I just like this:

“We cannot teach and you cannot learn in these conditions.”

It’s a sign of the times. A good friend of mine goes to Berkeley and received this email from one of his professors. He said it was sent out to the entire English department. He also mentioned that “they” (the student and teachers) have demanded the resignation of the chancellor and are planning an even larger protest this coming week (perhaps November 15th?!)

Dear students,

You will by now have seen many video clips of police violence against our peaceful protesters.  But I want to make sure you see this one:  a fuller
version of this video was originally posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-5y03GonkI) but later, after growing awareness that it documented the mistreatment of UCB faculty, was mysteriously taken down so that it is no longer accessible, as you will see if you click on the original link.  However, a secure copy of a portion of it–documenting the arrest of English professor Celeste Langan who is yanked to the ground by her hair after presenting her wrists for arrest–was fortunately preserved in a Baycitizen article.  This is the link:

http://www.baycitizen.org/occupy-movement/story/uc-berkeley-pledges-investigate-police/

This video also shows, though not as clearly as the original, English professor and poet, Geoffrey O’Brien, at the top left perimeter of the student crowd interposing himself, arms extended, between police and students.  This is, as I mentioned in class, the protective stance many faculty took two years ago.  The results were different this time. Professor O’Brien was later hit with batons–his injuries may take two months to heal–when he put his body between a young woman and the police who were beating her.

The physical and psychological abuse of students and faculty is inimical to the educational mission of our university and has no place in our community.  We cannot teach and you cannot learn in these conditions.  All of this is quite apart from our legal rights to assemble and speak.  The
violence exercised against us was no accident.  It was calculated and planned, as the following YouTube video shows.  This was taken in October
by an alert student who had the foresight to comprehend how it might prove relevant; let it remind us that in the current climate we must, sadly,
remain vigilant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAx_tDn2zus&sns=em

What happened last week may have surprised many of us (many of us can no longer be surprised), but it was no surprise to those who have been
planning on it for some time.

Many faculty and students are mobilizing to ensure the safety of our campus against those who should be protecting, not hurting us.  I want thank
those of you who have already begun to make your voices heard, and to reassure those of you who hesitate in this unconscionable climate of fear,
that there is safety in the growing numbers of people with and behind you. You don’t have to be ‘political’, just a person.

There are many powerfully responsive movements in swing; I myself have articulated strong support for a resolution of the Academic Senate (UCB
faculty) along these lines:  no weapons, no exterior forces on campus unless explicitly called for by the Chancellor.  Such a resolution would clarify responsibility for future violence against our students and faculty and lay the ground for future censure of those responsible (i.e. a vote of no-confidence).  A great many faculty have already signed a powerfully-worded protest petition.  Legal experts around the country are getting involved, and as are other national organizations.

Check out these links:

Berkeley City Council is behind us  (remember those tents by Berkeley High haven’t seemed to issue in violent beatings of protesters!)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/10/1035074/-Breaking:-Berkeley-City-Council-has-Ended-Mutual-Aid-Agreements-With-Other-Jurisdictions?via=siderec

Steven Colbert is behind us (and also funny, whether you are conservative or liberal!)

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/402024/november-10-2011/occupy-u-c–berkeley?xrs=share_copy

And this one is just, well, sad.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/164535/penn-state-and-berkeley-tale-two-protests

There is so much more to say and do, but I will end by saying that, in honour of my colleagues and my students–to whom I have devoted every day
of the last 17 years–and in honour of the principle and possibility of public education in which I fervently believe, we will not be having class next Tuesday; and by doing:  I will be participating, body and mind, in the strike/day of action (15th November), and invite you to join me and many,
many others who want something different for ourselves and for those who will come after us.

All best wishes (and don’t forget to study *Guy of Warwick* as an act of protest against those who would eradicate the humanities because it’s not,
well, lucrative; without us, it dies),

Jennifer Miller

“My heart has drifted out into a place I cannot find.”

Here’s another short I submitted to workshop. Direct quote from my professor on the piece: “I like this–it’s not very edgy (what I expect from you), but there is more attention to language and voice.” Hm. Thanks, I guess. Pretty good critique for a first draft I suppose.

Dash

We started training back in February. Initially, we would go on walks together around the neighborhood. When we would get back within two blocks of the house, she’d want to race me. We’d take off, the wind in our ears and the first couple times I beat her, but very quickly, she became faster than me. I assumed she must have been practicing. We had tried to go jogging together before, but she just couldn’t go the distance—she never lasted and it didn’t help that she’d been built with such stubby legs. I’d end up waiting for her on the curb, half of a mile in. I guess sprinting was her thing and I’m sure she loved the fact that she was better at it than me. I had run track in high school and so I took it upon myself to become her trainer.

We still went on walks, but having the long, narrow backyard that we did, made for a perfect 100-meter-dash practice track. I bought a stop watch and built her a starting block out of some wood scraps I got from dad, who would also help out, standing at the finish line with me, calling her, cheering her on. She loved the extra motivation and the treats he usually had waiting for her.

Training wasn’t always easy. She would get bored and run into the house, ignoring my calls or get distracted and wander down the opposite side of the yard. This is usually when her selective hearing would kick in; when the cookies or jerky weren’t worth her time. But I was relentless and somehow we managed to get a good solid training in at least five days a week. And at the end of practice, you could tell that she felt good, that she was proud of herself, that she was top dog.

The day of the big race was finally upon us. We both woke up a little nervous, but she was obviously more excited than anything else. You could tell by the way she kept running and jumping around the house. I kept having to tell her to calm down; save that nervous energy to propel her in the race. When we got down to the Del Mar fairground the crowd was a lot larger than I had expected. We checked in and picked up her numbered jersey, which I promptly helped her into. We walked down to the track to see if we could get a quick warm up in and size up the competition. Being an open race made for a pretty diverse group. There were a lot of younger, leaner looking runners, but overall, I was confident in her abilities.

An announcement was made that the race would start in 10 minutes and that runners, coaches and spectators needed to take their places. We looked at each other—it was time. I wished her luck, gave her a quick kiss on the head and left her at the starting block. I walked down to the finish line, my stomach in knots.

It all came down to this:  the Weiner Nationals—the annual dachshund race hosted by Wienerschnitzel.

Oops, I did it again.

Last time I said I might post some of the stories I’ve been working on for my big critique in my creative writing class. With my critique right around the corner (Tuesday), I figured what better time than now to share one of these stories. My bf told me this particular story reminds him of the way Raymond Carver writes. I thought that was nice of him to say.

Enjoy! (Or don’t. I don’t really care. That’s the kind of mood I’m in. I blame my filthy history homework.)

 

Settled by Me

 

“I can play this song on the guitar.”

“Really?” She changes the station.

“I can play this song too.”

“Cool.” The song ends and a new one begins to play.

“Oh, and this one.”

She takes her hand from the button.

“I scored one hundred percent singing ‘Maps’ on RockBand once.” She gives him an expectant sideways glance, a half smile forming on her lips. He says nothing, eyes on the road.

Hmph. She leans her head on the window, eyes tracing the rolling green hills. I could do this. I could live here; settle down. It can’t be that bad, it’s what people do. The scenery is pretty. I might get bored. No, only boring people get bored. Maybe if we got a dog—

“You know you still haven’t given me a song to learn on the guitar for you. One that will make you go all butter knees.” He takes his right hand off the wheel and rests it on her knee, shaking it gently, smiling.

That’s because I don’t want you to ruin one of my favorite songs, she thinks to herself.

“I’m just trying to think of the perfect song. It’s not an easy decision.” Plus your range is limited and I want to be sure it’s a song I won’t mind never listening to again.

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever met that is unimpressed with and hasn’t succumbed to my guitar playing charms.”

“Well maybe it’s time you learned some new tricks. And who said I was unimpressed?” She nudges him playfully on the shoulder and puts her hand in his, interlocking their fingers.

“You’re just so—“

“You know I’m not the kind of girl that falls all over herself like that.”

She gives his hand a quick squeeze and pulls away, turning her eyes back on the rolling green hills, not knowing what else to say; not wanting to hurt his feelings.

“I know, I know. Just let me know when you think of a song.” He turns up the radio and starts to sing along. She watches him out of the corner of her eye, studying his face. He’s not bad looking.

He catches her and gives a grin, his front teeth overcoming his bottom lip.

Oh God, I hate that goofy bucked-tooth smile. He doesn’t even have bucked teeth and he somehow manages to make himself look like that. The way he juts his chin out. Is he trying to be cute? It’s embarrassing. I can’t stand it.

She gives him a squinty-eyed smile back, gritting her teeth.

“There it is.” She looks up to see the football stadium sized building in its trademark blue with yellow letters that are roughly three-stories tall.

“The Swedish furniture mecca! We’ll practically fill your apartment in a one trip.”

“That’s the plan.”

After spending hours agonizing over dressers, end tables, chairs, shelving and everything else under the bright florescent lights, they finally found themselves at the end in textiles and home accessories.

“Will you stop rushing me?” There was an edge in his voice.

“How can you not know what you like and want? There are only so many options here.” She plops down on a display bed and crosses her arms, watching him as he goes over his list and the myriad of numbers he’s written down.

“Well I want to make sure I make the right choice. So just hang on.”

She gets up and walks on ahead of him anyway. “Look, there are all of the dishes. Isn’t that on your list?”

He catches up to her standing in front of the wall display of tableware. “What about the blue ones over there?”

“Everything you pick out is blue.”

“It’s a good color.”

She walks to one end of the display, he to the other. “What about these white ones?” he asks.

“These brown ones are cool. Neutral. Square.”

“I think I like the white.”

Of course you do. White like your t-shirts. White like your SUV. White like the walls of your apartment are and will remain.

“OK.”

“Hey, I think I see pillows and bedding over there.” He says pointing.

“Yes! Replace those bags of sand you call bed pillows.”

They walk over and begin feeling out all of the pillows on display. Foam, cotton, feather. She rests her head the fluffiest down pillow she can find.

“I’ve found one.” He motions for her to come over, holding the pillow out for her to touch.

“Feels good to me.”

“Will you put it in the bag?” she takes it from him and puts it in the obnoxious oversized bag she’s been carrying around for the last hour.

“You’re only getting one?”

“Yeah, it’s all I need.”

“Oh. OK.”

He puts his arm around her shoulders as they start walking toward the warehouse, “I’m really glad you came with me today.”

She stares on ahead of her, “Me too.”

I haven’t posted for two months!

Oh the horror. I used to feel guilty about this, but the other day I thinking, “You know, I just have no urge to blog right now. Maybe I should just delete it?” But that would be ridiculous and then all of that terrible Puritan guilt kicked in and now here I am.

So I am happy to report that I was published again back in early August! A little literary journal called The Bay Bridge Review has taken three of my stories. I’d post a link to their site, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. Weird.

I suppose I have been busier writing stories than I have blogs. Which is probably a good thing. And some of my stories have actually ended up more than 150 words! Perhaps I will post some of the first drafts of the stories I wrote for my massive creative writing critique for this semester. We’ll see…

It’s good to be back!

Could this be considered a form of discrimination?

For reals?!

I saw this a couple of weeks ago whilst trying to spend some birthday dough. Honestly, it’s not like they’re disabled. Most pregnant women choose to be pregnant and have small children. And what if one was a week or a month pregnant? Would one still be eligible to park there? Ridiculous!

Where’s my “Single Female” special parking spot?!

The Seven (and then some) Stages of a Break Up.

 1. Hurt/Angry: You’re angry and sad; you cry and you yell and cry some more because it hurts so bad and you feel so violated and you’re angry and just can’t stop until you pass out from exhaustion.

*Somewhere in between you start to remind yourself of something a friend once told you: “It’s OK when your heart breaks because…” but you can’t remember the rest so you just keep telling yourself, “It’s OK when your heart breaks. It’s OK.”

2. Shock: You go through your day-to-day life numbly; a hollow shell of your former self. You may even be able to talk about the break up without crying. The Hurt/Anger comes back sporadically during this time, the pain coming from your heart in small doses is released via tears.

3. Sadness: Deep, painful, unbearable sadness that renders you incapable of keeping your composure and the only thing running through your head is, “Why?” And you suddenly want everything to rewind and go back to normal and you want to start over but know you can’t and so you just keep crying until your eyes are puffy and your nose is raw and there’s a pile of crumpled tissues next to your bed and you tell yourself you’d rather be numb again or even bent over a toilet hungover; anything but what you feel now. Why? Why? Why?

This lasts for two days, but no more than three because you tell yourself you’re stronger than that and you remind yourself, “It’s OK when your heart breaks.”

4. Sadness Aftershocks: The sadness lingers, but is random. You feel the tears well-up when you have to talk about it, but you embrace and release, knowing that day-by-day it’s slowly fading and like a ship leaving the harbor, eventually it will be out of sight.

5. One Week: You hit the one-week-since-break-up mark without even realizing it and determine that starting now, there will be no more tears!

And there aren’t anymore. You experience quiet, quick moments of sadness but instead of dwelling on them, you move forward, past them. And for now, everything seems to be getting better…

6. Loss of Confidence: Self explanatory. You feel fat, ugly, dumb, etc. Generally unattractive as a whole. You wonder why guys don’t like you, why they cheat and then you feel worse that someone has robbed you of your confidence and you’re annoyed at yourself for letting them and that you’re feeling sorry for yourself and thinking this way in the first place! Annoyed! And fat!

*Somewhere in between these you actually miss him. But you loved him and you’re dealing with this break up and you’re lonely, so of course you would. Plus, you’re pms’ing and that’s what you chalk most (if not all) of these lonely feelings up to.

7. Man Hater Mode: You can’t stand them. You can’t stand the thought of being touched or kissed or holding hands. The thought of sex turns your stomach. You have to constantly pull yourself from a pessimistic place and remember the words of one of your oldest friends from the last time you went through a nasty break up: “You are not a man hater!” And this is what you constantly remind yourself, “I am not a man hater! I’m just going through a difficult time!” But you’re still having a hard time conversing (in a kind manner) with your male compatriots and you’re secretly hoping their romantic relationships crash and burn. And then you immediately feel absolutely terrible for thinking it (and actually writing it out!) and take it all back because, “I am not a man hater! I’m just going through a difficult time!”

Slowly all of this will fade and your confidence begins to reemerge and you stick with your current mantas, “It’s OK when your heart breaks” and “I am not a man hater! I’m just going through a difficult time!” and use the amazing, overwhelming, awe-inspiring love and support of your beautiful friends and family to help you heal. And you realize that while you may be jaded and pessimistic (and perhaps a bit self-deprecating), ultimately you haven’t given up on love. However, during this time you have also been contemplating the saying, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and think that maybe Alfred Lord Tennyson was full of shit (or drunk) when he said that. And then you laugh to yourself because you’re (mostly) kidding. Mostly.

And life goes on…



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