Saturday, January 8, 2011

All Is Calm

Gorgeous Saturday morning here in the woods. Bitter cold, but the sun is out and the birds are clustering around the feeders. Two squirrels were chasing each other around the giant spruce in the front yard earlier this morning, causing much twitching for our cat, Frankie (the other two were asleep in the basement, hiding from Things One and Two).

Thing Two is napping, and Hubby has taken Thing One on a run into town. I can hear the clock ticking over the whoosh of air from the furnace as it struggles to keep the house at 66 degrees (the thermostat says 68 but my indoor/outdoor weather station says that my thermostat is a big fat liar).

Hubby is working on another project for some friends of ours in Chicago, and I am curled up on the loveseat staring out at the winter landscape, writing and thinking about things to write.

I have started a new chapbook of poems about my family. I have a couple of poems I wrote about my dad during my MFA (and more on deck--they're crowding my brain, probably because this was yet another holiday season that went by with no contact--I don't know if he knows that he's a grandfather). I have one really good one (it's two pages) about my grandparents' marriage, and I have a few old ones about my mother that can come out of mothballs. I seem to have to be in pain in order to write. Thinking about my fucked up, completely dysfunctional family (and my family's history going back to the Potato Famine on one side) makes me sad. And for whatever reason, with the sadness comes the urge to create, to write--though I'm wary of cliche and been-there-done-that-got-the-commemorative-shotglass stories of alcoholic parents. That's what makes this complicated and time-consuming: writing this story in a way that's not stale and flat. Then too there's the feeling that I don't want people feeling sorry for me--I turned out OK, I think.

I would like to be able to do what my friend Chuck Rybak does so elegantly--be wryly funny and still make the reader think. I'm funny in person (though I make a better "straight man") but I don't seem to be able to get it to happen when I sit down to write.

Anyway, life is good here. I hadn't thought that I would ever look forward to January, but here I am, glad of the respite between semesters. Next semester I teach 2 sections of composition, 1 section of creative writing, and 1 section of an American Indian in Literature and Film course that I haven't taught since the spring of 2008. Both the creative writing and lit courses have healthy enrollments, and I look forward to getting to know another batch of students (though I will have a number of "repeats"--students who've had me for a different class who come back to take another one because they like me).

Yes, life is good.

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