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Word to your mother

Mary Richert Archive

Mary Richert

“Quick Fix” or “Lets all revel in this rejection”

October 26th, 2009
by Mary Richert

COLUMBIA, MD -

I gave myself an assignment. It’s this thing I’ve been doing on my blog, giving myself homework, because I don’t do anything unless someone with authority tells me to do it, and since I’m technically qualified to teach writing (let’s not talk about the actuality of that), I figured I could be my own teacher and give little lessons to myself.

My most recent completed assignment was to write and submit an essay for publication. It didn’t matter if I got published as long as I stopped the negative mental chatter that always stops me just before I do anything with too much potential for awesomeness.

So, I submitted the essay, and yesterday, I got my rejection notice. I can’t say it was entirely unexpected, but here’s the second part of that assignment: the post mortem. Put the essay out there and pick it apart. What’s wrong with this essay? What would you have done to make it better? Or are the editors of said publication just out of their minds? I’ll let you decide. (more…)


Mary Richert

Anxiety Paints a Self Portrait

October 11th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ARNOLD, MD -

The windows around the front door look like aliens. I seem to be the only one who recognizes it, but it’s so obvious. They are tall, skinny aliens with arms that reach down to their knees. Their bug-eyed heads are elongated just like the aliens on TV, except that the top comes to a little point like a dollop of whipped cream. As a kid, I ran up the stairs feeling their noodle arms reaching out to grab me and pull me out of my world and into theirs. I always felt them just an inch behind me

Standing in the laundry room, if I tapped unexpectedly on the metal surface of the washer or dryer, the noise might be startling, and suddenly I was thinking, “What if that’s the signal?” The signal for ghosts or aliens or whatever might be waiting in the ether for its moment, its chance to come abduct me or just to show itself, thereby ruining the reality on which I had an already tenuous grasp. I would do it again to disrupt the signal — rap on the washer once quickly, try to make the exact same noise — was it once for yes and two for no? I don’t remember. Do it again just in case. What if I have said something I don’t even understand in their alien language? Tap out a complicated rhythm to indicate a scratching out of what has inadvertently been written on the paper of time-space continuum. If all else fails, run out of the room and all is forgotten.

(more…)


Mary Richert

A Thousand Words: Pretty Doesn’t Cut It

September 29th, 2009
by Mary Richert

COLUMBIA, MD -

Here they are in Disney World with matching princess-mouse hats. The sun shines warmly on their painted faces this November afternoon.

Grace, eight years old, loud mouthed, freckled, athletic, proud, and protective, stretches her arms across the railing behind her. Her chin is high, and the blue sky stretches into eternity behind her as she gazes thoughtfully into the distance, but out of the corner of her eye, she checks you out and sizes you up. The star on her forehead marks her as a visionary.

Little sister Leah smiles sweetly into the camera. Her dark wavy hair falls around her shoulders, her head tilts with affection for the photographer, their silly Uncle John. She is a butterfly to be sure, lovely and elusive, flitting past and becoming something new every second.

(more…)


Mary Richert

Joyously Obscene

September 23rd, 2009
by Mary Richert

ANNAPOLIS, MD -

I learned to curse from the kids down the road. I don’t know where they learned it. Maybe they snuck into the living room late one night and watched Cinemax. Or maybe someone let them listen to that George Carlin bit (Carlin, of course, has become my cursing idol - what an appreciation for language that man has). They knew all the basics and a few interesting combinations. I didn’t know what “fuck” meant but understood it to be foul and taboo, so the combination “buttfuckers” struck me as joyously obscene. We were the kind of kids who integrated new words into our vocabulary by shouting them while jumping on the trampoline, leaping off the bed or bounding from one piece of furniture to another trying not to touch the floor — lava, obviously. If you had first encountered cursing in such a magnificent, joyful, wild atmosphere, you would love it, too. Few things entertain me more than the thought of my eight-year-old self in mid-air shouting “buttfuckers” with glee. (more…)


Mary Richert

Comfort Words

September 8th, 2009
by Mary Richert

COLUMBIA, MD-

Christmas.

That’s the word I come back to. My brain, sometimes, gets quiet, but never silent. In the background, there is a restless rustling, the sound of my mental secretary, poor girl, who is always working. The frontal lobes are at rest, passive, eyes and ears like buckets, just receiving, while somewhere in the amygdalae, she is trying to get my attention. “What about… what about… what about?”

(more…)


Mary Richert

The Things I’ve Outgrown

August 5th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ANNAPOLIS, MD-

I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a rock star. For the two years I took gymnastics I thought I would go to the Olympics. I thought maybe I would be a lesbian. I fully intended to be a poor writer, living in an apartment somewhere in New York with two or three dogs and no electricity. I considered doing the same in the country except that the basic necessities would take up all my time. I feared I would live out the dream scene in Look Who’s Talking, in which Kirstie Alley’s character pictures her life if she married John Travolta’s character. I got really close on that one. I thought I might be single for a while. I thought of becoming a happy old maid. I thought I’d be dead by now.  (more…)


Mary Richert

Behind the Mask of a Supposedly Very Nice Person

July 1st, 2009
by Mary Richert

ANNAPOLIS, MD-

In my role as a Very Nice Person, I think many things I never say. Oh, I think about saying them. I think them loudly. I say them with my posture. I glare at my computer screen through the most long-winded and pointless stories. But even when I’m seething, I cannot stop myself from uttering the occasional polite “mmhmm.”

It’s actually embarrassing how often I have to fight the urge to say cruel things. For example: (more…)


Mary Richert

Visceral

June 19th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ANNAPOLIS, MD-

Visceral: Of or pertaining to the viscera.

Viscera: The organs in the cavities of the body, especially the abdominal cavity.

Viscus: Singular of viscera

Viscous: Of a glutinous nature or consistency; sticky; thick; adhesive

Vicious: Addicted to or characterized by vice; grossly immoral; depraved; profligate

I could go on looking up definitions of words all day. My vocabulary is so lacking. Visceral, though. That’s a good one.

(more…)


Mary Richert

Magic Coffee Eases Recession Woes

June 16th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ANNAPOLIS, MD-

I thought my days as a broke-ass kid were gone, and maybe so did you, after school when you joined the workforce, started earning enough of a paycheck to graduate from ramen noodles to actual stove-top macaroni and cheese. Maybe you, like me, thought that once you stopped relying on the dollar menu for every meal because you finally had enough money at any given time to spend a few bucks on groceries, there’d be no turning back. No more penny pinching. No limit to the grown up foods you could buy, cook, eat, and even share with guests. (more…)


Mary Richert

Snake in the Birdhouse

June 9th, 2009
by Mary Richert

LAKE ARTHUR, LA-

All kinds of animals live at my parents’ camp. My parents go every weekend, wake up early and sit on the porch sipping their coffee and watching the animals go about their lives. While some homeowners along the lake try to run the animals off (the owls and geese leave too much poop), my parents pretty much love every last one that takes up residence in their yard. They’ve put up birdhouses for a few different kinds of birds, including purple martins and wood ducks. But they also loved the water snakes, harmless to humans, that could be seen swimming toward shore with a small fish in their jaws, trying to get on land to enjoy their catch. (more…)