Broken Events: February after the Supposed Apocalypse

Sixty days. One sixth of a year. Big doings. Or not so much. Discuss.

Here’s my year-to-date in a rather large nutshell (what’s the largest nutshell in the world? I think the shell will have to be that big or bigger).

When Pope Benedict resigned, I was reminded of watching the conclave as a child the year Pope John Paul II was named. The colored smoke fascinated me, even though as a lapsed Protestant (and a little kid) I didn’t understand what it was all about. When the smoke finally turned white, it seemed like an important moment, even though to my eyes the white smoke looked the same on the television screen as the black smoke had looked.

There is currently no pope for the Catholic church. On the upside, a particular Mexican shoe-maker is in capitalist heaven as a result of the gift of maroon loafers given to then-Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to Mexico last spring. I think the cobbler’s gift and his newfound fortune are kind of awesome. Really, they are lovely loafers, and there’s little doubt as to their comfort factor. I’ve been stunned at how frail the former pope has become in these short twelve months since his trip to Mexico. I hope the new loafers help him walk in some comfort on this last bit of his human pilgrimage. What I learned: must get to the Leon shoe expo when it comes to TRC this year. Not, perhaps, the lesson I “should” learn, but I’ll take what I can get. I will be watching for the smoke signals.

My mom will be in TRC in less than a week. Time to buy a mattress for the guest bedroom. I’ve been looking for an excuse. Perfect. Insert dancing Snoopy and anxious Linus here. More on that at a later date. By the way, the Doctor is In. 25 cents.

I was invited to invite five students to a literary workshop at the local art and history museum. What a great group of students I must have that the list was long and difficult to narrow down. Wish I could go with them. Grown ups are not welcome. The adolescent in me totally gets that. But still.

My students reminded me how scary it is to be a high school senior. Luisa wrote, “I want to stop time, just for a few seconds.” My empathy would be understandable if I hadn’t hated high school. Next week they will be ready to break away again. Who needs a physics roller coaster project when every day is a new, unexpected, non-navigable high, low, twist, turn, loop-the-loop with unmeasurable velocities? Thank goodness for the reminder that I don’t want to go back. Time to stop worshipping at the altar of youth.

Having said that, well, braces. The bottom teeth are going back right, and the top teeth are going back left. The notorious gap has temporarily returned, and everything is sensitive and nothing fits together the way it should, and eating is a task I don’t even want to think about. I feel I haven’t eaten in a week, though that is a lie. Unfortunately, the food I can eat comfortably and the food I need and want to eat are on different planes of existence. So maybe I’m not worshipping at the altar of youth, but I am hoping that this factory of pain in my mouth actually does its job to keep my teeth in my head, rather than on my plate, which will make the crummy braces diet worth the trouble. And it might be neat if straight teeth made me feel pretty. I am adolescent in spite of myself.

Movies are a good thing for adolescents of all ages. Saw Les Miserables, in the theater on a week night. Poor Daniela had to listen to me mutter the lyrics through the whole show. Never mind the snuffling and snorting snotfest. Luckily, Javert wasn’t particularly good, so the parts that usually hit me the hardest didn’t hit very hard. I loved Fantine, Eponine, Gavroche (of course) and the Thènardiers. I liked Jean Valjean and Marius, but I couldn’t like this Cossette. I apologize. I assume there is something generally wrong with my taste in voices. Still, it was a good movie, even though I felt obligated to over-tip the waiter at the VIP theater after he tripped in the dark and spilled our drinks. Nothing like VIP theater – tickets, less than seven bucks each, leather recliners and table-side concession service. Thankfully, we had many napkins because there was boo-hooing. One day this weekend I’ll put the Broadway soundtrack on and recuperate anything I might have lost at the movie.

A fun movie followed by Facebook convos with former students about movies (like Les Mis) with mixed reviews can be rewarding. I miss those intellectuals, but I’m so proud of and happy for them. What wild and unexpected adventures they are having all over the world, doing all the things they dreamed of and a few they things they never expected.

For the record, it turns out that I am not the only essay writer in the world. I can only hope and keep thinking, writing, typing, editing and striving to reach Professor Lopate’s stature. I worried that I’d lost my companion essay writer when Nancy Walker died. Luckily, it seems that the form has not entirely died out. I’m encouraged.

Nevertheless, I know I’ve lost my proverbial marbles because I tried to turn THE essay into a graphic novel, only to have the essay turn out to be merely the prequel to the epic super-heroine story that I don’t know how to write. I’m waiting for the bloodied main character to walk out of that alleyway and decide what to do with her newly baptized bowie knife. No pressure.

Speaking of creepy, wonderful things, I re-read Neil Gaiman’s Calendar Tales (see ) for about the fourth time and tried to intuitively navigate my way around my own brain through his idea. I had done the tweet poems from my own tweets, but this idea of harvesting the tweets of others rocked the axis of my universe.

And now I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s March already. How did that happen? Just yesterday it was Christmas 2012 and I was trying to explain to my nephew why I hadn’t been playing Skyrim 24/7 or at least 16/7, and dancing the salsa with my 15 month old niece. Ten year olds don’t need sleep and babies love to spin almost as much as I do.

I have essays and stories to write and all the things.

Did I mention that this time next week Mom will be here?

So what’s up with you?



Not gonna lie…

Well, anyway, not today. I’m terribly out of touch. It happens sometimes to people. Since I don’t believe in “writer’s block” or that inspiration is necessary to write, I honestly have no good excuse. I’ve spent two perfectly good, perfectly free weekends doing essentially nothing. Well, I take that back; I’ve started and finished reading several good books. Among them, a collection of essays by Barbara Kingsolver (High Tide in Tucson), Allison Moore’s The Lighthouse, and the second and third books in James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, and now making headway through Kevin Brooks’ Being. I also played some Skyrim and rested enough to kick the cough I’ve had since early December.

All the reading, gaming, cooking, keeping house, and going to my day job and keeping up with all that the day job requires, however, has not prevented me from feeling like a slug for not writing.

I swore to one of the sophomores in the early days of class that inspiration was not required to write well. She looked at me as if I had consumed the moon in one bite. Obviously, my credibility is less than stellar (pun intended).

Ok, fine. I’m here. I’m writing. I’m absolutely not inspired. That’s okay. Besides, it’s not as though I haven’t been writing, but I’ve not been writing things I’m ready to share with the blog. Pieces that I may never share with the blog: snippets of poetry in English and Spanish, lesson plans (I say they count, what will all the invention necessary), letters to beloved teachers, far far too many facebook status updates. I started keeping a regular journal again and have half a million writing ideas. What I want is TIME. Time to write. But if I don’t take the big chunks of time I’ve worked to clear out from underneath paper grading and administrative tasks, what else can I expect?

No, Barbara, writing does not require inspiration. Writing requires applying one’s backside to the chair in front of the page (whether paper or digital) and doing the writing. Re-reading the writing. Rewriting the writing. And then writing some more. Writing requires the patience to look inside, even if the writer is only looking inside to write about a crummy topic assigned by a blasted teacher who doesn’t ever write. Not ever. I write. I write a lot. Not as much as I should, most likely, but since I don’t make my living from these pixelated letters (yet) there is not always time or energy. But Neil Gaiman rule number one is “Write.” [please see for all eight rules]. I have not been keeping at it. But starting today, in spite of the stacks of essays to grade, in spite of Skyrim, in spite of the Superbowl, and every other life thing that must happen sooner or later, I will write. So that means you may be reading lots of bad writing, but you will be seeing writing of some kind.

Hope you guys haven’t been too lonely without me. [As if.] And I hope to drive you bonkers at least once a week again here on the inky highway.

Con cariño y abrazos ~LD