Saturday, January 29, 2005
Stop blogging and get to work. ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.
I think I'll put on my woolies today and go go out in the woods and lay in the snow with a thermos of coffee and my Virginia Woolf book. Kew Gardens inspired me to do so.
Friday, January 28, 2005
- Respond and grade 13 papers (the first half).
- Read 70 pages of Virginia Woolf (plus make a few notes to refresh my memory on everything I already read).
- Then figure out what the hell she means by "blue" and "green" (a worthwhile endeavor). What are these fascinations of hers?
- Then write a 500 word essay explaining it.
- Plan class for next week including writing up the next essay assignment, library exercise and voice/style/persona exercise (this could take some time).
Stop there. That is more than enough. Will bulleted lists help me to accomplish more than I did today? Why do I constantly have to remind myself that it is impossible and unhealthy to be working on things 24 hours a day?
Wanna hear my theory on Blue & Green? Would you ever guess that it is actually very simple? Nice words to describe the simplest things. Virginia Woolf-- you "rock". (that's a hint).
Yeah-- so back to my list.
I heard on the radio that there are foreign films played every Sunday at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids--for free. This Sunday is a film called "The Center of the World" (or something like that). A Brazilian film. I'd like to go to it. I'll tell my students about it too. I wish I had more time. Maybe I should go anyway.
The sun began its ascent 2 minutes ago. And now... it is time for class.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
My mind wanders on the rythme of the music. Like a wave, a magic carpet.
I met three women today. They were in the lounge.
One was named Cynical
One was named Ambiguous
When the third walked in Cynical and Ambiguous turned to her and asked, "And who are you?" She held out her hand to Cynical and replied, "Well, hello. I'm Restless."
Foggy walked away laughing to drink her tea.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Looking at blogs has got me thinking about Walter Ong and his theory on the fictional construct of audience. This blog began, for me, as motivation to write on a regular basis. Actually, I began writing for myself. No one had my address and no one knew I was writing here. Then I gave my link to a friend. I knew it meant my writing would go public. I told myself I would write everyday and since others would be reading it, this was my motivation to keep going with it. Even so, at the time I my only real imagined reader was her. Simple. We were used to writing long winded e-mails to each other. But over time various people told me, "hey I read your blog." My fictitious audience has grown more complicated--grown into a diverse group of people. I find that I censor myself more than I did in the beginning. I think this ties in with the notion that we are a myriad of selves. We are one way with our friends, another with our parents, another with co-workers, ect ect... you get the point. But this is for anyone to see. So what do I include and what do I omit? It gets perplexing at times and I end up not writing anything. Or... I go back to my paper and pen to record those secret little thoughts I sometimes want to express.
My fictional audience has grown slightly out of control. It's frustrating and thought provoking all at the same time. Then you add the comment option and it adds a whole new slant to blog writing. It becomes "conversation" rather than simply personal journaling. hmmm... interesting.
It leads me to wonder what other people think about me, about my writing. Fictionalizing once again. It's one thing to get bored with myself. It's another thing to start worrying if others are too. Oh the tedium of our everyday thoughts. What is this strange fascination we have with it? What have I gotten myself into anyway? My writing has traveled a long way from the guarded notebooks that I filled like a maniac. A private writer gone public. Have I no shame?
So Walter... what do you have to say about blogs? I'm curious. Did you ever imagine such a thing?
Monday, January 24, 2005
It's been a long day. I needed it.
And now...back to the books. Hour 9.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Ahhh-- but the snow falls. Eventually I will settle into a groove. For some reason this semester seems more exciting than the last. Maybe it is the lack of sleep that makes my heart flutter.
I think I'm going to start doing yoga again. I miss it. Feeling the need to come back down to earth. Yes, like a snowflake... softly.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Create a writing technology using only things found in nature.
Well, it turns out that in -20 degree weather, this can be more difficult than one might assume. What is there to use? Sticks? Boring. Snow? Vinny's going to. Dog poop? Yuck. Looking out my window, options seem limited.
After racking my brains I decided to take this as an opportunity to do something that I've wanted to try for the last several years, but didn't have time to: make paper. I spent the entire afternoon and evening in my endeavors. I froze my ass off collecting birchbark and pine needles. Then went to the studio to begin my concoctions. The result... a nice wet pile of pulp. I made 7 sheets of paper. One, I must admit, is sprinkled with brightly colored sequence, another I screwed up and is in the garbage. And I must say I enjoyed myself more than I have ever enjoyed any form of technology. Yes, it involoved physical, mental, and creative involvement. Renee knows why this is important to oddballs like us.
But then what to write with? Aha! I knew I collected that iron rich clay from the North Shore for a reason. It's been sitting at the back of my closet for a couple of years now. Collecting dust and waiting for me to make a glaze out of for ceramics. Instead it is being used as an invented writing technology. Mixed with some egg-yolk and water and wallah-- iron rich, red tempera paint.
I am feeling ready to be deposited on a deserted island. If I had a bottle I would make paper and paint and write a note to throw into the sea saying: "Don't bother to come find me. I'm perfectly content." I'd use the solitary time to get some writing done. Luckily I would have the means to do so.
I have a lot more I want to write, but unfortunately I am not on that deserted island with time to do so.
Mental note: write more later.
For now: do everything else that needs to be done.
Yes, Renee, I think you are right. It has something to do with being pulled in too many directions. However, I do suggest trying the paper and paint experiment. It has the effects of making one forget about everything else, wasting a lot of time, and enjoying it.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
This technology has got me thinking. Along with the hundred pages or so that I just finished reading for Teaching With Technology. I have to admit, I like technology to a certain degree. I like blogging. I like reading other peoples blogs. But I can't help but wonder how it changes how we act face to face. Do we still remember how to communicate honestly together? Or do we need computer screens between us as a safety barrier? Once removed. Once removed. Once removed.
The world is changing fast. But then again, it has always been changing fast.
My problem is that I have lived several years of my life without computers, without running water, without even electricity. Maybe it is just my world that has changed fast.
I spent an entire year of my life living in a shack in the middle of the woods. I had to hike in a half mile. I carried my drinking water in jugs; I bathed in a lake (until it froze over); I cooked my meals on an open fire; the only music I had was produced by yours truly; I read books by the light of an oil lamp; I listened to wolves howl outside my door; I ate wild plums plums for breakfast.
I spent another half year living in the high desert of Arizona in a hogan that we built ourselves. Once again, no modern conveniences. We dug a hole in the ground to keep our food fresh; we had a "fireplace" with a chimney made out of old coffee cans; the door was a scavenged piece of plywood pulled across the entrance at night to keep the critters out and the dog in; I slept in my sleeping bag on a dirt floor; I had to check my bed every night for snakes and scorpions; the stars glittered there like nowhere else.
Before all of this I spent 5 months living out of my truck. Sleeping in mountains, side-roads of city streets, on beaches of the Pacific. Every night was a new home, the only conveniences found in gas-station restrooms. But I found a lot of beauty in those 5 months. It was after that that I took up residency in the old shack.
A few years later I hopped freight trains to Alaska, then spent 9 months in India. No running water, no electricity.
While building my house I lived in a camper. I had electricity that time, but my water was clean, fresh rain water collected in buckets from the awning. It was then that I took my first writing class. I wrote on an old 1920's Smith and Corona typewriter. Clackity-clack. I took bucket showers outside, drank tea, and almost froze to death.
And now look at my life. Computers, computers, computers. Lights turned on with a switch, a toilet that flushes, a bathtub with hot water, phone ringing, refrigerator humming, stereo playing, furnace ticking, Christmas lights plugged in, guitar collecting dust, microwave preparing dinner, electric coffeepot gurgling.
And people wonder why I have such a hard time figuring out computers. My head is just not in it. True, I enjoy them. But it is not how I am naturally wired. I still haven't figured out how to put a side-bar link on this damn site! Let alone figure out how to post pictures.
Yes, I feel isolated from the technological community of today. And when I feel lonely or bored I enjoy reading other peoples blogs. But the thing is that once upon a time... I never used to feel lonely or bored. I was too busy building a fire to boil water on.
Back then I cooked dinner--delibrately. I drank tea-- delibrately. I washed dishes and clothes-- delibrately. I bathed-- delibrately. I wrote-- delibrately. I conversed with friends around the dinner table-- delibrately. I was a part of every step of my day. A part of every need. My life was forced to be slower. I wasn't nervous or jumpy around others. I wrote long letters to stay in touch with far-away friends. Friends, many of them, that I no longer know their where-abouts.
So what has changed? And how much does it have to do with this thing I type on and stare at? No wonder my eyes sometimes hurt. Too much time looking at this screen, and not enough time looking up at stars. Maybe I'm overreaciting, maybe I'm generalizing too much, but sometimes it scares me how removed we become from ourselves, our lives, our environment. It's not just technology... it's society. So where's the division? I don't know. But I am reluctant to give up life as I once knew it. I miss knowing about my friends... the old-fashioned way.
Technology connects us. But it also removes us. Will we ever find a happy medium?
Friday, January 14, 2005
I think I just slept off whatever it was that was trying to take hold of me. Yesterday I survived a 12 hour day at school complete witih 2 migraines and way-too--cold weather. I felt miserable.
Today began once again in darkness and a headache, but then an excellent class. I'm looking forward to working with this group. I wonder if I will always be this amazed by students. I hope so. Wow-ed by not only their writing, but thier insight and willingness to step outside of themselves. I came home feeling good... in time for breakfast even! Hey, that never happens. Then 2 pages of Virginia Woolf in bed before the sunshine put me to sleep. The book dropped and bang, I was out. Didn't wake up until supper. I needed that. Feeling confident that whatever sickness was manifesting itself has been defeated.
And now... maybe I'll do some writing. Some good old-fashioned fiction writing. Oh glory-- it's not rhetoric! :)
But wait. I have to admit something. I learned something in rhetoric. I learned about Peter Elbow. I was listening to myself talk in class today... and I heard his influence in the things I was saying. Thank you Elbow. It might have even been worth the pain and suffering just to learn about you.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I got to school early and it was so quiet. Snow with no foot prints, I felt each deliberate step. Lights still not turned on in the buildings, I began to wonder if school had been canceled. No, eventually the rest of the world came alive. Eventually the sun reluctantly turned the sky from black to shades of pink and grey.
A surreal day. Ending with a fever. What luck... to get sick at the beginning of it all. But I've got my tea close at hand, the bed calling my name.
So much more I wanted to write about, but not the energy to do so.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
That's what the large woodchuck like animal said in my dream last night before he fled for cover from the dogs below ground. The dogs where digging up gopher holes because the gophers were making a mess of the yard. I was going to flood them out. But there is a whole civilization below ground that this woodchuck type creature came to warn me about. There are districts, streets, gardens, whole communities. And while the gophers might be making a mess of things, there are others to consider. He spoke in clear English. Looked me straight in the eye. We would have talked more, but Abe was biting at the earth this animal had disappeared into. He sent messages on biscuits. Urgent messages asking me to wait until Thursday. They'd be prepared by then.
Is this what happens when I let my mind relax from studies? Yes, it gets more and more interesting every night. Maybe it's a good thing my blog was lost yesterday. Readers will begin to know the true workings of my mind. I do love dreams though. Always something interesting.
When I was a kid I truly believed that there was an underground world-- just below the bridge that goes over the railroad tracks into Wilton. It was always sunny down there. I never visited, but I would have liked to. There was sun down in the tunnels to. Enough sun for lush gardens, well kept with fuscia and yellow flowers. When I was a kid there were other worlds beyond the back of my closet, in the woods, and on my bookshelf. These days I only notice these places in my sleep.
A very strange place my mind is, yes, indeed.
And today is the last day of break. It has been nice. I could go back to sleep. Not sure what to do next, or first, or to save for last. It's a bottle-neck-- everything I want to do on this last day. Can't it last for just a little bit longer?
It's probably a good thing that I have a job and things to do. Just imagine what I'd be like if my mind was left free to roam. ha! I'd probably be a great artist by now. ok... I'm just kidding. Now I'm daydreaming. I was thinking when I woke up though... that this hedgehog/woodchuck creature could be a children's story. Two summers ago Vinny and I talked about creating a children's book together. He was going to write it, and I was going to illustrate it. The story he came up with was something about anarchy in the garden. The tomatoes got out of hand. There was mutiny. I'm sure something bad would have happened with the string beans and the cucumbers. Anyway, it never became of anything... I'm sure you can see why. And the funny thing is that, yes, life is as strange as the things we make up. Everything is based on a reality within us-- even if we won't admit it.
Anyway, I liked that fat, slothy creature. There was a wiseness about him. It was in his eyes.
I am thinking of the lotus flowers that I used to (and sometimes still do) draw at the end of letters written to friends or family. It is a drawing of curves and lines. Inside it is half empty, the stem swirling out from underneath itself, surrounded by the blankness of paper, and further beyond that, words; words written but barely touching the surface. Anything more: held fully in a simple drawing of a lotus flower. An act of faith to give words life fragile as five petals. Daring to be simple, direct, and honest. Daring to be humble, vulnerable, and a little bit more alive.
A lotus blossoms even in the coldest of winters. Even in incongruity. The landscape of language takes on strange forms. We try so hard to protect.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Sunday, January 09, 2005
with a sense
lost in dreams of lastnight. i think i will convert to the religion of snow. to float gently. to fall from stars. i have been sleeping for a hundred million years. my shape, an abstractrion. spirit traveling far in the night for a conversation. a sacramental landscape. friendship. i drift on...
a moment of reprieve held gently
in a moment. so innocent, harmless. with the ability to change everything.
the snow falls. on heavy eyelids. wrapped in comfort.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
~ LOUISE NEVELSON
Last night I painted in my studio until 2 am. I don't know what happened, where time went. I began a self-portrait with the intention of doing it alla-prima. I got it all down on canvas, but I got to a certain point, where I started laying down blue skin-tones that I wasn't sure where I was going with it. In the portrait, it is just me... with no real expression of any kind. The mood dictated simply by color. I was using a lot of turquoise, mint greens, and blues-- colors I rarely (if ever) use. There is a coolness about it, except for the oranger-than-life hair. I felt like it needed something and today I realize it needs fuscia, yellow, purple. I didn't finish it. I decided to let the rest of it sit around inside me for awhile... until I figured out what it is trying to say. And now I know what it is about, but I am having a hard time finding words for it. It's about that hidden part of me. Not hidden-- that's not the right word. It's about that part of me that exists underneath or outside the layers of my life right now. I am realizing that it is hard to write about. I have been limiting myself. hmmmm.... not that's not quite right either. I've been existing in a very small world. Feeling confined in a very small set of thoughts. In my painting there is an energy trying to be expressed. In odd combinations of colors. I find myself wanting to make connections between thoughts that are not available to me... not present in the world existing around me.
I have been thinking a lot about things... about possibilities. With no words for it yet. The painting though... might be my first successful self-portrait. We'll see. It's not finished yet. We'll see where it goes. Then maybe I can say what it is really about. Whatever it is... it's about making connections. That is what I'm working on. In more ways than one.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Thursday, January 06, 2005
We found deer beds, three, and snow snuffled up where green shoots of grass poked through. That life hides beneath this cold layer of winter, surprises me every time.
There is something strange and wonderful that I love about the swamp that I am only able to visit in winter. It is another world. A sheltered place that swallows you up and keeps you hidden once you break past the brush that separates it from the rest of the world. I stayed out there much longer than I planned. I couldn't pull myself away. We followed deer and rabbit tracks; looping, criss-crossing, pulling us further from home. I kept feeling this sense of a secret place-- always behind me. I stopped often, turning around to admire where I had just come from. Wanting to back to it, but curious to see what was beyond the next bend, what was beyond a cluster of spruce, heavy and bent with snow.
We follow our paths thinking that we are headed somewhere in particular only to find that we have wound up in a place that we never planned for. Never intended. Always looking back, always pulled forward.
When I finally emerged, reluctantly, from the quiet enclosed world of the swamp, Anu stood waiting for me. Walked easily by my side through the woods and to the field where she took off running to a boulder where she stood, watching me, watching everything. The sky a darkening pink. I trudged through the hard crusted snow behind her effortless sprint back to the house. Slowly. Not wanting to leave any of it behind.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
And believe it or not, I'm getting things done. I have the first 3 weeks planned, my syllabus finished (and on the web), and my first assignment written: Why do you travel?... inspired by Pico Iyer's "Why We Travel", a wonderful essay written in 2000.
When Vinny came home I didn't even look up. Lost in space...writing in my journal. It's been a long time since writing has taken me that far away. And it felt good. I eventually returned to greet my husband and serve up some nice minestrone soup... like a good wife (from a can).
But all this traveling, writing, and hot soup made me tired... so I took a nap. I just woke up now... right when I should be going to bed (and maybe I will). The wolfie is asleep downstairs. Safely behind closed doors, away from the cats. It is -26 degrees out there. It's been a cold week. Tasha, you are wise to be in Hawaii right now. It got "warm" out today though (-1)... and so the dogs and I took a walk in the ice and sun. The dogs barked the whole way because they are stir-crazy. I threw snow at them and was yelling too. The neighbors must think we are crazy. Well, yes-- we are. That is why we live out here in the sticks... where the only thing people hear is our echo. We'll have to change our ways if we become city dwellers. Either that or spend lots of time in the state forests. That is one thing I like about living here in this cold tundra forest... the land. There is always somewhere to go to find nature and solitude. I remember when I lived in Madison, WI how I missed the secret places of home. Wisconsin is mostly farmland. No place for dogs and crazy people to yell and bark and run around in the woods without leashes. That's part of the reason I moved back here-- well, that, and sheer misfortune. In many ways a very fortunate misfortune. And for all my dreaming, I must admit, I do love it here... and there is no where else in the world I would rather live. Even if it is DAMN COLD!
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
ok... but today I am going to buckle down and get some class planning done. Last night I began reading the text I chose for my class-- a collection of travel essays. This could be dangerous. I felt myself getting restless and excited to go somewhere. Yesterday I sat in my studio reading about an artist grant that I would like to apply for to travel back to India. I was completely present in my dreaming state of mind. Yes, this is the danger. Because, for now, I am not going anywhere. But maybe after I graduate (again). I am thinking of taking a year off of school before I go for ANOTHER degree-- and taking that trip. I found another grant, offered by the Jerome Foundation that offers big bucks for traveling artists. Although, I'm sure it is much more competitive. R2AC, our local arts supporter, offers grants of $1,000. That would buy more than half the plane ticket. How nice. I want to go back to take more photographs-- of people. I am in love with painting people. There is an energy, an aliveness that does not exist in other subjects. I've been trying to think of ways to bring painting and writing together. Of ways, to meld my life together. It seems easy and obvious to me, but the world outside of myself likes things neatly compartmentalized and planned out. The balance easily is tipped out of proportion. Ah well, why do I care? I do what I do what I do what I do.
But today I need to pull back the reins on my dreamy little head and do some planning for next semester. Why do I all of a sudden feel so sleepy? I am reluctant to leave my shell of vacationhood.
The birch trees shine with cold. I tell myself to stay present. Maybe I'll drink some tea, light a fire. To be honest, I don't want to go anywhere today. It's a good day just to read about travel. And to come up with some writing assignments that I am excited enough about to do myself.
I am a geek a geek a geek. Good morning everyone!
Sunday, January 02, 2005
1. I taught writing, my life-long dream, for the first time-- and loved it!
2. I had my first solo painting exhibition-- and made my life that much more confusing with realizing a second love in life.
3. I survived the hardest semester of college I have ever experienced (barely).
4. I started blogging (lame).
5. I celebrated my first wedding anniversary-- and am still 100% in love.
6. I quit a job that I've hated for 8+ years.
7. um... this is where it gets depressing-- I can't think of anything else.
Ok... so this year I can't boast any world travels or grand adventures. But there are a few things I've waited most of my life for... that happened this year. I can't complain. When I was in high school, a teacher had us write 100 things that we wanted to accomplish in life. I've looked back at that list since. The amazing thing is that I have done almost every single thing on it. From planting a garden, to building a house, to traveling to India, to finding true love, to teaching writing. Yes, life has been good. It has been full and exciting. One of the only things left to do on that list is to write a book. What then? I suppose I will have to write another 100 things to accomplish. Dang-- I can only hope for a long life. I am thinking of my great-grandma... she lived to be 105. When she got old she always said that the reason she was still alive was because she had everything she wanted in life. She lived to be that old because she was happy. I'm glad she was such a big part of my life. She taught me a lot. My grandma (her daughter) is the same way. I can only hope I inherited some of their genes... and their outlook on life.
And anyway, in terms of New Year's resolutions... here's one I like a lot. Yep, another positive approach. The only thing I need for a list like that... is cable. :)
but since I don't... back to Virginia Woolf. I'm in love with a character. Her name is Lily.