Thursday, May 10, 2007

People Who Weren't There

In answer to an assignment, a student of mine asked if he could interview his boy scout leader. He's taught me so much about life, my student said. Sounds good, I said, but I thought it would probably be a little uninspired, one of those odes to a great guy. Odes to great guys don't always make the best papers, unfortunately. Writing needs tension to work. My student returned to me, horrified. I went over there on the day I said and he had forgotten about it. He was drunk and in his boxers and dog shit was all over his house. That cheered me up a lot. You have a story, I said. He shook his head. This was the man that told me to always be brave, to have integrity. He said that you could tell a lot about a man by the way he kept himself in the world. He always seemed so together. I wanted to be him when I grew up.

My student wrote a great essay, but could not be consoled about his loss of innocence. I told him that maybe he'd caught the guy on a bad day. No go. You should have seen the place. Years of garbage. And he cursed and yelled at people who weren't there. And he could barely answer my questions. I suppose finding your mentor in a house filled with dog shit and crushed PBR cans does not inspire confidence. I thought about the people I have admired over the years and their secret lives, the things that you don't see. Not everyone has a house that disappoints, but many a soul contains debris that we don't want to see. A woman who had inspired me as a child, whom I had loved deeply, a friend of my mother's who was a teacher, spent every night washing her walls with a toothbrush, had to wear rags on her hands because she'd scrubbed them so raw. It's a skin disease, my mother told me. Don't say anything. I didn't, but I loved her all the more for those strips of gauze that could never entirely conceal what she had done to herself in an attempt to rid herself of anything bad that she might have touched in the world.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Run towards the roar. " Tammy Faye Bakker

Cocktail Hour
Drinking reading suggestion: "The Hunger Artist" Franz Kafka Susan of Buckatunna Queen ( had an excellent Kafka quote on her beautiful, thoughtful blog yesterday -- it put me in mind of him and his fantastic stories. He's one of the bleakest writers ever and yet he said he laughed a lot when reading his stories to friends. We should all be so lucky! For laughing and for friends who allow us to read our stories to them.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
All love and prayers to Tammy Faye Bakker who is going through her final journey to the next world. And much love to her children, Tammy Sue and Jay. If you haven't checked out Jay's Revolution Church site, do!

Congrats to Jim of JR's Thumbprint ( for one year of posting every single day. He makes it look easy. It is not easy. Way to go, Jim. Check out his rocking video from back in the day!


TV Guide said...

Twenty-four more days until the last day of the Sopranos!

Rodney Dangerfield said...

That's an interesting photo, Michelle. If you know what I mean, are you showing me your drawers?

Pat Buchanan said...

Go directly to the sound of the guns. Do no wait for instructions from the home office. Lock and load!

Wayne Gretzky said...

It's a great subject, the trash hidden within people's homes and souls. My car is filled with empty bottles, empty cig packs, books and scraps of paper with poems scribbled on them in my very own writen language. My room is filled with laundry and stacks of books and dusty guitars on stands that have not been played in a month.

On the other hand, it's also a lot of presure to live up to the hopes of the younger gen. People often need mentors, something that I'm glad not to be, even if I am happy to have a wonderful mentor (no delusions about life of my mentor). Writer's personal lives are filled with enough garbage--which is useful as material for writing--but I know better than to demand greatness of the one I look up to. Their greatness comes across on the page, and in they way they care, yet also the way they stand back and let me swim or sink (I do both in my writing, quite well on the sinking part)on my own. Greatness is a kind look on a familiar face. It is eyes that have been hardened to the world, but still able to communicate the most delicate of emotions with no verbal communication. Greatness is one who lives and carries on to the standards that so many others balk at and ignore. Greatness is a compasionate smile that I will never forget. Greatness needs no display case or lame caption to explain what it is.

Greatness is a beautiful story that nobody wants to end.

Short but sweet said...

Hate to start this today, but you really can't take a bad picture, m.
Ist that a tan you have???
As always, its all about that smile.
'Nuf said.

Susan Miller said...

"...many a soul contains debris that we don't want to see." You write with much truth.

Thanks for the Kafka book recommendation! I'm starting to discover so much reading I missed along the way.

paul said...


101st Elephant Calv., varmint detail said...

June Bug

caught in the web of a devourer
meat on a hook stronger than steel
dangling doomed spindle soul--
the circle of life hanging
from the eaves of her broken house
outside her bedroom window

if I could still kick
over my own head
I freed one to the winds
who cannot eat
only mind enough
to mate
before the sleep
hits it hard

Mr. Plath said...

holy crap, I feel like Sylvia Plath after that

mr. plath said...

..but not really feel like Sylvia, right?

gas ovens everywhere said...


the walking man said...

"Short but sweet said...
Hate to start this today, but you really can't take a bad picture, m.
Ist that a tan you have???
As always, its all about that smile.
'Nuf said."

SbS there is a huge difference between a compliment and and crudeness.

I enjoy some of Michelle's pictures as well even some of the more posure ones but for God's sake. I will not stand idly by and read some of the bullshit of yesterday and I will respond with the fury of my full temperament, not just in defense of Brooks but in defense of any person who does not deserve that sort of course behavior.

In Detroit yesterday or the day before there was video of a young thug beating the crap out of a 91 yr old man while trying to jack his car while at least three younger men stood and watched, fuck that! I would have gone in swinging, I know I would have because I simply don't care anymore.

Stupidity and brutality should no longer have rule without an opposing force of equal brutality.


Interesting what people allow to amass in their souls and the way it reflects in their outward action. we all, everyone of us stick our hands in shit every day and there is no way to call it a rose.

I guess the key is what do you do with the shit once you have it in your hand...dump, flush and wash? Throw it at someone who doesn't deserve or expect it? Or eat it and just let it add onto the pile?

Mentors can be shit and hero's too, the kids balloon got busted but at least he got a great essay out of it and hopefully he eventually dumped, flushed and washed.

realbigwings said...

I too greatly appreciate the friends who let me read to them. Beautiful souls.

~It's so strange how your writing evokes hidden memories in me. Right at the end of your piece, my mind was full of a ballet teacher I had when I was about 6. She was an old fierce Russian woman, thin, and I remember her tapping my lifted leg with a yardstick, saying "Higher!" One day my mom was late picking me up so my teacher took me into the back room where I met her dog, an old Lhasa Apso with bad teeth. We talked as she got dinner ready for the dog, discussing class as she chewed, and then she spit into her palm and bent down, enticing him lovingly to come eat.
~I feel like I almost forgot about that. Thanks.

call me harpo said...

In Detroit yesterday or the day before there was video of a young thug beating the crap out of a 91 yr old man while trying to jack his car while at least three younger men stood and watched, fuck that! I would have gone in swinging, I know I would have because I simply don't care anymore. (The Walking Man)

Detroit is a cesspool swarming with crack addicts, welfare junkies, whores, and thugs. Yesterday you challenged me to meet you (so you could break your knuckles on my face) south of 8 Mile Rd. Tempting proposition, but the only time I pass through Deroit is when I take I-94 from my home in Ann Arbor to my parents'home in Grosse Pointe Farms. Besides, I don't beat up old geezers with diabetes and vision in only one eye.

the walking man said...

offer still stands asshole, i live a short distance from 94 and my neighbors might like the entertainment of me showing you a few manners to an old one eyed motherfucking geezer with six fused vertebrae and diabetes to boot you little prick and it's garbage like you who make Detroit a cesspool when you do bother to pass through to go to mommy and daddy;s house in the points...bring your bodyguards too some of my friends might like a go as well you dumb fucker, you would have either watched and applauded the beating of a ninety one year old world war two veteran or run and got back in you little Honda and drove off, even if it happened to your daddy your scared punk ass would have stood by "Daddy Daddy , let me use your cell phone to call the police."

A whole day has gone by and you know what you're still a dickhead bitch.

Sir Dark Knight said...

Call Me Harpo,
If you won't meet him, I will! But not Detroit. Hell no.
Hey, Walking Man you want to fight me? Michelle can referee. Clothng optional -- for her!

the walking man said...

Sir Dark village boy Knight said...

Call Me Harpo,
If you won't meet him, I will! But not Detroit. Hell no.
Hey, Walking Man you want to fight me?

I left the rude part out ass hole racist prick...not to mention bitchboy...sure the offer goes for you too anonymous asshole, I live in Detroit so this is where you have to come if your at least not too afraid of my home to get here.

haven't spanked a bad ass in awhile

the walking man said...

The offer stands for all of you who want a go so don't ask anymore just come on with it

half the man from yesterday said...

Well, its Contention City, m. Everybody's reved up into a smack-athon.

As my poem/responses indicate, I get so much from your work I need to cut you in on any profits just for the inspiration value alone.

I hope I haven't been called crude.
I admit to being a barbarian drinker, but not crude. And there are indeed many crackheads in detroit and the suburbs. Many of them have keyboards and rudimentary english skills, as evidenced by the guy arguing with TWM. Or girl, as "Sir" dark knight may well indeed be.

Of course he/them/it happens to be a disrespectful racist/mysoginist. Why do you let them bother you, TWM? We all know that m loves those racist/mysogynists to death. Pistol-whipping style, clothes on with'em in the trunk of her black Cadillac.

That takes a lot of love.

Anything else is covered by me in comment no. 32 from May 9th.

blue disclaimer said...

...of course you wouldn't do that to a racist misogynist, would you m? hehe

I heard that Hemingway had a worse spelling problem than I do!

Success! High-five!

the bad guy said...

at least, I'd wager that Hem couldn't do better than I at spelling the word misogynist.

the walking man said...

half the man from yesterday said...

It doesn't bother me ;it angers me, in fact it enrages me.

1) Because in an overall sense it opposes everything I believe in, when it lack basic civility of one human to another.

2) Most of my young life I was treated so badly by so many sub-human cretins when I got big enough to not continually be on the hit ans spit list I promised myself I would never take it again. Nor would I refuse to speak out and yes fight physically if necessary to shove the point of civility towards others into someones psyche. Sometimes sadly it takes physical violence to make the point that disrespect towards others is the root of most of the worlds ills.

3) I was born and raised in Detroit and I have never lived in the lilly white confines of the suburbs with no clue of the culture of Black America. I like where I live and I have felt the lash of the whip of racism and I don't care if you are black or white, male or female, I do not tolerate racism of any kind.

4) As far as the language goes, there are unfortunately people who only understand you when you lower yourself to their level and explicitly explain what pigs and dogs they are.

5) I am not Brooks knight in shining armor, I would speak the same truths to anyone anywhere. I like her personally and like her writing and support her endeavors completely; but I also speak up when a parent is overboard and abusive to their kids in a store, I have been known to stop and introduce myself to a motherfucker who was hitting a woman in public.

6)To me it would be sin to not at least try to stop wrong in my face, and if it means an ass kicking from somebody then that is the result of doing what is right. And my walking partner will step in and teach the lesson as He will.

7) After fifteen surgeries, 8 broken bones, catching a tool with my eye, breaking my neck in two places and being put out to pasture at such an early age, it would break up the boredom of endless days of sameness.

8) It may just relieve some of the rage I feel against against the dogs I am forced to abide because I can not leave this place yet.

That in a nutshell is why i speak up and don't see any humor or need to be silent just because a dog learned to type an anonymous post.



by the way little anonymous doggies we can take this bullshit to my blog and it would stop interrupting the flow of this one.

half the man said...

Understood, TWM. I do indeed see that about our special buddy(s)and their disgusting lack of civility. If they bother m, she will erase their measly thoughts from the page. And neither of us is a knight in shining armor. We just happen to have the character and personality that the rest lack.

And not all is lost; m is provided with a pitiful spring of tension and mild entertainment that must be of some kind of amusement.

What I say on m's behalf are things that needed to be said. Yesterday and all the rest. She won't hear Cocker go off twice, as I have nothing but support and admiration for whatever way she wants to express herself, just like you.

I know that she finds my comments to be hilarious, even if they are a bit blue from time to time. She may not be my prof anymore, but I respect her above all others on this rock, except maybe a few or one. She knows how to train me as a modern dark comedy/romantic writer and poet, and I have faith in her ability to ease me along the way in which I choose to take. Her ethical compass is unfailing in its ability to find true north. Her insight is funny and poignant. I've said it all before and I will say it again in the future, I am sure.

Then all the obvious things about her. I always talk of the pic last--even if I do always mention something about her pics; being as svelte as a willow whipping on the wind and all, etc...

Inspiration just works like that.

eric said...

besides, she knows me

e-bag said...

"the rest" only means racist/misogynist/well-trained monkeys.

Just so nobody gets me wrong.
this is some shit...

Anonymous said...

Sweet Michelle! How I've missed reading your genius work. Secret true it is that we all have them...even if they're stored where we think they won't be found. Hope you're doing well! -Jill

Sheila said...

awww that's so sad! What a crush to the spirit to see your mentor fall like that!