Since Randy and I don't "do" christmas, my online absence has little to do with the "holidays" (except that they translate into time off, which I relish). I've been lazing. Lazing and grazing. Today is the first day in two weeks that I haven't eaten a slice of pie. Apples are refreshingly yummy again.
Speaking of apples, Randy picked up a bag of "Arkansas Blacks" at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday: what a beautiful apple! Dark mahogany burnish, small size--they looked so beautiful in a bowl that I wanted to (and plan to) photograph them. The vendor told R that this is an old, heirloom variety with a rather tart flavor. R sliced one today and the flavor was good, though the texture was a bit of a letdown: I like an extra-crisp apple (all-time fave is Honey Crisp). But I'm thinking of baking them into something (yeah, still craving pie).
Randy worked on a photo I took last week with the digital cam. My old Canon (an awesome camera) started having trouble again this summer (the shutter sticks)--I'd had it cleaned and repaired about 2 years ago over in Bloomsburg, at this old-timey shop, the kind you can't believe exist any more. Lately--for the past year or more--I've had no time for the campus darkroom (I used to go as part of the photo club). Anyway, I've gotten more comfortable with borrowing the digital cam, even though R knows a lot more than I do about how to use it.
So last week I took a series of photos, and a couple of days ago Randy came downstairs with an 8x10: he'd fiddled with the contrast (and opacity) and made what I think is a super photo. Let me know what you think. (And thanks again, hon.)
Since I've heard naught from the Island this afternoon, I took some time to catch up with Earl Pickens and his blog. You've got to read it; Earl's a hoot. Moreover, he's a real nice guy, a talented musician, and a super dad. Oh, yeah: he's our next-door neighbor.
I'm hitching my blog-star to Earl's coattails. Just for today. Yeehaw.
In Fresh Men, a queer fiction anthology selected by Edmund White, here's a great line from the opening story, Vestal McIntyre's "ONJ.com":
"The line between his ironic and real personae must have been worn away years ago from frequent crossings."
I love that. I read the story on my lunch break, then looked up to see that our wintry mix had arrived. Most of the writing center staff have fled--one reported back that the roads are treacherous--but I was planning to walk home this afternoon anyway. Typing now on a borrowed computer, which won't allow me access to e-mails and files I really need, which sucks because I am *supposed* to be grading short stories right now. Grrrr.
About the computer: this semester I worked on a "loaner" laptop. Loaner equipment has to be turned in by Monday--in the middle of grading week--so, with Randy's approval, I ordered a new laptop. Took them both over to the tech desk today for a data transfusion, or whatever they call it on the Island. (The problem with ISR is what I call the Island/Mainland paradigm: everyone there speaks the same language, but when one of us tech-deficient-but-earnestly-trying dummies paddles over, there's no translator available.) So I'm waiting. And it's snowing hard. And though they said they'd try to have it ready by five, and though I tried to underscore my urgent need for computer access to my students' final portfolios (I have them turn in all their work online), it's really, really snowing hard. Final exams are over and students are leaving for winter break. Is there anyone left at ISR to even look at my laptop? Should I phone? Will that annoy them? Will they purposefully "lose" some of my data out of spite because I've annoyed them? Are they snickering even now, because they know I'm too deficient to even notice its loss for weeks or even months?
On the mainland, we worry that the islanders don't take us seriously. We know it. We feel absurd, like overcautious hand-wringing ministers trying to advocate celibacy to owl-eyed gang members, young men who nod, yeah yeah, speed-typing codes and whisking our precious laptops into the tech labyrinth where Things Get Done. I stand at the counter as the computer technician affixes a case number label to my brand-new Dell. I haven't even had the chance to play with it yet. I feel like a Muggle who's stumbled onto Hogwarts. I have to trust that everything will work out, and on time.
So I've been reading Andrew Holleran's The Beauty of Men, episodically, twenty or thirty pages at a time, mainly late at night before I fall asleep, with continued admiration for his prose style but a rising gorge against his protagonist: I simply loathe the portrayal of contemporary gay men as long-suffering, doomed queens. Am I the only queer who wants to run a few of these characters through a slapping booth? Do we need to perpetuate the message that gay men are virtually invisible after forty, that they have no possible chance at love? I haven't read (nor do I want to read) any reviews or criticism of the novel, and I'm probably too late to join that discussion--which I'm sure is out there--but mainly I'm just, well, appalled. Forty pages from the end of this novel, I'm losing hope of a redeeming moment for this self-loathing whiner.
January 3 is the postmark deadline for applications to this year's Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets (the "June Seminar"). Fellows live on campus from June 1-22, and are provided free meals and housing. This is such a great opportunity for young poets to spend some focused time with talented peers and accomplished mentors. Past June Fellows include Kevin Young, Mark Wunderlich, Ilya Kaminsky, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Deirdre O'Connor, Stacey Waite, and Mary Szybist. I taught for four years in the program (and was a June Fellow myself years ago) and can't speak highly enough about it. Visiting faculty this year: Terrance Hayes and Michael Waters. Please urge your most promising students & friends to apply!
So on Tuesday my dad got implanted with his new device: a combo pacemaker/defibrillator unit with two lead wires threaded directly into his heart. A new machine to keep the old machine chugging along. A necessary accessory. A purchase (more time).
Mom, meanwhile, has fractured her foot (in three places) (with no idea how). Well, the general cause is osteoporosis--which sucks--but she doesn't recall jouncing around on a pogo stick or kicking the wall or dropping a casserole on the foot; it just broke. Scary.
Last week, in my sister's e-mail describing Dad's upcoming procedure, she explained that the unit is designed to detect and regulate a "rhythm disturbance." I'm rankled at how medical (and other) terminologies (d)evolve into bland niceties that distance us from our experiences (you're having an "event," they say to the person experiencing a stroke). Still I couldn't help relishing the term: rhythm disturbance. Such associations. I offer it to you, dear reader. Write me a poem. Send something back.