Saturday I received a nice rejection note from the Christian Science Monitor which said that they didn't take religious poetry, but to send more. I'd sent them two poems, my ONLY two poems that even vaguely fit the criteria the editors lay out in Writer's Market. "We do not want things about the bleakness and sadness of life. Nothing violent or sexual. Please be life-affirming." If this was a poker game, I'd be down to almost nothing. But I've been thinking about the idea of what is life-affirming. Sitting next to a woman on a plane determined to talk despite my determination to put my head in a book, I finally gave in. Do you think Nicole Kidman is that white or do you think it's make-up? she asked about an ad for Chanel 5 in Oprah's magazine, and so it began. She had a King James Bible in one hand, glass of wine in the other and told me the story about the Detroit dude who hacked up his wife. They found notes from him to the babysiter, she said. Damn, I found notes from my husband's women for years. He was a dog and now I'm divorcing him. They'd been married for twenty-five years. I expected deep grief to inform her talk, but it did not. I have a friend now, she said. That I see from time to time. I've been knowing him for a long time, but not in the new way. I thought of new self-help tome -- Don't Hack Up Your Spouse -- Get A Friend!
The woman went on to say that nobody could understand why she'd finally snapped after putting up with his infidelities for years. A woman at church, she said. The last straw. She gave the devil his due, told me that he'd always brought his check home every two weeks and mowed the lawn. He was, by way of these actions, a good father in her book. And I'm thinking that it's strange what will bring you to your breaking point. One of my friends found out that her husband had a mistress because he'd charged the mistress's abortion to her American Express bill. She'd been with him while he detoxed from heroin three times. If you know anything about what this is like -- sweats, vomiting, cramps, insomnia and wanting to die, die, die, you know how much she loved him. By time three, you'd think her love for him would be dead. But the American Express bill did it. Don't leave home without it, the commercials intone, and he didn't. She didn't hack him up either -- she got a divorce. I'm trying to figure out how to write something about this, but I'm guessing that the Christian Science Monitor won't be taking it. I might have to resort to nature, but let's face it -- I'm much more comfortable in a world of wine, Bibles, American Express bills, and cities at night than I ever will be walking around outside where anything can happen, but mostly nothing ever does, at least not that I notice running from my house to my car in the cold.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Any decent kind of world, you wouldn't need all these rules." John Updike
Drinking novel suggestion: the Rabbit series by John Updike -- these four novels and one novella rank among my favorites of all time!
Benedictions and Maledictions
35 days until The Sopranos airs!