Monday, April 30, 2007

Have Child, Will Travel, Need Advice

We're leaving for Baltimore on Wednesday. The housesitter's coming, the grades are turned in, the car's oil has been changed.
But, oh ye brave souls who have traveled 10 hours in a car with a child, tell me what did you do to make it less of a screamfest? Z is OK in the car, but at 21 months doesn't like to be confined for very long (say over an hour). We're driving to see Margot! in Columbus, which is 5.5 hours and staying over there so we'll have a break on our way eastward. We may or may not try to make it straight back the following Wednesday (11 hours).
We'll take our computers and my video iPod. Any suggesstions for how to make this fun (or at least not painful)?
Thank you in advance for making me feel like this was a good idea.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Went well

Thank you my well-wishers: Lisa B and Dr. Write.

Thirty-one would be proud. I wore very tall shoes.

Some of my favorite writers were there and they said nice props. And even though I dropped my papers, people still said I read beautifully, elegantly.

I'm pretty happy! I love to read (I always forget how much I love it). My students came, my colleagues came, folks from Western came. A fellow-NEA winner from 1995 came. Well-attended indeed.
My neighbors came too! 4 of them. Linda, Cheryl, Beth and her daughter Rose. So it wasn't just poetry-ites. It made me feel like I'm making in-roads and communities.
I read with my non-poetry reading voice which people seemed to love.
Now, if I could only get the paper to stay on the podium....

Big Reading Tonight

I'm reading at the downtown GR public library tonight. Mostly new poems. I have several worries. That I'll read too fast. That the audience will space out. That the poems will make no sense. That I'll wear something ridiculous. I almost decided on an outfit but then realized the shirt for it is the same shirt I wore for the NEA photograph. Perhaps that would be funny.

None of the poems are funny.
People like funny poems.
Ergo, no one will like my reading.

Maybe I can ham it up a bit with the discussion of the shirt.

I'm doomed.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Semester is 98% over

The remaining 2% might kill me but probably not. I'm reading at the Public Library on Thursday night. They paid me real money to read. I love the library. Then, I have revisions to look at (I refuse to call them portfolios). I'm actually looking forward to reading through everyone's work. My two upper-level classes turned out to be amazing. Even the students I thought didn't like the classes turned out to love it. I have many people telling me they'll be taking my intermediate classes and the Capstone in the fall.
I meant to post last week about many things but was too disheartened by the Virginia Tech and the Supreme Court Rulings and then again by the Earth Day Funereal March. But I have sublimated all that business and now want to know everything you know about Roland Barthes Mythologies. This is the book I'm going to use as central to this capstone class. The capstone is supposed to focus on genre--from the memo to the novel. Barthes' Mythologies should work well to describe convention and frame in "Myth Today" and enact it in the specific examples. My favorite thus far is "Steak and Chips" though "Wine and Milk" is a good one too. Ah, the recipe as genre. But I want to keep the conversation focused on more than just pointing to stuff and saying "there's a genre" "there's a convention" "there's a frame around a frame." Any ideas you all have will be absorbed by the blob that is my brain.
Now, I'm off to mark the calendar for days we need housesitting....Most of the summer it seems.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I don't hate Starbuck's with the rabidity of some. Sure they overroast their coffee. Sure they put a number of cooler coffeehouses on warning if not out of business. Sure they're destroying the planet by not shade-growing their coffee. But when I travel, particularly in NYC--they always provided: 1)clean, unlocked bathrooms. 2) a coffee lingo I could learn and repeat "Tall," "skinny," "with room" etc. and 3) OK, I can't think of a third.

I went there today to try to finish this long poem (in Terza Rima!) and first asked for a cup of Fair Trade coffee since my poem is about the end of the world (as usual). They didn't have any brewed but they'd make me a French Pressed cup. Yeah! But then they asked me what size and it seemed like all of western civilization took a nose dive when I said "tall." They said Large, I said Venti and I realized I was no longer in Starbuck land.

I tried to log on to the internets. They were closed. Or rather, a T Mobile Hot Spot connection was available for the low low price of $9.99. For a day pass.

Still, my very very Grande Fair Trade French Pressed coffee was freaking amazing and the only thing to have gotten rid of my three-day old headache. But it was GIGANTIC (large, Venti, whatever). So, I went to the bathroom. What did I find there, insult among insults? A locked bathroom and a sign that said please to ask for key. A key? For a Starbuck's bathroom? Is it worth it then, to humilate oneself for the Starbucks-going rather than the cool coffeehouse because it's non-smoking and has comfy chairs, for them to destroy rainforests to grow coffeebeans, traded unfairly, to pay them for the internet even though I didn't really end up having to since 4 businesses around had open access wireless accounts if they're not going to leave the bathrooms open for everyone!

Democracy is over if we have to pee with a key (see how I've got the rhyming for the Terza Rima in my head?)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

News of the Z

Both Z's grandparents sent her Easter baskets. They sent candy and stuffed bunnies and a tractor. My mom also sent clothes which ended up on the living room floor. She spent all day laying them out flat. Until I sat down by her. She pushed me back and made me lie down. She covered me in the clothes and the rabbits. Then her dad came in the room. He sat down and was forced to lie back and be buried in the system of clothes too. Whenever we tried to get up, much yelling and crying by the Z would ensue.
Eventually, we were bored enough to prevail and tried to ignore her stubborn protestations. We distracted her with asparagus and cous cous.
But this morning, she has not forgotten. For not one second as I've been typing this have I not been tugged towards the floor.
If you need me, I'll be on the rug, trying to drink coffee lying down.
Perhaps she'll bring me a book.

Edited to add: Also, if a rug is folded over on itself by someone walking in the door, the dog and cat rasslin' around, her own tripping on its corner, Egg moving it to vacuum under, she runs over to it, unfolds it, and flattens it. She pats it as if to say, no more of that, you upstart of a rug. Perhaps she has an imminent career in carpet laying, ironing, or, my great-grandmother would like this: bed-making so that you can bounce a quarter off the hospital-cornered sheets.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

In which she learns "teach" is a verb

7:30 get up with Z.
8:00 return email to boss re workload.
8:17 look for z's coat because winter has returned.
8:29 find coat.
8:30 take z to school.
9:00 prep for advanced non.
9:45 read student's (late) essay.
10:00 write one page comment on student's (late) (two page) essay.
11:20 eat early lunch.
11:45 drive to campus (half an hour!)
12:15 drive around good parking lot.
12:20 park in bad parking lot.
12:25 re-read CV's of job candidates (late hire).
12:30 faculty meeting to discuss hire. wonder what they said about me last year pre-hire. try not to pass out in amazement that I was ever hired.
1:30 break for coffee with Agamemnon.
1:40 learn more about U's propensities and preferences.
1:50 return to office to discuss with Agamemnon new workshop strategies including "body" workshop wherein one wears a different hat, wakes up at 4 a.m., writes longhand, writes drunk, writes naked, writes wearing other gender's clothes, writes outside just so writer writes.
2:00 interview by colleague re: outreach.
2:30 meet with student re my comments not jibing with classmates comments. explain how I'm right but they have good points too.
2:55 reread poem to teach at 3:00
3:00 quiz students over reading. ignore complaints that i didn't warn them about quiz.
3:10 teach Dean Young poem Colophon.
3:30 corrall students' workshop.
4:00 stop workshop, outline next two week's work.
4:15 return to office, turn in students receipts to get repaid for AWP, email UC Riverside to ask for Reading for Writers syllabus.
4:30 go to early dinner.
4:40 order.
4:45 finish prepping for 6:00 class.
5:30 find student in hallway looking for me. he asks to come hang out in my office.
5:31 talk to student about existential crises.
6:00 discuss David Shield's Remote. say some smart things that i've already forgotten.
7:00 implement new workshop plan. divide students into two groups.
7:05 write exit interview questions for students post-workshop.
7:06 overhear student hear from a grad school.
7:21 continue week-long conversation with student over grad school possibilities.
7:25 meet with exit interviewee #1
7:40 meet with EI #2
7:55 meet iwth EI #3
8:10 meet with EI #4
8:25 meet with EI #5
8:40 meet with EI #6
8:55 leave campus 10 minutes (late).
8:56 realize roads scarier than ever.
8:59 talk to sister re: job. scary phone & drive.
9:05 watch cars slide off freeway. hang up phone.
9:10 watch jeep spin 3 times.
9:15 take off shoes.
9:17 pour glas of wine. (OK, wine first, then shoes)
9:24 blog (please note marker for blog off. On pacific time or possibly hawaii!)
9:39 finish wine (early).
9:40 post blog without proofreading.