartee. Sarcastic asides. It’ll be great.

Today, Mom said, “Did you hear someone got kicked out of school for poetry?” and NO, I had not heard that. (It was like a week ago. Probably you all know about this. I guess it was on the Today Show or something. Who watches the Today Show? People who work different shifts than I do. People who don’t work. I don’t know, I don’t watch the Today Show.)

So I looked it up on the internet. Which was kind of a difficult task because Mom was all, “It was a student from Vermont and it happened yesterday” and it was actually a student from California and it happened two days after Christmas…but it’s Mom, she has kind of a strange sense of reality at times. I don’t get it from the neighbors, you know.

So for those of you who aren’t in the world, like me, here’s the scoop.

A seventeen-year-old student in San Francisco wrote a poem about the school shooting in Connecticut. It wasn’t for an assignment. According to what I’ve read online, one of her teachers “found” it – I have no idea what that means, did she drop it? Leave it somewhere? Throw it away and the teacher pulled it out of the trash? I find this whole thing suspect – and was SO SHOCKED by the content she brought it to the administration. The student was promptly suspended, and it will be decided when school starts on Monday if she’s expelled or not.

What did she say, in this poem that wasn’t even turned in as part of an assignment?

“I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger.”

The school said they have a “zero tolerance approach to violence, the threat of violence” and a “violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school.”

They are also called the Life Learning Academy, so already I’m sure they’re some sort of crunchy granola hippie school, yo. They are also somewhere called “Treasure Island.” I feel like this is not a real school.

"We are often tossed, but we never sink." I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

“We are often tossed, but we never sink.” I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

OK, now, I’ve rambled a little bit. What thoughts have you got in your mind about this girl’s poem, hmm?

I don’t especially want to talk about the tragedy in Connecticut. I’ve avoided it up until now, for the most part.

Here’s the thing. Do you think everyone that writes not only believes everything they write, they act on everything they write? And do the school administrators believe that?

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, "It's like Stephen King. He doesn't act on everything HE writes." EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, “It’s like Stephen King. He doesn’t act on everything HE writes.” EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

The girl’s poem went on to talk about how we live in a society that causes such things to happen. It didn’t lionize a mentally-ill man who walked into a school and murdered people. It was a piece of creative writing. One, I think it is important to note (again), that she wrote for herself, not for a class assignment.

I write a lot of things I don’t publish. Things that aren’t for anyone’s eyes but mine. A lot of this stuff is so I can work out the twisty place that is my head. Some of it’s poetry, some of it’s diary-type stuff, some of it’s rambly shit, but it’s mine. And if anyone read it, I would ALSO probably be suspended. FROM ALL THE PLACES. And possibly LIFE.

Was she trying to work out in her mind how such a thing could have happened? Maybe.

Also, the girl was seventeen. The tortured poetry that came out of me when I was seventeen…well, I don’t know if anyone wants to talk about that. For the love of Pete, you all remember seventeen, right? EVERYTHING is doom and gloom and you push EVERYTHING to the edge and ALL THE THINGS SEEM SO SO SERIOUS AND DIRE. Seventeen! I wouldn’t go back there for all the money in the world. Or a date with Ewan McGregor, even.

"Not even for ME, Amy?" "No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you."

“Not even for ME, Amy?” “No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you.”

I don’t think she was saying she understood how someone could walk into a school and start shooting children. I think she was saying she understood how things could get to that point.

And I don’t think that’s any different from how hard it is for me, all these years later, to think or talk about what happened at Columbine, because as bad as I feel for everyone who died (and I do, oh, how I do, please don’t think I don’t) I feel bad for the two boys who were pushed far enough that one day they decided that the only way to make that stop was to take guns to school.

Because I’ve been pushed that far. I spend eight years of my life being pushed that far. I never brought a gun to school, but I’m not going to tell you I didn’t have some severely violent fantasies. You get pushed, you know? You just get pushed and pushed and pushed and you can’t do anything about it and you can’t get out of the situation and you start thinking thoughts that aren’t even your own. Crazy thoughts. Thoughts about self-harm and thoughts about harming others. And some people do that, and some don’t, and I’m not passing judgement on those of us who made it through that and those of us who didn’t. And the people that find it so easy to vilify bullied students who handle it in a violent way – well, I have to assume they’ve never been in that situation.

So could I have written a similar poem about Columbine? Yes. Absolutely.

Should this kid be kicked out of school for this? No. She should not. She didn’t walk around inciting violence. She had no history of violence. She wrote a poem. For (from what I can tell from these articles, although it’s strange and vague) herself. And now she’s facing expulsion.

Where do we draw the line? What are we teaching our kids with things like this? That censorship is ok? That they should keep things all bottled up inside? That certain things are ok and certain things are art and certain things aren’t? Not to create? Not to have feelings? That some feelings are valid and some are wrong?

Let's let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That's where big questions belong.

Let’s let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That’s where big questions belong.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to even say about this. She didn’t say people deserved to die; she didn’t celebrate death. She simply empathized. She said she understood how such things could happen in our society.

And in certain situations, I understand it as well. I think anyone who was bullied can’t help but put themselves in this situation.

She seems to be handling it well. She’s a self-possessed kiddo. Good for her. At seventeen, I would have been curled up in a little ball of weepery on the floor. (Or shouting at someone in charge. I randomly had rabble-rouser moments in my teens. Once I staged a huge sit-in because I thought something was unfair. Looking back, it was a ridiculous thing – they cancelled our class trip because of the misbehavior of the class before us, and I thought that was unfair to us, because WE weren’t the ones that misbehaved – but I was very good at leading people, apparently. Or people just wanted to not go to class. Or when I’m on a tear, I’m all kinds of charismatic. Because almost the entire class participated in that. And I was totally the one who got in trouble for organizing it. I’m still kind of proud of that.)

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There are a lot of things wrong here in this country. We’re broken in a lot of ways. Let’s not compound that by stifling our artists, ok? Let’s not kill the dreamers and the thinkers and the creators. Let’s not do that. Because if we do that, if we take that step, we’re lost. If we  stifle all that is beautiful in the world, what’s left? A world I don’t want to live in. A world with nothing left to look forward to. A world with no hope left in it, like Pandora’s box if she didn’t close it quickly enough.

Let’s close the box before the hope gets out. We don’t have much left, we need to hang onto something.

(Title is a quote by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Thought we should have a poet for the title today.)

Yours is a prudent, well-considered audacity!

I know. You’re all SOOOOO OVER the Olympics. And they’re done, at least for two more years. (That’s how that works, right? It’s every two years? It’ll be somewhere in the winter in two years, won’t it? I should probably look that up. Wait, don’t go anywhere. FINE, the interwebs tells me that in two years, the Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia. That’s a cute town name. It sounds like a stuffed animal or a delicious coffee beverage. I like that a lot.)

Dude! Sochi looks like Florida, how fun is that?

But I found this mention of something I totally found interesting in all the Olympic coverage, and I couldn’t not mention it. How could I not mention it? It covers all the things I love. Arts, weirdness, some sort of odd coverup, and SKULLDUGGERY. Well, also sports, but meh, I’ll pretend that’s not happening, you know how me + sports = a big fat who-cares.

Some of you might know this – you’re all pretty web-savvy, so you might have seen mention of this, here or here – but some of you might have missed this, in all of the Olympic lunacy. Were you aware that, for 36 years, there were arts events in the Olympics? Not sports – no one getting all sweaty and running all around and being better-faster-stronger – but ARTS events! It is totally true!

Gold medal in poetry reading in front of other people! Which is the most scary thing ever! ALL THE GOLD!

There were five categories – architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. In each of those categories, there were various awards you could win. Like, in architecture, one of the awards was for town planning. And in literature, there were four sub-categories: mixed literature, dramatic works, epic works, and lyric and speculative works.

Is this not a totally cool thing? That we were giving Olympic medals to our artists?

Gold in art! Gold in architecture! Gold for all the artists!

Well, yes, sure, in theory, it totally was. But it was actually kind of weird, and poorly-planned, and not very well-thought-out or executed.

The creator of the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin (you can tell by the name he was a good Italian boy, right? heh) decided that he’d like the Olympic Games to be more like the old-timey Olympic Games. Apparently, back in Greek times, they really were keen on their artists. (YAY GREEKS!) So he decided, let’s have some arts events. Let’s let our artists be showcased and let’s celebrate them, too.

ZOMG Pierre’s MOUSTACHE! That is ALL THE FACIAL HAIR! You could hang onto that while riding a motorcycle behind him like safety handlebars! Whoo!

What were the rules? Well, that’s where things are kind of hazy. There’s not a lot written about these events. What I’ve been able to find out is that you couldn’t be a professional “artist” – only amateurs were allowed to compete – but the participants were allowed to sell their submissions during the Olympics (I like to imagine a painter running along the sidelines of an event, all, “Paintings! Get your paintings here!”) The works of art had to be “directly inspired by the idea of sport.” Which is pretty broad, when you think about it. You could pretty much say anything was “inspired” by the idea of sport. I could write a poem about gardening and throw in something about how it’s like shotputting and wouldn’t that fit that broad description, really? I mean, I’m not saying it would be good, but it’d fit the description.

So the first year they did these events, the judges (they’re like the old-timey version of the American Idol judges, is my guess) were SO SO SO EXCITED that they had JUST THE PERFECT POEM that had been submitted. It was very exciting, full of things like “the radiant messenger of a past age” and “O, Sport! You are Honour!” and “yours is a prudent, well-considered audacity” (hee! I love that!) and “destroying unhealthy seed” (yeah, I don’t…I don’t know about that last one) and the judges were TOTALLY creaming their old-timey shorts over this poem. (Check this out: “He/who, with some shameful trick,/manages to deceive his fellow com-/petitors feels guilt to his very core/and lives in fear of the ignominious/epithet which shall forever be/attached to his name should his/trickery be discovered.” WHOA. This guy HATED trickery! So much! Hee!)

The authors were some super-fancy gents named Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach. So the judges were all, “bring us Georges and Martin! Let us PRESENT THEM WITH LAURELS!” Only…no one could find ol’ Georges and Martin. Where were they? Where were Georges and Martin?

Well, they didn’t exist. Why? Because someone else wrote the poem and made up the authors. Who made up the poem?

Our tricky French friend Pierre de Coubertin. He was worried no one would submit decent poetry for his first outing in Olympic artiness, so he wrote what he considered to be the PERFECT POEM.

All you can expect from this guy is trickery. I mean, look at that moustache. It’s not even the same color as his head-hair!

Guess what? They still gave him the gold medal that first year, even though he was a lying liar who lied. They actually awarded it to the imaginary names – the Martin/Georges combo – but everyone knew it was ol’ de Coubertin.

Pretty sneaky, sis!

There were a lot of problems with the arts competition. There were no rules about how many medals had to be given out, so there were a lot of years where there were just not enough good entries in the categories to award a gold, a silver, and a bronze. There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in the categories among artists – you know how artists are, with their “You’re a SELLOUT, yo!” mentality. (And, yeah, it’s a fine line, the sellout thing. You gotta feed yourself, but you also want your fellow artists to respect you, and you want the public at large to respect you, and you want to be able to look yourself in the eye at the end of the day…so it’s tough, deciding what you can do and still be an “artist” and not a “douchebag,” I guess.)

The arts categories eventually got phased out for a variety of reasons – the events weren’t considered very professional, were getting too commercial, and, as mentioned above, the rules were kind of all over the place. (Also, the Germans tried to add a “film” category at one point and the committee was all “NO NO NO” which is just dumb.  A film category would have been a good addition. Why you naysaying the Germans, yo?) Apparently, there’s a concurrent Olympic art show that runs every two years with the summer Olympics now, which is a nod toward the Olympic art events.

So what’s weird about this? Well, how about how NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT? I didn’t hear about it until this year. You’d think this would be something that’s a little more publicized. People love Olympic trivia (I don’t know why, they just do. I don’t. PEOPLE do. NORMAL people.) Even a search when I was writing this didn’t bring up a hell of a lot – the two articles I linked above, a couple others – this one from the New York Times, an article informing me that NPR had been holding a throwback poetry competition to celebrate the long-lost Olympic events. The articles even told me that the poems were never collected anywhere, and – and check this out from the Wikipedia article, how weird is this? “The IOC does not track medalists in Olympic art competitions in its database and thus the prize winners have been taken from the original Olympic reports.” What the hell? I’m sure there are excellent records of all the winners of Olympic events, going back to forever and ever, but not of these events? Are they embarrassed about them, or do they just not matter at all? I find this all quite bizarre.

I feel kind of bad for these artists. They submitted their stuff and they totally won Olympic gold (or silver or bronze) and they’ve totally been forgotten by history. That makes me sad. They were winners, same as the athletes. They deserve kudos, same as any other winner. (Even if they say things like “prudent, well-considered audacity.”)

So! When you are having happy Olympic memories and such, send a few thoughts out toward people like Urho Karhumäki, a Finnish (yay for Finland!) poet who won gold for a poem called “Avoveteen” (Andreas could tell you, but apparently, that means “Into free water”, which makes me smile – I like that there’s one word that means that), or Rudolf Binding, a German who wrote the (I’m sure FILLED with euphemism, because he’s from Ken’s country!) silver-medal-winning poem “Reitvorschrift für eine Geliebte.” What’s that mean? Well. I’m glad you asked. It means “Rider’s Instructions to his Lover.” (Also, UMLAUT YAY!) Who says poetry inspired by sport can’t be ALL THE SEXY?

This kind of riding? Perhaps. Or perhaps something EVEN MORE EUPHEMISTIC!

Yay for exciting history and poems filled with euphemism and giving awards to artists!

Dad’s Rule #479: Don’t Steal From Assassins.

Random crap? Yep. This is, what, Monday in the real world? In Amyland this is Saturday night and it was a loo-hoooooo-hong day of work, and I am sleepy and want to finish this up and maybe watch some TV and hit the hay. Lots of people called out of work today so we were ultra-busy with calls and people were kooky. Is it a full moon? No, wait, no, it can’t be, because I remember, Ken JUST blogged about the full moon. Like, last week or something. Full moons don’t happen two weeks in a row, we’re not on Jupiter or whatever planet with like a billion moons.

I guess there aren’t a billion. But aren’t these pretty?

So people were just kooky for the hell of being kooky. Someday I want to tell you all about some of the calls we get over there, but I’m pretty sure that’s some sort of violation of a billion laws. Also, I’d feel terrible if I was a crazy person and I called an answering service and I left a message all crazy-style and then someone blogged about my personal business on the internet. I know someone who will remain nameless but who is UNTRUSTWORTHY who works in the medical field? And who tells people her patients’ PERSONAL MEDICAL INFORMATION. I’m not even making this up. Because I was there and heard it happen once. She was GOSSIPING about one of her PATIENTS and what MEDICATION she was on. And seriously, doesn’t that violate HIPAA laws or something? I mean, when you’re at the pharmacy, they make you stand like 200 feet away from the desk or something when someone else is getting their prescription so you don’t violate HIPAA laws, so I’m pretty sure saying “Myrtle McGurk is taking Oxycontin for uterine cramping, CAN YOU IMAGINE ZOMG SO SHOCKING?” over coffee and danish is probably in violation of like 47 HIPAA laws, and also some laws of propriety and maybe some laws of good taste.

Psst, did you hear about…SHUT UP SHUT UP HIPAA VIOLATOR!

OK, so let’s see. RANDOM CRAP!

Today was a very auspicious day in Nephew-land, because THE NEPHEW CAUGHT A FISH. I know! His first real fish! Aw, my little buddy! He went fishing with his dad, and he caught his first fish! He apparently reeled it in about 3/4 of the way and then got distracted by something shiny and had his dad finish that for him, but I count that as a total win, Nephew-wise. It was apparently very small, so although The Nephew wanted to cook it and eat it for dinner, his dad said, “No, The Son, we’ve got to throw this one back, it misses its mom,” and then The Nephew was all “Aw! It misses its mommy!” and then they threw it back and then The Nephew played in the river rather than fished the rest of the afternoon because if you are Amy’s Nephew and you are full of joie de vivre, you like to play in a pretty shiny river full of rocks and fun. I want to play in the river with The Nephew, aw! My dad told me that my brother took photos of The Nephew and his fish, but wasn’t able to send them to me. “He doesn’t use email, so he can only send them to other phones,” my dad said. “Um, Dad, he knows I have a phone, right?” I said. “Oh, yeah, I guess I didn’t think of that,” my dad said. (My brother and I don’t talk much. We’re not fighting, per se. We just aren’t chatty. Mostly because, think of the opposite of Amy, and you have my brother, so it’s a little tough to find common ground. Also, he hates technology. Because, remember? You all have one hand, or are rapists.)

According to my dad, this is the kind of fish The Nephew caught. (And this might be the actual size of it, too.)

So I guess we will not see photos of The Nephew with his little bebeh fish. That’s a shame. I think that would be an excellent photo.

In news of proudness and good things, I finished Cara’s book, Elegantly Wasted, this past week, and it was wonderful.

If you would like to see what I thought, you can pop on over to her Goodreads page and read my review. Then you can add it on Goodreads. And you can buy it, and read it, and I think you’ll love it. It’s pretty kickass, you guys. I mean, not that you’d expect less from Cara, of course. So go check it out and then read it, yeah? I enjoyed myself so much. And I can’t wait until the next installment. You know, if you’d told me a year ago I’d not only KNOW authors, I’d BE an author, I’d laugh in your face twice. RIGHT IN YOUR FACE TWICE. Isn’t the internet the best?

In book news, I sent my parents each copies of my book this past week. Signed and everything! Totally going to be worth a billion dollars someday. Here is what my parents thought about my book.

Mom: I read the whole thing. Whenever you used that nasty eff word I pretended you didn’t and I read past it really quickly. I don’t like poetry because I don’t understand it and there were a lot of poems I didn’t understand but I guess poetry is ok because it can always mean different things to different people. A lot of it was very sad. I liked the one about The Grandson. Green is my favorite color so I like the cover.

(Dad gets a conversation; it’s too good not to.)

Dad: So I opened this package you sent to your mother even though it was for your mother.
Me: What? No it wasn’t. It was for you AND mom. Both of your names are on it!
Dad: Her name was first. That’s rude to your poor father.
Me: Ugh, DAD. Did you see it did you see it? Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL?
Dad: It’s very pretty. Also shiny. I don’t want to open it.
Me: Well, if you’re going to read it, you have to open it.
Dad: Oh, I’m not going to READ it.
Me: Um. Okay…
Dad: I don’t want to read poetry. It has too many words in it.
Me: It actually has less words in it than fiction, if you look at it objectively.
Dad: No. Too many words. Too confusing.
Me: You have to at least open it to see where I signed it.
Dad: Is this the photo the assassin took for the cover?

Me: Yes, do you like it?
Dad: Does it say somewhere in here that he took this photo?
Me: Of course it does.
Dad: Good. You’d better make sure that assassin gets credit for this photo. Don’t steal from assassins. They’ll shoot your face off.
Me: He gets credit. Three times, I think.
Dad: Wait, THREE times? That’s a lot.
Me: Man, you’re fussy. I’d give him credit 47 billion times if I could, you know that.
Dad: I know you would. It was nice of the assassin to give you a picture.
Me: Yes, it was. He’s a good assassin.
Dad: Yeah, he’s alright. Don’t you tell him I said so, though.
Me: Oh, no. Wouldn’t want the assassin to know you’re cool with him. He might show up for dinner.
Dad: That assassin is not invited over for dinner. Hey. I just looked where you signed it. I want to be buried with this.
Me: No, I told you. I hate when people have garbage in their coffins. Nothing in your coffin. We’re not hillbillies.
Dad: What if we put it under my body? Then no one would see it.
Me: No. It’d make you uncomfortable in your eternal rest.

It’s very hard to have a comfortable afterlife if your coffin is filled with garbage and knickknacks.

Dad: Nah. It’s not a very thick book.
Me: Even if you don’t read it, you have to go to the back. I thank you in the special thanks section.
Dad: ME? Oh, of course you did. I’m very inspirational. WAIT A MINUTE.
Me: What?
Dad: You thanked your FAMILY. This isn’t ME.
Me: You’re not my family? Is there something you’re not telling me? I’m adopted. I KNEW IT.
Dad: You should have said, “Special thanks to my Dad, because he is the most inspirational of poetry.”
Me: Man, you are picky. I couldn’t thank EVERYONE individually. That would have been like a fifty-page thanks page.
Me: And I thanked you! Under “family!”
Dad: I am so hurt right now.
Me: Do you want to pretend there’s a typo and “family” really means “father?”
Dad: Yes. Yes, I do.
Me: Oh, man. Dad! There’s a TYPO! It should say “father” on the special thanks page, not “family!”
Dad: Better. Of course it should. I’m not AS hurt right now.
Me: That’s as much as you’re going to read, isn’t it?
Dad: No. I also looked in the middle of it to make sure the pages weren’t blank, like a trick book? But now I’m done.

A trick! A TRICK BOOK! (I assure you all it’s not a trick book. There are words in it! On all the pages!)

Me: Thanks for reading, Dad! You’re very inspirational!
Dad: I know. I really am.

I was thinking today, my poor dad. Well, my mom, too. But mostly my dad. I can’t imagine he ever knew what to make of me. (He still mostly doesn’t.) My mom, either, but at least my mom likes plays and literature. My dad had never been to a play in his life before I started acting. He’d probably read only the books he was assigned in high school, before I came along. (And Louis L’Amour novels. He really used to dig those.) My dad’s a good old country boy. He likes beer and hunting and voting for the Republicans and watching Fox News.

Then he had a kooky, artsy, loudmouth daughter. And – HORRORS – she turned out to be a LIBERAL. A dirty hippie artsy liberal!

I’m pretty sure this is what dad imagines my friends and I do when we get together. He’s right, except also we check our cell phones a lot.

Some parents would have been all weirded out by this. Some would have probably turned up their nose, or been all “ugh, why are you doing THAT” or ignored it or something. Not my dad. He may not have understood what I was into, or what I was doing? But he was the most supportive of it as he could be. He hated plays, but he came to EVERY SINGLE ONE. He didn’t understand what I was writing, but he always told me I was the best at it and told me that someday I’d be a very famous writer. He’s still pissed about the liberal thing, though. And he doesn’t trust any guy I’ve ever been into, because it’s ok for his DAUGHTER to be a hippie theatery writer, but MEN don’t do things like that, no no no Charlie!

UNTRUSTWORTHY! (Dad doesn’t approve of men with long hair. He thinks it means they have bombs in their garage.)

That’s kind of fantastic, don’t you think? Think about it. That’d be like if I had a kid, and that kid was my exact opposite in every way – and I was still completely the most supportive of that kid, even if I didn’t understand the things he or she was into. Like, if I had a kid and he or she decided their thing was, shit, I don’t know, um…air conditioner repair, or career military, or something I have absolutely no knowledge of at all. And yet I still told that kid how awesome he or she was doing, and how proud I was of them, every single day. That’s really kind of a fantastic thing. When you’re a kid, you kind of take it for granted, but as an adult, the same age as your father was when this was all happening, almost, when you were a teenager just realizing that you were really, really, REALLY into writing and theater and reading and artsy-fartsy crap even though NO ONE around you was? You realize, huh. I was one hell of a lucky girl.

The last thing he said to me the other night when we were talking about my book?

“When’s the next one coming out? I think it should be a real book. You have a lot of stories in your head, you know. More than ANYONE. You tell ALL the stories. Write those down, you could be a millionaire in like a YEAR. Like that weird Stephen King guy you like so much.”

Heh. Thanks, Dad. I’ll look into writing that “real” book, one of these days. Love you, too.

The rhymes you hear in a nursery will haunt your dreams. FOREVER.

I was thinking about nursery rhymes the other night when I was falling asleep. What, you don’t do that? You just fall asleep like you don’t have a CARE in the WORLD? Well, it sure must be nice to be you, all carefree. Like a little fluffy cloud. Aren’t you the cutest little fluffy cloud? Well, fluffy cloud, SOME of us are in bed MULLING for a while before we fall asleep. About THINGS. What things? Different things. This and that. One of which, the other night, happened to be nursery rhymes. I know. Don’t bother trying to figure out my brain. It takes what it wants. It’s the honey badger of brains.

Mostly I was thinking how weird and screwed up nursery rhymes are. Some are weird and some don’t make any logical sense at ALL and some are DOWNRIGHT SCARY. And we tell them to our children! Our poor children.

When I was a wee Amy, one night, my mom said the following nursery rhyme/bedtime fable/prayer (or whatever you would call it) to my brother, who was probably 3 or so:

No, THIS isn’t creepy at all.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

I guess this is a prayer. Because of the repeated use of the word LORD. I would assume my mother was doing evening prayers of some sort with him? That was a thing we used to do. It is not a thing I still do. I would highly doubt it is a thing he does anymore, either. BECAUSE OF THE TRAUMA.

Anyway, my room was right across the hall from his, so I was able to hear him wailing.

“I DON’T WANT TO DIE BEFORE I WAKE!” he was crying. “If I fall asleep, I’m going to DIE? GOD’S going to come? And take me AWAY? I don’t want to GO! I don’t want to DIE!”

And then he didn’t want to fall asleep for like a month.

These are the things we tell our children when they fall asleep. This one’s a prayer, I would assume, but nursery rhymes are equally as weird and bad.

Let’s look at some nursery rhymes and try to figure out what the hell is happening in the world.

Bye Baby Bunting

The point of this rhyme: to explain to a weeping child why he or she has an absentee father. Also, when he comes back, he’s bringing serial-killer gifts.

Bye baby bunting
Daddy’s gone a’hunting
Gone to fetch a rabbit skin
To wrap the baby bunting in

What? My SKIN? No no no!

So, if your baby’s crying, you sing them this song, to explain where daddy went? And where IS Daddy? Daddy’s gone out hunting. He’s going to bring home rabbit skins. To wrap you up in. I’m from the country, so I’m aware that you can’t just skin an animal and it’s ready for use. It takes time. So if Daddy were walking in the door with rabbit skins, they’d be freshly-pulled-off-the-bunny, and all bloody, and they’d be all filled with bunny-smell and probably bullet-holes. Well, I guess, unless he snared them or something. I don’t know how your daddy hunts. My guess? Daddy left Mommy and she’s making this up to make you stop crying, Baby Bunting. Get ready for years of Mommy’s bringing home another “uncle” who pretends to be all buddy-buddy with you until he and Mommy get in a fight, then you never see him again. And then years of therapy, kiddo. Bet you wished you had that rabbit skin now, right? All that softness’d be a comfort, dealing with your separation anxiety.

Ding Dong Bell

The point of this rhyme: to point out which children in your community are budding psychopaths. Also, maybe euphemism; Ken’d know.

Ding dong bell
Pussy’s in the well
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Flynn
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout
What a naughty boy was that
Trying to drown poor pussycat
Who ne’er did any harm
But killed all the mice
In Farmer’s barn!

Good GRIEF, look at Johnny Flynn here! SO MANIACAL!

Well, Johnny Flynn. I’m pretty sure your future trajectory is this: pulling the wings off flies, kitten-murder, puppy-burning, stabbing your classmates, kidnapping indigents and stringing them up in a lean-to in the forest and cutting them up to see what they look like under their skin. Johnny Flynn, you need some intense therapy, and perhaps to be institutionalized. Tommy Stout saved the kitten, so Tommy Stout’s an outstanding citizen and will probably marry happily and have some upstanding little Stout children and all will be well in Stoutville.

How did Tommy Stout get a cat out of a well? Wells are deep. Did he use the bucket? Did someone lower him down in? How’d he even know there was a cat in a well, did that little future serial killer Johnny Flynn brag it all up? “I put a cat in a well to see if it would float; turns out, it doesn’t?”

Also, anything with “pussy” in it is most likely a euphemism. Ken would be able to tell you for sure, but I don’t think it’s an accident. I mean, whoever wrote it might TELL you it’s just the way they used to say kitten, but I think it’d be a total and complete lie.

This is a cautionary tale couched as a nursery rhyme. Also, I read online that Shakespeare mentioned this tale in his work. Aw! Ol’ Bill! I like that. Bill knew about pussies in wells. Bill knew about euphemisms, I can tell you that right now. He was the KING of euphemism. Even more than KEN.

This has nothing to do with anything, other than it made me snort-laugh.

Georgie Porgie

The point of this rhyme: eh, something to do with British royalty or some such nonsense, but really, I think it’s a cautionary tale about a playground-style rapey sneaky fucker.

Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie,
kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Sneaky little fucker.

Ignore the fact that research tells me this is about some weirdo Duke of Buckingham who had all the affairs and concentrate on what’s going on here. What the hell’s “puddin’ and pie?” Stupid, is what. Does he EAT puddin’ and pie, or carry AROUND puddin’ and pie, like to lure the lay-deez, or what the hell? Puddin’ and pie. That’s a silly thing to call anyone.

Also, if you’re kissing girls and then they’re CRYING, well, Georgie, THEY DON’T WANT THAT. They don’t WANT you to be kissing them. That’s SEXUAL HARRASSMENT, bub. Unwanted sexual advances. STOP THAT, you little bastard.

Then the boys come out (so I’m assuming this all happened on the playground or some such nonsense) and that little chickenshit RAN AWAY. I assume this is because he was about to get his ass thoroughly handed to him by the boys for being a sneaky fucker. And for being rapey. Maybe Georgie Porgie is Johnny Flynn’s equally effed-up brother.

I don’t know that there’s any reason at all to recite this to your children. Is it a cautionary tale? If so, for whom? The girls? To stay away from boys who want to go too fast too soon? Or to sneaky fuckers, to run away when someone who might be bigger than them shows up?

Rock a Bye Baby

The point of this rhyme: Why you puttin’ your babies up in trees, yo? NOT AT ALL SAFE.

Rock a bye baby on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Because THIS is safe.

Really? I’m thinking that putting your child in a CRADLE in a TREE and relying on the WIND to rock him or her is…um…not at all the best decision you’ve ever made? What’s left out of his rhyme is “Then the baby is DEAD and there will be an INQUEST and you will go to PRISON and require a shit-ton of THERAPY and also you will forever and always be known as the lady who put her baby in a tree. FOREVER AND ALWAYS.”

Alternates to putting your baby in a tree:

  • putting your baby in a cradle safely placed on the ground
  • putting your baby in a cradle safely placed in a room indoors
  • putting your baby in a carseat in a car (as long as you’re IN the car and it’s RUNNING, not, like, left at the curb in the sun or anything)
  • holding your baby
  • leaving your baby with a certified child-care provider

Also, no need to be singing this one to a baby. It’s just going to scare them that someday, when they’re least expecting it, you’re going to leave them in a damn TREE, and the WIND will MURDER THEM. Also, your neglect.

If you’re going to read your children something scary, just read them one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales? At least they’re also beautiful. And they don’t warp you TOO bad. I mean, look at me! I was raised on a healthy dose of fairy tales and I’m…um…yeah. Maybe keep your kids away from ALL MEDIA FOREVER AND EVER.

Or someday your kids will put you in a pumpkin, or a shoe, or, shit, I don’t know, let the wind knock your ass out of a tree. And who would be to blame? No one but you, really. NO ONE BUT YOU.

No room at the inn, baby horse. NO ROOM.

Well, here we are. Monday again! Funny how that keeps happening, right? Like clockwork.

I think you should all be aware that unemployment is not for the weak. I’m absolutely ready to be back to work already. Mostly because it gets worrisome not having a job, but also because it is surprisingly BUSY being unemployed. Ken would tell you that I don’t know how to idle. He’s most likely right.

Dumbcat is enjoying me being home so much. He welds himself to my leg the minute I sit on the couch and doesn’t stop. No matter how hot it is or how much I say “UGH DUMBCAT STOP IT.” I’m not really sure what he’s going to do once I’m gone for the day again. This is like Dumbcat’s dream of awesomeness. A human! For petting purposes! ALL DAY LONG! With a warm leg to stick claws into like kneading bread! THIS IS GREAT! Aw. Dumbcat. If you want to continue being fed and having a home, I have to go back to work eventually. Sooner would be better than later, actually.

I have a job interview today, so cross those fingers again. It’s at a different place than the one last week. Still pretty close to home. Hoping I’ll like the place. (And that they’ll like me, I suppose.) More dressing up! MORE PANTYHOSE! Oh, pantyhose. You’re like my nemesis right now.

Let’s see. I haven’t given you any sort of Amy’s-life-wrap up lately. What, SOME people might want that, you don’t know.  Yes, yes, I have considerably LESS to wrap up since I don’t leave the house very often, but I totally have some things! Things to wrap up! Like very fancy gifts!

OK, first, guess what we have today! HELPER MULE NEWS! Plus, Amy’s Dad conversation! It’s like a twofer!

ZOMG look what I found online! A SPOTTED MULE! How cute is THIS? I WANT ONE!

Dad: Oh, guess what?
Me: Can’t even begin to.
Dad: There’s been an addition to the Rooster family.
Me: Please don’t tell me he bought another mule.
Dad: No. That horse had her baby.

Not our colt. Just *a* colt. But super-cute, right?

Me: She did? I thought we weren’t sure she was pregnant?
Dad: We weren’t. That vet never came back to check after the mule threatened him.
Me: Well, the vet was punching the mare. I bet the mule was just protecting his girlfriend.
Dad: ANYWAY, the FedEx guy brought Rooster a package the other day, and said, “Hey, I see you have a baby!” and Rooster said, “What are you talking about, you foolish FedEx guy.”

At least it wasn’t THIS FedEx guy. Remember this guy, throwing deliveries over the fence? Heh.

Me: I bet he didn’t say that.
Dad: Well, something like that. And the FedEx guy said “A baby HORSE!”
Me: Rooster didn’t even know the mare had her baby? The mare had to have her baby all alone? IN A STABLE? OMG, the mare’s baby is Jesus.
Dad: The mare’s baby is not Jesus, it’s a horse.

Look, there were totally animals in the manger scene! THIS HAS PRECEDENT!

Me: It might be the Jesus of horses, you don’t know. Don’t mock what you don’t understand. That’s exactly what people did in Jesus’s time, and don’t they feel foolish now.
Dad: Well, they don’t feel anything now. They’ve been dead for a really long time.
Me: True. So, how’s Helper Mule taking his new-found stepfatherhood?
Dad: Rooster had to build a special corral for Helper Mule to separate him from the mare and her baby.
Me: What? Why? Was he trying to eat the baby? Lions do that.

RAWR. I’ll eat your face. I’ll eat it all up.

Dad: NO. He’s not a LION. He just won’t stop braying at the baby. It’s making the baby nervous. And it’s annoying Rooster and his wife.
Me: Maybe he’s trying to teach him some life lessons. Like, “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape, don’t spit into the wind, don’t let yourself be sold to a man named Rooster to be his helper mule.”
Dad: Could be. And the baby horse isn’t old enough to appreciate those lessons yet. Kids NEVER listen to your excellent advice. I mean, look at you. You NEVER listen to me.
Me: True. That’s only because your advice is always “vote Republican, go to church, watch Fox News” and these are things I am not overly jazzed about.
Dad: You SHOULD be. That’s why you should LISTEN to me.
Me: I’m going to build you a corral so your braying doesn’t bother the neighbors. Shush, mule.
Dad: No one is this mean to their beloved fathers. This is terrible.
Me: Yeah. I’m pretty awful.
Dad: So Rooster sent me photos of the baby. I wish you could see them.
Me: Forward me the email, then I can.
Dad: Yes. How would I do that?
Me: You click on the button that says “forward” and type in my email address. Then you hit “send.” It’s pretty easy.
Dad: I don’t know that I’ll ever figure that out. I guess you can see them at Christmas.
Me: That baby will be all grown up by then!
Dad: Nah, horses take a while to grow. It’ll still be pretty small.
Me: You really need to learn how to use technology.
Dad: Nah. That’s how the government gets you. THAT’S HOW THEY GET YOU.

So! We may or may not have photos of baby horse at some point! But I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I were you. Dad’s not the best at internetting.

UPDATE UPDATE! Look, Dad figured out how to forward email, I’m so proud!

Aw, lookie! From the attachment, it looks the baby’s name is “July.” Look how cute! Does the mare look way too skinny to anyone else, though?

Also! As you are all aware, last week was VERY EXCITING, because it was BOOK RELEASE WEEK! Thank you to everyone who bought/read/is reading it. And people that ordered the paperback, it should be coming soon, because I got my own shipping notice recently, so I’m thinking it’s on the way and should be there soon. I can’t wait to hold my book in my hot little hands. What, my hands are hot. Well, they might be hot, I don’t know. It’s summer, everything’s hot. It’s a fair assumption.

Also, the day after it was released, THIS happened:

And ZOMG. Yes, yes, it only lasted for a few hours, and now it’s like #3 or something, but for a very brief period of time, it was NUMBER ONE in the Amazon Hot New Releases in 20th Century Poetry Kindle releases. HOLY CRAP! See number three? Robert Effing Frost. For a brief period of time, I was HIGHER ON A LIST than ROBERT FROST. I’m pretty sure this should be on my tombstone. Take THAT, Robert Frost, who read a poem at Kennedy’s inauguration! (Just kidding, Frost, you rock. Well, you’re dead now. But you still rock.)

Aw, Frost. Look how wise!

And look look LOOK at what BFF sent me as a congratulations for publishing a book gift!

I have ALL THE FLAKE BARS! I am saving them and making them last a very very VERY long time. Because who knows when I will get Flake bars again? Aw, BFF. You are the best. I love you! (And, yes. They are just as good as I remember. SIGH FLAKE BARS. U.K., you corner the market on delicious chocolate. I’m quite sure of this.)

Also, thank you to everyone who’s read it and who’s reviewed it, or emailed me about it, or tweeted me about it, or in some way or another talked to me about it. I love that. Thank you. So much.

OK, back to doing a billion things because that is what I do as an unemployed person, apparently. Happy day! Cross your fingers for me today!

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