Monday, February 08, 2016

Dearest Monday,

Although I have designated you, dearest Monday, as a set aside, a work from home cloister, a jewel in the shell, just like last Monday, I found myself at work.

I could have busted in like a ninja for my 11 a.m. meeting and disappeared like a wisp of cloud. But I talked to people. I sent emails. I graded two assignments. I let my battery dwindle to fourteen, then eleven, then ten percent before I finally came home.

Monday, you were an inversion.

Monday, you were breakfast with a longtime friend.

Monday, you were recovery from insomnia.

Monday, you were no workouts at all

Monday, you were cherry red boots worn for the first time this season.

Monday, you were a problem solving wizard.

When I held up the candy bowl in the vestibule, with but three blue Jolly Ranchers in it, plus pathos-ridden shards of other hard candies, a friend rushed to the cupboard and pulled out mini chocolate bars. That's what you were, Monday: emergency chocolate, borne by the hands of a friend.

Monday, I think of you as the solitude after the weekend. The day on which I collect my wits and energy and focus for the rest of the week, in silence. The day when the only direct request to me comes from the dog. When I make my midday meal and eat it alone.

But I will say that several conversations with my office next-door neighbor were to be cherished. My load for fall semester sorted? Priceless. Word on when we might expect to order our new laptops? Inestimable. A chat with my movie-going friend about The Revenant? Ineffable.

In short, dearest Monday, I spent you the way I spent you, all right? Maybe your set aside and solitude and shell and jewel and silence will seem all the more lovely next week, on account of my friend breakfast movie-talking problem-sorting cherry red boots with a mini chocolate bar on top today.

Let's try to bear that in mind, shall we?


Sunday, February 07, 2016


as in

so many meanings.

Anyway. This week has been overwhelming in both wonderful and disconcerting ways. Over the last several days, I have tried on several narrative strategies which have all failed me and my subject matter, which is that flailing and floundering that is my list, my ongoing list, and also the moments of soaring and brief glory.

that's right. I turn my finished items into ghosts,
and then I strike them through, to show them who
is boss of the list. I am. I am boss of the list.

I am finding that my long list, even with the graying out and the striking through and the yellow highlights and so on, both helps me stay on top of things and makes me feel a little tilt-y. Here are the tilt-y things, bulleted for your listing pleasure:

  • making phone calls for this and that purpose. UGH phone calls are the worst. Why can't there just be data ports and messaging? 
  • specifically, phone calling Boxcar Press. What if they laughed at me and my belief that I could lay out a photopolymer plate in an appropriate way. What if they sniffed out what a rank amateur I am. What is they said no effing way, amateur, you are never gonna get this photopolymer plate done in time, what were you THINKING? &c. That's how phone calls go sometimes, is how I was imagining things.
  • constantly questioning myself, even at moments when things are going really really well. That talk I gave in December? Probably sounded like a self-important, making-it-up-as-she-goes-along kind of a person. That poem featured on Verse Daily? Maybe it's the last good poem I'll ever write. Who was I kidding when I thought of doing a reading series? No one should entrust me with shit like this. Self-doubt of this kind might be even worse than making phone calls, which are the worst. Self-doubt is more awful than the worst! Think of it!
  • the feeling that, despite the fact that I'm making my list and checking it, like, thirty times, I have this constant nagging feeling that I am forgetting things, forgetting them right and left, letting things slide, important things, the things that will undo me in the end. 
  • maybe I forgot the fact that I am an amateur printer. Do I even know how to print a large, exacting photopolymer plate? WHAT WAS I THINKING.
However. The things that righted the listing ship, as it were, were good:
  • interview turned out okay!
  • poem featured in Verse Daily!
  • student-designed broadsides coming along, with literally NO heinously ugly fonts! 
  • Boxcar people were super nice and very helpful!
  • photopolymer plate is on its way, with only a minor hiccup. or two. two minor hiccups! but on its way!
  • Hail, Caesar! was a riot. 
  • The Revenant was amazing. I was prepared to have it be partially amazing, but I felt it was straight up, unabashedly, unadulteratedly wonderful. 
  • shrimp enchilada!
  • two not-so-busy days in a row on the weekend.  
And so on. So on we go to the next week, which will be full of whipsaw excitement:
  • the poet!
  • will people show up for these events?
  • what was I thinking?
  • the printing!
  • plus everything else that has to be done! 
Whose idea was this semester, anyway? 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

*IS* it almost the weekend? I think it's almost the weekend.

'You had a good day, didn't you?' the historian posited.

It was a fairly safe bet. Today, we printed some test prints of the broadside we're making for our visiting poet on our Xante printer, just to see how the design looked on the gorgeous Rives paper we are using. Oh my glory, the people. So lovely. I gave hugs to people who, I'm guessing, are not exactly huggers. But we all felt it was warranted.

see? so pretty!

Also, the interview I did earlier this week with WMSU for their program called The Weekly Reader was posted today. It will be aired tomorrow, February 4, at 9:30 a.m., but it's already on their website and will be part of the archives. When I did the interview, I felt it went quite well. And then, of course, I imagined that perhaps I sounded like an idiot, a pompous idiot. I listened to it today and thought, nope. Which was good.

Earlier this week, I also found out that my little talk about creativity--in four metaphors, hashtag fancy--has been posted on YouTube for a month and a half! Well! So it was good to check that out to discover that no, I didn't sound like a pompous idiot there, either. (The evidence is pointing toward a favorable outcome for the ongoing research project entitled 'Am I A Pompous Idiot, Yes or No?')

I got my two workouts in, one first thing in the morning, the second on my way home. Then I rushed home, ate some leftover Mexican food, and hightailed it downtown with the historian for a literary reading, poems by Joel Long and the estimable Lynn Kilpatrick, who arose from her bed of affliction to read a brilliant piece, a crown of prose sonnets related to her ongoing girl who went missing project. Altogether worth it, even though going downtown for a literary reading on a school night means you have to drive home from downtown, and deal with your wrecked, tired self thereafter.

Still:  'The week's nearly over, wouldn't you say?' said the historian.

Well, no, not really. Today when I was driving to work, I had a brief panic over the fact that it was Thursday and tomorrow is Friday, which is Publication Studies day, which is a freaking high wire act every freaking time. But it wasn't Thursday. No, it was Wednesday, all day long, which means that tomorrow--which will be Thursday in fact--is a day on which I can give the Xante print press another whirl, and hopefully hear back from Boxcar Press about the pdf I sent them for their expert eyeballs, and work out twice and get the job done, &c &c and then we all collapse.

THEN it will be Friday, which is the Publication Studies class (high wire act) plus one two three meetings, and THEN it will be the weekend. America! The work week!

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Friday night, we both came home from what had felt like a long week. We took at look at the movies:

Me: Ugh. Freaking Sundance.

So we decided we would go get Indian food and come back home to watch something great on Netflix.

At 8 p.m. I found myself in my chair, with my laptop open on my lap, having fallen asleep for a half hour or so. Sitting there. With my laptop open.

Saturday, I got up dang early because of the freaking assessment (previously thoroughly sworn at). I baked a butterkuchen. I brought sundry snacks and accoutrements. I drove on snowy roads to work. On a Saturday! We normed our sample portfolios. We read. We discussed. I ran out in the middle to pick up our Vietnamese food order. My credit card was declined...

Credit Card Security Department Guy: Yeah, that looked suspicious to us.

Me: (what the!?!?!? WHY?!?!?!)

Credit Card Security Department Guy: Very sorry for the inconvenience.

Me: Oh, not a problem. (JEEEEEEEEZ.)

...and then it was accepted, so I drove back on snowy roads to bring the Vietnamese food in to the hungry assessors.

Colleague: What are you going to see tonight?

Me: The Revenant.

...then movie talk ensued. Then we finished the assessment. At 3 p.m., I carted my assessment kit (not a real thing) out to my car and drove home.

Me: I really want to see The Revenant. 

The Historian: (waits for it:)

Me: ...but maybe not tonight.

So we went and had Mexican food at our favorite strip mall Mexican restaurant (Las Cazuelas! It is so choice!). And came home and hopped between two comedies on basic cable. And went to bed.

Today, I slept until I woke up. By slept until I woke up, I basically mean 'till eight.' I made oatmeal and read the entire New York Times. There was more snow on the ground. It's been a mostly quiet weekend, and that, apparently, is what I needed.

I find this, to be absolutely frank, more than a little alarming.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The chaos. And the glory, sure, but: the chaos.

I'm teaching the Publication Studies class for the first time in three years.

A brief historical overview:

Here is a post from when I first taught it--the very first time the course had been taught ever.

Here is a post (from the second year I taught the course, the very second time the course had ever been taught) when I thought things would be easier because I had already taught the course previously. Which: ha.

Before that, there was a massive delusion of grandeur borne of the 'how hard could that be?' credo of my kind.

Anyway: flash forward to now. In the intervening years, Dr. Write taught the course beautifully, and then The Charlotte taught the course twice. I feel that, collectively, we know a lot more. For instance, the course has, I think, been quite improved by several innovations the intervening instructors introduced, and by greater expertise in InDesign, which I am praying will pass on to me via, like, osmosis. PRAYING, I tell you.

Anyway: today, we undertook a grand design and printing project. In not very long at all, the very first reader in SLCC's very first reading series will be visiting.

Click to enlarge. I tell you,
these events are going to be HUGE.

In my by now signature style, I have grandly planned to do a beautiful broadside, using a photopolymer plate of an InDesign design, to be inked and printed on our honey of an etching press, of one of Tarfia's poems. None of which we have precisely 'done' before, if by done we mean 'ever tried it, even once.' Yep, that's exactly what we mean.

But dammit, what's a Publication Studies class for, if not to try things that we haven't done before but which various credible sounding pages on the internets promise are doable? Nothing, I say. Playing it safe is for suckers.

Today, we began designing this broadside. (Of course I thought we would have an almost finished design by the end of class. Which: ha.) It was one of those times when the time flew--flew!--by. Total absorption. It's the best feeling ever.

Soon we'll meet with the student author of the winning chapbook, and we'll start laying out and designing a book. It's the sixth chapbook in six years. We actually have a fairly tidy track record at this point. Before that, though, even now begins the process of eking out extra hours to finish the work that cannot be contained in mere class time, complicated by the fact that the work needs to be done with and by students. Because learning, you know.

It's a mess, it's magnificent, it's art. We are having, and are going to have, a blast.


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