Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Survived my defense

Orals are done.
I passed.
It felt nice.
Brain blosing for a cit.
I just read Runny Babbit.
It's a fine cleanser for a tired mind.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Oral Defense

The time has come to abandon all doubt and chat with my committee members regarding my thesis. Today I'm nervous as expected. But I have another feeling overtaking the nerves. A reassurance that I've worked hard on my writing and at this point, it's as good as it can be.

I accomplished what I set out to do: feel like a writer again. Academia forced me to flip-flop my brain a bit and consider the x's and o's of writing. By attacking an extended creative project I was able to tap back into the otherness of writing, the discovery.

Writing has been about stages, and I witness these stages each semester I teach composition. We learn how to write (the basics). We learn the craft (the style). We learn to enjoy writing (a stage people often don't achieve or choose to ignore). I was able to land firmly in the final stage of writing again. It's a fine place to be. The critic housed on your shoulder is gone. The labeler of techniques disappears. And the chickenshit stylist clucks out of earshot.

The problem isn't setting foot in the third stage. It's thinking that you'll always be there. You need to move around, ignore your footprints, and be willing to get lost.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Without working a "real job" (and I mean real as clocking into something other than teaching people how to write) I've found time to pick up other instruments of creativity. I've always enjoyed music, but I don't understand it yet. Like writing, I can feel a string of notes form words and sentences. What I have trouble with is forming paragraphs leading into a complete work. My guitar bangs out fragments, choppy wording, misplaced modifiers, spelling errors, and run-ons in the margins. My practice sessions are covered in red ink.

At times I become distressed by the mess and wonder if this is how my students feel when I hand back a batch of essays. Do they slink at all the red ink like a sour note bent too far? Do they disregard the claps of applause at the end of the essay because of all the interruptions in the prose?

Like practicing playing the guitar, are they patient enough to learn to let their fingers go? Will the digits find the right chord before the brain does?

Will I have the determination to keep playing with such a critic on my shoulder?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Real Life

Real life is creeping up on me fast. I hear it in the background. It started as white noise, increasing in volume. A chatter of voices began conversing. Write your resume, again. Send off that application to the Marshall Islands. Deliver thesis revisions to the Grad Studies Office. Replace that windshield wiper before it rains. Burn all those empty beer boxes piled up on the porch. Read up on creative nonfiction theory for your defense. Plan a feast for the in-laws on Sunday. Sell the Shadow. Schedule a physical for the Bahamas. The voices begin to separate and argue, fight for time within my days. Priorities melt in real life. They merge and peel, stealing silly-puddy images I stretch and rub together while trying to sleep. But, the ball is getting smaller as the voices begin to disappear. The Shadow is gone. My first motorcycle sputtered off the grass underneath another rider. The thesis revisions lie on a desk somewhere in Deputy. The empty Pibber and Keystone cases spewed ash into the night’s sky in Matty’s backyard.

But as each voice is silenced, there seems to be enough room for another. Real life is a checklist of going-on’s right now. It’s a good thing. As long as I remember the that real life consists of simple moments threaded by experience. A walk with Katrina. The sound of the Punisher firing up. Reading for pleasure. Drinking beer and laughing with my roommates. These voices don’t haunt me. I just have to make sure they continue not to. I’ll let the other chatter keep me from sleep.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Last Supper Weekend

While revising my "mock" final draft of my thesis, I've found myself adding and taking away the same punctuation marks over and over. The line must be drawn--whether it's shakey or straight. I need to be done.

My last day of Tutto happened on Friday through a clouded head. The night before Lori passed over ownership signaling a party for all the regulars and long-term workers. An era has ended, but I'm excited to see how Tutto evolves with Jon's coming home to the kitchen. It never felt right without him.