Tuesday, January 25, 2011

That Last Post Got Me Thinking...

When I was in graduate school, Margaret Atwood came to visit our department for a week. She's a major reason I became a writer so I was very excited to spend time with her and even more thrilled when the department put me in charge of her. From the second I picked her up at the airport she was full of questions. ("What are those trees? Why does your seatbelt do that? Why are there so many personalized license plates?) My roommates and I hosted a dinner party for her at our house. Half the department came over to help us cook. When she arrived that night she said she'd already eaten, and spit an onion tart out into a napkin in front of the person who made it, claiming she thought it was a cheese tart. I tried to bond over being Canadian but she didn't seem to care. When she asked what my sign was and I said Virgo her face contorted into a sour grimace, "Uch," she said. "My ex-husband is a Virgo." I defended my sign, saying perhaps female Virgos were different than male Virgos, and while she was open to the argument, it wasn't the stimulating conversation I'd fantasized about having with her. Toward the end of the week I was growing weary of her. While crossing the street on campus, a local, celebrated yet quirky poet was walking toward us. Ms. Atwood nudged me away so we wouldn't cross his path and said "Uch, there's that man again." I prayed he didn't hear, though I imagine he did. When the week was through, when I was done driving her places, escorting her to classes, and dining with her, I handed her my tattered-from-reading copy of "Dancing Girls," her short story collection which started me on my own writing path. As she signed it I imagined something like, THANKS FOR DRIVING ME EVERYWHERE or NICE TO MEET A FELLOW CANOOK or even GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR WRITING. Instead, I simply got MARGARET ATWOOD.

I still love her work. I even follow her on Twitter. And despite our nonbonding, Margaret Atwood gave me the gift of a story, and for that this Virgo is grateful!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tweet Tweet and Anxiety Dreams

I have a renewed love for Twitter. Where else can a girl follow Margaret Atwood and Queen Latifah's witty comments? I also love reading updates from NPR host Scott Simon (who's radio piece a few years ago introduced me to Twitter in the first place), the New York Times Book Review, Whole Foods, Roger Ebert and of course my real friends. Do you Twitter? Who do you follow? I'm @lilok30 in case you want to follow me, though admittedly I don't update that often.

Last night I had my first back-to-school anxiety dream. I have these at the start of every semester so I'm kind of used to them, but last night's was particularly stressful. I was trying to go over the syllabus in class but all the students were talking over me. I was worried about one particular kid in the corner who seemed sullen and troubled. I was screaming but no one could hear me because they were talking so much. I went outside and found my boss. I was hyperventilating and she kept trying to calm me down. She told me to go back in and do the best I could. When I finally reentered the classroom, class was over and the students were walking out. I realized I hadn't gone over their assignment for the next week, so at the top of my lungs I yelled, "Read the Bell Jar!!!!" I awoke with a start and a scratchy throat. I wonder if I talked in my sleep?

I had a good month off and enjoyed skiing, lots of yoga, catching up with friends, reading and seeing movies, but it's back to work on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Happy new year!

Toward the end of the year I always like to make a list of things I accomplished, big or small, during the year. In 2010 the accomplishment I am most proud of is learning to wear contact lenses! It is so freeing not being confined by frames (though I do miss the way the frames semi-hid the wrinkles around my eyes, oh well...) but I am surprised at how vulnerable it feels as well. Slowly but surely I am getting used to it. What has been your proudest accomplishment of 2010?

Tomorrow I head up to Big Bear with the family for a little ski vacation. I'm hoping all this L.A. rain will translate into powdery fresh mountain snow.

Meanwhile, here's a post I wrote for the book blog to which I contribute. I love being part of this group of women authors. Every month we're given a theme to write about and this time it was "Your Writing Journey." When you read about everybody's highs and lows it somehow normalizes this crazy profession.

Happy 2011 to everyone.