On Not Flying to Hawaii

I could be the waitress
in the airport restaurant
full of tired cigarette smoke and unseeing tourists.
I could turn into the never-noticed landscape
hanging identically in all the booths
or the customer behind the Chronicle
who has been giving advice
about stock portfolios for forty years. I could be his mortal weariness,
his discarded sports section, his smoldering ashtray.

I could be the 70-year-old woman who has never seen Hawaii,
touching her red lipstick and sprayed hair.
I could enter the linen dress
that poofs around her body like a bridesmaid,
or become her gay son
sitting opposite her, stirring another sugar
into his coffee for lack of something true to say.
I could be the reincarnated soul of the composer
of the Muzak that plays relentlessly overhead,
or the factory worker who wove this fake Oriental carpet,
or the hushed shoes of the busboy.

But I don't want to be the life of anything in this pitstop.
I want to go to Hawaii, the wet, hot
impossible place in my heart that knows just what it desires.
I want money, I want candy.
I want sweet ukelele music and birds who drop from the sky.
I want to be the volcano who lavishes
her boiling rock soup love on everyone,
and I want to be the lover
of volcanos, who loves best what burns her as it flows.

Alison Luterman


An Afternoon with Young Writers and Rick Bragg

Earlier this year I had my Creative Writing students all submit a poem to a writing competition. I have to admit that I originally made them do this so that I could get them writing something, but also so that I could do my job as a teacher and keep my students "involved". When I found out that three of my students from that class had won awards, I was floored. I've had students win writing awards before, but this really struck close to home. The entire reason I chose this job at Davidson was because they offered me the Creative Writing classes. And over the years it's become more of a beast than the refreshing writing workshop that I envisioned. It's not often that I get affirmation for the work that I do with my students.
One student in particular is an amazing writer. I've tried to motivate him and help him with his craft. It's just hard to give brillant writers the time and instruction that they need when you have twenty nine other kids that really could care less and are more interested in "I can go to the bathroom?" (a statement asked as a question with inflection at the end)
So this afternoon I piled the three kids up in my car and took them to a local private school. I wasn't very familiar with Rick Bragg other than hearing from friends about how wonderful his books are. http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/authors/bragg/
But I was motivated and entertained this afternoon. First of all, my three students won the Honorable Mention, Third Place, and First Place awards for poetry. It made me swoon to see them walk up to the stage and accept their awards and get a copy of Mr. Bragg's book, It's All Over but the Shoutin'. As I looked around at all the Honors students dressed in their plaid skirts and pressed khakis, I was overwhelmed with pride at two of my students who stood out among the rest with their professionally braided hair and popular colored contacts. They weren't meant or expected to be a part of this elite group, and yet their writing had stood out among the majority of Honors students. And it was even more endearing when one of my students, who might never win another award or certificate in her life, turned to me and asked, "What does Honorable Mention mean?" In so many words I explained to her that it meant she needed to take that certificate home and frame it.

As Bragg began to address the crowd with his suggestions for writing, he reaffirmed my confidence in teaching Creative Writing, when he told the young writers to always remember to "Show" and not "Tell." This is something I learned myself in college writing classes and had always made a point to teach to my students. To hear a well-known author suggest the same gave me a little satisfaction in knowing that perhaps I am on the right track with my teaching style. He continued on to tell wonderful ancedotes of his writing career and life; once even glancing up (as we sat in a private school's chapel) and "swore to God." At one point as he asked the crowd of young writers to raise their hand if they hoped to become a full-time writer someday, I found myself raising my hand and then blushing when I realized he was speaking to them and not the teachers.

I left with a little more confidence in my abilities, more motivation in my opportunities to write, one aspiring writer with more talent than he knows of, and two girls with certificates stuffed in their purses, begging me to stop at McDonalds.


Bread Bitch

This is what happens when you get cocky with cooking. Morphin' dough.

Christmas in the Quarter

What is better than fabuously dressed gay men celebrating Christmas?
Fabuously gay mannequins celebrating Christmas.

New Years Moon Pie

I'm still shocked that one of our city councilmen, Fred Richardson, was actually convinced to spend $9,000 on a giant paper moon pie. Yeah, for awhile there it sounded pretty impressive; a large moon pie would be hoisted above the city, and then dropped at midnight. I mean, come on, this is Mobile, what more could we really expect. But even those expectations couldn't be met. Instead a piece of paper with stapled paper was "rigged" minutes before midnight. Witnesses say it was so far across the bay, that there wasn't much to be seen.

Yet again, another leader in our town wastes thousands of dollars that could be used elsewhere. And I work for the largest public school system in the county and there isn't a laptop available for me to borrow so I can meet my technology objectives.