Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Being Compassionate

That is the theme this month in yoga---opening your heart up to its black hole vastness, realizing how much room you have in your heart. Though, for me, the hardest part is opening up your heart to yourself and allowing yourself compassion. Or actually, just allowing yourself to be you and not focusing on everything you have to do, places you have to submit, chores, writing assignments, and the list is also a blackhole. Can you tell I've been reading the chapter on point of view in my fiction textbook lately.

Yesterday I told one of my friends how much I respect and admire her. She's an artist and a mother and I think often gets flack for not having a "normal" job and not producing enough of her own art. She amazes me and we're going to start collaborating on the dance/writing piece we've been talking about. We're going to work on it Thursday mornings and sacrifice some sleep for it! I'm trying to get back to the art for art's sake mode and not feeling like everything has to have a tangible outcome.

So far, I've written two short stories and surprised Jonathan last night with my new more fun process not product ideology.

I like this idea of opening up one's self to all that is out there---so that's my New Year's resolution---to try more things (hmmm, maybe this will be the year Ramona will try meat???) and to be a more open and willing person.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's all about the Donut

A new donut shop opened up in my neighborhood. It's called the Fractured Prune---though today I had oatmeal, the kind you have to cook. And speaking of cooking...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sandra Says I'm It

Since Sandra tagged me and lately I’ve been thinking about how poetry can become a career---though that whole concept seems a little oxymoronic. I remember when I just wrote poems because I liked it and I had no intention of publishing. I don’t even think I was aware that you could write a book or how one would go about that. And I certainly didn’t know anything about literary journals. Especially after Erika told me there were only 22 tenure track positions this year, I kind of miss my blissful ignorance. I’m actually thinking about some other options---things that I would like to do and since the new year is approaching, I figure I may as well investigate. I’m thinking about an MFA in fiction, going to culinary school, and doing yoga teacher training. I’m slating the yoga for June right now and the rest, I’m going to have to investigate a bit more.

The first poem I remember reading was William Blake’s The Tyger. Those lines haunted me and I kept repeating them to myself. Almost like an incantation, though I don’t know what I was trying to bring up. It was just magical. I may have to go back and really start thinking about my own syllable counts.

I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school…not so much. Only lines from Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. Also, the Declaration of Independence. And all states and capitals. But the best was Mrs. King, my 6th grade English teacher who taught me the famous preposition song!

I read poetry because I do. There is just something magical about a poem, but I think I’m beginning to say the same thing about fiction. I enjoy getting lost in another world. It’s transporting to read.

A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem---Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise. It reminds me of all the possibilities---how your life can shift, that there are always options.

I write poetry, but I think there are too many presses and journals and too many people involved in the poetry business. On one hand it’s great, but on the other, until it becomes more mainstream, I wonder how many people will really succeed at making poetry a living, or perhaps we’re not supposed to.

My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature---I don’t think it does.

I find poetry more often than I find the Afikomen.

The last time I heard poetry was a podcast of a Billy Collins poem from somewhere in Illinois. It was a poem and then a jazzy rift. I’m getting more and more into the tech world and so I think I’ll end up listening to more poetry than reading it myself and I’m wondering how I’ll handle the shift from the written to the oral.

I think poetry is like a blackhole. The deeper you get, the more lost you are. Though I was never one who was good at directions.

And now, I tag Reb! Cause I know she likes these internet quiz type of things.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Deranged Cleaning Tip

When you don't have a vacuum cleaner, a long piece of masking tape works. A long strip and pivot until you've gotten enough crap off your floor! Silly me, I opted for a happening new bag instead of the sweeper for the holidays. The payoff, a muted oranged leather purse that I can carry books and folders in! No more backpack for me! And with new haircut, perhaps the number of times that I'm confused for a student will substantially decrease.

I'm revising my syllabus for the spring---the add ons, semi-blind workshopping and poetry dates. This way, they can explore more of the city and use DC as a landscape. I'm a huge fan of going out and putting yourself in a new environment and hoping the inspiration will hit. Think art and jass! I'm also going to try more tech-ie things---using pod casts and recordings in class. Jonathan got me a hot pink nano and I intend to use it!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Do

Finally done with grading. Though I procrastinated long enough to write a short story and to wonder if I should try writing more fiction. I've been trying to resurrect some old work, but I don't think it's working. So, tomorrow it's back to creating new work. My goal is to have three short stories by next year at this time. So, I'm 1/3 of the way there. As if I didn't have enough projects already.

I'm beginning to think I don't have any follow-through or that I always feel compelled to be working. I wonder if that's a generational thing or just a Jewish OCD thing---what is it that makes us (or rather me) so driven? Today I thought maybe it's city life, that being part of this frenetic pace is part of it. Living in a city has definitely made me more concerned with fashion and perhaps even success. It's funny, one of my students wrote a short story about a girl who was reassessing her life at 27 because that seems to be the age in which one thinks about these things. At least that's what the character reasoned. I don't think she was aiming it at me, but it hit a chord.

Perhaps it's that time of the year again, almost New Year's and time to start making goals. Mom always says she's worried about me because I always seem so flip---no need to worry about it now---that I don't have any real definitive goals except to write, teach writing, and be happy. And it seems like I'm constantly coming up with 1001 ways to do all of these things. Or maybe it's my new haircut--that somehow a physical change is symbolic of something that is going on inside, or maybe, just maybe, all of this hair dye has gone to my head.

Friday, December 08, 2006

In Defense of Creative Writing

I remember when my grandfather used to kid me about taking creative writing courses instead of math or biology classes. And then there was my father who wanted me to take more business courses. I didn't give in. I rounded out my English major with Poetry I and Poetry II. I graduated college and headed straight to NYC for my MFA in Creative Writing. And now, first book, and teaching creative writing at GW and then one of our colleagues from the English Department publishes this in Le Culte du Moi.

I agree that students need to be exposed to great writers---which I think most of us try to do in our classes. And through reading these "great" writers and asking our students to do immitation exercises, perhaps they will appreciate the struggle and choices writers constantly face with language. I myself often struggle with finding a "how to" method that will resonate the most with students, but what I have come to find out is how important it is for each writer, each student to understand their own "practice" of writing and how important it is for them to look at every piece of writing with a "how to" persepctive. How does this author create dynamic characters? How does this poet use rhyme to make her verse more modern? I often find myself teaching writers from a diverse a background as possible, not just the greats, but helping my students find greatness (or something else---as we can learn from everything) in all types of writing---including their own.

Students usually tell me that peer review and class critique is one of the most helpful aspects of my class. One student even told me she liked the work of her peers better than some of the authors we read. I remember in college when my favorite writers were my peers. I liked nothing better than going to Open Mic Night at the Brady, and no, it probably wasn't the best writing, but it was ours.

What Professor Soltan has failed to acknowledge is the importance of this type of environment that encourages students to connect with each other, and honestly engage in the process of writing (and yes, a bit of self discovery) promotes interest in the more "serious" writing courses, that our students become more active readers while becoming better writers.

After returning from the student open mic tonight, I'm reminded of the good work that we do. The work read by our students was very impressive. And as a writer, I know that this is something that cannot be quantified or qualified.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sick, Happily

A bit under the weather lately. Happily, I have some good reading to occupy my thoughts. The latest issue of The Sun arrived the other day and today in my email, I happily received this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


You know you're getting old when...I remember the first time I criticized the clothes girls younger than me were wearing. I was in a mall in New Jersey (this was when I was in grad school) and commented about the micro-mini fad of the time. But, it's getting worse now---especially watching mtv where young people get drunk and make out. Though, I often see all of that live at the Rouge, last night no exception. At least no one threw up! And where are the roll models? Of course, right here:

"Young Hollywood’s Crack Pack" (courtesy of The Liquid Muse) as they've taken to sporting mini skirts commando, ensuring the world a steady supply of not-so-necessary crotch-shots. Lindsey’s privates hit tabloid headlines twice in the last month - and now Britney has joined in. (Wasn't she on a "classing up my act" campaign??) Ladies, for chrissakes, wtf? Put on some freakin’ panties already!

Even the professional escort there last night knows that!