Friday, May 30, 2008

Hightouchmegastore: The Quarterly Review.

My day's activities, rated on a five point scale.

Sex and the City
, viewed in the afternoon with Dr. Write: ****1/2
My new haircut: *****
Lunch at Big City Soup: *****
Getting the stuff on my "To Do" list done (bills, library books, buying snacks for the road, list-making itself): *****
Returning library books on time, no fines: *****
Loading stuff onto iTunes: **** (one cd caused my cd-rom player to make a terrifying grinding noise)
Syncing my iPod (music collection now measurably more awesome): *****
Bruiser out for some exercise: *****
My packing plan (to be executed in the morning): *****
My outfit (polka dot sweater, yeah!): *****
Cute but also comfortable shoes: *****1/2

Comprehensive review of today: *****!

[Scale: * = abysmal
** = abysmal, and one
*** = level-ish
**** = darn good
***** = stellar]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Frankly, I'm a little upset.

Yesterday, when I went to pick up my car at the tire place, the very nice young man who was checking me out ("You have roadside assistance with these, and you should get them rotated every 3-5 months") said, after I had paid, "So, you going back to work now? Or do you have some grandkids to visit?"

Uh, no, and maybe, but how rude of you to say so, very nice young man, so friendly, polite, and all noticing-my-age-up-in-my-face.

Fine, I look like a grandmother to a twenty year old. I am a grandmother. So be it. Not that it bugs me or anything. Am I vain? Very well, I am vain.

And then, today, after an insomnia episode again last night (unrelated, I'm pretty sure, to the "you look like a grandmother" shivaree), I kind of feel vertiginous. You know, my head's a little spinny. I think I'm due for the rest cure, but not in a place with yellow wallpaper. Maybe a place with lots of water, a museum, and good shopping. Like Seattle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Awesome day: a prototype.

1. Wake up. Get paper. Start reading detective novel before getting dressed. (warm-up)
2. Make breakfast. Check blog. Sadly, no comments. (first things first)
3. Dress. Make list of stuff to do. (ablutions, planning)
4. Pick up car from tire guys. Pick up replacement dog tag. Shop. (errands and new white skirt)
5. Receive e-mail from publisher—realize with a start I have not finished textbook review! Start text book review! (wake up call: red alert!)
6. Make major progress on review. Clean bathroom, do laundry, plant last of plants. Take a nap. Read some more detective novel. (down to work)

Also: ate Thai food, talked to singing son, planned breakfast with make-up artist daughter and darling grandson, planned visit with my mom, chatted several times with college daughter about the paper she is writing, and made flow chart that will not export as image to blog (see above for colorful yet unreadable drawing).

7. Sleep in clean sheets. Read a last bit of detective novel before oblivion. (perfect end, perfectly great day)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tonight, after The Office and Sex and the City (syndication, on TBS), Feeling Minnesota, a movie I never saw, came on. Here's who's in it: Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz--but you already knew that. If you thought very hard, you'd also remember that Vincent D'Onofrio is in it, looking greasy and a little resplendent in a powder-blue tuxedo.

Also, and however, Tuesday Weld, DelRoy Lindo, Dan Aykroyd. Yeah. Dan Aykroyd, and also Courtney Love. I guess it's supposed to be kind of a terrible movie, but I have to say, Keanu looks adorable in his blue plaid shirt and haircut. This is, however, before he's spoken a word. Not that there's anything wrong with the way he speaks words.

Monday, May 26, 2008

If you have a baby, I will bring you food.

This morning I made tomato-basil soup (with optional crumbled gorgonzola embellishment), a salad (with optional lemon dressing, toasted almonds, and chopped dried apricot embellishments); then I cut up a pineapple, and baked two baguettes and two dozen lemon madeleines. All before 10:30 a.m. This was to take over to the historian's son and his wife and their three little girls, one of whom is a twelve-day-old infant, and doing very well, thank you.

This leads me to ponder my history as a person who brought food to people who had babies. In my former life, I used to be in charge of arranging meals, etc., for people who were ill or who were indisposed, which for all practical purposes, since my congregation was filled with young procreating couples, meant bringing food to families with a new baby in the mix. I developed a kind of routine--sometimes I would make a quart of spaghetti sauce, bake a loaf of bread, and bring those two things with some dry pasta to the family. If they didn't want to eat it that night, they could freeze it and eat it another day, perhaps a bad day, when everything went wrong: on such a day, having bread and spaghetti sauce in the freezer could be a little good thing.

I was kind of proud of today's production. Maybe it's a little controlling to make the dressing for someone else's salad, but it was fun to do it. And now, I am prepared to extend this offer to any of my readers: if you have a baby, I will bring you dinner. I will package it in appropriate containers, suitable for freezing. I will bring it to your house in a reusable shopping bag, and you just have to let me hold your baby for a little while. That's fair, right?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sleeping and not sleeping.

Having a little bit of an insomnia wave here, wherein for a variety of reasons I find myself unable to drift into sleep and then have to get up and do whatever. Read, check to see if running son has written, surf the internet pointlessly.

Last night, I think the murder mystery novel I was reading was the tipping point into sleeplessness, as it were. It was a pretty good one--Murder is Academic, a novel I picked up at the Bingham Creek library (the superior West Jordan library) because (a) I liked its cover, (b) it was about academia, and (c) it took place in Great Britain--a slightly fictionalized Cambridge, as it happens.

English teachers everywhere will be happy to know that this mystery turns on an incident of plagiarism. There was a red herring case of student plagiarism, but the fatal act consisted of a professor plagiarizing a student. Talk about your turn of the screw.

Luckily, I was able to finish it and put my mind (or the plot, take your pick) to rest. That meant a slightly cranky day with a nap in it. But it's ended well, as I'm now starting a new Inspector Rebus novel--Ian Rankin, Resurrection Men. I'm in hopes that I will be able to leave it alone for a solid seven hours tonight.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Not paying attention, evidently.

I have lived in West Jordan since 1981. That's when, a few months after singing son was born, his dad and I moved up to the Salt Lake Valley from Utah Valley, to a little house they like to call a starter home out on the edge of the Oquirrhs. So I know a thing or two about the west side of the south side of this valley, but until today, I had never--never!--visited one of the very best plant nurseries here in Utah, Glover's.

We've been planting our asses off hereabouts, what with the giant landscaping project we undertook (and by we, I mean "singing son and his friend, with me telling them where to dig"). We're totally in the spirit of buying stuff and planting it. So, after the highly successful front yard overhaul (FYO), the historian and I ventured forth today with the agenda being

(1) buy some stepping stones, one of the final parts of the the FYO
(2) buy some shade-loving plants for an area in the back yard known as "under the plum tree"

Our first stop was another nursery, where we bought bleeding heart, some little purple pansies I'm calling violets, polemonium, mint, shamrocks, and some ferns for under the plum tree. Also, a big brawny hollyhock plant to supplement the other hollyhocks in the FYO. They had no stepping stones at this nursery, so on we went to Glovers, where cars were parked for a half a mile down the road on both sides of the street in either direction from the nursery. "What the hell," we said to ourselves. Well, it's Memorial Day weekend, so it's time to plant stuff. High time. Apparently everyone in the greater West Jordan area felt moved to get out and buy stuff to plant it.

I could not believe this place. For years, my friends, I have been buying my plants at Fred Meyer's and also Okubo's, which is all well and good, but at Glovers, there were heirloom tomato plants, gorgeous ones, every kind of tree and shrub you could imagine, herbs--how can I impress upon you the magnitude and magnificence of this place? It's ten acres. As in 10. Acres. Of every kind of plant you could possibly dream up. Oh. My. Gosh!

Not that I need any more plants at the moment: we bought heirloom tomatoes and herbs, 300 pounds of stepping stones (Idaho quartzite, oh yeah), and a lovely iron trellis shaped like stalks of pussy willow. But I might go back there for some lily of the valley, which would probably do very well under the plum tree, unless Bruiser tramples it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The evidence.

Singing son and his business partner have been helping me execute my garden plan. I, too, did some work planting herbs and flowers in all the pots, big and little, I've installed in the flower beds. See for yourself:

New flowers and herbs in the pots.

New topiary form, not quite installed yet;
clematis; all the new plantings; new mulch!

Same thing, different angle.

The lavender, rosemary, lavender,
rosemary, etc., border.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Listen while reading.

Gimme Shelter - Patti Smith

I heard this this morning on KRCL while out and about, buying waterwise perennials. Reminded me of how awesome the Stones were once, how awesome Patti Smith still is, how an amazing guitar riff rivets you. And then I came home and we planted the waterwise perennials. In the rain.

By the way, I am loving the new KRCL format. I totally want to keep listening.

If you'd rather watch, watch here:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Today we planted
  • four new rose bushes: Mister Lincoln, a classic red; Falling in Love, a beautiful pink; Elle and Fragrant Cloud, both salmon-colored.
  • four scented geraniums.
  • a dozen lavender plants and ten rosemary plants.
  • ten lemon verbena plants.
  • some ornamental grass.
  • piles of nicotiana--white and pink.
  • some single petaled marigolds.
Tomorrow, we'll plant
  • cosmos.
  • transplanted cornflowers.
  • a couple more roses, probably.
  • hollyhocks.
  • coreopsis.
  • etc.
Maybe sometime soon I'll plant some tomatoes and some basil. It's time, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Too many channels, nothing to watch (part 372).

I think you all know how I like to watch a little sitcom before I fall asleep. Here are the sitcoms that have fallen into that category recently: Frasier, that one with Ted Danson--Becker, That 70s Show, and now Frasier again.

Frasier (a double-header, on Lifetime, which means we get to see the previews for the Lifetime movie events, yes!) ends at 11, with The Golden Girls thereafter. You know? "Thank you for being friend/Traveled down the road and back again,/ Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidante"? And sometimes I end up seeing a bit of a Golden Girls episode, which leads me to make the following observation: those gals sure do like to sit around talking over their coffee in the morning. And to a woman, each of them has a stunning wardrobe of peignoirs.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The meadow: a progress report.

Today, of note is the fact that some volunteer blue flax, aka cornflowers, are blooming in the upper quadrant of the front lawn ("meadow"). Also, a new and tiny little true geranium.

These facts, along with some modest little front gardens I spotted when I was at Eggs in the City recently, have inspired the historian and me to make plans for an actual landscape in the front yard. A meadow-scape, if you will.

The plan may be a little ambitious, but we may be taking it in stages. The first stage involved a curving path made of paving stones, which will demarcate the shady part, which already has thyme galore, as well as little start-up true geraniums and columbine. I plan, therefore, to go with what is already happening, planting more of these plants and also some mint, because all of that stuff loves shade.

Along with the curving path and the enhancement of the shady plant action already happening in that part of the yard, I plan to make 24-inch wide beds around the front of the yard, next to the sidewalk, as well as the driveway. When I say "I plan," I mean "I will pay singing son to do this." In this space I am going to plant an informal hedge of rosemary and lavender (also considering adding some thyme plants with a more hedge-y tendency, as well as possible lemon balm). Fragrant, lovely shaped plants, making a more definitive statement about how this -scape is a plan and not accidental.

This leaves three more portions of the lawn remaining (I'm dividing it four ways). They are sunnier spaces. One we plan to leave as lawn. Another we plan to plant in roses. The last, I plan to plant in a riot of tall, gangly, colorful plants, such as cosmos, coreopsis, bachelor's buttons, and more cornflowers.

This might be too much for the space we have. We'll see. In the meantime, phase one will be an improvement and a joy. I am all stoked about this!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weekend update.

I would like to have the heart to propose a list of awards for the Jazz-Lakers series, in which the Jazz fell, a fall that feels premature, precipitous, disheartening, sorry. For instance, the award for the smuggest coach would go, obviously, to Phil Jackson. The award for the most inexplicable highly paid player series meltdown would go to . . . well, I don't have the heart, frankly. Watching Williams keep his game face on after yet another absurd "foul" was called on him, while Kobe B. shot another excruciatingly elegant free throw? that was awful. Reading the sports page, which I did after telling the historian to keep it away from me? also awful. Contemplating what tinkering the Jazz management might do with the roster--hate to even think about it.

It's not as bad as the years when the Malone/Stockton Jazz went to the Finals. We couldn't talk about basketball for weeks after those losses. But it's still hard. I woke up thinking about it, that's how hard.

Okay--most insufferable player, possibly of all time? Fill in the blank.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Someone else is living the life I should be living.

My oldest friend sent me a link to Marie Claire Maison, and a feature they had about "Maisons de créateurs et stylistes." Apparently, the life I should be living is in point of fact being lived by Giorgio Armani, when he is on vacation at the house he has on a little volcanic island ("une petite île volcanique") approximately midway between Sicily and Tunisia. Here is his "terrasse arabe":

According to the article, "À l'heure du thé à la menthe, on s'installe sur la terrasse arabe, cet espace lumineux et généreux, équipé de grands canapés confortables."

Well! I, too, would like to install myself on the Arabian-style terrace at the hour of mint tea, especially when said terrace is a generous and luminous space. And I'd like to know what unfortunate confluence of fortune and my own lack of Europeanness, not to mention my failure to be a designer or a stylist, led to this problematic end. The very least I can do, it seems to me, is organize my back patio with comfortable furniture and designate a late-afternoon hour as "l'heure du thé à la menthe." In fact, consider it done. Done.

In other news, I found a copy of Lucky Jim at the Bingham Creek Library, which, as it turns out, is far superior to the West Jordan branch I had been patronizing. I might start riding my bike, when I get a bike, to this new location. I pointed out to the historian that it was a little bit uphill to the Bingham Creek library, which may be something I don't "do" anymore on a bike. After further contemplation, however, I noted that a hill on the way to the destination usually signifies riding downhill on the way home. It's important to do this kind of cost/benefit analysis. It's the sign of a well-trained critically-thinking mind, and I'm all about that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

Also, I have filled out Time and Effort Logs for my service as the leader of English 2010.

I know, I know, I shouldn't complain about reporting "0.5 hours e-mailing X, Y, and Z" or "1.5 hours preparing self-teaching artifact," when the return on my time is actual money. But I am nothing if not a complainer. I did briefly think about reporting the hours--hours!--I spent filling out the forms on the form itself, but then thought the better of it. It seemed, somehow, counterproductive if my goal was to get paid for those hours (measured out with coffee spoons). And to get paid was, is, and remains my goal.

But never mind. Once I griped, filled out the forms, and griped some more, I had a great day, including finding charming little cups and saucers at the World Market, having lunch with my darling friend Ann, whom I have known since before either of us was a mother, and visiting the new baby in the hospital again. Also, the weather is divine. Also, there are blue flax growing in our lawn (aka the meadow). Also, the season finale of The Office is just about on. And before long, there will be sizable checks winging their way in a postal fashion to my mailbox. They get their eye-straining accounting of my Time and Efforts; I get some-a their money. I guess that's okay.

Jim and Pam, if you are not engaged before the episode is through, I will be very, very disappointed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brush up on your counting.

One, two, three boys live in Holladay.
Two girls live in Aberdeen.
One boy lives in Canyon Rim, and two girls, and, as of today:

One more girl, Eden Ann, 8 lb. 2 oz., 20.5 in. long. Quite adorable. Mother and baby doing great, father could not be happier or prouder:

(The mother also looked radiant but I think she might not especially appreciate my posting a photo of her in her hospital gown being posted on the World Wide Web.)

There's another baby coming in the fall--singing son's, a boy--which makes (do your math!) ten, yes, TEN grandchildren from our kids. Holy hell.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reason #11275 I am glad to be married to the historian.

When there was a moth the size of a small bird in my study tonight, and after I shrieked like this: "aaahaaahaaah!," he came in, steadily drew his hand close and then closer to where the moth had alighted, then picked it up and put it outside. Where it belongs.

I praise the name of the man, the historian, the moth-catcher, the allayer of fears.

In other news about scary things: I saw that trailer for the super scary scary movie The Strangers again on television (in my house! the nerve of the scary movie purveyors). I muted it and closed my eyes. It didn't look quite as scary, but then, I haven't yet gone to the kitchen to get ibuprofen in the dark, or walked past the windows.

Not scary: I worked for a long time on my new poem today. I decided I wasn't going to rush it into being. I started with some lines, but then decided that rather than write the poem to go with the lines, I was going to try to write around all the elements I thought might have a place in the poem, to see what connections there were that I might not be seeing right off the bat. It was great, because I did find a connection that I didn't have in mind when I started. It was a sustained act of invention, and I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

aka, the day I consider the first of my sabbatical. To celebrate it, I
  • responded to an e-mail from a student I finally gave an E because, after e-mails begging for the final portfolio, I never got one. But now, of course, the student didn't realize how much the final portfolio was worth.
  • published the zine from my creative writing class.
  • submitted the very last of my late grades. Kids, I ain't a-waitin' any more.
  • began a new poem, the genesis of which is that trailer for the super scary scary movie.
  • talked to singing son and his lovely wife.
  • updated all movie reviews.
  • chatted online with my brother.
  • texted college daughter.
  • made a date for tea with one friend and lunch with another.
  • cried intermittently (residue from long conversation last night with running son in Malaysia).
  • talked to the historian midday.
  • went out and touched some merchandise at a couple of stores, but bought nothing.
  • came back and worked on my poem some more.
  • learned a new word: eidolon, which simultaneously means "ideal," "ghost," and "idol."
  • took Bruiser out to run and sniff around.
  • went to hear Regina Carter, whose sextet put on a sublime concert (I might overuse that word, but I am not exaggerating in this case).
  • while listening to Regina Carter's final piece, a gorgeous meditative arrangement of "I'll Be Seeing You," got an idea for a new poem (titled, at least tentatively, "Eidolon").
Perfect day, in other words. I don't want to be greedy, but I'd be glad for every day henceforth to be this good.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day.

I just got off the phone with my son who is in Malaysia, professing his faith to people who want to, or are willing to, listen. All day long I've had conversations of one kind or another with my children, and I hope no one will be too appalled if what I have to say today is this:

I am glad that I am a mother. I am grateful to every single one of my children for the chance I have had to be his or her mother. Each of these children is an incalculable blessing in my life.

Becoming a mother, both initially and over time, has been the single most transformative experience of my life. For me, it was the chance to see the world in a different way--to understand that what I felt for my children in some version or another was what other people felt for their children, and that therefore I had an obligation not to live in the world in such a way that I made the world harder for everyone else.

I know that it's not possible to mitigate everything--the privilege I assume just by being American, white, middle-class. I know that the burden of a single American child on the earth is exponentially larger than a child born almost anywhere else.

Even so, I am grateful for the kind hearts, the enormous talents, the impulse to do good, the thoughtfulness, the intelligence, the wit and the music of all of my children. Today, and every day, I am very glad I am a mother. Thank you, all my children, for letting me practice motherhood with you.

Friday, May 09, 2008

TRAX: more adventures.

Did any of you know that there's actually a published schedule for when the train comes? That is good information for a person who's taken the TRAX two days in a row but who missed a train by this . . . much! and therefore has to wait for the next one, hence making her a little bit late for her engagements.

Yesterday I made Middlebrow wait for almost a half hour (luckily he is a man of good humor); the historian was not quite tapping his toes or looking at his watch (in front of the Broadway), because he is a patient man. I did a bit better today--I was only about ten minutes late, and we didn't miss one minute of the movie (The Visitor, a wonderful film).

I also saw The Forbidden Kingdom by myself today. It was not a great movie but was plenty of fun to watch anyway. Who doesn't love martial arts embedded in a mythic struggle for good to prevail over evil and the world to be put back in balance? No one, that's who.

Speaking of the world back in balance, the Jazz played great tonight; even at just a little before five, at the train station I saw a Korver jersey and a Kirilenko jersey. I also saw some kids flashing Laker colors and a Bryant jersey. Singing son and I feel there should be some penalty associated with this--possibly charging people wearing purple and yellow a little bit more to get into the arena?

More importantly, Craig Bolerjack should be fined when he engages in Laker idolatry: tonight, when Kobe got his own rebound, flying in to put it in the basket--a neat trick, sure--Bolerjack called him "Houdini." Houdini. When Boozer did almost the same thing just a moment later, did Bolerjack call him the name of an iconic magician? He did not. Seriously, he should be punished. Egregious ass-kissing of the opposing team should be subject to fining. Or caning. I'll let KJZZ work out the details with his agent.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Curriculum vitae.

Just for today--it was a day full of accomplishments.

7:15 a.m. Woke with a headache, but forged on.

7:20 a.m. Fetched newspaper.

7:30 a.m. Decided I was too demoralized about last night's Jazz game to read the sports page, or really any part of the newspaper. But I did eat breakfast: plain yogurt with blackberry jam and granola, all homemade (except for the yogurt).

8:00 a.m. Checked blog, e-mail. Unsubscribed to several retailers who send me e-mail. Listened to the new Madonna (and Justin Timberlake) song (also viewed the video) "4 Minutes." College daughter has been nagging me for weeks (weeks!) to watch/listen--and she was right--it's a very catchy song. I also heard it later in the day when I was picking up the Camry of Power from the body shop--still catchy!

9:00 a.m. Showered.

9:20 a.m. Cleaned my study! This involved a large bag of refuse, another large bag of give-away stuff, and a much tidier, more navigable workspace. I vacuumed up lots of dust and dust bunnies. I located the adorable birthday card I bought somewhere (where?) for my grandson's birthday (today--happy birthday, Deacon!). Like Dr. Write, my desk isn't quite clean enough to work on, but it's getting there. And I officially have too many books.

1 p.m. Drove to Trax station and took the train downtown where I met Dr. Middlebrow, Ph.D. at Stoneground. Remarkable because: (a) took the Trax and (b) ate at a restaurant I hadn't visited before. Both very satisfying. I also feel satisfied that I have had my last say about English 2010, which mb will be chairing and ruling with an iron hand/velvet glove approach. At least that's how I imagine it. I took the book I'm currently reading--Writing at the End of the World, by Richard E. Miller--and read an entire essay on the train on the way into town and made a dent in another on my way back home. So productive!

4 p.m. Picked up car from body shop. It was bloodied but unbowed, and now it looks excellent. Shiny. Undented. Newly painted, and no doubt more potent.

Well, possibly tedious to read, but it was a splendid day, in my opinion. Tomorrow I tackle the kitchen and the open filing system that is our dining room table as well as the adjunct cupboards that are the various countertops. Clutter be damned.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jazz game colloquy.

A game of tug-of-war:

Bruiser (with Boy Scout sock between his teeth): [pulling]

The historian, to me: Do you ever play tug-of-war with Bruiser?

Bruiser: [pulling harder]

Me: No. (incredulous)

The historian: He's very strong.

Bruiser: [uses superdog powers of pulling to cause sock-ripping tug-of-war action]

Singing son: Have you ever played chess with Bruiser? He's very astute.

Bruiser: [plots master chess strategy for putting opponent in check mate, using only his teeth]

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A minute to spare . . .

I got my last grade turned in at 11:59 p.m. Ha.

Notes on "last grades":

a. it was really only my last possible grade, since there are students I am still (still!) hounding for last assignments. I can't stand it when they were good students and then something . . . whatever! happens, and there's no portfolio or whatnot. I can't stand it!

b. Microsoft Outlook ate a comment, a lovely, long, thoughtful comment, that I wrote for a student writer because it thought it needed to log off. I have some choice words for Microsoft Outlook, but since my lovely aunt may occasionally read this blog, I will just say: I have some choice words for you, Microsoft Outlook, so you better stay out of my way or else cough up that comment you ate.

c. I must reconstruct the above comment, plus write some more for a few more students. But hey, the grades are in! And they're high!

d. High grades = character flaw on part of teacher? Discuss.

e. All my grading bones and muscles are achy and tight.

Open Letter to End of the Semester Evaluation of Students:

End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, you loom over every interesting, writerly, inventive idea I have to make writing pleasurable or compelling. You and your rheumy eyes, your hacking cough, your irritating standards.

I hate you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students. You make me feel weak. When you are near--and when are you NOT near, E.o.t.S.E.o.S.?--you fill me with self-doubt. You are nothing but a self-fulfilling monologue: "They cannot write. They cannot write. No one will believe that this is writing. Think of what the Others will say when they know that you said this student could write! This student cannot write. None of your students can really write." Really, you could be an endless loop of yourself. You, perhaps more than any other Presence in my professional life, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, conjure up a factory, in which my teaching is just another (sing it with me now) brick in the wall.

End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, why don't you just do all the grading yourself and leave me out of it? The way you go on, it seems like that's what you'd rather, anyway. In any case, I am now officially giving you the cold shoulder. When I think of my students and their writing, I will think of the funny or beautiful things they wrote--intentional or not--and how words always wiggle and do acrobatics, instead of staying under control the way you pretend they do and can, if I had only taught the students how to write rather than how not to write, which is what I apparently do, according to you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students. Well, how about this: I gave a bunch of high grades! So chew on that, old man, Mr. Professor of They Can't Write, Ph.D. No matter what you say, I'm the one pushing the A button to signify all the writing they can or can't do.

And now? The semester is over. I hope you're going somewhere gloomy for vacation, because you really wouldn't enjoy a lovely location, where people don't care about the writing they can't do, just as in the rest of their lives they only worry about their writing maybe eight percent of the time. Unlike me, being loomed over by you.

Stop the looming. I quit you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students: I quit you I quit you I quit you! So stop bothering me.


Professor H.T. Megastore

Monday, May 05, 2008


I am kind of like those kids in the Harry Potter books learning to disapparate, but failing: one part of the body in one place, another part of the body in another place.

Right now, my head, elbows, wrists, spleen, and lower back are still grading.

However, my hands and heart and, I guess, a part of my brain started getting things in order today: I began the process of cleaning out my closet which resulted in a lot of clothes to give away. I would show you a picture, but then I could never show my face amongst civilized people again. All the research I had done (I will leave you to guess in what sorts of sources I did my research) said that organizing one's closet would take a whole day, but no--only a couple of hours. On the other hand, I haven't started on shoes yet.

Also, I researched the bus routes in the hood so I could use my spanking new bus pass this summer and beyond.

Did I go to a movie this afternoon? No. Will I be able to go to a movie in the afternoon this week? Probably not. But for sure next week. A movie in the afternoon is the acid test: am I out of school? Is it summer yet? If I am at the movies in the afternoon, then yes!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Still grading, but also easily distractable.

1. In science news, the BBC News, World Edition, Science/Nature section reports: Study Sheds Light on Spider Sex ("Spiders 'talk' to potential mates using a type of light not visible to the human eye, scientists report"). If you follow the link, there is a video which I am afraid to watch.

2. Has anyone seen the ultra-scary scary trailer to The Strangers? I saw it when the historian and I went to see Baby Mama last weekend at the multiplex. The historian chose that specific moment to go to the restroom, leaving me all alone in a huge auditorium of strangers to be terrified and terrorized by this preview. I would post a link to the actual trailer but I'm a-scared to see even a tiny part of it again. It is seriously freaking me out every time I walk past an uncurtained window in our dark house at night. That's what I get for going to the movies at the multiplex--previews for scary summer movies.

3. Charming and funny conclusion to a student's final portfolio cover letter:
So thank you very much Ms.B and if I have anything to say about your teaching
its that I like how pleasant you are and your sense of humor and how you make students feel when they come to you stressed hoping to dive into a school of sharks...
In conclusion, I think my writing has improved somewhat I don’t think I am that strong a writer but I think I understand more the technicalities of it and I actually enjoyed doing the writing campaign but only a little.
Okay, back to grading.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


is how long it will apparently take me to finish my grading, but that's because there were rubrics to construct, and electronic files to organize, and the state of the universe to consider. Also, keeping track of the playoffs and going to a concert and a movie. And a little shopping. There has been some reading to do, as I am midway through one book and midway through another book. Also, the concert was very, very good, but it made me a little bit tired to stand for as long as we stood at The Depot waiting between the opening act and the Swell Season,

even though the concert got more and more sublime as it went along. By they time they played a cover of "Into the Mystic," it was okay that we had been standing for several hours, but when it was all over and we walked back to our car and sat gladly down, and then got home and realized that our whole bodies were exhausted, it was still okay that we'd stood through a several hour concert plus in-between-the-acts time, but that didn't mean our hips didn't hurt, not to mention our feet. Did I mention the fender bender that happened when a young woman who didn't look pulled right into our car? It happened before the concert when we were trying to find a parking place, and it is just one more reason why I will be grading until doomsday, or Sunday, whichever comes first.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Six-word memoir.

"I want this, I want that."


"I love this, I hate that."

Rosy spin update: not as rosy. Did my students revise anything? Do they know anything more about themselves as writers than they did before we all started this ordeal? Are e-portfolios a tool of the Devil, or merely the handmaidens of Satan?

One more six-word memoir: "I am a terrible, terrible teacher."


"Make the bad bad writing stop."

Or, and lastly,

"Kill me now. I mean it."

(I will flesh these out at some later date. After I've slept for about a week.)


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