Apr. 2, 2012
The slim, suntanned legs
of the woman in front of me in the checkout line
fill me with yearning
to provide her with health insurance
and a sporty little car with personalized plates.
The way her dark hair
falls straight to her slender waist
makes me ache
to pay for a washer/dryer combo
and yearly ski trips to Aspen, not to mention
her weekly visits to the spa
and nail salon.
And the delicate rise of her breasts
under her thin blouse
kindles my desire
to purchase a blue minivan with a car seat,
and soon another car seat, and eventually
piano lessons and braces
for two teenage girls who will hate me.
Finally, her full, pouting lips
make me long to take out a second mortgage
in order to put both kids through college
at first- or second-tier institutions,
then cover their wedding expenses
and help out financially with the grandchildren
as generously as possible before I die
and leave them everything.
But now the cashier rings her up
and she walks out of my life forever,
leaving me alone
with my beer and toilet paper and frozen pizzas.
It's the birthday of the fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen (books by this author), born in Odense, Denmark (1805), the son of an illiterate mother and a poor cobbler. He trained for the ballet, the stage and the opera, but when all of that failed, settled on becoming a poet. His first novel gained him enough success that he was able to afford to travel, which would become his life-long passion. He left Denmark on thirty trips, spending twenty years abroad, travelling as far as Constantinople. He was great self-promoter and befriended practically everyone of importance in Europe—artists, musicians, scientists, politicians and royalty. He wrote six novels and several travel books, thirty-five plays and a hundred and seventy-five fairy tales including "The Little Mermaid," "The Princess and the Pea," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "Thumbelina," and "The Ugly Duckling." He remained forever true to his humble background and believed status should be the right of everyone and not the privilege of the aristocracy.
Today is the birthday of Giacomo Casanova (books by this author), born in Venice (1725), the famous libertine. A compulsive gambler and restless man, he never settled into one occupation before tiring of it and moving on to the next thing — he earned a law degree, was a scribe to a Cardinal in Rome, joined the military, played violin in the theater, posed as an alchemist, translated the Iliad, spied for the government, and was a librarian. But he is best remembered for seducing many women, which he wrote about in his 12 volume, 3,500 page autobiography, The Story of My Life.
"I loved, I was loved, my health was good, I had a great deal of money, and I spent it, I was happy and I confessed it to myself."
Today is the birthday of Émile Zola (books by this author), born in Paris (1840). He was inspired by reading Charles Darwin to try to apply scientific principles of observation to the practice of writing fiction. The result was a 20-novel cycle, a kind of fictional documentary about the influence of heredity and environment on an extended family. It was called Les Rougon-Macquart. Some of the novels of the cycle include The Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and Germinal (1885).
Zola said, "One forges one's style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines....The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®