Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What is sexier than a girl in moon boots?

No one has answered any of the many questions posed in my sestina: am I or am I not sexier than the boyish Brett in The Sun Also Rises? On second thought, don't answer.
I am headed to Vancouver tomorrow. I'm pretty excited. I'm going to eat Indian food and people watch. If I'm lucky, maybe a Famous Writer will buy me a drink. Most likely, I will observe Famous Writers buying drinks for other Soon-to-be-Famous Writers. They will have chat that reads like dust jacket blurbs and they will laugh the laugh of Writers with Agents. I will observe with envy as I sip my knock-off glamour drink and compose (in my mind) poems worthy of Bukowski. I will take up chain smoking and Scotch (I'm part Scottish you know) and slurred words and crude invective. Nothing will approach the glory of my first AWP (D.C., 1997) when Robert Bly rubbed the head of my short, bald friend and I was introduced to Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell at the same time. And my friend gave a tenner to a guy who asked, just because. It was beautiful. Let me recapture the idealism of that golden moment with this one thought: I will shake the hand of Howard Norman (author of The Bird Artist). I leave you with that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My Sestina: Still Life with Moon Boots and Rain

Here is my sestina with the obligatory words selected by my Intro to Creative Writing Class. Enjoy! I look forward to reading your sestinas!

Still Life with Moon Boots and Rain

It was my adolescence. I wore moon boots
In the rain. Tried to be cool. Read
Death of a Salesman in tenth grade. I ran
In the hallway between classes: not cool. Fear dogged
Me. I was a fly
On the wall of popularity. I wasn’t having sex.

Can you believe it? What is sexier
Than a girl wearing moon boots?
I was fly before fly was fly.
I knew I was cool. I’d read
The Preppy Handbook. But I also was a dog,
A “good” girl not a “nice” girl; a girl with a run

In her tights, a girl who wouldn’t run
With the bad boys. I wouldn’t go all the way,
But my friends would. Boys would dog
Me in the hallways, parody my moon boot
Stride, fondle their own crotches, I’d redden,
Give them my best fake guffaw, then fly

Off down the hallway. I dreamed of flying
Away with Bogart, or to Pamplona, running
With the bulls, me and Hemingway, I’d read
The Sun Also Rises; I was sexier
Than Brett. Wasn’t I? I’d never moon over the boots
Of some matador. I wasn’t that kind of dog,

Licking the boots of the boys who kicked me. I was the dog,
The ugly kind, the “friend,” a f------ lie,
A girl who could hold her beer and keep one moon boot
On the floor at all times. I never ran
Away from a challenge, or from sex.
My friends ran toward it. Those girls didn’t read

Past the first page, and believed every word they read.
They believed, for example, that those dogs
Would marry them. That they, the girls, would want to; that sex,
The original problem, would be the answer, that they would fly
Off to paradise, happily ever, blah, blah, cut to the run
Away scene: divorcee with ski pro and moonboots.

That was my adolescence: sexless, dreams of flight,
I read by lamplight, Lolita and doggerel,
I would have run, if I’d had somewhere to go: call it still life with moon boots and rain.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Welcome to Thursday!

I am waiting for swimming to begin, so that I may swim. The lifeguards won't let us get in the pool until our"teacher" gets there, even though we are all excellent swimmers, much better than the aqua-aerobics contingent, whom they allow to get in the pool before their teacher arrives. Maybe because they don't swim, but merely hop up and down in the cool water, waving their arms around. Most of them don't even get their hair wet! (but don't get me wrong: I'm pro-water aerobics!)
Tonight I am attending the keynote address of the Science and Lit symposium by Leslie Forbes, a British writer. Should be interesting. But it is directly after swimming, so I must eat the sandwich in my bag for "dinner." So, really, I'm only interested in whether or not there will be "snacks" before the event, or just after. Usually it's only after. But I'll be so distracted by my hunger that I will be thinking about food instead of about the brilliance of the speaker. I have an apple too.
See? I can't avoid the topic of food. Am I obsessed? Speaking of obsession, I assigned my students to write a sestina and they came up with the words: read, fly, dog, sex, moon boots, run (in any order). So this, too, is your assignment. I still haven't received any sonnets. I'm waiting. .
I'm looking forward to the basketball weekend. And if you happen to call our house or if you run into Middlebrow, don't ask about the rain and our roof. JUST DON'T ASK. I warned you. Ciao!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Full Time Mom

Today I had a "Full Time Mom" day, because I gave my Honors students the day off, so that I could persuade them to attend the Science and Literature conference on Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday. So I lifted weights (my legs are still sore!), attended the Health Fair at Son's school, then went to a Child's birthday party, where Son colored Easter Eggs and consumed his own weight in sugar. Then, after all that, it was Soccer Night. I am pleased to report that on our team the mothers seem to be trying to outdo each other in the "healthy snack" department. Middlebrow put the ka-bosh on our bringing water and bought a metric ton of juice boxes from Costco (all praise Costco, the source of all things plentiful and cheap!). Oh well. I am also happy to report that in this, our third game, all the kids actually seemed to be paying attention to the ball. Son even kicked it once or twice. Aside from one of the goalies (faux napping in the goal), we seemed to be improving.
So being a full time Mom is hard work, even when I'm not thinking about all the grading/work I have to get done, and even without the time pressure of having to be in class at a certain time. It was an exhausting day. I don't know how people with more than one child do it and still manage to smile sometimes. I think I am tempermentally unfit to be a full-time mother. It seems like it should be easier than, say, teaching, but in reality it's like having two full-time jobs, because even when you're not with your children, you are thinking about what you need to do when you are with them. I realize I'm not saying anything new here, but I actually think it is less work (in some ways) to sit in front of the computer and write. (What's the saying? That's not writing, it's typing. Let's hear it for typing!).
I realize that I can't seem to break away from Motherhood as a topic. So, next time, I will write a rough draft of an abstract for a conference proposal on representations of Mothers in fiction. I can make my day-to-day banalities sound like high theory. Just watch! (oops! I may have just oversold my next entry.) Well, you'll just have to stay tuned. . . .

Monday, March 21, 2005

Sonnet plus an Assignment

I wrote this sonnet (based on a true story!) for my creative writing class, because I am going to require that they all write sonnets and in the interest of fairness, etc.

He Hates Nature Poetry

He was my student. He said,
“Nature poetry is shit.” Or
something like that. I had,
I admit, forced the point, for
I found that I could love
the words a poet chose for pine
or lake, egret, heron, even cove.
I lament that such descriptions are not mine.
So what was I to say, confronted,
as I was, with this raw truth?
Here’s what I said: “Poetry,” I quoted,
“makes nothing happen.” It can do
only this: take a simple nothing, a mere it,
and through linguistic folly transform shit.

My assignment is: write a sonnet that includes an image from nature and a proclamation, such as, "Life, friends, is boring." I look forward to reading their (and your?) sonnets.
I also included, on the handout, some selections from Ogden Nash, just so they didn't take themselves too seriously. My favorite is "A Drink with Something In It." I love the truth/vermouth rhyme. It may be my all time favorite.
Okay. Now I must drink some wine, watch some TV, then drift off to sleep.

Back from Break

Greetings! Spring Break is over and we are back to "normal," though as a standard, I'm not sure we qualify. Amazing Poet Friend has admonished me for being a part-time blogger, and reminds me that if I am going to be a blogger, I must blog. Consider me corrected. I hereby do vow that I will blog each day, even if I have nothing of brilliance to say. I will say what I have to say, so that you and Amazing Poet Friend may read it and judge.
Basketball mania is on hold until Friday, but we had our own soccer mania to experience. I think it is unhealthy for Son to have me on the sidelines. I yelled and scolded Son for slumping on the sidelines and for moping when he couldn't be the goalie. His athletic prowess is laying in wait for another season. On the way home he complained that soccer was "just running around and kicking." Hm. Maybe he'll like Tee Ball better. Perhaps.
Well, Son insists that he is potty trained and can sleep without a diaper, so I'm preparing to wake up around 3 or 4 a.m. to change his clothes and his sheets. Ah, the joys of parenting!
In other news, I began a new story today that I'm excited about. Why do I have lots of ideas for new stories, but can't seem to muster new scenes for this Novel I'm supposedly working on? Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, March 18, 2005

St. Patty's & Spring Break

Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day! In true Irish style, I went out drinking twice yesterday! Once for lunch (Irish Stew and salad) and beer (2002) with a friend whose daughter goes to school with Son. We watched Utah win (but it was too close!) while Middlebrow watched the kids. Then I watched Middlebrow's basketball game (he was 6 for 8, btw) and we went out for beer with the team. We actually had a babysitter.
Spring Break is trickling away. So far I have finished a book and watched Monk (on DVD) and watched a lot of basketball. So far, so good. Son is "cleaning up" so he can do a puppet show for me and all his animals. He made some emotion puppets (happy, sad, surprised, disgusted) and he gets behind the couch and performs conversations among them. Apparently Disgusted is Disgusted because of a worm sandwich. I want to know why Mad is Mad. Son was Mad yesterday because I put his shoes on and wouldn't let him take them off and put them back on again. Just another example of my inferior parenting skills.
Yesterday when I was getting ready to go have drinks with Other Mother, I put my tennis shoes on and Son said "why are you wearing those shoes instead of the boot ones?" I said because they were comfortable and he said "But those shoes don't go with earrings."
I find it hilarious that he already has some sense of which shoes go with earrings and which don't. Once when I went out he looked at my outfit and said, "I don't like your style." Sigh. Even Son knows that I am Fashion Challenged. I wish there were a Mom Uniform so I could just wear it, like those children in their school uniforms. Khakis and a white shirt. I can do that. Or a blue sweater and jeans. That's my Mom Uniform. And running shoes. (But apparently earrings are forbidden with running shoes. Earrings with black boots only.)
Well. Son seems to be ready for the Puppet Show. I can't wait to find out why Surprised is Surprised. And hey, I have two more days to finish my grading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

erasure by percival everett

This morning I finished Erasure by Percival Everett. He's my new favorite writer, by which I mean my new favorite, for he is not new! He has written five or six books. I also read Glyph, sometime last year. It was fantastic! He's really smart and he manages to blend intellectualism with a good story. What I like most about his writing is that it is what it is. He doesn't try to fit into any genre, or to make his writing more accessible or marketable. And finally, I think, he may be getting at least some of the attention he deserves. I, for one, am doing my part. He's my hero! And I may have a bit of a crush on him!
Today is Ross's first soccer game. I am not responsible for treats (this time) but I am taking under advisement Kickin' in Riverside's suggestion about oranges.
Spring Break trickles away, daily, daily. Today I sent out thirty-two submissions to magazines. (I can't wait to get my rejection from GQ! I've never been rejected by GQ before!). I have been rejected by Esquire. And Playboy. And the Atlantic. They always reject me. But they always send me a nice note. They are very friendly rejections.
I am looking forward to filling out my bracket and to watching Utah win tomorrow. Go Utes!
I am afraid I have no smart or witty things to add. Middlebrow is off to the store for artichokes. They're on sale! Our committment to buying things only when they are on sale is now being applied to food. This new found culinary cheapness probably has something to do with the upcoming Summer of Boxed Wine. More on that later. That was just a sneak preview.
Wish Ross and The Tigers luck in their first big game. Four-year-olds battle to the death in half-court soccer mania!!!!!! Goal!!!!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

In Til Lect You A Liz Em

I feel the need to say something smart in order to justify the existence of my blog. But I drank some wine and I've been watching TV, so don't expect too much.
Lately my existential malaise has centered mostly on the distinction between making a living and making a life. I feel like I've been pretty good at the latter, and not so good at the former. The key, as with most things, is balance. How much of my life should I sacrifice in order to put food on the table? I haven't been particularly good at sacrificing writing time for financially lucrative labor. But now I have Son. And Middlebrow shouldn't have to bring home the Bacon so I can sit at the computer and think Deep Thoughts and make Art.
But I will continue to sit at my computer and think Deep Thought and make Art, Dammit! You can't stop me!
So, I've been trying to write 1,000 words a day AND be a good mother. AND look for a job. But I haven't been cooking. (There I go again: food!)
In other news, our book club chose Loving Che by Ana Menendez and Eyeshot by Heather McHugh. I'm looking forward to reading another book of poetry. It's been awhile since I read one cover to cover.

And another few stories for the list:
12. How to Tell a True War Story by Tim O'Brien
13. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

Nighty-night. Straight to be now, and no reading in the dark!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Why I Love March + A Bonus Top Ten List (free!)

Today, I celebrate the convergence of two of the best things about March: NCAA Basketball and Girl Scout Cookies. Go Gonzaga! I love to root for the small school. I love to eat Thin Mints. They are both so thin and so minty, that they invariably must be low calorie and have little to no impact on my waistline.
Add to basketball and cookies the beginning of Pre-K Indoor Soccer season, and I will not lack for entertainment or delicious treats.
Under the influence of Middlebrow, I will now list the Top Ten short stories of all time. (I have renounced poetry and all things poetic in favor of the not-so-much-more profitable world of the short story. Why? Don't ask so many questions. It's rude.) And I don't say My Top Ten because that makes it seem subjective, as if it were only a matter of opinion. No. These are the Top Ten short stories. Trust me. I'm a doctor.

Top Ten Short Stories in the Order I Happened to Think of Them
1. "The French Lesson" by Lydia Davis
2. "The Fall River Axe Murders" by Angela Carter
3. "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" by Ernest Hemingway
4. "Arrow Math" by Katharine Haake
5. "Lost in the Funhouse" by John Barth
6. "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka (I know, it's a novella, but why split hairs?)
7. "Emergency" by Denis Johnson
8. "The People Like That Are the Only People Here" by Lorrie Moore
9. "Demonology" by Rick Moody
10. "Lechery" by Jayne Anne Phillips
11. "Plan B for the Middle Class" by Ron Carlson

Okay, I had to include 11, because I couldn't not include Ron Carlson, because I LOVE that story and he's such a nice person. Plus, ten is such a random number. Why 10? Just because we have ten fingers? So I borrow a thumb from Middlebrow, and we can get to 11. We could even get to 20, but if I'm not mistaken I hear the dulcet tones of basketball commentary drifting up from the sub-arctic basement where we watch TV and huddle under a handmade afghan (thanks mom!) and drink wine (currently: Dancing Bull Zin: on sale at UDABC: hurry while supplies last!)
*translation for uplanders: UDABC=Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (emphasis on Control).

I promise to expand my range of topics beyond sports and things you can eat/drink. Maybe. Soon. Perhaps after Spring Break.
Get out your grids! It's going to be a bumpy ride!

Confessions of a Soccer Mom

In ten minutes I have to take Son to soccer practice. Dad is the coach. I volunteered him. This is appropriate for my first post because I realize that whereas I used to define myself as a Writer, I now more often think of myself as a Mother. And now with the soccer, I am a Soccer Mom. So my various selves get shuffled throughout the day. But more and more I think of myself as a Soccer Mom sans mini-van and disposable income. And I'm not afraid to admit that I still have a little crush on Howard Dean, and that somewhere, in my heart of hearts, I secretly wish that Bill Clinton could run for President again. Is that part of what makes me a soccer mom or makes me less of a soccer mom? I'm so easily confused. In the bluest part of this red state, I'm afraid I'm too blue to be a good soccer mom. I mean, when it's my turn to bring treats I'll bring bottled water and fruit. My poor son will be unpopular because I won't bring Ice Blue Gatorade and candy bars. Sigh. Add this to the list of my unsuccessful forays into Real Life: bringer of treats.