A Little out of Focus

Well, it seems I’m a bit distracted.

It’s crazy how quickly time passes.

So much is happening. So much to write about.

So much not to write about. I mean it.

Maybe I’ll write a poem. I should write a poem.

So, there’s that. Poem ideas crash into my head all the time. I would much rather be working on poetry than my other schoolwork. I wish it was all I had to do.

Toward the beginning of the semester it was easier. But now, I’m starting to flounder.

Oh, I met and spoke with Pulitzer-Prize winner, Marilynne Robinson. That was ultra cool.

Let’s look at this week’s schedule.

Monday: Midterm; homework
Tuesday: Poems, My Fair Lady; homework
Wednesday: French Party; homework
Thursday: Meeting at the library; homework
Friday: There’d better be nothing, except homework
Saturday: Concert; homework

Also, 20 hours of work, 14 hours of class.

Also, I had a damn good weekend. It was fun.

But, I won’t blog about it.

This is the worst blog post ever.

It’s General Conference Weekend, and This Doesn’t “Feel” Contrary …

Life coasts along, life dazzles, life punches squarely in the stomach. What else should we really expect?

I know I keep saying I’ll post actual updates.

A lot is going on,

and I’ve found time to blog about it before, but

Yeah. No legitimate excuse.

Classes, really quick:

My religion class and I sometimes butt heads. But it’s been good for me.

History and Criticism of Rhetoric is fun. We’ve talked about Legally Blonde and My Cousin Vinny, and we’ve done homework based on Sunset Blvd and Law & Order. And this weekend we’re analyzing oratory style of any talk at General Conference, according to Saint Augustine.

Introduction to French Literary Analysis is a lot of fun. I may have to dedicate a post just to how much I love French poetry. Because, SERIOUSLY.

Early American Auto/Biography blows me away. I’m reading excellent things by fascinating people, and I wish we could read more women. But if it’s any consolation to myself, reading what I have so far — Benjamin Franklin, PT Barnum, Ralph Waldo Emerson — makes me feel pretty outstanding. I have stories about this class, too.

My poetry writing class. Oh, my heart. I’m cultivating this profound appreciation and there’s only 11 students in the class, and the instructor is adorable and instructive and encouraging. She stood briefly on a soapbox the other day about how a lot of television these days is produced at a 5th-grade level and that Americans don’t know how to think anymore. I felt so much pride then. And, then it’s crazy how we workshop each other’s poems and how I’ve just had to simply get over or ignore being scared of sharing what I know to be mostly subpar poetry with my genius classmates. I wish you could read my classmates’ poems, because WOW.

Aside from classes, there’s church and dating and work. Visiting friends and maintaining friendships because I love my friends so very much.

OH and applying to grad schools and talking to professors about all my options after graduation.

Which will be in April.

Holy crap.

But my original reason for posting right now is that I want to reblog some useful things I came across this past week. Just two things, one each from a Utah couple I’ve been following for the past five years. I’ve mentioned them before. Winter’s on its way. People get sad in conjunction with or separately from the approaching and increasing darkness. Also, although I’m decently insulated in Provo, I try to remain aware of what’s happening around me. Bad things happen all the time, regardless, and we have to deal.  While we’ll be receiving counsel and encouragement from Church leaders this weekend, I think a few other resources are okay, especially for those square punches in the stomach. Please reblog if you feel the need.

From Jon Armstrong:

Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433

LifeLine: 1-800-273-8255

Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743

Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438

Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673

Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272

Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000

Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253

And, Heather Armstrong (click the quote for the entire post):

What is worse? Being sad because something tragic has happened, or being sad because that is all your brain knows how to do?

Enjoy Conference, y’all.

If You Want to Read This, You Know What to Do.


I lie in bed at 3am
trying to write a poem.
My light is on
and I try not to disturb the crickets.
Their hearts have reached a resting state
and they are saving their songs for tomorrow.
They have discipline.
The loudest thing this morning
is my pen
The most impetuous thing this morning
is my mind
conspiring against the pen
haphazard on the page
scrawling into illegibility
which isn’t like me.

How to Have a Successful First Day of Class

You should. Have seen. The clouds. This morning. You guys. I wish you were sitting at the bus stop with me wondering at the underglow, trying to figure out if it’s really underglow if you’re looking at the clouds from beneath.

My first day of school was great. Here’s what I did, and maybe you can think about doing some of these things for your future first days of class.

1. Wake up SO VERY EXCITED. I’m surprised I got to sleep the night before.

2. Have people you know in your classes. Laugh a lot with them.

3. Roll your eyes at all the stupid. Dating. Jokes. Rolling your eyes takes the place of drinking games, which would very quickly transform our stone-cold sober school into a silly, drunken, orgified mess. I mean, really. People tell a lot of dating jokes around here. Professors especially think they’re funny.

4. Be surprisingly and extremely relieved you’re speaking French again.

5. Read Aristotle.

6. Sit outside while reading for class and munch on a sandwich.

7. Run into a former seminary student who assures you she’ll probably see you again at a concert.

8. Laugh a lot. Some more. Like, obscenely.

9. Watch this video and discuss happiness.


10. Understand what it means when you let yourself watch only 18 minutes of an episode of Veronica Mars when you get home.

11. Realize you haven’t cried or worried about personal matters and be surprised at not feeling guilty about it.

12. Take a shower and chuckle at how greasy your hair has gotten during the day.

13. Fall asleep doing homework.

14. Be so very excited to wake up again.

And now, there’s today.

Happy First Day of Class, Dorks!

So maybe I’m on campus two hours early. And I had planned to buy books, because my order from Amazon is taking years. I was going to buy them then return them when the shipment arrived. I have a feeling this is a very common problem with Amazon. They might be getting angry letters from college students all over the universe.

As if college students know how to write letters.

Oh, but they do.

Just ask some of them.

Do it.

DO IT!!!


Yes, I’m Overblogging Today, But I Really Foresee Zero Time in the Next Eight Months or So

So, I just now looked up my grade for the Shakespeare class I took during the summer term. I looked on AIM, which just displays the grade. Then I had to go onto Blackboard to see the breakdown of the assignments. My brow is still moderately furrowed.

My progressing reactions:
Wait . . . what?

Then, I raised my hands and sort of pumped my fists. I was prepared for worse.

Those who have heard me talk about the class know what my issues were. I loved reading the plays. Shakespeare is a genius, and I know our babies will be beautiful geniuses. The class discussions were fun and I often whispered amusing things to myself about the plays and about certain classmates.

I had pretty much procrastinated the last three assignments:
-2-3 page performance review of Midsummer: this was mostly about the comic timing and physicality of the performance. I commented on how it felt as if Shakespeare and I Love Lucy had collaborated, and it was funny and wonderful and yada yada yada. I skipped class on Friday, August 5, to work on this, and even though it wasn’t a dense or demanding paper, I was kicking myself for putting it off for so long.
2-page article summary about Macbeth: so I found this article about Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy asking to be unsexed to prepare herself mentally and emotionally for murder. And the author proposed that she was really asking for her menstrual period to stop; the more she was like a man, the more capable of evil she could be.  She connected medical terms with motive and the sciency part totally drew me in. I wrote this Sunday night, after finishing my final paper. The article was fun to read, and I enjoyed summarizing it and giving my opinion on the author’s stance.
-8-10 page final paper on King Lear: I basically tried poking holes in the idea that this is a purely pagan play. Not groundbreaking, and it has been done a trillion times before. In my opinion, one of the crappiest pieces of crap I have ever written. I sat on my bed on a Sunday (with the paper due Monday at noon), with textbooks and journal articles stacked/strewn next to/around me, and I shook my head with every paragraph that appeared on the laptop screen, with every completed page. It finished close to nine pages, and I checked the works cited page, and I proofed the paper itself to check for typos and incomplete thoughts and bad transitions and other instances of crappery.

So, I turned all three assignments in on Monday, August 8, and those papers didn’t leave my hands with the feeling that I did a good job, but only that I had finished them. Which is good; I was grateful not to worry about them anymore.

Then I took the final Wednesday morning, August 10. I worked through it in about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and we had a 3-hour time limit. It seemed to go smoothly for the first hour and forty-five minutes, and then all of a sudden I was all, “Aw, man, there goes my attention span,” and I didn’t try to focus for too much longer. Also, I was going to St. George that day, which was clearly more important than some old final exam.

So, the grades were submitted Friday, and I’m going to talk with my professor so that I can understand exactly what happened. And if I’m dong some things right, I need to know what they are and keep doing those things.

Also, I don’t know if I’m fundamentally okay with being rewarded for procrastinating. Do I just chalk that up to part of the overall college experience?

Booklist Checklist

Well, here’s my course schedule for fall semester:

Course Hrs Class Period Days Course Title
 ENGL 319R  3.0  9:30a – 10:45a  TTh  Writing Poetry
 ENGL 322  3.0  11:00a – 11:50a  MWF  Hist & Criticism of Rhetoric
 ENGL 361  3.0  8:00a – 9:15a  TTh  American Lit 1800 – 1865
 FREN 340  3.0  1:00p – 2:15p  MW  Intro to Literary Analysis
 REL A 327  2.0  10:00a – 10:50a  MW  The Pearl of Great Price

Here’s the weekly layout:

And here are the books I need:

Engl 319R Writing Poetry
Todd Davis and Erin Murphy, eds.  Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets
Amy Gerstler, EdThe Best American Poetry 2010
Elisabeth Murawski, Zorba’s Daughter
W.S. Merwin.  The Shadow of Sirius
Neil Aitkin, The Lost Country of Sight
Dana Levin, Sky Burial
Tony Hoagland, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty
Nancy Eimers, Oz
Billy Collins.  Horoscopes for the Dead

Eng 322 History of Criticism and Rhetoric
McKee, Robert, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
Woodruff, Paul, The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched
Aristotle, et al, The Rhetoric and the Poetics of Aristotle
Alexander, Gavin, various, Sidney’s The Defence of Poesy and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism
St. Augustine, On Christian Teaching

Eng 361 American Lit 1800-1865
Douglass, Frederick, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written By Himself
Barnum, P.T. The Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by Himself
Pratt, Parley P, The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt
Jacobs, Harriet, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Penguin Classics)
Franklin, Benjamin, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography
Davis, Andrew Jackson, The magic staff; an autobiography of Andrew Jackson Davis

Fren 340 Intro to Literary Analysis
Montesquieu, Lettres Persanes
Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
De Troyes, Erec et Enide
Balzac, Le Chef-d’oeuvre Inconnu
Molière, Le Tartuffe ou L’Imposteur

Rel A 327 Pearl of Great Price
God, Scriptures

I love the beginning of the semester because I seriously enjoy feeling both excited and terrified.  Yep.

One week, everybody!

Sweet Sorrow, or Ticklish Agony?

Today is the last day of my Shakespeare class. I have so much to say, but maybe I should save it for the class/teacher evaluation. It’ll be a great exercise in being diplomatic.

We’ll be wrapping up Macbeth today.

Oh, snacks! I always ate snacks in class, mostly when we watched movie clips of the plays we studied.

Sometimes granola bars. Sometimes fruit, which mostly were apples and bananas. I ate an orange once, but I peeled it before class.

One time I did fall asleep while watching a movie clip. It wasn’t quite fair though; someone had passed around cookies during class, and I had crashed from the sugar.

Watching movies was fun. Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Kenneth Branagh. Also: Keanu Reeves as Don John. Makes me laugh.

I also did a crossword puzzle during class last Monday. But I was also paying attention. It’s not that Shakespeare doesn’t engage my brain, because he does. Really. Again, I’ll save it for the evaluation.

The lectures and the discussions were always interesting. I often took notes and tried to follow and connect ideas between the text and the conversation with vague prompts.

And it was an adventure trying to follow the text without knowing the specific act, scene and lines. You know how I’m always up for an adventure.

Today, I will be eating an apple during class, and I’ll do today’s NY Times crossword. We’ll probably also go over what will be on the final, which is on Wednesday.

But I’ll turn in the evaluation tomorrow. That’s when it’s due.

Part of the Playlist – “This Woman’s Work”

Two songs: the original and a cover. I really need to listen to more Kate Bush.

Both versions move me. It’s just a beautiful song.  And it’s wonderful how different the song seems when a man sings it. Especially Greg Laswell.

I’m working on a paper due Monday. Too bad this song stimulates way more creativity than research. There are other things I’d rather be writing than a paper on King Lear. Well, not entirely true. I’d actually enjoy writing a paper on King Lear (because the play is incredible), but not under these particular circumstances. C’est la vie. Que sera sera.

It will get done.

Back to work.




Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman’s work,
This woman’s world.
Ooh, it’s hard on the man,
Now his part is over.
Now starts the craft of the father.

I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.
I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.

I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking

Of all the things I should’ve said,
That I never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did.
All the things I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.

Oh, darling, make it go,
Make it go away.

Give me these moments back.
Give them back to me.
Give me that little kiss.
Give me your hand.

(I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.
I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.)

I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking

Of all the things we should’ve said,
That were never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did.
All the things that you needed from me.
All the things that you wanted for me.
All the things that I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.

Oh, darling, make it go away.
Just make it go away now.

De La Solitude

This  was the last assignment in my non-hard French class. We had just finished studying Montaigne, and the assignment was to write an essay on one of the many subjects about which he wrote. I decided to write about solitude. It’s hard to complain about a less-than-perfect score when the grader says he loved it, AND I failed to follow directions yet again when I used only one quotation instead of two. Oops. I can be such a doofus sometimes. An A is an A, right?  I really enjoyed writing this one. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Il y a un arbre dans un désert lointain. Rien ne le dérange. Il est bien.

Mais, est-il heureux?

Un jour, une araignée seule trouve l’arbre et y grimpe à l’arbre. Elle fait une grande toile d’araignée dans les branches. L’arbre pense que la toile est très belle; elle chatoie sous le clair de lune. L’arbre se sent utile en protégeant l’araignée contre le soleil et les orages de sable. Néanmoins, l’arbre n’a pas besoin de cette araignée pour survivre. Ils ne sont pas amis. Vraiment, est-ce que l’arbre est heureux ?

Certaines personnes aiment avoir beaucoup d’amis. Par contre, d’autres personnes ont peu d’amis. Pourtant, certaines personnes préfèrent souvent la solitude. Il faut décider quel genre de personnes nous sommes. La plus vite on le sait, le mieux notre vie sera.

Comment est-ce qu’on fait cela ? Il y a trop de bruit dans le monde. Des milliards de personnes habitent ici, et leurs cerveaux sont plein de pensées superficielles. Personne ne s’écoute, alors personne ne se comprend. Leurs esprits sont très distraits. Comment trouve-t-on la solitude? Pourquoi est-ce qu’elle est importante?

Au XIXe siècle, l’Américain, Henry David Thoreau, a habité dans une forêt pendant deux ans, deux mois, et deux semaines. Tout seul, il a pensé et a écrit des essais. Il a prié et a médité. Bien qu’il habitait seul, sa mère faisait quand même sa lessive. C’est vrai ! Il était adulte, mais sa « maman » le traitait comme un enfant.

Il a dit, « I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.  We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers ».  Aujourd’hui, on ne peut pas habiter pendant deux ans dans la forêt sans travail, sans responsabilité. Pourtant, on peut trouver la solitude dans une foule, comme on peut trouver le silence au milieu du bruit.

J’ai habité à New York City pendant six ans et demi. Il y a beaucoup de personnes, et certaines d’entre elles sont très impolies. En plus, c’est tellement bruyant. C’est très facile de se sentir solitaire parmi des millions d’étrangers.  Dans un métro plein de personnes, si je voulais être seule, je fermais les yeux, ignorais tout le monde et  respirais profondément plusieurs fois. Je me suis toujours rappelée de respirer. C’était comme une prière.

L’araignée établit une relation passive avec l’arbre, mais on n’est pas comme l’araignée. Comme l’arbre, on a besoin de buts, de se sentir utile, mais contrairement à l’arbre, on n’est pas  une créature passive. Les relations entre les gens sont dynamiques, puisqu’elles impliquent diverses émotions et des personnalités différentes. Parce qu’il y a beaucoup d’éléments humains à considérer en plus de tous les gens, on a besoin de temps pour organiser les pensées de son esprit. Autrement, on deviendrait fou.

Cependant, on doit trouver l’équilibre, parce que trop de solitude ne se satisfait pas. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi Thoreau a passé deux ans seul dans la forêt. C’est bizarre. Il était très intellectuel, et peut-être son intelligence a contribué à son obsession. On a besoin d’amis et de famille. Il faut qu’il y ait l’amour et l’amitié. C’est vrai, il avait sa mère. Je me demande s’il serait rentré plus tôt si sa mère n’a pas fait sa lessive.  Alors, est-ce que c’est la solitude ou les vêtements propres que l’ont rendu heureux ? Ou est-ce que c’est la nature ou sa mère ? Et sa mère ? C’est difficile d’être vraiment heureux sans servir les gens. D’ailleurs, j’étais solitaire quand j’ai réalisé cela.

J’aime la solitude. C’est important d’entendre le silence, de récupérer des pensées, de raviver l’esprit. D’un autre côté, c’est aussi important d’établir des relations avec les autres. C’est pareil.

L’arbre est resté en compagnie de l’araignée plusieurs mois. Il y avait du vent, et il a ramassé l’araignée et l’a emportée au milieu du désert, où le soleil l’a lézardée jusqu’à ce qu’elle meurt. La toile s’est désintégrée et le vent l’a enterrée dans le sable jusqu’à ce qu’elle disparaisse. À nouveau, l’arbre est seul. Mais, ça ne signifie pas qu’il n’est pas heureux.

Est-il heureux ?

Mais non ! Ne soyez  pas fou. C’est un arbre.