Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Things are looking up. November sun has returned — literally and figuratively. All the better for regaining perspective, as I peel myself off this wall I've hit.

I've been so moved by the goodness of people in this corner of the blogosphere. Thank you, New Kid, Mel, Profgrrl, What Now, and Jimbo, for your words of comfort. (And, New Kid, I so appreciate the crockery, even if it did come a little pre-smashed!) I'm humbled by your kindness. And, in this season of thanksgiving, know that I'm really, really grateful for each of you.

Am looking forward to catching up on blog-reading over the Turkey Day hols. For now, though, I'm off to campus for student meetings, which means I really should change out of these pajamas...

Saturday, November 20, 2004


too depressed to write even one sentence
maybe novembers will always be hard here

Plus (or, a plus?): Yes, YelloCello turned one year old on Nov. 13th.
wishing for more crockery to smash

Monday, November 08, 2004

Days 3 through 16

Hey, remember when I resolved to get up at 5:30 a.m. each morning for a week? I only managed it for three days. Then I settled into a pattern of rising at about 6:30 instead. It wasn't hard, and I was feeling great about the work.

Just one problem. I also started needing naps. Some days I'd stretch out on the couch for a 5 p.m. "catnap" that would stretch two or three hours. If it was my night to make dinner, I didn't get back to my desk until around 9.

And the time would fly. It would fly, you might say, on the wings of my inner night owl, who was delighted to have me back again and who kept me going until 2 or 3 a.m. That was fine for a while, because I was still getting about seven hours of sleep. The only weird thing is that I wasn't getting them all at once. I was getting them from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., and then again from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Does this pattern divide my days? Or does it double them?

In the last four days, I've started going to bed at 4:30. I learned that if I get really tired at 3 a.m., I can be assured of a brief second wind at 4. if I just push through it. Sure enough, 4 a.m. comes and I'm alert again. Not to be trusted in operating heavy machinery, of course, but alert.

Tonight looks like it will be another long night. The good news is that rest is coming. (Good thing, because I know I can't keep this up.) I get to sleep the "sleep of the just" (as A. likes to call it) tomorrow afternoon because a) I cancelled part of my office hours; and b) I today handed over a new article draft to our little reading group. It's the first work I've ever shown to this group of people and I'm a little nervous about it. (Many of them also happen to be friends, which makes it harder somehow.) But the good news is that it's another good chunk of writing done, another step closer to the goal.

That's worth some lost sleep, right?

Actually, I'm not sure. Would you laugh if I said that I live for sleep? In all seriousness, I think it's one of the greatest physical pleasures there is. Remember the good-bye speech that Thornton Wilder wrote for Emily? Among the sacred in-life things she would miss was "sleeping and waking up."

Just one more week of stress. Have found myself channeling What Now this week: "All will be well and all will be well and all will truly be well."

(p.s. My lastest nutritional nadir: This weekend's writing was fueled almost entirely by iced tea and pretzel rods. At least that was a little bit balanced out with a couple of tomato-feta omelettes.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Writing Foods

When I'm on a really serious writing deadline, I tend to indulge my most shameful eating habits.

I remember being broke once during my sophomore year, but not caring much because I was thrilled at having been given permission to write a play for my Ethics class. I subsisted that weekend on nothing but Sprite and Luden's cherry cough drops.

While writing my senior year thesis, I baked Jiffy Mix cornmeal in a soup pot (we didn't have any muffin tins), and lived off that and a tub of yogurt for a few days.

Blech. At least I was happy with how the thesis turned out.

In graduate school, I got a little healthier. Emphasis on a little. In my first year, I would sometimes cook up half a bag of frozen peas and carrots, drown them in salt, and eat them in front of my computer.

On writing binges as a 25-year-old, I often ate cereal for dinner. Or frozen pizza. Or a bag of microwaved popcorn.

Once, during a particularly taxing all-nighter, I left my apartment at 3 a.m. and walked next door to the SuperAmerica (the modestly named Minnesota convenience store) just to buy a Dr. Pepper large enough to keep me going until morning.

My professor loved that paper. Unfortunately, my body felt as if it had surrendered two years of life while writing it. But did I learn my lesson? NO. I don't—or, rather, can't—pull all-nighters anymore, but I do tend to work into the wee hours...

...and when the stress accompanying a writing task is horrible, or the deadline unbearably tight, I chew gum. Not sensible sugarless gum, or some restrained and dignified gum, like Trident. No. I must have Bazooka bubblegum, which is arguably the most disgusting gum there is. I will chew it only if no one can see me. When I hear Adam's footsteps on the stairs, I snatch up the wrappers and stuff them in the trashcan. Or in my briefcase. Or up my sleeves if necessary. Then I greet him with the sugar-addled smile of an addict.

"How's the writing coming?" Adam willl ask, nose twitching at the scent of my Bazooka breath.

(Note to self: Bazooka is not your friend. Chewing Bazooka speeds the composition process, but only until the sugar crash. Then you must curse yourself for your lack of judgment, typing grimly through the post-Bazooka hangover.)

I don't smoke. And I can't abide coffee. (Something about the smell.) Since the traditional crutches of the writer are closed off to me, I had to find my own, less romantic substitutes.

Like buckets of Arizona green iced tea. With ginseng.

And pretzels. Oh, great salty delightful Bavarian pretzels. Those are my favorite writing aids of all.

Wish I had some right now.

Back to it...

Friday, November 05, 2004


...even if it's only to keep from crying.

Tom Tomorrow cartoon archive.
(I found this one especially apt.)

Felber prognosticates: "Bush to Run for Third Term, Slams Democrat Jesus"
(Some of the comments are actually funnier than Felber's post.)

And there's always The Onion:
(Maybe one day I'll take my students to the Museum of the Middle Class.)

Since we don't have cable, I can only experience Jon Stewart vicariously. But I did have a great big laugh at the freak show Alan Keyes, who was rightly trounced by Barack Obama on Tuesday night. Keyes has conceded that Obama won the U.S. senate seat, but he is refusing to telephone any congratulations. Why? Because, according to Keyes, Obama "represents a culture evil enough to destroy the very soul and heart of my country." God help us. Or maybe we should ask God to help Alan Keyes.

Keep Loving

(Woodcut by Dalia Sapon Shevin)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

All out of rage

Unlike Mel, I really believed it could happen. Living in a blue state helped me to believe that, I'm sure. As someone who watched her students get really excited about politics this season, I'm with Mel in hoping that they, and other new voters, do not now feel that their engagement was for naught.

I liked what Jimbo wrote in his post-election post, especially this part:

[W]e lefties have to start thinking seriously about what we want this country to be. A collection of plans is not a vision. Hatred of conservatives is not a vision (it's arguably a blindness). What do we want? What do we want? What do we see as our nation's, we, the people's call in the world?...

We have to be called. And it has been so long since the left has blown its trumpet, since the left has issued a call to us rather than a five-year plan, since it has asked us to give of ourselves for ourselves in the making of a better world. Call us, please, call us. Let the trumpet ring. It's time to wake up from our dream and change the world.

In the past 24 hours, I've gone from dismay to disbelief to depression to frustration to numbness to terrified resignation. The only emotion that's missing is rage. And that's odd, 'cause, lately, I'm very good at rage.

But rage is exhausting and unproductive. And rage isn't going to make the war any saner, the Supreme Court any safer, or the environment less imperiled. Rage can be a catalyst, but it's also a poison — and one more likely to damage she who wields it than the people or things to which it's applied.

What I'm feeling instead tonight is a deep fatigue. But also a growing certainty that what the country needs now are local leaders who are steady and steadfast and brave. It needs people with the kind of patience that enables a clear-eyed idealism and the type of humor that enables sustained efforts for change.

(And, in my own field at least, we could use a few more people willing to lead by example instead of self-righteous indignation.)

There's no comfort (for me, at least) in hating Republicans, or Ohio, or even the horrible Karl Rove. As Jimbo said, hating conservatives is not a vision. Let's set concrete goals. Let's live the lives and be the global citizens we know we should. Let's wake from the dream and roll up our sleeves.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Our neighbor George says he was so excited to vote that he woke up at 4 a.m.

Today does feel a little bit like Christmas morning used to feel when I was a kid. (It's here, it's here, it's finally here!)

Fingers crossed that Nov. 3rd brings tiiiiiiiiiiiidings of joy, tidings of joy.

Happy voting, everyone.