Archive | December, 2011

Dear Holiday Nostalgia and Bad Decisions of the Make Out Variety

16 Dec

Dear Holiday Nostalgia and Bad Decisions of the Make Out Variety,

I’m sitting in the airport on my way home for the holidays. Does that phrase evoke a weird mixture for anyone else of a peppermint taste, the song “White Christmas,” images of your childhood Barbie dreamhouse (Christmas 1991, I had the flu) and the urge to hook up with any (all) of your old crushes that it never quite happened with? No?

Well, this is awkward. But I’m going to continue to talk about it anyway. I basically don’t go out to any of the bars where I might run into people I know unintentionally when I’m home. Maybe because I went to college and spent a year after in the same city I grew up in, I tend to see the friends I keep in touch with from college and those I’ve made since then instead of running around to high school hot spots. And we tend to go out to new places. Or maybe it’s because I’m bitter and mean and terrified and avoid that one bar like a plague. Hard to say. I’m going with the former. So the chances of me seeing anyone accidentally are small. And yet.

Yet say the words “home for the holidays” and my brain’s all, “Hey girl. You know who you should make out with?! That dude from when you were 18. You used to study Spanish together? YEAH girl. GREAT idea.” And then all of a sudden it’s all White Christmas club remix up in my mind with twinkling white lights.

WHAT?!? NO. TERRIBLE IDEA. I mean, right? (Unless you’re reading this (you know who you are) in which case, call me! (Also, Ryan Gosling, you can call too.)) (Kidding! No really.)

Ok, well now that I’ve said this on the internet, this is the year I will run into everyone I know and we’ll see who reads my blog, because either they will talk about it and I will pretend to have a stroke to get out of the conversation or they will break into awkward hysterical laughter every time they look at me. Or they will creep on me and I will go to the bathroom to escape. Or they will act like I am creeping on them when I try to reach around them for a cookie. (I was going for the fudge! That’s not a euphemism! Oh god!)

So it’ll be SOPPMA (Standard Operating Party Procedure in the Media Age) in other words.

Ah, the joy of the season….



Dear Break-Up Gifts

6 Dec

Dear Break-Up Gifts,

It’s that time of year when the Internet makes lists of things for you to give to someone you know very well (right? I hope? I mean, if you’re letting them touch you on a consistent basis?)  and who the Internet has never met. The idea of this makes no sense— I mean, sure, your boyfriend might be exactly like the article author’s boyfriend, but I’m going to say chances are slim. And that if the similarities are too exact, you might want to look up the author’s FB profile and see if her boyfriend IS your boyfriend.

So instead of creating my own list of things you might give, I’m going to engage in that time-old tradition of ripping apart what someone else has said.

Jezebel has posted an article titled “Gifts for Someone You’re Planning to Dump.” OUCH.

Let me say this: the premise of the article rests on the assumption that dumping someone just before the holidays is worse than stringing them along for an extra month, dragging them to all your family functions, having them happily introduce you to grandma’s secret fudge recipe (and to grandma, possibly on her last Christmas; how awkward will that photo shoot be?), buying them a gift strategically chosen with said break-up in mind, and then leaving their frozen ass to thaw out on its own in January.

Morality is SO HARD, you guys!

Anyhoodle. The list includes a series of things that are great for mourning break-ups, including headphones, a quilt, boozy accessories, and food. Ok, whatever.

And then it includes a few things to get your ex started on a hobby: a plant or a cookbook. Let’s discuss.

My opening argument: WTF.

Who wants their new hobby to be GIVEN to them by their ex? How condescending is it to be all, “Hey babe, you’re going to need something to fill your empty, lonely, terrible hours with once I’m gone, so….here’s a thing….every time you look at it you’ll be reminded of me….just try to ignore that.”

So of course now I’m thinking about the love fern in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days— remember that? Kate Hudson, in her role as obnoxious girlfriend, gives Matthew McConaughey a plant and tells him it’s their love fern and they have to keep it alive as a symbol of their relationship. He lets it die, of course, and then she fake-cries, and then at the end of the movie it’s on the back of his motorcycle when he chases her down….

And people say rom-coms give us unrealistic expectations for relationships.

Or, alternatively, there’s this story: my sister’s ex-boyfriend gave her an orchid (when they were still together). After they broke up, she did what any sensible person would do: she stopped watering it.

Look, guys, it wasn’t a puppy, it was a plant, and I’m not a mind-reader, but I’m guessing she didn’t feel like looking at it every day and it’s hard to wrap your mind around throwing something out that’s still alive. Passive resistance is okay once you break-up. In fact, it’s sort of the name of the game, no? I would guess a lot of us can’t quite throw out things our exes gave us, but we can hide them / accidentally knock them over / treat them badly / lose them. This is why there’s so much talk about protecting the kids when people go through a divorce. OH GOD I JUST SAID THAT. WATER YOUR BABIES, GUYS.

But my sister’s roommate was a devoted plant caregiver and he kept watering it. That thing lived forever. Orchids are super delicate, you guys, and that plant would not die. I think she convinced the roommate to take it with him when he moved out two years later.

The only thing worse than giving someone you’re planning to break up with a plant is giving someone with cancer a dog:

PLEASE DON’T COMBINE THESE STORIES AND GIVE SOMEONE YOU’RE BREAKING UP WITH A DOG. OH MY GOD. That’s like handing them a stack of cuddly, warm, peeing bills that will come due right around the time you flaunt your new girlfriend in their face on FB.


PS. This is also my sister who I had the following conversation with:

Her: I don’t understand why people get engaged during the holidays.

Me: Yeah, I did the opposite and had a holiday break-up.

Her: No, you didn’t.

Me: What?

Her: It was Thanksgiving. Doesn’t count.

Me: You’re not going to give me this one?

Her: No. You can call it a Thanksgiving break-up if you want.

Me: Really? You’re really not going to just let me have this?

Her: No.

Dear Rejection

1 Dec

Dear Rejection,

I’ve been having dreams where I get rejected. No telling whether this has to do with my personal or my literary life. Last night I was on a boat going up a river when it happened, and I have to say, the setting was beautiful. The water was crisp and clear, the life preservers were a crisp orange, the sun was shining, and my hair looked great. I stood at the boat’s railing and watched a crocodile go by as I was shot down. Lovely.

In honor of my subconscious, I’m going to share today my first experience with (not) publishing in the literary world. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. I call it…

Up the River of Denial: and I hope You all like Me

The first literary journal to accept a poem of mine for publication never published my poem. I submitted to Great Review in the South (GRITS) in the youthful blush of my first semester in an MFA program. Full of panache and coffee, I sent packet after packet of five poems tied with bright, shiny bows of hope off to literary editors whose offices were filled with similar bits of dead trees.

Months later, by the time I received an email from some woman in Connecticut, I’d forgotten who I’d submitted to, why I’d submitted to them, and what poems I had submitted.

The email came from “poetry editor” and started, “Dear Marggaret.” I thought, everyone makes typos.  The next line read: “We would like to publish ‘At the KFC in Wallingford.’” The poem was actually titled “At the QFC in Wallingford,” but details! I was going to be published!

I read on: “We request that You submit a bio and pic to appear with the publication. Please include the name as You want it to appear in your bio text.” Wait. Why were the “you’s” capitalized? No matter! A bio and a pic! How professional! They were going to publish my poems in Great Review in the South (GRITS)!

I eagerly looked it up. A Confederate flag waved in my face. I blinked, looked again, google-searched “Confederate flag” to confirm. Yes, that was a confederate flag gif on the banner of their website. Their mission statement said, “We at Great Review in the South (GRITS) are proud to publish quality literature of all kinds. . . and We thank You for the opportunity to read Your work.” No matter what page I clicked on, every header and every sidebar boasted a Confederate flag. Perhaps more disturbing was the fact that every pronoun was capitalized.

I sighed, and then I emailed out my good news to friends and family anyway. I replied to the mysterious “poetry editor” email address with the correction for the title, worded as politely as I possibly could word it, clarifying that “QFC” is a grocery store chain in the Pacific Northwest—since “KFC” is an actual place of business, and a food-related one at that, I was fairly sure she would not realize the typo without my help.

But the poem was—and is—about a very old woman named Bettylu who works at the deli counter, ghoulishly slicing lunch meat with a thickly bandaged finger, and such things do not exist in KFCs. They sell fried meat, not lunch meat. I wrote a bio, I painstakingly chose a picture, and I asked which issue I might be appearing in. I did not capitalize my pronouns. I did not point out that Margaret has only one “g.”

Three days later, I received an email saying simply: “Margaret …fogive me the publication has QVC correct, it was just my letter to you.”

Who knew there were so many chains with three letter acronyms, so many variations on “QFC”?  Were this to appear as the title, the poem would make even less sense. Does QVC sell food? At least she spelled my name correctly this time. Even if she did forget the “r” in “forgive.” Maybe this woman had bandaged fingers.

Months went by.  I received an email from a Reginald one day that read, “We invite You to read the new edition of Great Review in the South (GRITS) and We thank You for Your continued support.” My heart beat slightly faster. This was it! I clicked on the link, I looked at the Confederate flags, I spent five minutes looking for the journal content and finally, I downloaded the unwieldy PDFs from the website. My poems were not there.

I am an unusual breed of persistent. I emailed the mysterious “Reginald” back and congratulated him on the new issue and its fine literary merit. I typed out a quick account of my email exchange with “poetry editor,” pointing out that she had not responded to my question re: what issue my poems would appear in, and—what the hell, I thought—I clarified again that “my poem is titled ‘At the QFC in Wallingford’ (rather than KFC or QVC).” I said I was honored to be included in the journal and thanked him.

I tried to force myself to capitalize my pronouns. Clearly it was part of the culture of this journal. What ever lead them to that place, I could not imagine. Dark forces of self-importance? Mass delusions of royalty? An overly developed sense of an unseen “you” as an omnipotent force?

…The spoiled Prince faced His last moments as the Dark, Brooding Funder of the Arts towered over Him. “Please, don’t kill Me,” he said. “You shall have all my riches and my dignity, too.  I’m begging You.” Each time I read an improperly capitalized pronoun, my mind increased its volume, its emphasis, the depth of the groveling bow until finally, its speaker hit his head on the floor. And died.

I could not and did not capitalize my pronouns.

Reginald emailed me back saying, “She has left the journal and all the work from Her time has been published. If you would like to resubmit We have a new Poetry Editor. and thank You for the compliments.” I stared hard at that lower-case “and” at the beginning of the sentence, willing it to switch places with either the “We” or the “You.”

His email signature was “giving some back and some in new places,” a spectacularly dirty phrase which made me think not at all of literary sharing, but rather, of herpes.

I did not resubmit.

No one else has been interested in publishing “At the QFC in Wallingford.”

%d bloggers like this: