Summer Anthems, One More Time

I let my students out of their final and told them all, “Have a good summer.” I had to come down on them, this morning. There was a thing with grading, and grades, and whether they had to complete the last paper… (which yes, they did). On the one hand, it breaks my heart every ...

Commute

My commute takes fifty minutes when there’s no traffic. Here are the times I’m guaranteed not to have any traffic: Saturday at 7 am. I commute to a college campus, generally speaking, in order to teach composition and writing classes. Composition and writing classes rarely take place at 7am on a Saturday. I have been ...

Building 29

04. February 2012 300 words a day 1
When I first visited UC Irvine, I was already committed to going to grad school there. I thought I should take a look around. We drove down from Los Angeles for the afternoon and spent the entire time lost. Irvine, both the campus and town, were meticulously planned for maximum disorientation. Sinuous, circular streets. No ...

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

15. January 2012 300 words a day 4
The Atlantic, while a storied magazine that hires talented writers, seems to have adopted an editorial policy that can be summed up in three words: “Provoke, provoke, provoke.”  It’s like they lopped off the top of the BuzzFeed hourglass, the smiley half of the “what kind of shit do people forward?” equation, the part with ...

Index

06. December 2011 300 words a day 0
End of the quarter: 9 days from now Hours on the train: 2 Hours commuting: 4 Hours out of the house: 11.5 Predicted height of stack of student portfolios: 2.5’ Number of things in the media that made me cry: 2 Glasses of white wine–short glasses, long pour: 2 Vegetables: 2 Other substances: caffeine, mucinex, ...

Occupy the University

One of my students showed up at office hours to talk about the protests. She wanted to tell me about the general assembly. She wanted to know: Why did thousands of people turn out at Cal, and only hundreds in Irvine? What should she say to her roommates who don’t understand why it’s important? They tell ...

The N.A.C.C.O.P.A.

Nashville. I drink endless cups of coffee and read poetry and yes, listen to country. Earlier, H. was experimenting with an old Casio keyboard. Now, P. is downstairs learning songs to play on his guitar, at a wedding. The wedding is tomorrow. He learns fast. Harper is delighted by her grandparents’ undivided attention. They don’t ...

The Problem With Me

I am in Marina Del Rey because I have spent money on a workshop about pitching freelance ideas. (That’s not the problem. That’s fine, in theory.) Backstory: I was once a journalist. Hones to G-d. People paid me enough to live, if not always to eat, to write down words about real things. For seven ...

Spring Quarter: A Thank You Note

I taught them Mark Doty, Mercy on Broadway and Description. These are poems, and it was a short fiction class, but they got it. There are stories that can be told in a line. There are stories that have no plot but that open a window to somewhere else. Can you tell me, I asked ...

Meetings

The politics of scheduling: We do not reschedule. They reschedule on us. Sometimes right before-hand, hours before. The assistants are unfailingly polite, effusive. “We are so sorry.” People in their lives get sick. They themselves get sick. Their excuses are sweet, like the excuses of my college undergrads. “Don’t give your family bad mojo by ...