“The Hope”

Every once and awhile, a news article comes along that brings smile to your day.  It might be something ridiculous, like an alligator in the kitchen.  It might be something simple, like hearing about a nearby town with really great tap water.  Or it might even be something with lasting meaning, a sign of other people doing some good in the world.  Such is the case with this BBC article on low-income housing for Palestinians.

With recent economic woes and the subprime mortgage crisis, everyone has been thinking about how housing and ownership might affect the larger economy.  Along with topics like the environment and hunger, housing is one of the great social concerns of the day.

Even in the past, it was a topic of great concern.  Our founding fathers dithered about the inclusion of the right to property in the Declaration of Independence.  They knew that at some point, there would not be enough land for everyone.  Though countless immigrants enriched the country in search of that happiness through individual land ownership and the space to be their own masters, many of them did not achieve it.  It was not until the 50s and the G.I. Bill that owning a home became such a hallmark of the American way, but now it is a growing international standard.  It seems, therefore, even more poetic that a region embroiled in civil strife and warfare and terribly overcrowded would embark on a low-income housing project named ‘the hope’.

We hope that there will be enough food for all children everywhere.  We hope that there will be a good home for everyone, and climate appropriate clothing for those in need.  We hope that our world in all its splendor will survive to support and nourish our children’s children.  At the end of the day, it is enough to see the active pursuit of that hope.

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The three word poem

There is contention (as is typical with art) about what the modern poem should be. When I was an undergrad, a part of my English minor meant I had to attend a number of grad students nad guest speakers read their work. About half of them were poets, and so I heard quite a bit of prose poetry and autobiographical narrative stuff that I didn’t really like. I’m sure most of it I would’ve liked better in a book or on paper. I’m not a highly aural person – I’m much more visible. beside, i feel much of what I like about more modern stuff has to do with the way it looks on the page, rather than how it sounds. I’m not sure if this actually should be the case, but it’s what I’ve mostly been stuck with.

The rise of texting, email, and short ‘n sweet forms of communication should have given rise to a whole new spate of brevity in poems. This should be a new age of rediscovering the haiku and re-crafting it for English in a new way. Why don’t people really use the language and make three word poems? You could write them faster on your cell phone than a novel. They could be funny, they could be commentary, they could be reflective, they could be wise, or raunchy. But mosst of all they would fit a new idea of brevity and force.

There are a number of questions I have regarding the form such poems would take. Would every word have to be over three syllables? or would that defeat the purpose? Would rhyming or some form of rhythmic structure need to be enforced? Would rules of reflection (nouns to the outside, adjective in the middle, or vice versa) be observed? Or would strict SVO construction be the rule?

So many permutations. So many possibilities. Please, give comments/suggestions/first attempts. It is our duty, not to shake our booties, but to recreate the poem. I’ll go first:

earth

heaving

scoria

Or here’s a funny one:

Cheese

Nugget

Flying

It’s a rule – you have to finish the story.

Now that the weather has been nice for a FULL WEEK (woohoo!), I think I can say spring is here. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a final freakishly late blizzard sometime in the next four months, but things seem to generally be on the up-and-up. The tree outside our office building, which I can occasionally catch a glimpse of from my lowly half-cube, has flowered in a riot of vivid yellow. It’s that pukishly bright kind of yellow that makes you laugh at vehicles in the color and run from insects that shade. I’d like to say that its the same color as a Gila monster trying desperately to blend into blazing desert sands, but it’s really not. The Gila monster is a darker shade of yellow. Still, it turns my thoughts to other springtime things – magnolia trees turning pink, daffodils overpowering the nose, bugs beginning to swarm, and The Producers. Yes, it’s at this time of year that I begin singing that song to myself again, “Springtime for Hitler and Germany…”

And why can’t there be a springtime for Hitler? With all the world’s political strife, poverty, and general unhappiness, don’t we deserve a little fun, a little ridiculousness? SIn’t it the perfect time, the perfect market, for laughing at the seriousness of our past, and making low humor? Haha – Hitler was gay. Hah – Nazis dancing. What could be funnier? Didn’t the frame story of The Producers also promise us, the wider audience, a complete Springtime For Hitler ? Why have we had to make due with the jaunty little snippets that are so amusing and pleasing to the eye? Is such a play within a play copyrighted under the general script of the frame story, or could I legally go out and produce my own Springtime?

Personally, I side with Scheherazade on the issue. If you’re deploying a narrative hook in a story, (especially if that hook is saving you from being beheaded for at least another night) you’d better come through and satisfy the listener you’ve successfully baited. If the fisherman’s troubles with his wife never get resolved, how will I trust you to get the story out of the forty thieves’ cave? I’m perfectly willing to sit through endless twists and turns of plot, as long as I know the original story will be returned to. And along the way, I want each inner story to have some resolution. So, beatnik Hitler impersonators everywhere, get your dancing shoes on – it’s time to give this world the completion of the real thing.

The non-charismatic elders

When I grow up, I want to be a crazy old lady.  As lifetime goals go, it’s not an unreasonable one, though perhaps a little unusual.  Certain of my friends have therefore taken to calling me ‘grandma crazy’.  There have also been comments that I now only need work on the old age portion of my goal.  However, this goal continues to be an attractive driving force in my life – not only to survive, but to experience that time in life when, just as in childhood, your more ridiculous or foolish actions are coddled rather than reprimanded.  Somehow, with age or youth, even though you might be ugly and wrinkled and fat and completely not charismatic or cute, everybody loves you and puts up with you.

I like people.  I like being able to talk to others I don’t know well.  But in my current status as a young, somewhat attractive woman, it’s not generally socially acceptable to strike up conversations with random strangers in my immediate vicinity.  It’s also possibly unsafe.  So I don’t do it.  But someday, when I’m wrinkly and quite possibly drooling, it’s won’t be as dangerous or ridiculous.  I’m excited about that time of my life.

I also look forward to the time when I’ll be able to generally be ornery to the world, crab at my friends and have them crab back at me, and generally have my disagreeableness taken in stride.  Gina and I have already decided we’re going to generally pester anyone younger than us with conflicting directions.  I’m also saving up a variety of quirky insults to use with her in competition.  “Your tootsies smell like cat breath,” and “your hair looks like baby spit-up” are some current favorites.  I also plan to move very quickly in my walker and announce my arrival with hee-hee-hee loud cackles.  I may need to grow out my thinning hair long again though, so it can stream behind me.  Or maybe I’ll just get a bad wig.  It’s going to be wonderful.

For the moment, I try to preserve my inner crazy (despite professionalism at work and social norms outside of it) and study up on old people around me.  The two old guys I met yesterday hiking at Lynn Woods were perfect studies.  As they approached from the opposite direction, they started just talking at us.  No thought to the appropriateness of accosting young girls in a secluded spot.  “Are you going around the loop?” they asked, and “Where are you from?” and “Are you in school?  For what?” and “What do you do now” and “What did you study in college?”.  After an extended conversation where my career path was meticulously examined (Gina got off easy here – everyone knows you can’t make a living as an English major), it was decided that I should work as an admin in an architecture firm to get back on that path, eventually becoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright.  After all, I have to really pursue these dreams – new different dreams are not allowed.

My favorite part of the discussion though was the fact that we had no idea where we were.  We thought we were going in the right direction, but weren’t really sure, and the old guys offered to give us directions, since they didn’t have a map with them.  Old guy 1 drew a map in the dirt (Wait, you draw in the dirt?  Me too!  I’m already half-old, yipee!) and started to instruct us on where we’d been and where we were going.  He told us to keep going straight and we’d be fine.  Old guy 2 said no, we should definitely head to the left, and that would be the right way.  Old guy 1 frowned, and said to not take lefts or rights, but just keep to the main wide road.  Old guy 2 said of curse keep to the main road, but that it definitely bent to the left just ahead.  And then it climbed a hill.  Old guy 1 said yes, yes, the path goes back and forth, up and down, but just be sure to keep to the main one rather than veering off on any little side paths.  Finally, we thought we knew what we were doing (again), and set off under the blessing of both old guys after thanking them profusely.  And they were very helpful, especially with the path.  But also they were a good model for my ultimate life goals – someday I’ll be getting in random little fights with my old friends about ridiculous, superfluous stuff in front of strangers.  Oh wait, I do that now.