Saturday, February 24, 2007

Providence Pleasures

Back from Providence: Joel, Sarah, Al Forno, Modern Diner (again). Kiowa baby carriers. We went to the Haffenreffer Museum– Brown’s anthropology museum out in Bristo,l Rhode Island. I was very moved and touched by the Kiowa-Comanche beaded-boarded baby carriers. The Kiowas are also the ones who did the art work in the Ledgers when they were in captivity, beautifully colored line drawings in old ledger books, usually figures and horses, maybe some hills and tipis. I'm pleased that the baby carriers are by the same people who did the ledger books (I saw an exhibit in Cooperstown, I believe, five or six years ago: same time maybe I saw the Gee's Creek quilts? Odd how those colorful objects come back again).

Friday night, after our grilled pizza and other deliciousness, we went back to Joel’s apartment where the Friday night potluck was in process– a few dozen of Joel, Seb, and Melany’s closest friends all bring food, mostly beer and brownies, as far as I can tell, so they end up sending out for pizza. Something touching about their home made parties, too, although the detritus seems to last for days afterward and Joel, who loves it, says the clean up really sucks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Protest the War

I met this afternoon about Coalition activities, and then spent an hour on South Orange Avenue protesting the war. It was cool, after a bright, mild day, but very satisfying to be standing out there holding a sign-- and mirabile dictu we got a LOT of cars honking support. This goes on every Wednesday, co-sponsored by the South Orange-Maplewood Committee to Stop the War and Military Families Speak Out. Anyone can join for the full hour and a half or just ten minutes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday Post

It’s Saturday, and I made French toast for me and Andy for breakfast. Now I’m getting rid of that broken rolling file that was a bad purchase from the beginning, replaced with also cheap but at least so far unbroken ones, clear, so you can see in them. Such a sense of accomplishment to straighten up the piles of Coalition and Ethcial Culture Social Action files. Oh my. I’m going to take a long walk later, andmaybe finish my seed orders and make soup.

And read more of Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter, which is a remarkable enormous book, feels more like a whole since I have the good translation by Tina Nunnally in a single volume. Enormous. Rambling, Omniscient. Feminist scholars apparently ignore th book, for its too religious, too woman-in-conventional-role quality-- it’s set in the middle ages, and you really feel the weight of convention and culture and also nature. Kristin is about as healthy and wealthy as a woman of her time could be, with a fair amount of freedom, and a culture that appears to give at least some respect to the women’s realm of work and responsibilities. And yet she is caught by rules about sexuality, by child bearing, by the deaths of people she loves, etc. etc.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Classes as Conversations; Internet as Conversation

I had a lot of fun last night discussing “The Death of Ivan Ilych” in my Making Your Novel Happen class. I don't usually run discussions of classics in class, but this group was prepared and full of responses, mostly positive, except some found it depressing. One man quoted so I didn't have to : “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

I didn’t have to make many of my discussion points– they did it for me. I concentrated on the structure of the novella (we all know I.I. is dead, the bulk of the story is how he lived and mainly how he died) and my favorite aspect which is the religious question. I got say that I think Tolstoy was “smarter” as a writer than as a philosopher thinker. Anyhow, really good fun for me. I really love this particular kind of conversation.

Then I came home and found a link to a video of brother-in-law/Internet philospher David Weinberger being interviewed by some Germans, and the German part is pretty funny, (reminds me of one of the Cooking Show guys who pretends to be edgy but is really doing something akin to what the old kidshow t.v. guys used to do–Alton Brown).

I just looked up Alton on the Information Highway, which is David, insists, only the smallest part of what the Internet does. David talked about the way we use metaphors to try and talk about the Internet (thus the "information highway"), and his favorite appears to be from his book The Cluetrain Manifesto, which is that this new thing, the web, is all about conversations, markets are conversation, but buying and selling is just one of the types of conversation. DW's big concern at this point is the takeover big business/government allies are trying to pull right now, to label us for commercial purposes and political control, to give privilege to some messages over others (professional Hollywood movies over homemade movies), etc.

See David's blog at .

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Good News for Joel

The phone rang after we'd gone to sleep last night-- one of those horrible sounds when you're deep under, and I always associate such calls with terrible disasters or at least with someone sick when Andy's on call. Andy answered, and souned confused but not unhappy, and then passed me the phone, and it was Joel--he'd just been accepted into Stanford University's Ph.D. in Computer Science program! He was extremely excited--this is apparently something wonderful (albeit still in California). Also Joel has accepted a job already, signed a contract etc. Well, it must have felt very good to him-- always a pleasure to hear good things about your kid. And to have a call in the night that isn't death and disaster.

And I've been invited to teach the Nonfiction workshop at Hindman this summer-- always a delight to be there, hear the voices, smell the air.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back in the Groove

I'll be leaving soon for New York-- my first NYU class of the semester. I had two scheduled, and one didn't run, and I was suddenly very eager to make sure this one goes-- Making Your Novel Happen. It makes you appreciate a thing, when it doesn't happen: for me, the appreciation was for napping on the train, calling Andy on the cell phone from the train, the cheap sushi place I go near Sixth Avenue, Washington Square Park, the interesting people who are writing novels.

I do wonder sometimes why there are so many of them.

These young people! I hear from her mother that Laurel Schwartz is thinking about teaching in China or doing Teach America before possibly going to professional school. Molly Gilman is in a children’s play called Pinkalicious that is actually on Broadway, albeit Upper Broadway and she isn’t in Equity yet (but got a good review for her singing-- called "strong-voiced and charismatic!" ). Meanwhile, Sarah is down there doing health delivery contracts for Rand Corporation, and Joel is set to go live in San Franciso and work at a really excellent job as a software engineer, probably getting a deferral on graduate school.

And I’m still amazed that he can keep a check book.