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Showing posts from March, 2014

This must be the place

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When I got home from jury duty, I took an evening constitutional. It's part of my new "move your body every day" campaign and a celebration of the bright sunshine.

It's been a long winter. I haven't been out in my neighborhood much in many months. I love my neighborhood. I love the houses. I love the flower beds - the kempt and the unkempt - which are just now beginning to intimate greenness and growth. I love the big, tall maple trees. I love that these are the streets on which my children have learned to ride bikes.

More than any place else in my life, this neighborhood is home. And most of all I love the people here. Old people, young people, artists, working class folks, young doctors, retirees, pinko lawyers. Families with young children, people who have spent their whole lives here. Straight people, gay people. All colors and religions. Even a Republican. Some of us know each other well-ish. Many keep more to themselves. Both are good. This is a truly dive…

A Good Lie-In

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Like "scheme" in the sense of plan or system, and ordering drinks "for the interval," the term "lie-in" is a great Britishism I think Americans should adopt. Sure, we all sleep in on weekends, at least the adolescents among us, but we don't have a term for it. "Sleeping in" is an action. A "lie-in" is an event.

So, we had one this morning, a lie-in, and a good one at that. A long lazy morning for everyone in the house. O eventually woke and came in to cozy up in our bed. Z slept and slept and then spent some quite alone time in her room. The cats even got frustrated with us we were all so lazy. David eventually got up to make breakfast, O and I stayed in bed to read and write. Z watched a tv show. It was just as it should be.

Reading: A friend's poetry manuscript, to give feedback.

Writing: Yes, but very slowly and with frustration.

Dinner: I sauteed some bok choy with lots of garlic. I ate it before writers group with some left…

A World with Pyramids

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It's been a busy few days here in Magpieland. I keep trying to write a post that sums it all up, and I keep hating it. Let's try this:

Thursday was the thirteenth birthday of the son we never had. Calvin would be a teenager now. We always go to the cemetery. This year we took 13 orange daisies, a blue pinwheel, a Lego cop, and a small bag of Doritos.

I was really happy on Friday night to see Ali Garrigan sing the Jesus out of songs she had cowritten with Dennis Yurich in Titus.

On Saturday, partly to prove to a friend that our family has "narrative to spare," we went with her and her son to see the family shorts program at the film festival then stayed an got in on standby to the totally delightful Uruguayan film Anina, based on a book called Anina Yatay Salas, which I hope will someday be available in English.

I finally stopped into the new(ish) Guide to Kulchur book/zine/typewriter repair/poetry happening shop on W 65th. Got a GtK quarterly and a book of essays by…

The outer edges of my brain

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David reminded me, "It's a reflection, not an essay," but this blog is really a random assemblage of links that give something of a map of the outer edges of my brain yesterday. The inner parts of my brain were actually assembling and creating story stuff, which was then alternately ignored and inspected by my editor:



March 20 is a big day in our house. It is Calvin's Day, when we celebrate the presence in absence of our son. I did not know that the UN had also declared it an International Day of Happiness until I was standing in line at the store with a cart full of food and flowers for our March 20 feast and trip to the cemetery and spied it on the cover of a magazine.

Apparently United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.” So it feels painfully ironic that also this week, a new report from a large mainstream scientific society is out trying to get pe…

I'm me but not me.

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I'm on spring break, doing all things valorous. You know, like blogging.

We moved bedrooms last fall. I am still unpacking my boxes of books and papers. Yesterday I spent some time doing this because I was desperately searching for a book I need to write the thing I'm writing.

I have too many papers - multiple rough drafts of things, invitations to parties that happened 3 years ago, copies of grading rubrics for student papers the writers of which are in grad school now. My recycling bundle will be large this week.

But I also have interesting things - a permission slip I wrote myself to be fabulous, a love note from David, a handmade card from a much younger Z that has multi-colored raindrops crayoned all over it with inkstamped hearts in the middle of each one. And journals. I have decades worth of journals. Mostly, I think, they are full of whining about what I am not accomplishing or what about myself I am most neurotic about at the moment. But yesterday, I blindly opened …

Notes from airportland

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A corvid every day

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This beautiful creature is "Wisdom Seeker" cast bronze by Tony Angell found randomly in the WAshington State Convention Center. Nice corvid sighting!
If you are participating in a panel or other information exchange type of event, unless you are actually reading from the text of a story or poem, which by its very nature depends on an exact sequence of language, please do not simply read from a paper you wrote without looking up, and especially do not read from a computer screen containing the paper you wrote. I know you might be nervous or you might worry that you will forget something or you like the way you put written sentences together. I don't care. Don't do it. Write the paper, fine. But use it as a prop not a shield. Make eye contact with your audience. Vary your tone. Simplify your long convoluted sentences. Also, do not put the exact text of what you are saying on a projector for me to read along with you. This actually distances me from you even more. You do…

Imagine a Pen ...

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The second day of conference, third full day in Seattle. Fatigue and the ongoing effects of jetlag consume me. I went to one really great session today - on using the journal as a major assignment in the writing class. The panelists were all smart, thoughtful, funny people with great, practical anecdotes and advice. I felt glad to have met them on a human level and also full of ideas for how to continue to improve the use of journals in my teaching.

The other things I went to were OK, but nothing stuck. One panel I even walked out on because I was too tired to participate in the way they were hoping people would. (My apologies to the participatory teaching gods, whose goodwill I need in my own classroom.) In the morning, the best part of one panel was sitting with Huda and Laura, two women who are former students of mine from my MFA teaching practicum. They've both gone on to some success as writers since, but there we all were in the session on sustaining writing in the face of …