February 27, 2008

Go To Hell Zell

This entry falls under the heading of whatever the hell I want - no thesis news today.

I'm officially addicted to news feeds. I just started using Google Reader and am pretty entertained by it. People have their problems with the Google suite, but I like everything accessible from one place, so it works for me. G Reader (like most feed readers) is like having a personalized newspaper that constantly updates itself with whatever kinds of stories I choose. I read the news and finance feeds all day long. Not to mention the blog Garfield Minus Garfield, which is the funniest thing I've seen in a while. It's seriously impacting my work time.

So Sam Zell, owner of the Cubs, is being more vocal than usual about selling the team to the highest bidder, no matter if they change the name of the field or not. Is nothing sacred? Money isn't going to make you any taller, Zell. What's next? Rip down the ivy? Replace the homey brick walls with some unsightly building material with no character? Stop selling Old Style? Zell obviously has no integrity, class or appreciation of history. I direct him to the last paragraph of my blurb published in the Low Brow Sophisticate and wish him in that Range Rover.
February 25, 2008

My World On Its Side

Okay scratch the Hillary and I swapping stories story at this point. It didn't really work out the way I wanted it to. I need to let that one marinate for a bit longer before I commit anything to paper. 

Instead I started in on the story about the trip to England, Scotland and Ireland I took with some students in my English department during my undergraduate work. I'm five pages in and those took me about two hours to write. I'm a compulsive editor, which is a no-no, I realize, but I can't help it. It's become part of my process. So I just roll with it. Five pages, two hours...not too shabby. 

I'm realizing as I write it that it seems a lot like fiction to me or like I'm telling someone else's story. In the three week window we were across the pond nothing was the norm. That seems obvious because it's another country. But I mean it like, all of my day to day routines were gone. I wasn't walking from the house on Main down to campus for class or smoking on our giant second floor balcony with Amy or talking on the phone until 1 a.m. with my boyfriend. I was with people I hardly knew, sans boyfriend, no family, the venue was constantly changing. So in my memory, it's like this little carved out piece of time that doesn't match up with the life I was living at the time. 

I was a different person there. I'm sure it was part the person I wanted to be and part the me that I was when I wasn't being the me I thought other people wanted me to be. On the flight someone hit the reset button and I got to try out a different version of myself. 
February 23, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered...hopefully

The most complete copies of the first five pieces have been printed and sent via priority mail to Lisa, the thesis advisor. They've had plenty of time to get to Evanston, IL by this point and I expect have been tossed in a pile of other students work for Lisa's red pen to have it's way with. Other than grammatical corrections she undoubtedly will have, I hope she considers at least four of them thesis ready. 

Today I start on a new piece. I've set aside the ideas I have floating in my head (one about my radio days in college, my childhood country club days, my experience with carbon monoxide poisoning and my UK trip in college, also the idea I just had regarding my trip to Hawaii when I was 17...maybe I could do a vacation collage of sorts) for something I think I can actually turn into about twenty pages and is about my immediate life. 

Hillary and I just booked our tickets to Indy (cheaper than flying into Louisville) for our yearly trip down for Derby weekend! Hillary has some excellent Derby stories, as do I. So I was thinking I could combine them. Mine I would obviously write as my own, in past tense, first person. So for Hillary's I think I will frame them in a dinner between the two of us and a conversation we're having. So he will essentially be telling his stories, but I will get deeper and more detailed than one might in a typical dinner conversation. It might be bending the rules of creative non-fiction, which defines the parameters of my thesis, but it's my story of him telling me his stories...which I think works. Until Lisa tells me it doesn't. 
February 18, 2008

Setting a President

I like to be comfortable when I write. I curl up with my laptop and a cup of tea or coffee...sometimes wine. For Christmas my parents bought Hillary and me this chair, which is the maximum in writing comfort:
Sadly, the top cushion is already dented. But who could say no to this face? 

President's Day is a wonderful holiday. I get the day off with no familial obligation or parties to attend. It's the perfect day to complete my first goal of revising and editing my five finished pieces to send off to my wise and patient thesis advisor, Lisa. How she hasn't completely given up on me is beyond my comprehension. 

How did it get so bad? It's a good question, one I can't quite answer. Take a full time job, mix in a healthy does of life bumps, my uncanny ability to rationalize procrastination and a pinch of the fear of not having anything original to say and you'd get something close to your answer. 

The finished pieces are as follows:

Tranimal - 12 pages
The Guilt Watch - 18 pages
Fighting the Glare - 21 pages
Down on the Farm - 10 pages
Don't Call Us Hippies - 20 pages

That is a total of 81 pages. I essentially need 100 more to complete the thesis. Tranimal is a simple story and won't grow in any notable length, Guilt, Glare and Hippies are more complicated stories, but I've been working on them for years now and think I've whiddled them into their permenant shapes. Farm, on the other hand, is new and may grow as the story works itself out. 

So now the hard part begins. Writing new material. I have some ideas, but none are very motivating so we'll see if I can get anything to blossom. 

I spent most of the morning changing the tense throughout Guilt because it was just a mess, but I think it's straight now and ready to be sent along. 

I took a break around 2:00 to walk to the market and get curry powder for the egg salad recipie I got from 101 Cookbooks, my favorite cooking blog. Heidi makes the most beautiful food. I planned on taking a picture of it, but mine didn't quite come out as pretty as Heidi's. It did however make a great lunch. 

February 17, 2008

The Words On My Shoulders

Hillary and I spent our morning drinking coffee and listening to NPR. I leafed through a few cookbooks in search of inspiration for the week's meals and to make a shopping list for the farmer's market. This was our ultimate destination once we'd reached our caffeine quota and dressed ourselves. With the recent rain and, even more recent, bought of warm weather here in southern California, our local farmer's market was particularly bountiful and we had a hard time sticking to our shopping list. We came home and opened up the house, letting in the breeze and sunshine. Hillary turned on the new Vampire Weekend album and set to busying himself with minor repairs around the house. I cleaned and chopped our vegetables and ironed a fresh table cloth to set our bowl of fresh fruit on. 

Add in some reading time and the lasagna I'm going to make for dinner and this is my idea of a great Sunday. But a darkness looms. 

I have a guilt that hangs over me whenever I am doing anything besides working on my masters thesis. I am not your average college student. I am in my final year of my twenties and I work, at least, forty hours a week. I am not writing your average thesis. It's a collection of my personal works of non-fiction. I completed 120 hours of MFA course work at Roosevelt University in Chicago almost two years ago with a nearly perfect GPA. Each semester I pay $100 to extend my thesis due date. 

It's proven to be the hardest thing I've ever done. But now it's time to finish it. 

This blog is an attempt at some kind of motivation. I'm hoping that public humiliation will spur me along faster than personal humiliation has thus far.