October 2010


Evil eye

Today is Halloween and the last day of October, which means we’re on the brink of November’s National Blog Posting Month: that time of year when many bloggers make a public commitment to post something every day for the month of November. Once again this year, I’m planning to participate in NaBloPoMo, a commitment that can seem even scarier than the creepiest Halloween decor.

Floating ghoul with shadow

I participated in NaBloPoMo in 2008 and 2009, and in both cases I appreciated the discipline of making a conscious commitment to post something every day. Most months, I blog when I’m able, but once a year, it feels good to shift my blog-practice into overdrive. Making a commitment to post every day is an act of faith, a sign that you really do believe your mind is an abundant source of insight and inspiration even on days when you feel like you don’t have anything to say, much less time to say it. Making a commitment to post every day is a way of making a once-a-year declaration that writing isn’t something you do when you have enough time; it’s something you do every day, regardless.

November is a busy month for college professors–as I type these words, I have three stacks of student essay drafts to read and two online classes’ worth of end-term grading to tackle–so it’s a good time to make an arbitrary commitment to my own writing. November isn’t any more special than any other month, but NaBloPoMo forces me to act as if it were, finding something interesting to say and show even on days when the daily grind has me ground down. Here’s hoping I can keep blogging throughout the busy days of November without losing my head.

Decapitated

Click here for more information about National Blog Posting Month, a slightly more tame version of the National Novel Writing Month that sends so many writers to their keyboards in November.

Snowflake in his pillow fort

Nothing says “nap” like a fluffy white cat curled behind fluffy white pillows…unless it’s a cuddly orange cat buried in laundry.

Crash "helps" sort laundry

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Fluffy.

Fallen leaves and leaf-prints

Yesterday was unseasonably warm and humid, even as it was gray and drizzly: a thick, steamy day. In the morning I wore a lightweight raincoat when I took Reggie on his morning walk, and I was uncomfortably warm by the time we got home. Last night, after dark, I walked Reggie once more around the block, and I was comfortable in a T-shirt, yoga pants, and sandals, as if it were still summer.

Oak leaves and sky

On Tuesday afternoon, several of my Creative Nonfiction students mentioned how they dislike the word “moist,” as it evokes for them the damp, sticky feeling of sweaty flesh. For me, “moist” conjures images of cake–a tasty thought–but the word “clammy” makes my skin crawl with its suggestion of pale, soft flesh glistened over with damp.

Wednesday’s unseasonal weather was steamy, sultry, and unsettling. October drizzle is not uncommon, but those days are usually chilly; October warmth is not unheard of, but those days are usually sunny and dry. Warm, moist October days seem downright unnatural, as appealing as a clammy handshake in a crowded elevator.

Since I took no pictures on yesterday’s damp morning walk, today’s images come from a dryer dog-walk several weeks ago.

Restored bank teller windows

This is a detail from the lobby of the Courtyard San Diego Downtown, which is where J and I stayed on our honeymoon. Although we chose this hotel primarily because of its location, we were pleasantly surprised when we learned it is housed in the 1920s San Diego Trust and Savings building, which was beautifully restored when the bank was re-purposed as a hotel.

We never made it to the basement to explore the hotel’s conference rooms, which are housed in the bank’s old vaults. But simply hanging around the first floor lobby made us feel like a million bucks.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Architecture.

Fall foliage with contrails

When you spend your weekdays in New Hampshire, you don’t have to drive for miles to see beautiful fall scenery; you just have to wake up and walk the dog.

Click here for the rest of my photos from yesterday’s morning dog-walk at Goose Pond. Enjoy!

Leaf and imprint

Every semester, I labor under the delusion that someday, eventually, I’ll not only catch up with work, I’ll even get ahead. Every semester, I chase my own tail, and every semester, I eventually realize (not a moment too soon) that “catching up” and “getting ahead” are illusions.

Dried hydrangea

This week once again I find myself apologizing for taking longer than I’d planned (as always!) to grade student papers and comment on student drafts. Teaching for two different institutions is always a juggling act: while you’re catching up with one set of commitments, you’re falling behind with another. At this time of the semester, I often remember my mom once saying that being a mother means that no matter how hard you try to please your children, spouse, and other family members, someone is always displeased with you. Being a moonlighting adjunct feels a bit similar. No matter how much you scurry to keep on top of your to-do list, there’s always something else to do. Working too hard is never enough. And yet in the face of the Endless To-Do List, I still harbor the delusion that someday, eventually, I’ll be Caught Up.

Neighborhood redtail

This weekend I had a proverbial moment of clarity when I realized the mantra that always got me through my busy undergraduate and grad-school semesters–“Everything always gets done, eventually”–is incomplete. Yes, everything always gets done…but it never gets done a moment too soon. The illusion that keeps me frantically scurrying through a too-busy semester isn’t the hope of getting things done in the nick of time, as always seems to happen. The illusion that keeps me frantically scurrying through too-busy days is the vain hope that if I get things done faster, then I’ll have a moment’s respite. If I could not just finish my work but get ahead, then I could catch a breather.

It’s a vain hope: that’s what I realized this weekend. I always get everything done, eventually…but I never get it done a moment too soon. I’m always, perpetually, inevitably racing down to the wire, grading papers and prepping classes and basically showing up at my life at the last minute, feeling overdue and under-prepared. It’s not how I like to see myself, rushing in and looking flustered; if I had my druthers, I’d be caught up, on top of things, and in perfect control. Instead, the Universe seems to have a different idea, perversely refusing all my efforts to win the proverbial race with time.

Pumpkin cannibalism

This past weekend was the 20th annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, where you can see carved jack-o-lanterns of all shapes, sizes, and styles. Given all the cute, pretty, and aesthetically pleasing pumpkins on display, it’s always difficult to choose a favorite…but I always seem to gravitate toward those pumpkins that are just a little bit warped.

In addition to the act of pumpkin cannibalism depicted above, for example, J and I spotted a random act of pumpkin violence…

Random act of violence

…along with one pumpkin-person who looked like he’d been in a particularly nasty barroom brawl.

You should see the other guy!

Jack-o-lanterns with odd anatomical deformities naturally grab one’s attention…

Zucchini nose

…as do pumpkins in curious colors.

Pumpkin skulls

One ghoulish gourd displayed such monstrous features, he might best be termed a “Franken-pumpkin.”

Franken-pumpkin

Some of the “pumpkins” at the Keene Pumpkin Fest played freely with the definition of “jack-o-lantern,” as in the case of this gourd-geous green swan.

Gourd-geous green swan

Things of beauty notwithstanding, the most creative–and arguably most warped–carved creation we saw at Saturday’s Pumpkin Festival was a gutted spaghetti-squash “baby” with a disgustingly dirty diaper.

Stinky spaghetti-squash diaper

This is my belated contribution to last week’s Photo Friday theme, Warped. Saturday’s Pumpkin Festival reportedly attracted a crowd of 70,000 humans and 22,943 lit jack-o-lanterns, a bunch of which you can see in my 2010 Pumpkin Festival photo-set. Enjoy!

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