Tuesday, January 29, 2008

3 loveable things

I was tagged by Dr. Write for 3 Things that I love. I hope when I return from NYC, I will have even more things to love.

I love Lord of the Rings and not because I love hobbits or fairies but because I love broad images forests and mountains, the horses—there’s something of the western to the movies because landscape provides its own narrative arc. Because I love images that are tucked into the narrative. But mostly because the movies are Shakespearean—high drama not because it’s exciting but because it affords good language. Gandalph says, “I come to you at the turn of the tide.” And “I will draw you Saraman as poison is drawn from a wound” “Your fingers would remember their own strength better if they grasped your sword” and, the rain-compounded: “And so it begins.” (Can you tell which of the three I’m watching now?) Without really worked high drama, those phrases would fall flat and sound overwrought. The image of Aragorn returning from his near-death cliff-fall as he pushes open the castle door with his right arm is the fulfillment of the tragic hero I’d always imagined.

Mushrooms. If you slice shitakes up and fry them in hot oil, just barely letting go their juices, they can taste like wood-fired steak. Slice chanterelles and bake them in potatoes and cream, they become like butter—butter that resists the tooth and does not melt. Boletes bring out the nuttiness of spaghetti. Dry button mushrooms on pizza counterpoint the liquidy cheese. I miss hunting mushrooms. Erik and I found a few boletes this fall when we went camping with Z but not too many. I love wandering the forests, looking at the moss and the slugs and the ferns—the way the orange, fluted tops of the chanterelle is the perfect counterpoint to all that green and yet are camouflaged by the red bark flaking off into the duff and the dead needles. Looking down for a long time—it’s not something I do very often and it’s a cool upside down world.

My students. Even when they’re failing, even when they don’t show up, even when I ask them what I obviously the most stimulating questions and they stare back at me in silence—I still love them. They have interest. Curiosity. They are not burnt out on lit mags, or poetry contests, or lit theory. They have, when I bring all the tools at my disposal, the capacity to make connections and comparisons that are beyond what I can do alone. When I read a poem for the first time in my introductory class and we go line by line and the students make various associations but learn how the poem builds its own argument, I am back to that place when I first read a poem and saw the way the poem was built. I love how they’re willing to do something new. To experiment. They’re not afraid of thinking that they’re not new. They just believe what they’re doing is new. And so it is.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Opposite

I'm back from a tour of the deep Southwest. It was snowing there too but in between the snow, it's sunny. Flagstaff is cool. Kind of like Park City, kind of like Iowa City, kind of like Evanston, Wyoming. Cool and small and western and a college town (the Evanston part has mostly to do with the architecture and the size and the westerliness to it). There's a stupid Walmart. And a Sam's Club. But the downtown is full of small businesses and a bunch of good restaurants, brewpubs (2) and coffee shops.

My flight was inane. I took an earlier flight from Flag to Phoenix because I heard that the Flag flight get canceled often. The minute the propeller started, a girl had a panic attack and they had to stop the whirring, open the door, get her bag off. We still made it to Phoenix on time.
There was an earlier flight to Chicago but it would have made my connection from Chicago to here a bit tight. I dithered. I went back. By then, it was too late. You need an hour for such a change so they can get your bag. FAA regulation that you have to fly with your bag.
I should not have dithered (I went to see how much it would be to fly up to SLC for the weekend. About one million dollars to go there and then catch a flight back Sunday morning. We have a job candidate coming in on Sunday and I have to be here).
Note to self. Do not dither.
They said for a small fortune I could upgrade to first class.
I said no.
I went to the bookstore to buy the Book Thief and some tacos (best meal I had the whole trip!) and then I freaked out and said, I need the first class. So I went back, sure they would have sold out.
They didn't. I got the first class ticket and went to do some grading with the very fine free internet courtesy of the Phoenix airport.
And then, Chicago started delaying flights in. We left an hour and a half late. I was sure to miss my connection. But, the delays were widespread and I made my flight by two seconds.
Or I thought it was 2 seconds. They said they had 5 bags to wait for and then we'd be off. They said they had to wait to be de-iced and then we'd be off. They said we had to wait to be pushed back and then we'd be off. We were off by 11:00 (a flight that was supposed to leave at 9:30).
We got in at 12:50 (a short flight but a time change). When I got to the baggage claim, what did I find? Not my bag. I feel that I should tell the FAA on them.

I got home by 2. I couldn't fall asleep until 3:30 or so.

I woke up at 8 anyway.

Today reminds me of my old life before Z and when Egg had to work all the time. I'm watching Lord of the Rings, writing, revising, and eating foods I would not eat in front of my husband. Sometimes, I sit still in the same spot for more than six minutes! No one needs milk. Or juice. Or a puzzle.
And yet, it's only 12:40 and I wonder what the hell the point of the day is. If Z were here, she'd be sure to tell me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Z at 2 and a half.

Lately, every sentence with Zoe ends “Lily, Cam?” As in, "are we going to see Lily and Cameron, my cousins soon. "Erik and Z are going to Salt Lake next week because I have two business trips in a row plus all these campus visitors coming here and I won’t be around and they may as well bask in the glow of Salt Lake love. Plus, tickets were $178. Considering that they’re often $500 from here, that was a steal. But the Lily, Cam question comes at the end of sentences unrelated to travel. As in when I ask her what she wants for lunch and she says “chips and turkey and Lily and Cam?” Or if I ask her where her purse is she says “purse on couch. Lily Cam?” Or, if we’re going in the car she’ll say, “go in car to play with Lily and Cam?” She does know her cousins live far away and we have to take a plane but I think she thinks the plane ride is not so much to endure if one gets to see Lily and Cam at the end of it. I’m very jealous she gets to see Lily and Cam. And sad to be away from her for so long. She also has a rendition of the list that goes Lily, Cam, Doug, Mice (my mom's "maestra), Grandma, Grandpa, Daddy, Val, George (Joy) and then, in a low, Isaac Hayes-type voice says “Bart” (maestra's boyfriend). She knows Paige won’t be there and I won’t be there. We get a “no Paige, no mommy” list of our own.

Z is very into puzzles now. One, I threw away today. She had bent the pieces until they broke, doing the puzzle so many times. She could do that Princess puzzle in less than a minute by the end. The five year and up puzzles take her a little longer but she’s memorized those mostly now too.

She sings a lot. Erik recorded her a bit on his Mac with the Garageband software. She’s pretty good at singing and once Erik brings home the microphone that Z’s grandpa got her for Christmas, I imagine we'll get full-on rock versions of "I'm Picking Up This Baby Bubblebee." She likes to dance almost as much as sing but we have no video of that. Imagine a toy top that can jump. And swing her arms. With a downward dog and an arabesque thrown in for style. She dances with her dad a lot who has really broadened his dancing horizons: he has added robot dancer and the twirl and dip (both the mom and the Z) to go with general-foot-tapping-stand-mostly-still-dance of before.

Z likes to put her dolls to bed and keep them warm. She also likes to keep beads and legos and stuffed animals and bracelets and socks in her bed. We’re moving her from her crib to the big guest bed which is going OK except when I wake up in the middle of night and see her moon-like face staring at me and she barks a very loud “Hi.” Hi indeed at 3:00 a.m.

She likes to trace our faces with her fingers. It’s very sweet. Unless, again, it’s at 3 in the morning.

She likes me to sing Hush Little Baby 16 times before she goes to sleep. Sometimes, she sings it back in a very experimental tongue. She seems to love the tactility of words. If she’s playing Thomas, she says choo choo choo choo and then will turn, squish her nose up to say fake sneeze an “achoo” because choo choo wasn’t quite in her face enough. It’s pretty easy to understand her most of the time, unless he has a very long and serious story to tell and she’ll cock her neck to one side and gesticlutate with her hands and say “es tay voile moushay tone. Speksy mafle candor sloon.” Usually, she is complaining, possibly in french, against the cat. She calls all cats Box and all scratches Box too.

She like everything to match and she wants everything to be purple. She’ll wear her purple haltertop dress over anything—including another dress. Her socks have to match and the line on the top has to be perfectly perpendicular to her toes. But she does all this dressing of herself except for popping the shirt over her head so I suppose she can choose her style even if I’m beginning to find purple a little overwhelming.

My favorite is that now she speaks in sentences. “I can get down now, please.” “I want some onions, please”. (sometimes please.) She also sometimes slams the door to her room and screams “No Thank You” at me if I try to get her to wear something a little less purple. She says, “Bye. Love you.” Every fourteen seconds. Even if we’re going nowhere. If we are going somewhere and ask her to come on, she says “I’m coming” like she can’t wait to get where we’re going. Which, she hopes, is to see Lily and Cam. As soon as possible. It makes me feel a little better being away from her for 10 days that for 7 of those days, she’ll be with people who, if you add how much they love her together, probably love her as much as I do. And Egg will be with her the whole time. She probably won’t notice I’m gone. But I will.

Edited to add: She also shares her Skittles.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Thirty-One and Kendall-Jackson. May you both be 31 forever in our minds (and always take solace in the fact that you'll always be younger than me.)
I hope your birthday is one of the best. Welcome to the Jesus Year!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bad Blogging, Bad Shoulder

I tweaked my shoulder whilst skiing at Alta. The light was bad and the snow sometimes soft, sometimes crunchy. I hadn't been skiing in awhile so I was all tense and did not go with the flow. But that was just a little tiny ache. When I went to the Chicago for the MLA, the hotel reservations were all a-mess. There are TWO Embassy Suites downtown and I and my suitcase were told the wrong one. So my suitcase, weighing in at exactly 50lbs so there was no extra charge, and I walked the 8 blocks to the correct Embassy Suites. Since the suitcase is better at rolling than walking and better at being steered than steering, so I rolled and steered it over slippery sidewalks, around busy traffic, through melting puddles to the proper Embassy Suites. When I got there, I dragged my suitcase to the far corner of the room and went to find my colleague who was beginning to straighten out this hotel mess (we had candidates coming for interviews the next day. Which hotel would they go to? An adventure to find out). Eventually I got on the phone, changed some of our reservations to the right place and kept some of them at the wrong (and currently suitcased stationed) hotel. I was to go back to the "right" hotel and host the interviews there. I went up. Got my suitcase and dragged His Heaviness back down the hall, out the elevator and down the block. I asked my colleague if she'd heard from the other interviewers. Apparently, one of them was angry. He had already checked into his room at the other hotel and was ready to stay put. I dragged His Heaviness for another half a block and stopped. There was no way I was hiking over there just to be told to come back. I called my other colleague and asked if it was true he wanted to stay there. He did. I waved off the walking-with-me-colleague, turned around and headed back up to the room. I dragged His Heaviness into the corner and did a Nestea plunge onto the bed, grateful to be in a room and not moving.
But it was too late. I did something seemingly permanent to my shoulder. Pinched a nerve? Unknitted the shoulder muscle from the neck so there's nothing but frayed meat hanging from the bone? I haven't gone to the doctor yet but since this is the most I've typed in two weeks and I have syllabi to build, an introduction, a panel presentation, and a explanation of what I write to write, I had probably best go in and see if I can at least get some pain relievers that let me sleep through the night.
In other MLA news:
  • Interviewing candidates is hard but so much less hard than being the interviewee.
  • I learned a lot of new ideas of what and how to teach thanks to the interview.
  • I am excited about our candidates. They're amazing. Makes my job look even cooler.
  • I met some bloggers at the bar. They were hard to find because none of them wore the fishnet stockings they promised. I kept going up to women at the various hotel bars asking to see under their skirts. Very flirty but ineffective in blogger-finding.
  • I wandered around the city before the blogger meet up--at 8:30. I was in at 4 with a broken shoulder. That warranted a drink. And a pizza. My first pizza. Then I wandered the wrong way, got lost, found sushi, spent way too much on sushi , went to the blogger meet-up, had but one glass of wine, wandered back the mile or so to my hotel, had one more glass of wine and one more pizza (of which I did not eat the whole thing). Woke up at 3 screaming with shoulder pain.
  • I did not throw up on any of the interviewees even though the arm pain was making me nauseated.
  • Went out for pizza with colleagues that night.
  • Met friends for dinner the next night.
  • Waited for Egg and Z's plane from SLC to land at O'Hare for over an hour. A $60 cab-ride to pick up the car made me rethink our bargain flying plans. We drove from here and parked at a long-term and cheap park and ride. But with His Heaviness, I could not imagine taking the El.
  • Got home to a clean house and happy animals.
  • Cleo hurt her leg running down the stairs to welcome us home.
  • The house is now a disaster.
  • And now I have to type more even though this is the end of my typing shoulder.

Happy New Year and the semester starts tomorrow.....