Merry Christmas to You!. The good folks at Animoto have created this really neat video website to create movies from movie and photos you own. Cozy up to the fire and have a cuppa while you enjoy some moments from 2010 with my family.
Online Dating August 27, 2010
During the writing institute this summer, a discussion regarding online dating came up in our writing response group. I had mentioned that in my earlier days, I had been a beta tester for a very popular online dating site that was still going strong today – and as such, I had a free basic membership. Over the course of a few years, I probably went on about two dozen blind dates borne from connections made on this particular site. Some were bland, some were odd, and a few were extremely absurd. My colleagues were intrigued and wanted to know more. I promised to share the most absurd of all my online dating experiences at the end of the institute. Here is the all-time worst blind date I ever had (and my very last online date – I cancelled my free membership after this one) for your amusement, sorrow, and pity!
“Yep, they call me Bitale from Italy”, he boasted as he threw his shoulders back, patted his roundish belly, and laughed heartily. Some spittle flew out the side of his mouth and landed on the edge of his bushy mustache. I smiled wanly as I prayed for locusts, a kitchen fire, or the second coming of Christ – anything that would have saved me from the horror of this first, soon to be only date at the Taunton Galleria Bertucci’s. The dining room was not at all crowded for a Saturday afternoon, and this was a mixed blessing. It meant that the food would be out shortly, but also gave the other diners full view of my misery.
Bitale from Italy and I had met online in the late 1990s. He was in his mid thirties, from the Boston area, and lived with his parents. I should’ve known. However, in my late twenties, I was getting desperate to find a nice guy, and I figured that one date couldn’t be that bad – at least I was getting out there and meeting new people! His picture was decent – he wasn’t classically handsome, but wasn’t repulsive either, so I decided to give it a go! Well, the man on my date was a bit older than his picture, which he admitted was taken years ago – before the bushy mustache and the Santa Claus physique.
Well, Bitale from Italy was certainly a social fellow. He had a lot to say – a real lot. He liked to tell stories, this guy. With every story, his arms waved in the air and his boisterous laugh echoed in the dining room, and he shared his enthusiasm with me, and my lunch, which he sprinkled with spit every time he enunciated words with an S or P in them. Despite my best efforts to shield my plate with my napkin, and unintentionally with my arm, this guy’s saliva was like a guided missile – straight to my pasta.
I was granted a stay of execution when Bitale from Italy had to visit the little Italians’ room, and I sat at that table with a clear choice to be made. My fight or flight instinct was handing down directives and I was being urged by just about every fiber of my being to quietly get up, grab my coat, and depart immediately. My conscience, however, was having none of it and I acquiesced and waited for my tormenter to return to the table. Wallowing in my resignation, I glanced to the left where a mom, dad, and two young children were seated, waiting for their bill to arrive. The parents were staring at me and this look of horror mixed with sympathy filled both their faces. The mother mouthed to me, “I’m so sorry – you poor thing”. I nodded my thanks for their pity on my soul as my lunch date returned to his seat.
“So”, he states. “I was just thinking – why is it that you cut your hair so short?” It took me a moment to register the question, as it was asked so bluntly, so randomly, and it was the first thing he had asked me about myself all afternoon. “Excuse me?” I replied.
“Your hair – it’s really short. How come?”
“Uh, because I like it,” I stammered. He wore a look of surprise on his face, which then softened into a smile, and he leaned in and said conspiratorially, “Ok, I’ll let you keep it that way”, as he placed his hand on my thigh.
My fight or flight instinct was screaming “I TOLD YOU SO” a million times in my head and was beating my conscience into oblivion as I quickly grabbed for my purse and told Bitale from Italy that I really did have to be going. I fished ten dollars out of my purse and placed it on the table. He accepted it. Somehow I knew he would! He stood up and kissed me on the cheek with that disgustingly damp mop of a mustache and asked me if he could see me again. I’m not sure how I made it out of there, as by that point, the screaming in my head was holding the rest of my body hostage. I think I said something like “we’ll talk later” and left.
Upon returning to my apartment, I promptly walked to the computer, logged into the online dating site that matched me with the human sprinkler, and cancelled my membership, which I had for free for several years since I was a beta tester. “Are you sure you want to cancel?” the screen flashed. I took a deep breath, clicked “Yes”, and washed Bitale from Italy off my body in the shower, thereby pouring my world of online dating down the drain once and for all.
Kim Sutherland 7/25/10
Dusk with Frankie August 7, 2010
Dusk with Frankie
It ends up like this:
settled into his car seat
I steer us toward the setting sun
The rhythmic lull of the tires
against smooth pavement
brings a slowing to the heartbeat.
The air cools,
tucks away the heat
of the shining moments
and the angst of the
tasks of daylight.
Softly, I hear from the back seat,
“mom, we are cruising through the darkness”.
Not a question, but an observation.
Off-ramp carries us home
through winding, wooded lanes
Crickets and bullfrogs
carry the only conversation now
as they prepare their evening’s work
in the employee lounge at the pond;
we think it’s a staff meeting.
As darkness spreads its arms
across the horizon
like an open parachute nearing the earth,
we scurry into the house
avoiding the buzzing of the mosquitoes
who consider us their lunch
My intrepid co-pilot climbs into bed
and is wished safe travels
for the next leg of his trip
in the clouds of his dreams.
One of the readings in the summer institute was a poem by Mary Oliver entitled West Wind #2. A great strategy for obtaining writing material is to share readings with one another. The reading might evoke some sort of memory, thought, opinion, idea, etc… that can be used to craft our own pieces. Mary Oliver’s piece had nothing to do with being a Control Freak, but that’s where the poem inspired me to go. I’ve printed it below. Read West Wind #2 here if you wish: http://www.panhala.net/Archive/West_Wind.html
Response to Mary Oliver’s West Wind #2
Life is messy. That’s just the way it is. Glass breaks, car engines stall, and dinner overlooked burns in the oven. The mess, however, is important – necessary even, in creating an existence worth the constant beating of the heart in your chest. Control is an illusion one uses to create order – order which will never reach your high standards. The cat won’t stop clawing at your sofa, your daughter won’t choose the college you want her to attend, and your husband won’t stop leaving his clothes in a heap on the floor of your bedroom. Despite these glitches in your master plan, you will live. You will shrug your shoulders at your skinned knee, your son’s ripped sweatshirt, your lover’s affinity for atrociously foul-smelling pork rinds, and you will surrender yourself to this life that spins beyond your control.
Kim Sutherland 7/20/10
Bad Kim – I’ve been away far too long. I’m going to try to do better. The school year ended quite late this year and there was no time to rest after snow and flood days extended my obligations before Buzzards Bay Writing Project’s Summer Institute (which I co-facilitate) began. One glorious month of writing with other teachers in the area has now come and gone and I do have some writing to share, inspired by my time at the Institute. Yeah, August! I’ll not concern myself with the back to school ads already playing on the television and instead focus on my summer goals – reading as many books for pleasure that I can, and putting the finishing touches on my home office reorganization in an attempt to make my writing space more conducive and comfortable. I just read a fun Janet Evanovitch mystery –One for the Money, which was recommended to me by the very friendly insurance agent with whom I spent over an hour on the phone a couple of weeks ago. She’s getting ready to publish her first novel. Saved me over $200 on my insurance, and gives great book tips – who knew the nice folks at insurance.com were so full-service!
small, but important repairs August 13, 2009
small, but important repairs
Spider Man Band-Aids
for cuts and scrapes
kisses and hugs
for bumps and tears
words of praise
for little, easily-bruised egos
to relieve boredom
during grocery store and bank trips
after being brave
for the nurse’s needle
a gentle caress
of a cheek or chin,
to smooth a furrowed brow
a security blanket or night light
to ward away the monsters of the dark
a parent’s backrub
that tells a little one
A poem inspired by a recent visit to Fort Taber in New Bedford, MA.
Disheveled thyme green knoll
pedestal to local history
standing stalwart against
and ocean breeze whispers
Holds the ramparts
in honor of toiling hands and broken backs
Bricks now graffiti-adorned
where freedom fighters
Weeds work their way across the rotting threshold
where civilians are no longer welcome-
but content to travel the perimeter
to the crimson blood and salty sweat of sacrifice,
with which the sneakers on their feet were bought.