Among the ten thousand things

Isn’t that a cool title?  I’ve placed a hold on the novel at the library.  Unfortunately, at the moment I’m #43 in the queue, but winter break will be a good time to read it.  I have 22 books out and 7 holds right now, so it’s not as if I’m lacking reading material.  (I do still buy books, or have them bought for me, but I use the library as much as possible.)

Of the books in my previous library post, I did read Dear Committee Members–a quick read, a sourball of a book–it was enjoyable while it lasted, but it dissolved and I have not given it another thought since.  I also read The Buried Giant, probably too fast.  I wish I had someone to discuss it with–I have questions.  It turned out that I could, in fact, renew The Noonday Demon, so I did.  And now I have to return another bunch of books, including:

  • Perri Klass’s first collection, I Am Having an Adventure.  I keep mentioning the story “Nineteen Lists” to students as an example of an unusual way to construct a narrative (in lists!) and wanted to have a copy of it for myself.  The Snork Maiden picked this up while it was in the house and read it, too.
  • Anne Enright, The Green Road (which I started and I love Anne Enright but there is a long queue of people waiting for it and oh well, another time, I guess)
  • Peter Hedges, The Heights  (Normally I really enjoy books about hipster parents in Brooklyn but this was way too arch after The Buried Giant)
  • A yoga book that was kind of outdated (that is, very Seventies-inflected and full of bad eating advice) but still informative
  • Three of Lauren Winner’s books (I got a yen to reread Girl Meets God and I enjoy her writing)
  • James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Jane Austen (can no longer remember what prompted me to pick this up, didn’t get very far)

I should turn my attention to some of the things I have to read, including Paradise Lost, to which I have barely given a thought since my junior year of college; Creative Confidence, which is a faculty/staff summer read; and 1984.  I didn’t assign myself the tenth-grade classes until after the tenth-grade teachers had finalized the book list for next year, so I wasn’t part of those discussions.  I’m thinking the book list could use an overhaul, actually.  The course makes a stab at being a British literature survey, but there are probably better ways to do it, and it’s probably worth questioning whether we need to do it at all.  I suppose I wouldn’t have proposed the overhaul for this year anyway, since there are several other people who teach it and they should all be involved.  One of them is Lucinda, who may well be leaving us after this year to move to a different part of the country after her husband retires from the military–and there may, as always, be other staffing changes as well.  When it’s clearer who the decision-makers will be, we can start making the decisions.

Eyes only

It’s been a decent writing summer so far, despite unexpected events that have involved a lot of accompanying people to doctors.  I did finish and submit the solicited poem, and I ordered and revised a section of the new manuscript–twelve pages–to submit to the writing group and we’re discussing it tonight.  I haven’t shared anything this new with anyone in a long time, and I’m genuinely excited to see how it strikes them.  They’re not mostly poets, but they’re good readers and I am pretty sure their reactions will be helpful.

Today I have to read the other piece up for discussion, a screenplay draft, and I have plans to meet my fourth-grade teacher friend for lunch.  This is probably our last chance for a long chat before we both peel off for separate trips, and she is on leave in the fall, so we might not really see each other again until January.  Then I’m stopping for coffee with Dr. Tea later in the afternoon on the way to writing group.

I think that all the back-and-forthing has drained some of my blogging energy, but there’s a brief update, anyway.

Reckoning

It’s Sunday, and one of my tasks is to look at my library record online and see what due dates are coming up and whether I need to try renewing some of these books.  Apparently I have 25 items out right now, a consequence of my habit of requesting books from other branches via computer and then going every week or so to pick up whatever’s arrived.

Due tomorrow and can’t be renewed: Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.  I’ve read maybe half of it, probably enough to let it go back and assume it will return to me sometime.  Definitely add to my list of books to recommend the SA library buy, if it hasn’t already.  I might read a little bit more today and tomorrow.  Also, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members.  I requested this after reading somewhere that it was really funny, but haven’t cracked it yet.  I suppose I should try today, since it is short and if it captivates me I can probably finish it in time to take it back.

Due tomorrow and ready to be returned:  Irvin Yalom’s Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy.  I have read several of Yalom’s books on psychotherapy and liked them all–this one is no exception.  Such a thoughtful, wise, open intelligence.

Due in four days and can’t be renewed: Two books from the “new and excessively desirable books” shelf, from which you can only borrow for a week: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  I am just a few dozen pages into the Ishiguro and am finding it tender and lovely–I might have to buy this for myself.  The Poehler is a fun, fast read with some passages I plan to share with students next year.

Due in five days and can’t be renewed: Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.  I will probably not finish this book, but I’ll read around in it a little more.  There’s a lot of valuable information and narrative in it.  “Atlas” is right, though; it’s enormous and contains many views of a huge geography.

Everything else is either renewable, uninteresting enough to return, or due later.

Jailhouse blues

One of the most poignant things I’ve read lately is Slate‘s article about a dictionary of prison slang compiled by participants in an education program in a Missouri prison. I particularly like “kite” for an informal message, although I can’t quite plumb the way in which one would be most likely to send a kite–word of mouth, I’d guess?

(WordPress just wished me a “happy anniversary,” which reminded me that my first post here was eight years ago today.)

The first of July

Write, read, answer email, drive the Snork Maiden places, go to yoga, and visit people in the hospital or at home after they return from the hospital (my mom as well as Stubb’s dad–long story but things are improving)–that’s been the past week and will be the week ahead, as far as I can tell.  I keep thinking of posts I want to write and not writing them:

  • Yoga: the first three months of practice; what good teaching looks like; yoga-teacher names; what’s happening with my hamstrings and hips.
  • What it’s been like for the Snork Maiden to take a CC class, now half over;
  • The tenth-grade reading list: in need of revision, but still kind of awesome; stuff I’m thinking about for my classes in the fall
  • The one-day writing retreat I went on with the writers’ group (short version: it was great).

Today is in the same mold as the others: I’ve answered email and will now work on the solicited poem, which is coming along; then I’ll go over to my mom’s; then back to meet Stubb and jointly take the Snork Maiden to her sax lesson, visit his dad in the hospital, and take his mom out to dinner.

Forks in the road

I got some good chunks of work in yesterday on the poem and Dorian Gray.  Didn’t get to yoga, though, as a minor family emergency came up–Stubb’s dad had a fall and cracked a bone in his foot.  He’d driven himself to the doctor (wouldn’t want to bother the kids!) and then couldn’t drive back.  He’s having surgery tomorrow, or so we think.  Good thing Stubb is here for a few more weeks.  (His brother–Sniff and Snufkin’s dad–lives nearby also, so there’s backup.  Brother-in-law and I did the transport-move car-pharmacy run yesterday.)

Today:

  • Morning: poem, Dorian Gray, pick up Snork Maiden from bus stop
  • Afternoon: go to SA, placement emails, manuscript submission
  • Evening: yoga

Captain’s log

For the past nine months or so I’ve been starting most of my writing sessions by journaling for a few minutes (or more).  It helps me reconnect with the work, and it’s a good place to put stray thoughts that affect parts of the book other than the one I’m working on just then.  It also reassures me that I’m doing something even though large parts of my writing sessions might consist of staring at drafts and revising the same line over and over.

Today, though, I feel the need to back out even farther and come here to the blog to plan the day’s work.  I’ve been up since 6:30, but now it’s mid-morning and not much has happened so far–I’ve gotten the Snork Maiden off to class, taken a run and had breakfast.  I’ve got a couple more hours until she comes home, clearly prime work hours, but I am letting them go by–why?

My main writing task for the day and the week is working on a poem that has been solicited for a journal.

My main SA task for the day and the week is reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I have never read and which I will teach next year to tenth-graders.

I also have administrivia to handle that would probably be best dealt with in two 25-minute blocks of emailing time, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (to catch whatever responses come in after the morning bout).

After the Snork Maiden comes home, I need to run her to an appointment, and I should probably also go over to my mom’s for a bit, and I would like to go to yoga this evening.  Maybe Stubb could drop me at my mom’s and take the Snork Maiden and then pick me up afterwards?  That might be the best use of time and gasoline.

And I should be sure to take some stretch breaks today, because I need to take care of my hips, especially with the running (I’m going short and slow) and the sitting to work.

Okay, that all sounds very doable.  Weird how much less I can get done when I have less, overall, to do.  On a school day I would normally have gotten at least two hours of work (of some kind–teaching or grading) done already!

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