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Showing posts from October, 2010

cures for a crappy week

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This week fried me. It wasn’t so bad, in the grand scheme of things, but I’m a sensitive soul. Lose one grading day to PMS-fueled internal drama and I’m done for. This morning I finally scooped myself out of the little hole I’d dug via a writing date with Kathy and Bronwyn. I worked on a scene from my cats-and-Malaysia novel (remember that? me neither) that felt like it had some meaning behind it. Recently it’s just been mechanical tweaking and even more recently it’s been not writing at all. There are so many movies and grant applications out there full of teenagers testifying to how writing saved their lives that one can get a tad hardened to the notion. Does writing feed people? Does it even fill potholes? No, but it makes the world a little sparkier, and then I’m capable of doing other things. I have not fed anyone or filled any potholes today. But I’m blogging and I feel like talking to people again. Tomorrow the world! I’ve also been meaning to recommend a play: Take Me Out a

t-mec in a box

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It’s been quite a week. Sometimes you just want to crawl in a box and hide. (Photos by AK. Styling by T-Mec.)

what not to google

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One superhero talent I would like is the Ability To Google Things I Should Google And Nothing Else. It’s not that flight and invisibility aren’t appealing, but they both come with certain inherent dangers (try crossing the street when invisible) and they’re not as suited to the information age. With the internet, you already are invisible, and you don’t really need to go anywhere. But I would like to be like AK or Jamie or Kathy—they’re always doing the kind of internet searches that make one smarter. They seek out new literary journals and information about breastfeeding practices in Afghanistan. In theory, I’m totally interested in these things, but I have a strong lazy, uncurious streak. Mention an amazing new writer in front of me and, even if I’m right next to my computer, I’ll just smile and nod and pretend like I’m already familiar with her. Speculate about what the weather might be like tomorrow and I’ll just speculate right back: “Oh, I’m thinking partly cloudy.” If the infor

long commute, short story

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Have I really not blogged for an entire week? Wait, I know what I was doing instead: sitting in traffic. Wednesday morning it took me 45 minutes just to get from Highland Park to Lincoln Heights. I could have walked it in that. (I know, I should have walked it, except that my destination was the Westside, not Lincoln Heights.) Friday night I got distracted on the way to the Hollywood Bowl, missed my left turn and lost 25 minutes backtracking. When I wasn’t sitting in traffic, I was sitting at Starbucks, grading student work. They have to submit weekly writing exercises based on Brian Kiteley’s book of prompts, The 3 a.m. Epiphany . And because I believe in making the writing process transparent at all levels (but really because I’m self-centered and think the prompts are fun), occasionally I’ll submit my own. Here’s what I came up with this week. And yes, it takes place in Starbucks. Exercise 79: Mistaken Identity: Write a fragment of a story in which the first person narrato

i believe the video game-playing children are our future

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Nick Bilton lives in the future. Or at least he wrote a book called I live in the future & here’s how it work s . AK and I went to a Q&A he did with the surprisingly funny Tess Vigeland at the KPCC studios yesterday morning. The new Mohn Broadcasting Center lives in the future too, painted colors that don’t contribute to the heat island effect (so said a plaque on the wall). Scones were served on bamboo plates. Not too many people showed. This may have been because it was 8:30 in the morning, but I was a little bit comforted to know that even “business forums”—not just literary events—have trouble drawing a crowd. Or maybe everyone will just download the podcast later. That’s what Nick Bilton would say. He’s a youngish guy, by which I mean about my age, which is increasingly less youngish. He wore a blazer and jeans and thick-rimmed glasses. “I know he lives in the future,” I whispered to AK as we walked in, “but he looks like he lives in Brooklyn.” When he said, later, t

i don’t know whether the chicken or the egg came first, but somewhere in there, there was a rooster

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Below is a conversation I had, twice, with a former roommate. Matt: You’re a vegetarian, right? Me [making eggs in the kitchen]: Technically I’m a pescatarian. I eat fish, but not beef or poultry or anything. Matt: Then I guess whether or not you eat eggs depends where you stand on abortion. Like, when does life begin? You’re eating a fetal chicken. Both times, I explained the miracle of life: An egg has to be fertilized before it can turn into a chicken. I wasn’t eating fetal chicken. I was eating the equivalent of a chicken’s period. (Sorry, I hope you’re not eating right now.) Work Cathy and I were discussing how much or little science education we received in elementary school. I remembered building a rock collection in kindergarten and weighing guinea pigs with little metric scales in Mrs. Graham’s sixth grade class. I also remembered how, in tenth grade biology, Mr. K wanted to start the year off with sex ed, even though our textbook wouldn’t get to “family life” unt

what i read in september

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I’m teaching again, which I love, but I already miss recreational reading. Poor Kelly Link—I’m making my way through Pretty Monsters ever so slowly, even though her stories are deliciously weird, like a tweak of Aimee Bender ’s tweak of reality. Anyway, here’s what I read last month, back before 15 new students entered my life: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: There is a tightly written story of two sisters and their competing histories contained within the many pages of this sweeping historical epic. I took the former for somewhat superficial (Pearl is the smart sister, May is the pretty one, been there, read that) until the final chapters, when it becomes clear that we've been reading Pearl's very subjective take on her family's journey, and that See's characterizations are entirely strategic. See's impressive strengths as a plotter and researcher are hindered a bit by her overly expository language. Even as I geeked out on the many, many factoids she provided abo

ferdini's latest attempt

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I was feeling all Zen after yoga yesterday because during shavasana I conjured up a lovely visualization of leaping from an airplane. Nothing in me wants to do that in real life, but in my head it was like a movie: My parachute was fluttering, but there was no sound except for pretty music, and everyone I loved was waiting for me on the ground. This had to do with ending therapy (till next time) and embarking on new adventures and stuff. I wanted to ride that feeling straight to bed, pausing only for the leftover half of AK’s burrito from Señor Fish and leftover espresso brownies from Christine, but Team Gato was having none of it. Ferdinand was mysteriously MIA, which is not uncommon after dinner, but very rare when he hasn’t eaten. “It is Thursday night,” AK mused. “Do you think he has a gig? Thursday’s a big party night.” We talk a lot about how Ferdinand is a DJ. He’s cool like that, although in real life, loud noises frighten him, so he’d be a very mellow DJ.