writing up a pole into an ass

I’m in one of those moods, where I have a to-do list and an action plan, but then I just kind of peter out, getting lost in the details and distraction of it all. I’ve been toying with the idea of teaching a writing class at Hofstra University, close to where I live. They’re asking me for the blurb description of the class, so the spring course listing can go to print. Only it’s a big commitment. I come alive and truly love helping people with their writing. It does not, however, help me with my own writing. Oh, you’d think it might. But, it just doesn’t. It’s like seeing the glaring problem in someone else’s relationship; it never ever helps you in your own life. It’s not my rule.

I’m on the fence about the class because on the one hand it will open me up to new experiences and people, engaging my mind, pushing me into new territory… needing to know how to cut people off when they ramble off topic in class, etc. But running a class takes a lot of prep work, especially with regard to what will be discussed each class. I like the idea of a topic for each class–something to keep in mind while reading the class-submitted work–as we workshop the class pieces. This does thrill me, but. But it takes time away from my own writing. I work really well when I’m in a workshop, when I have pieces due to a class. I spend the week working, making really thoughtful replies on the work of my peers, but it does swallow up a lot of my time. It’s not as if I can workshop my own work in a class I’d be teaching, as I’m being paid to help critique their work and not the other way around. So, I would need to teach a class and also take a class/workshop, which would amount to a lot of work. Still, I think the biggest struggle, quite honestly, would be finding a babysitter! If I knew I had a babysitter for two nights a week, I’d be able to take and teach a class. But with traffic being so unpredictable, Phil is never sure when he’ll be home exactly. I won’t even consider taking an online class. Not an option, not helpful, defeats the whole purpose. I’d take a class populated with other published authors, so I could rely on the advice. This is actually my first priority. I am going to sign up for one, and we’ll figure out the babysitter thing afterward. This has to happen ASAP or it will never happen.

I have kid birthday parties to which I must RSVP, gifts to then buy and wrap, phone calls to return, emails to return. A car that needs servicing. A husband who needs servicing (still couldn’t tell you the last time we did anything even approaching sexual). Dinner is a whole topic onto itself. Nightmarish, actually. I hate dinner time, which is so very like me. I cannot work now because there are piles of homework on kitchen counters, sandpaper letters strewn about, laundry to be sorted, and there are fall clothes that need to be purchased, mostly for myself at this point. I don’t have a fall wardrobe, and I hate the idea of just buying random pieces as I find them. I want to set out and build a proper fall wardrobe with a total of 10 exceptional pieces that just work together. They should sell this, as a basics kit. A cozy slouch cashmere wrap, leather-like legging, a combat boot, girly silk button-downs. I’m freezing lately, all the time. My circulation sucks pudding. I can’t work right now because my bedside table is unruly. So, now I’ll sign off and clean, then bitch about how I didn’t get any work done because I was too paralyzed, deciding for which after school enrichment class the kids should enroll. I thought a Lego’s class sounded fun, but I called to inquire, and they said in other school districts it’s the post popular class, but in Jericho, they’ve never had anyone try to enroll… all the parents are dead set on sports in this town. If I were a kid, I’d want to Lego class, too. It’s what Lucas wants, so I just have to hope there are other kids who’ll sign up, or else the class will be a no-go.

I realize this post is ass-tastic. I have nothing good to say because I am cranky and unsettled and cold. I need to go burn a candle and snuggle with girl movies on in the background, with cider reducing for a demi-glace, as I write about crackling fires built from within.



  1. Yep – September ennui. I have it too. It’s such a yucky time, fall. People insist that it is scintillating (especially here where the leaves are determined to be stunningly beautiful and the air is crisp and cool). Personally, I hate crisp and cool, and I hate dying leaves. I feel the need to claw away the vines that have overgrown the entrance to my cave and to crawl in – tuck away – sleep, rest, survive.

    This time, it feels like the weight of the world is piling on with each falling leaf. There should be great comfort tonight by the fireplace…the furnace kicking on for the first time this season. The 3 teens safely and happily ensconced in their respective universities. My quest for freedom of the bonds of motherhood becoming realized. Maybe what I’m feeling is comfort but it’s peculiarly shrouded in dread. It’s alone. Alone.

    Hm. Well, I didn’t expect that to run out of my fingers up the keyboard.

    Gonna have to think about this tonight. The last seven months have entertained the presence of death – and also the presence of unbelievable, unabandoned, unabashed love between my parents – the presence of mind to make jokes about necrotic fat and fulvous leakage. Bleh. It’s heavy.

    And yes – it is fucking pathetic that I’m longing for spring when we’re not even in October. I get it. I dread the winter – the cold frozen months where blood thickens and stills. I dread the icy roads and driveways and my sweet aged P’s at such huge risk of falling. I loathe the fragility that comes with winter.

    Up and down, side to side, to and fro I go. Maybe prozac is in order. Maybe a more rigorous work-out schedule. Maybe just an antihistamine to fight off this cold.

    Now – to my usual optimistic self – straightening up and yanking myself up by the collar…ahem.

    Spring is coming. We’ve now passed the autumnal equinox (the best thing about that is letting the words ‘autumnal equinox’ roll off your tongue like warm, molten caramel)…one little bit of winter and then the cherry blossoms will come again.

    Courage and strength to us all.

    1. Now *I’m* depressed…Just teasing, TTM : ) Stephanie – Go. Teach. Write. You’ll be great! I know it’s hard with your littles, but if anybody can do it, it’s you! Wish I were in NY so I could take the class…I have so much to say, but am not sure how to get going on it. You’ll be awesome…Touch it, it will turn to gold for you : )

  2. The best thing I ever did with Legos was to dump them all in a shallow plastic bin like the ones that are used for under the bed storage. Then adhere the large flat lego plates (squares 9 x9 or so) used as bases to something like an old train table which is obviously at a good height for kids. Then let ’em loose. Hours and hours of creative play . Be sure to stock up on the lego people too. Forget the eighty dollar kits !

  3. I think the seasonal fashion ‘pod’ pre selected sounds divine. I think magazines still do this, Christ my mom subscribed me to REDBOOK (thanks for making me feel old, mom) again and they do features on must have’ items. Blazer, nubby tweeds, thick scarves and one good flat riding boot and another heeled boot. Add water and so forth!

    Maybe for the class (do it!) hire a cleaning service once things pile up to critical mass, that is out of the way. Unless you are one of those people who cleans BEFORE the maid gets there, which i suspect lol. Also, the class teaching would make you feel vital and needed I think. As much as Phil and the twins love you I think you (and a lot of mothers) feel not so appreciated/vital at times. This could remind you of your skills and seeing others interact, it might be very good for you. Hofstra is close by & students need to make money. I bet you could find a student to sit for the kids a few days as well. Ask the student affairs office where they post jobs. I assume their rate would be reasonable too.

    Thanks :)

  4. > It’s not as if I can workshop my own work in a class I’d be teaching,

    In my short-story writing seminar in college, our instructor, an amazingly graceful and gifted short-story author, did precisely this. She’d read and discuss our awkward attempts at fiction, and then present a few of her own short stories, discussing their structure and technique. You might think this narcissistic, but it was just the opposite–she and her writing were effective mentors.

    You might consider this pedagogical approach for your own class. It certainly works. Your writing will benefit from students’ comments, and the students will benefit from being exposed to (what I consider) some of the finest, most eloquent prose in America right now.

    1. Author

      Thank you, most graciously, for that. I will consider this, but I do fear it’s a bit narcissistic. I will get a sense of the class perhaps and then see. They might feel funny.

  5. September is the cruelest month. I’m no fan. I’ve been trying to slug through it but man, it’s rough.

    P.S. I’ll be in your area next week. Hopefully you’ll be up for and available for a drink or two.

    1. September and February for me.. The point where the sun goes away, and then again when you realize how long you have done without.

      From rainy Vancouver BC Canada

  6. Does anyone remember the clothing store Units? “A one-size-fits-all clothing store featuring knit skirts, shirts, belts and leggings in coordinating colors. The clothes were sold in UNITS boutiques located in malls throughout the United States. You could buy six different pieces of UNITS clothing and create an entire wardrobe from them.”

    I miss those days.

    1. Me!! I still miss a skirt and belt combo I got there – flattering and I wore it to death. Plus you could pack for a weekend away in a large purse!

  7. Stephanie,
    Happy and healthy New Year! I am currently a grad student at Hofstra (graduating in December) and if I had the opportunity to take a class you were teaching, I would sign up in a heartbeat! Your writing is amazing and anyone who has you as a professor is very, very lucky!

    P.S.- I will be free come the Spring and would love to watch the beans!!

  8. Fellow writer here who taught a writing class at a state U this summer. It’s rewarding, but it’s really time-consuming in the worst possible way. My advice would be don’t take it on unless you are prepared to spend a TON of time outside class working on curriculum, reading student work, and answering questions. Things have really changed since the days when I was an undergrad. They expect a lot of instructors that we never would have in our day. My husband is a professor in a grad program and students text him at ungodly hours! It’s nuts.

  9. You should definitely teach. I think you’d be good at it and would add a lot of value to students’ experiences. And how do you know if it would detract from your own writing? I’m a professor and I find that my teaching enhances my research in the most unexpected ways. Inspires me, opens new threads I hadn’t thought about. Half your posts are about how you didn’t write when you should have because you were procrastinating and depressed. Teach and I bet your writing will happen MORE, not LESS. Do this for yourself. The task always expands to fill the time you have, and you have too much time right now. Worst case scenario, you’re a basket case for a semester and get no writing done but have an amazing experience with students. Would you really be sacrificing that much writing time? Do it once and if you hate it, you don’t have to do it again.

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