10 Things (you probably already knew about me)

#1: I’m terrible at tagging games

Why else would it take me so long to answer Jack Preston King’s prompt?

The truth is that it’s because I’m really quite shy (yeah I know, my boss never believes me either, but that doesn’t make it untrue). I can write a confessional and throw it into the message in a bottle that is the Internet any day of the week, but make me divulge small personal details with groups who I actually care a bit about, and I freeze.

I never know what to say in these things. But I’m doing one anyway, because I’ve called a lot of negative vibes to my profile recently, and need to cleanse them a bit. So let’s see if I can muster some lightheartedness for five minutes.

It’s true. I took piano lessons from the time I was about 7 through middle school, and even played in music festivals and for church and stuff like that in high school. I was a pretty terrible student because I stubbornly refused to practice unless I had a specific performance (much to my piano teacher’s dismay), so although I had a pretty good knack for it and always got top marks in festivals, that knowledge all kind of dried up and shriveled into what it is today: just a good enough understanding of theory to be able to bang my way through Regina Spektor and Cat Power covers by ear (ok, who am I fooling: I usually need sheet music for Regina).

But stuff like this is easy:

It’s just Heart and Soul in the key of D. But if I need to break my husband’s heart, it gets the job done. Willie does too:

Please don’t bring him down;
please don’t…let him go.
He’s on the same side as you,
he’s just a little bit behind.

The Greatest is, of course, the one I play for me.

A revelation which shocks precisely no one, I’m sure. Yeah, I took karate in high school instead of volleyball or cheerleading (I too chubby to make my way to the top of any cheerleader pyramids). It’s a long story that’s actually not super funny, so I’ll save it for another time. But yes, I know how to toss you over my shoulder, and I can throw a mean roundhouse.

My students all know this, because I tell them every semester, but you folks probably don’t, because I rarely talk about my teaching here. But it’s all true. My design students teach me so much, and washing through my own experiences in business and in life with them has been such a meditative, therapeutic, ever-expanding process.

It’s “the Business Side of Design” — that’s the course I teach. Just the one. But I’ve been doing it longer than I’ve done anything else in my professional career, and I intend to do it for as long as they let me. Every semester of students brings more evidence of the next generation’s empathy, thoughtfulness, and sustainable thinking.

They’re smart kids, these ones. And they don’t have much patience for society’s shenanigans. Which I take as a good sign.

I’ll save you the picture of me with my last four point (because I understand that some people would probably find that gauche), and it’s been a few years, because my husband and daughter have been persnickity eaters and I’m still working on the last batch of venison, but I enjoy deer hunting season here in Michigan just as much as the next hunter.

On November 15th I get up just before 6, put all the wool apparel on my body I can find, load my pockets full of bullets and snacks, grab my Marlin and coffee thermos, and sneak out to my dad’s old deer blind in the field to sit there and watch. For hours.

That’s what a lot of people will never understand about hunting, because few hunters will admit it: the best part of hunting is the solitude. In fact, hunting is worth it for the solitude alone. I know plenty of hunters who will go “hunting” without even bothering to bring ammunition.

Call it hillbilly meditation, if you want. I love it. Just look:

I also love a good venison heart steak. Cut 1/4 inch thick, breaded in salt and flour, flash fried in butter to medium rare.

Mmm. Now I’m hungry.

Another shocker. I don’t have a TV it will work on anymore, tragically. And I’d probably hyperventilate trying to blow enough dust out to get it to work. I can’t get rid of it, though. So I look at it, and play Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Wii, which my daughter thinks is hilariously quaint.

I told you I was a nerd.

I don’t know about Europeans or more metropolitain folks, but for a rural midwestern country bumpkin, I always thought that was a bit of a feat.

I went to Guyana twice with my church’s optometry mission trip (our tagline should have been “get glasses, get saved!”) for 10 days each, on a 10 day backpacking trip in Ontario, and when I was 16, I competed in karate tournaments in Dublin, London, and Paris.

Later, I spent the summer between my junior and senior years in college in the rural Philippines.

I think it’s probably those early experiences which prompted me to be so interested in anthropology, and how human culture works. And to have empathy for people who see things very differently from the way I do.

And also to like weird food, and to be a little fearless. There’s a lot you can do without your daddy looking over your shoulder. Did I mention I caught and ate piranha in sugar cane fields in Guyana?

Cuz when the locals are like, “ok, everyone wade into this muddy canal full of piranha and walk a half mile upstream with this net,” my response is “sure!”

It’s a nasty stress habit I’ve had my whole life. Every now and then I kick it and buy a bunch of nail polish, then something stressful happens and one of them snags and all hell breaks loose.

See, people? I am human. I have stress, and I have coping mechanisms. Not quite sure why I feel like I need to emphasize that. But there it is. Look at my flaws, people. LOOK AT THEM!

Along the lines of humanizing myself, I so often forget how much of me isn’t seen behind the veil of the Internet. Namely: my life partner. And I don’t often talk about him, because there isn’t much I can say that doesn’t sound like shameless bragging. But the truth is that I’m one of those incredibly lucky people who has a partner who is my true intellectual, emotional, and physical equal, and his quest for individuation is always feeding inspiration to my own. He makes my life better. Also: he’s a sexy, sexy man.

It’s like Deirdre and Naoise, minus the tragic ending. Which only SouthPawPoet will get.

I don’t talk so good in prose when things get close to the heart — that’s what poetry’s for. That’s why I write things like this:

So now you know what all the sexy poetry is about.

My dad’s side of the family is all hillbilly bootleggers and entertainers. My grandmother, Betty Lou, was the piano player (and bombshell) in a boogie woogie band that played night clubs up and down the Puget Sound, all through her 30s, 40s, and 50s. When I moved to Washington state for school, my dad’s brother, Jimmy, was hopping clubs across San Juan Island with his bluegrass band, and I would often tag along — as the “sound technician,” in order to be allowed in as a minor. Jimmy’s best bit, I always thought, was when he played electric guitar and harmonica at the same time. He looked like Bob Dylan, but sounded like Frank Sinatra.

Jimmy would also drag me to festivals, where rhythm and blues bands would spend hours working through a good riff while dried up old coots scored ditch weed. Rhythm and blues and bad weed, driving into your brain like a freight train, from sun up to the wee hours. I fucking loved it.

Rhythm and blues sounds, to me, like my ancestors making lemonade.

It makes me miss them. I miss my dad especially. But then most of yall already knew that.

I told you I was bad at tagging games, and most of you have already played, so I’m just going to tag one person: John Metta, who I know is off busy being a superdad and generally awesome human. So I’ll just leave this here for whenever he gets back.

Thanks for making me play, Jack.

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marjorie steele

poet, educator, hillbilly gnostic pagan. teaching business to designers.