Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Limit

I just got an e-mail from a good and true friend. She says, and I quote "I really like your blog, but why do you use so many exclamation points? Are you really that ecstatic over things?"

Well, the true, K, is that , no, I am rarely, if ever, ecstatic over anything. But, regarding the exclamation points, well.

I just can't help it!!!!!!!!!!!

New Year's Eve


Saturday, December 30, 2006


I use Duotrope to manage my literary submissions. It is like having an online secretary. I love it. Well, I don't want to "out" a certain publication, but I sent this pub a submission a LONG time ago. There average turnaround time is 90 days. In fact, they have one of those curt little messages that all lit zines have reminding the writer not to "inquire about the status of your submission unitl 90 days have passed. Or until the next Presidential election. Or until hell freezes over." This leaves the writer precious little recourse over the work, especially if they do not allow simultaneous submissions. Well , Duotrope popped up with a RED message saying that it was now "appropriate" (oh, how GRAAAHND) to inquire about the status of my submission. Well, I did that , a week ago, when they were then 60 days beyond when they should have responded! NOW WHAT????? I can't inquire again, on the off chance of totally infuriating some editor who will, in no time flat, jump to another publication that I will be grovelling to be published in. This is only the second time that this has happened to me, but I know other writers to whom it has happened even more times. I mean, where does the work GO? Into some black hole? In my case, I even received an acknowledgement that they had the work for their consideration. Well, what did they do with it???

I have decided to totally skew their stats on Duotrope. I am going to withdraw the submission citing "no response." That'll teach 'em. But maybe I'll wait another month. Or two.

Let Me Explain

In my life hestitation = non-action. And I am all about forward motion. After so many years of friends and co-workers telling me to apply to library school, I finally did it. Literally, I woke up one morning and decided to go for it. In record time I had gotten the package of paperwork together, mailed it in and was accepted 5 days later. My friend John (a Librarian) has been urging me to do this for the better part of 12 years. I am even surprised myself, that I didn't do it earlier. In any case when I found out I'd been accepted, I called my friend Melissa who was accepted the very same day and we did a little virtual dance together over the phone! Mine, performed behind the dubiously private work cubicle was akin to the dance that Charlie Brown does when he is blissful , which, admittedly, doesn't happen often. I imagine that Melissa did something appropriately Russian or , at the very least, Eastern European. Yep, we squealed a little, did the girl thing, you know : "ohmygodohmyGOD!" Then peals of girly laughter and more dancing. You'd think we won the lottery!!!! Well, you have to really love libraries to react that way.

Let me explain why libraries have been so important to me for my entire life:

  • I got my first public library card at age 7 . The library was a place of knowledge , comfort and thousands of different worlds at my fingertips. (yes, I was a lonely, pale, bookish nerd, o.k?)

  • While other students snuck cigarettes and God knows whatever on lunch break, in high school I could be found with Sister Consolata Maria in the school library. "My God, Michelle," she told me one day "Go out and get some SUN on your face!" (This, sadly, is a true story.)

  • When my marriage fell apart, I looked, once again , to the library for solace. The job I got at that library is one I still work at part time! (EP is such a beloved place to me)

  • While working at EP I met my current husband ! (One of the best things to ever happen to me!)

  • Left EP full time to go and work at the library of the same university where I earned my BA and MA. (Wonderful institution, great co-workers, cool boss)

  • Fulfilling the dream of library school!

And writing? I am as ardent and as dedicated to the craft as ever. Maybe even more so if that is even possible!

Post Christmas

Still here, still reading , still loving Charlie Brown.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm trying to concentrate on work, I really am bit it is not easy today. Air-conditioning system is apparently working, if the coin-sized gooseflesh on my arms is any indication. My small ceramic heater is still chugging away, though. Hard to think of writing today, but I did have a memory of a memory, if that makes any sense, hit me when I walked outside a short while ago. It made enough of an impression for me to want to go home and write in my journal about it.
A particular way the air smelled, fresh and warm, made me think of when I was young, and how me and my brother and sister loved when the sun would finally go down and we'd take big Mayonnaise jars out into the back yard and catch fireflies. Something about the air today, the warmth, the sun, that "earthy smell" (which fireflies have!) brought me back.
I've just ordered myself the two highly prized and coveted Clairefontaine journals that I love so much. As soon as I get them, which should be tommorow, I'm going to start writing about the air, the sun, the flowers, the trees and the fading cold air around me. Spring is here, thank goodness. Spring weather can't come soon enough. As for the fireflies, I'll be watching them,when they come, too.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Power of Negative Spaces

Every now and then I will read something that refers to "negative spaces." I am not quite certain what that means, but I have the feeling that it has something to do with not trying so hard at things. In this world that seems lazy and unambitious, but that would not be what I mean. I mean a "pulling back" from pushing at something that just might benefit from a bit of space. It is like loving someone who is going through a trying time----it is human nature to want to "fix" things, but often only time will reveal answers. Even modern medicine is hell-bent on treating just about everything, even when the outcome is futile or senseless. We've forgotten that the human body has the power of regeneration. It is the same way with writing. Often times I just get in my own way. I am concentrating on how I am saying something rather than on what I am saying. That means that my reader, if I am lucky enough to have one, will be inclined to do the same thing. I need to forget that I am a writer, need to forget that I am writing and just need to concentrate on a good story. And I can't forget the importance of daydreaming to the creative process----concentrating on colors, details, moods, the cadence of speech should not be forgotten. So I might just sit with my notebook and look out of the window of my family room at the tall, lonely and bleak looking tree in the back yard, with its twisted branches splayed out against the sky. I'd like to see what surfaces. What immediately comes to mind is that in just a short time, that tree will be full with leaves. But for now, I'll enjoy what the negative space might yield. And if you are a thinking and feeling person, I'd suggest you do the same.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Art Lives in a Big World (Thanks, Natalie Goldberg)

Writing Down the Bones is a great read. It is gratifying to read about writing not as just commodification (come on, we all read to be read, and if we can make a few bucks at it. . . )but for satisfaction of experience and expression. Here's what Natalie Goldberg says in this great little book:
One of the main aims in wirting practice is to learn to trust oyour own mind and body---to grow patint and nonagrressive. Art lives in the Big World. One poem or story doesn't matter one way or another. It's the process of writing and life that matter.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It Takes as Long as it Takes

I'm ready to give my mentor another short story to read, but I think it is too soon, yet, I feel the urge to put this story, one that I've been writing for a while , into her capable hands. After a week or two, she'll give it back to me, we'll meet over coffee and go over the story with a fine tooth comb. Her eye is so acute. Sometimes I wince at some of the things she points out, things that should be so obvious to me, but in the white heat of writing my story , get overlooked. I'm not giving her my best, though, I'm giving her a story before it is ready, because sometimes I like the feeling of having written, more than I like the arduous process of revision, fine tuning, applying my own critical eye to my own writing. It is hard to "murder your darlings." I get attached to certain characters, a turn of phrase, or the "mood" that certain words or sentences evoke. H. advises: "bake the story until it is baked as much as you can bake it." Good advice , that. O.k. I'm off. I need to limber up my fingers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What does chaos look like?

Today was a tough day to get by in . I could only function between certain spaces of chaos. One of those days where you actually get things done but for the life of you can't remember how. A good friend visits me at work and we go to lunch which was really nice, but I end of feeling too frazzled to keep up interesting conversation. Days like today at my day job don't leave me enough emotional or physical energy to get any writing done, though the will is there. So if writing this blog tonight, short as it is going to be , counts as writing , so be it. It will be all that I'll be able to manage.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday and feeling a little cuckoo

Too tired to raise the battle cry of Friday. Feeling happy that I actually got through the week! The weather is so strange outside ---one minute dark as night, the next minute sunny, winds are ferocious and alternately it rains. Tommorow is supposed to be 50 degrees colder than it is today. What does this have to do with work or writing? Nothing I guess. But hey, it's Friday. Thank God.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some day you get the bear. . .

. . .and some days the bear gets you. The bear has me today. Around my desk area I got an "office"---sort of. These kind of expensive cube panels to offer me a bit of privacy . No privacy yet, though. My students have climbed the panels, stuck things to them, jumped out from behind them and otherwise questioned my need to have them. "Why do you want to keep us out," one deluded soul asked me. So, my walls have arrived, but it will take at least a few weeks before the students get used to the fact that they are there. So the bear has me because I feel a bit weird now, sitting behind my walls, like I want to block out the world, which I DON'T---I'd just like to get a bit of work done. But for today, the bear has definitely won.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Time away is the ticket

Well, we left Baltimore where the hub had a medical conference. I took a few days off from my day job and when I got to the hotel, locked myself away with some awesome coffee, my books, laptop and some great jazz that I just bought (Universal Syncopations by Miroslav Vitous) and read and wrote and looked out the window which was a great view since we were on the waterfront in a corner room on the sixteenth floor. I completed two freelance assignments, completed a short story, wrote two query letters, worked on a poem and read some more Peanuts comic strips in one of my new books It's a Big World Charlie Brown. I managed to get to the Civil War Museum, the Aquarium, the bookstore (3x) , a FANTASTIC Japanese restaurant and lots of other stuff.
My husband and I were both marginally aware of how bad the weather was suppose to be (duhhh) and were rather suprised when we woke this morning to lots of snow and blustery winds. We grabbed coffee and muffins and got on the road. The hub is an incredibly intrepid traveler and everything is a challenge to him. Anything has the potential to becomes a dare to which he must rise. So I said : "Uh, hon, do you think we should wait a while?" I saw the fire in his eyes. He as all set to go! We passed a car that went into a ditch, a truck on fire, and many, many cars spinning because of going way, way too fast and not leaving enough space between themselves and the car in front of them. This is incredibly annoying and also dangerous. "I laugh at your stupidity!" the hub yelled at one man speeding along in his Mercedes Benz, who took a bit of a spin, which, by the look on his face as we passed him, I'd wager he didn't intend.
Home to the house we arrived safely and the hub could. not. WAIT. to get the snow blower humming. He is STILL out there.
Otherwise, I've got dinner cooking on the stove and I've lit a few candles in the house, just waiting for him to come inside.
We got a lot more snow here than in Baltimore, but it really is so beautiful.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Auden hit it right on the head

The Unconcious of most writers remains a dark nursery of anxiety and chaos.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How do people think of these things?

We were talking today about the inscrutable language of our database system. E. says "When the system says 'charged' I think I am going to have to pay for something!" What it really means is that it is "checked out". Then we see "textual holdings." E's face lights up and he starts to giggle. " Sounds like a Marvin Gaye song!" This guy is funny AND clever. His comments were validating. I thought I was the only one who didn't understand crazy, convoluted and obnoxious database language.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Uncommon Women and Others. . .

It's hard to believe, especially since I didn't know that she was sick , that Wendy Wasserstein died today. She was the author of one of my all time favorite plays, Uncommon Women and others. I actually received a phone call from Wendy many years ago in response to a letter I had written her. I remember the day well: a hot, sultry, never-ending summer day. I was giving my three small children lunch when the phone rang. It was Wendy, thanking me for such a nice letter. My children , as opportunistic as they can get, took advantage of the stars in my eyes, to pour a carton of orange juice on the floor and quack around like ducks. Wendy could hear the commotion in the background and just chuckled. The call lasted, at the most, 20 seconds, but I never forgot it.
She was a funny woman, but given to great and profound insights.
Rest in Peace, Wendy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Todays Apercu

" I like trees because they seem resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."
----Willa Cather

The Weekend is Short and Writing is Long. . .

...and therein lies the dilemma. For all of Virginia Woolf's prognostications about "a room of one's own," I find mental space more urgent. For me to write today, this beautiful , warm Saturday, I not only have to flush out the busy and complicated work week with all of its mundane and irritating aspects. I have to deny myself the sheer beauty of the day and stay with the writing. Stay with the work. Sometimes I have to tell myself , "Get back to the laptop, Michelle, stay with it. Atta girl!" I feel worried lately, a bit bogged down, a tad sad, though nothing I can put my finger on. Maybe it is the sense of nothing ever really being done---that every minute of every day is often redoing what just keeps getting undone. There are some days that seem as though they hum along so nicely. I am really grateful for those days. Then there are those that are fraught with all sorts of complications. Days that I just fight back tears of frustration and the feeling that, despite my best intentions, I am being misunderstood, and it is working against me.
So right now, I am settling down,making the coffee, lighting a candle and limbering up my fingers. A bit of Edith Piaf in the background, to be followed by some George Gershwin (I am definitely in a Blue Rhapsody mood) and then perhaps some of Arvo Part's Tabula Rasa to get me deeper into the zone.
We'll see.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It seemed like a good idea at the time!

My director has rejected my request to be represented by either Peppermint Patty or Brenda Starr in place of my photo on the library web page. I absolutely no desire to have my picture on the website and I can be equally sure that it won't be missed. I did, however, want to be represented by a firey red head such as Pepperming or Brenda, because they are everything I'm not: Adventursome, outspoken and full of fun!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What can Snoopy teach us about writing?

I am an avowed Charlie Brown lover. I have always loved the entire Peanuts gang and have always had a profound admiration for the late Charles Schulz. Charles Schulz had a saturnine personality (not unlike myself!) and parlayed the fear and depression that often descended upon him into a wonderful array of characters. Probably Charlie Brown was most like himself. Snoopy, too, seemed to be his outlet for the often crazy and frustrating life of the creative artist. Even as a kid I have always loved the image of Snoopy perched on the top of his dog house with his typewriter. I loved, even then, his single-mindednesss, his stick-to-it attitude, letting nothing deter him from what he needed to put down on the page.
Here is what Monte Schulz, Charles' son, has to say about his father, snoopy and the creative process in his foreward to the book Snoopy and the Writing Life:

"Snoopy perched in front of a typewriter on his famous doghouse is one of the enduring images of Peanuts. His flights of literary imagination take hold of every writer and remind us (as if we needed reminding) that once we admit to ourselves we require and adore the written word and the writer’s life, we are bound to chase that ever elusive perfect sentence, paragraph, story, novel, poem. Rejections, blocks, false starts, and dead ends only distract us; they cannot lead us away from this holy destiny we know is ours. Without a doubt, my father used Snoopy the author to express his own love and frustration with the creative process, to illuminate the writer’s life by poking fun at the often incomprehensible divide between author and publisher while showing the amazing resilience of the everyday writer struggling for acceptance and acknowledgment. Some know fame and other anonymity, but my father believed there were no short cuts to be had in the life of the dedicated artist. There is only faith and persistence. In the last days of his life, my father knew that his own commitment to the art of the written word had been honest and complete, and when he passed from this world, he left as a writer. We should all be so fortunate."


Today's Apercu

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ---Henry Ford

I like that.

Enough already! (Coffee helps!)

Ok.Ok. No more blogs about the "incident". Over the Monday hump. Just had an oil drum of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The best coffee in the entire world. I mean it. Never, ever would I eat a donut , but my idea of heaven is a place where unlimited amounts of the brew (aka "nectar of the gods) is in never ending supply. Coffee helps everything.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rodney King had a point. . .

Although I had foolishly fretted all weekend long about Monday,the day went fine. I was worried, apprehensive, unable to fully relax in the weekend because of the unpleasant interaction that I had on Friday in the library. I always do that, I hold on so tightly to emotions. There was a part of me that was worried that I had wronged someone with my solid stance to "the rules." I don't like to be punitive senselessly and I had thought, more than once during the verbal beating I took, that if I just relented, just gave in, I could avoid all of the unpleasantness. But, it makes me angry that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. What about the people who don't speak up out of fear, shyness, self-doubt? Why should obnoxious behavior be rewarded? I would hate myself. Although, I have to admit, I didn't feel so great on Friday night,so I guess it all kind of evened itself out. It's not the first time,it won't be the last.
In the immortal words of Rodney King: "Why can't we all just get along?"

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ah, Sunday sickness is alive and well

...and I definitely have it! I always wondered what a "hang dog" look was and maybe this it. It is just the way I feel. Where did the weekend go??? I swear I can feel every singe minute pass as though it were a mere second. But,alas, it is still Sunday, and Monday morning is many hours away. Still. . . .

Friday, January 20, 2006

There is a certain kind of anger that I have never been able to understand. And anger mixed with insult is, in many ways,beyond my comprehension. Whenever you work in the public domain you are left vulnerable to a particularly vicious kind of abuse: one in which, basically, you must stand there with your teeth in your mouth while someone who is foaming at theirs has a verbal go at you. This happened to me today. Some people cannot imagine something like this happening in a library, but the "house of knowledge" is no exception. I hate to be yelled at. Seem obvious? If you are reading this you are saying to yourself "well, duh, no one likes to be yelled at." NO. You don't understand, I HATE to be yelled at. For me, it is like death. Ugh. And I hate not really being able to defend myself. Maybe that's the worst part. I spoke very patiently and in a quiet voice to this person. It didn't do any good. It seemed to fuel the anger that was already stoked. When it was over, I felt a bit shakey, a bit sick to my stomach . I just wanted to go home. There is a certain amount of civility missing in every day interactions and I don't know what it is, or why it is or even what to do about it. I can get easily irritated, that I admit, but it would take an incident of gargantuan proportions for me to hurl invectives at someone over something small. Although I could imagine doing it if it meant defending someone. It took a lot out of me and I dread seeing this person again.
But, alas, it will be the front lines again on Monday. Right now would be a good time to remind myself that 99% of the time my interactions with students and with the public is interesting, wonderful and gratifying in so many ways.
Bring on Monday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where are all the students? Even when the winds are blowing at 60 mph and it is raining cats and dogs, you still have to get to class. So where is everyone? The underground tunnel?
Sweet Nelly, I'd rather be writing, for sure.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Living from the inside out,not the outside in

After two weeks of going into work everyday while classes were not in session because of the holiday, classes start, once again, tommorow. I always feel a bit anxious because we basically go from 0 to 60 as soon as the day starts. For the most part students are wonderfully engaging. They can, though,be incredibly demanding and inscrutable. The noise level in the library raises appreciably as students come to the library for various reasons, not all of them for the pursuit of knowledge. In fact, the library serves some of the same purpose as a community center: students come to study,chat, check e-mail, attend class, hang out, keep warm (winter) get cool(summer)and, on occasion, actually look for a book just to read for pleasure! I always get so much satisfaction out of a kid that wants a book of fiction to read, and I must admit, I always feel a bit sorry for the student who is constantl partying, or hanging outside in huge groups, having a cigarette or with a cell phone plastered against the ear. Admittedly, I was such a different person at that age. I really needed a HUGE amount of quiet time with myself. I really needed to "hear myself think", needed to be able to put things down on paper, to get them out of my system so that I could get on with other things. I always like to ask my students on Friday afternoon how they plan to spend the weekend. Again, on Monday morning, I ask to see if maybe one of them realized that the reason their heads are always spinning,why they seem to feel a bit shattered or lonely is because they are constantly searching outside of themselves for something. I just want to say "slow down a bit," but of course they would just look at me and laugh.
I have one student who is so lively and vivacious and will someday set the world on fire because she wants so much out of life. Her social calendar could rival anyones, but she manages to write some lovely poetry, in between the clubbing , hanging out with her boyfriend and her seemingly hundreds of friends. One day I had walked away from the circulation desk for a few minutes. When I came back, L. was sitting behind the circ desk with a pad of paper . She was looking up and out of the window, deep in thought. Then she would hesitate and look down at the pad and write a few lines. I was watching a mind in thought , and witnessing someone who lives life allegro find the words to create images of beauty. I want to be able to say to her "That's it. Writing those words, creating those images will bring you so much joy in life. Keep writing, do that every , single day. Make something beautiful!" If, I did say that, she'd laugh. She'd more than laugh. She'd slap her thigh and say "It really ain't that deep, Miss Michelle!"
But, you know, it is. She just doesn't realize it now. But I do. Which is why my heart soars when a student comes in for something to read.
"Have anything, like, good to read?" I just smile. I sure do.

Friday, January 13, 2006

And so did Van Gogh. . .

Friday night and while I should be relaxing, it will take me until tommorow to flush work out of my mind. Today was good and productive. I like that feeling about work and I try to hold onto it , because it inspires my writing, too.
Here's what Van Gogh says:

<em>Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

And sometimes it takes a bunch of people to bring things to fruition. That's another good thing about my day job: the teamwork. Writing is often so lonely, all my thoughts rattling around in my brain like marbles in shoebox. No one to bounce things off of. This creating of worlds in your head is strange business, though I love it. But my day job, being surrounded by people and expectations that others have of me,not just the ones that I have for myself is a good thing.

Here's to you Vincent Van Gogh, because , in the end , whether those 'great things' are brought about by, the group with all of the external pressures of the workplace or within the desirous part of ourselves that just wants to create something meaningful in the end , making it happen is what counts.

Kafka had a point. . .

My student insists on defending A Million Little Pieces. I've decided to reconsider what the story could mean for people for whom transcendence in their lives is the goal or a matter of survival. The transcendence of pain, addiction, loneliness, alchoholism or any of the other sundry miseries we often find ourselves in. O.K. I'll concede that my student is a real smart girl and she challenged me, not without some irritation: "O.K,Michelle,you know,it is not really that deep, o.k.? I mean , really what difference does it make?" I was a bit taken aback, so I took a minute to think: "Well, I said "it's not real." She replied "So?" "He should have made it fiction!" I persisted. "But Michelle,either way,it is still a damn good story."
And you know, as much as I hate to admit it,I have to say that she's right. Is that why the recent negative publicity hasn't hurt sales in the least? Could be. I'll let this rest for a while. But if a book, as Kafka said, should be the ax that breaks the frozen sea within us, then no matter what it is called fiction or memoir, the way it makes us feel is all that matters.
And that's one of the things that I LOVE about my day job: interactions with really bright students who know how to cut through the intellectual bs and get to a bedrock of truth.
Let's hear it for a damn good story wherever it can be found.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A million little lies..

"Um,well, I mean..." That's the way that author James Frey prefaced almost every answer to the questions he was asked tonight on Larry King Live. Frey's creative shifting and manipulation of his version of the truth has caused a quite a dustup. I am listening to him try to himself out of what he has come close to admitting but not quite: that he lied. A Million Little Pieces is a riveting romp throgh Frey's crack smoking, law breaking alchohol induced existence years ago and of his attempt to get clean in a treatment center. Sounds compelling so far, right? Yeah, well he lied. I have to keep reminding myself of this because it clearly changes the entire impact of the book for me. Yes, James, memoir IS subjective. Yes, James, it should capture the essence of an experience. Yes James, YOU might call it the "essential truth of your life," but you've lost credibility. A student said to me "His story is amazing, I can't believe what he lived through!" And therin lies the rub. He didn't exactly live through any of it. Lessens the impact doesn't it? Not to her. She kept saying, "I don't care whether it's true or not, he's really brave." Okaaaay. . . but see, that 's the POINT, it's a good story, let's give him kudos for a story that has the ability to sell millions and millions (God only knows, if only I could do the same), but let's try not to elevate him to sainthood for what he survived, when at this point it is difficult to even figure out what exactly is true and what isn't. Oprah called in on the show and still supports the book. Frey and his Mom were grinning ear to ear. Sales will probably soar overnight! Having said that, I will lose interest in this rather quickly. Whenever the masses catch on to something , I say "I'm outta here." On to the next thing.

Today's apercu

As Katherine Hepburn says in the movie High Society:
"The time to make up your mind about people is never."

It's good to remember.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's kind of like bartending. . .

Well, it really is. I worked my part time job today at the public library and had a lot of great conversations. A regular patron that comes in is a very lovely looking Polish woman. She's jus had her fourth child----gorgeous blue-eyed, blonde children. I congratulated her on the birth of her son who is only a few weeks old. She sighed and said, "I slipped him in right before my Big birthday coming up!" "Oh," I replied, "Thirty isn't that bad!" Her eyes became wide. "Thirty?!" she sputtered. "I'll be Forty!" "Well, " I said,"Forty isn't bad at all." She came closer to the circulation desk and leaned toward me and said "But my husband is only 24!" EGADS! Ive had people confess all sorts of things to me in the course of doing readers' advisory,checking their books out, as well as collecting their fines.
I will still always love the preteen boy, a few years back who confirmed that if he returned books late , he would have to pay a late fine. "That's right," I said. "Well, " he replied as he pulled the books he wanted to return out of a small backpack, "These are early. Do I get money back?"
Gotta love working at the library. Good conversation, books, colorful characters and books, lousy pay, but books, books books.
What's not to love?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Back to work!

So the holidays are over. How grand. As much as I love them, I couldn't wait until they were over---that is, until I got back to work. I am a creature of habit, and really felt the need to get back to some semblance of routine. When I was at home, I'd really look forward to brewing my morning coffee and then sit down to write. The truth is, after those first few delcious sips of scalding hot coffee, drinking the rest of the cup and any cups that are poured after that, is akin to chasing a ghost. So after I've savored the flavor of the first cup of coffee I sat and looked at the blank page for a long, long time. But while I am at work, its a different story. Sometimes I much prefer to think about writing than to actually do any writing. And that's where work comes in. Because while I am working my day job, I can knash my teeth and think, quite dramatically "I'd rather be writing!" The truth is, I'm much more productive when I have other things to occupy me, then when I do come to the writing, I am really hungry for it.

The library has been so quiet . It will remain that way until the students come back on the 17th of this month. While I enjoy the quiet, it makes the day long and tedious no matter how much work I have to do. Of course, once the semester starts , things will be so busy, the day so full of all sorts of details, I'll go home every night way too tired to do anything of import. Such is life. Writing time becomes all important on the weekends. I try to maximize my time.

Alas, today is Friday, but I don't have any time to savor it. I will work my parttime job in a public library tommorow. But,to be sure, no matter how tired I will be when I come home, I'll start brewing the coffee while preparing to write. If I've got to chase ghosts, so be it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Emerging from the other side of the holidays...

Wow. This is the last day off from work. Tommorow I will return to my desk where I left everything in a bit of happy confusion. Afterall, who cares right before the break? I feel like a bear who is just wakening from hibernation. I woke early this morning in preparation for getting into the early a.m. groove again. It is not only physical, it's mental, too. Coffee helps. I've got a nice big cup of it right now. The break was great though. The holidays were relaxing and fun, just like they are supposed to be and I managed to get quite a bit of reading done. Dr. Zhivago was amazing---so was Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Seamstress. MJ Hyland's Carry Me Down almost hurt to read, it was that poignant. Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos was o.k Jean Paul Sartre's The Words will now be my book for life. Rereading Adrienne Rich's On Secrets, Lies and Silence is so validating for me, especially as a wife and mother and writer. She just resonates so deeply with me. The essays were written in the 70's , but their truth is not dated a single bit. She is a brave and brilliant woman. An excerpt:

For a poem to coalesce, for a character or an action to take shape, there has to be an imaginative transformation of reality which is in no way passive. Anda certain freedom of the mind is needed---freedom to press on, to enter the currents of your thought like a glider pilot, knowing that your motion can be sustained, that the buoyancy of your attention will not be suddenly snatched away. Moreover, if the imagination is to transencd and transform experience it has to question, to challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very lief you are living at that moment. You have to be free to play around with the notion that day ;might be night, love might be hate;nothing can be too sacred for he imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is re-naming.
And I love Rich for every word that she has ever written. She, like Emily Dickinson, is a guiding light for me, a constant reminder that no matter what our circumstances as wives, mothers , students, day job workers, we can write, we can imagine, we can create worlds. In fact, if we call ourselves writers, it is essential that we do write ---every day. It is validating, it is freeing, it is uplifting.
Right now I am typing this on my laptop which I got for Christmas. Last night my son and daughter were watching me type . My daugher asked me if I was always going to write on my laptop from now on. "Of course!" I replied. My son and daugher looked at eachother in a strange way. "Mom! What about your journals?" I assured her that I would never give up my journals since nothing quite compares to curling up with a beautiful and carefully selected book of blank pages-----practically an engraved invitation to get to know yourself and the world around you. So, after I post this, I'll pour myself another cup of delicious coffee, sit down near the window and plumb the depths of my soul. Well, something like that anyway!
Happy New Year everyone!