Station Birdies

Little bitty station birdies,
Fly to and fro while people scurry
To their platforms, in a hurry.
If you see one, you might worry.
Little bitty station birdies,
No need to worry where they went,
If they flew in by accident.
Through a door or through a vent.
Little bitty station birdies,
Are not here by happenstance.
They do their happy birdie dance,
And nest inside the hanging plants.
Little bitty station birdies,
Live in the station house, you see.
Not out in the cold, not in a tree.
There’s no place they’d rather be.

Comic Fatigue

Every marriage, no matter how solid, can suffer little cracks and major faults. It’s normal to have challenges to overcome, and given that your husband/wife is not your superior/inferior, but in fact, your partner, you should be willing to listen to them and likewise not be afraid to ask them to listen to you. Communication breakdown is one the major causes of divorce.

That’s easier said than done when you are making an honest effort to be a better person by participating in the things they enjoy, but that don’t necessarily bring the same amount of joy to you.

I consider myself to be a hardcore sci-fi Star Trek geek, as is my husband. But he is also a comic book nerd, and let’s just say that it’s never been a better time to be a comic book nerd. There has been a ridiculous amount of comic book movies and series released lately. I’m a latecomer to the world of comics, but my husband is a lifelong devotee. He has been reading and collecting comics since early childhood. He knows all the stories: the origin stories, the back stories, the alternative-universe stories, all of them.

My husband introduced me to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its DC counterpart, in which there are some truly outstanding and not-so outstanding films. So devoted is my husband that he even likes the “bad” films. I’ve become a big fan of them, but lately I find that my enthusiasm has waned. There used to be one or two comic book films released each year. Then they started releasing more and more…and more…and more…

I found myself less enthusiastic about seeing the most recent (as of this writing) MCU release, “Ant Man and the Wasp.” I still want to see it, but after seeing “Black Panther” and “Justice League” and “Deadpool 2” and “Solo” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Well, you get the idea.

And then there are the TV series. This has become a bit of a nightmare for me. There are so many comic book series now, many of which are excellent, and they keep releasing more and more. It’s impossible to keep up.

There’s Arrow/Green Arrow, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, and Gotham, and the Gifted, and Legion, and Krypton, and Titans, and Black Lightning, and Riverdale, and Cloak & Dagger, and Runaways, and all the Netflix “adult” series, like DareDevil, and Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and Defenders, and the Punisher…

And they keep adding more…and more…and each time they do, I’m a little less excited than I was about the previous one. My husband wants to watch them. Every single episode of all of them. Last night, I wanted to watch a Netflix show that looked good, and he wanted to watch “episodes,” of one of the many, many comic book series listed above. This has become a minor crack in the solid rock that is our marriage. I find myself no longer wanting to watch “episodes.” It’s probably only temporary, but I still feel…so fatigued. He asked me, as he’s done before, if I preferred that he watch them himself. I said…uh…maybe? Previously, I said, “Of course not. I love those shows.” Which I do. But I’m sick and tired of them. I feel bad for feeling that way, of course. Comics and their related movies and series are one of his greatest passions, and I feel bad that I’m not as passionate about it as he is.

The producers of the movies and series won’t give us time to process the previous film or series before releasing the next one. Why are they doing that? Because they want to make money, and they know that comic book nerds are the most loyal fans and the most dependable of butts on cinema seats. And they are glutting us with more and more stuff to watch. I wish they would not necessarily stop, but just take it easy for a while.

And it’s not just me. A google search for the phrase “comic fatigue” revealed several articles written about this phenomenon, which I did not realize was an actual thing until I wrote this post.

Here’s one from a couple of months ago.

Here’s one from a couple of years ago.

It’s a thing, alright. Its effects vary depending on the individual. In my case it’s ever-so-slightly affecting my marriage.

Marshmallow Farms

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I bet you didn’t know,
That marshmallows grow,
Big, white and round,
Right out of the ground.
Of quality top,
This organic crop,
So perfect this year,
Time for harvest is here.
Plain white is society’s
Most wanted variety,
But some specialist growers,
Produce some real showers.
Pink and yellow in heaps,
For marshmallow peeps.

Ellipsis

Everything that is left out.
Implied. Inferred.

Like the Saddest Story Ever Written,
Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway.
“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
An iceberg tip of six words.

Dive deep down and explore,
That submerged mountain of subtext.

Illuminate the ellipsis.

Or don’t.
You probably don’t want to know,
What’s really under there.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Donald Trump Edition

On the first day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
An Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the second day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Two Russian dossiers, and an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the third day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the fourth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me.
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a pear tree!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Six geezers spilling, FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eight Flynns a flipping, seven secual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Twelve million tweets, eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments,
Six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!

The Flashlight of Wisdom

I’m the anomaly in the class.
That older student,
Who has been down the path before,
And is back for another go.
Twenty years have passed since I used to be them.
And I feel it more keenly than ever before.

All the the mistakes I’ve made,
The pleasure and pain, and triumph and defeat.
The joy and despair I’ve felt.
The things I’ve done.
And learned.

And learned…

I’m not necessarily smarter than they are.
I’ve just been around a lot longer.
I guess this is what you call wisdom.
Am I wise?
I don’t know.

I feel both envy and apprehension,
About all the experiences,
That will shape and harden,
And break and reform them.
There’s so much I want to tell them!
But I know it won’t help that much.

I can give them a flashlight,
But it won’t illuminate the whole path.
They’ll have to stumble their own way through,
Just like I did.

Basic Math

I suppose death is the final answer,
To the basic math that is aging.
But one lesson we are all taught,
Is Show Your Work.
How did you get there?
What was the process?
For age is not merely a solitary number,
On an otherwise blank page.
It’s the accumulation of life.
A gathering of knowledge and experiences.
One cannot move on to the next lesson,
Until one fully understands the previous one.
But most of us do not learn,
And thus we are unprepared.
We haven’t learned this formula,
But we try to move on anyway.
New knowledge is acquired,
But old lessons are not learned.
Mistakes are carried forward,
And forward.
And forward.
Until we finally realize,
Those mistakes,
All the pain and frustration they cause,
Are actually the most important part of the lesson.

How art thou crazy? Let me count the ways…

Of a picnic, thou art short of sandwiches, thus.
And in thy belfry resideth many bats.
Thy engine runneth, but hath no one behind the wheel.
Thou art a man of many cases; of head, and basket, and nut.
And verily misplaced by thee hath been thy marbles.
How lost thou art in space.
How lost is thy plot.
Away with the faerie folk thou hast flown.
In a canoe, thou art, but sadly missing the essential oars.
Thy faithful rocking chair hath deposited thee thus on the floor.
A cage of many pads is the place for thee,
Since thou believeth thyself to be a tweeting bird:
The Great Orange Crested Trump Tit.

Back to School

I’ve never really left school. There have been very few years in my life in which I was not involved in some capacity with education. I finished high school in 1993, and after four years of working dead-end minimum wage jobs, I started community college in 1997. I had no plan, no idea about a major or a possible career. I just started taking classes. After the first year I had to pick a major, so I chose music. I chose it because I could play the piano and sing, and it seemed like a challenging but fun choice.

As a performing arts major I became heavily involved in the department. I acted in plays and worked in the costume shop, all while maintaining stellar grades. Music theory was difficult at first but after a while I was an expert at it. Unfortunately, what I didn’t excel in was performance. I was horrible at sight reading and could never manage to play a piece of music that was set before me with any degree of confidence and ease. In both Chamber Choir and piano I was expected to read or sing the notes off a page and I was just so bad at it. I had always previously learned through memorization and repetition.

You see, when I became a music major, I thought I was pretty good musician, but it turned out that I was actually mediocre. I wasn’t terrible. I wasn’t that good either. So I sold my piano, decided to drop music and work on getting a transfer degree to the local university.

I started university in 1999 as a junior English Literature major, but almost immediately changed my major to Humanities. English Lit was too confining. I wanted to read other subjects, like History, and Art History, and Classics, and Philosophy. There’s only so much you can do with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, so when I got my B.A. I decided to keep right on studying. Graduate studies are generally more specialized so I chose English Literature for my graduate major. This wasn’t as fun as Humanities. Graduate seminars are long and intense, but at least this program didn’t require a master’s thesis. It required twelve seminars and accompanying papers.

There was the option of skipping one seminar and doing a thesis instead, but I chose not to do this. Instead, I began to prepare myself for a teaching career and enrolled in the GTF training program. All of the undergraduate English classes at my university were taught by GTFs (Graduate Teaching Fellows). The training consisted of one term of theory, one term of internship, and a final term of teaching and theory combined. This was a paid position at the university, and they offered a tuition waiver as well. So while I was working on my graduate degree, I was also studying teaching, and eventually I was studying and teaching.

When I finished my graduate degree, I didn’t get a career-type job right away. I didn’t even start looking for about six months. I quit the office job I had while I was studying, and worked for a few months for an online clothing retailer. Then I decided it was time to get serious. I had a master’s degree. It was time to get a real job.

The only “real job” in which I had any experience was teaching, so I focused my search on that. About a year prior to finishing my studies, my ex-boyfriend and I had gone to Japan for a week. It occurred to me that there were lots of openings for English teachers in Japan. I applied to about a half a dozen schools and was eventually hired at one of them. On February 4, 2004, I boarded an airplane for Tokyo where I would truly start my teaching career.

It has been fifteen years since I taught my first undergrad English 101 class at my university. Since then I have moved countries twice. I have worked at secondary schools and upper-secondary schools. I’ve worked at international schools and after-school programs. I have worked as a Business English consultant for corporations.

And now, it’s time for a change. I’ve gone back to school, although, as I mentioned, I never really left. I am a young-looking 42 year-old professional enrolled in university classes 20 years after I first started college. And just like then, I have no plan. I’m just taking classes. And it’s so. Much. Fun! I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed being a student. I’m not stressing over getting a degree or a job. Those things will sort themselves out later. For now, I’m just enjoying every minute of it.