In which Marie has a bit of a bad day and discovers the secret of life.

There was a ginormous earth-shattering fireball-spewing thunderstorm in Amherst last night. I know this not because I was there, no, we had a small sibling storm in Shelburne Falls. No, I know this from hearsay and because when I went into the bookshop at 7:30 this morning, not a single computer worked. Let me say that again. NOT A SINGLE COMPUTER WORKED.

After much fiddling with wires and unplugging and plugging of cables, I managed to get our main computer up and running. And then I fixed the computer at our primary register, halleluiah, we’re not completely crippled. But all of the other 5 are just blinking away.

I spent many many minutes on the phone with tech support — we’ve decided that the stargate (I just love that we have a piece of hardware with that appellation!) is fried, and they’re sending a new one with a chip that I have to install in the primary computer’s guts somewhere, and so my tomorrow morning is sure to be equally taxing.

But here is the point: the secret to life: Pay attention.

That’s the secret to writing, too, I think.

Because somehow I’ve become known as the computer tech person on staff here. I’m not especially handy. At all. But I read the manual for our particular inventory management program. And I’ve paid attention. And the first rule of thumb before you call tech support is fiddle with wires, unplug & replug all the cables, etc. Because if you don’t, they’re going to tell you to do it anyway, and if by some miracle it does fix your problem, you’re going to feel like a big schmuck.

I like to start every conversation with tech support with a laundry list of everything I’ve already done to try to amend the problem. It makes me feel really good, they’re so appreciative.

There are other problems, but never mind for now. I’m drinking a sweet frozen strawberry drink from a local coffeehouse, ahhh. I will return to the store, immerse myself in more returns, mindless manual labor, and try to devote some brain capacity to poem-thinking.

NaPoWriMo Draft 12.

Last night I went to hear Gabriel Fried read at Amherst College. I really like his book, Making the New Lamb Take (Sarabande Books, 2007), so I was excited to go, though exceptionally tired. I’m glad I exerted the effort. He’s very sweet, and his reading style conversational. And he has the most amazing head of red hair! Totally unexpected. I don’t know why, but there’s something very disarming about a red-haired man. Maybe because usually it’s genuine. And his is very red, that rare kind of red, not merely strawberry.

Many poems in his collection deal with Biblical themes, and it was surreal to watch him read one of my favorite poems, “Abel, after,” which imagines Abel reborn as a lamb in Cain’s flock, while Gabriel’s head glowed in the spotlight, haloed in fire.


Busy manual labor kind of day at the bookstore, working on returns, always sad business. This draft is slight as a result, but I hope not too flimsy for you. Amazing the kind of difficulty I have writing something even as small as this. Anyway, for your temporary pleasure: