Archive for May, 2008
Last night, we threw a launch party for Circle de Luz in Huntersville, North Carolina. Today, we are proud to announce that 22 women have taken on the commitment to radically empower young Latinas to finish high school and pursue further education. These commitments come from California, Georgia, Oregon, Lousiana, North Carolina, and New York and have already funded three scholarships. Curious about the call to the Circle? Check out Our Daughters’ Voices.
One of my goals for the sabbatical is to get a little more tech savvy including photo savvy. I thought a fun way to do that might be to periodically share a “scrapbook” as I get photos loaded up onto the computer (which means I have to learn how to scan! and crop! and… who knows what else).
So, here is scrapbook #1– images from some of my favorite summer experiences.
The locations of the above adventures? Trinidad, Brazil, Maine, Oregon, Germany and California. Feel free to match picture with place. Now, what have been some of your favorite summer experiences? And if you’re a blogger, let me know if you put a summer scrapbook on your site– I’d love to check it out.
So, I randomly went on Amazon.com today to check out the Hijas page and was so pleasantly surprised to see that the book is having a big sales day– almost a year to the day after it was released (that anniversary is on Sunday– more on that then). I never know what causes a sales bump. Sure I was in New York and did several events around the book yesterday, but it seemed like every one who wanted a book bought one at the reading last night. But, as a writer, it’s always fun to see your book have a surge every now and again (trade secret: most writers, myself included, will check their Amazon sales rank a time or two each day right after their book comes out– the best rank I ever saw for Hijas was 8,000 on June 8th last year– the day of the Hijas launch party which I know had nothing to do with the launch party but that’s why the date is stuck in my mind). So thanks to whoever went out and bought the book today on Amazon. It’s fun to be ranked in ethnic studies, culture, and women studies!
Popular in these categories: (What’s this?)
|#21 in||Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Special Groups > Ethnic Studies|
|#70 in||Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Culture|
|#83 in||Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Gender Studies > Nonfiction: Women’s Studies: General|
Here are the books that are on my summer reading list…
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
Insecure at Last by Eve Ensler
Half-Assed by Jennette Fulda
Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp
The Impossible Will Take a Little While by Paul Loeb
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Have any suggestions?
I am teaching a class on body image in the Women’s Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte this fall so my plan is to get my syllabus planned and all the readings read by the end of June. It’s an exciting venture for me– it’ll be nice to be back in the classroom once a week for a seminar without being a full-time employee. But I do wonder it will be like to be up and at ‘em early to get to the office for 8 am office hours. Up’s not a problem. At ‘em is a whole different thing. I imagine I’ll have lots to share here as I dive into the latest books and articles on body image.
Circle de Luz will really take off this summer. We’ll be officially creating a partnership with a middle school to select our first group of scholars this fall. We’ll be enrolling women in the circle to support the girls, and we’ll be applying for grants. I am most excited to see how many women join this effort. For every ten women in the circle, we create at least one scholarship of at least $5000.
* This photo is of Molasses Creek, along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It says summer to me and rest.
Plant an English Ivy patch around a big ole oak tree we have on the right side of our house. Our house has four enormous oak trees around it- one on each side- but this particular oak tree is a little island patch of soil that can’t grow much because the oak tree’s roots are massive and it’s fairly shaded. I’m thinking ivy might work there so that it is not just a sad island of acorns, oak leaves, and ragweed. I bought BF a little herd of recycled art yard animals and I think they’ll reside in this ivy patch to give it some whimsy.
Clean out and organize my office. My files are busting at the seams. I am a paper hoarder– no surprise, I guess, for a writer since what I am really hoarding are the words on the paper. But I don’t want my office to be all file cabinets so I’ve got to prune and recycle.
Clean out our attic. BF and I are light on clutter. Neither of us are really that into things and we aren’t all that sentimental about stuff (as opposed to relationships or people where we are sentimental). Still, when we moved to the little cottage a couple years ago there were things we couldn’t bare to get rid of yet and they are up in the attic. For example, I just couldn’t get rid of any of my lesson plans from teaching high school history— something I know I am not going to do again (and if I do, would I really need my overhead projection sheets?). This summer, I am going up there and battling the boxes. Here’s hoping that my lesson plans on the Stamp Act see their way to a recycling bin. Now, my notes from high school (and by notes I mean the ones that you passed to one another in the hallway between classes) may have to live on for a few more years.
Book work. Oh, I have all sorts of book work brewing (in my head). I have a book proposal that I am beside myself to write and I’d like to find a home for it. I also have a good portion of it already organized on notecards and then in chapter order, but I’d like to finish organizing those notes and get started writing. I have another book idea filling up my mind and it needs to find its way into a book proposal so that’s another big To Do. Finally, I started a novel with NaNoWriMo last year, and I’d like to play with it some more. Even if it never sees the light of day, it will be satisfying to me and my creativity to write.
Read a whole lot. One of my birthday list goals is to read 34 books by my birthday in November. I am on # 10. I want this summer to be a power reading summer– both because I miss reading for pleasure and because it fills my creative well.
Watch a whole lot of television that I’ve missed. We didn’t have HBO at the height of the Sex and the City craze so I am planning on knocking out that box set as well as West Wing, The Office, Scrubs, and Seinfeld.
Sabbatical. It’s from the Hebrew word shabbāth, which means (according to Webster’s) literally, rest (Jill, if you are reading this, I want you to know that Webster’s had “literally” in the definition. Jill is a friend of mine who figures largely into my thoughts on Sabbath but, first, I need to say that she loathes when someone says something like “I was literally about to kill her.” “Literally,” she’ll ask, her eyebrow raised in question of the hyberbole of it all. So, Jill, it was Webster’s that put literally into that first sentence.).
Probably six years ago or so, Jill and I teamed up in our job as college administrators to offer a summer internship to students that paired community engagement with deliberate reflection on the concepts of vocation and Sabbath. The idea of Sabbath wasn’t nearly as hard for our students as the idea of taking a Sabbath. We worked at a Presbyterian school with some bright, achieving students. Rest seemed counter-intuitive for them. Jill handled these discussions with the students expertly, and we often talked on our own about our personal challenges in taking Sabbath– in considering a time of rest as necessary.
Four years ago, I taught a seminar in the college’s department of interdisciplinary studies. The course was called Exploring the Creative Process. The introduction I wrote for the syllabus read:
This course is designed to introduce students to the principles of the creative process while encouraging individual exploration. Students will understand the psychology of creativity and will practice the methodological techniques available for enhancing one’s creativity. This is a course grounded in risk-taking, in exploring arts, experiences, and attitudes that are different from what you commonly explore. The success of this course rests in what one gives to the experience: the risks that one is willing to take intellectually and creatively and the energy, motivation, and commitment one is willing to put into the experience directly affect how much is gained from this course. Various in-class exercises, small projects, and readings will develop each student’s creativity, and the final portfolio project will provide an opportunity for each student to showcase his or her creative growth over the course of the semester.
Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting on the production bike and just pedaling away. By this I mean that I don’t write just for pleasure– I write for a living. And I don’t take the time to fill my creative well with the things that I intellectually and instinctively know that I need. Another truth is that for all but 8 years of my life (and five of those were before I was 5), time has existed for me on a school calendar. I am used to (and love) the flurry of the school year calendar and then the exhale of the summer. But the frenetic school year pace is the one that I have been operating on since I went to contract with Hijas in the fall of 2005. So, I’ve decided to exhale a little bit this summer, take a semi-sabbatical that allows me to play with my creative process, my rhythms, and processes. The semi-sabbatical is partially possible because I won’t do much traveling for Hijas this summer (after this week’s trip to New York, I have just one trip planned in July for a keynote at a conference) and also aided by the fact that I won’t be as frenetic in my pitching for freelance stories (in the height of my pitching frenzy, I try to get at least 3 ideas out to editors a week). I’ve got some various plans for my sabbatical– house plans, creativity plans, personal plans, Circle de Luz plans, professional plans– that I’ll share with you over the course of this week as I prepare for the semi-sabbatical that officially starts June 2. My work on overcoming resistance really put the roots of this process in place. Now I am LITERALLY ready to rest.