Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two December Poems

Untitled 12-12-2010

In the quiet womb
Of a cold white afternoon
Alone with a box of moving pictures
Of intensity, with people who never were
In a time that was

Lost in the quiet womb
Of a cold white afternoon
Alone with a dreamy melancholy,
The feeling of something missing

December 19

(December 19, 2010)

Sunday afternoon
Clock ticking
Lonely, at loose ends
Another day in winter's cold womb
Longest night, shortest day looming
Wake me when the sun blooms
And the earth is green and dewy

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Hot in Here - Turn on the Fan

I admit it. I didn’t learn to tie my shoes until I was seven and didn’t ride a bike until I was nine or ten. I didn’t date much as a teenager and boys scared me until I was well into my twenties. (Psst…some of them still scare me, and for exactly the same reasons.) Point is, I always was a late bloomer, and so too it was with becoming a serious fan of anything.

Sure, I was fan enough of bands like Love & Rockets, Depeche Mode, the Cure and Barenaked Ladies to see them all once or twice in concert. I liked South Park enough in grad school to look forward to hanging out at a friend’s so we could watch it while we kibitzed and sewed. I enjoyed Babylon 5 enough to watch it all on DVD just because the man I would later marry asked me to. There were other minor obsessions and interests along the way, but I didn’t learn to become a rabid, screaming, squealing fan girl of anything until I was 34 and married.
Enter the re-launch of the much-loved but much-maligned British children’s series Doctor Who.

Now, I’d heard of the series before. I had friends in college who adored the classic series. I’d even watched a few episodes with them. In 1990, it was on late Saturday nights on the Detroit PBS affiliate, WTVS. We’d watch Doctor Who after a heady line-up of Twin Peaks, Star Trek: the Next Generation, and a couple episodes of Red Dwarf. (We were uptight, geeky college freshmen; the fact that we were spending our Saturday nights entirely sober, parked in front of a 14-inch TV didn’t disappoint or faze us one little bit.) Not being much of a night owl, by midnight, I was barely awake and had a hard time following the plot. To add to it, continuity didn’t seem to concern WTVS. There might be 30 minutes of a Fourth Doctor story followed by 30 minutes of the Seventh Doctor. Try as I might, I couldn’t see how this show was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe I just wasn’t awake enough.

The night I woke up to see an alien whose body was clearly comprised of a shower curtain and a beach ball, I wrote the series off and fell back asleep- literally and metaphorically. Despite this, my friends liked me enough to continue to speak to me for the remainder of our college years.

My husband Michka, who I met years after college, is also a fan of the classic series. His collection of Doctor Who VHS tapes took up an entire rack and half the wall in the living room of our first house. I watched the first part of the Talons of Weng-Chiang at his request the year we were engaged, but I still couldn’t get into it. He loved me anyway. Then came the new series. The production values were better, the pace was quicker, and I was intrigued if not hooked the first time I watched Rose.

One weekend in August 2006, Michka went away to the Wizard World comic book convention in Chicago. I decided to have my own little new Who marathon and watched the last several episodes of Series 1 on my own. At the time, I worked for a small historic house museum. We were swamped that summer. The small paid staff was working six days a week because we had at least two bus groups booked nearly every weekend from June to October. We were also understaffed because a former staff member had recently left for a new position. It was the first full weekend I’d had off since she’d left. In short, I needed a little relaxation.

I wanted to escape, but not from the comfort of my own home, so Doctor Who it was. I was hooked that weekend. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next. I had to know, so I watched one episode after another. I held my breath as Nine regenerated into Ten. And then…and then… and then I turned into a squealing 34-year old teenager. Who was that gorgeous man with the big brown eyes and brilliant smile? I had to know. I had to have more.

I searched the house. I even went in to the room where my husband stored his fandom. Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blake’s Seven books, toys and miniatures, Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games, Legos, long boxes full of comic book titles you’ve never even heard of…you name it, it was in there. But no more new Doctor Who? There had to be more.

Just as I was considering whether I was desperate enough to call my husband to find out where the hidden cache was, he called me. We exchanged pleasantries. He told me about all the things he’d done at the con and the fun he had with his friends. To hear him tell it, the rest of the conversation went like this:

“Yeah, yeah. That’s nice dear. Where’s more Doctor Who?”

“Well, there’s one more episode, but the disc won’t play on our DVD player. It might work on the computer.”

“Fantastic. I’ll watch it on the computer. Where’s the disc?”

He told me, I said thanks and the call ended soon after. He says he cracked up and immediately shared the story with his Doctor Who-loving friends that were with him. He still likes to tell that story.

I immediately found the disc and proceeded to watch The Christmas Invasion at least four times (on the computer) over the rest of the weekend. In fact, I was watching it when he got home from the con.

Over the next two years, my admiration reached such heights that we booked our trip to England based on when we could get tickets to see David Tennant as Hamlet. I joined the RSC as a member to book tickets earlier than most of the rest of the world. A year before our trip, I landed four tickets for October 12, 2008 in Row H of the Courtyard Theatre – 2 tickets for Michka and I and 2 as a belated wedding gift for our friends Dave & Dani. They’re friends from back home who lived in Bristol at the time. It seemed like they drove us all over England. Treating them to Hamlet was the least we could do.

Michka and Dani wanted to see a world-class production of their favorite Shakespeare play. I wanted to see David Tennant live in anything. Dave went along because, good man that he is, he does whatever makes his wife happy.
Row H, fabulous Row H – smack in in the middle of the main floor, right in front of the stalls. I uncharacteristically, unapologetically claimed the best seat for myself. I had a view right down the center aisle to the stage. Soon after intermission, someone obstructed that view. The lights were down, the show was underway and along came some guy with a duffel bag. I was annoyed. “How’d he get in? Who let in the clod with the duffel bag?” I thought. The next thing I knew, the clod with the duffel bag was on stage. He was Hamlet. David Tennant, the man himself, had just been less than a foot away from me, and I found out later he’d almost tripped on Dave’s foot sticking out in the aisle. It’s really hard to squee silently sometimes.

Before Hamlet, before we even decided to go on holiday in England at all, we had of course watched the finale story arc to series 3 of new Who. I liked Professor Yana in Utopia. I was crushed when he turned bad. It was my first introduction to the Master. How dare he bring the Toclafane into the present and enslave humanity! How dare he defile and hurt my beloved Tenth Doctor. How dare he die instead of regenerating to work alongside Ten to better redeem himself! Evil, selfish bastard. I hated the Master so much I literally hissed whenever he came on screen each time I watched those episodes.

John Simm, on the other hand, I thought was kind of interesting and nice to look at, so I rented a couple other things he was in that I found on Netflix. Twenty-four Hour Party People was good. I loved the music, liked the story. It was interesting to learn the story of some of the bands I listened to back in the day.
Human Traffic was the other movie Netflix had available. Without reading any reviews, I found it to be like a glossier, shallower, version of Trainspotting, one of my favorite movies of all time.
Jip and his friends kind of bugged the crap out of me. I’d never been anything close to a club kid. Sure, I liked to go out dancing, but as for drink, give me a glass of wine, and if I manage to drink it in under an hour, I will probably fall asleep soon after. I have no idea what ecstasy would do to me. Send me to a party, and I’ll be in the kitchen with the other neurotic introverts as soon as I can. That was me in my 20s and it still is. (Hey, sometimes I like staring at my shoes and mumbling awkwardly.) I couldn’t identify with having a meaningless job I hated. I’ve still thought my job was meaningful, even when I’ve hated it. I couldn’t relate and I stopped looking for productions John Simm was part of. That was in mid-2007.

Enter the fall of 2010. I was 38 now I worked for a different company in a completely different field. I’d just started a new job within that company. I’d spent the previous year in social services – no place for a reserved introvert who hates confrontation, but that’s a different story. The new job supporting Fund Development was a much better fit and it showed. (Besides, I am one of those sick people who actually enjoys grant-writing.) I had a sense of humor again. I smiled more. I looked people in the eye. I was fun to be around. My husband said I was easier to live with. I was open to possibilities and creativity again. In short, I was more myself than I’d been in at least a year. It was good to be me.

In the midst of all this, I’d started watching Doc Martin on DVD. The first disc on the fourth series included a trailer for Life on Mars. I don’t remember seeing this trailer. I must have been out of the room. That’s the only excuse I have. How else would I not want to race out and at least get the song the series is named for? Michka, however, watched it every time we watched an episode of Doc Martin. It intrigued him enough he picked up both series on DVD one weekend. I thought I’d be kind and watch at least the first episode or two with him.
HA! Little did we know what my husband had brought into the house. Before the end of the first episode, I was completely hooked. I was on the edge of my seat. My heart pounded in anticipation. I was so into it, I had to remind myself to breathe, and that was even before I realized I was in love with Sam Tyler. I came to that little realization sometime during the second episode. How could you not fall in love with all that brooding intensity, confusion, vulnerability, and strength that’s all wrapped up in the talented, sexy, OMG he’s-so-beautiful, sizzling-hotness-on- a- stick packaging that is John Simm playing Sam Tyler(…or the Master…or Cal McCaffrey…or…Well, you get the picture).

We watched one episode a night until we’d finished both series – 16 nights of possibly the best television ever. I told anyone who would listen to me they should watch Life on Mars, and I meant it. On a normal day, I don’t do anything like that. I’m quiet and reserved.

I watched a few episodes of the U.S. remake and was appalled. Abomination! How could they do that to the best thing since, I don’t know – driving like a madman with a sandwich stuffed in your mouth? That blonde wasn’t Annie Cartwright. That withered old man driving the streets of New York wasn’t Gene Hunt by a long shot, and that tall, beefy guy most definitely was not my beloved Sam Tyler. I didn’t want to see his Playstation scores.

Michka, bless him, puts up with all of this in stride. I don’t even try to hide my delight anymore when John Simm walks onto the screen. My pulse quickens, a big, dreamy grin cracks my face and I’ve only got eyes for him. If I ever have the fortune to see him live on stage, I am so completely sunk.

I am ashamed to say I am no longer capable of hissing at the Master. If the Tenth Doctor can find it in his hearts to forgive him, well then, so can I. Besides, he may be evil incarnate, but he looks so scrumptious in that black suit. Even diabolically insane Hoodie Master has his moments. What’s a girl to do?

So, here I am, nearly 39 going on 14, with John Simm as the Master on my desktop, writing fanfics about Sam Tyler, tossing paper into a waste bin that makes TARDIS sounds and wondering who and what I’ll be crazy about next (and when), and loving every minute of it.

PS If John Simm and David Tennant ever want to sit in front of me and just read the phone book out loud, I am so there. Where do I buy my ticket?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On a Wing & a Scare - Part 3 (September 2010)

I’ve since come to learn there are four basic steps to de-batting your belfry (and the rest of your house). The first is to call a reputable pest control company. You can’t kill the bats with poison; they’re protected species. You can’t just relocate them because they will find their way back.

Step 2 is what I like to call “shining for bats.” (Warning: this may make the neighbors wonder about you.) The de-batters can do this for you, but they’ll charge you a couple hundred dollars extra. Put your money back in your pocket and grab a couple of flashlights instead. Flashlights in hand, you’ll need at least two people to walk around your house at dusk. Shine your lights up under the eaves, up and down the gables and anywhere else you can’t reach. You are looking for holes…any holes of any size.

There are 14 different species of bats in my state. I’m told the two most common – and I am not making this up – are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. Smaller species can squeeze into a hole 3/8ths of an inch wide. Larger species, hulking critters that they are, may need a huge, gaping hole of an inch and a quarter.

Step 3, inserting cones into the holes, is done by your professional bat man. They make your house function as the opposite of a roach motel. Bats can check out, but they can’t check in. This step is done in the fall, late October or early November. Then you wait – about 6 months, all the while hoping the bats have all checked out, gone to their condo in Arizona, hibernated, or do whatever it is bats do in the winter.

Step 4 is sealing the holes. Your bat man also does this. After that, you can sleep easy and stop listening to the house creak in the middle of the night and sleeping with a light on.

So, Step 1 is what I should have done in June. But wait, there’s more. One dark early morning in August, I woke up to another strange noise. This one went “whump, whump, whump,” you know, kind of like the sound of something hitting a ceiling fan and then the wall. You know, something like a BAT?

I went through the same drill again, called my husband and everything. This time Mich was especially unsympathetic. He thought I was just hearing things. Try as I might, I couldn’t really blame him. Over the summer, I had become attuned to every creak and groan the house made, every scratch-scratching sound on the roof in the morning, be it squirrels or the tree outside our window. I’d taken to sleeping with a light on sometimes to ward off bats. And yes, a couple of times, I was hearing things.

Mich came home from work that Friday morning and checked for bats. Finding none, he called me at work to tell me I had been hearing things. I knew there was a bat and told him I hoped we found it over the weekend to prove it.

That night, we went out for dinner and came home around 8:45 PM. Sure enough, we found my friend flying laps in the living room. I decided I’d wait outside. (I’m pretty sure there were bats flying over my head that night, but they were high above me…and outside…where they belong.)

Mich again summoned his bat-nabbing skills and his power of negotiation. Through the screen door, I heard him having a perfectly reasonable conversation with the bat about how it needed to get into the laundry basket he was holding so he could take it back outside. The bat complied and was soon flying free outdoors where it belonged.

The following Monday morning, I called When Nature Calls Pest Control. (Seriously, that’s the name.) The first time I talked with Jared, the owner, he told me he does a lot of work in my neighborhood. How…comforting. But I’m happy to say, thanks to his work, my house is no longer a bat haven.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On a Wing & a Scare - Part 2 (September 2010)

I charged into the bedroom. I scanned the room for bats, but not too carefully. I didn’t actually want to see the bat if it was still there. I just wanted a quick scan to see that he wasn’t still there. I quickly grabbed all my clothes and scampered out of the room, securing the door behind me. From there, I went about the rest of the morning and went to work.

Around 10:00, I called Mich to ask if he had found our winged visitor. Indeed he had. Our friend was sleeping peacefully on the window frame in the spare room. Summoning his long-dormant bat-nabbing skills from his basement-dwelling teen years, he scooped up the bat in a hat, sealed it with a sheet of paper and released the critter outside. It squeaked and squirmed its displeasure and flew away in the unfamiliar morning light. So, we woke it up at an unfamiliar time. Hey, it woke me up at 3:00 A.M.! Turn-about is fair play.

You might think the first thing I did the next day was call a pest control company. That’s what I should have done, but sometimes we Baileys aren’t that bright.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On a Wing & a Scare - Part 1 (September 2010)

One morning around 3:00 A.M. last June, I was minding my own business, sleeping, when a strange noise woke me up. It went like this: FLAP, flap, FLAP. I knew what it was without looking. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there was a bat in my bedroom. So I did what any normal, self-respecting person alone in the house would do when a bat wakes them up at 3:00 A.M. I grabbed my glasses and the bedspread, closed the door behind me and ran downstairs.

I immediately called my husband, not because he was a man, but because I knew he would be awake at 3:00 A.M. (Mind you, if I thought my mother would have been up, I might have called her instead.)

Our conversation went something like this:

“Mich, I said, “There’s a bat in the house.”

“What do you want me to do about it?” he said. “I’m at work.”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I just thought you should know.”

I noted not only a distinct lack of alarm, but also sympathy in his voice. Great. We talked for a few minutes. I calmed down and we devised a plan. The plan was I would sleep on the couch the rest of the night with my cell phone at my side. Mich would call at 5:30 to wake me.

The plan went off flawlessly. I got another two hours of sleep and awoke relatively aware if not exactly well-rested. I went about my usual morning routine – shower, internet, breakfast, blow-dry hair and...then…well, and then I hit a snag. The next step in the routine is “and got dressed for work.” The snag was all the clothes I needed for work were in the bedroom. You know, where the bat could be. (Never mind the bat could have easily escaped into the wider house through the bottom of the door.) I doubted the old t-shirt I was wearing would be acceptable in the office.

Somehow, I was going to have to enter the bedroom. But not in just a t-shirt. Hm. What to do, what to do? Standing in the living room, I looked around until my eyes fell on my fencing equipment. Aha! I pulled on my fencing pants – my green, yellow, and burgundy striped fencing pants. My arms were still bare, though, and it was just warm enough that I didn’t want to pull on my heavy fencing shirt. I scanned the room again and found the perfect thing to protect my arms – a black cardigan with hot pink trim. I pulled that on, put my fencing mask over my head, gloves on my hands, grabbed my sword for good measure and proceeded upstairs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Woman & the Girl (October 8, 2002)

I am the woman who took control
And the girl so unsure of herself

I am the woman who risked much
And the girl who played it safe

I am the woman who should laugh more
And the girl who found joy among new friends

I am the woman who searches
And the girl who wondered

I am the woman traveling in time
And the girl who longs for the future

I am the woman whose experience
Is shaped from the girl I was

Sunday, November 7, 2010

To Find the Fire (November 7, 2010)

To find the fire in my own words
I read from Stan on his birthday,
Remembering him for Anne, another stranger I adore
I read Frances's words, knowing she's described it just as it is

To find the fire for my own words
I gaze at David and John
With and without sound and motion

To find the fire of my own words
I search in the everyday around me
In the voices of others known
And those too far away to know
But close enough to admire

I type slower than the thoughts and words come,
Too slow to catch them all
But please, fast enough to kindle the fire in my own words

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Want (January 9, 1999)

I want
Rapture and sizzle
Gazes filled with wondrous possibility

I want
A warm embrace
And kisses
Felt to the core...every time

I want
To watch
The same creases and lines
Deepen over long and winding time.

Inspired by a combination of a great New Year's Eve in Chicago (thanks Emily) and a certain amount of melodramatic, single 20-something loneliness. I found what I wanted a few years later.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Post Graduate Intern (July 28, 1998)

Mind over monster,
I holly-hocked
My foundation ring
For a six-month century
And a ticket to tomorrow

This one was written when I was about two months out of graduate school. For lack of job offers, I took an internship at a historic farm museum. It ended up being a year-long experience, but it set me on my way in my chosen profession. Yes, I know, it's more prose than poetry.