March 28, 2007
Okay, my weekly American Library Association newsletter informs me that Oprah’s next book club book is Cormac Mc Carthy’s The Road. Although this is probably a good balancing out book after the complete you create your own reality and bank account balance bullshit of her last book. Instead of telling you that you can change the world with your mind (which I do kind of believe, but not even close to the way that The Secret does), The Road will pretty much remind you that in the event of nuclear apocalypse, you may just have no say about the fact that it’s cold and you’ve been taken hostage in order to be eaten by other human beings one limb at a time (sorry, but that’s not a spoiler if you’ve read any NYT reviews). Yuck and yuck. I think Americans desperately need a reality and mortality check, and if they are willing to stomach The Road they just might get it. So it’s a gutsy choice on Oprah’s part, but it’s hard to imagine it will be a popular one. We’ll see.
March 25, 2007
I’ve been procrastinating this post for a little over a week now… not anything in particular about its content, just as the “next” post. I’ve had a solid three dozen ideas about what it would be about, most of which have disappeared into the sands of my brain’s lost ideas, possibly forever. There were a lot of good ideas, I think, but always something pressing in the way of homework or just a sense that it wasn’t quite what I really wanted to say, and why not try something radical like waiting to see if I even know what actually think. Of course, the problem with this Zen strategy of waiting your questions out to see if they magically turn into a tasty, austere nugget of answer is that often, they don’t. They just sit there as questions and begin to become a part of everything you see. You look at the palm trees, noting the high-up bunches of young green coconuts and the pleasing litheness of the green fronds, and you think, “Should I become a doctor?” You order a pint at the pub, and every frothy sip makes you think, “Should I become a doctor?” You settle in with a travel mug of coffee and a stack of books on the poetics of autobiography and the semiotics of womens life writing and best of all MHK’s Fifth Book of Peace and you start reading intensely and making cryptic notes in your notebook, in an ecstasy of language and, you hope, intellect and you are so sure that you were meant for a life words and quietly noted moments, and yet the ink splotch that your pen makes in the margin of your college ruled pages makes you think, “But really, should I become a doctor?” Your cat watches paper pop out of the laser printer, alas not pages of a rough draft of the paper you are presenting on Saturday, but pages related to your husband’s homework, and the dear cat is clearly fascinated, and you wonder… well, you can probably guess already.
So the good news of this week is manifold and hard to translate into any useful course of action. The workshop with Rosemarie Waldrop on experimental forms rocked my world. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun twisting words around and playing with them, just playing and not worrying about what they might turn out to mean to someone else. Last Sunday, D and I read Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style over a late Sunday breakfast and I laughed and laughed and realized I would never think about poetry quite the same way again. I love MHK and I’m excited to write this paper about genre and tricksterism, and I’m trying not to worry that I’ve put it off too late. We’ve signed up to help out with a whole bunch of youth group activities at church. For some reason I am back to dithering about whether or not I should go full speed ahead on this possible doctor plan and commit myself to what will surely be a hellacious two and a half months of summer chemistry, and this stresses me out even more b/c whether or not I do affects a lot of summer travel plans and travel budgets, and every day we delay buying tickets, of course, we risk paying more than we should have if I had just made up my mind and stuck with it. Also, the idea of moving back to Kenyon and becoming a librarian in a place with a ready-made set of social connections has begun to take hold with some force, even though it also has its potential complications, such as, won’t I always wonder if I could have made it as a prof?
And the best news of the moment, I have a Cape Codder at the ready, and I’m finally writing in my blog again. For a couple of days, I was wondering if maybe I was just over blogging, but then I saw LCB’s away message that is simply “so exhausted,” and I wondered why that was, and I realized that the only way to find out is to check le blog. And so I did. Naturally, checking the blog makes me thing “But will I have time to blog if I become a doctor? And when will I have kids?” I’m sure the connection between the two things is apparent to anyone who has tried to wrestle with insanely large and possibly ultimately meaningless life questions recently.
So, One Mint Julep and Atelier 81, I missed you. I think I’m back. But I’ll get back to you on that.
March 12, 2007
I just got done with the first meeting of my one week, one credit workshop with the visiting writer this semester, a poet and translator who is widely known in avant garde poetry circles. She has a pretty adorable German accent, if such a thing exists, and a quiet, intense, yet not overbearing energy. She also is older than I expected, which is really nice in a way, a good reminder that poetry really can lead to a well-lived life. The exercises we did (turning a ten line poem into a three line poem, doing a Fibonacci sequence thing with sentences, and a tripped out acronym thing) were actually really fun and even generated some vaguely intelligible poetry. The assignment for Wednesday is to take a poem we have already written and cut it in half and then cut it in half again, using only words that are already there. Should be fun in a maniacal kind of way, and it reminds of a story that I listened to on Selected Shorts last year about an English major who moved back to her small town after graduation and started writing a novel about her town. Then she just started condensing it: novel, novella, short story, poem, haiku, aphorism: “Small town undergoes many changes, yet endures.” If I had more energy in my brain or my general physical self right now, I’d try to ruminate on the urge to summarize and the toe hold that extreme summarization seems to be gaining even in the realms of academia, but I’ve got to go home and read some more MHK Fifth Book of Peace. And chop up a poem.
Why so tired? Well, last week my sister was here and that led to a lot of late and alcohol laden nights with scary movies. Lots of fun, but by the time I got to Archives class at 9am on Saturday morning in South Beach, it was catching up with me. Then yesterday, instead of sleeping in, we sunscreened up and headed to church to help the youth group w/ their car wash fundraiser. By the time that was over, we started a mad dash of shopping and cooking for D’s bro’s 23rd birthday, which went off smashingly despite no actual food being ready when the first guests started arriving. But by 8pm, everything was in full swing and continued so until the candles got blown out at 10:30. I now feel like the queen of carrot cake, so any future visitors beware, I might bake you carrot cake. I was so high on life (a day of solid and outward-oriented effort, a good party, a good meal) that I barely noticed how tired I was on the ride back to Boca at midnight, but I definitely noticed this morning when Daniel’s new Razr started ringing it’s little alarm.
So wait, why don’t I make an avant gard poem out of this:
cannot wake up with out coffee and creamer or my brain rots.
(can you see how all the lines start with “c” and end with “s”?)
Enough of that, back to MHK. And better make that some coffee too.
March 6, 2007
I tried to post yesterday, but wordpress seemed to be having some kind of bug that made my blog run blur down the computer screen like messy pixelated tears every time I tried to write or scroll, so that obviously didn’t happen. And with my sis and her bf waiting patiently for me back at the casita, I better make this short. Here’s my favorite, a list-y-fied rundown of the past two weeks of my life!
1) Two canoe trips: one with alcohol, one without.
2) 3 papers: all finished, grade back on one and it was satisfactory (which is relief, b/c besides being worth 25% of the final grade, the prof in question didn’t like the first one, so it’s good to see that I still have the ability to respond usefully to criticism).
3) One presentation proposal for an extreeeeeemely local conference (I mean, open only to grad students at my Large Third (Fourth?) Tier State University): Maxine Hong Kingston and how she likes to fuck with you about what genre she may or may not be writing in.
4) For said proposal, I am reading her latest, The Fifth Book of Peace.
5) Also thinking a lot about my friends: D&F the Expectant Ones, LCB bucking the educational system, and AH trying to deal with a bunch of Irish tight asses. And Snickerdoodle, hoping that somehow she is managing to write a law school statement she can live with despite everything.
6) Sis is visiting w/ bf. Must go!
7) Summer chem? Really Liz? Really?