Is There Such Thing as a Good Trainwreck?

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

What a weekend…

Rollercoaster doesn’t begin to describe it…

Okay, let’s start with the CIPS Qualifier…

Last year, I chose to not compete. I hosted the show and it was a lot of fun. I just didn’t have the shorter poems available and I was really focused on the CapSlam post-season so I wasn’t prepared for it…

…but what an incredibly exciting and fun show!

So this year, I wanted to do it. I knew that I had a good one minute poem (Merchant of Salt), and I knew I had good three minute poems, so the challenge was filling the other two spots.

The first of those spots that I filled was the four-minute spot. I thought about taking an exisiting poem and expanding it. The first thing that popped into mind was 1968. Near the end, I quote an Otis Redding song and I decided to expand on that a little and actually sing a few lines.

The thing is, I don’t tend to go a full three minutes in my poems, so when I timed it, it was still 3:09. I practiced giving it a little space and it turned into about 3:20 or so.

Then came the New Shirt Slam. I had an inspiration for that and wrote a new one-minute poem (‘The Itsy-Bitsy Spider’). I decided that I would rather oo that piece than Merchant of Salt.

I still needed a two-minute poem. I tried a couple of times to write something from scratch, but they kept wanting to be longer.

Finally, I remembered something… Merchant of Salt wasn’t a one-minute poem originally. It was a three-minute poem that didn’t go exactly the way I wanted so I cut it down. What if I were to go back and see what else from the three-minute version could be salvaged. I did, and there was quite a bit of good stuff in there. Some judicious rewriting and bam, a two-minute poem.

I just had to pick a three-minute piece. I went back to my infamous spreadsheet and grabbed my current best-performing poem – Blue, Black or Red. I think Angst is a better poem but I held that one for that potential play-off like happened last year when Nate and Kay’la were tied after Round four.

I practiced. I did a dry run out at Lanark County’s 1-2-3 Slam. That went very well.

I was ready.

Then last week happened.

I can’t and won’t go into any details, but last week became a big stress ball, for reasons that had nothing directly to do with the slam on Saturday. That carried over to Saturday itself and by the time I was past the initial stressors (but not the on-going effects of them), I barely had time to go home, grab some food, and Ruthanne and I had to get to the venue for the show.

I had been very prepared, but that wa shot. I was emotionally vulnerable, tired, drained, and not in the best mind-set for the slam.

Then came the slam. The first thing that happened was that the judges started out very harsh. While score-creep was not huge THROUGHOUT the show, it was certainly a big factor for whomever came out of that hat first.

It was Kay’la. She got straight up robbed in the first round. She did a great poem and the audience loved it… and I think the judges did too, but score creep nearly did her in.

I went up 6th out of 12… a pretty good spot. I had been wavering on which poem to do in the first round. I considered switching to Angst, but in the end I stuck with Blue, Black or Red. It went… well enough. It did what it had to do. For this slam, each round was fresh scores, so I only needed to make top 9 in the first round. I think I was 5th or 6th. (Side note: Brad kicked ass in the first round. Nate was the top scorer… but he was the top score in all four rounds. He was a monster that night.)

We had a break and discovered that due to a tie between Kay’la and Kay Kassirer for ninth, ten poets would go on to the one-minute round.

That made things tougher as four poets would be eliminated from the one-minute round.

Now, I need to be honest about what my goals had been for this slam. I wasn’t sure I wanted to win. I was going to do my best to win and if I won, I was going to put my all into CIPS… but that probably meant NOT putting my all into making the CapSlam team. That was the issue.
However, I had worked hard on four poems, so I really wanted to make the last round, so I could do them all. As I got closer to the show and tried to have a completely honest appraisal, considering the talent competing that night, I realized that I couldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t make it right through. The two-minute round was going to be tough. Really tough.

But I also had to admit that I would be disappointed if I got knocked out in either of the first two rounds.

One down.

I listened to the poets that went before me, and I started to get a bit of a sinking feeling. My one-minute poem was fun. Lots of fun, I think… but what if that isn’t what the judges wanted? Some of the poets going before me were bringing really solid, albeit short, pieces.

I needn’t have worried.

I launched into ‘Itsy-Bitsy Spider’ and people started laughing IMMEDIATELY. I really enjoyed being up there and it was infectious. It went over big. In the end I scored somewhere around third, I think, when six poets were moving on.

Now it was time for the two-minute round. The poets still in there were really amazing and I knew that I couldn’t get too upset if I didn’t make it through… but I wanted to nail the poem.

We still had Sir Realist, who won last year and was dominating the night. PrufRock, who was a finalist last year and leading our season this year. Marz seemed to really spark something with the audience on the night and I was starting to think he would be one of the final three. Sarah Ruszala and Gavin Russell were both really solid poets who have had a lot of success on our stage.
I realized that based on what I had seen on stage, if I had to guess, I would say it was Nate, Pruf and Marz who would move on.

Well, first off Marz kind of got screwed by fate. He had drawn last in the one-minute round and with no more than a couple of minutes break, he drew first in the two-minute round.

Then he did a poem about telling his truth.

I was called next.


I was NOT trying to call out Marz in ANY way, but my poem just happened to be saying that poets are full of shit and try to claim they are spouting TRUTH and betraying their audience when claiming to have all the answers.

Yeah. Well, that helped me, as it turned out. I scored really well.

It turned out that the round had a clear first and a clear sixth but spots two through five were REALLY tight, with only two of those poets moving on.

Gavin was second. I was behind him by .1

PrufRock was behind me by .1

Sarah was behind him by .1

That meant Pruf and Sarah (and Marz) were eliminated. Wow. That was tough. It was so close.

Now it was down to Gavin, Nate (Sir Realist) and myself.

I had done what I had hoped… I made it to the last round but I also believed that Nate was going to win.

I was right.

I was called up first. I had my poem down but the singing part made me nervous and when I got there, it wa a bit overwhelming. My voices quavered quite a bit, but it was nerves, and stress , and everything all in one. Ruthanne told me it really worked. It came across as emotions rather than fear (it was a bit of both, honestly).

My scores were good, but I also knew that Nate would crush them.

It turns out that Gavin did, too. Gavin did my favourite poem of his (though he still yells a lot. 🙂 ) He got really strong scores… but again, Nate was still to come, and I just KNEW.

Nate owned it. The entire night felt like he was building up to THIS moment. TENS were flying everywhere. He won. He deserved to won.

I didn’t win, but I couldn’t be more happy about how it went for me. I feel like I have some momentum and it is time to gear up to go for that team… and maybe the belt.

But the weekend wasn’t over.

Still drained on so many levels, something happened on Sunday… which again, I can’t really talk about, but which also took a bit of a toll. It wasn’t too much in and of itself, and I was glad to help, but I was losing my reserves. The tank was… EMPTY.

Then, back home, and I had a lot of physical work to do. We had finished our flooring last week and I had carpet and underlay to take out to the trash. It was awkward. It was heavy. Trash mean sat the end of the road, so there was a lot of hauling. Four trips and by the time I was finished, I was absolutely beat. I had tweaked my knee, with small slip on the ice a few days ago and now my knees were screaming at me. My arms felt like dead weights.

I was done for the night.

Well, first I had some laundry to do. No big deal.

Sigh. No such luck.

I forgot to mention that earlier in the day, I had painted the ceiling of our office. Yet more physical strain, but it was done. When I was finished, Ruthanne volunteered to wash out the roller and paint tray etc.

We have one of those washers that has a drain hose that goes into the basement sink.

She had taken the host out and not put it back in. I didn’t look to see if the hose was there or not. (To be clear, this is both of our faults. She should have put the hose back. I should have checked before I ran the machine.)

I didn’t go back downstairs until the wash was done. The full laundry cycle of water was dumped on our basement floor. With the work we have been doing, that meant the water was dumped where a bunch of boxes were sitting… including my comic boxes.

In the end, the damage was minimal, but I spent the next hour+ moving heavy boxes and mopping water into the drain and trying to find out of any of our stuff was wrecked. (Believe it or not, it seems that all that was ruined was some leftover Christmas wrapping paper and some BOXES, while the contents were okay.

But I was doing this when already exhausted, physically and emotionally.

Today, I am shot. I hurt all over. I don’t have the strength for anything.

This too shall pass.

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