about bliss

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

family circle

I love impromptu weeknight visits.

And I love living close to family. While a Great Lake separates me from my parents, brother's family, and most of my extended family of origin, Gregg's parents live about 8 miles away, and his sisters (and their families) live within an hour and a half.

Tonight Gregg and I headed out after dinner to bring his parents a few pumpkin pecan bars I baked on Sunday. We chatted for an hour and a half, and I listened to family stories I'd never heard before. We also shared updates on our extended family, and discussed future family gatherings. This time together was just what I needed: heart warming, soul expanding.

Monday, November 11, 2013


fleecy blankets
wool socks
hoods and hats
layers and layers
mugs of tea
and central heat:
shelter. safety. warmth.

This morning I checked the temperature—28 degrees—and looked at the snow flakes swirling outside. I layered on two pairs of pants, wool socks and tennis shoes, tank, long sleeve tee, sweatshirt, and light down coat. I pulled on a hat and gloves, and wrapped a scarf around my neck. I plugged into my favorite Monday podcast, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and walked down the leaf and snow strewn sidewalks.

The wind persisted, but after 10 minutes I was mostly all warm, as usual. As I walked along Lake Michigan, the wind swept off of the water, and my upper thighs and butt were chilled. Against my better judgment, I didn't turn around, but kept walking to the 1.5 mile marker. I turned around to head home, looking for a respite from the wind biting my legs. If anything, the wind was stronger, colder. The cold stayed contained to my upper legs and butt, but it didn't dissipate. I interspersed running with walking. I wondered who I could call to come pick me up, but everyone I know was at work, out of town, or in class. Just one mile to go.

I'm always happy to reach home after a walk on a cold day, but today I was beyond relieved. Home, to strip off my layers on my upper body, where I had been toasty warm. Home, to put on more layers on my cold lower body. To warm up. The unprecedented lingering cold in my legs and butt worried me, so I took my body temperature and turned to the Mayo clinic website to make sure I wasn't in trouble.

My body temp was 95.8 when I first took it. I've never seen it that low. I wrapped myself in another blanket and brewed tea. My temperature climbed .4 degrees with each successive read in the next 15 minutes, so I knew I would be okay, but I was mad at my stupidity. My legs were still cold. I drank tea, ate a pumpkin bar to fuel my inner fire. I waited until my legs felt less chilled to shower under warm water.

My muscles are sore and I'm much sleepier than on a usual Monday, which I chalk up to my exertion and my recovery.

Oh, and that 28 degrees? I neglected (like the rookie I'm not) to check the windchill: 16 degrees.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I waited a long time to seriously date anyone, which meant I waited a long time to marry. Gregg and I both thought we might be single for the rest of our lives as we faced our mid-late thirties...alone. 

And then we met in 2009 and now we're married.

Ruby Beach, Washington, August 2012
I love many of Gregg's traits and habits and quirks, but today I'm grateful that he's truly my partner. For example, today we had a thoughtful conversation about sexual objectification and the media, after which we chatted about football. We raked and hauled leaves together, and Gregg helped me make dinner. He rearranged the bathroom shelves, and I baked dessert. He watched football; I watched Dirty Dancing.

We've approached dividing our household tasks both organically and thoughtfully. Gregg cleans the bathroom; I wash the sheets. We take turns buying groceries. I cook most of our meals except for Wednesday nights when Gregg mans the stove. We help each other when the unfolded laundry pile threatens to topple off of the dresser, or the recycling overflows the bin. 

And sometimes, we make new guidelines: whoever is last out of bed has to make the bed. 

“Knowing love or the hope of knowing love is the anchor that keeps us from falling into that sea of despair.” ― bell hooksAll About Love: New Visions

Saturday, November 09, 2013

long sweaters

with long sleeves and maybe pockets, that skim my body, cover my backside, and allow for wrapping and snuggling and layering over tanks and tees and thin sweaters.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

singer-songwriter soundtrack

Lately, I've been listening to Brett Dennen's latest album, Smoke and Mirrors. I first heard "Wild Child" on XM radio, and added the entire album to my Spotify account. Mellow, upbeat, thoughtful, and soulful, perfect for these short cool days that slip between winter gloom and holiday cheer. "Wild Child" speaks to my desire to dance freely and love dearly:

"I am a wild child, yes I am
I love the country and I
I wanna run free and I
Don't wanna live up to anyone's plan
I wanna feel the good vibes and I
Wanna feel the sunshine with you,
By my side

I am, I am, I am, I am
I am a wild child, momma
You can, you can, you can, you can
You can hold me tight if you wanna
If you wanna hold me tonight

Take me where the music's playin'
Get me on the dancefloor
Pull me a little closer
I am a wild child, yes I am
I wanna feel the good vibes and I
Wanna feel the sunshine with you,
By my side"

I love to follow up this song with the peppy, "When We Were Young." The exhortations to "remember when we were young" help ease the anxiety of my looming 40th birthday. 

I'm grateful for new tunes and the mood infusion they bring.  

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Today I'm grateful for a new full box of Puffs ultra soft and ultra strong, as I sniffle all day long.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Tonight I'm grateful for new tires with deep treads that whisk away the water on dark, rain-slicked highways in the late evening. And for my husband, who ferried us home from an author event 40 miles from home (more on the event tomorrow!).

Monday, November 04, 2013


Snuffley (sniffle + stuffy).


My first semester cold has arrived.

And I'm thankful. I made it 10 weeks into the semester before succumbing to the germ stew that is a small commuter college campus.

Usually, I'm stricken by week 5. Last year, I was heading into my second cold about this time of year. I had a few doozies last year, but then again last Fall was a stressful blend of work responsibilities (heavy committee service load and tenure file time) and personal challenges (a family member's serious illness).

In contrast, this Fall is fantastic.

And so I drink tea, rest, sniffle and snuffle, and give thanks.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

fall back day

Trying to find a silver lining in the ritual of falling back to standard time, I mused to Gregg that we only have a month and half of short days before the Winter Solstice and the days start lengthening again.

Silver linings, I tell you.

Fall Back day worked its magic today—time seemed magnified between awakening to the Sunday puzzle on NPR to settling in with blankets and slippers. (this is likely due to our currently pet-free, child-free home).

mini peach pie

Today I managed to read about 20 rough drafts of annotated bibliographies, catch up on my reading for Monday and Tuesday classes, bake pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and a mini peach pie, read an entire section of the New York Times, walk four miles, cook a quick but tasty dinner, and talk to my mom without feeling the pinch of limited time. It helped tremendously that Gregg ran the errands (thanks, DH!).

Now I'm sleepy and snuffly (do not settle in, rhinovirus!), ready to eat pie and drink tea, curl up with a fun book and be sleeping by 10:30.

More than a silver lining: a full yet relaxing day. Grateful.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

spontaneous outings

Every so often, Gregg and I will head out in the morning with one destination in mind and enjoy an entire day of exploration. Some days, the many stops (meals, shopping, other curiosities) and miles take a toll, and by the end of the day we arrive home tinged with crankiness. Even then, I'm thankful for our mutual sense of adventure and willingness to allow the day to unfurl as we go.

Today we headed out for breakfast, and succeeded in stocking up on household goods (the ever sexy 18 pack of toilet paper), revamping our winter wardrobes (thank you, TJMaxx!), and lingering over afternoon coffee in a funky little cafe along the river. We walked along a developed riverside, reading the signs for charter fishing companies that decorate the railings even as the boats are tucked away under shrink wrap and canvas.

Today we mused that such excursions will soon be a memory; our much anticipated puppy is due to come home to us in January, expanding our family and changing our lives.

Our last stop of the day: a big box pet store to survey crates and leashes and assorted canine sundries.

We're almost ready for the change.

Friday, November 01, 2013


November 1st: grey, chilly, and rainy.

I can smell winter in the damp air, feel it creep into the dark, shorter days.

November is the cruelest month (Sorry, T.S. Eliot).

To counteract the impending gloom and to spread harvest fest/pie day/thanksgiving cheer all month long, I plan on sharing a gratitude journal everyday.

Today, I'm grateful for the thick flannel sheets that create a warm nest during the winter. I love the soft fuzzy fabric and the pale pink hue.

Goodnight, friends.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 blogs and then some

Happy Halloween!

And happy last day of Blogtober!

It looks like neither Gregg nor I are going to lose our bet, which makes me happier than a bottle of Rombauer Zinfandel and a block of 10 year aged cheddar (well, almost).

Before we began Blogtober, I filled two journal pages with lists of potential blog topics for those days or nights of writer's block. I only referred to the list once, and then I was pleased to see that I had already written about several of the topics on my list.

I wrote many more haikus than I planned (my default on days when time and/or words escaped me), but I also wrote a few posts I'm particularly proud of, and which garnered some attention (pinktober, tenure, both over at Protagonista).

As I type my way across the finish line, I'm happy to say that I have more topics to write about, and now that I'm in the daily writing habit, I don't want to stop. Several years I blogged every day in November about gratitude, and I intend to take up the practice again this year.

A preview: I'm grateful to Blogtober for the jumpstart to my writing practice, which had all but disappeared. I'm grateful for these digital homes that provide me space to share my thoughts and an audience to read my words.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

haiku: fall semester, midterm.

fingerless gloves. chai.
giant stack of midterm grading.
rubrics and red pens.

Monday, October 28, 2013

favorite places: northwestern michigan edition

When I was in high school, my 9th grade health class was assigned a marriage project. We were paired with an opposite-sex classmate, and we had to collaborate on a project, in which we would plan our wedding and post-nuptial life together.

As a Women's Studies prof, I now seriously question this assignment and all of the problematic assumptions it relies upon, namely the heteronormative coupling evolving into marriage. At the time, though, I desperately hoped that I would be paired with my crush. I wasn't. I now wonder what classmates felt alienated by this project, which was likely designed to teach us that weddings are expensive and married life challenging.

I distinctly remember deciding that my husband and I would live in Traverse City, Michigan, because it was the best place I knew. At the age of 14, I had traveled to a handful of states outside of my native Michigan, and most of my travel was to Northwest Michigan, in the area surrounding our family hunting cabin in a tiny hamlet close to Traverse City.

While I've now traveled more extensively, and have even ventured outside of the country on one momentous occasion (Paris, France), I still count Traverse City, Michigan at the top of my list of places to live.

latte from Morsels
As I've evolved since I was 14, so too has Traverse City. Big box store sprawl lines the highway leading into town, and chain restaurants frame the southwest side of the city. And yet, I am still blown away every time I crest the hill on M-37 and see Grand Traverse Bay glittering in the distance. I feel the history and untold stories as I twirl pasta at Trattoria Stella, located in the former Traverse City State Hospital. I still marvel at the Caribbean shades of blue and green of the water as I drive around the bay, heading to L. Mawby sparkling wine vineyard.

late autumn grapevines at Black Star Farms

Regularly noted for being a foodie city and food, wine, and beer lovers destination, Traverse City also appeals to my literary side, with their annual National Writers Series. Two independent bookstores grace Front Street, and the city encourages reading through a local read program. In the summer, the TC Film Festival attracts filmmakers and viewers from around the world.

And the twin peninsulas, Leelanau and Old Mission, offer breathtaking vistas, undeveloped orchard and vineyards, and local eateries.

TC's not without its faults—food, from farmers' market to local wines and artistic lattes all cost more than comparable towns in Wisconsin (I use Madison for comparison). And the population is overwhelmingly white (94.4% according to the 2010 US Census).

Yesterday, after leaving TC with my mom and picking up Gregg at the hunting cabin, I drove back to the city to show Gregg a few sights, both natural, gustatory, and cultural. Will this part of my marriage project, unlike the other elements from that long-ago assignment

come true? Will we someday live, work, and love in TC? Or, will TC always be that ideal place to visit and imagine how life would be transformed by place and culture?

Sunday, October 27, 2013


family bonding time
driving around Great Lakes states
I am home.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

daily bliss: road trippin' with my hubby

Gregg and I are spending a weekend in northern lower Michigan (G with the guys at the hunting cabin, me with my Mom in TC).

G and I have logged many miles together over the last few years, and I always enjoy a chance to chat, car dance, and be silly with him in the car.

Here are a few photos from our 7+ hour trip today.

At the Michigan Welcome Center in Menomonie, MI.

Viewing the Mighty Mac from the North.


Up close and personal on the Mighty Mac, heading South! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

taking up the habit

My husband Gregg blogged about habits a few days ago, and included research that suggests that it takes 21 days to form habits. Every semester, I vow to maintain my daily exercise, daily writing, and daily reading. Usually, at a certain time around midterm (now!), I realize how fall I've fallen short.

While my walks have shortened with the shifting daylight hours, my writing has moved from my journal to my blogs, and my reading doesn't always include non-work texts, I have developed a yoga habit.

Better yet, it's a morning ritual.

This Summer, I downloaded the yoga studio app, and have been enjoying it ever since. The 30 studio classes vary in time and intensity, the app syncs with my calendar so I can track my classes, and I even earn rewards by completing classes! (the best reward was a $50 gift to Naked Wines, an innovative "customer supported company" funding and promoting small winemakers). My only quibble with the app is the lack of a "namaste" at the end of each class, but I simply add my own.

In September, I would take my mat and block and iPad outside and practice on the deck. Now that it's freezing at night, I've unfurled my mat in our guest room, and after waking up and drinking water, I queue up a class and begin. I generally practice 15 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I love stretching awake to start the day before breakfast. Centered, calm, limber, and alert, I move to the kitchen and begin the next morning ritual: preparing oatmeal and cafe au lait (another post for another day!).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


starbucks drive through line:
first snowflakes hit my windshield
latte melts the cold

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


i walk leafy sidewalks
to the wetland meadow:
two deer leap, stand, stare.

Monday, October 21, 2013

the pretty: floral edition

A few of my favorite blooms from our honeymoon last summer to brighten this chilly grey Monday.

Lavender...Sequim, WA
Rose...9 Cranes Inn, Seattle, WA
Mixed Bouquet...Seattle Public Market, Seattle, WA

Saturday, October 19, 2013

madison market morning

A bonus to a attending an overnight work-related conference in Madison, Wisconsin: shopping at the Saturday Farmers' Market around the square. 

This morning I waited for the sun to start waking up the world before walking 3/4 of a mile down State street to the square. State street, so loud and raucous in the wee hours of the morning, was empty and quiet. Michelangelo's was the first local coffee shop I found open. The espresso miel was worth the long walk. I sipped my coffee and walked around the square, as vendors tipped root veggies into waiting bins. A smattering of shoppers pulled carts and survey stacks of peppers. I stopped outside of Graze, one of my favorite restaurants, for a chocolate croissant. Flaky, crisp outside gave way to buttery inside layers, and bittersweet chocolate batons. 

I sat on a bench to eat and drink, but brrr! The previous night had been cold! Soon I was up and walking around, while admiring the capitol highlighted by morning sun.

After walking around one and a half times, I hauled my foodie treasures back to my hotel, packed my trunk full of goodies and bags, and attended more conference events before heading home.

Gregg eagerly unpacked my bags to find: 1 pound of garlic, a small bag of potatoes, a medium bag of sweet potatoes, a bunch of assorted carrots, two varieties of kale, "cheddar" cauliflower, broccoli, golden and chioggia beets, peppers sweet and hot, small brussels sprouts, spinach, pepper jam, and three kinds of artisan bread. Delicious local goodness! 

Friday, October 18, 2013


college guys tote pumpkins
trendy girls wear tan ugg boots
walking down state street

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Florence flew into our backyard in June. She survived a hailstorm, rain, wind, searing heat. Now, we'll see how she manages in the snow.

A friend quipped that we should put some kind of machine next to Florence (I did stick a pin-wheel next to her, but I'm not sure that counts as a machine) as a nod to the eccentric band Florence and the Machine (who I also love).

from Wikimedia Commons

I'd like to go to Florence, Italy and see Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus." Our Florence came not from a seashell but from Lowe's Home Improvement store.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"tell the ones that need to know—we are headed north": or, my love for the Avett Brothers

Pack a change of clothes
and a pillow for the road
for when we drift off to sleep.
~"Open Ended Life"

So begins "Open Ended Life," the first song on the Avett Brothers latest album, Magpie and the Dandelion, released yesterday. The song ends with a rollicking, feel-good fiddle melody accompanied by cheery instrumentals. 

I have loved the lyrical beauty, indie-folk-bluegrass music of the Avett Brothers from the moment I first heard "I and Love and You." 

This past summer, Gregg and I saw the Avett brothers in concert with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and the Violent Femmes: an epic Summerfest amphitheater show. 

As the festival fireworks popped in the distance outside of the stadium, the Avett Brothers launched into "I and Love and You," pausing mid-song for the finale of fireworks, a fountain of sparkle and smoke. After the last glimmer, the band resumed the song, and my heart filled with aching, transient beauty. 

I've listened to the new album four times and feel the same sense of bittersweet beauty, one of my favorite emotions. 

Bring your love to me
and I'll hold it like a dandelion. 
~"Bring Your Love to Me"

Monday, October 14, 2013

toasty interiors

Sixty-three degrees at 7:30 am.

Five degrees make such a difference, don't they? I turned the heat on and slid the kitchen window closed, both for the first time since early summer.

I rejoiced after reading that the maintenance staff had fired up the boilers at work. My office is notoriously chilly during the non-heater times of the year, and the last two weeks have been shivery. I'd taken to wrapping up in a silk pashmina, fleece jacket, and a light quilt. Hello, eccentricity! Now my office should be warm enough to sit and work without alarming students with my patchwork layers.

While I prefer fresh air and summer's natural heat, I also love burrowing into a warm room, tucked into a soft blanket, and sipping a mug of tea.

I'm a creature of fire rather than ice, and I'm ever thankful for the modern technology that provides warmth even as temperatures dip.

The evenings fall sooner, and the blues and a familiar shade of grey descend more easily. I seek out patches of sunshine and trees dipped in gold and crimson before surrendering to barren branches and frosty forests. And then, I kindle my own fires, paint my own rainbow.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

family rituals: or, how to celebrate decorative gourd season

Building new rituals is one of the most rewarding elements of creating our family. Every October, Gregg and I drive fifteen minutes out in the country to our favorite pumpkin patch some sunny Saturday or Sunday. We stroll through the pumpkin-filled fields, turning over sunny orbs in search of the perfect gourd: deep color, few blemishes, and no more than one flat side. A decent stem and a flat bottom help, too.

Today we filled the wagon with pumpkins big and small, flat and round, white and orange. We chatted with friends out in the field, and watched kids smile and run down the dirt tracks between fields. We shivered and sweat at the combination of cool, damp fields and brilliant sunshine.

Gregg loaded the dirty pumpkins in the trunk and back seat of the car, and I later arranged them on our porch. Bring on the harvest feasts and trick-or-treaters!

(for adults not bothered by cussing, read Colin Nissan's classic essay, "It's Decorative Gourd Season, &^$%^&$^#%")

Saturday, October 12, 2013


rainy saturday
grandpa watches wolverines
almost win, then lose.

Friday, October 11, 2013

coffee maker crisis!

Perhaps the apex of my morning ritual, after yoga, is drinking the first cup of coffee of the day. I steam and froth milk on the stovetop while my automatic drip pot brews two cups of magic elixir.

This morning, alas, the coffee maker lid WOULD NOT OPEN. I kept pressing on the "open" release tab to no avail. In desperation, I pried the lid open with a butter knife, added my water and coffee grounds and clicked the lid closed. As the coffee brewed, I realized that once again, the lid WOULD NOT OPEN.

After drinking said coffee and eating breakfast, I pried the lid open again to suss out the problem. One part of the interior latch was stuck in the closed position. I pressed the exterior open latch. Stuck. I pressed the interior latch and discovered, A-HA, that I could leave it in the open position.

My victory was fleeting, because now the lid wouldn't stay down and closed. I needed something to hold the lid taut. A rubber band didn't work, but the lid to my small dutch oven (enameled cast iron) worked amazingly well. I brewed another pot this afternoon with my re-engineered lid, and the coffee was hot, dark, and strong as always. Success!

My husband jokes that I should continue using this coffeemaker/heavy lid system into the foreseeable future.

I want to research coffeemakers and find a new one with a functional lid and superior brewing capabilities.

Perhaps I should hipster it and only craft pour-overs. Eschew modern technology and go french press or chemex. What about a vintage percolator? Will I have the patience to perfect a hand-crafted brew every morning? Doubtful. All I know is that there will be coffee in my kitchen tomorrow, and for that I'm grateful to my ingenuity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

thursday night soul food

I drive home after my last class of the week, deciding: to walk in warm sunshine or snuggle on the couch with Elizabeth Gilbert's novel The Signature of All Things

I unpack my lunch bag, unzip my boots. Hunger rumbles. I slice a pear, chunk cheese, add a handful of pretzels to my favorite snack plate. I heat milk and brew coffee. Snack time, couch time, and novel time.


Gregg and I drive South, on our way to my favorite restaurant. The sun dips below the horizon and the grass dews. Fog rises where sky and ground meet. The landscape softens. The bittersweet hour.

In the restaurant, we eat the last Caprese salad of the Summer, dragging meaty slices of fruit through a puddle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Voices rise and fall around us as fellow diners come, and more frequently, leave. We fold slices of Neapolitan pizza and eat, tomato sauce dribbling on our plates. I tuck sprigs of unruly arugula between crust and cheese and sigh. We stir rocks of raw sugar into espresso and cappuccino, plan weekend getaways.


I watch for red lights ahead as the fog hovers, lowers, and lifts. Back home, we greet the moon and wonder if Orion dances through our skies yet. If not, then soon.

Inside, and I'm back to fleece, and words, tapping keys and sipping water, soul and body nourished.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

haiku: candy corn

yellow orange and white
sweet seasonal addiction
i can't eat just one

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

perfect playlists: songza

I minored in music (and German) in college.

I played the violin.

I haven't played seriously in years.

I've always loved music, with my tastes leaning toward singer-songwriter, indie-ish, with a touch of folk, bluegrass, classical, opera, top 40, college radio, and country. Throw in some classic rock (when did Journey become classic rock? Really?), an occasional opera, and dance tunes...okay, I like many genres.

And I listen to music all throughout my work day, when I'm not teaching or in a meeting. I've used Pandora, and subscribe to Spotify. Thanks to Spotify, I don't have to unpack the (many) boxes of CD's still in the basement after our last move.

In class, a student mentioned Songza, another internet streaming service. Songza's niche: playlists curated by experts. A few weeks ago I experimented with the site, and have been since listening (obsessively, constantly). Songza allows listeners to browse by activity (cooking dinner, getting lucky, and shopping at a vintage store, to name a few); mood (angsty, lush, nocturnal); genre; decades; culture; or something called "Record Store Clerk." The playlists have descriptive names; my favorites include "Harvest Moon," "Literate Indie," "Americana Ladies," and "Farm to Table."

I appreciate how songs "fit" together within a playlist, and appreciate the obscure bands and songs alongside more familiar tunes. Sometimes Pandora's artist-based stations leave me wishing for more variety or fewer popular songs. And I love Spotify, but I don't always make time to curate my own playlists. Songza's visual ads don't disrupt the music, a definite bonus compared to Pandora (for free subscriptions).

Songza allows me to browse the musical buffet and sample various playlists and genres on a whim—delicious food for my ears and soul.

Monday, October 07, 2013

manic mondays: or, what happens after not-so-blue sundays

The downside of the weekend relaxedness I waxed poetic over yesterday is the increased chaos of Mondays. Cue the Bangles, please:

I try to extend weekend chill into Monday. I wake up at a reasonable hour. I practice 15 minutes of gentle yoga. I eat oatmeal and drink cafe au lait, and orange juice. I check email. I work for about an hour and a half, grading, reading, class prepping.

I walk, and take in such soul-restoring vistas:

As I walk, I listen to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" and laugh out loud at the limerick challenge and the far-fetched tales, one of which is always true. 

I then get ready for work, eat lunch, and head to campus, where I make copies, review prep notes, chat with colleagues, and arrive in class. 

My class is high energy. It's large for a discussion-based, writing-intensive class (36 students). We learn interesting concepts (feminism, patriarchy, intersectionality, heteronormativity) via engaging content (Miley Cyrus, music videos, popular romance fiction, vintage ads). 

I love this class, but it's a marked difference from my low-key, mostly introverted, quiet weekend. It jars me back to faux-extrovertedness. Once again, I'm slammed with the frenetic rhythm of the work week and the competing external demands on my time (answer my question! can you tell me what we're doing two weeks from now? here's a new task you need to complete on a project you thought you'd already finished! can you lead this seminar that's not really related to your field? this form is due. can I have an extension? can you travel across the state for a short meeting?) and more internal demands (read, grade, prepare, write, search for engaging content, adapt old assignments, create new ones, keep professionally connected). 

On Mondays, these demands seem like an unstoppable flood, and I feel ill-prepared to even throw a few sandbags at the encroaching waters. 

By Monday night, after teaching my evening class (smaller, more skills-based, less rambunctious), and after cooking dinner, I start to feel that once again I may find a way to accomplish the important tasks during the week. I may only miss a few emails (sorry!) and may need to lower my expectations for myself, but there's a path. I will not be defeated by and on Monday. 

So, readers, I'm curious. How do you ease the transition into Monday? Do you accept that it will be manic and blue? Do you trick yourself into Monday awesomeness? Having made progress shifting my weekend emotions, I'm eager to learn how to improve Monday. 

I know how to best end the day: hot tea, soothing music, fluffy pillows, and a delectable novel. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

weekend revisions: or, how to minimize the sunday blues

During my teaching year, I typically fall into Sunday blues, often long before Sunday. Come Thursday, my last day of teaching for the week, I survey what my friends and I have come to call "The Giant Stack of Grading," and plot out my grading for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I review my syllabi for the upcoming week, and figure out pages to read, assignments and/or rubrics to create, and lessons to prepare for. 

Now's probably the time to admit that I plan most of my classes in the day or days before a class session. I outline the broader topic when I complete my syllabi, but the magical tidbits (videos, photos, handouts, discussion questions) happen just-in-time. 

In the past, I would then chart out my chores: doing laundry, changing the bed sheets, and grocery shopping as the the primary tasks I relegated to the weekend. 

Then, Gregg and I would review our social plans, whether a low-key writing session at a coffee shop, or a party with friends. 

There was never enough time, and I would feel anxious already on Thursday before I even started working, choring, and playing. 

There's still not enough time, but I've made some minor tweaks that are helping me avoid the worst of the blues and to enjoy some time off. 

Perhaps most importantly, I've shifted the chores to non-weekend days. I thank my sister-in-law K for this idea. I now do laundry on Wednesdays, change the bed sheets on Fridays, and Gregg and I grocery shop throughout the week. While we visit the farmers' market every Saturday morning during the season and occasionally run to the store on the weekend, I don't feel pressured to shop for the whole week.  

I try to grade as much as possible of Fridays, unless I have a meeting or another engagement. I accept the fact that I will very rarely have all the grading done, but know that I will make progress as I can. For sets of major papers, I chart a schedule for myself and try my best to meet it. When I don't, I take solace in this idea: "So the work is to recognize on Friday (and on Saturday and Sunday) that what we are hoping to achieve this weekend is most likely not what we are actually going to get done. It's a game plan, an outline, but not a definitive fact" (Barth). As Diane Barth notes, we create an image of how our weekend will evolve, but chances are that it will evolve differently than we plan. 

And that's okay. 

What's most important on Saturday and Sunday? Time to laugh with my husband. Cooking and baking. Reading at least one whole section of the Sunday New York Times. Waking up to the Sunday Puzzle on WPR. Walking along Lake Michigan. Talking, visiting, or otherwise communicating with family and friends. Feeding my soul, tending my relationships, and restoring myself so I'm a better teacher during the week to come. 

*check out Diane Barth's article, "What Makes Sunday Nights So Hard?" at PsychologyToday.com. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013


rain slicked roadways
deserted farmers' market
harbingers of fall

Thursday, October 03, 2013

what I'm reading

For Class:

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Carr explores a wide-ranging history of technological advancement and neuroscience, showing how our minds (and lives) adapt to each new invention.

My English Composition class theme this semester is technology, so we're reading and writing about many facets of contemporary technologies. Carr's book is our shared class read.

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Skloot's masterful work of creative non-fiction explores Henrietta Lacks, the woman behind the historic HeLa cells, her surviving family, biomedical ethics, and Skloot's own experience following this story.

This is the third text my Multicultural American Literature class is reading; I've structured the class to cover a range of genres. My class isn't sold on the genre yet, but we have hundreds of pages to read.

For Fun:

I finished reading Toni Morrison's novella Home last week. As always, I'm struck by Morrison's lyrical prose and bittersweet storytelling.

And, waiting to be cracked open, is Jhumpa Lahiri's newest novel, The Lowland. I love Lahiri's storytelling--lush, evocative, and compelling.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

impressionistic landscapes

The evenings of magnificent sunsets have arrived. Light-dappled, color-drenched skies are softened by the haziness of warm, sunny days meeting cool crisp nights. 

Last week, Gregg and I drove out in the country to a vintage yard sale, and watched the sun glow through pastel skies. It was hard to focus on the center line of the lonely roads as the sky beckoned over silos, barns, and grazing dairy cows. The hilly, windy roads and occasional jumbo tractor demanded my attention, but I wanted to leap into the most beautiful sky I've ever seen. 

Tonight when I left work, I caught a glimpse of magic to the west, and snapped this photo with my phone. The contrast of dark trees and pastel sky, the balance of dark and light, the days growing shorter and the nights colder.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Happy Blogtober!

“We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance.

We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in. 

We should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.” 
― Julia CameronThe Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

I've joked recently that I'm a non-practicing writer. 

Humor as a mask for pain? Yep. 

It's been far too long since I've immersed myself in any sustained writing project, whether creative or academic (or both–I'm still trying to find a way to bring creative expression to literary criticism and pedagogical research). I miss the feeling of such deep writing, my brain zinging between thoughts and feelings, searching for a precise word to nail an idea. The state of creative flow, in which time both expands and contracts as I follow the trail of ideas wherever it leads, fueled by tea and the right soundtrack. The spirituality and sensuality that Julia Cameron alludes to in the quote above. Writing is more than good for my soul. 

On nights when sleep eludes me, I tally up the years I've lived, ponder how many years I have left, and consider how I most want to spend my time. And the answer is always a blend of being creative and spending time with loved ones. 

I want to create, whether a towering 4 layer cake that provides sweetness, a scrapbook of memories, or, most significantly, a written record of my thoughts and feelings, imaginings and interpretations. Poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction. Blogs. 

Gregg and I made a pact to turn October into Blogtober, a month in which we each write one blog post. Every day. 31 days. If one of us fails to post, we owe the other person a bottle of Rombauer Zinfandel (a favorite special occasion wine) and a block of 10 year aged cheddar. Hopefully neither of us will fail and we can each kick in half of the cost of the prize to toast ourselves and our re-emerging writers on November 1. 

I'll be posting both here and on my other blog, Protagonista: Writing a Professional Life. I hope you'll join me in celebrating Blogtober by reading, commenting, creating your own blog! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

daily bliss: simple summer lunch: chickpea and kale tacos

I love preparing lunch during the summer. When hunger calls, I survey the farm-fresh vegetables in the crisper drawer,  leftovers in little glass bowls, Wisconsin cheeses in the fridge door. I stare into the pantry at grains and oils and vinegars. A meal takes shape in my head, and my hands spring to action.

Today's offering represents my new favorite quick leftover lunch: corn tortillas crisped in an oiled pan, topped with a skiff of some flavorful cheese (in this case, Gruyere). I spoon on a sauteed melange of garlic, onion, kale stems and leaves, chickpeas, and red pepper flakes, dressed with lemon juice, salt and pepper. A few slices of avocado completes the deliciously simple meal.

I read a story or two from the Sunday New York Times; I listen to Billy Collins delivering the day's literary history on The Writer's Almanac. I sip tea, iced or hot, and eat. Fortified, I carve out my afternoon: teaching, reading, dabbling, dreaming.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

on oatmeal, calendars, goals, and general existential ponderings

My life, for better or worse, is organized around the academic calendar.

My moments are measured out in assignments, meetings, week of the semester.

a recent to-do list

And then comes summer, with more freely structured days (but no income), and projects begging for attention: poems and stories seeking depth and revision; courses demanding redesign; important books in search of a reader.

Last summer, I truly abandoned any pretense of work, instead focusing on the details of our vintage-DIY-homespun-beach wedding. It was a summer unlike any other, and I find myself mourning those happy, project-filled days, working toward a "goal."

baking wedding cupcakes

This summer, I have finally managed to arrange my academic work so most is compensated, from traveling meetings, to teaching, to reading student placement files. Gone are the structureless days, with an online class needing attention for the next eight weeks.

This structure helps me find my bearings, but I find myself searching for the next big personal or professional goal to devote time and energy towards. I've accomplished two major goals in the past year: marriage and tenure. It sounds odd and cold, and feels wrong to call marriage a goal, but on some level it always was a goal of mine since I was a teenager: find someone I love and marry him. Meeting G and falling in love and building a life together is much more organic and evolving than a goal that can be checked off a life-list, and yet sometimes I find myself thinking of our relationship in terms of goals. Next goal: adopt and raise a puppy (mini-goldendoodle, due to arrive in Fall or Winter). But what do these goals tell you about the particular qualities of our specific relationship on any given day? About the jokes we share, what that sly wink means, how a properly punctuated sentence feels? (nothing). What love and commitment mean for us? (nothing). How our relationship has deepened over four years? (still nothing).

For an academic, tenure is one of the primary goals, a signal of achievement. As I await the final approval from our Board of Regents (meeting on Friday), I feel a similar kind of let-down I did ten years ago when I completed my PhD. Both took six years. Both included self-doubt, reflection, joys, and frustrations. Both are meaningful in the world I inhabit, the one measured by assignments, meetings, presentations, weeks of the semester. And yet, what do they mean beyond the academic world? What do they tell you about me? That I am diligent (sometimes). That I follow-through (most times). That I know how to navigate the complex world of academia (yes). Do they tell you my sheer joy in losing myself in a richly textured novel, of entering a fictional character's heart, mind, skin? (no). Do they communicate my desire to scribble ever more poems? (no). Do they tell you the utter humbling that takes place when teaching diverse students? (no). Do they communicate the sheer joy as students report their successes? (no).
tenure dossier check-list

They're all, in some ways, external markers of goals achieved.

I find myself struggling with goals.

On some level, I desire goals—those motivational mileposts to help me measure my life, to continue to grow and explore, to develop personally and professionally. Specific goals that I share with others, and commit to with resources (time, money, energy)...

...On the other hand, I crave pure, unfettered life, in which I enjoy strolling along Lake Michigan, listening to the crash of waves and the crunch of my feet on zebra mussel shells. A day of reading, puttering around the house, following each passing whim, and being distracted by a warm shaft of light hitting my favorite reading chair...

Wind's Nest Beach

...I daydream of a meandering vacation with G, with few plans other than to eat and sleep well, to laugh, and focus on only each other, no distractions of TV or cellphones or bills or doctors. We would drive on curvy roads, exploring out-of-the way shops and cafes, settling in on some welcoming porch with a bottle of wine or a six-pack of microbrew, and be: in the moment...

Lake Crescent Lodge, with a magical porch for sitting, reading, talking, and drinking
...A blank page or screen that fills not with a compact post on loaded, healthy, whole-foods oatmeal (the intended topic of this post), but rambles about deeper existential questions: how to find meaning, organically, not succumbing to scripts of external goals, but lighting on moments, on quality, on depth...

loaded oatmeal

Complex simplicity, like my bowl of morning oatmeal: rolled oats (because I forgot to make steel cut oats last night), last summer's peaches (thawed and heated), walnuts, brown sugar, flax seed oil, cinnamon blend, and milk (organic). Nutty nutrient dense warm comforting healthy: delicious nourishment.


I'll be 40 in March.

I want to be fit and fabulous, my best flawed self. I want to stop wasting time I don't have on worries, on inauthentic projects. I want to learn, to grow, to laugh, to stretch. I want to explore the path, pushing through brambles and taking in stunning vistas, surprised but equipped to meet the uphill climbs, dark valleys, flower-filled meadows, and refreshing streams, rather than counting off mile-markers and destinations.

taking in the view

I want to organize my life around an organic calendar of my own making.

Starting: Now.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Forces of Attraction

In the hospital parking lot,
my husband slips off his tungsten
carbide wedding band. I zip it safe
in my wallet change compartment,
where it mingles with pennies, postage
stamps, and a rare dollar coin. Inside
the hospital, I wait, grading, while his
protons spin and align, magnets clanking
dissonance with the Dave Matthews Band
he selects to relax in the enclosed tube.
My students' assignment: reflect on the
relationship between your life, feminism,
and our reading/viewing of The Vagina
Monologues. I read about families, boyfriends,
girlfriends. I write encouraging comments
in their margins, and highlight grading rubrics:
86, 78, 93, the rare 100. This familiar act
steadies my mind from all this spinning,
this picture forming of my husband's cervical
spine, the bulge between the C6 and C7
setting his nerves afire. These bodies,
parts pedestrian and taboo, when do we see
them, when do we really live in them? When
energy aligns? When muscles cramp? When
nerves sing or sting? When cells multiply,
rampant? My highlighter out of ink, imagination
running wild, the center cannot possibly hold.
And then, there he is, woozy, hungry, and I'm
set spinning, body zinging, alive with wanting.
I slip his ring back on his finger, drawn like
iron filings to his magnetic field.

Monday, April 29, 2013


How to Prevent an Anxiety Attack

Sleep well, and deeply. Eat
leafy greens and protein things,
hold off on that extra espresso.
Read, but nothing too alarming
(avoid news, social media,
institutional memos, commentary
on your profession). Listen to music,
laughter, bird song, and your partner
breathing (when you can't fall asleep).
Eat chocolate, devour (and/or write)
poetry. Take long, hot showers, steam
scented with lavender. Drink tea, laced
with milk and natural sweeteners (honey,
maple syrup). Practice yoga, both yin
and yang: listen to your body (but not
too closely, or your racing heart, aching
joints, throbbing sciatica become terminal
illness or impend immediate doom).
Walk, stroll, meander. Clear your mind
(but beware the creep of existential angst).
Prepare for the unprepared. Accept what
you cannot control.
Let go.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


"We live in an old chaos of the sun."
Wallace Stevens

Schoolgirls in glittery tops glide scooters
down cracked sidewalks. A yellow mustang
bumps bass and speeds along the curvy
lakeshore, followed by the rumble of seven
Harleys. Everywhere, there's music—laughter
radios bird-song—and dancing—two-step tango
Harlem Shaking. We move back outdoors, drunk
on sunshine after so much indoor abstinence.

Saturday, April 27, 2013



sparkle strapless bodice
layered tulle princess ball-gown
ladies awaiting

shiny white shoes
jewel-toned satin cumberbund
trying on manhood


Old Grandma's Tales

"Never trust a skinny cook," says a middle-aged woman
in a green windbreaker and cropped yoga pants, as she clangs
pots and pans in the home goods section of TJ Maxx,
searching for bargains. "Why, Grandma?" A small boy scuffs
and stomps his feet, activating blinking lights in the soles
of his dirty sneakers. "Because they're bad cooks, they're so
skinny," she pushes her cart toward the packaged foods:
boxed imported cookies, single origin honeys and oils.
He marches in place, surrounded by cupcake holders, plastic
bowls, and galvanized steel beverage bins. "Grandma, what
about fat cooks?" But she's in the next aisle, rifling through
placemats and napkins, oval table clothes. He asks again,
shoes flashing as he runs from aisle to aisle. "They're good cooks,
because they taste everything they cook," she says, adding
a bright gingham plastic tablecloth to her cart, overflowing with
decorative pillows, rugs, and multi-pack socks. The boy, quiet,
thoughtful, follows her into a future of women who feed him lies.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Chicken Shit

Chickens squawk and squat,
legs splayed and beaks snipped,
flurry of feathers inside
the windowless barn, while we
nosh piccata, parmigiana,
barbecued breasts, spicy wings,
braised thighs.

*written whilst watching Food, Inc. with my class*

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Today my American Lit students wrote poetry inspired by literary or historical characters, about other writers, or using creative techniques like N+7. While they scribbled and giggled, I wrote two haiku:


I trace your dashes,
emulate your white heat
stitch together worlds.


your words resurrecting
passion and fear

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Happy Birthday, Bard!

an N+7 rendition of Shakespeare's 75th Sonnet

So are you to my thrash as food pyramid to life-force,
Or as sweet-season'd show-off is to the ground cloth;
And for the peace-officer of you I hold such strike-over
As 'twixt a misfit and his wear-and-tear is found:
Now proud as an enmity, and anon
Doubting the filching agenesis will steal his treatise,
Now courting best to be with you alone
Then better'd that the world power may see my pledge;
Sometime all full with feather star on your sigmodiscope,
And by and by clean starved for a look-out;
Possessing or pursuing no delivery
Save what is had or must from you be took
Thus do I pine and surfeit dayflower by dayflower
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

Monday, April 22, 2013



Fossilized coral
Sweet water seas
Swaying birches
Swirling creeks

peony dahlia tulip
snapdragon lilac pansy
delphinium hydrangea daisy

Sandstone shores
Echoing sea caves
Alpine tundra
Rhododendron thicket

lavender sage savory
thyme basil lemongrass
cilantro rosemary
spearmint verbena

Riverbed hollow
Niagara escarpment
Glacial ridge
Old-growth forest

maple birch sassafras
elm oak magnolia
cherry walnut tulip
poplar pine balsam

Blackberry bramble
Blueberry fields
Forested dunes
Lake Michigan: Home.



Hurled hurtful words
wound soft places:
heart, belly, soul.
Tripping obscenities,
shoved swear words,
needling negations:
lodge under our rib
cages, and we gulp air,
lungs expanding,
crowding out your bullying
with good good good.


bliss point

puffs of air, coated with cheesy
powder, vanish on my tongue.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


blue skies beckon while winds push me home
but I keep walking, springing forward, toward
the lake, turbulent waters ebbing and flowing.
in the meadow, branches of bushes blush, bend.
I'm immersed in "This American Life," a one act
investigation of lives altered by hidden illness,
drawn forward and inward, the ache of life and
the sting of death.

Friday, April 19, 2013


swirling snowflakes carry
me home, a wisp of wind
pushing me northeast

Thursday, April 18, 2013


We Real SoTL
seven at the Graze Restaurant

We real
We drink
wine. We
write lines.
We laugh
much. We
mess up.
We teach.
We learn.
We stay

*after Gwendolyn Brooks*

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


one last hot cocoa
steaming mug of frothy bliss
winter's last sigh

Monday, April 15, 2013



bombs blast, and runners fall, huddle
under emergency blankets, reflecting
the world's flags, floating in this sky
that unites us, runners and spectators,
here in America. this sky that illuminates
with IEDs and drone strikes in distant cities
and remote villages, senseless bloodshed
and wailing grief, loss, pain, anger—
for our violent world
for our inability to love
for our endless cycles of harm.
i hurl flower bombs, glitter bombs, never-ending
love bombs to Boston, Aleppo, Oklahoma City,
Baghdad, Kandahar, and the interior
of every human heart.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Baking Bread

"You can knead this time," I tell my husband,
and he dips his hands into the bowl, straight
into the sticky mess. The dough refuses a shape,
cakes his palms, fingers, and wedding ring. He
dumps it on the flour-dusted counter, massage it
side to side, up and down, until it leaves traces
of its path everywhere. He moves dough between
his hands, alarmed by its clinging. "Just wait! It will
peel right off," I promise, and he keeps kneading,
waiting for the dough to form a smooth ball, pulling
away from the counter, his hands, ready to rest
after all of this needing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Hunting the Sky

We search the Spring night sky
for dreams, signs of life, signs of...Spring.
Orion sneaks away, his sword sheath,
moved on to hunt a different prey,
in a different season.
Svelte gazelles, wooly mammoths,
passenger pigeons, appear, then
disappear, eluding the wrath of the
mighty hunter as he chases them,
racing, leaping, extinguishing
the night sky light. Unable to bag
his trophy and fell the billions of stars
surrounding him, he cries—his tears
dazzle the Milky Way.

**collaborative poem, written Exquisite Corpse style, with my DH Gregg.**


Saturday Night

First dates and girls' night out,
Raucous friends fill booths.
Servers rush the room,
twirling pepper grinders,
brandishing beverage trays.
Behind the counter, pizza makers
tend the wood-fired oven,
shuffling bruschetta like so many
playing cards. Pizzas bubble
and char, while conversation
bubbles over in a Prosecco haze.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At the English Department Meeting

We quibble about parentheticals (leave them out)
and the connotation of execute.
We applaud tenure, promotion, and excellent
planning, and debate prerequisites for Literary
Studies. Sipping sodas and eating institutional
cookies, we offer to buy each other beers
later tonight (not to be reimbursed by the State,
of course), building goodwill. We multitask,
answering emails, grading blogs, and facebooking
as we barter in words, approving motion after

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


some nights a haiku
will have to do— my muse waves
from tomorrow

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


White Noise

wind howl
thunder crash
rain patter splatter splash

keyboard tap
pencil scratch
bookpages flutter float flash

teakettle whistle
mouse click
poet slurp slump sleep

Monday, April 08, 2013


double chocolate
cupcakes pink sugar sprinkles
delicious Monday

Sunday, April 07, 2013


An Ode to Spring

We've waited all winter,
all day, for the grey to lift,
the snow to melt, the sun
to shine. Late afternoon,
the sun burns away cloud
cover, and brilliant blue
stuns our weary eyes.

I walk around my neighborhood.
Sidewalks, yards, parks
teem with life: the couple
chatting in American Sign
Language. The father and son
casting reels into the turgid
creek water. The family walking
along the lake, dark coats, hats,
except the smallest child: twirling
in a pink and white skirt, casting
blossoms with each turn.

In the next block, I smell charcoal
charring meat. Teens propel scooters
and skateboards up the sidewalk,
and kids brandish holiday decor,
finally out of season: dried wreaths
and plastic candy canes.

At the park, parents push children
higher, soaring into the blue on
the four seat swingset. Toddlers amble,
and two girls race, playing tag or
hide and seek or both, coats cast
aside, cheeks ruddy, skirts billowing,
laughter echoing long after I'm
back home, stirring pots and opening
oven doors, sipping wine to celebrate
spring, spring, Spring.

Saturday, April 06, 2013



I leave base camp early. Stars wink
behind dark trees. I trek up, past craggy
rocks and gnarled trees, moon setting
and sun rising.In the alpine meadow,
scarlet, gold, and amethyst blooms
fill the treeless expanse. Clouds zip
across the sky, snagging mountain tops,
hiding the sun. As I climb, breath ragged
with each mountain-climber step
(step pause step pause),
I catch scattered rays, snatches of blossom,
trail of clouds, until I stand, at the summit,
bathed in color, swimming
in light, touching

Friday, April 05, 2013


sidewalks yards parking lots
snowbergs melt melting

Thursday, April 04, 2013



after Georgia O'Keefe

bold curves
pastel folds
ruffled edges
smoldering center

Wednesday, April 03, 2013



All day I dream: a green leather chair,
tucked in a sunny corner. The Sunday
Times. Steaming Cafe au Lait, a perfectly
ripe pear. Muted Spring bird song. Yoga
pants and wool slippers. One uninterrupted
hour of solitude: bliss.

2/30: latte

Hot sweet elixir
capped with foam
my vice, my salvation.

Monday, April 01, 2013

1/30: modern

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I intend to write one poem each day throughout the month of April.

Today I taught High Modernist poetry, linked to modernist art and music. This poem echoes some of the works we discussed.

Nudes descend staircases
in a discordant rite of Spring,
as blackbirds watch wet
petals unfurl and fill wheel-
barrows with the pure products
of America.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

daily bliss: after the storm

A 12 inch surprise, snowflakes swirling in the wind all night long, leaving sensual swoops on rooftops, driveways drifted shut. 

This morning I set out for a walk on my usual path, on the neighborhood sidewalks, which should be passable today, a full day after the storm. Most of the sidewalks were neat, with a skiff of snow providing traction (better than Tuesday's icy layer I trod upon). But the street corners! Huge mounds of snow from city plows, blocking easy passage. I stepped up and slid down several, enjoying the challenge. 

Along the way, I encountered pristine patches of sidewalk in front of homes for sale and abandoned rentals. I knew I would face more uncleared territory along a swath of public-owned land alongside the lakeshore. 
I was not daunted. 

Perhaps I should have been. The previous picture is the end of my uncleared path, where a natural valley in the drifting made for easy passage. In other spots, however, I would sink down to my knees, and rise up, only to find myself sinking in a few inches the next step. I sought firmer packed snow in the detritus of snow plows, or shallower snow on the edge of a drift. But mostly, for a good quarter mile, I trudged deeply, and slowly, practicing the mountain-climber step: one step, breathe/rest, next step, breathe/rest. I paused to snap photos of the majesty of waves and icebergs, of blue sky and sunshine battling with grey and clouds. I despaired at moments, looking around me for an easier path.

There was none.

The road I was walking next to is busy, and the wet streets no place for pedestrian traffic. I could turn around, but I was close to home.

The only way out is through, sings Alanis Morissette.

And the rewards: gorgeous vistas, a cardio workout like no other, the cool breeze waking me, the sun inspiring me, the strength of my legs humbling me.