So, blog. I last checked in at the beginning of September. It’s mid November now. In my defense, this semester turned out much, much tougher than expected: merit review at school was due two months earlier than last year, I’m teaching from 9am until 6pm, a brutal schedule for anyone, and in early October, I found out my landlord decided to sell my home of 7 years, which meant throwing ourselves into one of the most expensive and competitive rental markets in recent history. It took four weeks to find a place, we’ve been packing and purging for three weeks, and will finally move next Friday. I’ll be leaving Oakland, the town where I grew up, because the encroaching gentrification leaking over from San Francisco has made it expensive and difficult to rent here and buying at these astronomical prices is out of the question. Which in and of itself is a heartbreaker, not to mention leaving this neighborhood and the people here. It’s been home for the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, other than my parents’ house.
So, you know. Hard times. But the new place is nice, and in a quiet, rural-ish part of the area. It’ll be a good place to write.
Let me make up for this long silence by taking a crack at a meme I got tagged for on Facebook but will try to get through here instead, just because I’m a chronic over-sharer (I write creative nonfiction; that’s what we do).
9 things you don’t know about me
1. My left leg is nearly two inches shorter than my right leg, which makes me walk with a loping, sluggish gait. People on campus at Berkeley walk really, really fast — the campus is huge — so in the midst of these rushing crowds of mostly short people, sometimes I feel like an Ent.
2. Educationally, my experiences were all over the map. Went to two elementary schools (one Catholic, one public), one Junior High (public), two high schools (one Catholic, one “alternative”), three colleges (two public, one Catholic) and two graduate writing programs (one public, one private) before I earned my degrees. Much of this was due to my teacher mother trying to find a school where I’d do well. In college, it was mostly due to my being depressed and/or stoned a lot of the time.
3. Although I’m sort of known as a “Catholic writer” (what does that even mean?), I consider myself to be an agnostic Catholic, a questioning Catholic, and a spiritual seeker who’s found her primary home in Catholicism. But over the years, a lot of my rage and anger at the institutional church has turned instead toward a desire to talk with people about the issues that bother me (you know, misogyny, homophobia, etc etc) rather than ranting about them. I guess you could call that maturity. But I’m still pretty sure Mary wasn’t a virgin for most of her life.
4. Speaking of religion, I have a lifelong case of what we might call Jewish envy. My love of Jewish faith, culture, rituals, art, music, food, and so on has sometimes made me wonder if I should reconsider the whole Jesus thing. Also, humor. A Jewish person who picked up my book recently asked me if I wasn’t secretly a Jew because he’d never read anything that funny from a Catholic writer.
5. If I go to a party, it takes me two days to feel normal again. Classic introvert.
6. Rituals before I can fall asleep include the usual face washing, tooth brushing and flossing, and pillow punching, but I’m also unable to fall asleep without cleaning the lint from between my toes if I’ve worn socks that day. Feet are gross.
7. Although, as the author of a book on indie, a former college radio DJ, and a person who owns a lot of vintage vinyl, I have impeccable music snob credentials, I really enjoy a lot of objectively corny music mostly by male singer/songwriters. Gordon Lightfoot, John Cougar Mellencamp (shut up, Scarecrow is a great album), Jim Croce. Okay, I’m ashamed of myself now.
8. My style is important to me, though I rarely write or talk about it, probably because I was part of the third wave of feminism and style was an issue that alarmed a lot of us. But I’ve never met a piece of big jewelry, a pair of beautiful leather boots, or a sweater I didn’t like. My nails are always painted, I wear makeup every day, and I try to keep my hair interesting. My style just sort of does its own thing: I don’t read fashion magazines or blogs, but I look at what other people are wearing a lot, and I think about clothes as an expression of identity a lot. And I find it mildly depressing that many women in academia and a lot of female writers see style as antithetical to intelligence or substance. It’s a challenge dressing an atypical body type like mine (tall but not thin), but I enjoy it, and as I’m a somewhat withdrawn person in real life, my clothes can speak on my behalf.
9. Without prompting, sometimes I start reciting Hamlet’s soliloquies, which sounds terribly snobby, but Hamlet was my father’s favorite play.