The Big DumpTruck

Throwing Little Thought Pebbles at Your Windshield Since 1996

Month: January, 2012

Coming Clean

I need to get something off my chest. It’s been bothering me for decades now, and that’s not good. But I have decided coming clean will free me up to be guilty about other aspects of my life.

I have a degree in English. It’s actually an English Lit degree with a minor in writing, based on what I studied. Sounds impressive, huh? I wanted a degree in creative writing, but couldn’t afford any of the colleges that offered that degree. Specifically Emerson. Oh how I wanted to go to Emerson.

So I spent four years at a private Catholic college deep in the heart of Connecticut, studying prose and poetry. I have the paperwork that proves I did.

However, I know nothing about literature. I know what I like to read, but I don’t know why I like it. I don’t know anything. I can’t believe I faked my way through college like that. I couldn’t tell you why the Great Novels are great. I don’t even like most of Shakespeare. I suck at English Lit.

Because I have this degree and I feel like certain things are expected of me, especially when I write. That’s the part that throws me into a panic. I keep thinking that having this degree should make me a better writer, but I don’t think it does. I fear it doesn’t. I don’t even like to talk with people who are actually good at this stuff because it’s so intimidating to me. How did I get through four years of college learning to analyze literature and not like good literature? I don’t even have drugs to blame this on, as I am clean as a whistle. I mean, I’m betting the Pope has smoked more pot than I have (which is none).

So the funny thing about this is that I used to write a lot of poetry. I edited my college’s literary magazine my junior and senior years. And get this! I have actually had a poetry reading (with a professor of mine and a friend of his) in a real live bookstore in Hartford. My parents even drove down for that one, which was fun because it was an “alternative lifestyle” bookstore run by some ex-nuns. This was 1987 or so, and I think my parents were shell-shocked, but maybe not.

So even as I’m being asked to participate in a public reading of my poetry, I’m convinced it’s absolute shit, because I cannot tell if it is or not. I like what I’ve written, but I like a lot of things that aren’t good. I enjoy crappy romance novels like there is no tomorrow. I find slogging through most of Dickens a chore (I enjoy the movie versions, though). I have no idea if my poetry is any good, and I’m afraid to find out. One of the other poets had written stuff that sounded completely alien to me. Where his poems good? I have no freaking idea. I didn’t think so, but I think he’d had books published, and I was selling computers, so who was I to judge with my unjustly-earned lit degree?

15 years ago, I actually had my own e-zine called “Block Lines”. Remember those? I was so cool. I published poetry I liked (and some of my own, but other people’s poetry as well.) I don’t know if I was a good editor (I didn’t really edit, I just selected what to publish) but it seemed like a hip, happening way to get some of my work out there. I had a lot of fun with it until I got pregnant and exhausted and put it on hiatus. For 15 years.

Every year as my birthday gets closer, I get a burst of inspiration to write, and this year, for the first time in a decade, I’ve been writing poetry again. I’m not going to share it here because I’m still too terrified that it’s crap. Well, I’m not terrified that it’s crap, I’m terrified that YOU will find out it’s crap.

So that’s what I wanted to come clean about. I’m a possibly crappy writer who can’t use the skills her degree should have given her to validate one way or the other the quality of her writing. There. I’ll start to feel better any minute now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write a crappy poem about how this makes me feel.

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So You Want To Be a Superhero

Welcome to lesson one of the self-paced training session “So You Want To Be a Superhero”. This course consists of 25 lessons, which should be completed in numbered order. You should never attempt to jump to Lesson 15, Stopping a Moving Vehicle with Your Feet” until after you complete Lesson 5, “Verifying Your Personal Strength Limits” and Lesson 9, “Are You Invincible?”

WE CANNOT STRESS HIGHLY ENOUGH THAT SKIPPING LESSONS MAY CAUSE BLISTERING, HEARING LOSS AND/OR DEATH.

Also, lesson-skippers will be blacklisted at the Justice League of America and superhero employment opportunities will simply not be available to you.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Superheroing

Many people who sign up for this class are under the mistaken impression that just about anyone can be a superhero. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not everyone can be a superhero. Some people can’t even be heroes without proper adult supervision.

Here are some questions we would like you to consider before you continue on with your lessons:

Am I Likable?
While not a requirement, it really does help you run your superhero empire if people naturally like you. If you are hateable, people will question your motives, and are likely to try to sue you for the damage you’ll do in the line of duty. Put a whole in a building to stop bank robbers and a likable hero will get a medal. An unlikable one will get a bill for repairs.

 What is My Motivation?
Did bad guys do you wrong? Are you trying to avenge something? Or are you taking this class because you hate math and thought it would be a good way to get on television? Being a superhero is not easy. You’re never fully off duty. You want to go on vacation to the Grand Canyon? You’ll probably spend your time there preventing some villain from trying to fill it with quick-drying cement.

How will I look in Spandex?
This question should not be ignored. Superheroes are attention magnets. You will receive lots of press exposure, and looking good is part of the gig. Nobody wants to be rescued by a guy with a beer belly stretching the limits of his uniform. Are you willing to commit to do the work it takes to keep the spandex lump-free?

 Do You Overheat Easily?
How do you handle warm weather? Do you sweat a lot, get a red face and just generally feel miserable when you get warm? Go get a refund on this course right now. Almost all superheros have alter-egos to hide their true identity. Those alter-egos are nice normal people who wear nice normal clothing. You, however, will be wearing the equivalent of long underwear under your street clothes 24 hours a day. Do you know how hot that can get? Try putting on a shirt and pants over that uniform. Layers suck in the summer. You cannot get away from it, because you need to be in uniform at a moment’s notice. Sure, some superheroes decide to just forgo the alter-ego and be in uniform all the time. They don’t get a single moment’s peace. Everyone needs something every minute of the day.

Are You Prepared to Trust No One?
Nobody but nobody is trustworthy. Your girlfriend? She’s been mind-controlled by your nemesis. Your parents? They have been infected with a toxic mind mold by the League of Doom. Your “best friend”? He’s turned to the dark side and become the Green Goblin. You can never really fully trust anyone. Maybe even the people teaching this course.

Think about it.

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