Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Day

Last Day of Summer vacation.

I have a nasty nasty cold and have had it for two days.

So nice that I get to rest and build up my immune system BEFORE the chaos begins.

I resolve that when I get sick this year I will focus my attention on the hard and important job of building up my body instead of multitasking through the day.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Summary

This is it.

The rains are here. School starts on Thursday for me. Summer is over.

In June I posted about my annual worries and goals, and now I want to write about them.

1. I said I wanted to write. I wrote. Not as much as I would liked, but:

-I logged 26 hours of daytime writing work. This included the incredible workshop I posted about previously.

-I've also begun doing just a little more reading and writing every night before bed, so that's even more important.

-I submitted work to 4 places (I think... maybe more).

-I printed out a lot of my work into binders making it easier for me to look at where I've come from and where I'm going writing-wise.

2. I wrote about spending real time with ND. We did it. Some afternoons together were too long, but we went on outings to Abma's Farm, Van Saun Park, The Children's Museum, swimming lessons and a lot more. There were also our special trips to MA, Chautauqua and camping. I've relearned yet again that focused time is harder to do but more fruitful than multitasking.

3. I've rooted myself some more... spending time with friends, exercising, becoming comfortable here even after some rebellious weeks when I wanted to move NOW. Trying to appreciate what HERE has to offer instead of wondering so much about THERE. I want to stay informed, visit other places as possible, but there are no immediate plans to change or move.

4. Lots of work on and around the house, yearly shopping etc. too.

I'm anxious about the new year, never sure what it's going to bring. Sad to give up my days and to have so much work ahead. But I'm always open to a challenge. I hope this is a good year for me. I hope it is for ND too. I hope it is for us all as a family.

Shanah tovah.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Camping Trip 2010: Lake Waramaug

I love that when I tell people now that I've returned from my camping trip, all my friends seem to remember we do this annually. This was year 5, I think. 2006, the year I was pregnant, was our first trip. And as always, it was me, ND and Emarcy.

Our routine has developed so that every other year we go to our favorite site North-South Lake. I've written about it elsewhere on my blog if you search under "camping." Whenever we go there I feel so happy, so eager to be relaxed and at peace. The truth is, sometimes almost too much, I suppose. There's a lot at stake in these trips for me, my last serenity experiment before I'm back into a new school year that could turn into almost anything. Our first camping trip was after an especially hard year, and I was nervous about what was coming. Now I'm getting more into a routine, both with the school years and with the trips, but it's still scary, this last brink between the summer I wished for for so long, and the busy balancing act that characterizes the bulk of my time every year.

As noted above, every other year we go to North-South Lake, but on the off-years, we try new places. This was our second shot in Connecticut. The first was a bit disappointing. There were far too many people and the beach was really busy and more like a day beach than a secluded campground. This year we went further inland to Lake Waramaug. It too was more populated than I wished and felt less like we were deep in the woods. The enormous lake had houses all around it. We chose the place after I did a search to find out where we could rent canoes. What we didn't know is that they won't allow children under 4 (ie. ND) to ride in one. So our hope to rent a canoe for the whole day and get away from the site a little failed.

I grumbled quite a bit, but once we got past those two issues, ND had a fabulous time and I enjoyed helping her have it. She has been experimenting more and more with water lately, though still quite nervous with it. We played on the beach, both in the water and sand(/dirt) as much as we could. We also just enjoyed things like learning how to set up a tent and how to make food, jumping off of rocks that lined the paths in the campground etc.

We also did something we normally avoid which is to drive around the area a little. We had to the first night just to get phone reception and found a gorgeous view.

We also tried going to a hiking trail, but it was so hot and we were tired, so we just went a little ways.

At night we played music together... Emarcy played her sanshin, I played my flute and ND tried to drum a little but then needed a break.

She, I mean, her doll, was a little afraid of the dark, but we sang together in the night to help with that too.

This was a good trip. I find that the more regular it becomes, the more I have ND to provide a lens, the less I need from it.

Less grasping for goodness. Looking forward to keeping this up.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Turtle Back Zoo

Went to Turtle Back Zoo yesterday. I hate seeing animals in cages. I love seeing animals interact with children.

Monday, August 02, 2010


We just returned last night from a fabulous vacation.

This summer my in-laws are renting a house for a few weeks in Chautauqua. My parents flew out and drove all day with us there where we found new ways to get along with all of us living side by side for a few week. Chautauqua is this really amazing institution whose 4 pillars are named as art, education, religion and recreation. We got a little of all those as I'll share out of order...


-Well, we had some of that even before we arrived. It was such a long drive we researched ahead of time for a stop-off and found it in a blueberry farm. It was well off the road, so far off our phones stopped working, but it was absolutely beautiful, and we picked about a pound and a half of blueberries to share with everyone.

-Chautauqua has a gorgeous lake. I never managed to go swimming. I did take ND into the water a few times though. And I definitely got to boat. I went in a row boat, two paddle boats and a kayak.

-I played shuffleboard, but not lawn bowling (which would have enjoyed).

-I went biking with my dad for the first time in years... we used an "off-campus" book store as our destination/excuse to go. There and back was about 45 minutes. It wasn't a great bike, which is what I say to console myself around the fact that I can't remember what it feels like to bike all day the way I used to with him.


-Mostly Christian -- very utopian -- but there was a Chabad which was very nice for Shabbat.


-Lectures every single day on the week's theme which was photography. I only attended one which wasn't really about photography... too much of a stretch. It was Billy Collins speaking, supposedly about photographic images in poetry. Boy, was I excited to go to that. Boy, was he funny (as in tears running down my face funny). Boy, was he also arrogant! So many of his poems were ways of trashing bad poets, non-poets, previous poets. The question and answer period included a question about poets he admires and included a reference to Emily Dickinson. All he could say about her was that he was impressed she was able to write so many poems according to a meter. He had nothing else helpful to say about anyone else, other than his mother. I guess we can give him credit for that.

-But best of all this is the education piece that leads into art...


-I signed up ahead of time for a poetry writing workshop every day with David Baker. (10 hours total.) I opted to audit the class, knowing it was less expensive, not knowing it meant I would not be allowed to speak for the duration of each class! At first I was a little heartbroken, but quickly found how much I could learn from being forced to only listen. Sponges don't spend their time waiting to say something clever the way I'm normally inclined to do.

-Fortunately, I was able to sign up for a one-on-one conference. It was, for lack of a more poetic phrase right now, AWESOME! I loaned him a copy of Gathering Pieces ahead of time. (If you haven't bought it yet, you still can!) I flagged a few poems, not wanting to overburden him with too much, but he read the WHOLE THING. We began our meeting together with his saying, "So, you have a voice," in reference to my being unable to contribute during the class.

We talked about the class, including discussing the range of talent in the room. (This made me think he knew I was a good judge of good poetry.) Then I gave him my background -- that this was my first class since majoring in creative writing at Oberlin, class of '98, that I hadn't written (or really read) any poetry before I was forced to there. (To this he was blessedly shocked.) He said my writing was clear (something that he was pushing the writers in the workshop to be), and he recognized the urgency I feel in telling the stories that I do. He also said the authenticity is sometimes "ramped up too high." We talked about that at length, visiting a couple of poems in the book. I'm glad to say his favorites are mine too and we worked on fine-tuning them a little, talked about how the next step in my writing would be to work more with form.

I explained that I self-published this book in order to put closure to my old work and move forward as a writer. I asked if I should be embarrassed about that. He said no, that if this book needed to be assembled then, then that's what it needed.

Then I showed him the piece I've been working on this week for the class, and he said he could already see how much I'd learned through the duration of the week.

It has been such a long time since I've felt validated by an established writer. So long. I have a few friends who love my work, but they are friends, so where does the kindness of friendship end and the true critique begin? And I have many friends who have never even asked to see my work. (David says I shouldn't take this personally... that it's about an unfamiliarity with poetry, not about me.)

So who can my audience be now? The mysterious other authentic writers out there? We talked about my future... going to open mic nights, even if I'm not reading. We talked about how he too has little time to write during the school year and sometimes chooses to put family first. I told him I've been writing a small journal entry each night but doing so with line breaks. He liked that. He said that maybe some poems (like the in progress one I showed him) are being written even before we sit down to work at them. And for that one he's right, that I've been toying with the idea for months, jotting a thought or two and then just thinking about it now and then. He said he writes whole lines in his head.

He liked the idea I shared with him about my children's book about time...

all this in half an hour.

-I haven't even written here about how there was a concert every night for free and that I got to hear parts of some of them. I didn't mention going to a full-bill opera of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, my favorite opera. Between the two operas, 2 betrayals and 3 stabbing deaths in one night.

-I didn't write about the day we went off-campus to an amusement park where ND amazed us with how gutsy she was, riding fast rides all on her own. (This picture is actually not of a fast ride, but of a boat she could control herself.)

-I didn't write about painting with my mom.

-I didn't write about watching ND interact with her grandparentsor how her vocabulary has expanded to include the words "actually" "eventually" and "realize".

It was a great week...

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