Showing posts from July, 2013

Campus Life in Lancaster, UK: The Weather

“It may rain,” the weather man announced, “but it may be sunny.”

I’m not the only one maintaining a curious distance from commitment.

I’m told the weather in Lancaster is unpredictable or predictably rainy with unpredictable patches of sunlight. Before moving here I attempted to track the weather to get a sense of what to pack and what to leave behind. Year round the forecast was set to grey. I thought it was a glitch.
When I arrived I was told no, it was not a glitch; the skies are often cloudy to accommodate the moderate doses of rain scattered across the region.
“Don’t expect to see much of the sun,” one cab driver warned.
“If you get two sunny days in a row, that’s summer; don’t waste it” someone suggested.

These past two weeks the days have been delightfully sunny and crispy, hot. On cool evenings breezes skip through the window and race through the house like naughty neighbors. On hot evenings the air is dormant: a dismal houseguest who has overstayed its welcome.
This morning the rumb…

Improvising: Student Life on a Budget

I have been looking for substitutes to supplement my natural sweetness when my natural sweetness is not enough to sustain me through the day. I’m sweet in doses: scoops, teaspoons, pinches.  Not naturally—not entirely.

I’ve tried making my own flavored creamer. The cream was a placebo: the right color, little effect. I’m rarely able to trick myself twice.

I tried syrup laced coffee beans with milk and sugar: syrup and mere sugar wear off far too quickly.

Last week I paid 30 for coffee creamer: I had reached a new low. It wasn’t particularly good or rich or sweet.  It was, however, enough to make me reconsider ordering powdered French Vanilla coffee creamer which tastes like flecks of something I really want: rich, thick, French Vanilla non-powdered coffee creamer.

Last night I slipped spoonfuls of Raspberry Pavilo ice cream into a cup of hot coffee.  I stirred and watched the dark coffee devour the thick, pink globs. Out of habit I added a spoon or two of sugar and waited. The concoction…

Writing Life: Over Reactions: Am I Addicted to Research?

“Let me get this straight,” I began. I was overreacting. I knew it when I felt the tingling of blood rushing into my fingertips as I dialed the number.
“I’m just going to put you on hold and a specialist will be able to help you,” the representative had said.
I admit my lack of coffee and my recent addiction to research have left me closer to the edge than usual. I’m researching reuniting the African American/Black American family after the Emancipation.  The research is often painful—the stories of children being stolen from their parents; of parents divided from babies they would never hold again; and of people stripped of everything except hope—the utter despair between the facts and within each story is painful.
“You’re asking me to hold again although I’ve just told you I was on hold twice for twenty minutes each without any one coming to the phone?”
“Umm…yes, the best way to get the issue resolved is…”
“Is for me to hold in the hopes that this time someone will answer?”
And so I knew …

On Staying Connected in the Wireless Age

“Don’t you miss your family?”             “I’ve brought them with me; how can I miss them?”             “We didn’t bring everybody,” my youngest clarifies.             He’s right. I’ve managed to bring everyone I’ve given birth to with me to the UK.  Everyone else is everywhere else. If I’m being honest, I’m a pretty good (and modest) mother but I’m not the best daughter, sister, or aunt that I feel like I should be.             At some point early in development, I went wrong. There’s probably no clear defining point—no day I can declare changed me from warm, nurturing and available to more aloof and distant.  And if there was, could I change it? While I can’t change the events I try to change my behaviors.  I schedule emails, texts and phone calls to family and friends so I don’t lose touch.  I try to make communication appear natural almost effortless. Yet when I say “I’ll call you back,” most people know I won’t. A few months ago I began writing letters to my oldest nephe…

A Night Out: Graduate Fair

At varying times over the past 18 years that I've been a mom, my purses—regardless of size—have  held extra tissues, bottles, diapers, wipes, fruit snacks, Poptarts, candy, apples, soda, apple sauce and crayons.  The older my children get the more space I claim of my own.  My purse now holds lipstick, lip liner, lip gloss, pens, gum, an eye glass case and the occasional Lego.
It’s hard to feel sexy when you have a coconut in your purse.
Yet just this past weekend I slipped an entire coconut into my purse because my 8 year old won a coconut and he couldn’t hold the coconut while playing games at the fair and I couldn’t hold the coconut while eating a strawberry ice cream cone.  Long after we left the fair the coconut lay nestled in my bag beneath napkins and scraps of paper, notes and coins.
After getting my children settled in for the evening I went back to the fair for the adult portion of the event. I drank a carbonated raspberry, apple concoction that I’m pretty sure was sparklin…

Campus Life: Living and studying at Lancaster University (UK)

The bass started at precisely 7 o’clock. The DJ music was good and offered a mix for the older crowd and the younger crowd; neither crowd would arrive for hours after the event started.  Some of the worst bands went on early in the evening: most of the guests missed them. By the time the better sounding bands came on, the bulk of the crowd had arrived—most of them too drunk to appreciate their timing.

Bass vibrated off of closed windows and echoed throughout the quad bouncing off of bricks, buildings and closed doors before wafting up to the fifth floor. With the windows closed it was loud and not yet obnoxious. 
I was appreciating the event from the comfort of my flat above; my windows stayed closed for most of the night and until early morning. 
At 3 o'clock, not 2:59 or 3:01, the music--mid-song it seemed--stopped. The crowd that had moments before been chanting, singing, and yelling almost in unision,  murmured in a whirl of confused, incoherent babbling. Within seconds they …

Diary of a Creative Writing PhD Student or the Chronicles of a Single Mom (and PhD student)

When I was a kid I wanted to be a psychologist, a writer and a wealthy adult (from doing I don’t know what).  My first job, picking blueberries, was a far journey from any of my possible career paths but three decades later I can say picking blueberries helped me get where I am today.
Today I am a writer but that’s not all I am. I am a writer, a professor (assistant and adjunct) and I’m launching a new endeavor as a screenwriter.
Over the years I've had many roles including telemarketer for about 6 months and a rapper for about 6 days.  Like most people I've juggled more than one role at a time while working to pay bills and paying bills so I could work. No matter what job I had I was clear about wanting a career: I’m no stranger to dreams.
Still these last few months have unsettled me slightly.
Now that I’m pursuing a PhD and surrounded by possibilities and opportunities, what do I want to do when I’m finished? I want to write.  Over the past six months I've toyed with…