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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

encrazed (with three exclamation points)!!!

So, I've been feeling guilty about not writing here... especially with so much going on, although perhaps it could be argued that little of it is of huge foment or moment, really. I've just been busy, really busy, and trying to keep myself busy too.

I talked to CC over the phone about three or so weeks ago and she mentioned slyly in brief (in a much more polite way than this would indicate) that reading about NM and my angst over that friendship is BOH-ring. And unfortunately, I too find it BOH-ring. But also not. And then CC went on to express her thought that I would definitely continue to talk about it regardless of this fact. Well, she wasn't there to see me (one of the many drawbacks of phones), but I got that stubborn look on my face. My "I will not, goddamit" face. And yet, whenever I'm under a personal stricture to not do something in my writing, I tend to get nervous and fretful about writing in general.

So, now I've reverted to my "oh well" face. However, as there is much else to talk about, I will refrain from mentioning my NM feelings until near the end of this post, which I am doing in order to procrastinate from grading the ten trillion bajillion papers that are in my backpack at this very moment.

Speaking of which, the biggest reason I am ENCRAZED is that I took an extra class and also overloaded one class with two extra students.

The overloaded class is a creative writing class, which I was given this year, to my delight. It is going well, but it requires probably 3x the amount of work, in part because it is only the second time I have taught it, and the first time I was so experimental in my approach that much needed to be revamped and done anew this time around. Last time, I decided to not do a lick of workshopping since I hated workshopping so much as a student, and almost always found it utterly pointless. I like working one-on-one, and I like seminars and studio classes far better. Better to be inspired, given exercises, talk openly, and listen to the wisdom of instructors and friends than to look at the bored or irritated faces of my peers and hear them say, "Um, you're kind of obscure in your writing." So... last time I taught this class, no workshopping.

I also previously did some funky "prose is poetry and poetry is prose" approach because I also get irritated by genre distinctions, and last but not least, I did a separate reading list for five different groups that were focused around science fiction, mystery & romance, poetry, nonfiction, and literary prose. Both of these teaching strategies had their pluses and minuses, but overall I feel like I assumed a greater level of literacy and familiarity with writing than I actually encountered.

So, this quarter I revamped with the knowledge that most students believe that poetry has to have end rhymes, four-line stanzas, and a huge degree of abstraction. I revamped knowing that students don't really know what a story is, or why language is important. And I revamped knowing that many of these folks don't read very much, and when they do, it's often the poorly written pulp that makes me gnash my teeth. I planned workshopping and set up rules; I cut down on the reading but made our process of talking about them much more craft-oriented; I separated the class time into poetry/prose/other, so we can have actual dialogues about characteristics one finds in different forms of writing; and I cut down on the writing required, but tried to encourage students to take more time to write and experiment with their work.

So far, it is going well... and the students are, I suppose, as I presumed they would be: about 1/3 of them are talented and smart smart smart, about 1/3 are new to the game and are working hard to learn new things, and the last 1/3 of the students are going to cling to their notions of abstraction and end-rhyme no matter what... and I will simply have to gnash my teeth and get over it when I read another "two dead and black roses / dark and lonely in their windowsill poses" poem. At least now we are starting the fiction section, and I can gnash my teeth at all the "and then he woke up" endings.

Other two classes... going okay. I'm teaching in the mornings this quarter, and apparently next quarter as well. And so have the brutal reality of 6am wake-ups, and 8am classes with students who are not morning people any more than I am. That 8 am class may very well be the death of me, but not because the getting up is too hard, but because of all the sullen and downright cranky-ass faces with mouths shut and squinchy eyes, looking up at me, refusing. Just refusing. But whatever, the quarter is 1/3 done.


Now, I have to say I have been remiss in keeping the bloggerino up-to-date about all the interesting folks I have been meeting. With an eye towards that mental well-being that is partially dependent on that social and physical well-being, I have been keeping myself active. I've started going to the gym 3x a week again (mental note: letting oneself head fat and weak about the knees means that 3x a week gym visits will be the rough equivalent of descending the third ring of hell in order to meet the sweet nips of Cerberus itselfs), and I've also been trying to socialize in new ways.

I've met with some success and some not. Just over a month ago I met up with my old sweetheart, SSS, and it was surprisingly pleasurable and comfortable to see her this time and have breakfast before heading further south to hang with my sister and her family on Waldo Lake. Which was another socializing. And twice I've seen my old Reed friend, AR -- once this past weekend, and once just before Waldo. Nice mellow visits... people who remind me to challenge myself.

And by that, I mean that I've been pretty furious and internally nasty about the role of friendship in my life, and mentally egging myself on (in a way) to develop a thicker hide and be more of a bitch. Deciding that I will run over anyone who gets in my way, shift into reverse in order to run them over again for being there in the first place, and then shift back forward to clamor ever towards what I want and what I deserve. Perhaps not a horrible point of view for me to toss around in my head for a few minutes each day before discarding it for less ruthless ways of being.

And fortunately, the sweetness of friends and the truth of my affection makes it utterly ridiculous for me to think I can be such a brute. But I do wish sometimes that I was a brute. I do. And so, CC, there is the one obligatory nod towards my obsessive brooding over NM.

Back to the better parts, I also had a very nicely visit with my sister... we rubbed each other wrong a few times, but I think were able to back away from the rub. It's quite the wonder that a person exists who is so capable of pushing my buttons, but I realized for the first time, how the wonder goes two ways: I noted myself pushing her buttons too, and how it was hard not to, and how I didn't even realize I was for some of them, but how I did for others. And how I really admire and love that crazy cat and her sweet, good husband. Very worth working on and holding back from all the little things I can do to irritate.

We kayaked into a Waldo Lake campsite, where we met up with the lifelong friends of her in-laws, who have been going to that campsite every year for the past twenty years.

Um. Friends. Shall we?

The spot was incredible, and since it's mainly accessible by boat (or a 1/2-day hike), there wasn't a hoard of traffic either. On the way out though, my sister and I ran into this horribly comedic and detestable Californian couple.

We were packing up, and the first real "meeting" of them involved a BOOM CRASH of them dropping their canoe on the ground from the top of their SUV, and then the wife screaming at her fat and suspendered husband for walking too fast without making sure she had a firm grip on the canoe. She screeched at him long enough that both Ali and I were looking around, anywhere but at them, the source of this drama, and we were probably blushing to boot. Then the wife stopped screaming, and he started loading the canoe while commenting on my sister's corgi: "Oh, don't touch the corgi, honey! They bite!" To which my sister replied, "My corgi most certainly does not bite (sir!)." He then said, "Well, the queens' do." Repeat of my sister's comment... not to mention that her poor corgi was still traumatized and weepish for having been suited up in a doggy life jacket and carted around a lake in a kayak, not exactly a vicious attack dog at any rate.

After this, the man started carting stuff off to the trash, but failed to tie up his canoe. I looked up, and there it was... heading off to the middle of the lake. I failed to think first, and actually ran after the canoe, caught it, and pulled it back to shore as my sister shouted to the man: "Your boat!"  Damn, if I could go back in time, the one and only thing I would change would be getting that boat for the man. Oh, it would have been a delight to witness!

Instead of thanking me for saving his boat, the reprobate immediately asked if we had canteens of water that we'd be willing to give him and his wife. Ali and I gave each other the strangest and most confused look ever, waiting as we were for a "thank you for saving our boat" that was never to come, and then we replied in the negative. The man then said he'd be fine drinking straight from the lake. When I suggested he might consider boiling the water to prevent diarrheattic explosions from soiling his camping experience, he laughed at me and informed me that the water was clear as could be. Last we saw of them was the man slapping at the water with his paddle as his ass bulged over the canoe's nearly submerged stern.

Good times.

After that, Ali and I booked it off to the coast, where the brolaw was in for a day from his ocean research gig. Sea lions and beer pretty much sums that up. I can absolutely stare at sea lions for days upon days, by the way. Never seen a group of animals do such a self-contradictory set of behaviors repeatedly while barking "Hell No! Hell No!" over and over again.


My birthday was a blast... I only invited people I like this time, not people I am trying to like. The food was incredible (harvest theme): fresh corn, quiches with most of the ingredients including the eggs from my garden, tomato salad, salmon, roasted vegetables, eggplant bruschetta... Not to mention the desserts:  tiramisu, triple-sec soaked oranges, rosemary-blackberry cobbler, cake, home-made ice cream, etc...

My SAIC friend JT gave me one of her pieces of artwork that I have secretly admired over the years... I like all of her art, and enjoy looking at the pics she has available from time to time, but as I am not very good about communicating admiration, I had never really told her how much I enjoyed her work, so was positively afloat when I got a handmade cast egg with glazed interior and knitted egg warmer. Really beautiful and creepy at the same time (my favorite). MH also gave me some poems, a print I've admired, and some feathers in a jar. My mother gave me money to buy a new mattress and save my back from the evils of the world of saggy mattresses, my dad followed my instructions for getting me an iPhone, and my sister hid all my (planter) gifts about the property such that it took me two days to find them all.

In other words, I am spoiled. Really, really spoiled.


Not this last weekend, but the weekend before I went to SP's wedding reception. I wasn't sure I was going to. It seems hard enough to stay friends with people you've dated without adding the difficulty of attending their wedding. I hadn't met her future spouse, nor had I seen her for more than an hour or so for a long time, and I feel somewhat that SP overshares her romantic life with me anyways. But I knew it was important to her, and I knew she had found someone who shares her need for a particular form of love, so I wanted in some way to support her happiness. Thus, I solved the dilemma by begging out of her ceremony, which I knew would be very formal and cheesy (and should be if that's what she wants!!!) and thus very difficult for me to deal with. And I went to the reception only, which was fine.

I enjoyed meeting her new wife, albeit very briefly, and getting to say what felt like "goodbye" to all her family members. I got a smidgeon irritated when three of her sisters/friends independently assured me that one day I would have a child, don't worry. (Like, um, what brought that about, and is their assurance supposed to make me feel hopeful or something?). But overall, it was pleasant, good to see folks, and I got to walk back to a friend's boat, where I was staying, in the most beautifully fall and windy Seattle weather, with the leaves golden and rushing with the bay air. Absolutely no regrets.

One day I will find my windy wild, and she will unravel and knit me daily.


Speaking of which, and last but not least, too: I finally had my first date off the online thingy... and I've also had one date broken under a melodramatic line of bullarky. I may have even had a second date, but it is with a girl who is very, um, persistent... even after I told her I wasn't attracted (politely, I think). She seems nice but totally freaks me out with too many emails and text messages, plus that whole not attracted thing. (Why do people wear so damn much grey anyways?!!) I wouldn't mind being friends, but she seems just a little disconnected from interaction in some ways. Like she's trying to remember how this goes.

Familiar, in many ways. Personally, I'm trying to remember how it feels to trust a person with something so vulnerable and fragile as our heart. Or memory. Or time even.

I'll get there, I think. Life is good enough to do so.