Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back into therapy.

I've just restarted a program of therapy that has worked wonders during my two significant past episodes of deep doldrums (I may be speaking euphemistically here). It's simple, and inexpensive, and takes a long time, and invariably gets me back on top of things.

What is this miracle cure, you ask?

It is to listen to the entire back-catalogue of songs by this one particular band. (It's a LOT of songs.) Even better if this medicine is administered while running.

It's really remarkable how my mood improves on this program. And remarkable how I respond so fully--corporeally, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally--to musical stimulus.

I know I'm not the only one whose psychic stability is keyed to current listening. Anyone out there have prescriptions for musical mood-enhancers? My question is not merely academic: I'm always in the market for new material.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Good news, bad news.

Neruda won another big prize. He'll be spending an entire year, starting in September, in a foreign land. As if the cross-country thing weren't far enough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

There must be a way

to deliver all the skills students need without saddling myself with all this stinking grading. I've got it: Scantron. What cannot be assessed by Scantron is not worth knowing, right?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Writing group guilt.

I belong to this writing group that meets one Sunday a month, with the host-house rotating among the group. It used to be mostly informal poetry workshop with a little snack on the side, but it's morphed (happily!) into a festival of food with some poetry tacked on at the end. It's a great time, with a small bunch of fantastic, funny, insightful, grounded women.

Here's the thing: because I have the Things on Sundays, I can't really go very often. Maybe twice a year. And I can't really host it at my house, because the Things aren't quite old enough to entertain themselves for the 3+ hours that it ends up running, what with food and gossip and laughter and poems and all.

I was very excited to get to go hang out with the group today, but I could only stay for the first 1.5 hours because I had to pick up the Things. Which meant that I got to eat wonderful food. And, because I had to leave early, they had me workshop my poem first. So I ate, I got my poem responded to, I stayed 10 minutes after that, and then ran off. Essentially, I enjoyed all the perks of being there, and then turned around and gave no feedback to the poems of 3 different women. And I am not on the docket to take on the hosting duties myself.

I fear that I have become, because of my schedule and responsibilities, a drain, a mooch, and an unprofitable member of the group. I don't want to go again feeling like I'm all take and no give. So I have two options, as I see it: until my situation changes, I stop going altogether, or when I do manage to go I should take no poem of my own so that at the very least I'm on the giving end, for what little it's worth (nothing compared to a great meal!), of the feedback.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


What was today's activity, RG?

Thank you for asking. I freestyled 30K up at the nordic course, in a little over 2 hours. Not Olympic time, I know, but not half bad.

Did that constitute a satisfying and successful day?

It was good, in fact. But I may have to complain about having paid $11 for a half-day pass on a trail that hadn't been groomed since this week's snow fell.

What fuel propelled you today?

INXS's Kick, and REM's Life's Rich Pageant. Perhaps I was trying to convince my body that it was in high school; but more likely I tend to crave INXS on that course, owing to one of its loops being called "New Sensation."

Did the part that always kicks your ass kick your ass today?

Yes--it's 3ishK of pretty solid uphill grade with no relief at all. I start out with focus and determination and in short order I'm making deals with myself: "You can have a drink of water if you ski up to that tree up there." "You can eat a Clif Bar if you make it halfway up."

And when you get to the top of that long uphill stretch, how do you feel? Exhilarated? Triumphant? Tired?

It barely registers, because after a very welcome undulation through the forest, there's still another 5K to go to the top.

And when you finish that climb?

I'm ready to go again, baby.

Did you see the moose?

Alas, no. I only see moose when the Things are with me. Moose must love the smell of kids. I know I do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dear 2010,

No offense, but you sorta suck so far. I guess it should have been an omen to me when you started with a mystifying and unprecedented blowout with the Things' dad. But you just seem to get worse and worse. Thing 2 in surgery. Thing 2 developing weird postsurgical vomiting. (That seems to be past us now, though I'm reluctant to thank YOU for that, 2010.) Meager, pathetic, halfhearted snow, which means lackluster or nonexistent skiing. Three classes to teach. And that research funding I got from my institution to support post-RSA travel in Italy I had to give back because the Vatican Library is closed to visitors this spring, so I have to come up with that extendo-trip out of my own wallet, already kitchen-remodeled into scrawn. And speaking of funding: not one but TWO fellowships now officially not received, which means that I tapped into that always-paltry-seeming store of recommendation-letter-writing goodwill for NOTHING, in two different fields. And these failures become even more defining when we acknowledge that, as my Sister From Another Mister pointed out to me recently, I have no life except for kids and work. And on top of all this I swear I'm fifteen pounds up since last year, can't write a damn thing to save my life, and Thing 1 might need therapy for his high-stressed tendencies (don't know where he gets those from, honestly). 2010, weren't you supposed to be about world peace? I saw your movie. "Use them in peace," Rod Scheider's voiceover declared at the film's end. How 'bout you practice what you preach.

Ever your