Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Person On The Table

A few months ago, I went for a massage at the school where my sister interned. The student I was assigned to was a talker (a no-no according to my sister -- you're supposed to perform your work in silence), but I didn't mind. He told me about his training -- the class was all chicks, man, estrogen city, but I learned to listen. I used to tune my girlfriend out with all that trivial crap, but now I really hear her because it's easier than making it up to her by seeing some crappy chick flick. I had to agree -- even being a chick, I only have so many of those in me and pride myself on never having seen Beaches or Titanic. Both theme songs from these films make me feel slightly suicidal, and I think it would be more fun to mutilate myself with a pair of rusty tweezers than sit through these epics.

Mercifully, the conversation took a happy turn to basketball and the sad loss of Big Ben to Chicago and how we both disliked Shaquille O'Neill. But then conversation turned back to class and the different forms of communication. We had to do an exercise, he said, where we sat facing a partner and asked that person, Who are you? The other person answered right away with a simple word or phrase and then asked us back. We were supposed to go for five minutes, but people couldn't stand it past three minutes. How in the hell would I have answered that one, I thought. The masseuse continued to talk, and I listened as he told me that his instructor said you had to learn to love the person on the table. I thought about my students who are always on the table when they write about who they are. One student years ago wrote an identity paper for his final assignment. It was sealed in an envelope with a note asking me to please, please burn the paper after reading it and tell no one. I did as I was told, of course. But he had answered the question for a moment, even if there was no evidence save for the ashes.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Maybe you're rich or something . . . with a secret life that you won't tell anyone about -- no matter how lonely they are, or no matter how pretty they are -- you just won't tell. Doesn't matter -- I guess I'll tell you about yourself." Robert Frank

Cocktail Hour

Drinking short story collection suggestion: The Woman Who Cut Off Her Leg At the Maidstone Club Julia Slavin

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Saturday!

58 Days until The Sopranos airs!


Oscar winner said...

Dear Michelle,
It's ok if you haven't seen "Titanic." I haven't seen "Gone with the Wind." Still, I think that Leonardo is no Clark Gable. And both Kate Winslet and Vivian Leigh do little for me.

Julian Marty said...

I've never seen "Beaches," nor do I know of its theme song. I've had lots of massages though. I like 'em.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like the line about the students being always on the table...

I suppose those of us who are addicted to writing are that way all the time when we work.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Burn it, throw it out, it's all the same shit to me. As I try to move forward, I try to forget the previous characters in my head. Not an easy task.

If I had to spend five minutes telling someone "Who I am," then there would be at least four minutes of silence.

Dan said...

Another wonderful thought-provoking post Michelle. For a long time I thought it was possible to define who I was. After years of Eastern philosophy (Zen, Taoism, Advaita) I am now totally convinced that I can only do so by saying what and who I am not.

And what remains is who I am.

Anonymous said...

Yesterdays rant was taken too far. That came from me (Tom). It was not written out of hate. I remember a stunt during one of your classes, when again, I wrote something that was carelessly written in angst.If you remember that, you will remember that I came to your office to apologize the best I could. The Walking man need not worry. His soliloqy was heard loud and clear. I sincerely apologize to all of your followers', but especially to you Michelle, whom I care for dearly.I hope this ends it. One War is enough. I do not want your blog to be anything but positive. And finally a parting shot to the Walking Man. TOUCHE',,,,,,,,Thomas

paul said...

O Mighty Is

the walking man said...

Dear Tom,
There is no war worth fighting but once. Please understand there were no winners in our dialogue but only two losers. You lost your peace and I had to use mine in a way that I do not paricularly care for. Please understand that there is not a conflict between us, just a harsh meeting of thoughts.

I am what you read, I am the same in person. I speak up, no matter the consequences. Is it always right to pull out the .44 when a .22 is all that is called for...with me yes, but I truly dislike pulling either out because I am not a gun nut like Brooks, i hate the godamn things mainly because of what I have seen them do to friends and my city.

My words are my weapons, and my body if absolutely necessary, but first it is always words. Sometimes too harsh, but as great as my peace is, so is my rage.

With you and all people I prefer peace because it is the first ingredient to the recipe for all good things to grow. How can one have freedom if they first don't have peace in their heart and mind?

I am a great lover of freedom, you expressed a thought that caused me rage but it was a freely expressed thought and in that I freely responded but not from hate or even disgust just simply rage that your thought implied that all people who post here are not free to think but are just one big lump of groupies.

I deeply Love Michelle and consider her one of my very (and I do mean very) few friends but I was not defending her. I know better, if she thought that I was defending her this lap top would be up my ass, because she has quite the strength of heart and spirit to defend herself.

I was defending thiry seven years of walking with God as my teacher and the hardest lesson of all to learn was that freedom is a by product of peace. And now you have gotten me to tell for ten minutes who and what I primarily am. But like all people i am more than simply the walking man.

I am a human, I am a spirit, I am a child of God unencumbered by religion as religion is known to be.

I seem to be a perrenial patient under one doctors care or another. I am nothing and I am something that feels they have no place here in this space but as long as I am stuck here I may as well learn. So I am both student and teacher. I am a poet and a writer of soliloquies that seem to go on forever and can get quite boring.

The nickel version to the question of having to sit across from you and say who I am is simply...I am.

May you find it in your heart to forgive my overly hard and totally uncivil words to you and in that forgiveness may you find peace in your body, soul and ,spirit.


TWM mark

the walking man said...

PS and what was wrong with Titanic, I got to see a nude Kate Winslet and I loved the part where DiCaprio turned all blue and sunk into the ocean. After watching "Catch me if you can" I think all of his movies should end that way. Except "What's eatin Gilbert grape, where DiCaprio didn't have to ac, just be himself"

Short bus and Special said...

He should shave his head and be a Boodist like us, two!

Susan Miller said...

I think one of the greatest things about revealing yourself is finding out that people see what they want to see. There is an incredible freedom to letting loose some deep, dark secret and finding that the energy it took to keep it there was the only thing standing in your way of getting past it.