Monday

Mar. 29, 2010

To My Son's Girlfriend

by Michael Milburn

I'm tempted to ask
what you see in him.
Although you probably
see the good that I see
I wonder if you realize
how much he is my handiwork,
or which of the qualities
you daydream about in class
are the ones that I take pride in,
his cordiality, for example,
or love of silliness.

It's uncomfortable for me
to think of anyone else
loving him the way I do,
possessing him in a way
that only his mother and I
have ever possessed him,
and I can't deny being jealous,
not so much reluctant
to share or relinquish him
as resolved to remind you
that he's been around
longer than your love,
under construction if you will,
and that each cute trait
or whatever occurs to you
when you hear his name
I feel proprietary about,
like a woodworker
who makes a table
intending to sell it
but prays that no buyer
will recognize its worth.

"To My Son's Girlfriend" by Michael Milburn, from Drive By Heart. © Word Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Amy Sedaris, (books by this author) born in Endicott, New York (1961) and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. She's written a number of plays along with her brother David Sedaris, including Stump the Host (1993), Stitches (1994), One Woman Shoe (1995), Incident at Cobbler's Knob (1997) and The Little Frieda Mysteries. And she also co-wrote and starred in, along with Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello, a quirky Comedy Central show with a cult following, called Strangers with Candy, where she played an ex-drug addict, ex-prostitute runaway who returns to high school as a freshman at the age of 46. It was made into a movie with the same scenario and name in 2006.

Her first solo book came out a few years ago, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006). It's a sort of cookbook/etiquette manual/hostess' entertainment guide, filled with real recipes and cooking tips (freeze meatballs on a cookie sheet individually before putting them in a bag so they won't stick together) and also tongue-in-cheek advice. She writes: "A good trick is to fill your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosey guest better than an avalanche of marbles hitting a porcelain sink." And as for people who are getting drunk at your house, she advises: "Better to cut them off rather than pretend it's not happening and then allow them to stay over and wet your bed." The book spent 12 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

She writes a monthly advice column for the literary magazine The Believer and lives in Greenwich Village with a Mini Rex rabbit.

>Today White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs turns 39 years old. He was born in Auburn, Alabama (1971) to university librarians. When he was a child, his mother would bring him along with her to League of Women Voters meetings, and he also grew up helping out at voter registration events. He majored in political science, worked on Bowder's campaign for Senate, worked on a few other senatorial campaigns, and then got hired by John Kerry in 2003 for his presidential campaign. But he resigned after Kerry fired someone else on the campaign, and in April 2004, he ended up getting a job as the communications director for the senatorial campaign of a man in Illinois whom he hadn't really heard that much about, Barack Obama.

He's been with Obama ever since. During the presidential campaign, Obama spent more time with Robert Gibbs than with any other adviser. Gibbs was largely responsible for helping to shape and control the message of Obama's campaign, and he was the last person Obama spoke to before he went out on stage or answered questions from reporters. One campaign spokeswomen joked that they called Robert Gibbs "the Barack Whisperer."

Within weeks of being elected in November 2008, Obama announced that Gibbs would be the White House press secretary. As the president's official spokesman, he interacts with the media more than anyone else. He gives daily press briefings in which he updates reporters on the president's schedule and tells them of the president's responses to events in the news, and he also fields questions from the White House Press Corps.

It's the birthday of comic actor and writer Eric Idle, (books by this author) born in South Shields, Durham, England (1943) — who performed at Cambridge in the "Footlights Review" with John Cleese and other future members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. On the Python show, Idle's most memorable roles are creepy old men, annoying talk show hosts, and fussy old women.

On this day in 1886, John Pemberton perfected a headache and hangover remedy he had cooked up over a fire in his backyard. It contained coca leaves and extract of kola nut, and he advertised it as an "Esteemed Brain Tonic and Intellectual Beverage." He had been making something called "Pemberton's French Wine Coca," but Atlanta had just passed a prohibition law, and he had to come up with an alcohol-free formula. He sweetened the new elixir with sugar instead of wine, and his bookkeeper suggested he name the beverage "Coca-Cola." The following year, the prohibition law was repealed; Pemberton sold off his interest in the formula and went back to making French Wine Coca.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Sharon Olds at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »