Monday, September 24, 2007

Working Blows

Well, not entirely. I had intended for this post to be purely about the wonder that is David Sedaris, since I just finished Me Talk Pretty One Day yesterday, but something came up.

Apparently, a fellow adjunct at Far Away Community College (the one that pays 3/4 of my bills) quit. Sooo, there are two classes that need teachers here in week 5. One of them meets immediately after, and next door, to my 8am class, so I'm taking it for the remainder of the semester. Which means more money, YAY! But also means more work, BOO!

Now, that means that I'm teaching five classes, working in the Writing Center, attempting to write my first book that I'll seriously want to get published, keeping up with Estella's Revenge, nurturing a relationship, attempting to clean the house once or twice a month, and have a few minutes to sleep.

Something's. Gotta. Give.

So, I'll probaby be ditching my freelance job. I love my freelance job. It's EASY money, but something's gotta go, and I'm not willing to toss any of the other things. Besides, the extra class I'm taking on will more than make up the money I usually get from the freelance gig.

In the meantime, DAVID SEDARIS!

For those who aren't familiar (I seriously think I might be the last person on earth to read this book), Me Talk Pretty One Day is about Sedaris's childhood in Raleigh, NC (right down the road a piece) and his later years living in France and struggling to learn the language.

Elise has been telling me to read the damn book forever now, and I finally did, and I can only apologize to Elise for taking so long to read the best book ever. Just to illustrate the book's hilarious awesomeness, I took it to class with me one night to read while my students were testing. Now, before you tell me I'm a horrible teacher, I have a tendency to perch on a desk in the back of my class while they're testing--all 7 students, that is--and watch them when I know they can't see me. It gets rather boring, so I will look at a book while I wander. This particular evening, I was reading an essay called "Big Boy." The big boy referred to in the title is a very large turd. One that Sedaris discovers when he goes to the restroom at a party to wash his hands before a meal. Not wanting the other guests, who know he's adjourned to the restroom, to think he left such a gargantuan artifact, he struggles to flush. But it doesn't budge and it doesn't budge. And I won't tell you how this saga plays out, but I assure you it's very funny, and I was biting every last square inch of my tongue to keep from giggling maniacally while my students were testing.

Not all of Me Talk Pretty One Day is so gross and boy-humored. In fact, Sedaris is perhaps the least boy-humored man I've read ever.

Self-deprecating, check!
Thoughtful, check!
Oddball intellectual, check!

Sedaris certainly has a unique take on every facet of everyday life, and he's lived through some pretty grotesque and unusual experience (the hair nest built by an "artist" in "Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist," comes to mind). Likewise, his family is just as odd and wonderful as he is, and one of my nighttime writing classes enjoyed listening to "Jesus Shaves" as an example of how to foster one's writerly voice.

I could rant and rave and praise and gush on and on and on about this book, but, instead, I'll just give you a sample to end this sorta review.

As a rule, I'm not great fan of eating out in New York restaurants. It's hard to love a place that's outlawed smoking but finds it perfectly acceptable to serve raw fish in a bath of chocolate. There are no normal restaurants left, at least in our neighborhood. The diners have all been taken over by precious little bistros boasting a menu of indigenous American cuisine. They call these meals "traditional," yet they're rarely the American dishes I remember. The patty melt has been pushed aside in favor of the herb-encrusted medallions of baby artichoke hearts, which never leave me thinking, Oh, right, those! I wonder if they're as good as the ones my mom used to make.

Part of the problem is that we live in the wrong part of town. SoHo is not a macaroni salad kind of place. This is where the world's brightest young talents come to braise carmelized racks of corn-fed songbirds or offer up their famous knuckle of flash-seared crappie served with a collar of chided ginger and cornered by a tribe of kiln-roasted Chilean toadstools, teased with a warm spray of clarified musk oil. Even when they promise something simple, they've got to tart it up--the meatloaf has been poached in seawater, or there are figs in the tuna salad. If cooking is an art, I think we're in our Dada phase.

If you haven't heard Sedaris read, click HERE and watch a video from one of his Letterman appearances.

Now reading: The Secret Lives of People in Love (Simon Van Booy), The Journal of Dora Damage (Belinda Starling)


  1. I suppose that dumping the relationship (which takes enormous time and effort) is out of the question... ;-)

  2. No, you are not the last person to read "Me Talk Pretty One Day." I am just now reading it too. I am only a few pages in. So, Elise, if you're reading, I finally picked this book.

  3. Os, yep, out of the question. :)

    Fem, how are you liking it so far?? Read faster so we can talk about it! lol

  4. Wow, work does sound extremely busy for you so hang in there!

    David Sedaris is so funny!

  5. Oh, I adore Sedaris! I attended one of his readings last year, and I recommend seeing him if you can. I think he tours quite a bit.

    I've used his essays in class as examples of narrative essays, and the students enjoy them.

    Sorry you have to give up the freelance job. I'm having the same struggle right now, trying to keep my head above water.

  6. Nope, I'm the last person who hasn't read Sedaris. Someday...

  7. Heather, I'm almost to that point!

    Thanks, Christine! He is hilarious, isn't he?

    Jessie, he'll be in Charleston, SC on October 8th, and I'm off that day, but I'm not sure I'll make it. I would *love* to, though. As for keeping heads above water, I'm so swamped! I have a tension headache as we speak.

    Kristy, I think you'll *love* him when you get around to him.

  8. Sedaris is king and not just of the turds. All of his books are gems and not just of the turd variety.

    I can't believe I just said either of those things. How will I ever fulfill my fantasy of being invited to one of his sister Amy's dinner parties with talk like this?

  9. ha- I took this as my re-read on vacation last week. I was cracking up on the beach, the people around me were getting pretty darn annoyed with me!

    I am glad you loved it as much as I did. You must pick up the Holiday collection he has out....


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

Images by Freepik