Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scenes from a Pig Roast

Turning to Fall / "The Whitsun Weddings" - Larkin

In short bursts:

I had expected to be much more frequent and thorough in my posting, but that clearly has not happened. I blame the past two and a half months. Learning a new city, trying to develop friendships, staying on top of all that's demanded of a Ph.D. student, and especially taking care of M. as best I can. I don't think I've been successful at any of these, which sometimes doesn't make sleep come as easily as I'd hope. I want this admission to compel me to do better, to enable me to benefit from what I've learned and move forward, but I'm not necessarily wired that way. I hold on to what needs forgetting.


I worked on my ms. tonight, which is the first time I've looked at it since I had meetings with Bill, Nancy, and Beth B. last April. This has been long overdue, but at least I've written a poem a week for workshop, which should (maybe) help flesh out what I've spent the last three degrees working toward. I don't know how close it is to being polished, but I'll send it some people whose opinion I trust and get some constructive feedback. I've been keeping up with Keith Montesano's First Book Interviews at and the perserverance we writers need to have is frightening. I seem to be able to block out the horror stories about how long it takes to get a book published, how much effort is put into shaping a ms. It'd be great if Paul Zimmer, who's visiting next semester, could tap me on the head and magically get me a book, but stranger things have not happened. So it goes.


Mad Men finished Season Two tonight, and that makes me sad. M. and I disagree about how Matthew Weiner seems to approach his storytelling: I'm fine with threads from early in the season being brought back five or six episodes later, while she needs the writers to keep spinning the plates. (In some ways, she is a protege of some faculty members, whether he's conscious of it or not, which I stress is not a bad thing. Really. I got a lot from my two semesters taking nf workshops.) I'm never insulted watching MM, which I can't say about most television. I don't need everything recapped for me, nor do I want to have all the answers for who did what why neatly laid out for me. More often than not, I'd rather work for my entertainment, though I concede there's time and place for the mindless. Sometimes, I'd rather not be inside my head.


Two Browns wins the past three weeks. My self-worth shouldn't change so much after a win, but it does. I didn't want to go to school the day after The Fumble. I had a hard time walking campus when the Steelers beat the Browns, though I didn't really know anyone enough to give me a hard time about being in Meadville following a team that's been owned by their biggest rival of late. I am a Clevelander, and that'll always define me. Expecting failure is in my blood, and I'm not sure how that plays into what I wrote two paragraphs up. It could be good or bad. I just don't know.


I think a lot about Larkin's "The Whitsun Weddings." I had read it a number of times, but it wasn't until I went to a lecture by Rachel Hadas that I needed to memorize the conclusion. Taking a cue from a friend ( I'd like to include a poem somewhere in all of my future posts. I thought it'd be good to start with the last stanza I committed to myself years ago. Here it is:

from The Whitsun Weddings

There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Traveling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.

Be well.