May 7, 2013 § 12 Comments
Guess what? I wrote a book. No, seriously. I’m not kidding.
Co-wrote it, actually, with a dear friend of mine who is a lawyer. He had this wacky idea that it might be fun to create a gift book for other lawyers, a collection of funny poems capturing some of the inside humor that goes along with the job: all the anxieties, crazy characters, and bizarre situations that only fellow lawyers (and those who know and love them) can really appreciate. He pitched the idea almost two years ago: If he could come up with the poem ideas, could I help write them?
Write a book of poems and let someone else do the work of coming up with all the ideas? Oh, hell yes.
So I’m delighted to introduce you to Poetic Justice: Legal Humor in Verse.
It’s a little bitty book – just 100 pages, each poem a snapshot of some scenario or character or feeling that anyone who’s been to law school or worked in the field will understand. Those who have already read it say it puts into words some of the things everyone thinks but no one says out loud, including some of the darker, cynical stuff, but in a funny way.
(By the way, if you’re lawyer who was once a liberal arts major or an English nerd, you’ll appreciate that these are, well, “real” poems. I mean, they’re not just broken up sentences without punctuation. We got your sonnets, haikus, riffs on well-known verses you probably had to memorize in 10th grade, the whole shebang.)
Need a gift for law school graduation, lawyer friends, mother’s day, father’s day, birthdays? Here you go, easy – just throw it in your cart on Amazon.
Bonus: We are donating a portion of all book proceeds to a fantastic nonprofit called WomensLaw.org, which provides free information and services to individuals getting out of domestic violence situations. So you’re helping to enable something good in the world when you buy the book.
To check out a different sample poem each week — and to see my co-author wearing a sweater vest — visit the book’s site: PoeticJusticeTheBook.com
March 6, 2013 § 17 Comments
Some things need to be renamed around here, dammit.
For example: This week is our Spring Break, meaning my children don’t have school. Thus far, the term is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s neither spring (first week of March? really?) nor a break (because both kids have spent the week sick with the flu).
Let’s just call things what they are, shall we?
* * *
“The Flu Shot” –> Needle Full Of Fairy Snot
Oh yes, we got the shots. Back in October. A hell of a lot of good it did us. One child started complaining of aches the first day of the break; the other followed within 36 hours. After calling around, we discovered that a few of their friends were down and out as well. So basically it’s just like that movie Contagion, except sorely lacking in Matt Damon appearances. And if you’re not going to get to grab onto Matt Damon with one clammy hand and rasp, “Save me,” what’s the point in having a horrible virus? So, science nerds at the CDC or wherever, listen up: Either make me a vaccination that actually keeps the flu away, or bring me Matt Damon. You know what? Fuck the vaccine. Just bring me Matt Damon.
* * *
“Fever” –> Crimson-Faced Raving Delusions
When the nurse on the phone asked, “Does he have a temperature?” my son was actually standing in our kitchen, red as a bell pepper, ripping his clothes off and screaming, “SOMEBODY HELP ME! I’M ON FIRE!” Yeah, he’s got a temperature. It’s approximately one-hundred-and-three-point-crazy. This is more than “fever” – this is full-body hallucinations. I could melt ice cubes on my kid’s face. Hell, I could cook s’mores over my kid’s face.
And yet I didn’t. Because I’m a great parent.
* * *
“Tamiflu” –> Rare Golden Butterfly Wing Serum
It took calling around to 12 pharmacies to get our hands on the virus-curbing drug. (Ultimately, the only place that had the elusive elixir was the Wal-Mart by the highway, where all sorts of interesting transactions go on in the parking lot, and I’m not talking about recipe swaps, youknowwhatimean.) Let me just tell you, when a doctor says my baby needs medicine and no one can seem to get my baby the medicine, this is how I handle it:
* * *
“Spring Break” –> Winter’s Final Fuck-You
Nature flipped us a middle finger a few days ago. Let me explain: We live in the South. My children almost never see snow. They were supposed to spend this week visiting their grandparents who live further north, where there’s lots of the exotic white stuff. So when the kids got Ebola and their travel plans got scrapped, so, too, did their chance at seeing snow just once before spring. Except: On Sunday, while they were both passed out blind with fevers, we had a freak cold front that brought… yep. Snow. Not much. Not enough to stick. But lots of pretty white flakes whirling outside our windows. And the kids didn’t see a bit of it, because it only happened while they were sick as dogs. And because Old Man Winter is an asshole.
Happy Spring Break!
* * *
- I decided to post a spring break update this week, because I realized it’s been one year since I Miss You When I Blink was born, and the very first post this time last year was a spring break recap. To all you goofballs who have stuck around to read this silliness over the past year, thank you.
- On a non-humorous-but-kind-of-interesting note, I don’t know if you saw this article in the Wall Street Journal last weekend: The Tyranny of the Queen Bee. Personally, I’ve almost always had fantastic experiences working with fellow women. But I’ve heard lots of stories about queen-bee types and have encountered a few myself. Dr. Peggy Drexler, the author of the article, writes: “Something is clearly amiss in the professional sisterhood.” That reminded me of a poem I wrote, which was published last month by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. (It’s also part of a neat project my writing partner, JD, and I are working on. Stay tuned for more about it later this spring — we’re excited to tell you more when the time comes.) Anyway, here’s the poem – anyone ever had an experience like this?
It’s dawning on me now that we are not
Thelma and Louise, Laverne and Shirley,
Cagney and Lacey, or Oprah and Gayle,
We don’t sing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,”
Or “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves,”
Or even “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar,”
We don’t “stick it to the man” together,
Or hammer away at the glass ceiling,
Or break down the walls of the old boys club,
Because there is no solidarity,
No sacred girl code or “hos before bros.”
We’re the only two females on this team,
And in front of everyone it was you
Who sent me out of the room for coffee.
February 4, 2013 § 39 Comments
The Valentine-fuss this time of year can be a bit of a pukestorm. Personally, I find it all a little silly, but maybe that’s because I have kids, so the whole thing just reminds me of torturously supervising the handwriting on Barbie / Batman Valentine cards and finding the dust of shattered candy hearts in the bottoms of bookbags, I don’t know.
That said, even if you’re not into the Valentine thing, your beloved might be, and you may be on the hook for a gift of some sort. STOP. Do not pick up the teddy bear dressed in a Cupid diaper. Do not touch the heart-shaped card. (Barf.) Do not wrap up a gift in a box at all. I say, go old-school. Reach back to the days of the mixtape, and let the music do the work for you. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The Luckiest – Ben Folds Let’s start out mellow. This is for that person who makes you think, “How did I end up with this good fortune? Are you real? Am I dreaming? And if I am dreaming, can you make doughnuts rain down from the ceiling? Because that’s about the only thing that could make this any better.” Good work, Ben Folds.
Fire and Dynamite – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Are you kidding me? Is there a more romantic, more beautifully nerdy, more perfect compliment than, “You are a novel in a sea of magazines”? I mean, wha-? It’s good that this phrase wasn’t around when I was a single woman. It would have gotten me in quite a bit of trouble – because there is no end to the list of depravities I would commit if someone said that to me. And then probably word would get out that all it took was that one phrase, and then dudes would walk up to me in bars all the time and say it, and then I’d just be a big ol’ whore. So thanks, Drew Holcomb and your neighbors, for not writing this song until I was safely off the market.
* * *
Not Just Romance
The Ring – Sarah Harmer This is gratitude love. It could be romantic love, but it could also be for a friend or mentor or something: “And I got up in the ring, because I had you in my corner.” Fun fact – I went to see Sarah Harmer play live PURELY to hear this song. The entire show was nothing but requests. I screamed my little heart out – “the ring! the ring!” – and even got my husband in on the yelling – “THE RING! THE RING!” – but she never played it. Thanks for dashing my hopes, Sarah Harmer. Don’t come crying to me when you have a special humor request and I don’t grant it. What’s that? You want a guitar joke? Oh, I’m not telling those today, but thanks for stopping by.
You’ve Got The Love – Florence and the Machine Here’s a good multi-purpose love song for any playlist. Not too romantic. This could go out to anybody – your Valentine or your friend or, hell, even your parents or God. Oh shit, I said hell and God in the same sentence. Oops, now it’s shit and hell and God. Dammit. [clamping hands over mouth]
* * *
Slightly Off-Center Love Song
I Will Follow You Into The Dark – Cadillac Sky Dark is for sure. This one’s about death. But somehow it’s still really sweet and uplifting. It’s about not being lonely. It’s like that pact they’re always making in the rom-coms – like, if you’re not married by 40, and I’m not married by 40, we’ll marry each other! And then wacky hijinks ensue. Except this one’s more like, “If you’re all alone when you die, and I’m all alone when I die, my soul will follow your soul into the abyss, ‘k?” Everyone knows the Death Cab For Cutie version, but I also really like this one by Cadillac Sky.
* * *
Your Song – Ellie Goulding Oh, COME ON. Don’t roll your eyes. Elton John made this a classic; Ellie Goulding does a nice cover. Bonus: This song gives you a great line to use anytime you forget some key piece of information about your loved one – such as their favorite cupcake flavor, eye color, or name: “You see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue… anyway, the thing is, what I really mean – yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen.” Smooth.
When You Say Nothing At All – Alison Krauss Once, in a music class, my professor started crying when this song played. And because I was a supercool 18-year-old, I got all uncomfortable, like, “OMG, a man is crying. This is, like, so weird.” But that’s not the point. The point is: If you really want to mush it up, this is the mushiest thing on wheels. It’s for that person whom you can just look at, and they look back, and you’re like, “I know you know that I know that you know that I know that you know that I know what you’re thinking and you know what I’m thinking, so yeah.”
* * *
Stubborn Love – Lumineers This one gets a spot on the list for this statement: “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love is indifference.” Hmm. Very philosophical, Lumineers. I think I agree with you fellows, but I’m not sure. We’ll debate it later.
February Seven – The Avett Brothers I’m not even positive I get what’s happening in this song, but there’s something going on here: “I went on the search for something true. I was almost there when I found you.” PS: Scott Avett, I love you. Call me.
Heart’s Content – Brandi Carlile This wasn’t the first song that grabbed me on the Bear Creek CD, but it’s got a hold of me now. “Here’s to you and me, and in between.”
Hold On To What You Believe – Mumford & Sons OK, those of you old enough to remember the days of actual mixtapes (I mean, obviously *I’m* not old enough to remember something so ancient, but you know… I’ve heard legends), remember how cool it was when someone would throw in a “bootleg” track? It was always some song they got from their friend’s older brother’s college roommate, who recorded it at a concert. Here’s the bootleg for this playlist, one of Mumford & Sons’ many love songs – a complex one – that’s not on either of their CDs.
* * *
Let’s Get It On
Lover Tonight – Will Hoge Will Hoge could growl the list of ingredients on the back of a package of fruit roll-ups, and it would still sound like a love song to me. The VOICE. Man. Oh, true story: The last time I went to hear Will play, it was in a teeny-tiny bar, and when he got to this song everyone went quiet EXCEPT the 7-foot-tall douchebag mofo standing directly in front of me, who turned around and started talking really loudly to his friend for the WHOLE SONG. And that is the story of how I almost killed a man with my bare hands but didn’t.
Dance Me To The End of Love – The Civil Wars This remake – which beats the stew out of the original, incidentally – is for after dinner. Slow dance. Spill a little wine. “Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long.” Dance me, indeed. If you’re still dancing by the time this song ends, you’re doing it wrong.
Wait. What were we talking about? Oh, music. Right. So anyway…
* * *
Shiny, Happy Love
Simple Song – The Shins Can’t beat this image: “My life in an upturned boat / Marooned on a cliff / You brought me a great big flood / And you gave me a lift”
Scissor Runner – Jenny and Johnny Let’s end on a perky note.
* * *
If all those songs made you physically sick, it’s cool. No judgment here. In fact, this one’s just for you. We’ll all raise our glasses and sing it with you, too — here goes:
I Hate Everyone – Get Set Go
December 11, 2012 § 41 Comments
Let’s start things off today with a musical number. It’s a duet. You’ll know it when you hear it…
(“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” originally written by Frank Loesser. I like this version.)
So, the girl in this song has lines like these:“I’ve got to go away.” “Say, what’s in this drink?” “The answer is no.” “No, no, no, sir.”
And the guy has lines like these:“Baby, don’t hold out.”
“Mind if I move in closer?”
“No cabs to be had out there.”
“Look out the window at that storm.”
After he pours her the funny-tasting drink and tells her she’ll never get away in all that snow, he tells her it sure would be a shame if she “caught pneumonia and died” from trying to leave. Ah, romance. Nothing like a classic holiday ditty about holding your date hostage. (Seriously, it sort of sounds like she does mind if you move in closer, dude. And what did you do to all the cab drivers? WHERE ARE THEIR BODIES?)
Anyway, the other day I was tickled to see that my imaginary Twitter friend Alexandra (you may know her from her delightful site, Good Day, Regular People) had the same thought:
Amen, sister. Just once, I want to hear that girl in the song stick up for herself — just knock over all the candles in his basement shrine and run like hell. So I rewrote it. Here you have a NEW version of the whole song, with updated lyrics for the girl’s part (and the guy’s original lyrics, unchanged, in parentheses). This time, she turns the tables:I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside) I don’t like you that way (But baby, it’s cold outside) This evening must end (Been hoping that you’d drop in…) Look dude, no dice. (I’ll hold your hands, they’re cold as ice) Honestly, I’m starting to worry (Beautiful, what’s your hurry?) I think you’d better open the door (Listen to the fireplace roar) Where’d you hide my keys? I gotta scurry (Beautiful, please don’t hurry) Match.com, this wasn’t what I asked for! (Why don’t you put some music on while I pour?) You know what I think? (Baby, it’s bad out there) You roofied my drink (No cabs to be had out there) But I switched the cups (Your eyes are like starlight) And you can’t tell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell) No means no, no, no, sir (Mind if I move in closer?) And I’m all done with being polite (What the point in hurting my pride?) So back the fuck up (Baby, don’t hold out) I’m going to go outside Now watch as I leave (Baby, it’s cold outside) Let go of my sleeve
(Oh darling, it’s cold outside) Are you starting to spin? (I’m lucky that you dropped in) It’s kicking in! (Look out the window at that storm) I knew I should have been suspicious (Man, your lips look delicious) When you double-bolted the door (Waves upon a tropical shore) That’s why I broke one of your dishes (Gosh your lips are delicious) And I’ll cut you if you take one step more (Never such a blizzard before) I’m starting my car (Oh baby, you’ll freeze out there) To drive back to the bar (It’s up to your knees out there) Just first let me tie… (I thrill when you touch my hand) …You to this tree (How can you do this thing to me?) I wonder who will find you tomorrow (Think of my life-long sorrow…) When you’re still drugged out of your mind (…if you caught pneumonia and died) Hope you like snow, asshole (Get over that hold-out) ‘Cause baby, it’s COLD outside.
* * *
PS: Oh! Speaking of dates… If you have been following The Random Penguins, you know about Liam — who’s been feeling vulnerable after a recent breakup. In what has to be the most delightful development of the past week, an outpouring of support has people from all over offering to set Liam up with a new lady. Some have suggested he might ought to give Kay a try, but honestly, she may be too much for him. The best candidate so far is this friendly-looking lass, suggested by a veterinarian in Nebraska. Thanks, Dr. Finch!
November 6, 2012 § 13 Comments
Let’s PLEASE talk about something other than the election while we wait in line to vote, shall we? Here — I’ll just make up a topic:
I’ve always sort of wanted to be a songwriter. (I don’t mean I tried and tried to be one; I mean I always thought it would be fun but never really did anything about it. Lazy.) Nothing’s stopping me, I guess, other than everyday obstacles like having my hands full already with regular writing work and, well, life in general. Every now and then a little snippet of a lyric will come to me, but I have no idea what to do with it or how to set it to music or to whom I’d send it… Just more obstacles I’ve never taken the time to figure out. Oh well.
Anyway. I’ve been wallowing happily in the great songwriting of others lately and thought I’d share a few faves today, just so we can talk about ANYTHING ELSE for a few minutes. Turn your phone speaker up for the folks in line with you; open up your iTunes; and get your downloading thumb ready.
* * *
That Justin Bieber is a household name and Will Hoge is not is a travesty of cultural justice that deeply offends my soul and my mind and my… my face. I just don’t understand the world. Even if you’ve never heard of him, you may have heard one of his songs, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” (recorded by the Eli Young Band, nominated for CMA Song of the Year):
“Way back on a radio dial
A fire got lit inside a bright-eyed child
Every note just wrapped around his soul
From steel guitar to Memphis all the way to rock and roll
I can hear ‘em playing
I can hear the ringing of a beat up old guitar
I can hear ‘em saying,
Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart”
Here – listen to him sing it:
The first time I heard Will Hoge play live was in 2004. I’m glad he keeps on dreaming (even if it breaks his heart), because he keeps on writing great music. Do yourself a favor and download a bunch of his albums, starting with early ones like Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, and enjoy the catchy deliciousness of songs like “Better Off Now That You’re Gone” (soon to be released as a recording by Lady Antebellum, by the way).
Man, I am being bossy today. Listen to this… Download that… Geez. Anyway. Do what I say.
* * *
As you know, I like to imagine that Brandi and I are good friends. So you can understand how delighted I was to catch a last-minute show over the weekend when she decided to stop into a local bar where she used to play when she was just starting out. This was a small, intimate show, and she took requests from the crowd. I asked for “The Story” (and then clamped my hand over my mouth to prevent yelling out, “LET’S BE SONGWRITING PALS AND GET MATCHING TATTOOS OF LITTLE PENCILS WITH HAPPY FACES!”):
“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you”
She also sang “Keep Your Heart Young,” a new one that’s a favorite at my house. I play it on the guitar, and my kids sing it while shaking their tic-tac boxes.
“My grandpa gave me a wee penny and I kept it in my pocket
Had big plans in my backyard to build me a space rocket
Talked to my brother on a fake CB that I made from a tic-tac box
Packed my snowballs nice and tight and in the middle I put rocks
Don’t trade in your tic-tac box for a ball on the end of the chain
And don’t go spending grandpa’s pennies buying into the game
You gotta keep your heart young
Don’t go growin’ old before your time has come
You can’t take back what you have done
You gotta keep your heart young”
* * *
Mumford and Sons
“Lover of the Light” is a song I’ve adored since they started playing it live a couple of years ago, and now it’s on their new album:
“In the middle of the night
I may watch you go.
There’ll be no value in the strength
Of walls that I’ll have grown
There’ll be no comfort in the shade of the shadows thrown
But I’d be yours if you’d be mine
Stretch out my life and pick the seams out
Take what you like but close my ears and eyes
Or watch me stumble over and over
I had done wrong, you built your tower,
But call me home and I will build a throne
And wash my eyes out never again
But love the one you hold
And I will be your gold
To have and to hold
A lover of the light”
Here’s the new video for it. Allow me to boss you around: Watch it.
Holy shit. This guy. (Idris Elba, the actor in the video, also directed it, btw.) When he rubs his cane between his thumb and fingers, then hangs it back up… In his dreams, he’s like that buck (moose? whatever it is): independent, free, able to find his way. And damn if he doesn’t go out there into the wild and give it a go.
Now there’s someone who’s not afraid to conquer some obstacles and try something new.