What Did You Create Today?

Everywhere I turn in this cozy room, I encounter a new artist.  

Pamela Anderson, The Pfister’s new Artist-in-Residence, is on the west coast during this event, and her fellow artist, Melissa Dorn Richards, has taken up temporary residence in the studio, carving the thick white paint on her square canvases to re-imagine industrial mop heads in surprising ways.  

But here, in the former space of the upscale Rogers Stevens menswear store that has been transformed for a United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) event hosted by the Marcus Corporation’s managers, the unsung artists of The Pfister are emerging.

  • The bartender, Luther, creates music, mainly percussion, out of anything he can find, having recently elevated a washboard to create a wicked sound and acquired a tuba (I reminisce about my college girlfriend and I foxtrotting to “Moonlight Serenade” played by a Seattle street musician with a tuba).  We chat about how he’s seeking new creative ventures for himself, much like I am, adventures that will allow him to create for himself and others, especially after years of raising his children and cleaning their creative peanut butter smears off of sofas.
  • Also at the bar is James, a rep from Copper & Kings American Brandy stationed in Butchertown, Louisville, Kentucky, who regales me with a language still foreign to me, but one I would willingly learn: non-chill filtered, copper pot-distillation, pure pot-still, full integrity, extraction, palatability (that last one I get!).  I enjoy his spirited Absinthe Blanche creation, a double-distilled Muscat brandy with traditional absinthe botanicals, and his company’s neighborhood’s namesake, Butchertown Brandy, described on their website as “bad-ass brandy . . . non-chill filtered without adulteration by boisé (oak flavor or infusion), sugar or caramel color for an uncorrupted natural flavor and natural color.”  Of course, I detect all of those characteristics. . . I’m an art connoisseur.
  • Joe from Milwaukee’s own Great Lakes Distillery shares the new Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin, oak barrel aged to give it a creaminess that complements the botanicals and a golden to amber palette that delights my palate.  I share with him how my friends and I created a couple of summers ago the “Walkers Point Trifecta,” which begins with a tour of the distillery, followed by an affordable meal at Conejito’s Place Mexican Restaurant across the street, and washed down with cocktails at The Yard across the roundabout.  Good times.
  • After a little while, Peter, the Hotel’s food & beverages purchasing manager, is kind enough to introduce himself and engage me about his art: at work, he says, keeping food and beverage costs down is an art, and at home, he claims to “create masterpieces” (out of leftovers, that is).  I don’t doubt his culinary skill.  He wears it like a badge of honor and gets philosophical with me (I love that), agreeing that any time we take nothing and create something, or take something and transform it, we’re making art.

So why are all these artists gathered among the emptied wooden clothing racks bedecked with hors d’oeuvres and rows of wines for a cork pull and bottles of spirits for silent auction?  This May 10th event is one of the many UPAF events that are held at the Hotel throughout the year (and one of many just this month!), a testament to the company’s commitment to the arts and artists.  Begun in 1967 to support organizations like the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and the Florentine Opera Company that would be performing in the new Performing Arts Center, UPAF has endured to this day, raising in 2014 over $12 million, due in part to co-chair Peggy Williams-Smith, Senior Vice President of Marcus Hotels & Resorts and SafeHouse Restaurants.  The Pfister Hotel’s commitment to UPAF ensures that “funds to ensure entertainment excellence” are raised, that the performing arts are a continued “regional asset,” and that donor gifts are “responsibly steward[ed].”  

As the Narrator, I have set up a table in the corner with Pfister cocktail napkins and colored Sharpies, with an invitation to join past writers in the esoteric art of napkin brainstorming.  

Prepared to hear from the artists!
Prepared to hear from the artists!

As guests approach my table, I greet them with a series of questions to answer about art, artists, inspiration, and performing.  Guests find some of them easy to answer, confident in their support of the arts and their opinions about why they’re important: How do you define art?  What inspires you?  Other questions stump them, which is my intention.  My favorites, and my go-to questions of the evening, are “How are you an artist?” and “What did you create today?”  I’ve found throughout the years that if we don’t paint or sculpt or play an instrument, most of us don’t consider ourselves to be “artists.”  But, as Peter and I agreed, any time we take nothing and create something, or take something and transform it, we’re making art.  We are artists–all of us.

As an English teacher and lover of word origins, I also share with guests that the word art derives from a Latin word meaning “joint” or “to fit together,” that inspire comes from the Latin “to breathe upon,” “to inflame,” or “to put a spirit into,” and that perform hails from the Old French “to provide completely” and the Middle English “to make dreams come true.”  For me, knowing the etymologies of short words like these that we take for granted opens up new avenues for understanding.  If art is a “joining,” then what is it that it joins?  If inspiration means to “breathe upon,” then who or what is breathing, what is being breathed, and upon whom?  And if every time we perform we’re “providing” something that “makes dreams come true,” well, how cool is that?

The guests’ napkin responses reveal to them and me new ways of thinking about ourselves:

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“I provide the world with an open ear.” “I assisted guests with reservations today!” “I try to make someone say Wow every day.”

Before the event comes to a close, I have the pleasure of chatting with Mary and Kathy, guests of Donna, Executive Assistant to the General Manager.

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Mary and Kathy, two artists.

At first mild and reserved, these two handsome women proclaim that neither of them is an artist.  However, with a little encouragement and inquiry, Mary tells me that she once took an art class to maintain her teaching certification.  “You wouldn’t believe that I made these things,” referring to the art, in different mediums, that she produced.  “I kept looking at them and saying, ‘Did I make that?’”

Hearing this, Kathy admits, “I guess deep down there’s something in each of us that’s artistic.”  And then she opens up: “A neighbor at my residence invited me to join the drama club.  We do little one-act plays mainly.”  So you are an artist, Kathy.  “Well, not really.”  Mary reminds her that she was the narrator for The Wizard of Oz.  “Oh, yes.  I had to get everyone involved.  And we made our own costumes.”  So you are an artist!  “Well, not really.  I did once play a teenager going out on a date–and then my parents interrupt the date. But I’m not an artist or performer.”

Indeed you are, Kathy.  Indeed you are.

 

The Only Problem Is That the Water Cooler Might Be Used to Wash a Brush or Two

How many times have you looked at a piece of art hanging on the wall and said, “My kid can do that?”

And how many times have you taken brush in hand to find out that kids are cute, but making art isn’t for the feint of heart.

It’s with this sense of awe for the process of creation that I come to the continuing confirmation that the people who work for and support the Pfister and its parent Marcus corporation aren’t just pros of the highest degree, they are artists. In the case of a current display of talents in the Pfister’s Pop Up Gallery, this statement is both literal and figurative.

Last Friday the Pop Up Galley was the site of the opening reception of the Art of Marcus Show. This was no display of a group of disgruntled employees acting out their frustrations over a hostile work environment with tortured splashes of oil paint on a dirty cloth calling for overthrow of “the man.” No, indeed, the art on display showed that the concept of “Salve”, the motto of welcome hospitality for all prominently on display as part of the ceiling fresco art in the Pfister Lobby, has warmly wormed its way into the psyches of all the Marcus employees presenting art.

It’s not for nothing that a hotel that has its own Aritst-In-Residence and Narrator puts value on showing off the off hours talents of their staff. I get a kick out of the fact that the same bartender who mixes the world’s best Bloody Mary has an eye for landscapes. And this is no, “My kid could paint that,” kind of show, either. It’s a true celebration of how the people that make it their business to ensure a comfy stay for all our guests stretch their artist souls.

When, as a writer, I think, “Boy, I’m so busy…how can I produce anymore words?” I remember that Kurt Vonnegut sold Saabs from 9 to 5, Harper Lee punched a clock as an airline ticket reservationist, and William S. Burroughs was an exterminator. It’s my reminder to stop whining and sit down with pen in hand and start my real life’s work. Those notable writers didn’t just define themselves by their day jobs and clearly knew that being an artist meant more than dreaming about it—for all of them it meant showing up and simply doing the work.

Having seen the work of the Marcus employees, I will now take inspiration from their efforts and realize that while these hard working stewards could be kicking off their shoes and cracking a cold brew at the end of the day, they have chosen to take off their work clothes and put on that soft shirt that won’t suffer from a splotch of paint. I’m happy that visiting guests get to know our staff as more than champions of comfort and see that there are some real serious artists walking the halls of the Pfister.

I hope you enjoy these images of the Art of Marcus Show, and I hope you’ll stop by soon and experience these delights in person.

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Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.

Toodle-loo.

My term as Pfister Narrator is about to expire.  A bell is sounding.  A cane is coming to pull my waist off the stage.  A gong is sounding.  Ladies are booing, children are throwing popcorn at me, but I do not want to leave my flaming hula hoop.

I still wanted to tell you the story about Pfister engineer Matt.  One time Matt showed me these wild photographs that his grandpa took of factory workers and machinery in the middle of the last century.  His grandpa started out as a photographer in WWII working on sites where they needed to get rid of land mines.  I find it interesting that Matt works with some of the same mechanical things that his grandpa would have captured.  Recently, Matt promised me that he would build me a theremin one day.  The first time I ever talked to Matt he called my arms “buggy whips.”  These are the sorts of friendships I have made at this hotel.  Of all the people I met, I cherished most my staff interactions.

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I am never going to write the full story of what happened in the kitchen at 11p.m. last Saturday. DSCN1643DSCN1628I was interviewing Robert who has been a Pfister cook for 14 years.  He has also done this martial art called “Wing Chung” for about 14 years.  DSCN1635Robert explained Wing Chung as “other martial arts are more, uh, if one person is stronger than the other, they’re going to win.  In Wing Chung you don’t have to be as strong as your opponent. It is more about technique and knowing what your opponent is going to do.”  As he told me this three orders of atlantic salmon with chorizo mashed potatoes with red pepper sauce and asparagus were created. DSCN1630 “The baseball players are here tonight and you know, they want all the steaks and the fish,”  said Robert.  Every seven years Robert does something called “iron palm,” to harden his fists.  “I have to hit four bags of rocks for one hundred days.”  He has to do this four times per workout to get the front, back and side and heel of the palms.

DSCN1640I want to tell you more, like the real estate lady who tried to sell me a house in the hallway, but I haven’t any more room, I haven’t time.  Jonathan West is coming.  He is nice, he is dapper and I know you will like him.  The other day I met up with him and Molly Snyder, the narrator whose job I stole a year ago.  We all stood together, a Pfister Carol with Narrators Past and Present.  DSCN1660Toodle-loo,

Anja Notanja Sieger.

P.S.  Stay tuned, the next post will be by JONATHAN!

 

 

 

The Hard Part About Living In Costa Rica

I meet her in the elevator and she says she recently moved to Costa Rica. I ask the Costa Rican ex-patriot for a story and she tells me that she is not a very interesting, site story-rich person. I whine, “Come on, you live in Costa Rica! Haven’t you seen some crazy wildlife down there?”

“Oh yes, monkeys, sloths…” and lists a few other fantastic creatures I have never even heard of. Then she stops. She has nothing more to say. I ask her, “What’s the hard part about living in Costa Rica?”

 

The hard part about Costa Rica:

 

It is not the U.S.

You have to adjust what your cultural expectations are and accept what is different.

If you want to go to Costco it is a 3.5 hour drive.

It is warm all the time, clinic unceasingly.

 

The last point surprises me since the Costa Rican tells me that before she moved there she lived in Los Angeles, a place I would assume to be a year-round temperature inferno. I want to ask more questions and take her picture but she disappears. I wonder if I have disturbed a famous actress. She was casual but had an undeniably photogenic presence. Speaking of which, I think I see a large, multiple bride wedding photoshoot taking place on the stairs.

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I ask a man, standing apart from all the hubbub of mothers and aunts frumping their daughters gowns how many of these women are getting married today. He tells me they aren’t. It’s prom.

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I suppose they do look rather young. When I ask them what high school they represent they tell me “Pius.” My own alma mater! They are all junior girls, about to dance at the Renaissance Place. I instantly recall the picture of myself as a Pius junior attending the “Winterlude” school dance at the Renaissance Place.

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Outside the elevator I meet another young woman in a nice dress. “Prom?” I ask her. “No,” she says. She is volunteering for the Autism Society’s Gala. “This is just my sister’s Sadie Hawkins dress.”

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Near the ballroom I ask the woman in a nice hat how she became involved in the autism community. “I’m not,” she says. It turns out she is here for the Bel Canto Chorus’s 22nd Annual Fundraiser Gala. I can’t get anything right.

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So is she.

 

To end my day, I watch resident artist Todd Mrozinski do an old school pre-camera photoshoot of Brittany-the-barista.  Before starting a piece, Todd rubs his hands together and whispers ” Hah hah hah hah hah” to himself.  As he paints there are a lot of noises that sound like a kindergartener scrubbing a marker against a rough piece of construction paper.  Two hours after the initial tracing, he is done.

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Coke A Cola and the Meanderthal

When I first discovered Coke’s name

to be Coke,

I admit, I was taken aback

with the fact that it is the unusual title

for this amiable human

I often see in the lobby.

But Coke is used to the awe

of people discovering his name,

and ups the intrigue by telling you,

“Actually, I’m Coke the Fifth

and my son is going to be

Coke the Sixth.”

I remember asking him,

“Are you expecting?”

But no, Coke told me

he has yet to marry

but…

yesterday, a woman guest who takes note

of the nametags of the hotel staff

met Coke and told him,

“We ought to get married,

since my last name is Cola.”

Coke chuckled,

a soft, polite bellhop laugh

and admitted it would be a fitting match

since his middle initial is ‘A.’

Just imagine:

“Hi, my name is Coke A Cola.”DSCN9303

Unfortunately, Coke won’t be marrying her,

the reason being he doesn’t want

any last name but his own.

This surprised me,

because it seemed like a match made in heaven

for Coke who studied linguistics in college

and who alerts me to the existence of new words

such as “meanderthal,”Screen shot 2015-03-21 at 11.32.25 AM

usually after I have been walking

too slowly, oblivious to him and his bell cart

behind me.

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Today is Coke’s birthday.

 

Meandering on the seventh floor

I check out the set up for Make-A-Wish’s

superhero themed gala.

I am told by Rebecca, a Make-A-Wish intern,DSCN0445

that each table, set with flowers

and polka dot wrapped presents

is dedicated to fulfilling the wish of one

terminally ill child.DSCN0438

The interns tell me that most of the kids

want things that will benefit their whole family:

trips across the world to visit grandparents in the old country,

vacations to Disney World or Italy.

One girl is professionally recording and performing her own song.

One boy wanted a shopping spree in New York City.

Their lives are fragile, let them try what they like, yolo, yolo!


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Put on a mask. Fly.

I am inspired to do things I have always wanted to do

so on Thursday I walk fifteen miles from my home in Franklin

to the Pfister. It takes me 7.5 hours (not 4.5)

before I get to match the carpet at work.

15 miles later
Photo: Helene Fischman

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A Psychometric Questionairre

Yeah, humans are social creatures

you know, we see faces

inside clouds, fungus and tea stains.

Children conduct full-length conversations

with “pet” rocks and plush dinosaurs,

then as adults, they still try to assign meaning

to their frighteningly mysterious days

through science, philosophy, religion,

art, astrology or psychology.

Pfister barista Desiree

longs to crack the code

of her workmates

through Myers-Briggs,

which according to Wikipedia is,

“A psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.”

She keeps the Myers-Briggs test page

as a favorite on one of the café’s

complementary iPads.

If a staff member lingers a moment

for conversation,

Desiree will ask them to take the test.

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Desiree and her list of 39 people and their types.

 

When she handed me the ipad,

I had one question for her:

“Are you 23, Desiree?”

Desiree paused,

“Yes… how did you know?”

It was the year I was 23,

when everyone my age

(who I knew)

seemed to be into that test.

My result remains:

“ENFP” a.k.a.,

“Emotional Intuitive Feeling Perceiving”

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Found on ritholtz.com

 

so I’m just like Oscar Wilde.

Mister Wilde would fit in at the Pfister,

since according to Desiree’s list

of all the 16 existing Myers-Briggs types,

one quarter of the staff shares this type.

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http://www.truity.com/personality-type/enfp

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“This is not at all a statistically sound survey,”

according to my best friend Jessie,

the professional statistician who made this chart.

But-but-but—

Desiree discovered

that all five of the tested baristas

are Introverts.

One of the baristas, Toni is shocked,

“But we have to deal with a lot of people!”

True, but that wide marble counter

and plexiglass divider

protects a barista’s

tender auric fields.

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Desiree, behind plexiglass.

Two of the tested bellhops are ENTJ’s,

the type known as “the Commander,”

and all of the bellhops are Judging types,

that must be an asset for anyone who has to weigh,

organize, heft and swiftly deliver luggage for guests,

while maintaining safety for the contents within.bellcart

All the security guards on Desiree’s list are judging types,

maybe that is why they were paired up

to share a desk with the bellhops.

Her list also shows

there is no unifying factor

between five of the Pfister’s servers,

indeed,

introverts and extroverts,

sensing and intuitive,

feeling and thinking,

judging and perceiving persons

are all likely to take your order;

while those with management positions at the Pfister,

tend to be sensing rather than intuitive people.

On the official Myers-Briggs site,

they say people who are the sensing type think:

 

  • I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened
  • I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem.
  • I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”

That sounds like a manager’s mind, all right!

 

But one in four of the staff are “champions”

with intuitive tendencies rather than perceiving.

For them, it is more common to think this way:

 

  • I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning.
  • I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts.
  • I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced

 

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This is exactly the sort of brain that is critical in preserving romance,

by carrying forward the gilded service

that matches the gilded stairs,

that matches the truth:

there is no place in this hotel that is ugly

or even just plain,

there is more for the eyes to see here

than they could ever retain.

You could never figure it all out,

just as Desiree will never

figure her workmates out

entirely.

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Sam, a frequent cafe customer also took the test, becoming the only non-staff member on Desiree’s list.

 

A Mom Letter and a Dad Letter

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I was taking a picture of the roses in the lobby when Val, the bartender summoned me over to see something. I took a stool at the bar and waited for a moment as Val rustled around in her bag, elbow deep.  At last she exclaimed “Ah!” and pulled out an envelope to show me. It was sent from a woman named Coco who came here for a birthday drink the other day, along with her baby. Coco’s friend and her friend’s baby joined her for the celebration.

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I took the contents out of the envelope and saw a most charming picture. Val got to know the two ladies and their babies quite well over a period of three hours, and asked, “Would you write this woman a letter back for me?”

coco poem

So I wrote Coco a poem on one of Valerie’s guest checks and sent it to the return address on the envelope.

 

Soon after Coco emailed me that she wrote a blog about getting a letter from the Pfister in the mail.  So,

IjustwroteheranemailthatIwrotethisblogaboutheremailaboutherblogaboutgettingaletterinthemailbecause,

shesentaletterinthemailaboutapleasantafternoonofpolitevalets,chattingandbabies!

Phew!!

 

Another day, another letter:

lydia's daddy

A father comes to me in need of his daughter’s forgiveness. In the city of Madison where he and his family reside, there is a highly competitive theater program for kids. His daughter, Lydia tried out for a production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” in hopes of being cast as one of the dwarves. Lydia, who is in fourth grade and has never had an opportunity like this before, was a nervous mess the morning of her audition. Sympathetic to her distraught, Lydia’s dad gave her a pearl of encouragement, “Don’t worry, everything will turn out just fine!”

 

The two of them stayed up late, awaiting the phone call to let them know if Lydia would be expected to come back in for call-backs the following day. It was so late by the time the phone finally rang, Lydia was already put to bed. She was wide awake when her father came in and told her the answer was no. Lydia sobbed, dampening her pillow. Her dad assured her that she was younger than the rest of the kids who had tried out, and that it was likely that she would be cast in the coming years, then said goodnight.

 

The next morning, as Lydia glumly ate her cereal she told her father, “You lied. You said everything would be fine, but everything is not fine.”

 

The statement unsettled him, and the combination of his daughter’s broken heart and distrust in his word tarnished his entire day. So much so that when his job brought him to the Pfister hotel and he met me, he asked for a poem of encouragement (not from him or his perspective!) to give his child.  lydia

This is Howard. I just met him in the kitchen.

Anja: How long have you worked in room service?

 

Howard: Nine months.

 

Anja: What does that all entail?

 

Howard: Well… amenities, hospital doing orders, and uh, being very uh… kind and gentle with guests hospitality wise. You make them feel wanted, and if they want anything, you do it with care and grace! (Howard giggles a high-pitched, masculine giggle.)

 

Anja: How does this job make you feel?

 

Howard: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………. happy to even like, tadalafil just grateful that I even have a job, like…

 

Anja: What was before this?

 

Howard: What was before this? I worked at Menards. (giggles)

 

Anja: This is a step up.

 

Howard: Yeah it is! I worked at Menards, that was my second longest job, which was three months! Heh heh. Yeah, I worked at Menards as a cashier… the only male cashier.

 

Anja: Oh wow!

 

Howard: And there were about fifteen cashiers there.

 

Anja: Geez.

 

Our conversation is interrupted when we have to both scrunch against the wall in order to let a cart of cupcakes through the corridor. The cart looks to be about six feet tall, and features tray after tray of what I am informed to be flourless chocolate cupcakes.

 

Anja: What have you learned since your time here?

 

Howard: …

 

Anja: About LIFE!

 

Howard: To be on time, hee hee hee!  Because when I was a little bit younger, in 1919, I looooved to purposely procrastinate, because in my mind I knew I would get it done right before the deadline, and I never did. (Laughs.)

 

Anja: You have a very musical laugh.

 

Howard: Yeah? What does musical laugh mean?

 

Anja: I don’t know! You hit many different notes… (Anja and Howard both titter) …when you laugh!

 

Howard: I just joined an acting class last Thursday!

 

Anja: Nice!

 

Howard: For like community theater. First it was just going to be like monologues, but it turned into community theater because the school that did monologues cancelled because there weren’t enough people.

 

Anja: Are you going to be in a play now?

 

Howard: I, eh, um, this is my homework: I have to come up with a stage name and uh, ten accents. That’s a bit much isn’t it? I thought of Southern, Italian, uhhh Latin, like Mexican, Mexican like Chollo though, you know, like the hood,…. annnnd British? I don’t know, people have been giving me suggestions, but it’s only been like four or five so far.

 

Anja: Don’t forget you can do Wisconsin.

 

Howard: Right, right, right. I went to Florida one time, when I was in High School, and we went to go talk to these lovely ladies—hee hee hee, at South Beach, they were in the Ocean, you know, the water, and one lady was from New York, and you can clearly hear she’s from New York with the Bronx, you know, accent, so then they asked, “Where you from, Wisconsin?” And we were like, “WWWWHHHHAT? How did you know that?!” I guess we have accents! I did not know that.

 

Anja: So what makes for a good stage name?

 

Howard: Whoopi Goldberg? Heh heh heh!

 

Anja: What was the last thing you dressed up for Halloween?

 

Howard: I’ve never even participated in Halloween until last year.

 

Anja: Really?!

 

Howard: Yeah, and I’m 21.

 

(Howard and Anja emit peals of laughter.)

 

Anja: Was it not allowed in your house?

 

Howard: Yeah, exactly— or I just didn’t catch the vibe, like Valentine’s Day. So, I just, I just bought a Michael Myers mask and wore that to a Halloween party, an adult Halloween party, and they told me immediately to take it off because I was scaring people. Because when I walked in I didn’t say a word. These are like my friends, and I’m just standing there like Michael Myers would do. The guy whose house it was came up to me and said, “You don’t have to pretend anymore, you can just take it off. You’re kind of scaring my girlfriend.”

 

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What I’m Whytching in the Pfister

Concierge Peter suggests

we all need to practice

“whytching,”

watching our surroundings

while wondering why,

or how is it like that?

To behave like the elated toddler

who discovers everything is dimensional:

it can be crawled over, pulled, pushed

bitten and unraveled to reveal

what is at the end,

and why it was rolled up and put away.

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Whytching reveals that a dental equipment extravaganza is occurring on the 7th floor.

 

I whytch the herd of twenty blue hoodies

with grey sweat pants slinking past,

every one of them six feet or much taller,

calling out to each other in male voices

aged by two decades of Gatorade consumption,

I know because I see a bottle of it

through the mesh of their backpack pockets.

I don’t have to harass them with inquiry

to surmise that they are a college basketball team

and that the man of middle years accompanying them

with shirt and pants made out of sweat fabric and drawstrings

is their coach.

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Whytch the flowers being rolled in on a cart,

the lobby’s living color changes most every day

I wonder does this change reflect the mood

of the florist and then become the hotel’s mood?

Or does the mood of the hotel determine

the florist’s choice of the flowers?

Either way it does not feel as emotionally purple here

as it did yesterday when the flowers all spoke violet.

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Whytching reveals patterns.

There’s Joe with his coffee and subprime mortgage lecture at the bar again!

There’s Monette who comes here every week for the caesar salad,

though today it appears she is just having a tall glass of water

and an earful of subprime mortgage talk.

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Monette and her tall glass of water.

 

Practicing whytching is imperative

for excellent eyesight,

c’mon, stretch your eyeballs out

and learn:

lanyards = business conference

leather satchel = business lunch in the café

backpack = brief overnight stay

sunglasses walking down the hall = leave me alone I am famous

red tie = high achieving business person (usually man)

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Theorizing on the landing.

 

Whytching demands theorizing

yet suggests no conclusion,

life is learning, death is knowing

maybe

I have never been dead except

when I fail to whytch,

when I grumble and pucker,

staring at the skin on my arm

without seeing the hairs, pores, freckles,

the mysterious red spots

or appreciating the scent of wrist.

Wrists smell in their own way

unlike anything else.

Just whytch.

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Closeup of a dental equipment poster.

 

Someone takes the steps,

climbing two at a time

dipping the tall reed of their person

in rhythmic appreciation

of this marble terrain.

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Someone else runs up the steps

with swift anticipation

for a new location,

an urgent duty,

to be not here

but there.

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Those who practice whytching

generally acknowledge

she who types on the landing (me).

Those who love whytching

more than anything else

will hand me a hello.

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Whytch carefully, and you will see me in this picture.

 

Let’s make a pact:

don’t be too fast for manners

and I won’t be so slow

that I preach,

instructing you what to do

except, please,

be whytchful.

“could you please send me a boyfriend who does yoga?”

 

Katherine has been coming here for years

she was married for three decades

to a man who came to the Pfister to just to jog.

He died ten years ago

so, viagra recently she asked the divine,

“could you please send me a boyfriend who does yoga?”

After she asked she didn’t expect a response,

so instead of waiting around for love

she went camping.

While she was out there in the wilderness

she met an interesting man

they talked quite awhile

and when they were done he asked for her number

but for whatever reason she wouldn’t give it to him

so it took weeks for them to run into each other again

but when they did

he asked her for her number again,

nicely,

so this time she did

and now she’s spending Christmas

and New Years with him,

her new boyfriend

who just so happens to practice yoga.

He wants to serve lobster on New Years Eve

which is frankly,

a tad daunting for Katherine

who has never eaten that before.

She is a woman with habits,

she comes to the Pfister

every year to visit with Val at the bar

after doing some shopping at Boutique B’Lou.

Her bags of loot sit on the stool beside her.

Inside the paper bag wrapped bounty

are Nepalese bracelets of woven beads

of which a portion of the sale

goes back to helping the women crafters of Nepal

and their families to live more complete and healthy lives.

So Katherine bought a few of these seed bead wonders

and took one out for me to touch

it feels like a snake

in a good way,

I know, I have touched snakes

they are cool

literally

cool and smooth,

in a bumpy way

but I have slithered myself into tangent

back to the story

this is how Kathy shows her love:

three moose are in the mail

(Or is it meese? Like geese?)

I don’t know what they look like

or if they are alive,

but she gestures how big they are

these moosen are headed

for Kathy’s great-grandchildren

who live in Minneapolis.

This morning she went shopping for the yogic boyfriend too

and he’s going to get

shrimp, champagne and chocolate cupcakes,

I know, I asked,

and now you know too.

And what did Katherine learn from all this?

She laughs, “Maybe I should pray more often.”

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By the way, I hear this lad in the shash recently picked up yoga!