Sunday, December 19, 2010


(No, but I've got the "knitting" down)
(knit knit knit purl purl purl)

Books read since I've been home? Zero
(Although I have managed to digest a combination of five or so pages)

Scarves completed (knitted)? Four
(I can't tell you the last time I actually finished something I started)

So much for those reading goals...I have managed to visit a couple bookstores though--including the one I lamented about last month. It was a bit depressing to see the "We Will Be Closing Dec 31 at 6pm, Thank You for Your Business" sign out front.

I've been a little obsessed with the Salvador Dalí exhibit I visited last Sunday. Especially the huge painting-- Santiago El Grande. It's the largest work of art I have ever seen in person. You can go HERE to see what it looked like when it arrived in Atlanta and how they were able to "hang" it.

Boscos Original Alt
"Alt" means "old" in German. The reference is to the days when Germany brewed ales before the invention of lagers. Still brewed in the area around Dusseldorf you can think of this beer as Germany's version of England's brown ale. Facts: O.G. 1054, I.B.U. 25

Pilsner Pale Ale
The name Pils Pale Ale is an oxymoron. Pils is a lager style and Pale Ale is, of course, an ale. What we have done here is brew our usual pale ale formula but add the hop varieties that would typically be found in a Czech style pilsner. If you ever wondered what Saaz hops really taste like, this is your chance. Facts: O.G. 1055, I.B.U. 35

In addition to time spent at Boscos, I've also "hit up" Fino's (most favorite lunchtime place) and la baguette --I believe the almond-crusted croissants are going to be a coffee time staple.

I guess I have been busy....too busy to read? I gotta get on that.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hello Dali!

For the love of high art
I am going to the High Art
to see the "late work"
Salvador Dali exhibit.

There are a few rare
painting, including a couple
that haven't been seen
in public (or the U.S.)
in over 50 years!

This will be the first time
I've visited a museum in
Atlanta--okay, not true.

I did visit the
Margaret Mitchell
house about ten years ago.

But this will be my "last" Georgia adventure of 2010 because then it's off to Memphis...(after I go back through Alabama and Mississippi).

To-Read Over Break list:
(finish) Where I'm Calling From (stories) by Raymond Carver
Runaway (stories) by Alice Munro
The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf
All Aunt Hagar's Children (stories) by Edward P. Jones
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Jones and Diaz will be at AWP in February, so that's the big motivation there. The other three have just been calling out to me lately.

I also plan on knitting up a storm. Needles and yarn, beware! I hope you're cold because I see a lot of scarves in your very near future.


P.S. Click here for information about Dali's "Meditative Rose."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Five More To Go....

(semesters of grad school, that is.) Because I've completed my first!!

It took a marathon-style 48 hours of working diligently on my most scholarly (researched) paper, which may be the reason the middle of my back feels like a wall of bricks.

While on campus yesterday, I stopped by a couple offices to get a few things in order before I leave town (that's when I snapped this photograph).

Grades? I've already had a couple people ask me "how" I've done--give me a break, already! This is graduate school and I'm done for the semester. I'm not concerned with grades. I don't think there is time to really think about such anymore. (Really).

And what's really ironic, is this paper had a section discussing historical aspects of grading in the American higher educational system. But let's get out of my academic mind.

Best Gifts of the Season Thus Far:
A jar of homemade Apple Butter
A tin of homemade Chocolate-covered Macaroons
A roll of toilet paper

I'm not kidding. This roll has saved me a trip to the's a miracle.

Speaking of the holiday season, downtown Milledgeville really likes their decorations. I'm practically living in Whoville (before the Grinch, obviously). There are lights and wreaths and red ribbons everywhere. I'm a sucker for tiny white lights (so star-like) and they seem to be everywhere.

"Front Campus"--named so because it faces the main street through historic downtown, features three large, majestic buildings (like the one pictured above) and the monstrous wreaths all feature tiny white lights.

I have yet to see any of those large plastic figures (usually lit from within) that seem to be all the rage in suburban Memphis. It's strange and pretty all at the same time.

(Realization: I moved here on August 9 and I finished the semester on December 9)

Most of my classmates have already left for home. The ones who have not are second or third year and are still finishing up grading papers (that will be me next year).

Last night seven of us went to the movies--we saw the newly released Narnia film.There is something quite humorous about a packed theater filled with people in 3D glasses.

I'm spending the rest of my day cleaning (what?) so when I return in January, it will be all sparkly and new again.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It Is Written--

I guess I have to get back to work on the other squares now...
(or I have 3.2 assignments left to complete)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Classic Bibliophile:

A couple years ago I got on a F. Scott kick.

(still love him to pieces)

Now it's time to make room for Virginia.

I've been "collecting" her works from the used bookstore, and now I feel I have a decent selection to read from...

Mrs. Dalloway
A Room of One's Own (reading now)
To The Lighthouse
The Voyage Out

and today I picked up the Complete Shorter Fiction, which really helps me out (since I write short fiction). I'll finish this selection (she called these sketches) of 45 works before I get back to reading her novels.

Anything in stream of consciousness requires extra care when reading...and depending on your "state of mind" at the time, the story can read differently.

I know there is a lot more out there (I always look for her at the used bookstore), but I have more than enough to keep me busy for now.

Speaking of BUSY, I found another first edition John Updike today (now I have two)--S. and Museum & Women...this just adds to all the books I have "to read." According to my profile over at, I have more than 90 books just waiting to be devoured.

What's a girl to do?

Keep reading and writing and buying books (used). They are my big, grand comfort in the world. As a writer (according to the IRS, to be a writer means to have sent out at least one manuscript in hopes of publication)...and a would-be professor (which I'll be qualified to do once I finish my MFA), books are more than my hobby.

They are my profession, my scholarly obsession.


Monday, November 22, 2010


This photo isn't the best--

It's the "state line" sign one sees when crossing into TN from one of it's neighbors to the south...

Welcomes You"

Simple, to the point.

If you happen to blink, it may be easy to miss--but it's polite in it's message.

Of course, I try not to blink when crossing state lines. Aside from counting mile markers and watching the clock, it's the best way to feel like you're making any progress!

Mississippi's sign says, "Welcome to...." The one I pass features the state in red while the letters are white. The "ssiss" in the middle is dropped down and curly cursive. It looks pretty classy.

Now, Alabama isn't shy. It welcomes you to "Alabama the Beautiful." The "welcome" part is easy to miss, but the "beautiful" part is very prominent. Good for you, Alabama. I like a state with healthy self-esteem.

I admit that this trip "through" Alabama (along a major interstate and a well-travelled highway) was quite beautiful. A lot of the trees seemed to be at their "peak" as far as foliage is concerned.

Now--when I reverse my trip and go BACK to GCSU next weekend, I'll have the opportunity to see the Georgia state line sign again. It is definitely worth mentioning here:

"Welcome: We're Glad Georgia's on your Mind"

Of course, this is a direct reference to the song--which has been the official state song for more than 30 years (Thanks to the recording by Ray Charles).

And that's the way the road goes.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Say It Ain' So:

I found out some horrible news this past week. One of my favorite places in Memphis is closing at the end of January.

My personal history with Bookstar began sometime in the Fall of 1996. I went there to find a book for a class I was taking at the University of Memphis...

I fell in love with the atmosphere, the quirky feel the building possessed....

(hence the not-so great black/white photos taken with my first digital camera)

But the space has a larger history, outside of myself. It used to be the Plaza Theater from 1952 until it closed in September 1989.

The renovation for a Bookstar kept a lot of the relics from the old movie theater, including the ticket booth outside the entrance, which helped to preserve the fun feel:

"Except for the leveled floor, the main room has the shape and feel of a large theater. A movie screen hangs over the magazine racks on one end of the room, and small projection windows overlook the room from the opposite wall." (commercial appeal article)

It's might seem strange to talk about the bathrooms, especially if you've never been to Bookstar...

BUT bathrooms seem to be known by everyone. I've had more than one conversation about them while discussing the sad, sad news.

(I took this photo of the retro lighting with my first digital camera too)

The best "part" is the sitting room attached to the main attraction.

From my best memory, I'd say the carpet is a dark giraffe print and the vinyl seats are a pale pink--I will be visiting a lot during Winter break.

If I could count all the papers I've worked on in the cafe' while looking out the windows onto Poplar Ave,

Or tell you about the poetry I've read in the aisles,

Or the magazines I've purchased (specifically The Oxford American),

Coffee I've drank, books I've ordered, time spent sitting on the floor in front of the craft section (yarn/knitting)...

It would equal a large number. Geez, so sad.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Passion

Over the weekend--
While in the throngs of passion*

*I use the word “passion” in place of “working on my presentation covering ten books about composition theory” because “passion” just sounds SO MUCH better and it’s both my blog and my story so why can’t I tell it how I want to?

I KNEW I was finally going to HAVE TO go to the grocery store…

It wasn’t because I had been out of milk (light vanilla soy) for a couple days.

It wasn’t because I had used my last slices of wheat bread…or package of frozen vegetables…

I KNEW I was finally going to have to leave my apartment to go to the grocery store when I finished off my jar of Nutella (with a spoon, remember—no bread) sometime late Saturday night.

I literally had the spoon in my mouth when I said, “Oh crap, I guess this means I gotta get some food.”

Why am I telling you this?
It was funny—it was so funny I burst into wild laughter. Nutella? You’re telling me Nutella was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

(Don’t judge me, have you had the stuff?)

Needless to say, on Sunday afternoon I finally made it to the store. And I did NOT buy another jar of magical goodness--it is a "treat," a "delicacy"....something that is almost dangerous to have on hand because it can disappear--

There are just a few more things looming over my head before the semester is over. And aside from assignments (papers, revisions, portfolios) I can even see a few more "cool" things coming up:
  • Richard Bausch at Emory University
  • A baby shower for a classmate
  • Fall Brawl (a "competition" comprised of many games among classmates--we have teams, we have costumes, we have "music)
I can seem December looming in the distance...and boy does it look _____________ (I can't even think of a word to express my excitement)!!!!


Monday, November 1, 2010


National Novel Writing Month is an annual creative writing project coordinated by the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light.

Spanning the month of November, the project challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month.

HA! No way I'm participating.

(I have at least 2 friends who are)

I don't know if I'm going to make it through all the work I have left to finish off my first semester of graduate school...

WHERE would I find time to pile more work upon myself?

Even though I didn't take this particular picture, isn't it the best? Multiply it by a thousand and you'd have an accurate depiction of my brain.
  • I have an annotated bibliography to finish (and present to class)
  • Speaking of class, I'll be TEACHING one way too soon...
  • Oh, and the 20-page research paper?
  • Wait! I have a Teaching Portfolio to finish too...
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll be thankful to have survived. Really. At least I had the best Halloween weekend. Now it's time to put it all together.


No extra 50,000 words need apply.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deep Roots

Clearly I remember hearing the word "pedagogy" at least once during my final semesters as an undergraduate.

Never did I ever dream I'd be using it in every day conversation.

What does it mean?

Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching.

The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction.

I am taking two classes that deal specifically with various theories and ways of teach (composition and creative writing). *Whew*

A lot of my day has been spent reading a book about Grading--the theory and practice of it. Thus far I've learned about the origins and evolution of grading student writing at the college level in America.

During colonial times, college students did not receive grades of any sort. They were evaluated at the end of their years of study with a oral examination that certified a level of intellectual and moral righteousness worthy of a college graduate.

I can't help but imagine that scene from Babe with "the boss" tells our hero, "That'll do pig, that'll do."

Then there came the written exam in the 1830s...Yale and Harvard had a ranking system by numbers and points (1-4) expanding to 20 points and 100 points (students like cars).

Fifty years later we had Freshman Composition classes as a fundamental part of the general education (at Harvard) and numerical ranking became based on five letter grades (A-E).

I will stop there.

So with a swim-my head, filled with all this information and ideas to consider...I will finish a syllabus for my creative writing class (I "made" a poetry writing class)...and instead of being rooted in academia tonight, I will be firmly planted in downtown Milledgeville.

Music STAGE!


Monday, October 18, 2010


[from German Hexe, witch. from Middle High German hecse. from Old High German hagzissa.]

Why exactly do I have a strange affinity for pumpkins?

I really don't know.

It may have started circa 1986...

That's when I think I saw Return to Oz for the first time.

Still living in West Berlin, my best friend and I would reenact the movie when we were playing outside. We'd take turns being Dorothy or Ozma, hiding from Mombi and doing our best to appease The Nome King.

Then there was Jack Pumpkinhead, our loyal friend. As you may have guessed, he was a pumpkin head with a scarecrow-type body. (Mystery solved?)

Since then, I have imaged all pumpkins as nice, friendly, loyal, and amazing. This makes me a bit delusional, I know. What can I say? Putting a blanket personality on all gourds (albeit, inanimate objects)...WAIT! They are living...

And Linus has The Great Pumpkin. Sure, that's an example from a cartoon strip. BUT everyone loves Charles Schultz!

I'd go Pumpkin Caroling with Linus any day, week, month of the year. Pumpkins bring good tidings and if waiting in a pumpkin patch for him to arrive is what I have to do...point me in the direction of the nearest patch.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Little Stars--

(take him and cut him out in little stars
and he will make the face of heaven so fine...)

I'm easily entertained--I love going to and clicking on the "manage my rewards" button.

I get to watch 13 little animated gold stars fall into a coffee cup.

They fall in different patterns even--I may even imagine the noise they make...

These stars represent the 13 times I've used my gift card over the last couple years.

Despite the love I have for coffee, I don't frequent SBUX nearly enough. I still have 17 more visits before I reach the GOLD level. (I know, you can read)

All of you who have given me gift cards over the last few years--THIS is what you've created. A girl who likes to watch imaginary stars fill her imaginary coffee cup.

In other news, I've survived another week of graduate school. For those of you counting at home, that makes NINE weeks. There are seven more left in the semester. I've passed the halfway point.

It's like a speeding train, really. I'm doing my best to hang on.

I saw The Social Network this past week. Also I attended another reading by classmates at a local coffee shop.

So my entertainment has been varied. Movies, readings, watching little gold stars falling into a coffee cup.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Breathe...

(a partial list of my undergraduate work)

Even though I stayed "an extra" day in Memphis, I only spent a few hours outside of the house, not including time spent reading on the back porch.

(I did manage to cry when I found "Walking in Memphis" on the radio while out and about)

I've gathered another "box load" of books to carry to Milledgeville, figures.

While going through paperwork in my office, I found a notebook from my last semester as an undergraduate. That's where the photo up there came from...

Did those classes get me ready for these classes? Apparently they did on paper.

I've been scanning enough Composition Theory to make a normal person's eyes bleed, but I know the work for that class is far from over.

Then I was constructing a "fake" syllabus for an imaginary class (Teaching Creative Writing) and I have a feeling I've gone overboard. WAY overboard. I need to reel it in. I have essentially combined two classes (Poetry Writing + Forms of Poetry) from my own undergraduate career--focusing on the one class I shouldn't be focusing on even.

Lest not forget the other work I need to worry about...there should be a graduate seminar on time management, plain and simple. And mandatory "chill pills."

Thankfully the belly full of home cookin' (German food) helps right now.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Again!

Does it surprise anyone that the first place I "visited" after coming home for break was a bookstore?

& I don't mean a chain bookstore or bookseller.

Of course, I went relatively early on Friday morning--because I got in late on Thursday night.

(but really, I went to the bank to deposit my very first grad school pay check FIRST)

So I was outside the main library...breathing in the October Memphis air, basking in the glorious sunshine, and getting a large tote bag out of the trunk of my car--

Finally I wandered through the doors and into the corner on the first floor where my most favorite used bookstore is located.

I thought about all the authors and titles I had heard mentioned in class or by my classmates. I was ready to scan shelves and browse 'til my heart burst with happiness.

And I did.

Somehow I ended up with two first edition E.L. Doctorow hardbacks. He is coming to campus as part of the Flannery O'Connor conference in April.

There was another first edition by Edward P. Jones I found, he will be at AWP in February.

(apparently I've become a name-dropper)

Annie Proulx, Tobias Wolff, T.C. Boyle, Anne Lamott, Carson McCullars...

The books I found were amazing. More Ian McEwan and Sylvia Plath. I grabbed the complete poetry collection of Dorothy Parker and a memoir by Augusten Burroughs. PLUS more.

After my book buying extravaganza, I called a former classmate (friend) and we met for lunch at Fino's.

This is where I had a great conversation with the new owner. We've had a running conversation on Facebook & he knew I was coming into town and would be circling his deli like a starving buzzard.

Conversations and Realizations. It's been a wonderful trip. A jarring but welcomed step back into the "outside" of grad school world.

I'm even staying any extra day.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strange Bedfellow, Strange

I've found my self snugglin' up to a lot
In the form of books
& papers
& handouts
& submissions

The other night I fell asleep with Raymond Carver. He was telling me stories and the next thing I knew I was face down with a trail of drool connecting me to my pillow.

Usually it's handouts though...pedagogical nuggets of wisdom that may be seeping into my brain by osmosis. Teaching theories from two separate classes, even. Whew!

(There is a binder labeled "Composition Theory" always on the corner of my bed.)

I haven't been able to spend too much time (or practically any time) with my canon of favorites though, F. Scott...THIS MEANS YOU! But really, the idea of "reading for pleasure" doesn't seem to exist anymore for me.

(I know classmates who still find time though.)

This weekend there was a new addition to my...snugglin' circle. Twenty-eight new additions to be exact. I'm getting around...but one of the honors of being a first-year MFA student means I get to read for the (undergraduate) Margaret Harvin Wilson writing award.

(Practice for grading papers next year, I suppose. Another "thing" for the curriculum vitae.)

I wonder if my brain resembles this ever-present pile of papers I chose to surround myself stacks and stacks of pages filled with XX years of words and thoughts.

Is that the visual we have of Derrida's idea that Writing came before Speech?

Think of the "writing" that occurs when you are burning a CD. Now think of your brain as the biggest CD you can ever imagine...always working, always being written upon.

See. Writing before Speech. I think I picked that up via osmosis, it sounds vaguely (very) familiar to a concept discussed in class and I slept with that handout too.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

...A Memoir...


So, one of my classmates (a fellow 1st year student) has taken to adding A Milledgeville Memoir to some of the things I say--it works because they are TRUE (and maybe just a little bit on the funny and or clever side).

The first time it happened, we were on our way back from an overnight trip to Atlanta. We were on Highway 441 riding to Milledgeville and I was giddy, waiting for the black and white splotches of the moo-cows.

"We're coming up on cows, I can feel it," I said.

She, with all her wisdom replied, "Coming Up on Cows...I like it."

A couple days later we were eating lunch together in the MFA office. talking about the very taut tomatoes purchased at Trader Joe's in ATL. One had just jumped out of her salad bowl and onto the carpet. She marched to the white erase board and wrote:

Coming Up Cows: A Milledgeville Memoir

Taut Tomatoes: A Milledgeville Memoir

in red or blue...or actually it was black dry erase marker. I don't know how long these potential titles stayed on the board, a couple days? I tried to imagine the giggle, sigh, or eye-roll they must've produced.

LAST NIGHT--it happened again. I sent her message--a desperate OMG WTF are we doing text that simply read, Jesus Christ, Graduate School...she replied with:

Jesus Christ, Graduate School: A Milledgeville Memoir

what a way to break the stress into pieces, right? And it's probably my favorite one to date (although I really do love the moo-cows).

See what fantastical friends I have floating about? (alliteration, fools!) I really don't know what I'd do without them.


Monday, September 27, 2010


So begins the readings. I attended two last week.

One was a traditional poetry reading held at Georgia State University. It required four total hours of driving/interstate time, which may seem a little ridiculous for an hour of poetry.

WORTH IT! Jones is one of my classmate's former professors (and he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize). Listening to poetry as the sun set and darkness slowly crept through downtown Atlanta was inspiring.

The second was a prose reading held at a local coffee shop. It featured three readers, including two MFA students. That was fun to see--because I know I'll have to participate before this experience is all said and done. Also, it's important to support one another.

Afterward we went out to celebrate the general awesomeness of my classmates. It was the first VERY "traditional" college night since I came here...

Even though it's "far away," there is a big event I need to start thinking about coming up in February...AWP Conference! Especially since I will be writing one of these, in hopes of being accepted (therefore getting some of my travel costs taken care of).

It's one thing after another after another after another...


Monday, September 20, 2010

Huddle Up!

The concept of OPEN 24Hours A Day is lacking here.

(in the retail sense)

And as much as I respect it, I loathe it just a little bit too.

Especially since this is a "college town." That being said, as small as the college is, the town seems to thrive on the college as a source of pride and financial gain. It's a symbiotic relationship, obviously.

So back to the 24-hour thing.

Walmart and Kroger are both 24-hour establishments.

You can't go to Walmart to have an important conversation at midnight though (and grab a cup of coffee, pie, or some greasy breakfast foodstuffs). Or maybe you can. But that's not what I mean here.

In Memphis we have Gibson's Donuts (oh the LOVE)...and various IHOPS, Waffle Houses, CK's Coffee Shops, Perkins Restaurant...or for more beer-drinking: Earnestine & Hazel's, Huey's (until 3am)...

Granted there is an IHOP here (open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday). But where does that leave you at 11pm on a Sunday night?

Well, after a few phone calls (really) I found a place that's 24 hours and very, very close.

And that's where I was in the wee hours. That's where a few of us were, thankfully. Now we know a place and I have a feeling that they're going to know our names very soon.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

GA-49 S

This afternoon was filled with exploration (the best way to put it).

Macon, the six largest city in Georgia was our target.

Milledgeville is filled with charm, but it is missing a few (Target, PetSmart, Best Buy, Staples, Marshalls...) things.

Of course, this is probably why it is still so charming and quaint.

We had a very nice lunch in historic downtown Macon (see picture of fountain, above) before hitting the shopping centers.

Lemongrass (a Thai bistro) is the kind of place where the food is so pretty, you consider not eating it...I did some research after the fact, and the chef was an executive chef at the InterContinental Hotel in NYC for four years.

My previous Thai food experience was a negative one and even though it still not my most favorite food, I do appreciate it now. This is some of our fare, straight from the menu:

Pad Ei Eew Moo: Stir-fried broad noodles with broccoli rabe, egg and tender pork in a rich brown sauce

Panang Nua: Spicy Panang beef curry with eggplant, long beans, lime leaves and topped off with a dash of coconut milk

Tom Kha Gai: Spicy coconut milk soup with chicken, galanga and lime juice

The shopping was as fun as retail can be. I forgot what it was like to be in that environment though, especially since I haven't worked in a retail setting for more than a month now. I do NOT miss it, not one bit!

(Save for the people, of course)

Other cities I want to visit: Athens, Augusta, Savannah, and Valdosta.


Friday, September 17, 2010

In sickness and...

I have survived the great "MFA illness," which has swept through the program...

"survived" means
"still struggling with"

"swept" means
"affected about 30%"

So in reality, I still seem to be struggling with the great MFA illness, which has infected about 1/3 of the program.

(I nearly made references to the plague or consumption, but decided against it)

We're troopers though--boxes of tissue and bags of cough drops are being shared. Maybe if we stopped sharing we wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place?

Oh! And tea (again) has been ruling my life. Mostly at home (my roommate has a hot tea maker) --but I may have gone to class with a cup o'tea yesterday. And since it wasn't planned, a classmate may have happened to have an extra tea bag with her...

In other news: I got books in the mail. Of course, the titles include:

Preparing College Teachers of Writing:
Histories, Theories, Programs, Practices

Teaching with The Bedford Guide for College Writers:
Background Readings

(a little different from the E.L. Doctorow and Alice Friman I got a couple weeks ago)

I know you want to borrow these JUST as soon as I'm finished. Too bad. But really, I'm excited about them (I think). Unfortunately, they are just two of WAY TOO MANY that I'm working with for one class...

This is the life of an MFA student. We are studying/learning on at least three different levels...our craft (genre), literature, and teaching (theory).

Oy! But I did manage to catch a campus performance of To Kill A Mockingbird last night. And I still haven't talked about the AJC DBF yet either. I will, I will.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Every morning...

I encounter a place that looks like this:

Okay, maybe it's not every morning, only the early mornings I am on campus.

I enjoy the solitude--meandering along a narrow path, getting brushed atop my head by branches. Then through the mist I half-expect to catch faeries dancing on these purple blooms.

It hasn't happened yet, but my heart always leaps as I round the brick corner.

Thus far I've seen little yellow butterflies in pairs and this morning a fuzzy bumblebee was buzzing along.

Maybe it's a bit cliché, but I always take a few moments to pause and reflect. Then with all my hopeful thoughts, I continue on.

I've been in Georgia for one month today.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interperting the King*

*I mean, ELVIS (of course)

Everytime (or anytime) I am outside of Memphis, it amuses me to see/hear mention of Elvis Presley...

This year, in particular--I missed Elvis Week. Did I really miss it or was I simply not in town for it?

OF COURSE I *missed* it!

I wondered WHERE he was going to crop up, and I am always curious as to HOW he is portrayed.

Of course, I'm a fan--so I always cross my fingers that when I do "see" him that it's a positive experience (although I do have a sense of humor about the world as well).

So imagine my surprise when wandering around downtown MillHOTledgeville and seeing a sign advertising "The Velvet ELVIS Supper Club."

Then imagine my surprise when our little crew ventured in the other night (before the place really got hopping) for dinner and drinks. One person said it "was in honor of Janet" even. Awwww.

I took special care to notice the menu--looking for anything to "write home about."

It wasn't anything too special, but after some research I found out that the menu seems to have gone through a lot of changes. What I saw is just a tiny piece of all the Memphis/Elvis mentions that have previously been there.

I thought this was current menu item interesting:

Fat Elvis Burger: A hand mix of andouille sausage and ground chuck topped with blue cheese crumbles.

Obviously it was an ode to 1976 Elvis as opposed to 1956 Elvis (I didn't see "Hot Elvis" as a menu choice)--and I don't know what andouille has to do with The King (Louisana Hayride?)...and was he even a fan of blue cheese crumbles?

It was an attempt. It was in good spirit. It put me in a particular "mood" (but that could've been the jukebox or inexpensive adult beverages).

I'll take it (because for now, it has to do).


Monday, August 30, 2010

It's just been...

one of those days...

The weather has been beautiful, not too hot (in the shade); a nice breeze, blue skies.

I've been on campus: which means I got the latest issue of Poets & Writers ... provided to me, by the program!

Which leads to an epiphany--

Thank goodness I am here, specifically at this MFA program. It fits like a glove.
Hay. Maker.

When I see mention of "us" (because that's how I refer to the program already) , I get rather excited. I point "us" out. I talk "us" up.

It's only the third week of classes and I'm Ms. Mary Sunshine. Sure, I have the great "fear" about classwork...the papers, the reading, the writing, the teaching assignment in November--

But between the Scrabble (and every other version we've played)--and the adult beverages (Trivia Night)--and the lunchtime confessions-- I feel a special kinship/bond with so many people...the layers are so beautiful.

There is the politics of graduate school to deal with, of course. But that's pretty normal, average, typical of any situation...I'm not naive.

And again, the weather--the town--the people. I went to the local farmer's market last week and can't wait to go again tomorrow. I enjoy the "walking" part (not the "sweaty" part).

Like I said, it's just been one of those days.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Past? Meet Future.

As much as I LOVE books, they can be a little bit intimidating.

Today, I was in an office where every scholarly volume dealing with Flannery seems to be housed.

(or seems to be housed)

Shelf after shelf after shelf.


This is just a minuscule example snapped by my little camera in my BlackBerry. It doesn't do the collection any sort of justice.

Included in this amazing collection are several shelves of other great Southern Writers. Eudora Welty. Katherine Anne Porter. Alice Walker...

I'm reminded of one of my favorite episodes of the Golden Girls in which Blanche has decided to become a writer, more specifically a great Southern novelist:

"I'm too tired to sleep, I may never sleep again. My body is limp with exhaustion, all the greats know what this feels like." (Blanche)

Dorothy asks her to expand on the other great Southern writers, but Blanche can't--it sends me into giggles, of course.

I regress. THIS is what it all looks like...books on two novels, 32 short stories, personal letters, and some prose. They are obsessed with Flannery O'Connor.

THEY being THEM. Scholars. Students. Academia.

Which is what WE do. We write. We study. We take apart and analyze every facet of not only the author's work, but the author's life.

The intimidation comes two fold (or three, or four).

These books represent what I do NOT know nor what I own. They represent all the work that is always being done. Universities (research) is a place of flux.

And they could also represent what a library representing studies on any one of the writers in this MFA program (students and faculty alike) may look like at some point in the future.


Friday, August 20, 2010

In a southern town...

Most of campus looks like this...I'm not kidding. It is beautiful.

I haven't decided which official (Weather Channel) phrase is my favorite when it comes to the weather here in Hotledgeville (more on the name in a minute):

Dangerous heat index.
Oppressive humidity.

Either way, it's HOT (blazing, parching, roasting, searing). You get the idea.

Thankfully my apartment alongside the two buildings on campus I'm living in (hey, I have the keys) are perfect. But it's a bit discerning when you show up to class with your clothes stuck to your body AND your face is the color of red Kool-Aid.

Hotledgeville was coined earlier in the week by one of my witty classmates (they're all witty) . She lives in Hotlanta (nickname of Atlanta) and decided after going home for the weekend that our little town is definitely hotter.

Despite the weather, I've survived my first week of graduate school.

There were a few hours of complete "freak out" when I started compiling syllabi and noticing how much I have DUE in a relatively short amount of time. BUT I finished my first essay/response to a handout and things got better.

I do start working hours as a Writing Center Consultant this upcoming week, so I may as well schedule another "freak out" session now.

Some Fun Parts of the Past Week include: Scrabble, Trivia Night, getting lost, and eating watermelon in the MFA office.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Piecing It Together

One of the final stages of knitting is called Blocking.

This is when you adjust the shape of the finished piece and there are several different ways of doing so.

Either way, it increases the flexibility of the sweater or sock, making it durable and comfortable to wear.

I can't tell you much more, because I have never blocked a piece of my work. (You can click on the link above to learn more)

Not everything in knitting needs to be blocked though. Since my skill level has yet to advance past "scarf," I've really never had the need to "finish."

This afternoon I spent time printing out "blank" weekly templates. Promptly I began blocking in my class schedule so I'd have a visual of my time...

Available coupled with unavailable time.

Either way, I'm not staring at nine hour stretches of pharmacy time and it's exciting in an itchy skin kind of way.

Alongside filling in blocks, this week I've gained access to buildings and offices. It feels a bit powerful to have official "State of Georgia Do Not Duplicate" keys jangling in my pocket.

A personal photocopy code is also in my possession. Who knew?

We have a couple more orientation days remaining and I'm feeling strangely confident or ready to go...but timid and frightened as well. It's hard to explain.

Being surrounded by individuals in the same position is comforting though. It makes this part of my life feel less itchy, but more easy to wear.



Absolutely not.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Devil Went Down--

It's hard to gather my thoughts right now, but I've arrived in Georgia.

I've had one day to wander around and one day to meet classmates.

Every minute seems like an adventure.

And it's only going to get more jam-packed.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Capote* on Prozac*


As my last weekend in Memphis winds down (for now), I found a few hours to spend with a fellow...

workshop survivor?

(yes x 3)

Of course, we won't be attending the same graduate writing one can handle us both at the same time...we did successfully survive the application process together (just as the magnum of wine we consumed one night).

Where did we start out? BOOKSTAR -- which is probably my favorite "chain" place to hang. The converted movie theater has the coolest bathrooms in Memphis. No, really. I'm NOT kidding.

After I picked up the latest edition of the Oxford American (best magazine, y'all)...we joined forces (vehicles) and traveled to the best local bake shop...MUDDY'S...

I've been hearing about cupcakes from this bake shop from friends for quite some time. I originally didn't want to go because I knew I'd fall in love and just have another thing to pine for while away at school. I was right--LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

We waited patiently in a friendly-spiral line....I admired the knick-knacks and decor. When we made it up to the bakery case I said something like, "Don't judge me, I'm about to order half a dozen so I can try six of those suckers!"

prozac (chocolate/milk chocolate) (pictured)
capote (chocolate/vanilla buttercream)
frankly scarlett (red velvet/ cream cheese)
pucker up (lemon/lemon)
citrus explosion (lemon/orange)
new yorker (chocolate/cheesecake)

With our cupcake bounty (he picked up six too), we shimmed over to Whole Foods for appropriately fun beverages to wash them down with (I tried another brand of coconut water).

Pucker and Capote were the first to go...eaten delicately with a fork. I don't know how I managed to go soooooooo slow, but it took several forkfuls to finish just one. I couldn't help the noises though. These aren't HUGE cupcakes, they are perfectly sized!

About five hours later (really, FIVE HOURS) somewhere around midnight, the New Yorker disappeared...whoops! Frankly Scarlett was great from breakfast...(you get the idea).

Alas, back to packing...


Thursday, August 5, 2010


“Silence is a source of great strength.”
--Lao Tzu

I missed my one year Yoga-versary...

I didn't forget about it, but since I only attended one single class in the entire month of July (due to a ridiculously long illness) it didn't seem fitting to celebrate.

Or maybe it seemed wrong since I still have trouble with very basic poses.

It's probably a combination of both things.

Now I understand that Yoga brings together three things: Mind, Breath, and Body...I've got two of those things down...I'll let you guess which two based on a previous statement.

Tonight is my last local class for a good long while and since it's been soaring "over the century mark" for days now, it will be another unintentional "hot" yoga class.

"Hot" Yoga or Bikram Yoga where the room you practice in is intentionally heated to anywhere from 90-105 degrees. NO THANK YOU! It's hard enough to hold a pose when you don't have sweat streaming down your arms, legs, and face.


I'm going to have to continue my practice on my own (for the most part) as I go off for graduate school. Mentally I NEED yoga to remain calm, cool, and focused. It's really become one of my favorite things.

I've got the gear (mat, straps, blocks) alongside several pairs of "yoga" pants. I have a couple Yoga specific books and I've been gifted two more books that deal more with the lifestyle side. I may get a Yoga Journal subscription to help stay inspired.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nom Nom Nom!

(a Fino, Roast Beef, Pasta Salad, & Tiramisu)

Despite the unbearable HEAT (we broke a record y'all--it hit 103° F with a heat index of 120° F) we were all over Midtown and East Memphis (our favorite parts) today:

*Lunch at
Fino's (my last for awhile, as pictured above)
*Adult beverage shopping at Buster's
*Shopping at Oak Court (50% off sale!)
*Vita Coco Coconut Water with Pineapple from Whole Foods...
*I finally found some Almond Milk too!
*A donut from Gibson's in the *gasp* DAYLIGHT!

Whew! A gigantic summer thunder storm sprung up as we were leaving the area. Gusty winds blew miniature white and purple petals all over the place while the sky was electric with an awesome display of power by Mother Nature.

How could anyone NOT miss this city?


Monday, August 2, 2010


“I never knew a girl who was ruined by a book."
--James Walker

I watched an interesting documentary via Netflix tonight entitled Obscene (2007).

It follows Barney Rosset of Grove Press, who published several alternative/literary classics in the U.S. when no one else would:

D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley's Lover)
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)
Allen Ginsberg (Howl)
William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch)

It's a long documentary (as far as documentaries go)--more than an hour and a half in length. Some of it is a bit boring, while other parts are interesting. There is a lot about the Evergreen Review, a literary journal also published by Rosset from 1957-1973...(is now back Online) exciting!

I found out Grove Press is the exclusive U.S. publisher of the unabridged complete works of the Marquis de Sade....I own Justine as well as Lady Chatterley's Lover--but I have only scanned/skimmed through them...I haven't made it cover to cover yet.

Of course, I own four volumes of Anaïs Nin's journals and her Delta of Venus (related because of her famous relationship with Henry Miller).

Five of the authors Rosset had the nerve to publish have even gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature!

If none of these titles mean anything to you, here is a selection from the top 100 Banned/Challenged Books last decade (2000-2009) according to the American Library Association:

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
55 Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green

65 The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
67 A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
69 Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
72 Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
74 The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

81 Black Boy, by Richard Wright
87 Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89 Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90 A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

Do you feel like READING? I feel like writing!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Push Pause!

Pre-orientation training...

(getting ready for an HR meeting)

I haven't been "oriented" in a rather loooong time.

It was supposed to take an hour, but I spent that much time unjamming my printer.

(After I replaced the ink cartridge)

Stressfully, I was able to relocate my social security card, because photocopies of official documents aren't allowed.

(How old was I when I signed my card anyway, the signature doesn't match anymore...)

ADA? (check)
FMLA? (check)
HIPPA? (check)
Policy on Amorous Relationships? (check)

Kinda reminded me of all those computer-based learning modules I've taken in my "former" career. How strange is it to say--FORMER? Is it former if it ended only two days ago, after 15 years and 41 days? I guess so.

Is it okay normal to get excited over a George Foreman Grill because it matches your pink plastic kitchen "set"... or what about how your bedding looks in a Space Bag after all the air has been sucked out?

I guess it doesn't really matter if I'm ready or not...zoom zoom zoom!



It's in the Brain--

This is from a "school notebook." I'm not exactly sure WHAT class I was in at the it all seems cryptic somehow.

The Birth of psychology-->
when we think sin (pentitance) (punishment) --> HELL
(alternate direction: Heaven)

It's in the Brain
let it go
understand it

*we don't know where the guilt comes from--

~~the Brain is like a Machine~~

within that hour

(below all of this is written:)

Super Ego

...actually, I think it's from my American Gothic Literature class...maybe...


Saturday, July 31, 2010

At the End, At the Beginning

Since I’m leaving the state (really soon) I have made an honest attempt to go through all of the drawers and boxes which encompass the two rooms I call “mine.”

It’s no secret that I’m a pack rat. But I’m pretty sure I haven’t reached “hoarding” proportions, yet.

Nothing is random. Nothing.

I do have a gazillion or so ticket stubs (movies, games, concerts), cards (birthday, thank you, playing), alongside name badges (work, work, work) floating about...

You know that full page ad Shane Battier took out to thank the city when he was traded to Houston? I have that. (It was the end of my great Memphis Grizzlies love affair, after all)

I have pictures from when the Grizzlies revealed their new uniforms downtown for the public. That means a very proud Lorenzen Wright strutting around.

One of the last things the (now defunct) Growlers (grassroots supports' group for our local NBA team) did was to give all of our monies to the Sierra Wright Scholarship Foundation when we disbanded.

As a Growler board member I was able to attend a lot of events/games when the team was new in town. So, I have several pieces autographed by Ren.

Off the court, he always had a smile on his face to balance the scowl and ferocity he had when playing the game.

It’s been hard to think about a lot of things lately and his murder is only the tip of the iceberg.

The world is nonsensical, random, and connected all at the same time.

None of these actual things are being thrown away though; only organized and condensed into manageable forms. Such is my life, mind, and emotions.

I'm often asked HOW I remember all the things I do. And I don't know. Maybe the physical things I chose to keep rather than discard help. But really, the power of "recall" is truly a gift.

I'm just going to continue keeping and writing as I go along my path; it's all part of the next chapter.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Clang! Clang! Clang!

went the Trolley...

Ding! Ding! Ding! went the bell...

Zing! Zing! Zing! went my heartstrings...

What decent person doesn't love an onomatopoeia in lyrical form?

You know I do!

(enough with the exclamation points already)

This past weekend I took a little trip downtown, complete with dinner, a trolley ride, a late night stop at the Peabody Hotel lobby, and a wee early morning stop for donuts.

I may have been 100 degrees outside, despite the absence of the sun. The humid, sticky air was stagnant. Hundreds of people were out and about. There was a line to get ONTO Beale Street even.

Any good Memphian should know WHAT exactly is going on in the above photo. I took it on a moving Trolley (Riverfront Loop)...does THAT parenthetical aside help you out any?

"Old Man River will be the backdrop when you ride the Riverfront Loop. Ride in an authentic vintage trolley car along a breathtaking stretch of the mighty Mississippi River, connecting with the Main Street Trolley and Madison Avenue. There's no better way to get a nostalgic glimpse of Memphis!" (MATA website)

I was thinking about my Saturday night on Sunday afternoon and couldn't help but recall the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie finds out Big is moving to Napa. He's the "Chrysler Building," leaving New York.

Of course, Big is "tired" of New York and I am NOT tired of Memphis. But the feelings are similar and palpable as far as the episode (and 10 minute clip I linked you to) are concerned.

Moon River + Ol' Man River = Me


Monday, July 19, 2010

Coy Mistress--

I don't know who she is...but I can feel the (perceived) thoughts frozen on her face.

The hand-coloring someone did makes her seem melancholy--stuck in a world that doesn't understand.

She's emo circa 60 years ago, before "emo" was even a term. (OED places it as first being used in 1993)

What she's feeling has nothing to do with music, I dare say. Emotional works.

Tom may have just said,
"Janice, give us your best wistful face."

But I don't know Tom or Janice. It's a guess. She (my Janice) makes me think of Sylvia Plath.
Not the "just about to put my head in the oven" girl we all know and love--but the laughing, fun one at Smith College or visiting Paris as chronicled in her "unabridged journals."

Sylvia was a hell of a journal writer.

So Janice here, stately and strong on a pier--maybe on holiday with Tom. In Spain or Chicago or whatever place they were able to sneak away like Sylvia, a journal writer too.

I bet Tom was NOT the first boy she ever kissed either. I can just tell.

See how all of that is thrown together in my head?

"Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power."
(Andrew Marvell)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bread & Butter & Apocalyptic Wal-Mart!

Searching for big deals, I entered a store in the middle of a "remodel"...

Great decision on my part!

I found beautiful "stuffs" to pack away just in time for the "big move" (in 22 days or so).

Bathroom stuffs

"school supply" stuffs...


*Never Been Kissed (and Mr. Coulson) rub my nerdy high school heart the right a Jake Ryan sorta way!

*Carrying around a real autopsy report or court case for fiction-writing purposes is creepy, no matter how much I try to pretend otherwise.

*Hot in Cleveland is damn hilarious--and I caught an episode with a surprise appearance by George Newbern!

*Ever since I served as a juror on a murder trial, I am obsessed with "watching" trials. There was another one this week that had my attention and thanks to super blogging, I was able to follow right along...

*Watching a friend laugh so hard he doubles over and nearly forgets to breath is quite a beautiful sight/sound.

*I'm still barking and hacking away despite being thoroughly medicated...

*Tomorrow is my last scheduled Monday in the retail pharmacy world!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Walkin' in...

(photo from the USGS website)

One thing that surprises me (or maybe it doesn't) is the response I get from a lot of people when I tell them I will be leaving for graduate school--"leaving" as in "moving away" from Memphis:

"Good for you! You're getting out of this place!"

What? I like Memphis. What?

Granted, I've "only" lived here for...sixteen years...not a lifetime, but I get a bit defensive when people talk down about the city. A few professors discussed this phenomenon during my last semesters as an undergraduate.

One (originally from Canada, who got his Ph.D. from Rutgers) talked about the low cost of living and the great night life. He said that no matter where you went in Memphis, even the smallest "dive" or "hole-in-the-wall" the music was amazing. He said there was no "bad" music here, the "worst" band in Memphis would be the best in any other city.

Another talked about how he couldn't believe the negative comments he heard about the city, because he liked it to (and he's lived all over the place). Our first class meeting, we got in a circle and he point blank asked everyone WHAT they thought about the city and WHY.

I don't get it. I mean, sure--I get it. Murder. Mayhem. Drugs. Violence. Poverty.

But there is plenty to love about the city. I've been reading the ILOVEMEMPHIS blog a lot lately, and I think I am going to visit it several times a day after I move...

Love ya, M!


Monday, July 12, 2010


I love the videos author Katherine Center makes...

you should too.... [CLICK HERE]





{1 a : appreciative of benefits received b : expressing gratitude}


Happy Monday*

*(list forthcoming)


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary:

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
(Atticus Finch)

I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.

...I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.

...they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
(Miss Maudie Atkinson)

They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it-seems that only children weep.(Atticus Finch)

Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives...We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad. (Scout)

...And Ms. Harper Lee never wrote another book again.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hodge Podge:

I have a favorite cough drop. What? I never never considered myself a connoisseur, but days of "sick" have made me so:

1) Lemon Mint (sugarfree) by Ricola
2) Juicy Strawberry Refresh (sugarfree) by Halls

& other random news/thoughts:

*World Cup is over (almost) and Germany stands at #3 as far as the tournament is concerned. With such a young squad, I can only imagine what 2014 will bring...

*I have a place to live in Milledgeville--and a roommate too. Funny how quickly the pieces can fall into place.

*Dancing around with complete abandon while singing into a makeshift microphone never goes out of style. It was awesome when I was 12, and it's awesome twenty years later. (Having friends to play along is a plus.)

*Small gifts can mean so much, doubly so when the words, "and it's really poetic" are used to describe it. Especially when you never expected to hear those words fall from his mouth.

*Sleep. Sleeping. You never realize how precious it is until it's difficult to do.

*Flying an Airplane dreams (when they come) haunt me. As scary and chaotic as they are, it's nice to read that they "suggest being in control of your destination in life."

*Reading from collections of short stories only makes me want to write short stories. I haven't had the "energy" to write this is half good and half bad.

*Team Jacob (mostly because he reminds me of a high school crush, mostly)



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