Monday, November 27, 2006

So the space heater I bought last year for $60.00 at Target has not been working and my room is the approximate temperature of the inside of someone's refrigerator. And the guy from PG & E isn't coming to light the pilot light until Thursday because of course it only occured to me to call them AFTER it got cold, when 9,000,000 other people are on line ahead of me.

And I'm on my fourth cell phone in six months from Anthony, the poor guy who sells them down in Emeryville because I keep breaking them, dropping them, spilling water on them, keeping the batteries charging all night long which kills the batteries...and he keeps offering me better, more sophisticated cell phones; "This one you can take pictures with," "This one has an FM radio and a videocam," "This one will do your laundry, and write the essay you're halfway through..."

And I say, "Anthony," (I'm sure he regrets the day I ever darkened the threshold of his little shop,) "Anthony, I don't care if it takes pictures or not. I just want something that won't break." It seems to me that I ask very little of my appliances--perhaps too little. All I want is for them to turn on when I need them.

Maybe appliances are like men and they like it when you make exotic demands on them, because it strokes their egos and makes them feel like Prince Charming. Perhaps my problems with electronics and my romantic woes can be traced to the same fatal flaw in my personality. Whatever.

What's true is that I spent the day partly at Target, buying another space heater, because they won't repair my old one on the premises and I need some heat in my room or I won't be able to take my clothes off tonight, and the rest of the day standing around at Anthony's repeating, "I want a NEW battery. Not a used one. I'll pay for it. I want a NEW bsttery," while he scrounged around among the boxes, where of course there was not a single new battery that fit my phone.

Meanwhile, the department head at New College asked me to teach a class in Memoir, which I'm very excited about. I've got to write a syllabus by December 10 (Help! How do you write a syllabus?) and meanwhile I'm having fun pondering all the choices of books I can have the students read.

I know I want them to read a wonderful book by Martha Beck called Leaving the Saints about her relationship with the Mormon church, and how she found her own kind of spirituality. And I found another great book at the bookstore today called From Leadbelly to Mozart, by Ernest J. Gaines, about how he came to write The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying. I'm thinking of Sharon Doubiago because she's such a stylist, I'm thinking of Teaching Lolita in Teheran, I'm thinking...any suggestions?

Meanwhile, my brilliant and organized sister gave me a great idea for a writing exercise to do with the students and also gently informed me that the end of November was possibly a little late in the day to start trying to arrange an overseas volunteer stint for Christmas. Point taken, but I'm still going to make inquiries because things DO have a way of happening for me at the last minute--it just seems to be the way my life happens. In fact, I discovered my favorite writer, Grace Paley, on a table full of bargain books in Cambridge, Mass. when I saw the title of her wonderful book of stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and picked it up and thought, "That's me!"


Anonymous said...

LOL about the syllabus! Have you considered AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE? Plus there are so many great pieces from the SUN. I will have my students in my seminar (From Angst to Art) to purchase an issue of the SUN for that purpose. I'm not sure how you do things at New School. The university system is generally pretty strict about the syllabus, learning outcomes, scholarship, etc. (kinda takes a lot of the fun outa things). So I always have to be sure to beef up my courses with scholarly stuff and throw around phrases like "the Modernists" and "The Confessionals" and "The New Criticism." :-D Let me know how it goes! I'm excited for you!!

Alison said...

Autobiography of a Face is a great idea!!! Thanks, Theresa! You're a gem!

Anonymous said...

I came so close to having a chance to meet her. Our university had chosen her book for our common reading experience. One of the criteria of the CRE is that the author must be living and able to come to the university. Shortly after her book had been chosen, she died. It was devastating. Have you also read the memoir Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett? Ann was Lucy's friend and the memoir is about their friendship. BTW, I very recently read "Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You." It is a memoir about incest. It won the AWP Award for Creative Non-Fiction. So raw and powerful. One of the things I loved about it is that she also traces her love of books and writing and ends with her being a teacher and showing her students the way. What a story! Don't know if it'd work in your classroom, but it's worth reading at some point. I am SO excited for you, Alison. Do let me see your syllabus when you've finished it!