Death of a Boob Man

OK, so I lived in New York City for six years and never once felt in danger. Except for that time the homeless man expectorated on my hair.

And now I live in Iowa, which should be safe, right? I mean, I figured the worst that could happen was some farmer overcharges me for organic kale. Turns out there’s a crazed University of Iowa Poli-Sci Professor on the loose. Arthur Miller, accused of inflating the grades of female students in exchange for eying their breasts, is hiding out in the wooded park mere yards from my house. He’s armed with a high-powered rifle. Which isn’t the most convincing way to exonerate yourself.

And wait — if you wanted to leverage your authority over failing freshman, wouldn’t you go all the way? Might as well just watch Girls Gone Wild. Maybe if he had lied and said he wrote The Crucible he could have gotten to second base.

Sure, sexual bartering is deplorable. So maybe he’s gone into the woods like Thoreau. To do some deep moral thinking…with ammunition?

Five local schools and a handful of University buildings were on lockdown for part of the week. Mr. Miller left a suicide note, but so far, neither he nor his high powered rifle has been found in Hickory Hill Park.

According to Rate My Professors , he wasn’t exactly disliked. Note the first comment: “We screw around for most of the class.” Uh-huh. I bet.

The original Arthur Miller. I bet Professor Miller wishes he could have taught Marilyn Monroe!

The original Arthur Miller. I bet Professor Miller wishes he could have taught Marilyn Monroe!



Jeffery tells me that poetry acceptance letters come when you can’t recall submitting poems.  In February, I entered a chapbook competition run by Finishing Line Press. A couple of months ago, I received a form letter: there were 538 manuscript submissions and unfortunately, mine wasn’t selected for their $1000 prize. Even though I paper my walls in rejection slips, I didn’t bother saving this one.

Then last Friday night, I got an email from the editor at Finishing Line Press announcing that she wants to publish my chapbook. You never really expect such an email. And if you do, you don’t envision yourself reading it while tipsily gnawing on a block of cheese. You expect the moment to have some dignity. But no. After we came home from George’s, I beelined it to the fridge to unwrap a hunk of parmesan I couldn’t be bothered to cut but could be bothered to stuff in my face.

But who cares! I get to publish these poems, at no cost to me, in high-quality saddle-stapled books, with cover art, and author blurbs, and, best of all, a jacket photo. I’ll ask for reader help in picking the appropriate shot (whimsical but sober, earnest but not too severe, no hands-in-pockets, no leather jacket, no Italy, etc.).

Pressrun is typically 500-1000. I’ll need to sell 55 prepublication copies to warrant the full run, so I’ve gone ahead and set up a gmail account for the book:

Cost will be $14 for a chapbook of 25 poems. Greener won’t be released until early next year, but if you’d like to reserve a copy, please email me at the above address. Once I’ve decided on cover art, Finishing Line Press will send out announcement postcards for prepublication sales. Include your mailing address and I’ll make sure you get one! And thanks, in advance, for your support.

Also, just because I have a book doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting from the point of view of a solipsistic stuffed penguin.

Girl, who are you calling solipsistic? Now come here and help me dispose of this creature!

Girl, who are you calling solipsistic? Now come here and help me dispose of this creature!

Me at the ear doctor last Tuesday: potential author photo.

Karaoke Kills

Dan and I have been adopted by a snaggle-toothed black and white cat. She sauntered into our house one afternoon while we were unpacking and proceeded to use our living room sofa as a scratching post. She’s obese and declawed, both of which suggest an owner — but there’s no collar, and she drops by at odd hours. I named her Karaoke based on my belief that calling a cat should be fun. And it is fun. I open the screen door and shout “Karaoke!” Karaoke!” into the dark of night, in hopes that some drunk hippie might appear on our porch all fired up to sing Country Joe and The Fish.

Cute, right? Makes you want to cuddle with her in a papasan chair, maybe have her knead your lap while you sip on Sleepytime and read Lilian Jackson Braun — until you realize this is a picture Dan took of Karaoke killing a baby bunny. The salad on her chin is for show. There’s blood-lust in those almond eyes.

For two nights in a row, Karaoke has brought us dinner. Tuesday’s bunny almost made it into the house. Dan and I were watching The X-files , so you can imagine just how much higher I jumped with that theme song in the background. Also, I think Karaoke is part of a large government conspiracy.

Dan documented Kitty’s First Picnic on camera.

Here she is, looking like she just scored the winning touchdown. (There’s a game joke in there somewhere.)

Dan created a Picasa album simply titled: “Karaoke Hunts a Bunny.” It lets our friends and family see how busy we are in Iowa. Think of it as The Velveteen Rabbit in reverse.

I didn’t know how to stop the slaughter, so I ran into the kitchen and came back with a can of tuna. In retrospect, it wasn’t the brightest idea to use Chicken of the Sea as a diversionary tactic, but what can I say. I panicked.

Now she expects surf and turf.

There are a few shots of me, barefoot and pigeon-toed, in my gaudy vacation dress, holding a dustpan, trying to figure out what exactly one does with a dying bunny.

(One should leave it alone?)

It’s supposedly a sign of great affection for your cat to bring you its prey. I did a lot of online reading . Spayed females in particular see a meal “to-go” as an opportunity to school you in the ways of the hunt. It’s half carnivorous instinct, half maternal. You’re an owner but you’re also a kitten. I guess I can relate to that. I like to bake banana bread for Dan and serve it on kid sized plates. And Dan did just buy the child’s tool kit, in the shape of a truck, from Ace Hardware. After he assembled my bookshelf, he packed up his tools and went “Vroom, vroom.” (Man, that one’s gonna cost me.)

Be Careful Where You Put Your Pole

The Rielle World

Like all good Americans, I’ve been watching coverage of John Edwards’ infidelity and the Beijing Olympics. The media barrage is beginning to sound the same. The following quote, spoken by Michael Phelps after his surprise gold medal win in the 400-metre individual medley relay, had me doing a double-take: I have to act like it never happened, because I have so many tough races ahead of me.” When did Edwards lose his dulcet drawl? And why is he wearing swim trunks?

I’m from North Carolina, which lends Edwards’ “mistake” and subsequent admission an uncomfortable air of boy next-door. We didn’t attend Law School together at Chapel Hill, or make craft projects out of his father’s textile scraps, but our regional commonality affords me a kind of kinship. He’s eaten at The Ratskeller, kissed under Davie Poplar. I’m no longer certain who he’s kissed, but still.

I love pop culture and I love tabloids. I have a sixth sense about the authenticity of tittle-tattle, and a few weeks ago, before the Edwards’ story broke, I called to alert Dan.

Me: “Hey, John Edwards had an affair with a former video producer for his campaign. She uses a lot of hairspray.”

Dan: “Where did you read this?”

Me: “Um, well, The Huffington Post is about to pick it up. You can tell.”

Dan: “So…where?”

Me: “The National Enquirer.”

Dan, who loves me in spite of my gossipmongering, was dismissive of the report as right-wing conspiracy from an irreputable source. I responded in my most rhetorically convincing way: by making a joke about only one of us living in The Rielle World and hanging up on him.

And now it’s true. John Edwards slept with another woman, kept it hidden from the public, and then proceeded to campaign for the Democratic nomination on a platform based largely on family values. When confronted by reporters at The Beverly Hills Hotel, he hid in the bathroom. I used to time celebrities in the bathroom of The Actor’s Playhouse! Never did I consider this scenario — and Dustin Hoffman was in there for quite some time.

I believe trust is indispensable to the success of any romantic relationship — to any relationship. A “mistake” is forgetting to carry over the 1 in a long division problem, not meeting a poor man’s Jane Fonda in a bar and asking her if she wants to see your “big government.” Is monogamy a measure of how a man will perform politically? Probably not. But come on. We’ve all read Crime and Punishment. An untruth weighs heavily on a conscience, wrecks havoc on judgment. A skeleton in the closet undercuts clarity. Edwards allowed himself to become larger than his party. He jeopardized the Democratic ticket to protect his image. The pity isn’t just that his wife Elizabeth has cancer. The pity is that our country is sick, too, that he fooled us while we’re down. “Elizabeth was in remission,” Edwards qualified. Well, we’re in recession. His ability to lead is suspect not because he had an affair (McCain did, too — several, actually) but because he lied about it to the public when directly confronted.

Edwards appeared rehearsedly contrite, a slick kind of sorry, in his Bob Woodruff interview last Friday night. Even if he’s coming clean 100%, I’m annoyed that he chose to issue his statement on the eve of the Olympics to absorb fallout. And his unwillingness to answer personal questions out of respect to Elizabeth? Woodruff’s pointed “Were you in love with her?”, which Edwards did choose to answer, is about as personal as you can get. He came across glib and inconvenienced. By the end, I was rooting for The National Enquirer, the Sea Biscuit of reporting.

Perhaps Edwards would have been better off leaving out the ego admonishment and instead, issuing a concise, simple, and honest statement borrowed from golden boy Michael Phelps: “I’ll try to bank as much rest as I can tonight — recover and sleep and try to warm down and get out of here as fast as I can.”

How do you feel about Edwards? Do you think he should speak at the convention?

Proof That You Live in Iowa

Turns out it’s in the pie, not the pudding:

(And no, I didn’t take third for apple.)


Dan and I need some help identifying kitchenware.

We pulled this aluminum number out of a box. It might be a steamer. Or a stencil for a gigantic asterisk. Or a postmodern board game called Disconnect Four.

Of greater concern is the plastic pod. I think it’s a birth control dispenser for women who buy in bulk from Sam’s Club.