Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011


Josh and I got a Wacom Bamboo Capture for Christmas from my parents. Let there be internet art.

Add Image

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


MY WINNER T-SHIRT CAME. Finally. After a month. YAY!

Also: I am now officially on Christmas break until January 3.


Monday, December 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo Captain's Log, Issue 4

...Because I said I would. Even though it's now a fair bit after the fact. The final installment is below:

Day 24 (Thanksgiving): 38,179 total, 2,124 added. (1,821 behind). Really hard to do anything around the family tonight. Dinner was lovely, and we all put ourselves into turkey-induced food comas, which was not a conducive state for writing. Still got my minimum down, though, so that is good. So many loose ends to wrap up, and just over 10,000 words to do it in. We’ll see how that goes!

Day 25: 41,927 total, 3,748 added. (261 ahead). YAY! Cooking and Second Thanksgiving pretty much all day, but when I got home around 8, I just sat down and wrote. Wonderfully productive. Wrapping up really does take longer than you think. I only have a few thousand left—I hope I can get everything wrapped up by then!

Day 26: 44,081 total, 2,154 added. (748 ahead). Zipping along, zipping along toward that finish line and the glory and sparkling cider and the “winner” t-shirt that await! It’s Thanksgiving in my novel. Gosh, I don’t know where that idea came from…

Day 27: 46,125 total, 2,044 added. (1,125 ahead). Woohoo! So close! Maybe I can finish tomorrow! I am figuring out how to resolve the plot and keep the sense of justice in tact. It needs to feel like a fair resolution in order for my MC to be consistent in character. I think I’ve got it worked out. And less than four thousand words to make it all happen. Let’s do this! (Finished the day by 8:00 pm today, by the way. Going to go watch Inception now with Josh.)

Day 28: 51,300 total. 5,175 added (plus some I forgot to count). I finished my novel in solitude, no online sprints, which felt appropriate. Novel submitted and verified. I win! Boy, what a rush that ending was. Christina and Kevin were over, cheering me on from the other room, and they drank sparkling cider with me in celebration when I hit 50,000. (or 50,090, actually—I didn’t notice when I actually crossed the finish line). (Josh sipped some too, though he was in bed under the influence of NyQuil. He is rather sick at the moment, but kindly gave me permission to wake him when I crossed the finish line.)

But that wasn’t enough. The story wasn’t over, goshdarnit! And even though I’d already written 2,000 words in the last hour, I sat back down and wrapped everything up, copied the three pages of notes that I’d been keeping at the end of the document to a separate document, and still reached more than 1,000 words over the finish line. I couldn’t help smiling when I finally typed “The End” at 51,300 words, knowing that that was really where the story ended. It wasn’t just “good enough.” It was finished. The inevitable ends were reached.

This is momentous. I have a 162-page Word document full of a story that I created. Out of my head. A story that is coherent, and meaningful, and one that I actually like. What a massive endeavor, and what a thrilling ride, and what a bizarre existential experience. I might, maybe, a little bit be hooked on this noveling thing now. Huge shout-out to the NaNoWriMo Staff and the Office of Letters and Light. Send them money. These are really excellent and clever people.

Day 29: Aw. Dang. Post-NaNo Blues. I don’t know what to do with myself now. My fingers are itching to keep typing, but I know I need to do other things. I feel like I am not motivated to do anything except to write. And write some more.

Day 30: GUYS. This sucks. I don’t even feel like a human being right now.

Afterword: Heading back into real life was hard. It wasn't like I had actually left real life either, though. I had done all of the things that I normally would--working in the office, teaching, grading, family stuff, home stuff, holidays, church--plus written a whole novel in a month on top of it all. I had a clear goal and daily objectives and the will to accomplish it all, and then suddenly it was finished. And I had no idea what to do with myself. And it was miserable for a week or so. And now it's mostly back to normal, though I've picked up my other novel again, which is good. But not at quite so hectic a pace. And before anyone asks, no, you can't read the one I finished. I haven't even read it yet, and probably won't at least until after Christmas. And then I'll decide if it's worth editing. And then I'll edit it if it is. And then MAYBE you can read it. I can see now why so many writers advise that you write something every single day, though. Just one month was enough to build a habit, and it was difficult to break it and come back down. If writing is going to be your livelihood, that habit would be one valuable ally.

Here are my final stats for the month:

So. There you have it. One novel. One month. Any suggestions for what I should do next?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011




True Story:

I met a distant cousin of mine on Sunday. She's German, but lives in France, and her name is Rainbow.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Post-noveling funk: I was not anticipating this.

All my fingers and brain want to do is write and write and write some more. Didn't anyone tell them that they finished yesterday and could stop now? I feel like my brain kicked into high gear this month, and it hasn't figured out how to slow down yet. It just wants to keep going. I think I'm supposed to be doing other things instead, though. Like grading term papers. Or knitting things.

Writing Land is a magical place--a creative garden, prolific with words and ideas. I think I've been more creatively productive in the last month than I have ever been before, and I liked it. Furthermore, my kitchen is clean, and my home is decorated for Christmas. Both are things I tackled over the weekend, when I was also responsible for writing large quantities of words. None of these tasks were neglected, and I still got to hang out with my family and relax, too.

Work awaits tomorrow. I don't want to be dissatisfied with a slowing of pace and the return to normal life, because there's a time and a place for things like NaNoWriMo and surely trying to keep this up all year long would be exhausting. But I also don't want to turn into a big fat time-waster again. Meh.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Proudly Announcing...

At 10:16 pm tonight, I passed 50,000 words. At 11:52 pm, I finished the story, typed "The End," and submitted the novel for verification. Total word count: 51,300. Two days to spare.

I am now, officially, a novelist.

Thanks for reading! (The final installment of the Captain's Log will be posted sometime later this week. Now I need to go read up on the logic lesson I'm supposed to be teaching tomorrow. G'night!)


Friday, November 25, 2011

Ha Hah! Take That, Novel!


Guess who is ahead of the writing schedule again! (Total reached just shy of 42,000 words tonight.)

You can track my progress over the next few days using this gadget:

The progress bar will update as I update my count on NaNoWriMo.org



Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo Captain's Log, Issue 3

Update the third:

Day 18: No words. (8,574 behind). Breaking Dawn. Rage. Way too complicated to go into here, but resolved to write ALL THE BOOKS fixing ALL THE PROBLEMS that Meyer has created in the souls of thousands of teenage girls. I have a theory that Suzanne Collins has already crafted a gripping response to the Twilight Saga, and cleverly, too. But I wanna help.

Day 19: 24,227 total: 2,801 added. (7,439 behind). Chugging along. Not as fluid, and I’m actually a teensy tiny bit nervous about running out of things to say before I hit 50,000. They say that wrapping up takes a lot longer than you think it will, but I’m not sure it’s going to take 20,000 words long. Got a good amount covered today, though.

Day 20: 28,060 total: 3,833 added. (5,273 behind). Almost 4,000 words, mostly thanks to #Nanowordsprints. These people. I like them. They are getting interesting. The characters, that is, not the Word Sprinters. The Sprinters are interesting too, but what I’m trying to say is that I really like my characters and what they are doing and where they are going. All in all, a really good day.

Day 21: 30,494 total, 2,434 added. (4,506 behind). I like these people and (wickedly) I like the problems I’ve created for them. I like watching them be clever and sort out their problems. Less than 20,000 left. I can do this!!!

Day 22: 33,622 total, 3,128 added. (3,044 behind). A 3k day! More #nanowordsprints. Things are running smoothly. Also, I went ahead and purchased this year’s Winner’s shirt as extra incentive. No backing out now! I hereby give you all permission to ridicule me endlessly if I don’t finish this thing.

Day 23: 36,055 total, 2,433 added. (2,278 behind). Hard to focus today. Moved at a snail’s pace. Fingers like bird claws, or something. Ah well. Still moving forward, still have places to go, and tomorrow is the first full day of true Thanksgiving Break. Only one week left. Onward!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Two links


A compellingly written reason for reading dystopian fiction in general, and The Hunger Games specifically.


A review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 1 that sums up almost everything I have to say about the movie.

Note to self: write blog post about Twilight v. The Hunger Games. I saw Breaking Dawn Part 1 on Friday night--don't ask me why--and I came away utterly enraged. Real fury, people. I'd seen movies 1-3 on DVD with Riff Trax, and it was mostly good mock-worthy fun, but this...this was psychotic and gross.

Back to noveling. Made it to 28,000 words last night, hoping to make it past 30k tonight!


Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo Captain's Log, Issue 2

Here's update numero dos:

Day six: 11,879 total. 2891 added (1877 ahead)

Wow, those words just kind of flew out tonight. Building the tension up between characters was a lot of fun, and I knew where the conversations and events all needed to go in order to make two characters really hate each other—and now they do! And now the main plot can begin. Writing is magical.

Day seven: 12,809 total. 930 added (1140 ahead)

Sooooo sleeeeepy. Long day at work, plus cooking a full meal for Josh and myself plus sibs tonight. Can’t go on any further this evening. Need sleep. And braaaaiiiiins. (Note: there are no zombies in this novel.)

Day eight: 13,409 total. 600 added. (73 ahead)

Very tired. Full day teaching from 9-5, plus a few hours grading since first quarter grades are due by midnight on Thursday. Typed for 20 to 30 min, but I can’t devote more time to it tonight. It’s only 10:30, but I need to stop and go get some sleep. The end of Daylight Saving time is really throwing me off right now. Chores are falling to the wayside. Kind of gross.

Day…13: 14,415 total. 1,006 added. (7,251 behind.)

Waaaah. Four days of no progress. Grades were due on the 10th, and all of my word-resources were directed toward grading student essays rather than creating any words of my own. Was too exhausted Fri. night to do anything, and then was gone from 8 am to 11:30 pm on a trip up to Morro Bay and SLO on Saturday with some friends, so again, no progress. Still exhausted today, and needed to get caught up on laundry, hence the measly increase. At least Thanksgiving Break is coming up next week! I get a whole week off from teaching, and more time to devote to this project. My stat tracker claims that if I keep going at this rate (whatever that means), I will finish on December 18, which is not good. Here’s to cracking the whip!

Day 14: 15,884 total. 1,469 added. (7,454 behind.)

So sleepy. Really going to need Thanksgiving to get caught up.

Day 15: 16,935 total. 1,051 added. (8,064 behind). So exhausted. Falling asleep at keyboard. Almost spelled falling “velling.” Story moving slowly.

Day 16: 19,273 total. 2,338 words added. (7,393 behind). Catch up time! A few slow bits, but mostly moved pretty fluidly. Main character mysteriously obtained a great grandmother in England along the way, but if it works, it works! And now, it’s definitely off to bed.

Day 17: 21,426 total. 2,153 words added. (6,907 behind). NaNoWriMo Word Sprints on Twitter = best resource ever (#NaNoWordSprints). They keep me going when I’m tired. 2,000 words in three hours with snack and internet breaks ain’t too shabby. Story’s going pretty well. Hitting a few rough spots, but I’m told that that is most likely just residual second-week slump since I’m still working on getting caught up. Only one class left to teach this week (Shakespeare, and we’re on Romeo and Juliet), and then I am officially on Thanksgiving Break. Yay! Close that gap!

For reference, here's a copy of my stats page after I logged my words for tonight:

Signing off,


Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo Captain's Log, Issue 1

Hey guys! Just finished day 5. I'm keeping a Captain's Log of my progress and my thoughts about the whole process, and I thought I'd post updates on the weekends or whenever I'm trying to procrastinate.

So here is issue 1! For reference, the daily goal is to write 1,667 words.

Captain's Log, November 2011

Day one: 2436 total. (769 ahead of the minimum)

Yay! Fun project! Brand new novel! No prior planning! Flying by the seat of my pants! And I’m ahead of my daily minimum!

Day two: 4185 total. 1749 words added (851 ahead)

Yay! I like this still. I like my characters (except for the one you’re not supposed to like). And I like my premise. Still above the minimum (3334), riding the wave of week one success.

Day three: 6028 total. 1843 words added (1027 ahead)

The magic is wearing off a tiny bit, but I’m finding it surprisingly easy to just keep writing. One thing seems to just lead naturally into the next. It’s weirdly convenient, and not really what I was expecting. Hooray?

Day four: 7256 total. 1228 words added (588 ahead)

Herm. Super tired. Only made it a little over a thousand tonight. Still ahead, and really glad for my buffer. Ideas, plot, and character development still flowing freely, but my eyelids are too heavy to allow four hundred more words tonight. G’night!

Day five: 8988 total. 1732 added (653 ahead)

Hm. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s amazing how much stuff you can get done when you are avoiding doing something else. For instance: washing all of the dirty dishes, hemming the curtains, checking all of the internet things, reading half of a short story, going to Trader Joe’s and Petco… I found it difficult to focus while being around my family as I was writing tonight, but the words got written. The characters seem to be developing nicely, though today was a slow plot day. When not typing, I’m mentally picking out the details of the main action, which is fun, but rather difficult. Looking forward to writing that bit when I come to it. Most of it right now is just setup, which is necessary, but not as exciting, I think.

That's all for now!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


That moment when you are walking back up the stairs, but you have absolutely no memory whatsoever of actually going down the stairs in the first place...

Yeah, that moment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Much Ado

Prepping simultaneously for The Great Divorce and Much Ado About Nothing. Was wondering why Much Ado ends the way it does, and thought that what I was reading with my students today in GD sheds some light on it.

Benedick: [...] And now tell me, how doth your cousin?

Beatrice: Very ill.

Benedick: And how do you?

Beatrice: Very ill, too.

Benedick: Serve God, love me, and mend.


How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

Benedick: I'll tell thee what, prince: a college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? [...] In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it, and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it. For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.


Messenger: [to Prince]
My Lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina.

Benedick: [to Prince] Think not on him till tomorrow. I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.--Strike up, pipers!

[Music plays. They dance.]
[They exit.]


"What some people say on Earth is that the final loss of one soul gives the lie to all the joy of those who are saved."

"Ye see it does not."

"I feel in a way that it ought to."

"That sounds very merciful: but see what lurks behind it."


"The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven."

"I do not know what I want, Sir."

"Son, son, it must be one way or the other. Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness the reject for themselves."

(Great Divorce, Chapter 13)

That's all. G'night!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things that need to go away for a while:

In order of highest to lowest urgency:

1. Termites.

2. Insufferable heat.

3. Headaches.

4. Grading.

5. That twitchy and achy muscle in my left shoulder.

6. Bad vision.

7. Anxiety.

8. Birthdays.

9. Laundry.

10. Inability to drink alcohol.

11. That plumbing problem that has closed off our primary sidewalk for the last week.

12. Pedometers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

10 Things

10 things I learned this month:

1. Bears are pastoral, tragicomic catalysts, esp. in The Winter's Tale, That Hideous Strength, and Descent into Hell. I just gave a presentation on this topic to about 60 students/parents a few weeks ago. It went really well. No one fell asleep. Also, Charles Williams really is the bee's knees.

2. It is really really hard to watch people you love try to deal with losing loved ones. There's been a lot of loss among people I know this year. You can't really comfort them, and it's hard to know how to love them best.

3. If recent conversations count for anything, Josh and I will probably have very little trouble naming our future children. (No one jump to any conclusions here. No babies yet. Although I had this dream...)

4. CSA baskets are also the bee's knees.

4b. This is a really great way to eat kale.

5. When you are stressed out beyond belief, hug a kitten. If this doesn't work, cry into your kitten until your husband comes home. If your husband is as awesome as mine, he may even provide you with excellent dark chocolate to help you feel better.

6. I really love road trips with Josh. We have so much fun because we feel 100% free to be as weird as we like with each other. Minnesotan accents for half an hour talking about "bears and goosepoop"? Awkward droopy-handed guttural laughter? Yes please.

7. Weekend vacations are not ruined even if you have to leave over five hours later than you planned.

8. Just a day and a half in the mountains by the lake can almost make up for a summer full of stress. You'll still wish for more than a day-and-a-half in the mountains by the lake, but it might keep you sane.

9. Pageant of the Masters. Tableaux vivant. Kind of impressive. I was engaged the whole time. But I'm unsure about how I feel about the whole thing. Imitations of imitations? The theme this year was really cool, though.

10. I am really really grateful that my family appreciates art and seeks it out. My brother's co-worker/friend pointed out how unusual that actually is while Ben was making me a latte yesterday after church (he makes phenomenal lattes, by the way. With Latte Art.). I really like this about my family. The art thing and the lattes.

Over and out.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


Why is it that most schools today believe in correct answers and standardized tests, but not truth?

And why are we okay with sending kids to schools that don't have anything like a coherent philosophy of education?

How did our school system become so broken?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Work - Play - Life

  1. Currently working on overhauling our entire Writing Curriculum, mostly by myself. Other people will be doing the audio recording and visual tech stuff, but I'm responsible for all of the content.
  2. Also, preparing for orientation on August 11,
  3. Running the remedial summer writing program,
  4. Organizing and participating in cultural excursion field trips (#3 of 5 was Mission San Juan Cap on Monday, #4 will be Harry Potter 7.2 next Friday),
  5. And preparing a presentation for our third-years on co-inherence and the doctrine of largesse in Charles Williams' writings. And maybe bears.
  6. Extra Credit (i.e., not during normal work hours): preparing a presentation for a study skills seminar in Sept. where I will be presenting for about an hour on cog psych principles and tricks that aid memory and retention.

  1. Knitting this! And these! Just started the cowl this week after I finished my HP Gryffindor scarf for the movie premier, and I'm almost finished with one sock. Been working on the socks for a several months, but not very consistently.
  2. I've written almost 6,000 words of a novel over the last few months. (Generally speaking, I don't talk to people about it. Josh doesn't even really know the plot.) It's fun. I've got most of it plotted, I just don't have a lot of time to work on it. When I do sit down to work on it, I've been getting about 1000 words out per sitting, which isn't a bad pace, if I could just manage to squeeze in a bit more time here and there.
  3. Reading SO MANY THINGS. In the last two months, I have read the following for fun: The Time Machine and "The Empire of the Ants" [H.G. Wells]; Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, Unnatural Death, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, and Strong Poison [Dorothy Sayers]; re-read most of Borders of Infinity [Lois McMaster Bujold]; half of Happily Ever After, which is a collection of over 30 fairy tales retold by contemporary authors like Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, Holly Black, and many others. Since my last book update, I've also read the entire Earthsea series [Usrula Le Guin] and The Great Gatsby [F. Scott Fitzgerald--duh.], which, for a book about utter ruination and despair, was decent. Still not convinced that it's a great idea to make every high school student read it, though. Josh and I have been read the Series of Unfortunate Events books aloud together [by Lemony Snicket! Which is not his real name, but is fun to say.]. We're almost finished with book 2: The Reptile Room. Also currently re-reading Many Dimensions by Charles Williams. Because I love him. So much. Seriously, if any author were to entice me into pursuing a PhD in Lit, it would probably be Williams.
  4. Hole-in-the-Wall Wednesday has turned into Bad Movie Wednesday for the summer. After work, my coworkers and I collect dinner and our respective significant others and go watch a bad movie at my boss's house in order to relax from work stress (because there is a lot of it right now). Sometimes we watch with Riff Trax, sometimes without. Last time we ended up not watching a bad movie (we were supposed to watch "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra") because the bad-movie-bearer ended up being required to babysit at the last minute. We watched "A Town Called Panic" instead, which is currently on Netflix streaming, and which you should absolutely go watch. It is in French. It is great.
  1. WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO. Question mark.
  2. The things I want to do most right now: swim in Shaver Lake, lay out on the beach in the sun at Shaver Lake, visit Monica's Thrift Store up in Shaver Lake, ride in the boat on Shaver Lake, sit by the campfire up at Shaver Lake. Do you sense a theme? Of course, if we are able to go, it will only be for a measly 1-2 days since my family decided to go during my orientation week. Trying to figure out if we can leave at the break of dawn that Friday and spend at least a day and a half or so up there. Sadness.
  3. I am covered in bruises right now. I keep running into things: table corners, our bed, open cabinets, etc. This needs to stop.
  4. I keep wanting to do awesome things in our home, but other projects keep getting in the way. Example. I can't hang things on the walls in our room until we figure out if the bed is going to stay where it is or not. We can't figure that out until Josh turns the bed into a four-poster (so awesome!!!!!). Josh hasn't turned the bed into a four-poster yet (though he thinks he has a plan now, which is super great), so I wait.
  5. Speaking of bed, it is time for bed. And The Reptile Room.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet Theo [and Related Adventures!]

If you are not a cat person, maybe skip reading this entry.

This is Theodoric. He goes by Theo most days, because he thinks that Theodoric is a bit too pretentious for daily use. He's a simple young cat, after all. (Other nicknames in frequent use: the previously mentioned "Dork-Dork," "Theosaurus" or "Theodactyl" when he makes impatient dinosaur noises in the morning when I'm trying to feed him, "Theobumpkin" when he's being cute and uncoordinated and running into things, or scaring himself... we are finding that he has a very easily adaptable name.)

Theo likes...
  • Theo likes people. Not too particular about who they are at this point. He is very different from Ivan in this way.

  • Theo likes being picked up, held, carried, and cuddled. He is easily pleased, and purrs indiscriminately.

  • Theo likes sitting on someone's lap. Anyone's lap. You've got a lap? He'll sit on it.

  • Theo likes computers.

    Many times I have been reading blogs, checking Facebook, etc., no kitten in sight. Then, suddenly and without warning, Theo is flying through the air, having launched himself headlong at my laptop screen. When he's not doing that, he's usually persistently attempting to walk on the keyboard (I am batting his feet away now as I type) or rubbing his face on any part of the computer that he can reach. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the existence of Command+Z. The number of times he has deleted what I've been typing...yikes. He has also managed to destroy one power cord thus far. Kitten teeth are sharp.

  • Theo likes his Ivan.

    Yes. In this picture, Theo is biting Ivan's leg, and Ivan is showing his Very Superior Breeding by Not Doing Anything About It. This is often the way of things. Ivan gets sick of him sometimes, but he also gets really worried when he can't find him.

  • Theo likes standing/sitting/laying on my feet, especially while I am trying to cook. Last week, this preference of his lead to this:

    What is this, you ask? Oh, nothing. Just the result of my crazy mid-air kitchen-knife-catching ninja skills that saved Theo's life last Tuesday. Let me set the scene for you.
- Begin Kitchen Ninja Adventure -

Me: [In the kitchen, preparing a delicious supper of beef curry, which, alas! we were never to taste.]


Me: [Chop onion. Throw into pan with oil. Foolishly decide to chop beef using the same counter space.]

Counter space: Ha ha! I'm so small! There's, like, no room for anything over here! Tee hee!

Me: [Begin to chop beef and throw into pan with chopped onions in order to create more space on tiny cutting board. Onions are now burning a little. Turn down heat a bit, stir onions and beef with spatula, keep chopping more beef.]

[This is where I become a ninja.]

Evil Spatula of Death: Unaccountably, I am filled with murderous rage, and wish to cause harm to you and all your kin. I will now make trouble for you by diving off of the counter. Ha ha! [spatula swivels inexplicably and falls off the counter.]

Me: Gah! Spatula! [Grab spatula in mid-air, begin to lift it back up to the counter. Feel triumphant for a split second. Notice that the falling spatula has knocked the chef's knife toward the edge of the counter, and that said knife is now also beginning its descent floorward.]

[This is where time stops for a few seconds.]

Kitten is on the floor at my feet, purring, no knowledge of potential danger. Knife is falling off of the counter. I will be traumatized for life if my kitten is skewered by said kitchen knife. For some reason, I didn't think about the fact that in preventing such tragic circumstances, I might, I don't know, lose a finger, die of tetanus, etc. My decision was made.

[Time resumes.]

Me: [Ninja knife-catching skills. Unfortunately, I catch the wrong end.] AH! [...Honestly, it was a single, short yelp.]

Theo: Rawmaow? [Translation: My legs moved without me. How did I end up in the living room? Why is my heart racing?]

Me: [Drop knife on kitten-free floor, away from feet. Turn around and plunge bloody hand under the faucet. Ask Josh to clean up blood from floor so that the cats don't get curious. Ew.]

Josh: [Freak out a little. Clean up blood. Bandage wounded wife. Insist that wounded wife sit down. Throw out half-prepared food. Take wife to Medicenter for after-hours medical attention. Be awesome husband. Tip lady at Rubio's for not locking us out and letting us order food one minute before closing, unlike Baja Fresh, who decided to close early and would not serve us. Not bitter.]

- End Scene -

So. They cleaned and glued me up (no stitches, but they actually probably should have--I've burst the glue open several times this week. TMI?) and sent me home. My rheumatologist gave me a tetanus shot at my appointment yesterday just to be safe. I guess I like my kitten or something.

By the way, for those of you who keep tabs on my medical updates, I'm starting to wean off of the steroids now! Yay! It might take as long as January since it needs to be really gradually decreased, but it means less moon face (it's a steroid reaction--yes, it's really called that, and I currently have it), and maybe losing a few pounds. I'm not overweight (I'm at about average BMI right now), and I was definitely really underweight for several months last fall. Like, below 100 pounds at one point, and struggling to keep my weight as high as it was. I've gained between 20 and 30 pounds over the last few months. So I'm glad to not be Skeletor anymore, but I don't currently feel fit and healthy either, and I'm struggling not to gain more weight at this point. Getting rid of the steroids should help even things out a bit, which would be great, because then more of my clothes would fit me again. Not that I mind buying new clothes...

That's all for now. Over and out.


Thursday, June 23, 2011



"You, Lord, are my consolation. You are my eternal Father, but I am scattered in times whose order I do not understand." (St. Augustine, Confessions XI.xxix)

When I recited the lines
From the poem I learned
In college, in my mind I retrieved
The buried verses from the creaking
Card catalog drawer where I keep
Such things (next to the pile
Of assorted song lyrics from T.V. shows
I watched when I was six), and squinting
As I held the card at arm's length,
Began to speak someone else's words.
I recalled every word and every line
That followed, marching on the heels
Of the last: disciplined squads of poetry
Issuing from my tongue.

And all the while, pronouncing every
Syllabic combination, my memory pressed
The single image unified--the beginning and the
End and every sound between--upward
Through the murky haze of time
To be illumined briefly, wholly by the light.
To know the end before you reach it, to direct
Each aspiration toward the expectation,
And in the end, to see the expectation
Consumed, the action finished and enfolded
Into memory: This, we are told, is the life
Of a man, and of men, and of poems.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It's here! Hooray! I got my grades all entered by 1:15 am this morning, and now I don't have to think about grading until September! Hooray!

In other news, Josh and I went on our first real trip together last weekend. We flew up to Spokane for our dear friend's wedding (Hi Emily and Simeon! You guys are amazing and adorable! We love you!) and we rented a car and everything like real adults. It was a lot of fun, except for all the layovers on the way up. I tried grading term papers in the airports, but didn't get a lot done. (Side note: funniest typo I found this quarter: "doe snot." I think the student meant "does not," but one can never be sure...maybe it's not that funny...I've been grading a LOT OF ESSAYS.) Back to Washington. It was really nice to get out of CA. I realized that I hadn't left the state since Oxford in 2007 (almost driving to Mexico on our honeymoon doesn't count). That's a long time.

In additional other news, we have a new kitten! His name is Theodoric (we call him Theo most of the time, and Dork-Dork the rest of the time). He's probably about two months old. He is black and white, like Ivan, and also came from Biola. Yes, Ivan is still around too. Ivan is terrified of people who are not Josh and myself. He acts mostly like a normal, friendly, sweet-tempered cat when it's just us, although he is a bit jumpy, but bring anyone else over to our place, and his tail is instantly between his legs and he makes a beeline for my bedroom closet or the bathroom. We found out yesterday when we were babysitting our nephew that Ivan is even more terrified of babies than he is of regular people. It's just a little ridiculous. Theo, on the other hand, is very friendly. He most often wants to be with people--laying on their laps, being held and cuddled by them, climbing up their legs, etc. When he's not doing that, he's usually gnawing on Ivan's ears. They get along really well, and often cry for one another during the night if they aren't in the same room, which is really sweet if you don't care about trying to sleep... I don't have pictures to post yet, but I will--give me a break, I graded for about 17 hours straight yesterday. I'll get to it when I've recovered a bit.

Over and out.


Friday, May 27, 2011


If you've never been to OldPoetry.com, and you like old poetry, you are missing out. Any time I feel like revisiting Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse (every few months or so) I go there. And I browse. It's really great. I just discovered that they have Charles Williams' poetry there as well. I had been reading it on St. Silas the Martyr (http://www.saintsilas.org.uk/section/126), but this is much, much better. On his gravestone in Holywell cemetery in Oxford, he chose only to be known as "Poet." I don't think very many people read his poetry today, and it is a shame. Here's one of his poems I've been savoring lately:


i. Christmas
Through His first darkness here He sleeps at ease
Happy and still, whose light is the sun's Sun;
And the rising day the portal sees
Whence issue and return the Three-in-One.

ii. Epiphany
Sleep takes Him, but a little His small eyes
Still search the room where the kings but lately were;
Small hands play with the gold; beside Him lies
The dull neglected casket of the myrrh.

iii. Maundy Thursday
Torches and lamps, now that day is done,
Another city than His own makes bright,-
Man's heart of terror: where by clouds the Sun
Is judged, condemned, obscured, and put to night.

iv. Good Friday
Farther than all created things He goes
Through the dim bottom and abyss of shades
Where the black wind of retribution blows;
Lo, peace! lo, joy! lo, 'tis Himself He raids.

v. Easter
Now night of night and Day of day returns
Upon the earth which but their image knew;
Which now in slumber and in waking learns
The double symbols of the only True.

vi. Prayer
Now rests the body and now rests the mind;
But for the soul the stars of heavenly things
Illumine space: a sweet celestial wind
Stirs in the lattice, and the sound of wings.

vii. The Dark Night of the Soul
Naked and stripped of all things but desire
(And even desire to its last sickness drawn)
The forlorn soul, crouched by a dying fire,
Remembers only that there once was dawn.

viii. The Consummation
Now the long day of His creation ends;
In that perfection which at first was willed
Activity its happy speed suspends.
Nothing is lost and nothing unfulfilled.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Lots of things have happened since the last time I really posted anything, and I just really haven't had the time to update. But for those of you who keep tabs on my medical situation, I figured I'd just write something quick. I went to the rheumatologist again yesterday (I was supposed to go back in early March, but then my grandmother passed away. It took this long to reschedule). My bloodwork from the end of February reported that my SED rate was down to 1. Yes, one. It was at 84 in October, 17 in December. My rheumatologist is ecstatic. He bragged about me to the office staff. But, he says, it's still important to begin the Humira injections in order to help prevent any further damage and to keep working at getting full range of motion back in my joints (for instance, my index fingers still can't quite touch my palm when I make a fist). So boo for home injections, yay recovery. Also, we were really worried about being able to afford this new medication, but it looks like there's a company that will supplement the percentage that our insurance pays for, so it shouldn't end up costing us more than $25 a month. This is a huge answer to prayer, because those things can be really super expensive.

One other huge answer to prayer: after the bad experience we had last year for housing and the rush to find a new place to live, we were a bit wary as May approached this year. I've seen a few eviction notices in our complex as it looks like many condo owners who are renting have decided to sell their units, and I kept thinking "what if that happens to us?" Josh was feeling a bit nervous about it all too, so we decided to be proactive about it and start talking to our landlord about renewing our lease agreement early so that we would have as much warning as we could in case there were any surprises. And there weren't. He likes us, he wants us to stay, rent stays the same. Hooray! I think I was hesitant to get too settled here this year in case something happened like last year, so we actually haven't hung anything on the walls yet. I'm going to start doing that. Maybe this week. It's really good to know we'll be here for at least another year. We like it here.

Over and out.


Thursday, March 31, 2011


That's me.

Grades: entered. It's not even 6 o'clock yet. I'm gonna go eat another fudgesicle and cuddle my poor wasp-stung kitty cat.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poetry and Words

We went to a Billy Collins reading last night at USC. Had I been affiliated with USC in any way, I would have felt pretty embarrassed about the event, and I would probably write him an apology letter. It seemed under-advertised and under-attended, and the introduction felt like an explanation or review of Collins' poetry delivered to an audience not expected to be familiar with his work. And the question and answer portion was abysmal.

A word of advice: don't pretend to have a question so that you can read a poem you just wrote five minutes ago on a napkin to a former poet laureate at his reading. This is not okay. Also, we are not impressed that you rhymed "you are my hero" with "Robert De Niro."

I might write Collins a note apologizing on behalf of California. Do students in other states have to be reminded not to text during poetry readings?

Seriously, though, the man was wonderfully gracious. He skillfully handled being accused of cowardice for using irony to cover up his mommy issues, and being requested to "also comment on Hip Hop Poems and The Twitter." Poor man. He looked so tired.

He has a new collection coming out next month that sounds really promising, and from the pieces he read, seems to be less depressingly focused on divorce.

Also, my tenth graders are starting poetry this week, which is excellent. Tenth graders, meet Eliot. Eliot, tenth graders. They got a VERY RAPID overview of poetic feet, meter, rhyme, etc. today, and they practiced scanning some lines. We'll start talking about content on Thurs. They'll hit Four Quartets next week, at which point their brains will be overloaded with beauty, and all shall be well, and / All manner of thing shall be well.

The result of all of the above: I've had poetry and words on the brain a lot lately. When this happens, I sometimes find words running through my head. Sometimes they are other people's words; sometimes I'm not sure if they are mine or someone else's (I know a few other people who have this problem). Today my brain was chewing on the phrase "histrionic casualty." I ran a Google search, and it doesn't seem to belong to anyone else. I'm not even sure what it would mean. I like the idea of "histrionic casualness" better (I like to think of the sort of things one might say "with a certain histrionic casualness"), but the cadence of the original is more appealing, though the meaning is more obfuscated and maybe morbid.

What is a histrionic casualty?

1. Perhaps an event so unbelievably coincidental that it seems it must have been staged (but really is coincidental)?
2. Someone with a martyr complex who dies as a result of some unfortunate tragedy?
3. Someone who is hopelessly melodramatic?

What do you think? (And does this ever happen to you?)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Time for another episode of...

...Updating because I haven't done it in a while and feel guilty!


  1. HitWW has been going smoothly. No food poisoning to speak of yet, and we are often forced to try things that wouldn't have been our first choices from the menu. Some of them are unpronounceable. Some of them don't have English translations. We thrive on the unknown.
  2. Teaching is going really well. When I emailed a student today to see if she would be willing to meet with our staff once a week for an extra 20 or 30 minutes to help her plan and write her next term paper, her response was, and I quote, "Oh! Wow! That sounds like a GREAT idea! I'd LOVE to do that! That would be such a big help!!!!" (Excessive exclamation marks and capitalization hers.) She's a tenth grader. She wants to give up some of her free time to work ahead on her term paper with us. Seriously, we have the best students. Also, I'm current on all of my grading. My guilt quota is normally spent on not returning papers in a timely manner, so I guess it gets spent here when I'm on top of things. Heh.
  3. I have been knitting LIKE A FIEND. Hats, scarves, gloves, slippers, lacework, you name it.
  4. Similarly, did you know how easy pillowcases are to make (I'm talking throw pillow covers)? I didn't until last weekend! It took less than ten minutes to sew one. I'm embroidering it too, so the project isn't done yet. But when it is, I will post pictures.
  5. Culinary endeavors: I highly recommend this recipe from Alpineberry if you have any extra meyer lemons sitting around. Hubs doesn't like cake, but he even said these were a major win. Also, roasted root vegetables: so delicious, so easy. Can I have them every night, please?
  6. In other news, Ivan managed to rip a curtain rod wall mount from the wall today. There weren't even any curtains up. It was screwed into the wall by three screws 7 or 8 feet from the ground. Figure that one out.
  7. I have been reading, and not just for classes, which is really super great. I mean, revisiting Dante, Aquinas, Boethius, Lewis, Sayers, Eliot, etc. is great, but it's really nice to read some new things of my own choosing. Finished in the last two months:
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer) [startling, sad, gripping]
  • Re-read the Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins) [love me some good YA]
  • Paper Towns (John Green) [see above]
  • Save the Cat! The last book on screenwriting you'll ever need (Blake Snyder) [basic in a lot of ways, but really good at talking about marketability and practical ways to improve your story]
  • Currently reading: Canticle for Liebowitz (Walter Miller) [Guys, this book is seriously awesome. Monks preserving literacy in a post-nuclear world. What more could you want?], In the Company of Others (Julie Czerneda) [not sure I'll finish this one. been working on it for several months. over halfway through, and I'm still not hooked.], Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard) [Like drinking a cool glass of water from that well you drank from as a child.].
  • Next on the list: The Great Gatsby. Never read it before (everyone else read it in high school. My high school made me read Hobbes, Montesquieu, and Tocqueville instead). Looking forward to it.
Yay! No longer feeling guilty! Until next week, or whenever I fall behind on grading!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hole-in-the-wall Wednesday, Installment 1

Guess what I found!!!

Not the camera cord, actually, but a memory card reader! Yay pictures!


HitwW began this week. We went to El Pescador, and it was delicious. I had the Molcajete, and Josh had the Fajitas, and boy were they good. Both required Josh and I to eat shrimp (something we never order), and we both actually liked it, even if they do look like bugs. Win.

Bean week is going well. Tuesday was french bread with sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese. Today Josh brought home leftover pizza from his parents' fridge, and I made chocolate chip cookies. I'm thinking we may have to get a little extra creative tomorrow.

Look! Here's our Christmas tree this year! We're about to take it down now since Epiphany is over and it's getting crispy, but it was lovely while it lasted.

I love Christmas...trees...

And no, we didn't have a tree topper. I couldn't find one I liked this year. Last year we just tied bow on top. This year we got lazy. But we got these guys:

Raccoon and Fox.

More posts to come when I've finished downloading and sorting through SEVERAL HUNDRED PHOTOS from my memory card...


Monday, January 3, 2011

Bean Week

It's not really as bad as Bean Day, but it felt a little like it at first.

Josh and I are trying something this week. In an attempt to be a little extra frugal (Christmas is expensive, you know?), we're trying to get by this week on whatever we currently have in our fridge/freezer/pantry. We want to see if we can refrain from spending any money on groceries this week and use up some of the stuff we've had around for a while. The exception will be Wednesday, which is now "Hole-in-the-wall Wednesday"--part of a New Year's resolution to try more new things. There are so many tiny little restaurants in our area that we've never tried, so we'll be heading out each Wednesday to explore them, to ask what's good on the menu, take them at their word, and try new things. We'll be keeping a food journal so we remember which ones are hits and which are misses.

But back to Bean Week. We opened the pantry tonight thinking we'd probably end up eating brown rice and beans, but we actually didn't. We put our heads together and got creative. We still had some produce from last week (tomatoes, sweet peppers, bell peppers, onions, lemons and limes), so we decided to make breakfast burritos with tortillas, eggs, frozen tater-tots, salsa (freshly made by Josh), pepper jack cheese, and sauteed peppers and onions. It was super delicious. I'm sure things will become a bit more...inventive as the week goes on, but I'm hopeful. It must be all those cooking shows we've been watching. Did you know there are 135 episodes of Take Home Chef on Netflix instant watch right now? Hooray for Bean Week!