I'm on vacation this week. I may have mentioned that already. We're hanging close to home, but that doesn't mean we're not having one heck of a good time! It's only day 2 (day 1 if you don't count Sunday which I don't usually work on anyway, but I like to think of the weekends as part of the vacation so it seems longer--although I did work this past Saturday so I'm not counting it).
Right, so it's only day 2 and already we've:
Visited Historic Spots
Crispified Our Skin
Enjoyed some Wholesome & Heart-Healthy Foods
Oh, vacation... what wond'rous places will you lead us next?
Not only is it my vacation week... not only does the heat wave appear to be breaking... and not only did I find kale, kohlrabi, squash, parsley, new potatoes and local honey (from Capisic Street, just around the corner) at the farmer's market today...
So you may know that I'm getting ready to move. My ex-partner and current friend/roommate is leaving August 1, and S & I will be moving out September 1 (destination still uncertain; I might know Monday).
I decided after the last move (to the third floor, thank you) that if/when I move again I have to get rid of some of my crap. And now the time is upon me.
I'm starting with my queer books, which I will be donating to the Charlie Howard Memorial Library. I figure I can visit them any time I miss them. But I sat down to pull them off the shelves today, and then got very sad putting them in a box. Goodbye Leslie Feinberg, Mattilda, and Ann Bannon. Goodbye Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz and Julia Kristeva. Au revoir Jennifer Finney Boylan and Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Allison and Radclyffe Hall. It's difficult to see you go, even though you're going to a good home.
Next is going to be the old school books (a little easier--and they're headed for Goodwill). I'm going to keep one bookcase full of the rest of my favorites, mostly signed copies of books and a few others that are too dear. Just one bookcase. Honest.
Clothes, furniture, the hand drum, extra blankets, duplicate kitchen equipment and that which I've never used. All going. Need something? Give me a call. I probably have one that I'm trying to get rid of. Videos, DVDs, maybe the TV altogether.
I need to pare down, lighten up. I have placed too much importance on the external comforts of my life, and they are irrelevant, and cluttering up my place to boot. My goal: just the basics, ma'am.
Plus, my friends start to get scared when I mention moving. They make other plans. And who can blame them, when I've been guilty of owning fifteen boxes of books. I mean, really.
Hey, remember that referendum thing in 2005? And how there was this kickass organization called Maine Won't Discriminate that did all of this wicked cool work and basically made it so that queer people are safe in this state?
I'm back from MFA residency, very tired but super-jazzed to work. I'll be finishing up my linked short story collection this semester (if you get an idea for a title let me know); I have seven out of probably ten stories written. Some need the rough grain sandpaper, a couple need the fine. A few might require a table saw.
The residency was an incredible experience for the following reasons:
1. I'm working with the incredible Kelly Link this semester. That's right.
2. I had my credit card stolen, and got a phone call from my bank that someone was trying to use it from Switzerland. I appreciate the irony that my credit card number is now more widely traveled than I am. I'll let you know how that all turns out. PS--don't use your credit card on the internet.
3. I've decided never to wear underwear again. I went without for logistical reasons during the residency (white dress, only brought blue flowered underpants) and I don't think I'll ever go back. Well, 3/4 of the time.
We're on Day... um... I can't remember what day it is... of my graduate school residency. Not quite mid-residency, anyway. I'm trying to prevent Residency Burnout* by forgoing most of the evening, post-faculty-reading drinking adventures and getting enough sleep. It's not really working out. Since it happens so infrequently (just twice a year), there's always a push here to do more, hang out more, cram in more.
I had a little bit of a brain crash late this afternoon. My story went up for revision at today's workshop, and that went well, although there is always a certain amount of humility created by having my piece sliced up by well-meaning peers. Then there was a seminar ("Opening Gambits," with Elizabeth Searle, about creating solid, interesting openings to novels**), and then three readings by graduating students. I ate too much candy during the readings and then felt like crying while trying to figure out what I was going to do during the next three and a half hours. I was entirely unable to make a decision for twenty minutes. The crisis passed, though (of course) and I had an espresso and ate some steak and now I feel much better.
Onward! Residency Burnout be damned!
* The first symptom of which is forgetting what day it is.
** And I think I figured out in this seminar how I'm going to open my novel, which is quite exciting. I'm writing a novel! It's 3/4 done! And I know how it's going to begin! Who the fuck do I think I am?!
Much later today (Friday) I'm going to my fourth residency at the Stonecoast MFA program. It's ten days completely removed from the rest of my life--an intense period of workshops, classes, seminars, readings, and endless talk about writing, stories, the business of writing, plots, tricks, tips, gossip... I can't wait. Although, to be perfectly honest, one of the things I'm really looking forward to is ten days of wearing whatever clothes I want, because work dress codes suck.
My school chum Patrick is staying the night to save on hotel checkout time awkwardness (checkout is 11am, school doesn't start until 2), and we've been talking nonstop for about four hours about all kinds of things having to do with writing and editors and experience and our novels. A little warmup for the week.
So I'm not sure how much I'll be around during the next week or so, but I'll try to drop by and say hello. And I'll be back after next weekend. With photos. And probably a hangover.
I love people, but you have to admit that we haven't been entirely kind to the Earth. Today I came across this article (via kottke) in New Scientist that describes what the Earth will be like after we leave.
This stuff kind of gives me nightmares, but I really like to read it. Nothing like fueling the TEOTWAWKI (tay-oh-tuh-wah-kee) fantasies.
For another version of TEOTWAWKI, read Octavia Butler's Parable series. Nightmares. And much thought-provoking discussion. Seriously. A little too close to home, that one.
A good Sunday. Worked a few hours this morning, and then went out to the Winter Cache Farm in Cumberland. I worked for several hours planting potatoes (eyes to the sky, friends!) and then cabbages, and weeding. I'll be eating those cabbages and potatoes all winter. My reward for all that work was a big bag of garlic scapes and lettuce, a little pink on my cheeks, and dirty toes. I love it.
Garlic scapes are one of those special once-a-year treats (like fiddleheads, strawberries**, and tomatoes**) that you have to stuff yourself with when they're around, so you can remember them later. They're in season here right now, and I plotted last fall to plant some garlic just so we could have the scapes.
They are actually the garlic flower, but they grow in fantastical, curly shapes, and are a much more mild garlic flavor than the cloves (which are the root). Scapes sort of have the texture of a green bean minus the seeds and that string. Or like a thick, badass chive. I stir fry them or slice them thin for potato salad, and I had them pickled once and just about died of pleasure.
After that fun (could there be more? Yes, there could!) I got a surprise invitation to a pizza party at J & S's house (they are two of my favorite people ever), and found more of my favorite people there, plus a strawberry margarita with blue sugar on the glass. Sigh. Dreamy.
**I know there are strawberries and tomatoes available all year round. I just ignore them. I really do try to buy mostly locally and in-season. I froze a bunch of strawberries last summer and am just finishing them up now, and I'll buy canned tomatoes if I absolutely need them. I might can my own this year. I know I still eat all kinds of food that doesn't grow in this area (I heart avocados), but I have to draw the line somewhere, and strawberries and tomatoes are it.