28 May 2009

such a liar

I'm in Portland, Oregon at this very moment (having been here for 3 days now), on vacation. The last time I was on vacation--real vacation, not hosteling & cold-sandwich-in-the-rental-car-ing it across Sweden--was somewhere around 2002. I've read books, I've eaten excellent food (fleur de sel caramel macarons at Pix Patisserie, most notably), and I've done some shopping for things I can't get where I live (like many flavors of mochi and an onigiri bento box).

Even more notably: I've gotten a job. On Tuesday, I received a phone call inviting me to join the faculty at Casper College, in Casper, Wyoming. I am exhilerated, relieved, and no small bit anxious (to get there, to start, to find a house, to sell the house I have--and all of that in no particular order). It is wonderful, just now, to have that pressure of applying lifted (especially in these market conditions). I am privileged and blessed (and now I can finally hit up the optometrist again) to be in this position.

My body, however, cannot handle the lifting of stress, apparently. Today, on the drive back to my brother-in-law's place, I had a migraine kick in. I had one the day after my dissertation defense, too, and one the day I turned in my dissertation to my committee. Letting go of tension has become the difficult thing for my body, it seems, and that strikes me as remarkably backward. I'm going to try to use the remainder of my vacation doing as Yan Martel encouraged: increasing my stillness. Or at least in the effort of unitasking a little more.

To that end, I'm going to resume my reading. I'm starting Greg Ames's Buffalo Lockjaw, and I've been looking forward to sinking my teeth into Greg's book for weeks.

22 May 2009


It occurs to me that I will likely bore people to tears with odd little snippets every single day, but. Well. That's what the internet is for, innit?

This morning I'd like to talk about plans gone awry. You see, I am a (somewhat lax) participant in the lunch phenomenon known as bento. The tiny, lovely lunchboxes, the inclusion of actual food in said boxes (from the person whose past favorite lunch was a bag of Cheetos and a granola bar), etc. etc. Now, I've been rather remiss in doing any such delightful lunch-packing lately, and today was the day I was going to do it again, properly. I rinse and get my rice on the stove, get the water going for my tea, start peeling carrots. (It's all very productive for 6:45 in the ante meridiems, yes?) The tea kettle whistles, and as I'm reaching for a mug, my vision goes rather fuzzy, darkish, you know. I've had this happen before. I get a good grip on the counter with one hand, get the mug settled with the other. Somewhere in the vicinity of reaching for the tea kettle, I apparently lose my grip not only on the counter, but on consciousness. Apparently I fell rather gently (which is always nice) because while I feel where my head hit the floor, it doesn't hurt. I did, however, in the process, knock my rice pot over, and I just haven't got the mental wherewithal to start over with that.

I'm not particularly concerned about the fainting part. Mostly I'm vexed because I'd had my hopes up (and maybe that's telling--my hopes were up regarding the packing of my lunch? but in my defense, I had a bloody nice bit of leftover steak and some roasted broccoli from last night that were going to go with said rice) and now things have gone pear-shaped. I don't like pears.

(Honestly. Nothing against those who do, but I just can't get my palate around the durn things.)

I don't like pears, and I like my plans going pear-shaped even less. Ever since I was a child, I cannot stomach disappointment. It's not so much the problem of things changing--that's okay. But I'm definitely of the Colonel Hannibal Smith (you remember--George Peppard from The A-Team) way of thinking: I love it when a plan comes together. And I am disordinately distraught, I think, when it doesn't.

I should probably work on that.

Reading: Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry

What an intensely charming and addictive read. His section on his absent musical ability is--well. Brilliant. But you'll have to read it for yourself.

20 May 2009

This was a good idea.

I started the next novel. 227 words. That's not much. But it's a starting point, and I'm stopping there--mid-sentence--so that I will pick it up tomorrow.

My reading for the day isn't done yet--that comes next, I think, as soon as I make some cocoa. Or some other seasonally inappropriate beverage. I did read a few pages while printing out things today, and I'm very much looking forward to getting back to The Air We Breathe.

I feel like I should have something interesting and pithy to say, but I will just say, instead, that I am very glad to have found my missing notebook in the empty plastic bag that my cap and gown were housed in. I was certain I'd left it on campus somewhere, but there it was, while I was cleaning the bedroom today: black and spiral bound, 1/3 full of things that someone might find interesting but only if that someone were someone like me (enamored of trivia and things that aren't meant for us to see). I also found the pen that was with it, a black Bic stickpen, possibly the cheapest kind you can buy, and the kind that I love to absolute pieces. I lose the caps for them, and then they roll off every surface in my house, because nothing here is level.

19 May 2009

100/200 Challenge: Day 1

I'll start with what I'm reading, which, as I said in the previous post, is Andrea Barrett's The Air We Breathe. I'm not done with the novel yet, so I won't talk about the book itself just yet, but reading it did get me thinking more about something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. And that something is, terrifically mundanely, the weather.

I love talking about the weather. I check the weather several times a day, I look at thermometers, and whenever I (misguidedly) sit down to write a poem, it always ends up being, in one way or another, about the weather. And I don't know anything particularly about the weather--I have no scientific knowledge of it beyond the basic concept that different kinds of weather meeting (warm systems meeting cold systems) generally makes for even more interesting (or intimidating) weather. But I find something compelling in the seasons' change--possibly because I dread the cold months (and for me, there's nine of those a year)--quite enough that when I first meet people, that's often my topic of choice. And I'm certain I seem terribly awkward and uncreative ("Oh, she has nothing to talk about but the weather," they say), but it's not a lack of interest that motivates me--rather, it's the opposite.

And this little postlet, I suppose, beyond being in keeping with my resolution, is also to say that you may find more about the weather here, in future days, in general, or in specific.

What is your favorite topic that no one expects to be a favorite topic?

Greetings by way of resolutions

These first posts are always difficult--we have such want to be momentous all the time, don't we? I'm probably a little more predisposed to it than most, too, but I'm doing my best to refrain.

It's hard to blog as a fiction writer--I get jealous of my time and words and I know I should be working on a novel right about now. I also have a predilection for untruths (because my reality is seldom as interesting as other people's), which seems to be at crossed purposes for this kind of endeavor. However, I also don't want to be entirely cut off from the reading and writing community, which is the peculiar situation I found myself in while finishing my first novel. I was working really well--and not reading and not talking to people. And now that the draft is finished and revised and I'm searching for a home for it, I find myself neither writing, reading, nor really conversing about reading and writing, which is a very dull situation.

So: I am posing a challenge to myself (and anyone is welcome to play along, either in the comments or in your own blog):

The 100/200 Challenge. (I made it up in the shower this morning. It's not a very good name, is it?)

The goal is to read 100 pages of something and write 200 words of something, every day, whether it be 200 words about what I've read, 200 words of fiction, or 200 words of non-fiction (because I have essays I always mean to be writing--I'm certain you do, too).

I'm adding to that goal an admonition to write about the experience here, what I'm reading and what I'm writing. I likely won't be posting those 200 words here if they're fiction or part of a larger essay, but I will be talking about what I'm reading and also looking for suggestions for what to read next.

I'm kicking off the reading with The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett, who is one of my absolute favorites.

I'm going to get down to business. What are you reading now?