Saturday, January 28, 2006


Bill and Jane have returned from Egypt! I have a lovely gold piece of jewelry that has my name written on it in hieroglyphics.

So far I have made the chocolate pudding, watched March of the Penguins and finished another egg poem. I was thinking about my egg poems when I was watching March of the Penguins.

If you've seen it, you know that when it is time to mate, the males walk very very far to their breeding grounds. They pick a penguin to make an egg with. The females lay the eggs and take off. They walk back to the ocean and get food to bring back for the males who are sitting on the eggs. The males go for almost three months without food while the females are gone. They all huddle together for warmth. Some of them die. The eggs hatch while the females are gone. Some of the male penguins die. Some of the penguin babies die. Some of the females don't come back because they get eaten in the ocean by sea lions.

While all these events are taking place, it is very very cold.

But most of the females return -- en masse -- and the females and the males cry out to each other and when cries are recognized, families reunite and the babies and the males finally get to eat again.

While watching it, I thought, how sad to be a male waiting for a female who, unbeknownst to you (because you're a penguin and can't really know things except instinctually which isn't really the same as knowing now as it?) has been eaten. Do those widowed/orphaned penguins starve? No doubt. Ah, cruel nature.

I have been reading Try by Cole Swensen this weekend. And The Shape of Reason by John Gage. One is poetry, the other is rhetoric. Also read Allure magazine, and a really intriguing student essay about being at a meditation center that had some pretty strange rules.

I'm going to go see if the kids want to play CLUE now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Carpe Weekend!

This is what I think I am going to do this weekend:

make chocolate pudding watch Gilmore Girls with Laura straighten my office walk with my dogs spend time with Michael when he is not studying run without my dogs play chess with Max plan next week's classes read more of The Birth of Venus track down more Frank Lima poems start a poem or finish one listen to my new Liz Phair cd I bought today pick up my Dad and stepmom at the airport - back from Egypt! make ATCs knit sleep in tomorrow watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Michael watch Bleak House with Michael until all those British accents make me tired and I fall asleep watch March of the Penguins by myself vacuum

I'll let you know how it turns out.

This is the last weekend I will be the age I am. How old am I? When I was a kid I looked forward to Friday nights, because The Brady Bunch was on at 8:00, Partridge Family was on at 8:30, and Room222 was on at 9:00. Friday nights ruled!

That's how old I am. I'm into it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Lots of paper grading is coming my way.

Michael killed off one of his blogs, and I have to confess I've thought once or twice lately about stopping this one. I wonder what that would feel like - to stop blogging. I've gotten kind of used to it. But to not do it - I spend about twenty minutes twice a week, but still - would something take its place? Would my sock drawer be more organized? Or something even better?

Well, for now, for today, I am here.

I talked to Janine today. The connection was kind of bad and for the first time she seemed ... far away. However, there will be new Janine poems in Caffeine Destiny!

Last Friday I wrote a poem called "Egg in Repose" and have started another one called "Egg Abstracted" and still another one called "Egg, Incubated". And the new issue of POETRY arrived today and what did I see? A poem by Deborah Warren called ... "Song of the Egg". It's in the air I tell you - eggs!

The book I'm reading The Birth of Venus , which takes place in 15th century Italy, has taken a new turn - the man the sixteen year old narrator has married has turned out to be gay. It's Brokeback Mountain Venus!

Back to the papers.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Party's Over

It's three o'clock in the afternoon and Laura is sleeping on the couch downstairs. The slumber party guests departed a few hours ago.

Near as I can figure, none of them slept last night. I went downstairs at 2:30 a.m. to tell them to go to bed; they were all up and walking around and giggling. I heard voices downstairs at about 6:00 a.m.

This morning Laura showed me where they'd signed their names on the plastic party tablecloth for each hour they were still up. There were little post-it notes on the tablecloth: "up at midnight", "up at 2:00 a.m.", "up at 3:00 a.m.", "up at 5:00 a.m." with their signatures underneath. It looked like everybody signed for each hour.

Max contributed to the party by buying a motion detector spy toy that allows the user to record a message and then hide the motion detector somewhere so when someone walks by a disembodied voice starts speaking. At first he recorded "Hi Laura! What are you doing?" in a very spooky voice. We heard it go off many times, but never really in the vicinty of the girls - I think it was more entertaining for Max then anyone else.

Then he decided to keep it in his own room when he went to bed; he recorded a message that said "Hi Max! How ya doing?" and put it on top of his desk, so that when he got up in the morning it would surprise him. And it did.

I just got home from a run and when I walked in, the motion detector said, "Hi Mom, Dad and I went to watch the game, Laura is downstairs sleeping." So it has its functional uses as well.

The girls made a time capsule and buried some stuff in the front yard.

When was the last time you stayed up all night - not because you couldn't sleep, not because you were being kept up by a fussy baby, not because you had a deadline - just to see if you could? Just for the joy of it?

Who's up at 3:00 a.m.? Come on, sign the tablecloth!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Laura turns twelve tomorrow. I am making her a cake tonight. We ordered a cake at the store today for her slumber party. The store-bought cake will be shaped like a turtle. Laura loves turtles. One of her cousins sent her a Gilmore Girls poster for her birthday. It arrived today and Laura was thrilled.

Max beat me at chess twice this afternoon.

The term has begun in earnest. I will get papers tomorrow from one of my classes, and papers Friday from another class.

My advanced composition students are going to be reading "Against Cool" by Rick Moody. In preparation for that, last night I asked them to come up with a definition for the word "hip". Most of them came to the conclusion that something was hip if it was trendsetting or popular in a way that was socially acceptable. It was a fun discussion.

Christine Hume will have a poem in the new Caffeine Destiny. I am hoping the new issue will go up by the end of next month. I will call it "Spring 2006", in the hope that this will make spring arrive sooner.

I really cannot believe that as of 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning I will have a twelve year old daughter.

On Laura's first birthday we gave her a big orange stuffed Elmo. On her fourth birthday we gave her Little House on the Prairie paper dolls. In kindergarten we gave her a desk. In first grade we gave her a Britney Spears CD, among other things that I can't recall.

It gos by fast.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

They Might Be Giants

Today Laura and I went to a yarn store and then a craft store. Then we shopped for decorations for her slumber party next weekend. She is going to be twelve Thursday. She is very into the Gilmore Girls.

I am knitting a poncho. I like the yarn, although I stood in Michael's craft store yesterday before I put the yarn in my cart, thinking for several minutes, am I really a poncho person? I don't think I had one the first time around, in the 70's, when everyone had them. I want to knit a sweater but I really don't think I'm ready to tackle a sweater. So I'm going to knit the poncho and if it looks stupid I'll just wear it inside my home. Or something.

I listened to an interesting pod-cast yesterday about giants. I guess some people think there really did use to be giants living on earth. I was sort of in and out of the room while I was listening to it, but one of the theories about Stonehenge is that it was built by giants. But then I also heard something on the podcast about "aliens" and Biblical references to giants. I guess I will have to go back and listen to it again. Or just be content with a vague awareness of the possiblity of ancient giants.

I did learn - and this I'm certain they said - that dragonflies, in prehistoric times, had wingspans of like five feet or something.

This was a Discovery Channel podcast, by the way. In case it sounds flakey. It's not - those Discovery channel people are experts!

I am taking a break from the Lowell letters and reading The Birth of Venus . It takes place in 15th century Florence.

I'm redesigning Caffeine Destiny's home page. It's whiter.

I have been simultaneously submitting poems like mad since the new year began.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rain, Birds

It has been raining an awfully lot. I read in the paper it has rained 23 out of the past 24 days. I believe it. The rain is fine when I'm indoors. And it makes the flowers grow, etc.

Classes have gotten off to a good start this week. My students all seem interesting, interested, and ready for the term. But it's the first weeks of the term, when everyone is feeling the love.

Max has a part in the Little Mermaid, he just doesn't know which one yet. He will know next week. Laura is going to assist in the production.

I read somewhere online - but I can't provide the link because I can't remember where - that scientists have turned up evidence that prehistoric man was often attacked by birds. They learned this from marks their talons left on ancient monkey man skulls or something. So, clearly, there's a precedent for Hitchcock's Birds. Perhaps it's stored somewhere in our collective unconscious. So keep that in mind - those finches in your backyard have ancestors that wanted to eat your ancestors, and left evidence of it on their skulls. It kind of sheds a whole new meaning to the term "bird-brained", doesn't it?

I am still reading Lowell's letters. Tomorrow I only have one class to teach so I'm hoping I will have some time to write.

Graham Foust will have a poem in the new Caffeine Destiny.

I am looking forward to chocolate and E.R. tonight. I am not looking forward to driving in more rain.

But I am looking forward to Spring's flowers, and keeping those birds in line.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Friday is fun to say twice. Monday is a day that you just say once, and then you sigh ...

I am already tired of the constant rain. Not a good sign this early in the winter.

We saw MUNICH and it was quite good. Speilberg captured the 70's, and it was well-cast. Also made a good point about the endless Minotaur's labyrinth aspect of terrorism.

Max is trying out for a part in THE LITTLE MERMAID tomorrow. He walked around the house this evening with his arms stuck out straight in front of him. He said he wanted to see what it would be like to go around your whole life with your arms stuck straight out in front of you. He did this for about five minutes.

Today is my nephew's birthday. It's also Joan Baez's birthday.

Laton Carter will have poems in the new Caffeine Destiny, which gos online next month.

There are daffodils coming up in my front yard, crocus coming up in the back yard. There is a five pound container of black oil sunflower seed on my table that is meant to feed birds with, once I get it into the bird feeder. Once the bird feeder gets hung somewhere in the yard.

However, both Christmas trees are down and all the decorations are put away. Progress!

Except I'm still drinking out of my Charlie Brown Christmas mugs. I'm just not ready to pack those away yet.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday Friday

I think we are going to see "Munich" this weekend, if our babysitter is available.

The first week of classes are over. Next week the term starts in earnest, as four other classes begin with me as the teacher lady.

I am still reading the Lowell letters. I don't know a lot of the small details of his life, and it's kind of fun, not knowing the "back story" as it were. He's at Yaddo, he's not at Yaddo, he's married, he's not married. T.S. Eliot this, Elizabeth Bishop that. And I know he was manic depressive, but you don't really see that - so far - in the letters. However, in college I read a story in the Village Voice about Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Lowell, and I know a bit about that marriage. So when he mentions "this girl Elizabeth Hardwick I met", I know what he's in for.

He also mentions Randell Jarrell a lot, and I was thinking, no one really reads Randall Jarrell anymore. Or John Crowe Ransom. At least no one I talk to. You never really see their names mentioned.

I ordered something from the Betty Crocker catalog today. The Betty Crocker catalog is like porn for people with domestic tendencies. I ordered cheery red kitchen towels with the days of the week stiched on them, and fiestaware bowls. I was disappointed to see instructions on the order form to "please write carefully in black ink. Your order form is machine scanned." I guess I had this idea in my head that Betty Crocker herself opened each order, read it carefully, and then had the Keebler elves pull stock from the shelves to fill the order (I know Keebler elves are Nabisco and Betty Crocker is General Mills, but still). Another myth shattered.

I like to bake more than I like to cook. I am trying to fight the urge tonight to make chocolate pudding. It's Friday, right?

My father and stepmother are on their way to Egypt.

Two things I wanted to do today were finish a poem and run three miles, and I did both. I ran three miles in the pouring rain. Don't tell my mother. There is this hill between mile two and mile three that is my nemesis these days. Some days it surrenders easily, other times it's a bitter fight all the way. At least I have an Ipod. Today's tune that got me up the hill: "Jet", by Paul McCartney and Wings.

The poem is called "Down at the Heels in the Ditch". I just like the way it sounded ...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dead Kennedys

One of my students wore a Dead Kennedys t-shirt to class today. I asked him if he had ever seen them. He said no, I said "I have". We talked about it after class. I told him I'd seen them in 1984 or so - when he was probably not even born.

So then he asks, "so were you like really into the punk scene?" Yikes! I thought, this must have been how my grandmother felt when we used to ask her to tell us about living in San Diego during World War II.

And the thing is, I thought about it more later, and I can't even remember if I did see the Dead Kennedys in Eugene in the 80's. I don't know if I just know people who saw them so then I appropriated the memory or what. Maybe I should aim higher - start telling people I saw the Sex Pistols at CBGB's. Who's gonna know?

Last night I felt overwhelmed with the start of the new term, feeling like I had no idea how to teach composition. Spent way too much time thinking about it.

But then about ten minutes into class today, it clicked. I was back on the horse.

I like the students in my class that started this week. More classes start next week.

I am reading Robert Lowell's letters and enjoying them. I can't really point to any specific thing he's said that has overwhelming signficance; I just appreciate the sense I get of what his life was like. Residencies at Yaddo, working for the Library of Congress. Running into T.S. Eliot in the elevator (somewhere), visiting Pound in the hospital. And of course the letters to Elizabeth Bishop. Good stuff.

The current controversy in my house is the question of how much Rita really does enjoy wearing the dog sweater. Does she lick you on the face to say "thanks for putting this stupid sweater on me! I LOVE it!" Or does she lick you on the face to say "for the love of God, are you trying to kill me? Get this *#$@ sweater off of me! Do I look like a $*@!! poodle to you?"

The thing is, I'm starting to think Laura might be right. Maybe she does like wearing it.

Note to A: Ran three miles today!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dog Sweater

The term starts tomorrow at one of the schools I teach. The class starts at 9:00 a.m. I have copies of the syllabus and schedules. The sweater I'm wearing tomorrow is in the washing machine. I even know where the shoes are that I'm going to be wearing - I think. I got a haircut today. I'm ready!

Laura and I went shopping today. She wanted to spend her Christmas money. Old Navy had many things on sale, including a dog sweater that Laura thought would be perfect for Rita. Poor Rita. She looks cute and slightly pathetic in it - she's not a poodle or a dachsund, so it just seems insulting to make her wear it, although she doesn't protest. I took it off her at one point this evening but Laura insisted on putting it back on. I may have to hide it.

Still working on those resolutions. Our outdoor lights are down. The tree is still up but I've stopped plugging in the lights.

It was great to see Zanni in her bright orange coat today.

I am enjoying writing 2006 on various documents. It has a nice ring to it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I Will Return All The Farm Equipment Soon

I learned today that the Babylonians were the ones who started New Year's resolutions. Their most common resolution: return all borrowed farm equipment.

I was thinking of some resolutions this morning, but then saw all of them on various "the most common resolutions" lists on the internet. So will have to be more inventive.

I read an interview with Jack Gilbert in the Paris Review yesterday; he said when he had a year when he was unsatisfied with his poetry writing, he would write one hundred poems in one hundred days. I want to know more about this: did he really do this, or just try to? Should this be a resolution? I am thinking about it ...

Here is a poem by Jack Gilbert:
Tear It Down

We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.