27 February 2012

the wolfman and the writer

February 24, 2012

At PT yesterday, an hirsute man without a shirt on sparked a conversation with me. The shirtlessness, I assume, is at the request of the therapist. I have considered testing this assumption by joining the skins-team myself, of my own volition, while my therapist has her back turned; that way, when she turns around, I will be able to judge by the look on her face whether or not the nudity is optional. If I ever get the gumption, you will be the fourth or fifth to know.

This man and I were sharing a bed. (I think I’ll pause for a second, soak in a sentence I’ve never written before now. It feels so . . . so . . . innocent. Moving on, then. Innocence is literally for the birds and literarily for the children.)

I'm speaking of a therapy “bed” like the freezing, plastic, paper-rolled ones at your MD’s office. He was doing stretches at the foot while I was using the front to steady myself if necessary while balancing on a maliciously designed, wobbly board.

He stared at my chest. And stared at my chest. Was he wondering why my shirt was still on? I couldn’t tell. In an effort to not stare at his lupine chest, I looked out the window at women playing tennis and had the nerve to grade them fair to low—skill-wise.

“Are you a writer?” the man asked at last. Mystery solved. I was wearing my three-year old Sewanee Writers’ Conference t-shirt—a go to t-shirt because in a drawer full of hastily folded others it somehow does not wrinkle.

Now this is a sensitive topic. (Not wrinkled clothes, though it’s on the list for sure.) It belongs in a class-room full of Ginsberg-therefore-Whitman-therefore-hippy wannabes, professor-of-the-hour acolytes, and my breed—bespectacled nerds with Romantic penchants—pronounced in our nerdy heads as paw-shan-(with the babiest little, near-silent “t” on the end.) Where to distress of everyone in that class, there is a textbook. A textbook! Had the professor never seen Dead Poets Society­-and-therefore-never-even-read-Whitman? Should we not be outside instead of in this coop? And to the further distress of everyone, the day’s topic is a facet of this sensitive one from a chapter entitled: “Is Poetry Still Relevant and Who Really Cares: Two Dimensional Fruitiness in a Three-Dimensional World” by [professor-of-the-hour’s name here].

I digress. The man pointed to my shirt. I responded with all mustered confidence, “uh, well . . .”

My therapist, who has already been down this road with me and frequently asks how my writing is going, intervened. “He is. He’s published stories.” [a) Story writing is not as difficult to de-fruitify as poetry writing. People think, “Oh, like O’Henry and Stephen King” and proceed to admire you, sight of story unseen. b) Case in point: My therapist knows full well I have published more poetry than fiction and yet . . . “He’s published stories.” And this is not her fault. No, she’s a wonderful person. It’s the electronic revolution’s fault. (See chapter title above, ibid.]

The shirtless man, a truly nice fellow, proceeded, “My sister held an event at such-and-such local library with a bunch of famous writers last year.”

“Wow, that’s cool,” I said sincerely.

“Were you there?” he asked sincerely.

“Well . . . no, I’m not famous,” I said.

The three of us shared a laugh. It’s hours before I realized he probably just wanted to know if I was in attendance, if I had rubbed shoulders with fame, not if others had rubbed shoulders with mine.

Moral of the story: Don’t write a poem about this story.

February 26, 2012

You know it’s laundry day (*cough* weekend *cough*) when you are wearing your hospital-issued sticky-pad socks. These are to keep patients from slipping on the slick floors which have just been mopped as recently 2009. I don’t remember the fact at all but I have been anecdotally assured that in my Ativan-addled state of paranoia, I made several attempts at flying over the cuckoo’s nest. Apparently, as this fledgling legend has it, my nurse is to have her heart blessed by God for her heroic actions on that day. May she.

February 27, 2012

Yesterday, after breaking into my emergency reserve of dazzling white socks, Adrienne, Winter, and I went to Oak Mountain State Park. [My local followers will know the place and my out-of-town followers will very likely have a similar place nearby.] It marked my first real venture back to nature since the seismic events of December and subsequent, on-going recovery. In fact, it marked the first such venture in a longer time-span than that. My physical abilities have been limited for quite a while and even lesser activities within the scope of my physical abilities were often foregone for psychological reasons. The “better safe than sorry” brand of reasoning. Or, and here’s one for all of us heeling nihilists, all of us bunkered against society-inflicted depression, all of us over-medicated bricks in the wall . . . “Why bother?”

No offense to my fellow grumps or properly prescriptioned. Consider this an alarum bell. (“What a tale of terror, now, [its] turbulency tells!”)* Do what you can as often as you can. Extra credit for fresh air. Double points for being sore the following morning. Flying colors for snubbing fate.


  1. Awww.... I think he DID mean were you one of the famous. Otherwise he would of said, Did you go? instead of Were you there?

  2. I think the best part of the Oak Mountain trip was you teaching Winter how to belong among the trees. "...the only way down is from tree to tree."

  3. Thanks, Amy. I appreciate the positive perspective. And it's a good point, good eye on the semantics.

    Adrienne, it's how I do.

  4. Your not famous ....your infamous ...hehe....and as far as being famous you have been published and only a very small minority of the entire Earth's population can say that. Heck of all the people I know who have been published you are my absolute favorite.....and that is gospel !

  5. Larry, you laugh, but in some circles my infamy reigns. Thanks for the kind words.