Showing posts from 2012

The Best Paper is a Graded Paper

Sack O' Papers That's right. One class down. Freshman Composition grades are FINISHED -- oh, with the exception of one student WHO BETTER GET HIS VERY LATE PAPER UPLOADED TO THE COURSE SITE PRONTO OR IT'S NOT GONNA BE GOOD NEWS FOR HIS GRADE. Also, I DID enter my developmental course's grades on Thursday, so technically that's TWO classes down. Also, I managed to wrap Christmas presents last night and this morning, so I'm more ahead of the game than I've ever been before! (Not to jinx myself -- but I'm hoping I'm this productive tomorrow, and that I can actually go to sleep on Christmas Eve, instead of wrapping presents into the wee hours like I've done every other Christmas since we began having kidlets.)


The semester is finally over. I've collected all of the last assignments, and now I must grade them. This is what my weekend will look like: Portfolios, Final Papers, Accepted Late Work I suppose it's not so bad. I mean, at least I can't accept anything else at this point. I'VE LEFT THE OFFICE. I'M NOT GOING BACK UNTIL AFTER THE NEW YEAR.  I'm so tired! But yesterday was actually kind of fun, in that I was able to say goodbye to a couple of students who I'm particularly fond of, and wish them well. One had the spectacular news that he's being scouted by Villanova FOR AN ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP (Who knew they scouted for academics? I didn't. But knowing it now makes me feel better about the world, somehow.) And I received a lovely thank you card from a student for whom I wrote a letter of recommendation back in November, and a couple of students said in a non-ass-kissy way that they enjoyed their class. Another student hand-wrote a

Reality Check

I feel as though I have run out of steam, although this really isn't a convenient point to have run out of steam, considering I have a full week of final grading ahead of me. Thankfully, though, there are no more classes to teach. I will have to meet with my students in my comp and developmental writing classes for a final time on Wednesday, but my literature classes on Tuesday/Thursday are simply dropping final assignments off in my mailbox and office this week, up until a 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday. And that feels kind of strange, because I enjoyed those classes a lot and it would be nice to see them again and wish them luck in the next semester -- but none of us really want the commitment of meeting as a group again when we have so many other things to do. This has been such a strange semester. Last night I evaluated developmental writing portfolios and I'll begin those again in a short moment. This morning I felt the need to weigh down the blogosphere with more end-o

End-of-Semester Adventures

Last night I took the train into the city to attend the Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize Winners reading at McNally Books in Soho. It was quite the adventure for a preggo mother of two.  First, it was a night off from the prepare dinner/eat dinner/bedtime three-ring circus, and second, I was able to rediscover the joy of maneuvering my larger girth through tight city interiors, such as the basement of McNally's Books, where I knocked copies of the Cheryl Strayed Wild memoir right onto the ground in a very boorish manner.  I should come equipped with one of those beeping sensors, like the ones that commercial trucks have when they back up, only it should sound its alarm whenever I begin moving, period -- backwards, sideways, frontwards, whatever. Watch out, world! Preggo's on the move! I need some kind of warning system not only because I have a rounder, wider body overall, but because my sense of balance and spatial intelligence has been compromised over the past few week

More Bookmarking Using the Blog

And here's an interview with Juliana Spahr about the teaching of creative writing. In case I actually have time to reconsider how I approach teaching my CW classes between now and January. Two student conferences today; portfolios in my developmental writing class are being turned in around noon (which always means a high-stress, panic-ridden last class -- but IT'S THE LAST CLASS!); and a last workshop for my composition students before they turn in final papers on Friday.  OH MY GOD WE'RE ALMOST DONE. I could cry.  I probably will cry, with relief. But it'll happen sometime when my tear ducts work again -- sleep deprivation sure dries those suckers out.

Bookmarking Awesomeness

I can't stay here because I have to get away from internet blog reading and do some serious organizing for today's set of student conferences, but I wanted to put this link to my friend L.'s blog entry up here so that I could easily revisit it . . . her paragraph at the end about dementia and collapsing boundaries is something I want to meditate on more, particularly as I write my verse play, and think about ways of structuring it, and what "collapsing boundaries" and the "loss of the ability to impose culturally acceptable narratives" can and should mean to my characters.

Puppies Who Labor Under the Misapprehension That They're Birds

Oh, hello again. You almost forgot I lived here, right? Me too. In fact, I'm so turned around these days I barely know where I am . . . but life is not so bad. After all, I managed to survive last week, which featured 28 half-hour conferences with students from my creative writing and composition classes. (There would have been more conferences, but a good number of them missed their appointments and rescheduled for this week. Which bodes well for this week!) The weekend did feature a particularly frightening episode, however, in which our 6 month-old lab jumped out of my husband's moving pick up truck (for the record, he was in the cab, in the middle seat -- because our 9 year old lab was hogging up the window -- and his flight through the window was sudden and unexpected and physically difficult and still unexplained . . .  I mean, he comes running back into the house if he so much as sees his own shadow outside, so I don't know why he'd try to chase an animal w

Some Muddled Musing on the Subject of Rejection

I really should expect by now that with Good News comes News I'm Not Quite as Excited About. I received my first rejection from the contest circuit for the full-length ms of Fabulous Beast , and I'm not going to pretend I'm overjoyed about it. It put a depressing final note on yesterday, which was filled with conferences and grading and a really deep kind of exhaustion, as I didn't sleep very much the night before. My eyes were red and swollen and I'm actually thankful to the three or so students that stood me up, because it bought me more time during the day to grade and get myself organized for the week.  I was leaving the office, still really tired but feeling a little satisfied, knowing that I'd managed to get a good number of things done, and then I received the email form rejection. I don't mind the email rejection -- a true child of the information age, I definitely prefer the speed with which I can find out that a journal or book doesn't wa


One of my poems from the Summer 2012 issue of The Gettysburg Review appears on their website as a past selection! I'm not sure how long it will last there, but for now I'm kinda chuffed.

Post in Which I Virtually Vomit All Over My Readers in a Weak Attempt at Catharsis

This has been a daunting week in many ways . . . and yes, it's only Tuesday.  I guess it feels like my week hasn't really ended, or that my *weeks* haven't really ended, since I've been on "go" mode for most of three weeks, ever since the hurricane hit and my husband disappeared into an endless cycle of overtime. I know that he's the one out there doing the physical labor, but I'm exhausted. It's not like my daily duties increased *so* much since A. began working this schedule . . . I mean, usually we cook dinner *together* and he's around to play bad cop to my lame, ineffectual cop with the kids . . . but other than that, I'm pretty much the lead when it comes to getting them ready for school and then later getting them ready for bed, and I do much of the shuttling between school and after school activities, too. But not having him around as much -- we see each other for about 20 minutes in the morning and an hour or so at night -- t

Can I Order Another Natural Disaster to Hit L.I. so that I Don't Have to Go to Work? No? No, I Didn't Think So.

I am, of course, just kidding. But there is a very real chance I will not survive this week's deadlines at school and the onslaught of "ANSWER ME NOW" emails. I'm just giving ya'll a heads up. xoxo Sarah

Winning at Writing, Failing at Functioning-like-a-Real-Person (Or, I Make a Really, Really Bad Housekeeper)

I persist in thinking that I'm going to accomplish a lot every morning when I wake up, even though my body persists in thwarting my endeavors each day. For instance, yesterday I assumed that I was going to tackle the bags and bags of "give away" clothes that are piled in our basement, and finally separate the girls clothes and put them away for future use (because we found out on Tuesday that we're having a little girl in March -- much to The Boy's chagrin and Little Miss Talkalot's ecstatic, shrieking joy). However, after spending the morning vacuuming up about four lbs of dog hair from the first floor alone, and then attending Little Miss Talkalot's last soccer game of the season, followed by a victory lunch at McDonald's (a rare treat from Mommy) and a quick trip to the grocery store, I was completely, utterly wrecked. Done. I had not one ounce of energy left in me. So when The Boy went for his nap, so did I -- and The Girl quietly and happily veg

Thank Goodness That's Over: Post-Election Post

Well, today is a wash. I stayed up far too late drafting an email for work, while simultaneously watching NBC's election coverage (hugely entertainingly) and posting ridiculous comments on Facebook. And eating far too much Halloween candy for a pregnant woman (I'm going to have to go on a sugar-fast for the next few days to avoid gestational diabetes, I think). So I didn't manage to write any of the second monologue that I began yesterday morning, or get any grading done (surprise!), but with any luck I might be less of a zombie by the time I arrive at campus and my daily cup of caffeine kicks in. Today was going to be a low-stakes day anyway, as it's the first time I'm meeting with these classes since the hurricane hit. So hopefully, no one will mind if I'm a little bit snoozy.

Bianca Stone's Video Poem, "Because You Love You Come Apart"

Someone shared this on effbook today and I think it's lovely -- and funny, and moving. So I'm sharing it here, albeit through Alina Gregorian's Huffington Post article , because I think her reading of Stone's work is very accurate, very good. That's all, besides the tiny report that I "finished" the first of November's verse play monologues this morning. It only took me four days, Ma! But I came to a satisfying conclusion to the piece -- satisfying for now, at least -- and hopefully tomorrow I'll embark on a new monologue. (Or maybe a section of dialogue, who knows?)

Post-Hurricane Sandy Clean Up and the Return of the Verse Play

We survived Hurricane Sandy without much incident or damage -- a few big limbs fell, our fences need to be mended, but fortunately we didn't sustain any direct damage to the house this time around. Sadly, most of Long Island did not. There were something like 100, 000 homes destroyed on Long Island alone. Our household was without power for a few days, but we were fairly well off because of A.'s forward thinking. After Hurricane Irene (or maybe just before? My memory's shot) my industrious husband purchased a generator. So when the storm hit, and the power went out at about 6 p.m. on Monday, we were able to hook it up to the house and have electricity every three hours or so.  Cable and the internet didn't come back on for some time, and while I would have preferred different circumstances being responsible for "taking [me] off the grid" it was kind of nice to be silent and unplugged for a while.  Well, not exactly silent. Two kids trapped in a h

My Morning Reading

I wasn't going to post anything today (despite another posting dry spell) because I'm in the middle of mid-semester grading (papers, papers, and now exams to add to the pile) -- but Brooklyn Copeland has a poem on the New York Times site , and I thought I'd repost it for two reasons. First, I think this "Poetry Pairings" feature is really fucking cool, and thanks to Copeland, I've just discovered it. Second, I think her poem is really fucking cool, too.  Her bio, which serves as an introduction to the poem (I'm not sure how I feel about that , NYT) points out that she's one of the youngest contributors to the Poetry Magazine anthology, "The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine." Age really shouldn't play a part in whether we think a poem (or a poet) is remarkable or not, and I think that's what the bio sets us up for -- however, the poem is remarkable no matter the age of the poet. It's qu

Mid-Semester Murkiness

Wow. Quite a posting blackout, huh? I haven't really had anything to say for the past week -- I've been keeping my head down, trying to play catch-up where grading and class prep is concerned (and failing miserably). My mood, however, has been steadier during the past week, which is a really good thing. Less ambivalence, more genuine laughter. Over the years I've streamlined my courses so that I only grade what's absolutely necessary and I use a check/check minus system for the small assignments; and yet, frustratingly, I find myself faced -- every semester -- with a backlog of grading. And it's not for want of focus at work. I've been more focused than ever this semester. My friend and colleague A. jumped ship and went to another campus, so he's not around for me to pester when I feel like avoiding work -- and I'm not even sure I would have resorted to that old habit this semester, if he was around, simply because of the sheer desperation I f

Apathy, Anxiety, and Avoidance

It's Columbus Day, a holiday for the grade schools, so my non-duty day (Stuffolk's term for the day during the week we don't teach classes) will actually be filled with lots of duties, just not academic ones.  There are a lot of housekeeping details to take care of after our house was ransacked for the boy's 4th birthday party . . . which managed to be a good party for him -- really just one big play-date with his little friends, dressed in their superhero costumes, without a lot of structure but WITH a whole lot of chaos. Somehow, between the herculean efforts of my sister, her boyfriend, and my husband, we managed to get the house ready for the party even though, about two hours before the party was scheduled to begin, we had a major plumbing incident that covered most of the kitchen in debris from the garbage disposal and required dismantling part of the pipes in the basement.  I still don't know how A. managed to keep calm and cool and be persistent an

"Like us, they are traveling as far away from birth/as possible"

I don't have too much to say today. Hormones and my natural dispensation toward craziness have me looney and sad as a motherfu**er, and that doesn't really mix well with all of the work I have to do, both at the office and at home. My boy's 4th Birthday Super Hero Party (this weekend) might be the saddest 4th Birthday Super Hero Party of all time if I don't get my act together. In the meantime, between now and whenever I DO get my act together (and find time to write a real post), here's a really wonderful poem for you to read by my good friend A.P. up on the web site of Cider Press Review.

Totally Geeked Out in a Word-Nerd Kind of Way

So in an act of complete self-indulgence this summer, I purchased two broadsides with the intention of framing them and hanging them in a place of honor somewhere in our home.   And then I was broke.  And then I was still broke, but I found a coupon that gave me a significant discount off the framing, so I had them framed anyway, despite the broke-ness. I was able to pick them up this afternoon, and I'm going to show them off here, as the last post of September. Featuring a fragment from Book of Nightmares . A signed copy! And 25/30. I. am. such. a. dork. They are now hanging above the couch in our living room. My entire family has to share in my nerdy fan-girl side, too.

"Generally, working people need to be sturdy." (My Morning Reading)

First, two poems by Ish Klein. I'm not entirely sure what to think of her work as a whole, but I like this poem, "Fairy Tales from the Web," its quiet humor and especially its ending, and this audio poem , for which I really wish the Poetry Foundation had also provided text. While reading Ish Klein I discovered this lovely formal poem by William Meredith: "Five Accounts of a Monogamous Man." And then, surprise, surprise -- after finding that Contemporary Poetry Review piece I mentioned in my last post, I came across this article in The Guardian (via the NewPages blog) that talks also, albeit very briefly, about criticism (and its impending death). And now, I shall put away the laptop and go grade like a good girl. p.s. Oh! And one more: Have I mentioned my huge writer crush on Paul Lisicky? Here's Ocelot . This and three other short fiction pieces are available at Cedars . p.p.s. Damn. I keep being distracted . . . or rather, I keep looking fo

Interweb Show and Tell (It's Back!) and The Beginning of Some of Kind of Essay/Preachy Rambling

Well, there's this interview with Joan Houlihan in the Contemporary Poetry Review about criticism. Some highlights: ...I see my own criticism as that of an ideal reader if we think of that reader as someone who: 1. Loves the art of poetry itself, not just individual poems; 2. Is well-read (and not just in poetry); 3. Meets the poem on its own terms, that is, without prejudice as to its form, content, style and unfolding; 4. Enjoys being intellectually and emotionally challenged; 5. Is drawn to mystery but put off by obscurity; 6. Is thrilled by masterful writing of any kind, that is, by the way a line is constructed, how it moves, word choice, syntactical grace; 7. Likes to learn something new (in craft or content); 8. Wants to be at least as engaged in a poem as in a successful magic act... —there’s not enough vigorous weeding.  Ideally, the weeding should be done by the educated reader, the customer who buys and reads the books, and not the critics per se, but

Moving Away from the Manuscript

Welp, I spent this weekend going to the pediatric dentist and soccer games and then nursing a "vicious case of the sniffles" (A.'s charming and ü bersympathetic way of describing my head cold). Somewhere in there, though, I managed to do a tiny amount of laundry AND prepare the final onslaught of September submissions to magazines and book publishers.  I'm really hoping something good comes out of all of this submission-preparing, or -- when all of these magazines and book publishers start sending out their rejections around the same time -- I'm going to have a very depressing couple of months. Perhaps the advent of Vampire Baby will dull the feeling of rejection, though -- he/she seems to be amplifying all of my current emotions, however, so I fear that I may not take the rejection well and will end up burying my face in several tons of ice cream and/or candy featuring Red No. 40, at which point I'll blow up all Titanic-size and give myself a

Post-Revision Gloating and Some Good News (A Blog Post That Features Writing! Hurrah!)

Finally, as of this past weekend, I am finished revising, and proofreading, the fairy tale. No more numbers to report, unless it's to say that this week I sent out copies of the final version of my complete manuscript to four different first-book contests, and submitted individual poems to three literary journals. There is such relief in having come this far, and real satisfaction, too. It feels strange to be the only one of my writer-friends who has gone through the process of writing and working towards a book manuscript at least three separate times, since my early twenties, and have nothing to show for it. I never managed to finish a collection. I didn't even have a complete manuscript that failed the contest circuit and had to be squirreled away and mourned over and forgotten -- I always lost faith in my work before I could reach that point. To have managed to come this far: to have completed the work, to have the final product, and to actually still like it -- th

I Hoped to Write a Real Post, But Life Got in the Way

So, for now, more numbers. I am really trying to spend every spare moment in the morning on this poem -- ignoring email, Facebook, my treadmill, those dishes in the sink from last night, and the fact that I haven't made the girl's lunch yet -- in an attempt to do this right, and get this revision finished in the next two weeks.  Hopefully, once this is done, I can write some reflective posts for this blog that are a little more interesting and useful to a general reader. For now, here's the diary of my progress: RE: Fairy Tale Poem Stanzas revised Wednesday:1 Stanzas revised Thursday: 2 Stanzas revised Friday: 3 Stanzas revised Saturday-Sunday: 1 Stanzas revised Monday: 3 Stanzas revised Tuesday: 5 Stanzas revised Wednesday: 2 Stanzas revised Thursday: 3 Stanzas revised (total): 65 Stanzas that need revision: 26 (That's right. My counting skills -- you know, those skills my four year old is acquiring right now -- are not so good. There are 91 stanz

Another Abbreviated Post

RE: Fairy Tale Poem Stanzas revised Saturday: 1 Stanzas revised Sunday: 6 Stanzas revised Monday: 8 Stanzas revised (total): 44 Stanzas that need revision: 45 Submissions prepared this morning: 1 Loads of laundry folded and put away last night: A gazillion (I'm pretty sure that's accurate)

"Women who lie alone at midnight/ as the first furl of starlight/ pearls the moon with nacre"

RE: FAIRY TALE REVISION Stanzas revised Tuesday: 1 Stanzas revised Wednesday: 1 Stanzas revised Thursday: 2 Stanzas revised Friday: 1 Stanzas revised (total): 29 Stanzas that need revision: 60 RE: CLASS PREP Classes met with this week: 4 Course outlines completed: 4 (finally) Courses agenda/plans that need completion: 4 Course web pages that need updating: 3 Course homework assignments that need updating: 4 RE: RUNNING Days this week I've managed to run (however small): 3 (not great, but at least it's something) Miles run: 6.7 RE: STATE OF AFFAIRS Two children, still breathing, eating well, torturing each other and the dogs: CHECK Two dogs, still breathing, eating well, torturing each other and the children: CHECK One husband, fairly confident that he has a wife somewhere, but not certain because he doesn't see her much: CHECK Brain cells remaining: 1.5  (poor little soldiers) Also, I like this poem by Mary Ruefle.  It reminds me of Ginsbu

More Numbers & a Little Beginning-of-the-Semester Hysteria

RE: FAIRY TALE REVISION Stanzas revised yesterday: .5-1 (It was slow-going and I was a little sleep-deprived.) Stanzas revised this morning: 2-3 (I finished the stanza I was battling yesterday. I'm a little behind schedule, but at least I've been working, right?) Stanzas revised (total): 24 (roughly a quarter of the way through the poem) Stanzas that need revision: 65 I'm off to a slow start for the first day of the fall semester. Because Mondays are my non-duty days (no classes to teach), I'm trying not to panic too much. Key word is trying -- I don't know if I'm being very successful. But in an attempt to quell some of my anxiety, I'm going to get on the treadmill now and wear myself out (last week I managed to run Sunday-Friday -- not that my fleshy self is showing any evidence of the work I did . . .) and then take the kiddos to school and then go to my office and try to avoid the first-week-of-school chit chat that always results in putting

Mini-Post with Stats and Puppy Update

RE: FAIRY TALE REVISION Stanzas revised this morning: 1 (That's right, people. One measly stanza. Took me 2 1/2 hours and lots of breaks to get breakfast foods, various beverages, and stop the puppy from chewing on the children.) Stanzas revised (total): 21 Stanzas that need revision: 68 And, an update: dog sitter found! (And two houses down from me, too. I had no idea my neighbor was a pet sitter . . . Sometimes things work out so well it scares me. I'm definitely watching for pianos falling from the sky over the next few days . . .) RE: COURSE PREP Fall semester course outlines completed: 1 (Yup, you read that right! And why yes, the semester begins on Monday!) Fall semester course outlines that need completion: 3

More Stats, More Class Prep, More Obscenity! (Sorry)

RE: Fairy Tale Poem Revision Stanzas revised this morning: 2 (One of them was really ****ed up and needed lots of attention) Stanzas revised yesterday morning: 6 (because I didn't revise on Tuesday -- I prepared a submission instead) Stanzas revised (total): 17 Stanzas that need revision: 72 So there's some progress made.  Yesterday I spent a lot of time fighting with my scanner so that I could create handouts for my creative writing class; I wondered if I was being counter-productive around Hour Two of this battle, and then felt better when I realized that the time I spent reflecting on the pieces I was copying would serve me well in the classroom. It's not wasted time, it's just really slow class-prep. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.  I'm so far behind. I haven't found a puppy-sitter/dog walker yet, either, and it's getting down to the wire. Out of the two leads I received (I solicited our local pet store and my brot

Mini-Post with Stats

RE: Fairy Tale Poem Revision Stanzas revised this morning:  3 Stanzas revised (total): 9 Stanzas that need revision: 80 That's not daunting, is it?

Writing and Puppies and Migraines, Oh My!

Well. My family and I survived the week of the Leadership Academy conference, but it feels like we did so just barely. It ended on Friday at noon -- and Friday around 8 a.m., just as I was sitting down to begin our final day, a migraine hit. Those visual disturbances called "floaters" arrived first, so I scrounged up 2 Tylenol and 2 Advil from colleagues at my table, shoved them into my face, and hoped for the best. It turns out the best did happen, and I had a minor and manageable headache for about an hour, and then I felt better. It was a huge stroke of luck -- I was afraid I'd be laid up in my car, unable to drive anywhere, unable to get my kids, unable to finish the conference  . . . but luckily, none of that happened. Crisis averted. The Leadership Academy was long and required a lot of attention and energy, but I guess I can admit that it was not without some worth. I can't totally buy into every facet of what they preached, but if anything I came away fr