Sherman vs. Kindle



The above video is just icing. The one I want to respond to is Sherman Alexie’s appearance last night on The Colbert Report. Something there is that doesn’t heart the Kindle. Alexie, National Book Award winner for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has a new book out, and he’s not Kindling it. He wants nothing to do with e-books, and that’s what he talked about on Colbert instead of his own book.

Only a couple of weeks ago, I saw Junot Diaz at NCTE. He said he had just come from the National Book Awards where people were talking trash about the Kindle. I can’t repeat exactly what Diaz said (just in case my mother ever reads this blog), but he was of the basic opinion that we should be more concerned with whether people are reading at all than with whether they are reading e-books or book books.

I agree. I find Alexie’s Kindle hating all a bit strange. I appreciate his arguments that hard copy books are better for artist sales, independent book stores, and book signings. I appreciate his appeal to preserve the aesthetics of the book and the value of the book culture.

I just don’t know why he thinks he can change the world by holding out on Kindle. He’s probably costing himself sales in actuality, and he isn’t going to turn back the clock on print media. Nor is he going to more effectively police the digital availability of his work. Witness the video above. It appears that someone in the audience at one of his readings recorded it on a simple hand held camera and then posted it to YouTube. Did he sanction that? Can he monitor it every time it happens? Does he even know it is there?

I want my local independent book seller to stay in business too. At the same time, if I can buy a book and have it available within seconds without ever leaving my house, sometimes I will. We’re going to buy more digital books in the future just because we can. Music is better performed live, and we all know it, but for some time now we’ve all been listening to it primarily through electronic devices…because we can.

Something e-bookish comes this way. We aren’t stopping it. We might as well be okay with it.

Notice of Intent to Write

old-style typewriter

It’s December 1, and I find myself with a wild hair about blogging my way through the month of December. A post a day for a month on this blog or another is my very best intention. I think I’ll do it unless, of course, I don’t, and/or unless, of course, I quit.

There’s been some talk this week on a listserv I subscribe to about whether the blog is passe. My blog is probably the best place for me to respond to that, but I’m not going to right now. I need to grade some more tonight, and a blog has to pace itself if it’s really going to produce something every day. I’ll come back to that later.

In the meantime, here’s a piece I found at Salon about something that probably should be dying out: the smiley. 🙂

I don’t have a theme in mind for my December blogging. I just want to devote more deliberate time to writing. I’ll probably write some to Teacherly Tech and some to my poetry blog, but in any case I’ll use this blog as a kind of hub for my December writing. I’ll cross-post anything I write for another blog.

Sometimes I have to give myself assignments like this to keep on track. It’s like deciding to go to the gym every day for a month just in case by the end of it you’ve become all intense about yoga and spinning and suddenly feel virtuously healthy.

Here’s to December writing health to one and all, but mostly to me.

**The above image is from www.morguefile.com, a great place to get free photos that don’t always require attribution.

Racism Doesn't Want to Look at Itself

Socrates might have us believe that the unexamined life is not worth living, but plenty goes unexamined in this life.  Or maybe we know it is there, and we look at it from time to time, but we’d rather not.  We’d rather not see the clutter in our own houses.  We have other things on our mind.

So it is that talking about racism is very difficult.  It’s easy to look at other people’s social ills.  Not so much our own.

In Mississippi where I live, inevitably if the subject of racism comes up, someone has a story to tell about how it is actually worse somewhere else.  We’re just the ones carrying–unfairly–the brunt of the blame.  There’s some truth in this.  Try being a Mississippian traveling to other places.  People glance down to see if you are wearing shoes.

Once while in another state, I invited a woman to come visit me in Mississippi.  She said, “I’m not going there.  They shoot black people there.”  You know I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve never actually witnessed a shooting against a black person or anyone else.  The only people I’ve known who’ve been shot were victims of hunting accidents. In many parts of Mississippi the racial populations are fairly evenly divided between black and white, and in most of those places people just go about their daily lives with shootings of anything other than a deer or a turkey a rarity.

That’s not to say we don’t have our share of violence.  Jackson has a notorious number of crime reports on the evening news.  Largely, it is a race issue, but it’s of the sort that has to do with the general woes of urban poverty–drugs, gangs, kids growing up without a sense of hope, and so forth.  Jackson has a history of racial segregation to blame for many of the lines between the poor and the affluent.  It also has white flight to blame for many of the problems in the public schools and for failing businesses in areas that have now become more crime ridden.  All this is true.  I don’t know, however, that this makes Jackson’s problems any different from other cities.  The degree of poverty is the only thing separating any city with a high crime rate from those with lower crime rates.

If you live in Mississippi, though, you hear more than your share of bad things about your state.  We have the lowest literacy rates, the highest teen pregnancy rates, the highest obesity rates, the lowest test scores in math and science.  We’re the state that makes all the other states feel better about themselves, and no one ever lets us forget that.

But surprisingly enough for those who don’t know, we wear shoes, we read books, we even have art museums and symphonies, as we’ll be happy to tell you.

We’re used to defending ourselves against crazy accusations from people who don’t know that it is actually safe to walk across the street here, and if you do, you’ll probably find a Starbucks on the other side.

So it is that the most natural course of action is to defend ourselves against any accusation of racism.  It’s not as bad as you think, we say.  It’s actually worse in other places where people don’t live side by side, we say.  It’s complicated, we say.

That’s all true enough, but it isn’t good enough.  We have a bad reputation for civil rights because we earned it, and we still live with it every day.

Recently, I watched Morgan Freeman’s documentary, Prom Night in Mississippi. Everyone needs to see this. It does give a realistic view of this issue of segregated proms that do still exist in Mississippi. Understand that there are just as many schools in Mississippi that haven’t had a segregated prom for forty years. But still in some small towns the issue persists, for all the reasons you’ll see in Freeman’s film.

When Kirk Fordice was governor, the state welcome signs said, “Only positive Mississippi spoken here.” The signs tended to invite negative comments, but they also summed up an attitude that is prevalent in the state. We don’t want to hear anything bad about ourselves. We’ve heard too much already.

I want people to have a better image of Mississippi too. I want them to know that for the most part people here are the same as anywhere else, and that among those who aren’t the same, some actually stand out in very special ways. Mississippi produced Eudora Welty and Faith Hill, Natasha Trethewey and Leontyne Price. We should be proud of that.

But we still have the lowest literacy rates and the highest rates of teen pregnancies. We still have segregated proms. We still have segregated churches and country clubs. We need to talk, Mississippi. We need to talk about ourselves in ways that are difficult to face. Otherwise, we’re all culpable for the state of the state.

The blame game isn’t getting us anywhere. The other states point to us and say, “At least we’re not as bad as Mississippi.” We point to them and say, “They all say we’re so bad, but look at how they are worse.”

Racism takes on different characteristics in different places, but it isn’t any more defensible in one variation over another. Better we should say racism is everywhere, even here. Now what can we do about it?

To Poet School You Go

You are an English major because you don’t know what you want to do with your life, and reading and writing are like breathing to you, the easiest paths to sure As.  You haven’t particularly devoted yourself to them.  They just are what you do without much effort.  Your mother read to you a lot.  You acquired an ear for language so naturally it almost came out looking like talent.   Yet talent is something to be practiced and honed.  You just are.  You don’t know what you want.  You keep reading and writing not as effort but as existence.

Then one day a terrible thing happens.  You graduate.  You can’t put if off.  You have a double major by now in English and journalism because in those classes all you need to exchange for grades are words.  Yet the university offers a finite number of English and journalism classes.  You’ve run out of new offerings.

You contemplate starting over.  You could probably write a lot in history and philosophy classes as well.  But you’d just graduate again, and still you’d have no particular marketable skill.

You start taking graduate classes in literature because to do anything else would mean you’d have to look for a job, get a new apartment, start paying your own insurance.  You think about going to work at the post office, but it’s so much easier to read Derrida and Virginia Woolf and sling out words about them on demand.

Too soon you are told your thesis has passed.  You sit disconsolate on the steps of College Hall rambling about taking the Civil Service exam.  The man who should have given you a harder time about your thesis, made it last a little longer, sits beside you.  “There is a PhD program in poetry,” he says, “that you might be interested in.  I know someone who teaches there.”

You decide your feet get too sore too easily to go for the Air Force, so you pack up your Elizabeth Bishop and Seamus Heaney books, find a new apartment in a new state, and decide for the first time to make pretense at calling yourself a writer.

You are here because they did not have an application fee, and nothing would have been lost if they had not wanted you.  You are here because someone made a phone call on your behalf based on the slim evidence of one folder of poems and a thesis you wrote quickly, inattentively.  You know you are an impostor from the start.

Ole Miss vs. The Klan as Clown

Thanks to the Huffington Post, I found this video of last week’s so-called Klan rally at Ole Miss. Watch it. Watch it through to the end.

Ole Miss probably has the longest and most painful history of race issues of any university in our state. They’re the school known to the world for closing their doors to James Meredith. They had the Rebel flag as their school symbol and Colonel Reb as their mascot. They played Dixie at ballgames. In the spirit of racism not knowing it’s racist, for the most part they just didn’t see anything wrong with that until bit by bit, painful controversy by painful controversy, they were forced to confront their own image.

The main thing we can learn from this video is that Ole Miss really is a different place today. While it is disconcerting to think that such morons still exist as would put on dresses and masks and stand on the school steps for a racist cause, it’s so much more heartening to see that the students don’t feel connected to that cause at all. Neither do they feel threatened. Look in the crowd in the video, and you’ll see black students laughing. You’ll hear background conversations of students talking seriously about the issue that brought this on, the university’s decision to cut “From Dixie with Love” from its ballgame play list because people were shouting “The South shall rise again” when it was played.

Good news and bad news. People still say things like “The South shall rise again,” either because they don’t know any better, or they really feel that way. But when controversy erupts because of it, the students are coming down on the side of love and unity. Mississippi’s kids are better than the legacies they’ve inherited.

Racism Doesn't Know it's Racist

I was eleven years old before I understood that the N word was offensive.  I’ve told this before to friends, and some have denied that this is even possible, but it was the 1970s in a small town in Mississippi.  I had been punished for saying words like gosh and darn and even fudge in the wrong context.  No one thought to punish me for saying n**ger.  They were saying it too back then.  I never heard my family use the word in ways they considered derisive.  I never heard them say it to or about a particular person.  I heard things like, “We don’t have money for a new one, so we just have to n**ger-rig the one we have and make do.”

I think that’s the phrase I used in the 6th grade when I wasn’t punished by a teacher, but worse I was shamed by friends whose parents had come to Mississippi from other places and who believed my use of this word made me bad.  It was my first real encounter with the concept that it was considered to be derogatory.  Maybe I’d been told by someone before that it was hateful, but I hadn’t understood that.  This was my first time to speak to people who actually found it objectionable.

I have a friend and colleague who has been known to say, “Stupid doesn’t know it’s stupid.”  So often racism just doesn’t know it’s racist.  That doesn’t excuse it.  It doesn’t diminish the cruelty of it, nor does it assume racism is always an act of ignorance.  It’s merely a comment on how complicated racial divisions are in places like Mississippi.

I was in one of the first groups of public school children in Mississippi to go all the way through school in integrated classrooms.  This is another detail I’ve sometimes had trouble getting friends from other states to believe.  Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down in 1954, but the federal courts did not force Mississippi to comply until 1970.  I went to 1st grade at Brookhaven Elementary in 1973.

I have no memories of any violence, tension, or conflict related to integration from school itself.  I remember reading Flat Stanley and trying to understand what New Math meant at school.  We were children, and we didn’t know we were supposed to be suspicious of each other, so we weren’t.

I say that, and I mean it, but at the same time I recognize the naivete of it.  What if I had been a black child at the same school at the same time?  What if I had been a Latino child or a Native American child?  Would I still be able to say we didn’t experience overt racial tensions at school?

We were integrated.  I know I went to school with black children.  I was never in classes that were all white, but at the same time I don’t remember particularly being friends with any black children.  I don’t remember avoiding them.  I also don’t remember facing any conflicts over whether to invite them to my birthday parties.

Mississippi had other ways.  White kids and black kids, peaceably as it may have been accomplished, separated somehow inside the integrated classes.  We were also separated by the schools into ability rankings.  I know I was in the top group because my mother made sure to tell me when I wasted my abilities by not always performing as well as I could have.

Ability tracks in schools might serve well-intentioned purposes, but they also serve to separate the children from disadvantaged households, the poor children, the children with less educated parents.  In Mississippi in the 1970s the lines between educated households and uneducated households had been forcibly drawn along racial lines for generations.  There was no black middle class to speak of.  Not in a small town like mine.  So while I can say that I went all the way through school in newly integrated schools in Mississippi, I don’t know what that really means.  All I know is that I don’t remember witnessing racial conflicts at school.

I do remember racial conflicts in the town itself.  I remember that going to the public pool became problematic after black children started going there.  I remember that older kids, who were in grades that were supposed to go to school in the black side of town were sent to private school for those grades and then back to public school when they reached a grade where they went to school in the white side of town.  I remember that there were sides of town divided by race.

We had a dog, a German Shepherd mix named Rex.  We lived in the middle of town, and our dog ran loose.  We didn’t know about leash laws then.  Rex wandered the town, and that was just accepted.  But then one day he went to the movie theater and stood at the door blocking black kids from entering.  Someone called my father.  He got the dog and brought him home.  It didn’t cause an outcry.  It just happened.  It’s a story that was told around town as a joke.  What can be funny, we wonder now, about a town in which racial divisions are so obvious the dog thinks it’s his job to enforce them?  People didn’t ask that then.  They told the story and laughed.  Sometimes they speculated that the dog may have had a bad experience with a particular black person he was trying to keep out of the movie theater, but ultimately they just told the story and laughed.

It was only a joke.  We gloss over so much with humor.

Later, I did encounter children with distinctly racist attitudes, but I didn’t meet them through school.  I met them through church.  One kid in particular believed that white people came from Adam and Eve and black people came from apes.  Her parents taught her this.  When she repeated it to me and my brother, we did what any self-respecting public school kids would have done.  We mocked her shamelessly.  Maybe we said the S word.  The upshot of it was we were the ones who got in trouble, not for believing she was wrong, but for telling her so to her face in a way that had her running to her parents.

I was a teenager before I found out that I had a Choctaw great-great.  This was fascinating information to me, much more interesting than claiming to be of Irish decent in Mississippi where everyone I knew had an Irish great-great.  What I didn’t understand was why no one had talked about this before.  I asked my mother.  She had memories of her half-Choctaw grandparent that I did not.  She said people just didn’t talk about it because people thought of Indians as dirty.

This wasn’t much deterrent to my fascination.  I didn’t know any Indians then, but I did know that I considered her explanation to be a history lesson, not a current affairs lesson.  I just thought she meant back during segregation before everybody got smarter about race issues.

Then one day I said to my grandmother that I was proud to be part Choctaw.  She said, “The mixing of the races is an abomination of the Lord.”  She had Cherokee blood, someone later told me.  I don’t even know if that’s true, but I do know that she was hard core on this subject, but at the same time she was a living contradiction.  She spoke up for civil rights issues in other places and other contexts.  She just had such social/religious blinders on this subject that she didn’t even realize she’d called her own granddaughter an abomination.

Racism just doesn’t always know it’s racist.  That’s what makes it so complicated and so damaging.  That’s what makes it so hard to overcome.

I won’t say Mississippi is where it needs to be now; neither will I say it isn’t making progress.  My hope is for the next generation after mine.  The kids who were raised by people who don’t remember segregation.   The children of white people from small towns who loved JJ Evans and Michael Jackson and never knew the kind of paranoia and fear that grows out of complete separation.  Those are the people who have a chance at least of changing the world…if we give it to them.

There’s so much more I could say, so many more stories I could tell to show both good and bad memories of racial issues in Mississippi.  This is where I’ll stop this time, though.  I know you know what I mean.  I know you too recognize something racist that doesn’t even know that’s what it is.

Facebook, Poetry, and a Crisis of Audience

Once my nephew got in trouble at school for clowning around.  His mother did the only thing she could do and told him to quit that.  He said, “But you don’t know how hard I worked to become the class clown.”

I feel his pain.  Entertaining others is a big job.  Attempting to do it is pure pressure.  But sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  Facebook feels like that to me.  The status update is performance art, and I am compelled to make my mark on it.  I am the class clown of my Facebook friend stream.  There are others, of course, but I’ve littered the stream with so much of my own personal nonsense that people call to check on me if I take any time off.

As this person who has updated way too much, I’m a particular authority on the weirdness of audience juxtapositions that Facebook creates.  In my friend list, I have family, colleagues from my real job, and colleagues from my organizations where I do various unpaid and therefore unreal jobs.  There are people I went to high school with, people I went to church with, people I met online, people I met in graduate school, former students, people I admire from afar, and people I’m not sure I even know at all.

The first rule of performance is to know your audience, and none of those groups fit together.  As someone whose life before Facebook was extremely compartmentalized with no pieces overlapping, I’ve had to overcome a great deal of audience anxiety in order to keep going without worrying too much about who I offend, confuse, or generally shame myself in front of.  This is part of the reason I think my students need to do more public writing.  They need to put faces and attitudes to their audience.  They need to have to ask themselves what the function of their writing is and who it’s for as well as how it might need to change if people who weren’t invited to their party happen to be listening in.

So that’s that.  When it looks like I’m practicing random acts of status mayhem, sometimes I’m really seriously mulling over this question of audience overlaps and the general confusion of purpose they create.

Which leads me to another issue.  I have this poetry thing that I do.  I’ve done it for a long time.  It’s what I got my degree in.  As part of that, I’ve “performed” as a poet in public venues via publications and/or readings for probably twenty years or more.  Yet that particular public persona only belonged to one or two of my categories of Facebook friends:  English majors, and people who hang out in the same coffee shops where English majors hang out.   In other words, people who “read” poetry and poets by a certain set of previously determined expectations.

Families and people who used to babysit you don’t know about those expectations because they belong to a very isolated sub-culture rather than the world at large.

In a poetry class or at a poetry reading for English majors, for example, no one would ever ask if the poem you wrote about some sort of childhood abuse or a wrenching emotional loss was actually about you.  They wouldn’t ask because they know they’d be looked down on as not understanding the craft of writing if they did.  And for crying out loud, you wouldn’t sit in a poetry class and say the poem was about you.  That would be the kiss of death.  Because it doesn’t matter if it is or it isn’t to the process of crafting it as a work of art.  And if it started out to be about you, it won’t be by the time you’re finished with it.

And so it is that I’ve been writing these poems all these years–in first person mostly because I like the sound of feel of it–without ever giving much thought to how much of me was in them.  I didn’t think of the I in the poem as me at all.  I thought of it as a character with its own voice that I was manipulating for the purpose of serving whatever tone or mood or thought process I wanted to create.

Along the way I’ve stolen things from my life to put in them, but those things were more like borrowed objects than confessions.  I took them out of context, moved them around, reshaped them, mixed them up with details I’d seen, heard, or imagined.  I wasn’t trying to write autobiography, so it never mattered to me if I was telling truth as in what had actually happened to me and how I actually felt about it.  It only mattered that I was telling truth as in whatever sorts of human truths I could extract from the idea on which the poem itself meditated.

They were inventions, often wholly invented.  I wouldn’t even want to try to figure out at this point which parts happened to me and which didn’t.  I wouldn’t remember, and even if I did, I’d just retell them in another reinvented version that may or may not be any closer to the truth.  That’s the way memory works.  It’s all story.

As so it is that I’ve gotten by for so long without having to explain this to anyone because most people who read my poems would have never asked and the few that have asked were not emotionally invested in my answer.  I got by with it, though, because I kept the poems compartmentalized to only one part of my life.  When I thought about showing them to my family I chickened out.  Families want to know everything about your personal details.  They don’t easily accept that one line in a poem might be something that happened to you and the next line something you overheard in a coffee shop and the line after that something you just made up.  Or that you no longer remember which is which in many cases.

But because I had this weird crisis of audience thing going on over family + poetry, I never really tried for the kinds of publications that would be noticed outside one small circle of people.  I never really tried to publish a book.  Until this year.

At the urging of a couple of friends and on the strength of whimsy alone I put together a book manuscript of poems and sent it off to a few contests.  As luck (depending on your perspective) would have it, I won one of them.  And for about five minutes, I contemplated (1) turning it down; or (2) keeping it quiet so as to avoid altogether my whole tangled up relationship with poetry and family as audience.  Neither option was actually available to me.  Within five minutes of getting the news, I had told a colleague about it.  Within five minutes of her learning about it, the news had spread in multiple directions, and my school’s marketing team was primed to spread it further afield.  Try as I might, I can’t selectively choose who reads about me in the newspaper.

All of that is just to say (1) I have a book of poetry coming out in the spring; (2) publication of all sorts, digital and otherwise, makes for strange intersections of audience that anyone who wants to write has to figure out how to navigate; and (3) please don’t ask if my poems are about me.

Blogging the Novel and Other Indiscretions

Why do I want to blog a novel and/or a collection of poems?  Because I can.  Because it provides a necessary creative outlet for me.  Because the blog provides a space for meaningful experimentation in both process and craft.  Because the world is full of fiction and poetry blogs, and mine might as well be among them.

My relationship with blogs has evolved a great deal in the past few years.  I’ve broken up with more blogs than most people ever ask out on the first date.  At first, I did with blogs what I have also first done with Twitter.  I posted random thoughts.  I don’t believe anyone does that and stays with blogging for long.  You have to blog with a purpose for it to stick.

I found my found my first real purpose for blogging in discussing teaching ideas with other literature and composition instructors.  That was great fun while it lasted.  But a large part of the fun was in the social aspect of it, and even academic social lives have moved to Facebook now.  Idea sharing has moved to Twitter.  It turns out you can say a lot in 140 characters.  It also turns out most of us never really had that much to say.  Twitter is the perfect place post a link and a snide remark and move on with your life.

And still I yearn for the blog.  What can I say?  I like to be verbose.

Thus I have floundered for a new purpose.  I have searched for projects for my blogs.  I have applied for grants that have enslaved colleagues to blog projects.  But I am greedy.  I want more, more, always more.

Then somewhere in all of that it finally occurred to me that the Ph.D. that got me the job that I’ve spent all of this time yammering about online is actually in Creative Writing, not in Composition.  Poetics, to be more precise, whatever the heck that is.

And what have I done with this degree?  Nothing.  I’ve spent my life teaching composition.  I read poetry in secret the way some people smoke in secret.  Sometimes I write poetry.  Sometimes I write fiction.  

The bad news is I don’t have the time to devote to writing I need or desire.  The good news is I write anyway.  The other good news is I can write whatever I please because I’m not answering to anyone, and I have nothing to prove.  I’m the only person at my job with a degree in poetry.  When you exist as a universe of one, you can conquer it (or not) any old day you please.

The other bad news is that I don’t send my work out.  I may have made a half-hearted attempt once every five years or so to send to one or two journals or contests.  But I haven’t made a job of trying to publish.  I already have a job that eats up all of my time.  I hate thinking about trying to publish.  Looking at the Poet’s Market makes me unhappy.  I just want to write.  

I’d say it doesn’t matter if no one reads what I write, but you’d see that for the lie that it is.  The blog exists; therefore, the desire for audience does as well.

What doesn’t matter is how highbrow the audience is.  I have nothing to prove.  I’m not working my way up the academic ladder.  I have a job where I will likely stay for many years.  I don’t need publications to keep it.  I can be an academic vagabond if I want.

And so I blog because I can, because I have nothing to lose.  

I’m not even concerned that I might miss an opportunity for a “real” publication because of the blog.  

(1) Blogs can be taken down as easily as they were put up.
(2) Why would anyone even care if poems were previously found online?  They aren’t going to lose money because of that.  They weren’t going to make money off selling poetry, and people are more likely to buy books of poetry if they can google the poet’s name to find out if they like the style.  I know I am.
(3) I’m writing fiction for my own entertainment.  I know myself well enough to know I’m not likely to even try to make it anything other than that.
(4) If I am going to ever work at self-promotion, the blog is as good a way to get there as any.

Besides all that, I’m learning from the blog.  That really does mean something.

Breaking up a chapter of a novel into 500 word chunks to post on a blog is a whole different process that I would have ever encountered otherwise.  It makes me pay attention in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.  It makes me question the necessity of entire paragraphs.  It’s even heightened my awareness of the way others might understand the story.

So what if only one friend is reading it?  It’s been good for me.  

Blogging the novel creates some structure and design in my life that I wouldn’t otherwise have.  It’s very difficult to arrive at that once you finish a graduate program in creative writing and go off somewhere to a job where you fall deeply and irrevocably outside any kind of community of academic writers.  

When you have no one to answer to you don’t get up at 5 in the morning, not even to write a novel.  The blog, if nothing else, keeps a record of how well you’ve answered to yourself.  An immeasurably good quality if you ask me.

There is a stigma attached to the act of self-publishing that has probably held me back from blogging stories and poems as much as anything, but the hell with that.  It doesn’t mean anything anymore.  Not to me personally in my situation of having nothing to lose.  And not to the world at large when everything is changing to a self-marketing, social-networking model.

What knows what will happen next?  Maybe I’ll put together my own e-book at the end of the blog.  It might be fun, and that’s why I went to Poet School in the first place…for the party in my mind.

From the Haphazard Kitchen

It’s summer.  That means I’m supposed to surface from the vast ocean of mental activities I’ve been nearly drowning in for months and actually notice the world around me.  It means I’m supposed to start caring about my health again, start cooking instead of poking things at random in the microwave.

This may require baby steps, but I’m taking the first step today.  I have some sort of lazy pasta thing in the oven.  You too can make lazy pasta.

1.  Cook some noodles.  I dropped some angel hair pasta in boiling water and left it until I guessed it might be tender enough.

2. In a big bowl, dump a big carton of ricotta cheese.  

3. Take a couple of containers of pesto sauce, ready made of course, and dump them in with the cheese.  Mix until it looks green and glumpy enough to suit.

4. Mix your cooked noodles in.

5. Dump the glump of cheese, noodles and pesto in a casserole dish.

6.  Top with marinara and mozzarella cheese.  

7.  Stick in the oven and leave until it gets all bubbly.

Mine is in the oven now.  Wish me luck with it.

Meet the New Look

I’ve dilly-dallied, moved around, taken long vacations from blogging and made every other possible wrong move with my blog the last couple of years if my goal is to establish and maintain an audience.  And here I am moving yet again.  I’ve tried to give out only the writerlyhaphazardry.net url the past few month because I knew I was likely to move again.  If people have linked to that, it’s all good.  If they’ve subscribed to rss feeds on Typepad, well, that’s not going to work.  Once again I’ve disrupted any fledgling audience I may have had.

Not only that.  I’ve also created a lot of work for myself.  I had to install this and each iteration I’ve set up as part of the Writerly Haphazardry family the hard way.  As hard as it gets with WordPress anyway.  I had to go to the server control panel and click auto-install several times.  Then I had to upload the plugins and themes I wanted and make sure they were unzipped in the right folders.  It’s not rocket science, but it is time consuming.  As will be reworking my links and pages and copying my content over before I cancel my old account.

So why am I doing this to myself?  Simple.  I haven’t been happy.  All this time I’ve been looking for a place to be blog happy.   That wasn’t Drupal, and it wasn’t Typepad.  It wasn’t even WordPress.com.

I’m so thrilled with this version of WordPress, though, that I’ve just installed it about eight times.  It’s pretty.  What can I say?  It’s easy to feel very slick with this.  Instead of the dozens of templates to choose from on Blogger, WordPress.com or Typepad, you’ve got hundreds of free WordPress theme downloads available to make your site look very nice.  You also only have to know a little bit about html and css to tweak the themes yourself.  Very slick stuff.

Therefore, I’m staying here for a good long while.  Really.  I’m not kidding this time.

A few years ago at CCCC, I saw the name tag Jeff Rice walk by.  I didn’t think “There’s Jeff Rice.”  I thought “There’s Yellow Dog.”  He had blogdentity.

I’m not exactly shooting for having everyone call me Haphazardry.  I just want my blog to be in a place where everybody knows its name.  Wish me luck.  Cheers.