Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

Halloween has begun with rain, rain and more rain. It's supposed to end this afternoon - I hope.

After working at the haunted house, I went back last night with my kids, as customers. I think next year we will go to a few more, maybe compare scare tactics. It's fun to be scared when you know it's not real.

Bush's nominee is REALLY scary.

My students have papers due today. I'm wearing my "spooky" Halloween shirt with a ghost on it. $4.99 at K-mart! But I will not be handing out candy. I will hand back research assignments to the students who turned them in on Friday, and that, I think, is treat enough.

I planted iris and crocus yesterday. I still have tulips and daffodils to plant, and then I'm done.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Help Me!

Tonight I worked at Rossi's Farm's Haunted House with my daughter and a friend. I wore a mask and said "help me!". Also spent part of the time being a head without a body. I've never worked at a haunted house before, it was fun. And thankfully my husband came and relieved me for the last hour and a half. Saying "help me!" over and over gets a little tiring.

The indictment has arrived. None of my students seemed too interested.

I messed up the front of my car but it's going to get fixed. My students have a paper to write this weekend and I'm hoping they will rise to the occasion - a bit of a post mid-term slump seems to have descended on some of them.

No papers to grade this weekend! The new Caffeine Destiny is coming along. A birthday party tomorrow, pumpkin carving Sunday. I am reading Doreen Gildroy's new book, Human Love, and forging ahead with Zadie Smith.

A friend today told me he thinks he's going to get out of the adjunct game. Go back into mental health services.

I like teaching, although it can be frustrating at times. But today is Friday!

My final shipment of bulbs arrived. I will plant iris, tulips, crocus and daffodils - soon.

My hair has blonde streaks in it now. I did it myself. I will never do it again.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gillian was here

The week has gone by so fast, and barely time to blog!

Gillian Conoley read here last night, and she was quite charming. Her new book, Profane Halo is energetic and exciting. Hearing her read made me want to write write write. I am hoping to have her poem and the rest of Caffeine Destiny up any day now!

Too long without talking to Janine. I am going to call her this morning, and tell her how I met the person who has Zanni's old job and told him, "you're the new Zanni!" I'm sure he thought I was a goofball.

I am quite excited about possible indictments. I am trying to contain my enthusiasm. And Harriet has left the building! But somehow, it all seems like noise. There are other more pressing matters that seem to get ignored.

Some of my students are writing papers about an historical event - I think we'll go to the library today. If I don't devote class time to it I'm afraid most of them will do most of their research on the Internet. Which is not always ineffective, but can be inefficient. And I think putting your hands on actual books is an important part of research. It's week six - I have begun the countdown, somewhat prematurely, to the end of the term.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sweet Victory

My son's team won their football game, and my daughter's team won their soccer game. This afternoon the whole family will go watch Portland State's Vikings play football - maybe they can make it a triple crown!

Hey Joshua Corey wrote me! And he made the excellent point that he would have talked more about the poet's work if Poets and Writers had actually said more about the work itself. That's a Phd candidate for you - so fussy about the particulars!

Maybe I should start emailing writers whose blogs are much more widely read than mine, and see if I can get them to respond by subtly attacking them. In this way, I can become a kind of blogger "Professionalist". Hey C. Dale Young, you call that a typeface? Well I guess that's not subtle. And really, a hypothetical example.

I have a letter to the editor in the current issue of Poets and Writers, but they edited it so much that it doesn't really make much sense. The point I was making about the quote I refer to is that we ALL live in the real world - at least last time I checked.

With the exception of my dog Rita. I am pretty sure she spends most of her time in an alternate universe, where dogs are serenaded in Latin, carried everywhere and given big medals to wear around their neck (I think she watches too much HBO).

Iron and Wine was good. Too many extra acts. I"m not a big fan of the saw, except when I need to cut some wood, which is not very often. It was a great surprise to see the lead singer of the Shins on stage though - he joined Mr. Iron and Wine for a few tunes. And I like the t-shirt I bought - it was half the price of my Coldplay t-shirt. Why do I keep buying concert t-shirts, when I don't really wear men's t-shirts with logos on them? Except camping.

Still grading those essays. I talk to my students in my head - like when I'm driving and stuff. I think this is kind of strange, but I bet many teachers do this. I think, "now how will I explain this ..." Except there is no "that sounds stupid!' voice in my head, so I probably do a better job explaining things in my head than I do in real life.

Which is probably true for many people, in many walks of life.

Not true for C. Dale Young though. He rules.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Yes, I should probably be grading papers right now. I will. Soon.

It was nice to have a day off from teaching. I wrote a poem and finished making my cabinet. My office will soon be much more organized.

October is the perfect month for eating apples.

Josh Corey talks about the Poets and Writer's "Poetry Debuts" section in their latest issue - all about poets with first books out this fall. Poets and Writers arrived at my house today. I looked at the first few pictures of the young and recently published, and thought, "why do they put their ages? That's stupid!" Then as I kept reading, and ages like "42" and "43" showed up, I liked the fact their ages were listed. Still, I'm not sure it's relevant.


I appreciated what Corey had to say about careers versus professionalism. To be very reductive, Corey says some poets go in search of tenure before the ink is barely dry on their MFA diploma - or as Corey puts it, the Professionalist is "the poet wholly obsessed with the perks and privileges accorded to his person and his ego", while others are more interested in the career of the work, rather than the career of the self who is making the work. I think I got that right.

I appreciated it, but on the other hand, am not overwhelmingly interested in these distinctions. Because as Corey points out, there is a little of each of the professionalist and the careerist in many poets. So what is he really saying? And why does it take him so long to say it? And why does he choose to spend so much time talking about the way that P&W presents the new writers, rather than talking about the work of the poets themselves? I do think Corey lives in a world where distinctions like "are you a professionalist or a careerist" matter. Does that make him a "Professional" or a "Careerist"? I think I like the way Zanni discusses it better.

And not to get too carried away, but why does someone's work have to have a career? Isn't it enough that we make people have careers - now our poems have to have careers as well? Corey writes: "Properly stated, a poet's career refers not to the career of the person but of the work: in the sense I want to use the word anyone concerned to share their work with others is fostering that work's career".

Can't our poems just relax, hang out in coffeehouses or offices or parks? Do they have to have something as ridiculous as a "career"?

I want to make interactive artist trading cards - ones with pockets and stuff. I want to get the new Caffeine Destiny up too. Gillian Conoley's work will be in it, and she is coming to Portland next week.

First, however, the papers!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Worlds Collide

I have used artist trading cards and postcards in my classes this week. I used them as an exercise in coming up with titles, as many of my students have been naming their essays "Essays Number Three" and "My Close Reading Essay". I also had them write descriptive sentences about the paragraphs, using parallel structure as well as assonance and consonance.

And because it's week five, and from here on out, any time you can do something in class that seems like an even halfway legitimate use of time and you haven't done it already a whole bunch, you DO IT.

I took the dogs for a walk tonight. Their stars are gone but we still navigate pretty well in the dark.

Big purchase today: a pine 7-drawer cart, with drawers just the right size for organizing all my art suppplies for my ATCs.

Laurel Snyder has written an interesting bit on The Happy Booker about the reasons for an MFA - ladder, what ladder?

Speaking of MFA students, thank you Nico for responding to my suggestion. I think I was partially mad in just a "kill the messenger" kind of way.

My daughter practices her flute in front of the mirror.

Only one day left to teach this week!

I go now to play chess with my son.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Glow in the Dark

I like how Zanni titles her posting, "The new serious me" and then at the end talks about taking pictures of her cat for

I don't have a cat, but I do think the most fun I had yesterday was watching our dogs glow in the dark. I bought glow in the dark stars for everyone's room, and my daughter put a star on each of the dogs. Right in the middle of their foreheads. It made them very easy to locate in the dark, and it was entertaining as well. It also made them seem like alien leaders of an obscure religious cult. Dog star!

I laughed at Norman Dubie's expense today. Read the "What the Hell is Up with Your Author Photo" column at The Jim Side.

Okay, time to prepare for class some more.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday night

I love how boring the titles are for my postings. I also love how boring the postings themselves are. It's kind of liberating.

Well, I don't mean to sound provincial or puritanical or any of those other bad "p" words, but people were naked in "Bug" last night! The actors, I mean. For like ten minutes! Walking around the fairly intimate stage, naked as the day they were born. I wonder if their parents will be in the audience for any of the performances, and how the actors would feel about that.

It was an interesting experience - the play overall, not just the nudity. I felt it was a little too relentless at times - it seemed to hit only a few notes. But then again the notes it did hit - despair, insanity, desperation - were played well.

Is it possible to make beef stroganoff without the beef broth or the mushrooms, substituting Campbell's cream of mushroom soup? Maybe, but I'm not sure I recommend it. Then again, it wasn't bad!

I think this week should be not as hectic as last, but I could be confusing "feeling relaxed after a three day weekend" with a realistic estimation of what I have to do. But still. I get essays from all my classes tomorrow, but I have next Friday off! I think next Friday is when I will tackle Caffeine Destiny's new issue.

Started a little poem about Psyche today. I like the Psyche myth, and I have a John Waterhouse poster of Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden on my wall.

I was looking at poems of Mark Yakich today, and found this one, How they Existed in the World, on Poetry Daily. I like it and I like his tone.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

It's the Weekend

I have begun reading "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith and I think it's fabulous!

Made this card today. My daughter lost her soccer game, and my son lost his football game. Competitve sports are brutal.

I walked 3 miles today. I'm aiming for 14 minute miles these days.

It's the kind of autumn day when red, golds, and deep browns are everywhere, and dark clouds threaten rain five minutes after the sun has shone brightly. I love it.

Someone thinks if Harriet Mier had a blog, it might run something like this. Pretty funny.

Last night my husband and I drank vouvray and ate cheese, bread and apples for dinner by candlelight while the kids ate pizza downstairs. I think this should be a new Friday night tradition.

Tonight we are going to see a play tonight, "Bug", presented by Artist's Repertory Theatre. The New York Times called the play "obscenely exciting." We'll see!

My hair still has some gray in it but I don't care so much about the gray anymore. I figure, hey I've earned this gray! I did get a weave but the hairdresser seemed kind of unsure of herself, and I didn't know what I wanted either. That combination adds up to barely discernible hair color change.

Tomorrow I'm having brunch with my sister in Southeast Portland. So I believe I can say that so far this weekend I've done a very successful job of avoiding any teaching responsibilities. That seems appropriate, somehow.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

No School Friday!

My pincushion flower plants arrived today and I put them in the ground!

A Thursday night with no school the next day is what I call a very fine Thursday night indeed.

Received a copy of Issue #4 of The Canary in the mail today. Poems by Lisa Jarnot, Joanna Klink, Tod Marshall, Dan Beachy-Quick and many other cool poets. They are published in Eugene. And in another one of those poet coincidences (see Thursday, October 10's posting ), my friend Daneen was talking to me about Laurel Snyder today and how great she is. And she's in this issue of the Canary too! Laurel's blog is here , with lots of links to her poetry.

Nico may lose his phone service (read his October 12 entry) and Zanni's students are offering her drugs! Clearly it's a jungle out there, if you're an MFA student. Should I have a bake sale for Nico? Can't someone in his workshop let him use their phone?

I thought of Zanni today, as I gave my 1:00 class chocolate. It just seemed like the thing to do.

After tomorrow night there will be no more gray in my hair, if the hairdresser person knows what she's doing. More as the situation develops.

I haven't been for a walk - except around the block - since the marathon, and I think I miss it.

I finally finished grading all the essays, which is good - as students in all my classes will be turning in their next essays ... Monday.

Tonight, however, is not Monday.

Tomorrow I am going to make bread and artist trading cards and write little unformed drafts of poems.

And maybe vacuum.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I Finished

Well I did it! I walked the Portland Marathon in under 7 hours. My pace was 15:36. I might just do it again next year. Or I might not! I don't have to decide for a while, and I'm glad about that.

Walking over the St. John's bridge was spectacular. I felt pretty good the whole way, which means I could probably do it faster next time - if I trained harder!

The woman who won the Portland Marathon, Yumiko Minato, ran it in 2 hours and 44 minutes. That's a 6:16 pace. Impressive!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

On Beauty

I have decided to read On Beauty . I ordered it today, as a "you finished the marathon!" present to myself. Hopefully I'm correct in my prediction. I haven't read any Zadie Smith, but I listened to an excerpt of it online and it sounded good.

Class went better today - I'm integrating the writing handbook that I hadn't used much yet. We've been reading a lot of essays from the reader, but it helps to have some terms established for talking about things. Some of them came up with some great thesis statements for a close read of a text. Teaching a freshman level class is different than teaching an upper division - you feel much more like "teacher as entertainer". They can be rather passive. But then you have to give them the space to become active, and not feel like you have to rush to fill every yawning silence.

Talked to my friend Janine today, who is a busy MFA student. We talked about writing poems and making manuscripts. She told me about her former teacher, Laurie Lamon, who has a book out, The Fork Without Hunger. I realized after we ended our conversation that I have the book - the publisher sent it to me for Caffeine Destiny! I am thinking about contacting her for a profile. When the time allows.

I"m interested in the quotidian and how it ends up in poetry. This may seem like a simple concept, but I realized the other day it's actually very important to me. I want to explore this more... I don't mean this as just thinking poems about what you have for lunch are interesting. I mean, the way the every day gets approached and used and moved about in a poem. Maybe it's similar in some ways to what happens in a still life painting? Hmm...

My son told me last night he has to write a five paragraph essay about how he eats Oreos. He said it needs an introduction, body, and conclusion. The purpose is to explain how he eats Oreos. He said to me, "but what if I just shove it in my mouth?" I thought that was funny.

It's raining here but it's a nice rain.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Longing for the Epic

This could be another sign of autumn: I want an epic novel to read. But not the Diviners. Something to get up and read a little of in the morning, something to read at night - something to read fifty pages of in one sitting occasionally. Maybe it doesn't even have to be epic.

Maybe this has something to do with all the papers I need to grade this week.

I asked my students today what the writer's purpose was in writing the essay we were discussing. One student said, "oh there really was no purpose, just like that essay we read yesterday". I think I have to stop asking that question, it seems to irritate them. I think tomorrow I will list many different purposes for writing on the board and ask them which one they think applies. I don't think this is making things too easy for them; I think some of them just need some language for talking about some of these things.

I'm taking the dogs for a walk this evening - my last walk before the marathon!

I have just been writing little drafts of poems; they are strange and kind of unformed, but I like them. I decided it's counterproductive to try to get lots of writing done on weeks when I have so many papers to grade. I just end up frustrated.

Cole Swensen's new book is out! And on it's way to me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Little Field of Self Part Two

See! I AM writing again!

I have received some great artist trading cards lately. Saturday I received some from an artist whose work can be found here . And today I received two from Germany!

The fall issue of Caffeine Destiny is almost in place. I hope to have it up in the next few weeks, time permitting.

Here is some Doreen Gildroy, from The Little Field of Self :
The birds, clear
in their little way -
yet not pretending everything, and can
How I love the
odd ends of knowledge.
Better to go lightly along.
Here is a phrase I believe didn't come into existence until recently:
"this may take a few minutes, if you have a large blog".

There is chocolate in this house - I am certain of it. I go now in search of it.

The Little Field of Self

I saw another sign of autumn today - Canada geese flying overhead.

The paper chase has begun - I have sixty essays to read before Monday. Briefly considered other job options today, as I was driving the freeway. Circus performer? Magician at kid's parties? "Signs of autumn" identifier for the masses?

Gertrude Stein quote: "Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."

I was reading The Little Field of Self again this weekend, after Zanni mentioned it. And yay, she has another book coming out very soon! I love her quiet lines.

I will write more before the day is done! Going to class now, to teach my "revision workshop" to students who feel somewhat hostile towards this whole concept of ... revising.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday

Listening to Stan Getz. My husband is playing poker tonight.

The title of my posting is from Gertrude Stein (although it would make a good title for a Stan Getz song, I think). I've been reading about her in 21st Century Modernism: The "New" Poetics by Marjorie Perloff. Marjorie Perloff is a very amiable sort of critic, I think. I don't spend a lot of time with criticism, but I make an exception for Perloff. I believe it was Perloff who also made the comment about how long is the post part of modernism supposed to last? Is everything just POST from here on out? Well maybe she wasn't the first one to ask that, but I liked the way she did it.

And she turned me on to Frank O'Hara, which I will always be grateful for. Anyway, Perloff writes:
Miss Stein once said: Every masterpiece came into the world with a measure of ugliness in it. That ugliness is the sign of the creator's struggle to say a new thing in a new way, for an artist can never repeat yesterday's success.
That's an interesting thing to think about - when something is truly innovative, it probably looks more than a little unattractive, because it's never been seen before. So then aesthetics are shifted around a little, to give the previously unattractive a foot in the door? Or something. I like Stein. I wrote a poem a while back called "A sentence means that there is a future", which is another line of hers. Oh the Stein lines!

I bought a new scanner today and scanned the ATC shown in today's posting - I like the "LIVE" word. I have another ATC with the word "live" in it, maybe I'll do a series.

My son's team lost their football game today. Today it thundered and lightening-ed. I also bought a hair iron today. For straightening my hair. I don't have super curly hair, but the iron makes it lie very very flat.

The colchicum have begun to bloom - yes it happened that fast! My narcissus bulbs have put down roots - that fast - and have been moved to the bookcase. I planted three iris on Friday and some red tulips. I only planted three iris because they were a BONUS from the bulb company - a thanks for ordering gift! I think iris rhizomes look like big articulated insects.

Heard Rick Moody on NPR talking about his new book, which sounds like a bit of a Pynchon mess. I'm not sure if I"m up for it. Which is not to say it sounds bad, but I read an excerpt of it and felt slightly overwhelmed.

Walking ten miles tomorrow. The Portland Marathon is a week from tomorrow!

Getz is playing Moonlight In Vermont.

It's October. Be sure you have a warm coat Janine.