Toto, We Are Not in the Urban Northeast Anymore

I am sitting in a cafe in a picturesque small town. I’ve got a pretty view, a table to myself, decent coffee, a few staples, and my trusty laptop. They’re playing country music on the radio. The good stuff, not the modern Nashville prepackaged bullshit.

I said something about loving the song to the woman behind the counter.

“Yeah, we get a lot of older men in around ten, and they are amazed they are actually hearing Willie Nelson.”

“I love Willie Nelson,” I enthused.

“Me too. I grew up with the stuff.” And smiling, humming under my breath, I sat down to get some work done. (Which is why I’m writing a blog post.)

I grew up in the South, where people talk to each other. I spent my twenties as a bookseller, so I’m used to talking to people even in the urban northeast. Unlike many people I know, I actually talk to strangers who talk to me when I’m not getting a weird vibe. And sometimes even then.

“It’s quite a picture,” the guy at the next table says to me.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You’re sitting there with a tub of salad, bread, coffee, and…a laptop?” I’m dressed in  jeans and a black hoodie. As usual, I am wearing sturdy shoes and no makeup. I think I brushed my hair before I left the house?

I think he meant I was an anachronism, with my laptop and the classic bread and salad (to be). However, I feel much less of an anachronism here than I did back in the urban northeast with my sturdy shoes and my love of country music. Lots of people here talk to each other and work at home. Or at their local cafe.

I guess it’s been a while since I have been comfortable in a place. Life is weird.

Are you comfortable where you live?



A Day in the Life

Wake up, and realize that today is the day of the total solar eclipse. Of course, I am far north of the path of totality (the name of my new video game), so I will only get a partial eclipse. But that’s okay. I can still make a pinhole viewer and see a crescent shadow where a round shadow will be. Fun with optics and astronomy!

It’s the second-to-last day of class and I finished grading before 10 am on the day of class. What?? That’s unprecedented thus far. I think I was better about grading the last time I taught that class last fall. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

So maybe I should get some writing done. I wrote 250 words and felt like a champ. Then I looked at how much I had left to do and instantly deflated. Lord knows how I lived my life when I had actual drama to deal with. I suppose an eclipse is pretty dramatic. My third sister is visiting friends in the path of totality, and I am a little jealous.

What’s your drama?

Some Links Because I’m Too Lazy to Write a Post

I’ve been listening to the Decemberists. They satisfy the same part of me that listened to REM obsessively as a teenager.

Use the serial comma or pay the price.

I have a friend who told me a story about an early boyfriend who cut himself and started bar fights to show how much he loved her. She was young and from an unhealthy family, and she thought this was love rather than abuse. Here is an article about how no one believes Sylvia Plath’s story of her own abusive marriage. Biting another person’s cheek without consent may not be a sign of love. (Unless you’re my small half-blind dog, in which case, little dog, I forgive you, although it hurt like an SOB at the time.)

On the power of keeping a notebook and an example of a traveler notebook, which is one of my current stationery obsessions. Don’t laugh. The inspiration of other people’s pages send me rushing to my own.

What are you currently obsessed with?

Feel the Fear, and…Go Back to Bed

Things I Am Afraid Of, In No Particular Order

Beginning edits on my last(?) draft of the Small Beer Book

President Agent Orange’s blatant disregard of our government and our people




Ignorance, my own and others

Turning in the edits on my last(?) draft of the Small Beer Book

Alienating my family because of my views on Israel (not you, Cougar, obviously)

Alienating my family because of my book (not you, Cougar, and not you either, should I have another relative reading this blog)

Death of people I love

Putting out my back while shoveling

Running out of coffee

Not understanding the joke


Group activities

Cruise ships (see above, also this)


What do you fear?


All Praise the Index Card

So unassuming and seemingly old-fashioned, the index card. My father used them all of the time and so I have some lying around. (The thing about going through his papers is that I am helping myself to his unused office supplies. This is not unlike how I treated his office when he was alive.)

I am a disorganized, forgetful lecturer. So while teaching classes, I rediscovered the joy of index cards. I kept my lecture notes on them with examples and quotes. And then I told my students that it was part of [Last Name]’s first law of research writing, which is know thyself. I told them I knew I would forget important details if I did not have them at hand, and thus I use index cards to keep me on track.

I began to write my new outline on plain old paper. But fear set in. This might not be the right order. I don’t want to flip back and forth in my notebook. So I remembered the mighty index card. I have ten chapters on ten cards with ten working titles (really sophisticated, literary titles such as “Childhood” and “Education”).

I have notes on what could go in the chapter. Periodically I pick up the cards and shuffle through them, just to reassure myself that there is an order. I have yet to get that order to the page. But it’s just a matter of time.

The sun is shining. I sent a letter to my senator against confirming David Friedman as an ambassador to Israel. I should have called, but I sent an email instead.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Late December Coming Down

I’m face to face with a deadline. It’s going to rainsnow tonight. The Glossary of Meteorology has yet to include rainsnow (or maybe rainsnowlocusts) in its list of words, but maybe it should. I’m suffering a batch of ill health, which means my cheese grits/creole seafood dinner that I was promised is definitely not going to happen tonight. (Wah!)

However, all is not lost, because I remembered the list of banned words! This is the best thing since The Hater’s Guide to Williams-Sonoma. Both are annual occasions made for the hater within us all. I just reread the W-S one and it made me feel better enough that I ate a (cheap Trader Joe’s) cracker.

What are your first world problems?

Office Space

It’s take your spouse to work day! I am sitting in an office at [Redacted] College, pretending to be a professor. This is easier than it used to be. After DP finishes teaching, we’re off to the airport and cities unknown.

[For anyone thinking of robbing my house: it is fully occupied by a former college athlete armed with lacrosse sticks and very good hand/eye coordination and one fierce Bichon. Very very fierce.]

Until the rush of travel, I have a couple hours in a quiet professorial space. There are books to write and books to read. Will I be a good person and write or will I be a lazy happy person and read? I’ve been up since 5 a.m. I have my suspicions.

Are you reading or writing today?