A friend sent me this article today pertaining to an ill-advised (or utterly lacking in advisement, as the case seems be) letter from the Framingham State College alumni association to their alums. Check out the blah, blah, blah.
Over the years I’ve thought, off and on, about a career in advertising. Or at least branching off into the more strict marketing territory. The pace, the creativity, the vibe, writing on such a condensed scale with high-impact demands…it interests me.
But for various and sundry reasons, I always naturally drift back to what I know and love…communications.
A friend with a similar mind-set sent me this link today and now I know, whenever the marketing bug hits, I’ll have no trouble squashing it. This is the stuff nightmares are made of…except it’s funny, and therefore kinda worse than your average nightmare if you consider that this is actually some people’s day-to-day existence.
Check it out on “Creativity Bites Back.”
We’re pushing record June highs in this Mid-Atlantic heatwave, and the accompanying delirium is setting in. People are stumbling though parking lots, staggering into big-box stores and sucking in the AC like suffocating Hoover uprights.
I yearn for something cooler and sweeter and gentler to take hold and oust this humid mess; send it back into the maw of whatever swampy creature it came from. Give us heat, sure — I understand that it’s summer, after all. But please take away this sweltering blanket of of pollen and must.
I’m daydreaming…daydreaming of an outdoor shower that opens up at the top to the sky, its sides lined in brilliant blue tarp nailed to plywood and two-by-fours, a shower head that shines from above, ready to offer a freezing blast of water on tanned-to-toast skin. It’ll shock and sting at first, but body-heat and water-cold will quickly mix and I’ll sigh long and deep as the tension sluices away with the sweat and dirt, and I’ll think, “How fantastic to be alive.”
What are you wishing for in this heatwave? If you want to play along, post a picture or a story or a song — whatever you like — onto your blog. Link back to this post and let’s see if the collective power of desire can’t cool things down a bit, at least in our imaginations, if nowhere else.
I turn to my friend in the lawn chair beside me, give him a blissed-out smile that is equal parts sunburn and warm wine, and with my generally dormant mountain accent turned up to thick and dripping, sigh, “Lord, I love the smell of honeysuckle on the night air.”
And, in agreement, the band on stage at Graves Mountain Festival of Music sings back to me across the packed lawn that they, too, know there’s nothing quite like honeysuckle on a summer night.
That about sums up my experience at my first bluegrass festival. One big, musical call-and-response of affirmation and peacefulness.
I’m a country girl at heart, but if I had just one reason to love the city, it would be because I can step out of my office when I’m feeling peckish, traipse to the nearest Greek deli and order up a mess of dolmades the same way I might have ordered mozarella sticks back home.
God, I love dolmades: that sharp tang of lemon mellowed out by smooth olive oil, the bright-tasting, slick grapeleaf with its stems snapping lightly as you bite through to the rice filling. Oh, joy! Oh, escape! I can’t eat dolmades without feeling transported to some beachy town on the Med, brine and salt on the air and in my hair. Of course, I’ve yet to go to that beachy town on the Med.
My parents lived in Greece before I was born and it’s their stories, and not mine, that I conjure when in the presence of dolmades. It was my mom, who cleverly prepared dolmades for my first grade pot luck and therefore brought dolmades back home with us that afternoon, who bestowed on me this stuffed grapeleaf-inspired sensory vacation.
I’ll get to the real deal one of these days. And, oh, what a happy day that will be: me and Dolmades, happily lounging in some tiny Greecian, waterfront town. Perhaps he’ll bring his firend Grappa with him. One can dream.
I’ll give The Mom a call and see if I can get her recipe. I’ve found several online, but hers is my first love and so if she’ll share, so will I. Also…I prefer mine with tzatziki sauce, rather than mint.
We bought our DVD player before Daylight Savings Time (DST) was pushed forward and backward last year. So it caused some serious consternation in the household this morning when a glance at the DVD clock indicated my husband was seriously late for a gig. After a yelped curse and some frantic scrambling for socks and shoes, we figured out the slip of time. Our DVD was hardwired to the old DST. Crisis averted.
But it did get me thinking about “how time flies.” How the hours slide by without us much noticing, until we look at the clock and discover it’s far later than we thought. And we wonder what we were so damn busy paying attention to while time flowed by.
In July 2006, my dad sent me this poem he wrote. Although I think it’s even better described as a short story. Give it a read. Then turn the clocks back and take a look around.
Accouterments of a Life
Whether returning home to the stillness of now silent rooms
from a frenzied rush to the Vet to end the suffering of a long-time companion, or returning from the graveside services for a loved one, the senses are sharpened — so they say.
A water bowl, half empty, never to be used again; toys long unused but still kept near; a leash and collar hanging quiet for want of a walk;
A wife’s comb laying on the vanity; a tube of half-used lipstick; a book on her side of the bed, bookmarked; reading glasses carelessly set aside;
A husband’s keys hanging from a wall peg; a pile of dirty work shirts ready for one last wash; tools resting quietly where last set down; a note, hastily written, “Back soon. Just going to the store”;
A child’s bike resting against the house; a school bag filled with last week’s homework; new mittens for the coming cold; a model, half finished;
Best toss them out — so they say.
Just reminders, best to forget –- so they say.
They’re probably right. Life goes on –- so they say — eventually.
My first diary had a purple cover with tiny pink hearts, multi-colored interior pages, and was outfitted with a brass lock and a tiny key that I kept inside my kitten music box that, when opened, played “Memories.”
As I matured, so, too, did the look of my diaries…eh-hem…I mean journals. Periwinkle pages gave way hip composition notebooks and eventually leather-bound, gold-edged affairs. However, all of this goes to show you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover since the one thing that didn’t change over the years was the actual content of these journals. The spirit of what a diary contained remained consistent, even if the players and vocabulary evolved.
The beauty of diaries is that they are places where you can rail and scream and rejoice and effuse beyond reason and repercussion. You can write maudlin, wicked, pathetic, outrageous and inconceivable things that you would (or should) be mortified to share with anyone else in the world and then, when you’re done? You’re done. No one reads it. No one weighs in on your drama. No one shares your angst. You. Just. Close. The. Book.
Today we have blogs. And in particular, diary-format blogs. And all that emotion that was once poured out onto tree-pulp in the name of catharsis? Today, it lives.
Allow me to demonstrate the potentially destructive nature of these open forum diaries using what I consider to be an apt embodiment of the issue: “Little Shop of Horrors‘”Audry II:
On November 12, 2005, my dad sent me this e-mail while he was traveling for work:
I bought a copy of The Elba Clipper today, a smalltown southern Alabama paper, and came across this lost dog ad in the classifieds. I was struck by the unintended poetry of it.
$100.00 REWARD Return of lost dog.
Small, brown, shorthaired dog,
white muzzle. Answers to the name
of Maggie. She is 16 years old and
does not hear good,
she has trouble walking.
I’ve kept this e-mail in my inbox and return to it regularly for two reasons.
First, the sentimental: My dad is the kind of man who finds poetry in day-to-day existence, even in circumstances I would never have thought lent themselves to beauty, humanity, humor or thankfulness. It humbles me.
And second, the professional: Sometimes the simplest way to put things is the most evocative. As a journalist, this lesson is worth its weight in gold (provided you’re not getting paid by the word, at which point, verbosity has its merits).
It was with this second point in mind, that I turned to the great human equalizer: personal ads. But with a Webby twist–I hit up Craigslist and, in particular, the “missed connections” section. There’s an inherent longing and sadness about a missed opportunity, especially when people throw themselves out there to reclaim that lost chance. So it seemed a reasonable place to start. What did I find? Aside from the fact that I could fill a collection based on metro-platform flirting alone, I’m now taken with this vaguely unsettling and simultaneously comforting feeling that no matter where I am, I am so not alone.
Some of what I’ve reprinted here thrills me, some intrigues me, one kinda distresses me. But each has a lyrical quality; a cadence that calls out. Each is exactly how I found it online, though I admit to tinkering with line breaks for the sake of the blog format, and I’ve removed the “M4M” or “W4M” gender indicators as I found them distracting to the overall point. Anyway…as found on Craigslist:
By Missed Connection posters on Craigslist
Either because people know I think ferrets are the source of all things funny, or they are aware of my deep ire over plagiarism, the following article landed in my e-mail inbox yesterday from several friends:
Tolme is speaking out…with much hilarity. Read. Laugh. Then go rumage through your old high school biology class reports on “The Life and Times of Paramecium” and see if you can’t turn that into a bodice-ripper, too!
Today, CNN reported an AP story about allegations of plagiarism made on the Web site www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com against author Cassie Edwards. The article gives a side-by-side comparison of a passage from one of Edwards’ novels and then a reference work, and the implications are fairly damning.
Having never read anything by Edwards*, I’m not so much concerned about the players in this drama. Rather, it’s the possibility that plagiarism is excusable if using the grade-school, feigned-ignorance defense of “But I didn’t know it was wrong” that gets my dander up.
For the love of original thought, I cannot understand how an adult, let alone a person who has built their career on words, can have the gall to whip out the “I didn’t know.”
Since the first time our eyes strayed to the paper of the kid next to us in elementary school and the teacher barked out the reproach, we’ve known that copying other people’s work and passing it off as your own is wrong. (Although now I’m wondering what the teacher would have done if I’d used quotations and cited my sources: According to Billy sitting beside me, “The capital of Virginia is Richmond.” Hmm.)
And I would love to go off an a “kids these days” rant since the 2006 Josephson Institute Report Card on Ethics of American Youth indicates that, in a 12-month period, 33 percent of students copied work from the Internet and 60 percent cheated during a test in school. But 1) those numbers are down from the 2004 report listing 35 and 62 percent respectively (though 2004 had an additional statistic that 83 percent 0f students copied homework, which speaks more to my plagiarism argument), and; 2) educated, logical adults in professional careers do it all the time.
Apparently if you no longer qualify for a youthful indiscretion, you can phone it in as a senior moment.
Pin it with whatever delicate euphemism you like: the blunt “taken,” the impish “borrowed,” or the typographical “lifted.” It’s all window dressing for “stolen.”
Sigh…clearly, my goat has been got.
* Edited to correct an error I made that was kindly pointed out by a reader. And dude! I have a reader!!