Featured

Reading Poetry to the Cat: Episode 1 [video]

An ongoing video feature in which Maribeth Theroux reads an original poem to her engaged cat.

Transcript:

I need a tai chi practice
I need a tai chi practice.
I need a tai chi practice.Globules.

Soon I will be
incapacitated, chair-ridden,
only able to eat
bologna sandwiches and
yellow cheese.

Bologna sandwiches
with yellow
cheese.  Globules.

You know?

I felt the energy accumulating
and getting stuck like globules–
globules–
getting stuck against river rocks–
and the globules–
globules–
sticking to other
globules–
globules.  And soon I will be incapacitated,
chair-ridden–
globules–
only able to eat bologna sandwiches
with yellow chee–

globules.

Bologna sandwiches with yellow
cheese.
Globules.

With yellow cheese.

Featured

I love you, Cover of Armchair/Shotgun. I love you.

When I saw the cover of almost-out Issue 4 of Armchair/Shotgun, I gasped.  Because it’s beautiful.  It’s everything I want out of a cover of a magazine, including a mouse inside of a bottle and my name.

No, really.  Mice have an inordinately high amount of nostalgic and sentimental value to me.  And, MY NAME.  ON THE COVER.  I never consciously thought about it, but now that it’s happening, it feels like one of my literary and creative aspirations has been attained.

Before I hit puberty, I accidentally became the caretaker of about 3492 pet mice.  They taught me about sex.  They taught me about squeaky wheels and smelly wood chips.  And then, they taught me about death.  Because all 3492 of them died.  The last two of large cancerous tumors that would seemingly appear on their bodies overnight.  Just as they had once appeared as tiny, eyeless pink things in a mound of other tiny, eyeless pink things next to the food dish.

I guess I bring it up because, I didn’t know much of anything during that time.  But even then, I knew writing was important to me.  And I felt like a writer.  So this cover, with my writing inside, and my name on the outside (along with a mouse), makes me feel a lot.  It makes me feel good.  And hopeful.  And excited.  And like a writer.

Thank you, Armchair/Shotgun.  Can’t wait to hold this thing.

GO SEE ARMCHAIR/SHOTGUN THIS COMING SUNDAY AT THE BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL!!!!  They will have typewriters and copies of ISSUE 4 FEATURING MY NAME.  It’s too much.  It’s just enough.  Go get it on Sunday, September 22nd, Brooklyn Borough Hall, TABLE 22!  Get info straight from Armchair/Shotgun HERE.

issue-4

Introducing Space Cadets, a web series for kids

I’m super excited to share a project that I’ve been working on with my husband and some close friends.  It’s an animated web series for kids, called Space Cadets.  We wanted to create a fun, engaging cartoon that would simply make kids laugh, and get them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math along the way.

The Space Cadets are a team of young explorers in space, made up of a space captain, an alien, and a robot.  I provide the voice of Kiki Sky, fearless captain of the Spaceship Wifi. She’s my favorite character I’ve ever played, because she has a huge heart and she just wants to learn and see her fellow Space Cadets succeed.  Plus, she’s silly, optimistic, and a great leader.

The first episode is available now, as well as the companion science experiment in which Captain Kiki makes her own sundial and shows kids how to make their own sundial with a paper plate and a pencil or straw — plus a printable Space Cadets coloring page.

I would LOVE to hear what you think of this web series.  It’s new and we’re hoping it resonates with kids.  Truly, if it makes them laugh, if they sing along, if they want to spend two minutes of their day with Captain Kiki and the Space Cadets, we’ll keep making more episodes and feel honored to be a source of fun (and hopefully learning, too!)  Please comment away! New episodes and science experiments to come!

 

 

 

When home is here, and also there

I just found myself writing to a friend, “Wish I was there to give you a hug.”  After I wrote it and sent it off, I teared up a little, and I looked at those words.  And it hit me how often I’ve been saying and thinking those words lately: “Wish I was there.”

I wrote a post several months ago called “Living far away from people.”  My husband and I got married at the end of 2014 and immediately moved across the country.  Before that, we lived close to his family, and my family, and his friends, and my friends.  We’ve made some friends here.  But for the most part, our support system is still far away.  This morning, I’m thinking especially about how, not only are the people who support me far away, but, I’m far away from the people I want to support.  And that’s a loss, too.

It feels like the dialogue in my head these days goes something like this: “What should I do here, while I’m not there.”  And, “What could I be working toward here, that I could eventually bring back to there.”  We recently purchased tickets to go back to visit for a weekend.  And while I’m excited, it’s a little crushing.  Because it means that after that weekend, we’ll come back here.  We won’t again be there for some time.  Home is here.  But home is there.  I’m struggling to reconcile those two realities.

I wrote a poem about this stuff.  It has to do with something I’ve been doing to cope.  It has to do with HGTV.  I suppose there are more destructive things.  But I am going to keep trying to be here, despite a huge slab of my heart being there.

Watching an inordinate amount of house hunting programs

The original, the international,
the tiny, the one in which they
buy a farm. And
next month, volunteering
to build a home. For
people who need a home.
“People who need a home.”
A broad description.
A description of so many
of us. Including we who
already have a home.

Thing that made me feel like a human being today

I kept seeing this tweet about Splitsider having called Chris Gethard’s new podcast the “most refreshing new comedy podcast in ages,” and I was looking for company while I did the dishes today, so I queued it up.

Cut to forty-five minutes later, I have finished the dishes and I’m just sitting on the couch.  Listening.  And then, bawling.  And identifying so strongly with this 27-year-old stranger in Texas who called up Chris Gethard to talk about what on earth to do to feel like a human being who is doing something meaningful and fulfilling with his time on this plane.  (Which, by the way, is pretty much all I’m concerned with ever.)

The podcast is called “Beautiful/Anonymous,” short for “Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People.”  And today, it made me feel like a human being.  Chris refers to the caller as an underdog a few times.  There’s cathartic screaming.  There’s goal setting.  There’s empathetic acknowledgement of that stuff in life that we so easily brush off: I’m unhappy. I’m not doing anything to change my situation.  And that makes me more unhappy.  But…what are you gonna do.

So, yeah.  It is refreshing.  And human.  And really engaging.  I’m glad I listened.  I’m glad I listened to Chris listen to somebody.  And encourage somebody.  And tell somebody, “You got this.  You can pull yourself out of the bullshit and get to something great.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just saw a Hummingbird Moth and it was amazing

I was walking home from Trader Joe’s, cradling a bag of potato chips like a baby, and occupied with some general anxiety, when…I saw this creature.  I thought it was a moth, but then I thought, “That’s a huge moth.  And it’s drinking the nectar of these yellow flowers like it’s a hummingbird.  And it’s hovering like it’s a hummingbird.  But it’s nighttime.  Who’s ever seen a hummingbird at night?  So maybe it’s a…HUMMINGBIRD MOTH?”  And then I googled it to see if it’s a thing, and IT’S A THING!

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the hummingbird moth is “one of the most delightful insect visitors to your garden.”  So THERE.  It wasn’t my garden.  But it was my neighbor’s garden.  And I walked by and saw it and now I will forever be looking for them.

Dang.  And I thought hummingbirds were exciting.  (They still are.  And so are moths of all other varieties.  Of course.)

Reading poetry to the cat, Episode 4 [VIDEO]

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve released a new episode of my series, “Reading poetry to the cat.”  (In which I read poetry to my cat.)

Here’s the first episode we’ve made since our big move to California at the end of 2014.  I guess it took us that long to settle in.  That long to decide, You know what?  Let’s read some poetry.  

Without further ado, here is Episode 4.  In which Tressa learns about sex.  Sort of.  Followed by the text of the featured poem.

Once

We saw a man pollinate a cacao tree

by hand.  He climbed the tree and had sex with it.

We all watched and said, “God,

he loves chocolate.”

Poem+Cartoon: Disneyland!

mickey

I am a ravenous,
homeless, naked visitor of Disney and
I have experienced magic.

Will you please take my photo with Mickey?


 

I went to Disneyland for the first time.  I wrote that poem in the lead up to the visit, just thinking about the crazy amount of money that it’s possible to spend for that experience.  Now, post-trip, I’m finding that poem to be a pretty accurate account of the experience.  There is truly no limit to the amount of money one can spend at Disney.  Disney goes above and beyond above and beyond to make it so that there is no limit.

That said, I’m glad I experienced it.  Even if I am poorer for it.  And possibly sicker.  (I’m definitely sick, but hard to say if Disney and its 348,288,228 strollers per capita are to blame.)  (Okay, they’re probably to blame.)

I never imagined visiting Disneyland or Disney World in my lifetime.  It’s never been a priority to me.  But I guess I can appreciate it being a priority for other people.  It’s fascinating how Disney isn’t just a culturally important thing–it’s a culture unto itself.  I never felt drawn into that culture for whatever reason.  But it’s definitely a thing.  It’s like those people who go to Jimmy Buffet concerts and yell, “Salt! Salt! Salt!”  Or serious Star Wars fans.  Wait…that’s part of Disney now, too.

I don’t know what speaks to me in that way.  Speaks to me strongly enough to make huge financial sacrifices for.  And maybe that’s just as sad as being a ravenous, homeless, naked visitor of Disney.  Because at least that person cares about something.  Deeply.  Consumingly.

Yeah.  That’s the key word, huh?  Consuming.

Do you think I’ll get in trouble for that drawing?  I won’t apologize.  That is exactly how I looked and felt!  Mickey, too.  It’s uncanny.

 

NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE THIS A PULITZER

Do you know that moment when you’re telling someone about what you consider a sizable achievement in your life, and they come back with something like, “Well, you have to start somewhere!”  I HATE that moment.  I remember the first time I got that response.  I’d written a one-act play in college, and they were producing it in the student directing festival.  I’D NEVER WRITTEN A PLAY BEFORE.  AND MY VERY FIRST ONE WAS GETTING PRODUCED.  It shouldn’t matter if squirrels were producing that play in an abandoned tire factory (which sounds awesome, actually).  The appropriate response, is not, should never be, to ANYTHING that was of enough note for ANYONE to share with you, “You have to start somewhere.”

I concede that that statement is meant to acknowledge what you have done and inspire you to continue doing more…in the most deflating way possible.  The exact line of thinking in response to that response is: “Oh.  I thought I was somewhere.  I thought this was cool enough to share with this person.  I guess I won’t tell people I did this.  I guess I won’t feel good about this anymore.  I guess I won’t tell this specific person anything mildly important to me ever again.”  And that really sucks.

I guess all I’m getting at here is, just feel good about where you are and what you’re doing.  I’ve spend so much, SO MUCH time and energy focusing on who I want to be and what I want to be doing.  It feels like it took me until about two weeks ago to just be able to be who I am and where I am in life and feel pretty okay about it.  You know, smell the roses and stuff.  Enjoy that thing you just wrote–instead of instantly jumping to, NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO PUBLISH THIS OR GIVE IT A PULITZER.

All of this might go without saying for some people.  And to those people, that is so great.  I mean it.  Who raised you?  What episode of Oprah did you watch?  At which silent monastery retreat did you transcend this earthly plane and become a Zen master?  But for the rest of us, really, it doesn’t take so much work.  It just takes remembering.  Remembering, “I’m already doing something.  I’m already somebody.  This doesn’t have to lead to $625,000 paid over five years and the much-deserved titled of ‘Genius.'”  And remembering all that when it matters.  Which, admittedly, can be all the time.

And once you remember that all the time, then you get on with doing stuff that matters to you.  Not to your mom.  Not to Oprah.  Or Obama.  Or the people who give out the title of ‘Genius.’  And especially not to the people who say, “You have to start somewhere.”

Because EFF THOSE PEOPLE.  Just kidding.  Love those people.  Because dang it if they haven’t had 43834983488934 people telling them their entire life that they, too, have to start somewhere.  EFF THAT.  No.  Really.  Eff. That.

Sidenote: The picture of the Goodyear blimp is not meant to be an advertisement for Goodyear tires, rather an endorsement for having a good year.  Have a good year!  (I’m off to write the first draft of an animated movie featuring squirrels making art in an abandoned Goodyear factory.  Best believe they will be having the best year.  Okay, I’m done.)

 

Living far away from people

I just googled it.  I live 2,888 miles from people.  2,922 if I don’t want to pay tolls.  Or, from $407 if I want to fly.  One way.

Things are happening to those people.  My brother is perfecting his meatball recipe.  He’s ordering a slow cooker after months of carefully conducted research.  He’s buying the Thanksgiving turkey from Williams & Sonoma and it’s arriving at my parents’ door in Massachusetts, a bird raised in California–where I live.  After they ate dinner, my mom said over the phone, “It made me feel so close to you!”

Living far away from people puts things in perspective.  And it makes you ask questions of yourself.  And your choices.  Specifically, “Why am I choosing to live far away from people?”  It’s been just over a year.  And I haven’t come up with a good answer.  Which, at a certain point (say, a year), makes you ask another question, “Why am I still choosing to live far away from people?”  And you come up with the inevitable answer, “No good reason.”

But that’s just me.  Other people have good reasons.  They have a good job.  They fall in love.  They need the specific planetary energy one can only find in Anchorage, Alaska.  When all of their loved ones live in Mississippi.

You start to develop a network of new loved ones after some time and a level of effort that depends on what kind of person you are.  I’m an introvert.  An introvert who likes to write things.  Including poetry.  So you have an idea of about how much effort it takes me.

This year of living far away from people has boiled down to one very important thing.  Before I left, I thought something was missing.  And now, I know that I was wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Cocker makes me feel stuff

Joe Cocker died.  In December.  Last December.  And somehow I didn’t hear until fairly recently.  I was walking home from the grocery store and my husband told me.  My reaction was this exactly: “Nooo!”

I don’t have a strong sense of my own identity.  There aren’t very many things I feel very strongly about, or identify very strongly with.  There isn’t an overarching genre, or color, or place that I can point to and say: “Yeah, the south side of Boston–that’s me!”  But there are smaller things.  Hazier things that when put all together start to make up something.  Some kind of feeling maybe. One of those things is this performance of Joe Cocker doing “The Letter” in 1970:

That exuberant mix of soul and sadness.  There’s joy in that performance.  And there’s pain.  There’s everything in that performance.

I just wanted to put this out there.  Just go on record that Joe Cocker means something to me.  I’m glad he was here.  He’s made me feel things, and he’ll continue to.

ALL the Podcasts I’m listening to right now. Right. Now.

I’ve been ingesting a lot of media lately.  A lot a lot.  I have the kind of job right now that allows me to listen to podcasts the entire workday.  So I basically listen to podcasts the entire workday.  In addition to, you know, working.

Right now I’m on a Good Life Project kick.  Good Life Project is “in-depth, unscripted, deeply-inspiring conversations and insights from acclaimed artists, entrepreneurs, makers and world-shakers.”  It really gives you that feeling of: “Why am I not world-shaking? There is nothing preventing me from being a world-shaker except myself.”

I have also gone through every episode of all three current shows offered by Gimlet Media.  Starlee Kine’s Mystery Show is probably my favorite, because it’s like this breath of fresh and unique air after hours and hours of other podcasts that just aren’t as fresh or unique.  And there’s some pretty dang fresh and unique content out there, people!

Then there’s always the much depended upon weekly offerings of This American Life, WTF, and You Made It Weird.  Also love On Being with Krista Tippet (she interviewed banjo players last week and it was that feeling of: “Why am I not a banjo player? There is nothing preventing me from being a banjo player except myself!”)

I went through a couple months of mainly listening to Professor Blastoff with Tig Notaro, David Huntsberger, and Kyle Dunnigan.  Can’t recommend it enough for those times when you’re lamenting all of the world you’re not shaking and the banjos you’re not playing.

That’s pretty much it.  Except for the WNYC shows that I love, including Death, Sex & Money, and the Longest Shortest Time.  Alec Baldwin’s show is really good, too, for times when you want Alec Baldwin in your head.

What else.  I hit up the audio of the Rachel Maddow Show (not a podcast, but offered as one and ingested as one).  Dabble in some Duncan Trussell Family Hour.  Look to Bookworm, because Michael Silverblatt in your head is even better than Alec Baldwin in your head.  Really, it’s like a warm, comforting, and intellectual hug for your head.

And finally, because it just can’t be mentally sound to ingest all this, lean on any and all of the MindPod Network’s shows to get that “ancient wisdom for modern times.”  Modern times, indeed.  Especially love listening to Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg.  MindPod Network is great because they really just got in on the podcast game and they are just destroying it.  Destroying it with ancient wisdom.

Now that I’ve cataloged it all so comprehensively I feel kind of awful.  I don’t want this to be my life.  But, for now, while I’m not world-shaking and banjo-playing, it’s pretty good.  It’s pretty okay.  Okay, it’s awful.  I’m miserable.  I want it to stop.  I want all the noise to stop.

Anyway.  I guess that’s my blog post.  And this is my life.  And those are my podcasts.

Oh, and I listen to my local NPR station KPCC on the drive in and home most days.  Please help me.  Okay, sometimes I switch over to Ryan Seacrest, but only if I’m really caffeined up and want to know what Ariana Grande is up to.  (She’s up to a lot, you guys.  She has, like, zero time for podcasts because she’s SHAKING THE WORLD.)

Image credit: This is the first image that came up when I did a creative commons search for “world shaker.”  Find it here in a very informative Wikipedia entry on Shaker furniture.