Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Halloween

I had a lovely, quietish weekend of readings and dance performances and a nice little housewarming and snow and a book sale.  And tonight, back from my teaching class and the madness of West 4th Street, maybe I'll do a little reading, a little editing, and a little memorizing.

And also, I'll be fondly remembering some past Halloweens:
My first one, taken with a Polaroid camera. #HipsterSince1986 #NotReally
My 21st, taken during the greatest party every thrown at SLC.

But perhaps the Halloween I am most fond of remembering was the one I spent in England half a decade ago.  A few days before the holiday, Carlea and I were accosted by a small child screaming, "Trick or Treat!" in what I remember to be a monster costume.  We said, "Aww!  How cute!" and then meant to walk on our way.  Only, then the child's mother accosted us, too.  "Well, go on.  Give him something," she said.  And as we sort of flailed about saying, "Well, we don't have any candy, since, um, it's not Halloween right now.  And, um, since we're on the street, and not sitting patiently by our door, we can't really give him a treat."  She then informed us we were supposed to give him money.  Oh.  Culture shock, I guess.

We had a really fun party that evening, and for the second time in my life, I drank too much, and had to be carried home.  I woke up the next morning, not hungover, and probably we roasted some vegetables and read a bit, and talked.  Oxford was like that.  There was an incredible costume shop that closed last year, and on the way home from it, you could walk through a tiny graveyard.  Oxford was like that, too.

On Halloween that year, Neil Gaiman wrote the most wonderful op-ed article in the Times, and it seemed to really encapsulate everything I was feeling at the time.  I still think it's wonderful. You should go read it; it's called "Ghosts in the Machine," and it's wonderful.  The disquieting shadows he mentions, the haunting nature of October, the reminders that we live - Gaiman's prose is far from perfect, but his passion for stories, for narrative and immortality, is incredible.  Go read the article, and then have a very happy Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life List: Memorize & Internalize 10 Poems

I've always liked memorizing poems, and since memorizing 10 is on my life list, I figured I'd bring us on a guided tour through the ones I've already memorized, and how they've treated me through the years.

Catullus II

Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere,
cui primum digitum dare appetenti
et acris solet incitare morsus,
cum desiderio meo nitenti
carum nescio quid lubet iocari
et solaciolum sui doloris,
credo ut tum grauis acquiescat ardor:
tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem
et tristis animi leuare curas!
TAM gratum est mihi quam ferunt puellae
pernici aureolum fuisse malum,
quod zonam soluit diu ligatam.

The second poem I memorized, "Catullus II," was in my eleventh grade Latin class.  The class was wonderful - I loved learning Latin, I loved the teacher (who would let us order bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches in class and wrote me one of the kindest letters of recommendation I've ever read), and I loved that I was asked to memorize a poem.  This poem is a really great one.  If you don't read Latin (and, um, I definitely never really got the hang of it, so no shame there), this is a pretty basic translation. Ostensibly, it is a poem about a pet sparrow belonging to Catullus's lover, Lesbia.  The poem apparently inspired a number of other poems about lovers' pets, which seems like a great topic to me.  And, I can't remember if my Latin teacher told us this or not, but some people think the sparrow is really a metaphor for the penis.  I feel like I should go and write a pet/penis poem right now.           

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life List: Memorize & Internalize 10 Poems

Probably you already know this, but I'm a poet.* And, one thing that poets seem to have do fairly often is memorize poems.  I love this.  I've always liked memorizing poems.  As it turns out, I'm not terribly good at it.  Mostly, I sort of remember them enough to get through my recitation.  But, for all that I don't really remember any of the poems I've memorized, I do feel like I've internalized them, and that's more important than being able to spout them off at parties, I think.** So, I've decided to devote the next few Life List posts to the poems I've memorized, and why I love them.

Untitled Poem from The Baldwin Primer (May Kirk Scripture)

I love the name of Washington,
         I love my country, too,
I love the flag, the dear old flag,
         of red, white, and blue.

I memorized this poem sometime in second grade, after getting my Samantha doll.  I think one of the books references the fact that Samantha had to memorize the poem, so of course I did, too.  Then, I went around telling literally anyone who would listen to me recite it.  I had to go back and find a copy of the primer to remember the poem, and I'd actually remembered it as being in some way related to religion (hmm, patriotism and religion? melded together in my second grade mind? you don't say...).

But, I do remember memorizing it, reading it out of a doll-sized book over and over again until the words stayed firmly in my mind.  The topic was very near to my heart at the time, and I'm glad that the first poem I memorized was by a woman.  Until I looked the piece up again, I'd been upset that I'd never memorized a poem by a woman, and it was nice to find out that this wasn't true.  The short, rhyming nature of the poem makes it a perfect piece to memorize. It's pieces like this (and like Dr. Seuss) that gave me a sense of rhythm, and while the poem may have left my memory, its heavy iambs have been sitting in the back of my brain for almost twenty years.

*Some people might feel strange about self-identifying as a poet. Not me!
** Although, it is a fun party trick! You should try it one day. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doing It All

I know it's a pretty big cliche, but I think I don't know how she does it of almost everyone I know. My friends, my family, my tweeps: they all seem to do it all and to maintain a healthy balance in the process. I've heard that you can have anything you want, but you can't have it all at once, and this is something I believe and try to practice in my life. There are things I want now that I'm not even trying to try for (like freelancing full-time and owning a house), because I know some things just take time, and because they take more work than I'm ready to put in right now.

But, I do want some things now, and I want to keep some peace in myself while I get them. These include:
  • Supporting myself financially and also having health insurance (also known as: working full time and being good enough at it to keep working full time)
  • Going to grad school full time to further pursue my dreams, and taking advantage of the opportunities grad school offers to improve myself as a poet, teacher, and human (including seminars, readings, and conferences, oh my!)
  • Being a better household partner by: doing the chores I am in charge of, namely laundry, on time, namely before we run out of undergarments; taking on some other chores so that Roger isn't the only person keeping our home together
  • Taking care of my health through:basic sustainable cooking, like making bread and hummus, so we can eat well and I can feel like I contribute more than laundry to the house; going to the farmers market for most of our food, instead of the grocery store; cutting back on meals out, especially ones that don't bring real joy to my life (like lunch); exercising more, either through yoga or running or the gym; sleeping as much as I need
  • Taking appropriate advantage of living in the city with events, adventures, and outings, along with a healthy balance of moments of quiet.
It really doesn't sound all that hard when I write it out.  It sounds like, oh, I don't know.  The reality of every other adult's life. But in practice, I am floundering. I am sort of barely able to keep things together on the first two, let alone the rest.

And, I am looking for tips.  So, how do you do it all?  (When Lauren answered it over here for me, I just about died with happiness that she didn't say, "Oh! I don't get it all done at all! Tee hee hee!" which seems to be the general answer I've gotten.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gratituesday: Sarah Lawrence College

Have I mentioned before that I went to the world's best college?  I did.  When I applied, it wasn't totally on my radar, and the truth is, I sort of accidentally ended up there.  For some bizarre reason, when I was applying to schools, I wanted something hyper-traditional, maybe something Jesuit or Ivy League.*  Sarah Lawrence is none of these things.  Instead, it's the best place in the United States for an undergraduate education, and, needless to say, the best accident that happened to me.  Here's my brief** take on why:
  • The System.  You take three classes per semester, and with each of them, you conduct conference work, and independent but interrelated project that goes along with the class.  These projects can take on many incarnations (I once wrote a chapbook of poems for a psychology course on Human Resilience), but are often large-scale research papers.  You meet individually with your professor every other week to discuss your ideas, research, and progress.  The system is based off of Oxford and Cambridge's tutorial system, and it forces you to think for yourself, to focus academically in a way that many people never do.  Classes are kept small (under 15 people) and are discussion-based.  My reading load was incredibly heavy, writing was the primary focus in every class, and being able to hold my own in conversation was one of the best skills I learned there.
  • The Professors. They're amazing.  The only ones who ever rang a false note with me were guest professors who didn't quite understand the system.  Everyone else teaches what they love, and loves teaching.  You have to, because even though a full-time schedule is only teaching two classes, you have to be available for conferences in addition to your classes.  Every professor I had took my work seriously, and fostered my research.  Some of the hardest-working, most generous people I know are professors there.
  • The Students. I think we SLCers can get a bad rap for being spoiled hipsters, and there's some truth to that stereotype.  But we're also, for the most part, really brilliant and also fun.  Even when I avoid my former classmate's eyes on the subway, even when I groan about trustfund babies, even though I am sick to death of art films - I love everyone I went to school with for making it such a special place.  And also for coming to our Halloween party in 2007.  You guys rocked.
  • The Bubble.  When I decided to go to SLC, one of the women who used to frequent the beach I lifeguarded at told me, "Oh, that's a good school.  They coddle you too much, but I guess that's what you get when you pay $40,000 for a year at college."  Ouch.  But, you know what, it's okay.  She's right.  The bubble, the coddling, the amazing world of studying and creating and building a thoughtful mind?  That's what you pay for - the time to discover your passion and then to figure out how to build a life around it.

Yesterday, I began a certificate program for people who want to teach in higher education.  We talked about our favorite professors, the best academic experiences we had, and how to replicate that in our own classrooms.  Almost everyone in the room was teaching a massive course at my university, to undergraduates who pay almost as much as Sarah Lawrence undergraduates do.  Almost everyone in the room felt totally lost, like they couldn't possibly give enough time to their students, and like they didn't know how to convey the teachings they wanted to.  Some spoke of the rare professor in their college years who would talk to them for an hour, even though that professor had his own research to be doing and even though they were but a lowly undergraduate student, and how much that meant to them.

I never had that experience.  I was never taught by a TA, let alone one who wasn't quite sure what they were doing.  I never felt that I was wasting a professor's time because I wasn't a graduate student.  While I know all teachers start somewhere, and that my professors didn't wake up one day and know all the secrets to building a good course, for the first time, after hearing these stories I realized what a privilege it was to be taught by professors who were not only tenured experts, but also who loved teaching and cared about undergraduates.  When I grow up, this is who I want to be.

*Um, yes.  I know.  Was I totally off my rocker?  Yes, pretty much I was.
** Seriously, I could go on for years about this. I have gone on for years about this.  If you're thinking of applying, or just want to nerd-chat about pedagogy and higher education with me, shout out in the comments.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Work

If you know me in real life, or you know me on twitter, you know that I've been exhausted and sick and overworked recently.  In trying to remedy that, I refused all invitations for this weekend (including: 3 readings, 2 brunches, 1 dance performance, 1 race, and 1 concert - am I always this popular? I really don't think so), and stayed in to get some work done.

The miraculous thing?  It seems to have worked.  I didn't finish everything on my to-do list, but I finished a lot of it, and I feel so much better about the state of my life.  It was also really nice to be able to focus on the one "outing" we had, which was having a delicious brunch at Kitchenette with our friend Rachel (of Vermont fame).  I tend to pack weekends so full that I hardly remember what I did or who I saw, and so it was nice to really slow the pace down.  Even though I still have a cough, and even though some things still need to get done (don't some things always still need to get done?), I'm feeling more relaxed and prepared than I have in a long time.  Thank goodness.

Yep. The kitty is beginning to sneak inside. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gratitudesday: Not the Baby Cat

This weekend, we saw our wonderful friends from Boston, Molly & Laura:

and had a delicious meal prepared for us by Rob & Simone:

and celebrated my sister's 22nd birthday:

So there was a lot to be grateful for, but the most wonderful of all was, I think, the discovery of a little kitty who lives on our scaffolding, and whom I now feed everyday.  We think he's been sneaking in through the window while we're out, and hope that he'll come in on a more regular basis soon.  We already love him to bits.  He's a little hard to photograph, because he's all black and has mostly been hanging out at night, but here's a brief glimpse:

Friday, October 7, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gratitudesday: Cures & Remedies

Today, I'm loving so many things, including the wonderful poetry reading I went to this afternoon, and all the amazing friends I have been seeing lately, and also air mattresses.
Namely, though, I am loving the certitude with which my body is telling me that I need to slow down.  Two weekends of too much drinking, two weeks of not getting enough sleep or eating enough vegetables, loading on the work-work and the school-work: it's all a little too much for me, and the low-grade cold I've got is really making me feel it, and slow down a little.  (Only a little - after this presentation tomorrow, I still have happy hour on Thursday, and Leah visiting this week and Molly & Laura visiting this weekend, and my family coming down for my sister's birthday on Sunday, but I'm slowing down in my mind.)  So, I'm trying to take it a little easier.  And eating soup and orange juice for lunch, and trying to get some extra sleep in the middle of this busy moment.

But, I'm always up for suggestions.  I have class most of tomorrow, but I would love to have a recipe for Thursday evening - a big, easy soup with lots of garlic - and anything else that makes you feel better when you're not feeling so well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Wine

We had a really lovely weekend, filled with wine tasting, car rides, homemade biscuits, sleeping late, and old friends.  Now, back to a really hectic week (happily - a busy week of work and projects and even more friends!), I'm glad to have had the little pause.