Wednesday, May 28, 2008

definitely too tired to think of a title

i didn’t think this new job was going to stress me out so much. i got over the initial ultra-anxiety of being in a new place with new people and not knowing what i was doing, but now things are just insanely busy and all kinds of new responsibilities are being piled onto my desk. for a couple days i was elated, wondering how i got so lucky—days when i did editing and proofreading all day, things i know how to do and do quite well. i got comfortable with my mac, and figured out indesign (the program we use for layout) without much trouble. i even got to write a couple ending paragraphs for articles, which was a little awkward but fine. but now i’m taking over the distribution responsibilities, an area of the company that is currently in shambles, and it’s looking like kind of a nightmare.

in the interest of my future sanity, i think it’s going to be important for me to figure out a way that i can make a living off some of my hobbies. i’ve always avoided mixing business and pleasure that way, because i’d much rather give things away; charging money for stuff i enjoy producing takes away from the enjoyment. but i’m at a point where i can live with that.

or maybe i should get a job as a professional proofreader. i’m sure i could do better than whoever proofread the magazine before i did last week—i caught a load of mistakes that both the editor and the pros missed. i know it’s mostly a matter of having multiple people read through, and i’m sure i missed some errors myself, but few people are as obsessive and meticulous as i am about proofreading. i’m kind of a fiend for grammar and punctuation and whatnot. it might not seem like it, because i deliberately disregard those sorts of rules in pretty much all my writing, but i really am. reading and finding fault in other’s writing would basically be the perfect job for me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

making peace with the unfamiliar

good lord, i got a 4.0. i can’t even fucking believe it. i haven’t gotten straight A’s since high school. i’m astounded that i pulled off an A in literature of the american west. that’s the class i had to write a paper for at the very last minute, a paper that was worth half of the entire semester’s grade. i was basically convinced that my paper made not an ounce of sense, and was afraid to even look at it afterwards to check. such a relief…

i feel a little funny towards grades. of course there’s the issue of priorities, like should i be trying to get an education or trying to get a grade. but also, it irks me that plenty of people who are plenty dumb can get A’s just by working hard, or even just hard enough. maybe that’s how it should be? i don’t know, it just seems like grades should be based more on quality of work, especially in departments like english and art. i worked extremely hard this semester, and that’s probably about the only reason i scored so well. i’ve turned in a ton of crap that i don’t believe deserved the grade it received, case in point that lit paper. not that i’m going to go argue for a lower grade or anything…maybe that would be the ethical thing to do, but it would also be quite insane.

today i started my new job. it was…so many things. i have a ton of stuff to learn. an unexpected job title, too—i thought i was going to be the receptionist, but apparently i’m in charge of distribution, whatever that means/entails. today i mostly sat at my desk and tried to get a feel for the computer (mac! aah new things!), put together a calendar of events for one of the magazines, and answered a bunch of phone calls. i shouldn’t say a bunch…there were times when the phone didn’t ring for like half an hour, but then i’d randomly be deluged for a few minutes. everyone calls at once it seems. god, it’s a lot to get used to. there is nothing more anxiety-provoking for me than to be thrown into a social situation where i don’t know what i’m doing and i have to rely on other people for help, especially people i’m not entirely familiar with yet. so far all my coworkers are totally sweet and amazing, which helps so very much, and the whole atmosphere is pretty laid back. there wasn’t anything particularly stressful about today, but i was still considerably on edge.

i snapped a picture of the crazy amazing desk that is my workstation. i’ll have to get a better photo sometime to really capture the detail. it’s totally one of a kind, i think some local artist made it…the same person also made the matching bench.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

what fenders are for

the boise river is so high and fast right now. a portion of the greenbelt near parkcenter is closed due to flooding, and on the other side of the river there’s another closed section where the path is being repaved. i was lucky riding to the mk nature center today—normally i would ride out towards BSU then take the friendship bridge and double back to the nature center, but instead i took the orange bridge route, and the path closure started just a few feet away from the entrance to the center. it’s going to be so nice when all that is resurfaced. it was getting way bumpy and crappy over there.

it was my goal today to find a caterpillar and take pictures of it, but i failed. i was a bit disappointed by the bug selection in general. i saw two butterflies, a beetle, a few bees, and a whole shitload of dead ants—it was depressing, i think they were poisoned, which seems odd and inappropriate considering it’s a goddamn nature center. ants are the only bugs that really creep me the fuck out, but seeing whole piles of them lying there dead with only a few live ones scurrying around all confused and scared…it made me so sad. i watched one ant carry the carcass of a big dead spider. this teensy tiny little ant, and the spider was probably five times its size, but it was totally hauling ass. the pictures didn’t turn out very well, unfortunately. i got some good shots of other stuff though. i was surprised how nice the trout pictures looked—it was quite dark, reflections were totally messing with my focus and obscuring my view, and the glass i had to shoot through was gunky and gross from child hand-smear. blech.

Friday, May 16, 2008


my new season’s resolutions are going well. i’ve sewn three new canvas bags, and cut out a bunch more…i started an assembly line process so it goes faster, but now i have bags in various stages of production all over the place. i’ve also started making craploads of bandanas.

the camera experimentation has been fabulous, and it’s made me realize how lazy i was before, not paying much attention at all to the ISO or aperture settings. my pictures are turning out better than ever.

the hummingbird feeder hasn’t had any takers yet, at least not that i’ve seen, but i put up a birdfeeder that’s turned my back yard into a local wildlife hangout. tons of little birds eat out of the feeder, including three gorgeous mountain bluebirds who’ve become regulars. a pair of ducks, some mourning doves, and a few other larger birds all lurk underneath, eating the runoff. the squirrels love to raid it; they were actually damaging the feeder so i jimmy rigged a little protective cover that i thought would keep them off. they were discouraged for about an hour, and quite vocal and pissed about it, but then they figured out a way around it. although it isn’t a successful deterrent, it’s an effective trap. watching them try to dismount the feeder is pretty comical.

i haven’t started painting, or composting, or printing tshirts or reading outside. i’ve been reading inside, though…the other night i started three books. first, “the lone surfer of montana, kansas,” a collection of short stories written by davy rothbart, the genius behind found magazine. i read four stories and they all pretty much sucked. same goes for “woman on the edge of time,” an old sci fi novel my creative nonfiction professor recommended; i’m going to give that one more of a chance, though.

i also started “the beach book,” an anthology of short stories that each involve the beach in some way. it has stories by anthony doerr, jeffrey eugenides, gabriel garcia marquez, roald dahl, and a bunch of people i haven’t heard of but i’m sure they’re cool too. so far i’ve read doerr’s “the shell collector” and dahl’s “the boy who talked with animals,” and they were both spectacular.

the awesomest thing about this book, though, is that it’s totally waterproof! the pages are some kind of plastic material, and it’s nearly impossible to damage. it’s one of a diverse collection of “durabooks,” the first of which i laid eyes on was “cradle to cradle”—in tom trusky’s book arts class he showed us that book and, without mentioning that it was waterproof, dramatically poured a glass of water on it while flipping through the pages. the whole class was totally astonished that he would do such a thing to one of his beloved books until he explained what was going on. after that exciting incident, i was book shopping with a friend of mine, trying to locate her a copy of “i <3 female orgasm” in the sexuality section. that was where i found cosmopolitan’s “aqua kama sutra,” also completely waterproof, and exactly what it sounds like—a compilation of sex positions that involve water (mostly shower, bath, ocean, etc., but also some very creative ideas, like one involving a sprinkler). so clever! anyway, ever since trusky’s little demonstration, i’ve been obsessed with durabooks. the beach book weighs probably four or five times as much as any normal book its size, but the novelty of it being waterproof is entirely worth the hand cramps.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

finals week

it grated on my nerves when the birds started chirping this morning. i turned around in my chair and glared out the window—it was still dark. fuck off, i hissed. i’m not ready yet.

thirteen hours of the worst kind of writing, darting back and forth between open browser windows and documents, compulsively saving my work every few seconds: notes. bibliography. quotes. save. research paper. google. JSTOR. MLA. despair. save. frantic bargaining with no one in particular. four pills that delivered enough caffeine to make my heartbeat flutter and my bloodshot eyes stay wide and affixed to the silent computer screen.

i tried to forget it all, but little flashbacks of the utter bullshit i wrote last night keep popping into my head and making me cringe. i remember sitting here, willing my fingers across the keys steadily until i’d pause—what the fuck am i writing? does this make any sense at all?—and then realize it didn’t matter. the pages were filling up; very slowly, but things were getting done, and done was all that mattered.

i noticed halfway through the paper that what i wrote had nothing to do with my thesis. fuck it all. fuck everything. i continued anyway.

at 6.15AM i was three pages short of the minimum page length, and i was done. save. done. i started shaking, incredulous. and then i experienced morning.

normally, the only reason i would be awake and leaving the house at such a ridiculous hour would be to catch an airplane. at seven i wandered out of the garage in a stupor. i smelled that old familiar scent of sunrise. where the hell is my luggage? then i crumpled my bag into the basket of my bike and climbed on.

when i got to the greenbelt, fuzzy dawn transitioned into a sharp new light, coming from a strange angle in the sky. my shadow slid before me on the path, and all the trees were lit directly from the front. good morning, i smiled to people travelling the other way.

campus was virtually empty when i got there, and the liberal arts building was no exception. i could hear a few professors behind their closed office doors, and the heels of my shoes dragging listlessly in the hallways, but everything sounded far away. when i got to the mailroom there was a man standing there, holding something ceramic—i think it was a coffee mug, but whatever it was, my brain couldn’t process it, or his presence. the whole scene baffled me. i stared at the mailboxes, confused, for a number of minutes before i remembered that they were alphabetized, and finally located the one i needed.

riding home i saw spiderwebs—glittering tunnels built into the cracks between boards on the bridge, and thousands of gleaming filaments cast like ladders between blades of translucent green grass. i stopped for a while on the sandy bank where the river and the greenbelt stretch side-by-side under an overpass. i’d never seen it lit so brightly under there, even at sunset. i noticed a heron standing on the rocks, and when i walked closer it took off, sailing quietly over the sparkling water.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

get thee to a rookery

i spent about two hours tonight observing the great blue heron nests. it’s funny how those birds are so gorgeous and graceful, yet their voices are angry and sharp, like howler monkeys mixed with some kind of dinosaur sound effect. prehistoric howler monkeys. and they have freaky tongues.

i took over 3,000 pictures in april. the vast majority of them were deleted, but still, that’s a lot of pictures. i shot 455 just today…1.9GB worth. but i only kept 91. willpower!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

sparkle pretty

i went out mother’s day shopping yesterday. i got my mom two ceramic planters, and filled them with a couple different types of basil, and some petunias and paper moons. i also got her a gorgeous iceland poppy, and a tomato plant from the produce stand on broadway. that produce stand is the next best thing to having a subsistence farm in my back yard. i bought some tangelos there the other day that were delectable…and tasty asparagus, too, at about 1/3 the grocery store price. the only bad thing is its proximity to st. vinnie’s. i can’t help myself.

my garden’s doing really well, despite all the overnight freezes. of the seedlings, lettuce was the first to sprout, then peas, then cabbage, then carrots, and today i saw the first cucumber and parsley sprouts. everything looks so healthy. still waiting on peppers—i’d almost given up on them, but when i saw the cucumber and parsley today it gave me hope.

nightcrawlers are amazing. i’ve gone out a few times with a flashlight, in the middle of the night, scouring my back yard for them. they’re all over the place. probably three or four per square foot, and they’re all big and fat and quick. not easy to catch, but i’ve caught 20 or so and transplanted them into the garden. i’m pretty sure a few have been taken by the birds. worms are just incredible. it’s hard to tell in daylight, but at night under a flashlight their skin is pearlescent and beautiful. and they’re so strong. i’d love to have a worm farm someday.

i’m not ready to accept that this is the last week of classes. the comprehension is hitting me in waves. i only have one final test, the rest are portfolios or other projects…the only thing i’m stressed about is this goddamn lit paper. 10-12 pages that have been hanging over my head the last four months. the professor has been reminding us about it almost every week, with optimistic statements indicating her mistaken faith that we had all started, we were all working on it, we’re all almost finished. i’ve been willfully ignoring it because i know i won’t start until the last minute anyway—it’s easier if i accept my fate.