Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lonely Doll


When I was in kindergarten, I had an old-school teacher, Mrs. Griffith, who didn't put up with any nonsense. She ruled the room through fear, not love, and the students by and large arose to the challenge. I loved the badass atmosphere of the place -- time-outs? Not hardly -- you acted out, your parents were called to take you home. Couldn't focus -- try sitting in a room alone for an hour. The classes fit my masochistic longing for routine and my need for structure. The only thing I hated about the experience was naptime. I loathed naps and couldn't sleep so I finally after much campaigning was allowed to read while the other children slept. There was one condition to this -- I had to tell the students a story when they woke up.

A shy little girl, I had a dilemma. I didn't mind telling stories, but I hated talking in front of people. So I'd sit on Mrs. Griffith's lap and hide my face in the folds of my dress while I told my story for the day. I tried to leave each day with a cliffhanger so the kids would want more. I'd forgotten all about those days until in high school a girl reminded me of my old performances. "You'd sit in front of the class and talk with your dress held over your head." Suddenly it all came back, and I made some feeble attempt at laughter to hide my shame. I guess some things never change.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"You made me forget myself; I thought I was someone else, someone good." Lou Reed.

Naptime

1 shot of scotch
1 glass of milk

Serve over ice. (Also known as a Chicago Boxcar -- my dad said it was the weirdrest drink he'd ever served in his brief time as a bartender.)

Benedictions and Maledictions

A little more writing advice for the lovely Nina:

I think it's important to start slowly with writing as it is with all forms of intense activity. A lot of my students (and I have done this) say, I'm going to start writing four hours a day every single day for a week. It's not practical to go from zero to ninety. I find it's much better for me to say I'm going to write for twenty minutes. And if twenty minutes turns into four hours, then that's great. But I haven't set myself up for huge failure. I know some people need large chunks of time, but I've found it's better for me to do it in small increments. Part of it is the fact that my life is fairly chaotic. Like Jim, I find myself writing on whatever is available whenever I can. Much of writing is just paying attention and always having a pen. Or a friend with a pen. Or an eyebrow pencil. Whatever works. I'm usually writing on the back of my checkbook.

17 comments:

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

That is such a sad post. I wish I could do something to make you happy. That is my question: when does chivalry end and sexism begin? I would take you on a date or send you champagne if it would make you happy and not feel like a lonely doll. As always, you've got me thinking. Bravo to you, beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Today's triple-header "Quote of the Day":#1: We are caught in this rising and falling double helix. "Verweile doch, du bist so schon" ("Stay with me you are so beautiful"), Faust could have said to the June solstice. But he would have said it in vain. It is within ourselves, and without too much hope or belief, that stability must be saught.--Marguerite Yourcenar; #2: Eventually I think the very basic thing is that the whole of life is repeated experience. Everything. No matter how much one thinks one isn't repeating, one is totally within repeated experience all the time.--Peter Brook; #3: You can say that again.--Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd "Quote of the Day": I was in love...and followed her to the University....but she left for...London and parts unknown.--Dr.B.

Anonymous said...

Today's 3rd "Quote of the Day": She was gonna be an actress, and I was gonna learn to fly.--HC

Anonymous said...

Today's 4th "Quote of the Day": Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly....--you know who

Anonymous said...

I think you are a born stoyteller. Please keep Hank alive in your stories. I would like to have known him and I feel as If I do through your writing.

Anonymous said...

I tried that Naptime drink in college. The carpet had to be removed.

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty, summery dress in the photo.

R's Musings said...

A true Taurean you are, M! I understand that need for routine when writing, but it's tough to balance w/my Gemini tendency to hate routine. Keeps me conflicted about the whole thing. I have to look at it all through a playful perspective, or else I'm churning in writer's block. Maybe I'm just not mature enough to write yet. lol --R

P.S. You know, AP, 7 comments before 8am is a bit much for most people; maybe you should exert a little self-control. You may be pushing others away.

Anonymous said...

What happened to your "over-20" enthusiasm, Robin?

Anonymous said...

If you must know, I view each of my words as a piece of love for Michelle. I save them up all night and then give them to her in the morning. Scorpios are just like that.

Anonymous said...

There's a new Gustave Flaubert biography out, everybody. That guy could really handle adultery.

R's Musings said...

Scorpio sounds about right. Nothing wrong w/a little debate, but when it's all one-sided, it seems a bit obsessive.

Nina O. said...

Meshelle you are sweet to say. Thanks you for more tips in wrting and living. gorgeous darling, luv
N.

Wichita-Lineman said...

A very lovely picture. Judging by that closet, I'd say that's the only white dress you own. A nice change, cleansing and angelic.

Sheila said...

What a beautiful dress michelle! I can't believe it's not black! Such a sad post. Don't worry....do do do... do do do... be happy... doooooood ooooooooooddoooooooo. ok so i can't sing the song good but oh well!

Cheri said...

Oooh Gustave Flaubert!