Five Ways to Feel Christmassy… and Fail

1.  Christmas cookies burned.

2.  Looked at trees today.  It’s Dec. 7th, and the trees were totally picked over.

3.  There’s no Christmas music tonight that isn’t annoying me.  Really, “Feliz Navidad,” again?

4.  Had to give up making an snowman ornament because I kept pricking myself with the pins to make it.  And I had the wrong size pom-poms to make the ear-muffs anyway.

5.  Went to put up some Christmas lights in the front window, and put some on the Nordic Island pine that is in the window as well, but of course on both strings that I brought out (which were working last year), half of the lights were off.  If a 100 bulbs had to be busted, I wish it had been one entire string, and not 50 on both.  But now I’ll have to try to figure out which lights are blown on both strings.  It’s a real bitch to pull the lights in and out of their sockets too.  I got through 20 lights on one strand and thumb and forefinger are crabbing at the effort.  (Also, I’m afraid of breaking a nail.)

I know, I know, I know.  First World Pains.

Poems: Instructions to Make Impossible Things

Today I attended the SAMLA 2013 Conference, here at the Mariott Altanta Buckhead hotel (right across the street from Lenox Mall–and don’t I wish I had realized that, because I would totally have driven there and parked in the Mall lot–I took MARTA in instead), and heard some really great speakers on a variety of topics, from art, to fairy tales, to Dr Who.  The opening “pre-session” that I attended focused on the publishing biz for both academic articles and academic monographs–which isn’t something you’d think I’d be overly interested in, as I’m not on the TT.  But I went anyway, and I think I might have liked this session the best–because it was informative AND funny.

The main reason I was at the Conference was because of chairing the SAMLA Poets panel (again–really, I need to give this gig up–but no one else seems to want it, either).  And the three other poets on the panel–Emily Schulten (West Georgia), Andy Frazee (Georgia Tech), and M.P. Jones IV (Auburn)–were extremely diverse and interesting in their work.  Emily’s poetry explored her relationship with her brother, whom she had donated a kidney to.  In general, I’m not a big fan of “body” poetry, but what I liked about her poems was the relationship between siblings that she developed in her writing.  M.P.’s work struck me as both Southern and Poetic with a capital P–lyric poems, certainly, and quite good (his mirror poem about his dying brother was great), and he read with that “poetic authority” that I so admire–and envy.

And surprising to me most of all was Andy’s work, because I hadn’t heard his poetry before, and I had asked him to be on the panel because I knew he was a poet (and I like him as a person), but only gave him the sketchiest of directions about “something poetry and digital-ish.”  So it was exciting to hear him read because he’s written this series of somewhat found prose poems that have come to him mining eHow, lines from poems he likes, and of course, his own imagination.  As he was reading, I kept thinking, This will be such an awesome collection when he gets done… and how long will that be??

I’ve asked him to share his work with me, just because I’d like to see how it looks on the page and parse how he structures the poems.  They were really just cool–like the titles were a little funny, but often the poems themselves were serious and sometimes painful.  He said that “Poems [are] instructions to make impossible things,” which was just a brilliant, pithy definition.  I don’t know if that is an expression he made up, or if he heard it somewhere, but it really is awesome. In fact, I think Instructions to Make Impossible Things should be the title of that collection, whenever he finishes it.  (I think I’ll tell him that the next time I see him.)

There are a number of sessions tomorrow that I’d be interested in seeing–the Eudora Welty Society session, for instance (which is at 8 a.m.!).  And actually, I could make it, since our tennis lesson has been moved to tomorrow afternoon because of City Finals knocking us off the court.  But as I’m sitting here, I’m noticing that I’ve been sneezing and coughing alot today, and my throat is feeling kind of wooly… Which means, that cold I thought I’d successfully dodged last week is probably here.  So it’s probably best that I limit my exposure to other people.

I don’t want to share any more germs than necessary.  And let’s face it, if I could sleep in, who wouldn’t want to do that?

 

A Lark

Oh!  It’s raining!  Which has nothing to do with this post.

You may wonder why, after a break of over 2 years, I have decided to start writing here again,  The truth is, I forgot about this blog.

Oh bother, it’s stopped.  Crazy Charlotte weather.

Who even reminded me I had this blog was a new person at work who said she was reading some of my work online–which I thought meant she had stumbled on a few poems.  But no, she had found my rant about prezi.  I must have looked at her blankly when she said, “You know, your blog?”  And here I’m thinking tumblr, which is where I have (more frequently) written things.  Because I was tired of people stalking me at this blog.  (And yes, they were stalking me.  I mean, not like anything I put in this blog was particularly private–for heaven’s sake, my name in full blazing glory is on it–but still, a couple of people were reading it who I’d rather see be swallowed by a monsoon and drowned at sea than know Word One about me.)  So I kind of quit.  And then I forgot about it.  And started writing in tumblr.

So, you’re asking yourself, why now?  And aren’t the stalkers still stalking?

The answer to the first one is, I don’t know.  Except that it’s pretty boring watching my nephew because I’m not really watching him because he’s holed up in his room holding a very dramatic conversation with himself, or singing Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (and by the way, is that Lou Diamond Phillips watching a plushie fight-to-the-death in their video?  WTF?), or singing operatic nonsense to the Mario Brother’s theme.  If I was in his room watching, I might be extremely entertained.  But as I am out here in the living room contemplating the meaning of nothing in particular, I thought it might be amusing to write a few lines in this sad ol’ unloved blog, for old time’s sake.

The answer to the second question is, so what?  Let them find out the huge secret that I’m babysitting this weekend.  Oh horrors!  How can they use it against me???  Oh!  I am wringing my hands in worry just thinking about it!

(Not.)

We’ll see how long I keep it up.  I’ll probably quit when I get back to my regular routine… you know, like tomorrow.

So, Here, All This Time, You Think You’re the Cool Aunt…

My sister and her husband are on a Miami getaway, right on the beach, and I have driven up to Charlotte for the weekend to watch my nephew who is The Best Nephew in the Whole World (TM).  Normally, when I visit my sister, he and I are totally sympatico, totally on the same wavelength.  It does not seem to be the case right now.

I’m not sure if it’s because he’s growing up, and so therefore thinks all old people are uncool; or if it’s because he’s downloaded this new Pokemon game, and wants to be alone with it in his room; or if I’m only cool in relation to my sister, whom he sees all the time, so I therefore represent a distraction from the normal order; or if he might still be pissed at me about last night…

When I abducted the router.

You see, my sister, in her instructions, said he needs to be in bed by 11:00.  And don’t let him sneak his devices and the internet in with him in bed, or he’ll be up all night, blah blah.  Typical Mom-ish type stuff.  So I let him know several times yesterday that he had an 11:00 curfew, which I don’t think he thought was for real.

So last night, he’s playing Mine Craft, and I come out into the living room at 11:15 and say, “Save your game.”

“What?” he says.

“Save your game, if you need to.”

“Why?”

“Router turning off in 5-4-3-2-1.”  And I unplugged it… and took it with me.

Oh man, was he furious.  “THAT IS NOT COOL” he says.

“You think not?” I say.  “I don’t think it’s cool that I told you your Mom said 11:00 was bedtime and here you are still up playing on the computer.”

He shuts the top of his MacBook Air and says “THAT WAS NOT COOL.  SEE, I’M SHUTTING IT DOWN.”

“Yeah, but only because I took the router.”

He shoots me this fierce expression  that could have melted stone.  The problem is, it makes me want to laugh.  Which of course, you can’t do, when someone (you love) is angry at you.

But that face he gave?  It’s the Doyle-passed-down-for-generations-pissed-off face.  It’s the look-down-your-nose-with-a-cold-stare-and-lesser-mortals-will-back-down-and-give-you-your-way face.  It’s the Godzilla-is-rampaging-and-about-to-level-cities face.  It’s the you-so-better-hope-I-don’t-come-at-you-with-a-knife-while-you’re-sleeping face.

But, as someone  who perfected that expression when I was 5 (and by the way, still frequently uses it her own self to let others know She Is Not Happy), it has zero effect on me.

I was like, “Sorry dude.  It’s time for bed.”

He tromped off to his room with his now-rather-pointless computer, and slammed the door behind him.  But I didn’t really hear a peep from him all night… so maybe he caught a few hours of sleep.

And of course, I returned the router to its rightful place this morning at 7…

So, I guess I am temporarily cool again.  At least untill 11:00 tonight.  ;-)

My Manifesto of Hate: a Friday Night Rant

I hate prezi.

I hate spending 4 days working on a prezi because I really hate PowerPoint.

I hate that everybody and her mom, her dog, and her dog’s fleas make PowerPoints.

PowerPoints are about as riveting as toilet paper.  The itchy kind.

I hate that everyone thinks that the word “presentation” is synonymous with the word “PowerPoint.”  Except for those in the prezi camp.

I wanted to be in the prezi camp.  With the cool kids.

I hate all the cool functionality of prezi denied to me because the prezi website has the world’s worst instruction manual.

The instructions for prezi are on par with the instructions for Ikea.

I hate having to stay on campus till 10 p.m.  on a Friday night working on a PowerPoint presentation–the PowerPoint presentation that would have taken me a day and a half to begin with at most if I had and done it first–because I couldn’t get the prezi to work right.

I hate prezi.  I mean it.

I hate that PowerPoint wouldn’t let me print out the notes for my slides, so I had to cut and paste the notes into Word, which lost all my paragraph markers, and made the notes big, blobby, Sasquatches of text that I then had to go back in and reformat for readability.

My notes are really long.  And possibly pompous.

I hate that my presentation on Monday has to be a PowerPoint presentation.  With handouts.

I hate handouts.

I hate that I will have to finish up on my  handouts for my PowerPoint presentation on a Saturday because I didn’t get them done earlier this week when I was too busy fighting with prezi.

A Saturday.  As in, the day after I stayed in my office till 10 p.m. on a Friday night.  As in, this weekend.

I hate that I will have to go back to campus on a Sunday to print out 100 copies of the PowerPoint slides and other handouts so that I can give them out to people at the conference on Monday.

Handouts are a) tossed just as soon as the presentation is over, and b) a waste of paper.

I hate wasting paper.

I hate that I can’t just turn the handouts into .pdfs to e-mail to all of the people at my presentation.

I hate that no one will like my PowerPoint presentation, if they even bother to look at it.

I hate thinking the audience will be bored, and that any time in the future when I see one of the members of the audience, I will have to hide my head in shame.

I hate thinking that if the audience is bored, they will wonder why they bothered attending my presentation session.

I hate thinking that if they wonder why they attended, then I’ll have to question why I wasted all that time making the PowerPoint presentation and the abandoned prezi.

I hate wondering what an audience’s questions will be.

I hate answering an audience’s questions.

I hate not being good at answering an audience’s questions.

I hate that all of this is my fault:  the prezi, the PowerPoint, the 15 hours I spent on campus on a Friday, the work I will have to do to make handouts, the trip to campus on Sunday, the “having to stand up in front of people and give a presentation when I’d rather just sit passively in the audience” blues.

I hate the blues.  I hate having the blues.  I hate that my prezi was going to be awash in a theme of blue.

I hate prezi.

Hate, hate, hate prezi.

 

 

 

 

 

The Marvellous Marshes of Glynn (Well Ok, the Nice Enough Streets of Historic Downtown Macon)

Last Saturday was the Quarterly Meeting of GPS, held down in Macon at the Sidney Lanier Cottage.  I had never been to Macon before, though I had driven through once, and though I didn’t get a chance to explore the town much, the homes surrounding the Cottage were old-timey and pretty.

What was surprising to me about the Cottage, though, was how austerely appointed it was–I think was expecting a house with tons of antiques and personal possessions he’d owned in his life, but the only thing of real interest was a wedding dress that his wife Mary had worn (and I think she had an 18 inch waist!), and a copy of a letter he had written to his mother that you could read which was sitting out on a secretary.

I didn’t know much about Sidney Lanier prior to visiting–other than a lake that was named for him.  But apparently he was quite the Renaissance man–besides being a poet, he had served in the Confederacy, was something of a mathematician, worked as a lawyer, was a self-taught flautist, taught at Johns Hopkins, and spent seven years playing the flute in a symphony.

The day started with a Sidney Lanier impersonator talking about his language.  And I’m sorry, but the only kind of “impersonator” I can bear watching is someone like Will Ferrell playing George Bush.  I just find impersonators unwatchable, so it was torture sitting there and listening to the Sidney Lanier character.  I was very interested in finding out about Lanier’s life, and it was quite extraordinary (and the Cottage is on the National Historic Register both for his music and his poetry).  If it had just been a lecture about his life, I would have enjoyed it so much more.

Maybe I just didn’t think the guy was very good–not that I have any experience of Sidney Lanier in which to compare the performance, obviously.  But what really annoyed me was that except for a little quotation from some famous Cantata that Lanier wrote, there was no recitation of his poetry.  Really?  Really???  We’re there for a day of poetry, and we get next to none of it in a performance “by” Sidney Lanier?  That seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.

And later in the afternoon, after Alice Friman’s excellent (but way too soft-spoken) reading (and I was sitting in the front–so I feel really bad for those sitting towards the back), we hear more poetry, but instead of Sidney Lanier’s poems (I would have liked to hear his famous  “The Marshes of Glynn,” for instance, which several of the Members’ Sidney Lanier-inspired poems referred to in the morning), we hear work from Andrew Hudgins’ 1988 book, After the Lost War, a book long series of persona poems based on Lanier’s life.  I enjoyed hearing them, certainly, because Ron Self is a wonderful reader (as well as writer), but come on.  I think we should have heard Lanier’s actual words.  But maybe that’s just me being a curmudgeon and a purist.

It was, of course, good to see all my friends; I never get tired of that.

Other than that, not much going on with me in poetry, except I’m still working periodically on the Sibley Sisters.  I thought I might have a full book of them by now (and maybe if I had written about them with more regularity last year, I’d be further along, but then everyone who knows me knows 2010 was The Year from Hell, and writing poems was hardly a priority), but I’ll get there eventually.

Sometimes, things just take longer than you’d like.

White Christmas

Saturday’s Christmas snow was a special gift from Santa–in my whole life, no matter where I was on Christmas day, it had never snowed before, and it’s always something I hope for.  It was lovely, wasn’t it?  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it was the first white Christmas that the city has seen since 1882–118 years.  I think I’ll write a poem about it, though I don’t know what my approach will be.  It will have to simmer in my brain a few days, I think.

Thank heavens we didn’t have to be anywhere–we just stayed in.  I was  very glad that Mom had decided to rent a car and come anyway (after the transmission debacle), and fortunately, she got in late on Christmas Eve, so she wasn’t traveling in the weather, which would have been nerve-wracking for all concerned.

As for Christmas Day itself, I cooked my traditional Christmas lasagne, and we also had asparagus.  I also attempted, once again, to make an apple-cranberry pie.  But I am firm believer that our craptastic oven has  “attempt at baking” detection, because every time I try to bake a sweet, something wrong happens.  This time, it was a charred pie top.  Which is so fricken’ annoying!  I think getting an oven thermometer is an idea whose time is long past.

And it’s only sweet things that get fouled up.  I’ve baked bread and muffins in the oven and have had no problem.  Pies, however, it hates to cook.  Maybe what I need to do the next time is just not cook the apple pie the full 2 hours.  Or maybe I should just buy a pie next time–save myself the hassle.

But the lasagne and asparagus were good.  And of course I set a beautiful table with candles, snowman placemats, red chargers, snow-white napkins, red-handled utensils (the ones Grace sent as a wedding gift last year), and our Wedgwood Nantucket Basket wedding china.

After dinner, we opened presents and watched a silly Christmas movie on tv.  It was a really nice Christmas.

I hope yours was too.