Resisting the Urge to Cite LL Cool J

March 8, 2016

Though for how long, I don’t know. It’s hard to say “no” to the perfect title.

I want to start writing again. I’ve been back to this blog many times over the past six months, reading, rereading, remembering. My life is so different–job, house, dog, child, tenure… .  I know I share many qualities with the woman who used to write in this space, and yet I scarcely recognize the world she inhabited.

Part of the challenge in resurrecting this blog has been my sense that I need to return with something witty or significant or all-encompassing. It’s been so long…shouldn’t I have some earth-shattering insights by now?

Alas, I do not. I’m just older and perhaps more sensible…though even that is up for debate.


A Timely Reminder from the International Society of Bassists

September 12, 2009

After I left my English class on Wednesday, I found a letter in my mailbox for “Composition Professor” from the International Society of Bassists.  That’s how it was labeled: “Composition Professor.”  The address did not have a department affiliation—Music, English, Art, Chemistry, Culinary Arts—so it ended up with me.  On the surface, it makes sense:  I serve as director of our writing program, so anything related to Composition would be at home in my mailbox.  However, the sender was clearly trying to reach a different audience!

Later, though, I thought a bit more about the word “composition” and how I tend to focus on just the one meaning and medium; that is, to me, composition is always about writing, about language, about alphabetic text.  Even though I am aware of other uses of the term—a composition for flute, artwork as a composition of found objects and silly putty, for example, or the chemical composition of an alloy—these meanings never enter my mind first.  For many, many other people, a composition might mean a musical score, a piece of art, a recipe, a combination of elements…  they might not even think of writing at all!!

I mention this letter because it was one of the many moments when I am reminded that not everyone loves writing—or even thinks of it first.  A lot of my life is tied up in writing—I’ve spent years and years in school to be where I am, so it’s no wonder that I get a little bit focused on teaching writing and doing writing and reading about writing and thinking about writing and….  Well, let’s just say this letter came at an important moment for me.  It’s never a bad idea to stop and look around, to take note of what you understand as “reality” and compare it with other versions of “reality.”  I try to be aware of the world around me, but like everyone else, I get a little myopic from time to time.

Which brings me to my last thought—this semester.  I have been thinking back on my own first college writing class and realizing that I was, shall we say, decidedly less enthusiastic about writing then.  In fact, I recall very little about the content of the class at all.  A peer editing session here, a quiz there, one assignment about dialect…  What I remember more clearly is that I had very long hair, that the football player in my class was HUGE, and that I had a half-hearted crush on a boy named Dan.

Anyway, this letter served as a small but timely corrective to the zeal I bring to each new year.  Composition, rhetoric, and writing are meaningful and important subjects, but they’re not going to resonate with everyone.  The letter/reminder won’t prevent me from bringing my love for writing to class with me each day, but I’m hoping it will serve as a buffer for heartbreak that comes when my students don’t bring theirs.

sunny side up?

August 30, 2009

Walking through a spider web on an early morning walk is roughly akin to being the first person on the sidewalk after a snow.


August 27, 2009

Being neither pithy nor witty, the thought of maintaining a Twitter account or even a Tumblr seems like an recipe for disaster to me.  I’ve never been short on words and I love to play with language, but I lack the nimbleness of mind required for true wit.  I’ll probably hit 800 words before this post is over and still not say anything even remotely sharp.

(In addition to my undying dream of somehow developing a lounge singer voice [think: female Simon Le Bon], I also dream of becoming witty.  So far it’s been braying in the shower and vague and decidedly feeble mutterings to myself well after the fact. I’ll let you know if anything changes…)

However, the appeal of both Twitter and Tumblr does not escape me.  I have in the past months wanted to share a quick thought or observation here but have felt constrained by a lack of time.  In fact, I have a number of drafts piled up here, little snippets and links and ideas I’ve collected with the idea of contextualizing and fleshing out “when I have time.”

Back in January, I think, I finally succumbed to the pressure to join Facebook.  And though I initially created an account to stay in touch with friends, I’ve discovered its power as a low-stakes version of Twitter and Tumblr.  A simple prop medium to occupy my time.

Ah, the world of Facebook—wonderfully social, often terribly superficial—a space where “Status Updates” permit one to say a little something, be it witty, sharp, or (in my case) banal.  I can’t lie and say I don’t like Facebook.  I do.  It’s fun.  I like keeping up with my friends, many of whom do post their keen observations, entertaining stories, and sharp criticisms of this world.  Furthermore, I like having so many of my people talking and contributing in the same space, something that could never, ever happen in the “real” world.  When you think about it, the concept is utterly brilliant—a narcissist’s dream.

And if I’m going to be completely honest, I have to confess that having a mini-newspaper containing headlines from all my friends makes it so much easier to stay connected.  They post something, I respond; I post something, they send feedback.  It’s all so much easier than trying to send emails to everyone, or to call everyone, or to count on actually leaving my house, my neighborhood, my city to see and talk to someone.  Yucky but true–Facebook has its advantages…

But back to this blog for a minute…  I did not begin this blog for an audience, per se.  I did not begin writing to gather comments (although I very much like them) and I did not begin writing to “keep in touch” or anything else.  I began this blog because I wanted to write about teaching, writing, knitting, teaching writing, and, increasingly, the gardens I enjoy as I run, and I didn’t want to worry about being pithy or witty or fabulous or anything else I’m not.

I’m not sure I know exactly what I’m trying to say here, other than that I miss blogging and I’m going to try to do more of it.  I have a new job (that I love!); I’m part of a writing program (Dream. Come. True.); I’ve been running/walking a ton (I ran a half-marathon in May, it was freaking excellent and amazing, and I’m still addicted); almost every morning I see new beautiful flowers I want to write about (Datura is my new favorite—the aroma is lemony and spicy and fresh and they’re always blooming when I walk really early in the morning.  Yes.  I know they’re poisonous.); and I’m getting back into knitting after a long spell of being too busy.

So that’s the confession, I guess.  I got a bit sucked in by Facebook and it’s been hurting my writing.

More to follow, I hope…

creature(s) of habit

November 12, 2008

I walk/run three days during the week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—plus Saturdays and Sundays. I’m somewhat very regimented about it, which translates to a fairly consistent departure time.  Couple the CDT with my fairly consistent pace, my consistent choice of music, and my consistent route (which only changes on the weekends when I add 1.5 miles) and you get a workout that enables me to reduce the variables and focus on the particulars.  This system is good for my science-y brain—I like to create a “control” against which to evaluate new data (the chronos against which kairos can emerge? the background against which the pattern emerges?—whatever, choose your metaphor.)

One of the patterns I’ve been noticing recently is less a variable per se and more part of the control, but I wouldn’t have noticed had I not seen it day after day after day.

The white-haired, stoutish man with glasses, walking his two small terriers, who smiles and waves at me without fail; the youngish man waiting at the bus stop; the admins in the optician’s office, pulling files for the day; the men at the old-school auto-body, enjoying a morning smoke; the school busses waiting, the woman who walks faster than me yet has shorter legs,  the man at the bagel shop sitting in the same seat near the window every day, the young woman eating her McDonald’s before work at the fabric store.

I’m not exactly sure what I want to say about this phenomenon, other than to wonder if others experience the same patterns.  Also, I wonder:  who are these people?  What are their lives like?  Do they notice me, too?  Do they realize we share these repeated moments on the space/time grid???

On most days, I spend my walk/run/observation sessions making mental notes about the flora and foliage.  If anyone asked me why I get up to walk/run, I would explain my need to “check in” on everyone’s garden.  Seriously.  If too many days go by I worry that I’ll miss someone’s lilies blooming, or, now, that the beautiful locust leaves will drop before I get my fill of their perfectly uniform golden ovals.  Until yesterday, I was obsessed with a series of small trees that line a street.  The leaves have gone from green to gold to gone, leaving huge crimson berries against brown branches.

Lately, I’ve been running in anticipation of seeing these people, these markers.  Will they be there?  Will they be doing their things?

And that’s all I’ve got.  I’m not writing, knitting, or reading.  I’m teaching, administrating, and searching.  And running.

(I always wave and smile back at the man.  Seeing him brightens my day, no matter what.)


November 2, 2008

I know I’m in a very, very small minority here, but I LOVE the fall daylight saving change.  I love the thin, pale blue light of early winter mornings and the fact that sunset occurs before 6:00.  There’s something so archaic about these darkened evenings, so pioneer, as if all the technology in the world can’t stop the cycles of the earth and sun.  On a personal level,  I feel that the new schedule gives me permission to rise super-early (which I love) and to hunker down around 7:00 pm (which is when we all should stop working anyway, goddammit!!!!!)  I also find the early dark more convivial and cozy—somehow the fact that we all have to be inside together leaves me longing for cocktail parties and scrabble and small intimate gatherings.

This year, daylight saving time came a week later, which disappointed me.  However, the reason for the change cracks me up!  Of course, the politicians will tell you that this format saves energy, but I’ve heard several reports about the candy industry and Halloween which indicate that candy lobbyists (seriously, what a job THAT would be!) have been pushing hard for the change as it ensures “more” Halloween and therefore huge profits.

But if you google “daylight saving candy” you can find others.

So, if you’re depressed, blame M&M/Mars, I guess… or eat some: there’s serotonin in chocolate, right?


October 13, 2008


I’m back.

I’m also done.  It feels great, yeah, but it also feels exactly the same.  At a party this weekend I was talking to a friend/acquaintance (not exactly sure where I fall in his world) and I found myself reverting back to Sixteen Candles to explain my feelings post-dissertation defense and graduation.

Remember when Molly Ringwald’s character, Sam, wakes up on her sixteenth birthday, calls her friend, and tries to assess her feelings?  Allow me…

“No, I didn’t expect to wake up transformed.  I just thought that turning sixteen would be so major that I’d wake up with an improved mental state that would show up on my face.  All it shows is that I don’t have any sort of a tan left.”

Love that!  And I didn’t even get a tan this summer…

The past two months have been a blur.  I revisited a folder that I created while finishing my diss and I found a full summary of an article I don’t even remember reading.  And that is why I titled this post “Unfolding.”  In a lot of ways, the past two months have been busy, but they’ve also been an exercise in psychic (and physical) stretching out.  I didn’t realize how focused I’d been while writing–hence, documents I have no recollection of reading or summarizing.

So, I’ll be posting with a slightly greater degree of frequency, and maybe even about knitting!

the tight deadline

July 6, 2008

One of the very few moments in life when it is acceptable to eat a rich chocolate brownie and call it “breakfast” and “lunch.”

muscle memory, pt. II

July 4, 2008

Today, at a coffee shop, I paused in writing for a moment to get another cup of coffee. After I set my pen down, my left hand made the Ctrl-S gesture—hold down pinky, use middle finger to hit S—on the table top I was using.

I think it’s about time I finish this thing.

the glamour of getting a phd

June 28, 2008

It’s Saturday night, I’m writing, and it’s a gorgeous summer evening. The bar down the street is hopping.

I have a wine spritzer, though, and the writing is actually fun. So it’s all good. Sparkling water (50%), ice (40%), and Chardonnay (10%). (Okay, maybe 30/20 on the ice/wine.)

Yes, I’m a product of the 80s. Leave me alone…