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Nin Andrews Comics

Failing at Love 2.0 [by Nin Andrews]

Sapho poem of jealousy

I love this Sappho poem of pure jealousy. I love the “kindled the flesh along my arms/ and smothered me in its smoke-blind rush.” I’m just realizing that many of my favorite poems celebrate the worst parts of our beings: jealousy, lust, rage.

I am thinking about this because I have been reading this book, Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, a book recommended by my meditation instructor. The basic premise of the book is that love is not something you simply emanate like a yogi from a cave. Rather, you have to practice it in both small and big ways. The book suggests that you create micro-moments of love by engaging with people wherever you go—the drug store, the post office, the hairdresser, the sidewalk. Just imagine all the opportunities for micro-moments of love. After many such moments, you can develop something called positive resonance. I picture it like a halo around me.

Yeah, right.

But the other day, I thought, what the hell. I might as well try it out. Supposedly, if you do this practice, you develop a well-toned vagal nerve.  And who doesn’t want a toned vagal nerve? So I gave it a shot. I went to the Y for a workout and started gabbing with everyone in sight. I don’t like to chat when I work out, and people who talk too much give me hives. But I figured this was just an experiment. And besides hives, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

First, I talked to a man who was recently divorced and was trying to sweat out his rage at his ex. (He reminded me of that George Bilgere poem, “What I Want”). I didn’t really want to pursue that topic. So then I talked to a woman who hates her ass—okay, that was a little more interesting, and made me think of Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips.”  Next, I spoke to a lady who thinks the Y is some kind of preview of hell. She did have a few good points to make, especially about the sweaty deposits on the equipment (and yes, there’s a poem for that, too.) Then, in the swimming pool, a man started telling me how to improve my swimming form. He said he could coach me a bit. Really?

So what is it with men? I mean, what woman would tell a man she would like to coach him. Seriously!

(Afterwards, in the shower, I kept thinking of that wonderful poem, “Shooter,” by Jan Beatty.)

Needless to say, I was failing at micro-moments of love. Or at least I wasn’t feeling it.

And to make matters worse, the next day there were all these people trying to talk to me. 

I put my headphones on and looked into the distance. I didn’t even have anything to listen to, but headphones are useful. I think of them now as a protection against micro-moments of love. 

I thought of all my failed attempts at becoming a better human. I am literally a disaster. Then I thought of all the poets I love and how they celebrate their disastrous selves. Consider this poem by Julie Bruck from her book, How to Avoid Huge Ships.

To Janet in Jersey

        Dear Abby: Is it OK to put a paper towel holder in the bathroom?

                                                                —Janet in Jersey

Don’t ever hide your Bounty under the sink. Nor
your conflicted feelings about family members.
Remember the midwife who handed fawning new parents
their wet, perfect baby? In six months, she said,
when you want to drop this child from a window, call me.
Drink, Janet. Smoke, if it calms you. Take secret joy
in the failings of those who judge you. Judge them back,
if it gives you ballast. When you argue with your dead,
slap anyone who uses the word closure.  Rail, Janet,
rage against the body’s small betrayals. You know
they’re only practice for the big one to come. If others
are steeped in denial, that’s their problem. Pass gas.
Should someone instruct you in the art of breathing,
cut that person off for good. Chew your nails. Cheat at cards.
If you want a roll of paper towels in the bathroom,
Janet in Jersey, you get no argument from me. Fuck, yes!

And this poem from Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems always makes me laugh.

Poem

Wouldn’t it be funny
if the Finger had designed us
to shit just once a week?

        all week long we’d get fatter
        and fatter and then on Sunday morning
        while everyone’s in church
 
                        ploop !

from the archive; first posted April 2, 2019.


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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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