Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Defying Gravity

I got up with the roosters yesterday, ready to face the big day I had lined up, a day of back-to-back responsibilities.

However, life intervened, as it does. But instead of retreating back to my comfy but lonesome house, I chose the company of my fellow human beings.

I haven't done that nearly enough over the last year; when things get tough, I put my nose to the grindstone and retreat into solitude the rest of the time. I have visions of myself as That Woman, the one with unkempt gray hair and many cats and who talks to herself.
I'm trying not to turn into this... Luckily, there's just the one cat... so far.

Hills and Stairs University

Against my will I'm being blackmailed into taking a class called Tutoring Developing Writers; I must take it if I want a paid teaching job. My primary objection to taking it before this was its ungodly meeting time, 8 a.m. Friday. But they finally changed that to Tuesdays, a little more reasonable, but still 8 a.m.

It's still dark at 6:30 a.m. Let me rephrase that. It's still night at 6:30 a.m., so it's just plain unnatural to get up that early.

Once I'm up, I do like mornings. I just don't like extracting myself from my warm cocoon right in the middle of a good dream.

On the plus side, there's that virtuous attitude that comes from early rising. Plus, there was plenty of parking on campus. But still 180 stairs and three big hills to the second floor of Founders Hall.

Once in class, I got the bad news that there is a Saturday workshop I have to attend this weekend. Not only are we expected to donate our Saturday, but also to cater it ourselves. All so we can volunteer to work as writing consultants. HSU needs to learn a thing or two about Gift Theory. The reciprocity here is all discombobulated. What's in it for me? A paid job next fall that will look nice and slick on my resume, excuse me, my curriculum vitae, ahem.

Down the mountain to my next class. My dear professor is back, in Language Analysis, so I can now step aside and just be the student teacher again. It's a great relief to turn it back over to an expert, but it sure was fun to teach!

Then up the mountain again to Founders Hall, a trek I have to make in fast motion because there's only 10 minutes between classes.

Once there, I got the news that class was canceled. It was good news, even though I had actually I had a crisp, completed essay ready and waiting in my notebook. Not to mention it would have been even better news had I received it at the bottom of the three hills.

Untethering the Conversation
(Photo from Pinch My Salt,
For the first time in months, I had the luxury of going and sitting in the coffee shop that used to be my haunt as an undergrad. I drank a big white mocha and read an article, and prepared a presentation.

The topic: the cultural differences between English Language Programs and University Writing Programs. One big difference, in case you're interested, is that in ELPs, the deductive essay is the standard, serviceable choice, whereas this identical form (a.k.a. the 5-paragraph essay) is stigmatized as the emblem of bad writing in UWCs.

There I saw my buddy Tom, whom I used to talk with all the time. Tom is a retired genius, a former monk, a computer hacker and is currently learning Chinese just so he can read Chinese newspapers. There's nothing I can bring up, academic or otherwise, that Tom can't completely, interestingly, intelligently engage in. I love people like that and wish I was one.

Tom's also from Chesapeake Bay and is an oceanside sort of person, so I questioned him about something I've been longing to do: go clamming and come home and make chowder.

He said Spring and Fall are the optimum times, but there might be a tide low enough. I have a list of supplies (narrow shovel, bucket, small tarp, rubber gloves and a fishing license-- not to mention potatoes, celery, onions, milk and fresh bread waiting back at the house). I'm to search the tide tables for a tide lower than 1 foot. Anybody want to go clamming?

What I plan to be doing as soon as the tide goes out
(Watercolor painting by Elizabeth Trubia,

Then, the appointment I was supposed to take my son to was also unexpectedly canceled, so then I had more time on my hands. So I called my world-travelin', beer-drinkin' friend and we once again tried the Arcata Plaza bars.
But this time it wasn't a weekend, and this time we went to the one that serves food (the Alibi?). I had a seriously delicious BLT and a couple of seriously delicious blueberry beers called Wild Blues. This time I was a modest, moderate drinker.

And this time the crowd around me seemed more reasonable, more like ordinary people, unlike the herds of people who were frantically, freakishly desperate for attention last weekend. The place felt more like an English pub, relaxed, friendly and not overwhelmingly loud like the Six Rivers Brewery is.
Good conversation again, just like last time. My friend has conversation down to an art. Afterward, when we stepped out onto the Plaza, I bummed a cigarette off a complete stranger, even though I don't smoke. When in Rome...

Tossing Ballast
Today, some guys from the Rescue Mission are meeting me at my storage facility and hauling away all the unwanted furniture in there. What a relief it will be to lighten my load!

I'm working on the storage to get rid of everything including the storage itself by a self-imposed deadline of the end of this month. After today, it will be mostly boxes I have to deal with.


Unknown said...

The Alibi is fun. After a few martinis one night, I was inspired to paint something I called 'The Alibi."

As you can see, it's a masterpiece.

– Jack

Anonymous said...

nice blog, by far one of the more interesting and eye appealing ones in regards to humboldt county.

oh, and don't worry about joel, he likes the abuse.

Indie said...

Jack, yes, the Alibi seems to be for grown-ups. One would think that all bars would be, but not in Arcata.

The office decor has been unearthed! I found the roll-top desk, the leopard chairs, and even the Christmas tree (a little late).

Nikoli, thanks for reading! Who's Joel? Maybe I know him by another name?

Kym said...

"There's nothing I can bring up, academic or otherwise, that Tom can't completely, interestingly, intelligently engage in"

Funny, I was just thinking as I was reading your post that you segue so easily and intelligently from one subject to the next that I'm experiencing a touch of envy.

Indie said...

Kym, coming from you, that is an especially high compliment. Thank you for saying so.

That's the kind of teacher I'd like to be someday, but I've seen some real experts and know I'm not even in their league. It seems to be especially important in the writing classroom, to be able to converse on whichever topics are close to each student's heart.

Anonymous said... as the romans do, K! You're so absolutely right... You lost me here: "discombobulated" - what does it mean? I thought I didn't know one other word, but I can't seem to find it ad toc. Anyway, I'd like to enlist for clamming, please? *sigh* I wish! Make sure I'll come by your place when the tide is right, okay? Hugs, R.

Indie said...

R, wouldn't it be fun if you were here and we did beach-y things like going clamming? I wish too!

Discombobulated means all mixed up. I don't think it's a "real" word; it's not yet standard English. However my spell-check is letting it slip by, so that means it's at least common.

Maybe the other word was reciprocity? From reciprocal and reciprocate, it indicates that there is an expectation that whatever is given will be given back in equal value. (Or whatever is take will have to be paid for with equal value).

Kristabel said...

Doesn't it feel wonderful to lighten your load? During my last move I purged and purged and felt amazing - still does - not to have all that "stuff" surrounding me.

and The Alibi's a great place to feel even...lighter?


P.S. I believe nikoli's talking about Carson Park Ranger.

Indie said...

Kristabel, I love the Alibi and I think I might be falling in love with Arcata in general. I really like how it feels at night over there. We have to move by summer, and I think Arcata is going to be our destination, if we can find someone who will let us have our cat.

Yes! I don't regret anything I gave away. I just want to "purge and purge and purge" too. I want to get down to basics. I saw a bumper sticker today that read, "You are not what you own."

Anonymous said...

No K, it wasn't that, I know the word, I don't know unkempt, although I understand the meaning and it's similar to our German 'ungekaemmt' which means not combed, the literally meaning is untamed, but I actually don't know what a tarp and I'm still too lazy to look it up *lol* Hugs, R

Indie said...

Hi, R, Wow, so obviously unkempt and ungakaemmt come from the same root; in fact yours is probably the root for ours.

Darn it, one of these days, I think I am going to have to study German. I'm so intimidated by your case system though!

A tarp is a large plastic sheet, usually reinforced with fibers for strength and used to keep moisture away from something.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the grommets!

Indie said...

Yes, thanks Anonymous. R, a tarp usually also has grommets at the edges, holes that are reinforced with a metal ring. So you can tie your tarp onto things. What's it called in German?

Anonymous said...


Indie said...

Sounds like something to drink, Gewurztraminer.