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

Friday, April 29, 2011

so far so good

I've heard quite a bit about the so-called wonders of epsom salts. Today I am testing them out.

My feet hurt. Orthotics don't help, and exercise especially doesn't help. And today involved special punchy, admirably athletic motions with the arms while on The Elliptical, which obviously foretells wicked pain in the foot-pads. I haven't mentioned wicked pain in the foot-pads as a new thing, because of... you know... other things (too much griping). But nevertheless, wicked pain in the foot-pads is not really a new thing. Thus, the epsom salts.

I need more hot water.

I'm going to boil more hot water.

The boiling is now happening.

Why do feets go awry, really?

Mine have been going awry technically since I was born (my mother was told my feet were deformed at birth, and so taped certain toes together throughout my childhood, first the big one and second, then the second and third, sometimes a stick in between, and still I remember the white sticky adhesive of the white tape). But they've been going more awry for the past four or so months. I don't think it's bunions. I have orthotics, so likely it's not arch. It's hard to tell.

Maybe it's just that our bodies break down, and that's what happens. That's what happened with my back, and nothing I could figure out actually managed to change it, although yoga helped, and bending into helps... learning to accept.

Sometimes I get angry, like when someone asks if I'm into softball and then acts like my back is an excuse. Like I don't love softball, and moving, and dance, and the myriad of ways the body is made to be only alive in motion.

But sometimes pain is something both to work through, and to accept as a hindrance. I can't twist, and I'm okay with that (mostly); still, I really really do strive to live, even when it involves twisting. I got all twistish on the elliptical today, and then in front of class (realizing how much, once I'm there, I like be teaching... like a drama student who tells herself that plumbing is an admirable profession), and then in the greenhouse, planting, opening packages in the mail, thinking of poetry and squeezing myself into the pair of ragged pants I've had for 15 years, since college: squeezing myself in and sucking my gut so as to notice my legs might still be active and my butt not out of commission and my stomach... still, barely, just barely, suckable... like I still have a chance, if I just twist a little. I mean, I still can twist, surely so can anyone.

It just hurts.

The water boiled.

Wet footprints from the living room to kitchen and back again.

Pouring the boiling water, trying to avoid splashing on the dog.

Easing my feel in slowly, very slowly.

But damn, if that hot water and epsom salt isn't nice. I'm wiggling. My toes. And arches. And ankles. And the rest.

And I'm thinking of how poetry seems like all I can handle right now. And simultaneously all I could ask for. Poetry and epsom salts, who'd a' thought?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

enough of the pity party

So I realized today that I am once again officially depressed.

I actually did a remarkable job getting over the journal rejection - decided to do everything up proper and set up a database to keep track of submissions and whatnot, and realized that I certainly cannot whine as I have not submitted nearly enough. But that cheerful realization did little to stem the downward spiral of my thoughts.

I think it finally hit today what it means that I was not given a creative writing course for next year... it means, I think, that although I am the only person who applied for the job who has an MFA (in addition to Masters) and in creative writing, I am still not qualified enough. That is, being qualified is not enough to qualify me over those less qualified. I also heard that the people who got the job were two people who've been teaching the class for years, and a newbie: my friend MH [awkward cough]. The whole thing made me wonder who the fuck has it out for me in that department...

Anyhow, thinking about all that just helped me realize what a fucking horrible pathetic existence I have. My three happy thoughts are my dog, my mom, and my garden, but other than that... my friends are too far away, my relationships are blotto, my writing is shit right now, Bville is boring, I get paid next to nothing, I have to read 43 crappy essays (and about 4 good ones) twice a week, I'm not qualified enough to do even the only fucking thing I'm qualified to do, I still miss someone from years ago who never treated me very well in the first place, I experience back pain every day of my life, my best friend still texts me in the middle of the night about her illness and mostly upsets me when I see her even, and... and... and I'm fat. And I make lists of my misery. And type them on my blog so strangers and friends can see how miserable I am. Poor me.

I think I cannot be a miserable heap any longer. Time to start applying and looking elsewhere for reals. May the job applications be hardy, my skin be thick like Cheney's ass, and the love affairs be imminent.

Monday, April 25, 2011

another rejection

Now I'm going back to grading essays, after having spent the whole night dreaming about grading essays and waking up to a rejection that was 4 months in the coming. I keep finding myself praying for a nice handwritten rejection instead of the form ones.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ten cents for your thoughts

thinking dog
a) That war in Libya really sucks.
b) She's taking another goddamn picture, isn't she.
c) Aha, little chew! Aha!
d) Does 1+1=2? But what happens when you eat one?
e) This would taste much better with gravy.
g) I'm a pretty clever fellow, aren't I?


My second garden is pretty much set up... now I just have to wait for it to warm up a bit so I can plant everything. Below is a picture taken on 4/15 just before I finished prepping it and putting up the fencing. I meant to take a picture yesterday but forgot. And on Friday, I got too distracted by the baby moles I found in some hay.

I didn't know baby moles were so damn cute... I wanted to kill them so they wouldn't burrow in my garden, but they just stretched and scrunched so beguilingly. So I found a nice little spot for them and gave them some of the hay I had saved for my garden. Hopefully, they'll return the favor when the time comes to burrow North or South.



On Friday I logged back on to Facebook for my Facebook Friday. (I cheat sometimes, but not very much actually). And lo and behold, what happened? I read something that made me really angry. And nothing that made me happy. Hmmmmm. I was so angry, I logged right off and took Herald on the longest, steepest hike I could manage. Up to this lake:

Pine and Cedar Lake Hike
Pine and Cedar Lake Hike
Pine and Cedar Lake Hike
Pine and Cedar Lake Hike
It was nice, and I got to test out my new hiking poles, which worked great. I wasn't completely drained of anger by the end, but I was close. And the sunny weather yesterday drained away almost all of the rest.

I wonder sometimes if I have anger problems. I certainly did when I was younger, but I thought I kind of outgrew it. Maybe not.

Anyhow, I just got triggered a bit.

[Content removed due to self-policing: the rule about no public griping about the actions of people I know read this blog. Sigh.]

I've been wondering why I write or think more about the one bad break-up I had than all the fairly good, nurturing relationships I've had. I asked myself, is it that you didn't love Sarah or the others as much as EC? And my answer was a resounding "Fuck no, it's not." I got to thinking about SS, and about how much she felt like a part of me, how some of the most beautiful intense moments of my life were spent with her, and how when we broke up, I felt like I had been split right up the middle and forced to regenerate limbs to survive. Remembering all the things we did together mostly brings me happiness and nostalgia, but I guess I don't talk about her so much because I want to keep it private - between us. But why wouldn't I feel that way about a bad break-up? It's strange. Why does the intensely painful stay with me more easily? Why can't I let things go? Why do bad moments in my life bring back other bad moments... like I have to emotionally go over it all again and again?

Anyhow, the hike helped. I busted my ass, and went up to Raptor Ridge after the lakes and had this marvelous view:

Raptor Ridge
And yesterday, I cooked up a friggin' storm - making two incredible quiches (spicy green chile and sausage + chicken and mushroom peccarino) and potato salad for mom and CR, and a brunch today. I went on an Easter egg hunt too, and saw SP, and was fine. Now I'm supposed to be grading the 40 essays I have in my backpack, but just the thought of them makes me feel a little gaggy. Sigh.

Anyhow, I will end with a foible de Herald, who I finally realized makes an appearance in every dream I have. Last night a little girl was pinching his paw to hurt him, and I had to give her a gentle lecture.

So, up at the lake, I bring out a chew strip for Herald... to make it easier to eat my shrimp salad in peace. I give it to him, he walks over to the lake, wades in, and drops the chew strip. Very purposefully, and even nosing it under when it didn't sink fast enough.

Then he looks at me, and looks back at the water, starts pushing his nose in like a bear, pawing at the water, churning up dirt, looking at me again, whining, sticking his whole head in, and finally, walking back to me and begging for some of my shrimp salad.

So I set down my salad (putting the lid on carefully to prevent snoutage), go down to the water, stretch out, and pull out his chew strip for him. He gently takes it from me, as if saying "I get the message, lady" and walks over to this little murky-mud spot that is actually part of the lake... boggy, I guess you could say. And he lies down in it, and gets to work.

chewing dog


Thursday, April 21, 2011

stupid dreams, what do you know

Ever since we walked past each other with awkward hellos at the REI sale, I've been having dreams of EC. Not naughty ones, thankfully, but dreams in which we are friends, or becoming friends. Last night, I dreamt we met at a mutual friend's house where EC popped by to say hello. When she saw me hanging out with the group of friends she took off running, but I sent Herald out to round her back up. Once inside, it was awkward but got less so over time. And I was so damn happy in the dream, that we were friends. Sometimes it's hard to acknowledge that the one thing I wanted more than anything was something either I, or she, or the rough painful scour of it all prevented. Sigh.

I miss Ellen, Jess, and Louie. I could use a cuddle with them, I think.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

good news bad news I hate decisions

I used to be pretty good about change, but apparently no more.

Good news: I finally broke down and read my student evaluations. They appeared to like me. I.e. the overall cluster of comments was positiv-o, almost as if the consensus was I did my job pretty darn well.

Bad news: My application to teach a "non-sequence class" (creative writing) was denied for the upcoming year. I know I had folks on my side, but the problem appears to be that everyone in the department is desperate to teach something other than the same ol'. The classes aren't really given via qualification, or even seniority although seniority helps. My impression is that mostly they want to spread the love around. The department chair was very nice about this, actually, and asked me if I'd be willing to consider and work for an additional class for the summer. Summer 2012. And she talked about *if* there were an addition of an online class, how I'd be the person they'd look to in order to fill in for the in-person alternative... if and if.

I get that they're trying very hard to cover all the bases. And they recognize the fact that I work hard for them, and know my shit. But that's not really enough in this environment when everything has to be justified ten times over, and everyone needs so badly the little ray of sunshine that newness provides.

That is, it's impossible to be angry about this. But it is nevertheless a deal-breaker for me. I think.

I mean, I've become the biggest coward and stability-hound that ever existed, so it's hard for me to compute the alternatives. But when my own mom starts talking about positions she's 'heard' are available in Texas, maybe it's time to really figure the cut and run.

God. Fuck. Shit. Errrrr. Fuck, again.

Obviously I need a job where I am so needed I actually have a little bit of say... whether the say is financial or otherwise.

I wish I had a reason. That would make everything a little easier, or at least blind. So far, my only reason is the belief that I could, full stop, if the conditions were just so. But I don't think that's enough. Or maybe it would be enough to get me started again (god, I love the keyboard of my new computer; it's like making love to venomous snakes and small streams over polished rocks while listening to jason collet and reading science fiction). Difficult to know... especially if I toss myself out into the maelstrom.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Every now and then something you do turns out to have meaning. Today involved a few of such... specifically, three thank-you's, one being an older (and awesome) student stopping by my office just to say 'thank-you.'

I have in my backpack my student evaluations from last quarter. I know that no matter what it says, what I will take away from it will be overall disheartening. It's the way I roll, I guess. A cluster of positives offset by a cluster of negatives always equals negative, even if the positives are lengthy, specific, and akin to my vision of myself. At this point, I'm scared to even look at them... their thrust always being what I could do to be a more perfect vision of each individual student I have had.

I wish I were such a teacher that everyone would agree how awesome I am. Who are these teachers, anyways?

So I will instead focus on the really amazing thing that happened today, which is that I was treated to dinner by the parents of the girl I've been tutoring for the past three years. Maybe it took a dinner out to realize I've been working with this same student for THREE friggin' years. I met her when she was a student at the community college, via craigslist, and have tutored her through general ed classes such as ecology and gender studies. I then helped her apply to the local university, and once she was accepted... through her varied classes there, and then her more specific upper-division sociology classes until now, when she is two quarters away from graduation (the bulk of her required work happening now, and her thesis happening this summer).

KL is dyslexic in such a way as it truly impacts her reading and writing, and she has worked her ass off to get to where she is. Tutoring her at first involved a huge effort on my part to understand what she struggled with, and then as time passed, developing an appreciation for her strengths as well. I've helped her mostly with writing, but also to a large degree with reading. Meaning that at times, I've read almost her entire syllabus for a class and parsed the meanings out with her.

For me, tutoring has meant learning the difference between letting her learn through hard work, and digesting the work for her. At times, I have wondered whether I was doing all the hard work in her stead. But this problem also lead me to question: what is the harm of being transparent about what I know? Why not tell her how I read the same pieces that she also read? What stops teachers from acting as interpreter as well as judge of interpretation? In other words, as instructors, sometimes we create difficult puzzles in the hopes that our students learn to solve them, but maybe helping them solve a few... or a lot... gives them a pathway to follow later when they are alone, and struggling. My instinct has always been to cast my students into the void, to encourage and cheer, to be happy when they get there. But maybe that ability to "get there" is a skill that not everyone intrinsically has. Maybe sometimes students need the result modeled, or maybe they need to watch the entire process, or maybe they even need to be given the end results... just to know that most problems have a solution, that every resolution is approximate, that knowledge is a seed and fruit simultaneously, and that teachers are not gods but eternal students... also striving to get it.

At various moments tutoring, I have held back or given everything I know about the topic. I have read things and asked pertinent questions. But I have also read things and completely divulged everything I understood. As a teacher, I often feel more hampered by the need to get the students to do the work. As a tutor, I felt less hampered, I think. Regardless, maybe sometimes both teaching and tutoring are about showing how, precisely, I would do the work. And then students can take off from there. To my relief, KL was almost always a student who took off from there... surprising me sometimes as she showed me what she now knew that I didn't know she knew.

Anyhow, I'm rambling. But I met KL's parents, who obviously adore their daughter, and as I adore their daughter too, it was a meeting of the minds. They made me feel good about my tutoring. Granted, I've been paid, but also I have been interested.
And they gave me daffodils in a vase, bought me dinner, invited me to visit during special parties, and KL's father commented softly that helping his daughter was "the best money he's ever spent." I think they might be the sweetest, kindest family I've met in a long time, and it makes me think about all the sweet souls like KL out there who don't have that love and financial support her family offers (hmmm). Well, anyhow, it was pretty amazing to realize what an impact I might have made in this one person's life. Not just one quarter as a teacher for many, but three years with one...

I felt proud, and patient, and also lucky to have found such a student -- one who meshes with me as a tutor and doesn't take advantage or ditch or slack off. Pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime deal, I think. I also got a bit sad, realizing that she will graduate soon, and maybe this means it's time to find a new beautiful thing to invest in.


Oh, and Writing Group was sweet tonight. We still don't have our groove, but it's starting, I think. Peanut shells and country blue-grass beer and softball talk, plus catching up talk, plus languagey trying talk, mmmm yeah.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm writing this from a new mac laptop that will revolutionize my world and make me a success

no pressure, McLaptop, no pressure.

I've named her Vociferous. Mainly because I like saying Vociferous.


I caught myself thinking this morning as I drove to work that if only I could write like a combination of Thomas Wolfe, Faulkner, Virginia Wolfe and Marquez, I would be satisfied. Then when I realized what I was thinking, I snorted coffee up my nose, thinking... that's all it's going to take? Why didn't I realize that before? Ah, coffee up the nose... how cleansing to the spirit.


New quarter is up, old quarter is gone. And what did I think about teaching creative writing, now that it is done? I'm not really sure... overall, I think it's less satisfying than finishing one of my own projects would be. On the other hand, it is satisfying to encourage writers to achieve new feats, to challenge themselves, to find inspiration in every corner, and so forth. I like giving the kinds of encouragement that I would have liked, or have received well from teachers in my past. However, every now and then, I'd end up saying the wrong thing for the wrong person... giving a long list of suggestions because a piece had real merit, only to squash the writer's fragile self-esteem by making it seem like there was so faaaaaar to go, and so little achieved, for instance.

For the most part though, it really didn't seem all that different from teaching any other writing course, composition included. It involved a lot of prep, a lot of reading, a lot of commenting, plenty of nagging and cajoling, weedling and shaking my head. The end products were sometimes amazing, sometimes not so amazing, also much like other classes... the only difference being the sheer variety of genres turned in. However, at the beginning level, there really wasn't so much spread in talent... a small handful of passionates who were progressing well, and a larger handful of less-passionates who progressed not-at-all. Maybe one or two remarkable voices that made me happy.

And so I now find myself in a new quarter, ever so quickly, with no creative writing students... about 45 students in an upper-level comp class, which means I'm going to be reading reading reading this quarter, and I'm already feeling myself slip into the spring lazies. Hmmm.


I've banned myself off Facebook for a bit. I've decided I can only handle it once a week... for three very good reasons:
  • Social Networking is pretty convolute, and there's very little way to get away from people you want to get away from. They're always there, connected somehow, lurking in the shadows. Sometimes they're even your friends.

  • I've had quite a few friends with significant writing and publication success lately. I'm happy for them, and rush out and buy their books right away, and store them proudly on my mantle and think good thoughts for them. I even take the books to my classes and try to sell my students on them.

    However, lately - especially as I "friend" journals I like - it seems like I'm always facing other people's success. It seems like reviews, reviews of reviews, re-shared reviews, comments on reviews, new announcements, reading tours, tours that involve reading, reviews of reading tours, re-shared reviews of reading tours that involve reviews of recently published reviews on recently published colleagues, and so forth, are always scrolling through my feed.

    And this, I have to admit, has two deleterious effects on me, one of which is to encourage me to feel jealous. That slow sneaking irritation at other's achievements - achievements that I'd much rather be happy about! - is such a nasty, slimy feeling... guilty and hair-tossing at once. It's easier to be generous and not jealous when other people's books are not something I'm constantly reminded of, I have to admit. The second effect is the slow erasure of what little self-confidence I have right now regarding writing, since my writing has been ever so slow for awhile. I feel pretty well paralyzed by the utter success of others, like there'll never be a way to catch up, to jumpstart my inspiration again, to get disciplined and believe in myself after three years of sloooooow progress.

  • I don't like the way Facebook fills in my thoughts, the way it scatters my thinking, encourages me to look for micro-bridges between the various moments in the day, rather than finding continuity in living and moving from one action to another action... one interaction to another... one idea to another. I feel like my mind hops all over the place even after five minutes on Facebook, and it's rarely five minutes on Facebook; it's more often 30 minutes on Facebook, about 5 times a day.
Yes, so three very good reasons, and now that I've been off Facebook for almost a week (I plan on logging back on Fridays only because I do actually want to keep up with my friends and the events that are posted there), it feels very strange. It's not called 'unplugged' for random reasons.

I keep finding myself irritated during the off moments at work that I can't turn to my computer really, except for news... and I keep wondering what is happening. My mother has asked me several times what my sister is doing, and in the past I was able to keep her relatively happy with updates on my sister's status, but no more. And at one point in the week, I almost logged back on because I needed to organize a gathering, and couldn't figure how to get everyone together!

But I also feel relieved. Like I finally turned off my phone after fifty phone calls from anonymous stalkers in the middle of the night. And outside the night is quiet, and the frogs are flirting, and occasionally a wind will come in to blow around the chimes in a gentle tinkling that somehow sounds distant and comfortable.


I think the writing group has finally found its location and zone, but I also think I'm going to need to add people in order to get just the right mixture of vim and vinegar. After following the suggestions several times of someone who has only shown up once over the past four months, I finally decided to go with what I want... which will likely mean inviting more people from the cc since I don't really know any other serious creative writers in this town other than my father (who would inevitably drive me to impale myself on my writing utensil), EC (who I doubt would join for rather obvious reasons), and my former local professors (who I never knew well enough to ask such an impertinent question). So... I've tentatively started inviting a couple of other folks... it's a nerve-wracking thing because there are a couple of people who I really don't want to be in a writing group with - either I don't like them, or I don't like their work, or they are too loud and controlling. But I also don't want to hurt anybody's feelings either.

What a snob I am.

Anyhow, MH and I finally settled on a local pub, on their cheap beer night, at an hour that is before the music gets rollicking. There're peanut shells on the floor, and dogs lurking in the corners, and guitars hanging on the wall, plus 'cheap' means $3 for a damn good beer and none of that Budweiser's crap. I think the zen and mojo is just waiting to happen, and I got all these shivers at the idea of having a reading there too.


My garden has started... here are the first little troopers in the greenhouse (these are cabbages, but I also have broccoli sneaking up too):

garden shot
And out in the garden proper, I have a few baby chards and a few baby spinaches, and a few baby snow peas sneaking up. Here's what the freshified, ready for planting first garden looks like at the beginning of April:

garden shot
garden shot
Also, I decided to basically double my garden size, creating a whole new garden for the beans, squashes, and pumpkins. Here's where it's going to be, in a picture taken just after I got started on the endeavor:

garden shot
Here it is now, two weeks after getting started:

garden shot
garden shot
The 'interesting' part of the project has actually been negotiating with CR over where to set it up, as he is convinced that the new garden place is going to result in the death of thousands of happy little garter snakeses. My new garden is right next to their spot, so we've negotiated a five-foot snake border, about which we are debating back and forth the ideal conditions. Basically it is going to look like this, which I guess I can deal with... there were some pretty big fights for awhile about said ideal conditions, not the less complicated by the fact that it's CR's property and he and mom are only letting me garden because I feed them veggies from it:

garden shot
And more to come! I'm excited and have some very sneakily geometrical plans to maximize sunlight hours in the new garden. We'll see how it goes.


Let's see what else? In summary: wedding of NM's friend, it sucked except dancing, nearly got into fisticuffs with NM who apologized but still owes me big and needs to stop being quite so self-centered where I am concerned and also stop talking about her ex who by now I despise, and she took a two-week trip back in to the south that left her weeping and freaking me out with new phone calls, man am I not cut out for this stuff; SP and I are doing okay... missing each other, I think, but making sure to work in time for hot tubbing and getting drinks and holding her new niece and so forth... we've managed to talk through some things and though I don't always feel peaceful about it all, I'm feel okay with where we are right now; and I've decided to stop drinking hard alcohol for awhile... I'm too irresponsible about it and realized I spend too much money on it... and the difficult tells me it was the right choice; and I'm working to keep working out... I've hit an all new high in bigness, and feeling pretty sick of it, but trying to accept myself as I am even as I struggle to find a better way to stay healthy (who'd a thought that hiking every other day, and working out on the elliptical on the in-between days plus gardening wouldn't get me to at least a reasonable medium?); and roller derby is on Saturday, Herald is happy and fat, and I need to go now because it's late and I need to get up early and grade tomorrow because I was supposed to do it tonight and instead played on my new computer.

And my faith in myself is experiencing an upswing. I don't know why, but it is. Maybe it's the sunlight.

Also, I like this laptop's keyboard. I do. I need a mouse for it, but other than that, I like it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

i don't get it

"We care less about things that are more complex. If we can't fit loss of lives into a simple narrative, we care less about them." -- Poly-sci dude from Yale, Jason Stearns, in an interview with NPR's Greenblatt.

Why would we care less about things that are more complex? Or more about simple narratives? Is that true? Why? ('simple narratives' seem more boring to me, among other things... so, I don't get it.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

REI garage sale

what mayhem.

Aside from getting a nice packable sleeping bag, hiking poles, cheap pants, EC sighting, SP hangout, and claustrophobia from the 200+ people I shared the store with, I glanced over while in the very very long checkout line and saw this under the men's ski-pants:

(the shot I took was fuzzy so I photobuzzed it)

Not only did this warm my freezing heart, but it reminded me of every outing I was dragged along to as a kid. It's been a long time since I've seen another such dedicated pard'ner.