Erik and Laura-Marie Magazine

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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Zine maker, peace activist, writer, reader, feminist. I like listening to good listeners. Email me at robotmad (gmail).

Monday, May 29, 2006

poetry isn't prose #14

Poetry is concise, compact thought. It usually has line breaks—the line is the main unit of thought. Poetry is like prose boiled down and condensed. It’s more likely to address the reader. Poetry is usually more with a punch. Poetry has more to do with sound. Poetry is effective in both content and form. Poetry is about sound as much as sense. Sometimes poetry can be almost entirely sound with very little sense.

I dislike the way poetry is bad-mouthed by people who don’t get it. They admonish, “Just come out and say what you’re trying to say” because they value clarity. But what they don’t understand is that poetry can be clearer than prose. Good poetry is at least as clear as prose.

I also dislike the way some people use poetry to get sympathy. They write autobiographical poems about depressing subjects just for attention. That’s a misuse of art. It’s okay to be autobiographical, and it’s okay to be depressing. Making art about painful past events can help a person understand what happened. But I hate it when the writer is trying to make me feel sorry for him. It creeps me out and makes me angry instead.

I love the way poetry is brief. It’s instant gratification. You don’t have to muddle through preliminaries. Also, I love the way poetry can be accessible to all people.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Epectitus #13

When you close your doors, and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your genius is within. And what need have they of light to see what you are doing?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

why Califonia is the best #13

awesome coastline
beautiful mountains
excellent deserts
variety of weather
variety of landscapes
variety of plant life
great food from many cultures
great size
best national parks
diversity of people
fertile farmland
superior public universities
good surfing
the Bay Area
sequoias and coast redwoods
whale migration routes

Sorry, Oregon and Washington!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

anxiety #13

The shared cornerstone of anxiety and depression is the perceptual process of overestimating the risk in a situation and underestimating personal resources for coping.
—Michael Yapko

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

movement #12

In order to get my adult ed teaching credential, I had to take a test called the CBEST. Erik and I journeyed to Santa Barbara, and I was almost late, but I passed nicely. It was like the SAT test—sharp pencils, tension, lots of seriousness, and strict time limits.

Taking the CBEST and having a Master’s degree meant I could become a substitute teacher. Did I want to become a substitute teacher? I tried to figure it out. Somehow I went for an observation of a special school in Bishop called the Jill Kinmont Booth school, which I call Booth school.

Booth school is special. Most of the kids are there because they got kicked out of regular school. They’re tough, mostly, or very unmotivated, or unusual and impatient. They’re likeable. Booth school doesn’t run a regular program: the classes are smaller, music is a required subject, and some subjects are team-taught.

I might really like to teach at a school like Booth if I could handle getting a high school teaching credential and if I could get the kids to listen to me (which is doubtful).

But I wanted to talk about Movement. Instead of PE, they have a class called Movement. It’s not necessarily about getting sweaty. I’m not sure of the philosophy behind it. On the day I observed, the small group of students and their two Movement teachers were playing a game that involved as much thinking as moving.

When I was in high school, I had to take PE my first semester. Then in subsequent years, marching band counted as my PE credit.

But I was daydreaming about PE yesterday and thought how much better it would have been if PE was really Physical Education, if you actually learned things, if you could strengthen and better your body as opposed to simple physical torture like “go run a mile” and getting graded on that.

I would have loved to take yoga, a simple stretching class, or some kind of dancing like ballet. Maybe that would have changed my life for the better. Strength training might have been useful also, if the weightlifting room hadn’t been the domain of so much exclusionary testosterone. Self-defense would have been great, or martial arts, or gymnastics. None of these choices was offered to me.

Erik told me that in Minnesota, public schools do have gymnastics teams, which really surprised me.

All I have from high school PE are blurry memories of playing volleyball on asphalt and thoughts of running, running, running. I don’t think God made my body for running, but I don’t think my PE teachers really cared much about my body. They seemed unhappy, and I don’t think they liked teenagers.

My thought is that if you’re going to do something, do it right. Public schools should either make PE a real learning and growing experience, or just cut it. High school is such an empty charade!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


It’s better to over-joke than under-joke.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the bagel #9

I bought some onion bagels, and the next day I was going to eat one, but I saw a spot of mold, and I was mad, because I just bought them. I picked at the spot, and then I realized it was actually a blueberry.

Monday, May 08, 2006

bad day, good day #9

I had a job interview at 9:45 on the rez. So I took a shower, put on a dress, had breakfast, printed a fresh resume, and then at 9:20 went out to my truck. I put in the key, turned it.... My truck tried to start but couldn’t start. I tried about 20 times. The sound got slower and slower every time I turned the key. A raven was in one of the trees in our front yard making a cry that sounded like laughter.

I called my mom on her cell phone, but she was at a meeting. “Do you know your dad’s number?” she asked quietly.

I called my dad on his cell phone. He said it sounded like the battery was dead, which I already thought. We decided the best idea was to try to switch out the batteries between my truck and the non-functional Oldsmobile that just sits there by the side of the house.

So I looked for the right size crescent wrench and didn’t have one. I needed 5/16, but my wrenches only go down to 7/16. I had to use a cheap adjustable piece of crap wrench that would never stay the right size. I adjusted it over and over.

At 9:45 I called the place on the rez where I had my interview. “Is there any way I could come in this afternoon?” I asked, explaining how my truck’s battery was dead (I probably sounded tearful). Someone called back and said I could come in at 3.

I got the battery out of the truck, but I couldn’t get the battery out of the Oldsmobile because the right nut was stuck. They have the battery right up against the plastic container that holds the windshield wiper fluid, and a person can barely get their hand in there.

I gave up for a while, changed my clothes because I didn’t want to get grease on my dress, and decided to borrow a tool from the neighbors across the street, the nice Vargases who have a mean little dog. Mrs Vargas helped me. Walking back to my house, I scraped my leg on a stick, and blood bubbled out. It was a warm day, almost 60 degrees out, so I wore sandals, and I got snow in my sandals too.

So I finally succeeded in switching out the batteries thanks to the Vargas’ 5/16 crescent wrench, but when I tried to turn on the truck, nothing happened—not a sound. I said curse words, put the truck’s original battery back in, and returned the wrench to the neighbors across the street.

“Is there anything else we can do to help you?” asked the nice Mr Vargas, who was home on his lunch break—by now it was noon. He speaks with a strong accent yet has strange light eyes. I explained how I’d tried switching out the batteries, but the Oldsmobile battery was deader than a doornail. “Do you want a jump?” he asked. I said, “Yeah, that would be great. But my truck’s kind of in a weird place.” “We can always push it to the street,” he said.

Our driveway doesn’t seem very steep, but when I took the truck out of park, it almost ran me over as it quickly rolled back into the street. Mr Vargas came over with his truck and hooked up the jumper cables. We tried jumping my truck about 10 times. “Seems like it’s just not getting any gas,” he said. He came into the truck and stepped on the gas hard about five times. That time, the jump worked, and I felt the happiness rise in me as the sound of the engine rose to a good-sounding thrum.

But all was not well. “You got a water leak,” Mr Vargas informed me. I looked at the huge puddle forming on the ground. “I can’t tell where it’s coming from,” he said, “But it might just be a hose.” I stuck my fingers in the puddle’s liquid. “Looks like oil,” I said. He shook his head. “Just oily water?” I asked. I sniffed my fingers then wiped them off on the ground.

We discussed what I should do. I said, “Maybe I should throw on my clothes and drive to town right away before it dies.” He wouldn’t advise me. “Do you think I can get to town with this leak?” I asked. He still wouldn’t advise me. I thanked him for his help and called my dad again.

My dad and I decided the best thing to do would be to fill up the overflow container with water, bring a bunch of water with me, keep an eye on the temperature gauge, and drive straight to the mechanic, then walk from the mechanic to my job interview. (This was after considering and rejecting many other options—Erik coming home early from work to give me a ride, calling a taxi—Bishop has no taxis—and that sort of thing.) “You got to get it to the mechanic anyhow,” Dad said.

I ate a quick bowl of cereal for lunch and put my dress back on. The truck was still running (I didn’t want to turn it off for fear that the battery hadn’t charged enough). I hopped in, put on my seat belt, and put the truck into reverse. It immediately died.

I tried over and over to start the truck again, but this time, it didn’t even try to start. It was dead silent. I said curse words and went into the house to call my dad again. He was with a customer, so I got the voicemail on his cell phone and left a message describing what had happened and saying that I had basically given up and didn’t plan on making it to the job interview.

Dad called back and told me that probably there was a bad connection and that I should make sure the battery was in there tight. I told him I already thought of that and tried to wiggle it, but it wouldn’t even wiggle. He thought it wasn’t making good contact. “Do you have a wire brush?” he asked. He told me to remove the battery again and take a wire brush or sandpaper and rub the connectors because they probably were corroded with acid, which was making the connection bad.

So I tried to take out the battery again. I had left my key in the ignition. When I turned the nut, I heard the buzz that means “put on your seatbelt” and felt happy because that meant I just needed to tighten it better and I could go to town after all.

The drive to town was uneventful. I kept looking at the temperature gauge, but the engine never got hot. I pulled into the mechanic shop positioned closest to my job interview and told the mechanic, “I think I have a water leak.” He looked under the hood and said, “It’s just your overflow leaking. See that right there? It’s cracked. If you want to fix it, go down to Kragen and tell them you need a new overflow container. We would put it in for, uh, 15 bucks. But if you have a boyfriend or husband, he could probably do it.”

I knew it wasn’t just the overflow container—I knew that was just leaking because I had put extra water in it to get to town. “Let me tell you the story of my day,” I said, and I explained a condensed version of everything I’ve told you.

“You have a fuel leak,” said a young kid on a bicycle who had been listening. “I can smell it,” he added. The mechanic agreed. “I didn’t see that before,” he said about a small patch of fuel my truck had dripped on the ground.

The owner John gave me a ride to the rez, but it was only 2, so I went to my old work, the Indian Education Center. They didn’t seem surprised to see me even though I hadn’t been there in about six months. Keith talked to me for an hour. He told me all the gossip and how the kids are doing.

A girl came in and said that a cow was loose that morning, and the school bus had to stop for the cow. She said a man was chasing the cow, and she saw it jump over the fence. “I never seen a cow jump before!” she said. I asked her how high the fence was.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


There is no “objective” or universal tone in literature, for however long we have been told there is. There is only the white, middle-class, male tone.
—Carolyn Heilbrun

Thursday, May 04, 2006

abortion #8

I remember when my roommate in college got pregnant and decided to have an abortion. It was her Catholic mom who helped her decide and went with her to the clinic. My roommate never told her boyfriend, who left big bruises on her arms. When she told me, I just didn’t know what to say, and I still wouldn’t know what to say, but I wouldn’t say no.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

weird things #8

Erik was getting in the car to drive to work when he noticed my wallet was in the car. He was going to be late if he didn’t hurry up, so I asked him to throw it to me. He threw it so bad it went up on the roof and stuck there. I started cracking up. He ran into the house and got the broom, climbed up on the porch railing, scraped my wallet off the roof, caught it, and handed it to me. Then he ran back to the car and drove off to work (I waved).

I bought a tomato and left it on the kitchen counter. It got really ripe. When I finally decided to eat it, I cut into it and was disgusted to see little green things in it, which I thought were bugs. But they weren’t bugs--they were leaves. The seeds had sprouted inside the tomato. I didn’t know if I should eat them. I finally decided to plant them. But they didn’t grow.

Erik was driving to work one morning and saw the road was full of cows. He stopped. Then the rancher motioned to him and said, “You’re just going to have to get around.” Either the fence broke or he was herding them down the street, but it only happened once. Eventually a large truck was coming down the road in the opposite direction. Some of the cows got scared and moved over, so Erik finally got through.

One morning I picked my shoe up off the porch, and there was a huge black centipede under it. We have praying mantises too.

Last winter we had an icicle hanging from our roof that was more than five feet long, right by the front door.