Tuesday 30 March 2010 | 2 cookies in the jar
Tuesday 30 March 2010 | 3 cookies in the jar
|Happy birthday! Today the Sun returns to the position it was in when you were born. As would seem appropriate with this transit, today is a day of new beginnings, and the influences you feel today will affect the entire year to come. However, this does not mean that the whole year will be disappointing if today doesn’t work out exactly as planned. You are receiving a new impulse from the energy center within you, as symbolized by the Sun. Therefore any new venture that you start at this time will ride the crest of this new energy and will very likely come to an acceptable conclusion. Whatever you do or begin today will bear the stamp of your individuality more than anything else. This is the day to assert yourself anew.|
|The interpretation above is for your transit selected for today:
Sun Conjunction Sun, exact at 19:17
activity period from 29 March 2010 to 31 March 2010
So it’s funny, that today’s my birthday, because I have to spend it grading. Though that is no one’s fault but mine, of course.
I’d had this big plan to finish the grading on Sunday; and the Brujo wanted to go cactusizing and we thought if he left me at home I’d collapse in despair and not get any grading done; so I went with him but he left me at a little café in Florence so I could work; and the sign on the café read OPEN; but lo, it was not; so I spent a couple hours at the Subway chain restaurant, in Florence; and got only a few papers graded. But it’s okay, I thought—I’ll go with him early to the AA/Al-Anon meeting and knock out another 15 there, and then the remaining 20 tomorrow morning before/between classes.
And lo it came about that we got in the car Sunday evening around 6 pm to go and do these things which would involve us until about 9 pm, and the Brujo said to me, Where is the Al-Anon literature bag? And I looked at him blankly and said, It’s in the back of the car. And he looked at me and said, No it isn’t. And we looked at one another, realizing that the car which had been burgled/rifled sometime between midnight and 6 am on Friday, actually DID have something of value to be stolen from it (besides what we already knew the car-burgler had taken, which was—we laughed about it—about 30 pesos off the dashboard, and a rose quartz crystal I had hung off the rearview mirror in a little Guatemalan bag from Madrid, NM, with the Virgin Mary—thereby bringing just all kinds of motherfucking bad luck down on her/his unsuspecting head).
Well anyway. There was just nothing to do, but something had to be done. The bag containing, in addition to maybe $100 worth of books and brochures, also the church keys to the room we rent, and the meeting format/script (“We who live or have lived with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can. We, too, were lonely and frustrated….”), the phone lists, the birthday lists, and a fat binder containing nearly the entire history of the group (meeting minutes, etc.). I went into Paralytic Shock mode, and the Brujo became compensatorily Cheerful & Efficient. We coudn’t imagine that the thief, once s/he had lugged this mysterious 60-pound black bag more than a block or two, thinking with glee what it might contain (money! drugs! gym clothes!) would keep it, once they opened it up and saw with disgust that it contained…a bunch of books with fatuous-sounding titles like One Day at a Time and Hope for Today. And the next morning would be trash day.
So I took the Brujo to his AA meeting and then drove numbly around the neighborhood looking in the shrubbery and looking in dumpsters and being shouted at by shirtless men and realizing, gradually but with some certainty, that we actually live in not such a great neighborhood. The weekly gunshots over by the liquor store might have told me this? but I guess I am a slow learner. Anyway no bag being found, I came home and called my sponsor, who started trying to figure out how we were going to get into the church room, while I went online and downloaded various Al-Anon meeting formats and began, with the aid of my befuddled enfeebled memory, to try to cobble them together into something even remotely similar to our own weekly structure (which had been itself laboriously created over a couple of decades of group consciences and so forth. It’s part of why I liked this group originally—why it’s my “home group”—and why I took on the commitment of being keyholder, a commitment which I obviously didn’t treat with the responsibility it required, more on that in a moment—is that all their group consciences had led them, for example, to stop saying the odious Bedouin/feudal “Lord’s Prayer,” and, they are the only group in Tartarus I’ve heard do this, to say “God as we understood God” etc. rather than “God as we understood Him,” so I liked them)—
The point is I left this bag week after week in an unlocked car. Ever since my own car got towed away in December last year. And I thought because the Brujo’s car was parked in the carport, inches from our house, it was safe. And it wasn’t. And Finny died, and anyway was so old she would have slept through a burglary, maybe. It’s like the feral cats—with her dead, they practically try to come in the house now when we leave the door open. Actually they DO come in the house, we’ve had to take down Pyewacket’s cat door.
And the point is I always lose stuff. Casualties from spring break include my favorite black cap, left in Tucson, and the gobelet magique, left in Ajo (though the cabin people found it and can send it back). My last year in school (before being home-schooled), the nuns would make us pay $1 to pick up our lunchboxes, if we’d left them in the cafeteria the day before. I basically paid $1 every other day of the entire sixth grade, much to my mother’s bafflement and fury. There was no mitten I could hang onto, no winter coat I could not misplace within moments of taking it off.
But is that true? Or is that the story I was always told about myself?
I know this is tedious, my being both characteristically absentminded and then characteristically racked with shame, but bear with me—it gets a tiny bit weirder.
Yesterday, between when the mail was delivered at about 2 pm and when the Brujo got home from school around 2:30? Someone carefully placed an Al-Anon card, FROM THAT BAG, in our mailbox ON TOP OF THE MAIL. There’s nothing on the card (“Bothered by someone’s drinking?” in English and Spanish, plus the AZ web address/phone numbers) to connect it to us or our address—it was left there by the person who took the bag.
And, this person either seems to know our schedules very well—to know neither of us were at home then—or, is simply very foolhardy. Is it meant to be taunting, is it all “we have your bag you poor 12-step idiots,” or do they think it’s funny, or is it meant to be creepy, or is it a prelude to asking for money to get it back, or is it just drugged-out and random? Is this our barking-dog neighbor trying to fuck with us? And most importantly to me WHERE IS THAT EFFING BAG, is it maybe in the bushes somewhere in a nearby alleyway?
Anyway I called the police, who duly took the report but were ultimately uninterested in the idea that someone had stolen a duffel bag out of an unlocked car and then were randomly returning tidbits of it during broad daylight.
The point is also, I haven’t graded any papers.
There are several points, actually.
One is that the teaching award turned out to be $350, which is, you know, kind of mindblowing for the State School. Of course they wouldn’t be them if they weren’t weird somehow, so they took out $80 for Arizona withholding, ha ha, ha ha! I’ve never had an award check be subject to employee taxes before, but hey. Money’s money. Birthday!
The other point is that the Brujo and I (happily, accompanied by Rizzle and Allycomelately), go tonight to see Krishna Das! Which will surely make up for the fact that I am about to spend the next eight hours grading the rest of the papers. And maybe we can get pupusas beforehand?
Another point (this is a very prickly post) is that the 85-page something was turned into the Graduate College yesterday, with all its signatures; and no one appears to have noticed that a crazy woman wrote my comprehensive exams (and included PICTURES, like as if they were a blogpost); and so far only the Alcoholic Poet has ditched me, so I still so far have enough committee members; and so maybe I am really going to graduate in five weeks?
Another point? Is that the Brujo and I have now had two whole therapy sessions and not only has no one killed anyone else, but we actually seem to be treating each other much more affectionately. I am being all euphemestic here and amusing myself (hint: we = he). However, this may change as, stupidly emboldened by all this domestic harmony, I have written him a five-page (single-spaced, horrifying, à la Rachel to Ross during their break) letter explaining how I feel and, honestly, what I want, if we are going to be able to move forward, whateverTF that means. He hasn’t read it yet. We have another therapy on Thursday. And therefore we may not be so sunny and all, afterward. But I guess the good news is, that’s okay with me. I feel like I can handle the truth, even if the truth is yelling and telling me I have ruined everything that we were carefully restoring and correcting my spelling.
Is there another point? Of course there is. It is that my friends are unbelievably thoughtful, kind, and generous and they send me things for my birthday (coughMARACOLLINScough) even when I send them nothing for theirs. So I am going to take pictures of all these things and rave about them. When I do not have the papers.
(But when do I ever not have the papers? Therapy doesn’t seem able to help me with my dread of and hatred for, and worse, flat avoidance of, the papers. Perhaps I should seek a job in the fall which does not involve papers at all. Do they have such jobs? Hm.)
And finally, also, this same boyfriend with whom I am on some kind of spiny hedgehoggish tenterhooks, he bought me a beautiful purple something, the very thing I had requested, and left it on the kitchen table this morning, as I wasn’t awake (or even human) when he left at 7:30, to do this horrifying thing he cheerfully does every morning, of going to an ugly little classroom in a portable building to teach MATH to 160 deranged HIGH SCHOOL students, from roughly 8 am until 2:30 pm, without more than a 10-minute break, every day of the week. They yell at him, they blame him for the existence of math and its presence in their lives, they moan, they drag their feet, they claim they were never taught how to solve this kind of problem, they have temper-tantrums and break-ups and cat-fights and fist-fights (the Brujo broke up one in his first year, where one guy was shouting at the other, incongruously: “YOU FINNISH PIECE OF SHIT!” Which we thought was hysterical and which we now say all the time); they have all kinds of mental-health issues involving drugs and depression and eating disorders and self-mutilation and abusive families; and concerning all this they cry stormily in trigonometry. And he makes some bare $30K a year for this, with loathsome benefits, and teaches several weeks longer than I do, on either end of the academic year. And is, perhaps thanks to a pot of strong coffee every morning, generally very amiable about so doing.
I would happily have this year be the year in which we both stop teaching entitled snowflakes who don’t want to learn what we know how to teach. And that’s not really in my horoscope, but—
This blogpost, like all the other 1,027 posts, makes very little sense.
I am wearing sweatpants and getting ready to grade. I need a cup of tea and to lock the door in case Mr./Ms. Stalkery Al-Anon Bag Thief returns. I need to brush my hair and to send about two more emails, to friends whose lives are quietly imploding in much more dramatic ways than, someone stole the damn literature bag.
Anyway: happy, um, birthday! Thank you for writing about it on my (completely uncurated and unattended) Facebook wall! Pretend it’s YOUR birthday and have a piece of chocolate on me! I will add a zillion pictures later. From spring break, and taken with my NEW PURPLE CAMERA.
Thursday 25 March 2010 | 12 cookies in the jar
pretty much describes the state of my soul right now. Also my hair. And my sweatpants, which even Pyewacket sniffs at with suspicion. But I don’t much care, because I just ptinred <—ahem printed out the 85-page thesis (to be publicly defended four days WEEKS, sorry, from today) and it looks, well, actually it looks pretty awful to me. The Brujo was prodding me for why I can’t celebrate and be all WOOHOO I WIN AT LIFE HIGH FIVE etc., after literally formatting the thing from 8 am until 8 pm tonight, and I explained, pushing lank strands of unwashed hair out of my face and pulling on a sweater so we could go for a much-needed walk:
1) I feel dread, because now my committee, comprised of the Duende, the Alcoholic Poet, and Walt Whitman’s ex, will have at the ms and probably hate large swathes of it and want it dismembered and strung back together with twine like Frankenstein’s turkey, whereas Walt has so far been all beneficent and kind and accepting of it basically just pretty much exactly the way I handed it to him; and I also feel some dread in re: an incomplete from last semester (I owe the Alcoholic Poet two poems), and of course the vasty ACREAGE of ungraded student papers; and then
2) I feel guilty, partly because the thesis committee members aren’t getting very long to do their dismembering and rearrangements, but mostly because I still haven’t finished or properly revised the whole shmear’s modest little pièce-de-resistance, a long 25-page poem about…well, I don’t even know what it’s about, only that Jesus and Mary are characters, and Mary turns out to be a porn actress with some mental health issues. Some parts of this poem are so graphically…graphic, that Drian Biamond opines this is why my former G5 probably melted down in February. Yep, pretty sure I’m definitely going to hell now. Anyway the poem doesn’t exactly END yet, it more just…stops, despite many heroic efforts at improvement directed at it by Ms. Rizzle (without whom, there just would be no thesis happening at all). And, finally, in conclusion, why I cannot celebrate wholeheartedly:
3) I feel ashamed, because it’s not perfect.
We wandered around our little corner of suburban purgatory as we talked, the same few lawn-bound blocks we’ve walked over and over these last three years…it’ll be weird to take evening walks in some other dopey Arizona suburb, in a few months. And the Brujo shared with me some of his student challenges, about what it’s like for him trying to prepare his 150 entitled snowflakes for the assaults of the State School, for those who are going on to university in the fall. They have a new classroom slogan now: “There are no tissues in college!” (This because one young man was bashing aggrievedly around the math room complaining because there weren’t any boxes of facial tissue, and what the hell was the world coming to anyway, whereupon the Brujo pointed at him sternly and said THERE ARE NO TISSUES IN COLLEGE! and so now all the students think that’s the funniest thing ever, and say it like fifty times a day.)
I’m actually so physically tired from sitting at this desk all day that my LEGS hurt. They were all rubbery during our walk, it was funny. I am funny. Bodies are funny. I don’t like my poetry. Yep, I am definitely having a thesis; I am very thoroughly having a graduation (in that sense of Mandarin and I saying to each other, I hope you have a sesshin). All is exactly as it is supposed to be. It just kind of feels like a beat-up on some level. Part of the rite of passage, I guess.
PS—via redredshoes—this pretty much sums it up for me tonight:
Tuesday 23 March 2010 | 7 cookies in the jar
On the one hand, BOO on the Other Grad School for not taking me, and instead accepting THREE BOY POETS over me. (All of whom, of course, in our uncertain economic climate, accepted the offers.) May they get what they deserve, all of them, in their testosterone-soaked, beery vines & groves. Hmp.
On the other hand, I can maybe find a part-time job next year that doesn’t involve the reading, commenting upon, and grading of acre after acre of woeful student rhetoric (and dealing with the inevitable fallout that results when the grade is not that of A-double-plus).
And when I searched for an image to accompany this post, these were the top five choices (click on the image for full horrifying effect)—so maybe I just narrowly escaped another 3-4 years of entitled snowflakes and their miserable parochial sexist/racist attitudes. I mean, if you have to live with this, is it worth it to be Doctor Crazy Lady? (Yes. It would be worth it.)
So, okay, if it’s still worth it to me, maybe I’ll reapply to the Other Grad School next year and maybe there’ll even be another pair of XX chromosomes in my cohort. And now maybe we are going to move to Tucson instead of L.A.—maybe together, and maybe everything will somehow be—okay? Is that possible? Is it conceivable? Is it too much to ask of the universe? Maybe I’ll get to teach in a tribal community again, maybe with the Tohono O’odham—maybe at a community college, maybe at the Other State School in the state, maybe work at a non-profit and do something useful for a change?
We can’t know. We can only guzzle today’s chai morosely (Yogi Classic India Spice, a gift from allycomelately) and hope for some kind of miracle with regard to our puny little poetic existence, which is somehow now in the plural, but like most things, we don’t know exactly why.
Monday 22 March 2010 | I like a cookie
owing to hurt feelings and big fight and yelling and tear-rain-shower and parting of clouds and pale but optimistic gleaming of sunlight with el Brujo. Followed by Vietnamese food and three more ibuprofen.
So instead I leave you with this image, which is a bumpersticker I have optimistically purchased to go on my new car, which I have not purchased. Yet.
Monday 22 March 2010 | 3 cookies in the jar
Monday morning, library, bleary. Post-spring-break. Menstrual, three ibuprofen in pocket, waiting for Café Biblioteca to open so I can go get milky half-chai to fuel the teaching part of the day. Painkiller makes overpowered with sleepy.
Hungover from: nine days of cheerfully pretending I don’t have thesis and 80+ papers ungraded: hungover from: great natural beauty and desert/mountain vistas and peace and quiet, with (unexpected blessing) no wireless or cellphone: hungover from: tentative reconnection with the Brujo, and great anxiety resulting from same; but mostly right now honestly hungover from: my own reaction to: last night’s escalation of: the Brujo’s running feud with: our neighbor in re: neighbor’s nuisance-barking dog.
If you can follow that you can have half my madeleine.
So last night Brujo “slept” I think on living room floor with camping pad and sleeping bag; I stayed in bed with earplugs, too stoned on ibuprofen to move/interfere with what was going on. Suspect neighbor/s now deliberately leaving dog outside all night to annoy Brujo/us. Brujo called police around midnight; police visited neighbor and dog was of course brought inside so not barking; phone message from police informs Brujo that dog is service animal protecting property and that he is not to enter property ever again or contact owners or make contact with dog in any way.
Three weeks ago Brujo went over at 1 a.m. and shouted/cursed at said neighbor (which is presumably where the whole banned-from-property thing originates). On that occasion neighbor slammed door and has not responded to email/FB message or voicemail left on female half’s cellphone.
Female half of neighbors has multiple sclerosis and two small boys. Large “service” dog has knocked her down before my very eyes and I stood there stupidly, not knowing what to do. Dog has been barking consistently for three years, with brief halcyon hiatus between when former service dog died and new replacement arrived. Our bedroom window is basically in neighbor’s backyard.
I jokingly suggested moving bed to living room and I think Brujo thinks this is actually a good idea. I am not sleeping in living room for next three months.
What is my part in it, as half of the complaining neighbors? What is for me to do here? Am I supposed to take cupcakes over and make the peace? Or do I want to? What is the next right thing? A wise woman on a forum elsewhere said this, about something else, but I think it is probably pretty solid:
You are feeling out of control, because you are waiting for him to do something. Don’t hinge your sanity on his actions. Connect with yourself. [...] And once you are doing something constructive, you will feel better. I promise.
Just: what? What is to be done? Blogpost as prayer. What I do now?
Well, for the moment, chai. If not grading or thesis formatting or mending what the Big Book calls “sweet relationships.” Nightmares asleep, nightmares awake. I’m not in the hospital, though. Not today. Today I’m wearing clean jeans and my hair is brushed and the B. gave me a ride to school this morning and now I’m ordering chai. And he and I have therapy Wednesday and perhaps more will be revealed. Or perhaps clarity is not a gift the gods are choosing to give me at this time. Doesn’t matter. Work on poems. Poems I can cling to.
Poems. Thank you, poems. Thank you. Monday post spring-break thanks you.
Friday 12 March 2010 | someone left a cookie
This is my new favorite blog, and I came across it via this, my new favorite post, which the Brujo sent me. The picture says everything. I half-think it was taken in the industrial, thirty-stall women’s bathroom across from the classrooms where I teach M/W/F. And I swear I’ve received that email before, too.
I want to say a great deal more but you guessed it—too much work still to do today. But we’re getting there, we are getting there—load of laundry in the washer, five of the remaining twenty-five student drafts open before me now (oddly I have only received one disgruntled snowflake email, of the “where the hell is my draft” variety, which, since I met with them in 15-minutes slots and already TOLD them what I think about their drafts…next time I am going to put the pen in their hands and FORCE them to take notes).
Further, I am NOT going to get lured by Ms. AB into a discussion of Lorrie Moore! Even though I desperately want to go look up the story she mentions, and read it for cleverly concealed subtext. Non! Je refuse! A quiet cabin in Ajo awaits the virtuous (comes furnished with one medium-sized overcaffeinated Irishman. Houris optional).
Thursday 11 March 2010 | I like a cookie
And I managed to use beefcake pictures of Uncle Ezra AND Walt, ha ha, I win!
In the end my “answers” to the three exam questions (which questions of course I parsed and haggled over and negotiated and disagreed with at their very core and defiantly refused to answer in the terms in which they were given and wrote about other stuff entirely) wound up totalling about eight thousand words, and since I was writing steadily for just over eight hours, even my peabrain can determine I wrote a thousand words an hour. Or, let’s be honest, it was more typing than writing. Too bad they don’t pay by the yard. Somehow a large portion of this, thanks to my infallible stream-of-consciousness technique, wound up being about Rilke? I can’t even explain how that happened. I was accosted by Letters to Cézanne, which I think I last read in 1993. In fact I know it was January 1993 because I was on my way back to the Women’s College from DC, and I was sitting at Dulles at like 7 am waiting at the gate for my flight, sitting on my suitcase reading my paperback copy, and then I looked up and saw…that my plane had boarded and flown away without me. Because of Rilke! They don’t make ‘em like that no more, folks.
Toasted. Now brain is toasted. Still have student papers too, but that is my fault. The Brujo, by contrast, energetically hoovers and washes dishes, while I lethargically pick tufts of cat hair up off the carpet and stare dully at the laundry: “I want to get the flock OUTTA here.” Dear Alison had suggested this as a possible venue for the Brujo/Unreliable Spring Break and lo and & behold we are going! for a couple of nights anyway, and then on to a similar (but cheaper) bunch of cabins in Ajo. If I weren’t so toasted I’d be so excited—mostly excited to lie in bed all week with a book and a pen and tea and no thoughts of anything much and hopefully no anxiety nightmares either. Speaking of which.
Last night’s terror was really splendiferous—it turned out the comps were a competitive timed oral examination, like swim-team trials or something, and we were all vying against one another in a group. Our indefatigable program manager Ms. K. had a stopwatch and kept yelling “Thirty seconds! Fifteen seconds!” and we were supposed to do arithmetic with pencils and 3×5 cards, no calculators. And the first question was: “How many hours of classwork have you missed since you began the MFA program?” I was immediately stumped—let’s see, if I’ve missed, let’s say, five classes a semester, and I’ve been here not quite six semesters, and the classes are three hours a week, but does this mean classes I’ve taken or classes I’ve taught—I just couldn’t work it out, with her shouting and my dumb pencil and piece of paper. And everyone else in our cohort was so suave and prepared and diligent, and none of them had missed ANY classes so they didn’t even have any math to DO. And then in the dream I would tempestuously burst into tears and flee the exam, causing Teh Drama, and various well-intentioned people would come after me and cajole me back into the room to try again, and then I would try again, and fail again, and not fail better, and burst into tears again, until by the end everyone was just looking at me with open undisguised dismay and disgust, and worst of all was that in the very back row of the exam room (the room where we do have our defenses late in April) was the department chair of the program which just waitlisted me, and I could tell by the fastidious yet appalled look on his face, his polite but barely concealed horror, that there was now no way I was ever getting into his program. Cue further floods of tears, which just made me more disgusting to everyone, and I stormily fled once more.
Then I woke up. Then I wrote 8,300 more or less completely incoherent words, not including these, which are, like another seven hundred.
Okay that is ENOUGH out of ME. I leave you with the immortal words of Homie.
Wednesday 10 March 2010 | 3 cookies in the jar
Tuesday 9 March 2010 | I like a cookie
Pyewacket tried to help me tyep a comment just now, in my last post which, God help me, references Elin Woods. She’s not a very good tyeper; it looked like something Wol would write.
addiijct jCjjojjdjijejsjjuho paoogoeoook
(Italics hers.) I absolutely cannot be blogging today. There are 17 papers needing commentary before 11 am, so I absolutely cannot be blogging. Nope. Can’t do it, can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, won’t do it. Also just allow me to remind myself politely that comps are due Friday, thesis due first week of April, and I won’t know the fate of my New State School waitlisting (three PhD slots and I am number four! I love being number four) until April 2. And the Brujo and I, despite differences, are grown-up enough to declare an armistice and flee together on Friday to a desert hole somewhere for our spring break, and we are not emerging until no one makes us grade anything.
So instead of something decent from me, why not read this from Jim Behrle, on how to become the most famous poet in America overnight. Or this from Don Share, on how writing 3,070 poems over the course of a lifetime can, by contrast, make you an eventual “quiet king of the quotidian.”
Or, here’s a fun website in which poetry Regulars ask poetry Élites all our prurient and rude hoi-polloi questions, and they (sort of) (in general) answer! (Sample blunt question to Jorie: “Do you think you’re a better writer then the readers are readers?”) Or finally, peek at the ephemera in the newly assembled DFW archive for which the University of Texas must have paid, as they say, handsomely. Most alluring to me are the juvenalia (“Viking Poem”! I may have to travel to Austin someday just to read “Viking Poem”) and the marked-up dictionary. Neroli. Talion. Gravid. Uxorious.