Chimera Song Mosaic
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
This is still happening. I actually wrote a screenplay for a short (about 13 minutes) based on Catherine's octopus FAQ. That day I opened a Starburst wrapper (student bribe) while grading research papers that included this FAQ: "An octopus has three hearts."

I was like Whoa, then WHOA! Anyway, then I wrote the screenplay titled

An Octopus Has Three Hearts


Deborah Wardlaw Pattillo

I'll post it soon.

So it's not like I haven't been writing. I just have had, you know, the paralysis. And the hectic end of the semester. I don't want to go back to teaching. At all. I don't want this month to ever end. I'm not ready for the new year. I hate to think it's the upcoming big 30 it brings with it, hate to succumb to vanity. Although that's actually part of my new year's resolution: have children for vanity’s sake. Just like most people. What am I holding out for? A good reason. So I stopped taking birth control pills. That's part one of my resolution. A decade of safe sex is enough for me.

The other thing is that I have become irretrievably immersed in Sylvia Plath, yet again. At the request of my students, who loved a two-week Plath unit this fall, we read The Bell Jar instead of Metamorphosis. It wasn't a judgment call. It was a vote, all democratic-like. Hey, I'm half Czech, aren't I?

I was a little worried that The Bell Jar wasn't, I don't know, literary enough. I was listening to Plath's self-deprecatory comments about its pot-boilerness. But it's filled with figurative language and symbolism (the diamond stickpin, the releasing of the clothes off the rooftop, the fig tree), and anyway these young teens became completely absorbed by Esther's questions about femininity, autonomy, virginity, and sanity.

On the last day of school, I brought whatever I could salvage from my shelves after the move: her abridged journals (I haven't checked out the new one yet), Ariel, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Winter Trees, Wintering (Kate Moses's fictionalization of Plath's last winter when she recovered from her separation from Ted Hughes and wrote the Ariel poems), and her children's book, The Bed Book. Predictably, the students couldn't believe that she had written a children's book, but I think she was a good mom.

I also brought a poster of Sylvia, starring Gywnyth Paltrow, which has been released, I'm told, in a few cities, but apparently nowhere in Texas. I planned to read The Bed Book to them, but we ran out of time and had to say goodbye. Next semester (I'll have this same group for British lit), I'll read The Bed Book the first day of class and look at some poems by Hughes and set aside a week for Sylvia, which comes out on DVD in February. I'm not convinced that I'll like it, but it will be fun for us and will generate some discussion. Maybe I'll bring in Frieda Hughes's poetic rejection of the film.
It almost seems like I'm looking forward to teaching. I am in this small way, but I want something of my life back. Maybe I'll only teach five classes and not take one of my own next semester (I was thinking of the gradute one in Mexican-American lit at PanAm, or perhaps one in Psychology, something I'll get credit for). I think we'll cut our weekly workshop down to bi-monthly. And I'll have to stop writing screenplays to get some other work done.

Marisa and I decided not to go to San Miguel Poetry Week. We had the school all ready to pay for it, and I was so looking forward to Forrest Gander and C.D. Wright. But ultimately the 10 days in Mexico would not allow for any time to prepare for classes, which begin on the 12th (we would have returned from Mexico on the 10th). As I write this, I regret.

Or I would have had to prepare for classes these past two weeks instead of shopping in Houston, spending time with family in the Hill Country, the Gulf Coast, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana--and seeing hard to reach films, such as 21 Grams (well worth the $5). Tomorrow Reagan and I are going to the MFAH for a new exhibit, which includes "Starry Night" and several panels of Monet's water lilies. We tried to go today, but we arrived late, and the line out around the block, and it was very cold ouside. So we went to Cafe Rabaleis in Rice Village and ate chicken stew and a cheese plate. Yum!

It seems like I had something else to say. Clean laundry. I’m not promising anything. But I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and has outlined some reachable resolutions and a few steller ones (American Idol?) and is happy and warm and sanitary.

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