Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writing on Writing: More Writing!

I have been inspired by Hightouch to try to least a little bit.....
But, alas, what to say?
Firstly I have to say that this semester is a motherfucker. (Pardon my swearing! I like to swear!). What is the nature of this M-Fness? Hard to say.
Mother Fucker Nature, let me list you:

  1. Teaching a New Class: This is not as hard as it sounds, but harder than it should be. For some reason, I have these little over achievers submitting writing to me constantly. CON-STANT-fucking-LY. Whose idea was this? Mine, apparently.
  2. Working on Committees. If there is a BANE to any existence it is the creation and subsequent meeting of this and or that committee. One may actually love some of their compatriots on this committee but that does nothing to dull the mind-numbingness of just the sheer fucking actuality of BEING on a committee. Enough said.
  3. Writing. Am I writing? Hells no. But I have forced myself to write for fifteen minutes each night for say the last week. So I have done _some_ writing. (If I could make the font of the word "writing" smaller so as to indicate how little I do, I would). 
  4. Anxiety. This, friends, is the hobgoblin of little minds. Namely, mine. I worry the shit out of everything. This, however, does not prevent me from watching more TV than is perhaps advisable, and, somehow I manage NOT to worry while actually watching TV (and maybe drinking wine, I won't lie...) but watching TV does not make the anxiety go away. It just distracts it for a bit. What is this anxiety about? Not working on my novel. But, hey, whatever.
  5. TV: I watch some/bit/a lot of TV. To wit: Brooklyn 99 (Andy Samberg, what what?); New Girl (not as good as it used to be, but Schmidt! He does Crossfit!); The Mindy Project (um, hello?? hilarious, also Morgan!); Modern Family (tight suit!); Parks and Rec (please don't talk to me about the small number of episodes before I have to wait until January....); Continuum (netflix). I think that's it....
And so, friends, my fifteen minutes comes to a close. If you want to know what else I am up to, re: thinking, I will just say sonnets, earthquakes, Pangaea. You're going to have to do the rest of the work yourself. 
(Did I mention my neck is fucked up? My neck is fucked up! Tomorrow: massage!!)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My Bookshelves

Awhile ago, Hightouchmegastore posted this to her blog. A little something about her bookshelves, which made me want to do it, and now, finally, I'm gettin to it. So, it only takes me a long time, it turns out, to get around to stuff. Because I have a lot of stuff going on, okay? Don't be like that.

So here is an assortment from my library. What I'm reading and what not.

Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino

I borrowed this book from a friend because I read two of these shorts in a creative writing textbook and I loved them. I have been reading this book very slowly, and enjoying it. Apparently it has a structure to it, each little chapter, such as "Mr. Palomar does the shopping," has three parts which are visual, cultural, and speculative. But you don't need to know that. Some of the sections are better than others, but they are all slightly strange and alienating and also beautiful.

Spectacle by Susan Steinberg

I bought this book at AWP at the Graywolf table. I have read and liked Steinberg's stories before. I do like this collection/linked stories/novel. The writing is interesting and has all the hallmarks of her other work: a disjointed narrative, focus on female experience, possibly disturbing events, theorizing on the meaning of things. Some of them are clever, or meant to be clever (based on their titles, like "Signifier"). But, as with her story collections, I feel like most of the stories hit the same note. But, I'm going to finish it.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

I just bought this book today. I'm reading it for one of my book clubs, so I want everyone to know I bought it and Yes, I'm going to read it.

The All of It by Jeannette Haien

I am supposed to read this for my other book club, which doesn't meet until May, so that shouldn't be a challenge because the book is only 145 pages. I include it here because it is one of those books I have known about for almost 15 years and have just never read, for whatever reason. So I look forward to reading a very short book.

As you probably assume, my house is filled with hundreds more books that I have not yet read, but plan to. I will do my best to keep  you updated on those.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

AWP redux: Boston!

I have (very) recently returned from Boston, the land of snow & chowdah. & lobstah & some writers.
First let me say that I did not sleep either very much or very well, so my disposition on returning home is cloudy (inside the head). But, I am glad to be home and I am also glad I went.

  1. Number of meals/etc. with Nikwalk: 3-ish? One might have been drinks that bled into dinner, so maybe I could count that as two? Whatever the answer, it was awesome!! But I could've handled more. 
  2. Stuff learned: some. I got some good ideas for my novel writing class and I learned some things about Book Arts, which is relevant to the Publication Class I'm teaching now. The other panels were sort of blah ho hum.
  3. Number of readings attended: Three. It seems like more. Don DeLillo. He is awesome. As Lisa B. said, he is like someone's old Italian grandfather. He seems like a reclusive curmudgeon with a dry sense of humor. I could have listened to him talk for hours. The person he "conversed" with was interesting, but I found her fiction too detailed. It reminded me of the Lynn Emanuel poem where she says she doesn't want to write fiction because she doesn't want to describe the carpet. I want to write fiction and also not describe the carpet
  4. Best thing ever: Jeanette Winterson. I felt like I was at a TED talk. She walked around and read and took off her glasses and used interesting voices. She talked about how important art is, and I love that. Also she is petite and she seemed really friendly.
  5. Best meal: I don't know. I'm too tired to think about it. I think I liked the tapas at Toro best, because you know I am a sucker for tapas.
  6. Most overrated thing: Bone Marrow. What is that about? Sorry, Nik.
  7. Best thing in life: sleep.
  8. Best excursion: MFA. I love art! It made me remember that I need to be more involved with art at home. I got to see one of my favorite paintings, Millet's "The Sower." So I'm happy about that.
  9. I have some good stories to tell, but you'll have to see me in person to hear those. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Dog: The Interview

Me: Gus, why are you neurotic?
Gus: (staring intently into my eyes) Bark!

Me: But I took you to the park? Remember? Snow? Birds?
Gus: (tilting his head from side to side as if listening to music in the distance) urwr?

Me: Why don't you lay down and stop pacing the living room?
Gus: (appears not to understand the question)

Gus: Bark! bark! Bark!
Me: But I already fed you and took you outside.

Me: Gus, what is it you want?
Gus: (responds by backing into the space between my knee and the couch)

Me: Gus, could you kindly relax?
Gus: (takes the opportunity to leave the room)

I have learned much from Gus, the German Shorthaired Pointer, but not the answer to any of my very practical questions. Except, the question What do you like? the answer to which is Everything that fits in my mouth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sick Sickness, The Sick Edition

So, as many of you know from the FB-verse, I have been sick for some, if not all, of 2013. Much of this illness covers that last week or so, and some of it covers whole swathes of January, but never mind. I am not here to praise sickness, but to bury it under a list of things I have done, so that I can feel that, indeed, Sickness, you have not buried me under a mountain of used Kleenex and cough drop wrappers. No, I will rise again!! (sniffle, sniffle, cough!)

  1. Watched "Pitch Perfect"! Finally! Why didn't everyone beat me with their fists and plead with me, nay, beg me to watch this the minute it was released, and then again and again? Because it really was *that good*. And I say this even while wondering (if by wondering you mean beating one's chest and looking skyward) why, oh why, do funny movies have to have disgusting bodily function scenes. Can anyone tell me why?
  2. Tried different medicines. I want to know, for example, if the liquid green Nyquil (which tastes like Jagermeister and burns) is better, in terms of healing function, than the Sinex capsules which are also an eerie nuclear green, but have no taste, but almost get stuck in my throat. Do I know? I do not, really, except that maybe, maybe the capsules give you less of an "I just drank a bunch of Jagermeister" dry mouth effect. Also, there are these daytime Tylenol cold pills which are minty (why? I'm just going to swallow them. I don't need minty in my esophagus) and they seem to work, but they also make me feel like someone just poured plastic into my sinuses. That is, they work, but do they work by just stopping all sinus functions which will just come back fourfold when they wear off? These are the questions I need answers to.
  3. Drank a Mexican coke. I don't have to explain this one, do I?
  4. Ate some soft chicken tacos. Hightouchmegastore made me.
  5. Drank too much wine. This has nothing to do with anything, per se, but I was starting to feel sick again (a sore throat) and I had already invited people over, and what to do? So I told myself I wouldn't drink too much and then I did, and then what happened? (See #s 3 & 4).
  6. Drank a shit ton of tea. I have to say, that I'm a little sick of tea. Which is why I drank coffee today. Sometimes you has to do that.
  7. Blew my nose like 8.3 million times. Bought more kleenex. Blew my nose. You see where this is going.
  8. Had an idea for, and then wrote an essay. I think under 1,000 words is my sweet spot and by that I mean attention span. Also, the way I write works that way and when I try to make it longer...let's just say Silly Putty.
  9. Did not work on some grant applications. That is for suckers and people whose heads are not stuffed with cotton and Nyquil.
  10. Deleted a shit ton of email. Why, dear readers, do I not just delete it when it arrives so I don't have to go back and delete it later? Why??
  11. Read almost nothing. When sick, even reading seems like too much damn work. I want someone to come and put the words in my brain while I lay here with my eyes closed.
  12. Did no prep work. See, I had this great idea at the beginning of the semester and I made a schedule for the first 5 weeks of the semester, and, you see, the first five weeks are rapidly drawing to a close and, my friends, what will I do??
  13. Spent a shit ton of time on-line. It has not made me smarter, friends, it has not.
  14. Bought my husband a sandwich. He can't say I didn't help.
  15. I may have to go out and get chicken pot pie for dinner. I just might.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Results of my Whole36

Well, the Paleo Challenge is over. For those of you who don't know what that is, you can read all about it over at Whole9. Basically, it was to eat only REAL foods for 30 days. Real meaning not processed. So I lived on meat, veggies, fruit, and some nuts. I also gave up caffeine!
What, you may ask, happened in these 30 days? First, let me just tell you, that it was actually 36 days!! I started on January 1, but the folks at my gym didn't start until January 7, so I kept on with them until they were done.
First, a photo collage.
I'm pretty proud of myself for making this collage! Well, also for sticking with this eating plan for 36 days of no sugar and no alcohol! In the photo above, the before pictures are on the left, the after pics are on the right (except for the bottom row, where they only before picture is number three).
Let me preface the story of my 36 days by explaining where I was at before. I would say I was mostly healthy, but I had let some bad habits take control of me. Mostly I mean drinking alcohol almost every night and not sleeping as well or as much as I should. I remember a few times drinking wine and thinking that I really didn't want it, but oh well, there it was in the glass and I should just finish it. I feel like my eating (sugar, wheat, dairy) had gotten out of control between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every day was a party! By the time Christmas was over I had a nice little roll of fat on my belly.
Another thing I should say is that I have been doing Crossfit for almost four years, so I felt like I knew a lot about health and nutrition. I felt like I understood the Paleo diet, that I followed it pretty well, if not consistently. I'm not a huge dessert addict nor an emotional eater. That's where I was, mentally, at the beginning of the Whole 30. I weighed 160 pounds, which is about 5 more than I feel comfortable weighing. I knew I had a lot of fat on my body that I could lose.
I have to say that when I got up on the morning of January 1, it was not that hard to drink tea instead of coffee. I didn't get a headache and I didn't feel cranky. I had decided to give up caffeine because I am hypoglycemic and I wanted to see how my blood sugar did without coffee. I also tried not to eat fruit at breakfast (because of the effect the sugar might have on my blood sugar). The effects were immediate. That night I slept the best I have slept since my son was born (almost 12 years ago!). I continued to sleep (and nap! unheard of!) very well throughout the month. I slept well every night!
Other than sleep, the first two weeks were hard. I did a pretty good job of preparing food for the week, packing my lunch and planning ahead. The mental part was hard for me. No snacking?!? As a hypoglycemic, I am pretty used to eating snacks every 2 hours. I stuck pretty much with a few nuts and sometimes some raisins. But after awhile, even the snacking pretty much fell away (but wasn't eliminated entirely).
One of the hardest things for me was the mental game. Mentally, I wasn't sure how to think about what I was doing or what I was going to do when the 30 days were up. What is food? Why can't I just eat and forget about it?
That's when I got an email from the library saying a copy of It Starts With Food was being held for me. I began reading it that night. Much of it was familiar. I have attended one Whole9 seminar and had been on other challenges (though none as strict as this one). But when I got to the chapter on Food & Psychology,  I felt I really learned a lot. I've never been an emotional eater, but I definitely saw my habits in a new light after that chapter. Why do I eat what I eat? Why do I think I need a glass of wine every night? I dedicated myself to developing some new habits. Now, when I watch TV (which I try to do less of), I drink tea.
Around week 3, I didn't feel like I was really making any progress. I couldn't see any results in my body and I had been sick, off and on, so I wasn't making it to the gym as much as I wanted. Add to that the terrible air quality, and I just didn't feel awesome the way I wanted to.
I had to go to the doctor and I couldn't eat for a whole day at the end of that week. Of course they weighed me at the doctor's office and I couldn't believe it. According to them, I had lost 10 pounds. How could I not see that?
My only excuse is that I have in my head an image of myself that doesn't always match reality. So that was a good reality check for me.
Week four felt very good to me. I tried to reintroduce decaf coffee after day 30, but I couldn't sleep that night. I'm not sure if it was the decaf, but I'm going to experiment with different kinds of decaf and different brewing methods to see if I can have some coffee, at least one or two days a week. I miss my coffee!! I love the smell!
Last Friday, we had an event for Utah Women Crossfitters. We did a WOD and I have to say that the rowing and the pull ups felt easier than they ever have. So that's a bonus!
Now that I'm done, I'm excited to try to integrate some foods (okay, I mean wine) back into my diet. But I have lost so much fat that I don't want it to come back! I am going to avoid gluten and grains and dairy and sugar. If I want treats, I will make myself Paleo treats. And I'm always on the hunt for Paleo friendly chocolate.
The thing I want most right now is a Paleo brownie and a cup of coffee. So I'll be making Paleo brownies on Thursday.
I want to be able to eat out and socialize with friends, hang out, have a glass of wine, but not over do it. I want to maintain the health I've found now. I don't want to go back to my old habits, of doing something not because I want to, but just because it's a habit.
I also want to help my family to be healthier, without becoming a lecturer. That's hard.
So that's it, folks. That's my Whole36.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Tag! I'm it!

My friend and fellow writer, Mystery Girl, tagged me to take part in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. So, without further ado, here are my answers to the questions posed.

1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?
I first called it Mole People, because it's about people living underground, but my Son was very sad that it wasn't actually about talking moles. I still call it Mole People, but that's only a working title. I imagine the real title will have the word "dark" in it. 
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was teaching a novel writing class at SLCC and I made all the students pitch their books on the last night. There were so many dystopia books that students took to saying (in a fake, movie trailer voice) "In a post-apocalyptic world...." before giving their pitch. The phrase took hold and I wanted to write something. I'm not sure where the whole idea came from. I probably stole it. 
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Definitely young adult dystopia. 
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ack! I'm sure by the time I finish the book all of the people I choose will be too old. But, that said, Chloe Moretz would make a great Sarah (main character). I could see Logan Lerman as Jonas (male lead). 
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Dark Something (ha!) follows storyteller Sarah as the secluded religious community she has grown up in searches for the Final Prophet who will lead them into the light. 
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will probably look for an agent. 
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Off and on (mostly off) for four years. Seriously for the last year. 
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It is most influenced by the novel Oyster, which is not a YA book at all. I don't know of any religious community dystopias but I am sure they are out there.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Students mostly. I also wanted to write something that would be more straightforward (chronological) than the other novels I've tried to write, so I set out to write a book with a more traditional trajectory.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The book switches between the perspectives of Sarah, the storyteller, and Jonas, a boy she meets in her journey. It also quotes extensively from the (made up) book of their origins, The Book of Earth. 

So now I'm supposed to tag  people to participate next week, so I tag Hightouchmegastore (I can't wait to see who she would cast to star in her poems!), Ann Cannon, Nikwalk, and The World's Strongest Librarian. I can't wait to see what they are all working on!