Archive for August, 2012

It still feels a bit funny not to be going back to school.  I was in grade school, high school, college, grad school and then back to college, this time as a teacher, for so many years that it seemed like I would always be going back to school.  But not for some years now.

I quit teaching to write full time, and then I had twins (who will not be in school, pre- or otherwise, for at least another year).

I miss shopping for back-to-school clothes and picking out notebooks and pens and folders and such.

I miss the fresh-start feeling of a new school year — all those clothes unworn, all those pages bare, all that potential hovering in the late summer air.  But (more…)


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I hadn’t read Lady Chatterley’s Lover since … high school?  I didn’t have many fond memories of it, that’s for sure.

But this Sunday one of the answers to the New York Times crossword was just that: “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”  (Incidentally, the writer of this crossword is a former colleague of mine from NYU.  Congratulations Amanda Yesnowitz on your NYT debut!  Check out Wordplay, the crossword blog of The New York Times, for more.)

Later that afternoon I was at Labyrinth Books — one of my favorite bookstores — in Princeton, NJ.  After browsing their new-release tables and marveling at the amazing diversity of books (a history of owls, a guide to stylish academic writing, fiction about Thomas Cromwell) I remembered Lady Chatterley.  My beloved spouse was still browsing so I went to the L section of Literature and there she was.

There were several different editions, but this one (quite understandably) caught my eye:

It’s the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, whose cover is illustrated by Chester Brown (of Paying for It fame).  The front shows D.H. Lawrence philosophizing in bed; the back is (more…)

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Why is it so difficult to write when you have small children?

There are many obvious answers to this question: they take up an extraordinary amount of time; they take up an extraordinary amount of energy; when they’re napping or asleep for the night (you hope) you’re too exhausted to think let alone write, and when the weekend rolls around and your beloved spouse takes over you usually need a day to recover (and catch up on all the non-writing things you let slide during the week).

I manage to work writing in: during one of the naps, during some of the weekend.  But it’s hard.

The thing that really gets to me is the need to always hurry(more…)

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A few days ago I read Mary Rechner’s essay “Why I Hate Food” and I’m still thinking about it.

It begins:

The aesthetics of today’s food culture (jam jars, wire egg baskets, communal wood tables) will soon appear as dated as macramé, but I fear the damage to a generation of women who are tending (and butchering) rabbits and chickens, and raising vegetable gardens (often along with children) has already been done. These activities are obviously more creative ways to spend time than watching soap operas, but urban homesteading and “the home arts” should not be confused with real art-making, which involves challenging the status quo, not feeding it.

The one sentence that really got me, though, was this:

The primary reason I refuse to place “eating correctly” at the center of my consciousness is because in doing so I would lose ground on my essential life project: living a dogma-free existence while maintaining psychic (and actual) time and space to write fiction.

And I thought, yes.

I like to cook.  I like to eat.  I like to cook and eat things that are made with recognizable ingredients (chicken, carrots, lentils, broth, milk, flour, butter, raspberries, etc.) (and no, those things do not add up to any particular/peculiar recipe!) and not things that come out of a package and are placed in a microwave.  But (more…)

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It’s a Saturday morning in late summer.  The air feels heavy, and not just with the weight of humidity and the drone of cicadas.  Summer’s tired.

Many of you are out and about this morning.  There are walks to take while the air is still cool, farmer’s markets to browse, pancakes to eat, games to play, errands to run, chores to do.  Many of you will not read this post until later — perhaps tonight, more likely tomorrow night, possibly not even until the first lull of your workday Monday morning.

But I’m at my desk while the twins nap in the next room, thinking about autumn, and starting to make plans.

Virginia and Vanessa.

Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell made what they called “autumn plans.”

Woolf recalled:

“I always think of those curious long autumn walks with which we ended a summer holiday, talking of what we were going to do – ‘autumn plans’ we called them.  They always had reference to painting and writing and how to arrange social life and domestic life better … They were always connected with autumn, leaves falling, the country getting pale and wintry, our minds excited at the prospect of lights and streets and a new season of activity beginning – October the dawn of the year.”

I don’t have a sister to walk with.  And walking while pushing a stroller isn’t really conducive to planning creative work.  But (more…)

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The twins don’t say much these days — at least not in a language I can understand.  Most of their discernible English words describe food or each other, which seems appropriate for 17-month-old twins.  But then one of them heard the cicadas churning away in a tree outside their window and they added a new language to their repertoire.

From silive.com.

They can’t quite manage the “chchchchchchCHCHCHCHCH!” sound my beloved spouse and I make to imitate them (the cicadas, not the twins) but they do their best with (more…)

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It’s a gray, hanging, humid day and the cicadas are raucous outside my window.  The twins are napping and I wish I was too — one of them got me up at four this morning and I feel like I never really got back to sleep.  But instead I’m at my desk, trying to make the most of this quiet hour (except for the cicadas), and I find myself in agony trying to write an artist’s statement.

Occasionally a writer is asked for an artist’s statement when she is applying for grants, fellowships, residencies and the like.  This feels like a perfectly reasonable request … until you try to write said statement.


A little intimidating, no?  (more…)

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