Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30: New Followers, New Poem, Same Old Shit

Welcome to the two new disciples of Saint Marty, Stephen and Keith.  Who knew Charlie Brown had that much power?  Glad to have both of you on board.  Buckle up.  It may be a bumpy ride.  Sometimes.

Well, I went to an open mic poetry reading this afternoon.  Generally, I avoid such events.  One of the last open mics I attended, I had to sit through a reading of the first chapter of someone's unpublished science fiction novel.  By the time it was over, I was praying aliens would swoop down, beam me up, and do experiments on my occipital lobe.  Call me silly, but I like to know who will be reading before I decide to go to a reading.  I did know a few of the poets who read this afternoon, so it wasn't migraine-aura-inducing bad.  Plus, I got to read a couple of things myself, including today's new poem that I wrote at about 11:00 a.m.

This poem is about the huge rainstorm that hit the Upper Peninsula last night.  Knocked out power lines and trees all over the place.  I had the misfortune of driving along the shores of Lake Superior around 7 p.m., and it looked like a hurricane was blowing in.  Trees were literally bending over the road.  I thought I was going to end up on the receiving end of a lumber accident.  At one point, something hit the roof of my car.  It was loud.  I assume it was a branch, but it could have been a grey squirrel that lost its grip.  Anyway, the poem is about that, and boxing.

When I read the poem to my wife, she said, "You don't know anything about boxing.  What the hell?"  I admit, I don't follow the sport that closely, but I knew enough to write a poem using boxing imagery.  I think it works.  I threw in God and death, as well.  You know, same old shit.

Again, I extend a welcome to Stephen and Keith.  And I also thank all my other followers who've been so loyal for so long.  (If you are feeling guilty about reading the blog regularly but not becoming a follower, you should.  Pony up and join, for God's sake.)

Guess what?  One more follower, and Saint Marty will have twelve disciples.  How cool is that?

Final Round

Bell.  Round one.  Drove along the lake last night.  Waves, tall as Jack Johnson, sparred, danced, jabbed, trapped  my Freestyle against the ropes.  Let me have it.  Blow after blow after blow.  Bell.  Round two.  I kept moving.  Dodged garbage can and chair, a crowd of deer in a field, jittery, wet.  All the way, man.  All the way.  Bell.  Round three.  I got home, stepped out of my car.  God’s fist pounded the pine in my backyard, split the bastard right down the middle.  One half, flat across the lawn like Sean, my alcoholic neighbor, on Saturday night.  The other half, straight up, its white center prodding the night like a ref’s arm.  One.  Two.  Three.  God stood back, shook the maples, waited.  Four.  Five.  Like Max Baer.  Six.  Seven.  To exercise.  Eight.  Nine.  His fatal right.

September 30: Charlie Brown, Stats, Counting Valentines

Well, on this last day of September, I just checked the viewing stats for Saint Marty, and I'm happy to report that my blog has a steadily increasing number of hits.  I don't know if this increase has anything to do with the content of my posts or if I'm just picking random labels which get me a lot of hits from Google.  It doesn't matter to me.  What counts is that I feel as though I'm popular with a lot of strangers.  Now I know how George Clooney feels.

Or Charlie Brown.  See, every morning I check my viewing stats from the previous day.  Then I check them again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  I'm sort of like Charlie Brown going to his mailbox all the time to check for Christmas cards or valentines.  It's pathetic, I know.  However, seeing a day where my blog gets over 100 page views gives me a sense of accomplishment.  I'm Charlie Brown getting a valentine from the little red-haired girl.

Now if I could just get more people to sign up as followers, or send me actual comments, I'd be the happiest saint in the world.  I may even, eventually, be named a Blog of Note.  That would be like Charlie Brown being selected as homecoming king.  It's up to all my disciples out there.

Come on, make Saint Charlie Brown's dreams come true.

Dreams can come true!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29: No Time Left, Favorite Cartoon

I got the manuscript in the mail this morning.  It's out of what's left of my hair.

Sorry, disciples, I have no time to post anything substantial.  I have a class waiting for me.  Therefore, I'm going to post my favorite Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson.

Saint Marty needs to run.

I don't care what you say, this is f-u-n-n-y!

September 29: Morning Work, Afternoon Meetings, Tonight Book Club

The title of this post pretty much sums up my day.  I have a few things to accomplish this morning.  I am going to put the finishing touches on my poetry collection and mail it off to the contest.  I changed the title of it yet again.  It started out as Lenten Psalms.  Boring.  Then I changed it to Exaltation of Larks.  Better.  I was happy with that for a few days.  However, after my revisions, I have chosen another line from one of the poems in the collection as my final title.  Thus, the title of my new collection of poems is...

Knuckles of Angels

Kind of catchy, I think.  That title would make me stop and browse.  I just have to key in one or two more small revisions, and then that puppy is going off into the world to discover fame.  I will be greatly relieved when that project is done.

This afternoon, I have a couple meetings to attend.  The first is the weekly meeting for the poetry geeks at Passages North magazine.  We will be going over the final proofs for the next issue.  Close editing.  Something I've been doing on my own work for the past week.  The second meeting involves the adjuncts at the university where I teach.  We have been trying to unionize for the past three or four years, and it finally looks like it's going to come to pass.  We are having an informational meeting tonight about the final step.  (The one big thing I would want as part of the union in the new contract would be free tuition for the kids of long-term adjuncts.  We'll see if it happens.)

Good book, people

And then tonight my book club descends on my house for our monthly get-together.  Good food.  Really good book.  The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.  Not quite finished with it, yet.
  But I will by tonight.

That's Saint Marty's life today.  Anybody want to trade?

P.S.  Don't forget, there's only seven more shopping days until Saint Marty's Day.  October 5.  Mark it on your calendars.  Sing your Saint Marty's Day carols.  Buy your Saint Marty's Day presents.  Deck them halls.  All that jazz.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28: Revisioning, Teaching, Singing

This post is going to be fast.  In fact, I'm already done typing it, and I haven't even started.

I've been working on revisions of my collection most of the day.  Almost done with that.  I taught me some Good Books this afternoon.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  Tonight, I thought I was going to have choir practice, but our babysitter wants to go to a homecoming football something or other.  Therefore, I'm only going to be doing band practice tonight.

So it goes.  Again.

Saint Marty says poo-tee-weet

Yup, Vonnegut again.

September 28: Horrible Person, Feeling Crappy, Looking Ahead

Okay, I was a horrible person last night.  My writer friend from the university gave me some really good (and some seemingly impossible) suggestions for my new collection of poems yesterday.  I went home and started rewriting last night.  It didn't go well, and I developed a really bitchy attitude.  I kept showing my wife revisions, and she wasn't liking the things I was showing her.  Of course, what I wanted her to say was, "That looks great, sweetie.  You're the best writer on the planet."  She's way too honest to say that.  Instead, after about the twentieth time I glared at her and snatched a rewritten poem away from her, she rightfully said, "I don't want to read any more."  I lapsed into sullen silence and despair.  She went to bed.

I tried to work a little more on the manuscript, but nothing sounded right.  I gave up, read a few pages of a book from a really good writer, and then went for a walk at about 10:30 p.m.  It was unseasonably warm but foggy.  I'm talking can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face foggy.  The walk, however, managed to clear my mind of all the thoughts of self-harm I was having.  (When I say self-harm, I mean going to the freezer and eating a gallon of French vanilla ice cream or about a dozen banana popsicles.)

When I got back home, I got in my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.  I didn't fall asleep right away.  I was too preoccupied with revisions to immediately succomb to exhaustion.  However, I finally drifted off around midnight.  When I woke up at 4:07 a.m., my first thought was about the manuscript.  However, my mood was considerably lightener.  It's amazing what four hours of sleep can do for you.

I'm still feeling crappy about the way I treated my wife last night, and I intend to apologize when I phone her in a little while.  But I'm trying to move forward, not skid into a mineshaft backwards and blindfolded.  I have work to get done, and I will get it done.  That manuscript will be in the mail tomorrow, no matter what.  After all, I've got a Nobel to accept in a couple of months, right?

Saint Marty's keeping his eyes on the prize.

The way my night went last night

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27: Busy Day, Busy Night, Busy Life

I haven't had much time to do anything but office work, teaching work, reading work.  I just finished reviewing a chapter for Mythology today.  Then I drew up a rough lesson plan.  (I'm the kind of person who needs plans.  I can't go into a situation where I'm in a leadership position without some kind of map to follow.  I'm a big believer in lists.)

After I'm done teaching, I have to stop by my friend's office at the university to see what he thought of my collection of poems.  I'm dreading that a little.  If he has any serious criticism (says anything besides "you're a genius" or "you should win a Pulitzer"), I'm not going to have a lot of time to do revisions.  We'll see what he says.  Maybe he will be kind/enthralled/jealous--anything but critically constructive requiring massive rewriting.

Tonight, I have to take my daughter shoe shopping.  Her tennis shoes are sort of falling apart.  I was going to get her new shoes on Sunday, but there's a shoe sale starting today, so I put off the purchase a couple of days.  We did, however, pick out the shoes she wants to get, so that will save some time.

Once I get the kids in bed, I'm going to finish reading An Unquiet Mind and start One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  I may also put together a quiz.  I won't be getting to bed at a decent hour, that's for sure.  Especially if my daughter wants to watch the results show of Dancing With the Stars.

Saint Marty is starting to think his life is too busy.

Even dogs make plans...

September 27: Rain, Rain, More Rain

When I got up this morning, I could hear the rain hitting the air conditioner on the side of my house like bullets.  It was coming down in sheets on my drive to work.  I'm not complaining.  We need the rain, and I don't have to leave the office now until the afternoon.  Therefore, it could rain for another eight or so hours without spoiling my day.

Just a little update on my hunt for the Nobel Prize in Literature.  The betting sites are naming all of the usual suspects--Amos Oz, Cormac McCarthy, Adonis.  Nothing really exciting.  No, my name didn't even crack the top 1,000.  At this point in time, I give my odds at about 1,000,000 to 1.  Just think, though.  If you bet $1 on me and I win, you could be an instant millionaire.  It might be worth a shot.

As yet, the Swedish Academy, in its typical tight-lipped, Scandinavian fashion, has not said when it will announce the winner of this year's prize.  My guess would be next Thursday, October 6.  In the past few years, the Academy has announced the Prize on the first Thursday of October.

That means Saint Marty is nine days away from his Nobel Prize, and you could be nine days away from being incredibly wealthy.  Place your bets, folks.

I gotta get me this book!

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26: Hallelujah, New Poem, Good Day

I have a new poem for you today!  Hallelujah!

Yes, you do hear Handel in the background.  I just finished this poem, which is one I've wanted to write for a week.  It's dedicated to some friends who just told us they're going to have a baby.  I tried to capture the wonder and excitement of the moment.  I'm not quite sure I accomplished that feat.  However, it's done, and I feel like I just gave birth myself.

I've had a good day.  I put the finishing touches on my new collection of poems and e-mailed it to another friend for one last look-see (by coincidence, the same friend who's going to have a baby).

Without further fanfare, Saint Marty presents...drum roll...his new poem.

On Your Good News

for Louisa and Matt

I once stood on a beach covered
With elephant seals from horizon
To horizon, as if the Pacific
Just had enough of their barks,
Their breath of rancid eel and squid,
Their eclipse of blubber and proboscis,
Coughed them up on the sand
The way my sister coughed phlegm
Into a basin in the hospital
After the surgeon removed her gall bladder.
I once watched a deer the color of marble
Cross my street in a blizzard, each step
A ballet of hoof and wind and hunger.
I once sat mute in a room with Vonnegut,
Unable to ask about Billy Pilgrim
Or Dresden, just watched him,
Stooped and bored and old, be a god.
I once ate an ant on a bet, jumped
Into Lake Superior in January.
I once saw the World Trade Centers
Against a full moon, nine months before
Ash and grief and Ground Zero.
I once followed a monarch in a field
Of goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace,
Stalked stained glass
In August thrum and heat.
And now I've heard you
Tell me your good news.  Egg.  Sperm.
Collision.  Life.  I listened, gave thanks
For your voice, full of grasshopper
Wing and leg, the hunger to consume
This new love with cumin or curry.
Or maybe something sweeter,
Like the honey I once sucked
From a comb under a halo of bees.

September 26: An Unquiet Mind, Low Blood Sugars, Birthday

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge my son's birthday this morning.  At around 10:30 a.m., he will officially be three years old.  He has brought so much joy into my life, and he reminds me daily of what truly is important:  running in the sun, a bottle of warm milk, a nap in the afternoon, and unconditional love.  Sing with me, "Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you..."

I'm currently rereading a book I read about ten years ago--An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.  I first read this book at the prompting of my wife's therapist after my wife was initially diagnosed with bipolar.  He told me it would help me understand her disease better.  He was right.  Jamison, a psychiatrist, writes of her personal struggles with bipolar.  She describes her depressions and manias with the skill of a poet.  My first trip through An Unquiet Mind filled me with a lot of conflicting emotions, the overriding one being fear.  Jamsion's accounts of her psychotic breaks and refusal to take medications terrified me, because I could see my wife in a lot of what she wrote.

My current trip through An Unquiet Mind is prompted by the Good Books class I'm teaching this semester.  All the texts for the class deal with mental illness in some way, and Jamison's little volume was right at the top of my list.  As I was preparing for class this morning, I reread a particular passage in which Jamison describes visiting one of her patients in the emergency room while he is in the middle of a psychotic break.  I came to one paragraph that stopped me cold, filled me with sadness:
Gradually the Haldol began to take effect.  The screaming stopped, and the frantic straining against his restraints died down.  He was both less frightened and less frightening; after a while he said to me, in a slowed and slurred voice, "Don't leave me, Dr. Jamison.  Please, please don't leave me."
The sheer helplessness of this man's plea just broke my heart.  I've seen my wife in a similar state of medicated fear and anger.  As a family member of a person with bipolar, I have had to sit by and watch my wife self-destruct.  Because of her illness, she has angered me, frustrated me, frightened me, distracted me, and depressed me.  Many times, I've had to remind myself that the things my wife did were not my wife.  They were her illness.  That thought has kept me sane and loving.

I'm lucky.  My wife takes her medications willingly.  She doesn't battle her psychiatrist as a majority of patients with mental illnesses do, as Jamison's patient in the above passage does.  My wife has her ups and downs.  For the most part, however, she manages her bipolar; her bipolar doesn't manage her.  Jamison's patient eventually ends up committing suicide, largely as a result of his refusal to take lithium.

My wife has harmed herself in the past, cut her arms and breasts with scissors and knives.  Her body bears the scars.  She's told me that she was simply trying to lessen the pain, that she wasn't trying to hurt herself.  The contradiction of that line of thinking in some strange way makes a lot of sense to me.

As a diabetic, I sometimes suffer from very low blood sugars.  These low blood sugars do something to the chemistry of my brain.  I find myself in states of mind darker than an Edgar Allan Poe story.  Everything I'm doing or planning seems doomed to failure.  Not just failure, but abysmal failure, torturous failure.  Even thoughts of my son or daughter or wife can't lift me out of this swamp.  If my wife's epidsodes of darkness are even half as bad, I understand her impulse to do anything to take her mind away from the pain.  Self-mutilation.  Alcohol.  Drugs.  Indiscrimate sex.  Anything.

Wow.  I'm usually not that deep at this time of the morning.  I don't know what's come over me.  Kay Redfield Jamison has obviously effected me strongly.  That's not a bad thing.  Sort of like my son, Jamison's An Unquiet Mind reminds me of what's really important in my life:  healthy mind, healthy heart, healthy children, healthy wife, healthy soul.

Saint Marty gives thanks for a quiet mind this morning.

Thank you, Kay Jamison

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25: Son's Birthday Tomorrow, No Cartoon, No Poem

My son around 18 months old
Sunday night.  Once again, I come to my blog empty-handed.  No poem.  No cartoon.  It's been a weird weekend.  I've been busy without getting too much accomplished.  Tonight, I have to go home and do some serious reading and writing.

Tomorrow is my son's third birthday.  It's hard for me to believe.  Three years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a hospital room, trying to decide whether to go ahead with a C-section or let nature take its course.  We opted for the C-section option.  My wife was miserable, had been miserable all summer.  Throwing up.  Nauseous.  Sore back.  Sore feet.  She wanted it over.  Plus, the doctor was telling us that there was a chance our son already weighed 13 pounds.  (He wasn't.  When he was born, he weighed ten pounds, seven ounces.  Still not something I would want to squeeze out of any one of my orifices.)

My son is sick at the moment.  He has a pretty nasty cold and is really cranky.  Last night, I could hear him coughing in his crib.  He sounded like an eighty-year-old man with emphysema.  I felt really bad for him.  He's not been sleeping very well.

That's all I have for you tonight.  No huge words of wisdom.  Nothing profound or spiritual.  Church this morning was awesome.  Great music.  Great message.  I'm not going to promise a poem for tomorrow.  I haven't had a great track record with promises recently.

Saint Marty just doesn't have a whole lot to offer tonight.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24: Another Confession, No Poem, No Cartoon

If you made it past the title to this post, you already know a few things.  One, I didn't get a new poem written today.  Two, I didn't get a new installment of the Confessions of Saint Marty drawn today.  Three, I'm about to apologize profusely again.

I know I promised a new poem.  I know I usually post a new cartoon on Saturdays.  I know, I know, I know.  I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  Now, I will give you my excuse:  I was putting the finishing touches on my new collection of poetry that I'm sending out to a poetry competition.  It took most of the afternoon.  I was working with my colleague/poet friend from the university.  By the time I got to church this evening to play the pipe organ for mass, I felt like I was on poetry overload.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't write a word that resembled anything close to poetic.  Thus, I didn't get a poem written.

Ditto for the cartoon.  Creatively right now, I'm at low tide.  I'm hoping to recharge my batteries tonight with some reading and Lawrence Welk.  Nothing too strenuous.  Just some Joe Feeney songs, Bobby Burgess dances, and maybe a few pages of Alic Hoffman.  Please forgive me for not making good on my last night's promise.

I've been a bad saint.

Sing me "Danny Boy," Joe

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23: About that poem...

Yeah, about that poem I promised to post today...Ummmmmmm...I gues what I'm trying to say is...I spent my poetry time sort of...Well...I put together a book manuscript for a poetry contest, and I...kind of...

Okay!  I'll admit it!  I didn't get a new poem written today.  I'll work on it tonight and have it for you tomorrow.  Okay?  Okay.

Saint Marty's glad to have that off his chest.
Confession's good for the soul

September 23: Stolen Frog, Faith in People, Payday

Someone has stolen my frog.

As I was doing my weekly cleaning of the business office this morning, I noticed that one of my autumn decorations is missing.  It's a cute little beanbag frog that I've had for over ten years.  I don't think I would have noticed its absence had it not been for the fact that the thief also took a jar candle from the same area, but left behind the lid to the jar.

It may seem pretty silly to get upset over a stuffed frog, but it was one of my favorite decorations.  It made me smile every year I put it out.  And now it's in the hands of some dishonest person who will probably end up throwing it out in a couple months.  It pisses me off.  For over ten years, that frog has given me pleasure, and now it's gone.

I work in a public medical office.  People come in and out all day long.  I've lost my share of decorations and belongings over the years.  I've come to expect it.  When it happens, however, it makes me lose my faith in people just a little bit.  I don't understand how a person can come into an office for surgery or an x-ray (for help with a medical problem) and steal something.  When theft like this has happened in the past, I walk around for a few days resenting the patients, not trusting them.  I don't want to help them as much.  I get over it, eventually, but today I feel like posting a whole bunch of signs around the office, things like "KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY SHIT!" and "IF YOU'RE THINKING OF STEALING SOMETHING, I HOPE YOU STAY SICK!"  That probably isn't an appropriate response, but I really loved that frog.

The only thing that's saving today from being a total annoyance is the fact that it's payday.  Of course, the money in my paycheck is already spent on bills, but, for a few short hours, I will have a little cash on hand and not feel quite so desperate, however fleeting the funds are.

I'm planning on getting a poem written today, so stay tuned for the next post.  The poem may be about a stuffed frog.  You never know.

Saint Marty says, "Thou shalt not take shit that doesn't belong to you."

R. I. P.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22: Grandma's Birthday, Beer Bread and Dip, Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!  It is Thursday, and I have made it through another week without making an idiot of myself in front of my students, and without having a complete breakdown.

I don't have much time to post.  I'm heading off to a birthday party for my wife's grandma who turned 93 yesterday.  She suffers from Alzheimer's and is confused quite most of the time.  Sometimes I think these parties are a little cruel to have.  She stares around at the people in the room like she knows she should recognize them, but she can't.  I feel bad for her.

However, there's going to be beer bread and dip, so I can't pass that up.

Tomorrow, I promise a new poem.  It will be good.  Well, it will be new, anyway.

Saint Marty's gotta fly.

Food of the gods--beer bread and dip

September 22: Friends With Comments, Early Morning, Brownies

Good morning to all the disciples of Saint Marty.

Last night, a friend made me aware of the fact that she hasn't been able to post any comments on the blog.  I have had similar issues with blogs I follow (really good blogs that I really want to write comments on).  I'm not sure what's going on.  I checked all the settings on Saint Marty, and, as far as I can tell, anyone should be able to comment, anonymously or as a follower.  I think the problem has something to do with the new-fangled editor that Blogger recently implemented.  I apologize for any frustration.  I'm trying to work out the kinks.  Keep trying to comment.  To paraphrase one of my favorite films of all time:  "If you comment, it will come."  (I have no idea what that means, but it's too early to be incredibly witty.)

Yes, it's about 6:08 a.m., and I have been hard at work for about 40 minutes.  Thursday is upon us, and the weekend is looming brightly.  I can't wait for this day to be done.  Bring on Friday!  Currently, there is a half pan of M&M brownies in the lounge that are calling to me.  I can hear them, even though I'm across the hallway from them.  They're saying, "Eat me.  Eat me."  It's either the brownies or the maintenance guy I see every morning who seems to have anger issues.

Saint Marty's going for a walk now.

Eat me, eat me, eat me
Yo, eat me!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21: Keeping My Head Above Water, Babysitter, Saint Jonah

Today is the feast day of Jonah, he of being-swallowed-by-a-whale fame.  Considered a minor prophet (I don't know what you have to do to graduate to major prophet), Jonah was sent by God to the Ninevites to tell them to stop being bad.  Use your imagination about what the people of Nineveh were doing to tick God off so much.  It probably involved livestock and whipped cream.  Jonah didn't want to go.  Instead, he went on a cruise to the land of Tarshish.  To make a long story short, God nearly sank Jonah's boat.  Jonah got thrown overboard.  He was swallowed by some huge fish.  Three days later, he washed up on the shores of Nineveh, properly humbled, ready to follow God's instructions.

I was having a conversation with a coworker this morning about God making you do things you don't want to do.  My coworker and I have a little problem with stupid people.  She has a son-in-law she can't stand.  Pretty much, when he got circumcised, the doctor threw out the best part.  I, on the other hand, can get quite irritated by any number of idiots I encounter during the course of a day.  My coworker and I both were taught to treat everybody like you would treat Jesus.  Every person, from the kindest of friends to the dumbest of assholes, deserves to be honored and helped.  That's the Christian thing to do.  My coworker and I are both on a boat to Tarshish, about to be swallowed by a seamonster.

I'm trying to keep my head above water, but the whale is somewhere below me.  I can feel it.  God wants me to be kind and grateful for my jobs, my work, my family, my life.  For some reason, I'm having difficulty with this gratitude.  I'm tired of our tiny house.  I'm of getting up before the butt crack of dawn.  I'm tired.  Here comes the whale!

Our babysitter can't come tonight, so my wife is going to choir practice by herself.  I will be staying home, bathing, feeding, and taking care of the kids.  I'm a little disappointed.  I like going to choir practice.  I like seeing the people in the choir.  Plus, there's a going-away party after practice for a friend of mine who's moving.  Thank You, once again, God.

Okay, the whale's got my foot...sucking me under.

Saint Marty will see you on the shores of Nineveh, after he's learned his lessson.  He'll be the one that smells like whale shit.
Which way to Nineveh?

Septmber 21: Late Night, Good Dinner, Great Friends

My wife and I got home really late last night.  We used our weekly date night to go see a friend from the university do a reading.  He was great.  I say that as an audience member and not a friend.  I'm not just trying to be kind.  If he sucked, I would have been the first to tell him.  He really was entertaining and charming, and the essay he read was unbelievably good.  Plus, he and his wife recently found out they're expecting a baby.  There was a lot of joy in the room.  It's great to have such gifted people in my life.

We went out to dinner after the reading (paid for by the English Department--BONUS!!!) and spent a couple hours talking and laughing.  I had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, in case you're interested.  It was quite good, despite the fact that I forgot to tell the kitchen to hold the green peppers.  We left the restaurant around 10:30 p.m. and got home a little before 11 p.m.  That may not sound that late, but when you rise at 4:15 a.m. for work, it's almost the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.

Now, I'm at my computer, organizing my thoughts and my day.  The fog is lifting from my brain, thanks to a Diet Pepsi.  I have some reading to do before class, and I have to create a quiz.  A professor's work is never done, just put off as long as possible.

At this point in the morning, me day spreads out before me like a piece of dry toast.

Saint Marty just needs to add the butter (and maybe some blueberry jam).

My day

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20: All Work and No Play...

I remember that great scene in The Shining with Jack Nicholson where Nicholson's wife looks at the book he's been writing the whole movie.  For pages and pages and pages, all Nicholson's character has typed is "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

That's what I feel like right now.  All I've been doing all day long, for the last three or four days, is working/teaching/going to meetings/preparing to teach.  I'm a little tired at the moment, and I have to go teach mythology now.  I've reviewed the chapters, but I still have to come up with a definite lesson plan.  More work.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining...OK, maybe I am complaining a little.  But I'm feeling a little like Jack Nicholson right now.  That doesn't mean I'm going to grab an ax and start chasing people around with it.  It just means...

All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Saint Marty a dull boy.

Yup, that's about it.

September 20: Looking Up, Good Times, Blessings

I spent a good deal last night feeling sorry for myself, even after yesterday afternoon's post about counting my blessings.  I just couldn't shake the mood I was in.  I guess I would describe the mood as a I-might-as-well-just-stay-in-bed-and-eat-Cheetos-until-I-suffer-a-heart-attack-because-I-just-can't-seem-to-get-ahead-at-all mood.  Is that specific enough for you?

This morning, I'm vowing to pick myself up, dust myself off, and put myself back in the game.  I'm going to start looking up instead of down or backward or sideways or out of my ass (translation:  no shitty attitude).  I firmly believe in keeping your vision focused on God.  If you do that, He does great things, like part the Red Sea, cure people of leprosy, and make Chaz Bono dance well (for a transgendered fat man).  My mantra for today, then, is, "Look up."

The other part of this process is being aware of the blessings in your life.  I have a great family, great friends, and great coworkers.  I have not one, but two jobs that don't require me to wear a uniform and work a deep fryer.  And I have a blog that's been named a Blog of Note.  Oh, wait.  That hasn't happened.  Sorry, I sort of got carried away.  You get the idea, though.  My can of Diet Mountain Dew is half-full, not half-empty.  Actually, at the moment, I don't have a can of Dew.  I need to rectify that situation.

Things are looking up for Saint Marty.

If God can do this, He can make me a Blog of Note.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19: Feeling Like a Failure, Meetings, Amen

Last night, I watched the Emmy Awards, hosted by Jane Lynch.  Frankly, I didn't think the show was all that good.  The comedy bits weren't that funny, and Lynch seemed a little forced in her attempt to be Billy Crystal (or, at the very least, David Letterman).  As the night wore on, I thought about how difficult it must be to lose an award on national television.  It's one thing if you know you don't stand a snowball's chance in Tahiti when you walk down the red carpet, but showing up with even a glimmer of hope would be agonizing.  And then you have to sit there for three hours after your failure, applauding for other people.  That pretty much defines the word "suck."

It's easy to feel like a failure in the world today.  The economy is in the toilet.  Unemployment is out-of-control.  House sales are down.  Steve Jobs quit Apple.  And, at the moment, in my household, we are down to one income.  Mine.  I work two jobs, and I know I'm really lucky to have those two jobs.  However, even with my jobs, we are having a difficult time paying bills.  Each time I get a paycheck, it's spent the next day.  The little nest egg my wife and I had built up in our bank account is getting littler by the second.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me.  I know I'm a really lucky guy.  It's a matter of me appreciating what I have instead of what I want.  I may have to get up at 4:15 every morning.  I may have to work until 5 p.m.  I may have to attend tedious church meetings tonight.  I may only have nine followers on my blog.  I may have to eat hamburger helper for dinner tonight.  All those things aren't punishments.  They're blessings, and I give thinks for them.  All my big, fat, hairy, annoying, exhausting blessings.

Can Saint Marty get an "Amen"?

Even Jane Lynch can fail.

September 19: Not a Humbacked Bastard, Birthday List, Lots of Work

I am not a humpbacked bastard today.  I went to the assisted living facility and sang "Amazing Grace."  I found the setting and the message really moving.  It's always inspiring to be around people who are worshipping God because of love instead of a sense of obligation.  I went there with a feeling of obligation and came away feeling more than a little transformed by the people who were present and the message that was delivered.

At the bottom of this post, I am including my annual birthday list.  I have been creating birthday lists for myself since I was in the fifth or sixth grade.  Of course, my lists have expanded and become more refined as I have matured (and become more refined).  My birthday is October 5, so if any of my disciples wants to send me a token of adoration/admiration/love/guilt/bribery (I'll take gifts for any reason), just pick something off the list.  There are only 17 more shopping days until the anniversary of my birth.  Not much time to plan your festivities for the big day--baking the Saint Marty's Day cookies, decorating the Saint Marty's Day tree, planning the office Saint Marty's Day party, organizing the Saint Marty's Day programs at school, scheduling the Saint Marty's Day worship services at church.  So much to do.

I have tons of work to accomplish today.  I've got to create a writing assignment for my Good Books class.  I have to type up minutes and create an agenda for a church meeting tonight.  Grade quizzes.  Read books.  I have no reason to be bored.

Saint Marty needs to strap on the old feed bag and then get to work.


1.         iPad2 ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼

2.         Blank journals--Moleskine—lined ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼  (I’m out.  I really need these.)

3.         The Pulitzer Prize in Poetry ☼☼☼☼☼

4.         The Nobel Prize in Literature ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼

5.         New pens

6.         Movie passes to Country Village Cinemas☼☼☼☼☼

7.         Movie passes to GKC Theaters☼☼☼☼☼

8.         One-week trip to London

9.         Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ($8.97 on Amazon)

10.       Axe Body Wash

11.       The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure ($14.91 on Amazon)

12.       Saint Monica by Mary Biddinger ($9.00 on Amazon)

13.       A new house (with sale of old house) ☼☼☼☼☼

14.       The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims ($14.36 on Amazon)

15.       The Paris Review Interview, Vols. 1-4 by The Paris Review ($40.95 on Amazon)

16.       Shopgirl DVD with Steve Martin ($9.99 on Amazon)

17.        A Writing Kind of Day:  Poems for Young Poets by Ralph Fletcher ($9.95 on Amazon)

18.       New Running Shoes

19.       Nice cologne

20.       New jeans

21.        Refill black ink cartridges for Waterman fountain pen (Office Max)

22.       Plowing for the winter ☼☼☼☼

23.       The Christmas Companion with Garrison Keillor, Audio CD ($16.47 on Amazon) ☼☼☼

   Indicates preferred gift

Ok, it's not me in the picture, but this is really funny!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18: Another Weekend Shot in the Ass, New Cartoon

The weekend is almost over.  As usual, I didn't get half as much accomplished as I wanted to get accomplished.  However, I always shoot for the moon, and I usually end up hitting the garage.  Oh, well.

I don't have a lot of time tonight to post.  I have to be at a local assisted living facility to sing for a prayer service.  I was asked to do it this morning by one of the members of the praise band in which I play keyboard.  I would have to be, like, the worst, humpbacked bastard of a person to say "no" to the request.  Therefore, I will be singing "Amazing Grace" in about 40 minutes.

The rest of the evening, I'm planning to watch as much of the Emmy Awards as I can.  It depends on my kids and how tired I am.  I love Jane Lynch, however, so this should be a pretty good show.

Saint Marty has a new cartoon for you.  Think of it as his tribute to Charles Schulz.

The Confessions of Saint Marty

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17: New Poem, Tired Day, Maybe Cartoon

Below is the poem I promised you yesterday.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.  I would call it an autumn poem, full of the kinds of thoughts a person thinks in mid to late September.  In some ways, it's about getting old and dying.  In some ways, it's about the change in seasons, the movement from the heat of summer to the cool of fall.  Anyway, it's done, and I'm happy with it.

It has been a tired kind of Saturday.  All day, I've felt like I could crawl back to bed and sleep for about thirteen more hours.  My daughter is feeling the same way.  I just dropped her off at her dance class, and, on the drive into town, she fell asleep.  I lay odds she's going to be quite crabby when I pick her up.  I think it has something to do with the weather, shift in seasons, school, and hormones (for her).  I just hope I can stay awake through Lawrence Welk tonight.

I haven't had a chance to draw a new cartoon today.  If I do, I'll post it later this evening. 

For the time being, you're going to have to be satisfied with a small, poetic offering from Saint Marty.

Spiderweb in Fall

I sit at my desk, watch a spider
Spin a web in the window's corner.
Thin filaments, like spun sugar or glass,
Fracture the blue of autumn,
Make it waver, pulse in the sun,
As if someone is adjusting the day,
Its vertical and horizontal holds,
Trying to make maple, grass, cloud
Clearer, crisper, more definite.
The spider works fast, scrambles
Back and forth, up and down,
Frantic to complete its silken trap
At the edge of this reality.
I wonder why the spider rushes,
If it is trying to finish before
Something precious slips
Out of reach of its fragile girders.
Maybe it senses a storm
Of gnats, a weather front of food,
Blowing in from the nearby raspberry
Bushes, a last summer feast
Before frost and ice rob
The universe of survival.
Or maybe it's something more
Metaphysical, an urge to create
A map of its last moments, each thread,
A reminder of those July days
When moths were abundant as pollen,
Those August nights when fireflies
Winked on and off in the dark,
Like an "Open" sign in a diner window
After bars close and hunger takes over.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16: Poem on the Way, Reading Weekend

I know I said I was going to work on a new poem.  I am.  I will have it posted tomorrow afternoon/evening.  I started writing it this morning, but I couldn't get anything to really work for me.  So I scrapped the couple pages I've written.  I started writing a new poem about an hour os so ago.  I like what's coming out now.

Pretty much, I'm going to be spending my weekend reading for the classes I'm teaching.  I have to finish one book, get some notes taken on another.  It should be fairly simple stuff, but it will be time-consuming.  That I know.  It's only Friday, and the next couple of days are already claimed.  Somehow, I also have to look at some poetry submissions for the literary magazine I help edit, Passages North.  I don't know when I'm going to be able to do that.  I was thinking Saturday afternoon, but my daughter has a dance class at 2 p.m.  That pretty much takes care of tomorrow.

Saint Marty's weekend begins.  So it goes.

September 16: Friday Morning, Nobel Prize Again, Relaxing

It is Friday morning, early, and I'm enjoying the fact that I don't have to teach or edit or grade or anything today.  I'm a little bushed from the week's activities.  It seems like I've been running a race for the past five days, and I've just crossed the finish line.  Excuse me while I collapse on the ground and just...breathe.

I will be getting off work early today (around 11:30 a.m.), and I will be going out to lunch with my wife and son.  Then I will be cleaning my house and taking my daughter to her tap dancing class early this evening.  That's all that I really have to do.  If I accomplish anything else, I will count myself lucky.

You may not have realized it, but, between the first and second paragraphs above, I took a half-hour break to check some discussion threads I've been following about this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.  I already wrote about my obsession with the subject yesterday.  It seems, as of this morning, many odds makers are favoring Cormac McCarthy again this year.  (Last year, right up until the last day, he was one of the favorites.)  If McCarthy is leading the pack right now, that probably means he's not going to win.  Ask Amos Oz or Adonis, whove been in that position quite frequently.

I wil try to avoid daily reports about the Nobel Prize.  It's difficult for me around this time of year.  It doesn't help that my birthday (October 5) falls right around the day that they announce the award.  I just think God planned it that way so that, on my birthday some year, I will actually get a call from the Swedish Academy, telling me I've won the Nobel Prize in Literature.  It's, like, fate.

Well, I'm going to go make myself some breakfast and relax a little bit.  I may try to get a poem written in the next hour or so.

The day is spreading out before Saint Marty like the Pacific Ocean.  Dolphins.  Sea otters.  Kelp.  Waves.  Warmth.

My day...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15: A Quicky

Don't have a lot of time to type this second post, as demonstrated by my omission of a subject in this sentence, making it more of an imperative or command.  Now that I've wasted so many words on that sentence, I have even less time to blather on about nothing at all until I have to leave to teach my mythology class.

I'm right in the middle of talking about creation myths (Sumerian, Greek, Mesopotamian, and Biblical).  There are so many names to remember, so many weird relationships to highlight.  It's amazing how many times mother gods sleep with their sons, or son gods kill their fathers (or cut off their genitals).  Trying to keep track of the family tree is next to impossible.  Uranus and Gaea had some really messed up ideas about parenting.

Tonight, my wife has her girl's night out.  I'm the designated childrearer.  I'm hoping to get them to bed early, since they were absolute cranks last night.  My goal is to have them both showered and in bed by 8 p.m.  We'll see how realistic that goal is.

Saint Marty has to go talk about gods now.

One messed-up family tree

September 15: 5000 Views, Nobel Prize Speculation, Hello Out There

It officially happened.  Sometime in the last twelve hours, Saint Marty crossed the threshold of 5000 pageviews.  That needs to be celebrated in some way.  I may have a drink tonight to kick off the festivities.  For you, the disciples of Saint Marty, you know what it means.  Another contest.  I'm going to have to put a little thought into this one, since it commemorates my rising popularity in the blogosphere (or my imagined rising popularity in the blogopsphere).  Stay tuned this weekend for more details.

For those faithful, long-term followers of Saint Marty (I'm talking to you Wonder Twin), you may be wondering why I haven't even mentioned the upcoming announcement of the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature at the beginning of October.  No, I haven't forgotten about it.  No, I haven't given up my shallow, deluded fantasies of winning the prize.  No, I don't think a write-in campaign to the Swedish Academy will make a difference this year.  That being said, I have been following different blogs and discussions on the Internet about the possible winners.  All the usual suspects are present.  The Americans most-mentioned are (again) Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and Thomas Pynchon.  Frankly, I think the Swedes should give it to Pynchon just so that he'll come out of hiding and let a decent picture of himself be taken.  But, if I were a betting man, and I'm not, I'd be betting on someone obscure to win this year.  Mario Vargas Llosa was a big name in 2010.  Therefore, by following current trends in the Nobel World, this year the prize will go to someone completely (or nearly completely) unknown in the English-speaking world.  Perhaps I should start publishing in ancient Sumerian.  I could write on cuneiform tablets.

As you can tell, I have not changed my ways.  I'm still nursing a secret hope of being able to add those letters after my name:  FNPW.  Famous Nobel Prize Winner.  Let me know what you think my chances are.  (Be kind about it.  I have a fragile ego.)

By the way, I haven't gotten any comments in a long while.  I'm feeling a little lonely.  Is anyone out there?  Hello?  Drop me a comment, please.  Let me know what you like, don't like, absolutely hate about Saint Marty.  I can take just about any kind of nastiness, as long as you tell me I'm the best writer in the world and you can't live without your daily doses of my blog.  Other than that, feel free to say anything you like.

Saint Marty is waiting.

My new poem.  Hope you can read cuneiform.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14: Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Teaching, Feeling Good

Today is the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  Basically, it commemorates a very specific event.  Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople invaded Persia around the year 629 to take back, among other things, the cross of Christ from the Persians.  (Yes, it was the actual cross on which Christ was crucified.)  After Heraclius captured the cross, he returned to Jerusalem with it.  When he reached Jerusalem, he stripped off all his emperor finery, put on sackcloth, and, in bare feet, carried the cross up the hill of Calvary to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  That's the event that today celebrates.

It kind of amazes me that anyone was able to find the real cross of Christ, since the Romans probably took it down or threw it in a ditch or well so that it couldn't be used as a shrine or relic.  But the thing that really amazes me is the complete humility shown by Emperor Heraclius.  Basically, he dressed like a beggar and carried that tree up a mountain to a church.  Images like that inspire me, make me feel unworthy of calling myself a follower of Christ.  Despite my problems with his politics, Ronald Reagan hugging the weeping child of a Challenger astronaut makes me feel the same way.  Or Bill Clinton comforting a crying child after a hurricane or flood.  A moment of complete humility, of human desolation and consolation.

Today, I had a moment like that in my Good Books class.  We were discussing mental illness and its many complications.  Shame.  Guilt.  Fear.  For an hour and a half, we talked, person-to-person, about moments of alienation and abandonment in our lives.  We talked about the absolute terror of having your own mind turn against you.  It was a good class. After it was over, a student came up to me, told me about her own struggles with depression and drug addiction.  She thanked me for the class discussion.  She told me she hardly ever had an opportunity to talk about her mental illness openly, even with her family.

I felt like Heraclius, stripped and carrying the cross.  I was looking into the face of Christ, and Christ was thanking me for caring.  I felt transformed by the encounter as I locked up the classroom.  That student's words are going to stick with me for a while.  When I think I'm not making a difference as a teacher, I going to remember what she said to me, how I truly felt like a servant of Christ today.

Saint Marty is feeling good.

Feeling a little humble

September 14: Eat, Pray, Love

Yes, I did it.  I stole the title of Elizabeth Gilbert's unjustly maligned memoir for the title of my post.  The reason I did it is two-fold.  First, I'm really hungry; need to pray; and have to embrace love this morning.  Second, I want to see if using the title of Gilbert's  memoir somehow brings in readers to Saint Marty.

As I sit here right now, I'm starving.  I don't know why.  I ate well last night, didn't try to deprive myself of anything.  In fact, I got a vanilla malt with my wife before we went for a long walk on our weekly date.  However, I feel like I could eat an entire deep-fried turkey at the moment, including stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

It's one of those days when I know I'm going to need a lot of prayer.  I started to pray as soon as I got up.  I was really tired and cranky.  Still am.  Therefore, I started praying that God give me the energy and strength to make it through the next twelve or fourteen hours.  So far, God has only made me ravenously hungry, which has taken my mind off being tired and crankly.  Maybe that's God answer this morning.  Eat.

And I need to spread a little love around.  I went to bed last night a little upset with my daughter.  She decided to clean out her closet and took all of these really expensive ballet costumes and threw them in a garbage bag.  She was really proud of herself because she cleaned up her room, which I told her she needed to do if we are ever going to sell our house.  I was really pissed because of her method of cleaning.  Thank God she was alseep when I discovered her garbage bags of costumes.  She didn't hear my little tirade.  I need to love her, not be angry with her.

That's where Saint Marty is at this early hour.  He needs some food.  He needs some God.  He needs some hugs.

I really liked this book.  Honestly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13: Zombie Jesus, New Poem, Mythology

I don't have a lot of time this afternoon, but I did promise to post the poem I wasn't very sure about last night.  I read it to my poet friend, and she really loved it.  It does verge on blasphemous, I think.  However, it is a dramatic monologue/prose poem.  Think of it as a character speaking in a movie or play.  This poem is my Shakespearean soliloquy.  I think.

I'm still getting ready to teach my mythology class this afternoon.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to approach today's material.  It's a lot more of the historical background of Greek myth.  I'm not sure how to interest my students interested for an hour and a half in it.  I need to tie it closely to something they do care about.  I'm not sure what that something is, but that's what I need to do.

Anyhow, it's date night.  My wife and I can't really afford to do anything expensive.  I told her yesterday that ice cream may be our one purchase this evening.  She's fine with that, though.

Well, I have to get some kind of lesson figured out now.

Saint Marty hopes you take this poem in the spirit in which it was written.  You can figure out for yourself what that spirit was.

Jesus' Number One Fan

My favorite is the one about the son and the prostitutes, how the son ate pig slop because he was so hungry.  That kills me.  It really does.  I mean, his dad gives him all this gold and silver, and the dumb shit ends up eating pig food.  Jesus, that's a good one.  I've read all those Bible stories, even the boring ones about all that begatting.  Who cares?  I mean, really.  No offense.  But that crucifixion.  That's what I'm talking about.  You need to stick to shit like that.  Crosses and thorns and spikes and spears.  That's great, man.  You know what my favorite part is?  When You look down at everybody and say, "Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do."  That got them in their balls, Jesus.  Yeah.  Brought them right to their fucking knees.  I bet they all went home and thought, "Jesus, I am so fucked."  Then, three days later, You come back as this Holy Zombie, all full of holes and shit.  And You didn't go and eat the high priest's brains or anything.  You went around saying "I forgive you" and telling people where to go fishing.  If I'd been You, man, I'd have gone all Night of the Living Dead on them.  Blood and intestines.  Just so that, when they saw me coming, they'd have said, "Holy fucking Christ."  That's what I'm talking about.  Pigs. Prostitutes.  Nails.  Zombies.  Holy fucking Christ.  Amen, man.  Amen.

The Sacred Heart of Zombie Jesus

September 13: Another Day, Another Something

It is potluck day at work.  I made a quiche as my contribution, and I overcooked it.  It's a little too brown on the top.  However, I didn't have the ingredients to make another one last night.  Therefore, my coworkers are getting a burned quiche for breakfast.

It is very warm in the business office this morning.  There is construction work going on in another part of our office suite, and the air handlers have been turned off.  Right now, it's about ninety degrees in my little corner of the world, and I know that's going to make for some very cranky patients.  Not to mention nurses and surgeons.  I've already started the ball rolling to correct the problem, but I know everyone walking through that front door this morning is going to make some kind of comment about the temperature.  I don't get cranky until about the tenth person.  Then I may say something like, "Really?  It's warm in here?  Thank God.  I thought my malaria was flaring up again."

I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude in the face of this tropical flare-up.  It wouldn't be so bad if they were at least serving free margaritas on the lido deck or Gopher arranged some naked shuffle board tournaments.  Maybe Charo can serenade the patients as they get their legs in the stirrups.

Saint Marty needs to go slip into his Hawaiian scrubs.  Aloha.

Now performing in Operating Room One...