Saturday, December 16, 2006

17 months

Dear Z,
You flew with us across the country to visit your grandparents and aunts and cousins. On the flight, you played with Dora toys and bricks and you drew with your pen and crayons and whatever else we’d let you draw with. No pen, any crayon, any pencil is safe around you. You’re pretty good at drawing on only paper though the couch and chair cushions have suffered a bit at your artistic strokes. On the second, shorter flight, you fell asleep in your dad’s lap right at 8 o’clock our time, your normal bedtime.

Yesterday, I put you down for a nap. You lay down with your bottle and blanket. You like your blanket on the side of your face, gripped in one hand, your other hand tossing your bottle back like a proper cowboy slogger. On my way to the bathroom, I stopped in to check on you. You weren’t asleep. You were sitting up poking your toe with the nipple of your bottle saying bob, bob, bob. On my way back from the bathroom, you had collapsed forward-face on top of your foot, on top of your bottle.

You have been sick on and off for a month. This has messed up your usual perfect sleeping record as well as your champion-of-the-strange-food-eating habits. But when you’re well, you still eat onions and pickles and you still hate mashed potatoes and guacamole. The last two items make us wonder how very adopted you must be. You like steak and fish and sausage and bacon. Your grandma laments you’re not a vegetarian like she is but if you keep not liking guacamole she’s not sure how you’d survive if you go that way anyway. Perhaps on black beans.

Right now, you have convinced your aunt Joy to feed you Honey Nut Cheerios one by one. Sometimes you take it and put it in your mouth. Sometimes, you just open your mouth until she inserts a Cheerio vending machine style. Sometimes you take one and chuck it across the room. This game could last until lunch. Joy’s dog Sadie loves to lick your ears and wishes you would slide a Cheerio her way—but unlike Cleo this dog isn’t allowed to eat every and anything you give her.

You wear a lot of hemp pants. Your grandma hemmed them for you and now you don’t look like an unbalanced yogi. At least not so much. You resemble most one of the Teletubbies—you particularly like to reveal your tummy as if there’s a TV in there. And we watch. Who knows what that belly button may do?

You’re working out spatial relationships. You just sat down to sit on Joy’s lap. Sadly, you were about two feet away from the lap Just like with steps, you turn around to sit down and then crawl backwards to get over the danger parts.

Speaking of characters, you drag your blanky around like Linus. You always know where it is and point your way down the hall, up the stairs, or toward your crib until we follow and get it for you.

Since you’ve been back in Salt Lake you’ve played Little People with Lil and Maestra, the Great States game with Cam, Nick Jr. on the computer with Grandma and Grandpa. Shopping for you for Christmas, your Maestra, grandma and grandpa and aunts have raised the holiday retail numbers to come in above expectation.

You say Box and Dog and Hi and Mom and Dad, or rather (da da da da) and a whole lot of almost words that I refuse to credit to your knowledge account. Your dad, however, is convinced you also say bottle, blanket, chocolate, shovel (Thanks Michigan!), kitty and diaper. You know the words but your tongue hasn’t quite caught up. When you’re happy and playing by yourself and discovering how to open and close doors, playing with lids, and sorting change, you say “Ahhhhhhhh-uh, ahhh-uh.” Ahhh (low pitched and long), uh (highly pitched and short).

Re: the capping. We think you have a promising career as a Laverne and Shirley type: you put caps on bottles, quality control, and your dad likes beer—a natural career choice we think. You also do a mean Schlamiel, Schlamazel Hassencratz Incorporated while kicking her Teletubby legs.

You’re a very busy baby. Even when you’re sick. Happy Seventeen Month birthday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the next year bring you even more love, if that’s possible, and a lot more health. We love you, mom & dad.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I'm halfway packed. Still need to collect Z's nebulizer, her clothes, and her blanket, but even most of the ski-ware is packed. Egg's bringing his skis but if I ski, I'll rent because I hate my boots anyway and my skis are just plain old skis. Not orange Screams like Egg's.
Today, poetizing with poets.
Tomorrow, we fly.
Workplan for home visit: write review, develop course description for Studies in.... Course, write novel, new book of essays, old book of essays and new book of poems about plastic. Oh, and prepare syllabi for three classes--adv. NF, adv Poetry, and intro to CRWR. Sound like a break? It does to me. I figure if I work from 10-2 3 days a week, I can get most of that done. And, compared to teaching, it's not real work.
I can't wait to see my mom and sisters and my niece and nephew. And spend time with Zo. Ah, 4 weeks of break. May I luck into as much again.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Thought I was going to make it

but I'm not going to make it this final week. Last week, it was 40 degrees warmer than it is right now. Last week, my students were congenial and present. This week, the emails promising absences are mounting. Last week, I was ready to throw all my clothes in a bag and get on an airplane. This week, we're realizing that Z won't sit on our laps for 5 minutes, let alone the many-lay-overed plane ride ahead. Last week, I had visions of writing and reading and sleeping in. This week, I realize that there are only so many days til Christmas and shopping hasn't even begun. Last week, I was all hepped up on pure, natural adrenaline. This week, I'm pretty sure someone has been putting quaaludes in my coffee, making me simultaneously, artificially wired and tired.
Oh, it has snowed over 3 inches just since I've been on campus for a final last week:
Last week, I slept in my own bed. This week, the floor of my office beckons. They pretend to have snowplows in this very snowy region but Salt Lake would never let the roads be so slick and dangerous. They are plow monsters in that city. If I survive the flight home, I promise to complain less next week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Extra Credit

Yes I'll give you extra credit. No, not for putting a title on your paper. No, not for putting your name on your paper. Not for listing the criteria of the assignmnet and drawing arrows to your writing that show exactly how you met that criteria. No, not if you write which genre your piece is in. No, not if you show up on the last day of class. No, not if you make me a CD but I really would like one. No, not if you feed my cat over break.
But yes if you make sense of something that did not make sense to me before. Yes if you read your work aloud in class. Yes if you tell me that I confused you all semester but that that confusion is beginning to take hold and make sense itself. I'll give you extra credit for getting rid of every time the word "tear" appears in your poem. I'll give you extra credit for deleting the last sentence of every story you wrote. I'll give you extra credit for explaining why your story is not a poem and your essay a story. I'll give you extra credit for using the word snake and ripple. For Tucson and strawberry. For synaesthesia by choice not by grammatical mistake.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ways in Which I Am An Asshole

A preThankgiving poem:
1. I can never hear the age of someone who had recent success and not calculate my age and success (or lack thereof) in comparison. Then I subtract years for my "rich" (as in untoward) past, my "real world experience" (I managed computers) and add successes such as got the oil changed, made breakfast, and washed all the dishes. For example: Parker Posey is older than I. By a bit. She's been in many movies. I've published some poems. She's being interviewed on Fresh Air. I am listening to Fresh Air. If I was on Fresh Air, I wouldn't say "you know" and "um" so much. She has been typed as Indie Actress. I haven't been typecast at all. My movie career is still wide open.
2. I must recount to Egg every time I wash a dish. Make note of it. Register in the Championship Spouse contest of which I am most certainly a winner because not only did I wash that dish, I made sure he noticed.
3. I noticed, but did not mention, that he changed the shower curtain, the lightbulb and Zo's sheets, therefore not adding points to his Championship column.
4. I'd rather be baking pie than teaching today. I love to teach but I haven't been able to cook all semester because of my late afternoon, early evening questions. And those pies aren't going to cook themselves. And, if Egg goes about cooking them, a) he'll get Championship points and b) they (the pies, not the points) could turn out weird. My students should add this class-having to their list of their own jerkish traits.
5. I am also mad at the students who walk in the crosswalk. And those who walk outside of it. I'm annoyed by cars when I'm in the crosswalk. But I've written of this before.
6. I am glad the in-laws are coming so Zo, she-who-must-always-be-carried, can be carried by someone else.
7. I am secretly looking forward to Zo not letting them hold her, or at least, not when I'm around.
8. I am a huge hypocrit because I decry those mamas' babies. And Z isn't one. Usually.
9. Because I'm going to have my students write an I'm-an-asshole list and call it a poem.
10. Because today, of all days, I will give them rules and then proceed to break them (the rules, not the students.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

The All Clear

Zoe's been given the all clear by her doctor. I'm not sure what that means but I think it means we won't have to beg and plead that she not be admitted to the hospital. I fear we sound crazy when we object, but she always sounds bad-congested, wheezy. Everyone says so. She has been diagnosed with recurrent respiratory something or the other. The almost-asthma that is not asthma. So she sounds like she breathes rapidly and thickly so often that we can tell when she's getting better and when she's getting worse. That we know how many ribs to count per reticulated breath and whether the nose flares or not suggests that we know, or at least could tell this week, that she seemed to be getting better not worse. And the hospital, from our experience, doesn't really help. It's good for monitoring but that's about it. Still, it was pretty awkward trying to tell the doctors that we didn't agree with them. They're a powerful force. I feel crappy even writing about it. But next week, when we take her in without a cold (if there's any justice at all) and the doctor hears her loud breathing even when 90% healthy, hopefully he won't panic next time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Woods Decay

And decay and decay. And then they fall.
It's my birthday. I love my birthday, especially since now I've started counting backwards.
Best Birthday present:
Thirty-one Flavors flew to see me.
Best Surprise:
Finding out last Thursday that I was awarded an NEA grant.
Best Celebratory Wine:
Justin, Cab. Also, Sebastiani Simi Valley. Other wines, not as good, though well drunk.
Worst birthday present: Zoë presenting with pneumonia.
Better birthday present: Zoë waking up this morning singing instead of coughing.
Best asker of wtf regarding my tepid response to the news: A tie between Margot and Dr Write
Number of people who thought the NEA, in this case, stood for the National Education Association: 2
Number of people who teased me for getting a grant only graders 1-12 can get: 2 (31 and Egg)
Most Ecstatic: My mom.
Most able to see why it would take me awhile to be happy about the news: Fellner
Most immediately happy and proud: Egg

Birthday plans include: not much. No sleep for listening to make sure Zo would keep breathing.
Birthday dinner: steak and mashed potatoes although I suppose I should start worrying about plaque in my arteries though I plan to use more of that red wine stuff to scrub them out.

Most grateful: me, for the grant and for Zoe seeming to be on the upmend.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I shouldn't blame my students for wanting ever more criteria. I explain to them over and over again about hooking in to the larger context, about self-effacement, about satire. But they would please to like a formula.
I do not blame them.
If, I were writing a novel, which I do not claim to be for fear this would amount to something, but were I to were, I would wish to know if page 35 is too soon or too late to have a clue to the puzzle.
I would also wish to know if Adam Gopnik, who wrote I thought quite amazingly about Darwin, was right when he said that story is pushed up seemingly unintended and natural from description. I'd like to describe some pouter pigeons. Who knew they actually pouted?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Late October

Two points. Or rather, one point and one question:
I really don't hate grading. I just wish it didn't take so long.
I'm going as the forest floor for Halloween. Zoe will be a squirrel. Or a chipmunk.. I'm trying to talk Erik into being a forest Satyr (name pun) but he's insisting on wearing a toga. I think a toga and some hooves would work. I really wanted to rehash my Lemon Fresh Scent costume but Erik gave it away at a party on Saturday. I also liked last year's Whitman themed "Stucco'd o'er with quadrapeds" but nobody got that.
Here's the question: Have I been the forest floor before?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Students and Irony

I'm teaching a course where the New Yorker is our primary text. Nay, it is our only text, our model, our muse. It's a little bit of a canned idea, but it exposes students to readings that they'll be able to continue to access even after class. One of the reasons I went to grad school is so that I could have people direct me toward readings. The New Yorker, as conservative and cheeky as it can be, serves as a good bridge from interest in yourself to interest in the world.
As my students turn in their "Shouts & Murmurs" and their "Talks of the Town" I find something so off about them. They're generally written well and the students try to reach for erudition and SAT vocabulary. But what their pieces lack is any sense of irony whatsoever. When they review, they loved it. When they self-reflect, they mean it. Earnestness runneth over. How do you teach irony? Should you even teach students the cynicism that irony requires?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Doing enough?

Oh it's just crazy here. Grading, of course, but also benchmarking and assessing and developing curriculum. Is that service? Maybe. Our department meets weekly for faculty meetings. Does that count as service? Not so much? Should I go and teach a class in the public schools? Isn't that too much service? Probably. Guest writers and student readings and tryiing to figure out if I'm a committee person or the do-it-myselfer. Most of the good do-it-yourself gigs are already filled so I'd need to come up with an entirely new project and probably find new funding for that. Which is so unlikely.
Poetry Night is tonight so I cancelled class which runs straight into the events (encouraging but not forcing my students to attend), I'm picking up Zo, I'm running home to clean the house for the babysitter. I'm bringing the programs to the reading. Does that count as service?
Perhaps one day I'll read a book again. Or write a poem. A very very short book. And a very short poem.
Really, all is well. Erik and I and Zoe had a great weekend going on long walks, driving to Saugatauk for the Oktoberfest, watching good/bad TV, meeting our neighbors again for a strange party where the moving folks invited the new folks over to meet us. It lasted from exactly six o'clock to seven o'clock. We were invited to bring wine if we wanted so of course we did but we were the only ones drinking. We are also one of the few with only 1 kid. Everyone has 3. I think it's a rule for our block. Erik and I might have to move before the neighbors turn the screw.
OK--here's a fun question: what books would you teach an advanced undergrad creative nonfiction class? An advanced undergrad poetry class? I'm thinking 5 or 6 books for each. Michael Martone, Lawrence Wechsler, Lauren Slater for the first and Frank Bidart, James Tate, Terrance Hayes and Paisley Rekdal and Olena Kalytiak Davis for the poetry. Any ideas? Warnings? Must do's.
And, if I do ever get to read a book of my own, what should I read. I'm reading Jim Wenderworth's essays right now... (where's the mot juste, Jim? Where?) Where's my French? Where?
OK. Must pick up Zo and not forget the programs. Man, service is hard work.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Working out just like I planned

I knew I would still be able to write when I started teaching. A three/three course load is generous in its own way. Right after I had Zoe, I taught two classes and edited Quarterly West and went on the job market and still wrote. How would this be different?
It's not. I wrote 2660 words today.
That's a lot for me.
Just because they were all comments for student papers doesn't mean they weren't writing accomplishments.
Anyone know of a journal that would like to publish the musings of an Assistant Prof on her students' poetry?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fourteen months

Zoe turned fourteen months old last week. She also went to day care for the first time and finally got her year-old shots. She got over one cold and seems to have contracted another. She slept for 14 hours last night.
Because I spend less time with her than I used to, or maybe because there are few people to distract me, or, more likely, she's getting even more interesting. She loves her blanket. She finds it whereever she left it last and picks it up with her teeth, carries it to the next corner of the living room, lies down on it and makes some throaty, hurrah noise in the back of her throat. She crawls around on the back deck and climbs up the stair, then back down, then follows Cleo to where she's eating grass, eats a little herself and crawls back to the stair. She can sit on the stair for five minutes, watching the squirrels torture Cleo.
She has one of those shape boxes where the plastic shapes go in through their proper holes. She knows the holes and shapes should match but she doesn't turn them around until they do match. She gets mad and lifts the lid and puts the shapes inside that way. She closes the lid up to see if I watched.
She drives us crazy with her button pushing. Thirty one wrote one of her first posts about it. I tried to listen but, oh, what harm would a six-month old do to a remote, a phone, a computer. Answer: I got a new harddrive last week and she changed a something on the remote that I can't undo.
She was great at daycare even on the first day and had a babysitter on Thursday and Monday--who both said they'd come back.
The best thing: she understands what we're saying. She doesn't obey "don't put that in your mouth" but she laughs maniacally when we tell her no. If the phone rings, she crawls over to it. If Box wants to come in, she goes to the door. If I turn on the computer, she rushes to it, punches a button and the whole screen goes blank. I tell her no. She laugh. In fact, here she is now: zFEWx]\//
She stands for almost a minute at a time. She may walk soon. She may actually have to put on some shoes.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To Complain

I wasn't going to post until I had something positive to say. But everything seems to be skewing negative. Maybe it's me but I went to this gourmet food store I'd been waiting to visit called Art of the Table so I could buy expensive cheese and baby-sized veggies. There were but a few types of cheese. There were no veggies. It was one of those gourmet stores that had a lot of jars of jam and mustard and all the cloth napkins and placemats one could imagine. It also had wine which made up for some of the disappointment--but everywhere here has wine. There's an anti complaint at least.
We got more bad news last night--Erik's mom and step-dad are moving to the 3rd worst place on the planet, after Vegas and Phoenix. They're moving to St. George. Where the Mormons pretend they don't gamble and everyone golfs. Where there is no water. They're moving to an off-the-grid solar-paneled luxury home. They're leaving the most amazing house--up a little tiny canyon, tucked so deep that everyone who drives by is either a neighbor or people going backpacking for six days. From this canyon home you can see across five other canyons, deer scratching for brush, moose. In the winter, Erik and his stepdad would hike up the trail behind the house and ski down the ridge. You could watch them turn from the living room windows. It was a twenty minute drive to downtown SL.
They're moving to where there's no snow, no water, no restaurants. Now, we have to do the couples-from-different-hometown thing and alternate holidays. We were planning on coming back home for a month or two this summer but now that we don't have a retreat to visit, I don't know if we will. I'm not going to St. George in July--at least not for more than a couple of days.
I shouldn't complain about it--they've been so good to us and I suppose we deserve what we get, having left ourselves. But the idea of going back to that beautiful house and to the mountains was one of the ways I was keeping going. I'm still looking forward to going home to see my mom and sisters and my friends--all of whom I miss more than I even thought possible--but it won't be like I'm dividing my home between SLC & GR. It will be more like a visit. I won't be able to pretend that I don't really live here. Maybe that will be good, in the end.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In lieu of a real post

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,

I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"

Things sometimes get really crazy for you, and sometimes you have to get away from all the chaos.

But each time you stage your comeback, it's even better than the last!

I feel better already.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First Days

What I wore on Monday: beige suit, black tank, chunky choker necklace.
I never wear jewelry. Effectiveness? Unknown.
The first class was Intermediate Nonfiction. I'm pretty excited about it because we're using The New Yorker as our exclusive text. Though I hope to be critical of the magazine, mostly I'm just excited to teach what I read every week anyway. The class went OK but I let them go a bit early because I thought we'd be in the computer lab and we weren't until Wednesday so my "go research what you don't know" assignment had to be a take-home one. The students were pretty quiet which was a bit disappointing since I thought I was pretty "on" but who knows.
I used Middlebrow's Science Fiction defamiliarization post in both the Int. Nonfiction and in Intro CRWR. I said "make the stone STONY" with the exact right amount of inflection.
To Intro (which are both on Tues & Thurs) I wore the outfit Egg's mom bought me from J Crew. Vest, long-sleeved wrinkly shirt, brown, above-the-knee skirt. With cowboy boots. Very fun class. I had them go and find something in the building that they didn't know what it was and come back and write an exquisite corpse about it. Students in this section, which is downtown, were great. I teach one more section of it this afternoon--I hope these main campus students are as fun.
I'm already beat but I attribute that to the newness of everything and the commuting between campuses. And the threat of weekly faculty meetings. I think the classes, once they get going, should be great.

Other news includes: more bats. We're moving. (Not really. Called a bat catcher. This will cost mucho dinero).
Electrical work--also mucho dinero.
But, we will have a bit of extra money--if nothing goes wrong this time--because we think, according to mucho paperwork, that we've sold the house. We close on the 19th but they want to rent from us from Thursday on. Sad and good news. I miss that house so much. Plus, there were no bats there.

Food front: Still grim. We've eaten at Big Bob's Pizza--weird sausage; Tokyo Grill Sushi--slow service, weird mayo in many of the rolls, fish a bit warm; the BOB--downtown building supposedly full of restaurants but each time we go we end up at the Bobarino. I had very bad sandwish of blackened (with thyme & cayenne) ahi, mango slaw, and some aioli that I couldn't discern. Yuck. There's an Indian food place that Zoe and Egg loved but I thought was mediocre. I'm being difficult but still. I like to eat out and I'm being thwarted. A place called Rose's had OK food but the food was made better by the location: upon Reed's Lake. We'll try this Tapas place next. And a place called Leo's.

Number of new acquaintances: 42
Number of new friends: 0.
Number of Bats: 2 or 4 depending if the bats left the first night or hid until the next night.
Number of Service techs called to fix house: 3 (plumber, electrician, bat catcher.
Number of Restaurants eaten at: 14.
# of restaurants loved: 0.
Number of sisters visited: 1.
Number of times said sister will have visited by Labor Day: 2.
Number of times Zo has climbed the very steep, very hardwooded stairs: 1,000,000
Number of essays or poems written: 0
Number of poems due by Sept. 1: 1

I have office hours now in my very swanky LEEDS building office. Since no one will visit today, perhaps I'll get some work done.....

Saturday, August 19, 2006


We had one. Around 4:30 am Cleo starts randomly barking. I tell her to be quiet because I haven't slept in over 23 years. But Erik tells me to be quiet because he hears something. He jumps up, turns on the lights. I say Oh please shut the light off and let me go to sleep. Then I hear a screech. I'm not sure why he's dragging his fingernails down the chalkboard but then I realize we have no chalkboard. There's something in the house, he says. And then, I hear a swoosh and a "goddamn, it's a bat."
Both Erik and I are afraid of bats. When he was 8 and lived in Denver, a bat flew in his and his sister's bedroom and, the funny though I'm sure apocryphal story goes that his mom rushed in, saw the bat, and pressed her kids to the floor to make a mad dash out of the room. I'm sure the story is not true, but if it is, I don't blame her.
And, when my sisters were camping with my grandpa, he got bit by a bat. He swatted it down and killed it and it DID have rabies. He had shots in the stomach for years.
So we're fucking afraid. Even Cleo, who unearthed the beast, was afraid. Only Box the cat was fearless--jumping up in the air to catch the thing as Erik made me walk behind him, holding up a blanket, as we shoed him toward the outdoors. Actually, I only know what Box was doing from Erik's rendition because I held the blanket up in front of my head the whole time. I didn't see this bat. But I heard it. It was big, as Erik said. As an eagle (later, it was downgraded to falcon-sized). Finally, we (by we I mean Erik and my walking blanket) got the bat to the backroom. I stood holding the blanket against the entrance of the kitchen while Erik went outside to open the backdoors. But they were locked. So he came in and crawled Army-style to the door and opened it. We turned on the fan and the light and out he went. So we think. We spent the next hour making sure there was no more bat.
We'll spend the next six weeks making sure he doesn't get back in. We dan't find a whole in a screen or a gap in the wall anywhere. He may have been here for a long time.
My neighbor Beth was sanguine--well, at least you won't have any mosquitoes for awhile. Indeed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

We're Here

Leaving was even harder than I expected. If there wasn't a train and we weren't already on it, I couldn't have done it. But once the truck comes, the stuff's packed, the car's packed, the dog and cat are in the car, what else can you do but let the wheels roll.
No rooms in Cheyenne. Mind you check when Sturgis is if you're traveliing East through Marlboro Country.
But, we're here.
Slightly traumatized. VERY nice neighbors. Perhaps too nice. They visit often. Kendall & Lt. (perhaps Capt by now) came and de-loaded the truck. Erik's mom and dad have been here watching Zo and mowing down all the greenery that grows even out of the gutter. We went to the lake yesterday. Big lake.
I might survive. Might not.
I feel very "observed" for some reason. Neighbors and bosses and orientation all serve to make me feel very suburband and attended to.
Sorry to be so long in between posts but I had nothing but sad to say. Now, at least, things are new and strange. And therefore, writable, I suppose.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Zo's Birthday

Dear Zoë,
All over the blogland, women write letters to their babies on their birthdays. Even their one month birthdays. I am not so good at birthdays, as 31 and KJ will tell you. I tend to write people checks. And yet, I do like my own birthday to be celebrated with well-thought out gifts. I hope you get your aunts’ and grandmothers’ talents for generosity and celebration.
The good thing about writing on one-month birthday letter is that nothing gets missed. I will only remember a few things—but maybe I can get your dad and grandmas to remember a few things too and I’ll write those down later.
It’s been a great and hard year. You are such a good baby— you’ve already endured what I think is a lot. Being preemie (20 days in the hospital), me going back to work six weeks after you were born, me going on the job market, all that travel, another hospital stay (8 days), dad and me moving to Michigan, selling the house—fixing the house. But I wonder, as you sleep your good 11 hour sleep each night and eat the 17th grape for the day, if any of this fazes you. Is this list of hardships just projection of my own bullet-point list of “hard year?” Still, you are brave, as 31 says.

And she’s right, you do eat onions. You eat everything first with caution—“What the hell have you put in my mouth?” And then the next bite, you reach for it with abandon, saying “Give me another one right now or I’ll unhook my bib and huck it in your general direction.” You like steak, salmon, veggie sausage patties, yogurt, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches (OK, you haven’t met a fruit you didn’t like), hotdogs—both tofu and Hebrew Nationals, chicken nuggets, ice cream, cookies, and, most of all, M & M’s. (You also eat a lot of dog hair. Sorry.) At this point, there’s not much you don’t like though you’re occasionally not in the mood for it—avocados are kind of hit & miss which makes your grandma Ellie and me wonder if you maybe were switched at birth in the hospital, since that’s our favorite food. This openness to new foods, I fear, will not last, so I plan to feed you foie gras and calamari before your palate closes down like a time capsule that won’t re-open, if you’re like me, until you’re 19. You love black beans and chicken and, of course, your favorite is sweet potato. I made 8 sweet potato pies for your birthday party. I hope your dad’s whole side shows up. I also bought 60 pieces of fried chicken for the family. Happy birthday to all of us.

In the morning, you wake up and talk to yourself for about half an hour. You have much to say about the letter “a”. When I come in to get you, you smile. And, since you were ten months old, you sit up for me to get you. And in the past few weeks, you’ve pulled yourself up to meet me halfway. When I pick you up, you point at the light switch. And then the picture frame. And then your hippo. We go around the room every morning, touching each thing in precise order, preparing youfor early onset OCD.

I bring you into our bed and your dad and I feign sleep while you drum away at our backs. You pull yourself up by my hip skin even though I’ve told you that’s not a handle. In the bath, you like to pull out a pubic hair and hand it to me as if I’ve misplaced it and you, Dr Watson, have found it.

You have two teeth on the bottom and you like to jut them out. It makes you look serious. In some ways you are a very serious baby but when you get laughing, it’s hard for you to stop. Or, rather, it’s hard for us to stop what you’re doing so that you’ll keep laughing. Maestra got you laughing like crazy by pulling the screen door’s chain and letting you reach up to get it. Your grandpa likes to tip you upside down, which makes you giggle. Your grandma dangles a necklace and you watch it, then grab. She pretends to be surprised and you laugh even harder.

You’re very busy. You must get to everything right now. You share all your toys. You continue your pointing ways by sticking out your index finger at every one—to say “you.” We say,“No, you” in return. You play Leapfrog noisy machine and with your blocks but you really prefer my cell phone and the remote control. When we moved the TV downstairs and began to spend most of our time up, one of your trademark busy business toys disappeared. Whenever we go back down and you see the remote, you clamor for it like you’ve found a long-lost friend.

You crawl like crazy. Sometimes, you stick your right leg out as a special rudder that propels you at the speed of light. Your dad chases you on his hands and knees but you still outrun him. You crawl to the dog food. You crawl to the stairs. You crawl to the cords that stretch seemingly from every light socket. But you don’t wear me out. Chasing you is never frustrating because so much of your time thus far has been stuck in beds and carseats and high chairs. That you can move on your own makes me know you will be the fierce woman I want you to become. Also. I carry you less, so much energy has been saved.

You like to go on walks either in BOB the stroller or in your baby backpack. You like to crawl around outside on the grass which doesn’t seem to sticker you like it does so many babies. And adults. And all of they who need a blanket to sit outside in the summer.

You’ve been swimming twice, both times in the last two weeks. You are, as expected, a water bug. We ferry you around on our backs and you look like you might go ahead and kick and blow bubbles. You wear your yellow sunhat and splash like a frog. You even leapt off the side into the water. Your dad scooped you up before you sunk too far, but we knew we were in trouble when we saw fearless in your shove off the concrete pool’s edge.

They say you can tell how much you are loved by the number of names you are called. This is a short list:
Zo, Zoster, bliggedy blig, turtlebutt, busy bee, wild woman, big head, rabbit roo, trouble, bubble butt, sweet potato, big kid, blue eyes, monkey (you do make this wild screeching noise when you want something and we haven’t read your mind quite yet—or followed your pointy finger), goose, and pterodactyl, (both also due to the very primordial sounds you make).

You blow bubbles and raspberries. You slap your fat thighs when you think something’s funny. You clap when you realize we’ve figured a little of you out. You spin around on your butt while drinking your sippy cup. You laugh while I watch you turn. You stick those two teeth out in front and dare me to come and get you. And I do.

Happy Birthday baby.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In which I complain once again about moving


What to do for the next month? Read “Underworld.” Already by page 12, I see a new way to be. When Cotter’s gearing up to jump the turnstile to get into the Baseball game, he summons a force, and, more important, a style, that is completely unaffected and internal.
“He surprises himself this way every so often, doing some gaudy that that whistles up out of unsuspected whim.”

This month will be odd. I’m done with everything except a few niggling details at QW and packing. It’s a little bit like waiting to die. Of course, I believe in reincarnation: I’ll be reborn again in Michigan. I hope. But I am leaving this life wholesale. I’m even leaving Zo and Egg, in a way. For whoever they are here, they won’t be there. The way Zo’s grandpa calls her a “Wild Woman.” The way her grandma says “You come here. You come here right now.” The way my mom makes her laugh by turning her backwards, upside down, and letting her little one year-old body hang there. Only grandparents love your kid as much as you do—and, as my friend Steve Tuttle says—no one else wants to babysit them. Others will, but no one else actually goes so far as to ask. No one else will want to hear, “she ate three grapes and a hot dog today.” Or, maybe they will want to hear it but they won’t exclaim and enthuse as if she had just solved Fermat Last Theorem.

And Egg, what will he be like without his skis or his camera? With his chair facing south instead of north or with a boat? What will we do on holidays? On weekends? On Tuesday nights. I don’t think I realized how much time we actually spend with our family until both my mom and his mom went out of town last week. We’ve spent every waking minute with Thirty-One to fill in the gaps. And the one night since Thursday we didn’t hang out with her? We spent it with Egg’s cousin Em.

Of course all this doubt will also lead to new adventures and new manifestations of self. Hence the “surprised himself” excitement while reading “Underworld.”

So I’ll wait. Wait for the truck to come. Wait for the house to sell. Wait for someone rejection and acceptance letters. Wait for Zo’s first birthday.
Maybe I’ll surprise myself by waiting with good character and patience.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Umbrella trouble

It is raining in July. I know I said it never rains in July. I attribute all of my previous misstatements to global warming. Even those that weren’t weather related. It IS raining. Hard. On the fourth. Egg’s at work and Zo is asleep so I’m writing this while it rains. It’s almost done now, but I can imagine all the barbecuers in the valley running into the house—half-cooked burgers in hand, chairs pulled in, tents blowing, then falling down. In the mad rush, ketchup is knocked to the ground, the potato salad gets dumped into the coleslaw and the barbecuers turn to look at the already-stopped rain and get mad because they jumped the gun. Five seconds of rain can ruin a picnic as bad as real rain.

It looks like it’s clearing up. We’re not cooking at Thirty-One’s until five anyway. I’m bringing a six-pack and a bottle of wine. It’s not much but Val should have wine herself and Dr Write and folks might bring something I’m sure. I shouldn’t panic but the liquor stores are closed today and in Utah, you can only buy wine at a state-run store.

Now it’s thundering which makes me think this may be a bigger storm than I thought. I would give anything for it to rain a lot today. I read in the paper that at 12. 76 inches this year, we’re almost an inch short for the water-year. A huge storm, one that would coat both the cars and the driveways, would be such a bonus.

In times of great scarcity, such as store-closings and drought, I like to compensate with a bit of excess.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Red Butte--John Hiatt

Oh, the Red Butte Concert Series is afoot. As Dr Write pointed out--it's a blissful way to spend the summer evenings here in the land of salt.
Though last night (touched as I was by a bit of the ennui--which I also call Petite Syrah) I found the audience to be a bit disconcerting.
First off--everyone had blond hair. This is not unusual for the Scandinavian rooted stock that is Utah. BUT most of these were older blond heads. People who went to Lagoon to see the Doors and the Beach Boys play.
And then I had a moment of: I am a old blond too. What's the point of having blond hair if you're over 30? I'm becoming agist against myself.
On the other side of the coin was this young girl in front of me. She was, you guessed it, also blond. And the tannest and most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She was, I think 8 or 9. But she was hot. And she knew it. And the boy who was obviously the son of her parents' best friends knew it too. And he ignored her like she was a napkin. Everything she did--take a drink of soda, stand up, eat a carrot, brush crumbs off her shorts--she turned to look to see if he noticed. And I, who was sitting behind saw that he did. But to her, no. He turned his head to look away every time.
He was about ten. His parents left before hers did. After he left, she relaxed. She danced around like a little girl should. She stood between her mom and dad and felt protected not only by their bodies but in the way they weren't pretending not to look at her as they looked at her.
I just wanted to go up and tell her--keep your clothes on. Next time you see this boy. He's not worth the amount of nakedness you'd have to show him to get him to look like he's actually paying attention. He already is.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

TV Free

We're closing in on the move. Much is packed and stuffed into the garage. We're closing on the MI house next week and this house is on the market as of Friday. Many of my friends are leaving for their jobs soon. I'm kind of in a holding pattern--I'm done with the bittersweet: I can't leave this tree, this sidewalk, the cabinet, this blade of grass. Instead, I go outside without my shoes on and sit on the backporch to watch the sun go down. We have packed the TV. I try to read in the waning light.
Monday night, Zo was sick again. Every cold goes straight to her lungs. She sounds almost as bad as when she had RSV--Respiratory Scintilla Virus. I particularly find the Scintilla to be illustrative because she sounds like she inhaled a Chinchilla. And, as we all know, rhyming is true etymology. We went outside and let her wheeze the fresh air and we drank wine. We put her to bed and went back out. It's like when we were first dating. I don't think we came inside more than twice that first summer. Perhaps I love no TV.
This week: I'm reading Steve Almond's, (who I'm intruducing on Thursday at Writers@Work new book "Which Brings Me to You;" I'm revising my novel again (just a little) to send to the agent I met yesterday, I'm driving Writers @ Work folks to the airport, entertaining Erik's aunt, going to a cocktail party going to my mom's family reunion, waiting for the home equity line to go through and figuring out where this new Franck's restaurant is that the Trib gave 4 stars to. Thirty One and I will be there soon.
Speaking of sisters, Thirty-One's twin has started her own blog: Kendall Jackson. Hurrah! And, Thirty-One talked Kendall into coming to visit in July. Another Hurrah! And, she's meeting me in Michigan to help us unpack and get settled. Triple Hurrah!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I haven't looked completely at App Crit's Titulary Discourse post but I do like to come up with titles. I have a new book of poems that I want to call "King George's Book of Cliches" but I also like "King George's Book of Birds and Cliches" which takes the birds out of their lofty position and elevates the cliche a bit. There are a number of birds and cliches in the book so it's also descriptive!
It's fun to make new books. I have only 48 pages though. I might have to write some poetry filler. What's a good cliche that I haven't used?

Monday, June 12, 2006


I've been a bad blogger. I want to write more, but as usual, I want more of everything. I was obsessed for a moment with personality quizzes like BlogThings and QuizBox. I like to go back and change my answers to see how the quiz is formulated. I usually know in advance which personality trait, which animal familiar, which IQ, which aura I would like to have and I answer accordingly. However, on one of the quizzes--I believe it was the 7 deadly sins quiz--I thought I was answering that sloth was the one sin I was most guilty of. Turned out, it was greed. I thought that was odd because everything in my life is geared to make me lose money, not make it.
But then I thought of what I actually spend most of my time doing--wanting more publications, wanting more time to write, wanting to eat more, wanting to be thinner, wanting a beautiful space to be in, wanting to spend more time with Zoe, wanting more long conversations with Egg, wanting to live by a lake, in the mountains, with a big great-room for company, wanting more friends so I can have more company, wanting more mail, more blogs to read, more time with my family, more choices, more plans, and, even, in a way, more money (or, less debt).
I'm greedy in all things. It's a kind of lust too--wanting so much stuff. No wonder the quiz had a hard time finding me lazy--so much wanting keeps me very very busy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


All the cable to the TV has been unplugged. There is no furniture to sit on. I can either go to bed or go outside. Z has gone to sleep. I come out back. I take my computer. I've never seen the screen so clearly. It's a little cold and all I can see is the light emanating from the active display, but man is it nice to be outside. It makes blogging seem less nefarious, more healthy. Me and the moon and the lot of you.

I may be out here all night.

I may, when it gets really hot, figure out how to write outside at night, in the dark, but for me and this funny TV.

Monday, May 29, 2006


One hard thing about writing work is that there is scant evidence of that work. Egg will go to his job at 9, and, if I were to write all day, when he came home at 6, nothing would have changed. Even the kilobyte count of my harddrive would be more impacted by downloading a song than the filespace of eight hours worth of writing.
Also, when there's more obvious work to be done, it's hard to make writing the number one priority.
So, instead of writing much this week I mowed the lawn, packed the living room and front room, moved the furniture out of said rooms, swept the driveway, weeded and mulched the flower beds, swept the porch, cleaned the garage (to make room for moved furniture) and repacked a bunch of book boxes.
Impactful and somewhat satisfying (plus, such heavy lifting alleviates the non-running guilt). I also cooked twice and cleaned the kitchen at least twice. This work can be seen immediately, if someone were to look.
But, no one's really watching. I suppose, like writing, the joy of it is in the doing rather than in the recognition for having done it. I look around and I admit that I want the credit, that I want someone to notice--wow, what a great system--the to go boxes on a platform, the thrift-store boxes to the side--or, wow, you started that beastly lawn mower yourself?
Unlike Dorthothy Parker, I love writing; I am happy to have mown the lawn.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I ran very slow. So slow I was practically running backward. So slow, Cleo the dog could actually keep up. But I ran the whole thirty minutes stopping only to pick up dog poop. I even ran in place while Cleo sniffed flowers, ate crab grass and pointed (she is not a pointer) at a squirrel. Usually, when I run, I run so hard that my lungs clutch at air by the time I get halfway. This time, I ran so slowly it actually hurt my muscles--strange, stoppy muscles-- to go so slow. The iPod shuffled John Prine, Spoon, Mazzy Star, Cowboy Junkies, Jimi Hendrix--much goodness for Slow Running. Perhaps Slow Running can be like Slow Food. Me and my local produce and my mile an hour running speed.

The good news: Erik's going to get me proper running shoes for mother's day. He said he needed to go shopping for Mother's Day on Saturday but I said all I want for Mother's Day is the hallway painted. I also said all I want for Mother's Day is the glass taken to the recycling bins. I also said all I want for Mother's Day is breakfast. But for the fact I made the breakfast I got all that. And, when Erik asked if there's anything else i wanted, I said running shoes. He said sure, that's what he wanted to get me but he didn't want me to think that I thought that he thought that I needed to run.
His mother also got me running shorts and shirt. She said she didn't think I needed to run either. Sweet.

Other good news. Did the Ask Marilyn puzzle in the Parade for the first time ever. Easiest thing ever, a lot like running slow, but did it nonetheless.

Friday, May 12, 2006

First attempt

Thanks to Doctor Mama's Blog I tried today a new way of running. I tend to "run" (scare quotation marks seriously meant) about once or twice a week, but I always hate it, never want to go longer, dread doing the next day, etc. But Doctor Mama says to go slow, so slow that people will laugh. I like to make people laugh so I figure that I will give this a try.

So I woke up, a bit worse for wear because of the two glasses of wine too many and the dog vomit interruptions of REM sleep. It's OK, I think. There's nothing like a good sweat to get rid of a tiny hang over.

I have three cups of coffee, feed Zoe some applesauce and read the paper. I really read the paper. Stalling? I'd say so. But it's ten and it's getting hot and Cleo the dog hates running almost as much as I do, especially in the hot, so I get going.

I put on a pair of yoga pants, a bra and then one of those tank tops with a built-in bra thinking this is what Doctor Mama meant when she said "double bra."

I put Zoe in her stroller, let Cleo follow behind off-leash, and walk up the hill to warm up.
Once on flat-land, I put the iPod on the stroller because the yoga pants have no pockets. I turn the Pod ot shuffle and hear The Melvins, the Stooges, Fugazi, and Nirvana all in the first five minutes of "running." You'd think the hard core would make me lift those knees, but not so much. Instead, I keep stopping to skip the song. Then I stop to yell for Cleo who is now a whole block behind. Then I stop to pull up my pants which are riding down, down, down. So with one hand on the stroller and one on my pants, I tell Cleo to hurry and begin to run so slow. So slowly in fact that it turns out I am walking. I've been walking for some time. Perhaps even ambling.

We get to the park. Cleo thinks she wants to say hi to this cute (so not cute) Bloodhound so I wait for about half and hour for her to play. She approaches and runs away, approaches and runs away. She's a huge malumute/shepherd but she thinks she's a Chihuahua. Now that whatever elevated heart-rate I once had slips away, she finally sniffs the dog and we're off again. There had been a slight incline on the way to the park, but the way back slants down and I'm hopeful I can keep the bounce in my step to qualify as a "run."

I put Cleo on her leash this time to force her to keep up though this means half the time I'm pulled to a deadstop so she can smell the daffodils.

But foor one whole block, I'm running and bouncing all the way to the next street when Cleo darts for a squirrel, the leash is torn out of my hands, the iPod falls, I bend to pick up the iPod, the stroller rolls on its own, threatening to careen down the very steep L Street, I dive for the stroller, the pants lose whatever hold they once had and, as I push the stroller to safety, pick up the now-scratched iPod, scream for Cleo, and finally, finally pull up my pants, an jerk in a truck drives by to whistle, "Nice crack."

I drag Cleo the rest of the way--hand on leash, hand on stroller--my pants staying up thanks to the slow, slow walking of my feet.

I'm going shopping for proper shoes, bra, and, most importantly, pants or shorts with a string, tie, or other cinching devices. Plus, pockets for the iPod and a long, long leash for the very ass-dragging (though not ass-crackin') dog. I'd give up the dog, but she could stand a little heart-elevating exercise as much as I could.

I'll try again on Sunday & let you know how it goes.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I thought it would be majestic. I thought it would be full of ceremony. I thought that the ritual and commraderie would be transformative. What it really was all my graduate school anxities piling up. I spent most of the two hour ceremony sitting on an aisle, separated from the rest of the English PhD's because of my last name being, well, last, trying to get my mortarboard to stay on my head. I think my hair is slippery. I don't think my head is particularly small, (you can't get a PhD with a SMALL head). My mom said that the band was overstretched. Thanks mom.

My name was not in the program which made me think I wasn't actually graduating. I kept looking up at my family but I couldn't see them very well and they couldn't see me and I was sure they were freaking out more than I was that my name wasn't listed. It was all very grim with speeches and honorary degrees until the hooding of the PhD's--then, three of my professors came up to hood me--which entailed not the K*K*K-like hooding I'd imagined. In fact, it's more of a draping, or perhaps a shawling. But regardless of the dumb name, I felt summoned and enveloped and invited. And photographed. Badly. I'm very very worried about these pictures. I'm pretty sure I look like a frog with a square on her head, set off in squareness by my square face.

Then, the 982,217 undergrads were given their diplomas. I about had an anxiety attack waiting for the names to be called. I kept watching the rows, thinking now we're 1/3 done, now a half, wait a minute, I said half over 789,212 people ago.
Apparently, my mother, whose chair was being kicked by a thirteen year-old who was playing his gameboy, was also made anxious. She turned around and stared at the kid for 7 entire minutes and then asked why in the hell did he bother to come. My mom loves crowds even more than I do, let me tell you.

Afterward, we had the lovely Batts and families over for drinks. Then, to the Metropolitan, sans husband who couldn't get off work, but all six of us (mom & SO, mom & dad in law & Thirty one, in one car, The Chrysler Pacifier, to support eco driving.
4 of the 6 of us ordered the prix fixe.
Amuse bouche of Porcini Fritter with Truffle anglaise.
Then the 7 courses:
1. white gazpacho with celery leeks & parsnips (Mom & MIL had spring vegetable consomme where the tiniest veggies in the world came in a tiny bowl and the servers brought out a teapot full of broth and poured it on top of the veggies on site.)
2. Chilled seasonal vegetables--baby squash, radish gelee, micro basil (pretty good but the radish jello didn't dissolve as I hoped it would)
3. seared foie gras with black truffle ice cream, balsmic vinegar, & microgreens. (much discussion about animal cruelty and the foie gras ban in Chicago. Ate it all anyway. Not eco-eating. Loved it though the truffle ice cream tasted a lot like vanilla. I do love those tiny veggies)
4. Butter poached giant prawn with shrimp crisps, cilantro (micro, what else) & savory bisque. (One of the best courses, though the shrimp was about 2 seconds overcooked).
5. tangerine sorbet (you call this a course? OK, whatever.)
6. tenderloin surf & turn with wild ramps (like baby onions), dungeness crab, horseradish hollandaise (pretty good though the tenderloin was a bit mushy. I stole thirty-one's bigger portion then ended up giving it back).
7. dessert sushi (Metaphorical sushi-the ginger was candied, the nori was granache, a sliced strawberry was ahi, a sliced mango was hamachi, the pistashio creme was wasabi.

Did I mention we drank some wine? About 18 bottles? Maybe not quite that many.....

The whole day I was reminded of my college graduation. where I had been invited after to Emeritus Professor Kaspar Locher's house. I was one of 8 students invited, plus a guest. I took my ex-boyfriend. We sat on the back deck, drank champagne and ate cocktail shrimp as spring blossoms fell into our glasses.

Ah, maybe Spring is the ritual I was looking for. That or being invited to play with the big kids.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Colbair Repair

So exciting, all these politics. Immigration protests all over the country thrilled. It gives me hope that enough people can agree and plan and get it together to get out, all on the same May Day. I particularly like that it's International Labor Day (not the US's we-have-to-have-our-own labor day.)
I, however, screwed up and sent Erik to pick up Barbacoa for lunch today. I was staying home, not buying anything to support, if nothing else, the day-laborers who get hosed on home-improvement projects such as my kitchen and landscaping projects, but I blindly said, I'd love my favorite Mexican food for lunch. Duh.
Turns out something like 49% of day-laborers are hired by home-owners.
Mostly though, I'm happy about Stephen Colbert and the White House Correspondent's Dinner. A White Bear has a smart post about satire. Colbert is one of the most subversive because he talks the funniest Conservative talk, undermining every word that comes out of this administration's mouth. Not for everyone, apparently, but I'm not sure why. The video of his talk IS uncomfortable. No one laughs. But I laughed. He's my hero.
In less politicky news: I painted the bathroom entirely by myself. I'm not usually allowed to paint because I a)tend to flick paint b)have a hard time "staying within the lines" c) not stepping in, walking through, or running my butt into the newly wet paint. But time restraints and Erik's painting threshold pretty much crossed, I sanded, cut in, rolled, re-sanded and second coated the whole damn bathroom. I did cheat on the medicine cabinet and the closet--if you come over, you'll see my sloppy work there, but, for the most part, it looks pretty good. All white though. Maybe, if I promise to be good, I can do two-tone in the future. Though now my "they won't let me paint" excuse not to paint is kaputt.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Erik is not one to exaggerate. So, when we ate New York Strip Steaks at Ruth's Chris(choosing them over filets or ribeyes for a balance of flavor/fat) and he said, that was the best steak I ever had, it was true. It confirmed my sometimes hyperbolic belief that there is no point in eating steak if it's not a Ruth's Chris steak.

Tonight, we went over to thirty one's for dinner. From her own memory, like a pianist with a good ear, she recreated the Cafe Rio salad. White rice with cilantro, beans with southwest spice, avocado, tomatillo-ranch dressing and a pork butt/shoulder that she cooked all day in her slow cooker with cumin and chile powder and other love spices. Better than Cafe Rio.

Erik, on the way home, said. "That was good." He does not exaggerate.

What's the point in eating tomorrow?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Whither art thou?

The kitchen is doneish. It looks very nice. So nice I think it's too nice for us. We had better move before we ruin it. We've already stained the granite. I'm sure the internets will provide a stain-removal system that doesn't remove the entire igneous rock.

I have also successfully entertained while in town: sister P and boyfriend Charlie, Friend Misty and boyfried John (who we once called John Crack. He's stayed at my house often enough that I can call him a friend too) and my mom and dad's old friend Lori Friedman who has three boys--Chason, Asher & Daden. Her husband, who I met at dinner, ran the show. He'd say, tell me what you want, I'll go order it and yell, how many more pitchers of beer. Sometimes, especially in groups of 16, I like that sort of take-charge guy.

I missed K.C.'s birthday party, many many deadlines and sleep.

I also neglected to list my Friday Stupids list. Twice!
The capper was getting a phone call from my nonfiction editor asking me if I was coming to the lunch I had organized. I had said when I arranged the meeting, oh, I like to be places early. I'll be there at 11:55. I showed up at quarter to one (edited from my earlier mistype that said "noon").

Brilliant. On so many levels.

I've also lost my debit card, my car keys, my school keys, my cap & gown receipt and Zoe's favorite toys.
And yet, barring any unforeseen slights and misgivings, they still might give me my PhD.

So, decisions.

At this juncture--and the road must be chosen quickly--I still have to decide if we're renting or selling our house, having movers move us or stuffing our own stuff into a truck, taking these hideous hutches, buying a house in East or downtown G.R. and whether Egg will work or stay home with Zo.

And, to be done in the next few weeks: grade 25 proposals, contract for, receive files from author and layout Issue 62 of QW, write rountable review with E Burger and Paul K and submit book(s) to last of the season contests.

Speaking of contests, my poetry manuscript/dissertation "Comeuppance" was one of 6 finalists, along with my friend Mike White's book "Vegetable Love" for a pretty big poetry contest. Another decision: Change my title? Vegetable Love, now that's a good title.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I took Zo to my Writer*s@Work board meeting. She was OK. She called alot of attention to herself with her squawking and her squirming and her occasional LOL. She did one jog of crying, which I hate because she isn't real mamacentric unless she's hungry or tired. She was both, but I didn't know. The time change confuses me but apparently, she still likes to go to bed around 8:30.
Anyway, this is one of the meetings that was held at the Pres's house. I stayed after because I like to stay after. I convinced Zo to go to sleep in her baby bucket and I stayed and drank wine and chatted with members of the erstwhile science community as well as Dr Write. A biologist/mathematician from Panama was staying at said Pres's house. He was very funny and told long stories about his son who wrote SF. He said, I respect my son very much in all things, it's just his writing that I respect the least. I think my mom could get in on that rationale.
Anyway, as they spoke, they kept referring to this guy as DH or BH or something and we non sciency types had to keep asking who or what they were talking about. Or rather, we nodded, as if we knew.
This reminded me of Reed College days when I would go to my friends who lived 4 or 5 strong in a Reed House (the equivalent of a fraternity but the hazing often involved a raucous game of "Dictionary) and they would swap terms and I would nod as if I had the slightest idea what the hell they were talking about--NEXT computers (from a guy who's now buco(Valley Spelling) rich investing in Amazon) and John Cage and Benzene circles. Now, I'm much less shy about my stupidity (more on that on Friday) and am willing to ask, what?, when I don't know what, but then, I really wanted to know it all. I still want to know it all but I'm much more likely to actually know it all if I ask what the it is first.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The beginning of the end

I found a home for one of my cats--fluffy black cat Bagiera. See 31 for one reason I accumulated so many. I'm terrified he's lonely and confused but I think he'll be happy being an only cat and not being pushed off my lap every five seconds because of the baby and the dog and the 3 other cats. My mom is going to take my other fluffy one. And friend J says she'll take the sweet tiny one.

We're really moving.

Here's a link thanks to Trista for this test.
Warrior? Hm. I am picky. Especially about buggers. Good thing Egg is an Old Soul.
You Are a Warrior Soul

You're a strong person and sometimes seen as intimidating.
You don't give up. You're committed and brave.
Truly adventuresome, you are not afraid of going to battle.
Extremely protective of loved ones, you root for the underdog.

You are picky about details and rigorous in your methods.
You also value honesty and fairness a great deal.
You can be outspoken, intimidating, headstrong, and demanding.
You're a hardliner who demands the best from themselves and others.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

However, if I change my answers to reflect the softer side of Sears, I get:
You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a graet sense of humor and wit.
You're always dimplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

Perhaps Schizoid Soul is an option?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Not so bright

I spend a lot of time thinking about how retarded I am. Retarded acts today: using the word retarded, paying $24 for lunch yesterday because I was at Mama's Southern Plantation and the owners were black and I wanted to be cool and helpful so I just paid whatever instead of asking, how might lunch possibly cost this much? though I did order ala carte and strangley. Of course, now I'm sure they think I'm the biggest idiot in the world. Which I may well be. So I'm not only retarded but racist. I also convinced myself that the lunch wasn't very fattening because I didn't have any sides with my two pieces of fried chicken and 3 ribs. I also put my coffee cup within Zo's reach and she spilled it all over herself (it wasn't very hot, but still). I made two separate lunch appointments for the same day. I went to Ace Hardward to buy stem-to-faucet caps and a 1/2 inch to 5/8th transducer and came home with neither. I tossed Zo's carrot babyfood spoon in the sink and it splashed carrot juice all over the bathroom walls. And, unlike Bitch PhD,I neglected to hide my identity well enough from my future school so now they know, if they read my blog, I'm not the genius they might have hoped for.

On a bright note: I did figure out how to reprogram a new garage door opener. Our old one was but a circuit-board, some binary switches and a battery. Now our door goes up. And it goes down.

This could be a weekly post--like a column. Dumb things I did this week. Look forward to Fridays to hear how I managed to hemorrhage another $700 in car repairs or neglected to ask the countertop guys why they left behind four pounds of granite in the form of dust on my new cabinets.

Updated to include biggest boner of all: Remodeling kitchen 5 months before you're moving out of state. It has been the 3rd circle of hell having it redone. And it will be the 5th circle leaving it--so beautiful it is, I might even post pictures.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Updated blog list

Dr. Write very kindly took me to dinner at Martine last week for successfully getting the hell out of graduate school. We had lovely tapas--lamb with pomegranate sauce, almost cajun scallops and the beef tenderloin tips with a lovely crouton and a basil aioli. And wine of course.
While we were eating, I annoyed myself by talking about blogs. And Thirty-One had me over to dinner for delicious Wahoo (Ono) with a cherry, wine sauce, spinach with prosciutto, broiled zucchini with parmesan and we further discussed with her DH what's different about blogs and webpages and essays and blog posts.
It's amazing how much time I've wasted reading them the past few weeks. I forgive myself for these reasons: 1-it's one thing I can do while feeding/playing with/watching Zoe. It only requires one hand. Even reading needs two and though I love every minute I get to spend with the Zoster, I need a tad more mental stimulation than peek-a-boo. 2-with the kitchen upended and my bathroom doubling as service station and bath house, I can't cook and I'm trying to avoid any other household duties while dust spirals and 3-I feel like when I move, I can take my blogfriends with me. It's amazing how quickly invested I can get and how immediately intimate blogs seem. I know it's a false intimacy to some degree, but I like the idea that if, when I'm in Michigan, I run into Barely Tenured and can ask how her classes are going. It may be a wispy connection, but it's better than just googling about.
I'm off to write something less wispy right now, assuming Baby Z stays asleep until 4. I'm writing an essay right now but I miss the novel blog though. Sleepy-E finished his but maybe Lis is ready to start again? Dr Write, you ready to write?
And, last question--is there such a thing as blogger shoulder?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Thirty-one (ha! I just got the 2nd meaning of her blog title--she IS 31.) said that I should post the essay I was writing and see how it differs from sending it out and publishing it in a magazine. I do wonder how my pontifications change depending on the medium it's presented in. A blog post is not an essay yet I see a lot of long blogs that are full of good writing and are topic-specific enough that they verge on becoming art. I wonder, as I traipse through the blogs of some many people, if they're all actually writers too, publishing in the land of lit mags, commercial mags, and in books that I would read if I wasn't reading blogs.
Hm. Perhaps Dr. Write and I can have a panel at AWP.
Other trouble: Still kitchening. I'm sitting here hoping that Zoe will sleep through the airgun that's stapling the trim to the walls. Why are we home? Because there's no where else to go. My mom is sick and Erik's parents live so far in the mountains that it takes a week of grocery shopping to go up there. Where else can a mom and her baby go for ALL day? 31's? No, the nanny drives me mad. Though 31 does have wireless DSL.....
Also: Too much wine this March. With AWP, job offers, birthdays, PhD defenses, and going out to dinner every single night, there's been a few mornings of deep headache and metal jaw. I'm hoping April is less celebratory.
Cats. Too many of them. Is it too late to donate them to science? I'm afraid, after Zoe's RSV, that she may be prone to asthma. 4 cats, a dog, and a house under construction (please don't spew lead paint, please), will not be good.
And this is how my blog differs ever so slightly from my essays: On the blog, I stick to one topic never. On my essays, I at least try one topic. For at least a page.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Premature Write-elation

You know when you haven't had sex for a long time and then you do and everything seems weird--like the pores of your partner seem a little gigantic and their genitalia a bit too pink? That's how it feels trying to write after a 4 month haitus. I'm trying to get to it--the job market, Zoe's hospitalization, the kitchen remodel, AWP--each worked to steal whatever writing mojo or motivation I had.

Now, when I sit down to write, my words seem pimply and my sentences awfully raw. I wonder if I can write while Zoe bounces or while I stuff QW envelopes or perhaps on the way to pick up tile????

On another note, or, speaking of genitalia, the lot they want to build on nextdoor has asked for a height and size variance. I want to go tonight to protest but I've gone to enough political meetings in Utah to know that I'll leave dejected and sad. And Zoe won't have that much fun either. But I think we'll go anyway. How can I complain about the 3 car garage I'm staring at if I didn't complain?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back to back vacation

Except it never is. Before we left for AWP in Austin, Erik and I had to completely empty out our kitchen so that while we were gone, the new kitchen cabinets could be installed. Our garbage can(and a number of neighbors' garbage cans were) filled to the brim. Packing for the trip and for Zoe's trip up to her grandparents, asking the neighbor to not only feed the cats but change the litter box, and check in with my webct students was work. AWP itself, although I was there for work, was not actually work. It was great fun. I saw my friends from SLC and friends who now live afar and my new colleagues. I made some new friends and connected with Dinty Moore who has been so kind to me. Erik was so cool and sat at the table in the Bookfair and sold magazines for me and Dave.
I'm thinking now of compiling some essays to teach next semester. I'll try to post some stuff at
I'm really looking forward to working on syllabi for GVSU.
Which is part of the now work: more kitchen stuff-shop for cabinets, pay two tickets for my expired plates, send out Quarterly West, taxes. Another vacation masquerading as work.
Glad to be back.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Off to Austin where I hope to see Lisa B. and Dr. Write. After the whirlwind of December & January travel, I'm not too excited to go, but at least I won't be interviewed. Instead, I'll be hawking the magazine and eating too much.

The new cabinets came today. They are too beautiful. We'll never be able to leave now.
What kind of dumbasses redo their kitchen while they're on the job market?

Don't answer that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


That's Dr. Otterbutt from now on.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Did it

Took the job. The one at Grand Valley State University. 3/3 teaching load. Good salary. GREAT benefits. It's in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm excited, I think. The folks there are so kind. They sent Zoe and me flowers when she was in the hospital. I went from total exhiliration--especially when they told me they voted for me unanimously. And it's hard to become a professor. They don't just dole those jobs out. But then I got depressed about moving and about other peoples' jobs. Some folks got an interview at Portland State. But I know I wanted that too much to actually get it. I wrote a special letter for them. I had KB send an extra letter of recommendation to them. That was the worst day--realizing that GVSU is as good as it's going to get this year. But that good IS good--it's just hard to leave the west. But Erik's completely into going and it's time for an adventure. The nice thing is my blogging life will come with me!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

To Blog

One of my sister's has finally started her own blog--Thirty-One Flavors to Ani over Baskin Robbins? I think so). In so doing, she said she blogged me about it, which seemed like a better way to say "I posted a comment to your blog." So in my lexicon/grammar text, I will suggest that "to blog" as an intransitive verb means that I wrote in my blog today. Example: I blogged. As a transitive verb, it will mean that I sent you a note in your blog. Example: I blogged you. See. And now I'll teach grammar with a 21st century foxiness. Now blog me. Blog me hard. (Imperative form of to blog).

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I feel mentally unstable. I just proofread an essay of mine that's coming up in a journal and it's much too personal, especially if it's read without the essay that explains why I have no modesty whatsoever. Ugh, the whole nonfiction book project is a rubbernecking, gossip fest. Which is how I'll market it, but still. There's something a little striptease about it.
Which makes me think I'm unstable. Which makes me wonder how can I take a job when I know some of the reasons I'm doing it are bad ones--for money, for esteem, for natural career progression. Good reasons would be: I want a change, I like the school, I like the city, I love to teach. And I'll go for those reasons too, but the bad reasons are the ones that make me wonder what choices I would make differently if I wasn't so, well, conventional. But even my most unconventional friends have begun to make the responsible choices: Misty became a lawyer (and goes by Renae), Joy join the HotShots in New Mexico so she could make enough money to live in Idaho next year, John got a full time job for the forest service.....
And, I'm so lucky to have been offered this great job. But I don't want to use up all my good luck on jobs. I was looking at some wineglasses sitting on the counter and one of them was tipped, held up by another glass and I thought I don't want to waste all my good luck on keeping wineglasses whole. But it's true. I have substantial good luck in wineglasses. I still have 5 of the 8 Erik and I got for our wedding. On the other hand, I have bad luck with cars. Just yesterday, with TWO cars of mine in the driveway, neither would start. Erik's ignition was frozen (or the key is dull) and my battery is dead. On the same day! I guess I should take my good luck where it comes. But sometimes bad luck masquerades as good. What if I'd missed an accident because my car wouldn't start???? I know, thoughts like these are paralyzing. The truth of the matter, it will probably all come out in the wash. Or, in other words, it will all end in cliche. One way or another.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Other Worlds

When I got back from my 11 days of campus interviewing, I said "I feel like I've been in a hospital for a month." Then, 4 days later. I moved into the hospital for a month. Zoe is sick from the world's dumbest virus. RSV. Respiratory Scintilla Virus (Scintilla rhymes with Chincilla). I'm going mad being here. I came in and blamed the doctors and nurses that we were stuck here. Then I realized she was pretty sick and I was glad that she had some help and I should stop being such a selfish bum. Then she got an ear infection, croup, and pneumonia and now I blame the hospital for its germy, stress-filled environment.
We've been here too long and I'm having a hard time being rationale. But the system is designed to make me feel irrational. I can't make any decisions, nor do I have any idea when this will be over. I keep guessing. I'm an optimist. I always say tomorrow, but I'm always wrong. Being an optimist is very depressing work.
I make a lot of jokes about how air travel and hospital styas are comprably unbearable (subtracting of course the fact that my baby was so sick I cried). Unbearable defines 2006 so far.
But I did get a job offer at the GVSU job in Michigan. I'll probably take it. They are great folks and the program's great and the money's great and Dr. Write reminds me I can always come back (by "back" I hope she means back to SLC, not the hospital). I'm actually kind of touched that I made it to this point. In a lot of ways, that's enough.

Although Dr. Write SHOULD remind me to graduate and call myself Dr. and check myself out of this hotel.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ft. Lauderdale/Boca Raton

Boca Raton=Mouth of the rat. I've learned much. FAU is made of concrete. It's full of nice folks though who may or may not want to hire me. I saw a comorant, a blue heron, a lizard, a coonti plant, a dutch pipe vine, a monarch butterfly, and several turkey vultures.
I do love big birds.
But pink buildings--not so much.
I've never been this hot. I've been sweating since I got off the plane?
How much red wine can I drink at dinner???? Less, than I want, I presume.
This is a good job--grad students, 3-2, non-adversarial department....The chair is one of the funniest, smartest people I met. Plus, man can he eat. He's my metabolistic role model. In fact, as a teacher, a writer, and an administrator, he's a role model for all.
But this part of Florida is super-suburban, expensive, and humid.
I don't know. I had a gut feeling for a moment.
I'm off to the other two interviews on Wednesday. I fly all the way back to SLC and then to Atlanta. Which wouldn't be so bad but for the very bumpy skies.
I feel like a sponge--absorb, absorb.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Exercises in Futility

This week has been nothing if not one step forward, two steps back (The Dow Jones and I may run on syncopated paths).
For instance, today I went to the eye doctor, loading the heavy Zoe in the bucket and driving through rushhour traffic, only to find the office closes at 1. Great. Then I went up to campus to find the latest issue of the Chronicle which has an article written by one of my interviewers at Florida Atlantic. The new issue just came out--supplanting the issue I needed.
So, I was inspired by Unhip's blog to really exercise. I emailed all 78 legislators and asked them not to support HB 45 the Bear River Development act:

Please don’t support the Bear River Development Act—HB 45. This $1 billion water project promotes waste, discourages conservation, uses funds poorly, and threatens to destroy one of the last wild waterways in the west. With a bit of conservation—by which I mean less irrigation, not less “drinking water”—we can easily compensate for the amount of water that would be appropriated by this bill that provides no healthy vision for the future.

I kept it short and pointless since it will fall on 70% deaf ears. I end this week by embracing my (and the Dow Jones) path.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Home, underrated

As it looks more and more like I may actually be moving (I'm hoping to jinx it by writing it in ink--or pixel), I keep thinking how very underrated staying in the land of your birth is. Since I was seven, my parents made it clear to us that had the economy been different, we would have been raised in NYC. Every slight made against me or the twins would cause my mom to rail against this backwards town. And it's true. Everytime the legislature convenes I say to myself, "we're out of here." But I do think that the imperative to leave can be a overrated. The opinion that to be truly career-oriented and grow- up requires that one leave town. And, I subscribed to that when I lived in Portland. But I also think appreciating what is here becomes evident only as the moving threatens. It's important to me that Zoe grow up around people who think she's truly unique, not just another baby; that Erik and I can go to dinner at the drop of a hat because her grandparents will come over at a moments notice; that her cousins are close enough to be like siblings; that when she looks outside she sees amazing land.
But there are enough drawbacks--bad legislature, bad restaurants, bad smog, bad legislature, the bad house being built next door destroying part of the amazing land, bad jobs--that we should at least seriously entertain the notion of going.
I can come back for summers, I'm reminded.
Zoe can visit her grandparents for weeks at a time, I'm told.
But having left home and come back, I feel like I know exactly how much I'll be missing--

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

Usually my Friday the 13ths aren't marred by disaster so much as dissatisfaction.
To note:
No new interviews. Which is OK because I'm really happy with my two, but I got SO addicted to NEWS in December, I'm going through withdrawals.
The lot next door just got surveyed for building. From what I can tell, their back door will open directly into my living room.
The cats think the new carpet in the basement is a brand new litter box. We've barracaded them upstairs but me thinks one or two of the cats may have to find a new home.
Erik is on call tonight which means he doesn't want to have people over. I haven't just hung out in weeks. I would like to relax with his folks or some friends of ours.
I ordered the wrong soup at Big City Soup.
No mail.
No email.

OK, apparently this 13th is marred by NOTHINGness. And a litany of small complaints is NOTHING. But, if something truly horrid happens, I'll keep you posted. And if you have any horror stories, I'd love to hear them. Because I'm horrid.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Door to door sales

I have a soft spot in my heart for Rugby because it was the only game anyone at Reed was any good at. So, when the kid from Westmini's CHAMPIONSHIP RUGBY TEAM came to ask me if I'd buy a raffle ticket, I said, sure. In fact, I bought 6 for $10 (what a bargain--$3 for 1!). I never win. I may come in 2nd. I may occasionally even get a prize for coming in 2nd, but I just don't catapult myself (or luck neglects to catapult me) over the top.
Still, I keep trying. Perhaps my number will come up (I hope not the "when your number's up" of my mother's Woody Allenesque take on fate) this time. What will I win? I don't know. I didn't really read it. Something about Vegas. Or Park City. Two nights.....
So, I suppose my point is, if you'd like to get $10 from me, come over and show me a nice picture of young folks (at Reed, Rugby was co-ed) with lots of bruises and soft buttons and hand me some tickets. Don't bother tearing off the part that you keep. I won't even notice until you leave that I have all the parts and the raffler has no idea how to contact me should I win. Which I won't, in good spirit. In fact, were it not for this post, I would have forgotten about it already.

Friday, January 06, 2006


2nd interviews loom. What to do? Take Erik and Zoe so I don't have to pump & go? Buy real estate in upstate new york? Write pro and con list and make sure I realize that it gets below zero in both Michigan (GVSU) and NY (Alfred)?
The real question: what to wear? I already wore my power suit. Plus, it's two days of interview. Even if I re-suit on the first day, should I differently suit the next?
When will I write again since all I do is make travel plans.

How does this philosophy work of "what should happen, will happen?" Where is free will? Is there any free will when grandparents of a six-month old are involved?
Where are the west coast jobs? Is there anywhere as beautiful as Utah? Does better politics trump beauty?
How many questions can one ask to the ether???