Monday, August 29, 2005

End of August

We stayed up late, toggling between CNN and the Weather Channel (which I could watch every day just to see Carl Parker, how yummy he was back in Houston and how much yummier now) (but I digress), feeling increasingly, sinkingly awful about Katrina and her bead on New Orleans. . . I think Randy got up during the night to check the news. I slept poorly: dreamed of embarrasing classroom scenarios (you know the sort, kind of like forgetting-your-high-school-locker-combination dreams, only these are teaching dreams, in which a 19-year-old student asks a question about Ezra Pound and you suddenly can't recall a single effing thing that Pound wrote, or you're talking about a short story they've all been assigned to read and suddenly you realize that was your 1:00 class not your 3:00, or, or. . .) and the weather, none of which I clearly remember, my god what an endless sentence I've painted myself into, let's kill it HERE.

Woke with anxiety, which never really abated, even though it looked as if K was going to scrape N.O. instead of a full-on blast, but then there's the flooding to worry about, and Randy has family just north of Lake Ponchartrain (which I'm sure I've misspelled) and still (this evening) no one has gotten through to them.

But classes went well, spent today in the library for Blackboard orientation so they can turn in all their work online (I'm the worst paper-hoarder), and in my 3:00 I had time to do some other stuff afterward and to read a poem (today I chose Chris Forhan's "Bits & Pieces," from Forgive Us Our Happiness).

Caught up a bit at the end of the day with my friend Deirdre, who is back from Vermont (where I would love to go once more) with a fistful of new poems, hooray, and we're going to try to schedule an hour somewhere to trade poems and give time to our writing. (Back in Houston, the fortune cookie paper I saved, the scary one, said: Work expands to fill the time available.)

Phone call from my sis this evening, just after I walked home from campus: my dad's in the hospital. To be honest, I'm afraid to say anything about anything, lest the fates be tempted to respond with an "oh, yeah? Watch THIS." Just a gut-punch of a day. It took a couple of hours for the fear to catch up to me; my first response in situations like this is to turn cold and objective, a what-needs-to-be-done-next mode which is really pointless when you're 500 miles away.

I generally have no problem with being (somehow) 45, but I can't fucking believe how my parents are aging.

These chilling rehearsals.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


I need to get to bed . . . have to be up early to meet my Foundlings (students enrolled in my foundation seminar). There are still a few days before classes begin (W) and I haven't completely nailed down my syllabi (still waffling over the final project to assign my intro class), though both are pretty close.

When Jeff Hardin visited campus last fall, I was inspired by several of our conversations about teaching. One idea I resolved to "steal": he reads a poem at the beginning of every class. How great is that?! For weeks I've been sticking post-its in my books, marking poems I want to read to my students. No discussion, no analysis, just give me two minutes of your attention. Just listen to this.

Sent my blurb off to Amanda Auchter today (for her forthcoming chapbook, Light Under Skin) (buy it!). This is only the third time I've been asked to blurb a collection; the first time I was sooo busy and (bad Ron) didn't get back to the guy (sorry). I haven't seen the ms. for #2 yet. Amanda's poems are good. I'm glad she asked me.

Also mailed my signed contract today to Phil Memmer at Two Rivers Review. My chap is going to be published in one volume with two other manuscripts, by Michael McPhee and Lynne Knight. This is a great idea. More on that soon.

Last note before signing out: yesterday I ran across an announcement for Juliet Patterson's first book, The Truant Lover. This is such a good manuscript, and I'm thrilled to hear that it's going to be published. Check it out at Nightboat Books. And congrats, Juliet--you deserve it.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Went out to the back yard (we have no front yard, so why do I call it the back yard?) with Randy to watch for meteors at two-ish this morning. Saw one. He'd seen four or five earlier, all at once. My eyes are tired this late, and the new bifocals limit my distance vision. Enjoyed the chirring of so many crickets, though, and the cool breeze. Two weeks till classes begin, and I want to melt in the hammock and watch clouds float by.

I love my new office, it's so quiet, and have resisted filling it with books (since I'm only there for a semester). Something large flew past the window the other evening (just past six, I was packing up to walk home) and though I didn't get a good look at it, I am hoping it was an owl. The window (second floor) looks out into huge old oaks with dark hollows in their limb scars. After four years with basement offices, it's like writing in the trees.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Went well, very low key, what a contrast to the Leo Party we used to throw for ourselves back in Houston, which now I can't imagine managing at all. Randy took me out to eat and to buy some new "school clothes," and he's right, my khakis are getting threadbare.

Surprise card from Kayteau--thanks, girl!--which makes me realize we never made it back down to DC for a visit. Fall is stacking up to be pretty busy; I'm still adding content to my courses and deciding which stories to teach. Not much scheduled yet for spring, though I remain optimistic that something will work out this time around. Of course I want to go to AWP in spring, because it's in Austin, and we haven't been back to Texas since we moved what, five years ago? (Not that we miss Texas, Texas is too messed up to really love, though parts leave one nostalgic, particularly Austin.)

Making my now-that-my-life is-statistically-half-over-what-do-I-want-from-the-rest-of-it? list. Okay, haven't put anything on the list yet; just the heading was enough to ponder for a while. (In the middle of my life, I find myself lost in a dark mood.)

My pal Deirdre is in Vermont for the month, which is great, and I hope she's writing lots of new poems. I was inspired by Jeff Hardin to think about reading a poem at the beginning of every class meeting, and in the course of rounding up some poems (on the chance that my students will want to read some of them) I've been sending a "daily poem" to Deirdre.

Heads up to Stacey Waite, wherever you are: we need to talk, hon. Please e-mail me.

Nels: I am thinking about the nebulous proposal I made. This would be so much better if we were talking about it over coffee. But I'll get back to you this week.

I believe I've meandered enough from my subject line for today.