30 September 2004


I can only describe that as a migraine. Stress, sinuses, Mi-Hye being a complete asshole and calling my bluff so I have to contact the union....it all culminated in my having to call out sick because I thought my skull was going to implode.

And no Tessa didn't call. So I'm still waiting to find out about the job. Trying not to stress out about that. I need to call Eva but I hate to call her without having anything to tell her....Hi Eva, I still don't know if we can rent your house because I have to get the job I applied for, can we call you again in two weeks? Yeah, whatever.

No wonder I'm fried. But I managed to clean a corner of my dining room today, the one under the computer desk. So when I get the energy I can at least write cover letters and apply for adjunct positions at two SUNY campuses. Campi. Whatever. And I'm obviously going to have to do the comma lecture again, and the semi-colon lecture. And the don't put capital letters in the middle of sentences lecture, in some cases. I let class out early last night because I ran out of lesson plan and wasn't feeling well enough to wing it. I need to work that out. Hmmmm. I've got a stack of essays, and judging from where they started from, I want to kiss each and every one of my students. (Except Jason, who comes 20 minutes late and hasn't written a fucking word so far as I know. No draft, no final essay, no nothing. He's about to flunk.) And I feel bad because he's also the only African-American kid in the class. If I'm feeling magnanimous I might tell him that he's going to flunk if he doesn't withdraw, but I might just fail his ass. He doesn't care, doesn't respect me, doesn't respect the class, and it shows and if that's going to be his attitude I don't want him there. No, that's not it, I don't care, it's not even like you can tell he's in class. I just don't want him to waste his money, because I care about passing him about as much as he cares about passing, as far as I can tell. My concern for his classwork is in direct relation to his effort. Which was been zero.

And yet I love it. I love knowing that my assignment for essay 2 was greeted with complete and utter academic horror. Oh God, I'm going to have to think??? This is not a freebie. I'm so cruel. And yet, that's what makes them love me. I could get into this, big time.

Which means I need to get off my ass and write some cover letters. Sigh.

26 September 2004

Excerpt from an e-mail to Daniel

Mmmmm. Tea. I know you're a coffee drinker in terms of becoming functional, and I agree with you that a lot of coffee is very good on simply that drug level. But give me a huge mug of English breakfast tea in the morning, thank you. It's a strange ritual, and a solitary one. To me coffee is a social beverage almost exclusively. I rarely make it just for myself, despite the beautiful black-and-chrome vaporatore that I was given for Christmas last year, which I truly cherish, and use religiously at Robin's. Coffee from the road, the only other places I drink tea in the mornings are my mother's and Samira's...and, on occasion, the Inn.

23 September 2004

Office Hours

So. Here I am, having dutifully put in my hours this week, playing teacher by grading Lauren's extra draft of paper, and by setting up (finally) my grade book. Okay, it's actually an attendance book, but whatever. Somehow I'm thinking that even a half-cup of coffee thick with half-and-half might not have been such a good plan, considering how starving I am, and that I have to stop at Wegman's on the way home. Oops. But somehow it fit with the role I'm playing this moment, the one of College English Professor.

Today I just about asked Mi-Hye, "You're not from around here, are ya" because she decided that my patting Rob jokingly on the cheek was "inappropriate touching." Get real. He's a sacred music/organ performance major. I do the same thing to half a dozen students on a regular basis--male, female, and in between. Just because she has no sense of warmth. Good God.


These kids are so good for me. Teaching is in many ways my salvation. (especially now, while I'm in a job I so totally despise with a boss who is so obviously clueless on that many levels.)

Almost done freaking out about the interview process, but there's so much pressure (which I've placed on myself) because I feel like this is the only real job lead I've gotten for the Putnamistan area, that if I don't get this job we will lose the house and it'll be all my fault. A theory, by the way, he thoroughly poo-poohs. But his USDA thing is looking good...slowly. I hate patience. It sucks. Wah! is right, I'm going to end up a tree in my next life.

Robin said the sweetest thing yesterday. I sent him an email thanking him once again for the haven of his lake house. That I was pretty fucking stressed, and he magically opened up that possibility of brief respite, or else he somehow knew but didn't talk about it. And he sent me back a two-word email: I do... That just about undid me with love and gratitude for him.

Was going to take the weekend off from the Ren Faire, but it doesn't look like that's the plan anymore...Carolyn's coming up with her family...tra la, tra la....oh well....maybe I'll still get my ass in gear early enough Sunday to have some rest, either at home or up at the lake, which is awfully tempting....except for the drive....

Ok, now I'm stalling. This is infinitely more fun than going to the grocery store. However, there is the image of a hamster on its wheel coming to mind here......

20 September 2004


Yeah. Wow. That's a lot of damn water where the Delaware River didn't used to be. And sweet Shari lost everything, Shari who has never even uttered a loud, harsh, or unkind breath in her entire life. And now her whole world is underwater. I want to send word around to the Faire so that by next week's end every single damn drum in that shop is sold, that clothes mysteriously end up on her doorstep, that paints and drum frames and furniture arrive by the carriage-load, and that she has a crew of maintenance men and women and EMTs to shovel out her house. She's too good to have anything this terrible happen near her. And her reaction, through tears flooding her big brown beautiful eyes, and sobs that she tried not to let wrack her frail shoulders....the words...."another big change"....


So I'm off to my interview tomorrow, everyone's confident that I'll get an offer. I'm having that last minute terror so common in lesser mammals, the humanoids.

Oh yes, and the hand-fasting. But I'm too tired and cranky to talk about the wonder, and the love, and the love shared by a circle of friends.

And Robin, telling my boyfriend, "when are you coing to visit me? I'm tired of always seeing her rat ass."


That man deserves a spanking.

17 September 2004

Bendy Wendy

Chloe brought me matzo ball soup and Flexoril last night, and then did my dishes. I couldn't convince her that I was okay from the car accident, because the truth is I was stressed out and exhausted. (who, me?) I ended up going to bed at 8:30. At least, I think it was 8:30. It could have been 3:80. I hate drug hangovers.

Ever notice how full of complaining I seem to be? Maybe I should get a life. Or a vacation. Now there's a concept. A vacation that isn't consumed by one of my other two jobs. A last-ditch effort to spend time alone with myself for several days before I-don't-know-what? I've come to realize I'm fiercely afraid of losing my hard-won independence. I've come to know myself by and through it. And now I'm about to latch myself to a distinctly separate person for the remainder of my days. Am I mad?

Remarkable, the sensation of watching myself, wondering aloud if I am about to jump into something headlong, without thinking. How is observing this phenomenon unlike thinking about it? It's why I need so desperately to talk to him this weekend. For long, for real, for good. Without all the distractions that commonly occur in our conversations. Funny stories, other people in our presence because we're on the phone, movies, laundry, his inherent desire to always be multitasking. Okay, I have one too, but I'm able to turn it off and concentrate on the matter at hand for several minutes at a time before I have to get up and sort laundry.

Maybe he thinks that when I get up from the conversation we're having, I'm signaling that it's over. Even sometimes we're driving, which is often when our best conversations take place--but we're still doing something else. We're always doing something eles. We're never just talking.

We need to just talk.

I congratulated myself for waking at all today by going to Main Street Bakery and buying an orange and pecan scone. It's pretty extra-mediocre. Not much of a prize. I miss the cool green fronds of Oscawana, the lake that wraps around your ankles as you float.

13 September 2004

Insert Thesis Statement Here

Some of you may note that this in no way resembles grading 21 papers. This would, in fact, be an accurate observation. Actually I just picked one up, Nicole's pink folder, her tidy labels like her tidy hair and well' manicured fingers. sweet Nicole. she's a good kid. Like most of them--anxious to please, to do well. I'm merely appalled that these intelligent kids can't seem to write their way out of a paper bag. because let me tell you, not a single one of my students is dumb, and only a few of them are fluffy. And Nicole is my star, the one who critiques with insight and catches the drift of my analysis half a step ahead of the rest.

And there's still comma splices and mismatched verbs (pardon me, your participle is dangling) and thin imagery. And it simply stuns me. That their teachers up til college haven't done a damn thing about this. I mean, what in the name of the Great Gerbil God Ding was their sixth grade English teacher doing???

So okay. At least I have my work cut out for me, and at least I know why there are at least 84 sections of freshman comp (I was number 83) on campus and students adding into them every week. Though if I get another one they'll already technically have flunked according to my attendance policy. Which, incidentally, makes me wonder if I'll ever get an add slip for any of my students, or for that matter a drop slip from a couple of people who have yet to appear, though one of them did call before I even knew I had voice mail. Shit, that reminds me, I think I need to set up my mail box. Oh hell. Being scatterbrained is too much work.

11 September 2004

On the Transmigration of Souls

Here's my thoughts on this. Somewhat garbled, as usual.

Some of us are trying to forget. No, not the facts, not the reality. We never will forget that, it's impossible. It's ingrained in us so deeply it's become part of our bodies. For me, it's quite literal. I have crap embedded so deeply in my lungs, the EPA now tells me, that it will never come out, (Mt. Sinai keeps coming out with better and better news about how "long-term health effects are widespread among rescue workers and survivors." No shit. They needed a federal grant to study that?) For me, what I struggle to forget, especially this time of year, is the intense details of the aftermath that crippled me emotionally for so many months afterward. Every time a plane flew overhead, I ducked. I would wake in the middle of the night with the stench of the pit in my lungs. I could smell it on my sheets, in my hair, in the pages of my journal. Even now, if I concentrate, I can bring that smell back. I try not to, because it makes me sadder than words. The sadness I can handle. But it also makes me numb, comatose, anxious, weepy....all those classic PTSD symptoms that still crop up, though a little less every year.

For me, the real goal is to forget. Is for 9/11 to pass by almost unnoticed. I will always know the facts of what happened. But one day I want to be able to commemorate it with my children the way Jenny and I called her children outside and away from the horror of the television we could not turn on and Rain could not turn off downstairs in the basement.....by going outside, and picking the season's first apples from the orchard. My hope is that my children will remember and think of 9/11 the way I think of Pearl Harbor--that they know something horrible happened that day, something that changed the world forever, but that they know it as ancient history, without any bitterness towards the people who did it just because their faces looked different or they were on the other side. I hope they remember it as the moment we all stood together and said, "No more," and that the story ends very differently--that the end result was the same, that the world was changed forever, but without knowing that countless thousands more had to die before the change. I want the candles Jenny lit last night to be the last candles we had to light because of this. I want them to know their Uncle Danny, instead of having to light a candle for him in a park someday. I want my beautiful, blond, American student Jennifer Shecht to not dread the whole month of September because she happens to be Muslim, a choice she made because of the man she loved, not because she thinks Christian God is the enemy. I don't want to wake up three, four, a dozen times every night when the weather is perfect like this, wondering if the terror is real again, wondering if Terry is able to sleep too, wondering if Jason and Beura and LaFaye and Gene are all lying awake across the country with me, thinking the same thoughts. I don't want Lisa Beamer's kids to grow up different, part of that special club that nobody wants to be a part of.

Most of all, I want to wake up one morning and realize it is mid-September, that it's almost MaryAnn's birthday, almost the anniversary of the first day I met the man I'm going to marry, that I have to call Chloe and Jake and Robin and wish them l'shanah tovah (forgive me, I can't even spell it in English, let alone hebrew) and there are papers to grade from my freshman comp class and it's almost time to take the kayak in off the dock for the winter and start cutting back the lavender in the garden......and that's all. I want to wake up and it's the first of October and I haven't even noticed.

That's what I want.

I need to forget the anger, anger for me is poisonous.....so hard to figure out what's "righteous" anger and what's "all about me" anger......the grief still wells up, and that's okay. i know I won't forget the grief but in time be able to deal with it. I don't want it to remain what giuliani said that day (and he was right) "that it will be more than any of us can bear."
But he was also wrong.....it was more than any one of us could bear, but I saw in the following months a city, a nation, so strong because we were one. that's something I have not seen before or since.

Last night I did what I do every year, I put on Daniel's requiem mass, which he compiled for this occasion in October 2001. It's not a public recording, he made about a dozen copies for friends. It starts out with the silence between solemnly tolling bells and the rising voices of Arvo Part, soon mingled with sirens and confusion and voices both American and Arabic and eventually the bombs we dropped in Afghanistan--all pulled from the endless news tapes he has access to at NPR--and finally rising out of that confusion is Daniel's own voice. Not the voice of his mouth, that lovely jazz announcer's smooth subtenor with strange, rich, deep undertones that I always imagined came from smoking too many cigarettes but now know he inherited from his father--but the voice of his drums. Before anything else, Daniel is a drummer. I can't always place his sources when he weaves together CDs for me, in part because he is so skillful at the art of the segue and in part because he has a personal recording library as big as most radio stations, plus access to an actual flagship radio station....but this one time I knew that it was Daniel speaking. This was his own composition. These were his own words. This all takes place within the first fifteen minutes of an hourlong recording, but this is the part that undoes me much more than the choir of voices that eventually takes over, absolving everything, or the Episcopal mass in Daniel's own church, into which he boldly brought his DAT recorder for the memorial service that weekend, more than Brother Ray singing "America" or even Phil Woods playing an unaccompanied Star Spangled Banner to close out the CD, both mournful and triumphant on his sax. This is the section that tears me apart, because this is the only time Daniel has ever come close to admitting how he feels.

Much the way I wrote feverishly in my journal for weeks and Jenny painted layer after layer of watercolour with the kids the next day, the way countless families made love desperately in the nights following and god knows how many children were conceived in that darkness, Daniel understood that no matter how feeble the gesture, no matter how small or how untrained the talent or the product (and his was neither, the man has a gift beyond words) the opposite of destruction is creation, that the only way to steer our way out of this incredible darkness was to light one match, he set himself ablaze like a beacon and stood in the blackness for us to find our way home.

10 September 2004

PMS Has Eaten My Brain

This would be the primary reason I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept that God might be a woman. So now I'm here without glasses, office keys, allergy medicine...damn near everything except my journal. And not feeling too good about it. The weather is perfect, though, that kind of perfect weather we'd been having three years ago. The kind of perfect weather I don't trust anymore.

I don't wish to get into that kind of remembrance, though; not today. Today I want to focus on the possible.

Whatever that is.

03 September 2004


Which is something these journal entries haven't been doing. It's possible I'm having trouble with the Big Blue Button, but more likely it's that my Big Blue Toilet Seat of a computer (original iBook, you see?) is not playing well with others. Each time I try to enter my current music, everything eats itself. Deleverance, walking through the cemetery with my boyfriend gone. Early morning thoughts on why John Kerry may have been a confused and angry young man when he came back from Vietnam, but at least he showed up, and since when isn't a politician capable of personal and emotional growth, he's still infinitely better than He Whose Initial Must Not Be Mentioned--gone. Coffee bitter and frothed with milk in Robin's backyard, sun burning my legs already--gone. Rootless rambling, also gone.

It got really annoying after a while. So I stopped thinking of important things to say. Then I went from having one job to having four (three plus Robin's) and that was the end of everything including enough sleep to remain coherent, personable, and functional at work for a week at a time. Even three vacation days didn't do much good, since I had to write a syllabus. Not my intent, not exactly relaxing either. Still, the work was done and I'm glad for it. This is obviously going to take a certain amount of discomfort and monumental effort. But I felt, even in front of the class on my first night, that it will certainly be worth it.