Category Archives: Stuff I Probably Should Have Kept In My Head

Poetry Slam

Last night I scuttled on down to the Brooklyn Brainery for a Blackout Poetry class. What’s Blackout Poetry? Unfortunately, it’s not writing haiku’s after nine shots of vodka. To do Blackout Poetry you simply need to know how to molest a newspaper article with a Sharpie until you’re left with your favorite words that theoretically work together as a poem.

A class that cynic in me predicted would be overwhelmingly lame turned out to be wonderfully inspiring. Despite the influx of inspiration most of my poems were shit with the exception of my inaugural one (blame it on beginner’s luck and the fact that everyone else sucked the first time).

Listening was a rare, brightly feathered bird on my Brooklyn fire escape.

New York is loopy,

Fragmented, kaleidoscopic, sublime, funny and chaotic.

A state of mind.

Particular and peculiar, accessible, niche, avant-garde.

Maybe it’s because growing up in an almost pop-music backward glance keeps stories nostalgic,

Unnerving, overly revealing, emotionally raw,

Sorrowful, hysterical, engaging, relentlessly weird, alienating.

Take down the wall of achy violins, tumbling percussion, virtuosity

Spacious and intimate traditions.

Never.

To read significantly better Blackout Poetry please refer to the master, Austin Kleon.

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Why I Can’t Play Sports for Fun: Part II

My previous post began with an expression of doubt about my own ability to play sports for fun. I talked about how my experiences as a college athlete birthed a competitive side of me that simply doesn’t play nice with other kids (unless you count ripping other kids’ heads off and carrying them around on sticks like little head trophies as playing nice). In the end of the post I voiced my relief that a scheduled game of flag football was canceled due to rain. This meant that my inner ogre never had a chance to rear its ugly head.

I was then presented with another opportunity to play some good old two-hand touch football a week later. This time Mother Nature didn’t hand me any game-canceling gifts, which is a shame because what happened during the game was a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been told that one person can’t lose a game for the team, but I suspect this time was an exception as I was most certainly the reason why our team lost by 50 points to a bunch of no-talent ass clowns.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m just being hard on myself, I’m exaggerating, but I tell you I am not. You see, the girl I was marking was half of my height, double my weight and definitely looked like her running speed topped out at 5 m.p.h. I’m willing to bet a kidney and one of my dachshunds that she hasn’t played a competitive sport since her middle school gym days and that even then she probably took herself out five minutes into the game and shamefully ate all of the halftime oranges at end of the bench. These are all reasons why I chose to mark her. She was everything that I wasn’t and was absolutely going to make me look like a rockstar.

Turns out judging a book by its cover means that the book will make you look like an idiot by scoring 100 touchdowns without moving more than ten feet at a time. She exposed all of my flaws as a flag football player and made it clear to everyone that years of competitive lacrosse experience don’t mean shit if you have a body like a barrel and the ability to be in the right place at the right time.

My uselessness didn’t stop at the defensive end. I proved to be completely inept as an offensive threat before I even had a chance to step on the field. While warming up on the sidelines I invited a team member to toss me the pigskin as I ran some practice routes. I overcompensated in my attempt to make the catch and instead fell flat on my face in front of the rest of the other team’s sideline. And I didn’t catch the ball.

I will say though that the worst part of the game wasn’t the fact that we lost because I didn’t have the agility to mark the most un-athletic person on the field. It wasn’t the fact that I fell down during warm ups, thereby securing my place as “the useless girl on the team.” It was the look of disappointment from my teammates. It was the realization that my extreme competitiveness isn’t what prevents me from playing sports for fun. I can’t play sports for fun because I’m just plain awful at them.

Why I Can’t Play Sports For Fun

This past weekend a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Ethel, asked me if I wanted to be a stand-in on a flag football team that plays in Baltimore. I didn’t know anyone on the team but enthusiastically accepted the invite, as I had absolutely nothing better to do. Plus, Ethel brings the laughs like no one else, which I desperately need during my dark, unemployed times.

Ethel and I are natural competitors and as such began brainstorming game strategies that would play to our strengths and subsequently make us look awesome in front of people we hoped would become our new friends (Ethel only knew a couple of team members also). A few options were thrown out, but one stuck. We were going to use the speed and agility that we had loosely (read: barely) maintained since our college lacrosse days to blast past everyone and score a shit ton of touchdowns. Anyone foolish enough to try and stop us would get his or her obtrusive skull busted.

I couldn’t help but see myself carrying out the game plan. What I saw was an abundantly sweaty, asthmatic ogre who was violently stiff-arming opponents down the field as everyone watched in uncomfortable horror. It then dawned on me that this might not be the best way to meet a group of strangers for the first time.


Like I said, Ethel and I are former lacrosse players who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spent four years alongside 40 other girls doing hang cleans and tire flips so that we could prepare ourselves in the event that we had to crush any and all similarly thick-legged opponents. We didn’t play for fun. We were trained to win at any cost, so much so in fact that if the opportunity presented itself we would not think twice about stuffing our unruly opponents into a trash compactor. It was our own slightly psychotic dog-eat-dog world, a bubble where we could fearlessly talk trash and sweat like 400-pound men.

The problem is that death threats, mental intimidation and excessive perspiration can come off as unattractive and borderline frightening to the casual athlete. I wanted to make a good impression on my temporary teammates, but I knew they weren’t going to understand when I ferociously kicked inanimate objects after a bad play or threw my hands up and aggressively screamed in their faces after a good one.

Luckily, it never came to that. The game was cancelled due to rain from the day before, an overreaction that worked in my favor. I did, however, decide that I am far too competitive to play sports for fun. In fact, all women who are former college athletes should follow my lead. People already think we are beastly and the last thing we need to do is perpetuate negative stereotypes or alarm people looking for some friendly competition.

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My Shoulder Is Not a Window

The Society for the Strange and Obnoxious must congregate at Starbucks. I know for certain that their meetings are scheduled around one thing and one thing only: my physical presence in the store. Normally, I tend to deal with the minor offenders. You know, the ones who stand too close in line or who take a millennium to figure out their order. Last week, however, I had the pleasure of meeting the head honcho of the club.

I was sitting in the corner, quietly guzzling my coffee and writing away in one of those briefly wonderful caffeine-fueled rages when I sensed someone sit down in the chair behind me. I paid no attention to the new presence and continued to write in a self-absorbed haze. I only took notice once I felt uneven breaths firing on the back of my neck.

I quickly jumped around to find a middle-aged, finely tanned man in a clean-pressed, white shirt looking at me with a smile that would also make sense on either a serial killer or Beavis. He spoke first. I felt he owed me this much as he was the one who initiated the heavy breathing. “Oh, hello, dear, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to sit here and spy on you,” he stated, rather presumptuously if I do say so myself.

I did mind. I really, really did.

“Well, OK, but I’m not writing anything very interesting.” It was true. But, if I were writing something interesting I’d rather share it over tea with Mitt Romney’s butt cheeks than with that jabrone.

I smiled and turned around so as to passive aggressively kill the conversation. He didn’t get the hint and unleashed a merciless verbal assault on me, asking all sorts of inane, prodding questions. I don’t get that. Can’t you tell when someone doesn’t want to engage in a conversation with you? Like, should I install a mini alarm system on top of my head that goes off when I reach the breaking point in an unsolicited conversation?

As I began bleeding out I looked around at the untouched Starbucks patrons with desperate eyes. I was going to die, damnit, why weren’t they helping me? They thought I was a willing participant, they thought I was also a lonely fool who sought comfort from strangers in Starbucks.

I must have forced myself into a blackout because I forgot the rest of the conversation. I only remember the first sign of dead air, which I used as an opportunity to get up and scram. Before I could escape fully the man called out to me, “Thanks for letting me use your shoulder as a window.” To which I replied, “Good sir, it was never meant to be a window.” I hate Starbucks.

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A Short Story: Billy’s Bad Breath

The noise Billy heard at 7:00 a.m. was both terrifying and strangely familiar, like the sound of a severe weather alert that interrupts your favorite song on the radio. He instinctively rolled onto his alarm clock and put an end to the auditory assault.

He smacked his lips together thickly, as though he has just eaten a cotton ball topped with a dollop of peanut butter. All he could taste was the sticky smell that came barreling forth during his morning expiration like a locomotive from the darkest caverns of his anatomy. It was a smell he could taste, a taste he could smell. A nasty duality of the senses that was all at once uncomfortable, jarring and strangely delicious, not only for himself but potentially for those who found themselves themselves within a six-foot radius of his bulb.

“Christ,” Billy said out loud. It was to no one in particular, although perhaps he was subconsciously preparing to ask the fellow why his breath smelled like dead people. He got up to brush his teeth, although he knew it wouldn’t help. Being an onion sure came with its fair share of misfortunes and he was feeling particularly ornery this morning.

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Five-Minute Observation: Late-Night Coffee Drinkers

There’s something disheartening about being in a Starbucks when it’s dark outside. I’m not talking about the early morning dark, I’m referring to the 10 p.m. kind of dark. The time when there are only six or seven strange-ish people in the place. I’ve coined this time as the Starbucks witching hour, a time when the odd ones of the world convene for late-night caffeine.

I like coming at this time and making up reasons about why they are drinking coffee so late. Why do they need to stay up? I overwork scenarios in my head. Maybe they are about to rob a bank and need that crack-infused coffee to give them an extra surge of adrenaline. Or perhaps they have insomnia and have been sitting at the Starbucks for three days straight. Did something bad just happen to them? Something good? Probably not. After intense brooding the stories about these late-night coffee drinkers have the potential to become elaborately depressing.

I had conjured up one particularly distressing story about a gaunt older fellow sitting at a big table by himself (I swear not all of my stories are about Starbucks and old people). The man had bloodshot, unblinking eyes that stared blankly through everything in front of him. Looking at him made me hurt. Occasionally he would glance at me, or maybe through me, too, and I’d feign attention to my notebook. I’ll save you the outlandish details of my extensive story because it’s really too strange to repeat for the Internet. Just know that if I wasn’t afraid of being charged with senior citizen molestation I would have gotten up and given him a hug. It was that bad.

Then I heard the door open behind me. A man in his twenties shuffled past me and excitedly dropped a brown package in front of the old man. The young man wasn’t his son, but you could tell the old fellow thought of him as such. The old man’s red eyes softened with excitement and a wide smile overtook his blank expression. He eagerly opened the package and the two drifted away into their own world, a world that revolved around a different axis than the world everyone else was in. It revolved around the coffee they were drinking and the papers they were examining.

Something struck me. The witching hour isn’t a disheartening wrinkle in time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Maybe late-night coffee drinkers aren’t staying awake because they are real-life versions of Christian Bale in “The Machinist.” Maybe they are staying away because they’ll miss out on moments like the one between the old man and the young man if they are sleeping.

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