Saturday, December 14, 2019

Holiday Festivities and Regular Life

Once again, it's been a week that's been exhausting in its pace, but with moments of grace and beauty.  I have spotted Christmas trees and been staggered to realize that we're almost to the end of the year--and the end of a decade.  But let me just focus on some of the highlights of the past week:

Holidays:  Festivities and Contemplations

--Last night, we walked to downtown Hollywood.  We thought we would meet friends for happy hour at the Olivia restaurant that's part of the Circ Hotel, but happy hour isn't offered on Friday.  So, we moved to a table and had a dinner of heavy appetizers and adult beverages.  It was good to catch up and good to remember why we live here and good to do more than just work, work, work.

--I've been taking more walks in the evenings--beautiful lights. 

--I've also been enjoying driving with the holiday lights twinkling.  Some neighborhoods are just too distracting though--when I drove a friend home after our Wed. night journaling at church, I found the blinking and blaring of the lights made it difficult to see the street itself.

--I am trying not to feel the preemptive grieving that often comes this time of year when I think about how quickly this time of year is zooming by and soon we will be to the darker times of January when there will be no twinkly lights and my favorite holidays are very far away.

--I thoroughly enjoyed my journaling time on Wednesday night.


--Yesterday I wrote to a friend, "My plan for the holidays is to return to my apocalyptic novel, which I've begun thinking of this way: Margaret Atwood meets Graham Greene (novelist, not actor) in a compelling exploration of the choices we make at midlife, whether the apocalypse is upon us or not.  Should I weave the aspect of gender into my elevator pitch?"  This week I went back and read the 72 pages of the novel I've already written.  I also wrote a bit this morning.

--Yesterday I had an idea for a new character in the apocalyptic novel, the woman they called Pre-Raph Rosie, the woman who came to a Saint Lucy's Day party with a wreath of candles in her auburn hair.

--I also got a new poetry manuscript put together.  I want something new to submit when Copper Canyon re-opens.  They're pretty clear about not submitting a manuscript that has been rejected in the past.  I'm not sure about whether or not to resubmit Ash Wednesday at the Trinity Test Site to other presses where I've submitted before--those presses aren't as clear.  I think that the manuscripts are significantly different from each other, but I should probably look at the two of them side by side.  Are they really that different?  The new manuscript has fewer of the nuclear war poems.  It's composed primarily of poems written since 2014.


I went to the library to pick up books that I'd put on hold, and browsed the new books shelf.  I picked up On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.  I had decided not to buy it because I didn't love Night Sky with Exit Wounds as much as I expected to.  But when I saw the novel at the library, I decided to give it a try.  I read it in one big gulp on Thursday night.  It was wonderfully written in places.  I liked the first part of the novel best, the part that explores what it means to be an immigrant, what it means to lose a country, the weaving of those ideas with the monarch butterfly.  The later part of the book that deals with two young gay men realizing that they're gay and having sex and getting lost in drug abuse--that part didn't feel as revelatory as the first part.

Does it work as a novel?  It reads more like a lyrical memoir.  There's a bit of narrative arc, and I've read some articles about Vuong's intentional, non-western approach to putting a novel together, meaning there's not the rising action, climax, falling action classic Aristotelian approach to plot.  I'm not sure I saw that.  There was conflict and a sad sort of resolution that comes with every coming of age story.

In short, it was a good book, and I'm glad that I read it.  Does it make my best books that I read in 2019 list?  No, and maybe I'll make a separate post about that.  I've read a lot more books this year, and I've made a conscious effort to make sure that more of them would be worth my time, so Vuong had fierce competition.


--I got grades turned in for my online classes--which meant I spent every scrap of free time grading, grading, grading.  But it's done.

--I solved the issue of affordable gifts for externship sites, which shouldn't feel so important to me.  One of my colleagues told me about a great deal on a large box of gourmet chocolates at Aldi's--$3.99 vs. $10-15 for the boxes of cookies we've given in past years.

--I put together a going away party for a colleague--a feat both sad and satisfying.

--I will try not to think about the frustrations that come with the search for a replacement for that colleague.

Spiritual Director Certificate Plans

--I got some materials from the program, and I had this moment of panic as I wondered if I could really do this program.  But it's been that kind of work week, and I reminded myself that not every work week would be like this.

--I also reminded myself of Julia Cameron's idea of escape velocity that she talked about in The Artist's Way.  She reminds us that the world has a way of trying to derail/prevent/disrupt those of us with plans for a different future and that we should stay steady and constant.

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