Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Very short letters indeed.

Dear unacknowledged legislator of the world,

Today, when you spoke to my class, even though you said poetry is, like, the little ignored child of the art world, I think you were actually, at least for that moment, a poetry shaman. Because that's what poetry is, and does.

Seriously: sublime.



Dear friend with a gold necklace around your neck,

How glad I was to see you, as I descended the stairs from poetry class to my office, where I would be readying myself for--let's face it--a bit of an ordeal. Without even saying so, I admired your necklace--a delicate little grace note to the song of your lovely unexpected self.

Lovelier every passing day, that's what you are.



Dear difficulty,

Oh how jangled up I got, contemplating you. The notes I took, the emails I sent, the Google Drive invitations I sent. Now that you're all over, now that I'm looking back on it, how overheated all that seems--but I think, difficulty, that all the jangly effort is what makes the relief so delicious.

That's right: I can actually taste it, the relief.



Dear Panang curry,

Speaking of delicious: I totally felt like I had earned you, at the end of the very long, quite ordeal-ish day. O roast-y peanuts! O bamboo shoot! O Thai basil!

There really should be a song about you,



Dear Justified,

Maybe I should be praying to the gods of narrative, but I am literally vibrating with anxiety about the fact that tonight's was the episode before the episode before the final episode. There was a lot of gunplay. I know we've been heading in this direction for six seasons, but I am afraid of who's going to die next.

Just make it fitting, somehow. If you can do that.



Dear cruelest month,

I know, you prefer the name April. But if I have to call you by a nickname, I prefer National Poetry Month. I hope you know I'll be celebrating you times thirty to the power of all the meters. 

There probably should be cake, but there will at least be a poem about cake.

At least I hope so,


Monday, March 30, 2015


Today, I said no less than three times:
My plan is to keep my cool
which, if you know me, is, if not laughable, at least chuckleable. But a bitter chuckle, that's the thing.

Never mind what event or events will call upon me to summon heretofore unheard of reserves of composure and non-pop-off-able wherewithal™. I am pulling together my wits and my chicken bone and--I'm not sure what else I have that is surefire good luck.

Here's what I have going for me:

1. I will be prepared.
2. I have painted fingernails and a killer outfit picked out.
3. I have the powers of critical thinking and rhetoric working in my behalf.
4. I know how to cede things in order to gain a greater goal.
5. I will be there promptly and on time.
6. I will be unfailingly polite.
7. I have the heart of a lion.
8. Comfortable shoes mean feet that will be as fleet as a sprinter's.
9. I will dream power dreams tonight.
10. I have great compassion and understanding.


...but only if absolutely necessary.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

You guys.

This is pretty much how it is at night around here.

Bruiser thinks it's just about time to get outside for our nightly walk. I also know that it's time. But first I have to send five billion emails and put up the new week's homepage and rewrite the rubric and make a new rubric and try to get my arms around all the things that need to be done before the end of the semester and figure out what to wear tomorrow and make about five billion lists.

Luckily I have a comfortable chair. Also, this picture doesn't even show the extent of my squalor. C'est la vie, Bruiser. C'est la vie.

(thanks for the pics, Walker!)

Friday, March 27, 2015

End of the week.

I am listening to this--it is, in fact, haunting me. (Also reading this and this--thanks, Amelia!)

So looking forward to this, and also this.

So, so happy about this--congratulations, Abbey!

Have got to find good restaurants for when I go here, and a place to stay when we travel here and here.

Am planning on writing up a storm for this--Dr. Write, are you with me?

Cannot stop laughing about this.

Is it time for this yet? I say yes.

I can feel the moment coming when I can ask this question (spark of joy)

My associate dean mentioned this today, which, if I knew about it once, I had forgotten, and it seems wonderful to me.

I was thinking I might reread this--for so many reasons, he's been speaking to me these days, despite the fact that I haven't read anything of his for awhile..

Thinking about getting rid of this for my composition class--and just making a huge amount of screencasts, podcasts, and comics.

Saw this tonight--hoping to see this tomorrow. Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

First things first.

The big day went well--our five year program review. All the food was delivered, possibly minus one lunch, but that was okay. All the people showed up--or enough of them, anyway. We had great conversations and the great conversations will, we hope, continue. My outfit, in other words, was an unqualified success.

Now, after the circus has come and gone, I would just like to note that:

  • all day I was a little dehydrated.
  • currently, my hips hurt and the soles of my feet feel dry and consequently a little itchy.
  • I am way past tired, so tired that I am fretting about whether people respect me. (p.s., when I am worrying about that, I should always just go take a big fat nap, or, you know, go to bed for the night. Because the next day when I wake up it's easy to see how ridiculous that whole respect thing was.) (...unless people really DON'T respect me--what then? what nap will cure THAT?)

Tomorrow is Friday, and it is a full day, but not a day in which I am in charge of very many things, nor a day when I anticipate being dehydrated or tired past the point of reason. And after Friday? Saturday, the people. 

Now, I intend to
  • put on my nightgown
  • brush my teeth
  • do the crossword and possibly also, and simultaneously,
  • watch episodes of some sitcom or other
  • fall asleep.
I know, that's not much of an agenda. I like to think of it more as medicine for an ague that I hope will have passed by morning. 

Big day OUT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Megastore Recommends: Outfits Edition.

The people, I have a lot of sweaters. And the sweaters I'm talking about are my winter sweaters, not even all the sweaters. There is a whole nother subset of summer sweaters and spring sweaters. I'm just saying, sometimes when you have a big day and it's 11:30 at night, the sweaters might be a little overwhelming.

But the big day demands it: the outfit must be assembled, the sweaters must yield one of their kind to complete the ensemble, and a scarf must rise from all its sisters folded in the scarf box. In other words, the 'what to wear' of the big day must be prepared, just as the documents for the big day have been organized into their Google Drive file, and the sandwiches have been ordered, and the schedule has been published high and low, and individual emails to a billion people have been sent. For clothes maketh the woman, or something, and also: shoes maketh the big day bearable to contemplate, if they are comfortable.

Did I say I was going to recommend some things? Okay, I will recommend:

not my dress.
1. A new dress. I'm recommending this even if you have a lot of old dresses, as I do, or if you don't wear dresses, then a lot of old whatever it is you do wear. (No offense.) Sometimes, a new dress just crystallizes a moment. It speaks to you. It says: Wear me and you shall feel polished, pulled together, efficient. It says: Wear me and there shall be no residue of old, ordinary days.  I know: my clothes should probably not be taking this hortatory tone with me. But when you have an immanent big day, you'll take the wisdom you get, even if said wisdom emanates from a plain but stylish gray sheath dress with slash pockets, which is what sold it to you in the first place.

not my scarf.
2. Silk scarf. Will never go amiss, and that is no overstatement. How light! how shimmery! How very bright and yet elegant it is. It came from someplace exotic, it was brought home to me by a friend, I bought it at T.J. Maxx--whatever its provenance, it's silk and silk means business, scarf-wise, and in terms of pulling the outfit together.

cute! (but not
my cardigan.)
3. Cardigan. Have I shared with you my love of the cardigan? Perhaps not, so let me just say: I have become a collector--it's exactly the right word, not to say hoarder--of cardigans. I like them a little on the long side and sometimes a lot on the long side, and I like them thin, and I like them in all the colors. Despite the fact that I have a lot of cardigans (see above: I have a lot of sweaters), I am not sure that I have all the cardigans I need. For instance, I may or may not have enough pink cardigans. Be that as may be: I am lucky that a persimmon colored cardigan spoke from the depths of my sweater cupboard and reminded me that gray and orange are a good combination, especially in the spring, and especially for a big day, when a shot of color may just be the thing that gets me through.

you know I wish these
were my shoes. (but
these are not my shoes.)
4. Snappy shoes. Also may be the things that get me through, especially if they are (a) pearl gray, and (b) low-heeled. Which mine are. So, I'm just saying that, with these shoes and the other outfit components I have recommended above, the odds of my big day tomorrow going okay seem ever so slightly more likely to be be in my favor.

Either that, or I'll have to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. But, you know, that scarf--it can probably be used as a slingshot and a garrote--it's that versatile.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Short letters.

Dear my neck,

I feel I should apologize to you, for the fact that you have been aching for four days. I'm sorry, truly.

But I also feel like the two airplane flights I took on Sunday should apologize to you. And the people whom I was sitting next to, against whom I did not want to lean, and therefore leaned hard the other way--maybe they should apologize, just a tiny little apology, even though it was I who, in fact, did the leaning.

Also a strange hotel bed, and sitting in uncomfortable chairs for three days--all should apologize to you, my neck, for making you sore, and compounding the soreness.

However, my neck, today, the 100 emails I wrote should apologize, and abjectly. One hundred emails is too many and I am certain that they should, collectively, own up to their share of the hurt.

In the end, though, apologies only go so far. After that, it's got to be ibuprofen.

Okay, I'm getting it right now,



Dear fire alarm,

I admit, I was annoyed to hear you go off, after I had just put on my gym clothes to work out. Sometimes, when one is feeling tired, a little bit of mental twistiness needs to happen to make the workout actually 'happen.' Fire alarm, I think you'll have to admit that you pretty much created an insurmountable obstacle to my best intentions.

No, really: I want you to admit it.

I will, in turn, acknowledge that I did appreciate the fact that, if you had to go off--as in, I guess, a real alarm situation--you waited until after all my clothes were actually on.

Tomorrow = upper body work, I guess,



Dear soup,

Today, you were the 'on the other hand,' the compensation for a disruption of plans. When I waited outside the gym to see if the alarm would cease its decibelitude, I thought: well, if it doesn't stop, I'll go home and maybe I'll take a walk.

Then, when the alarm kept ringing, I thought, maybe I'll go home and take a rest, and then take a walk.

When the fire truck rolled up, I got in my car and thought, Maybe I'll go home, soak beans for soup, take a rest, and put the maybe-walk in brackets.

Soup, today I constituted you out of sophisticated white beans soaked with bay leaf and coriander seeds, then cooked in broth with sautéed red onion, sliced carrot, jalapeño, and a little bit of chopped kale. A pan of perfect cornbread did not go amiss.

I'm not saying I didn't need that walk, or the workout. But tonight, soup, you were hot and soothing and savory and delicious.

Could my workout have said the same?


Monday, March 23, 2015

Wild ones,

Why have we returned

from our flights across continents, our
being-above-clouds, our seashores and jasmine,

to this: emails, interfaces, documents,

to being belowground?

why these, blue Monday, these abrading
and ill fitting uniforms,
and not the indolent spring changelings

we felt ourselves to be only yesterday?

at least the wind is whipping
the night. at least

the street smells of rain and the blossom
on the tree looses its attar

at least our bare legs know the chill
of March, which is just

future April's backward look

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Top 10 things about being home.

1. I located the following in my kitchen, without having to give any of it a thought: box of pancake mix, egg, milk, sunflower oil, maple syrup, griddle, plug for griddle, butter, knife. My favorite mug. A yellow plate.

2. I slept till the blessed hour of 10 a.m.

3. The comfortable bed in my study.

4. Quiet morning.

5. Buying groceries for the week.

6. The sounds of my son's friends downstairs.

7. Going to my daughter's for 'hodge podge bbq,' her words, and eating outside while the children played and ran around, as if it were spring or something.

8. Bruiser, ever faithful, ever waggy, ever at the door when I'm carrying the groceries in from the car.

9. My bed, ever faithful, ever cozy, ever the best night sleep guarantor. Well, usually.

10. The whole street has burst into bloom.

(the item that is without number): Seeing the historian at the airport, and when I woke up. Taking a walk in the morning and evening with him and Bruiser. Listening to him at his desk in the next room. Watching television together.

Tomorrow: work. But today: home.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Airport action.

(I feel a series coming on, possibly.)

It was admittedly lame, but I just couldn't come up with a plan for the last afternoon I had, several hours unspoken for, in Tampa. I walked along Channelside Drive to what was ostensibly a shopping area, despite a web review that had warned of its decline. Oh yes: I could feel its declension from the moment I spotted its anchor chain restaurant, a Hooters, from a block away.

Still, I walked around its offerings, and then walked back. There was nothing there for me. What would I do? I felt tired, and I didn't feel like navigating an unfamiliar city on my own. I went back to my hotel--although it was not exactly my hotel, not since I had checked out a few hours before. So I scammed off their free lobby wifi, graded a little, and read a little, and stewed a little, stewed myself into feeling (a) a little hungry and (b) like maybe I should go to the airport, even though it was early.

Here are the things I've done since I was at the Tampa International Airport:

1. waltzed through security because I have TSA Pre status, which never fails to make me feel special.

2. considered all of my airport dining options by cruising them several times each. I ultimately opted for an airport iteration of what is apparently a Tampa establishment, if its own PR is to be believed. I had some tapas--champiñones rellenos and coca de langosta--and both were pretty darn good. You know, for airport food.

3. graded two discussions.

4. shot this tiny Hyperlapse:

I think I feel more settled at the airport because I know what's what at an airport. I don't have to decide whether to learn how to deal with a trolley system and where it will take me and if I will be too far to make it back to grab my stuff to get to the airport on time. I don't--and this is key--have to talk to a person who will give me human-sized, and therefore unverifiable except through trial and error, advice about these matters.

I am not impressed with my own thinking here. On the other hand, I'm also recognizing that I've been at max effort for so much of the time this semester that I kind of needed a less than herculean effort this weekend. Hence the opt out, eat in philosophy which I have embraced so wholeheartedly. Hence the current acknowledgment  of my inner hermit, and letting that hermit take the wheel, as it were. If I had a car. If I had had a car, maybe I would have mapped out an itinerary instead of making the airport, at the end of my conferencing adventure, my home away from home.

Friday, March 20, 2015


to finishing the presentation without freaking out.

to adding an awesome chart to my presentation, full of data generated by my very own self.

to getting some great questions from listeners.

to eating garlic shrimp on yellow rice for a celebratory/relief lunch with my friends.

to eating two meals, with two excellent conversations, with my friend, because in our regular, non-conference-attending lives, we are too busy to eat together.

to smelling jasmine and seeing crew after crew rowing on the water as I walked to my hotel.

to meeting the poet who picked my manuscript, and having him greet me with delight and a hug.

to yet another blessed retreat to my quiet hotel room, where I can breathe and not talk to anyone, except my beloved, which: YES to a conversation with my beloved, and YES to the fact that I will come home home home tomorrow:


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Conference coping strategies, day 1.

When you enter the Convention Center, and find your little lanyard for the name badge you have brought with you from home, because they mailed it to you, and insert the badge into the lanyard, and put it around your neck so that you are named and institutioned for all the Convention goers to see,

if you turn and see the people milling, the people who seem to have  a purpose and a reason to be there, and you say to yourself, well, how did I get here?

then you should follow these rules:

  • It's okay if you just want to sit near the back and if you just want to listen and not ask questions. It's okay if the tap tap tap of your iPad keyboard is rather constant. One reason you're there: to get ideas. It's just fine if that's what you do.
  • Does the hobnobbing and social buffeting put you right off? That's all right. There is no hobnob requirement. Steer clear.
  • Go ahead, take the ten minutes and eat your breakfast outside. So what if you're ten minutes late. Eat already.
  • Do you need to go lie down to gather your wits? Lie down. Gather them. Put that little Do Not Disturb sign on the door.
  • Do you feel like you might be a hermit? Or that you might be getting in touch with your inner hermit? No problem. Order in and opt out. 
The people, I went to four really interesting sessions today, and my presentation is 90% in order, and I also ate in and worked out. Me and the conference have reached an agreement and I am ready--well 90% ready--for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In flight.

This morning--early, early--I boarded a plane to Tampa. Let me begin again. This morning--so very early--I boarded a plane to Atlanta, and then I boarded a plane to Tampa. Tampa is the city where the conference I'm attending, at which I'll be presenting, is being held.

To fly across America, the people, is a long day. It is a long, crowded day, sitting with strangers in large, anonymous waiting rooms where they nonetheless, in the end, know your name. It is sitting within jostling distance of people who will, at one time or another, be snoring loudly enough that you can hear it over the roar of the engines and the sound of music in your ears. Within elbowing room.

Today, I read (/skimmed--both) a whole book. A skinny book, but still. I did the New York Times crossword puzzle. I read Esquire magazine, the one with Will Smith on the cover. (It is my preferred in-flight magazine.) I listened to Eddie Vedder.

I ate half a vegetarian burrito in Atlanta that seemed to want to quarrel with me, just a little, on the flight to Tampa. But on that flight, I also had the space to engage in a renegotiation with my new manuscript. I think I might be retitling it. I have reordered it and I know its focus. I have six or seven targeted revisions that I know I must make, and a new poem that I need to write.

And then, I slept.

In Tampa, a city I've never been, there's water. There are islands. There are birds. My taxi driver, a Greek, told me about a little marshy spot in a cloverleaf interchange of the freeway.

at the Tampa Airport.
"That's a hawk," he said, as we ascended a curvy part of the interchange. I was craning my neck, too, to see if the bird, which seemed hawklike to me, was in fact of the hawk persuasion.

"Those other birds"--littler black birds--"seem to want him out of there," I said, conversationally.

"No, no no," he said, laughing in a patient and slightly paternal way. "No, there's twelve feet of water there." This being, evidently, explanatory about the hawk and the birds. "That's ocean water. There's fish in there."

"Ah," I said. "So the hawk--"

"Not just the hawk," he corrected.

"All of them?"

"Yes, all of them."

"--are after the fish," I finished.

"Yes. Sometimes I fish there, with a net. But not lately. I need a friend, I cannot do it alone."

"What kind of fish?"

"Every kind! Mostly snook"--(snook?)--"and mullet. One time my friend and I catch eight hundred and fifty pounds."

At that point, I was along for the ride on this fishing story. "What'd you do with it?"

"We each keep fifteen pounds, then we sell the rest."


From my hotel room, it looks like this:

from my hotel window.

I'm ten stories up. My daughter thinks I should walk down by the sea. Is it a sea? This is ocean water, and there are little boats lined up along the shore. Will there be birds? People fishing? I will have to wait till morning. I'm currently very tired, since this morning, I was up early, so very early, to board a plane to Tampa.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Something I made.

I've been trying to make this little story (the link takes you to the site, but I've embedded it below) for awhile, but hadn't found a good tool for it until now. It's not amazing or anything, but I like it. Please excuse my excessive Snapseedery. I was really into it there for quite some time.

(thanks to Justin Jory for pointing me to Exposure.)

What is ruined? by Lisa Bickmore on Exposure

Monday, March 16, 2015


Tonight, because I happened to have taken forethought over the weekend, and it happened, therefore, that there were vegetables in our refrigerator, we had roasted asparagus with slivered garlic, olive oil, and salt, and linguine with zested Meyer lemon, pecorino, and sliced cherry tomatoes. Oh, was it ever good. It tasted fresh and lively and not tired.

The procurement of the Meyer lemons, whence the zest came, happened awhile ago. Weeks, I'm quite certain. I kept them refrigerated and miraculously they were still good. The zest on our linguine got me thinking about Meyer lemons, and that thought got me thinking about things you can make with Meyer lemons, things like lemon curd, or lemon bars, or Meyer lemon cake.

I'm not sure if the Meyer lemon cake of 2006 was the last Meyer lemon cake I made, but it might have been the last time I made that Meyer lemon cake. That recipe was delicious but also super involved. It made me tired to think about it. I knew where it was--in what cookbook, it was a Chez Panisse cookbook--and it made me tired to think about standing up and going to the cupboard to retrieve the book. It made me tired to think about looking up the page number and actually reading the recipe.

Let me pause to say this: it has been quite some time since I baked a cake. Or cookies, for that matter. It has probably been since Christmas. It would be one thing if I had taken a stand, or had issued a manifesto: "I shall bake no more forever!" Or if I had taken vows against flour and sugar and whatnot. None of which I have done. I am just busy and ergo tired. Things have arrived at the point wherein I can barely remember what it's like to feel moved by, you know, ingredients to make something delicious for dinner.

[further note: tonight I had this chat with my son, the one who lives in Tempe:

Well, anyway, it feels like something is out of balance because of this non-baking phenomenon. Like the universe or something.]

Not tonight, though. No. Despite the specter of an overly precious recipe for Meyer lemon cake casting a brief but temporary pall over the entire affair, I roused myself from my torpor--literally, I was laying on the bed when I roused myself from said torpor--and sought a new and unprecious recipe, on the internet.

The recipe did require grating the peel off of a load of lemons, some of which I might not technically have "had," so technically, there was "less" zest than the recipe "called for." But you know, that's not a deal breaker, when we're talking about Meyer lemons, because their zest is so much more beautiful and floral and special and, you know, lemony, that you probably can get away with less of it. As, in fact, I did.

Fast forward to two beautiful loaves of lemon cake tumbling practically tear-free from their pans, getting a light soaking of lemon syrup (made with Meyer lemon juice, obvs), cooling on a rack while we took Bruiser for a walk.

"I can't wait to get home so I can eat cake," I said. And just like that, order was restored.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring break FAQ.

Q: Is it spring yet, technically?

A: No. No, it is not.

Q: During the break, will you be catching up on your work, the work on which you're currently behind?

A: All the current evidence says yes.

Q: Will you be catching up in the city in which you reside, or will you be elsewhere?

A: Elsewhere. Tampa, in fact.

Q: Tampa?

A: Tampa.

Q: Ah. Will you be purchasing the in-flight wi-fi, then?

A: Yep. 

Q: And also the in-room wi-fi at your hotel?

A: No doubt.

Q: I see. Well, what is the break in spring break?

A: Damned if I know.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


When I woke up the first time this morning, it was already light. Fifteen minutes later, or twenty, I got up to let the dog in, or out, he couldn't quite make up his mind.

Yesterday, when my son and I were driving to the hospital, I said to him, if I can just sleep till 8, I feel like a million bucks. Having just slept till 8, and feeling like a million bucks. He agreed--just until 8 really pretty much does it.

This morning, when I got up, it was just about 8. I didn't feel like a million bucks, quite, but I felt pretty good.

It was quiet. Later, we planned to take a grandson out to lunch for his birthday. I had some quasi, maybe plans for the other parts of the day. But it was quiet, and I decided to stay quiet if I could, just for the morning.

Out we went to lunch, our birthday card in hand. The sun struck the tops of the mountains, covered with snow from this week's weather. We drove through the streets and neighborhoods instead of the highway.

"There's blossom already," the historian noted.

"I know, isn't it beautiful?" I said.

There's something about the light and the warmth right now--I like the way the weather is cool and warm at the same time, how I can feel the chill on my skin but I like it.

I slept for an hour, maybe, this afternoon. The sun coming in the window, the air cool on my feet.

We went out to a movie and when it was over, we walked out into the evening. I don't really want to say it, the word for the almost-season--I don't want to jinx it--but here it is, in all but words. Just one brief singing syllable.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Upon returning to the hospital.

Today, I drove with my son to the University Hospital. He was having a relatively minor procedure done, not surgical, precisely, but a procedure which nonetheless required anesthesia and someone to drive him home. I had planned to spend the day.

He checked in, then we went up to the Surgery Waiting Room. They showed us back to a room where he got into a hospital gown, then we waited for a nurse's assistant to take vitals, the anesthesiologist to give us the rundown. It was a room very much like the one the historian and I waited in last fall, for the very same reasons.

The procedure took place in an area I hadn't been to before, an area the anesthesiologist referred to as "the bowels" of the hospital. The route to it was convoluted, so much so that after we had spoken with the doctor, and I went to the adjacent waiting room, I was a bit nervous to leave. I sat in that waiting room along with a small family, who proceeded to have a quiet but intense meltdown right there. I was their witness. It reminded me of the families I saw during the historian's long stay, no doubt going through some of the worst days and nights of their lives, camping out in waiting rooms, trying not to lose it, hour after hour after hour.

After awhile, they left, and I sat there by myself, with my Ritz crackers and water bottle. The doctor came in maybe an hour after that. Everything had gone fine, was the gist. He explained this in some detail and then left. A little while later, I saw a hospital bed cruise by. My son was in it. His fluids were hanging on one bed pole, and he had an oxygen mask on his face. A woman in scrubs asked me if I wanted to follow. I stuffed my laptop back into my backpack and scrambled after them. My son kept talking groggily into his oxygen mask. I couldn't understand a word he was saying.

When finally they ushered me back to his recovery room, he was pretty well woken up. We compared notes with what the doctor had told him and what the doctor had told me. The longer we were there, the more lively he seemed, cracking jokes and clearly feeling relieved that it was over. We chatted with his girlfriend in Sweden. I updated the family via text and Facebook Messenger and email.

After some apple juice and graham crackers and some debriefing with the nurse, he got in a wheelchair and we went down stairs. Once we got outside, he told the orderly he thought he was okay to walk. "Up to you," the orderly said. So we walked to the parking structure, took the elevator down, and drove home while the sun in the west briefly flared, blinding us, then went down. I made him eggs and cheese in a tortilla, quesadilla style. The historian and I went out for Thai food. He's downstairs playing video games with his friends. All is well.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

On college.

My friend Nicole has been writing letters to the governor in her state, Arizona. Perhaps you've heard the news--the slashing cuts in funding to higher education, and the cutting in whole the state funding to three community college districts?

I've been thinking about colleges a lot lately. My niece, who will be graduating from high school, has been accepted to five schools, and is about to undertake the intellectual labor of discerning among them which will be the best fit for her. My sister, her mother, called me to ask what I thought about where she should go. I have, of course, my opinions. (Just call me on the phone--I'll share them!) Talking to her reminded me of the weeks last fall, when I drove every day to the University because the historian was recovering from open heart surgery in the hospital there. Every day, I drove into the University, sometimes along Foothill and into Ft. Douglas, sometimes up First South past the Engineering Building and up North Campus Drive. Whatever way I went, I was reminded of what an enormous, busy place it was. How much happened there, how much work, how much research, how much learning.

David Kirby, poet who teaches at FSU, said, upon the occasion of his university choosing a new president (he said it on Facebook):
...a major university is a city-state, like Rome or Athens or Carthage. A major university has everything. It sets an example. It teaches people, and not just students, to do, to feel, to think. Knowledge of every kind flows like a river from a great university. And so do values such as respect for the earth, for others, for oneself. This only happens if thousands of people, from first-year students to Nobel Prize winners, are toiling away at every aspect of human activity, not just the ones you see on the surface.
Kirby said this back in the fall, just before the surgery, so it was on my mind as I drove every day into the city-state that is our state's great university. Every day, I thought about the everything, or the almost everything, that lived and was nourished in that place. I teach at a smaller school with a different mission, but I feel and live and breathe the ways that the work we do there--all of us, from the people who care for the buildings and grounds to those who advise the students and register them for classes, to the students themselves with their hopes, their big hopes, and the teachers like me--how vital it feels, and on a good day, how irreplaceable.

I am thinking about all of this as I think about and try to comprehend what seems incomprehensible there in Arizona, and hope, really hope, that somehow we can do better, all of us. That this kind of failure can somehow be repaired.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thank you notes.

Dear Omelet,

This morning at the cafe, you lay on my plate, Omelet, folded so neatly, semicircular, enfolding feta and avocado and onion, aside fried potatoes and sourdough toast, holding the promise that if I would just eat you, I would not be hungry for hours upon hours.

I totally needed that today, so thank you for being a promise-keeper.




Dear Candidate for Student Body Office,

I'm sorry that I really can't take the whole Student Body Office thing very seriously. You, as a person? I totally take you, personally, seriously. Just not the SBO thing.

But that popcorn machine out there in the commons, and the popcorn you were giving away to make people remember you and vote for you? Thank you for the popcorn. That popcorn was legit.

I would vote for the popcorn, for real,



Dear Fugitive Sweet,

First of all: I was entirely grateful for the Thai food that was brought into the long, long, long-ass meeting today at five. It was delicious and sustaining and lifted all our spirits. So good!

I suppose it's churlish to note that a little sweet would have been so choice at that juncture--the post-Thai-food juncture. A bit of ice cream, a cookie? Would have been perfect.

The fact that you weren't there made me miss you all the more, Fugitive Sweet. Am I thanking you for not being there? I guess this isn't a thank you note, not really.

Luckily, a Girl Scout cookie awaited me at home.

Okay: four.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I am not in any way endorsing this product.

At home after a long, long, long-ass day. I'm talking seriously long:

Me: The historian! C'mere, there's an ad with a bear and he's filing stuff.

The historian: (comes into the room) What now?

Me: (gesturing at the television) Look!

Me: See? It's a bear, and he's filing stuff for that guy.

The historian: (watches for a second. Laughs.)

Me: I want a bear who does my filing for me.

The historian: (laughs again)

(we both watch the bear execute his file clerk duties.)

The historian:. . . he's probably just a temp.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Today in forgetfulness.

Today I forgot:

Three--three!--meetings I had personally, myself, scheduled.

Also, I misplaced my will to power through and do the things I secretly wish would accomplish themselves.

And I appear to have permanently lost my ability to make dinner out of the scroungy remainders of what's in my refrigerator.

But I did remember to feel the spring-almost happening through my not quite enough layers, and to squint my eyes against the bright sun happening exactly one hour later than it did just two days ago, and to look up at the bright, bright stars tonight whilst walking the dog.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


(which is, I guess, a big theme with me.)

I didn't realize that we were springing forward today until, like, yesterday. The springing forward always feels like a kind of theft, because it's sleep, really, that's gone. One whole hour of it. 

A friend on FB said, "I just watched the clock go from 1:59 to 3:00, and I'm furious about it." Friend on FB, I feel you, I really really do. 

However. This morning, I got up, and it was a little before nine-ish. Not too shabby. And I made some oatmeal and read the paper and there was plenty of light outside. We took Bruiser for a slightly longer, slightly spring-y walk. All right, okay, things were going swimmingly.

I settled in to work for awhile. Worked away till it was lunchtime. Made some lunch, did some laundry. Worked a little while longer. Took a glorious, precisely mid-afternoon nap. Sun streamed in the window.

 Got up, worked a little longer. Finished the laundry. Decided on dinner. Meanwhile, the Jazz won their game against the Nets. There was broccoli romanesco and peppers and onion, roasted, and sliced yellow cherry tomatoes, to go on the noodles. And parmesan, finely and freshly grated. And it was still light outside. Still light.

 All of a sudden, after dinner walks with ever less heavy wrappings start to seem possible.

 Spring forward, you're all right.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Saturday field notes.

Woke up at seven--Bruiser scratching at the door. Woke again at nine. Went out for milk, bananas, a raspberry filled doughnut for the historian, a chocolate bar for my son. Made and ate pancakes.

Drove down to see my parents, with the happy added surprise that my two sisters and several of my nieces were at the house when I arrived. We ate lunch, talked about college plans for the nieces. I admired the new shutters on my parents' windows.

In the car, accompanied by Ira Glass and this beautiful story (the audio essay will be available tomorrow here). My little cold that I thought I had Mucinex'd into submission made a return on the drive home. I came in the door, greeted Bruiser, heard about the historian's day, and fell into sleep. No movie for us, then.

Woke. We ate leftover saag paneer and shrimp tikka masala from earlier in the week. Watched L.A. Story on cable. 20% too much whimsy, but also this, which redeems most of it. Finished Thursday's crossword from the New York Times. Ate two Thin Mints and five Trefoils.

Now: ready for more sleep more sleep more sleep.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday mixtape.

Rediscovering George Starbuck.

My son showed me this dance video, which is the best.

I'm on a search committee, and it is an enormous project, but I was able to share this with my colleagues, and in turn they shared this with me.

The notes in this: mineral salts, fresh water, turned earth, white woods. I bought it, of course.

I've shared this hither and yon, but it's worth sharing again. (thanks Amelia!)

Some things are just beyond.

My daughter Abbey posted this on Facebook and it is wonderful.

Why am I so far behind on watching this? Clearly I am too busy.

This is now the best cold drug, officially. (Caplets, please.)

I can't stand it if any of the three main characters on this die, but I fear that at least one of them will. Don't do it, writers! Don't!

This and this.

You've probably already seen this, but it's beautiful and worth remembering--shared with me by more than one person.

This week, I got to go to Target with this little girl and her mom. She told me that her 'favorite color is cute.'

The historian and I got to see some supercharged indoor soccer played by this guy and his team, the Blast.

I am tired, and I miss everyone, and I'm going to sleep until I wake up tomorrow. Good night.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A little song.

Today we talked about sonnets in poetry class. A little poem, a little song. I had the chance to think again about what for me is one of the most perfectly beautiful of poems,

I love this poem for its beautiful iambic rhythms. I love it for the way it darkens, and for the beauty that the poet enkindles from that darkening. I love, even, the turn at the end to the poem's summation. The poem earns its summation, because of the beautiful way it has given embodiment to it in the previous twelve lines.

This poem is so much a paragon for me that sometimes I forget to read it all the way to its end, or even to its middle:
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
Today, two students presented about the sonnet. One of them read some of the most beautiful sonnets ever written as if they were poncey frilly things. There's something about this language and its decorum--its sharp keeping of a code--that can seem very old fashioned, I suppose, to very young people. Anyway, you don't get anywhere by holding that against them. You just have to demonstrate how to give yourself to that music, that very solemn and steady music, because sometimes, slow, deliberate, vivid and heartbreaking song is what's called for. It's the only thing whatsoever that will do.
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The wages of working hard is a head cold.

Over the past few days, I have

  • graded discussions and ancillary assignments,
  • responded to poems galore,
  • attended a curriculum meeting wherein I
  • presented several pieces of curriculum, and
  • read 70+ job applications, as well as
  • made some planning moves for our five year program review, and
  • cleaned up my bedroom.
Also, I have been trying to take better care of myself by
  • working out.
(Somehow, the bulleted list makes all this well-doing seem more official.)

To resume: also, I 
  • drove super, super carefully in the thick-falling snow on my way to
  • work.
No wonder I am now
  • sick.
So I better go 
  • to bed, hopefully to feel better. Maybe I will take some variety of
  • OTC medicines.
In conclusion, 
  • ugh.
That is all.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Today in talk-back.

I've spent the day reading discussion posts and job applications. Commenting and scoring, occasionally out loud. Chatting with the occasional other human, but mostly: commenting and scoring, occasionally out loud.

one of the humans with whom I chatted. (with
fancy Google Hangout Drawing Action.)


When I got home, I noted that this was on my counter:

oh how I love a fresh box of raisins!

Can you read that? Kind of blurry, I guess. Apparently Sun-Maid sees itself as a servant of American families...and the world.

And the world.

By purveying raisins and other dried fruits, I guess? and also, its "century of experience answers all your questions on raisins and dried fruits--their unique characteristics, their history, and how they are grown processed, marketed, and enjoyed throughout the world." Because there's an ebook, you guys. A 100th Anniversary eBook (don't forget those capital letters!). I kind of want to get this eBook, while I'm simultaneously laughing about it.

Let me just say, to be clear, that I am pro-raisin. Particularly pro-golden raisin. They are among the royalty of raisinry (the Sultana is perhaps the King? But also that Trader Joe Gargantuan Raisin Medley is just the best--it is an argument for the whole American way, maybe?). And I'm not even going to make the turn you're predicting--"but this Anniversary eBook with gratuitous capital letters is a BRIDGE TOO FAR!" (speaking of gratuitous capital letters.) Nope.

But I will say that a raisin purveyor as a servant of American families...now THAT is straight up pompous. I would rather they just said, "Our raisins are the best." Nothing else. Think of the marketing--if they said it that way, the letters would be enormous. HUGE. And thus memorable, in the way of all huge things, such as The Hulk, Andre the Giant, Godzilla, King Kong, and those Trader Joe Gargantuan Raisins in the Medley. So good, you guys.


I am similarly pro-doughnut, as readers of this blog are already aware. But let me tell you that when you, and perhaps your son who is shopping with you, buy a dozen doughnuts that come in a plastic box, such as this one, at a grocery store:

twelve of these, and they are not everything they could
be, I'm sorry to say.
you can pretty much count on the fact that they are not going to be full of Bakery Fresh Goodness,


no matter what the label says.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Short notes.

Dear thought that pulled me by the ears out of almost-sleep at 1:45 a.m.,

I know: it's true, in the digital-virtual-internet world, there is not just one public, there are many publics--fractional publics, even intimate publics--and therefore, when we talk about publishing, we are talking about multiple forms of publishing, and this, this makes all the difference.

And yes: maybe I should write a series of essays about this. And maybe it should, maybe, be the first monograph that the Publication Center publishes. As a collaborative effort, because everyone will totally be on board with this.

Even so, stray thought that pulled me by the ears out of almost-sleep at 1:45 a.m., I just have to say one thing: 1:45 a.m. is so harsh a time to be having thoughts that aren't dreams. Even if you did, in fact, get me out of bed and writing it down. Oh yeah, I wrote it down.

But seriously: Kairos, dude. Think about it.



Dear the weekend,

As I flailed and outlasted the workweek--one of the more challenging ones so far, but not the most challenging, I'm betting, of this Infinity-of-Labors Semester--it was so good to realize that there you were, the weekend, right there in my pocket.

And did you ever feel good in the palm of my hand, when I woke up without an alarm on Saturday, and ate pancakes after working out, when I wrote letters to Scotland and mailed them, when I sent out a draft to my coworkers. When we went to the strangest movie, when we poked around in funny shops, and ate a delicious dinner at a new restaurant--the weekend, you were like an amulet, making things better. More cheerful, with better conversation and more relish. More laughter.

Tomorrow's Monday, but I won't forget you, the weekend, twinkling on the horizon,



Dear people making videos with your cell phones at a concert,

No it is not okay, not even remotely, to walk around the concert venue with your cameras video-ing away, getting closer and closer to the pianist, whilst recording for who knows what reason, for minutes on end. It's not okay! The pianist's being blind makes it worse, because it's as if you're saying, it's okay! she's blind, I'm not disturbing her. 

Like you're little mice and not grown women, tiptoeing around in full view of the entire audience and the rest of the band, making a video as if you're Albert Maysles and this is the Rolling Stones at Altamont. But no: it's a little jazz concert, a little jazz trio, and everyone can see you, and it's distracting and rude.

Really, if I hadn't been on the verge of starvation and therefore in grave need of rushing out of the concert as soon as it was over, I might have grabbed you by the, whatever, flowy cardigan, and said how rude how rude how rude!

But I was too hungry, and also probably not chutzpah'd up enough, but people with your cell phones at a concert, listen up: sit down! listen with your ears! and DO NOT SIDLE UP WITH YOUR CELL PHONE BEHIND THE PIANO PLAYER, be she blind, be she sighted, to make a video.

Because it is just beyond, and you ought to know better,



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