life's an awkward journey we all have to go through, so we might as well entertain others as we do it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive ---
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" ---
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page ---
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribblings.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil ---
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet ---
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

--Billy Collins

Death by Caramel Suckers

So, I have a pretty hilarious tale for you to enjoy.

When I was a little girl, probably around 3 years old or so, I fell down the stairs at my gramma's house. And this was a long flight of stairs. Like ten or more. Needless to say, I chipped my front tooth in half.

(Probably something like this but not quite as drastic.) 

I had a crown put on it so that it looked normal and I wouldn't be haunted by my missing tooth or teased by fellow classmates in the early years of elementary school. After all, that's a critical self-esteem period. One fateful Halloween, when I was around eight years old, I was sitting in the car outside my house, probably waiting for someone to get in the car (as is still an unfortunate routine my family deals with daily), I was chewing on a caramel apple sucker -- a delicacy I didn't have often. Well, the caramel got stuck on my teeth, and as was instinctual, I yanked it out of my mouth. (Hello, teeth are invincible people. *chagrined look*) Need I describe my shock when I pulled half my tooth off with it? 

(Anyone remember these beauts?) 

Completely freaked out, I went to my mom in a panic thinking I had just pulled out half of my tooth. What was I going to do? Was this normal? Of course, she explained to me that I'd fallen down the stairs as a clumsy child and that it wasn't my real tooth that I'd pulled out. Being eight years old, I felt like I'd been living with a lie. How could I not have known my tooth wasn't real? 

Well, this past week I was on tour at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth, with my high school's orchestra. And one of my roommates had been given a box of treats by her father. These delicious candies called "Sugar Daddy"(s) were in that box. Of course, late at night in a room full of teenage girls, who wouldn't love to munch on some candy? 

(Curse you.)

I love caramel and I love suckers. However, the combination has proven to be quite fateful. Being a longer sucker, I got it stuck on my very last molar when in the midst of laughing I'd bitten down on the sucker. I need to learn to quit doing that. Or just avoid caramel suckers like the plague. Yanking it out, as I had ten years ago, I unknowingly chipped my tooth. *Face palm.* There was no pain, same as my first experience, and I wouldn't have even noticed if the next time I bit down, after finishing said demon candy, there hadn't been something crunchy. I thought this was odd, and spit it out into my hand. Caramel is characteristically a brown, caramel color. There was nothing pearly white in this sucker. So my tongue reached back to my tooth, and I was surprised to find that it was a little bit more rough and uneven than it had been last time I'd checked. 

"Hey guys," I said in slight nonchalant shock, "I think I just chipped my tooth." 

Of course, everyone laughed at me, myself included, and I couldn't really believe that I had actually chipped it. Obviously I should just stay away from caramel suckers. I was surprised it hadn't hurt, as were my roommates. But it's okay. It's clear back there where no one can see it, and it's just the tiny corner of my tooth. Not even noticeable. It can only bother me, until my tongue gets used to this uneven, rough spot in the back of my mouth. 

If any of you see me picking up a caramel sucker again, just laugh at me and tell me to put it down. Please. I don't want to clumsily chip another pearly white. 

Yes, you can laugh. I've laughed myself. But I feel it is my duty to warn you all about A) chewing on caramel suckers (DON'T.), and B) even hazardously picking them up and placing them in your mouth in the first place. My two chipped teeth, pieces rest in peace, advise strongly against it. 

--Chagrined Caramel Lover

Bronze Radio Return - Shake, Shake, Shake

Love this group. Please go listen to their stuff. I've just been a little bit obsessed lately, no big deal. They have a great sound and are wonderful to listen to. They always put me in a good mood.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Local Natives-Sun Hands

Great song. Just listen. And hey, check out their new album too while you're at it.