Friday, November 28, 2008

What are the odds?

So this evening, passing a car in an uphill passing lane, Randy drove over part of a deer that had been struck sometime earlier tonight. This doesn't quite qualify as "hitting a deer" in my book; still, one gets much of the gruesomeness without the attendant damage (to car, anyway). So on returning home, he takes the car through the car wash. And on his way home from the car wash, as he proceeds into an intersection at Market and Third, the car is hit--splat!--by an egg. Thrown by a stupid teenager. Belonging to a group of four stupid teenagers, who are promptly apprehended by borough police, who spy a cache of unbroken eggs half-hidden at the intersection and who conclude that the four teens, and their eggs, need to be taken in for fingerprinting. And R has to go back to the car wash a second time. What are the odds?
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Today's my dad's birthday. When I called tonight, the gang was having pizza. Wish I could have been there.
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dream journal: June 20, 2000:

Back in the green house on Oakland Road (where we moved to the summer Rue died, the summer I was ten). There is a boy, about 14, dark hair, who fascinates me. I feel responsible for him, connected to him in such a strong way, though he seems independent and not particularly needy of anything I have to offer. It is I who need to be with him. He plays with other boys his age—Tae Kwan Do, running around, climbing trees—and some of them are staying in the house.

Some kind of open house or party: whole families that I don’t know come into the house through the back door (living room) to talk and socialize. A black woman and her two daughters, all dressed in pink, find me in the kitchen—I am hungry and can’t find anything to eat except a slice of chocolate cake in the refrigerator, and I’ve just broken off a sliver of cold icing and popped it into my mouth—they are asking where is their gift? I’m confused. I realize I am supposed to give them something; it’s part of this whole "open house" tradition. I say I’m not part of this tradition, nor this religion: I’m sorry, but I have no gifts for them.

I casually ask the boy if he wants to see my room, which is a mess and pretty much as it was when I lived there as a teenager: books everywhere, bed unmade. We are in my room talking when my sister D finds us—thin and haggard, with dark circles round her eyes, she has been crying. She asks if I will please go to McDonald’s to get three different meals. She forgot to bring them and now people have arrived and there’s nothing to give them. She offers to pay me $20. I say I’ll do it, I’ll pay for it, but she insists on paying me. The boy (what is his name?) says he’ll come along.

We drive in a very odd boxlike car (like an old VW Rabbit but smaller and open). When we’ve gone some distance and are climbing a small hill through a parking lot, he tells me to stop and let him out: he’ll get the meals and meet me back here; I should just circle around and wait for him.

I make a left, planning to go a few blocks and circle back, but the car is moving much faster than I want it to—I am pushing hard on the brake but I'm going too fast to make a left turn. I pass several street intersections. I try gearing down, and that slows the car somewhat. By this time I am in a market area. I get out to look around. Long sidewalks bordered by shop stalls. People talking. I have a bundle of papers, all sizes, some folded, some thin receipts, and I need to make copies. The machine keeps jamming because of the varying weights of paper and I am trying to hurry and finish so I can get back to where I need to be.

The boy walks up and says he’s taken care of the meals, that at first he made a mistake and just got three, then realized Diana meant three different—as in distinct—meals, three different kinds. We start walking together back to the car.

[note: I am so attracted to this young man and I don’t know why. It’s as if his safety, his development, are extremely important to me, and I feel like he is someone who needs to be a part of my life. I also get the sense that I will meet him again later. I want him to like me. I want him to be with me. Who is he? I think I have dreamed of him before.]
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painting by Glenn Brady. For more of his awesome work, click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I heart Grant Faulkner

I just happened across a wonderful blog by Grant Faulkner, Lit Matters, that linked off of his review of Dean Young's Skid on Goodreads. Very enjoyable reading. I recommend it.
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Our Thanksgiving dinner: chicken & dressing, French cut green beans, fresh Brussels sprouts halved and sauteed with broccoli and a smidge of bacon, homemade gravy. Oh and pecan pie, of course. Simple and delicious. I can't believe R has me eating Brussels sprouts after all these years of loathing them, but they were good.

Happy holiday to all y'all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm back

I'm back. The new laptop is speedy and sleek, and I have already spent way too much time checking out the new features instead of grading papers, but I promise to be more blogular in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pondering . . .

Hey now. Just a quick query to all you well-read folks out there: I just leapt at the opportunity to teach a "Topics in Literature" course next semester. With a scant 48 hours' notice, I drafted a course description, got it approved by our chair, and sent it off to the registrar. Now I'm faced with the predicament of finding and selecting appropriate texts, and I hope that some of you have some suggestions.

The course is English 215, and the only prerequisite is composition, so it's not a full-on literature seminar, but rather an introduction to reading, thinking about and writing about literature. The course may be tailored as I like, and I chose to focus on "working class literature": poems, prose, and a couple of plays that exemplify what we mean when we think of the working class.

I'm wondering (a) what texts (poems, prose, plays) come to mind for you? Some examples spring immediately to mind: Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," Susan Glaspell's Trifles, poems by Lucille Clifton, B.H. Fairchild, Richard Blanco. But I've only just started to think about the readings. I don't even know if there's a textbook out there that would fit in with this kind of introductory literature course. We'll write a couple of short essays, and we'll explore a few critical strategies (reader-response, political, new historical criticism). We'll talk about the basic elements of fiction vs. poetry, fiction vs. nonfiction, and so on. I'll spend a good chunk of my winter break putting this course together, but I need to order books very soon.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

lap top bust

My laptop has suffered a series of seizures. It's not quite braindead, just very s-l-o-w and confused. E-mail and blogging will be spotty for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I'm so excited.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Featured chap: DJ Dolack: The Sad Meal

The Sad Meal The Sad Meal by DJ Dolack

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This chapbook exceeded my expectations: too often, I'm more won over by the aesthetic appearance of a limited-edition chap than by the poems within. Call me a last-century curmudgeon, but I still believe that good poems should engage the reader somehow. These poems are loose and rangy enough in their imagery to feel "edgy" without falling off that edge into clever obscurity. Dolack's work here is well-crafted and rewards the reader on multiple visits--at just 18 pages, it's not a long read. Good poems. I hope to see more of his work soon. Here's a sample poem:


All of it. Sand on the heels of my jeans
picked up from Coney Island and tracked
back through Jersey into the country.
My busted headlight trilling through the dark
like an aching fighter. Brother paralyzed in bed,
cancer's acid vanishing his stomach.
His spine twisting like a joist: a house
growing over itself. His hips: a pier buckling.
At times I have introduced myself
as an only child. When he dies, I will shave my face
and follow him until he is put in place.
My one eye closed to mimic the car,
I drive off the road
and into a tree three miles from home. It's nothing.
The two of us sing together in the time
before someone finds me.
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Thanks to Brent, I'm addicted to goodreads. No, I mean I'm really addicted.
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Head smack to Aaron: I left a message on your blog a month ago. Be nice and respond.
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We're making crabapple jelly this weekend. When I got home on Thursday, I picked a grocery bag full from our tree. It was cold and windy; I'd shove one hand in my pocket to warm up while I picked with the other.

Randy just found his recipe, which calls for five pounds of crabapples. I picked twenty pounds' worth.