Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dazed and confused.

I happen to be at exactly that portion of the semester where my mind has not fully grasped, as it were, my schedule.

My schedule: wily, slippery, shape-shifting.
My mind: a big slow lummox.

My schedule: like one of those spooky disappearing kids on Lost.
My mind: doing one of those super-obvious double takes upon seeing the spooky kid: "Wha--whaaaaa?!?"

My schedule: a frisky weasel.
My mind: a turtle that wants to eat some weasel for dinner, but will never, ever catch up.

Well, tomorrow's Monday. I have a meeting and a meeting, but before the meeting I have to pick up a book from the office, then scan a couple of chapters for a student. And leave it somewhere he can find it. Also, e-mail ten thousand documents to ten thousand people. Also, don't forget about my meeting and my meeting.

Also, teach online.

I hope I can remember all that--it'd be a lot cooler if I did.

tags: ready or not

Friday, August 27, 2010

I ♥ the movies.

Recent conversation:

Me: Maybe we should buy season tickets to the theater.

Historian: We'd get a great discount.

Me: . . . and maybe we could go to a weeknight showing, so we wouldn't miss the movies?

Historian: Sure.

I love the movies so much. Mostly, we go to the movies every Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes, we see two movies in a day. Or sometimes just I do--I'll go to something with one of my kids, then the Historian and I will see another in the evening. A weekend without two movies makes me feel like something is missing. Like maybe a lung or something. I the movies, but I also need the movies.

Another instance: we go to this jazz concert series every year. We buy season tickets. The concerts are on Monday evenings, except this year, the first concert is on a Saturday. SATURDAY. I ask you. That is movie night.

Another recent conversation:

Dr. Write: You should have come to the Red Iguana on Friday night. How come you didn't come?

Me: It was movie night.

Dr. Write: (uncomprehending this explanation, wherein movie automatically trumps dinner at the Red Iguana with a bunch of collegial friends)

Me: . . . (scrambling) and, but, okay, but it was movie night!

In my own defense, it was a work-ish dinner, not quite an obligation . . . but there was Mexican food. And my friends.

Okay, I get it. It's a little sick. I would honestly rather see a movie twice--if it was a movie I liked the first time--than do most other things, when it's movie night. More than going to a play. More than going to a concert. Even if the play or concert is good, and the movie is not all that good.

Some movies I would probably go see rather than going to the theater or a concert:

The Other Guys
The Switch
That new Bruce Willis/Helen Mirren vehicle

Well, there you are. As I like to say to people who don't go to the movies, "The movies are the great popular art of our time!" Which may or may not be true. But I cannot really identify many things that give me more unadulterated pleasure than choosing a seat on the side, settling in with or without popcorn, and, when the lights dim, watching preview after preview until the storytelling in the dark begins.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear first day of the semester,

Thank you for taking it a little easy on me. For instance, thank you for sending willing students in the direction of the literary magazine staff, and thank you for arranging for the literary magazine class to be my first and only class today.

Thanks also for allowing me to have good conversations with multiple cherished colleagues. And I appreciate the fact that I was able to help several students find their classes, or the art department office, and to advise them informally on classes they might take to fulfill their, y'know, generals. As the kids like to say. It made me feel useful, and kind, just as I like to feel when I am at my place of employ, and elsewhere--everywhere, really. Today was a good example of that.

And thanks, dear first day of the semester, for helping me see that it would be a good idea for my son to drop me off and pick me up at the curb by my building, so he could use my car in the interim. I might have fretted, but this arrangement meant that I did not have to park on a very very busy parking day. And that meant I could wear my tall shoes, and not whine about it. Much.

I think it would be awesome, first day, if you would share your techniques for staging my day with the rest of the days of the semester. Show them how it's possible to have just one thing at a time happen, instead of an onslaught of crazy. And show them how, when just one thing at a time is happening, even a little bad news or unsettling vibrations are less like a crisis and more like a topic of conversation. Crises are bad, first day, I think we can all agree on this, unless we are revolutionaries, and then crises are opportunities. I get that. But I am not ready for such an opportunity, not yet. Not when the afternoon sun bestowing itself upon me while I waited at the curb is still hot. A hot with an autumnal tinge, but still: hot. Let's have the revolution in, like, October. And maybe we won't need one at all, not if we just take one thing at a time, and have a conversation while wearing cute shoes.

That is all I ask.

Sincerely,

htms

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Whither the moth.

On Sunday, when my daughter was peering into one of my many, many shoe boxes--filled with one of my many, many pairs of shoes, thanks for asking--out flew a moth. A big one. I would have taken a picture except I was too busy screaming and hyperventilating and screaming.

"Oh my word," my daughter said. "Do you see that?"

As it batted its enormous wings, filling the air with a wing-batting sound kind of like when a helicopter lands right next to your ear, I cried to the Historian, who was watching television in the next room: "Honey," I said, except softly and sweetly but with a slightly scream-y edge of panic, "HONEY, there's a MOTH IN MY STUDY."

The faint and melodic sounds of the television show danced in the air. "What's that?" he said.

"A MOTH. Can you come rescue it?" Before I kill it with my shoes, I might have added, although anyone present would have seen that as the idle threat it was--no way would I touch that moth with my shoe. That moth was like the Goliath of moths. It was pretty, I could see that, in an abstract way--white with black markings and maybe some red? Pretty and scary and possibly lethal and definitely repugnant. Like, a guerilla moth. A mercenary soldier moth. Perhaps an assassin moth? I am no entomologist, but I am pretty sure that's a thing.

Later that evening--this, after the Savior of all Wing├Ęd Creatures (and also All Arachnids, and also me) had retrieved the moth in his hand (!!!!) and released it into the wild, where surely it would have more opportunity not to eat my clothes or shoes or lay eggs someplace unpleasant--the Historian said, "Why--I'm not trying to challenge you here, just asking--why are people afraid of moths but not of butterflies?"

A brief interlude upon the butterfly:

The butterfly, which wends and wafts its way upon the wind OUTSIDE where flying things belong: the butterfly, which alights on flowers and grasses OUTSIDE and perhaps migrates from Mexico and back again, all the while OUTSIDE: the butterfly, which flies and is not made of butter but nonetheless stays OUTSIDE.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled Moth Story:

"I think it's because moths come inside. And butterflies don't," I said.

"Ah," said the Historian.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The summer, whoa.

Well, the summer is just about done for, and with it all spontaneity and joy. Am I wrong? The people, am I wrong?

Okay, possibly exaggerating. I am probably going to take up a side career as a professional whiner-for-hire--if you need any whinging done, you know who to call! I am, as usual, flagellating myself for all the things I did not do that I meant to do, planned to do, might still do in the 32 hours I have left before the Official School Meetings begin.

What to do in the meanwhile? spend quality time with my laptop and produce a meaningful syllabus update? prepare a core list of classical rhetorical devices, and while I'm at it, a key to useful editorial markings? write a manifesto? rearrange my books and give my belongings to the poor? bake a cake? reacquaint myself with my abdominal muscles? draft documents for various and sundry? edit two little videos? add more to my new video project "seethe"?

Or what.

Rather than prioritize this list, I believe I will finish an intermittently interesting novel set in Rome, with police and carabinieri and whatnot. And also take Bruiser for a late night walk. And possibly eat one more cookie.

The end.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Slow morning: a meditation.

Who wakes up in the morning raring to go, greeting the day with verve and snap? Not me, that's who. Not.

No, I am the person who stays up till all hours with verve and snap. Which means that when morning rolls around, I crack an eye and tell it to go to hell, I need a little more sleep.

There was a time when I woke up to swim each morning. Verve, snap, swimming suit, which sounds so improbable I wonder if I am making it up. But no, I'm pretty sure I threw myself in the swimming pool at the Kearns Rec Center and swam a mile most mornings.

Evidently, I can, for a compelling reason, reset and wake up, etc. Swimming is good because you don't have to say anything--your face is in the water. It's kind of like sleeping, in that very little is required of you in the way of social interaction.

Where are the lap swims of yesteryear?

Now, I get up--later--and dawdle over the paper, the internet, breakfast. Then I take the dog for a walk. Then I get a shower and it's, whoa, ten a.m. Ready to greet the day!

I would like the rest of the productive world to align itself with my protracted interim period--that buffer between stumbling out of bed and being ready to roll. Or, if not align, at least allow: I get a lot done in this world, the people. I just don't get it done early.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brioche, a love story.

Isn't it a pretty word, brioche? Frankly, I find the names of all French pastries lovely, although I do not think that I am alone in this regard. My darling readers, mes petits vacherins. Or whatever. But brioche! with its darling little topknot. Its pans with baroque flutings. Its wash of egg and its many eggs, its butter, &c. Right, rich bread, you get the picture.

Once upon a time, I bought a brioche mold--just one--at Williams-Sonoma, for a far off day when I might get myself and my eggs and butter together to make this Richie McRich of breads, this extravagant dough, this homage to my longing for Frenchness. (Right, rich bread with extra rich on the side, &c.)

The day did arrive, and I did get it together, and I made the dough, lovingly, paying careful attention to the details of the recipe as if it weren't just bread which I have made a thousand times, but not with such a profligacy of ingredients, such a festival of fat! To be baked in a darling pan, but still--just dough.

I set the blessed dough to rise, and rise it did. I deflated it, and put it in its buttered tin to proof. Flour, milk, butter, eggs and more eggs, some sugar--that dough was about as gorgeous as it's possible for dough to be. I left the kitchen for the yeast to do its magic.

And upon my return, was there a fully proofed pan of brioche ready to go into the oven? And would there be brioche that day? There was not, and there would not. Instead there was a slightly gassy dog. That's right: the dog that ate my brioche.

(These are tearstained words, even at this remove: "The dog ate my brioche." Obviously, I could have made brioche again, but once I'd broken that many eggs and lost the dough to my dog, my faith in the whole process was a little bit damaged, to be absolutely honest. I just didn't have the heart.)

However, at the farmer's market this Saturday, our favorite baker had brioche. Not baked in a fluted pan--baked in a regular old loaf, all the better to slice it for toast or even French toast. French! It is lovely, and it is French, and yet it was baked in Logan, Utah. Is that exotic or what.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The beginning of the week versus the end of the week: SMACKDOWN.

In this corner, the beginning of the week:
  • Monday, wherein I spent most of the day at work observing presentations by candidates for a position in my department. I also bought nail polish on the way home.
  • Tuesday, wherein I showed up downtown for a gubernatorial candidate's education summit, to represent for faculty and higher ed. I also had tea with my friend and drove up to Park City with two kids and two grandkids to hang with my sisters and my mom and dad. And also got in the pool with the kids and grandkids, &c. Good times.
  • Wednesday, wherein I was at work at e**** a.m. (that's a swear word, right?) for a meeting, then another meeting, then another meeting, then another meeting. Then, I saw Step Up 3-D, which is pretty much everything a dance movie should be, including dancing in the streets to a Fred Astaire song, I am not joking. And then fell asleep on the bed for an unexpected and inconvenient evening nap. And also we took Bruiser for a walk at quarter to o** in the morning (sorry for the cursing--it's really not my style). (just kidding--I swear like it is my job. Or my hobby, anyway.)
In the opposite corner, the end of the week:
  • Today, Thursday, wherein I got to stay home, drink tea, take Bruiser for a morning walk, and then read poetry submissions from the endless pile of poetry submissions, and also write comments on them. Also, the UPS guy came with a cute sweater. Also, I finished the jam. Also, I had a cute outfit that pretty much was only for myself. And in the evening, we rode our bikes to pick up ice.
  • Tomorrow, wherein it is Friday, and ergo there will be a movie and dinner, but I am getting ahead of myself: there will be writing group and I have a poem for it, plus it's at my house so: vacuum, bathroom cleaning, cooking (apricot tart, lovely salad, assorted other stuff). And I will by Grabthar's hammer send those poems I am judging (POEMS: I am JUDGING YOU.) back to their rightful owner!
  • Saturday, wherein there is farmer's marketing! and all that that implies.
I kind of thought the end of the week would be a slam dunk for the winner in the smackdown, but each day had its goodness, didn't it? And personally, may I say that one of the more enlightening portions of the week was the wee hours of the morning dog walk: the world is quite a bit darker, so it seemed to me, at one a.m. More stumbling, for one thing. So that was a useful experience.

And now I am off to resume poetry judgment. I always wanted to be a judge, but I kind of wanted it to be that kind of judging where I wore a robe and dispensed justice. This is kind of letdown, if you want to know the truth.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Here and there.

When I was in Idaho, I spent some time rather virtuously preparing for my return home. I wanted to
  • clean out my refrigerator, replace its burnt out light bulb, wash out everything
  • wash the fronts of my cupboards
  • buy a new mop
  • other assorted Cleanliness Brigade activities.
None of which I have done. Instead I have
  • nagged my son to do his laundry already
  • spent some time on the internets
  • pondered how much stuff there is to do and how very few days I have to do it in
  • hmm, what have I done?
  • seen three movies.
But tomorrow, I am going to make apricot jam. JAM. I bought the apricots today, oh boy, and tomorrow the Jammery begins. There may also be cherry preserves, who can say? Because they were still selling cherries today at the farmer's market.

Also, today I began reading the entries to a literary contest. [Insert gnashing of teeth.] I didn't so much agree to do this as fail to say no, and then whoops! There's a box of literary entries on my porch! With judging sheets attached to each and every poem! And horizontal lines for me to write comments! Come to think of it, it's kind of like GRADING. Gosh. And there are approximately 115 poems. I read nine of them and wrote supportive comments and then I had to take a break. So in and around the jam making tomorrow, I think there may be some judging. Judge not that you be not judged--is that what I hear you telling me? Then don't send 115 poems to me in a box with judging sheets--that's just asking for it.

TAGS: jam, judging, Biblical injunctions

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wednesday.

I forgot the cord that connects my camera to my computer, so I cannot provide you with pictures, but I can say this:

Nectarines are my favorite fruit. Now that the cherries are pretty much gone.

Last year, we bought some exquisite nectarines from this guy at a booth at the farmer's market. They happened to be white nectarines and they were pretty much perfect--ripe, of course, which also means fragrant and let us not forget beautiful. So the next week, we stopped by his booth and asked after the white nectarines. Sadly, there were no more.
The Historian (with gentle humor): . . . so, these are your ordinary nectarines, then.
Fruit Guy (a little hot under the collar): There's nothing ordinary about these nectarines!
Calm down, Fruit Guy, we totally agree. Kidding!

Even though our Fruit Guy is a little touchy, he really does have pretty extraordinary fruit, and apparently also has every fruit tree known to man. Last week he had Transparent apples, which might be one of the prettiest apples in the whole wide world. Extra extra tart, just so you know. They are an early apple, one of the earliest. They would make beautiful pies.

But I am not ready for apples yet, so we bought extraordinary nectarines, three of which I brought with me here to Idaho. I just ate one standing over the sink because of the juicy. The flesh was almost velvety. The nectarine as a fruit is just one big WOW. But only if you get them--this goes without saying--when they are absolutely perfectly ripe.

Historical footnote about the nectarine. And me.: When I was a young wife and mother, nectarines were the very first fruit I learned to bottle. My friend and I bought a bunch. She showed me how to put them into boiling water briefly so as to slip their skins off. Evidently, we did this for the exact right amount of time, because even when we slipped the skins off, the flesh retained a blush. Those were some gorgeous nectarines in a bottle.

Today is my last full day in Idaho. Also, and perhaps not coincidentally, my last nectarine.

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