M&M.; When you attend one of the country’s elite boarding schools, you learn to take in stride eating breakfast and doing laundry with the offspring of magnates and millionaires. During my four years at my particular New England prep school, the American aristocrats in attendance included: Marses, Gaineses, Firestones, and many flavors of Vanderbilt, among myriad other, less recognizable patronyms.

My friend, we’ll call her, Meg, started dating the heir to the Mars fortune, we’ll call him Matt, during our Upper Mid (11th grade), his Lower Mid (10th grade), year. (The Marses, incidentally and somewhat dubiously, tend to christen alliteratively, after the fashion of their best-selling product: Matthew Mars, Mariyah Mars, and so on.) A year younger than Meg (an age difference of some magnitude in the worldview of high schoolers), Matt started out on the scene—at least in our, the girlfriends’, estimation—as Meg’s toy boy: cute and none too serious; a somewhat dissipated and easygoing youth; fun guy to spend springtime evenings kissing, but definitively not a boyfriend.

But as senior year approached, arrived, and progressed—and in turn graduation—it became increasingly clear to all that Meg was more than casually involved with the candy prince. Given her druthers, we understood, she’d have gladly continued their relationship on into college and if possible beyond—and we also firmly and collectively grasped the impossibility of any future for the couple.

Because Meg, bright and lovely as she may have been, was not an heir. Sure, she came from a good Tennessee family and had been sent to the best, upstanding private schools—but the mean fact was that some of us were only upper middle class—spitting distance and a world away from the true bluebloods and meritocrats. We were, fundamentally, as rabble to their distinction—headed for forty-hour-a-week jobs and the climbing of corporate ladders as opposed to inherited positions at the helms of multinational conglomerates. We do not, in this country, talk about class, but it’s there, indelibly, all the while. And under that rubric Meg and Matt might as well have been different species of animal altogether. Temporary boarding school tenure supplied accidental proximity and opportunity, but theirs was a doomed amour—as decreed by circumstance—from the beginning.

If I were a writer of stories, if I had a light narrative touch, you’d have here before you painted scenes, evidence in action, exchanges of dialogue to reveal in succinct words the hopelessness of two kids’ hopes and mutual affection. But I’m first and foremost an ethnographic teacher-researcher. I look at cultures, and sub-cultures, and trace overtly inclinations those cultures instill in the individuals who make them up. I can only tell you, straight out, that Meg cared for a boy she never intended to and then had to let him go. I can only hope you’ll believe my belief, based on slim offered proofs, that the greater loss was suffered by Matt, who diligently snapped to his family’s expectations of a successor, who went forth faithfully into the role laid out for him by birth, little affection for it though he may have nurtured, and left behind a shining girl who loved him, as he did her, with all the sweet blind optimism of youth—sweetness exceeding any ever approached by chocolate.


the most amazing thing about this amazing spring is that I’m right there with it. so unlike the years I lived through bitterly grudging each blossom’s opening. this season the town is resplendent, suddenly afroth with a vista of petals—pink, white, yellow, purple, the vivid oranges and reds of upright tulips sprung from the earth on the promise of last autumn’s bulbs—I’ve seldom seen a spring so gaudy—and here am I right along with it, heart alight, song in the blood—eyes gladdened and welcoming the spectacle literally unfolding on every side. this is a relief—a boon—a long-promised payback for the seasons of out-of-sync resentment and smallness—for the slaps against a shattered heart. this spring says to me: you are just right with the world. rejoice.

dust bowl.

I’m saving myself in a covered dish beside the bed. every night I slough and gather. I’ve done this for more than a year and at last detect drifts of me forming. I begin to have topography, emergent, unmapped. I can’t quite make out the bedouins who cross my expanse, pitching tents by lash-ringed oases, but I blink and their tents fly under the gale. camels moan. I am host and whimsical. when I roll over, entire villages go extinct. there is a price for my imnipotence: my dreams are haunted by what writhes underground. it moves and hillsides shudder, and I know it wants out, the several of it– out, up, away from me. the waiting disturbs my rest. but every next night, once again, I slough and gather.

beware of zyrtec.

the label says, “take one tablet BEFORE BEDTIME,” for good reason. if you wake up in the middle of the night, say, three a.m. with the cats doing laps across your head and your sinuses suddenly full of solid snot (so clogged indeed that you know you’d make zero progress with the flonase inhaler, your first line of defense against your body’s hypersensitivity to everything from dust mites to animal dander to common tree and grass pollens) from all those spores drifting in the open window off the flowering pear trees– WHATEVER you do, do NOT take a zyrtec. at least, if you do, do not expect to be ambulatory and coherent before noon.

me, i’ve been downing very strong coffee and careening around the place, missing colliding with walls by merest breaths since 11. because I have to teach today. I’ve got to get my head back in the game. I need to ransack and turn my house inside-out in cleaning frenzy– because only two days left, and I can’t afford to be a zombie for an instant longer.

incidentally, check out this compelling descriptor: “In ZYRTEC studies, side effects were mild or moderate, including drowsiness, fatigue and dry mouth in adults, and drowsiness…”– anything jump out at you? actually, I edited it kind of unfairly to emphasize a point– it does go on to list other side effects “in children,” but still, I think my point holds. and, remind me again, what the difference is between drowsiness and fatigue…

the fictional tale of a guy by the name of s. morgenstern and a land called florin.

when various aspects of this life become unbearable, my best and favorite solution is retreat into story. agatha christie’s good. some days william goldman‘s even better. what mark danielewski’s done with such much-lauded postmodern panache in _house of leaves_, bill goldman executed far more captivatingly a couple of decades earlier in writing _the princess bride_— or, supposedly, “abridging” another writer’s tale of romance and high adventure, a lost classic he laboriously detailed as culled from childhood immigrant-father-readings memories, tracked down, muddled through, rights fought for, and, right, abridged. he even went so far as to make up an entire fictional family for himself, the author-abridger– a kind of fictional, reverential william goldman. so many layers of artifice and imagination. of course none of it’s directly believable, of course its terribly fantastic, of course you laugh and go, “no way” while reading it– and yet you want to believe. so elaborate is the fabrication. such a tour de force of the wonderful, innocent imagination. I read the novel long long before hollywood ever touched it, and, i’m sorry all you rabid fans out there, but much as I love ms. robin wright penn, she just can’t hold a candle to the real buttercup, the written, sassy, stupid buttercup of goldman’s crafting. as fine an actor as cary elwes is (and, remember, I love “saw”), westley the dread pirate roberts is bigger and bolder and sneakier and more real than he’ll ever manage to be. like dreams before their pale shadows in retelling– the book, lo, the veriest book before the movie. do yourself a favor, my friend: go read the book.

favorite games.

birthday parties I remember– “fishing” down the laundry chute. somebody down in the basement attaching toys and prizes to the end of the line– sister or a brother, surely, but to me it seemed magical– as if the architecture of everyday had grown transformed by MY BIRTHDAY. kept that sense for many years– listening to the beatles’ “birthday” in 9th grade boarding school dorm room, thinking my birthday– my very birthday. same way the name sarah used to feel– my very own, distinctly mine (long before the legions of the current day). something inherently mine inside a day, a name.

and the other good games– the spider web made out of eight different rolls of string for eight little girls, each line with a treasure at the end; easter egg hunt at the country club, clutches of dark chocolate foil-wrapped eggs and jellybeans in the folds of curtains in the bar room– the last time anything felt like something for nothing; capture the flag in the woods up in michigan in the summer after-dinner twilight or flashlight tag in the grosse pointe pitch-black– and the ecstatic thrill of daring to rescue prisoners from jail; spite & malice and dominoes with gran; the game of lucy that first time new year’s eve in the old henry ford cabin with the two storey living room ceiling and the windup plastic bird that actually flew in circles in the vast space overhead; masterpiece; mastermind; clue; poker the christmas the high school boyfriend came home to michigan for a visit with the parents; sardines; kings in the corners; backgammon; kick the can; boston; killer; murder.

ann arbor is overrated. so you say.

this morning while I was busy waxing nostalgic, I did a google search on drakes and ended up at the scathing “cultural commentary” site of one anonymous “unemployed gay conservative pseudo-bohemian named Ryan, or maybe Jeff, who drives around in a late-model Acura with tinted windows.”

pretty sharp stuff. makes me take a step back and go, whoa. what am I, middle-aged, suspiciously identifying more with those returning football-fanatical alumni than the cynical drakette of yore? god. for. bid.

what is it about the glowy tint of nostalgia that so sets its barb in my mandible? crikey, but I am once again reminded of my voluminous sapishness. which is, I suppose, why I seldom indulge in reading Cultural Commentary of any stripe. because I come away feeling just ever so callow and unhip. and, I mean, yeah, sure it’s the truth, but, come on, I’m trying to maintain a little momentum here, guys.

just keep swimming, just keep swimming. there ya go. that’s about my speed. no sharp edges, nothing to take an eye out on.

spam gorgeous

I am developing a new respect for spam. spam wants me to love it. I’m not talking about the canned meat– I mean those surely?computer?generated? messages that come down the wire to all of us pimping the latest viagra or mortgage rate. I have this sneaking suspicion of a lurking poetic consciousness operating amid this most mundane of means– like maybe anarchy artists, planting little unescapable bits of poetry into our daily inbox lives. there’s definitely something fishy going on. because they’re just too surprising and lovely too often for serious commercial shit. maybe its chaos theory. maybe it’s many monkeys and many typewriters locked in a room together.

but here’s this, compiled from subject lines coming down the pike just today– a bit of “found” spam poetry:

shedding a softened
the festal springfall
in the light
melancholy little lights
extensively in southwest
the black potato
what they wanted
the full bloom
the snow crunching
the flowers into
sleep was just
i no longer
but there were

and this, at the start of a message that also contained an advertisement for effexor, whatever that is:

Around the brave Tiger Lily were a dozen of her stoutest warriors, establishment, masters and boys, as his natural enemies, and that the table. All the little changes that had crept in when the Heeps Had the bosun good form without knowing it, which is the best from the Captain to the Theseus; and for this reason: that the If you cannot confidently trust me, whom will you trust? I say, Rosa, not a word. If he can stake his all upon the themselves, for the mermaids immediately disappeared. Nevertheless Debate, really did come out nobly: confirming me in good round was carpeted with moss. As they rattled up the little house they broke charges, I would be glad to know if I could get some spending-money occupation she was engaged, however interesting to her the I had no peace of my life until he was expatriated, and made as I had hung his hat, a deep tarpaulin, watertight, with a broad brim. the property into which she had come; in arranging all the affairs who chatted with them on Marooners Rock by the hour and sat on The Footman seemed to think this a good opportunity for I was, where I lived, how I was employed, and how I came there. To change of air, and who would be charmed to have it in such company. jury and a Campbell judge, and that in a Campbell country and upon a thanks. Far be it from us, in the present comparatively imperfect Without volition as it were, as if indeed the ships populace were himself had some design in operation. I counted my enemies; have been glad of an opportunity to visit the Palace Beautiful, and be herself, and that we had both been hapless instruments in designing in this case also the type of antithesis is the same. For as the earth – fell upon me like unmerited disgrace, in which I forced you sat down on the floor and sobbed, and Wendy did not know how to curdling smile lit up his swarthy face. Smee had been waiting for which I am at present rather sanguine, I find a young but valued not prefer her looking as she looked at such another time; and Now, said he, shall I give you a kiss? and she replied with a The mere vehemence of her words can convey, I am sensible, but a have indifferently smitten her or grovelled at her feet, but she gave rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of I really thought it was all over with Mr. Omer, after he had to all the shops in the neighbourhood to change this treasure into biped, receptive of knowledge, human, should be removed, and the

and, no, I know they don’t make sense. I know I should just attribute all of it to most-humdrum random text-parsing programs– but the result is too enchanting. I’m too enchanted.

it’s like god. little lovely blips. and you’ve either got faith, or you don’t.


anybody in here? the blogtastic is playing winky-poo…

ah, that’s better. felt myself disappearing for a minute there. all but the smile.