Monday, August 31, 2009

323: the rest of texas

This is where I left off: our evening of August 1, drinking too many Shiner Bochs and Lone Stars.

The next morning, Chelsea had to work, and Cole had to work on clearing out their old apartment. Ryan helped, while I lazed about, reading the Texas Poetry Calendar.

We also went to the Austin Wildlife Sanctuary, where animals who were either imprinted on humans or disabled to the point of inability to return to the wild live:

It was a good, laid-back visit. We tasted a lot of great Austin fare, I did get to go to a bookstore (where, interestingly enough, I picked up a signed copy of Michael Dickman's first book, thinking he was an Austin poet, but, after Bread Loaf, I've learned the two are from Portland), and I spent good time with my little sister and her boyfriend and my old room mate Eric.

The whole Austin photo set is here on Flickr, which has even more grackles than I can handle.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


My plans for catching up on posts and whatnot have been dashed.

So, for images of Bread Loaf, I direct you to this post, which has a sampling (though, with so many, it won't quite feel like a sampling, but remember this was a twelve day writing conference) and feel free to wander a bit to read my thoughts on the conference itself.

While there, it felt like nothing else in the world existed. All my memories were so very distant, my everyday life something in the past. It helps that I had no car and the mountain has no cell phone reception; there is a deep sense of seclusion, despite the many many writers milling about.

And now that I'm back, it feels as if Bread Loaf itself were a dream. I find myself forgetting and bracing myself for the mosquito attacks, then remembering our summer was too dry for that, not Vermont at all, and I won't be able to be stimulated in such a rigorous and boisterous fashion.

But I will return to the world of writing. Above is an image I took with Ryan's cell phone of the Mississippi at sunset. Ryan and I went out to dinner and he directed me to take the back way, winding up to these colors, fingers of blue and pink. A quiet song was playing on the radio and we held hands looking at the sky.

Tomorrow orientation begins for anyone teaching comp. I'm excited to be back on campus regularly, to start planning the school year, to dig into my independent study.

I have some catching up to do, but it looks like Bread Loaf won't be a part of field | work, and that makes sense, since I've branched off a little, to allow myself the comfort of obsessing in my world of literature, to keep this place everyday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

[I will remove this post as soon as I figure out my camera difficulties--consider it just a brief space for an announcement that I do plan to go back over this day by day, even if I fib a bit on the dates--but the camera is being feisty once again. For now, if you are curious about the Bread Loaf experience, I am writing extensively about the writerly side of it (OK, today I posted about dreaming, but it really, really relates to writing, I swear) over on my blog I call independent study, for lack of a better phrase. Go say hello, share a dream you've had recently, tell me to stop being such a dunce, tell me you want more pictures, dangit, and please go on a photo walk because the ones of the tops of buildings--which, really, you haven't seen yet--and writers are done, man, and you need s'more variation. Whatever. I like friendly banter. And OK, I'm a little lonely too.]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

321: bread loaf, day one

Somehow, I've coaxed my camera to give me photos through the cord, but not to upload them permanently on my computer. I'm OK with that. Now, I can share a little bit through pictures, which is nearly all I can give you, as I'm directing my words to my writing notebook, to the margins of poems, to dance around (stomp around) in my brain. It's only been twenty four hours, thirteen of which I slept through, and I'm overwhelmed. Happily so.

Above: saying good-bye to the city as we fly to Newark. Little did I know, this would be the smoothest of the two flights, despite the smallness of this passenger plane, the way I was both aisle and window seat, the bumpy landing that makes sense for something without the width of planes I've grown accustomed to. And the next flight, Newark to Vermont, it wasn't really even that bad--it was the airport, which was so awful, with delays and delays and hearing them bounce around on the speakers for other flights, cancellations, and four planes later, we were in the air. I began to get to know the people around me and met Heather, who is studying non-fiction here. I've since lost her in the crowd.

Above: the propellers from our second flight. There, I sat next to a yoga instructor with a furious cold. We marveled at the swaths of trees, the lakes--you'd think it were northern Minnesota, but the mountains swelled, and I began to miss "home," as in the place of my childhood. (Chattanooga, Tennessee, for those who do not know.)

Above two: that's my room. I'm in a hall off the main inn, right above the dining hall. As I write this, I can hear the radio from the kitchen, listen to busboys pushing each other in the gravel teasingly, the clink of glasses and silverware. The room itself is typical of a dorm room: the bed juts into the tiny bookcase juts into the table juts into the closet juts into the dresser juts into the door juts into the bed. But it's a single, so I can keep my snoring and medical issues to myself.

Once settled, I stepped outside to the above sunset to the left of the main entrance. I'm always amazed at how sunsets translate on the camera; it's never quite what I see with the naked eye, but sometimes they're beautiful in their own way.

Oh, and I think I mentioned fog at some point--maybe in a previous jotted post, maybe in an email to my husband, but here it is--fog and trees and the mountain. Welcome to the mountain, they told us in the opening comments.

Full of vegetarian lasagna and spice cake, I headed over to the little theatre to listen to opening remarks.

Above: A glimpse in the dining room as I walked to the theatre. It's rickety and the food is decent. Everywhere is rickety though. This campus was gifted to the university, and the land cannot be developed. The buildings are old, wood planked.

There are so many of these Adirondack chairs spread across the campus. At some point, I'll end up in one, writing. Reading.

Michael Collier, who runs the program, gave the opening speech, which included speculation as to why Bread Loaf has the name that it does. One was the bread loaf shaped mountain; another was the bread loaf shaped bit of meteor discovered, part of which he "has here," which he wagged at the giggling audience.

Trish Hampl gave the first reading, and I cannot think of a better reader to do so. I've heard her read before, and last fall, had her as a professor for Reading Across Genres, the MFA class all first years take where professors visit and we get a taste of what it might be like to take a class from said professor. It was her that I fell in love with the most, and look forward to having her again for a memoir class in the Reading as Writers designation. Listening to her, I could hear how acute her word choice is, how precise her phrasing. It is no surprise that she started out as a poet.

Finally, Michael Collier came up again to read his poetry; Brigit Pegeen Kelly was supposed to read, but it sounds as if she was caught up in the airport nightmare half the participants seemed also to have been thrust into.

I'm still reeling. Still attempting to fall into the parceled schedule, the dips and peeks and find time to myself, to sleep, to understand where I am supposed to be and when. I have no alarm clock (no cell phone reception "on the mountain"), so a kind neighbor is waking me for tomorrow, and on Saturday, I'll buy the alarm clock the woman at the bookstore will bring from the main campus' bookstore.

I'll bring these posts a day after they happen--seems easier that way. And when I return, I will give you the rest of my Austin trip, since I can moderately access it, it would appear. Please also forgive the stumbling nature of my prose in these poets (or at any time)--I'm trying to save my best thinking for when I am outside this little room, my best words for my own work, my second best for the work of others, and when it comes to left-over, I'm plumb all out.

PS: For those of you interested in what I have to say about the poetry-side of things, I am writing about it on this blog, which is sort of my new space to keep me on track of being less lazy reader and participator in the writing world. This blog, of course, will be my center space, my everyday blog, my friends-and-family-and-welcome, stranger blog. But when I do want freedom to rhapsodize about, say, prosody, or parataxis, or the formal appetite, or figuration, and I don't want to worry about eyes glazing (too much anyway). I can't interest every reader, or even myself, all the time, but when I first started blogging, I did have an everyday blog, and I did have a professional blog (for teaching), so it only makes sense that when I finally feel confident about my place in this "profession" that I would find a space for that too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

320: for those counting

Me: no naps. As of this minute, thirty-three hours straight without sleep. Shall I try for seventy-two, the legal insanity, or shall I go to bed? I don't think you have a choice in the matter. That lumpy, humidity absorbing bed is calling my name.

Flights: Officially the worst experience flying ever. But, we got here, nothing was canceled, and even though the airlines are official idiots, I didn't boil over. I blame that on sleep deprivation. Most of the time I didn't know what was going on. Let's just say, in Newark, I visited something like four gates, we had about fifteen delays (that's no hyperbole), and it was the fourth plane they announced they assigned us (as there were many more assigned to us but simply swam away) that we took to Burlington. The other three? Mechanical troubles. Eep.

My room: a little shoebox. Dormitories, these are. Inn, not exactly.

My experience thus far: glory. I will sleep under the bed every night just to stay here. Trish Hampl read her that precise prose of hers as a thunderstorm came in over the mountain (nope, not a hill, but a gen-u-ine mountain, complete with mountain fog and mountain trees and mountain streams).

My technology: iffy. I'm on the wireless here in the room, though it's weak. I still don't have the thingy to upload photos. I want to though, I really do. Already, there's so much to show and tell. But most stupid: I forgot (they warned us!) the rooms are equipped with a single two prong outlet. My laptop and its pathetic battery has a three prong. I hope that, along with books and toothpaste and postcards, the bookstore sells adapters. I might want a better pillow too.


319: off to bread loaf!

In a few hours, Ryan (who is sleeping because he has a real job that requires him to sleep real hours) will take me an hour north to the airport (then head to work) where a plane will whisk me away (departure at 6:25 am--pleasedon'tbelatepleasedon'tbelate) to New York, where I will then catch a puddle jumper (as in, I will have both window and aisle seat) to Burlington, then I ride in a carpool van to the Bread Loaf campus. Where I will collapse because I will have been awake for more than twenty-four hours, unless I can nap on the planes. Which I probably will do. And snore.

Also: I hadn't realized I needed the discs that come with the camera (thought we could leave those with Chelsea; I wonder if her camera can upload on her computer OK with the 50D disc when she has the 40D camera? hmm) in order to display my lovely remainder of photos from Austin (or upload them onto my external drive), so. They're going to remain on my camera, unless Ryan feels like getting up early enough to futz with my laptop or dump them via his computer, which apparently has the right business on it. (Can you tell my technology / photography knowledge is awful and pathetic and I deserve my twenty-four hour red-eyed travel nightmare ahead?)

And this too: apparently cell phones don't really work on campus (crap--it's my alarm!) and internet is only in labs or wireless in public spaces, so I don't know how much I will manage to blog. I probably shouldn't "waste" my time blogging anyway. I should probably allow myself to immerse as fully as possible in this experience. It may be my only time at Bread Loaf, so I need to soak, soak, soak.

Then again, this is my only place for factual recordings--otherwise, it's a writing notebook for me. And we all know how spotty my memory can be.

We'll see. Right now, I'm just trying to make it until 3:30 when I can nap in the car on the way to the airport.



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

318: two years

It's been two years since I wore the poofy dress, two years since it hailed then steamed then hailed, two years since a whole lot of good people came to toast to our making it official, two years since reader, I married him.

Friday, August 7, 2009

317: texas interlude

While in Texas, sampling avocado margaritas and local beer, deciphering beer cap trivia, I made a decision: someone like my sister really ought to have a good camera. (Her years-old Nikon had run its course.) Truly, she ought to have a better one than myself, but that wasn't possible, at least not without some kind of awkward gift-giving. So. We opted for a shift in language: I've received an upgrade, after only a little over six months with my Canon 40D. I've now got a Canon 50D, a little heftier and sleeker, but only a little. And now Chelsea is futzing with my fingerprint-smudged camera, making it do things it never did in my hands, dials changing, f-stops being measured, the tweak and curl of a better user.

And me? I need to upload some thingy on my computer to store the Texas photos on my drive, which will only take a moment, but, you know, that requires some amount of effort amongst the madness of coming home, so for now, above, there's a little shot of C with her new toy; it's not like I edit my photos anyway, so it makes sense that I upload straight from the camera.

I'll be back again soon with a second series of photos from the rest of our trip, which will include said bottle cap puzzles, animal rescue roosters, barn owls, and a forlorn lack of chicken shit bingo experience.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

316: thus far, from texas.

Hello. That's me, in my sister's duplex.

Here's her kitchen. It's the front room of the place with lots of light and blue tile. We filled it with Spotted Cow, a Wisconsin brew, and our town wine and homebrew.

Here's one of her kitties. She has two, they're both incredibly fluffy and half the size of our kitties.

We saw Eric's band play at Headhunter's.

That's my little sister watching.

Also. I like grackles. Grackles like Austin:

Below: Ryan's lunch today. Migas, an Austin specialty with eggs and beans and tortillas and whatnot.

We went to a place called Magnolia's.

Then we went where Chelsea works, New Bohemia. I wanted a pair of cowboy boots, but I don't think I have quite the lower bits for that.

Chelsea + Eric. She doesn't like her picture taken.

We also went to a local park / springs.

And tonight we went to Curra's, where I had an avocado margarita. Yum. Also good: zucchini soup.

Chelsea also spotted a toad.

And we went to a local bookstore. I have a stack of field guides to bring home, along with some local poetry. And tonight, we are drinking local beer: both from Minnesota / Wisconsin and that from Texas.

It's been a good trip thus far.