Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31: Last Day

It is the last day of July.  For some reason, I entered this month with the expectation that something big was going to happen for me.  I don't know why I had this expectation, but I did.

The "something big" could have been anything.  I applied for a job at the university.  I entered a few writing contests.  Take your pick.

Well, the university job fell through fairly early in the month, and, as July gives way to August, I think my chances of winning any of the writing contests are about as probably as E. L. James winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Not bloody likely.

Of course, this whole month of "something big" is a fabrication of my mind.  Somehow, I actually convinced myself that my life was going to change in a really positive way.  That's sort of like buying a lottery ticket and making myself believe I'm absolutely going to win.  It's delusional.  By association, I am, therefore, delusional, as well.

July is going out with a whimper instead of a roar.

And Saint Marty needs to be heavily medicated.

At least be better than July

July 31: The Tomb, Red Crayon, Peace

I was the only one left in the tomb then.  I sort of liked it, in a way.  It was so nice and peaceful.  Then, all of a sudden, you'd never guess what I saw on the wall.  Another "Fuck you."  It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.

Holden has a few moments that are nice and peaceful in Catcher.  This is one of them.  He's in a tomb in the Egyptian exhibit in the Museum of Natural History.  He's by himself, and, for a few brief seconds, he finds calm contentment.  It doesn't last very long, but Holden's safe and almost happy among the mummies, until the outside world intrudes with another "Fuck you" graffiti-ed on the wall.

For a little while this morning, I experienced a "nice and peaceful" time.  I was saying my a.m. prayers and reading my devotions.  The devotion was all about celebrating successes in your life.  When I got to the end of it, I actually felt comforted.  I felt like God was watching out for me, no matter what.  I wasn't worried about my job or money or cars or kids.  Because I knew God had my back.

That lovely, no-worry zone lasted for a while.  At one point, I found myself whistling as I was completing a task at work.  I think that's why portraits of saints are always so serene.  It's that complete trust that saints have.  They know God is with them.  He has their backs.  When they're hungry, God's going to send them pizzas.  When they're tired, God's going to find beds for them.  That's the difference between a saint and a normal person.  A saint says, "Oh, God, I need a few dollars to buy some food, please."  A normal person says, "Oh, shit, I need a few dollars to buy some food."  It's all about the red crayon worry on the wall.

Unfortunately, most of the time, Saint Marty is an "Oh, shit" person.

I got this,,,for a little while

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30: New Journal Joy

I just cracked open a new Moleskine journal this afternoon.  I love starting a new journal.  The empty, lined pages remind me of the possibilities that exist in my life.  Yes, the last few pages of my life have been scribbled with disappointment.  But, tonight, tomorrow morning are crisp, pure, unwritten.

So, this is the first page of my new journal.  These words are like footprints in new snow, and those footprints could lead me anywhere.  I will follow and see where I end up.

A new journal makes me want to write a new poem.  An essay.  A short story.  A new journal makes  me want to write and write and write, all night long.  I almost want to skip posting this to the blog so I can work on a poem.

If you can't tell, Saint Marty really likes new journals.

I know you're jealous

July 30: Shut Up, You Suck, Prayer for Happiness

"I said I'm not going back to school.  You can do what you want to do, but I'm not going back to school," she said.  "So shut up."  It was the first time she ever told me to shut up.  It sounded terrible.  God, it sounded terrible.  It sounded worse than swearing.  She still wouldn't look at me either, and every time I sort of put my hand on her shoulder or something, she wouldn't let me.

Phoebe is pissed at Holden in the above paragraph, and she shows her anger with words.  She tells her brother to "shut up."  When words like that come out of kids' mouths, it does sound worse than swearing.  Holden's right.  Phoebe's "shut up" is Holden's "fuck you."

My four-year-old son is similar to Phoebe when he gets angry.  Last week, we were visiting my sister-in-law.  When it was time to leave, my son decided he wanted to stay.  When I informed him he didn't really have the option to remain behind, my son stomped away from me and yelled, "Well, you suck!  Your car sucks!  I don't want to go home!  Home sucks!"  Every time he said the word "suck," I wanted to die.

Yes, I know my son was only throwing a temper tantrum, and I know my son is only four years old.  But I've been struggling over the last week or so to feel content with my life.  So, today, I'm going to pray a Please-Don't-Let-My-Life-Suck Prayer.  You could also call it a Prayer for Happiness.

Dear God of all things that don't suck,

Hi.  It's me again.  The guy whose son thinks everything sucks.  (By the way, I didn't teach him that.)

I'm writing to ask for happiness.  I'm not talking about J. K. Rowling-sized happiness.  I don't need a billion dollars.  (I wouldn't turn that down, if it's in Your plan, though.)  I just want some small piece of happiness.  For instance, I entered a poetry chapbook contest a while ago.  Winning that contest would totally not suck.

I'm not demanding anything.  I'm not greedy.  All I want is something good to happen in my life.  Something that doesn't suck.  You've already taken away the job at the university and given me an $800 repair on my car.  How about a small, insignificant success?  Something that will make my son realize I don't suck, that I drive an OK car, and that our house isn't a roach motel.

I know You're busy, so I'll make it easy for You:  poetry chapbook, thousand-dollar prize, publication.  That not too much to ask.  We can talk about bigger things later.

Your loving child,

Saint Marty

At least in my son's opinion...

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29: Disgusting Food

Right now, my wife is sitting next to me, eating hot dogs with mustard.

I don't mind hot dogs.  Usually, I don't mind mustard or ketchup or any of that crap.  Tonight, my stomach is climbing into my throat.  I'm like physically ill.  Each time I take a breath, I can taste that food in my mouth.

I have this weird condition.  Sometimes, when I'm sitting next to my wife and she's eating or drinking, I can't stand the sounds she makes.  I saw a news report about people who have the same problem, and there's a medical name for it.  It's not anybody's eating that bothers me, either.  It's certain people.  My wife.  Sometimes, my sisters.  It's the people to whom I'm closest.

I'm not proud of myself when these feelings overcome me.  In fact, I'm filled with guilt.  I know it's irrational and stupid.  But I can't help myself.

Saint Marty needs to step outside for some fresh air and silence.

Please don't sit next to me with this

July 29: What's Important, Another Disappointment, Magic 8-Ball Monday

I'm trying to remember what's important today.

I went for a run this afternoon.  Felt great.  I went swimming with my wife and kids after my run.  Great time.  I met with a good friend this evening to talk about church music.  Lovely visit.  Now, I'm sitting in my living room, watching Get Out Alive with my wife.  She loves the show.  I find it a little disgusting.  I don't like watching people drink their own urine.  Not my thing.  However, I love being with my family.

That's what's really important.  At the end of my life, I'm not going to wish I'd worked more hours, earned more money, published more poems.  It's going to be about how much I've hugged my son, kissed my daughter.  It's going to be about how much I've loved my wife.

I've experienced another disappointment today.  It involves a publishing opportunity that didn't happen for me.  I thought I stood a pretty good chance this time.  Of course, I failed.  A little too self-assured.  I'm trying to tell myself it's not important.  What I did this afternoon with my family, that's important.

It is Magic 8-Ball Monday.  My question is pretty simple:

Am I going to get some good news soon?

And the answer from Holden is:

...What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide.  I felt like jumping out the window...

I'm trying to find some silver-lining in that answer.  Suicide.  Jumping out the window.  Not finding too much positive in that.

Oh, well, looks like good news ain't in Saint Marty's future any time soon.

Good advice

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28: Rainy Sunday, "Citronella Nights," New Poem, New Cartoon

It's been a pretty crummy day.  I woke up to rain, and it's pretty much been raining/misting/fogging all day long.  I didn't go for a run.  I didn't feel like running.  However, I went for a walk with my wife, so I wasn't a complete slug.

The rest of the day, I worked on my new poem.  I'm pretty happy with what I came up with, considering I struggled to find inspiration on this dreary day.

Perhaps Saint Marty should have written a poem for the newest member of the royal family.  Maybe next week, George.

Citronella Nights

Three flames swim in wax
before me.  They gutter
orange to black to orange,
as if they can't decide
to burn or go cold,
let the hot liquid harden
into something green as ripe
watermelon rind, full of water,
the promise of pink relief
from July's citronella nights,
when porch lights bring mosquito,
the slap of moth wing against
screen and window, the moon
heaped like hay in the sky
for the slow, bovine chew
'til morning.  As I watch,
one flame surrenders
to smoke, ash.  The other two
hold on to their fire, perhaps
sensing the Queen Anne's lace
of August, dipping, nodding,
bending in a field of rain.
The wicks burn, give off
the candle's scent.
Wild, summer strawberry.

Confessions of Saint Marty

July 27 Make-Up: A Couple of Minutes, My Daughter, New Cartoon

He never said hello or anything when he met you.  The first thing he said when he sat down was that he could only stay a couple of minutes.  He said he had a date.  Then he ordered a dry Martini.  He told the bartender to make it very dry, and no olive.

I've written about Holden's friend old Luce before.  Luce is a few years older than Holden, and, as Holden says, he's "strictly a pain in the ass."  Luce is impatient.  He doesn't seem to even to like Holden very much.  Of course, Holden can be a little bit of a pain in the ass himself, so perhaps Luce's attitude and demeanor are somewhat justified.

This morning, my daughter reminded me of Luce.  I picked my daughter up from camp at 11 a.m.  She's been at church camp for six days.  Six days of the Bible, chapel, crafts, and talking about God.  I was really looking forward to seeing her, hearing about her week.

What I got was monosyllabic answers to my questions.  Me:  "How was the dance?"  Her:  "Good."  Me:  "Did you get to swim at all?"  Her:  "Yeah."  Me:  "Did you meet any new friends?"  Her:  "Couple."  You get the idea.  I kept expecting her to order a dry Martini and tell me she could only stay a couple of minutes because she had a date.

On the drive home, she managed to yell, sulk, and whine in the space of twenty minutes.  In her defense, she was exhausted.  When my daughter gets tired, she tends to be moodier than normal.  To be honest, she's one step away from demonic possession when she's tired.  I should have just driven in silence, enjoying the scenery.

My day has been taken up with unpacking dirty clothes, doing loads of laundry, and trying to keep my daughter from killing her four-year-old brother.  It's been quite a joyful homecoming.  I haven't had a chance to work on a new poem much today, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow night for that.  Please forgive me.  It's hard to be in a poetic frame of mind when you have a prepubescent twelve-year-old girl telling you, "Just leave me alone!  I'm not going to church tonight!"

Saint Marty's ready to drop his daughter back off at camp for another week.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26: A U.P. Poem, Jeff VandeZande, "Highways Up North"

I have a poem for you tonight from a U.P. writer.  Jeff VandeZande grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and, while he now lives and teaches below the Mackinac Bridge, Jeff's work is saturated with the cold waters of Lake Superior.

Saint Marty wishes he had written this poem, which comes from VandZande's collection Transient.

Highways Up North

Beyond the guard rails
tiny windows burn
like pilot lights:  ice shanties
huddled together on a lake.
Fishermen park on the frozen water,
twist their augers through the blackness.
During the long stretches,
they knock on each other's doors,
share coffee, chili, whiskey.
Now and again, their shouts echo
above the highway moan
as they lure shimmering life
from cold, dark holes.

A great writer from the U. P.

July 26: Danced About Four Numbers, Open Windows, Fairy Tale Friday

We danced about four numbers.  In between numbers she's funny as hell.  She stays right in position.  She won't even talk or anything.  You both have to stay right in position and wait for the orchestra to start playing again.  That kills me.  You're not supposed to laugh or anything, either.

Anyway, we danced about four numbers, and then I turned off the radio.  Old Phoebe jumped back in bed and got under the covers.  "I'm improving, aren't I?" she asked me.

Holden has a good moment here.  One of the few good moments of the novel.  And, no surprise, his sister, Phoebe, is the reason he's happy.  Phoebe makes Holden forget his problems.  He's still been kicked out of school.  He's still incredibly depressed over his younger brother's death.  He's still alienated from his parents.  And, yet, he's dancing.  He's found some joy.  He's found an open window.

Last night, I wrote about all the doors that have been closing in my life recently.  I was a little frustrated.  I've been looking for some way to overcome my frustration.  An open window to fly through, if you will.  Instead, I've been looking through the windows at the scenery.  Pretty trees.  Beautiful seascapes.  No way to get to them.

I went to a therapy appointment today with my wife.  I talked about the doors, the windows.  My therapist said something that really hit home:  "Perhaps you're at the wrong window."  I've had an idea of what window I want to see opened.  I applied for a job at the university, and the view from that window looked damn good.  I wanted that window to open.  It didn't.  However, while I was standing with my nose pressed against the glass, I wasn't looking at any other window around me.

Yes, I'm doing what I always do.  I try to control situations that I have no control over.  I don't like feeling powerless.  My therapist gently nudged me in the direction of other windows, other opportunities, that might be coming my way.  She suggested I try a little window shopping, and I'm going to try to take her advice to heart.

Speaking of windows, I have a little fairy tale to share with you.

Once upon a time, a man named Montel lived in a cottage by the sea.  Montel was a gifted painter, but he only painted one thing.  Every day, Montel set his easel at the same window and painted the same seascape, over and over.  He thought it was the most beautiful view in the world.

For a while, the people of the kingdom loved Montel's paintings.  They would travel hundreds of miles to purchase one from him.  Eventually, though, customers stopped showing up at his door.  Nobody wanted to purchase another painting of the same seascape.  Art critics started saying that Montel was a one-hit wonder, like Billy Ray Cyrus.  They started calling his paintings "Achy Breaky Breakers."

One morning, as Montel was setting up his easel at his window, the Blue Whale Fairy appeared in the sea before him.  "Montel," the whale said, flipping his tale, "you should paint the view from your upstairs window today."

Montel shook his head,  "No," he said, "this window gives me the best light and the best perspective.  It's perfect."

"But--" the Blue Whale Fairy said.

"Go peddle your fish some place else," Montel said.  "I'm not changing windows."

The Blue Whale Fairy shook his head and swam away.

Later that morning, as Montel was sitting at his window painting, a tidal wave swept in from the sea.  Montel drowned, and his body was swept away.

In the days following the tidal wave, Montel's paintings began selling for millions of dollars.

Moral of the story:  don't live by the sea.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

Don't mess with the Blue Whale Fairy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25: Closed Doors, Open Windows

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."

Well, I've been living by that little creed for a while now.  God's closed quite a few doors in my life recently, and I haven't found too many open windows.  In fact, the one window I thought was open came slamming down on my fingers a couple of days ago.

OK, I'm not going to descend into another post full of anxiety and fear.  I'm not going to list all the doors that have recently been slammed in my face (at last count, at least four).  Let's just say, I'm tired of digging splinters out of my nose.

Nope, I'd rather focus on windows.  I think my main problem right now is that I'm not even trying to find a window.  I'm too busy kicking and pounding on the doors.  I'm panicking right now, and, therefore, I'm not looking for glass and sunshine and fresh air.

Tonight, I'm going to make an effort to try to open all the windows in my house, even ones that haven't been opened for quite a few years.  Even if it's only an attic window that's cracked and warped, I will find a window.

Now, whether Saint Marty will be able to squeeze his ass through it is a whole other issue.

Anybody got a ladder?

July 25: "Of Human Bondage," "Inferno," Piece of Mind

...You take that book Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, though.  I read it last summer.  It's a pretty good book and all, but I wouldn't want to call Somerset Maugham up.  I don't know.  He just isn't the kind of guy I'd want to call up, that's all.  I'd rather call old Thomas Hardy up.  I like that Eustacia Vye.

Holden reads a lot of books, from classics, like The Return of the Native, to lighter fare, like Ring Lardner stories.  It seems like he has discriminating taste.  He recognizes good writing.  He likes Of Human Bondage, but Somerset Maugham doesn't pass Holden's test for writers:  when he was done reading Bondage, Holden didn't want to call Maugham up to have coffee with him.

Judging by his literary litmus test, Holden and I would get along just fine.  Sometimes, I don't want to be challenged by a book.  Sometimes I simply want to be entertained.  My choice of reading material for these dog days of summer is Dan Brown's Inferno, the latest installment in the Robert Langdon series.  Holden would totally want to have coffee with Dan Brown.

Brown will not be winning any literary prizes for his writing.  There are no Pulitzers or Nobels in his future.  But I don't think that's his aim.  He writes thrillers, books with two- or three-page chapters that end with sentences like this:  "From out of the shadows, the dead face of Dante Alighieri was looking back at him."

I think Dan Brown unfairly gets a bad rap.  When I pick up a book by him, I don't expect One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Brown's books are cinematic and plot-driven.  That's why Inferno is a perfect summer read.

Inferno places Brown's hero, Robert Langdon, smack dab in the middle of Florence, Italy.  Langdon's suffering from amnesia and is being pursued by soldiers, police, and assassins.  Mix in a crazed biochemist and a 400-year old puzzle centered on Dante's Inferno.  Dan Brown knows how to keep the pages turning.

True, Brown's prose can be a little heavy-handed, especially when he decides to include exposition.  I, however, enjoy those moments when Inferno becomes part history book/part art lesson.  It makes me feel less guilty when I'm reading the breathless chase scenes and escapes.

If you're looking for an author to take on vacation, Dan Brown is your man.  He's great company on airplanes, in cars, during hot summer nights.  I'd have coffee with him.

And that's a piece of Saint Marty's mind.

Espresso anyone?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24: Saint Marty and the Temple of Doom

Yes, even though I said I wasn't going to worry in my last post, I've spent a good portion of my day (you guessed it!) worrying.

I made the mistake of checking my stub for this Friday's paycheck and was caught a little by surprise.  I was expecting it to be small, but I wasn't expecting microscopic.  I haven't received a paycheck this small since I was working a minimum-wage job at a book store.  I've been in a tailspin since this morning.

I don't want to say I have an impending sense of doom, but I definitely see dark clouds on the horizon.  I hate living payday to payday.  There's nothing worse than swiping my debit card at the gas station and standing at the pump, praying my card gets accepted.  I'm a little weary thinking like this all day.

I know you don't want to hear about my troubles.  You don't read this blog to get a litany of woes.  I'm sorry.  I promise that tomorrow I'll be more upbeat.  I'll be witty and charming.  I'll be the freakin' Gene Kelly of bloggers.

Tonight, however, Saint Marty's singin' in the rain.

If you close your eyes and block your ears, I look and sound exactly like Gene Kelly

July 24: Doughnuts, Hard as Hell to Swallow, Worries in General

...So I went in this very cheap-looking restaurant and had doughnuts and coffee.  Only, I didn't eat the doughnuts.  I couldn't swallow them too well.  The thing is, if you get very depressed about something, it's hard as hell to swallow.  The waiter was very nice, though.  He took them back without charging me.  I just drank the coffee.  Then I left and started walking over toward Fifth Avenue.

When he orders these doughnuts, Holden's pretty much at the end of his journey to a nervous breakdown.  I believe, in today's medical parlance, he's about to suffer a psychotic break.  Whatever you call it, Holden is very sick.  Sick with worry and sadness.

Worry is a strange animal.  It can literally drive you crazy.  Ask Holden.  It can kill your appetite, give you headaches, cause insomnia, and make you chain smoke.  Again, ask Holden.  In my experience, worry makes me eat entire bags of snack-size Milky Ways, drink Diet Mountain Dew by the keg, and want to sleep all the time.  Any way you cut it, worry is unhealthy.

Worry also asexually reproduces.  One worry becomes two very quickly.  Two worries become four.  If you follow that progression, in the space of a couple of hours, one big worry can grow as large as the gross national product of a small African nation.  No wonder Holden ends up in the hospital at the end of Catcher.

I'm not going to dwell on a specific worry today.  I think I'd get a little overwhelmed if I did.  For example, if I write about how small my paycheck is this week, then I have to talk about my car payment that's due by Friday.  If I mention the car payment, then I'll start dwelling on the $800 repair the mechanic says my car needs.  If I dwell on that repair, then I'll think about the problems with my wife's car.  If I do that, I might as well worry about the roof on my house, which needs new shingles.  As long as I'm focused on my roof, I can think about my mortgage, which is worth more than the value of my home.  Then...

Well, you get the idea.

So, today, I'm trying to avoid worry.  I'm living in denial.  The world is great.  It's 80 degrees outside.  I weigh `160 pounds, and I have a full head of hair.  I've just been offered a full-time professorship at the university with a six-figure salary.  My new collection of poetry has been awarded next year's Pulitzer Prize before it's even been published.  Because it's that good.

Yup, Saint Marty's life isn't falling apart.  It really isn't.  Really...It isn't...

My life is great...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23: Not Feelin' It

Tomorrow, I got back to my old routine.  Old work.  Old worries.

It's going to be difficult.  For a couple of days, I was important, or, at least, I felt important.  I was a poet.  I was an artist.

I'm trying to work up some enthusiasm for tomorrow.  I'm not feelin' it, though.  In fact, what I'm feelin' is a shitty attitude coming on.  Of course, I will plaster a stupid smile on my face.  I will be nice to everyone I encounter.  As a therapist friend advises me, I will "fake it 'til I make it."  And, if I don't make it, I'll fake it until the end of the day.  Then I'll go home, look at myself in the mirror, and say, "I'm smart.  I'm talented.  And, doggone it, people like me."

Saint Marty hopes he doesn't have to fake it too much.

Yup, I agree.

July 23: Missing Everybody, Bad News, Prayer Over Blessings

...Don't ever tell anybody anything.  If you do, you start missing everybody.

Those are the last two sentences in The Catcher in the Rye.  I find a lot of wisdom in them.  Holden, after telling the story of his breakdown, is now experiencing regret.  It sort of makes sense.  Speaking about an experience, describing it, digesting it, allows a person to come to terms with it.  Holden is missing all of the people in the novel, from Ackley to Jane, because he's finally dealing with the losses in his life.

I've had a really good couple of days.  The trip to Curtis, Michigan, and the poetry reading were really good for my state of mind.  I got away from my day-to-day stresses, and, for a little over 24 hours, I got to be a full-time poet/teacher.  I was around people who wanted to listen to me.  I was with writer friends who treated me like a peer.  It was good medicine.

I checked my e-mail before I sat down to write this post.  I got some bad news.  I applied for a job at the university.  It wasn't full-time, but it was an exciting opportunity.  And the salary was great.  It would have lessened the burden of having my hours reduced at the medical office.  Well, the job is no longer available.  In fact, the job simply doesn't exist.  It's not going to be filled.

The good part about this news is that I told very few people about the job.  I didn't "tell anybody anything," as Holden says.  Only a few family members and friends know I applied.  Therefore, I don't have to explain what happened to a large group.  When my wife gets home tonight, I'm going to have to tell her.  That will be one of the hardest parts.

The other hardest part will be not having anything to look forward to this coming fall.  My coworker in the medical office is quitting.  That means all the business office duties will be falling on my shoulders.  Everything.  And I will have to do it all with reduced hours.  Less money, more work.  I'm trying to not feel sorry for myself at the moment, and I'm not succeeding.

So, I'm going to end this post with a prayer over blessings.  It will be my prayer of the week, and I hope it will remind me of all the good things that I've experienced over the last couple of days.  I certainly hope it won't make me start missing everybody, like Holden at the end of Catcher.

Dear Big Guy in Charge of Blessings,

Thanks for all the wonderful people I met in the last day or so.  Thanks for my writer friends, Jen Howard and Sue Harrison.  Thanks for the people in Curtis, Michigan, who arranged the reading.  Thanks for the great night at the Chamberlin's Ole Forest Inn, for the food, the drinks, the warm, comfortable bed.

Thanks for the hug and kiss my son gave me when I got home.  Thanks for my wife saying, "I'm so glad you're home.  I really missed you."  Thanks for the mozzarella-and-bacon quiche we had for dinner tonight.  And now, thanks for my quiet house.

I'm holding all these blessings in my heart tonight, trying to stave off disappointment.  Help me to remember the goodness this week, and when I start backsliding into worry, lift my eyes upward.  To light.  To hope.  To blessings.

Your child,

Saint Marty

Finding peace in Curtis, Michigan

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22: U. P. Book Tour Reading at Erickson Center

Well, I'm back in my room at the Chamberlin's Ore Forest Inn in Curtis, Michigan.  The reading at the Erickson Center went really well.  Sue Harrison was unbelievably lovely and generous.  Jen Howard was funny and fantastic, as always.  Jen told me I did well, but I think she was being kind.

Over all, I think the night was a success.  The audience was made up mainly of people who work for the Erickson Center.  However, they seemed to respond to all the readers.  They didn't throw any rotten cabbages at me, and I didn't notice anyone falling asleep.  I guess I'll put that in the "win" column.

I can hear thunder and wind outside right now.  It looks like it's going to be a stormy night.  Thank goodness I brought along my security blanket.  Well, actually, I didn't bring my blankie, but I did have a gin and tonic at the bar a little while ago with writer Jen Howard.  That should get me through the night.

Saint Marty's tired folks.  Time to read a little, brush some teeth, and go to sleep.

Me and my Star Wars tie and the Erickson Center

July 22: Greetings from Curtis, Poetry Reading, Magic 8 Ball Monday

Greetings from Chamberlin's Ole Forest Inn in Curtis, Michigan.  I had lunch a couple of hours ago, and now I'm sitting in my room, blogging remotely.  I've already picked out the poems I'm going to read tonight, practiced them, and made myself sufficiently nervous.  Now, I simply have time to sit back, relax, and meditate on standing in front of a roomful of people tonight who might not really like poetry.

I am the only poet on the docket this evening.  The other poet had to back out at the last minute due to a family medical emergency.  As I chose my poems for this evening, I tried to keep my audience in mind.  I want to sell books, so I chose work that was challenging but not too difficult.  I don't want to offend anybody.  I want the citizens of Curtis to like me.

After the reading, I'm going down to the bar and ordering a drink.  That will be my celebration.  Well, that and the $400 in books I'm going to sell.  Yeah, right.

My question for the great book of Salinger is no surprise:

Will I read well tonight at the Erickson Center?

And Holden's answer is:

"Hey, I don't need all this," I said.  "Just give me two bucks, is all.  No kidding--Here."  I tried to give it back to her, but she wouldn't take it.

That's Phoebe being generous with Holden.  That means the audience at the Erickson Center are going to be kind and generous, too.

Saint Marty likes kind and generous poetry lovers.

Me and a friend at the Erickson Center

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21: Daughter at Camp, Trip Tomorrow, New Cartoon

Well, I'm beat, and it's late.

I dropped my daughter off at a church camp on a beautiful lake this afternoon.  She's going to be gone for a week.  Strange, I'm so used to having her around.  When she's gone, there's a huge hole in the house.  Even my four-year-old son senses it.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going on a trip to Curtis, Michigan.  I'm reading with a couple other really fine writers in the evening at the Erickson Center.  I'm a little anxious about it.  I haven't really done a poetry reading for almost a year.  I hope I sell a couple of books.  Five would be great.  Anything above five would be a miracle.  That would pay for the entire little adventure.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be posting tomorrow.  It depends on whether my hotel has WiFi or not.

If it doesn't, the next missive you receive from Saint Marty will be on Wednesday.

Confessions of Saint Marty

July 20 Make-Up: Ballet and All, New Poem, "Pointe," New Cartoon

"She's a dancer," I said.  "Ballet and all.  She used to practice about two hours every day, right in the middle of the hottest weather and all.  She was worried that it might make her legs lousy--all thick and all.  I used to play checkers with her all the time."

Holden is speaking about the love of his life, Jane Gallagher.  Jane is a ballet dancer, among other things.  She also comes from a broken home with an abusive stepfather.

The reason I chose Holden's description of Jane is that I have a new poem for you guys.  I know, I know.  I'm a day late.  Saturday was extremely busy, and today hasn't been much better.  But, I owe my disciples a new poem, and this one is fresh off my journal pages.  I'm not quite sure how good it is yet.

I have a new cartoon, as well.  I'm also not sure how good the cartoon is either.

Basically, Saint Marty isn't sure of anything tonight.


They're wrecked after a year,
each second my daughter spent
on her toes creased
into the wood box
with sweat and blister,
her first steps, panicked
lurches across the dance floor,
as if she were on the deck
of the Titanic as it listed,
snapped, sent her skidding
to the black Atlantic.
I wanted to save her
from gravity, have her grip
my fingers the way she did
as a baby, tethered to me
like a lifeboat, each move
an exercise in balance,
the ground beneath her feet
as unstable as lake ice
in May.  I still have her
first shoes, small, white
as bleached driftwood.
They're reminders of how
she once depended on me
to rescue her from each
drowning stumble.  The pink
slippers sit on her dresser now
along with stones she found
on the shores of Superior,
a wrist band for treading water
ten minutes longer than anyone
else at Bible camp last summer,
and medals, ribbons for ballet.
If I close my eyes, I see her,
mid-air or mid-water,
clumsy one-year-old,
graceful almost teen,
her limbs stretched
toward me or away,
wanting to be scooped up, saved,
or wanting to strike out
for swifter currents,
higher leaps,
deeper, bluer waters.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19: U. P. Poet Laureate, Russell Thorburn, "Apology to My Father"

 Tonight, I'm giving you a poem from the newly crowned U. P. Poet Laureate, Russell Thorburn.  It's a poem from his collection Approximate Desire.

I've known Russ for many years, and he's a fearless writer.  He's taught poetry to prison inmates.  He's taught poetry to school children.  The poem below mines the pain of father/son relationships.  Stitched with heartbreak and beauty, his work leaves the reader both bruised and comforted.

Saint Marty hopes you enjoy...

Apology to My Father

I wear this faded brown mitt,
snap one back to my son
in this dialogue of fastballs,
this brilliant blue sky
losing something more than what
is gained, as I remember telling
my father I hated baseball,
who threw a lob that held angels up
as it shadowed me, the catcher,
waiting for his sad face
to fall:  "Look, I have made mistakes."

I set my arm
and become the eternal son,
all stone and ancient,
who zips one into the calm smell
of spring, hearing his own father
like so many zither strings
pluck the melody from the air.
His eyes become patient,
looking back into my eyes
as if it didn't matter
how much we broke each other's heart.

July 19: Annoy Stradlater, Broke Any Rules, Fairy Tale Friday

I didn't even answer him.  I just threw the pieces in the wastebasket.  Then I lay down on my bed, and we didn't say anything for a long time.  He got all undressed, down to his shorts, and I lay on my bed and lit a cigarette.  You weren't allowed to smoke in the dorm, but you could do it late at night when everybody was asleep or out and nobody could smell the smoke.  Besides, I did it to annoy Stradlater.  It drove him crazy when you broke any rules.  He never smoked in the dorm.  It was only me.

Holden doesn't follow rules.  He wrote an essay for his dorm roommate, Stradlater, and didn't follow the rubric of the assignment.  That's why Stradlater's mad at Holden.  Holden's pissed at Stradlater because he thinks Stradlater tried to take advantage of Jane Gallagher, the girl Holden likes.  So, Holden starts smoking to annoy Stradlater.

Most anybody who knows me will tell you I'm not much of a rule follower.  I like making the rules, not heeding them.  That's why I enjoy teaching in a college classroom.  I get to set up my own little rule book, called a syllabus, and, if you want to live in my kingdom, so to speak, you have to abide by my rules.

When I was younger, I guess I was more like Stradlater when it came to rules.  I didn't get two advanced degrees in English by thumbing my nose at the system, and I haven't been teaching at the university for 17 years by rocking the boat.  No, I pick and choose my battles.  I think that's why I became a poet.

You see, a lot of people think a poet is a writer who simply doesn't follow the conventions of grammar.  I have met my share of young graduate student poets who don't know the difference between a run-on sentence and a death sentence.  I contend that poets should be the ultimate grammarians.  In order to break the rules, you first have to know the rules.  Really well.  Nothing incenses me more than reading badly-written poems.  Having been a poetry editor and teacher for a while now, I can tell the difference between a poet who is intentionally breaking grammatical rules versus someone who calls him/herself a poet to cover third grade writing skills.

In my poems, I sometimes break the rules, but I do it for a reason or effect.  And I'm aware of the rule that I'm breaking.  That's the difference.  I know the rules.  Therefore, I can break the rules.  Any poet reading this post knows what I'm talking about.

Which brings me to my fairy tale for this Friday.

Once upon a time, a young monk named Thelonius decided he was a poet.  The problem was that Thelonius had never really paid much attention in school.  He couldn't spell.  He didn't know the difference between a paragraph and a pair of shoes.  And he thought iambic pentameter was a Greek god.

The monk Thelonius started sending his poetry to various monasteries around the kingdom to see if he could get his poems published in one of the Monkly Gazettes.  He never received so much as a rejection scroll.

One day, however, a raven flew through the window of Thelonius' cell in the monastery.  When the young monk tried to shoo the bird back out the window, the raven looked at him and said, "Nevermore."

"What did you say?" Thelonius said.

"Nevermore," the raven said again.

"Maybe this is a sign," Thelonius exclaimed.  "Perhaps I should write a poem titled 'The Raven' in which I lament the loss of a woman named Lenore."

"No," the raven said.  "It means don't send out any more of your poems.  They suck."

Moral of the story:  Keep your windows closed.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

Listen to the raven...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18: Christmas in July

Yes, I'm sitting in my living room, listening to Christmas music on my iPod.

I'm doing it because most yuletide music gives my a sense of peace and happiness.  I need me some of that tonight.  On the chair next to me is the mechanic's estimate for my car repair. $810.  To put it into perspective, that's the equivalent of about two mortgage payments or three car payments or eight weeks' worth of groceries.  In order to raise that kind of cash in a hurry, I'd have to sell 81 copies of my book of poems this coming Monday night at the poetry reading.

So, it's time to deck the halls of my head with a few Christmas carols.  I don't want to worry or fret any more today.  I want to finish typing this post, proofread it, publish it, and then go lie down in bed with a couple of Oreo cookies and a Xanax, washed down by a glass of chocolate milk.  Don't knock it 'til you try it, folks.

It's Saint Marty's breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions.

Santa, take me away...

July 18: Ed Banky, Car, Bad News, Piece of My Mind

Ed Banky was the basketball coach at Pencey.  Old Stradlater was one of his pets, because he was the center on the team, and Ed Banky always let him borrow his car when he wanted it.  It wasn't allowed for students to borrow faculty guys' cars, but all the athletic bastards stuck together.  In every school I've gone to, all the athletic bastards stick together.

I'm not a basketball player or an athletic bastard, and I don't attend school or teach at Pencey.  But I could sure use Ed Banky's car right now.

The bad news from the mechanic at the dealership came a lot earlier than I expected.  He called me around 10 a.m. to tell me my car was done, but he had to talk to me about "an issue."  "An issue," in mechanic talk, amounts to an $800-plus repair.

I kind of sat at my desk, speechless.  Finally, I said, "Well, I can't afford that right now."  To be honest, I don't know how I'm going to afford it later, either.  That kind of money doesn't come my way very often.  Actually, that kind of money never comes my way.

I'm beginning to intensely dislike auto mechanics and cars.  Owning a vehicle is a necessary evil for people who live in rural places like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I put about thirty miles on my car every day simply driving to and from work.  Taking the bus isn't an option, and riding my bike down the highway at 4 a.m. is not an appealing proposition.  So, I own a car that's becoming more expensive to keep on the road than raising my two children.

Here's the thing:  the first car I owned was a 1978 Dodge Aspen.  I inherited it from my older sister, and, aside from a brake job or two, it never gave me a lick of trouble.  I'd bet that Aspen is still running somewhere in the world.  It was a solid, reliable car.  Every car I've purchased since the Aspen has given me costly migraines.  My Ford Freestyle is the latest in a long line of headaches.

Cars used to last longer than car loans.  A lot longer.  I offer my Aspen as evidence with over ten years' of good service.  The car I owned before my Freestyle, a nice little Mercury Sable, lasted one month past the date I made my last payment on it.  Then I had a close encounter with a deer one foggy morning on my way to work.  My wife's Subaru has a laundry list of ailments, and we just payed it off about two months ago.

I want to own a car for once in my lifetime that I can drive for a couple of years without failing brake pads or ball joints or spring nut filters or whatever.  Two years without a single car repair.  Two years of just oil changes and tire rotations.  That's all.  I don't think that's too much to ask of Ford or Chrysler or Dodge or Subaru.  Make a car that lasts longer than a team of oxen, for God's sake.

That's a piece of Saint Marty's mind.

Anybody want to trade for a couple of bulls?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17: Poetry Reading

Next Monday night, I'm giving a poetry reading.  I'm a little nervous.  I haven't read my poetry in front of an audience for a really long time--since last summer, I believe.  I don't get too many invitations these days to read because it's been quite a few years since my book was published.

I remember the days after I received the first copies of my book.  I would sit in my living room at night with the book in my hands, thinking, "I bloody wrote this."  (The "bloody" is a Yooperism.)  It was a beautiful thing.  The cover slick and glossy, and my words on thick, beautiful paper.  People wanted to read me, invited me to classrooms and libraries to talk about the craft of poetry.  It was a really great time in my life.

I love being in front of an audience.  I love having people laugh at my jokes, sit in silence as I read a poem and then, at the end, collectively exhale.  There's nothing better than having a group of people hanging on my every word.  It's happened before.

That's what Saint Marty's hoping for on Monday night.

July 17: Pile of Dough, Cadillac, Oil Change

...Anyway, he gave Pencey a pile of dough, and they named our wing after him.  The first football game of the year, he came up to school in this big goddam Cadillac, and we all had to stand up in the grandstand and give him a locomotive--that's a cheer....

Holden is talking about a man named Ossenburger who donated a great deal of money to Holden's current school, Pencey.  Holden doesn't like Ossenburger, thinks he's a "big phony bastard."  But Ossenburger's a rich phony bastard who drives a Cadillac.  The world pays attention to people like him, because things like money and cars are status symbols for most cultures.

Me, I drive a 2006 Ford Freestyle that just cracked 100,000 miles.  It's a good car with plenty of space.  I've owned it for around four or so years.  It has now reached a point in its life that, every time I bring it in for an oil change at the dealership, some major problem gets discovered.  Last time, I needed a brake job to the tune of over 400-plus bucks.  I'm not Ossenburger.  I can't afford to drive a brand new Cadillac, and I don't have a pile of dough.

I'm dropping my Freestyle off at the dealership tomorrow morning for an oil change.  I'm already dreading the phone call from the mechanic that starts like this:  "Well, I've got some bad news."  I can't afford any bad news right now.  I simply want an oil change.  Period.

That's my biggest worry this Wednesday--an expensive auto problem.  I've already put off one repair until the fall.  I really don't want to go double or nothing.  Until I get the mechanic's phone call telling me I'm free and clear, I'm going to be holding my breath and saying a lot of prayers.

Eventually, Saint Marty is either going to turn blue and pass out or heave a very big sigh of relief.

This guy could ruin my day tomorrow

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16: Popcorn in the Afternoon

I've fallen into the habit of having popcorn in the afternoon at work.  I prefer good kettle corn, but I'm kid of a popcorn tramp.  As long as it's white with a little salt and butter, I'm happy.

When I was a kid, I remember popcorn being a huge treat, usually reserved for watching the annual TV broadcast of The Wizard of Oz on CBS.  On those nights, my mother wold make several huge batches of popcorn (with oil on the stove), and we would gather in the living room at the appointed hour to watch Dorothy and company.  Out hands would get greasy; any little cut on my fingers would sting with the salt.  I would eat bowl after bowl of it, until my face was coated in popcorn oil residue.

Maybe that's why having popcorn every afternoon makes me happy.  It reminds me of simpler times, when all I worried about was whether the Tin Man would get a heart or Dorothy would find her way back to Kansas.  When all I feared were monkeys with plastic faces swooping out of the clouds to snatch me away.  When the popcorn was unending.

And Saint Marty's troubles melted like lemon drops.

Somewhere over the rainbow pass the salt...

July 16: It's Raining, a Kiss, Prayer of Thanksgiving

Then all of a sudden she gave me a kiss.  Then she held her hand out, and said, "It's raining.  It's starting to rain."

"I know."

Then what she did--it damn near killed me--she reached in my coat pocket and took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head.

Holden loves his sister, Phoebe, more than any other character who appears in Catcher, including Jane.  And Phoebe loves Holden, in a childish, motherly fashion.  In the passage above, Phoebe tries to shield her brother from the rainstorm that's starting.  Children like Phoebe have a way of breaking your heart with their tiny acts of love.  A kiss.  A hunting hat.  Yesterday, my four-year-old son did a very Phoebe thing.

I'd just gone swimming with him, and we'd changed clothes.  I drove him to my parents' house for a visit.  As I opened his car door to unbuckle him from his seat, my son looked up at me with a strange expression on his face.

I stopped what I was doing.  "What?" I said.

He stuck out his lower jaw and smiled.  "I want to give you a kiss," he said.

I unbuckled him, and he crawled out of his seat.  When he was standing on the pavement in front of me, I leaned over.  He wrapped his arms around my neck and pressed his lips to mine.  He held on for about twenty or thirty seconds.  Finally, he let go, and I stood up.

"Thanks, buddy," I said.

"You know," he said, "I love you more than a hour and a half."

In my son's universe, that's a really long time.  His little profession of love left me speechless for a few moments.  Eventually, I managed to say, "I love you too, bud."  My son doesn't express these kids of emotions too much to me, so his words were an unexpected moment of grace.

Most of the time, when I pray, I'm asking God to do something for me, to help me in some way.  Today, I'm going to do something a little different.

Dear God,

I don't think I thank You enough for the gifts You give me every day.  I don't say thanks for the sun and day's warmth, or the moon and night's coolness.  I don't say thanks for the lasagna I had for dinner or the strawberries I had for dessert.

So today, I want to say thanks for my son.  Thanks for the love he expressed to me yesterday, the kiss and hug.  I'm so lucky to have him in my life.  Thanks for his tantrums and stubborn streak.  Thanks for the cars he leaves scattered on the floor at night.  Thanks for his sense of humor ("Why did the chicken cross the road?...To poop on your head!").  Thanks for entrusting this amazing little child to me.

I'm a lucky man.  My son reminded me of this fact yesterday.  And for that, I give You thanks.

Your loving child,

Saint Marty

Amen and thank You

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15: A Confession

I've got a confession.

I'm a pretty self-centered person.  I went to a meeting tonight at church where we spoke about keeping our focus on God.  I've never worn a WWJD bracelet personally, but I do believe in that sentiment.  It's about having that Christ spirit in my head and my heart.  I fail at doing that.  A lot.

Right now, it's all about money for me.  Since my hours were reduced at work, the majority of my thoughts during the day revolve around my income, or lack of income.  While I should have faith and courage, I have worry and fear.  No WWJD at work here.

I'm not praying.  I'm not letting go and letting God.  I'm not doing any of the things that a Christian should do.  I can't make it all about God right now.  It's all about me, me, me.

And that's Saint Marty's biggest problem at the moment.

Yup, this pretty much says it all...

July 15: A Job, a Question, a Hope on Magic 8 Ball Monday

Yes, I'm posting really late today.  I've been running, literally and figuratively, all day.  I worked from 5 a.m. to noon.  I mailed a packet of poems to a contest and hit Walmart on the way home.  Then I went for a run in 85-degree heat.  My reward was a swimming pool and a hot tub.  After dinner, I went to a couple meetings at church.

Like I said, it was a running day, and I'm beat.

However, I do have a question for the book of Salinger:

Will I get the job I applied for at the university?

And Holden's answer is:

"Now listen," old Sally said.  "Lots of boys get more out of school than that."

I'll take that answer from Holden's date, old Sally.  I'm going to get more out of school.  That's a pretty positive response.  I have to hold on to that hope.  Something good is coming my way.

Saint Marty has to believe that.

Here's to hope...and a little luck

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14: Father's Birthday and Fireworks, New Cartoon

Yes, I know today is supposed to be Classic Saint Marty Sunday.  I don't have the energy to look back and find an old post I want to rerun.  Maybe I'll do it tomorrow afternoon.  It's summer time.  Even the TV networks shake things up during the warm months.

Today also happens to be my father's birthday.  We had a nice dinner, and my wife and I gave my dad a nice framed picture of my son and dad cutting our lawn together.  We had the photos, and I meant to give them to my dad on Father's Day.  I forgot.  So, this was my second chance.

Last night, my family went to the beach and watched fireworks.  It was the climax of a celebration called Pioneer Week in a neighboring city.  It's usually the best fireworks show of the summer.  There were bratwursts and corn on the cob and kettle popcorn.  It's a great home town celebration.

Unfortunately, it's all downhill now when it comes to summer.  There's really nothing else that happens in July or August.  I have a few poetry readings to attend.  I also have a nice vacation planned with my kids.

Saint Marty needs another weekend to recover from his weekend.

Confessions of Saint Marty

July 13 Make-Up: A Race and a New Cartoon

"Who won the game?" I said.

Holden is not a sports guy.  He played tennis and golf with Jane.  He doesn't really care who won the football game when he asks Stradlater the above question.  He's simply trying to find out what Stradlater is up to.

I'm not a sports guy, either.  I don't watch football.  Could care less whether the Tigers are winning or losing.  Don't ask me about the Red Wings.  I do know they didn't win the Stanley Cup this year.

This post is about the race I ran yesterday morning with my family.  I pushed my son in a stroller, and my daughter ran next to us.  My wife walked the two miles course.  It was a cool morning.  There was a nice breeze, and the sun was battling the cloud cover.  It was perfect running weather.

Well, my son took first place in his age group.  My daughter placed third in her age group.  And I took second.  My wife finished the race, and I was really proud of her for doing it.  My daughter was a little whiny during the run, but she sure liked strutting around with that medal around her neck.

I have a new cartoon for you today.  I'm still working on my new poem.  I promise it will be coming in the next couple of days.

Saint Marty has had a really busy weekend.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12: Race Tomorrow

Yes, this post is my fourth of the night.  I'm making up for lost time.  I don't have a lot more to say this evening.  I'm running in a race tomorrow morning early, and I'm not sure my legs are ready for it.  When I ran yesterday, they felt like they were full of concrete.  It was difficult to even lift them.

I'm hoping tomorrow morning is a little easier.  I didn't run today.  I wanted to give myself a break, maybe allow my legs to recuperate.  We'll see how things turn out.  It's going to be really hot and humid, and my daughter is going to whine through the entire race.

I'm going to finish those two miles.  I'll probably do it in a little less than 25 minutes.  I won't win any medals, but that's not why I'm doing it.  I'm doing it because it's what I do every year.  It's part of my life.

Sameness. Constancy.  Try it out sometimes.  You might like it.

Saint Marty needs to get to bed.

On your mark, get set...

July 12: Frozen, One Position, Fairy Tale Friday

"Who's ignoring it?  Nobody's ignoring it!"  Horwitz said.  He got so damn excited and all, I was afraid he was going to drive the cab right into a lamppost or something.  "They live right in the goddam ice.  It's their nature, for Chrissake.  They get frozen right in one position for the whole winter."

Horwitz, Holden's cab driver, has a lot of opinions.  In the passage above, he's talking about the fish in the lagoon in Central Park and what he thinks happens to them when the lagoon freezes over.  The fish freeze in one position for the entire winter, according to Horwitz.

It's quite a little metaphor.  A creature stuck in one place, surviving on the same food, air, water for months and months.  Horwitz doesn't find anything remarkable in this.  It's just their nature, what they were built to do.  Of course, Horwitz is full of it, bullshitting the great bullshitter, Holden Caulfield.  But, Horwitz also touches on something that appeals to me:  the idea that a creature can live and thrive in one single situation, one environment, for a long time.

I like sameness.  I like constancy.  I'm not Indiana Jones.  I don't go out looking for adventure.  In fact, I avoid change at all costs, especially change that makes me uncomfortable or threatens my day-to-day routines.  I know I can't avoid it.  Change happens.  People die.  Jobs are outsourced, eliminated.  Money disappears.  Children are born.  However, I prefer to be a fish, frozen in the lagoon for winter.  That's what I want.  There's an admirable self-sufficiency in the image.

I owe you a fairy tale tonight, don't I?

Well, once upon a time, there lived a man named Oscar.  He lived on the edge of a small lake.  He got everything he needed from the lake.  He got fish for food, collected driftwood for fuel.  He thatched his roof with dried seaweed.  And he never strayed from his little piece of the world.

During the winter, the lake froze over.  Oscar would go out onto the ice and look down, staring at the world beneath his feet.  One December night, as he was standing on the ice in the middle of the lake, Oscar saw a bright star.  He whispered at the heavens, "I wish I could be a fish and live in this lake for the rest of my life."

He immediately was transformed into a rainbow trout.  He flopped around on the ice until he froze to death.

Moral of the story:  Don't walk on a frozen lake.  It's dangerous.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

This could be you

July 11 Make-Up 2: A Little Therapy Tonight

NOTE:  This post was meant for last night.  I'm sorry for being absent yesterday.

I'm currently sitting in my therapist's office, waiting for my wife to show up.  I know that doesn't sound like much fun, but I really look forward to our therapy sessions.  Dr. K has seen my wife and I through some very tough times.  She's funny, honest, and tough.  She can smell bullshit the minute it steps through her door.

Therapy helps me think clearer.  If I'm struggling with some issue (and I usually am--I'm full of issues), I can talk it out.  It's like spreading out the pieces of a puzzle.  I can see the edges and center pieces, and I can put the whole picture together in a different light with Dr. K.

Saint Marty's wife just showed up.  It's time to assemble my jigsaw life.

Putting it all together...

July 11 Make-Up: Psychoanalyst Guy, University Job, Piece of Mind

NOTE:  Sorry I didn't post yesterday.  I got involved in a project yesterday evening that took almost two hours to complete.  This post was meant to be posted last night.
A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September.  It’s such a stupid question, in my opinion.  I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it?  The answer is, you don’t.  I think I am, but how do I know?  I swear it’s a stupid question.

Holden hates being told what to do.  Obviously.  He’s flunked out of so many schools that I can’t keep track of them all.  Now, at the end of the book, he’s arguing with his therapist about the future, whether he’s going to apply himself.

I have a very good friend who sometimes likes to tell me what I should do with my life.  I’ve gotten used to these conversations, but, today, my friend started pressing me to apply for a job at the university I simply don’t want to have.  While I would be making more money at this other job, I wouldn’t be any happier than I am right now.  It would be a lateral move in job satisfaction.  While I would enjoy being at the university full-time, I know I would be slightly left of miserable in this other position.

Don't misunderstand me.  I do want to work full-time at the university, but I don't want to be an administrative assistant/secretary.  That's pretty much the kind of position I currently hold in the medical office.

However, my good friend doesn't understand why I don't want to make this leap.  She doesn't understand that there are leaps of faith and leaps off a bridge.  I've worked in an office for over 16 years.  I don't want to leap into another office for another 15 or 20 years.  That's a bridge leap, not a faith leap.

My friend knows I'm not really happy with my medical office job, and she wants me to be happy.  I get that.  But she's backing me into a corner.  I'm going to feel like a failure if I don't apply for this other job, thanks to my friend's "help."

Here's the thing:  I know what makes me happy, and I know what will make me unhappy.  I go by instinct on decisions like this one.  Right now, my instinct is telling me, "Same job, different office."

And that's a piece of Saint Marty's mind. 

You just have to know when to leap and when not to