Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, August 27, 2010

First Week Introductions

I made it through the first week of classes. As is almost always the case, I don't teach on Fridays. And as is certainly always the case, I am thoroughly worn out and overwhelmed by the workload already piled on my desk.

At some point during the first day of a class, I ask the students to introduce themselves. They are to tell:

Their name
One thing they love
One thing they hate

At least a few of them are openly uncomfortable, but I don't care. It's a creative writing workshop. This little introduction is but a tiny toe dipped into the Lake of Discomfort to come. I'm trying to loosen them up.

In one class, a girl named Alex gets to the love part: "I love reading and God. I really like going to church, which I realize not a lot of people like, but I do." She looks sheepish and I am truly impressed that she's said what she's said. The college classroom (at least in a generic university) is often brutal toward the "churchy."

I say "Well, I like church, too. So there." She smiles and goes on to her "hate," which is "getting deodorant on my shirt and having it show up all day without me knowing it."

The guy behind her, and next in line to go, is about 35. He gets to the thing he loves: "Well I love the student atheistic club on campus, of which I am president." The class howls with laughter.

I look at Alex and stage whisper to her: "We must work on his soul together." The atheist, Bob, lets out a bit of a half-laugh.

To ease his mind I say "Any Buddhists in the room?" and this long haired longing-to-be-a-hippie boy with an unbearably cute face and giant puppy-dog eyes raises his hand.

"Dude! I'm the treasurer of the Pagans on Campus!" he proudly announces.

More laughs.

One of the last girls to speak says "I also love God. And I love milk. I drink a full gallon every two days and I've never broken a bone or had a cavity."

We all sit in amazement, and I wonder if I will ever look at her and not associate her with God and milk.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Here we go. The semester starts tomorrow and I'm spending this day, as usual, with my bumper car nerves.

At least I know this is the usual and I have, so far, come out without encountering fist fights or pipe bombs on the first day.
Those are the second day.

I'm mentally clog dancing all over my soul, making biting comments to myself about how much I did not get done this summer.

I answer back: "But I got 28,000 words of the book finished, have an idea for how to piece it together, and that by itself is way more productive than my normal summer off."

Stomp stomp stomp. You were supposed to FINISH the book.

More defending myself: "I was a little unrealistic about that."

Stomp stomp stomp. Other people could've done it. You shouldn't have watched TV. You should've stayed off Facebook.

I'm on the floor now, guarding my head and feeling the guilt pour over me like oil on a pelican.

"I've never written a book before. I did OK for a newbie."

Stomp-KICK KICK! (The Pummeler does not like me to say I did OK at anything.)

"And holy crap, I went to physical therapy TWENTY-FOUR times, did all those neck exercises at home, and joined a gym and started working out again. What about that?"

[It goes to get its friends. An entire team of clog dance pummelers with primitive, splintery wooden bricks for feet.]

"And I went to see my parents over and over again. I hugged my mom and rubbed her back and massaged her feet. I made her laugh. I spent time with my dad. I fed him and brushed his teeth and put lotion on his face. I tucked him in at night. I told him I loved him and one time he even said it back to me."

[The dancers look confused.]

"I spent my summer with a husband who loves me and tolerates the vast array of quirks about me. And who is patient with how long it's taking me to understand how to be with someone like him."

[They look down at their wood-thug feed.]

"Pummel me all you want. You suck."

They struggle and trip across the floor to get to me.

I push a button I didn't even know I had. A trap door opens. They go down. The door closes.

I hear them yelling at me, but through the floor they are muffled.

Friday, August 13, 2010

School Supplies!!!

Today I ran about 16 errands in the putrid heat-midity of Illinois.

It's that kind of heat where you go through several mental stages as the day wears on. You begin cheerfully enough, looking forward to marking things off your list. You get in and out of the car many times. The dark, heat-absorbing car. Three or four stops along the way, you become philosophical about the heat. "It's very hot," you say. "But this is better than driving on ice. Driving on ice sucks. And this is just uncomfortable." You drink water. You buy more water inside the mall where you are forced to go, because the fantastic art supply store that used to be on campus has relocated there. They are the only store in town who carries your favorite purple fine-point felt-tip pens. Stylist brand.

The heat radiating from the sun, which has moved five kilometers from Earth, has made you stupid. You walk the long mall trek back to your car, where you realize you've left your bastard keys on the counter in the bastard art store. So you walk your stupid ass back to the store and there they are, your keys, on the bastard counter. You want to stick your purple felt tip pens through the forearm of the guy working there, because this is all his fault. He should've kept track of your keys for you. What the hell is wrong with him?

Hmmm. You are starting to pick up on the alteration of your mood. You call your husband to try to touch base with sanity. You tell him you still have 6 places left to go, and you fear coming close to snapping because the surface of the sun is resting on your windshield, and because of the 4 steps backward you keep taking every time you try to complete an errand. He tells you "Just take your time and enjoy the process."

The process becomes a little like throwing yourself into a jet engine. One that has been sitting on a runway in Phoenix idling all day and is nice and hot when it purees you.

You finally finish your list of errands. Your revised list of errands, that is. The last 2 are deep-sixed when you see clearly that if you don't get home, and fast, your old friend Road Rage is coming to visit.

You walk in the door. Your husband kiddingly shouts "Who is it???" And you say "It is someone who wants to purchase a machine gun."

But then, Amazon does not sell machine guns, and so you'd have to leave the house again to get one. Leaving the house again is an option that is as appealing to you as taking out your own entrails and wearing them around your neck like a feather boa.

So you stay home with your new purple pens.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Progress Report

Book: Stalled at 28,000 words. Had to have a break to regain some perspective. Will place on so-called "back burner" until a couple weeks into the semester.

Semester: Throwing together first-day handouts and deciding which essays and poems to have my classes read. One that made the cut is David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster." I highly recommend it. Very bizarre, and the fact that it first appeared in Gourmet magazine makes it even better. It is not exactly up their generally snobby alley.

Alley: The back alley of my brain has come out to take over. Every obscure thing I have ever feared or dwelled on or downright obsessed over is coming to visit me each night as I try to sleep.

Sleep: You know what's really really hard? Coming off an addiction to Ativan. Have been on this bullshit drug off and on for 29 years. Way more off than on it. I would sometimes go a whole year without having one. In this past year, since moving, I've taken it every night to help me sleep. This was a mistake. A very big one. The recently developed side effects now include the nighttime sensation of my skin crawling, increased panic (from a frakkin anti-anxiety drug?), inability to focus on anything for longer than

--wait. What were we talking about?

About: It's all about getting off this drug now. I am just now trying to wean down and the stories online about this are nightmarish. Seizures, for instance. I'll probably have to go on something else just to deal with the loud sighting of Ship Panic on the horizon, with all its cannons blasting.

Blasting: I feel like blasting a cap in Candy's ass for being so dense and getting addicted to a drug. I guess I just didn't believe that whole thing about "dependency." My bad.

Bad: Life, though, is not bad. It is good. I soak in all the good stuff I can, like love, and put out as much as I can find inside myself. Heh. I just said I put out.