Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Billy Collins: Poetry Videos

I stumbled across a Website featuring animated videos that go along with poems read by former poet laureate Billy Collins. These short QuickTime videos are basically what music videos are to songs...something visual to watch while listening to the words. I think this is a great way to entice people who don't care to read poetry to at least listen and watch it. Not to mention, Billy is a very accessible, humorous, and fun-to-read poet.

Billy Collins
action poetry

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Lesson of the Purple Sweater

The heat was out in the office yesterday and my boss, thinking she was doing me a favor, brought in one of her old fleece jackets for me to wear. I don't know what it is about ladies but they always think younger women won't mind wearing their clothes when it's cold. Consider this a public service announcement: 9 out of 10 times we would rather freeze.

I had a teacher is 6th grade who kept an oversized purple sweater in the closet for kids who got cold. We soon learned to NEVER complain of a chill or else suffer the embarrassment of her wrapping that unattractive, big, knit, moth-ball sweater around us. (Maybe if she hadn't covered up all the windows with cardboard so that we wouldn't "get distracted" the sunlight would have warmed us up?) This is what I thought of yesterday as my boss held up the jacket, which I instantly knew was too small for me, and said, "I brought this for you...and it's even clean!" She then proceeded to pick bits of dog hair and dirt off the sleeves and say, "Oh, well...maybe not...but it doesn't smell." Great.

A few minutes later she scolded me for not wearing the jacket. Fine, I thought, I'll compromise, so I stuffed my arms into the sleeves but didn't put it over my head for fear my man-shoulders would tear through the top. When my boss noticed this tactic she scoffed, "I don't have cooties, you know!" "I just don't think it will fit me in the shoulders," I tried to explain, but she took this to mean I was calling her fat. "Oh, come on! I had that in college, Amber! It will fit you." "It's just that I have really broad, manly shoulders and I was worried I would stretch it out," but everything I said made her angry. I was supposed to love her dirty college fleece and wear it like we were old college buds, but instead I was indirectly calling her "small shouldered," and so to spare her ego she hollered, "Well, I have a rack! You don't have that!" The client who was privy to this entire discussion looked from her chest to mine.

You see, it never ends well...other 6th graders will call the kid a Purple-People Eater for the rest of the day; everyone in the office will guess at cup sizes...and in the end, we'd have rather died of hypothermia anyway. So if you're ever thinking of sharing your purple sweater or dirty fleece, remember this, you are doing that girl a favor by letting her freeze.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


As many already know, I am terrified to confront winter this year because I haven't had to deal with so much as a sprinkle in several years. And what do Libra's do when they get scared? They prepare. And any good Libra doesn't just prepare, she over prepares.

It's evident that winter's approaching: The sky remains gray all day, I can see a much farther distance now that the trees are bare, and the squirrels are darting around like mad in preparation. I suddenly understand the frantic urgency expressed by the squirrels. As much as I'd like to go on pretending that winter will just skip over New England this year, I know it will be here fast and it won't be leaving any time soon. To be honest, the squirrels make me more nervous. They make everything look so urgent and stressful. I watch them rustling haphazardly through fallen leaves, scurrying across our fence, their cheeks full of acorns, and darting across the street making a mad dash for the last of fall's bounty.

On my way to work last week I watched the last of the leaves falling from the trees like big papery snowflakes, and it won't be long until they are snowflakes. Before that happens I am going to take a lesson from those neurotic (much like myself) little squirrels and gather, prepare, and stock up...and I better hurry!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hey, Jealousy (And More on Why Women Go Crazy)

I recently received an e-mail from a distraught male trying to make sense of his girlfriend's jealous and emotional behavior particularly in the case of his friendship with another girl at work (where, coincidentally, the girlfriend also works). At his wits end, he Googled, "Why are women so crazy?" And he came across my post "Why Do Women Go Crazy?" I feel bad for men; I really do. They are apparently so confounded by us they Google our behavior as if there is (and maybe there should be) some kind of catch-all physiological, scientific, medically-sound explanation for why we are all completely off our rockers.
Let's be honest, both men and women get jealous. The difference is that women don't just get jealous—they get angry, upset, sad, self-loathing, competitive, manipulative, evil, caddy—you get the idea. The reason why men are easier to deal with in general is that they typically stick to one emotion. They get jealous and maybe a little angry and competitive. Women are just more emotionally complex. This completely confuses most men who can't handle the emotional roller coaster we strap them into with that crazed look in our eyes and say, "Hold on, you're in for it now!"

There was one particular situation that caused me to mope around one summer plagued with jealousy, and the worst part was that I really didn't have a right to do so since I was a far worse human being than my boyfriend. Regardless, I got angry; I got sad; I searched for a way to get even (preferably ahead), and this emotional meltdown exhausted my boyfriend...literally. One night I decided to vent to him about why I was so hurt and upset...I carefully laid out my feelings in between tears and at the end he was very quiet. That's when I realized he had fallen asleep.

See, men's brains just shut off at a certain level of intensity. That's what spares them from going as crazy as we do. It's a defense going into shock...that, really, saves them from suffering the way we do. We could learn a thing or two from this: When things become too mentally draining we should just stop: Stop worrying, stop sobbing, stop beating ourselves up over it...we can't control everything and everyone in the world. And secondly, if we are still upset, we should probably vent to another female who can handle our chatter without slipping into a sleep induced coma.