Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh my.

...an epic night on Twitter.


We finally have 50 followers!! Hooray!

Good Advice from Jonathan Franzen:

"If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are. And if you succeed in manipulating other people into liking you, it will be hard not to feel, at some level, contempt for those people, because they’ve fallen for your shtick."

Full article: HERE.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jane Pratt and Jane Mendle saved my life today!

I woke up this morning after a dream that Jane Pratt and I had revived Sassy magazine...only to discover, of course, that it wasn't true. That I don't know Jane Pratt. That I can't buy Sassy magazine ever again. That all of the women's/teen girl's publications are crap.

I published a "tweet" about this...

...only to find that a Jane who I do know, my lovely friend Jane Mendle, sends me a tweet in response informing me that Jane Pratt has a new web site!!!

AND: get ready...it is very much like Sassy...only better because it is a more grown up version, with contributions by and a staff composed of former Sassy and Jane editors/writers!! A dream come true!!!

Ah. It is the Day of Jane. We should just make it a holiday, celebrating both Jane Pratt, my idol, and Jane Mendle, who is now in my will.

Love, love, love.

Check it out: XOJane.com. (And, as you surf, imagine me blissfully happy.) I don't care that it isn't just like Sassy (or that some of it might seem like a "self parody" as mentioned in the article below)...I am just happy to have Jane Pratt back in print--even digital print!

More info about the web site: Article.

CLEARLY, my dream was prophetic.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To the citizens of Joplin, a letter from Tuscaloosa:

Please read this lovely letter written by B.J. Hollars, a friend and fellow UA instructor/writer: To the citizens of Joplin, a letter from Tuscaloosa.

B.J. is a wonderfully talented author with an amazing soul. This is my favorite part of the letter:

"I should warn you, also, that you will soon be inundated with a storm of another sort. Everyone will want to help you, and even those of you who were spared the worst of it will receive a knock on your door, someone pleading with you to take a bottle of water.

Accept it.

This is a small gift from a person who feels as helpless as you do, and even if the good you are doing feels not good enough, just remember you’re helping by taking it."

It made me cry. Again.

What I am reading now...

I am always reading a few books at once. Depending upon my mood or what my soul needs at the time, I pick up whatever book feeds that need. Sometimes, I am just interested in a good romance story. (And, in case you haven't noticed, I really am against people labeling something as high or low brow literature. I couldn't care less. For me, all reading nourishes something. The prose doesn't have to be prize-winning or anything as long as the images and experience bring pleasure to the reader.) Other times, I want to read non-fiction, a play, or something with a supernatural edge. I like to read it all.

Over the last week or so, I finished reading two plays:

"Class" by Charles Evered

I first mentioned this play in my "Thought-Provoking People" post about Thaao Penghlis. If you want to buy it, I recommend ordering directly from Broadway Play Publishing. They were wonderful to get in touch with me immediately and ship the play to me right away. And, no, this is not a paid advertisement. I only mention it because Amazon has limited copies (and, when I ordered it last week, they didn't have any...since then I have seen four copies available on their screen). I was a little reluctant to order from BPP, but sucked it up because I really wanted the play (you can only send your info by E-mail, fax, or mail...and I don't like my info out there like that in this crazy world). Still, like I said they were wonderful. So, order from them! This play is amazing. Though cliched a tiny bit at times, the dialogue is excellent, as is the exploration of a certain kind of teacher/student relationship. Anyway, a short (very short) review I wrote is on my Amazon.com Profile Page. Just scroll down, because the first review is of the next play I will mention...

"Oleanna" by David Mamet

Again, I have a review of this one on my Amazon Profile Page. I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as I thought that I would, but I understand its importance. I am looking forward to reading some criticism about it, so maybe that will make me enjoy it more!

As for what I am currently reading....

Amaryllis in Blueberry is available at bookstores and at Amazon. I am really enjoying this one right now. People seem to have one of two reactions to the book: they love it or hate it. I really like it a lot, but I can see where some people wouldn't. The prose is beautiful, in my opinion, but it might turn some people off. More to come on this book once I finish it...

The other book I am reading is The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch.

(Source: Borders)

The cover for this one falls on the "mature" side. The one above is clearly a new version, but if you look it up on most places, you will see something different. So. Be forewarned before you go to Amazon. In any case, this book is an incredible exploration of the grieving process. I downloaded the Kindle version and started it last night...wow. Painful stuff. Beautiful...but excruciating. Don't go there unless you really want to do so. Again, more on this later...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Update after update after update...

So many things have happened in just a matter of weeks, you know? I just feel like I haven't had a chance to really update this blog well in a long time. Basically, things have just been really busy.

First of all, as you all know, there was the tornado.

Then, there was the stress of trying to locate all of my students and getting their grades settled. The way this semester ended really makes me sad. I mean, I am not complaining about missing out on the hours of giving and grading finals. Oh, no. That is fine. But, this was my final semester to teach (I hope not forever), and I just didn't get a chance to end everything in my mind.

The reason it is my last time to teach? Because I got a job! Yes, that is absolutely a good thing. I am now full time at the magazine, which is great because it is a university position. Benefits are a wonderful thing. I am not being sarcastic when I say that I feel like I have achieved the American dream. I have BENEFITS. Insurance that won't cost me a fortune and all kinds of other little things. But, most importantly, I finally got that most elusive of items: the faculty/staff parking decal. Honestly, that is the biggest perk in the world! :)

But, I do love my job. I get to spend all day reading, editing, researching, and, sometimes, writing.

And, speaking of writing, I didn't get to go to the Mobile event to film my part in the documentary about Augusta Evans Wilson because it was the weekend right after the tornado. But, the director will be coming back to AL this summer and we are planning to do it then. I hate that I missed the Southern Literary Trail event. I really wanted to talk about AEW.

Still, I have several writing projects going on at the moment. I will go ahead and briefly mention one: I am writing an article about a pirate!!! I am super excited about this one! I really can't wait. This guy is a complete rogue and so ruggedly handsome (one painting exists...he lived in the late 1700s/early 1800s).

Other than that, the dissertation is still going along okay. I am finally back to working on it regularly, again, which is a relief. I just turned in two revisions today (the intro and first chp), but I am still working on another chapter revision. Once that is done, I can go back to writing again, but these needed to be better before I did anything else.

Also, I am trying to be good about exercising again, especially because I am sitting so much now. I walked/ran four miles today, and I am so glad to be back to it. I feel so much better, mentally and physically.

So, that is it for now! Until next time...

A great piece about the Tuscaloosa torndao

This is another wonderful piece, published by Pank and written by Brian Oliu:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A great interview!

Please check out this great blog interview with my friend Elizabethttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifh Wade (I published a link to one of her poems earlier). Elizabeth is incredibly talented. If any of you enjoy writing or reading, do yourself a favor and read this:

Elizabeth Wade interview.

The blog, Kikugirl, is great, too! I will be posting a permanent link to it in my "favorites" to the right...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The blog has 49 followers...

...come on number 50!!!

The Rapture

It just can't happen yet. I haven't finished my dissertation (AND I WILL NOT BECOME A STATISTIC!!!) and I haven't read all of the books I want to read. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sorry for the lack of updates lately!

I will get back on track, but with the tornado craziness and starting a new full-time position, I am trying to adopt a new schedule. :) I will be back very soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My childhood neighborhood: Tornado photos

Somehow, the street I lived on partially survived. Our old house did, too, though it and the others around it are uninhabitable. We were able to get closer, but it was sad and like a ghost town...

(Source: All photos were taken by me. This is the neighborhood where I spent my childhood...well, what is left of it. In the background of this photo, you can see a blue house with red brick. To the left of that house, though hard to see, is our old house.)

(Source: my photo. Another view...)

(Source: My photo. This is a close up of the house you can see in the first photo that looks like it is leaning in the front of the picture. I was amazed.)

(Source: My photo. This was taken from the opposite direction of the first photo. I am standing on the same spot, just facing the opposite direction. If I had not traveled these streets so much as a child, I would not know where I was.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mr Richard Smethurst: Still my favorite host ever

You can read more about him here: Richard Smethurst.

Note: this post is really just a random memory that came into my head today...

I think about Richard Smethurst quite often--probably because he gave me two of my best memories during my time in Oxford, when I traveled there with the Alabama at Oxford program to England. Our group camped out in the luxurious (seriously) dorms at Worcester College, and a couple of nights before our stay was complete, Smethurst invited the faculty to a lovely formal dinner.

I don't have any photos of that evening, but let's just say that it was very elegant and the most amazing experience. He also hosted a garden Pimms party for our students the next evening, right before our final formal hall. (You can see the garden party photos here. I am looking pale and exhausted from spending an entire day at the Bodleian library....but keep scrolling down, because I look much better at dinner...post several Pimms.)

(Smethurst at our student/faculty garden party on our last night in Oxford. He is talking to my friend and faculty member, Allen Jones, and a student. I think this photo captures his personality perfectly!)

Anyway, one of the best memories is not something I can repeat on here because it would just be me indulging in a little schadenfreude...and I shouldn't do that...at least publicly. But the other memory, like I said, was the experience of the dinner party. Though I am sure Smethurst rather would have spent his time with more exciting people, he made us feel incredibly welcome and important. In some ways, he was like an old southern gentleman. He made sure that all of us were included in conversations--even me, the lowest of the low on the prestige totem pole. I was grateful for the entire experience, and when I hear the word "Gentleman," I automatically associate it with this man.

I found out that he retired as Provost, so I hope that he is enjoying life. And, thank you, again, Mr. Smethurst!

Tuscaloosa Runs This: E-book

Please check out this E-book compiled/written by several of our talented writers in Tuscaloosa, many of whom are in the MFA program at UA. Many of whom I call friends. It is a response to the recent events (i.e. the tornado) in Tuscaloosa.

The book is free to download and is an incredibly beautiful and important project:


(PS: an explanation of the title is in the intro....that should lure you in, too.)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I am taking a week to do what I want...

...well, sort of. :)

I am still working some this week, but I am not working on the dissertation. Instead, I am reading a lot of fun stuff and writing on projects that are personal and not so serious.

But, all of this is happening for a very important reason...

Get ready for it...


And not in a temporary, student-position kind of way, but in a real "I am making a salary and have benefits" kind of way!

I am super excited and so grateful! Anyway, I will come back to this shortly. But I had to share!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mylee's Dedication:

(Melanie and Mylee before the service.)

(Melanie, her mom, and Mylee, after the service.)

(Me, Melanie, and Mylee after the service.)

Thanks for inviting me to this special event today!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Thank you, Your Majesty!

"I have been appalled and saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life caused by the terrible storms that have hit Alabama and the south of the United States. Please pass on my deep sympathy to the families and friends of all those who have been killed and to all those who have been affected."--Queen Elizabeth

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Queen Elizabeth sends message of sympathy to tornado victims of southern USA - National British Royal Family | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/british-royal-family-in-national/queen-elizabeth-sends-message-of-sympathy-to-tornado-victims-of-southern-usa#ixzz1Lj9MJx31

Friday, May 06, 2011


Another "Thought-Provoking" People post is forthcoming...but I don't know when, exactly! The tornado has created chaos in this city and in my mind! I have so much work to catch up on, but things are coming along!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tuscaloosa: A Moment of Silence

Please observe a moment of silence today from 5:13-5:14 to remember the people killed in last Wednesday's tornado here in Tuscaloosa.

Thank you.

A baby step in the direction of normal...

I went back to work at the magazine on Monday, and, because I was slammed with text to get to our designer, I was able to concentrate on work. Now, however, we have a bit of down time and it is really hard to concentrate on working when I really just want to know what is going on with my students and with everything in the city.

Today was a bit better, though. I actually printed out some articles for my dissertation research...a huge step for me because I haven't tried to touch it in over a week.

But, other things are looking better in town, too. Roads are opening up (though traffic can be at a standstill), business are slowly opening up, and people are getting out to do normal things a bit more. And though you can't go anywhere without feeling the sadness and devastation, there is also a tremendous spirit of hope in this community right now.

My mom called me after going to the grocery store and said that she and another woman were talking about how wonderful everyone is being to one another.

If only it would last, she said.

Very true. Here's hoping, Tuscaloosa.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Forgotten Tuscaloosa/Alabama/South

I still don't know just yet how to talk about the tornado. I am not inconvenienced horribly by the tornado damage (I have my life and I have a home), but I did experience it and I am still living in the weird space that has become my town. I still haven't quite processed things just yet. I was fine until yesterday morning when I finally made it into work (navigating routes through and around the city is tricky). When I pulled into the parking deck across from my office, I just started to cry because it was the first normal thing I have done in days.

But, more importantly, I am getting really angry about the way the news organizations have forgotten us down here. I realize that the news about bin Laden is important to report, but we have a catastrophe going on down here in our own country. Like I said, I don't undermine it, but we have serious problems right now. At least our own local paper only put a diminished headline about his death and devoted the rest of the space to our own needs.

But on a larger scale, this is what we have: On Google's top news links today, there wasn't a single mention of Tuscaloosa or tornadoes or anything.

Ryan Seacreast was a top news link...but nothing about here.

And that has nothing to do with Google. It has everything to do with the interests of the people on Google. Says a lot.

And CNN.com only has two pathetic links...while Fox News...well, I didn't see a single link there. It is disturbing, but this always happens when things like this occur in our part of the country. People around the country (and the world, for that matter) talk a big talk when they discuss wanting to improve things in the southern United States, but getting things done isn't the most reliable process. They show up immediately, get a few interviews and create awe and excitement about the damage...and, then...well, nothing.

Right now, we need action.

For President Obama and the First Lady to come here was a huge deal. We appreciate it so much. No one cared about political differences that day (though we have plenty of democrats here!). We just want support and to know that we aren't forgotten.

And, then, yesterday, Charlie Sheen showed up. At least he came.

There are a handful of celebrities and publicly important people out there who are trying to advocate for support for us. We are eternally grateful.

But the majority of the people here are just regular citizens and workers from around the country. And they are WONDERFUL. We love them so much and appreciate them so much. We can use their help and are grateful, but this recovery and relief effort needs more attention. I want to see more advocacy from celebrities, politicians, charities, etc. This is a second huge blow to a state that was already suffering economically. We had the BP Oil spill, and now we have this.

And, I don't expect that we are the top news...but we deserve more coverage and attention than we are getting.

But, to the rest of the world more interested in Ryan Seacrest than you are about the tragedy that is happening here: you seriously need to examine your priorities.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Charlie Sheen is in Tuscaloosa...

...and that just goes into my new file titled "Surreal Tuscaloosa". Because, now, there isn't anything that is out of the ordinary.

And, yet...he showed up. That says something. With the news of Bin Laden and the royal wedding/etc., we really hope that Tuscaloosa won't be forgotten.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


This has to be the most surreal week ever. Much to be proud of in spite of the darkness.

And, as for the news of a few minutes ago:

While I don't believe in celebrating death, I do believe in applauding justice.

Rest in peace, 9/11 victims.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

So, Wednesday night (the day of the tornado), the trailer for the new HP movie aired...I was so hyped to see it. Well, I just have.


Tornado Footage:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What I saw on my television before the power went out...yeah...not pleasant. Then, we heard it: