Sunday, October 24, 2010

a lofty peak

Today Tim and I hiked the Pinnacle, a part of the Appalachian trail here in Pennsylvania. It was really nice to get away from school, work, and the Mainline for a bit. Kind of a mini-vacation.

It's been a little tough getting used to living here and managing school. Basically, my whole life has been turned upside down in the past couple of months. It takes me awhile to cope with change, especially of this magnitude. I am so fortunate and sometimes I need to get out of myself and see the bigger picture.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's fall and I should be studying

Fall already?

School has been busier than I could imagine. It is a lot of work--endless papers and tests. So far, I like the program. The other students are nice and friendly. The professors are very involved and insist that we are on a first-name basis. I would try to be more interesting in describing school, but I can't really think about it anymore. Not today.

I am getting used to living in Pennsylvania. I do miss Maryland a lot--my friends, the area, the stuff that I was used to for the past few years. I miss the students, but not necessarily the work. My apartment is fine...there are some things that I would like to change but it is safe and somewhat affordable. Everything here seems a lot older and, with the all the stone, a lot darker.

TJ is away this week. I miss him--it's very strange to be here without him around. I keep thinking that I will eventually just leave and head back to Columbia. It's going to take awhile to adjust and I keep reminding myself to be patient.

This weekend:

1. Studying for my two tests on Monday
2. Recovering from my three tests this week
3. Listen to the wind outside my creaky window...I love it.
4. Some strong coffee made with my new French press

We watched a movie in class this week--Away from Her (directed by Sarah Polley) and it was very good. In it, the husband reads from Ondaatje's "The Cinnamon Peeler." I love him. I can still hear his accent from when he read at UVM.

...When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
and knew
what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

photo from
abridged version of "The Cinnamon Peeler" by Michael Ondaatje.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

rainy days

We have been living through a summer Nor'easter this week. It's been rainy and cold for the past few days. It makes me want to do a whole lot of nothing! I have spent a lot of time online--buying books, reading blogs, and debating backpacks for school! I'm going out to lunch and then heading back home to have my car checked since it hit 100,000 miles awhile ago. Really hoping that I don't suffer from too much sticker-shock.

I bought a couch and loveseat on Craigslist, and have contacted a seller about an Ikea dining table and chair. It's a knockoff of a Saarinen table, which I feel badly about, but not bad enough to spend thousands on the real thing at this point in my life.

I like it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

the "not-really back to school" back to school

GC goes back to school today.

In some ways, I am sad. I miss my friends and some of the students. I miss the predictability of the days and the schedule. I miss the overall routine. I have to remind myself that what I am doing is a good thing, something that will make a positive difference in my future.

I am happy that I don't have to work in a field where I have some serious philosophical differences about teaching and socializing children. I will enjoy waking up at a more reasonable hour and not having the crazy amount of work to finish on evenings and weekends. I am excited to still be helping others while having a more flexible schedule for awhile. It is nice to have options and I am very lucky to be able to attend school full-time.

I am still on the Cape and will be for the next week and a half. It's rainy and cold today, and I'm planning on ordering my textbooks (outrageously expensive!) and maybe the wedding scrapbook while I have the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

summer's lease hath all too short a date

Oh, where has the summer gone!  I cannot believe that it is already mid-August. The other day, I was riding bikes with Tim and Andy and first noticed the leaves beginning to change. The days are a little shorter and it's much cooler after 5pm. I love summer and I'm trying to hold on for as long as possible.

This summer has been pretty indulgent. I took three classes at the local community college (if you need to take any prereqs for programs, the community college system is the absolute best!), so now my prereqs are done for school. Sociology, Abnormal Psychology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and Statistics. Done! Other than that, I've been relaxing, planning, and having fun with family and friends.

I'm excited for school, but also a little nervous. I start classes on September 8th and move to Pennsylvania on the 2nd. It will be sad to leave home again and start something new. I think it will be worth it, though--I pray it will be worth it!

On the wedding front, mostly everything is done. We have booked the photographer, florist, and DJ. I even chose my dress this week! I went with my mom and the second I tried it on, I knew that it was the one! On the whole, everything has gone pretty smoothly. My sister and I stuffed the Save the Dates last night and I'm very happy with those, as well. We got them from Wedding Paper Divas, where I'm thinking of getting our wedding invitations (they won't be the same as our Save the Dates). The only thing that is potentially stressful is our guest list. I would really like to have Tim and I know everyone there, instead of adding people that we have not met. Also, it's very easy to go way over budget when including all our friends, family, and guests. Right now, we are at about 150, which is where we'd like to keep it.

I'm listening to "The Villagers", which is actually one Irish musician. The album "Becoming a Jackal" is very good. Kind of moody, which will be good for fall.

photo from

Friday, June 25, 2010


Having summers off is absolutely wonderful. I love how the days just blend together, and the only decisions to be made are which books to read and what time to get ice cream. Lovely.

I've been at Tim's for the past couple of days. Today we went for a ride by the cranberry bogs in Carver. Then we came home, ate lunch, went swimming, and fell asleep in the hammock. Before I knew it, it was time to go for drinks and dinner with Natalie. It was so nice to catch up and talk about the wedding. Overall, a very good day. Tomorrow is looking like it will be more of the same.

On the wedding front, the date, our Church, and reception site are confirmed. I won't list them here, due to privacy issues. If you'd like, you can email me about it. We've decided on navy and dark pink for the general color scheme. I would like to keep the wedding as local and independent as possible and we've been interested in hiring those recommended by family and friends. I'd like to add some personal touches to the wedding. Etsy, oncewed, and snippet and ink are great for inspiration.

I tried on some J. Crew dresses earlier this week. I will be going with J. Crew for the bridesmaids for a few reasons. My bridesmaids live in various areas of the country and I'd like to make it easier for them. J. Crew has various styles of dresses that are flattering for all body types and at various price points (they have discounts for teachers and grad students, too!). Below are some of the styles that I like:

I also tried on the below wedding dress, which looked terrible on me! It would need serious alterations, but I wasn't a huge fan of the shape or coloring:

For my dress, I'll be looking at independent boutiques in the southeastern Massachusetts area. I think that will be my best bet. I was surprised to find that I liked the strapless and "pouf" dresses!

We are looking for vendors. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

Top photo by Stephanie Congdon Barnes, other photos from J.Crew and

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I started my classes on Monday. I have Statistics from 9-12 and Anatomy and Physiology 2 from 5-10. It makes for a long day, but I am very fortunate because my instructors are nice and the workload is demanding but manageable. I think I will be okay.

I've been home for nearly two weeks and I am happy. It's nice to be with my family and friends here. I love waking up, having coffee on the deck, and walking to the beach. Yesterday, mom and I went to the boatyard for lobster rolls and then went to the beach for drinks and dessert. I'm very lucky.

Tomorrow I am heading off-Cape to see Tim and Natalie. I'm excited for Thai, hiking, cycling, swimming, and World Cup. Oh, yes, and studying! Ha!

I will post a wedding update soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I am back at home. It's nice to visit with my family, see Tim's family, eat great food, drink nice wine, and relax. The move to Philadelphia was relatively uneventful, which was nice. Tim flew down to Maryland, packed the truck, and drove it up to Pennsylvania. I found an apartment with all of the utilities included and I am excited about it. It has a lot of space and an elevator. And free parking, which is apparently hard to find in that particular area (Bryn Mawr/Haverford). One place wanted to charge $100 per month for a parking lot that was off-limits from 9am-5pm. No thanks.

From there, Tim and I drove up to Massachusetts. It was nice to drive together after so many drives alone. We could commiserate about the long trek through Jersey and Connecticut. Ugh.

I am back on the Cape, one of my favorite places in the world. I love being close to the ocean and returning to places that never change. Love it, love it. My classes begin tomorrow and I'm a little nervous but grateful. Also, I will take the long route home and admire all of the old houses in Barnstable. I miss my Maryland friends and hope that they are well!

photo by

Thursday, June 10, 2010


...I will say goodbye to Columbia. I have been here for the past three years and it's hard to go. There comes a point, though, when I am packed up and just ready to leave.

Yesterday was difficult. I said goodbye to the school where I taught for three years and all of the people that are close to me. They made living in Maryland a great experience and I will miss them all so much.

Tim is here to help me move and we will head out tomorrow morning. More from Massachusetts.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

moving on, moving out

 Green couch and coffee table, moving to a new home

 I'm sitting in my apartment--I can't believe this is the last weekend that I will be here! I just got back from the gym and thought the sky looked a little funny. It has been so hot and humid here lately, the type of humidity that dehydrates and exhausts you. I expected a thunderstorm but now we have a tornado watch until 8pm. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was watching the snow fly during the big storms in February.

I did most of my packing yesterday and brought a lot of stuff to Goodwill. Moving is good for me because I purge a lot of stuff. I hate clutter so much--almost to the point where I am obsessed with not buying things because I fear that they will take up space. I've moved so many times (often by myself) in the past eight years that I feel the need to bring as little as possible.

A nice young family just bought the vintage green couch and coffee table. It was a little dicey fitting it in the trailer but they are on their way back to Rockville and I hope that it all ends up in one piece! It's a relief for me, since I don't have to move it to Pennsylvania. I highly doubt that I would be able to fit it in my new place.

Tonight, I'm excited just to relax and get ready for my final week. It's going to be a tough one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Things are better. Called the college and I'm in the process of getting things squared away. Slowly making progress on the certification front and hoping that all will go smoothly.

School ends very soon. The students are taking finals and my last day is June 9. I took down my bulletin boards today. It's silly the things that will make you upset--like pulling staples out of corkboard. I know that classroom so well because it's been mostly mine for the past 3+ years. Soon it will be someone else's. We went out as a department for lunch and they brought me a cake. It was really nice. I keep trying not to get upset, but it's hard when the goodbyes are so long.

On the Philadelphia front, I am reserving storage and a moving truck tomorrow. I hope to look at apartments next weekend on the Main Line with Tim. It'll be nice to see him after two weeks apart.
I have to approve my financial aid package tomorrow and get myself psyched up to start something very different in the fall.

In terms of the wedding, my parents are going through the contract for the venue. The Church is secured and Tim and I are planning on scheduling a meeting with the priest in June. I am looking at dresses on Thursday. Our parents are hosting an engagement party on July 10.

Went to Church twice this long weekend to gain some perspective. I liked part of Sunday's reading:

"Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint..."

photo from

Friday, May 28, 2010


Today I've been beating myself up over the fact that I supposedly missed the "drop with a full refund" period at the community college by less than 7 hours, and they will only refund 60% of my tuition for two courses...and that 40% is quite significant. I've been trying to do everything I can to stay on top of things, but it's been hard. I sent them an email explaining the situation and hope to hear back, although I'm not expecting anything. It is frustrating. I have been trying to find places to live in Philadelphia but no one will show an apartment until later on this summer. I am moving in less than two weeks. All of this is very complicated and I'll be happy when it's over. I'm trying to look on the bright side, but my stomach has been in knots all day.

A&P I is officially over and done with, which is a relief. Because I dropped the aforementioned classes, I have until June 21 to "relax," after I grade papers and pack up my life at school.

Haven't done too much for the wedding. I've been looking at dresses online and have a few that I like. The most important thing for me is that the dress is comfortable, classy, and doesn't cost a huge amount of money--I just have a personal problem with spending tons and tons of money on a wedding. I would rather put it toward our life after the wedding day itself. I think things just spiral out of control and suddenly people are spending money on things that guests won't notice or care about, and neither will the couple. We have our church, venue, and date, which are the most important things to us. Our bridal parties have been chosen and everyone has happily accepted. I want to keep in the forefront that this wedding is a celebration of Tim and me and we are blessed to have such wonderful families and friends.

So I am trying to put the worries aside. I've been taking the "day by day" mentality. Otherwise, things quickly become too overwhelming. I am attempting to focus on all that I do have--my fiance, my job (for the moment), upcoming career change, the summer, my health, friends, family, a home. It may sound trivial and Mooney-ish (people who work with me understand that allusion), but it's what is getting me through right now. I am a creature of habit and I resist change. I just hope that I am making the right decisions as I storm into the summer.

photo from

Monday, May 24, 2010


Today I arrived at work and found out that the great state of Maryland does not have any of my certification materials. So that means I will be paying to resubmit forms, pay more money, and waste more time in the land that is educational bureaucracy. All for a piece of paper that says I'm able to teach English (something that I've been doing for the past three years).

Students are ready for the end of the year, which means they are not able to hand things in on time. Usually, I receive pieces of paper that have been lying in car trunks for months. That and a whole lot of excuses from both parents and kids. Do parents actually believe they can make these excuses for kids in college, or in real life? I try to make my work as meaningful as possible because I hate "busy work." But I'm starting to hate excuses more.

My "online" courses actually require me to test in Maryland. I am moving in less than three weeks: first to Massachusetts and then to Pennsylvania. Which means I am dropping these "online" courses and signing up for courses in Massachusetts--three accelerated courses in less than 2 months. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, I suppose.

Moral of the story: It's no wonder so many people have difficulty teaching or pursing formal education.

photo from

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Alas, I knew that this year would be busy when I started this blog. I had no idea quite how crazy it would be.

I am leaving my teaching position and going back to school full-time to study occupational therapy in the fall. It has been a very difficult decision, complete with blood, sweat, and tears, but I think that it's a good one. Next week is my last week of teaching. It doesn't seem possible.

The other big piece of news is that Tim proposed on May 8. It was thoughtful and sweet, and we are both very happy. We are looking at an August 2011 wedding on the Cape. The above picture is from Kate Spade, posted on snippet & ink, a great wedding website.

Lots of changes, lots to look forward to!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

 Today was so busy!
  • Had a difficult conversation, but I'm glad it happened.
  • Ate a turkey pocket and it was divine!
  • Graded a class worth of essays. Only 77 to go.
  • Studied the muscles of facial expression and mastication.
  • Bought new glasses and contacts.
  • Sweated throughout this 90 degree "Spring" day.
  • Cape tomorrow! Flying back to Baltimore on Friday.
  • Bank of America called me to report suspicious activity on my credit card. That would be me, buying up flights, classes, cars (rental) and hotels.
 Above painting is from Portland artist Lisa Golightly of Kiki and Polly, Girl in the Yellow SuitFound on A Cup of Jo. Go buy it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm at home, in my room...the news is on downstairs, and my mom is chopping thyme for tonight's pot roast. Soon, it will get dark and the street lamp down the street will turn on. All of this is very comforting, especially in a time of change.

Today was productive and intimidating. I enrolled for my A&P II summer course. I paid for our flights, car, and hotel for the wedding in Virginia, and thought more about my impending move. Tonight I will be grading papers and studying the muscular system.

Easter was good. It's a holiday that I'm starting to enjoy more as I get older. I like the symbolism and the promise of Spring.

Planning on reading a bit of Tobias Wolff's Old School before bed tonight, after the Red Sox.

Vacations are great.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's been awhile.

I cannot believe that tomorrow is April. It seems like it was just Christmas. This year has flown so far.

There is nothing quite like the first afternoon of Spring Break. Unlike many other parts of the country, Maryland was sunny and 70 degrees when I got out of work. I have spent an entire night doing nothing at all, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Between classes, grading, and planning, it's been hard to just relax. I have lecture tomorrow night and then I'm flying home to soggy Massachusetts for a week. It'll be nice to see my family and friends. I miss them!

For now, I am going to have a glass of wine, take a hot shower, and contemplate watching a movie.

Photo: Cherry Blossoms, Central Park.

Friday, March 5, 2010

five senses friday

This week:

Hearing: Mix CDs in the car
Seeing: An earlier sunrise, which makes the ride to work even more enjoyable 
Tasting: Tapas and sangria on Monday in Bethesda
Feeling: Strength in my arms after days of push-ups
Smelling: Cinnamon exercise on synesthesia today in class

This week was pretty bad, honestly. Just a fact. Work, school, everything. I'm glad that I'll be moving on. The stress is still here but I'm trying to manage it. 

Anatomical drawings by Da Vinci...I'm memorizing the skeletal system this week.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

follow the leader

Tonight I have decided to avoid anatomy and work stuff, and just relax. The stress that I've been feeling lately is because I've been pushing myself too hard. I slept for a long time today and that helped a bit. I think I'm on the verge of getting sick and I want to prevent it, if possible.

Good things:
1. Chocolate-chip waffles with cherries tomorrow morning
2. Watching Sunday Morning with a cup of coffee
3. Organizing work/school stuff
4. Going out to get some work done (Bean Hollow, maybe?)

I've been watching videos on TED, including Jamie Oliver's speech. It's a great website with a lot of food for thought. I'm looking forward to watching Ken Robinson's talk on how schools kill creativity. After teaching for a few years, I'd have to agree to a certain extent.


Not exactly literature, but...

I got two fortune cookies at Pei Wei last night (I eat one before dinner and one after). Interesting, considering the stuff that is going on right now:

 "To be mature is to accept imperfections."


"The simplest answer is to act."

Knitted fortune cookie photo here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

five senses friday

 "Long Limb" by Andrew Wyeth

I haven't updated in some time. Mostly because I've been very busy. I'm taking a class that consumes whatever free time I have after teaching and grading. I'm also making some important (and difficult) decisions. I'm trying not to complain since they're my choices, but still.

This week:

Hearing: A songbird outside my window. Is Spring coming? Really?
Tasting: Jelly Belly conversation beans from my mom, hopefully Pei-Wei Korean Tofu tonight.
Feeling: Stress, Patagonia Monster fuzzy jacket
Hearing: Really good "This American Life" podcasts.
Smelling: Strong coffee.

A literary thought to finish this work week:

"You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least."
--Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

endless snow

Another blizzard roared through Maryland today. I haven't heard totals for my area, but looking outside, it's over a foot. This is in addition to the three feet from the weekend.
I am off for the entire week, until next Tuesday. It's nice. I have heat and power, so I'm more fortunate than most. Just a little cabin fever. The "Five Senses Friday" this week will be devoted to the sounds, sights, feelings, tastings, and smells of these storms.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

up late

The sunset after the storm

This is late for me, but I had a friend over for dinner and I've been snowed in for the past few days. The Baltimore/Washington metro area received over two feet of snow over the weekend. My city has 33.8 inches, and we are expecting ten to twenty inches (quite a range) over the next couple of days. School has been canceled for today and tomorrow and we will probably be out Wednesday. It is a possibility that we will be out the rest of the week.

I am fortunate because I have not lost power. I also live near a supermarket, so I was able to get out (barely) and pick up some food for the next few days. The plows have been out in force but there is so much snow. More snow than I have ever seen at one time. The piles on the side of the road are over 6 feet high in some places. The off/on ramps in most areas are barely passable and the roads are covered in ice. Poor Maryland---this state is struggling to keep up and clear before the next storm.

I went snowshoeing today at the golf course across the street. It was beautiful and eerily quiet. At one point, I thought that if something were to happen to me, no one would know. That scared me a little bit.

I have been studying and trying to get some work done. As for my students, I have emailed them but many are without power. I'm not sure when I will be returning to work--maybe next week? It's hard not to know.


TJ shoveling, Saturday


A little poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed in a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Friday, February 5, 2010

five senses friday

Tasting: Trattoria pizza on an early release day

Hearing: The "quiet" cycle on my 1980s washer and dryer

Seeing: The blizzard outside...

Feeling: Warm, woolen socks and down comforters

Smelling: Comfort food in the Crock-Pot

Hunkering down for the storm. 20-30 inches expected for the Baltimore-Washington area. I've got my shovel, lots of good food, Scrabble, some wine, and TJ. Should be a good weekend!

Photo: A snowball fight in Logan Circle. (Nikki Kahn/Post),

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

morning light


Snow day in Maryland today. The trees are all covered and the plow is backing up outside. I love waking early to the early morning sunlight. It is worth missing an extra hour of sleep to sit in my chair, read, and drink a cup of coffee as the light shifts throughout the room.

The light today is weak, produced by a sun that can barely get through the clouds. I am looking forward to a leisurely day: new glasses, anatomy homework, grading at Starbucks.

Winter, according to Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast:

"You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would be spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

sunday mornings

There's really nothing more beautiful than reading as the morning sun filters in through the windows.

An inspiration for a project on imagery:

"From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see it could be a scent - perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches the autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground.
Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the stuff of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any can all be taken away.
The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester.
Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double-dip ice cream cone.
For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

-Anon., from a story The Teacher (A Powerful Lesson)

We start imagery journals next week. One day of recording "seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling." It should be good.

Photo: Painting by Edward Hopper, can be found here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

five senses friday

Tasting: Bacon pops (cream cheese, goat cheese, thyme, and lots of bacon. On a stick.) Bringing them to the ball party. You can see the apartment therapy article here.
Hearing: The chatter of the English department.
Seeing: The sunrises this week. Beautiful!
Feeling: The lightness of my hair just after a cut.
Smelling: Peppermint tea.
Busy weekend ahead. Anatomy and Physiology I begins tomorrow and I have the orientation for my online Abnormal Psychology class. Party tomorrow night. Hopefully some time to relax and play Scrabble on Sunday.
Have a nice Friday and a great weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger

Rest in Peace,  J.D. Salinger. A man who did things his way, to say the least.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

but my favorite food is pancakes...

I read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller over winter break. I was also listening to his newest work, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years as an audiobook. This post, however, will deal mostly with Blue Like Jazz.

I like reading books about religion and society. The subtitle of Blue Like Jazz is "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality." This seems like a misnomer. The book is almost entirely devoted to religious thought on Christian spirituality, in mostly an evangelical sense. There were parts of the book that I liked and other aspects that I could have done without.

An excerpt:

"I think Laura was looking for something rational, because she believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn't the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it's not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. Love cannot be proven scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don't make any sense. I think one of the problems Laura was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant."

I like the whole idea of accepting things that can't necessarily be proven scientifically. Belief in various ideas and concepts is very difficult for me. I like to understand the rationale and logic behind ideas. I like "proof." Many people believe that religion is pitted against intellectualism, because people that believe in God cannot "prove" his existence. And yet there are other things, such as beauty and love, that we cannot prove, justify, or quantify. Hence the metaphysical poets (we are studying Donne in Brit Lit right now).

Miller's newest book, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years, is more my style and I highly recommend it. It is more of a "why am I here and why does it matter" type of book. In one memoir, he addresses religion, the Tour de France, living life as a story, cancer, riding a bike across the country, and consciousness. He does a pretty good job, in my opinion. I haven't read his arguably most famous book, Searching for God Knows What, but I plan on reading it fairly soon.

Miller, on love and acceptance in Blue Like Jazz:

"I can't do it. It would be like, say, trying to fall in love with somebody, or trying to convince yourself that your favorite food is pancakes. You don't decide those things, they just happen to you..."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

saying goodbye

A Certain Chill
by Barry Trick

Though months ahead, June's sunny days
Now make me feel a certain chill.
The eighty essays on my desk
Appear and fade beneath a gaze
Now vacant, pen poised but paralyzed.
Just how could four and forty years
Soft sift through time's so narrow straits
With such amazing speed?      Indeed.
Am I not still the nervous grad
Once charged to teach some Frost and grammar
To freshmen restless for the weekend's
Dance or date? Or coach the failures
How to find some sense in Shakespeare's
Arcane verse or Steinbeck's prose?
There were some failures in my teaching
Too, of course.     Successes taste
Much sweeter, more fulfilling then.
Each memory is a name or a face
Still vivid after eight or ten
Or thirty-three or forty years.
I push aside the paper labeled
Pension Plan, for June is months
And months or even years away.
I'll turn to patient essays now
And lesson plans and grades updates.
June is still so very far away,
And I have much to do today.

One of the best teachers retired today. The type of teacher that you wish you had, the type of teacher you wish you could be, and the type of teacher that you rarely find in current schools. When I said goodbye to him today, my heart hurt.

As he writes in the introduction, "We have moments when prose can never describe our feelings because a special moment is so far from prosaic."

This poem reminds me that even great teachers have tiring days. It's a nice reminder at the end of the quarter.

poem from Sparks from the Anvil by Barry J. Trick. Bogota-San Juan: Argueso & Garzon Editores, 2007.

Monday, January 18, 2010

this and that, weekend edition.

This weekend:

A visit to Politics and Prose, followed by this. Then the great Owney debate. Is it really him?

Three games of this. "Bombe" won big (thanks, Ina!).

One of these for S, and this (for me). Classy and inexpensive!

A busy week ahead. Grades close on Wednesday, have to buy my Anatomy books on Wednesday, final week of OT, crazy schedule at work. 


A thought:

"Only now people have decided to experience it [life] not in books and pictures but in themselves, not as an abstraction but in practice."
--Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tomorrow's Toussaints
By Kalamu ya Salaam

this is Haiti, a state
slaves snatched from surprised masters,
its high lands, home of this
world's sole successful
slave revolt. Haiti, where
freedom has flowered and flown
fascinating like long necked
flamingoes gracefully feeding
on snails in small pinkish
sunset colored sequestered ponds.

despite the meanness
and meagerness of life
eked out of eroding soil
and from exploited urban toil, there
is still so much beauty here in this
land where the sea sings roaring a shore
and fecund fertile hills lull and roll
quasi human in form

there is beauty here
in the unyielding way
our people,
colored charcoal, and
banana beige, and
shifting subtle shades
of ripe mango, or strongly
brown-black, sweet
as the such from
sun scorched staffs
of sugar cane,
have decided
we shall survive
we will live on

a peasant pauses
clear black eyes
searching far out over the horizon
the hoe motionless, suspended
in the midst
of all this shit and suffering
forced to bend low
still we stop and stand
and dream and believe

we shall be released
we shall be released
for what slaves
have done
slaves can do

and that begets
the beauty

slaves can do

Please consider donating to the relief effort. A list of organizations can be found here.

from Iron Flowers: A Poetic Report on a Visit to Haiti by Kalamu ya Salaam. Published in New Orleans in 1979.

Monday, January 11, 2010

not needing all the words

A photo and poem to start the week.

(for George Whalley)

An hour after the storm on Birch Lake

the island bristles. Rock. Leaves still falling.

At this time, in the hour after lightning

we release the canoes.

Silence of water

purer than the silence of rock.

A paddle touches itself. We move

over the blind mercury, feel the muscle

within the river, the blade

weave in dark water.

Now each casual word is precisely chosen

passed from bow to stern, as if

leaning back to pass a canteen.

There are echoes, repercussions of water.

We are in absolute landscape,

Among names that fold in onto themselves.

To circle the island means witnessing

the blue grey dust of a heron

released out of the trees.

So the dialogue slides

nothing more than friendship

an old song we break into

not needing all the words.

We are past naming the country.

The reflections are never there

without us, without the exhaustion

of water and trees after storm.

from The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems by Michael Ondaatje. New York: Vintage International, 1997.

Friday, January 8, 2010

five senses friday

I love living in a state where an inch of powder warrants a two hour delay. Sleeping in until 7:45 feels amazing!

Time for Five Senses Friday. This is a valuable exercise--I often have my students make this list as a warm-up before class begins. Imagery appeals to all the senses, not just to the sense of sight.


-The sharp, almost startling, smell of cold air

-The rush of heat through the vents and the persistent hum of my computer

-My down comforter, cold feet, and a dull headache

-The strong, burnt taste of rewarmed Peet's coffee

-This waffle maker. Wish I could buy it!

This weekend: Exercise, FAFSA and other financial aid forms, grading, and sleeping.

Update: I bought the waffle iron! I found it for much less on Amazon, with free shipping. Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

happiness is...

"My search is over. I've logged tens of thousands of miles. I endured the noon darkness of Iceland and the solid heat of Qatar, the persnickety functionality of Switzerland and the utter unpredictability of India. I survived a coup lite, savored minor breakthroughs, and mourned the loss of a Ridiculously Expensive Pen. I may have saved the life of one dumb bug. I smoked Moroccan hash and ate rotten shark. I even quit coffee, for awhile."

The above quotation is from the epilogue of Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. The major premise is that Weiner, an international correspondent for NPR, travels to roughly twelve countries to see what makes people happy or unhappy. He has some surprising and enlightening results, which he outlines in his epilogue (below):

"I am no philosopher, so here goes: Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude."

The first chapter was a little slow-going. However, after the chapter on the Netherlands, the book became very interesting. My favorite chapters included happiness (or unhappiness) in Bhutan, Qatar, and Iceland.  Moldova, one of the unhappiest countries in the world, is missing key elements that make other countries happy, such as trust, and gratitude (the only good thing about Moldova, according to a Peace Corps volunteer, is the fresh fruits and vegetables). The rampant envy and corruption also make people unhappy. In Iceland, failure brings happiness. In Qatar, happiness is "a winning lottery ticket." Overall, it is a funny book and one of my favorites from 2009.

The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
Published by Twelve.

Monday, January 4, 2010

one week ago...

We were here...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

an experiment

I have resurrected this blog a few times now, but I have a new idea for the new year.

Usually I don't experience new year angst. I don't like resolutions that are impossible to attain, making promises that are destined to be broken, and wallowing in self-pity and loathing.

Instead, I have decided to analyze my everyday life through photos, poetry, and prose. As a literature teacher, I have some experience with the latter. However, the photos and (surprisingly enough) poetry are works in progress. I will try to keep up with this experiment throughout 2010. I don't known exactly what I hope to get out of this--maybe nothing will come of it at all--but I hope to inspire myself and others along the way.

Below is John Updike's view on literature and experiencing life. I wrote about this piece from NPR's "This I Believe" around this time last year, shortly after Updike's death:

"A person believes various things at various times, even on the same day. At the age of 73, I seem most instinctively to believe in the human value of creative writing, whether in the form of verse or fiction, as a mode of truth-telling, self-expression and homage to the twin miracles of creation and consciousness. The special value of these indirect methods of communication -- as opposed to the value of factual reporting and analysis -- is one of precision. Oddly enough, the story or poem brings us closer to the actual texture and intricacy of experience. In fiction, imaginary people become realer to us than any named celebrity glimpsed in a series of rumored events, whose causes and subtler ramifications must remain in the dark. An invented figure like Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary emerges fully into the light of understanding, which brings with it identification, sympathy and pity. I find in my own writing that only fiction -- and rarely, a poem -- fully tests me to the kind of limits of what I know and what I feel. In composing even such a frank and simple account as this profession of belief, I must fight against the sensation that I am simplifying and exploiting my own voice. I also believe, instinctively, if not very cogently, in the American political experiment, which I take to be, at bottom, a matter of trusting the citizens to know their own minds and best interests. "To govern with the consent of the governed": this spells the ideal. And though the implementation will inevitably be approximate and debatable, and though totalitarianism or technocratic government can obtain some swift successes, in the end, only a democracy can enlist a people's energies on a sustained and renewable basis. To guarantee the individual maximum freedom within a social frame of minimal laws ensures -- if not happiness -- its hopeful pursuit. Cosmically, I seem to be of two minds. The power of materialist science to explain everything -- from the behavior of the galaxies to that of molecules, atoms and their sub-microscopic components -- seems to be inarguable and the principal glory of the modern mind. On the other hand, the reality of subjective sensations, desires and -- may we even say -- illusions, composes the basic substance of our existence, and religion alone, in its many forms, attempts to address, organize and placate these. I believe, then, that religious faith will continue to be an essential part of being human, as it has been for me."