Grad School Summer II
Tuesday, July 21st
Last year, I was up all night Monday due to panic, anxiety and
pain. This time I was up all night due to the pain of annoying
technology. My monster alarm clock did not go off because the
clock was getting no power. In fact, I discovered all the outlets
in my room were dead. I flipped on light switches to make sure I
hadn't accidently turned off a master switch. Nothing helped.
I then spent over an hour trying to learn how to set the time and
a wake up call on my new Braille Sense U2. The machine is similar
to the Braillenote Apex but better and more advanced. It's made
by a different company and all commands are different. Even the
ways in which one navigates seem more complex. So far, I only use
it as a braille display for my IPhone. Within the near future, I
plan to use the Braille Sense full time. I didn't plan to start
at 2:00 AM on a school night.
Unlike the Apex, the Braille Sense has a vibration mode. It's not
strong like the alarm clock bed shaker. Even after I set the wake
up call, I still couldn't fall asleep. I was worried I wouldn't
wake up, and everyone would panic.
That's not the only thing that went wrong. One of the small
wheels on my wheelchair kept falling off. I was tired enough to
think it was a little funny. My terps were more concerned with
I made it through the morning workshop and an awesome craft
seminar about writing a memoir. I think that sealed the deal, and
I will, indeed, add creative nonfiction as a second genre.
My father arrived in the afternoon to deliver some medication.
The FDA is getting strict. Apparently, travel is not a valid
reason for getting an early re-fill. CVS could have it ready on
Sunday but not Saturday when I was still in town.
Dad asked if I needed/wanted anything. Don't I always? He came
bearing the goods: drinking straws, baby powder, an extra
blanket, margarine and Dunkin' Donuts. (I needed margarine
because I accidently packed cream cheese.)
His timing was perfect in terms of the clock trouble. I was happy
to learn it wasn't my fault. The problem had to do with a
circuit. Dad fixed it, of course. He always comes to my rescue.
What next? After he left, I took a nap. When I woke up, and
before I ate a single donut, I found my stomach hurt bad... big
time bad. I missed the evening reading, didn't eat any donuts and
moaned and groaned a lot.
Wednesday, July 22nd
So, Angie, what are you going to break today? That would be the
lower towel rack in the bathroom. They should declare me a
Good news -- We got a different wheelchair. Bad news -- I still
didn't have the anthology for the morning workshop. Worse news --
My stomach was nothing if not... worse. (We poets have such a way
I know exactly what is going on. There's nothing much I can do
for it while I'm here. The best I can do is try to minimized the
pain, so someone went out to get me some nasty Pepto.
Try this for a trick -- chew two cherry Pepto tablets while
washing it down with Pepsi and sucking on a butter rum Life
Saver. The meds helped some. I made it through all classes and
finally got to eat a few donuts. I'm guessing I'll need more
Pepto before this is over.
Arm muscles are starting to protest. I've switched from Essential
Oils to Biofreeze... Lesser pain killers to stronger ones. On the
bright side, I now have the anthology.
Thursday, July 23rd
It seems like the theme of this year's residency is to deal with
as many problem as possible without losing your creativity.
Possibly, it's okay if you lose your mind.
What now? Once again, I was up all night. This time, it ws a bit
weird. I used Biofreeze before bed to numb the pain in my neck,
shoulders and right arm. I accidently purchased Biofreeze in
spray form. The burning cold stuff is strong, and the spray
spreads it over a wide area. I also don't have the best control
of where I spray it. I drowned the sore spots and a one mile
radius around them. Somehow, I sprayed my left arm pit and the
side of my breast. I realized this once I was in bed. I tried to
use my pajama top to wipe it away from my breast. I only
succeeded in widening the spread over my nipple. Not good... not
good at all.
The Biofreeze made me so cold that I was shivering under three
blankets. There was no hope for relaxation. I was in a tight ball
trying to warm up and ignore the discomfort of the tingling,
This Biofreeze also lasts much longer than what I've used in the
past. Hours passed with no relief. I ended up taking a bath in
the wee hours of the morning. Even that didn't wash it away
completely, but it got me warm enough so I could finally fall
We went over one of my poems in the workshop today. It's amazing
how the teacher and students can come up with new ideas on how to
improve my work. They often have a different perspective or
knowledge that I lack. For example, a couple of the students knew
of a poem written in script form like a play that might be a good
structure for my own poem. One person sent it to me via email.
This is the kind of thing I like best about the workshops.
Last night a visiting poet named Patricia Smith did a reading
from a book she's written about race and racism. I like that she
used different voices, even changing from male to female.
Today, during the last hour of the workshop, she was to address
the thesis students, but our group was able to attend. Then after
lunch, she did another reading and craft seminar focusing on a
book about hurricane Katrina. Despite fatigue and pain, I was
caught up in the stories she had to tell -- including those about
her life and how the poetry process works from start to
publication and beyond.
Lunch is not so good this year. There are less choices, and they
repeat the same things each day. I've been alternating between
pizza and rotisserie chicken. Today I was so burned out on the
usual stuff that I got a salad. Every day I get cottage cheese.
I took a nap and spent the evening in my room. I had work to
catch up on. I also did some online searching. Bookshare has the
two books by Patricia Smith. I had to request Steven Harvey's
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.