Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Dozens



My friend Hank and I used to drag our laundry to the Lone Eagle Laundrymat as infrequently as possible and there collect writing material. Hank had fewer clothes than I did (who doesn't? I still have my gymnastics team uniform from the late 1980s) so in his relatively short life, he managed to write an entire series of poems dedicated to doing laundry and the wacky events that ensue -- a woman asking if he was carrying his underwear and him yelling back, Yes, does that excite you?, running into an old high school friend dressed in an expensive suit and expressing horror that anyone still had to do their laundry in a public place, reading Catullus poems while a cheerleading camp passed in the window. It was a rich vein.

The last time we were both at the Lone Eagle, a man was trying to teach a young boy how to play the dozens. I had to admire the guy's patience when he kept his cool after the kid spilled a juice box on him and then talked about his first daddy and his other daddy. He tried to explain to the boy how you had to both be funny and make sense with a snot metaphor. (i.e., Your head's so big that they post hurricane warnings every time you get a cold.) I had to approve of the use of snot-- snot works with children. The whole thing took a surrealistic turn when the kid started going off on all sorts of crazy tangents and then started to repeat whatever was being said. The man sighed and said, You have to be both funny and different. Hank and I looked at each other, years of writing workshops behind us, and Hank said, Boy, don't we know it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"I can never be trusted not to abuse other people's metaphysics." Hank D. Ballenger

The Dozens

1 shot of gin
1 glass of sprite
Serve over crushed ice.

Benedictions and Maledictions

For Nina on the question of writing rituals:

I'm a huge believer in the force of habit. I try to write as much as I can in the same room every day because that's my best working routine. As I tend to be on the move a fair amount, this isn't always practical so I also try to be flexible. The things that don't change are the music I listen to (Coltrane, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye) and the way I start -- without any inspiration or desire to write. I've never been one of those people who LOVED to write, who couldn't wait to get to the page. But once I'm there, I feel pretty good. I try to stay on task as much as possible, but I'm not opposed to mixing it up if one genre or story isn't working.

9 comments:

Bonnie said...

Honey, there's nothing like cooking with Dr. Pepper! Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, here we come! To rituals, and to the luxury of having out own laundry facilities at long last.

kiss kiss
Bonnie

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

the Lone Eagle has a sad ring to it. I hope you get to enjoy your own washer and dryer. I remember Ann Arbor days all too well. I have enjoyed a delightful service ever since, but do it myself upon occasion. Here is to your lovely mischievous smile and post, as always. Bravo to Detroit's best and brightest, and prettiest star!

Jason said...

Another good cookbook: Eat, Drink and Be Kinky: A Feast of Wit and Fabulous Recipes for Fans of Kinky Friedman
Ever fall out of writing? Its been around 3 years for me since I have done some 'real' writing; not the cry baby bullshit I blog about.

I'm trying to get back over the hump.
Laundromats, like 24 hour diners, are the centers of the universe.

Anonymous said...

Today's triple-header "Quote of the Day: #1: A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it was used--O.W.Holmes;#2: In its purity, creation is totally meaninful and in that sense imbued with the Word, because the whole creation exists in the manifestation of Christ. The Father is unknowable but Christ is knowable. But I'm guessing. I'm only trying to answer questions that can't be answered--Kathleen Raine;#3: How sweet it it!--Jackie Gleason.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's photo of Anne Sexton testing the waters of religiosity was one of Michelle's Spell's best. The creativity of the photos remains, IMHO, of the highest quality. Kudos to you, Michelle, and your highly talented staff.

R's Musings said...

Very cute photo, M! Didn't know a Dr. Pepper cookbook existed; any interesting recipes? Love your stories about you & Hank! --R

Cheri said...

Mmm Count Chocula! And Dr.Pepper! If I ever have any children they are going to spend a lovely afternoon at Aunt Michelle's who will feed them a sugar-filled meal! YES!

J/K

You can never go wrong with Dr. Pepper!

Sheila said...

michelle,
who can go wrong with dr. pepper? i've actually never been to a laundry mat. my laundry days consist of dragging 6 or 7 loads of clothes from my bedroom down the hallway into the kitchen and finally the laundry room. I hate laundry! luckily I have so many clothes I don't have to do it that often!

Nina O. said...

Meshelle, love that merrymaking smile. Thanlks for answers on writing rituls. That diet not work for me (smiles) but glad it work for you!
N.