Sunday, July 29, 2007

When I grow up

Summer time can be a veritable wasteland for cable viewers - our network favorites go into reruns and new short-season summer series are often no more than a flash in the pan. Thankfully TNT developed The Closer a few years ago providing at least one night a week with some clever crime drama. Army Wives, while airing amongst the notoriously sentimental and uninspired shows on Lifetime, is an intriguing new series that lands it a good few notches above mediocre. But every summer, without fail, the Discovery Channel alone can boast an event with both reruns AND original programming that would completely beat out a week with new episodes of House, Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy, and CSI - at least on my TiVo.

Shark Week makes me want to go back in time and become an ichthyologist.

These animals are brilliant and beautiful. I just finished watching Top Ten Most Dangerous Sharks, which I remember watching last year. The narrator talked about all these amazing experiences, and shows biologists and divers doing the most exciting things. I want to go swim with sharks, get bitten by one or two (nothing fatal or damaging, just enough for a cool scar and a story), experience the awe and adrenaline of sharing the ocean with them.

When I was young I was obsessed with whales, and I feel like I missed out. If I had had a poster of the various species of sharks on my wall, instead of whales, perhaps I would have stuck to my guns and become a biologist of some sort instead of crapping out in high school and giving up on the sciences. It's not likely, as the science programs, even in my school district in coastal Maine, weren't exactly deep sea expeditions.

I found myself writing a poem about shark predation on the train last week, in anticipation of the Shark Week extravaganza. I felt like a cheat. I've never seen a shark in the wild, only in aquariums (and according to the aforementioned program, it was most likely a sand tiger, as they survive best in captivity and their needly teeth make for a great spectacle). My experience on boats is limited to Portland Harbor and the Staten Island Ferry. I once went on a whale watch - I was about 14 - and wound up seasick and vomiting and not seeing more than a dorsal fin. I will take whatever drugs necessary to go on a shark watch so that I can record their majesty in earnest.

I promise not to get eaten.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And so it begins...

Inspired by my many "serious" blogger friends, I am hereby abandoning my past as a "casual" blogger. Blogging is, as some might say, serious business, after all, and there are a lot of serious things to be said.

My name is Emily, but some of you may have read my poetry published under the moniker E. Kristin Anderson. You know, as in Yes, it's a penname, don't fault me for it. Some other Emily Morse got there first and published screenplays with my name. I know, I know, it's a tragedy. But I figure this is a great way to take advantage of my grandmother's maiden name. And she's an awesome lady, so why not be an Anderson? And as to prevent further confusion with the billions of Emily Andersons that must exist, I decided to shorten that first name to E. and use Kristin. Of course, this has caused just the slightest bit of agony. It seems that the popular way to spell Kristin is with an e: Kristen. Funny story: my Dad can't spell. And having not discussed spelling with my mother before she was put on infinite painkillers, I was born and my birth certificate was filled out wrong. And never corrected. I'm a walking mistake, in some sense of the world. No wonder I'm a hate-mongering tart.

Emily is a great name, though. The first person I shared my name with was Miss Emily Dickinson. I mean, clearly, there were millions, no, billions, of Emilies running amok in the world at the time, but when i was seven or eight I was standing in line at the book store with my mum and saw that there was a book with my name on it with all the other bargain books: the Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson. It MUST have been a bargain book because it was a massive hardcover tome with roses on the cover, and I can't imagine even my, who was and is a great advocate of reading and the arts for kids, spending more than ten bucks on a book of poetry that I wanted just because of the author's name.

I fell in love with poetry that summer. I read most of Emily's poems (I'd like to say all, but I know that's not true), which of course I thought were all about love of nature and wanting to live in the ocean as a mermaid and such - the naiveté of childhood blocks out the ideas of depression and suicide that are so predominant in such works - and that fall I started telling people that I was named after Miss Dickinson. A total lie: if I was named after anyone, my mother said, it was her "Aunt" Emily, who was actually just a favorite babysitter who spelled her name E-M-I-L-I-E (another spelling mistake on my parents' permanent record) and, truth be told, it wasn't so much that I was named after her but that my mother really liked her name. I kept lying, much like I had when I found out that Emily had once been a nickname for Amelia and started writing Amelia Morse on all my school papers.

Nevertheless, Emily Dickinson and her twee poems about the birds and the ocean and her deep, dark heartache built me as a writer. Her superfluous use of the em dash and her impenetrable meter may not be my shtick, but she gave me my first taste from a cup that I just can't seem to put down. Over and over I asked my mom why she never showed anyone her poetry, why she hid it (I imagined that she kept it with a few hand-made sachets of potpourri in her underwear drawer) and it was only published after she died. I can't remember what my mother answered with, only that it was unsatisfactory. Poetry is art, and art is meant to be shared.

Recently I began my quest to share my poetry in a serious manner (i.e., not just posting it on the web for my friends). On the right, much like my pretentious poet friend James, I'll post journals that have picked up my verse for publication in their pages. For the time being, some of my poetry is also available at my deviantART page, but it is quickly disappearing these days, as it finishes its time being workshopped and is mailed off to literary journals. Literary journals to me are worse than crack-cocaine and I hope never to go to rehab for this addiction. I hope that literature will be the problem that takes me over and puts me in the ground. It is, after all, so much like love.