Tuesday, May 30, 2006

reading me

i want to tell you a story. it's about you.

it was ten years ago, probably some time in early spring, and somehow we ended up at this funky little place on riverside drive having coffee late one afternoon. back then i hardly ever got to see you; you'd long since lost the coffee-slinging and open-mic gigs, and you were notoriously dreadful at returning phone calls or seeing plans through to fruition.

but none of that mattered that afternoon, because you were sitting across from me at a table in this cafe i'd never been to before.

you were reading pieces from a collection of poems by william carlos williams. i think one of them had to do with oranges, but maybe it was the one about eating the plums out of the icebox. incidentally, i read that one last week when i was preparing to sub an english class, and the words were so familiar--it could be that it was your voice i'd first heard them in. ever since then, and most particularly now, i associate that poet with you; you're oddly inextricable.

but the words you spoke that day washed right over me, and as much as i wanted to catch them, to pin them down, to hold on to them, i couldn't seem to keep them in my grasp.

instead, all i could focus on was this overwhelming feeling i had to reach out and clear everything off the table top in one grand and sweeping motion, send the coffee paraphernalia clattering to the tiled floor, then kick my chair back out from under me, and climb across the tiny landscape of formica until my mouth met your perfectly ripe lips in the kind of kiss that starts somewhere deep inside and is propelled outward with supernatural force.

of course, i didn't do any of that.

i just sat and listened until you closed the book and there was no more.

and though that was now more than a decade ago, i've never forgotten that beautiful, heartbreaking, stirring, and powerful feeling. and like that funky coffeehouse i never went to again, somehow that memory never went away, though for almost that whole decade, you did.

it's what i think about everytime i kiss you.


Friday, May 26, 2006

postcard from the edge

i had lunch today sitting on the grass with the warm spring wind whipping about me on the edge of a rolling hill in san francisco's mission dolores park. the view was a panoramic treat of skyscrapers and local color punctuated by roaming dogs, folks lying out on blankets, bundles of balloons, and the usual unusual types who roam this fair city. i'd picked up a sandwich at a deli over in noe valley, and was really grateful for the cooperative weather, the 3-day muni pass, and the chance to take a bit of breather.

i spent the same weekend here a year ago, but life is nowhere near the same.

oddly enough things are far less certain for me right now than they were back then: i'm on the brink of completing my master's degree (the forseeable terminal point of my higher education); not sure about what job(s) i will have in the near future; and baffled by the random, amazing, bittersweet, marvelous, serendipidous, and thoroughly undetermined relationship i'm in with the darling boy. but from the inside of me, i've never known such certainty.

a year ago would have found me happy for the chaos of distraction, a little sad to go back home from SFO to BUR and back to the routine of courses, literary analysis papers, work at the writing center, and a most unsatisfactory love life.

this year finds me serenely calm as i stare down the great unknown. it finds me wandering the city without an agenda inked out on hotel stationery down to the compass point and millisecond. it finds me confident, not just about where the day takes me, but where i'm headed in general. i've got a thesis i need to finish and a t-shirt for the darling boy to buy, and i know just how to complete both missions. and when my time here is up i know i'll be finding myself happy to be headed home, where a room remodel with the lovely housemates awaits, a classroom of college freshman rely on me to help them build writing skills, and i know where my next tingly-to-my-toes kiss is coming from.

so while this postcard is being delivered from the edge, the sender has never been more ready to keep moving ahead. and what a wonderful view it is from here!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

tuesday is the new thursday

so last tuesday i asked my higher-ups at the writing center if we could have a chat. my opener: "i'm unhappy."

thirty minutes, some earnest conversation, and plenty of genuine laughs later and i had secured myself liberty from my employment.

my reaction has been pretty gleeful for the most part. this is not because i disliked the job, the coworkers, the environment, the students i tutored, or, heck, even the pay rate. in fact, aside from teaching, it's been the best job i've ever had. it's really all about time.

right now i don't have much time until my thesis is due.

as in "tick-tock, tick-tock" is my new mantra.

so after finishing out my gig at the writing center last week, this lovely late spring tuesday found me suddenly freed from my obligation of going to campus to work. ergo, tuesday--at least for the time being--is my new thursday.

for those of you keeping score, thursday remains the old thursday.

for the most part, i've been pretty good at getting done what i've wanted to get done. i know myself well enough to set my goals a little ahead of where they really, truly, actually, desperately need to be so that when i don't quite get it all done (as it's likely to happen) when i say i want it done, it's not scary panic time. it's "thank-god-i-gave-myself-a-cushion-of-time" time. so those essays i didn't grade for my students today? well, tomorrow morning is cushion time for that. and the sections of my thesis i couldn't complete (aside from the few i did!)? well, tomorrow afternoon and evening are for that. and so on. and so on all the way until the deadline time.


it's funny lately how i have been handling my time. i'm very much tunnel-vision in the time sense. i'm operating on the short-list, really. anything outside on the periphery is fodder for forgetfulness or complete abandon. curiously enough, the things on the short list aren't all super important, except that in order to preserve my sanity, i need stupid things to focus on, too.

so here's my short list, in no particular order (and skipping the thoroughly obvious items vital to survival, i.e. food, sleep, bathing, coffee, sex, etc.):

-writing my thesis
-playing tetris on my phone
-time with the darling boy
-jeopardy/wheel of fortune (and some nights deal or no deal) watching with none, one, or both of the lovely housemates.
-teaching english 101 (and grading papers, blah!)
-the lit mag's launch party (happens on saturday!)
-errands, outings, and/or chats with the closest of close friends
-taking little walks in the neighborhood
-tending to my growing garden

basically that's it. they fall into a few general categories: work, school, social, and stupidity. believe me, i need the social and the stupidity or the work and school suffer. but everything else, like "return nice emails to nice friends!" and "respond to so-and-so's request to do this-and-that!" or "work out!" or "return phone calls!" or "post for LAist!" or "catch up on the last couple dozen issues of the New Yorker!" or "burn cds for friends!" or "send occasion-appropriate greeting cards!" or "cook healthy meals!" or "read for pleasure!" has fallen completely, utterly, and unforgivably by the wayside. i mean the way, way, way over yonder side. like, oops, sorry, my bad, i've completely neglected that side.

but i'm excited. i know i've got a lot of awesome times coming to me in the next few weeks, months, and--dare i say?--years ahead. there are trips to go on. family descending upon me for visits. a graduation cocktail party being planned in my honor. and that's just stuff in may and june!

so despite my silly time management strategy--such as actual guilt-free allotted segments in my day today for "lying on the floor and moaning"--i'm going to get through this upcoming scary patch hopefully not so worse for wear. it's what the social and the stupid are for--they're cushions, too, to help me from being what i like to call "crazy head." (not that i don't get "crazy head" sometimes, like, oh, say, last wednesday--sorry about that one, darling boy.)

but, hey--"crazy head" is going to get her master's in creative writing come june 9th! woo hoo!!!!!

i've just realized the down side to tuesday being the new thursday: since wednesday remains the old wednesday in the equation, i still have to get my ass up and go teach the youngin's how to write tomorrow.

dammit. i so wish wednesday was the new friday.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

currently obsessed with (or, considering my thesis' impending deadline, currently distracted by):

playing tetris on my phone. game show nights at home with the lovely housemates. the darling boy. adding to my beautiful balcony garden. wispy, flouncy skirts with flip flops. deal or no deal. creating the ultimate itunes/ipod playlist. twizzlers. manor house. trolling myspace for people i used to know and am glad i no longer know. listmaking. daydreaming about upcoming trips to san francisco (late-may) and new york (mid-june). sleeping. gift-giving. fresh fruit. the secret thrill of having quit my tutoring job this week. long distance phone chats with beloved gal-pals. top chef. grocery shopping at whole foods. ginger ale. hot showers. goldfrapp's album supernature. the series finale of dawson's creek with director commentary. 3hive.com. dining locally. "take it from me" by the weepies. taking delight in the utter charm of ridiculous handmade tokens of affection, such as a "trivet" made of woven wooden stir sticks. storytelling. kissing. indulgent on-campus lunches with my beloved partner in crime, foxy. pow wows where we dare to dream we might beat the system with my fellow brains. did i mention the darling boy?


Saturday, May 06, 2006

queen anne's lace

thanks to so many people asking me about it (or getting me fired up about it) i'm putting myself back up to my head--well, maybe my knees--in my thesis.

would you believe getting my master's is currently hinged on how well i keep her voice in my head? or at least how i work it out on paper?

everything is rather amazing.

funny the way things work out. it's all parallels and links and small worlds after all.

these days i can see the world in a bunch of queen anne's lace.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

"i write"

now that we've all turned our calendar pages to may 2006, i am finding that reminders of the date at any given time are becoming increasingly cringe-inducing. this is because i have the word "thesis" hanging over my head in big, bloated balloon letters, and this accesory comes with a deadline. actually, no specfic deadline has been named, but considering that the graduation ceremony is june 9th, the deadline would logically fall sometime between NOW and THEN, closer to the "in about a couple of weeks from NOW" range.


in addition to those floaty words, i also am shouldering this big huge metaphoric billboard. it reads "i am attempting to write the great canadian-american creative non-fiction novella. i am fabulously talented, i hold myself up to the highest of standards, i stop not a breath short of pure genius, and any work i produce can't be anything but the best. i am also representing not only my own ambitious expectations, but somehow feel i must meet, if not exceed, the expectations i've imagined my family, friends, and mentors place on me."

holy shit, that billboard weighs a ton.

what i wish i said was: "i write."

you see, "i write" is small enough to put on a slip of paper the size of what you might find in a fortune cookie. it's lightweight, and can easily adhere to any surface on my body without and physical or mental repercussions. "i write." i mean, after all, isn't that what i should do?

i got an earful of loving beratement from the boy today about these unrealistic expectations i have for myself. considering i've done not much more than "whine" (his word, but i'd have to agree) about "writing my thesis" (complete with a pouty-face impersonation) and the fact that he does know me astonishingly well, he was able to pinpoint the exact cause of my current feeling of writerly impotence: MYSELF.

so the remedy to this is for me to just sit down and write. let it come out, no matter if its pure crap or pure genius. chances are, with my talent and track record, it will at first be a little of both. and blessed be the revision process to help me iron it all out. but before i revise, i'm damn well going to have to produce.

today is the day that i'm tearing that friggin' billboard down, and swapping it out for the more managable scrap of paper.

"i write." it's what i do.


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