By Edward Hirsch
I was sitting across from the rotating sign
For the Liberty Brass Turning Company
Automatic Screw Machine Products
And brooding about our fathers
Always on the make to make more money
Screw Machine Products Automatic
Tender wounded brassy unsystematic
Free American men obsessing about margins
Machine Products Automatic Screw
Selling every day of their God-damned lives
To some Liberty Brass Turning Company
Products Automatic Screw Machine
Until they were screwed into boxes
And planted in plots paid and unpaid
Automatic Screw Machine Products
From this week's New Yorker. I really miss Hirsch's Poet's Choice columns. His recent book is The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems.
It was a pretty sucky morning and afternoon. I waited in the house for FedEx to deliver my new computer, stayed in the living room, didn't even go to the bathroom, and in the afternoon finally opened the door to see whether VVA had picked up the clothing we were donating...and there was a sticker from FedEx on the door saying they'd be back tomorrow. I called their 800 number and the driver told the guy that he'd been in a rush so hadn't knocked, just left the note! Then I called customer service, furious, and they put me on with the local dispatcher, who said that the guy who does the rounds in my area then takes his truck all the way around the Beltway to a completely different area so there was no way he could try to redeliver today...nor could I pick up the package because it would have to stay on his truck. I'm not sure which irritates me more: being stuck in the house again all day tomorrow, or dealing with customer service people suggesting that this was somehow 1) my fault for not sitting in the doorway all day in case the delivery guy was in a rush or 2) Dell's fault since only Dell can change the delivery information for things they ship out (even though Dell's information had been correct -- Dell's only mistake was using FedEx to deliver).
Since I was stuck in the house, I did a bunch of chores and folded a lot of laundry. I watched Far From Heaven while I did this, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it; I'm not a big fan of Douglas Sirk, and I'd read everywhere that it was meant to be a tribute to him (and I really hate modern melodramas like Beaches and Terms of Endearment -- I always end up snickering at the moments when the visual and aural cues are telling me I should be FEELING GREAT EMOTION). But this one is quite subtle and at the same time quite angry -- it makes clear that it sucked to be anything other than a straight white man in the '50s, then doesn't give us one of those as a main character (except as background noise, they really don't exist in the film at all). I read a debate on LiveJournal about who had it worst -- the closeted gay husband who hopes to be cured of his attractions, the naive would-be-cookie-cutter wife who has no idea how to define herself outside that role, or the gardener who tries not to let his race interfere with his ability to make friends or cross cultural lines with disastrous results -- but I think that question is ultimately beside the point. The film seems least sympathetic to the husband but he's also in the greatest position of privilege in that society in terms of the options he can consider. And he can articulate what he wants -- the wife and gardener fall in love without seeming to realize that that's what they're doing because it's unthinkable, particularly to her, that it could happen.
My parents came over for dinner for my mother's birthday and Paul made crab manicotti and veggie lasagna, plus bittersweet chocolate torte for dessert, all of which were fabulous (well, I didn't eat the crab, but Daniel approved and he's the hardest to please around here). In the evening we watched Up, which Paul brought home as a consolation for my sucky day since he'd had to stop at Best Buy anyway, and I enjoyed that immensely -- I have nothing profound to say about it, just thought the animation was glorious and the characters were delightful, though we had more frustration tonight because the DVD came with an offer to get a free stuffed Kevin that I was going to get for Adam, but after repeatedly trying to bring it up on Disney Movie Rewards, we discovered that it expired nine days ago. Sigh! Here is a photo of my parents and kids around the birthday cake: