Monday, April 29, 2013

Short letters.

Dear Monday,

There was a moment when you were blank with promise. Then a meeting request. And another meeting request, and another. Suddenly, your middle was all full of meetings, and you were thus like any other day.

What was there to do, but succumb to that meeting-ful middle and therefore not do anything else worth mentioning?




Dear Submissions,

I have just blown you a kiss and sent you off. In this metaphor, you are on a swift-moving boat, wending your manuscript-y way to wherever manuscripts go--hell? an alien land? another planet?--whence editors will hail me from afar in a few months. "Hey!" they'll say. "Hey you! Poet!"

I will cup my hand to my ear so that I can hear them a little better.

"Someone else besides you won the competition! But we value your manuscript highly! Unfortunately we can't publish all the good work we receive!"

I guess it's not really a metaphor, but

Good luck,



Dear York,

As I understand it, you have a medieval wall. Parts of the wall are Roman, even. And there's a killer minster. And other stuff massively historical, dating back to William the Conqueror and the Vikings.

In the larger region--although I admit, I have little sense of what is "a great way off" or "quite close" or "not likely, not in the same day!"--there is the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where there are dales, apparently, which I am still trying to understand the nature of. There's also the North York Moors National Park, where there are moors, and also historic trains, ruined abbeys, etc.

I like just saying these words: "medieval wall." "minster." "dales." "moors." "ruined abbeys."

York, I want to see you so much it hurts. Even though, as my daughter points out, for people who actually live among them, one ruined abbey or medieval wall is the same as another. I know that you will not disappoint me, because I'm just like that. A medieval wall makes me unreasonably happy. I will take a thousand pictures of you, York and environs.

I hope you are as exciting to my traveling companions. And perhaps that you have an excellent candy shop or bakery or both, to soothe anyone who finds medieval walls and ruined abbeys a little bit of a cliche.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teeny tiny newsletter.

1 New York Times story on the Bush library dedication. All the living presidents were there. Sue me.
2 "Amour" from Carmen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is what I told my students the other day,

and it actually sums up how I feel, pretty much:

--especially if the pencil of doom is the grading pencil of doom, and the documents falling from the sky are student drafts.

Then yes OMG. There is so much to do.


The last few weeks of this particular semester hold a number of milestones for me. After this semester is over, I will no longer be a faculty leader. I will close up my Open Grievance Shop. (<< not a real thing, but it sure felt like it sometimes!). I will not have a giant lecture to prepare for, nor any presentations to give at conferences small or large. And soon, soon, the grading will be over.
the last meeting was like this, sort of.
Today, I attended my last meeting of the Discussion Team. At this meeting, which I've attended for the last four years--the first two years of the four, I co-chaired it--we discussed (none dare call it negotiated!) salary and working conditions issues for the faculty. The very last meeting, as in never again

In honor of this last meeting, I did the following:

(last night) Baked a cake and ate a slice at eleven p.m. 

(this morning) Met with a student | Identified another way that Canvas's sneaky ways have wrought havoc upon my carefully designed end-of-the-semester collaborative project | Ate an artisan (so they say) breakfast sandwich from Starbucks.

(after the meeting:) Sat with my colleague in the sun and debriefed | Went back to my office to think about this and that, related to my end-of-the-semester exit plan | Went home | On my way home, stopped at Target and bought a small, many-pocketed backpack for this summer's travels Ate some barbeque potato chips. Also a sliver of cake. As you do | And so forth.

Actually, it's sort of shocking how few ceremonies there are to mark the ending of stuff like this. But I am marking it, and how. (--by preparing to grade, at the moment, actually.) And I am feeling pretty good about it, both the having done it and the end of it. 

(balloons  parade  |  confetti  |  speeches  certificates/plaques | the very, very end.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

dear my blog,

Here are the reasons:

1. because it is mid-April and hence the end of the semester.
2. because of the grading.
3. because of the overdue library book that I had to finish.
4. because when something terrible happens, it seems trivial.
5. because when something terrible happens in the world, it is hard to find the words.
6. because terrible things are happening all the time in the world, how did I ever find a way around that?
7. because almost everything seems trivial when you start to think that
8. because the terrible things and the local challenges and the fact that my house and perhaps, indeed, my life, are all a mess--all this conspires to make it hard to figure out what to do, or say, or write next.
9. because of the many, many consultations.
10. because of the presentations.
11. because of the new and ongoing commitments.
12. because of the vows I have to make and re-make and reiterate and restate with great vehemence that I will not do all of this again, that this will be the very last time.
13. because so much vehemence takes a lot of energy, energy which could be turned to writing.
14. writing, even, a blog post.

Now that all of the above has been said and enumerated, perhaps I will be able soon to write about whatever it is I write about, more regularly and with some gusto. Sorry, my blog, to have neglected you. I will try to do better.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On my mind.


My daughter sent it to me (via Design Mom)--read this to have a sense of the context, and of Marina Abramović's work.

I love contemplating rituals, the ways we give shape to experience by repeating gestures. Every summer seems to be a new opportunity for this, so I am also thinking about this little series on Slate about artists' rituals. (I am anxiously awaiting the next piece in the series, which will focus on artists who sleep in, and stay up, late. I want to be a morning person, especially in the summer, but I am not. I am not a morning person, despite my desire.)

Yesterday when my commitments with work were done, I went over to my daughter's house to chat with her, hold the baby, play dominoes and Bananagrams with my grandson, while she folded the laundry. And last Friday, I did the same--went over to my son's, with Creamsicles and fruit snacks, to talk to my son, my daughter-in-law, and my daughter while the children played with and around us. In a few weeks, the historian and I will go to Scotland; my youngest daughter will come home this summer, and I hope all of us will be able to go to Idaho together. All of these moments, repeated, have the feel of ritual to me.

These touch points are so important. I need more of them, just like I need the shape to my day that two walks each day, that making dinner in the evening, that reading a little before sleep give.

I am also thinking about this. I used it in my digital story, and can't get it out of my mind, or heart:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A little story about my data.

It's sort of the same story I have about my shoes, books, music (see: data), photos (see: data), files, tee shirts, and sweaters: too much.

But let me start at the beginning.

Tomorrow, my employer is replacing my current MacBook Pro with a new one, as part of the regime of keeping employee laptops up to date. So: exciting! So happy!

Right now, I am transferring data from said current laptop to an external drive. Here are a few things I have learned about data and me:

1. I do not have a good filing system. Or rather, my filing system works okay, but it is all over the place. Like my shoes, books, music, photos, files, tee shirts and sweaters. And other stuff.

2. I have to retrieve all of it, and copy it to said external drive. This is going to take longer than I thought. Will I be up all night? We'll see.

3. Is there some of that data I don't need? Probably. No doubt. Which data would that be? Who can say? Not me, not right now, not when there's so much data to move, and I don't want to be up all night.

4. Photos. Anyone? Anyone? What should I do, or rather, what should I have done? iPhotos is bossy. I knew this awhile ago, but I never came up with a better solution. Here's one solution: delete bad photos from the camera before importing them. But what if the bad photo is interesting? Who can tell, when you're looking at it on that teeny camera screen?

5. Music, oy. I know I should just stop buying it and only listen to Spotify. But would I then be doing my part to save the music business? Which can barely be bothered to save itself?

I would make a comic about this, but this would involve, maybe, creating more data. I'm nervous about that.

I think I need better data habits, hygiene, and practices. I wish someone would send me some directions about how to do that on my new, fresh laptop. I don't want to besmirch it with my terrible old data regime.

The end of the story about data. I'm sorry it doesn't have a happy ending. Give me advice, so there will at least be hope.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dear moment of clarity,

Today, I made several lists.

1. Discussions and assignments I need to grade in my online class.
2. Short instructional videos I need to make for my online class.

I have also started reviewing my calendar with very careful attention, not to say great avidity, which has revealed the following to me:

the bunny of clarity.
3. I have many, many events between now and the end.
4. There are just four weeks left, including finals. Plus a couple days left of this week.
5. Good heavens, I have a lot to do.

Also, and apropos of not very much,

6. I can barely bestir myself to actually cook food. It's pretty bad.

Moment of clarity, I am in a panic. Was it your intention, when you revealed yourself to me, for me to be in a panic? Because I am. I am in a panic.

Thanks, I guess,


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Sleep clinic.

The people, I am not sleeping. Not right now, and not lately.

Possible explanations:
  • excess of adrenaline from recent projects and regimens?
  • character flaw?
  • too damn jittery?
  • not writing? 
I don't know, but something's gotta give.

I've never been a particularly prodigious or accomplished sleeper. I think there are some people for whom sleeping is a great gift. I'm pretty sure I need to do an overhaul of my sleep process.

[NOTE: the above sentence is one of those indicators that I just need to chill. the. eff. out. Good Lord.]

I remember, returning to my meandering, when I was a high schooler and I had a stereo, which was a thing, kids, with a "tuner" and a "turntable" and, if you were lucky, a "cassette deck" which allowed you to make mix tapes. I used to check records out of the library and if I really liked them, I would tape them, and then I would listen to them over and over until the tape broke. I remember the 120 minute tapes being particularly susceptible to breakage. Anyone else remember that?

Sometimes I would play a record or a tape to help me sleep. I repeatedly checked out this album by a prog-rock/jazz group called Mandrill. Maybe they were geniuses, I don't know. I liked them, and particularly the last track on this one album, which was lovely and--sorry--flute-y, and it, maybe, relaxed me. Or seemed like it should relax me.  I also remember one night, lying in the dark, listening to the Doors, "Rider on the Storm." That song is pretty much just endless. And lulling. And, it must be said, a little tedious. Did it put me to sleep? I really can't say, but it's emblematic to me of music that might be sleep-inducing.

I'm super-hopeful that tonight will be the night I turn this nonsense around. The night I fall asleep without noticing myself not sleeping, and wake up mostly refreshed, and then that will be that. Just in case, I've put together a sleepy playlist. I'm not going to listen to it--hell no. I don't sleep with music anymore--that's just asking for it. (Sometimes on a plane, I can drowse to music. But on a plane, all bets are off, and that's the truth.) Anyway, I put some drowsy songs and some songs with "sleep" in the title, and also "Riders on the Storm" and the Mandrill track. Even if I don't listen to this playlist, I hope that putting it together will be an offering to the gods that regulate sleep. Maybe they'll let me fall in without incident. We'll see.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Megastore recommends.

ate roasted squash today, and liked it!
1. A little story about the baby. Today, my daughter called me to say that she had made a delicious soup with roasted vegetables, and when she offered a little tiny bit to her little tiny daughter, just four months old, the baby loved it. Loved it! I myself was making dinner when this conversation occurred. I was trimming brussels sprouts and baby artichokes. How lovely, to hear this little anecdote. How lovely to think of the baby tasting maybe her first solid food, and it was butternut squash pureed, and it was so good, she wanted more.

look at their cute long stems!
2. Baby artichokes. In their favor: they are adorable. I bought them in a container of robust size, on a day when I clearly imagined myself in full vegetable trimming mode. Because, on the minus side, baby artichokes are a lot of work. "Baby artichokes are a lot of work," I said to the historian, as I chopped most of the thorny part off with my big knife, then pared away everything but the heart with my little knife, for the kajillionth time. "Maybe big ones aren't as much work. Maybe they're more worth it," he said, which I considered. But the thing about the big ones is, they aren't as adorable. The little ones are cute. And when you roast them with cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, and thyme, they are delicious, and that's a fact.

--but with chicken.
3. Making shepherd's pie for someone who will love it. You can insert the dish of your choice into the previous phrase, the dish you would make for one of your beloveds because sometimes, it's just nice to make something delicious for someone else, even when it's a thing you won't be eating yourself. In this case, I made it for my son, and it was really only shepherd's pie-esque, because it was chicken and not beef. I happened to have some chicken in the freezer which I had previously roasted, so assembling the pie was as easy as sauteing some carrots and green onions, mashing a few potatoes, heating some leftover broccoli, layering everything in a pie plate, and baking it. I know, it sounds like more steps than "was as easy as" suggests. But it was easy, and my son loved it, and therefore so did I.

count these, because it's time for sleeping.
4. The end of the day. Whatever else, at the end, it's the end, and it's time for bed. Time for bed is something we highly recommend, here at the Megastore.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Data points.

For the weekend:

People in Moab, UT for spring break: a kajillion
People overheard, verbally considering buying a sword: two
Flavors of gelato at the gelato store: a dozen or so
Amount of pizza ordered from Paradox Pizza: two eighteen-inchers
Number of major arches viewed in Arches National Park: two
Joy-to-sore-feet ratio (after hiking): ten-to-one
Degree of certitude that a hot tub would be a good investment: seventy percent
Hours driving: ten
Clothes-I-needed to clothes-I-packed ratio: one-and-one-half to one
Total number of pictures of rocks:  hundreds
Ounces of fine red sand in my shoes: five (per hike)

Thursday, April 04, 2013

A few things that I like.

1. saltines.
2. Emergen-C.
3. playing with the grandchildren.
4. episodes of The New Girl and The Mindy Project.
5. a late afternoon nap.
6. a walk in the cool spring evening.
7. yellow skirt, yellow sweater, yellow shirt.
8. yellow sneaks.
9. teaching the stories that Dr. Write gave me.
10. the Thursday New York Times.
11. an unspent gift card from Target.
12. more light more light more light.

feeling good, the people. also: I think you're swell.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


yo yo yo the lecture is o o o ver!

Here's the digital story I made:

shrine from lisab on Vimeo.

And here's a comic:


Related Posts with Thumbnails