15 September 2005

b-ton's not so bad

I'm back in Bloomington, and we've given the House of Love a face lift. It took a few weeks of serious work, but we've now got a beautiful bar and a living room that already has gone through a variety of designations, including the handicapped celibate dwarf room (due to the wheelchair, the low rise of all of the furniture, and the fact that our other living room is called the Adult Tree room--get it? "adulttree"?) and the map/maritime/Moby Dick/pirate room. We also have an authentic tumbleweed hanging from the ceiling. What more do we need? (Oh, besides a vaccuum cleaner, a working dryer, and potholders...)

The best thing about the new House of Love is that several times now we've had friends over for "supper club": making huge piles of food and eating them. Saturday we made gazpacho and corn bread and we decided the meal was a summer garden in our mouths.

We're three weeks into the semester already. I gave my first class on "Poetry's Music" at the community arts center this week. I think it was a success, although it was a different kind of experience than other teaching I've done because all of my students are at least 65 and have been writing poetry for longer than I've been alive. I suppose I shouldn't plan on doing much "teaching" for this class, but instead provide a useful framework, exercises, and poems to read. I'm just thrilled to get to lead a creative writing class!

The "Bestsellers in America" class (for which I lead two discussion sections) is fabulous. In lecture, I'm learning as much as my students are, especially about how to teach 288 students and hold their attention, even when we're talking about a book written in 1755 (hint: show lots of movie clips). Some days I don't have much luck holding the attention of 24 of them at a time, but we're working on it. Today's lecture was about how 18th-century pornography can code itself as anti-seduction literature. Lots of heaving bosoms, and try this one on for size: "His face grew purple, and the veins of his eyes filled with thick red blood. He trembled as he walked across the floor, and his chest heaved and throbbed beneath his white vest, as though he found it difficult to breathe...Looking over her shoulder, she caught a gleam of his blood-shot eye..." As our professor pointed out: hold on a minute. One eye? What body part are we talking about, exactly? (By the way, this comes from the ultra-gothic "The Quaker City" by George Lippard.)

What else is going on? I'm working on my Fulbright application. It's due Friday. 'Nuff said. Tomorrow I'm giving a talk, in Catalan, to a graduate class, about the Catalan poet I've been translating. I'm already nervous. I've been running around a lot for our graduate student advisory committee work. (Don't tell anyone, but I really like doing that stuff.)

The hardest thing about the last few weeks is being away from M. again. He was a hero while he was here, helping me paint my room and then paint the miles of trim when I decided I didn't like the color it already was and then move my furtniture, even when he was sick, and my car was dead, and I was ultra-stressed. Now, it's not an easy adjustment to go back to long-distance-girlfriend-life, especially since we haven't had internet for two weeks. I'm left writing short notes between classes while I'm campus, and hoping that we can fit a phone call in before he goes to sleep and after I go home. The good news is that he got tickets to fly to Boston for the weekend--just the weekend!--of my brother's wedding. At least I know we'll get to see each other once this semester, even if it's not at the House of Love.

19 August 2005

Catalan word of the day: gronxar

I spent the morning with M's nieces, and by "spending the morning" I mean pushing two-year-old Sora on her swing while six-day-old Seyna slept. Some time ago I learned the words "gronxar" (to swing) and its relation, "gronxador" (swing), from Sora, who likes to ask anyone with available hands to put her in her swing and give a push. She insisted today that I push "més fort," and she entertained me with several songs, with renditions in Catalan, Spanish, and French. In return, I taught her "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in English. She got it, but it was tough to remember the words, and she lapsed back into "estrellita" most of the time. Indeed, little girls *are* estrellitas, especially this one, who we sometimes think could head straight to Hollywood, once she has dominated "Twinkle, Twinkle" and the rest of the English language.

The dynamics between a center-of-attention girl and her new little sister are interesting to observe; when I was holding Seyna, Sora immediately ran to get her own pacifier and tried to get my attention by pouting, two-year-old style. But I have a feeling once Seyna gets a bit bigger, Sora is going to love showing her the ropes. And I mean that literally: the bucket-seat gronxador is a rope swing, and it's just estrellita size.

17 August 2005

I never thought I'd be a blogger

But here I am. For the moment, this blog will remain anonymous, while I figure out how I feel about having a web identity. After a couple of days perusing a few blogs, some by people I know and some by people I don't, I'm ready to make a semi-public debut. I know I want this blog to be interesting, varied, and uncluttered with mountains of links to other sites. I might post some of my poetry, I'll surely post travel and language adventures, some political commentary, and plenty of arts criticism, but I won't post *more* than you wanted to know about my personal life.

I'm already wishing I started writing sooner, because a summer full of travel and experiences has nearly passed. We've been everywhere, it seems: Brussels, Strasbourg, Barcelona, Tarragona, Boston, Jericho (Vermont), Tallinn (Estonia), Ghent, Leuven, Sant Feliu and Tossa (Catalonia, Costa Brava). Two new babies have been born, my nephew and my boyfriend's niece. Lots of time with family, lots of time on the beach. Not enough time writing, poetry or otherwise. My Catalan has improved, and my Spanish has gone downhill. Today I'm writing from a slightly overcast Barcelona, and the breeze is perfect. I'm about to leave for lunch with my boyfriend's family, who live outside of the city. It'll be our last chance to spend with his little niece before we head back to the states.

Which is a theme I'd rather not contemplate, given that it involves lots of preparation for the new school year, getting my syllabus ready for the poetry course I'm teaching at the local community arts center, and the literature class I'll be teaching to undergrads in Bloomington. (But you know I'm secretly looking forward to it: who can resist the lure of fall, with the requisite buying of new notebooks and pencils, checking class schedules, and settling back into the semester's rhythm? Besides, the House of Love awaits. And what is the House of Love, you ask? Stay tuned.)