Monday, January 31, 2011

Tired Monday

I got a note from Marly yesterday saying how exhausted she felt. I think it's contagious. Today my legs feel like rubber. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Unfortunately, I have choir practice tonight, and am pondering whether I should stay home and sleep, given that I have two classes to teach tomorrow, one at 7:30 and one at 4 PM. Maybe I'll just go to dinner with the choir and then come home? Or maybe I'll just stay home completely!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dream and More

Calm last night, I dreamed of horses escaping through a fence onto the road. I think I know now more about the stories class for next year. Some topics relevant to it: the effect of placebos (there is a lot of recent stuff about this, surprising stuff that finds even when people know the drug is a placebo, the story of its effectiveness itself has a positive effect!), in addition to the effect of role-playing, as in the Stanford Prison Experiment, the military, etc... . I could have them read one of my old favorites, Madame Bovary. I would say Don Quixote, but it is just too long, and bogs down in parts.
For the other class, I haven't thought of a third work to use, so if anyone can, please let me know.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fun on Saturday

Today after a morning yoga class, I went with Liz to SCR to see a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a mix-and-match sort of affair, with rock music and dance numbers, splashy stage effects, and weird assorted costumes from various periods, from a Clockwork Orange Puck to a Victorian /early 60s stockbroker type set of Athenian officials, and a grab-bag of fairies. Still, it was all in good spirits, and quite appropriate in tone. I particularly liked the lovely lighting provided by a set of white illuminated umbrellas suspended from the ceiling, looking rather like translucent jellyfish. It was an enjoyable time, preceded by a wonderful lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, one of my favorite places. The waiter who always helps me there told me he has been accepted to Harvard, and will soon be off to Cambridge MA, where he will study in the school of business!


Everyone worries, especially in the wee hours of the morning, when sleep deserts her and leaves her beached like a spent salmon on the bank. But I particularly must try to control this natural process since the worries tend to get away from me and proliferate. Before I know it, I am lost in a jungle of insurmountable size and darkness. Anxiety makes me way too creative an artist of worry. Would that I could make poems as readily.
Last night particularly, after the good news of the class I will teach this summer, I began to think about my curriculum, and it all too quickly whirled into a storm of panic. I have to come up with two classes during the 5 weeks between semesters, at the end of May.
One of these classes will be an 8 week summer section of composition, something usually rather simple to arrange. I begin with a theme, such as transformation (last year's theme) or revenge and choose a film and two literary works, generally quite short. The first one can be a poem or short story. The third is classic, and I choose a couple of secondary sources to go with it, so the students can learn MLA citation and works cited.
I was thinking I'd like to use the film The Secret of Roan Inish, about a girl who sees a selkie on an island in Ireland transform into a woman. I would need two other works to go with it, works about secrets or ones in which the protagonist is a child. I thought about What Maisie Knew, for it fits on both counts. That could be the third work. I just need the first work, and I'm all set.
Then there's the rhetoric class. I wanted to make it about the uses and dangers of stories so there would be lots of potential research topics (fairy tales' effects, video game and violent tv/film's effects, the uses of narrative as therapy and catharsis and to explain complex theories and ideas), but I need two works (one can be a film) that raise and explore this subject. I think I have a short literary work, something new I read this past year, but I need a film or another literary work. Any ideas?
I don't want to obsess over this. Help me out.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Good News!

I just had news telling me I'll be teaching this summer session. I know that many classes and in fact a whole session has been cut, so I am very lucky! I should thank my colleagues for overlooking recent problems and hiring me on my merits.

Plugging Along

It's been quite a week. I've felt very good about my work in the classroom. I've been clear, I've been kind, and I've been helpful. That's about as much as anyone can ask. But I haven't gotten close to the actual paper yet in any of my classes or given any real grades.
Next week, I get into that with the two classes at the college, and feelings will come into play. I'll see what I can do to help those students who are lagging. Some, I know, I may not be able to help enough to make a difference, especially on the first paper. But I will try. It's difficult because there's nowhere to talk to them. Too many people are sharing my University office, and one guy hogged it all last weekend. Of course, I can try showing up and see what happens, or I can cheerfully try to take advantage of any bench or corner that presents itself. The problem is, I usually need a computer, which won't be available anywhere I can take a student. And also, what if it rains? Oh well. People all over manage. I'll manage.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This semester's classes

I am pretty worn out already this semester with my new schedule and the uncertainty going on in my life right now. But for all of that, I am really enjoying both IVC classes, which have gotten going in earnest now.
Having cut way back on the amount of homework, I think I can relax more than I used to and just teach, rather than being a harried grader of homework that wasn't, for the most part, really necessary.
The only thing that concerns me is that it would be good to have some grades in before it's too late to drop the class easily, and I probably won't. The first paper will come in during the 5th week sometime, or even after. However, there will be some important writing assignments leading up to that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The New Joint

Yesterday my class at the University started. It is a small class--13 people-- in a gigantic, sparkling new room. I was excited to try out the new technology, but predictably, that didn't work. The old stuff didn't either. I couldn't get the mouse to cooperate, so had to turn off the whole thing and use a good old dry erase marker, foregoing the computer altogether, at least for the day.
The group is eager and sweet. They downloaded the syllabi I sent them via email, as 90% of the college's students don't because they never go to their college email accounts. They were attentive, and I think they will be a good class.
I felt I was being a little hard on them with the get-tough policies I have felt it necessary to adopt, and which I copied from other people's syllabi in the department.
However, their writing, so far, seems absolutely the same level as the community college students. I need not tweak the class too much, except that this is a 3 hour class rather than a 4 hour one, so I'll have to pare it down.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Toys

Yesterday I went to a technology training at the new U. I just wanted to know the basics--how to use the computer console installed in my classroom, how to get to Blackboard, etc. But the training, to which I arrived late because of a class I was teaching at the college, involved a completely different matter--a very complex system that allows teachers to film something--an experiment, let's say, or the teacher grading a paper--and put it up on the screen for the students to watch. It is quite complicated, but there were no handouts or links given to which we might go should we actually want to use those tools. We just had to take notes and figure it out ourselves.
I won't be using that camera, interesting though it was. But another tool caught my attention. I'm always running out of markers because I write on the board a lot. The U offered us a light pen we could use to "write" on the screen. I immediately thought about how, when I'm teaching a film, as I will be, I can stop the action and notate the image, drawing students' attention to particular features of the composition, etc. The trainer said she had never thought of that, but that I ought to be able to do it even in the midst of a scene, as it progressed. I think that would be rather distracting for the students though.
The class starts this afternoon, after my first office hour. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blue Valentine

I love to go to the movies, and haven't been able to do it lately, so last night I stole a few hours to go to the movies with Robin and Manny, whom I haven't seen in quite a while.
The movie was quirky and always interesting, with a wonderful screenplay that had strong, convincing dialogue. The characters were charming and convincing, people you wanted to spend time with. They had the additional interest for me of being familiar Philadelphia folks, though I don't think the film was actually filmed there. The subway and the black leather and tatoos of the male lead, hood worn up over the leather jacket, were quite familiar, reminding me of the tribal garb worn in certain parts of the city.
The technique of the film matched that quirkiness of the screenplay, with odd, interesting perspectives and camera positions. Generally, I found it to be a very well made movie and enjoyed it a lot.
I recommend it to you too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sorry For Disappearing

Today I got up at 5:30 AM, to blazing lights. Richard was in the living room, writing a letter to the landlord again. And also a poem to go with it, though he will not send that to her.
I took advantage of the lights to get up early and start on my website for the new University position I will start on Tuesday. I have to get that Blackboard site up and running and had to send a welcome to the class email to my new students, asking them to get and watch the film we will study in the class, starting right away.
So I spent until 8:30 this morning doing that, talking to a librarian at the library there by virtual chat so he could find me a particular article I needed to link to on Blackboard, then ran off to a day of yoga.
First I went to my regular class with Bob in Costa Mesa, then to a Pranayama workshop with Denise, with a vegan lunch between the two. After I came home, I tried to pack in a bit more work for the upcoming school week, as well as doing the grocery shopping and cooking leftovers for dinner.
It was a lovely warm day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Landlord War

The toilet saga continues. The landlord is trying to foist payment for the dicey plumbing off on some sort of insurance coverage she has purchased; however, it is necessary for the long-term state of the fixtures to be concealed for the plumbers from the insurance company to come out here. That is why, after I told the plumber on the phone last time to bring a new toilet, no plumber ever came to fix the toilet.
It is apparently rather like a health insurance policy that will not come into force if there is a pre-existing condition. The problem is that no plumber who is not blind or crazy will see with his own practiced eyes that this problem has been brewing for some time now. How she thinks she can finesse that, I don't know.
Now that we cannot flush solid waste at all, if the plumber doesn't fix this today, we will bring in the heavy guns, in the form of the OC housing rights people, and she will pay for it, one way or another.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Next Week

Hard to believe it will already be the third week of the semester next week! My CSU class starts on Tuesday. I would like to contact my students so that I can get them to get a copy of the film before they come to class. There is so little I know about the institution or the administrative details connected with working there. This makes me a bit nervous, but things will shake out. Everyone will be up in the air because the campus just moved to a different part of Irvine, and the building is still in the process of being fitted out for the students. For example, I learned today that the bookstore was never told about my course. The students have to go up to Fullerton to a bookstore there to buy their books. Perhaps they can order them online? Hope so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Night and Day

My two classes this semester are about as different as they can be. The early morning class jabbers away, and is totally engaged in the discussion, making me feel like a brilliant teacher. The afternoon class sits there looking puzzled at almost everything, yawns, and makes frequent bathroom runs. Same material, different students. It always stuns me.
Judging from the writing samples, there are a number of students who have trouble with reading in the afternoon class. That may account for some of it.

Positive Thinking

I heard about a woman who recently won the jackpot in the lottery. She told her hard luck stories, and then said that she had one day decided to change her own luck by visualizing, on a daily basis, how it would be when she won the lottery. When she actually did win, she did not merely run around buying cars and other big purchases (though she did that too), but became a philanthropist and full-time volunteer for charities and non-profits.
I don't know whether or how such thinking would change a person's life, but certainly, even if one did not win the lottery, it would make one's life a better thing, most probably.
What a disciplined person to be able to will something so hard, no matter whether that had anything to do with what happened!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On and on and on the road

We in Southern California seem to think nothing of driving long distances that would make people in the south and east blanch. For example, today I had to go up to the main campus at CSUF in Fullerton to sign my contract. I don't drive on freeways. If I did, it would take about 20 minutes, most likely, at speeds nearly of light (except when the freeways were blocked up, which is probably often). But otherwise, it take an hour in each direction. I drove with my inadequate Google Map directions, nervously glancing around for familiar sights and sites. I got there without trouble. But going home was more complicated, since if you turn me around, I get lost. I couldn't reproduce the trip in the other direction and ended up, after asking a cop for directions, going in the wrong direction. It was a while till I realized that. It took an age to get home. No plumber. No call from the landlord, so I called my friend the lawyer, who may take the case herself.

Life Tests Us

If it's true that life tests us, I'm having exam week right now. The landlord was supposed to send the plumber this weekend to fix the toilet (actually, the previous plumber we had here said there was no way to do that; the toilets both had to be replaced because they were so old).But we waited and waited, didn't go out as we had planned yesterday afternoon because we were waiting, and they never showed up or called us. Neither did the landlord. R. sent a letter repeating what the plumber told us--that there was a real chance that the toilets would flood and seriously damage the apartment if they were not soon replaced. But the landlady is sure we are the problem, not the toilets, and is doing everything she can to get rid of us.
We have to stay here until the process of buying a house is over, so we need her to do something about this toilet stuff. Today I will probably call a lawyer I know and ask her for a referral to someone who does this kind of law, and we will begin the process of demanding that this landlady fulfill her part of the rental agreement.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Thing

On her blog The Palace at 2 AM, Marly has been publishing portions of an amazing series of 85 poems (so far) she has been writing. One of the motifs in the series is this shell, the wentletrap.

Happy MLK Day!

Yesterday, the choir gave a short concert to assembled children and adults who were involved in various projects for Mitzvah Day, our synagogue's response to the National Day of Service that coincides with MLK day.
We sang our old standards for this day, the Negro National Anthem, "The Storm is Passing Over," and "Go Down Moses." Though we had not had much practice, we enjoyed singing, and the group received us enthusiastically enough, clapping and swaying to the music.
Followed by our concert, a young girl in the congregation entertained us with a song from a musical she picked up from YouTube. I think we are raising yet another young actress who may very well end up on Broadway like a few kids before her in this congregation.
A yoga class in the late afternoon helped to make this a good day, though my hips are quite sore following that class. My yoga teacher Denise has been making an effort to loosen them up so I can avoid a hip replacement, something she herself went through last year.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Busy Sunday

It's a long weekend in my world. I got most of my work for the coming school week done, and now I will be able to relax a bit today, after a choir concert for MLK/Mitzvah Day about 15 minutes long. We don't necessarily expect much of an audience, but one never knows. Our Friday concert turned out a very small audience as well, and it's just as well, since we were unpracticed and not very impressive. Still, we backed up our comrade, Steve, who was leading the service fairly reliably, and everyone was happy, I think.
I am champing at the bit to get furniture for the new place, since I have some time, but we are far from closing because of the tax fiasco. It won't be probably till the end of Feb. at the earliest that we get into the house. So I can't buy a tv or furniture. It is just going to have to wait.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So Many Feelings

Since before last June, when my mother broke her leg and began her swift downward spiral toward death, I have experienced so many feelings in so little time. At first I plodded numbly along, doing what had to be done, through the tasks of tending to my mother, though not very well, when she was in the rehab hospital, bringing her home to the board and care to die, seeing my father suddenly die, and my mother follow shortly thereafter.
Somehow, I did the things I was expected to do, buying cemetery plots, hosting a reception after my father's funeral, going back to work. It isn't that I didn't feel the pain of loss, the shock of all my responsibilities to my parents suddenly halting, but with the change of routine, my shock shifted direction, going inward. The pain tunneled deep into places I never expected, until I found myself seeming to suffer for no reason at all.
As last semester went on, it seemed all much too much to go on doing the same old thing, following the routine in my life I followed before my parents died. So I tried to change my life radically, hoping it would help.
I wrote much more, assembling a manuscript I have still not sent out, though it is in better shape than it was. I accepted my cousin Nina's offer to illustrate the yoga poems, since she offered to do it. I have not heard from her in a while, but I hope she plans to finish the job. If not, I will go back to the first artist who expressed interest in doing it.
I asked a friend from synagogue, Stuart Friedman, a financial analyst, to help organize and invest my sudden financial windfall, relatively small though it was, and began the process of buying a house, a process that is coming to fruition right now.
I even accepted an offer from another institution to teach a class, something I didn't have time for when my parents were alive.
Much of this has brought joy and excitement. I needed the changes, needed the chance to develop myself in new ways and to look after my own and R's future for a change, after years of caring for and tending to others.
But all of it coming at once has put untold pressure on me, pressure that is partly due to my own desire to shift direction and thus avoid the insistent unease and pain that has followed me since my parents' death.
I knew, at some level, that this effort would lead to rifts in my life, tearing of the fabric I had woven for so long to create comfort for myself. That is what I am experiencing now. Comfort can become a trap.
I am sorry that in the process of changing my perspective and trying to grow I have hurt others who never meant me harm. I am sorry that I seemed to lash out at those who had done nothing but help me.
All I can ask is that they try to understand that the motive was never to hurt them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How This Year is Starting Out

This has not been an auspicious start to the year. Now it seems that the house may fall through because R has gotten his taxes in what is probably too late to get the loan in time for this escrow to go through. I don't know what any of this misfortune and all these obstacles mean, if they mean anything at all. I'll try to learn from all of it. That's all I can do.

The House, and Where We Stand

While all this other stuff has been going on in my life, the house situation has been progressing. We are in escrow with that little cottage in Lake Forest, and the appraisal came in yesterday at exactly what we are paying. We were given a $5000. credit to get a new air conditioner, garage door opener, toilet, garbage disposal, and a few other things, like the fireplace gas connections. The rest we will fix little by little--first the floor upstairs, taking out that awful carpet that looks and smells like a dead thing on the stairs and part of the upstairs and the scratched up wood floor in the main bedroom. We will begin looking for furniture and a flat screen tv to hang over the fire place, and we will eventually, sometime next month, move into the house and out of this place.
Not a moment too soon, as the toilet, which erupted in a spectacular fountain of waste matter last week, is leaking, thankfully clean water. The plumber warned us that it could go any minute, since it is 26 years old. THe other toilet is virtually unusable as well.
The landlady didn't replace these fixtures, though she could have, hoping it would have driven us out a long time ago. We hung on till now, but soon, we're out of here.
All the worries I have now about my job are fairly terrifying, given this expense that we have before us, but I am hoping for the best, and proceeding. I may never be able to buy a house here again, when the prices and interest rates go up, which they will be doing sometime, I have no doubt. In any case, the payment for this house will not come in much higher than what we are paying here for an inferior place, albeit closer to work and other things.
May the fates be with us in this endeavor.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Meeting at the New Place

This afternoon, I went to CSUF, Irvine, which consists of one large and very inclusive office building about 5 minutes away from the college, and met with the dean, her assistant, the chair of the department for which I will be teaching, and three other faculty members who teach in this interdisciplinary department. I was the only teacher of writing in the group, but all of us were new to this place because it is a new campus, a few miles away from the old one, and it has not opened yet.
Though I have not yet officially signed my contract and don't even know how much I will be paid, I learned where my office (a real office of my very own, my first, with a computer, and bookshelves, and everything an office entails!!!) and my classroom and the bookstore and the library and all the other stuff are. Everything is tucked away into this one building. I was so pleased that the school arranged this, since I was getting nervous about having to go into class blind, having no idea how things worked, who to call in case of trouble, and where I fit into the system.
All of this catch-as-catch stuff at the new institution, since the campus is so new, very much made me appreciate the thoughtful system for adjuncts that the college where I have been teaching for so long has instituted, the workshops, the snacks, the faculty handbooks, the well-established procedures one can use in case of emergencies or in case one needs to refer students with physical or mental problems. This school, as yet, has not developed these procedures, so it is kind of like the wild west. I just have to punt if something comes up.
It has made me think fondly of the college in many ways, and despite my habitual grousing, about the people that I have been working with. I have gone through an unpleasant time, but it doesn't really mean that the people I've worked with for so many years have changed. I was just upset by going through that grade grievance, my very first in 31 years of teaching, and angry that I had to change the grade of someone who truly deserved to fail.
But I learned a lot during this experience, as in all the difficult experiences I have had in my life, that will serve me for the future and make me stronger in the long run, and perhaps (maybe, who knows?) wiser.


My Monday/Weds. class seems markedly unprepared for the semester and the work that they will be asked to do in this course. There are perhaps only 3 students who I feel confident will be able to tackle the assignments with little trouble, though there are others who have potential, who are paying attention, and who seem willing to learn. Sometimes the spring semester is like that. I have more hopes for the other class, whom I go to meet in an hour or so.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Things are over-crowded around the college. The classes, the library, the Writing Center, everywhere. And when mammals get into each others' faces and spaces, no good can come of it. Resources are scarce, tempers become short, and the results are not pretty.
I heard a radio report once about an experiment in which rats were loaded up 10 to a small cage made for two or three. They ate each other, and this is perhaps what is about to happen and is indeed beginning to happen on our campuses in California.
There is no doubt that the cuts Brown is about to institute, however dire and awful, must be undertaken. We simply have little choice, but the results will squeeze the state still further. More people, perhaps myself and others like me, will end up out of work. The economy will doubtless, in the short term, spiral downwards still further.
One of my students worked on the problem of overcrowding in the California prison system last semester, and the scope of that problem as well as its effects, were scary to contemplate.
But although most of us are not criminals and not rats, we have more in common with these beings than we might want to admit. Perhaps then that can explain what is happening around us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yesterday's Class

Although I feel to some degree this semester that I am walking on eggshells because of the grade grievance, the class went smoothly yesterday. It seems like a decent group of students, again, as has happened so often in the past couple of years, more male than female. I didn't have a lot of petitioners, and all but one person on the roster (whom I dropped) showed up for class. Perhaps this is because I emailed them beforehand and told them to download the syllabus and information sheet and take a look at Blackboard in general.
Anyone who didn't like the sound of what we were doing or how we would be doing it had the opportunity to back out even before the first day. Of course, only about half (if that) of the students did go to Blackboard, finally, and of those, a handful downloaded the syllabus and information sheet. I made only 15 copies of these, so they will have to get these things for themselves.
This morning, I meet with my breakfast club, the 7:30 AM class. Let's see how that goes!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Yesterday my first cousin, Dan, who is about a year and a half older than I am, visited me for breakfast. Dan and I were very close as children. We saw each other on a regular basis when our families got together for holidays and on weekends. But since then, we have not seen each other for decades at a time. Last year, he came with his brother to visit my parents and we spent some time together. It was funny to have to ask about what he had been doing with his whole life there in Israel (he has been busy, suffice it to say) and what I have done with mine.
I always liked Dan for his uncharacteristically calm demeanor and his kindness. He hasn't changed in that respect. He is an Orthodox Jew, but never behaves in self-righteous or pushy ways about his beliefs. He is tolerant and open minded, or at least not contentious, like other members of the family.
Because he keeps Kosher, it was always a bit of a business to host him for a meal. I had to use paper plates and plastic forks and buy things I knew were strictly kosher. I settled on two kinds of fish salad, smoked whitefish and salmon salad, which said they were Kosher clearly on the labels. And I went over to the bagel store to pick up an assortment of fresh bagels at 6:30 A.M. yesterday morning, providing sliced red onion and fresh sliced cluster tomatoes and avocado to put on the sandwich.
Since he and his friend from work had been traveling for hours and had only just arrived, they tucked into the food and ate much of it, along with coffee and juice.
I didn't offer him lunch, though he stayed till 2 PM. I could have taken him to a vegetarian restaurant I suppose.
It was interesting to talk to him about his life, his kids, his wife, and his grandchild, and to tell him about my life and family too. Most of all, I was glad he was able to meet and speak with R, though Jeremy was not around--he was at work, and isn't much for visiting with relatives anyhow.
He invited me to come visit him in Israel, where I can stay with him and be taken around to see people and places. I have so many relatives there that I could travel from one to another and never have to stay in a hotel or feel that I was burdening anyone. I'm hoping I can go visit them sometime soon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Poem

Still Life
The odalisque moon
lies on her back.
One long leg arced
overhead, drawing
in darkness, the water
of a warm bath.
Caught in the curve
of her opalescent
spine, the Milky Way
rises like smoke.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spring Semester is About to Start!

Monday is the start of spring semester. Because of the experience I just went through with the student from last semester, I am more conscious than usual of an intention to be clearer, more patient, and most of all, more tactful than I have been in the past. I want to listen more, say less, or at least make fewer pronouncements, which is sometimes hard to do when I am teaching a class. I am sure that will be difficult for me, but I'm going to make an effort.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Inspection #2

Today the house in Lake Forest was inspected. I was there very early, as I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to find the place on the ride back from yoga this morning. But it was simple to find, simple though it is actually pretty far up into the hills toward Portola Parkway. It was a beautiful day, and I got to see lots of my future neighbors out walking with their dogs or riding bikes or playing with their kids in the green space near the house.
Trees were being trimmed, loudly, during the whole time the inspector was there. He meticulously inspected every inch of the place, and found, predictably, a number of small problems, and a couple of larger ones (fireplace, garage door opener, wiring box). All of the bathroom fixtures have handles and spouts that need to be replaced, the garbage disposal needs replacing, etc. But nothing big and awful as in the other house, no clear signals we need to walk away. I have no urge to look any further.
Though the scope of the expense and the many things that need to be done are a little overwhelming, we don't need to do everything at once. One project a year, for a long time to come.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I left one out

Forgot to say that Jeremy didn't take back the textbooks I rented for him yesterday, causing the bookstore to charge my bank card to the tune of $250.! He got $80. back when he brought the books back this afternoon, which he will give me tomorrow.
A delightful day, all around. But at least I had a beautiful yoga class this afternoon.

Terrible Day

Today was one of those days. First thing this morning, I heard from CSU that Blackboard will not be available to me until the first week of school, when I am already very busy teaching two classes at IVC. I'll have to stop and set up my Blackboard site at that point, along with everything else I have to do.
Then I went to campus to deliver my syllabus and information sheet, and ran into the dean. She said that the student I was concerned about and his father had been harassing her (she didn't use that word though) all break, and that they were insistent about pushing through the grade grievance to the end. She wanted me to meet with this student along with her because the department chairs hadn't done it. Instead, one of them discussed the issue with me a few weeks ago, to his satisfaction, and left it at that.
But it wasn't to the student's satisfaction, or his father's, so they are insisting that I am inconsistent and basically out to get this student for some reason, and I will have to go before a tribunal and defend myself.
The dean never got the email I sent weeks ago. I wondered why she never replied to it. I must have left a letter off of her name.
But when I looked over his grade report, I saw that the ONLY reason he did not squeak by with a C- was that he did not do 17 out of 29 homework assignments during the semester. This sank him, and he received a D.
The big red zeroes tell the tale.

Interesting Times

We all know about that purported Chinese blessing/curse, "May you live in interesting times." As usual, the word "interesting" is not what it seems in this statement, suggesting a hint of unspoken negativity or irony.
This period in my life, while full of promise, is one of those "interesting times" for me. I must, in a short period coming up within the next month or so, move out of one place and into another, start a new venture at CSU of teaching a class, begin a new semester at IVC, get the new place clean up and fixed for our arrival, choose and buy all new furniture because we don't really have any to speak of here, and generally get settled and running smoothly.
Is it any wonder I don't find myself able to write right now? It is a wonder I can walk, talk, and carry on my usual life now with all that roiling around in my head.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I forgot to say...

My friend Marly, who often visits this blog, has generously featured my poem "Headstand" from the yoga chapbook Balance in her blog, The Palace At 2 AM. In this blog entry, she lauds all of the many people, including me and R, who have published lately in the online lit journal Qarrtsiluni. I recommend both her blog and Qarrtsiluni to you. Thank you, Marly.
Marly also writes about the writing and publication she has done this year and the preceding ones, completing an incredible number of books you can read about at her blog, with occasional excerpts.
Good work, Marly! Hope those galleys are coming along okay.

Rain Rain, Don't Go Away!

The New Year is awash in rain, which I suppose will wash all the remnants of the old one away into the Pacific Ocean. This is a good thing, as long as it isn't so heavy that the roads and streets and houses flood and slip from their foundation into the canyons. It is good too because when the inspector comes to the new house on Weds., he will find leaks, if they are there. And if he finds no leaks, we will feel more secure, given the big windows in the place, the major part of its charm, but also, potentially, its weak point, structurally speaking.
I am gearing myself up to return to work. Once I am in the classroom, all doubts will disappear, but for some reason, probably because I am starting my new position later this month at CSU, I feel apprehensive this time. The beginning of each new semester is a little like dating a new person, though in real life it has been forever since I had to do such a thing in real life, and even then, I didn't really date much, per se. But I am comfortable enough talking to new people that I quickly catch my bearings, and the semester is off with a lurch, a roller coaster that speeds and drops and slows at the very end of a long semester.
I resolve (again, since this is my second New Year of the year, after Rosh Ha Shanah in the fall) to give less homework and to ease up on the students, doing more in class exercises and keeping things in perspective.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


After all that hoo-hah, buying this house, which has been there all along, is so simple... a six page contract, rather than the mountains of confusing and threatening documents the foreclosure entailed, an easy emailing session, and apparently, we are almost all done. Now we enter escrow--again. And I'll have to call in the inspector. I think we are not going to get any nasty surprises, or at least I hope so.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Zoo

Yesterday at the Zoo, in addition to visiting the koalas and the gorillas and orangutans, all our usual haunts, and greeting familiar friends, we also paid attention to some of the creatures we usually do not spend much time with.
After visiting the hippos (dwarf and regular), standing in awe of their gigantic maws and diminutive ears, we stopped at the nearby turtles, who, beneath the water, lose that air of clumsy, bow-legged hesitation that they have above it. We watched them swim in a cloud of guppy fry, effortlessly paddling along or hoovering the bottom of the tank looking for food. The various shapes, sizes, configurations, and colors of turtle were wonderful, and I was glad that I was sporting my favorite turtle earrings for the day.
We also watched a dromedary dreaming. He was on his side, a position I didn't even know was natural for a sleeping camel, front legs folded up like a kangeroo's tight to his chest, while the back legs stretched out, jerking occasionally as he no doubt dreamed of running through the dunes in some sleep Sahara. In the next enclosure over, a zebra also slept on its side.
A cold, crisp day, good for sleeping, I suppose.