I'm participating in Teresa's 100 Ideas Swap on Swap-bot. The swap asks each participant to select five items from Keri Smith's list of 100 ideas and share the results of doing them with a partner. The rest of my five will be photographed and shared via Flickr. Number 25 (read a book in one day), though, is more easily shared here.
Last Saturday, on the train home from NYC, I read Joyce Carol Oates's I Lock My Door Upon Myself. I'm in process of re-reading a number of novellas I reference in the critical section of my dissertation, and this was the first I selected.
Under 100 pp., Oates's novella centers on a young woman, Calla, with a will that was determined to follow its true path. She is married off at a young age since no one knows what else to do with her. She bears three children, and is as indifferent to them as she has been to most other people in her life. The plot heats up when she meets and immediately falls for the water dowser. Bad enough she's looking outside the marriage for love, but the real scandal was in the fact that Tyrell is black.
The story is told by her granddaughter. The point of view choice is interesting because the story is pieced together. The narrator can't quite be sure about certain facts, so she conjectures. As I read, I wondered about the narrator; does she see parts of her grandmother in herself?
As always, Oates's prose is pure delight to read. She has such utter control, even when her story is out of control.
About reading this in one day. It is short enough to be an easy task, but as I study novellas, and having just finished crafting one, I think the benefit of reading it all at once is that the design--the construct--of the novella can be held in my head in its entirety. I'm fairly certain that matters for this book.
I've got four more novellas to read in the next two weeks. Would you like me to tell you about them? What are you reading right now?
My dissertation is wending its way to Albuquerque as I type. It was a nail-biting day at times, especially when Maddie ran away (yet again) while Neal raked the yard and I proofread. We had her back in less than an hour, luckily.
This new (well six-month-old), still-unnamed computer has Vista on it. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out some of the formatting crap I needed to, but I have time before I need to print off my final copy to shelve.
It's exciting to see fewer and fewer hurdles in front of me. I have my defense in two weeks, and a few smaller projects for my Chaucer class. That's it. I'll be done. I love this feeling, this sense that it's really going to happen (knock wood).
Neal stopped at a packie for me on the way home so I could get what I crave most right now. I'll sip away as I work on my Shetland Lace Triangle. Probably not the smartest thing I've ever done, drink and knit, but I've earned the right to play dumb for a while!
Share my happiness by telling me what's making you feel good right now (keep it clean, you!).
I thought I'd pop on and say hi before I get ready for school.
Knock wood, I'm making good progress on my dissertation. You can see for yourself on my Treadmill Journal. It's fascinating reading, I assure you!
I have been knitting, believe it or not. I try to knock off writing at about 9:00. I traipse down the hall to the living room, ask Maddie to move over (she's quite accommodating about it), and I work on my Shetland Triangle while watching the Tudors. At times, the writing in the show is a bit didactic, but I can forgive it because, really? Has there ever been a hotter Henry VIII? Neal's loving it, too. History Channel with sex, he calls it.
Two days left on my big push. I can't wait to clean my house next weekend. Seriously. I'd take a picture of my office, but it's too embarrassing right now, and the laundry? When will someone invent a folding-and-putting-away machine?
Finally, my internet connection has been wonky this week. If I haven't e-mailed you back, most likely that's why. Thanks for the comments, though! I really appreciate them.
The next few days are going to be pure Treadmilling. Sure, I'll take breaks for food and showers and teaching, but I've scheduled myself for about 25 hours of Treadmilling in the next four days. Wednesday night I'll print out my ol' manuscript. Thursday I'll copy and bind it, then off she goes to my dissertation committee. It's not going to be as polished as I'd hoped, but I don't think I'll be embarrassed by it, either.
Yesterday I saw MacBeth at BAM. I'll write up a review next weekend, but let me just say that if you're able to get to New York to the Lyceum Theater (where the production is set to run next)--dude! It's an amazing production. Seriously.
Before I get back to work, I wanted to note that I've joined Thoughts of Joy's 2008 non-fiction five challenge. I plan to take a little time off from writing early in the summer, and this challenge seems like the perfect replacement for my treadmill time. I'll decide on a list of books next weekend. Do you see a theme here? Next weekend is getting a mighty long to do list!
Hope you have a great week--I'll catch you on the other end!
Watching the men's UCONN Huskies is one of my favorite past times. I love to see them play basketball, even when they're having a game like they are right now. I hope they can pull it out today as I've got them in my bracket.
Last night I had a little bracket triumph--I got EVERY pick right. 16 out of 16, baby. It's fallen apart a bit today, but for a girl who doesn't know a whole lot about sports, it was a big triumph.
In case you're wondering, I've got Kansas going all the way. How about you?
Hmmm...after I finished grading last night, I wrote a post about the highlights of my Spring Break. Said post has vanished. Unlike other disappearing posts, I won't claim that this one was brilliant. Really, it was just a list; no point recreating it.
Saturday night I got the word from my dissertation chair that I'm good to go for a defense in April. What a relief! I had gotten my second story back from her, and it needed so much work that I couldn't help but fear that the novella would be deemed to be in bad shape, too. I was certain that I would be told that I wasn't ready to defend this semester. Neal helped me to see the bright sides associated with this possibility, but the truth is that I want to be done with this degree. Instead, I was pleased to learn that my chair is happy about the work I did on the novella. It's in three parts, and she had gotten through the first part and made a number of specific comments about what is working. Relief, relief, relief. I think the second part is in good shape, too, which means that the crux of my focus will be on the third (and shortest) part.
As soon as I have my date booked with the English dept. and the other members of my committee, I'll be looking for good airfares to NM and getting in touch with my girlies there to see when we might be able to get together.
Getting this news was the biggest highlight of my spring break. The rest of the list was icing, as they say. It's so comforting to know that I just have one big push left in my academic career. Doesn't graduate school feel that way? Like one big push, a lull, then another big push? I'm ready for a nice, long lull!
When I'm cranky or my temper bubbles, Neal often closes his eyes, rocks side to side, and says in a sweet voice, "go to your happy place. Go to your happy place." Inevitably, I giggle, but it does help me to picture my happy place when I'm down. Since I was such a cranky ass last night, I thought I'd share my happy place with you today.
In New Mexico, when I felt bummed about the lack of green and water, I'd think of the beaver pond. It's about a half mile walk in the woods. Beavers dammed up the brook a few years ago, and the area flooded over. Some reverse engineering from the neighbors enabled the brook to flow again, but Neal and I still call it the beaver pond.
When the weather warms up, Maddie likes little better (she'll always like food better) than to go for a swim, but Tilly never goes in the water.
Earlier in March, Margene-the-birthday-girl asked for readers to tell a story about their special place. I didn't participate because I had a hard time deciding which of my special places to share. Having gone to my happy place with me, will you tell me about yours?