Sunday, December 16, 2012

Friends with Benefits

Gotcha, didn't I? Seriously, though, my experience so far writing Facebook poems with friends has been beneficial in many ways. I've written fifteen decent drafts so far. I've shared my poetry with friends and family. I've involved my Facebook community in writing and reading poetry. Yay, me! But perhaps the thing I am most intrigued by is what I have learned.

My whole life has been centered on learning. I have never been out of a classroom, either as a student or a teacher, except for summer breaks and holidays. It is safe to say that I am obsessed with finding out, with revealing. And these fifteen poems have been the sources of some very interesting revelations.

Today, I made "southern style" cornbread thanks to my dear friend Liat who posted her memories of cornbread baked in bacon fat for FB poem #15. The image of the cornmeal and the cast iron skillet resonated with me, and I chose to focus the poem on it. That meant I had to research how to make skillet cornbread. I'm from LA. Cornbread came from the Jiffy box. I could not have written that poem without learning that "true southern women" have a jar or can of bacon fat on their stoves, that the grease should coat the bottom of the skillet, and that the skillet should be heated in the oven before the cornbread batter is poured in. It should make a satisfying sizzle. For lunch, my family and I had bacon, apple slices, and cornbread with salted butter baked in bacon grease. It was fan-tastic.

Thanks to Travis, I learned that a brass monkey is not, in fact, liquor that you buy illegally at Mike's Liquor Store on Western Blvd. and drink as you're walking down the alley in Gardena, contrary to what I learned as a teen. It is, however, a  brass plate designed to keep a pyramid of cannon balls from rolling around on the deck of a ship. Joe C. taught me that the origin of the "three to a match" superstition probably originated in WWI in the trenches. One cigarette lit from a match alerts the enemy of your location. Two allows them to sight you. The third gets a kill shot. Joe H. let me know that no actor speaks the title MacBeth. It is "the Scottish play," unless you want your show to go seriously wrong.

The image of standing in the mist of a waterfall was given to me by Kat, and Brent gave me the idea of a woman too stubborn to leave her house, even as men jacked it up to move it so that the land could be flooded. I have researched and learned about tattoo styles, Jimmy Fallon, Indonesian spices, Go Ask Alice, roller coasters, the formula for Silly Putty, and Mobius strips. It may seem silly, but I feel as if I know the FB friends who post a little better. I feel more connected to each of them.

While many feel that social media separates us because we do not have to communicate in person any more, I contend that it can be a way to learn and grow. Over the past 24 years, I have moved many times, and I have met and lost touch with many friends. FB allows me to keep up with some, and at the very least touch base with many more people from my past lives. I look forward to benefitting from my Facebook friends as long as they will indulge me.

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