In Daily posts, inspiration, memoir, personal news on March 26, 2013 at 7:22 am
I got up this morning feeling confused, displaced. Angie woke me sometime after my 7:30 alarm. “Time to get up,” she sang. She placed a mug of coffee by my nightstand. This is usually my job. I’m the one who gets up early, makes the coffee, rouses the late sleeper beside me to get ready for work.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Did the cable guy come?”
“No, it’s working now. I called to cancel.”
I don’t know why that was my first spoken thought. I had just had strange dreams, part travelogue, part sitcom. Angie and I were in the middle of a desert, gathering up our things, breaking down camp, hurrying to try to catch up with the queue that had moved up some time in the night. When we caught up to it, we were already in Scottsdale, outside a stately old hotel.
When we got to the front of the line, there was an older woman, shrill and puffy, who was trying to horn in on our room. She had paid for it, and was insisting on occupying it. I told Angie to wait downstairs while I checked it out. This led to a canned laughtrack: the double entendre of the innocent cad.
In book reviews, creative writing, inspiration, MFA creative writing, musing, novels on January 31, 2013 at 8:08 am
A Writer and Soon-to-Be-Teacher Rereads To the Lighthouse and Rekindles his Old Romance, Only this Time Wiser, More Experienced, and More Sincere
I. Journey to Skull Island
The first time I tried to read To the Lighthouse I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (go Bears). It was assigned in my first upper-division English class, which was menacingly titled “The Novel,” and it was one of the last books we read, on a syllabus that included Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, The Trial, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. All very good books, judging by their first halves.
I’ve never been a fast reader, and I was able to get away with skimming much of the book, doing a close reading on a brief passage for my term paper. Lighthouse was too hard, too streamy-of-conscious to finish.
I did manage to write the term paper, on a passage from the middle section of Lighthouse. This part was short, and was subdivided into quick little chapters. Instead of drifting in and out of the minds of the Mrs. Ramsay and Mr. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe and William Bankes and the rest, there was only one consciousness in this section, that of the narrator, and it was directed at a house, which was a lot easier for me to get my own still-soft and forming undergraduate brain around. I remember being blown away by the way Woolf depicted the very thing I’d expected from a section called “Time Passes”: the passage of time. In my term paper I had tracked the presence of the boar’s skull and the green shawl that Mrs. Ramsay had wrapped around it and which comes loose in “Time Passes” to symbolize passing time, and the looming and inevitable presence of—get this—death. Like, whoa.
In Daily posts, Descriptions, MFA creative writing on August 16, 2012 at 8:20 am
No photo today: as long-time readers will recall, I only post images every third blog post or so. Besides, the only photos I feel I’ve taken in the last two weeks have been of our house. Specifically, a catalog of scratches, holes, mars, gouges, cracks, mold, grime, and other unsightly blemishes. Not exactly the kind of thing to pull readers in.
So today is my first day of class. I have only one to attend: English 420, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy. It’ll be the first university class I’ve attended in twelve years, since I was twenty-two and skipped merrily out of my last lecture at Berkeley. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous. But it’s an undergraduate class (I’m taking it as English 636, the catch-all for “Directed Readings,” whereby I attend the lectures but get a grad-student-sized dose of writing and reading), and as far as I can tell, there was no reading assigned prior to the first day. Should be a breeze, nu?
The last two weeks have been somewhat less of a breeze, though by no means terrible. Our first days in Raleigh we pitched camp amid a houseful of boxes and a cramped maze of furniture. We had given away our old coffee maker in Tacoma, and had unpacked neither grinder nor beans to make use of our French Press, so I hobbled out of bed each morning and out into the glaring, sweltering daylight to pick up large coffees and pastries at Cup-A-Joe two blocks away.
Our house was a Rubik’s Cube: where do you even begin? To unpack this stack of boxes you need to first make room over here to set stuff down, but over here is filled with another stack of boxes. So you have to move the dresser to there so that latter stack can go there so you can have the room you need