Serving Size Me

In an effort to eat a healthier diet, lately I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the information crammed on the back of the food that I buy: the standardized “Nutrition Facts” labels that list calories, fat, carbs, etc. The thing that is really throwing me for a loop isn’t the figures that are listed in most categories. Sure, a 20 oz bottle of Lemonade Gatorade contains 14 grams of carbohydrates—all from sugars, no less. My problem in nearly every case of every packaged food is simple: the serving size they list is not only unrealistic, it’s misleading.

In the Gatorade example, the 14 g of carbohydrates account for only 5% of the recommended daily allowance of carbs (if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet). Unfortunately, in this 20 oz bottle of Gatorade, you’ve got 2.5 servings. That means if you drink the bottle in one sitting you’re actually consuming 35 grams of carbs, or 12.5% of the recommended daily allowance of carbs.

I went to the movies last week (to see War of the Worlds) and while there, I opted for Reese’s Pieces instead of my usual popcorn-no-butter. Of course the packages of candy at the movies are out of control and always have been. But my little 4 oz box of Reese’s contained “about 3” 50-piece servings of the tasty treats. The serving size carries 7 grams of saturated fat, which is concerningly already marking 35% of my daily intake. If I eat the whole box (which is easy to do at the movies, right?), I’m taking in 105% of the saturated fat I should consume in a day. And of course, the saturated fat goal past isn’t one we should be running toward anyway.

A 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke is also 2.5 servings. Does anyone drink 8 oz of Coke at one time? I mean, honestly. How often does this resealable bottle cap end up back on the bottle in the fridge? Not very often for me.

The other night, in the midst of a Reese’s Pieces craving, I ran out to the Circle K, where the only package of Reese’s I could find was a 7.4 oz bag. That’s “about 5” servings to you and me. How many did it take me? Nearly three. My last serving wasn’t a “full serving” by Reese’s standards.

Almost nothing in America is sold in its serving size anymore. You can now buy very small cans of Coke at some stores, but the stock and selection is far limited in comparison to 12-packs and cases of 12 oz cans. Gatorade doesn’t even come in a smaller size, and that product is marketed to “healthy people.” Even “snack size” bags of chips are sold in “bulk”—multiple servings per bag—and a recent low-fat cookie commercial boasted “It’s only 100 calories—and you can eat the whole bag!” We have been trained to eat everything on our plates, in our bags, and in our bottles without thinking about it. Because it’s cost-effective.

Artist’s Books

Here are two of my three book arts projects:

1. Altered Book

I took the book An Outline of Psychoanalysis and turned it into a book called Outline Analysis:

Here is the cover.

I’m skipping the first page because I’m unhappy with it. Here is page 2, in the chapter on dreams. The text says:
When the important dramatization brought me insight
the effect took the dream and then I said goodbye.
my legs given the the dream but when down he died.
fatalistic love
the deeper death spoken which movements and
exploring the long past the modern past.

In the chapter called “The Search for Glory”: two plastic surgery diagrams. The text says:
There is no observable change
toward the ideal.

Last page, chapter called “Effects of Derogatory Attitude Towards Female Sexuality.” I carved in a diagram of a cow with arrows pointing to the locations of its by-products. Text says:
We are people’s minds and thus become some objectionable product.

2. Two Words

This is a copier book made in an edition of 18. The cover folds out to reveal the book; the book then folds out in a sort of folded-quilt pattern, juxtaposing these faces with couplets.

I have two copies left from this edition (numbers 17 and 18). The first two bloggers to ask for them will get them mailed to their home at no charge.


I wrote my first poem when I was 13. I lived on an island that year and was in a split 7th/8th grade class. Total number of students in my grade: 11. And that was one of the biggest classes.

Anyway, my teacher required us to keep a journal, but we could write whatever we wanted in it as long as we wrote every day. I wrote a very long, rambling, inarticulate poem about “something,” some kind of vicious beast, chasing the speaker during the night. Therapists will say it was gay desire. My teacher didn’t comment much on it (she read them every day). It was notable primarily for its generous use of capitalized words and line breaks, which allowed for a maximum of two words on each line (but frequently only one).

I still have it. I’ve written every since, with the exception of the two years between undergrad and grad.

The Definitive List of Problems with American Poetry

1. There are too many poets. I can’t even tell you how many poetry books are published each year. A lot of them. Nobody in America reads poetry except poets and fiction writers desperate to find a way out of their bland novel life. The problem with poetry in America is that there are just too. many. good. books. to. read. I can’t keep up, much less provide myself with opportunities to read all the great poetry in America’s past. What should I do? Instead of publishing so many books, I suggest we begin publishing digest versions of great books. Poetry’s already so short, we should be able to pack at least What Narcissism Means to Me, Sleeping With the Dictionary, Little Ice Age, and Lie Awake Lake in one convenient, brief package. I mean, we sell hamburger buns in sets of ten.

2. There are too many different kinds of poetry. American poetry will never develop a cohesive audience because, unlike television, poetry hasn’t developed “a sitcom,” “a newsmagazine”—something easily consumable and endlessly replacable. For example, imagine every book was written by Ted Kooser or a Ted Kooser surrogate, or a writer mentored by Ted Kooser or what have you. People might develop a taste for that.

3. Most poets are overpaid and become fat and lazy. Yes. We’ve seen this time and time again. I call this the “Hollywoodization” of poetry—and now our literary world is full of waddling Harvey Weinsteins in their black suits and colored ties. We have female Harvey Weinstein impersonators. It’s getting serious, people. Think of the children. When a poet becomes an overpaid poet *poof!* Their next book wins a [insert prestigious award], newspapers insist we’ve been reading him/her all along, and then the rest of their life is crap.

4. We do not enjoy bad poetry in the same way we enjoy bad movies. I have a coworker who is obsessed with the film Pootietang. It’s an awful film, yet she loves it. There is no poetry counterpart to Pootietang. Bad poetry does not become camp. People do not quote bad poetry to each other at parties and then make friends for life. This is unfortunate.

5. Poetry has been swallowed by academia and now bears no resemblance to the actual world. We should supply each American with a new publication, The Idiot’s Guide to Language, and a collectable decoder ring distributed through eBay and Only Americans who purchase both items will be able to read the poetry being created within academia. Poetry created outside of the academy will fit into one of two new genres of writing: greeting cards or word noise.

6. There are too many lists decrying the problems with American poetry and not enough lists enumerating what’s right. If I’m part of the problem, does that mean I’m solved by the solution? Or does the solution now suddenly bear no resemblance to the problem?