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?