31 October 2014


"Anyone lived in a pretty how town" says e e cummings. In sixth grade I tried to write my name on my papers in a lower case letters. I don't think I knew much of e e cummings poetry, I definitely wasn't much of a poetry fan in those days, but I knew of him and his small e's. My teacher asked me if my name wasn't a proper noun. Proper noun. What a strange term. I went back to capitalizing my name. 

There is another term, ambiguity tolerance, that in the context in which I learned it refers to how well you handle broad instructions on an assignment. Do you prefer itemized rubrics asking for a personal essay that's five pages long, single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font, making sure to cover the points of your birth, most embarrassing moment, graduation from high school, and how good you are at sticking to a grocery list? Or do you prefer the looseness of being asked to write a personal essay, taking as long as necessary to fully explain your thoughts?

Or, outside of the classroom, does your heart feel at peace when you read:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Or, how frustrated do you become with my blog?

My ambiguity tolerance in liberal arts and the kitchen is usually very high. For instance, my ideas for Halloween costumes this year have been: The Beatles' "Revolution #9," Light as a feather/Stiff as a board, or a constellation which was such a concrete idea it quickly transmuted into Outer Space. (Which, in reality, just looks like I'm wearing a giant navy blue mumu and trying to be a wizard.) However, situations that are typically classified as straightforward are highly foggy to me. Like biology and this goals/performance review worksheet I'm to do for work. I've an email here with a list of questions to help me come up with goals. "What career goals do you have? What sorts of training do you need to get there?" Within the confines of the job I'm at now, because they require temps to participate as well, these questions seem the height of ambiguity and therefore must each require three pages of conjecture. Instead, I have a spreadsheet to fill in. This is a part of business that confuses me. "Here, human, tell me your hopes and dreams but in a succinct enough matter that it will fit in these 4 merged spreadsheet cells but compelling enough that we promote you, give you health insurance, and treat you like a human being."

Have I been dropped in an unfamiliar sea? In a place where the sun casts its light so evenly there's no telling cardinal directions and what land awaits me who knows where? Never mind, New Sea, I don't worry, I can swim.

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

*from The Woman Who Laughed on Calgary by Heather McHugh
anyone lived in a pretty how town by e e cummings

17 October 2014

09 October 2014

08 October 2014


They made me a tiny violin.
they did not make me a gift
of a tiny violin.
I am now a violin.
And there's a dreadful
din of caterwauling
coming from the alley
accompanying me.
I finally don't feel lonely.

This is part of a series of horrible poems that I'm writing as a 2014 New Years Resolution.

07 October 2014


It's finally happened: I train elephants for a living. This new job is in the Business Service Center of an Amazon building so you might be surprised that elephants have anything to do with it, but I'm training them to walk quietly. They're showing some promise, it's very hard for them but soon they'll be ready and we'll be able to let them out on the floors to do the daily copy room runs on each of the floors. Of course they're also receiving training on using prosthetics in order to increase their dexterity but that's run through a different office. I'm in the 'walk softly' office. 

You see, imagine you're hunching over your computer screen and have hit a wall, you look up, and there is an elephant tiptoeing past. Wouldn't you find that inspiring? The hope is that if they walk silently enough they won't disturb anyone concentrating but those who need a break will get a burst of joy at the sight of our highly skilled elephants. It's all very experimental but we're really investing a lot here. We're replacing all of the existing elevators with freight elevators to create a workplace that doesn't discriminate against any of our employees. It's very important to us that the elephants get treated with the same respect and have the same benefits we do.

I've been taking the bus to work every day, soon––maybe tomorrow––I hope to ride my bike there, but so far I'm only taking the bus. It's great to have the reading time, though every once in a while I tear my eyes away from the page and soak in the view of the boats and the houses on the lake sinking away into the foggy morning.

In the afternoons I work with a gaggle of gnomes, teaching them how to sing in four part harmony. I've found this to be a demanding but incredibly rewarding task. Gnomes pitch fits quite easily but they're learning to appreciate the music I have picked out for them. Tomorrow afternoon I've arranged for the gnomes to teach me about their traditional music. I had to get permission for us to get access to the most secret basement level of the building, the gnomes tell me the acoustics get better for their folk ballads the more subterranean you get. They also tell me I'm supposed to dress up like a slimy worm, do you think they're pulling my leg? They're teaching me a lot about being a good sport and not taking myself too seriously.

Where exactly the singing gnomes will fit into this corporate landscape continues to remain unclear but it's important to think laterally and between the lines and boxes. Plus, now that I've started with this band of hellions, I want to teach them how to sing "Catch a falling star" until the day I die. It may take them that long to learn it, anyway.