Friday, June 29, 2007

Those Crossed Parts Paid Off!

Not only am I safe and sound at home in NC, I got a job on the way!!!

I was rolling through South Carolina when the community college that rejected me for the full-time gig called to offer me a part-time position for the fall! I'll be teaching two classes.

The teaching gig along with my freelance contract should be enough to leave me sitting pretty until at least December. I'm hopeful that the part-time job could turn full-time. It's a proverbial "foot in the door" I guess you could say.

I'm VERY excited to still be teaching and I'm VERY relieved that I won't have to have sell my eggs and plasma to live.

You're where?

Georgia. Covington, GA. I got all the revisions done for my thesis, and here I am! I started the trek back to NC yesterday and spent the night in a very nice little town outside of Atlanta in the nicest Super 8 Motel I've ever seen. I even had Chick-fil-a for dinner. What more could a girl ask?

Anywho, I have the last 7-or-so hours to drive today after I grab a bite of continental breakfast.

See you all on the flip side!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Armchair Traveler? It's me, it's me!

Lesley, over at A Life in Books, has come up with a brilliant idea called The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge. I'm all about some armchair traveling given that I won't reallyyyy be traveling much this summer. So, even though I said I wouldn't do any more challenges because I SUCK at them, I'm going to try to redeem myself with this one.

The Gist:

"Fiction or non-fiction works are fine, and do not need to be specifically travel related, as long as the location is integral to the book - I’ll leave that to your discretion. Locations must be actual places that you could visit, so no Middle Earths or galaxies far, far away."

My Choices:

  • A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, by Anthony Bourdain (world-wide...as Bourdain travels in search of the perfect meal)
  • Native Son, by Richard Wright (1930s Chicago)
  • The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje (WWII Italy)
  • The Last Communist Virgin, by Wang Ping (China)
  • The Journal of Dora Damage, by Belinda Starling (London)
  • The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (India)

Alternates:

  • The Captain and the Enemy, by Graham Greene (WWII London)
  • True At First Light, by Ernest Hemingway (Africa)
  • A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (England and India)
  • O Pioneers!, by Willa Cather (Nebraska)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Alabama)
  • Marie, Dancing, by Carolyn Meyer (Paris)

Wish me luck! And go join for yourself. It'll be fun!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dun-dun-dun-DONE!

I successfully defended my thesis today! While I would love to say that I'm really done, I have a few mild revisions to do tomorrow and then the grad school will most certainly get all grammar-nazi on me, but other than those two things, I am DONE. It only took about an hour to defend and then I ate yummy pasta. Woohah!

That is all.

I'm going to bed.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Give me dusty paintings and marble dreams...

Amanda's been thinking about art, and as a result she started a meme wherein you can show off your ten favorite pieces of art.

Surprisingly, as I started thinking about the most affecting pieces I've seen--those that evoke the strongest reactions and render me incapable of looking away--I realized there's a disproportionate number of sculptures and religious pieces. Whoda thunk? Here we go....


Woman in Flames, by Salvador Dali -- I particular love this one for the texture. The flames are sculpted right into the figure. This angle doesn't do it a whole lot of justice, but it's a beautiful piece.


What the Water Gave Me, by Frida Kahlo -- Kahlo's work is disturbing and raw. I admire her work for its looseness and freewheeling, gruesome style.


The Ancient of Days, by William Blake -- It's ridiculous for one man to be so damn talented. It's almost impossible for me to tear my eyes away from Blake's work. This is how I imagine God.


Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano -- And just as it sounds, this is a photo of a crucifix photographed through urine. It's gross, I know, but Serrano does an amazing job jarring the viewer out of his or her potential indifference toward the image of Christ. This simple, often mundane image, when taken out of its normal context comes roaring back to life. It is a beautiful image.



Nude Descending a Staircase, by Marcel Duchamp -- I just can't get over the movement in this painting despite the fact that it's all geometric shapes.


Pieta, by Michelangelo -- There's something about my favorite sculptures that renders me almost desperate to touch them. I would give a kidney to run my hands over those billowing piles of marble fabric.

The Ecstacy of St. Theresa, by Bernini -- Another beautiful, touchable sculpture. This one is oddly erotic and my first inclination has always been to turn away from images of it. But at the same time it's so alluring and beautiful. Especially with the bronze rays in the background.


The Dinner Party, by Judy Chicago -- I implore you to do a Google image search for this piece and look closely at the individual place settings. This is a room-sized installment with individual place settings for important women throughout history. Each setting is meticulously crafted with an individualized dinner plate, mat, etc. Just lovely.



Cathedral, by Jackson Pollock -- I have a religious sort of moment with this painting every time I go to see it at the Dallas Museum of Art. The energy in Pollock's paintings is the magical part for me. I can just imagine him crouched over the canvas feverishly dripping paint. Pollock's work really captures the rush of the artistic urge.

Beginning of the World, by Constantine Brancusi -- Perhaps my favorite of the lot. This one lives at the Dallas Museum of Art, too, and it's almost impossible for me not to touch it. The silky egg is almost too much for me to resist. I could stare at its glassy surface for hours.


Book with Wings, by Anselm Kiefer -- I love this one for obvious reasons. Besides the fact that I want to ruffle those feathers and flip through the book, it's just a beautifully rustic piece.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good Writing News

I recently entered a flash fiction contest (even though flash fiction is the complete opposite of anything I've ever written...I'm long-winded, see). I got word over the weekend that my piece made it past the first round of judging, and I should find out today if I'm in the top 10. Winners win money, and I like money. It helps pay bills. Not to mention, this is giving me a bit more confidence in my fiction-writing abilities.

Cross your parts. I know, I'm asking that a lot lately. ;)

Edit: The announcement of the top 10 has been postponed until Monday! Gah! My impatient little heart can't take it!

On Ye Olde iPod: "Curve of the Earth"...Matt Nathanson

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Books and food for my sorrows....

What does any red-blooded American nutcase do when she loses out on TWO great jobs??

She shops for books and cooks, of course.

Except, oh yeah, I can't afford books. Thankfully, I raped Elise's Shelfari bookshelf and added an assload of new books to my Bookmooch wishlist. So far I've requested:

Goodnight Nobody, by my lovely and adored Jennifer Weiner
Songs of Innocence and Experience, by William Blake. I *heart* him, too.
Shopgirl: A Novella, by Steve Martin because I adore the movie.

I've added the following to my wishlist (and they're available), but I don't know which ones I'll nab right now:

Brick Lane, (Monica Ali)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Cather)
My Antonia (Cather)
O Pioneers! (Cather)
Song of the Lark (Cather)
Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky)
The Birth of Venus (Sara Dunant)
Madame Bovary (Flaubert)
The Trial (Kafka)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)
Diary (Chuck Palahniuk)
Invisible Monsters (Palahniuk)
Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)
Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
The Pearl (Steinbeck)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson)
The Color Purple (Walker)
The Optimist's Daughter (Welty)
Ethan Frome (Wharton)
The Waves (Woolf)
To the Lighthouse (Woolf)

Any recs? I have 8 or 9 Bookmooch points to spend. It's scandalous that I haven't read some of these...coughToKillAMockingbirdcough.

As for the cooking, I decided to try out a yummy-sounding recipe I saw in Southern Living when we were languishing in the hospital waiting room last weekend. I could not be more pleased with this recipe for Chicken and Artichoke Salad:

Ingredients
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation
Stir together all ingredients; cover and chill until ready to serve.

Yield
Makes 4 servings

Lisa Bright, Trussville, Alabama , Southern Living, JANUARY 2006 A Taste of Trussville

This chicken salad is yummy by itself...hot or cold. For a quick fix, I've been making sandwiches out of it on toasted multi-grain bread. It's yummy and easy on the hips.

On the lighter side of the job front, the coordinator from the evil community college called this morning to give me the heads up about some part-time positions that are opening up. At least she's watching out for me.

Many thanks for all of your condolences. You made me feel better. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bummed, baby, bummed...

I'm wearing my sad face.

I didn't get the full-time position I interviewed for...twice. Ugg. I thought it was in the bag. So, now I'm following up about a part-time position teaching the same course. Between that and the freelancing I'd be fine, but it would've been soooo nice to nail down a full-time gig this early in the summer.

I also have applications active other places. Blah blah blah.

I'm back in Texas. My thesis defense is on Monday, so I've gotta work my ass off for the next 24 hours or so to finish the revisions and get them back to the committee. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Room (or Desk) of One's Own


One of the first questions I always ask when I interview an author is, "Do you have any writing rituals or unbreakable habits? Staring into the fridge or wandering aimlessly, maybe?"

I ask this question because it's one of those things that confounds me as a writer. Whether I'm working on a term paper for my graduate coursework (no more, by the way, I'm almost done), writing a freelance article or drafting a review for Estella's Revenge, I have habits. Unbreakable habits. Annoying, horrible habits.

First and foremost, I'm a wanderer. That is, I'll sit down to write, I'll think, I'll put a few words to paper, and I'll get up and wander away. I'll walk aimlessly, stare into the fridge, look out the door, and come back to my computer. From there I'll commit another paragraph or so to paper, get up, and wander some more. It's exhausting, really. A little like interval training. Walk for a bit, sprint like a madwoman, slow back down to a trudge and then run like hell until all tired out again.

I got quite the reputation when I was working on my Master's thesis proposal as I would draft a page or so, wander into the Communication Skills Center to visit the tutors, and eventually sigh heavily, make a snide remark, and return to my computer. They--and I--all thought it was nutty, but I suppose it worked.

Beyond the unbreakable habits, I'm also interested in the locations where people write. I'm quite the finicky number when it comes to writing location. I can't write just anywhere. I can't deal with writing more than a sentence or two longhand, and I can't have too many distractions. While in my younger days (think teens), I could read or write in the middle of a hurricane. Give me radio! Give me T.V.! Give me cows flying by the window and ants in my pants! I could write through it all.

Now, give me quiet! Give me peace! Give me all noise-making appliances in the "off" position!

Call it age, call it adult onset ADD, call it what you like. I don't do noise and distraction. The wandering is the distraction. I can control that.

These days I call the kitchen table my office, and it works really well. I'm positioned in a large open space. I can see the living room, I can peek down the hall. I have two sunny windows to my left and a refrigerator mere feet away to stare into. It's heaven. What happens when the office is ready? Nicely filled with a desk, bookshelves and eight miles of books? Hell if I know. I just hope it works as well as this old kitchen table. If not, I'm probably screwed.

We're finicky things, we writers. Or maybe it's just me. I hear there are many much-more-talented-than-I scribblers who can write with dogs chewing on their feet, children clutching their pant legs and herds of antelope galloping through their space. Not me. Oh no. I'm much more high maintenance than that. Give me a quiet kitchen and a GE ice box, and I'm your girl.

*Please note, the charming photograph at the top is most definitely not my writing space. I could never writing sitting in a comfy leather chair. Too pleasant. I need a hard wooden chair that puts my butt to sleep. Keeps me alert and on my toes. But it is a nice picture, yes?

**Please note again, this post is simulcast at Estella Scribbles.

Eeek!

I got a second interview for one of the positions I applied for at the community college. I interview with the President tomorrow at 11am. Cross ALLLLL your parts, pray, chant, whatever. I NEED this job.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Caesar Sour Cream Fish Taco Salad

But the Caesar and sour cream are completely optional. See how that works?? This recipe is the bastard stepchild of all the ingredients I had in my kitchen two nights ago, and I have to say, it turned out DELICIOUS.

Ingredients:
  • 2-4 tilapia filets (feel free to use another flaky white fish if you want)
  • Romaine lettuce mix
  • Cole slaw mix (that cabbage concoction)
  • Cilantro
  • Red, green, and/or yellow bell peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fish seasoning. For spicy tacos try blackened seasoning or cajun spice, for something milder, use whatever floats your boat.
  • Olive oil
  • Grated cheese of your choice (cheddar is beddar)
  • Caesar dressing
  • Sour cream
  • Flour tortillas (optional)

The Process:

Hit the pan with a glug of olive oil.

Season fish and pan-sear until beautifully crusty and flakeable. Throw thinly sliced peppers and minced garlic into the pan with the fish. They will cook at about the same rate depending upon the thickness of your fish. Don't burn the garlic! It gets all bitter.

Heat your tortillas (I use flour) on the grill or in the microwave until soft and yummy.

Dressing:
Mix a couple of tablespoons of Caesar dressing to a couple of tablespoons of sour cream. I love the zestiness of the Caesar with the cool sour cream. It cuts through the rich flavors of the peppers, garlic and spicy fish.

Pile tortillas high with flaked fish, lettuce, cabbage, cheese, peppers and garlic, cilantro sprinkles. Drizzle with Caesar Sour Cream dressing.

These are great as actual tacos or ditch the tortilla and just make it a salad. I ate the first two as tacos and made a pile of the leftovers at the end, salad style. I wish I'd done the whole thing as a salad. The flavors came across much better without the dulling effect of the tortilla.

Adjust amounts to feed the number of people around. 3 small filets fed, ummm, me...but I was really hungry and miserable when it was all said and done.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mice, money and sweet sweet sleep.

Today is the first day I've slept in in weeks. I've been in NC for almost a month now (hard to believe), and I've gotten in the habit of waking up around 5:30 or 6:00 every morning. Those of you who have been reading for more than five minutes know that I'm NOT a morning person. However, my earliness in rising is generally attributable to going to the hospital to visit (long story, go ruffle through the archives for a cryptic half-explanation or just let it be) or because B. is leaving that morning and I always wake up when he's getting ready. Or cramps. Cramps woke me up early last week.

It was nice sleeping in today, but kinda disconcerting as well, since I usually have MUCH more done by this time of the day (some writing, 35 mins of cardio, breakfast), and I feel sort of like a lazy ass at the moment. There's a slew of hairy, sweaty men building a storage building in the back yard, I'm staring at the messy house, and I'm hungry but it's too early for lunch, too late for breakfast. But, the best news o'the day is that I'm wearing--quite comfortably--a pair of jeans one size smaller than usual, and they're practically falling off me. All the lean meat and green veggies are paying off.

My first freelance deadline passed without incident, and I should be receiving a fat paycheck sooner than later (thank you, Shesus!). So, now it's time to start on the next gaggle of articles and ready myself for an even fatter paycheck next month! This working for a living thing is genius. If only I knew who came up with it.

There's a mouse in our kitchen. A loud mouse, at that. I was cleaning up the kitchen, readying myself for bed last week and I saw the little bugger scamper across the STOVE and leap behind the toaster oven. What kind of ballsy fuckin' mouse scampers across the stove? Really. So, today it's glue traps and startled squeels from me because if the little bastard gets stuck while I'm home and B. isn't, it's gonna be ugly.

We had a mouse a couple of years ago that was caught in quite the fortuitous manner. I'd left a bag of guacamole-flavored Doritos out on the table and I heard the bag moving on its own. B. was on the phone with tech support (where he'd been for hours) in the other room and I was forced to barricade the mouse in the chip bag with a prayer and something heavy. When B. got off the phone he dumped the chip bag and all out in the field across the street and that was that. Why can't catching a mouse always be that easy and humane? The mouse had a nice meal, he wasn't injured, and I was only deprived of a few thousand calories.

Incidentally, I haven't eaten guacamole Doritos since then.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Post-Interview Recovery

The interviews went well. I had my first one on Monday at 2:30 and was incredibly nervous. That's one thing I hate about postponing interviews until late in the day...I have too much time to think and freak out. My nervousness generally manifests itself in some manner of manic hair flipping and big eyes (sometimes too-loud laughter as well). However, given that I was interviewing with a VERY jovial group, I think I fit right in.

Yesterday I was significantly less nervous for the 8:00 interview, and I think I did much better. My teaching demo went rather flawlessly, I answered the questions with a cool, humourous confidence, and was even highly complimented on my performance by the committee before I left the room.

If I had to guess, I would say I will *probably* be offered the second position, but I think I did well enough that I might still have a chance at the first. We'll see. I just hope I get at least one of them or I'm going to be sooo broke. Insurance, retirement benefits, and a hefty salary are good things (in my best Martha Stewart voice).

I was also very pleased to find out:

1. They support and celebrate scholarship (offer travel money, etc.) without any sort of publish-or-perish policy.
2. The campus is beautiful and looks more like a "university" than the one I'm about to graduate from
3. The offices are nice! Woot!

In other news, check out Johnny Yen's post about the cost of the "War on Terror" and what that money could've bought instead. Click HERE. He breaks it down to a per-person amount of $1,440.

And I've officially found THE best snack food ever. Emerald's Wasabi Peanuts!!! Not Emeril...Mr. "Charisse." No no. These are by the Emerald company, and they come in a big, beautiful green plastic jar (recycle!) and taste like a little piece of heaven. I just wanna put some spicy tuna under 'em.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Catch-all post of the century!

Interview day number one, and I've been up riding the buzz of anxiety since about 6am. While I know I shouldn't be terribly nervous--because a) I can bullshit with the best of 'em and b) I know my stuff)--I am anyway. In theory the nervousness heightens my performance, but in reality I think it just gives me gas.

Outfit picked out -- check!
Lesson plan planned -- check!
Standard answers run over in my head -- check!

The only thing that remains undone is my eyebrow plucking. I don't know how my tweezers always know when I'm in desperate need of them and automatically run and hide, but they do. And they do it well. I'll have to go to the store and get some new ones in a bit or I know I won't get the job. No one with eyebrows this bushy deserves a good job.

In other news, I got in on a VERY lucrative freelance gig, and I'm trying to figure out how to best work my schedule. I have a feeling that blogging is going to remain slow for a while. Just feel secure in the fact that I'm ditching you all for money. Whoring myself for the almighty dollar, if you will. That's understandable, yes?

I've been doing a LOT of reading. I tend to leave the TV off all day and work instead. When I'm not working I generally opt for a book or go out and play frisbee with the pond fish (they're almost as good as dogs).

I finally finished The Human Stain, and it was breathtaking. I picked it up last year and petered out for whatever reason, but I picked it back up and love love loved it. Now I'm solidly into Blood Meridian. I'm not a huge western fan--and this is not a typical western--so I'm moving along steadily if not in a wildly enthusiastic manner. I think the Dante and T.S. Eliot references will be enough to carry me through. We'll see. I'm still hanging in there for the dead baby tree (just read the book).

For my newest reviews of The New Yorkers and 501 Minutes to Christ, check out the latest issue of Estella's Revenge which went online a few days ago.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Writing News

News over at Estella Scribbles. My first freelance gig goes live!

Click HERE to read the news.