Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Two Schools Of Thought

When I first got my full-time job at the community college where I have spent almost eight years, I rode in a taxi to the airport to return home for a visit. The driver asked what I did for work. I once read a story about the director John Sayles and his hitchhiking days and about how his life changed when he started saying he was an actor and writer as an answer to that question. So I try to say writer when I am asked, although sometimes I feel like a total douchebag and revert to professor although I am considering scrapping this answer as well and saying something different each time if only to hone my creative skills. That day, so grateful that I finally had a job after many years of piecing together rag-ass bits of work, I said that I taught writing at the community college. That must make you pretty smart or something, he said. You must think you're something special. I looked at the man in front, his fraying jacket, bright red nose, and teeth that had seen as much care as mine have (which is to say very little), and shook my head. Actually, I'm a writer, I said, thinking of Mr. Sayles. Then why you got a job? Writers are supposed to write, not work.
I laughed. Here I had been struggling for many years, both to work and write, and now the man in the driver's seat was telling me that I was doing it wrong. Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion. Two schools of thought, the man said, and I could hardly wait to hear his take. One is that you can't write when you're starving. The second is that you don't have motivation to write if you're not starving. I thought about all the things I had done to keep going -- the mind-numbing jobs, the car that had run on a donut tire for almost a year, recycling cans for money for lunch, and was never so relieved to be in that first school of thought for that moment. The cab ride to the airport lasted forever and a day; I could have written a story during it, an escapist fantasy about a woman that never had to define herself for anybody, that could be all things to all people, but mostly to herself. But instead I wished myself invisible. If I could have pulled that off, as the driver said, I would have thought I was something special.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I am pregnant with certain deaths/ of women who dreamed that the lover would strike like lightning and/ throw them over the saddle and carry them off./ It was the ambulance that came." Marge Piercy
Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Small Changes Marge Piercy
Benedictions and Maledictions
For readers who watch The Sopranos: Question of the day-- Which character(s) do you identify with the most on the show?


Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to say I'm a teacher, although I've told people I was a writer before. Because of my hair and scruffy look, I usually get stranger glances at claiming to be a teacher than if I say I'm a writer. Writers are supposed to be scruffy, I guess.

Paulie Walnuts said...

Good question, Michelle. I identify most with Paulie Walnuts. By the way, you could easily be a GQ model. And I like guns, too. Thanks for all your support. I'll autograph that photo if you want me to. Just give me your phone number.

Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri said...

I identify most with myself also. And especially nowadays because(not just because it's the last seasson of the Sopranos) I have this sense of impending doom. Maybe it's because I killed a guy for the first time last episode. Jeez, I've got a wife and kids, Tony Soprano is my brother-in-law, his sister Janice is my wife, but I don't know, Michelle, I just have this sense of impending doom. So that's why I indentify with myself.

D. Imus said...

I identify most with Tony Soprano because he's in charge, like me. If you can't forgive me then Jesus can. So I'm sticking with Jesus.

JLCGULL said...

I identify with Tony Soprano's ducks.

Inspector Clueso said...

Wis zee FBI.

D. Trump said...

I identify with Silvio Dante because he's with the Bada Bing Club. Please visit my Trump Casino in Atlantic City for a fast getaway weekend or any time at your convenience. I really love your blog, Michelle, and that photo is fabulous. You're terrific!

Kramer and Mel said...

We like Phil Leotardo because he looks like the Shah of Iran, the old one, the one that got replaced by the old turban guy.

the walking man said...

I've seen about three re-runs on A&E ad I like that uncle guy whose supposed to be the boss...not because he's the top dog but because i want glasses like his.

Now I tell everyone who asks and put in every box on every form where is says occupation "poet" not because it is a smart ass answer but because it is what I am. I have written and performed my work in public and passed the third test of the occupation; walked away from the performance allowing my audience itself to judge my words.

The third part on being invisible, I have been invisible many times...I used to hitchhike, that is when you know as fact that you are invisible.

TWM's question When are women going to truly rise up and say ebough is enough and take over this mess we call the world?

To all you folks interested the DETROIT poetry slam finals are April 27th at the Max Fisher, this will be when the top 15 finest urban slam poets do the final run off to whittle it down to four or five who will go to Austin TX to compete against 80 other teams for the top spot in the nation. If you have never been to a poetry slam this is the one you want to see because it is the best of the best urban poets in Detroit. I believe the tickets are 15 buck.

the walking man said...

you know it just occurred to me that if you have been at the school for eight years Josh and I must have been some of your first students in comp 1, all I can say about that is hhahahahahahahahahahaha hell of a start in a place where everystudent who has ever been in your classes remembers you with fondness, except for the two or three mini us's that have since been told to get out. hahahahahahahaha

paul said...


JR's Thumbprints said...

I've always wanted to tell people that I'm a writer, but after a certain period of time I found out that "convict teacher" made for better discussion.

When I think of our lovely airport, I always think of Dave Dixon, probably the best DJ Detroit ever had. He ended up working one of those shuttle buses driving from parking lot to airport to parking lot until his death. Very sad. But I remember him on the airwaves.

Melvis Presley said...

I have to tell people I'm a writer, because telling them I'm a pizza delivery guy doesn't help with the old social life, know what I'm sayin'?

"I play guitar in a band" works good, but then they ask me the name of the band and I lose them. But at least they ain't shocked to find out about pizza driving after that!

"I'm a writer" allows me to say what I like and sometimes people even give the damn they'ed otherwise only act out. "I'm a writer" allows me creative license with how I think about myself. I am not a pizza driver,and I never was a land surveyor, a maintenance man, a library assistant, a tutor and even sub teacher at a college. Wait. That last one was pretty cool and I'd totally go with professor, too! But I was never a dishwasher or a costumed actor walking through the crowds at the renaisance festival or pistons games.

I am a writer. Sure, I drive pies. I have to eat. Sure I've played music to bars both empty and full--loved every drink, every blinding beam of light from above the stage. But I am a writer. Pour a shot, roll one up for the long night ahead. I am a writer. Tell me, is there anything better one could say for the old social life?

the walking man said...

i remember Dave Dixon too, so that is a sad ending for a great DJ WDET wasn't it?

Melvis i think the only thing better for your social life than saying you are a writer and starting conversation would be Multi Millionaire that has jobs available for people, then you would be flooded with people.

I was a master auto mechanic and could fix damn near anything on a car or truck and all that ever got me was .."I hear this noise coming from..."

When I was at the neurologist and told him I was poet, afterwards he came out of his office and wanted to hear a poem.

I never remember any of the 500 or so i have written so I gave him

"I met a foul creature in the desert
and he was eating his own heart
I said ho friend
what does your heart taste like?
Bitter he replied Bitter
but it is my own heart"

I should have given him Zen/ how to regain it by Brautigan but i din't think of it at the time.

anyway he said hm and walked back to his office... the clerk at the desk liked it though...she was younger and not an old well paid doc, we had a twenty minute conversation after that which pissed my wife off because she wanted to go but I talk to anyone so we talked. yes I am a poet and nothing else at the moment.


melvae presto said...

nice. A Confederate General from Big Sur by Brautigan is also excellent reading--hillarious, trippy and engrossing. A sweet, acid-laced slice of American hippy/beat culture at it wittiest ends. Three thumbs way up.

Save those posts, walking man. That one's pretty good. Nice prose poem encapsulating a poem. Framework, man... far out

See that, m? He's right. It's just like class!

Keep us going/the tank's still half full. N'Orleans is just past the horizon, through the delta, a midnight's spell; you hear it, smell it before you see it's glow turn out the stars of heaven because God is closest here.

Wulla, I gotta go fry me up a banana peanut butter sandwich, baby. And shoot the TV 'cause I don't like what's on it.
TCB with a flash.