Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Recent reads

In the last month I've gotten to read through a bunch of books in the ever-expanding pile of "to reads". Each was excellent, so I want to recommend them to my lovely readers:

Charity Girl by Michael Lowenthal: this is a historical novel, taking place in Boston during WWII. I learned a ton about an aspect of this time period that I had never even known about: women who were found to have STDs were often put in prison or girls home to keep them from infecting soldiers (even though the soldiers are the people who gave the infection to them in the first place...). The story follows one such "charity girls", which refers to the "loose" women who were giving sex away for free, as opposed to the prostitutes.

Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott This book is told almost completely through letters exchanged by two people who meet and almost have a one night stand. The letters serve as confessions about their past lovers, and they are all eloquent and thoughtful.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon I've been meaning to read this book for a while now, and I'm so glad I did. It's told in the first person by an autistic boy, and it completely drew me into his quirky, quirky world.

Read anything good lately? Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Paris pictures

I don't have much time to blog these days, so I thought I'd upload two of my favorite pictures from my recent trip to Paris with my mom. One is of the two of us at the Musee D'Orsay, and one is of Baby Bo at the Eiffel Tower. Who's Baby Bo, you ask? He's a stuffed monkey that screeches when you squeeze his belly. Brian and I take him on trips (and lend him to friends to take with them) so we can get pictures of him sightseeing.
Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some thoughts on teaching

I want to apply for a TA-ship at Lesley for the fall. The application is due in a week, and I cannot get motivated to do the two-page essay. Mostly because I have no idea what to write. The questions are: What particular interests do you have in relationship to an assistantship on campus? What particular skills do you bring to the position? What do you envision as an ideal mentoring relationship?

Maybe I'll just brainstorm on here about the questions, and hopefully come up with something. If you have any ideas for what colleges are looking for in this type of essay, how to begin creatively, etc., let me know!

*I want my assistantship to be a teaching assistantship, not a research assistantship.

*I have taught various forms of writing (creative, freelance, journalistic) to adults at various Adult Education centers around Boston for the past 5 years. I've also begun working with teens in high school classrooms, helping them with their writing.

*I love student interaction, and really feel that teachers learn as much from their students as vice versa. I also enjoy having discussions with students about their work because they usually bring such passion to it. And of course it's rewarding when you can see their work improving over the course of a semester.

*Skills I bring: Excellent writing, editing, and oral communication skills. The ability to give feedback in a constructive and polite manner. Highly organized and responsible.

* I'm not sure I know enough about mentor relationships in this capacity to comment on what my ideal relationship would be. I guess I would like to spend time in the classroom observing the teacher teaching, as well as to teach myself. I would also like to be involved in the grading of papers, and would need some mentoring in the beginning about what constitutes an A paper, etc. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Come one, come all!

Each night of Lesley's MFA residency, the teachers give readings, which are free and open to the public. Here's the lineup for this year:

Friday, June 22 | 7:30 pm
Leah Hager Cohen, fiction
Don Share, poetry

Saturday, June 23 | 7:00 pm
David Elliott, writing for young people
Marcie Hershman, fiction

Sunday, June 24 | 7:00 pm
Kyoko Mori, nonfiction
Katherine Russell Rich, nonfiction

Tuesday, June 26 | 7:00 pm
Rafael Campo, poetry
Lesléa Newman, fiction

Wednesday, June 27 | 7:30 pm
Major Jackson, poetry
Lloyd Schwartz, poetry

Hope to see some of you there! Best Blogger Tips

Monday, June 11, 2007

MFA residency countdown: 2 weeks to go

I got week one's goals done: I submitted my submissions (how's that for redundancy?) and I prepped for the freelance writing class I'm teaching tonight.

But no time to wallow in feeling good about those accomplishments! On to week two's goals:

This week I have three goals:
1- work on the stories I'm submitting for my Harvard thesis
2- finalize the chapters I'm handing in to an agent on a non-fiction book I'm ghostwriting.
3- get my application in for a TA-ship

In smaller steps, this is how those break down:

* Everyday write something on each story. I need to focus first on some freewriting about the characters before I can move into the page-by-page editing. So, I plan to journal/blog about each story, each day. I think I'll start with writing letters from my characters to other people in the stories. That seems like a fun, non-threatening way to get into it. I'll have to do this before/after work.

* During break times at work, try to get in edits to the non-fiction book

* Also during breaks, work on the essay for the TA-ship

Ugh, this is going to be a crazy week! Best Blogger Tips

Friday, June 08, 2007

phew--submission sent!

I got my stories to my MFA program a moment ago. Only a few days late. And, really, the organizer said she would start posting them
the week of June 4th. This is still that week. So, am I really late? Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I don't know how this happened, but I turned delinquent. I should've handed my MFA submissions in alredy, but alas, I haven't. And now, instead of working like crazy on them, I'm blogging! Ahhhh! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


At the NEWS reading, one of the other readers read a great piece titled (something along the lines of), Things I've Been Called to My Face and Behind My Back. An inspiring piece that made me think of the many labels I've carried at various times in my life. Here are some, in no particular order:

vegetarian * mamma * bug * writer * editor * bitch * difficult * lovely * cute * smart * hardworking * slug * angel * favorite daughter * CJ * ceej * Chrissy * Chris * strong * a cryer * woman * girl * honey * babe * short * shortie * thin * student * teacher * creative *crafty * nag * pig * selfish * gardner * anxious * hypochondriac * fun * uptight Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, June 03, 2007

3 weeks til residency

I realized I have quite a bit to get done in the next three weeks. I consider these weeks between when I hand in my last manuscript for the semester and the residency my weeks off, but of course they fill up with other work fast. So, here's what I need to devote myself to for the next few weeks.

This week
(Beginning) Finalize my submission for residency
(End) Redo my Freelance writing course syllabus (which I'm teaching next Mon and the Mon after.

Week 2
Revise one of the stories I'm working on for my Harvard thesis. Work on finalizing draft of Dr. memoir.

Week 3
Revise the other story. Finalize Dr. memoir draft and get to agent.

Of course, I also have a bunch of pre-residency reading, but I can hopefully get a lot of that done during my commute, and the rest of the work done in the evenings. Luckily I have some fun weekend plans planned to keep me relaxed (hopefully!) Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Country vs. city

I spent most of today sleeping, when I should have been revising the stories I need to hand in in preparation for my MFA residency at the end of the month. I don't know if it's allergies or what, but I've had a huge headache since I woke up. (Hence all the sleeping). Anyway, I decided that in this break between naps, I'd multitask--doing both the Sunday Scribbling and some character development work. Here's one of my character's, Janine's, take on city vs. country. For other scribblings on the topic, click here.

I've lived in the country and the city, and everywhere in between. From Paris to Manhattan to upstate New York, I've called lots of places home. I don't think my soul was meant to stay put. And I don't think I have a favorite type of setting, either. Sometimes I need the craziness of the city, sometimes the calmness of the country.

But what I do need is a better sense of what I'm doing with my life. For the past 15 years or so, I've let random people and events push me from one place/job/life to another. A boyfriend wants to move to Paris? I went. A friend has an extra room in Barcelona? I was there in two weeks time.

I've liked these adventures, and I've learned a lot about the world. But for some reason I haven't learned enough about my own needs. (That reason has a lot to do with the fact that I learned to suppress them as a child, after my mom died and I didn't want to make my dad's life hard.) But now, my father has died too, and I'm an orphan at 38. I have no parents, no husband, no kids, and only a few friends scattered across the globe.

The only errand I have left involving my father's estate is transporting his bee collection to Delaware (from his house in upstate NY). After that's done, I can go back to Manhattan and... I don't know what. How does one go about figuring out what they want? Or, more pressingly, how does one figure out how to figure out what one wants? Best Blogger Tips