Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New Year's Resolutions

I don't know how many of you are in the habit of making New Year's resolutions at the end of the year. I like to call them GOALS. Anyway, I've got a few goals for 2005 and I'd be interested in hearing some of yours. Here are some of my goals for 2005:

1. Read a collection of poetry a week.
2. Cut the amount of time I'm on the computer.
3. Eat healthier foods.
4. Be a better teacher.
5. Become a more disciplined writer.
6. Become a better listener.
7. Be better about keeping in touch (Courtesy of Rigoberto)
8. Be more open-minded (Courtesy of Barbara Jane Reyes)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sleepy . . .

. . . but I can't sleep. I'm in one of those weird waking states where my body is fatigued, but my brain is hyper-active. It sort of feels like I'm over-caffeinated, but I know it's not caffeine.

In truth, I'm a bit stressed, but I'll get over it after Thursday.

Travel was not so bad. I'd been following the awful incidences of air-travel this past weekend, but fortunately I didn't suffer any of those problems. I must say that in my years of travelling, I've learned not to check bags.

Anyway, currently sitting in a hotel room. The hotel provides free internet service. Yay!

By the way, I received only one of the items on my wish list: brown shoes.

Aside from brown shoes, I got underwear, undershirts, and socks. I get underwear, undershirts, and socks every year from my mother. She's trying to drop me a hint about something . . . I'm not sure what, exactly.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Papatya's here!

I added my buddy, Papatya's blog to the blog list.

Good to see you, Pops!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A day with a car

Watch out, Boise, Idaho! I'm coming at you like a mad dog!

Yes, that's right . . . I get to use my dad's pick-up truck today. How's that for regressing back to high school?

Ahhhh . . . the cars I have known.

Our family car used to be a lime-green Ford Pinto back in the 70's. After that, we got a station wagon with faux wood panels on the sides. Our longest-running love affairs with automobiles were with the Toyota Camrys.

But . . . I never drove any of those cars.

The first car I owned was a used Ford Tempo G/L. It was the most gutless thing on the road. I swear it'd idle in the most awful places . . . on highways, going up hills . . . After that I spent a lot of time in my dad's HONKING HUGE sky-blue Ford pick-up. In the wilds of Oregon (Or-Eh-Gun) we all drove pick-ups. We frequently went trout fishing in the Hells Canyon area.

Anyway, now I've got dad's pick-up for the day. I think I'm going to go fetch my some ciggs, bust out a brew, turn the dial to some honky-tonk, and sit on the pick-up bed in a folding chair checking out the girls coming out of the bowling alley with their ultra high bangs. So sexy.

Kidding . . . though there are people that actually do that in Ontario, OR.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

X-mas Licks

Some polar bears at the San Diego zoo got an early Christmas present. Yum!

My break so far . . .

I've been feasting on home-cooked Filipino food since the 14th. Yum yum. I've basically had Adobo and Sinigang for a straight week and I'm not tired of it yet.

I also think I've gained the obligatory holiday weight. I haven't been exercising as I normally do, but you know what . . . it's the holidays.

Let's see . . . I still can't sleep in. Try as I might, I wake up right between 7 and 8 AM, no matter what time I go to sleep at night. When I wake up, the folks are already out of the house, so I leisurely drink my coffee, watch highlights of Sportscenter, and then proceed to read a bit.

I'm in the midst of finishing up Richard Hugo's Triggering Town. Very yummy read. He sounds like he was a generous teacher.

Aside from reading, I've been watching and re-watching my Return of the King Extended Version DVD's. I've watched all the appendices (roughly 6 hours of documentary) and I'm going through the movie for a second time, this time with the Actors' commentary.

If you thought Barbara Jane was a geek . . . *cough*

Friday, December 17, 2004

To qwell boredom

I have decided to create a list of things I want for Christmas but may never get.

1. G5 Tower Computer (HA! Unlikely!)
2. 40GB iPod (Must save save save. Meantime, will use damaged iPod)
3. "With the Lights Out" Nirvana Boxed Set
4. Poetry Books (Lots and lots and lots)
5. An Xbox or a Playstation2 (Verboten. I will become a crusty, baggy-eyed couch potato if I get one of these. Still doesn't mean I can't WANT one though)
6. Brown shoes (I really don't own any nice ones. All my shoes are black)
7. A nice polar fleece
8. A photographic memory (Working on this currently. Will have the results after lead into gold project is completed)
9. A trip to Europe (May actually manage this one for the summer)
10. All my bills to be paid (The gift that keeps on giving, friends)


So . . . I'm bored. I'm very very bored. It's my first week back in the town of my youth. Good old Ontario, Oregon. Something must be said about a place that is within MALHEUR county.

Anyway, I'm stuck here without a car and you need wheels around this place. When I was in high-school, we'd all get together to drive out to Boise, ID. So basically, we'd go from a small hick town to a bigger hick town (in defense of Boise, ID, it's pretty hip now. Still doesn't solve the problem of not having a car).

I think the other thing we did was bowl. We'd bowl EVERY weekend. Trouble now is my bowling buddies all live in Portland, OR.

Still, other times a friend of mine would have the keys to one of the many Mormon centers and we'd gain access to the basketball court. That'd basically kill a few hours too.

So it seems I'm out of luck for the time being. Many of my friends are married or living elsewhere and I don't have a car. *sigh* I guess I have to write POEMS then. Hrmph.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Free at last!

So today's the last "official" day of the semester apart from finals week. I have the good fortune of not having to meet on finals week, so I'm technically finished with the Fall 2004 semester as of 12:30PM.

The weekend's looking pretty full, though. I've got two dinners to attend and a goodbye party for a friend who teaches at Hamilton.

Anyway my Christmas break isn't really going to be a break at all. I'll be going to the dreaded MLA conference where I'll be surrounded by dust-soaked tweed and leather elbow pads (apologies to anyone who actually dresses this way). I'll also have the opportunity to observe people in the humanities acting inhumane. I'm generalizing, of course. I'm just cranky because I have to leave Oregon early for the conference and I haven't seen my mom and dad since the summer.

I've also got a plan to write during the Christmas break. Two weeks in boring old Ontario, OR, will definitely keep me propped in front of my laptop writing poems about cow-pie chucking. By the way, I've somehow convinced Meredith that the Jackalope is an actual animal.


Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I am a geek.

Yes, I am a geek. Meredith taught me how to use Excel to compute my grades and I got REALLY excited. Not sexually excited, just extremely happy. So then I created other spreadsheets . . . one to compute how much I spent on book contests, one to track all my submissions. I spent a few hours creating spreadsheets of my classes and my writing portfolio.

When I was younger, my preference during play time was to fiddle with the computer instead of going outside with the neighborhood kids. Not much has really changed. I'm into all sorts of gadgetry. If it bleeps, clicks, buzzes, or hums, I'll want it. Hours, perhaps years, were spent in front of my Commodore 64 computer. That same side of me wants an Xbox or a Playstation 2. The reason why I don't go out and purchase one is that I know it'd be career-suicide. I'd never leave the house, never work, never eat. . . It's bad enough with the computer games I have installed on my Mac.

In other gadgetry news, I broke my iPod the other day while working out at the gym and it was like losing a fluffy dog. It was really strange. It was on my arm-band (another gadget), playing a track by Erland Oye. I leaned back into one of those fancy-schmancy Cybex work out machines, heard a *CLUNK* and felt the iPod on my armband shudder. The iPod didn't skip, but when I looked at it, I saw that the LCD screen had a discernable tear so that I couldn't read any of the text. I powered it off, then I powered it back on and still the LCD was broken. Heartbroken, I immediately went to a computer repair center after my half-hearted workout. The repair center called me a couple days later with bad news. The repair bill for the thing would be $300!!! That's about the cost of the darn thing in the first place.

So now I'm sans my favorite gadget and I'm yearning for another one. I do know how to calculate grades with Excel, though. At least that's something.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Big news in pinoy poetry

I'm a little late in blogging this. If you haven't heard already, Patrick Rosal was the winner of the Asian American Writers' Workshop Members' Choice Awards for his fantastic book, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive. If you've never heard him read, you've never heard thunder.

In other news, Sarah Gambito's book, Matadora has just been released. I read it in manuscript form and it knocked my socks off. I'll be watching for the mail. . .

Finally, I neglected to wish Joseph Legaspi a happy birthday. So . . . Happy Birthday, buddy! I'm sorry I'm such a heel. Good things in the mail will come . . . after I get paid. ;-)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I promised you a Christmas Tree

And I'll deliver . . . soon. Just discovered that there's a whole swatch of tree lights that are dimmed, so I'm going to have to fiddle with the bulbs a bit.

Anyway, it's snowing up here in Utica now. It's also dreadfully cold. The good thing about the cold at this time of year is that it forces me to stay indoors and be productive. I've cranked out grades on several revisions by students and I've finalized all the lesson plans in my classes. Things are settling down for the last push. Next week I'll have another stack of papers, portfolios, etc., but I won't feel as pressured as a normally do during the school year proper.

Once the semester's done, it's back to the writing desk for me. I've been juggling all sorts of advice, but I always fall back on locking myself in my room, reading voraciously, and assigning exercises for myself. Adrian Matejka called me up on Tuesday to light a fire under my butt. I guess my problem is that I've been "grade-comp-papers-mode" for the better bit of four months. I need to retrain my brain and I've got a little time to do it. I've also decided that I'm not going to wait for moments of inspiration. Usually I write poems in a series. I start one and I can't stop writing poems related to that series until I've used up the subject. Epic tradition? I don't know. My process is just painstaking.

When I was a biology student, way back when, I would write all my notes in long hand and then transcribe them in print. It was sick. I don't know how many organic chemistry formulas I wrote and rewrote. They're too numerous to count. Ask me now what I remember about O-chem and I can tell you about the teacher's Horn-rimmed glasses and tight polo t-shirts he'd wear. I could also tell you about camping out in the LMU cubicles nights before O-chem tests. But I can't tell you a damn thing about O-chem and I even TA'd the stupid class.

The point is, I'm a meticulous person. I've got too many stupid rituals to get myself to the writing table and I need to cut 'em back.

Here's one ritual that preceeds going to the writing table:

"Clean the house"

This is the ultimate in writerly procrastination. And I can assure you that without fail, before I engage in any writing activity, you'll see me vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing toilets, and scouring shower tiles. Papers need to be off the desk. Books need to be re-filed. Again, I refer back to my days as a young scientist studying for exams . . . nights before tests, I'd clean my entire apartment/dorm. My roommates loved it because they never cleaned a damn thing.

Years later, I've come to realize that my mother has the same habits. She'll clean an entire house before conferences, etc.. Only now, cleaning the house is fun for her. I don't think that cleaning house will ever be fun for me, but I still have to do it in order to commit pen to paper.

Poets, before you think about calling me to clean your houses, this cleaning ritual only works for my own domicle. It doesn't work for yard work or washing cars either. It's all about clearing my space . . . making my space sacred for my own writing.

I do have one habit that almost always supersedes my cleaning the house.

"Video Games"

I know what you're wondering. . . you're wondering, "What, is Oliver twelve?" I'm sorry, but I've been playing video games ever since I was eight. It's part of who I am. It relaxes me. It was so reassuring to hear that Adrian Matejka also plays video games and they also interfere with getting into writing rituals. I'm so glad I'm not the only one.

There've been times I was tempted to erase all the games off my computer hard drive, but I tell you, after teaching for six hours, my brain can't focus on my own writing, nor can my brain relax.

*sigh* I apologize for making you listen to me and all my excuses. I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Ok, so I admit it. I'm a procrastinator. My name is Oliver de la Paz and I procrastinate.