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Lotsa Flying

Yay, pictures!  Yayyyyyy!

CA –> NJ –> VA –> CO –> OR

Arrived in C'ville the day before Amanda's wedding. Saw GP--the perfect start to a perfect weekend! ^^

Laurie Jean ate with us, too, and afterward we went to Splendora.

On the day of Amanda's wedding, had brunch with a bunch of CHoosies at Marco & Luca's. This is just a few of us...paired off into twinsies. (GP = honorary Choosie)

Of course, we can't be normal for too long. Goofing off (this is the Sprout Dance*) singing and dancing in public, per usual.

*What is the Sprout Dance, you ask?  THIS

...and that's when it occurred to me that you can't have a real CHoosE wedding without doing something crazy. Began to cook up a scheme with which to surprise Amanda at her own wedding. Tim and I told every CHoosie to come early...

The wedding was beautiful, but the end was the best part. As soon as the pastor announced, "I present to you Mr. & Mrs. William Hasley," the CHoosE people who were scattered in the congregation began to pop up on their chairs one by one, singing, "Love~~~love~~~love!" (intro to "All You Need is Love") in full harmony, exactly as in the movie "Love Actually."* We basically reenacted Amanda's all-time favorite movie scene then burst into the recessional, which was a lively South African number with clapping/dancing/much belting (she spent the past two years doing orphanage ministry in South Africa). She just about keeled over from the surprise and proceeded to dance down the aisle. ^______^

*THIS SCENE from “Love Actually”

It was a New Year's Eve wedding, and we all celebrated into the new year. Got to meet Warner's son, who doesn't just look SIMILAR to him, he's the SAME. o_O Best moment of the night was when I said, "OMG, it's little Warner! (pause) Wait...his name isn't really 'Little Warner' by any chance, is it?" And Warner laughed and said, "Actually, yes it is. He's Warner Junior. Warner William Howard the 5th." No joke, people. No joke.

I also got to celebrate my birthday in C'ville. Went out to dinner with CHoosies and GCFers, came back to GP's to watch a movie, ate super yummy cake from Shilla Bakery, and was gifted with this signed puzzle AND new tires for my car!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That wasn't all. As part of my birthday treat, GP took me to an undisclosed location the next day. She wouldn't tell me where were going until after we picked up Mary and Megan and we arrived at a farmhouse.

There were lots of plump and happy chickens... (oh man, it was freezing cold)

...and a whole bunch of PIGLETS! o_O

This is how I felt. I imagine it must be how other people feel when they win the lottery. Or maybe when a toddler tastes cupcakes for the first time.

There were half-grown pigs, too. I realized why like pigs so much (besides the chub and everything else): they are uber-focused when they eat. Priorities!

I even got to feed papa pig. I think he must have been easily 4x my weight. Again, focused eating. Heeeeee...

After a fantabulous week in C'ville, I flew over to Colorado Springs to see THIS loverly lady and her mama.

We decided to have an impromptu photo shoot.

Fashion statement.

Speaking of fashion, Eva let me braid her hair! *^^*

We went for a walk outside. Walking with a little person is great fun. Kekeke...

You stop to observe interesting objects on the ground that nobody else can see. 😀

And then you keep on walking. Is it just me or are mother & daughter doing the same things?

I then returned to Portland feeling quite refreshed.  Time to tackle my thesis.  Rawr!

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Merry Christmas!

Ah, yiesh.  A brief and generic entry on Christmas.  And a shout-out to the Boyfriend who is working through Christmas.  Also a shout-out to the Bruhdurr who acted as a stand-in for the following picture we took at the Grove, although our facial proportions look kinda funky from pointing the camera upward to capture all 110 feet of the ginormous tree.

(for good measure, I would like to add that it’s 1am on Christmas morning in not-so-snowy Los Angeles and there’s crazy loud Mexican Christmas party music blaring across the neighborhood…at the moment they are playing “Feliz Navidad” for perhaps the fifth time…)

Oh, Thanksgiving…

With the end of November creeping up, as of next week I will be in the final throes of the craziest grad school term I have ever known.  Granted, there have only been four thus far, being part of the quarter system and all, but something tells me the next two terms will not be quite so…er…intense.  While there is much to catch up on, today I just wanted to reflect on the following.

Last night we had a Thanksgiving dinner party initiated weeks ago by an email that began: “Dear Fictioneers and assorted Poeticians and Nonfictionarios…”  It was a gathering of all the orphan MFAers that didn’t go home-home for the holidays.  Naturally, I was included in the mix, and it made for quite a party with scrumptious food, weirdo writers, and nerve-wracking games of Speed Scrabble.

Some highlights:

Exhibit A: the Bavarian Apple Tortes I baked over the afternoon

Another shot of Exhibit A, just because I think they're so purty. The one on the left has almonds sprinkled on top along with some almond extract in the crust...

Exhibit B: a jar of pickled green tomatoes from the home of Ursula K. Le Guin (boy, do I have a story for you, but I'll save it for next time)

Exhibit C: a turkey baked (along with some bacon slabs, of course) by our very own Daniel Mollet

And finally, the real reason for this post: to say that unlike the rest of the crazy world that is out shopping at the moment, I am tucked away at my favorite wine bar with a deadline to make and a lot more digesting to do.

...with coffee, not wine, mind you.

Breaks

Everything around me has been breaking down lately.  What’s with the spectacular timing?  And…is it me?

PHONE: it started doing this weird hiccup (intermittent vibrating) one when I tried to shut it down and restart it.  I had to turn it off and turn it on about five times before it came back to normal.  The touchscreen’s begun to get finicky, too.  Oh, blubber.

LAPTOP: I think I’ve dropped it one too many times.  The clasp holding the battery in place has finally given away.  Hold the laptop at the right angle, and the battery will slide right off.  Tape, anyone?

JEANS: I noticed that the back pockets of my favorite jeans have begun to wear out at the top corners.  Good thing I noticed before the holes got big enough to show underwear. o_O

CAR: I took it in for an oil change and they told me my tires are pretty darn near blowing out.  I looked at them and sure enough, they’re beginning to fray at the edges around the rim.  It’s been almost 50,000 miles (which is just about the usual tire lifespan), and I’m shocked to realize Rupert is no longer a new car.

CAR AGAIN: as with my laptop, I think I might have scratched up the underside of my front bumper one too many times.  The bottom panel has begun to sag and will drag on the ground at high speeds when the wind wedges it open as it hits the front of the car.  The scraping sounds like I’m dragging tin cans behind my car, except the sound comes from the front instead.  Thankfully, it happens only at high speeds and I’ve been told it’s a relatively common problem–just need a new panel clipped into place.

TEXTBOOK: my short story anthology has decided to protest my repeated opening to the same page.  The tome has split neatly down to the back cover of the binding, the Flannery O’Connor essay permanently bookmarked.

Last but not least, ME: turns out my insatiable need for naps this past week has not been, well, just an insatiable need for naps.  I fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, woke up around dinnertime to call Estin back (who, as it turned out, had to go back to the hospital anyway) and with the intention of doing some reading, fell back asleep on account of nausea and a fever (the words on the page were swimming around, now that I think about it), slept through Estin’s next two calls (when he really did get out of the the hospital), and didn’t wake up until this morning.

I guess sleep wasn’t optional after all–a good dose of it really did some wonders!  Now if only the rest of my broken things could be fixed with it…

I am not a dud.

Hello, world.  I have just survived my first week of teaching!  It’s a 4-credit undergraduate course–Intro to Fiction Writing.  For the next ten weeks, 25 students will be at my mercy for learning pretty much anything with which I choose to corrupt their minds.  Mahahahaha…

Kidding…kidding…sort of.  Just trying to give these people an idea of what fiction writing entails.  Monday was really nerve-wracking.  It probably sounds silly now, but for me it really was the “okay, this is it–today I find out if I’m a total dud at what I’ve been hoping to do for the rest of my life, and I just may have to choose a different dream if I really do happen to be–God forbid–a dud” moment.  Yes, I know my life doesn’t depend entirely on this one thing.  But still, it’s something I reallyreallyreally hoped I would be good at, something I could continue to do for a very long time.

Unfortunately, teaching is one of those things for which there is no substitute for actual experience.  This was going to be my first.  Sure, I’ve taught third graders, given piano lessons, facilitated class discussions, tutored everyone from ESL students to college freshmen…but I have never before taught an actual college course.  And it’s not like anyone sat me down to tell me exactly what or how to teach.  They assigned me the subject, then I was on my own to design a syllabus and teaching plan.  Oy.

And then came day one (oh, how I am going to laugh when I read this entry ten years from now…).  At five ’til two on Monday, I showed up at the assigned classroom in Neuberger Hall.  In the small, stuffy room were twenty-five students–everyone from the bright-eyed, bandanna-wearing girls to the older gentleman in the front row with pen poised over his yellow legal pad–who had all shown up early to sit staring at the front of the silent classroom.  Clear throat.  Creep up to front via very small spaces between chairs.  Feel all eyes gawking while depositing bag in corner.  Glance nervously at watch, which reads 1:59pm.  Fish out stack of course syllabi creased sadly at the corners from being dumped in said bag ten minutes ago when I made copies in the English department office.  Hunt for dry-erase markers.  Remember to let out breath and take another.  Turn to the whiteboard and write class name, my name, and email.  Try not to misspell name.  Clear throat, take deep breath, turn around, and…

Oh, what is this?

Every single head in the room is bent down over a moving hand on paper, jotting down everything I have just put on the board.  I stare at the marker in my hand. o_O What power!  I briefly humor the notion that I might write “I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts” on the board just to see what happens.  But hey, they’re looking up at me again.  Time to hand out the syllabus.  Thank God, something to do and to finally get started…

That was day one.  Thankfully, the ice broke as soon as I had the class do a writing exercise together, and Wednesday was actually sort of fun, what with the interactive lecture and discussion and thoughtful questions stemming out of genuine interest in the subject matter.  Good news: I am not a dud!

The bad news, of course, is that as predicted, teaching is taking over all my waking hours.  I have yet to start on my own homework.

Thoughts Before Monday

하루종일 아파트에 앉아서 긴 이메일을 썼다.

밥도 안먹고

엉엉 울면서.

이메일 한장에 걸린 나의 가족관계.

오해로 생긴 상처 때문에 친척들에게 버림받을 수도 있다.

엄마에게 있어서만은 왜 모든 것이 이렇게 힘든 걸까?

미루다, 미루다 드디어 이메일을 보냈다.

이렇게 하지 않으면 영영 못할 것 같아서.

 

친한 친구가 요즘 너무나 힘들어 한다.

친구의 슬픈 이야기가 나를 슬프게 한다.

힘이 되어주고 싶은데 해줄 수 있는 말이 별로 없다.

멀리 떨어져 있어서 옆에 있어 주지도 못한다.

그저 같이 울어주는 것뿐.

이럴 때 나는 나쁜 친구인 것 같다.

 

내일모레 난 첫 수업이다.

가르치는 일을 원래 좋아하는 건 사실이지만,

대학생들을 가르치는 것은 처음이다.

내가 그토록 꿈꿔왔던 교수직.

그 무엇보다 더 고대하고 바랬던 그 중요한 경험이다.

연습할 수 있는 것도 아니고 누가 대신해줄 수 있는 것도 아니다.

그래서 떨린다.  과연 내가 잘할 수 있을까?

월요일이 오면  정말 이것이 나에게 주어진 일인지 알게 되겠지.

이럴 땐 엄마에게 전화해서 잔뜩 불안을 늘어놓았을 텐데

그리고 엄마가 그랬겠지, 엄마 딸이니까 분명히 잘 할거라고.

아주 대견해하면서 말이다.

 

앞으로도 할일은 태산같고 마음은 무겁다.

언젠가는 이런 과거의 나를 두고 웃겠지.

하지만 이런 나에게 오늘은 참 힘든 하루였다.