Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

These names are for the last year only. You know-- since the war has ended. To be continued next Sunday, in the Doonesbury strip.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


(Picture taken August 2005, on the south flank of Mt. Hood, up in the huckleberry fields. It has nothing to do with the blog entry-- I just thought it was pretty.)

It’s been a weird and wonderful few days.

Wednesday I was sailing along, feeling about as fine as a grad student can feel. It was the day of the annual English Department Kellogg awards, and all of us were invited to a pre-reception with keynote speaker Barry Lopez. This was especially wonderful because two of my WR 121 students from winter term had won awards, too, using essays written in our Basic Comp class. They came to the reception and I was able to introduce them around. Lopez shook hands with one of the students, Joel, invited him to pull up a chair, and then sat knee-to-knee with him for half an hour, discussing Joel’s experiences as a soldier in Iraq one year ago.

After the pre-reception came the presentation itself—at which I was lucky to receive a sizable fellowship for non-fiction writing. I say ‘lucky’ with genuine feeling, as compared to saying it to fish for compliments. The non-fiction program is small—with only maybe two dozen students—and full of extremely gifted writers, any one of which could easily have received any of the awards given that evening. It felt like a luck-of-the-draw thing: I truly believe that they could have simply put all of our names into a hat and drawn out the winners, and it would have been fine. I felt very fortunate to have been honored. The whole thing was made even sweeter because most of the students in the non-fiction program attended and we all hooted and cheered each other. It was a wonderful feeling of community, and solidarity. Writing can be a lonely, hard business—being buoyed up by friends makes it sweeter.

The ceremony was followed by a lavishly catered reception at the Simon Benson House on PSU campus, at which time Barry Lopez not only signed two of my books but complimented my writing and then hugged me. HUGGED ME. What a rush! It was a great time—a chance to visit with everyone without the usual pressures of angst and time-panic that rule one’s days as a grad student in the writing program. I sort of floated home at about 10 pm.

And then came Thursday, and I crashed back to Earth. My Thursday evening class is “Forms of Non-Fiction,” taught by Debra Gwartney, an incredible writer and mentor and a very challenging teacher. It was my night to be workshopped—meaning I’d brought a story the week before, and everyone had taken it home to read and critique it. Now here they all were, ready to spend 45 minutes workshopping it aloud, while I, as per the rules, had to stay silent. It’s always a grueling process, but it’s a good kind of pain. The idea for the story had come to me late and I’d written it faster than I should have. As a result, the essay—about aging, and death—was rough, and my fellow students found and shredded every loose end and each wobbly word. It was, as it always is, a humbling experience, but a good one. Now I know what I need to do with the essay.

Here’s the thing: this combination of euphoria and despair, pride and self-flagellation, is what a writer’s life is like. Writing is hard, exhausting work, and it demands a constant level of self-criticism that can leave one both tired and fragile. I got home that evening and was in bed at 10:00. The next morning, I saw Bill off to work and went back to bed until 8:00, then, after having a bite of cereal, fell asleep on the couch for another two hours. Very unlike me, and very telling about how tired I’ve been, and what a strain grad school is taking.

As for the hubris, what a great taste of being a diva one night, and a downtrodden, struggling writer the next! The Greeks would be happy with this. Barry Lopez understands it, too. At the Kellogg Awards presentation, he said, “I congratulate each of you who won an award tonight. Enjoy the spotlight. Treasure the moment. But tomorrow morning, get up out of bed, pick up your pen, and start the work again.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Steven Colbert's Bush appearance

This just in from a friend's blog (thanks, Estara!):

"If you missed the link to Stephen Colbert's in-your-face skewering of both Bush and the press in their presence at the White House Correspondents Dinner, it is my pleasure to inform you that you can buy it at iTunes and have it to enjoy forever for two bucks.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rock Star photo....

It’s been a busy week, with several high points.

Last week I found out that I’m receiving the “Giving Back Fellowship,” a new award given by the Dept. of English/Writing to a first year graduate writing student. It means enough of a cash prize that I can give up my Vanguard job next fall. This is a good thing: although I’ve enjoyed writing for the paper, it takes up a lot of time, and cuts into my writing and studying.

I also found out that two of my WR 121 students from winter term are getting awards at the Kellogg ceremony. Woo hoo! I am so, so proud of them!

I met with my advisor this week and found that I’m close to being done with my hard credit requirements for both MAs, which is a load off my mind, and means I can now concentrate on a few remaining classes and on preparing for graduation in a year.

I watched Capote, finally. WOW. An incredible film, and I fully support Phillip Seymore Hoffman's 'best actor' win. WOW.

Erin came for the weekend. We watched TV and hung out watched the Gilmore Girls finale and visited the gorge yesterday and had a lovely time. Here is the view from Crown Point:

Here's Erin (tiny pink person) on the top tier of Crown Point's Vista House:

Here we are below Multnomah Falls:

Erin, at the foot of Horsetail Falls:

The obligatory ice cream from Cascade Locks:

This morning, Erin, Bill, and I went to Farmer’s Market. After Erin and Amber headed home, Bill and I went to see the Artrain, a traveling Native American art show that is held within a set of train cars and is pulled from city to city. I'm not sure how Milwaukie pulled this off, because Artrain is a really big deal, and somehow we got it instead of Portland! In fact, it pulled up right behind the apartments where Katie once lived.

Here's Bill on the Artrain, which turns out to be a gallery inside temperature- and humidity-controlled train cars.

I'm strangely tired today, but it's been a good week.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mom’s Day!

Big shout outs to those people who qualify me as mother, daughter, niece, or granddaughter, starting with my Mom—seen here at the Chinese Garden….

My first-born, Katie (also seen in the top picture!)….

The middle kiddle, Scott (and Rebecca!)….

The babester, Gollum, er, Erin….

Guess it's only fair to include an... ahem... better picture of Erin...

The snarler, Ernie….

The one and only GG!

And my cousins and Auntie…. Even thought Auntie’s no longer here on Earth with us, she’s somewhere (!) and I think of her a lot. Below is a great picture taken in mid-1955. That’s Auntie Georgia, GG, and Mom standing in front of GG and Grandpa Fred’s home in The Dalles. The little girls are my cousins, Kris and Janni. And the baby? It’s me!

Happy Mother’s Day to all women, for all women are mothers, whether the decide to give birth or not.

Many blessings, and a bit of motherly magick to you all….

Friday, May 12, 2006

Some things are just never meant to be, no matter how much we wish they were....

The infrequency of my blog entries of late should tell you something about how busy I am. I had another of my near-panic days this past week, buried in schedules and homework and papers to grade and lack of sleep. It seems that “Week 6” just isn’t a good time for me.

But once again, the feeling has passed—thank Goddess. And today, a glorious day off. It’s supposed to be 85 today!

Big news: …. drum roll….


Michael McGregor gave me the go-ahead on my proposal to write about the geology and folklore of the Cascade Range. Yes kids, mom finally got an official reason to play with science! I’ll be doing the research this summer and writing next fall and winter. Wahoo!

Spring term is whizzing by. I’m registered for summer classes (GAs get free tuition, which I can’t pass up), including a weekend at Haystack with Ellen Morris Bishop, writer of this book. The workshop’s focus is writing about landscape, and how it informs the stories we tell. It will give me a lot of information and help with my thesis.

My WR 121 class is going well—the students are both interested and interesting. I really do love teaching.

I received my GA assignments for next year. For the first term I’ll be the Assistant Director of Writing, a chance to work in an Admin position in the Dept. of English—a good resume item, for sure, and a chance to see how the department works from the inside-out. Winter term I’m scheduled to teach an intro to creative non-fiction writing class. That may change, though, as the class may not be offered that term. Spring term, I’ll be team teaching “Intro to Literature” with my friend and co-GA, Eric Wilson (above). We’re both thrilled with that assignment—Eric is the introspective theoretical philosopher type, while I bring lots of writing and modern culture and folklore into my classes, so with us together it ought to be pretty interesting.

The Grey School site is finally back—and mostly repaired—after almost two months of serious site/host problems.

Last but not least, Llewellyn—the flagship publisher for magickal/spiritual writing—is interested in a book proposal that I sent a couple of weeks ago. It looks as if I’ll be getting a pre-contract from them for a book that I’ll write next spring/summer. More details on that as they occur.

The Gargoyles book (left) is in process (and can be pre-ordered from Amazon!)—I need to do some work on lining up illustrations.

That’s the update, hope you liked it.

Now… on to Gilmore Girls!


Don’t read further if you don’t want to know too much….








(I warned you!)

1. Loved the music! Loved the music! Loved the music! Although I wish I knew who each of those groups were. Erin is coming next weekend, and I’ll make her tell me. Supposedly Dan Palladino plays one of them, in a farewell cameo. What a hoot, though. The idea of troubadours overrunning the town was terrific.

2. Loved the Clarence Thomas reference.

3. Rory’s finally growing up a little. Finally. I loved the elevator scene with Huntsberger. What great tension, to have them realize that they maybe do have something in common, in terms of what they want for Logan (see beefcake, left)

4. As for Lorelei, I almost couldn’t take her sad, puffy, increasingly depressed and desperate face through the show. It’s what starts the episode, and it’s what ends it. Great bookend-ing. But naked in Christopher’s bed? And did you see the self-satisfied smirk on Christopher’s face? AUGH! Here we go again, I think to myself.

5. Luke: WISE UP! Is your hat too tight or something? Big dummy!

6. Can I rant about these garments called “shrugs”? If there’s ever been a garment that exemplifies dumb fashion, this has got to be it. Half a sweater? Half a jacket? Not even half, really. More like a third. So, do they ask you to only pay one-third of the price when you buy one? I’m betting not.

Now that I’m writing this, I’m betting that some of you—including my own daughters—probably wear these things. If so, no pain intended. But come on—let’s think about this a little, okay? What if people also started wearing a third of a sock, a third of each shoe, or a third of their pants? (The fact that some people actually do dress like that, notwithstanding.)

7. Anyone notice that Christopher's daughter's name acronym--GG--is also the acronym for "Gilmore Girls"? Coincidence? Oh, I think not.

8. Team Sherman-Palladino has ridden off into the sunset…. I worry about what the show will be like next year, in what will probably be its last season. Time will tell….