One word, and a blank page. That is even more frightening than no words at all. Because there it is, tempting you. Sometimes, I think I want to be a writer. Of course, the whole thing about being a writer is writing. But I don’t like writing. At least not the conscious act of thinking about it, at least not until I’m “in” it. Yet I also shudder at the thought of invoking divine inspiration, or Coleridge’s “Capital S” Sublime. I don’t even do opium, so that claim falls flat. My words don’t come out of a primordial goo, but they do seem to come in tiny bursts, or little ejaculates (to be explicit and male-centric), or hopefully powerful incendiary devices. But that’s the ultimate problem, contradiction, unfairness—like an enemy IED, I have no clue as to when the next one worth typing will arc over into my intellectual trench and explode. I have no idea when the shards of linguistic shrapnel will dart out in a million directions and splatter brilliantly on the page in droplets of consonants and vowels that I can be proud of. Target: engaged. So that means sitting down to write at a predetermined time is an offensive measure—a battle that may or may not be won, that is if the enemy, the empty page, the single word, even decides to join the fray.
The other day, I was running the bases. Hit a dribbling grounder to the third-base side. Immediately, without even glancing in the direction of my swing, the bat’s vibration, the unmistakable sonar waves of a bad contact were pulsing through my hands and up my arms. In that moment, it was lost. And I knew I was an easy out. I struggled to motion, trying to find the legs who had already learned from my brain the end result of this future, desperate action. But I picked up speed anyway and ran towards first base, finally easing into a stride halfway down the line. Without looking back, it was clear from the indistinguishable and hurried shouts of the other team that some commotion by third base was occurring. And though as I charged forward I could see the first baseman, a burly, squat player, giving his teammate a target with his glove, it was unclear whether he expected to ever receive the ball. Legs charged faster with a new sense of hope. The baseman crowded the bag. In that second, the body decided: “Run straight through.” Collision. Ungraceful fall to the ground. An awkward twisting of bodies.
Unhurt. This time: Safe.
The split-screened second where my body decided before my brain registered what I’d be doing. That is where I hope inspiration/the written word comes from—the body, the combined self of multiples, offers up a phrase out of nowhere, but also necessity. And then it happens. It collides with the world, and we’re glad for having smacked against it.
m.snowe is still sloggin’ away at the chapters in this book (review/comments to come). While the book is an interesting read, I’m getting really impatient with the typesetting/copyediting errors. There are glaring ones, too. I’m talking about commas ins,ide words. And multiplewordswithout spaces. Or just plain poorly justified paragraphs. Not to mention widows. And orphans. The book is more amuck with them than a Charles Dickens novel. And it’s sad. Because I want to enjoy this book, and most of the time I am, even if I find some of the intellectual arguments weak–at least they get me thinking. But then, I come upon signs of a poorly constructed book. It makes me wonder if Overlook Press is being just a little bit too true to their name.
Class of 2010, You DID IT! [Fist Pump]
As the recipient of this honorary 2-year doctorate in refrigeration management, I want to explain the path that led me to this podium today. It was neither an easy road, nor one that was particularly arduous either. Kind of a middle-of-the-road road. But it was a road that got me here nonetheless. Route 28 to be exact. Trust me, it’s faster than the thruway. But anyway, it’s kind of amazing I was offered to speak here, because I’m just 25, and usually, honorary degree folks are on death’s door. I mean, they’re usually coughing up blood, puss and scholarly advice. But I’m 25 and healthy as a horse. That’s younger and healthier than even most of you are. But I believe, and I think you should too, that the youth are your future. So really, please, please listen to this advice, as the generation that is going after you and will forge the road that perhaps, if you’re lucky, your great-grandchildren will walk upon with tremendously cushy space boots. It’s universally acknowledged that no one remembers or hears their graduation’s keynote speaker or the speech they give (sometimes due to heavy medication, other times because sound technicians are probably the most poorly trained electronics folks in the business, but let’s be magnanimous here–refrigerators are king, it doesn’t mean we should take pokes at the little guys and their laughably puny microphones). So back to y’all probably forgetting my speech–I’m not going to claim that my speech will be memorable or any different from all the other speeches long forgotten. And to assure you of that, I will ask you what all honorary doctorate recipients ask: just remember this one piece of advice that I give you. You can forget everything else I say. In fact, it would be preferable, as you have enough to be getting on with, and ice makers are a bastard to fix on their own without worrying about remembering this entire speech, word for word. So this is the advice: Wait. Are you really listening? Okay.
Here is my advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You might say to yourself, “Duh. I don’t worry about the small things in life–I look big picture, and get the job done. That’s how I was able to get through 1,500 hours of on-the-job training, even while half my fingers on my right hand were broken during that unfortunate touch-synchronized-swimming accident.”
But you have misinterpreted me already. Okay, that is a good lesson, and I’m sorry about your fingers. But seriously. During the five minutes of studying up I did on exactly what a refrigeration specialist is in order to write this speech, I learned that: “When your business depends on keeping goods at just the right temperature, even a single degree can mean the difference between success and failure.” This means, you can’t let those tiny plastic containers of olives at the back of the third shelf on the refrigerator sweat. They need to be kept at the perfect temperature. Otherwise, you have failed. Think of the power you wield–you are all like tiny gods in control of the weather in a tiny atmosphere of food and baking soda. You make frost, and wind, and create a crisp day, probably like a day sometime in the beginning of October, but in a Kenmore. So don’t fuck up. Don’t let the small stuff sweat–because with the tiniest surface areas, they are more susceptible to tiny variations in temperature. And also, no one–I mean no one–likes limp lettuce.
So now, I would like to extend my genuine congratulations to you and your families and friends for completing your certificate in the HVAC cooling program. You may not have truly heard all I had to say, but I have confidence that this speech got through to you all. It will never get freezer burned, or make a soupy mess at the bottom of your hearts. That’s a little refrigeration humor for you. I’m so delighted and thank the trustees of the school for allowing me to speak to you today. During this online ceremony. The text of this speech is provided above. As it was provided to you, during the emailed ceremony.
It’s an Israeli dodgeball.
It’s featured in a song by Queen (which is where a certain Lady got it from).
Now it’s an exclamation?!
The Oxford English Dictionary lists it as slang for a “madman” or in its adjectival sense: “doting, exhibiting senile decay; mad, ‘dotty’; fatuous.”
But how did it suddenly become a stand-in for talking about disco, dancing, and anything that vaguely whiffs of pop-culture?
Ex. To characterize something as “gaga,” is to say that it’s some hip dance thing? Like, it’s all zeitgeisty and crap?
The Lady herself isn’t actually a real person, she is only an amalgamation of other aspects of pop culture. She is an empty void into which you throw cult films, fashion trends, other pop singers, and commercial catch-phrases. So maybe this is actually a brilliant use of the word gaga–an originally nonsense term that stands-in for the absence of rational language? Just putting that out there. Kind of like Gaga.