--Overheard last night at the gym: "Because I'm not psychotic like your bridesmaids. I can make a rational decision about a dress." Imagine this said by an athletic, tall, blond, well-muscled but not overmuscled guy in workout clothes. It struck me as both very funny, very post-modern in terms of overturning gender expectations, and a great writing prompt (who's this guy talking to? Could it be that he'll be wearing a dress? is he the groom? friend of the bride? former lover of the bride? oh the possibilities from an overheard tidbit!).
--a reader writes to ask me why I don't have descriptions of what my books are about on my website and blogsites. Hmm. The honest answer: it never occurred to me. Maybe I'll spend some time this Labor Day week-end thinking about doing a bit of redesign. I started my blogs and website with several purposes in mind, but one of them is to give information to readers and to inspire interest in my work. How could I have overlooked something so basic?
--I will also spend this week-end thinking about literary festivals and arranging readings, both local and out of town.
--I will also write a poem before Labor Day Monday is over. I will write a complete poem. I will.
--My nephew started kindergarten yesterday. This morning, I got pictures of him and his new backpack and his brave smiles and his first day coloring in his classroom. He had a great day yesterday and can't wait to go back today. I felt this stab of envy and longing. I remember a time when the classroom was fun, before the accountants and the bean counters and the assessors took over.
--Yup, I will admit the dark humor in that last sentence. Careful readers of this blog know that I have become one of the bean counters. I rarely teach in the traditional sense these days. I am an administrator, and many days, my job consists of wrangling e-mails, most of which weren't important when they were written and almost all will not be important a few months later, when I have to sort through them to keep my e-mail system from shutting down completely. There are days that I feel I do important work and solve important problems, but not as many of those days as when I taught. Still, I'm good at administration, and while the world, my world at least, is full of talented teachers, we have far fewer people who are good at administration.
--For those of you who want an insight into the day of an administrator, see this post and scroll down, where I imagine live blogging my day as an administrator who tries to make time for poetry too.
--It's interesting to me that I feel that I only feel I'm doing meaningful work if I'm making an important difference each and every day. And if I'm being honest, I want it to be an important difference like the kind that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks made, the kind of difference where future generations will be better off because I walked the planet (and yes, I realize this could sound like monstrous ego, but it's also fueled by a fierce yearning for social justice). Did Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King feel that they made a difference each and every day? Probably not. It's only in retrospect that it's clear.
--I'd like to move towards the Buddhist teahouse approach of meaningful work. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Jane Hirshfield explains, "Teahouse practice means that you don't explicitly talk about Zen. It refers to leading your life as if you were an old woman who has a teahouse by the side of the road. Nobody knows why they like to go there, they just feel good drinking her tea. She's not known as a Buddhist teacher, she doesn't say, "This is the Zen teahouse." All she does is simply serve tea--but still, her decades of attentiveness are part of the way she does it. No one knows about her faithful attention to the practice, it's just there, in the serving of the tea, and the way she cleans the counters and washes the cups" (Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft, page 112).
--You can read a great interview with Jane Hirshfield here.
--If you've got access to trout, here's a fabulous recipe. The recipe may only be available for one more week, so go download it now. You won't be sorry. My spouse made it last night, and it was hard to stop eating it. He served it with Yukon Gold potatoes that tasted like they had been soaked in butter, but he swears he used no butter. He likely used the full amount of the sauce, even though we had about half the amount of fish called for. Yum. He thinks it would be better with fresh blueberries; he used frozen. We had a well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc, and I can't imagine a better way to end the day.
--In fact, it was so tasty, that I'm tempted to begin the day with it, by eating the leftovers. I suppose I'll be practical and stick to my yogurt-berry smoothie.
A Weekend at Chautauqua
1 month ago