Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Caffeinated and I chatted for hours over wine and coffee about many topics, including writing. She was working on a graduate school paper, and I had published my first work 20 years earlier. “You should get it framed,” she said.

“It was a terrible poem about washing dishes,” I said. “And I didn’t even know how to wash dishes or use a dishwasher until I was 25.”

Washing dishes is not fun.
I always try to say that I am done.
But it’s not so easy to say that you see.
It really isn’t easy to have time to drink my tea.
Washing dishes is not a fun job.
I always have to put my hand on the ugly, greasy, slob.
I have to throw the powdered cleanser on with the soap.
I want to get finished, but I don’t have much hope.
You can actually kind of say that it can be a rough time.
It’s gross, it’s sick, it’s really something like slime.
If you’ve been listening to me then you shall know,
Washing dishes is worse than raking leaves with your big toe.

Although Caffeinated and I weren’t fit for more dates, we kept in touch. When I later showed up in her Gchat list she clicked on my Google profile and discovered I’ve written about more than dishwashing. “How could you not mention that you published a book?!” she said.

“Sometimes it’s nice to communicate with people who haven’t, or know that they can, read all about me.”

framed cancer memoir, Twice: How I Became a Cancer Slaying Super Man Before I Turned 21
I had already framed a copy of Twice from each print run. But “Washing Dishes” led to embarrassment equal to the pride Twice commanded and I preferred the book my poem was in stay hidden on my bookshelf. Then curiosity took me, and I opened Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans and read the editor’s note. “…Children are natural poets. Poetry is play with language and language is still so new to them that it is a perfect fit. This poetry is filled with their ticklish energy and unrestrained concern. It is the best medium for young writers to express themselves…We would like to extend a special thanks to all the poets who participated and are expecting great things from them in the future.”

My first published literary work soon joined its successors.
framed Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans book


Despite feeling like a fake, I often described myself as a writer at happy hours because that was more interesting than my profession. Finally this past August I felt like a real writer. And now I get paid for it.

Weeks ago I started a new job as a writer/editor, branching away from consulting and down a new career path at nearly 29 years old. I am no longer hoping or pretending I’m doing the right thing at work. Despite me scoring 100 points higher in math than language on the SAT, I feel confident in my creative-destruction skills required for my new profession, and that my new job fits me.

Just don’t ask me about i.e. vs. e.g., lay vs. laid, I vs. me, etc.


Catherine ~ FCT said...

Good luck in the new job! Writing is way better than math. (In my math-stunted opinion) ~Catherine

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thanks, Catherine! Maybe I can do both--the derivative of this story is...nah.