Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Head Hanging in Shame

I am so far behind on my January poetry writing! However, I had the best reason in the world to fall behind: the lovely Gena came to visit, and we activity-d it up. Yeah, that's right. I just made "activity" a verb. Deal with it.

Things we did: The Frog (obviously--multiple times), hiking in Red Rocks (finally! I've been meaning to get out there for so long), a dressed-to-the-nines night out on Fremont (Downtown Cocktail Room, The Griffin, Atomic Liquors), a casual night wandering the Strip (MGM Grand to New York-New York to Excalibur to Luxor to Mandalay Bay, then back through those and on to Crystals Mall to Cosmopolitan to Bellagio, ending with two spectacular fountain shows), KISS Mini-Golf (totally worth it), the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay (not worth it, even with the two-for-one ticket deal), and a party at Joleen's.

By far my favorite part of Gena's visit, however (besides seeing her beautiful face), was our day trip to Hoover Dam. In Gothic class last semester, we talked about the concept of the sublime as a combination of terrifying and beautiful--something so vast and amazing that it's scary yet pleasurable to view and contemplate. I think the Hoover Dam qualifies as sublime. I want to say it's tucked away in the mountains, but how can it truly be "tucked away" when it's so gigantic? Our tour took us 50 stories beneath the earth into the tunnels that they built to divert the Colorado River while they were constructing the dam, to the oddly elegant power plant with its original terrazzo floors, to the top of the dam itself. You can look right over the edge, all the way down the not-quite featureless concrete wall to the churning river below. On the other side of the dam, you can see the effect that a years-long drought has had on Lake Mead--a sharp, straight white water line along the red mountains. And all around the dam are other dazzling testaments to human industry--power lines constructed at strange angles to keep the wires from touching the dam walls, wildly curving roads, art-deco statues. When you walk from one side of the dam to the other, you pass from Nevada into Arizona. The women's restroom is in Arizona.

Pictures can't do it justice, but this is one of my favorites that I took:

Speaking of Gena, she wrote today's story on our fiction/poetry blog All Together Now. Her story is based on my story from Friday, and Leta's story this Friday will be based on Gena's! If you're not reading, now's a good time to jump in.

Oh, by the way, the spring semester started today. The first thing I did was teach. I'm teaching two sections of English 102 this semester, right in a row. We're allowed to make themes for our classes, so mine is horror. I think it went over fairly well with the students. None of them seem to be troublesome thus far. I wasn't nervous at all. On the other hand, today was pretty easy--just going over the syllabus, etc. Tomorrow I have to plan Thursday's class. I wonder if they know how underprepared we are?

This evening I had my first Literary Theory class. Scatterbrained is not the correct word for our professor--Dr. Becker definitely knows what she is talking about. Honestly, she's so intelligent it's almost intimidating. I can't imagine knowing any subject quite so thoroughly. She keeps quoting these theorists from memory. However, she seems not to be too troubled with issues like chronological order, which can make for messy note-taking. That's not too big a deal, though. I also have no idea what criteria she's looking for in the papers we have to write; I get the impression that she doesn't want us to take one critical theory approach and apply it to a piece of literature, but that's about the only impression I get. I suppose I'll just have to talk to her more and figure it out. In today's class we basically covered everything from Plato to Nietzsche, which seems ridiculous except that we're mainly going to be focusing on 20th century critics like Derrida and Barthes and Kristeva and De Man, which I'm pretty damn excited about. It's going to be a wonderful challenge. Brain gymnastics!

Ok. Poem. How many days did I miss? Four? I'll try to post two poems on some days to make up for it. But not today. I honestly don't know where this came from. My mind is weird. Enjoy.

That's the Spirit

I have a stomachache. 
            You're having too much fun!
            Your body is not made
            for such joy.
            Better to be quiet

I have a headache.
            You're thinking too hard!
            Your brain is not made
            for philosophy.
            Better to be soft

            All smiles.
All smiles.

I shall slit my throat!
            That's the spirit!

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