Sunday Salon: Lifequakes and Self-Importance (Mostly)

Ocean, Rain, Rocks
Tunnels Beach, Kauai does its Nova Scotia impression
December 2010
This morning my clock radio brought me a story about a woman who gave away all but a hundred of her books and has never felt happier.  I woke up, heart pounding, yelling "NO!!" at the top of my lungs.

Talk about your fight-or-flight mechanism.

I'm at the office all day today, prepping for classes and reading stellar job applications.  Sundays just aren't the reading extravaganzas they used to be.  In fact, I'm in a bit of a pleasure-reading slump.  Sigh.
But it's been a fascinating week.  First of all, I joined 750words in an effort to get myself writing every day.  It's a site that tracks your writing (keeping it private, not to worry) every day and encourages you to write about three pages a day on any topic you like. It sends you reminders, gives you wee bits of encouragement, and does some of the most bizarre analysis of your writing patterns I can imagine.

After a day of writing (I couldn't stop! I wrote nearly two thousand words that night.) it crunched the numbers and told me that I was "feeling mostly Self-Important" and was "concerned mostly about Family."  Who needs a therapist when you have a nagging website?  (It also gave me a PG for swearing and violence.  You know me.)

Then, on Thursday, an even greater lifequake hit: I saw the house I think I want to buy.  It's lakefront, half an hour from the city, eighty years old, and on almost six acres of gorgeous land.  There's a pond to skate on, a gazebo to read in, and a wired outbuilding to (I'm not kidding, this it what they claim) keep my ponies in.  Because that's what my life needs right now: ponies.   I'm so nervous about the whole process I can't sleep.  (This is our first house purchase, and it's throwing me for a loop.)

After day two of writing, 750words recalibrated its sense of me.  Now it thinks that I am "mostly Upset" and "concerned about Home."  Let me clarify that what I am writing on the site is a work of fiction, not memoir.   How does it know?

Back I go to my Playboy of the Western World, my Ghost Sonata, and my plans to convince 45 first-years that close reading is a quasi-scientific process of evidence-gathering.  Wish me luck.

6 Responses so far.

  1. Love the photo you posted! The house you described sounds lovely....

    I can't imagine giving away all of my books (except 100). That IS a nightmare.

    Here's my salon:

    (click my name)

  2. Thanks, Laurel-Rain! I am imagining myself back in Kauai even as I type this.

  3. Ann says:

    I love the idea of the 750 word site, but I'm not certain if I have the courage to let it get its teeth into me. Perhaps later when I'm not feeling so early morning tender. I'm fascinated that you're teaching 'The Playboy of the Western World'. It was on my Irish Literature course and I loved teaching it, although I know the students preferred it when we reach O'Casey. What course do you feature it in?

  4. Annie- I'm sorry it took so long for me to post your comment and respond to it. Things have been crazy around here - I'm hoping to catch up a bit today.

    Re: 750words. I did some really great writing for it at first, but now what I am producing feels mechanical and exhausted. Perhaps because it is. But I'm hoping that it's rather like going to the gym - I've just plateaued, and if I keep up with the discipline of daily practice, it will yield more abundant rewards in the end, because of (not despite) these less glorious days I just kept slogging through.

    I'm teaching "Playboy" in Irish Drama, and we did indeed follow it up with O'Casey. I don't have a sense of the class leaning towards O'Casey or Synge - I think they see them as being part of a continuum of curious Abbey plays that claim to abandon the stereotypes of the Stage Irishman while also partaking in them for various reasons. We are into Beckett now, and I think they feel they've gone through the Looking Glass.

  5. Ann says:

    I bet they do!! Have you tried Friel? One year I had enough Irish students in my theatre studies class to stage 'Dancing at Lughnasa' which was great fun, but my favourite is 'Translations'.

  6. We're going to be doing Translations later in the term - I love it too. But we have Beckett, Behan, and a few others before we get to it! It's great fun, this class, and they are very (or perhaps somewhat) interested in the history, I'm glad to see.

    Meanwhile - Irish Lit and Theatre Studies! A woman after my own heart! I would love to hear about what else you put in those courses.

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