Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear October,

Here you are already: I can feel you in the air and in the light and in the very taste of your name, the plosive consonants, in my mouth. Tonight we ate our dinner outside--while I was finishing in the kitchen, I could see the children playing on the grass, the sun sifting aslant through the leaves, but by the time we were outside, our plates in our laps, the light was dimming. Still light, but dimming.

You may be my favorite month of the year. I love the riot of flowers in May and June. And I love April, too, warmer and brighter. But I love the way less and less light makes the light more piercing. I love the way that the fading of flowers gives way to the brilliant, dying leaves. I love color and I love it the most in its last hurrah. I love the last fruit of the summer. I love the cool of morning and evening.

I have often thought of fall as the time when poems slip by me, practically in the air. I have nursed a little sulk about Halloween now for so many years, I almost forget why, but right now I think that these poems might be, in fact, little spirits that I should pay attention to. I was thinking about a poem I read awhile ago. (I used a little bit of it in my header.) It starts like this:
I heard a little cough
in the room, and turned
but no one was there

except the flowers
Sarah bought me
and my death’s head

glow in the dark key chain
that lights up and moans
when I press the button

on top of its skull
and the ghost
I shyly name Aglow.

Are you there Aglow
I said in my mind,
reader, exactly the way

you just heard it
in yours about four
poem time units ago

unless you have already
put down the paper directly
after the mention

of poetry or ghosts.

This poem makes me wonder: instead of being so resolute about hating Halloween, what if, maybe, this year I invoked it?  What if I just asked, are you there? and hoped to hear a thin voice answering me?

To this end, October, I am declaring this the month of open letters: my responses to those ghosts that seem to breathe past me, early and late.

I hope you like them.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

At the movies.

I spy my friend KS in the cconcessions line. We greet, she introduces me to her friend, I re-introduce her to the historian. We are going to see the same movie.

KS: Did you go see [eminent poet, who gave a reading this past week. On a weeknight.]

Me: I didn't.

KS: Oh!

Me: (interrupting--I don't want her to be embarrassed because she asked me this question:) I've heard [Eminent Poet] read before.

KS: ...and if you've heard him once, you don't need to hear him

Me: (interrupting again...this might be a bad habit. Look into it..) No! I love [Eminent Poet]! I love his work, and he's a great reader. But I'm not going to give up ... [shall I admit this? --forging ahead:] my television shows to go ...

KS: [laughs] Right. And you have to watch them when they're on.

Me: That's right. I'm old like that. I want to watch them when they're on.

KS: ...right--

Me: It's like it's my reward for getting through the day. Poetry almost never does that for me.

[by now at least two people in the line have looked at me with what I imagine are disapproving glances.]

Me:  ...and I'm a poet. [pause] It's not good.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Who's getting married tomorrow?

It's Dustin.

And what's the best night-before activity?
Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Bruiser is one of the bachelors. Obviously.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Method of Modern Love.

Walking down the street, plugged into my iPod, Hall & Oates:

Me: [singing, and none too quietly ♩♪ ♪♫  M-E-T-H-O . . .
Guy, working in his yard, deadheading dandelions. Looks up.

Me: [                   ] [walking on, looking neither right nor left]

Guy, looks back down at his dandelions. Keeps snapping off their nimbusy heads.

Me: [fifteen, twenty yards away, not looking back] . . . -O-F-L-O-V-E, 
It's a method of modern love.  ♩♪ ♪♫

--because singing blue-eyed soul in the streets is the Constitutional right of every American.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I am

I am a collector of textile goods, a trailer of fingers through pots of herbs, a soup aspirationalist. A dog hurrier. An available-ist. A plotter of baroque revenges. A breakfast eater, a sleep wrangler. A book misplacer.  A closet stuffer and a crossword incompletist. A shrimp-hog, arugula hound, fig hoarder, peach eater. A handbag dissatisfactionist. A pancake and cookie particularist, a stipulator of pie crusts, a magazinist and a syntax smatterer. A movie proficient, television-watching adept, savant of screens. Ceaseless mother, wayward writer, variable teacher. A chaos artist. A foot-pain stylist. A quipper, a miserable-ist and joyseeker.  I am a late lemonader, an every-square-incher. I am a photographer of skies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A few things.

From Verlyn Klinkenborg's "The Trouble with Intentions in Writing," from the Times today:

Become a connoisseur of ambiguity. Sentences are wily and multifarious, secretive, mischievous. Language is inherently playful, eager to make nonsense and no-sense if it gets out of order. Inexperienced writers tend to trust that sentences will generally turn out all right — or all right enough. Experienced writers know that every good sentence is retrieved by will from the forces of chaos.

From Don Delillo, Cosmopolis:

It was shallow thinking to maintain that numbers and charts were the cold compression of unruly human energies, every sort of yearning and midnight sweat reduced to lucid units in the financial markets. In fact data itself was soulful and glowing, a dynamic aspect of the life process. This was the eloquence of alphabets and numeric systems, now fully realized in electronic form, in the zero-oneness of the world, the digital imperative that defined every breath of the planet's living billions. Here was the heave of the biosphere. Our bodies and oceans were here, knowable and whole.
 From Ann Berthoff, "Learning the Uses of Chaos":

Learning to write means learning to tolerate ambiguity, to learn that the making of meaning is a dialectical process determined by perspective and context. Meanings change as we think about them; statements and events, significances and interpretations can mean different things to different people at different times.  

From Bruce Beasley's "Having Read the Holy Spirit's Wikipedia," in Theophobia:

Glossolalic and disincarnate, interfere
in me, interleave me
and leave me through my breathing: like some third

person conjugation I've rewhispered
in a language I keep trying to learn, a tongue
made only of verbs, and all its verbs irregular.

Monday, September 24, 2012

In the middle of the night.

This morning, I got up at 4:20 a.m. to take my daughter, who was home for a quick trip to be a part of a wedding, to the airport.

The horror!
I know.

What made it worse was a new phenomenon in my sleep world: the "I can't fall asleep because I have to get up so early" dance. It is an absurdity. I know that if I don't sleep, I will be wrecked from lack of sleep. I know it. And that makes it, somehow, harder to fall asleep. Also: what if I sleep through my alarm? And what if I have failed to set my alarm? My daughter will miss her flight! And there will be a disaster! Many disasters! Who can sleep with so many disasters, and all so imminent?

Perhaps yesterday, some of you read this in the Review section of the Times. "Rethinking Sleep."  (Oh, for sure. I'm rethinking it right now.)

One of the most interesting things in the article was the fact that a history professor began to research "the history of the night" (poem idea--get on that!), and found many references in historic and literary texts to what was called "the first sleep" and the "second sleep"--with a period of wakefulness in between the two sleeps which occurred around midnight and lasted for a couple of hours. Apparently this period was regarded as the best time for contemplation and deep thought, as well as for sex.
Most of us, however, do not treat middle-of-the-night awakenings as a sign of a normal, functioning brain. 

Doctors who peddle sleep aid products and call for more sleep may unintentionally reinforce the idea that there is something wrong or off-kilter about interrupted sleep cycles. Sleep anxiety is a common result: we know we should be getting a good night’s rest but imagine we are doing something wrong if we awaken in the middle of the night. Related worries turn many of us into insomniacs and incite many to reach for sleeping pills or sleep aids, which reinforces a cycle that the Harvard psychologist Daniel M. Wegner has called “the ironic processes of mental control.”
Also, a psychiatrist at NIMH did a sleep study in which he deprived his subjects of artificial light at night. At first they slept soundly, but not too long into the study, the subjects began to wake up for a little while--a couple of hours--then go back to sleep:
It seemed that, given a chance to be free of modern life, the body would naturally settle into a split sleep schedule. Subjects grew to like experiencing nighttime in a new way. Once they broke their conception of what form sleep should come in, they looked forward to the time in the middle of the night as a chance for deep thinking of all kinds, whether in the form of self-reflection, getting a jump on the next day or amorous activity.
I will pause, so that you may reflect.

In any case, I am now off to bed. My eyes are hot and I feel dangerously close to losing it, over nothing at all, or not much. If my sleep is seamless, bully! And if it is segmented, I will be thinking deep thoughts. I'm sure you'll be able to feel me thinking them, way over across town, where you're awake, thinking some deep thoughts of your own.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Today, I read this:

It reminded me of when the film came out long, long ago. I remember it like it was yesterday, because that was when I came to know of the perfidy of film critics.

You may or may not remember that Michael Cimino, the director of Heaven's Gate, was also the director of The Deer Hunter, critics' darling and winner of Academy Awards. But critics hated Heaven's Gate. And their hatred extended into retrospect. A critic in Newsweek noted that the failure of Heaven's Gate cast doubt on the quality of The Deer Hunter, which seemed to me almost breathtaking in its cheek and also its nonsense.

While I'm knocking film critics, let me say that I find it unbelievably annoying when a film critic in a national magazine, or website, or wherever they publish film reviews nowadays, gets plot details wrong. If I can remember the details, enough to know that the reviewer got them wrong, then they should be able to remember them, am I right?

I haven't seen Heaven's Gate. So don't take my word for anything. But it pleased me endlessly to see this article, to think that the film would get a second chance and a reconsideration. What would please me more would be if that Newseek critic would apologize for his sheer effrontery, from long long ago. In fact, I would like there to be a ceremony for this kind of retraction. It could be an annual event, and there could be an official board to review the proposed occasions for this kind of egregious malpractice of the critical arts. It would right wrongs, redress grievances, and restore balance to The Force.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Today, we came home from the farmer's market with our bounty: Asian pears from the Asian pear guy; peppers, purple potatoes, brioche, broccoli, basil; a big bag of arugula; and more grapes.

"What are you going to do with your day?" the historian wanted to know.

"I need to do a little bit of grading, and maybe a little bit of writing, and some cleaning and straightening," I said with grand optimism.

The cleaning and straightening was an idea that came to me--sort of a fall cleaning thing, because summer with its windows open and in-and-out all day and night is coming to a close. This week has been so full of things--two grandsons' birthdays, the onset of full meeting mode at work, troubles with the LMS for teaching, evening outings...I felt I had lost a little part of my brain and, on Thursday night, forgot something kind of enormous. I had been looking forward to the weekend so that I could collect a little bit of my collectedness. A meager portion of that to begin with, frankly--I can't stand to lose much of it.

Pretty quickly, I got busy putting away summer clothes and shoes, setting aside a few things to give away, getting out fall clothes and shoes and sweeping a good amount of summer dust. I put away a bunch of things and that felt great. While I was going through the vast troves of apparel and footwear, I found my red suede ankle boots, which seemed both fortunate and propitious--both lucky and also a different kind of lucky--and I wore them tonight when we went out to see The Master.

I also started to organize stuff on the hard drive of my iMac. Things were a little out of control there, especially the amount of music and photo files. I spent part of the afternoon in the thicket of Mac forums, trying to find out where in the hell Mountain Lion puts my actual photo files. Apple! Why are you so bossy! I ran across the letter my youngest son had written to his grandfather--my dad--explaining his college plans. It was so elegant and mature sounding, and not really meant for me to read, which made it an extra pleasure.

This afternoon, after I had set aside my labors, I got an e-mail from my dad:

Found the attached pic while rummaging through some thumb drives.  A little photo shopping and it turned out quite nicely.  Your Grandmother, Mother and three aunts are in this photo.  I hope you will treasure it.

My mom looks so young there, smiling and leaning forward. I think I have a picture of myself at that same age, when I was the young mother of a girl with a brand new trike.

I would get organized, but what about the rummaging? and how perfect it is to find the stuff you forgot you have?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Award night!

 Tonight the Utah State Historical Society held its annual awards program as part of its annual conference. We went to the Post Theater for the program, where the historian and his colleague received the Frances Armstrong Madsen award for the best book of the year. It was swell.

He is The Man.

More here, here, and here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To my LMS:

Dear my LMS*,

Okay, so back in mid August, when it had been months since I last used you, and I was, it must be acknowledged, a little rusty, I thought, this is not my LMS's fault that things seemed clunky and unfamiliar. And clunky. And creaky and possibly a little cantankerous. I thought,  it is projection, since I myself felt clunky and creaky and cantankerous, and also, paradoxically, a little unfamiliar. To myself. I was all, now how do I do this, again? And then creaked and clunked and cantankered around until I mostly figured things out--things that I had once successfully done before, I must point out.

But, my LMS, right now you are making me look bad. How many times can I say to my students oh that Canvas! What a card, what a cut-up, what a rascal! I am here to tell you, my LMS, that I have said it more times than I want to, and now, it's making me mad.

I imagine my students secretly rolling their eyes, saying, riiiiigghhhhhtt, it's *Canvas*. With scare quotes. And they are all secretly thinking in back of the eyes rolling, she doesn't know what she's doing.

I don't think I have to say it, but I'm going to anyway: you can see I'm not happy.

My LMS: you're busting my chops here.

Get it together,


*for the non-online-teachers among my readers, "LMS" is "Learning Management System," an Orwellian construction if ever there were one, and "Canvas" is the system's LMS.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New music day!

Today, a bunch of new recordings came out. For instance, Ben Folds Five's album The Sound of the Life of the Mind a reunion album coming about twelve years after the band split up in 2000. Slate had a piece about the recording (in the series called "Where to Start with..."). I frankly disagree with the writer--she thinks Folds writes solely from his own life, whereas I think he writes in the tradition of Robert Browning in the dramatic monologue. However, pay no attention to any of that. I am hoping for awesome piano chops and superb pop melodies, which I believe is eminently possible.

Also, Brad Mehldau has a recording of covers, Where do you start? I have pretty much never heard a Mehldau track that I didn't love or at least respect. So I am really looking forward to this. On Saturday, I listened to a recording from 2010, Highway Rider, while I was driving to and from the mall, and it was so beautiful. Bonus: it has Joshua Redman. And there is another recording from earlier in the year, Ode, that I also need to acquire. There's a lot of Mehldau to listen to right now.

Rickie Lee Jones, one of my all-time favorites, released a new recording today, also an album of covers, called The Devil You Know Who loves cover albums? I know I do. And there are a lot of good songs on here--"Reason to Believe," "Sympathy for the Devil," and "Only Love Can Break Your Heart."

Also: new Killers, and Band of Horses, and Grizzly Bear, and there's also the new Dylan and the new Springsteen (read this). I've got some listening to do.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last night I dreamed that Mitt Romney was in my writing group.

This election needs to happen, and quickly.

In other news, my writing group is meeting tomorrow, at my house, which means a tart is in the offing, and also ratatouille.

Also, I wrote a draft of a new poem today.

Also, I got my necklace fixed, one with a super fragile chain. "Be careful, please," the jeweler told me after he (a) fixed my necklace and (b) gave me a reduced rate because he has fixed it so often. I did, however, feel slightly chastised. I should just buy a new chain, but I love this one because it is so delicate, which is a synonym for "fragile," which is a synonym for "breaks often." But I will be careful, whatever that may mean. I thought I was being careful.

Tonight we saw Cosmopolis, a David Cronenberg adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel of the same title. I was fascinated by this movie and the novel, but your mileage may vary. I was not sorry I saw it, not in the least.

I am currently reading this about Obama and Clinton. And also this, which is pretty dang interesting.

Tomorrow I will get up and make pie crust. And then I will add more stuff to my poem. In the new and improved version, I hope to use the literal translation of a Japanese song, "Sakura Sakura," that my nephew did for me. Thank you, my nephew!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Out at night.

Tonight, I had the chance, with a group of people from my work, to hear Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei speak.

Here was my internal analysis as I prepared myself to go:

And then, we went. But not before I tried on a dress and two skirts and one top and another outfit and concluded that I am giving away all my non-stretchy clothing. And tried on one pair of shoes and another pair of shoes and swore I would never again wear shoes that don't make my feet feel like they're walking on a field of grass made of clouds and marshmallows.

And then, we went. But not before we talked about work all the way downtown, on the freeway, in a car, and swore we would never do it again, which we will, of course, because that's just how it is. We work at the same place. Workers gotta talk about work.

And then, we were there. So, wearing our lovely clothing on our lovely selves, we elevated to the foyer and then the ballroom and found our friends, and sat down at a table and ate a better-than-passable dinner, and listened to a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate speak about cultural understanding and always siding with the people, and his experience doing the simple job of trying to find out the truth about nuclear weapons programs, and it was totally worth it. Totally. A great evening.

So what, you ask, are the lessons of tonight?

1. Don't be such a whiner.
2. Get rid of all your non-stretchy clothing.
3. Stop wearing hurty shoes.
4. Go to the lecture--you won't be sorry.

The end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little bit late, a little bit of chocolate cake.

I had a short but substantial list of things to accomplish today, most of which I was not able to cross off. I blame it on the fact that I did not give myself the fifteen minute head start I planned. Instead, when my alarm/phone went off at 6:45--a.m.--I slept for thirteen more minutes, arising at 6:58. A.M., the people.

(let me pause to note: I know some of you are "morning people." So just try to empathize. Use your negative capability.)

This just meant that I was a few minutes late for everything, it seemed. And the time I thought I'd be able to steal--a minute here, a minute there--added up to nothing worth noting. I did not grade the one thing. I did not grade that other thing.

I did, however, move my thoughts in the direction of the list. I added notes. I got near to those tasks. I sized up their dimensions. My thinking about them now has more of a sense of mass. It was naive of me ever to have thought that a fifteen minute head start would make one bit of difference. It's probably good that I got that extra thirteen minutes of sleep--who knows what state I'd be in now, with such a monumental list full of epic tasks, yet undone?

There was birthday cake in the department office. I felt it was a small consolation for the scope of the work which still lay ahead of me.

All of these tasks--I'm planning to execute them from seven a.m. until one p.m. tomorrow. Grade this, grade that. Actually make the little video I plotted out. Prepare for class. It'll be a cinch. Piece of cake. I plan to get up just a little early, to get a jump on the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It's the time of year when the temperatures begin to come down into the realm of the tolerable. This means that one can sit out on the terrace at work, where the students sit, plugged into their iPods, looking at their textbooks or waiting for their friends. It's where some of them sit to talk, think, and smoke.

After all these years of anti-tobacco indoctrination, no one looks at this as a harmless pastime. I grew up Mormon, and I never smoked. When some of my sons' friends have taken up smoking in their young adulthood, I have pestered them about it like any good mother would. Once, a good friend who smoked most of his adult life was standing outside my building at work, talking to a mutual acquaintance, holding his lit cigarette in one hand, his arm extended down and away from his body.

"When're you going to quit that filthy habit?" I said, cheerfully, though it was clear he was taken aback. (I apologized.)

But I confess, there are times when the smell of tobacco smoke makes me nostalgic.  I grew up in an era when smoking was common in advertising and on television and in the movies. I remember, during my avid television watching during the 60s and 70s, seeing Dean Martin smoking on his variety show, and Bewitched's husbands (Darrens 1 and 2) and his/their boss smoking furiously. And my dad was an Air Force man. We lived on Air Force bases, on and off, until I was just about twelve. I remember summer afternoons, people sitting out on their steps talking, my friends' dads and moms smoking. And my Southern granddaddy was a smoker. As I remember him, he smoked slowly and meditatively.

So today, I'm sitting there on the terrace, talking to a couple of friends over lunch. They're talking about books and film scripts, and I'm chiming in. Next table over, a group of young men, almost all of them smoking. The sky is a little bit overcast, but it's light, it's noon. The smoke is visible and I catch its drift here and there, not enough to be oppressive, just that scent, that burning. It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of summer and warm afternoons, and it reminds me of Georgia, my mother's father, red dirt, rain every day and the humid, green fields. It reminds of my friends, those from long ago and those now, friends for whom smoke is or was a ghostly familiar, a companion, an intimate poison.

  from Smoke, dir. Wayne Wang
This is Made by Hand, The Cigar Shop

Etta James, ladies and gentlemen.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Long form avoidance behavior.

A few things I've been reading lately:

they are awesome.

On the Williams sisters: this and this. I only just read the Times Sunday Magazine piece today; found the Kottke comment tonight. I liked the Times piece more than he did--it felt, to me, poetic.

On David Foster Wallace: this, this and this.  I ran into the review of the new D.T. Max biography of Wallace on Slate, and the other two links were in that review.

This is where I went to college. Or BYU, I forget.
I also listened to this, then ran into this (also via Kottke). After awhile, you run into enough of this stuff, and stop panicking, either because it's kind of fascinating, or because you've become numb, or maybe both.

Also this, which I'm sure you've already seen, plus this excellent comment from a local blogger, which you might not have seen. Loved both. Trying to come up with a cogent way to thread this into my online class. 

It goes without saying that I listened to and read most of the above instead of doing other, more worthy stuff. Obviously. So factor that in, however you do your factoring.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Moving day.

Today my brother, his wife, and my nephew were in town to help move their daughter and sister, my niece. We helped--the historian, two of my sons, and me--and spent the day with them. In the evening, a bunch of us had dinner at Mi Ranchito. 

The owl-esque figure atop the restaurant

Will and Van on their way home

Faye, Sally, Deacon, Diane

Sophie & Deacon



Bruiser, chillin.

Friday, September 07, 2012


Yesterday, I posted this:

Today, I have been thinking about memory, about how posting (almost) every day (so far) in the year 2012 has had the effect of fixing little points--constellations--of memory. Or I hope posting every day will have that effect, anyway--because as I think about it, I wonder: will I see the words "it is hard work putting clean sheets on a bunk bed," and remember that we were straightening and cleaning and making beds because my brother and his wife and son are coming to town to help my niece--their daughter/sister--move back home?

And when I read "September has cool mornings and evenings over August, but August has its pre-semester bliss to recommend it," will I remember what it was like last night when we stepped out, and the moon was waning, and it was cool and late and we had just listened to Obama's speech, and after that, watched a big swath of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Which is why I commented that "Michael Caine = pure pleasure"?

It's hard to say what I'll remember, although maybe going over it again here, both inking over the sketch and supplying additional notes, makes it more likely. I hope--perhaps we all hope--that writing does something like that, at least for ourselves, if not for, what? posterity--makes what is fleeting more lasting.

For instance, while my son was helping me move some stuff out of a very tiny room downstairs, so that it could be more spacious--this was prior to the cleaning, in preparation for the guests--he stumbled upon boxes, boxes upon boxes.

"You have a ton of pictures," he pointed out, helpfully.

I already knew this. Today, I took the most brief look possible at the many boxes of photos before moving them, basically, back into that room in a more concise, edited arrangement. I found a sheaf of emails that I had exchanged with a friend who was in the Peace Corps, in the Dominican Republic. I also found a picture of my daughter and my niece up in Idaho, and a picture of my older son and his wife when they were either newly married, or just before.

The sheaf of emails was fully of chatty, daily stuff. For instance, I rattled on to my friend about how my youngest son--the one who was helping me with the boxes--how he and his friends used to have a small battery of retorts that they would use to respond to anything anyone ever said to them. To wit: "Prove it," "Why?," "How do you know?" and "do you have any evidence?"

So if I asked my son--this was 2003, so he was maybe fourteen?--"Do you have any homework?" he'd reply, "Prove it." Or if I said, "You need to call Dad," he'd say "How do you know?"

I had entirely forgotten this episode from my son's youth, although now that the e-mails, tucked away in a box full of correspondence that I'm sure has many, many such riches, have brought it back to memory, I can remember it and how funny, and annoying, I thought it was at the time.

So now those boxes are stacked neatly in that room, holding their written and printed troves of my past, and my children's. And this blog: in its archives I have lain the daily tokens, neatly, haphazardly, which fill its capacious cabinet, and which I take out from time to time, as a tool for remembering.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


Here are a few lessons I learned today, for the second or third or millionth time:
  • it is hard work putting clean sheets on a bunk bed.
  • the difference between an inflectional ending and a derivational affix is all about the meaning of affix, but both terms apply to form class words.
  • leftover spaghetti sauce is God's own mercy.
  • September has cool mornings and evenings over August, but August has its pre-semester bliss to recommend it.
  • Bruiser always loves his evening walk.
  • Michael Caine = pure pleasure.
  • go to bed late -> getting up early -> difficult.
  • the Avett Brothers = pure pleasure.
  • I prefer the DNC to the RNC every time.
  • no lunch means all the sentences you make up on the spot in your grammar class have a cookie in them.
  • having no cookies at home is just a little bit worse than having cookies at home.
  • the end of Thursday -> Friday -> date night!
  • I am a terrible housekeeper, but I love my home and all the people in it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A good afternoon.

Today, because I was invited to read at the City Art Meltdown--between fifteen and twenty writers, reading for five minutes each--I spent the afternoon working on my two poems.

Back when summer, by which I mean "the period before the teaching starts," was winding up, I told myself that I would be able to find time to write several days or several hours a week. That has yet to happen. I am not giving up hope yet, but so far, the teaching is occupying a fair amount of the space. I am going to have to work harder to find that time, to make that time.

But today, because of the reading, I spent a few hours working on a couple of poems. Revising poems. A very satisfying few hours. I worked in my office for a couple of hours, printed out my drafts, and went home. I told myself a story about how I needed a nap, and I set my cell phone alarm for forty-five minutes later, and closed my eyes, which felt very, very tired.

Two minutes later, I sat up and took out one of the poems, and read it several times aloud, editing as I went. I made those changes on my laptop and printed it out again.

I still think this poem--the Tom Jones poem, for your information--probably needs more work and more trimming. But it was in good enough shape to read, I think, and it was good to spend the time with it.

Now my task is to look at my calendar and make notes about where I can find an hour here, an hour there, to spend more time with writing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

We have some opinions up in here.

While walking the dog, after watching more of the Democratic National Convention than I would have thought probable, or advisable:

Me: So David Brooks thinks they'll need to talk about the economy more, because that's what independent voters care about.

The historian: (with some starch) Frankly, I could not care less what David Brooks has to say.

Me: [laughs] Yeah, he sees himself as the voice of the independent voter.

The historian: In fact, I don't care what any of those commentators have to say. They could just describe what happened, and then they could just be quiet.

(I loved this so much it hurt a little bit.)

Monday, September 03, 2012

After Labor Day.

After Labor Day is when school should actually begin, in my opinion. Who are the early school starters kidding? It is too hot to learn in August. The early starters should take a little lesson from my childhood, when school started in, like, the tenth week of September. I remember going to the beach after Labor Day, the people. Fall, before school starts, is delicious. The heat actually feels precious, like a wonder, when you can feel it going.

The truth is, the early starters don't get it: school doesn't start for real until after Labor Day. We may be "attending." We may be "teaching." But until it feels like fall, we are not learning. Neolithic Man did not go to school until the fall. Check the fossil evidence.


Well, here are a few things that lifted my heart today on our last bike ride of the Labor Day holiday:

cormorants & cows

osprey, right overhead


Sunday, September 02, 2012


is it for the year, for us anyway. We will probably stop in sometime in October, but it will be closed for the year. Here are some things we saw today:

Mink? on the bridge.

shadow upon the water

waning moon rising
Quick trip--we're turning around tomorrow to go home. We'll hang around in the morning, though--one more ride down to the river.

Here I am.

We got here at five yesterday. I made dinner at six thirty. There was an awesome thunderstorm and rain. I fell asleep reading at eight thirty or do and slept for eleven hours, give or take. Yeah. Happy labor day weekend, everyone!



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