Liminal Days

Well, the strange, slow creep of the liminal period dividing vacation and semester has ended.

Yesterday was my first day of classes, thus bringing to a close the transitional phase between “summer is a never-ending playground of joy!” and “oh, crap, reality will soon strike its iron fist upon me!”.

The iron fist has fallen and, as always, it was both tiring and exciting. Much as I enjoy summer, I don’t actually do that well when I have no schedule. At first it’s wonderful, and I get all inspired to have adventures and write and cook things I don’t typically have time for during the school year. And then the lethargy sets in. No need to dwell on the ugliness of the lethargy, so suffice it to say that it’s pleasant and invigorating to be back at work.

Still, one blessing of the summer is that I am allowed to forget the reality of commuting on the subway. It’s like childbirth that way, I suppose. Descending into the sweaty underbelly of the city and waiting, and waiting. Trying to game whether you should get on the F or wait for the G. Miscalculating. More waiting. More sweating…ugh. Then the stop and start of the train, the bad driver up front riding the break till you want to spill your lunch all over the already festooned floor. The rush to transfer to the bus. And so on. While there is much I miss about my job over the summer, this is NOT one of those things. All told, the trip is an hour and a half. Each way.

But! There were plenty of items in the ‘pro’ column for my first day back. For starters, the copy center had actually copied my syllabi — and without any mistakes this year! — and they were waiting in my mailbox. Also in the pro column: my office. As a part-timer, I change offices every semester. This time around I landed a nice one with a window overlooking the campus green. Also, a pro, my students seem like they’re going to have a good dynamic and be engaged — especially in my Ancient Mesoamerica class. And my classes aren’t too big, which facilitates the fostering of said dynamic. This is so, so important to a having a rewarding semester.

Not everything was wine and roses on Day 1, however. As a rule, something is always broken on the first day of the semester. Last year it was the in-room tech (no computer or projector). This year, it was even worse. In my first class, the heat was on. Yes, the heat, in August. It was about 95 degrees in the windowless lecture hall and (wait for it…) the lights were broken, so we were stuck in the dark. Hot and dark and airless. Now, there’s a recipe for a great class, eh? Ah well. My second class, in a building that appears to be an homage to Soviet-era construction (also windowless), seemed a veritable paradise in comparison. The lights worked AND there was air conditioning. Never mind the weird smell in the stairwell…

My favorite part of the day was also the strangest. As I was leaving campus to walk to the bus stop, I heard a strange wailing noise. Looking up, I spotted a falcon perched on the roof of the Social Sciences building, shrieking at the wee people down below. A falcon? In Queens? So random. And so magnificent.

So, school has started again and my schedule will transform accordingly…but first, a break! Because, you know, the first day of classes is exhausting, so we all need a vacation, right? Oddly, because of the alignment of Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah, we have all of next week off. My husband and I will be traveling to Maine for the greater part of that time with our friends Jeremy and Miro. Look for updates on hiking in Acadia and gluttonous feats of lobster and wine. Also, Miro wants to go mushroom hunting, so probably we will all be dead within a fortnight.

Until then, adieu!


Been meaning to post a quick update, but have been doing such a good impersonation of a chicken with its head cut off that I haven’t found time – plus, its hard to type when you have little chicken feet 😉

Yesterday I escaped the bitter cold of New York and flew out to California for a long weekend in the Napa valley.  Now that I’m lying in bed in the pre-dawn darkness, hanging out with jet-lag as I adjust to Pacific time, I finally have my opportunity to blog.

So…here’s what’s been going on of late:

I turned 38 last weekend.  Which feels strange since I often catch myself thinking things like, “well, when I’m grown up, I will (fill in the blank)”.  So, let’s roll with ‘young at heart’, shall we?  It was a good birthday, including a tasty dinner out with friends who have been in our life well over a decade, nice presents (like a new computer monitor for this increasingly blind 38 year old and a Trogdor the Burninator T-shirt, which is made of awesome), and lots of love and good wishes from friends and family.

My novel BLOOD RED SUN also made the first cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (meaning it survived the hacking of 10,000 manuscripts down to 2,000).  Still a ways to go, but nice to be in the running a little longer.

Classes and course prep continue to swallow me whole, but I have carved out a little writing time here and there (including about 3 hours on the plane yesterday), and am happy to report that the light at the end of the tunnel of my revisions to ABSENT is growing substantially brighter.  Plus, I’m pretty happy with how the manuscript is shaping up.  I think this one has a real chance.

Finally, with a day off for President’s Day, Sid and I were able to sneak away for a 5 day trip to Napa.  We’ll be tasting fabulous wines and indulging in delicious food between now and next Tuesday.  If the slooooow internet connection here at our hotel in Forestville cooperates, I might even post an update or two.

That’s what’s new with me.  How about you?

Writer’s Workspace: 8/29

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  tomorrow is the first day of the semester for me (eek!) and I still have an appalling amount of course prep to do, but I’m trying to sneak a little writing in as well.  I’m working on crafting the final chapters of ABSENT (yay!), which means the draft will soon be done and revisions can begin.

Snippet from the screen:

“Emily glanced down at the old photograph.  It showed five people, all dressed in 1920’s style clothing.  Two men stood against the exposed face of an excavation trench, bands of stratigraphy clear behind them.  Panama hats shaded their faces from the sun and one had a pipe clenched between his teeth.  But Emily’s eyes were drawn to the two women seated on the ground.  One of them was thin and regal and had her head turned away, as if she was looking at something out of frame.  The other stared straight at the photographer.  Emily gasped.  The woman gazing out of the picture looked exactly like her.

     “So you see it, then?” Reid asked.  He sounded relieved.  “It’s not just me?”

     Emily nodded, slowly.  “This woman could be my twin.”

     “And the man, the one standing to the left of the pipe-smoker?” 

     Emily held the photo closer, narrowing her eyes to try and make out more details.  “My god,” she whispered.  “That’s you.”

One the iTunes: I’m chillin’ to the sounds of silence today.

In my mug: Numi Aged Earl Grey, hot and steaming.

Out the window: in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Brooklyn streets are slick and filled with debris.  Our neighborhood got a lot of rain and a little wind, but avoided any flooding and downed trees.  After all the build-up and waiting, this felt at once like a let-down and a relief.

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses enjoyed all the extra attention he got this weekend (some friends who were forced to evacuate stayed with us during the “storm”), but now he has to catch up on his snoozing and loafing about.  No worries, though — he’s a professional loafer.

I’m pretty busy today, so no time for procrastinatory links!  Sorry.  Feel free to share some of your own in the comments, though.  And let me know what you’re up to today.  Writing goals, anyone?