Archive for July, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized on 28 July 2008 by ms. v

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, absolutely sure that someone was in my room, walking off with my most precious belongings. I felt immediately stupid and vulnerable; in my dream, I’d brought this person home with me although I did not know him well, and had forgotten about him and fallen asleep, allowing him to stay. I sat straight up in bed, looked around wildly and said out loud, “Are you still here?!” The room was empty except for me and Valentine, who was curled up under my desk where she often naps.

My heart didn’t stop pounding for an hour, and it took me two or three hours to go back to sleep. My arm suddenly itched and I felt certain I had bedbugs. The dream quickly revealed its meaning, a fear of letting others know my most intimate self.



Posted in Uncategorized on 26 July 2008 by ms. v

You know what I want?

A web visualizer that would combine the best parts of with the best parts of the Visual Thesaurus.  I want to bookmark and tag things I find on the internet and be able to see them form and re-form clusters based on the tags that I give them.  I want to see the three dimensional patterns present within my interests, and the relationships between things I’m thinking about.  I mean, that’s what we really mean by web, isn’t it?  Or it was, once upon a time? I would also like the tool to have a social element, so I could belong to groups or have friends, and see how our collective thinking created connections between ideas (and, obviously, I’d like to be able to see how all users affected the web).  And it should be edit-able, so that for my own web, I’d be able to move things closer together or farther apart, or create new connections between them.  And I want the movement and spatial arrangement parts of the Visual Thesaurus, which is still one of my favorite brainstorming tools on the web.

Does this exist?  Want to make it for me?  Want to teach me how to make it? (That seems hard, actually, but potentially fun).


Posted in Uncategorized on 25 July 2008 by ms. v

Teaching, I’d come home with aching feet.  Filling a basin with warm water and just soaking my tired toes for a few minutes suddenly seemed like a good idea, rather than something old people do.  I was usually too busy to actually do it.

One thing I didn’t anticipate about the move to a writing career is that it is, in its own way, physically exhausting.  Sitting all day, even with an alarm set to remind me to stretch my arms, leaves me tired and stiff.  At least in teaching, I knew I’d been up, moving around, doing my body some good even as I wore myself out.  On the days when I write for hours, I feel like I need to uncurl myself, my body longs to move.


Posted in Uncategorized on 25 July 2008 by ms. v

One of my students called me last weekend. I was sitting on my couch, fiddling around with something on my computer, when my phone rang with an unfamiliar number on the screen. I answered, but no one was there. Two minutes later, the phone rang again, same number showing up. “Hello?”

“Hi, Ms. V., it’s N.”

The kids don’t call me too often in the middle of summer.

“Hi, N., how’s your summer going? What have you been doing this summer?”

“I just called to say good luck, since you’re not coming back, and goodbye.”

I was suddenly absolutely certain I should ditch all this change and go back.

“Oh, thank you, honey… but I’m not going to never see you again, I’ll come to school sometimes… but thank you for calling to tell me that.”

I wonder if I will go back. The climate isn’t all that welcoming. But I miss my kids right now and when I think about not going back, I miss them with all the weight of the future.

We chat a little longer, and she tells me she’s on the way to North Carolina, just to visit, not to live. I think she’s probably in the car, a little bored, and doesn’t know exactly what she wants to say to me. I thank her again and say goodbye, have a great vacation. When I hang up, I wish I’d asked her how her family is or told her to tell them hello for me.

I should say “former” when I say that my student called me. When I talk about my school, I should stop saying “my.” “They” will have to replace “we.”


Posted in Uncategorized on 22 July 2008 by ms. v

I’m waiting in line for the bus across the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee. There are five, maybe six, people ahead of me, and the line is moving very slowly because each person has to pay the bus driver. Another man gets in line behind me, standing just a bit too close. I can feel his breath on my back. As we stand in the heat and the diesel fumes, he starts muttering, “F*cking animals.” Did I really hear it? But he says it again, “F*cking animals.” I turn and glare at him briefly, and he keeps on muttering, “These people are so stupid, these people and their change. F*cking animals.” As I board the bus, praying I won’t need change, he’s right behind me, shoving his dollar forward as I confirm with the bus driver that I’m on the right bus. I hurry to a seat in the back; he takes a seat close to the front. After we cross the bridge and reach the first stop in New Jersey, he is in front of me to get off the bus. “F*cking asshole,” he says to no one in particular as he walks down the steps of the bus.


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 July 2008 by ms. v

Morning television, which I’ve never watched before, is now a part of my routine when I’m at the gym.  Sometimes I listen to music on my iPod, but when the battery’s dead or I leave it at home or I just want a change, I flip to the first thing that looks tolerable and like it won’t go to commercial for at least a couple of laps around the virtual track, and I tend to stick with that for the next thirty minutes or so.  Today it was the M&J show, a morning show on Fox.  I’ve heard about Fox, but thanks to my tv-less ways (this is the week of -less, but not purposely), I actually have little personal experience with the network.  Anyway, M&J seemed promising this morning – they were doing a piece on domestic violence in the military and how a half-dozen women have been murdered by their husbands or partners in the last couple of months.  I was interested.  This felt important, and like I might learn something.  They spoke to the sister of a woman who had been missing all weekend but was recently found, alive but injured, after having been stabbed and kidnapped by her husband.  M or J – not sure which is which – tried to get the sister to relate the attack on her sister to military policies that make it harder for women to leave abusive partners, but the sister didn’t go there for them.  The piece felt disorganized and tantalizingly close to – but never actually revealing – uncomfortable truths that might make us demand change.  They mentioned something called the “abandonment clause” making it harder for women to leave abusive husbands, but never fully explained what it is.  (I googled around a bit but didn’t turn up anything).

This was followed by a much longer “investigative” piece on home gym equipment.  Experts were brought in, equipment tested, pros and cons discussed (although J – or M? – kept cutting off the doctor as he tried to explain the health risks of some of the equipment), statements from the companies read and displayed on the screen.  Investigation, indeed.


Posted in Uncategorized on 19 July 2008 by ms. v

I am thinking of going microwave-less. I am already AC-less, and while my commitment to that has been sorely tested this week as I’ve felt something bite my leg and reached down to swat it only to discover it was sweat trickling against my skin, the thing about being too hot is that you do, eventually, begin to acclimate. Given that at all but the hottest times I’ve been working outside on the terrace at my new office, and that the rest of the time I’ve either been outside or trying to sleep or work at home, I figure I must, incrementally, be getting used to it. Perhaps already I feel more comfortable when I’m out in it than the people who have been blowing cold air across themselves all night long. I had an AC in my old apartment, but it was so big and heavy, and the filters were all clogged, that it seemed pointless to drag it all the way down here so it could wheeze through a few more summer days and then be replaced. AC is expensive. It’s a huge electricity suck. I think I can make it without.

Microwaves are also big and heavy. I thought about leaving mine behind when I moved, but the decision was impulsive and I wasn’t sure I was committed. Since the microwave I have works perfectly well, the potential waste of throwing it out and then regretting it and buying a new one seemed worse. So here it is, resting on a countertop in the corner of the kitchen, waiting for the great roommate-transition to occur, when it will replace my roommate’s microwave in a different, more-functional corner of the kitchen. I have used the microwave a handful of times since I moved in here on June 1st, for heating up leftovers and softening cold butter. Nothing that couldn’t be accomplished on the stovetop or by planning ahead. Space is my main concern – why devote so much of it to something I use so infrequently and could scarcely be said to need?

Of course, living with roommates you can end up with cable tv and the AC roaring at all hours if you don’t share the same values. Not everyone, not even most pretty awesome people, are questioning the things we consider basic.  Or at least, not these things.  So it’s slightly out of my hands as I look for the new person.