Saturday, December 17, 2005

pre-decision decisions

Though I have no idea if I will actually get any job offers, I am in complete arrest because I cannot decide what I want to do.
So, I leave it to my blogging friends to help me decide. If I have any left, since it's been so long since I've posted.
Here are the job interviews thus far:
Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. Teaching load--3/3 (creative nonfiction)
Susquehanna State University in Selinsgrove, PA. Teaching load--3/3 (poetry)
Alfred University, WAY upstate New York. Teaching load--3/3 (poetry)
Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL Teaching load--3/2 (creative nonfiction)
Westfield State College, in Western MA Teaching load--4/4 (poetry).

If you know any one at or anything about these places and want to give me a little insight about what jobs sound best, I'd be happy to hear.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Long weekend

No cooking for me. This may be the first Thanksgiving since I was 19 that I didn't cook at all. Well, I went from house to house making proper gravy, but otherwise, no mashing, no probing, no stuffing, no sauteing. It's really kind of sad. I'm thinking of having a make-up turkey dinner soon.
Weekend was full of correspondence, writing, seeing the very very bad (bad in a good way Act, 1, bad in a bad way, Act 2) Mamma Mia and eating at the delightful Martine. Why doesn't every meal out consist of 7 little dishes? I love to taste things. When I move to Napa, I'm going to eat at the French Laundry every day. Also, this will happen when I win the lottery. But, if I do win the lottery, maybe I'll start my own French Laundry in Salt Lake. I'll call it the Mormon Clothesline to avoid charges against copyright infringement. I'll serve tiny gallettes of funeral potatoes, bread cubes ala sacrament, ambrosia salad--one marshmallow, one cubic centimeter each of madarin orange, grape, pear and peach, deep-fried chicken wing atop inch of mashed potato & cream gravy, ahi tuna casserole--seared ahi, homemade potato chip, mushrooms in cream sauce (aka, can of cream of mushroom soup).
Now I'm hungry. On Wednesday, Erik and I did cook. We made green chile sauce from anaheims from the last farmers market and 1/4 of a habenero from my garden. Too spicy to eat. Today, I mellowed it out with a can of tomatoes. Now, it's red chile sauce. Still hot, but not killer-death hot.
Tonight, I'm driving all the way out to the south Trio for dinner with cousins. And, considering my last Trio experience, I'm not too excited.
I also must go to the Avenues Bistro for a pity dinner. Terrible review in the Tribune by the new food critic. She was absolutely right. Maybe this town's restaurants will get in shape if someone kicks them in the butt a bit. I can't help. I feel sorry for all those chefs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Salt Lake City Restaurants

I like to go out to eat. I like to cook too but I get a lot of my ideas for what to make from restaurants. Since this week was my birthday week, I happened to go out to many restaurants--from cheapish to expensiveish. Plus, I made a dinner of Striped bass with balsamic reduction, beet reduction, spicy turnip greens and swiss chard on a palette of diced sweet potatoes (mucho butter involved).
The best dinner:
Bambara. Scallops with truffle butter reduction, fennel slaw and pureed parsnips--all my favorite foods together and I didn't have to cook it. Much wine. $$$$$$$
Worst food:
Trio. Usually good but this time Trio Club with absolutely no flavor. Dry chicken, dry bread, dry tomatoes. Even the bacon was dry. Yuck. No wine. Sad. $$$$ (for what it was).
Mediocre food, best time:
The pub. Cheese enchiladas. (Felt guilty eating that much cheese but covered them in super spicy salsa, which let's me believe I'm "cutting" the cheese with spice. Oh the way I can wish away calories. I wish I was lactose intolerant) Just Erik & Zoe & me and great conversation about San Bernardino. 2 glasses cheap wine. $$

Which meal was BEST? On the one hand the scallops haunt my palate. Each flavor perfectly balanced--sweet and savory, buttery and sharp. On the other hand, the relaxing atmosphere of the pub and the easy conversation made for a great night. And we saved a lot of money. How to value these things? When I go out next time--go for the unique and complex flavor or comfort of our go to place?

The saddest part is that Erik & I drove all over the city looking for a new, fun place to eat. We found nothing. We can either spend $$$$$$$ or go to the pub. Perhaps I'll save my money for Wahso in Park City--featured as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world according to Fodor:

Nov. 7, 2005Park City restaurant named one of best 10 eateries in the world By Debbi TaylorStaff Writer One of Utah's most unique restaurants has been named as serving some of the world's best in the Fodor's Choice Winter 2006 list. Fodor's says the Park City restaurant Wahso offers a "not-to-be-missed experience." Wahso, one of five restaurants owned by Bill White, joins a list of top 10 restaurants in the world that also includes Bukhara, Delhi, India; Casa da Feijoada, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Casa Picasso, Ambergris Caye, Belize; Chef Mavro, O'ahu, Hawaii; Chez Pascal, Antigua, Caribbean; Findlerhof, Zermatt, Switzerland; George's at the Cove, La Jolla, Calif.; Hunter's Vineyard Restaurant, Blenheim, New Zealand; and Per Se, New York.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Trista's Right

This site needs more pictures. I worry about people tracking down Zoe and stealing her. But I've decided baby-theft is more an impulse buy than a premeditated investment. Plus, since she's disguised here, I don't think I run too much risk.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't need a weatherman

Winter is coming--eventually. Even with global warming, it will still get cold and snowy for at least a couple days this year. Egg and I spent all day winterizing the backyard. We mulched plants and dug up sunflowers. I'm going to make habenero salsa with the beautiful orange peppersI salvaged from the impendng (we hope) freeze. The mums were red and some weird flowers Erik planted were orange to match the peppers.
When I came inside to save Zoe from the Cleo dog who knocked the baby over in her bouncy chair, there was a wasp buzzing around. A bee in November. Ah well, the peppers will get hotter, the tomatoes more red as the summers get longer.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

I am going as "Stucco'd with quadruped and birds all over" from Leaves of Grass. Or, as my nephew Cameron says--a zoo.
Zoe is a lamb, or maybe it's a bunny, but she's definitely a quadruped.

I love Halloween.

Erik's going as KUTV's gift from god. I thought a bit obnoxious but funny nonetheless.

Today--the job letters are mostly done.
QW meeting tomorrow to see why we still don't have more money.
Begin new business.
Start a new novel.
Figure out what to do about my Walmart boycott--see, they've gone "eco-friendly"--minimizing packaging, cutting energy costs, buying clothes made from organic cotton (although also made with a 9 year-old's organic fingers). It's probably all a marketing ploy but what if it does effect some consumerist consciousness? Will I have to enter a Walmart? I'm afraid of getting hit on the head with falling prices.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I'm giving up the ambivalence about going on the job market by remembering:
I need an adventure.
I want my own students. There's something about TAing and working for peanuts that makes me feel a bit removed from my students--like there's always a graduate director in the room.
I need a 401K.
I get summers off.
Erik doesn't want to do camerawork for news the rest of his life.
Erik might start working nights.

Erik always has a somewhat awful schedule but when he works nights, I go crazy. And as those of you with babies know, the baby is one kind of creature by day and another more scary creature by night. I know that will change but it's A LOT easier at nights.

I'm not so good at getting it together in the morning either. By the time I read the paper, walk the dog, check the blogs, make breakfast, it's time to make lunch. I'm more of an afternoon worker and if Erik leaves me with Zo right at the time I usually sit down to work, I won't be able to get anything done. Plus, it's just depressing being home alone every night. The last time he had this shift, my friend Steve was still in town and we went into deep debt drinking red wine and going out to eat at every good restaurant in the Valley. Steve and I went to restaurants far and wide--out in Draper at some huge French gig, out west to a great barbecue place, up canyon for good salmon. Mostly we went to Greenstreet. But, the point is, Steve and I went out more than Erik and I ever did--I don't have that Steve friend because he's got one of those jobs I'm thinking about trying to get. And, even if he was here, I don't think Zoe could go with us.
So with Zoe and sans Steve, the idea of Erik being gone every night instills me with a deep panic.
Say what you will about professorships, no one has to get up before 7 or work after 5.

As I think about moving, I allow myself to watch "Sell this House" where Roger and Tanya Memme go in to people's houses and fix, in a weekend, what's wrong with a house so they can sell it. Usually it involves paint and new linens. But it's an amazing transformation. The hard part for me to swallow is the price of the houses. One in Scottsdale AZ should sell for $700,000. One in Glendale, CA, $650,000. And these are nice, but normal houses.
Who can afford a $700,000 house? The average appearance of the potential buyers make it appear that everyone can. Our housing market, though booming, isn't skyrocketing like everywhere else in the rest. I'm not sure how Erik and I could make enough to buy a house anywhere in, say, California. I guess this is how the Midwest will lure us. Or even the East Coast.

So. One more pass over the job letter and touch up the CV and call it a job search. I already feel the job thing has taken me away from what I want to do:
Hang out with Zoe.
But this writing of the letter and imaging all the consequences of the is the lame part--anxiety-making, self-doubting, and time-robbing.
I still plan to cook Chili and bug Zoe.

Update. The current episode of Sell the House has a house for sale for $125,000-well, it's a townhouse.... I am grading while I watch. Well, in between blogging and checking my email too....No wonder it takes me all day to grade.

Friday, October 14, 2005

job market angst

Before I launch in, I want to register dissatisfaction with Blogger. Why name each post? I like the idea better of a daily log. Now I always feel I have to be "on point."

Anyway--the angst.
I don't want to have it. I went on the job market last year with some success but I hated the rigormorale--the mock interviews and the angst of my friends, amplifying my own, and the desire for external approval, and the fear that I might actually get a job and have to do something about it.
This year, although I thought because I'd suffered it last year, I'd feel old hat about this, is worse. Nearly all my friends are going on the market. Competition and friendship bite. And nothing else is new this year--I have no book. I have a few more publications, thankfully in Nonfiction, but so do my friends.
The truth is, my ambitious streak, at least in terms of professionships, is kind of thin. I always wanted the job that supported my writing. Somehow, I think I misunderstood the likeliness of this happening. With the market such as it is, I'd be lucky to teach 3 classes a semester. Which is one more than I'm teaching now, plus service, plus administrative work.
Full time. The thing I'd spent my life avoiding.
The truth is: I want to write. But. I want to write in a community/atmosphere that supports/appreciates writing. Hence the teaching idea. In retrospect, maybe I didn't commit myself properly to the professorship project. Publications and Editorship are not enough. I think I needed a bit more work on--well, what? Scholarship? Academic papers? Talking with my professors about Donne? Fellowships? Teaching more diverse classes?
I fear it's my nature to care more about liking my days rather than shaping them to advance my prospects. But, if I suffer for that lack, am I actually liking them?
Ah, the suffering is short, the days of wine and song are long.....
OK. I'm off to drink some wine and forget about how I screwed up my career.
If I did.
Maybe my real career is something else.
Or maybe this is where everyone's at.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

on babies etc

Babies: Much recommended. Most fun thing ever. Zoë is pretty squawky. I think she spends too much time thinking about her bowels. She expresses herself mostly through farts and burps but she's also been known to slug you across the face with her wild swinging arms. Her main talent--snarling. Everyone else says she smiles but I'm pretty sure she has nothing nice to say about the state of the nation, and, more pointedly, the state of her bowels. She also does not like it when Box the cat tries to sit on her. Which he tries to do every day. This also makes her squawk. At her age--2.5 months--she could be cooing. I consider these squawks coos. Though again, more an expression of gas than joy.

Since having Zoë I have gone mostly blind and have contracted MS. My arm falls asleep every night but Erik attributes that to me trying to nurse with my left hand and scroll through Blogs with my right. The blindness--I've heard your eyesight changes, but really, I walk into class and just blink at my students until they come into focus.But that's the only drawback. Zoë wakes up at 2 and 5 and then 7:30 (basically)--which is about how often I used to wake up anyway. Now I just have to feed a tiny barracuda for 20 minutes each time. And I go right back to sleep, unlike my insomniac wakings of before.Bonus to having two parents--two separate babysitters--one on Friday night, one on Saturday.

Erik is pretty goreat about the wee lass. I'm trying to convince him to take Fenugreek. Apparently men on the Mormon Trail took fenugreek and could actually breastfeed the baby. If he could breastfeed, well, I'd take Wednesdays completely off. As it is, I pump, then teach, then work on the Mag then drive home as fast as the stop sign-heavy Avenues will allow and drag my forty pounds of drooping milk into the house. Invariably, Erik will have just fed her, so I pump again.Evenings, when Erik usually has her, if Zoë makes the slightest peep, Erik apes for Zoë: "Mom, can I have some milk?" Helarious. Also, any time I sit down to eat something, she decides she's starving. I try to convince her that for milk, I must eat mucho, but she doesn't care. She looks at my fat butt and says, I think you can probably stand to skip a meal or two.I'm almost back into my regular clothes but I think it's a lie that you can eat anything and breastfeed.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Endangered species

Who needs 'em? When it comes to Walmart versus the spotted owl, why not choose the one where the price is right? Or maybe, with the new bill the house just passed, you can make money off the damn owl. I own its rotting old grown habitat. Perhaps the government can buy my land. I think I'll set the asking price at $50,000/acre. The govt. can afford it. Especially with the way we're making the poor pay more. And the more they pay, the more poor we create. Heck, maybe I can charge $100,000 because the govt helps those who help themselves.

Following the intelligent design model, the intelligent designer (whose name shall remain upspoken) spotted owls are less complex a model, therefore, worth less.

The only value is that which useful to humans. And making money for those humans. I suppose having the whole planet covered in Ivory homes will be profitable.

I wonder how to quantify the value of wilderness and diversity of species--perhaps I should say to those who complain that wilderness is only for backpackers and hikers that we won't go there either. That they're for no one. That the idea of the place is all humans get. And that is a lot. Being able to imagine a place separate from humans is what helps us to understand what it means to be human.

Perhaps only by hanging a price-tag on wilderness and habitat is the only way to decide what it's worth. So how much for the spotted owl? How much for the Amazon rainforest. Bill Gates has a lot of money. Can he buy it? And then put a big electric fence around it to keep the poachers and land-clearers and Republicans away. Until they can pay up.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Nonstop work or no work?

I can't tell if I'm never working or always working. I woke up at 1:15, 4:59 and 8:16 to feed Zoe. Up for good at 8:45. Made coffee, fed the cats, fed the dog, made 4 slices of the Avenues' cranberry pecan bread. Read the paper. Fed Zo at 9:30. Found Cleo's collar and leash, put Zoe in her kangaroo carrier and walked ourselves to the park. Came home, watered outside plants. Came in, cleaned up wineglasses from last night, read more newspaper. 11:17 Tried to convince Zoe she wanted to be naked in her crib. 11:35 gave up, gave her an apricot oil massage, fed her until 12:05. Recycled newspaper. Started to think about lunch. Got out a chicken breast and went outside to start grill. Grill wouldn't start. Came in to get lighter. Zoe fussy. Took Zoe and lighter outside and stood in front of grill, gas on. Thought better of lighting it and put Zoe on the grass next to Cleo (good babysitter, Cleo). Lit grill, came in. Put Zoe in swing. Grated parmasan. Made a fake Caesar Salad dress (lemon juice, mayo, worstchestershire, parmasan, garlic clove). Grilled chicken. Tore up lettuce. Looked at blogs while chicken cooked. Blogged a short depressing blog about New Orleans. (Blogs--like newspapers, but worse. I've read the entire twice). Checked email (not much. One from Burger. It's Sunday of a labor day weekend). Got chicken off grill. Let it rest. Read some more blog. Cut up chicken and tossed salad. Ate while reading blogs. Found Cleo. Gave her a bit of chicken. Turned off swin for Zoe. Found bar of chocolate. Ate some of it. Blogged this.
I wanted to do today:
Send out manuscripts.
Writer more on the wolf piece.
Finish new QW website.

Must put down chocolate to even begin to do work. Now I feel like taking a nap.

Perhaps it's the blogs/newspapers that seem like I'm doing something (I like to call it research in my day planner) when I'm not. Perhaps I should limit the research to an hour a day. Of course, I'd probably just fill that time with more research, like watching the Discovery Channel or reading the New Yorker.

Now I've eaten most of the chocolate and thought about how I must have missed Lynn and Sylvia's half marathon. Guilt for the chocolate and for not cheering on my friends. Go friends I say from here as I look to Zoe to see if she's hungry. Someone has to get the calories from the chocolate and it had better not be me. See. Even eating chocolate can be considered work. I'm metabolizing for my baby!

OK. Really. Now I have to breastfeed and type if I'm going to get a stitch of work done today. I need one more arm. Or perhaps a well designed sling......

End of the world

I keep thinking about the dogs and cats left in the houses. And global warming. And the way that now that catastrophe has struck, everyone's shelling out the cash but when New Orleans asked last year for 2.7 billion dollars to reinforce and modernize the levee system, it was deemed too expensive. Now people are wading through a soggy cemetery trying to get some place dry. 10.5 billion dollars later, the government comes to the rescue--throwing MRE's and bottled water to the masses. At some point, this wait till it's broken approach will fail even more ridiculously. Part of me looks forward to seeing how bad it gets. No oil. No heat. No trucks to bring groceries. No water where it's needed most. Too much where it's not needed at all.
Perhaps I can go into business, try to entrepreneur my way into watching Utah turn temperate forest or plush agricultural center or buying property in Western Nevada as I wait for the waters to rise.
It doesn't look good for you if you're poor. But it doesn't look all too rosy for the rich either. Think of all the walking they'll have to do. Think of the Hummer becoming the primary residence. Sure, we'll all be starving too, but at least natural (or the oxymoronic manmade nature) disasters democratize us all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

From Impossible to Possible

A word on girl pain: cramps are not so bad for one reason--you know they're going away. Although it feels like some hand has reached through your spine and twisted your uterus as if they were trying to squeeze the last drop out of the juice of a lime, you know that hand will eventually let go. That too is what is do-able, supposedly, about giving birth--it too has an end point. The contractions I was having early on were no worse than bad cramps. But these lasted long. And, as far as anyone wanted (except me, in the pain, and even I wanted to hold out a bit longer--like an hour), the "cramps" could have lasted eight more weeks. I knew that I wouldn't make it ten more days in this much pain. I kept looking to see if the windows opened. I could jump. And my house is only three blocks away. If I was there, well, then maybe I could stand the pain. Maybe the nurses would quit coming in to take my blood pressure or wake me to give me more pills that did who know what to me or the unborn fetus?

Anyway, back to the narrative.
So I ask the resident to check me again, this time with her fingers. They MUST be missing something. But I can't really argue. My jaw is clenched shut tight and I don't have a lot of energy. Erik is so strong. He is totally focused on me making me try to relax. But again, I'm not sure how to relax. It isn't supposed to be happening. And according to medical science, it's not. So whatever relaxation techniques I'd like to employ are psychologically prohibited--either by my desire or by "fact." The resident goes away--I think she'll be back in a minute with permission to find out what's really going on but she doesn't come back.

I get up to pee and find that bending over pressing my feet one by one into the floor as if I'm walking helps a little. Just being out of the bed helps. As does being off the monitors. One time, I kept me and the baby off the monitors for almost half an hour. The nurse came in to protest, but when she saw me, she quickly left me alone.

My mom came in and brought Arby's. I couldn't quite concentrate/relax enough to eat. Plus there was a question about whether I was "allowed" to eat. Being in such intense prelabor. Not that I wasn't going to eat or drink. I'd gone through 4 of those big gulp size hospital jugs of water in the past eight hours. Hence the peeing. The water and the peeing were the only things I were really in charge of in terms of my body or the hospital. The water quenched my thirst, the taking off of the monitors to get up to pee quelched, by its small token of rebellion, some of my desire to jump out the window and run away.

By 6:30 or so, unbeknownst to me at the time, Erik was starting to panic. He called my sister Val and told her that I was in so much pain and had been all day and that no one believed me and he didn't know what to do. One problem with having a "team of midwives" is that there is no one midwife on whom you can call. Plus, since we were in heavily hospitalized way, the midwives weren't likely to hold any sway over actual patient care. But still. Erik had no one to call except Val who had had a baby just a year ago, had been involved all along and had planned to be our Doula had we ever enough time to take another hypnobirthing class.

(Strange to note, though. This is when I hork down an entire ARBY's roast beef in fifteen seconds. Thanks mom.)

So Val races from Holladay to Downtown in ten minutes. She rushes in and is shocked by the attitude of my nurse, who is ARMY-trained for sure. Her hair is so short I can see most of her scalp. When I tell her how bad it hurts, she grunts as if to say--let's amputate your leg without anesthesia and then we'll talk pain. Plus, you've already morphine you baby.
And although at the time I thought she was a horrific nurse, in retrospect, that kind of hard-ass attitude probably kept me calm. Others nurses, who may be more disposed toward empathy, would probably have made me think I was in so much more pain than I could handle. ARMY nurse does tell me that clenching will make it worse. I should try to open up and breathe through them (indicating she does think they are contractions and yet can't contradict the doc?) and RELAX. Although the word relax makes me tighten up like a poked anemone, I do try what she says and find that I can kind of ride them in a surfing kind of way. A cold, hard, coral ripped surf, but surf nonetheless.

And even my screams don't daunt her. Val and Erik are looking at the nurse as if to say "can't you hear her." She looks at me and with only a look, I get the distinct impression that I should be quiet. But I keep screaming every time I get a little cramp. I imagine my leg being cut off as some kind of solace.

And again, Erik is being great. He tells me to remember the fish pond we hiked past on our honeymoon, backpacking in the Wind Rivers. Although there was no discernible tributaries, the pond ran as clear and deep and anything I had ever seen and was full of trout circling.

Finally, even the nurse is convinced by my screaming that perhaps the resident, who had come by 3 hours ago and left the distinct impression she'd be back in a minute with a solution, should actually be summoned.

Suddenly, things change. I no longer feel cramps (albeit himalayan sized cramps). Now I feel weird. Like there is an alien body inside me, trying to come out. It wants to come out through my belly button, throat, butt, vagina--anyway it can get out. It's like the baby doubled in size, started doing jumping jacks and tugging at my kidneys. This s something foreign and now the real screaming begins. I don't even feel bad. I tell Val--I feel like I have to push. I feel like I have to poop.
The nurse goes to get a bed pan.
And thank God for Valerie who translates for the ARMY nurse. No. She says. She is having PUSHING CONTRACTIONS. And Val, who had an epidural with her babies, still knew what the hell I was talking about.

The resident is summoned. The speculum is brought back. I lift my hips and think, if I had the energy, that I would visegrip the resident's head between my knees if she doesn't check me with her goddamned fingers. But she emerges, looking convinced. I'm so sorry she says. You're fully dilated. I see the head.

what the hell? I could have been visualizing that turtleneck this whole time. Been thinking of the unwrapping of my uterus as a beautiful present. Instead, I'd been holding it in, clenching my jaw, my gluts, my abs, such as they were.

I fall in love with this pain. It hurts so bad I scream. The nurse tells me to be quiet and I scream louder. I arch my back. Erik shows me his thumb. He says look at the rivulets on the print. See the piece of skin forming a hangnail. Look how big the nail is, how round the pad. Erik is brilliant. I am fully hypnotized by his fingers. And he learned all of this in one scant class.

But no more time for practicing hypnosis. The resident is hustling into her scrubs. The nurse is throwing scrubs at Erik. He's putting on a blue hairnet hat and I'm thinking, wow, I guess we're going to have a baby now.

They ask if I'd like my midwife to come in now. I did want one of them to come. And Angela was on her way. She was one of my favorites because she was the most beautiful of all the midwives. And again, I'm on my barge, being ferried down the watery halls to the OR.
Babies born this early have to be delivered in the Labor and Delivery OR because it's right next to the NICU.

The lights are too bright and the resident has brought a student, also named Nicole, to come watch. Whatever I say. Learn from my mistakes. I'm screaming and arching and scaring everyone within a block radius out of having a baby (which, being in Utah, is probably a good thing for population control). Angela arrives and finally, someone I trust is here, although I really have met her only once, and she says that instead of screaming, put my scream into my push. I'm told to bend my legs--ARMY nurse holds one and Erik holds the other--and I'm supposed to squeeze out this tiny baby. No problem, I think. Finally, I have something to do. Finally, they believe I'm having a baby. Finally, these fifteen years of practicing my Kegel muscles will come in handy. I'm so thrilled with this pain. I push so hard I think my ear drums will burst. I hope I'm not pooping on anyone. I push from the top of my lungs down through my toes. I do this about eight times. They hold a mirror up for me to look.
I see a gigantic baby come out covered in white and red. She is huge. Of course, I don't have my contacts in, so I can't really tell. Her Apgar is a ten. She screamed right at first. No need for oxygen. She's breathing and crying and red as a reindeer's nose. The placenta is easy to birth and I am suddenly in no more pain. Except the ARMY nurse is kneading on my stomach to get my uterus back in shape. I tell her, do it as hard as you want. At least now somebody believes me that I'm having a baby.

Zoe was born that Saturday night at 8:54 p.m. She weighed 4 lbs and 7 oz. She spent three weeks in the NICU and has been home for 3 weeks. She's very mad now because I'm typing instead of feeding her. It's good to have a loud baby--I always believes she's here.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Disbelief/Not Believed

or: Good Reason part II

They won’t give me anti-contraction medicine—not that they think I’m having any contractions—but they will give me morphine. I think this is not so good for the baby but better than dying. Which is what I’ll do if I have to wait in this much pain to reach the 34 weeks where they’ll induce me. I imagine they won’t give me an epidural every twelve hours for the next week and a half either. As I start to clench my jaw and grip the bed rail, I wonder how pre-labor can be this painful and how anyone who is in real labor can do it naturally. We’d had exactly one introductory hypnobirthing class. I loved the images—to think of the uterus as a turtleneck just slipping over the baby’s neck, to imagine the uterus as a beribboned package and unlacing it, to think of a snowcapped mountain as a reserve of endorphins, let them drip onto your brow, through your cheeks, across your jaw. But I can’t really embrace these images. The baby isn’t supposed to come now—I don’t want to encourage it by visualizing a positive birth. I’m not really having contractions. No birth is what I’m shooting for, but I figure imagining the endorphins to be a universal visualization tool--I make it to my shoulders before I’m clutching the rail of the bed like the cold steel will provide a good role model.
Erik gets up every half hour or so to check on me. All I want to do is get up and walk but I was told to stay in my bed—and I do what I’m told because I don’t want anything bad to happen to the baby—or to think it was my fault for walking my baby into birth this many weeks early. I get up a lot to go to the bathroom, even if I don’t have to because that’s allowed. The morphine seems to do absolutely nothing but it must have had some effect because I made it through the night.
Every four hours, the nurses come in to take my blood pressure and check my contractions with a portable machine. Still, they see only little blips—tiny little hills along a mostly-flat line. I look like Nebraska but I feel like Colorado.
By the time the resident visits again I won’t let go of the bed rail. I arch my back every seven to eight minutes.
By three or four that afternoon, I ask the resident to please check me with her fingers. Double glove or something, I ask, but this can’t go on. She says, truly sympathetically, that she just can’t. They wheel me back to labor and delivery, just so she can check me again with the speculum. Fortunately, more morphine comes with this. Unfortunately, morphine is overrated. How is it possible? All this time I’ve waited for a reason to need morphine and it happens at a time when my opiate receptors are completely disinterested in receiving any opiates. Again, the promise of my needle-drug days dwindle. I imagine snow-capped mountains melting down my forehead.

To be continued, it takes a bit longer to write for some reason....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Good reason

I haven't blogged for so long for what is a pretty good reason--the little baby that is due in two weeks decided to come six weeks ago.
Eight weeks early is a little too early for comfort. Nowadays, you can really feel at ease at anything over thirty weeks gestation, but there are difficulties and worries and expenses and traumas still. The worst thing is: they tell you at the hospital to plan that your baby will come home on its due date. That means 8 weeks of NICU land. But we were luckier than that, thank god.

Let me back up: On Wednesday morning, July 13th at about 2:00 a.m. I got up to pee. When I came back to bed, I saw what appeared to be quite a bit--a spot the size of my hand-- of water on the bed. I woke Erik up and asked him if he thought this meant my water had broken. He didn't know but thought perhaps we should wait and see. Unbelievably, I fell back asleep. About an hour later, I felt a gush. I woke Erik up again and said we'd better call the midwives.

(The plural "midwives" is semi-important to the story. Instead of having one midwife who followed me throughout my pregnancy, I rotated through seven of them during my prenatal visits since whomever was on call the night I went into labor would deliver me).

The midwife said I should go to the 4th floor (not the emergency room) of the hospital to have it checked out. She said there was no rush, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
When I got there, they tested the water to see if it was amniotic fluid. So it was.
I didn't believe it. Or, rather, I did believe that some water had broken, but that it wasn't enough to be worried about.

Apprarently, any water breakage is worrisome, according to the residents. The primary concern is infection, which sounded more benign to me than having a 32 week baby. I asked them why they didn't give me medicine to stop whatever contractions I was having (to my mind, I wasn't having any) and they said (residents with the attending visiting once) that the risk of infection was worse than having a baby early. They wanted to pump me up with ampicillin and erythromycin and wait in the hospital bed for a week and a half. 34 weekers do the best apparently. But everyone was operating on a "this baby is probably coming now" program. Again, I didn't believe it. I thought, since we live only a few blocks from the hospital, that I could go home and if my water broke further or if contractions started I could just come back. (The stress of being in the hospital wasn't helping anything. Plus, I couldn't like to spend all that money). I'm booked into labor and delivery with a nice view of my house.

But no, they weren't going to let me go. In fact, they weren't even going to let me out of bed except to go to the bathroom. (In fact, the whole experience was centered around the bathroom. Everytime I had to pee, I had to cart my IV full of antibiotics and the cords to the monitors with me. I hated the IV. My veins rolled and they had to restick me a bunch of times. My whole arm was bruised. I kept thinking how bad I would have fared if I'd chosen needle drugs as a sport.) I'm booked into the antenatal wing (which is exactly where the recovery room is). I don't like my view out the window. It's of the next wing of the hospital. I can see the roof's tar paper, the chimney stack and some ugly exterior wall. I cry. Erik asks if we can have a different room. I like the one they move me to. It's exactly like my sister's where she had Lily just ten months before.

On Thursday, lots of good people came to visit. I got no reading done, no thank you cardsfor the shower I'd had just three days ago, just a lot of chatting--which was good and distracting, though perhaps exhausting. Poor Erik slept in a cot beside my bed. I had comparatively, with my foam-pad lined bed and motrin and ambien, a good sleep. (I thought it funny how many drugs they were giving me: steroids in case Zoe was born soon to get her lungs working, antibiotics and motrin and percoset and ambien--all those months of abstinence seemed to go to waste). I'm wheeled out to the ultrasound room--the same one where we learned Zoe was a girl only three short months ago. There, they measure my amniotic fluid. 8--20 centimeters is normal. I had 17. I'm pretty sure I can go home.

That Friday, more visitors. I'm kind of liking this. It reminds me of when I had my hernia out and I was able to order popsicles from the nurses all night long. But I'm kind of stressed and I want to pretend this isn't happening by going home. Apparently, everyone thinks they can go home if their water breaks and no contractions are forthcoming. But only 1% of amniotic sacs re-seal. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be that 1%.

Until, about four o'clock that afternoon. Three people were sitting around my bed just keeping my mind off things when suddenly I just want them to leave. I don't tell them so but I think they can read it in my face because by four thirty, everyone is gone. Erik is back from work and I tell him I feel different. There is some pain now where before there was none. Like little tiny menstrual cramps.

I get wheeled back to labor and delivery so they can monitor me there. This is where the contraptions are they test for contractions and make it difficult to pee. They hook me up to the fetal monitor and the contraction monitor. Fetus is fine. Contractions--minimal. Finally a resident comes to check me. Now here's where things get a little tricky. Besides the fact they won't give me anti-contraction medication, they also won't check my cervix to see how dilated I am with their fingers. Apparently, testing digitally is more accurate and the standard by which they can tell how dilated one is. But again because of the risk of infection, they can only check with a speculum and their eyes. This, apparently, is not very accurate. The resident, Barbara came in to "look." She says I don't look dilated at all. I'm starting to clench my fists every for minutes when there's a cramp but Barbara says they're not contractions because they're not showing up on the machine.

I'm wheeled back to the antenatal room which they've kept for me. I ride my bed back down the hall as Cleopatra riding her boat down the Nile.

More later.....

Sunday, July 10, 2005

songs that get stuck in my head

This is just a list from today:
We are the Champions.
I'm gonna Rock & Roll all night, & Party every day.
Adell Brown RV Trailer (ads are the worst).
The Wheel in the Sky.
I have a Fast Car.
Everybody's Workin for the Weekend (it seems the 80's are the most apt to plague me).
Muscrat Love.
The Princess Pat, she Sailed across the Seven Seas (camp song from sisters' camp--totally unfair. I didn't even go to camp.)

I tried hard not to include too many lyrics so that you wouldn't suffer like I do. Perhaps I'll have more later, if I'm lucky :)

On another note--I'm watching Lord of the Rings Return of the King--the extended version (which I still need to BUY; it's on Starz) and Sean Astin deserved an Oscar. The line "I can't carry [the ring] for you, but I can carry you" is the sincerest bit of dialogue I've ever heard.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Everyone's on one. Except me. Pout. Every time Erik and I try to leave town, something happens. First of all, it's nearly impossible to even have a weekend because Erik works on Saturday and Sunday. I teach on Tues & Thurs. That leaves Wednesday. Harumph.
This added to the heat and the fact that I'm watching the icky weatherman--Roland Steadham--who smiles every time he says a hundred degrees, makes me grumpy. Perhaps Cleo the dog and I will take a trip north--say to Alaska (or at least Heber) for another writing vacation. I can entertain myself for about two days. Off and on. With internet access. And a little TV. And six books. One day I'll be like my mother-in-law and be able to stay alone in Torrey or camping for weeks at a time. In fact, maybe I'll go STAY with my mother-in-law up at the very tippy top of Emigration canyon. It must be cold--or at least 90 degrees--up there.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


The end of June was overwhelming. I had felt going in to the Writers at Work conference like I was forgetting something. Then, my grandmother died and I felt awful that I hadn't seen her all month. She was one of my favorite people and, though she was old and ready to go, I wished I had focused on her more narrowly these past few weeks. But overall it made me rethink how I organize my time. Since most of what I do is volunteer--even Quarterly West this time of year is unpaid work--I've decided I'm going to start prioritizing not what is most urgent, pressing or seemingly necessary because I've been asked to do it by others, but to really see what I choose to do first.
This week, of course, it was family. And I missed the end of the conference, cancelled my creative writing class, skipped emailing and blogging and really tried to stay out of business (busy-ness) worries. It ended up being a relaxing, though very sad, week.
This upcoming week, with my sister Paige in town, I plan to do more of the same, as well as teach, but I think I'll avoid the Quarterly West office for awhile. I also plan to write more of this essay about predators today. Plus, I'll try to send some money to someone who will waste it trying to get O'Connor's seat replaced with a moderate on the Supreme Court. Ha! Oh well. I through money at Kerry for this very reason. I think I spent last summer, in very small increments at a time, over $500 last year. Maybe, like I do with Basketball teams I like, is not participate. The team I root for invariably loses. Though that may be because I tend to root for the underdog.

One last note, speaking of dogs. I took Cleo the dog to the Vet on Monday to look at a knot on her leg. She doesn't like the vet every since her hip surgeries. But this was new to me. In front of vet's office door, on 1st South between 3rd & 4th east, Cleo went belly up, legs sticking in the air and refused to budge. I, now hugely pregnant, tugged and begged and dragged in front of a couple dozen lookers-on. I put her back in the car and went in to tell the receptionist to forget it.
The receptionist gave me some biscuits and a tightening collar--neither of which worked with any effect. Finally, the receptionist asked Dr. Ponce if she would come out and look at Cleo on the parking strip, on 1st South, between 3rd and 4th, to see if the bump was something to be concerned about. She couldn't tell. Cleo would need x-rays to be sure. But she didn't think it was cancerous. There's no way I am taking her back there for x-rays. I asked my brother-in-law Doug, who works at Simmon's x-ray, if he could take a picture. Sure he said, but we don't have a darkroom. There's no way to develop it.
So, Cleo, who doesn't seem to mind the bump (and whom I gave chocolate to last night--which made her throw up all night. She's never minded a tiny bit of chocolate before. I guess I learned my lesson!), is now just triumphant that she can avoid another vet visit at least until I have the baby and start working out and can carry her 90 pound fat butt into the office myself.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fancy Party

The loveliest of cocktail parties was held on the veranda in the foothills overlooking the University. Hors d'ouvres were passed around, glasses of wine and beer were handed out by the dozens and everyone seemed to be having a millingly good time. I had some fun--more than in the last days. The agent from yesterday asked me if he was helpful, I basically said, no. It's too hard with 20 pages and 20 minutes to be helpful, I said. Then someone came up and asked if he'd "hustled" anyone. He said a couple of folks. Ouch. But, I of the massive delusion decided he was just being trying to look cool to the asker and in fact had hustled no one.

I'm working on compartmentalizing the business part of writing from the rest of my life, but it's slow going--especially when the safety net years of graduate school have almost passed and I need some substantial publication, not just journals, to really say I have anything like a career. I also wonder if I'm a genre slut and if this makes me a better writer or just opens me up to more rejection. My lovely friend Jeff says, you would be a dilettante, if you didn't do all three well. What a sweetheart. And Lynn who reminds me that there is more than one agent in the sea. And Julie who props me up by promising that she'll be reading the great review in New York Book Review and that she'll send this agent who lost out a copy of the published book and the review. Erik asked, who does he represent? I read him the list of his clients. We didn't recognize any of their names. Erik said, see?

See why I can't leave graduate school? What would I do without the kindness of my friends?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Manuscript Consultations

I met with an agent, today during the Writers at Work conference. I often wonder, why is this a privilege? Thirty minutes of criticism on a work that's taken six years to complete. He said some very nice things and had some simple suggestions for fixing the first 20 pages of the novel (which is the part I sent him.) If he'd received the manuscript with the first 10 pages as the beginning, he wouldn't have taken it, he said. But, he said, if he'd received it and it began on page 10 he would have wanted to read on and on. OK, then, so, why not ask to see the whole thing, sans the first 10 pages?????? Read on and on, I should have said. Should I have asked, may I send it to you after I rework the beginning? But, he suggested no such thing to me.

He also made some other simplistic suggestions, like make all the chapters equal length, that made me think he wasn't right for my book. But still, if he said, I would have loved to read from page 10 on, and said I love the writing and I love these characters, why not ask to see the whole thing? Why the subjunctive? Change your tense, I wanted to say.

Ah well, perhaps it's just the nature of conference consultations--they come completely guarded against desperate wackos. Though this process may well make me a desperate wacko.

In general, this conference is turning into one of my least favorites. While I like most of the faculty, I feel disconnected from the whole thing--like I wasn't really invited, let alone that I helped to organize it. I think it's the pregnancy oversensitive thing.

I'm going to try one more time to have fun and go to this fancy schmancy cocktail party. If things turn around, I'll do more later this week. If not, I may not go back--even though I really want to see Crystal Williams read on Friday night.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Writers at Work

It seems amazing the people we can get to come to our conference in the middle of June in the middle of Utah. Orientation for Writers at Work Faculty was tonight and everyone is just so generous and kind--maybe because the people who agree to come to Salt Lake during their summer break are already predisposed to kindness. Sometimes, I feel after the conference, that they leave saying "ah, those hicks" but for the most part I think we manage to impress them a bit. And I'm impressed by how genuinely happy they seem to be here--Carol Houck Smith and Peter Steinberg and Carol and Dick Frost and Crystal Williams and, as always, Kevin McIlvoy were all so gracious. I'm not sure why I don't expect them to be--maybe bad faculty at other conferences and programs--but even the Prima Donnas are finally gracious--if you leave them alone for a bit.
So the conference is long and a lot of work, but, just like the garage sale, hard work and missing time I should use to write, apparently not only won't kill me but I will actually find it to be quite a bit of fun.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

New Career

My sister Val and I had so much fun at our garage sale (and made pretty good money), that we've decided to open a business. We like to talk to strangers. We're kind of pushovers when it comes to bargaining--a dollar? Sure, a dollar's fine. Heck, why don't you just give us fifty cents--but the best part was sitting about with our friends as others browse through our castoffs. The things we sold most were books--and more of Val and my good books than my aunt's shlock. How great was it to realize EVERYONE still reads--they just want to spend 3 paperbacks for a $1 instead of $14 for 1. OK. I can live with that. I think we sold over 200 books and contributed to the reading pleasure of at least 100 people.
So, with that in mind, what kind of store should we open? We think a bakery/lunch place (that serves tiny, par-boiled vegetables)/coffee shop/bar/bookstore. But perhaps we should narrow our focus a bit.....Still, we had a great time, met a lot of great folks. Now we jsut need to figure out how to prolong the joy.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Garage Sale

I've undertaken a terribly bad project. I'm having a garage sale on Saturday. I have only the slightest idea how these things work--put a bunch of stuff that I don't want or need, stick some random prices on things. I have furniture and books and clothes but I think what people really want is bric-a-brac that might be collectible ala antiques roadshow. Still, if you have any ideas about how to make a truly successful sale, let me know. And if you want some beautiful books or some fine furniture, stop by.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Considering that I'm from Utah, I spent very little time in the desert. My parents took us to the Grand Canyon and to Zion, but even that may have been a combined trip. We went to Lake Powell twice, but that's the desert-undeserted.

Now, because Erik and his mom are desert-lovers, I get to go to the Red Rocks almost every season. Although I love it best in winter, I'm lucky to have met it in all its seasons.
I'm reading Ed Abbey's Desert Solitaire for the first time. I had avoided it for a long time--primarily because I thought, how much description of red and rock can I take. But I should have had more faith in Abbey as a writer and a storyteller. He's a master.

So, when I read in the Tribune earlier this week-June 2nd, that oil developers want to start drilling the shale in the desert again, I mentally screamed a loud no. In the late 70's and early 80's my dad's job was to research the viability of squeezing oil from a stone. Some progress was made--the engineers and their big land movers and stone-squeezers moved into Vernal-- but then the price of regular gas went back to normal and the boom went bust. My dad went back to researching other kinds and ways to drill for oil.

Now they've got new technology. Now, with the price of oil high again and the bottom of the big reserves almost visible, they're going back in. New and improved ways to heat the rock so hot that it practically just pumps itself into your gas tank.
Besides the lunatic amount of energy it takes to heat the shale to give up its oil, the fact that they're spending money to find more fossil fuels so we can burn more carbon and make more greenhouse gases makes me crazed. Why can't they spend that money and brainpower and energy to make a energy resource that doesn't promise to end the planet, let alone destroy the desert from which it comes?
Oh, I'm going to go buy a Hummer and hurry this whole climactic apocalypse up. Plus, think of all the desert I could visit cool air-conditioned comfort.

Monday, May 30, 2005


The rarity of Utah rain is what makes it so great. Even though this has been the rainiest spring I can remember in Salt Lake--not Portland comparable--but still, wet and gray, the minute the clouds come, I'm thrilled to death. 6 and a half years of drought makes every drop seem like rescue. Plus, you can sleep in. You have a good excuse to avoid gardening. The gray hides the crevices of dirt in the house so you don't feel so compelled to clean. The sound is good for writing.
The only grim thing is that the dogs are looking at me like I'm killing them for not taking them for a walk. But the last time I walked Cleo the dog in the rain, I came home with even my underwear soaked.
And it's still Utah. I'm not about to dig up the old Portland Gortex.
So even though it's raining on Memorial Day, I'm happy. I get to type all day, maybe do a load of laundry and not feel guilty for sucking down the reservoir, and go to a barbecue tonight where the porch is fully covered and the mosquitoes will be so drenched they'll be too heavy to bite or fly.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


I'm going to have to turn myself into Blogging Anonymous. As I was speaking to Dr. Write earlier, I used the phrase "blog you later." This is a sign that perhaps I need to rethink my priorities. For instance, it used to be:
Wake up. Feed cats. Let dog outside. Get newspaper. Read Op-Ed columns. Read rest of paper. Take a shower.
Now it's:
Wake up. Check email. Check blog. Check other people's blogs. Shoo the cats off the computer. Let the dog eat the paper.
It must be because I started this in the summer and lost all normal human contact. I must take up a sport. Perhaps prenatal yoga. Or lunch.
I've found it difficult to blog and eat. I've taken to eating food with only one hand --trail mix and apples, granola bars and slices of cheese. Beware of cutting cheese single-handedly. I also eat handfuls of lettuce instead of salad.
Perhaps to start my Bloggers Anonymous program I can begin by cooking food. With both hands.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Last night, when Erik got called in AGAIN at midnight, I thought about how much time I spend in crisis mode. Early pregnancy is nonstop worry. Applying for fellowships. Finishing novels (I still think of things I should add to the novel--the word "quenelle" in the food, a speech by Simon post "realization," Mr. Heraldson saying "Simon sure is one for Damsel's in distress," Vastar telling more stories while Quinn lies comatose...... . Applying for jobs. Traveling. Wondering will I ever write a poem I like again ala the Darwin poem? Will wolves move to Utah? Is my neighbor across the state a pedophile? Will I be able to teach AND stay awake? Money. Money. House. Remodeling. Will the tomatoes get planted? Will the Cialis spam ever cease? (I do want to please my wife, I really do, but...) Will Erik come back from Vernal ever? Breaking news has become anaethma at my house.
I don't mean to imply that crises are bad. In fact, I'm sure I somewhat thrive on them. Living is that crisis energy running through everything. But my nature is fear and worry and I always have to counter that with some more optimistic balancing perspective. Fear is paralyzing. So I look for ways to incorporate the crisis into something positive--hence the writing, I suppose. As if you can transform the energy from one thing into another.
My little sister Paige got car-jacked last night--her car, her wallet, her purse, her books, her i-pod are all gone. And on a teacher's salary, she must replace all this. Our family has a tendency to just deal--get the insurance check, buy a new car, wonder what one could have done differently....
I hope something good comes out of it (which is my optimism speaking), but I can't imagine what (which is my cynicism speaking).
Here's a cynical statement. And I swear I'm not in as bad of a mood as this sounds but : I've decided pessimists are the happier people. They don't worry because they already know that everything will turn out crappy. If something good happens, they are pleasanly surprised. Optimists are eternally disappointed. I'm working on being more of a pessimist but I just got the Life of Brian song stuck in my head--"always look on the bright side of life."
On to crisis number 8 of the day: What to make for dinner.
Perhaps it's time to hand of these major issues to the pizza delivery man.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Foods of summer

Strawberries and nectarine and icecream cones and raspberries and popsicles. But the tastes that remind me of my summer years as a teenagers, tanning with foil and babyoil on our unbearably hot redwood deck are oscar meyer smoked ham and crystal light iced tea. I think this may have been one of my first "diets." I also think I watched General Hospital a lot that summer.
What a difference a decade makes. Now I make myself eat a handful of lettuce BEFORE I eat the overly salty, overly processed slice of ham. And instead of ham I have a morningstar farm sausage patty. I'm waiting for the ice cream truck. But the sound of The Entertainer is not forthcoming.
My point is--I'm not very good at feeding myself. I like to cook for other people, but when I'm alone, trail mix and cheerios are all I can think of.
Perhaps when the tomatoes start producing I can at least combine enough ingredients for a caprese salad. Except the basil is mysteriously absent from this year's garden.....

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dogs in the New World

As I just commented to Dr. Write's blog--Global Warming is here to stay. An extreme heat warning has been issued for Southern Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Isn't it always extremely hot there? Not in May, one presumes.
But here in the Northern Regions, it is not soooo hot. My sister Val and Erik and I all combined forces and planted tomatoes and got the swamp cooler running. Strangely, Erik only worked 16 hours yesterday, so he had enough energy to weed and plant today too!
I took Dog Dog for a walk. The black, She came back too hot. So out came her wading pool. We filled it with cold hose water. She tried to eat the hose. She tried to dig through the bottom of the plastic, sprinkling the whole water with her joyous kicking. She rolled side to side and then ran the yard's perimeter and jumped back in.
Yeah! It's summer. (I prefer to spell "yay," as in "gleeful exclamation," "yeah," but if you all have any opinions as to the spelling of "yeah," let me know. Glen Scott Allen, who taught at fiction at Reed in 1991 after getting his PhD in Fiction from the U--who knew, I once thought, that the University of Utah had a Creative Writing Program? Who knew people got their Doctorates in Creative Writing? Anyway, he didn't know what I meant when I wrote "yeah" in a short story. Although in that case, I think I meant "yah" as in "yes." Hm. Maybe my preferences are murkier than I suspected.)
I plan to spend the rest of the day Quarterly Westing, which means I'll be missing the hot. Let me know, dear world, if there's any more flooding.

b.t.w. Laura Bush looks hot in a veil.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Poetry Readings

The ethics of poetry readings are complex. And I call them "poetry" readings even though people read aloud in all genres--but there's something poetic about the way one has to perform their verbal acrobats on stage, in front of friends and strangers.
Some self-imposed guidelines:
Read brief.
Read loud and clear.
Go to other people's readings, not just my own.
Read as interesting and funny a piece as I have, even if it's not that funny--it's fun for me and fun for them.
Invite people out for drinks after even if I'm not drinking.

I LOVE reading. It's one of my favorite things to do. I'm sadly going to get pigeon-holed as the Darwin poem reader because I like to read that long poem best. But regardless of what I'm reading, there's something so generous about people giving up Lost or Star Wars or Dinner to come see me read. And, for all the readings of my friends I've missed, I'm sorry for all the dumb reasons.
Speaking of reading for friends and family--I love reading in front of people who are kind and know my work and who love me no matter what. However, reading in Evergreen in front of 45 strangers was exhilarating. I was nervous but SO pleased that the audience was receptive and interested and had enthusiastic, and relevant, questions to ask. After that reading, even though it was in front of students who may be more generous than other audiences, I decided that reading really is the truest venue for delivering one's work. Publishing is so private. Who knows who reads what you wrote, even if it's in a great magazine?
The only time your reader is more invested is in a workshop environment. And that's fun but not nearly as much a presentation.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

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Monday, May 16, 2005


I'm alive. No crabgrass death for me. No, I'll die a slow death of deferred promise in debtor's prison. Now that Bush has signed the new bankruptcy bill into law, the poor house will no longer be a metaphor. All this is about the job I may not have next year. I'm pretty sure I have the opposite of the midas touch--everything I touch turns to pennies. Not even full-copper pennies; regular old nickel-plated ones. For instance, I found out I would only be paid half as much in May as I had thought. This is fine, since Erik worked 42 hours overtime in Las Vegas. But still, I'm turning into a money pit. We'll blame the baby. Now is a good time to start.

I was also looking, happily for Quarterly West and for most of my publications, at I think his justifications for his rankings are ethical and interesting, but I doubt Missouri Review is less renowned than, say, Callalloo. But long-runningness plays into the rankings, which explains a lot of his partular system.
What are magazines I'd give some of my pennies to get in to?
Tin House
Southern Review
The Canary
Hotel Amerika

Why these? They seem so elusive & cool. I'm hoping the Drunken Boat picks up one of my poems. They're weird AND cool.

And, last rant, related to this post only via the massive amounts of crabgrass that I lamented first: Why do people think sunny weather is "good" and rainy weather "bad." It's so prejudiced. Jeff Chapman and I were discussing this dumb weather categorization. I say, to be contrary, that wet, cloudy weather is best--it's darker so you can sleep in, there's more water for your plants, driving is more fun, and it's better for your skin. And it's cooler. I'm in a bit of a panic about how hot it's going to get.......

And for that matter, perhaps crab grass is just grass should be left to grow.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Of 3 a.m. and crabgrass

Erik got called in last night at 3 in the morning. He had to report in for regular work at 6 a.m., so instead of coming home and waking me up twice--he slept on the couch at work. Little did he know I was awake, waiting for him to get back, hoping he could get at least another hour of sleep. Still, I went back to sleep at 5 and slept until he came home to take a quick shower. O'Henry-esque moment in our relationship.

I'm off to conquer whatever crabgrass I can. I'm conflicted. It will break my back to dig it all up but I can't spray--for all the pollutants it would put into the general atmosphere as well as in my body. But if I look at it one more day, I'm going to scream. Plus, it's encroaching on where I want to plant my tomatoes.

If you don't hear from me again, imagine that I'm out back, collapsed under shovels, wheelbarrows, and gloves, having been bested by a carnivorous batch of weeds.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The fact that one can make it from the Avenues to the SLC International Airport, pick up a Misty Renee friend at 5:10, drive to the Red Iguana, wait five minutes for a table, order margaritas and mole, pay the bill by 6:30 and have said Misty back at the airport by 6:40 for a 7:25 flight makes Salt Lake a fine place and record-breaking driving a fine talent.
Driving across town is less pleasant. I drove twice to sugarhouse today and hit every light red--1st South through 17th. You would think Rocky would fix this for me--all that waiting is bad for the air. But with the rain, I suppose no one cares about how many PMs I'm idling into the air.

Erik's work requires that the photographers drive Chevy Suburbans or equally gas guzzling monstrosities. Plus, they need to idle their live trucks constantly to keep their battery power optimized. Mini-generators, these beasts.

All of this is by way of saying, if we (and by "we" I mean people who know what sort of disaster we create) can't get it together to stop spewing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, who can?

Erik, as the unofficial photographer of the apocalypse--landslides, floods, flying locusts, raining frogs--will be the first to recount the End Times. At least the environmentalists and the fundamentalists agree on something.
More on thislater.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I owe all my interest in blogging to Mary Anne Mohanraj
We knew each other at the U of U, but I only started reading it after I saw her at the MLA conference in December. Her blog is the exemplar of all good blogs--It has day-to-day news, deep thoughts, historical perspective, humor and, most important, she is willing to reveal stuff that is personal while maintaining a sense of privacy. I'd like to follow in her path, but I a) commit typos, b) have boundary issues (and therefore may reveal too much or too little c) find blogs interesting right now but tend toward peripetetic interests d) may use words like peripetetic incorrectly e) may make really dull posts.

But, I'm willing to give it a whirl and join the blogging universe.
Here's my plan:
Write what I did today.
Muse on said doings.
Commit to the otterbutt paradigm (to be defined later).

So, today, I revised novel for the millionth time.
I successfully got Bret Lott to come for the Writers at Work conference in 2006.
Erik and I went to my sister Val's for dinner--she invited my grandma, my aunt shelle and my mom for dinner. She made delicious lamb chops and greenbeans and potatoes. We played Shrek Monopoly with my nephew Cameron and Erik and I tortured our niece Lily by changing her diaper AND her outfit. We gave up and handed the baby off to Val. She promised it gets easier.

Then, I came home to start my blog and Erik went out with his KUTV Channel 2 friends to the Bayou. I was invited but decided hanging out with partner's work buddies is easier with a glass or six of wine.

Now I'm watching the news and am thrilled by the rain. I want it to flood. If people are in the flood path, they should get out of the way. After 7 years of drought, I want the ground to be drenched (these selfish natural bits are part of the otterbutt paradigm).

Speaking of otters, the department of wildlife released some otters in Escalante after citing some specious evidence of their being at one time native. Though I think the Dept. of Wildlife is full of it, I plan to head down for a camping trip to see if I can find them.