Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Sometimes images are more telling than words. A few photos from my life life of late....Summertime foods, driving, weather changes. You know, Oklahoma! Oh, and one photo of Crescent Lake that my sister Patti sent me. One of the most beautiful places on earth.
My view on the drive home today.

That's me and the Big dog as we head out to cruise Norman.

Mmmm, salad rocks. This one has mushrooms, parmasan, red peppers and olives.

Lake Crescent, Washington *sigh*

Byers, Oklahoma on a rainy day

Me, tired of driving 140 miles a day. It's only week 3.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Rope Has An End

When I was a young woman, I was confused. I thought that I was defined by my family. I worried because I thought that secondarily, I was defined by the community I lived in. I worried even more because it seemed I should get married and that the person I married would be the definition of me. I spent a great deal of time in a church, praying that I would be someone good and that God would love me.

Sometimes my family is a little crazy. Sometimes I'm not in a great community. And it's 100% unfair 100% of the time to expect some poor man to do all of the work of defining me. Honestly, I wore men out with that one. Loaves of men. Those poor men, with their skeletons stacked to the ceiling of my closet. Metaphorically, of course. They just all fell short of the perfection I had to have within myself.

No, I pretty much define myself. Through the words that I say, the actions I take and the company I keep, I write the book of my own life. But let's dwell for a moment on my friends. They make me look pretty dang good. They sometimes make me look pretty damn crazy. I have a few very close friends that I can call in the middle of the night and they'll come over - or I'll go over there- and we'll talk it out. I return that favor, of course. When I moved from Washington back to Oklahoma, my friend Cathy steam cleaned my carpets for me, set up my bed, brought in flowers and potpourri and stayed up waiting half of the night to keep a light on for me. I'm just never going to forget that and hope I'm half that great as a friend. I have other friends who would help me hide a body. That's not a metaphor. I have friends who trust me with their children and invite me to a bridesmaid at their weddings.

I have a few friends who I have made through either Facebook or my blog. I find things in common with the most unlikely people. I think I love that part the most. I wrote to one friend:
"I write so much because I feel inarticulate in real life. I'm a..hider. I like isolation because then people don't get to come too close. And I never feel as connected to humanity as when I'm divorced from that noise, writing. As for teaching, well, it's a mask and persona that I wear so that I can feel close to people."
It surprised me because he responded that he felt the same way. It's hard for me to admit that I avoid crowds of people like the plague ever since I taught in a prison. It just seems so dangerous and it's very tiring for me. But when I write about it and share it with someone, it seems the burden is made light. I hope these are the kinds of people who define me, because they do often bring me into sharp focus.

It seems this semester that I will need my crazy, sane, safety release valve, intellectual, silly and supportive friends more than ever. It seems that I've finally found my limits as a human being. It starts at 5 a.m., when I get up. Yes, this night owl has to be a morning person for a bit. Seriously, I don't ever *want* to see 5 a.m. unless I'm stumbling out of a casino, having not gone to bed and perhaps missing my stockings.
I have to get up so early to commute to Ada, Oklahoma and teach at 8. It's a 70 mile one-way commute. I teach on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, five classes in a row. And it's all the same class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I don't have to get up as early, but still make the commute to hold office hours. I'm also taking 6 graduate hours- my final classes in the program. Yeah! But they're also difficult hours. One is a teaching language class wherein I will learn some basic Italian and figure out how to teach English as a foreign language. I have a minimum of four pages due every week. I don't really "need" this class, but I do need two in order to remain a full-time students.
The other class is a curriculum theory class. The professor rotating into that one is very tough. I have had her before and got an A, but she worked us pretty hard. So minimum of a book a week there and some heavy research. And the class gets out at 10:15 on a Thursday night, so getting up at 5 on Friday mornings will suck even more.

Oh, and I'm taking my general exams this fall as well. That's where I'll get a list of three questions from my committee. In two weeks I will have written three 20-page papers. I will be required to defend my generals. Oh, and at the end of the semester, my language professor wants me to find the money to go to Italy.

I'm a little overwhelmed, but there are some benefits to these decisions. For one, I like where I'm teaching. I like them a lot. I will have my final semester of coursework and my generals out of the way by December. I will have the comfort of a good friend who is doing her generals this semester too- while pregnant and commuting to Norman from Lawton twice weekly. I'll have a regular paycheck that doesn't just stop in December and regular 401k contributions. And I'm hitting up a dentist, doctor and chiropractor as soon as I can. The first two are preventative; the chiropractor is to look at my neck. It's probably grad school-itis. All the knots will uncoil as soon as my advisor signs the last piece of paper.

Maybe it's my friends who extend the end of my rope. They throw me a line when I'm at the end of mine and I'm starting to sink. Yeah, that's about right. I appreciate you, friends, whomever and wherever you are. Sing it with me: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The second week of my job, a tall, thin, white man walks into my office and seats himself. "Are you Dr. Dieu?" he inquired.
"Well, I'm Mindie. I'm not finished with the doctorate yet."
"I'm J--. I hear that you commute. I want to know if I can ride with you every week from Norman."
"Uh, I drive a Miata. It's like a pop can with wheels." It's true. Sometimes I think I outweigh it. I stuck my friend Ken in there to take him to lunch the other day. He's a big guy, over 6'4" tall and not exactly petite. Good thing I had the top down because his head stuck up over the windshield.
"That's ok. I'll pay you $xx per week in gas money." It was more than enough to cover the 45 gallons of gas I'd be buying a week.
I thought about it. Starving grad student. Someone willing to cover just about all of the gas. We made a deal for the year.
My Miata hasn't been feeling so good. The a/c sort of sputters and the back window is broken. Driving in the heat on the way home is pretty exhausting. The headlights don't work.
I decided to look around for a different car- something bigger that would fit more than a supermodel. Something that would fit my giant hairy dog and a commuter.
Since I'd bought the Miata through Craigslist, I decided to try a different route. I saw a PT Cruiser online through a dealership and went to check it out. Three hours later, I felt dirty, like a used car salesman had run his fingers through my hair and over my pocketbook. They had tried to sell me a different car- a Ford Taurus with a wobbly front tire, a broken tail light and hail damage. I insisted on test driving the Cruiser. It was a great car but had too high of mileage and a cracked windshield. When I walked out, he got the sales manager to come sweet talk me. I felt like just dropping the pretense of politeness and just running away. Or punching the guy in the throat. Somehow, I got away. I went home and took a shower with lots of soap.
I had to pick up J-- for the drive on Friday so I asked Luke if I could borrow his Escape for the day. It's nice, roomy and has air conditioning. He agreed and drove my car to his gig, where he played in the sun all day. At the end of the show, He couldn't get the damn car to go in gear. The clutch was out. Damn damn damnnit! I just can't catch a break. And Luke was stranded, in the heat, after sweating his ass off all day.
He caught a ride to his mom's house in the city and I went to pick him up. I apologized profusely to Luke, who took it all good naturedly, and I bought him a huge cup of coffee. Most people are placated with food or wine; Luke is most easily made happy with the application of a large dose of caffeine. I'm not so easy. Suddenly, I didn't just have a car problem, I didn't have a fucking car. First the headlights don't work, then the back window breaks, and then the air conditioning sucks. Now this. I swore that if I ever got that car running again, I'd just drive it off of a cliff. But what to do? I'm not sure at this point if I will ever be able to walk into a car dealership again without a semi-automatic or a sawed-off shotgun. Pretty disheartened and feeling like I got taken in a car deal. I had a few moments of feeling very sorry for myself before getting sick of that and devising a plan to cope. It will turn out ok, it will turn out ok. I have to keep pushing forward.
None of my friends had cars for sale or that they could just give me. Darn. Back to Craigslist. This time, I was looking for something that didn't get horrible gas mileage, was big enough to transport my big dog, would be heavy enough to drive comfortably during the winter months and didn't have over a certain amount of miles on it. I bought a 2-door Ford Explorer. I think it will work. Private seller in a good neighborhood in Shawnee. Not too many miles. Tinted windows.
I drove the new car to get the old one towed. We called the tow company and they sent a truck. While I was waiting, I contemplated all of the ways in which I felt slighted in purchasing the Miata. They didn't tell me about the back window. They didn't tell me about the transmission being bad or the way that some rats chewed up the wiring. They outright lied about the air conditioning. I should've been more careful. I should have never purchased a sports car. I wondered about the state of capitalism in the United States and how we feel as though it's our God given responsibility to step on others in order to get anywhere in the world. The more you squish, the richer you get.
The tow truck driver broke my reverie. Sherman was embroidered in his work shirt. Older guy, missing a tooth, sweaty hat and deep set blue eyes.
"What's wrong with your car?", he asked, lowering the bed of his truck.
"I think it's the clutch cable or something. It won't go into gear."
Sherman stopped the hydraulic lift on his truck.
"Open it up. Let me have a look."
I did so and he pointed to an empty container right next to the transmission valve. It said "Clutch Fluid".
"Your car doesn't have a clutch cable. They break too easily. You just need some brake fluid for the clutch and it will be fine to get you home."
Really? Am I that lucky after all? Luke ran to the store for the vital elixir. I sat in the air conditioned cab of the truck listening to towing stories from last winter and humming a little to myself.
Sure enough, when we added the brake fluid, the car started shifting like it should. I threw my arms around Sherman and told me he was my hero. He told me that he'd just screwed his own company out of some money and just charged me for the service call.
I'll actually retrieve the car tomorrow. Luke had driven me to Shawnee and then we both went to Rose State to get the car. He'll drop me off tomorrow to limp it home. Good thing there are no cliffs between Midwest city and Norman.

And on Monday, I'll pick up my commuter promptly at 6:30 and be on my way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I Write

This is a rough draft. And it's going to be a quick one because it's bedtime.

They're all rough drafts, you know. That's what I like about a blog. I get to dialog with the readers. I like writing because it has a way of taking the random and dusty nuts and bolts and sometimes the blood and boogers rattling around inside of my head and makes some order from that chaos.

I had coffee with my friend B-- today. I love sipping something yummy and talking with friends about our lives, our experiences and children, pets, parents, pains and generally sharing the road for a time. It's nice to talk to B-- because he's a poet too. And a novelist, I hear. But despite his voluminous writings, he's yet to publish something. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure he knows why. I'm not sure it even matters to publish, especially if the pleasure lies primarily in the writing.

Maybe our motives are different. I write to communicate with a specific person or audience. If you've ever made a comment or talked to me about this blog, I'm thinking of you right now. I write letters to my Grandma because I want her to see Oklahoma and me from a nursing home in Washington. I take what someone offhandedly says and listen for that painful part, that question about existence. Then I do my best to articulate a position and hope it helps.

Sometimes I write because I am angry. I need to get things off of my chest. Injustice makes me angry. Unequal opportunities make me angry. Acting like I should and showing compassion and getting kicked for it makes me angry. So I write about it to remember that I'm not acting like a good or compassionate person because someone else needs me to be. I behave that way because I need to, in order to be the best person I can. That's why I write; to gain perspective. Otherwise I'm just drinking lots of coffee and cursing other drivers and not paying attention to the beautiful scenery that I've been afforded a slower look to see. You never know, that Indian Paintbrush plant may save my life someday.

It's often been said that writing is a solitary and lonely practice. After all, right now I'm sitting in the dark drinking water and typing. Quite alone, save for the cat on my lap and the two dogs in the other room (one is snoring, the other is farting). Images of Stephen King locking himself in his study with a big desk and Ernest Hemingway drinking himself to death in a house in Florida come to mind. Or Sam Beckett, who stopped having visitors, and Emily Dickinson whose father was the President of Amhurst but who lived the life of a recluse. Why do writers have to be so fucking crazy? I'm not alone metaphorically. Across time and space, you are reading this and knowing that you will makes me happy. Maybe if I were more crazy, I'd be a better writer. Maybe I am more crazy than I'm admitting right now..

I've never felt more connected than when I write. There are many other writers that I dialog with. I read my friend Ken Hada's book of poetry and borrowed the last line of one of his poems to complete my own. You should check out his blog by the way. Great fisherman/poet. Sometimes I feel the ghost of Mark Twain or Virginia Woolf creep in and read over my shoulder. Sometimes I think that if I print out everything I've written, it would spill off of the printer and make it's own little paper river, a small tributary leading to a larger river of papyrus voices that takes us out to a sea thoughts and random fun, dark, mysterious, silly, chilling and thought provoking writing from the rest of the world. I feel a kinship with people who drew on rocks and cave walls. They're gone, but I still think about them. I can stand in the very spot where someone once stood, thinking of the best way to convey just what the hell was going through his mind so it could be remembered later. It might be important, he must have thought. And he was right. I think it's very, very important to write and to read and to talk to each other the way we do.

I know my reservations about publishing my poetry. What if it's not any good? What if nobody cares? What if I hurt someone? What if I say fuck too much and offend my Great Aunt Dorothy? Worse, what if I write something that isn't true? I badgered B-- a little and he let me read a poem in his journal. And it was good. It was as rough draft, like this little ditty here, only it doesn't need much revision and I was able to easily grasp the scheme, repetition and some of the layers of meaning on the first few passes. I gave him some unsolicited feedback and told him what I liked about it.

That's it- it boils down to one thing and one thing only: vulnerability. How much risk do I dare take? Who is even paying attention? What if I write something and the world sees me naked, sees me as the person I really am? This is both the fear and thrill of writing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bak 2 Skool

I'm doing my favorite things this morning: reading bits of essays from famous authors, preparing for classes for the semester and sitting cross-legged at the computer with my cat, sipping home-roasted coffee and writing poetry.
School starts on Monday. I'm not quite ready but I'm closer. I feel like I'm getting a handle on it. More or less.

I spent this last week at ECU, attending lots of meetings and prepping for the semester. I've tried three different hair colors. I created syllabi, found my classrooms, interacted with my new colleagues and found the necessary and most convenient coffee pot. I volunteered to bring my own coffee in to share. It's all very exciting and new and fresh. This is completely unlike what I'm like in May.

At the end of spring semesters, I don't think I'll have more to share with students. I'm tapped and cranky and generally want to retreat to a dank office to make circles on student's papers in red ink and write snarky comments that they will never see because they don't come to pick them up. I never want to see pantyhose again and all of my dresses, shoes and slacks are ill-fitting. The dress code seems ridiculous. I seriously consider wearing gi pants and tee shirts with sneakers to class with my hair in a pony. I finally compromise with just the pony tail and a promise to myself to buy more clothes over the summer and hit the gym more often.

Once the last grade has been entered, the last student gone, the final paper I've had to dream up for grad school has been completed, I just let it all hang out for a week. I consider moving to Alaska or Western Europe. I want to dump all of my responsibilities, student loans, mortgages and car issues and just go, escape the heat and the people and find myself on a cool Mediterranean coastline, dining on olives and fresh mozzarella. I sit in a cafe under a huge umbrella to protect my pale skin and watch the passers-by, sipping a tall drink with some pepperminty shit in it. Children play on a nearby beach and adults wear horizontal stripes and generally spend time looking like a Monet painting. I sigh, content and happy, and take out my journal to write some more world-class poetry which negates any need to do actual work. Very romantic and Sadaris/Hemmingway-ish if you add tons more alcohol. I stay in this fantasy for awhile; it comes with some really great sex and orzo. It falls apart eventually, though. I don't speak anything besides some English and broken Spanish. Even the Spanish is suspect since I learned a good number of words in prison. And I'm not certain how to sneak Eleanor onto a trans-Atlantic flight without her meowing her head off for 11 hours.

Eventually, I come back to Oklahoma and more practical matters. I mow the lawn all summer- a lot and a half with an electric push mower that finally dies. We get a gas-powered self-propelled and it whips through the yard in a third of the time. Suddenly, Luke mows the lawn and I am flabbergasted. The tomatoes wilt and some of my fruit trees turn yellow. I fear that the plum won't make it through till Fall. I get my good friend Patricia to pick out some colors and spend a day painting my windowless office with Moroccan Red and Spiced Cashew. One wall looks like someone bled all over it. Perfect for dealing with grumpy students. I will say the color is made with real crushed Moroccans. My students might think that all Moroccans are Muslim terrorists. They may not know what Ramadan is or that it's going on right now. Ramadan, the month of fasting, is hardest in summer when the days are long. Nevertheless, I will observe my annual 2-day fast. But I won't mention it to anyone. Maybe I'll just pass the color off as OU crimson. Easier that way.

Somehow, through 3 summer graduate courses and teaching too, I'm at a place where I'm ready to go back and start again. I look forward to the first day of school and the young and not-so-young minds that roll in to the classroom to enlighten me and help me be a better person. I'm pretty sure that without my students, I would have small borders around my world and life experiences.

My first teaching job was at ECU. I loved the students- it was as if they just fell off of a turnip truck, dusted themselves off and said "Let's Git-R-Done". This is an attitude that I can use, that I appreciate for my own sake. They're not always the best prepared students but they do seem to value education and want to engage in it. So I'll do my best to learn along with them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ada Bound

Welp, looks like I'll be rising at 5 a.m. on the weekdays to commute to my new job in Ada, Oklahoma. I've secured a one-year lectureship at East Central University while I finish my doctorate. Seventy miles one way means that my days will be long. Taking two classes and teaching 5 and writing my general exams will take its toll. I know. I don't mind. I've always been one who had lots of energy. At least I feel that way right now.

As much as I'm NOT a morning person (ok, I'm a total corpse before say, 11:00 a.m.), the morning drive is lovely and the people I work with are sweet and kind and for the most part thoughtful. My classes are practically back to back and I get done teaching at 2 in the afternoon.

But really, not a morning person. I don't look good all day when I get up that early. My hair is too fuzzy, my makeup runs and frankly, nothing fits right. Probably because I dressed in a haze in the dark and am wearing unmatching shoes with a runner in my pantyhose. This was the case today, when we had convocation.
Convocation is the welcome back howdy-ho that the administration gives the faculty. Lots of sparkly words and promises and a few admonitions. Really, seriously, nice people. A few weird ones too but that's to be expected in academe.

And one the English faculty, Steve Benton, took my picture. I look like Elvira. So I came home and promptly took the color out of my hair. Done. Now I'm sort of a pumpkin blonde. And I'm adding a photo of what I really look like, without all the make up and hair brushing (overrated) and perfume (necessary) associated with being a professional in my field. And he took down this blog information. This is me when I'm about to commit evil deeds in the yard in the Oklahoma heat. So yeah, now big brother is watching my blog. Fuck.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


It's a word that I'm not always comfortable defining. But a friend asked in a round about way that I do so. He's in a bad spot, between homes and places to live and honestly, more than a little confused and angry about the whole situation. I said "I'm home" after my trip last weekend. He said "I don't know what that means." So of course, it's my job to help him out. I mean after all, what's in a definition?

I turned to the place where I turn when I have no answers: the dictionary.
Home (noun): a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
I can see that. I have moved so many times that this may be the best and most practical description of what home is. By the time I was in junior high, I had attended more than six schools. My family and I lived in several dwellings or domiciles or strange and unusual residences. Our shelters were base housing for the Coast Guard, a fifth wheel, some houses, some rentals, and for a time, a KOA Campground. There was also a poppy-filled field in Eureka, California, where I played and my mother watched "The Price Is Right" on an 11" black and white television with rabbit ears. We never lived in luxury accommodations. Once, my sister Mickie had her bedroom under the staircase. The same type of refuge, of shelter, where I hid with barbie dolls and pretended there was a different world outside the door.

Maybe it's the house itself. I love my grandparent's property. They bought five acres in Dayton, Washington, in something like 1949 or 1950. The gravel driveway, the green siding, the trees and the outbuildings, the garden; they all remind me of what I might call "home". The smell of Grandma's kitchen in wintertime or the front porch that Grandpa built so we could barbecue and have corn feeds~ these could be the things that make home what it is. Or the barn that Grandpa tore down. I still remember the hay and the stalls with worn timbers from generations of cows and calves rubbing on them.

I don't like being away from home much. Last week I was in Colorado for a wedding. It was beautiful; set against the mountains in South Fork, Colorado, in the gentle and loving arms of the Rio Grande, my friends who are best friends and who loved each other through a cross-country move and uprooting everything celebrated their commitment to each other at sunset with catering, an open bar and a bunch of cake. The weather was perfect- 80 during the day and cool in the evenings. Dry, no humidity to speak of. I loved it. Nevermind that my boyfriend was accidentally in a knife fight in a bar. It was cool and nobody got hurt. But I missed my cat and my dog and my own bed. I did NOT miss the humidity and the heat and got progressively more depressed as we drove home through the straight dead zone of the Oklahoma panhandle.

Maybe though, it's not the domicile itself that's the home. Maybe it's the people in it. My mom was continually distracted with her brood of children and my dad was killed when she was pregnant with me. My sisters and I, stair steps two years apart (I'm the youngest and Thorn entered the picture in the 1990's), were play friends. Especially Yvette and I, we stuck together. And to this day, one of my best friends is my sister Patti who is four years older than me. We look alike, talk alike and are often (happily for me) mistaken for each other. We cook together whenever we can; it bonds us. When I want to feel close to someone, to get to know them, to share a particularly deep intimacy with that person, I will cook with them. When I ask you to a meal at my home, show me you love me by cutting potatoes. Wash the dishes. Set the table. Love and home are mixed up in the salad dressing and oysters.

Home is what me make it. It's what you make it and the care and love that you bring to your own table. I have to believe this, that I can make a home. Because for so many of us, we have to start from adulthood to figure out what that word means. Home when you're little is a scary place, a place you hope to leave for foster care but don't want your mom to think you don't love her. Home can be hungry and filled with commodity food. It can be a place of stress and burden where you don't know how or if the lights will stay on for another day if they go out, how to (shame faced) get them turned back on. Home can be the place we learn to drink ourselves out of, the void we fill with countless men; the one place we'd rather not be so we stay out as long as possible at night.

But it doesn't have to be.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maybe I'll be a Farmer

Farming is hard work. It's dusty, at times, especially if you don't have an air conditioned John Deere with an mp3 player or at least an iPod. You gotta get out there at the ass crack of dawn, till up earth, fertilize, plant, spray, water, spray, harvest and care for the earth by leaving it fallow for a time too. Farming doesn't really come with a retirement package- at least the farmers I knew back in the day didn't talk about their 401k's or what have you. Often, family farms get incorporated and then more benefits like insurance become available and more affordable. "Vacation" doesn't happen in the spring or summer, or even in fall (that's hunting season, after all). Vacation happens in winter, when the ground is resting.

I'm not sure I could be a good farmer. I can barely grow tomatoes. Even following around my brand new zippy, 5 miles per hour self-propelled Craftsman lawnmower for the 45 or so minutes it takes me to mow now is just dizzying and repetitive. I get no sense of satisfaction; just a note that the chore is finished for the week and that the grass is shorter than it was. I get excited about potted plants and strawberries. And my fruit trees which I fertilized last week. I think farming, growing seasons and all of that work make me long for winter. Of course, growing up we had sheep giving birth on the coldest, darkest night of the year. Nothing like being awake at 3 a.m. on a school night while your prized ewe takes her time doing what she needs to do. I do miss all of the county fairs, FFA, the smell of the livestock barns at 7 a.m. and Mountain Dew before hitting the show ring. Ah, good times. I was a pretty good showman once.

There have been a lot of changes lately in my life. I took 3 classes this summer- insanity by grad school standards- and taught a course. It went quickly. I accepted a one year lectureship at a small university 70 miles from my house and I'll commute this year during the week. I bought a little miata for the drive because it gets almost 35 miles to the gallon. If I'm lucky, I may have a shot at a permanent position out there, depending on whether or not I finish that degree on time, or in a reasonable amount of time. I've got two classes to take this fall, my general exams to pass and a dissertation to prepare for.

My friend Steve is taking a vacation to the Pacific Northwest. I gave him my thoughts on Seattle and he camped out in Mt. Rainier park. Lovely place. I miss Seattle. Steve commented on the teeming mass of humanity that moves quickly from place to place, never meeting or acknowledging one another, seemingly disconnected from each other and from nature. Swathed in electronica, virtual communication takes the place of face to face and he wonders where he fits in the grand scheme of life. Does it matter what we do or how we do it? How can we make life meaningful in the short time we are here? Steve also noticed how in the most beautiful places, older people resided there and younger people rushed on by. He doesn't want to wait to grow old to realize the important things, to enjoy his life.

I can't fault him for that. I have felt rushed and cramped and sometimes on a wild joy ride these last two years. One more year left, and maybe a summer. Then I insist that I slow down for a bit. I look forward to just one job and time to develop my writing more. I'd like to publish a book- ok, two books. One of poetry and one fiction novel. I have one more week off before the semester hits. I have to use that time to wrap up all of my loose ends and get my syllabi in order. I'm taking two classes, writing my general exams and teaching five classes. And commuting. And I still have a dog, a cat, a home and a boyfriend, most of which like to be fed and brushed.

So you could see how sometimes farming or ranching would seem the way to go. Life may not be much simpler. You worry all the time about money and weather and wildlife and the price of wheat fluctuating. I'm pretty sure I'd find a way to multi-task. Maybe write poetry on the back of a tractor, or post blogs after offloading bales of hay. Come to think of it, I'd make a pretty crappy farmer. I wouldn't be able to kill other plants just so mine could grow. Equal opportunity farming, I guess. I like to sleep in past 4:30 a.m. and might die of boredom after driving in circles for 18 hours straight, field to field, line by careful and linear line. Maybe what I really want is to have more time, to *take* more time to just stop, inhale deeply and be grateful for what I've got. Isn't that what it's all about anyway? I hope so, because it's the best that I can do today.