Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dear Idiot

Besides using this blog just to stalk (Happy, Middento?) random individuals (like Mark S. Manasse, Coach Steve, Ciara Mumford, and Eva Longoria)...I have decided to open the mailbag and respond to some of my readership. So, today, I start a new series of blogs entitled Dear Idiot.

Question Number 1:


I was wondering about some of your thoughts on Facebook. I notice that you joined it recently, and I wanted to get your take on it....and if you would be my friend.

John from Boston.

Dear Idiot:

No. I don't know you, and if you ask idiotic questions like that, I don't want to know you. From your question, I presume the following about you:

(1) You most likely watch (and like) Tyler Perry movies.
(2) You still wear acid-washed jeans.

In case you couldn't tell, these are things an idiot would do.

In fact, I bet you are like a lot of other idiots out there who think people somehow now magically remember their birthday. THEY DON'T. You aren't special, John. You see, Facebook actually sends out a reminder to everyone that your birthday is coming. I swear, if one more person comments or acts surprised that so many people wished them a fricken happy birthday on Facebook...I am going to personally fly out to Boston and kick YOUR ass.

Question #2:


Have you ever been bi-curious?


Dear Idiot:

Of course. For example, just today while writing this blog, I wondered about (a) How dumb you could possibly be and (2) How many times you have tried to shove your entire fist into your own mouth.

You see, I was curious about two things at fricken curious.

Question #3


From reading your blog, I see that you are an English professor. What is your least favorite word?

Samantha S.

Dear Idiot:

That actually isn't that bad of a question, but since I am trying to stay within a certain motif here, I have to lump you in with John and Steve. Sorry.

Until recently, my least favorite word was loaf. That word has always bothered me for some reason. A few weeks ago, while walking through the store, I noticed they were selling something called niblets. What the F is a niblet? It's corn. That's it. If you want to get about cornlets. Just because people have the ability to create words, doesn't mean they have to. I suggest we strike the word "niblet" from the English one is going to miss it anyway.

That's it for today. Keep the questions coming, Idiots. It helps me have something to write about.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Coach Steve: The Love Affair Continues

You know what true love is? You probably THINK you know how to define it, but I bet you don't. I realized what true love is this morning, at about 7:45 AM. In a pool.

There are many things I could say I admire about Coach Steve. I could say that I admire that he used the word "nooner" during a conversation with me today without cracking a smile. That is admirable.

Of course, Coach Steve was mentioning that he coached at NOON on Tuesdays when I asked which other days he taught. Only for a moment, did I hope for something more...more...nooner-ish.

I could also say I appreciate that he offered for me to come see him in the afternoons while he taught "his kids." I only imagine that he would have to "give me some pointers" in between telling little Johnny not to pee in the pool...and for Lucus, a seven-year-old hooligan, to "stop flashing his penis." I appreciated the offer. What a nice guy!

I could say that it made me ecstatic today that I was doing my fastest laps ever because of his hands-on tutelage. No man has ever taken such an interest in my hips and how I go about turning them. But his watchful eye made me ecstatic as I completed my first 57-second lap ever. In my life.

But all the ecstatic feelings, admiration, and appreciation in the world don't necessarily equal love.

So I ask again, do you know what love is?

While I stared up at Coach Steve this morning, while he towered over me, while I floated in a pool, while he gave me timeless advice...he had gigantic boogies in his nose, and they didn't even make me want to puke.

THAT is love, my friends. That is love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I...Have Made...My Hips Rotate

You know that scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks pounds his chest after he made fire and then struts around like a chicken hawk?

If not, here it is in German (this made me laugh out loud for about 2 minutes).

That was me today during my morning swim (minus the German)....after about a year-and-half of coach after coach saying:

Mark (you fucking idiot), rotate your hips. Just rotate them. This will make swimming so much easier...

Yet not one of them took the time to explain what that meant or HOW one goes about doing it. Until today. Today I met Coach Steve...and I think I want to blow him.


Coach Steve is a new instructor at the YMCA Masters Swim in Mission Valley and normally instructs little kids. Maybe this is why he was able to explain it to me...because when it comes to swimming, I have the maturity level of a thirteen-year-old boy after watching his first porno...I'm all excited...and I know what I want to do in theory...but there is no way I can make it happen. Did I also mention Coach Steve is dreamy? Because he is.

(By the way, I know Darron is going to try and find him, but since he is new, he isn't on their website yet. I checked.)

Anyway, as I finished a set of 400 yards after everyone else had been done for over a minute (a long time in the swimming world, you see), I called Coach Steve over and coyly asked him to "watch my form" and to "give me some pointers on my technique." He was more than happy to oblige...and he told me to "do a few laps for him."

Anything for Coach Steve.

So I swam up and back and completed 50 yards while Coach Steve watched my every move, and as I returned, Coach Steve told me to...get this...USE MY LEGS. The thing was, he finally used an analogy that I could legs, said Coach Steve, should be like loose poles and they should move at my hips, while my ankles were to remain soft.

Loose poles? Hips? Soft body parts? He was talking my language!

Honestly, I don't know why this particular way of explaining what to do worked...but work it did....and the next thing I knew...I was swimming up and back with general ease and MY HIPS WERE ROTATING BY THEMSELVES...just for Coach Steve.

I cannot possibly explain how cool it is to actually improve at this damn sport after just not getting it day after day. But there I was...three days into my Masters Swim training...and BAM.

I am totally dreading that the next time I go swimming that I won't be able to do it again...but if nothing else...for one day...I made my hips rotate...and Coach Steve was there to see every gyration.

Friday, February 06, 2009

What Makes a Writer?

I write stuff, and have written stuff, other than the crud I put on this I think to myself that means "I'm a writer"

But am I?

I was at my writing group today, and I said the following to one of my co-groupers:

"This chapter is good. It has a consistent voice and the story naturally flows...while your previous chapter seems like there is an author trying to write a story."

And it stung me to say that because then I wondered...does my writing do that, too? Which led to: Does my writing suck? Is it even good?

I have story upon story "finished" (whatever that means), edited...and seemingly not terrible, yet I won't submit anything to anyone...and for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

Is it because I don't want to know that, in actuality, my idea of being a writer is a person trying to be an author who is trying to write a story? I don't even care if someone else publishes or even likes what I write, as long as it seems right to me...but what makes a writer?

When I think of who I am and what I want to seems like being a writer is inside of my core...but I can't even define what that means for myself. I've been published before in some low budget collection...but that didn't seem to do it...and I was almost (whatever that means) published in The New Yorker...but that didn't do it either.

And for years now...I write, and have written, story after story, and they sit on my computer in a folder called "writing."

But what does that mean?

My ultimate goal, from the time I was younger than all the students who I today try to help, has always been to write one thing that changed one person's life in such a way...that they would never forget the piece. Not me. The piece. I want to give someone I don't even know this "ah ha" that I can't seem to forge for myself.

I don't know what a writer is...but I seriously know what it isn't. And at this isn't me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Weight lost in the last four weeks: 21 lbs. Once again proving that I am good at two things in life -- both gaining and losing weight.

Rank on Google when searching for Mark Manasse: 3rd and 8th (but has been as high as number 1 -- take THAT Mark S. Manasse)

Time to finish Carlsbad Half Marathon: 2 hours and 11 Minutes. Not so bad for a fatty.

How many good episodes of The Office there have been this season: 0. That show fricken sucks now...and man does Pam look haggard.

Weeks Andrew Bynum is out: 8 to 12. Stupid MCL.

Minutes until class starts: 10. I gotta go!