Monday, January 19, 2009

Potato Chips

So it's getting down to crunch time. One week from tomorrow I will stand in front of a classroom full of undergraduates and they will expect me to teach them about creative writing, which I am entirely unprepared to do. Or so it felt this afternoon as I wondered what I could do to attach my bottom to the chair long enough to read Joe Wenderoth's crude book, Letters to Wendy's. For some unknown reason, I decided to teach a book I'd never read (some might suggest that the reason is stupidity), and so this afternoon I found myself using my greasy fingers to turn the pages. Without being pretentious, I must say that my potato chips are more enjoyable than the frequent, intellectual wanking that can be found throughout the book.

Making potato chips at home is fairly easy, but there is the problem of the left-over oil. To make a good potato chip, you need a stainless steel pot (at least three quarts), a skimmer, salt, thinly sliced potatoes, and A LOT OF HOT OIL. Well, what to do with all that oil? You can't just pitch it in the backyard. I store my used oil in quart mason jars - and return it to the jars after it has cooled. I'm not a masochist, like some poets out there.

Anyway, making potato chips at home is easy. Didn't I just say that a moment ago? Well, I lied. Making bad potato chips is easy. Making good potato chips is somewhat more difficult, but you should not be deterred. If once you fail, try again. The elusive, perfect potato chip is within your grasp.

And so there it is, my first lesson: keep trying. All things being equal, but potato chips being more equal than most books of contemporary poetry, nothing worth doing is only worth doing once. This is how we improve. Any fool knows that fool hardiness is the ultimate proof.


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