n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Saturday, September 26, 2009

a bit AWOL these days

but things are just fine. Students seem likely. Birthday was excellent (thank-you ER; I'll get a letter off to you soon, I promise). WriteAThon is running to Day 12 today and is perfect, 'n I'm writing again, thank-god, no judgments, no genius just writing. And the big pumpkin is still turning orange. I picked chanterelles today, heading home now... (4:15am, jeez). But as for the image below, this is one of the collection, and now that I'm adding words: I'm trying to find ones that are familiar but not sentimental--about the various languages that surround both isolation and solitude. Difficult, that. So, you know... any ideas are welcome.

Kenyon Spider Thingy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

weird days

Because the last time I went, I had an edifying time attending the all-college meeting at the community college I teach at, I thought I'd wiggle my way through another one, even if I've been thinking "I'm out!" with greater and greater intensity. And mostly, the meeting was boring, although I did enjoy seeing who the trustees are, and even more enjoyed squirming in sympathetic embarrassment that someone decided to introduce the trustees in a one-hour "comedy show" modeled after the Tonight Show, much to the apparent discomfort of the school president.

But what I thought was interesting, and an odd conversation, was afterwards, when I got waylaid by a department colleague whom I don't know very well, although I've always thought she seems super-friendly and interested in making friends with me (we just don't seem to bump shoulders, schedule-wise very much). That is, I've always meant to hang out with her sometime, but the opportunity has never really happened. Anyhow, the colleague rather pounced on me, asked me a bit about my writing, whether she could see some, but then segued into a conversation about why the hell I wasn't teaching creative writing. Of course, I said, "Good Question..." and stuttered around a conversation about seniority and all that jazz. But the conversation turned a little weirder... she asked me why it seemed like my MFA wasn't appreciated or utilized, and on a kind of lighter side, why the department didn't "throw me a party" and "feel proud" of me when I came back from Chicago with an MFA from a prestigious art school...

She was being very flattering, which I've never dealt well with, but also bringing up questions that I'm a little sensitive about as well.

Hmmm. Perhaps what was bizarre was being asked these questions personally. I'm not really sure why the community college has been considerably less than thrilled to have me back with extra experience for them to hypothetically draw upon. I felt pretty awkward and blushing in response and stumbled my way through the conversation, in part by lending the woman a book that I've always wanted to teach but haven't had the chance because it doesn't fit in with first-year comp.

Thinking about it though... I don't believe I have too much of a sense of entitlement (or at least I try not to), and when people have said to me in the past that so-n-so, or such-n-such school "owes me" a place, I've only just managed to bite back a laugh. I do believe everybody has to hustle and is in part responsible for making their own pathways through a competitive world. But the colleague seemed really concerned and either was confused or was playing at being confused (I'm not sure which... she's definitely a nice person, but I'm always suspicious of beautiful blond women in positions that indicate they're quite smart, and yet who act 'confused' about this or that... not that they're manipulating or bending information, but perhaps they're using their dissembling skills as a tool. Sometimes I get this impression coupled with a sense that I'm in the presence of a kung-fu monkey guru who lures knowledge by feigning innocence, and sometimes it feels like I'm in the presence of someone who always gets what they want by trading on their ability to appear ditzy; that is, I think it can slide either way in the scales of Good, and in this instance I don't think she was being sly, but rather chatty), and she got me thinking.

Like why, in the year that I've been back at the community college, has nobody asked me what I learned or studied when at SAIC? Most of my colleagues know that's where I was, but nobody's shown any interest in the skills I might've acquired. I've been asked if I've published (like before), but it's almost like nobody can believe I've picked up new knowledge in the past four years! It truly is bizarre, isn't it?

Mental note: when I meet someone who I haven't seen in a few years, I gonna start asking what they've learned. It might make for some interesting conversations actually. And other mental note: there might be several reasons beyond my own failure for why I'm so bloody unhappy at this job.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

what the pig it means

So, in my dream last night, a farmer comes up to me and asks if I can come down and look at his pig. I say, sure, why not, and put on my galoshes, and through the late evening near-dark, muck on over some hills to a pig pen where there's this huge white pig rolled over on its side, wheezing and coughing, little bits of blood along its sides, oozing downwards.

Once we've looked at the pig for a few minutes, the farmer turns to me and says, "Well, I just had the vet over to take a look at him. He gave me some medicine for the pig, but I thought I better ask you what you thought about it. Pretty sure that vet didn't know what he was talking about."

Of course, I look at the farmer, feeling totally perplexed, then look back over to the pig, then back to the farmer and say, "Well, the vet is going to be way more trained to tell you what's wrong with that pig than I am. Why in the world would you be asking me, anyway? I'm no expert!"

Farmer kind of rocks back on his haunches, scratches his head, then leans into the fence again, looking closely at the pig. After a few minutes, he looks sideways at me, a little slyly, and says, "Well, J-, you know that's not a real pig, don't you? That's a dream pig, and what the hell do vets know about dream pigs? Surely you're in a better place to tell me what's wrong with a metaphorical sick pig that's shown up in your dream..."


Swear to god, that was one of my dreams last night. I woke up laughing my ass off.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Items of Note

Garden Days
Sunflowers On the Porch: As of September 1st, I have health insurance for a few months. I plan on making appointments soon to get that MRI and see what is wrong with my back. I might get insoles too. A check-up in general... is that pushing things too far? I've also thought about acupuncture and counseling. Maybe massage therapy, plastic surgery, liposuction. For some reason, health insurance also makes me feel a little reckless... like going camping, or dancing more frequently. Maybe carrying heavy objects and wrassling with Herald. Like taking more yoga so I can one day go kite-boarding. Good thing I only have it for a few months; wouldn't want it going to my head.

Garden Days
Pumpkin Turning Orange: Last Thursday was my last day of the quarter. No more teaching for a couple of weeks although I have tons of work to do in association with it, plus some meetings I'm supposed to attend. I hated teaching the 5-week intensive class and will never do it again. Students should have been thinking "Woah, Intensive!" but were thinking "Swee-eet, Less Weeks!" I also realized that I'm not sure I like teaching. It's something of a revelation thinking about it. I mean, I might be wavering on the point between detesting and despairing. I didn't realize it had gone that far... But I can't see a single advantage to it any more. I feel cut off, judged constantly, without compatriots, without help or method of growth, unappreciated, and bored. Not to mention, I feel like I have more (or less, if we're speaking about personal investment) to offer the world in terms of talent and ability than pushing freshman composition. I've talked about this with various people who kind of wonder whether I should suck it up because jobs are always a little on the "yick" side. But, I don't think I've honestly asked myself: given the skills that I currently have, what else could I be doing, and doing well?

Garden Days
Greenhouse Peppers: I can't ruddy believe it's September. This summer went ridiculous fast.

Garden Days
A Garden From the South: The gallery next door to my studio is moving out of the building because DP (the landlord and owner of the kid's theater stuff) has taken to having all the children's plays in the evening, particularly the weekend evenings, including those of the downtown Artwalk (last Friday). Despite the fact that the gallery has put tons and tons of time, energy, and money into advertising its rotating exhibits & shows, it can't get the walk-through, and the gallery's obviously loyal and fanatic friends seem bothered and turned off by walking through 50 dressed up children squealing in the darkened walkways (darkened to avoid backlighting in the theatre). Actually, for walk-through, it pretty much kills it 100%. As for me, I haven't yet invested in advertising, being that I felt my time would be better spent working , for the time being at least, but I was hoping to get walk-through compatriots and guiltily, I admit I was depending on the gallery's visitors popping next door to my studio, since they're right next door n' all. But even with that... I had two visitors on Friday - one interested, vaguely, in what I'm doing; the other merely interested in the space (again). Although I'm of English heritage, I'm thinking about responding the question "If you don't mind me asking, how much do you pay?" with "I won't mind as long as you look at my work." Is this unreasonable? Anyhow, my mind is humming around this a bit. About what I actually want to get out of having a studio.

Garden Days
A Garden from the North: I went to the String Band Jamboree with a friend last weekend. We camped out and wandered around from camp to camp until 3am, listening to the strings, and accordians, washboard drums, broomstick bass, fiddles, banjos, harmonicas, voices, clapping, laughter. It started raining sometime around 4am and woke me up with the sound on the lid of the tent, and I could still hear the bands and the laughing, and at 5am when the rain stopped, I woke up again and the music was still on... just a few, dwindling, the light coming in. Next year, I'll stay for the whole weekend.

Garden Days
What We've Canned So Far: Yesterday I picked plums and tried to make plum jam. The plum jam is now being called plum syrup. Note to self: more pectin than is called for when dealing with juicy plums. I'm also trying to make some plum liquor: we'll see how that goes. I have to leave the jar on its side and then rotate it once a day for 16 days, then filter and bottle. Mom's made pickles, salsa, and beans from her tomatoes, my cucumbers, dill, pole beans... it's a pretty sweet deal. I feel like a country rustic. Maybe I am a country rustic?

Garden Days
"Strange Fruit," or the Ones that Floundered: I'm supposed to send out at least 3 writing pieces to 5 different places this week (or ready them). That was my agreement with self. It's time. (It's past time)

Garden Days
Flowers through Flowers: I think I've decided that I'm moving to Seattle in January. I'm not positive of the date, but I'm feeling strongly about it... that it's time to stop pretending that Bville will ever be anything more for me than a brief respite place, a stop at the tip, a place of good family love but otherwise bad luck. I'm excited about it and wondering: when and why did I start becoming so absolutely petrified of change? I don't think I plan on teaching when I move there, so I need to find other writing/editing/etc jobs. I don't know what it will be. I don't know how to find a place that will let me bring Herald. I don't, above all, know how I'm going to stand driving in that place! Seattle = great place, shitty transportation options.

Garden Days
16-Foot Sunflower: But I'm more excited by the commitment I have from two friends, maybe three, to start writing/sending a page a day... it begins on September 15th, I think, although I have to check with the crew. I'm scared; I haven't written in so long. I feel like I ran out of someone to talk to. Interesting, because I stopped writing right after telling the Bville Ex that I could not find my way into being her friend. But I also decided that I wouldn't write another thing that is in any way connected to me, me, me... I don't mean "out of my experience," but I do mean out of my sense of self. Anyhow, my writing beginning on Sept 15 will be for JW, AW, and maybe NM, and there will be no rules, none, except a page a day.

Garden Days