Yadda, Yadda, Yaddo

Woman Wanting More

 

I arrived at Yaddo, the prestigious artists’ retreat, in the summer of 1941. With America’s “day that will live in infamy” several months away, my own day of infamy began the second morning of my residency. That was when I saw her frolicking about the grounds, her gorgeously gawky six-foot body clothed in dungarees and a man’s white shirt, her brown pageboy hair swaying about as she clumsily tackled Katherine Anne Porter to the dewy grass. So this was Lula Carson McCullers, the delectable wunderkind whose first novel, published when she was twenty-three, had been a critical and financial success. I decided I must have her and she must have me.

I introduced myself to her later that night as we sat down to dinner at the mansion. My sweet Lula scampered to a vacant seat beside Katherine while I gently shoved Newt Arvin to the floor to procure the chair next to my beloved.

I tried to engage the lovely Lula in some small talk, but she was so shy and demure she could not bring herself to even look at me for fear of falling deeply and hopelessly in love. She sat staring at Katherine, hiding from me the love and admiration in her gaze. Oh, but I see, Carson, my sweet Lula C. I see.

Ultimately my precious Lula turned her soft, doe-eyed glare to me after Katherine slapped Lula’s face around in my direction. The contempt in Lula’s eyes only masked the awe and arousal she felt for me. Finally, my lover spoke. “What are you doing here?”

At last we began a sensual dialogue; we were two literary lovers discussing the craft with an undercurrent of sexual tension.

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Shuffling Cards at Work – Deal Me Out

Shuffling Greeting Cards

In a recent scientific survey, all Americans said they would rather be attacked by a rabid badger than sign greeting cards at work. Granted, the sampling size of the survey was a bit small (me and Max, my coworker and racquetball partner), but I think the results represent a fair assessment of the situation.

Every week, I am inundated with cards for every conceivable occasion: retirement, birthday, sympathy, get-well, acquittal. Last week, I signed a card for someone’s second cousin’s godmother’s pug for graduating obedience school (valedictorian no less!).

I never know what to write on the accursed cards, either. Most of the time, I don’t know the person (or animal) that well, if at all. Usually, I play it safe with the standard phrases: “Wish you well,” “My condolences, “or” Good luck with that.” Once, when I discovered a card on my desk one morning, I quickly scribbled “Congratulations” and passed it on. That afternoon, Lance from sales came to my office, jerked me out of my seat with a firm handshake, and pulled me close for a spine-crushing embrace.

“Thanks man,” he whispered in my ear. “You’re the only one who knows how I really feel.” Later, I discovered I’d signed a sympathy card acknowledging the passing of his mother-in-law.

Some people have no problem writing heartfelt passages. One disgruntled coworker wrote on the retirement card for one of our managers:

“Having reached the twilight of your mortal existence, please accept my congratulatory sentiments as you prepare to leave this ennui-inducing hellhole and make your way to paradise and your seaside condo. I remember well our initial acquaintance–sitting in orientation one score and five years ago, two young, creative lads lactating ambition and motivation galore, until all was slowly suckled from us by this godforsaken bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that nursed relentlessly, leaving our teats of aspiration depleted and withered, never to plump anew. Anyway, good luck and watch out for hurricanes.”

The disgruntled worker was also a bitter, failed novelist.

If I know the person well, I may add an encouraging personal note such as I did on a recent get-well card for my friend and racquetball partner, Max:

“Sorry about the mauling. Don’t worry; my Aunt Melvina suffered a similar fate with a raccoon. She regained most of her mobility and her scars are barely visible in low light. Hang in there; I’ll reserve a court for us.”

Max had landed in the intensive care unit after simply sticking his hand in his mailbox, retrieving a package of Gevalia coffee, and flinging it at a rabid badger weaving across his front lawn.

I visited Max in the hospital to deliver his card and conduct my survey. Though he was completely bandaged, in traction, and unable to speak, I could see in his eyes he was enjoying his respite from having to deal with the cards at the office. Thus, I am confident in the accuracy of my survey’s results.

The Hammy

Ham

 

This weekend is the annual Burt family ham decorating and sculpting contest, otherwise known as The Hammy. I don’t like to brag, but I won The Hammy Award last year. I carved up my ham to look like Curly from the Three Stooges, but with a mohawk (hamhawk?). I think what gave the sculpture added panache was the two small cranberries I used for eyes.

My youngest son, Otto, made his ham into a pig, which I thought was cruel at first, but I eventually learned to appreciate the meta-style of his design. I questioned him about the theme and concept of his project, but he just made snorting noises and laughed.

My wife, Donna, created a game with her ham, inserting toothpicks until it looked like Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies. We hung the ham on the fireplace mantle like a stocking and took turns tossing pineapple rings at the toothpicks, scoring points with each successful “stick.” Donna won the ring toss ham game and was rewarded with an impromptu prize the rest of us agreed on: she got to clean up the mess. But, honestly, we let her win.

My teenage son, Dustan, submitted an entry that looked just like a half-eaten ham, which, by the way, it was. He just sat there, eating ham and playing video games while the rest of the family competed vigorously to win the succulent Hammy Award. He still finished second with little effort because of his natural ham skills.

We always buy way too much ham every year for the contest, so we end up making a charitable donation of the leftovers to our dog, Buddy. Last year, Buddy couldn’t even finish it and we caught him trying to give some away to a couple of stray cats. We admonished him, confiscated the meat, and took the rest to the nursing home to give to Grandpa. Grandpa always appreciates the very little kindness we show him, unlike our spoiled mutt and what’s-his-name we keep locked in the dungeon beneath our detached garage.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s ham contest. Don’t tell the rest of my family, but I think I have another winning idea this year. I’m going to drape the meat with Lady Gaga voodoo dolls. And, as an added twist, the Lady Gaga voodoo dolls will be wearing little ham dresses.

Have a Happy Hammy!

Third Grade Vocabulary Words and Example Sentences

Classroom

My eight-year-old son asked me to help him with example sentences for his vocabulary words. I think I may have caused further confusion with the following sentences. He eventually created his own examples and submitted them.

—launch, v, to throw or propel with force; hurl.

“The mechanical bull launched Jimmy into the wall of horseshoes.”

—double, adj, twice as much in size, strength, number, or amount.

“Steve experienced double vision after being hit on the head with a frozen ferret.”    Ferret

—plunge, v, to thrust or throw forcefully into a substance or place.

“Troy plunged his hand into the public toilet to retrieve the mood ring.”

—tractor, n, a vehicle having a powerful gasoline or diesel motor and usually large, heavily treaded rear tires, used especially for pulling farm implements or machinery.

“The chimpanzee lost control of the tractor in the graveyard, causing monkey mayhem and chaos by plowing down mourners and headstones.”

—single, adj, not accompanied by another or others; solitary.

“The bar was full of single guys like Clay, seeking partners to engage in long, exciting sessions of Scrabble™.”

“The single most erotic thing Dave owned was his collection of Gumby memorabilia.”

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Choking the Muse and Her Skanky Girlfriend

 

Choking the Muse

Let’s face it: writing is hard work. It’s difficult even when you know what you want to write about and it’s downright excruciating when you have no inspiration at all. I mean, the previous two sentences took me eight hours to write and it’s crap. So I know what it feels like when your muse abandons you, running off sans warning with the unctuous, greasy-haired, cowboy hat-wearing, Kid Rock look-alike neighbor after leaving behind a pair of her black, crotchless (taunting) panties lying on the bed you shared with the whore for three years, absconding because she believed the fucking lies spewed by her skanky bitch girlfriend. Yes, I completely understand. So to help my fellow inspiration-challenged, muse-abandoned quill drivers, I offer the gift of writing prompts comprised of slightly provocative situations and dialogue to give you a creative kick in the ass. The situations and dialogue may be familiar to some writers; I know I’ve experienced most of these situations myself. Like me, you may have not realized that such earthy, everyday occurrences could be worthy of artful prose.

Interspersed throughout the list are special Try This writing prompts. Several Try This prompts require some physical activity and are designed to function much like Emerson’s and Thoreau’s transcendental walks, fomenting profundity and sapience through bodily exertion.

Now it is time to choose a prompt and begin writing in order to lure that muse back. Once the muse is within reach, snatch her cheating little neck with both hands, give her a bit of a throttle, and don’t let go until you’ve created your literary masterpiece. Afterwards, go ahead and fuck up that lying skank bitch who started this shit.

Writing Prompts

—Every now and then, you poke your head out of the warm, moist cavity to see what’s up.

—Though you’re extremely proud of your new invention, you did not anticipate the severe bleeding caused by its proper use.

—”Time to hide,” Gloria said, as she wrapped the banjo strings around the charred remains.

Try This: Drive into oncoming traffic. Watch the reactions and facial expressions of the other drivers. Write for at least twenty minutes about the experience with a special emphasis on describing in exact detail accidents caused.

—While pitching a movie idea to a well-known producer, he opens his desk drawer, pulls out a dark object, and flings it at you. That’s the last thing you remember.

—You find a group of gay elves living in your favorite hat.

—After he explained the logic behind his vivisection device, we realized the lead aeronautical engineer had taken the project in a whole new direction.

—Leonard told the flight attendant about the leaking, sticky hat boxes in the overhead compartment.

Try This: Childhood offers an abundance of delightful writing ideas. Write about some of your most cherished memories such as the time you mistakenly took your mom’s tee-ball-bat-sized ebony dildo and Ben Wa balls to school for show and tell. Or write about a favorite holiday memory like the year the yuletide log popped and sent a glowing ember onto the back of the cat thus setting it on fire and causing the panicked pussy to run caterwauling under the dried Christmas tree (which in turn set the tree on fire that eventually consumed your uninsured house and left you and your family living in an abandoned school bus for three years). Twenty minutes. Begin.

—Because of short-term memory loss, you have trouble recalling what you just wrote because of short-term memory loss.

—Just when you think the game is over, along comes the screeching, red thing.

—”Hey y’all, let’s just throw rocks at it until it goes away.”

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