Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winning the Race

For awhile I was running on a treadmill at the local recreation center, paying $7 a day ($5 on lunch hour). The room was grey, the cleanliness was questionable, and there were only a few working treadmills. At lunch, that often set me up for some frustration.

I recently joined a local gym for $20 a month. There are fifty treadmills, a circuit of strength training equipment, and plenty of spray bottles for keeping things clean. The only drawback is the arsenal of televisions that are lined up above all the equipment. They are all on, all of time, and set to various channels. There is no way to not look at them while I run, unless I close my eyes. Most people put on headphones and key into whatever channel their television is set to for that moment. I listen to music and watch the infomercial for Tempupedic, the infomercial for LifeLift, the smiling faces of the models who nod in agreement about how improved the 63 year old woman looks after her LifeLift, Obama's last burst of speeches in Florida, the local news, the Phillies players piling on top of one another in a victorious heap.

I run and run but I can't get away from America. I check for jowls in the locker room mirror. Not yet, but I know that's a race I can't win.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Heat Is On

I'm the sort of writer who likes the feeling of having written something, anything. I don't like writing. It's work. I do it though because I like the post-writing elation.

The house was below fifty when I returned from the studio today. I lumbered into the basement, blew the cobwebs off the furnace, filled up the reservoir with water and turned on the heat. The house has that "the heat just kicked on" toasty scent now and I don't want to leave.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An Ordinary Day

This is a mostly complete photojournal of my Saturday. An ordinary day, but I missed out on a few photos toward the end because it got busier and I was getting tired. It's an idea snagged from Jodi, who tried it out after reading the idea on Mrs. G's blog.

6 a.m. - feed the cats. They bansheemeow until the dishes are filled, snarf it all down in a couple of minutes and then lick themselves in content or barf it up on a rug. Cats add so much joy to one's life.

6:15 a.m. - Writing in journal with coffee companion. This was after I also fed the bird. I didn't take a photo of him because they never come out very well using my iPhone, but here's one of him in one of his favorite perches, the pasta dish on the kitchen cabinet.

8 a.m. After coffee and writing, it was time to drive to work.

Driving. It's the only thing I don't like about this particular teaching gig, which is twice a semester (not too bad). The college is about an hour's drive from my house. At least the weather was bluesky perfect and we're at the peak of autumn leaf season.

9 a.m.: Arrival at the college, marked with a photo of the sign where I parked, which is right next to the "art barn" where I teach. Now you can stalk me twice a semester. The weekender class was a good one yesterday - we wrote self-portraits.

Noon: The drive home on Interstate 81. This is a pretty accurate photo of what it is like driving on this road, which is filled with construction, trucks and impatient drivers. Yesterday PennDot crews were painting lines and adding the glass beads to the paint. When I drove to work, the sun hit the glass and it looked like fallen stars. Distractingly beautiful. A sure accident starter.

1 p.m.: I picked up a small movie screen that we needed for an event in the studio later in the evening. It's an old-school screen, the sort you probably had in your elementary classroom. The whole thing folds up, but as you're walking with it the birdlike support legs like to fold out, making it impossible to continue. We did a little dance together before I got it into the trunk of the car.

2:30 p.m.: Our contractor friend who fixed the sidewalk came over for a bit to check out the bathroom cabinet I want replaced. He measured and we discussed what I wanted it to look like and then Dan and I went out to get weather proofing for the windows and we found this sink. It was on clearance for $24. The bowl will sit on top of the cabinet. We also got a faucet. Not $24.

3:30 p.m.: Weather stripping the front door while wearing green shoes. There is always a draft from that door, and I hope this will help cure that this winter.

7 p.m.: Pre-performance with Michael at the studio. You can see that old-school screen in action on the stage. Michael gave a multimedia performance of poetry, photography and stories from a trip along the coast of Maine. I took notes as he spoke and then drew a mushroom that was featured in one of his photographs. After the performance, people stuck around to look at art, buy some of Michael's notecards, and talk.

10 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.: I have no photos of this part of my day, and I neglected to get a photo of the dinner Dan made at the house for all of us when Michael arrived (which was a delicious Pollo con Arroz dish). After the performance we went upstairs to visit with some friends who are staying in the Paper Kite "Summer Home." They are visiting family with their newborn girl. I held the baby twice during the evening, and remembered how little of understanding a newborn's needs is instinctive. You're either good at understanding the little coos, grexings and whirps, or you're not. Let's just say I'm glad my daughter is sixteen.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Writing Exercise Part Four

If you followed all the previous prompts, you have a lot of writing. Here's how I approach a large chunk of freewriting:

  1. Read it all.
  2. Underline phrases/words that stand out as interesting.
  3. Choose one line to start the first draft.
  4. Write the first draft, incorporating the bits you liked from the freewriting, if they work. Sometimes they don't, and the piece takes on a whole new life. That's ok.
  5. When you feel comfortable with the first draft, share it with a reader you trust for comments and suggestions.
An interesting post at Diane Lockward's blog today about Billy Collins and his tips toward writing a good poem here.