Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to school: not just for the kids this fall

Yeah, new blog, new direction, blah blah blah. I was all promises last spring, but haven't quite delivered...which is not to say I haven't been thinking about it. In fact I signed up for a class with Adair Lara for the fall. Adair is one of the doyennes of San Francisco's writing scene and has taught just about everyone I've ever taken a class with, not to mention coached some of my favorite Bay Area authors. So I've been looking forward to the 10-week class all summer, hoping that her expertise in memoir and personal essay will help shed some light on where my writing should be going.

Apropos of that, Adair is making the twelve people in the class WORK - as in five assignments per week turned over to a writing partner, plus 5 weeks in which we have to turn in an extra piece for her to critique. For me, that's a dream - feedback on my writing from someone who isn't me? AWESOME.

It occurred to me that my homework might actually make some good blog fodder. So when it's a fit, I'm going to post it here. Please keep in mind this is pretty unpolished, hot off the presses stuff - but it's better than no stuff at all.

To get things started: we were told to take an everyday event and write instructions for it. This one came to me at (you guessed it) 5:07 this morning. Herewith:

How to Wake Up Early
(revised 9/10/10)

Splurge on a new gas grill. You'll need it, to replace the one that the dog ran into, headfirst, overcome with the joy of spring and the smell of squirrels and the ecstasy of being a dog. It cracked - the grill, not the dog - and has never really worked right since.

Post the old grill for free on Craigslist, and after five people say they'll come and then don't, find a guy who seems like he actually might show up. It's Labor Day and he has meat marinating.

Have a husband who decides to clean the old grill up, even if it is being given away free. He should get a long scraper and work all the nasty, blackened, charcoal -like bits of meat fat off the bottom of the grill into a bent aluminum pan. Have the husband take the pan and overturn the big pile of cancer chips over the back fence. Not the chain link fence that marks the property line, mind you, but the decorative picket fence that separates the flat yard where the kids play from the ivy-choked no man's land that is the dog's territory.

Let the dog out to pee. See him sniff the air, all aquiver, and then race like a bullet shot from a gun to the pile of blackened meat fat. Scream. Wave your arms. Threaten. Promise dog treats. Get no reaction until the dog looks up, half drunk on meat residue, a shard of it hanging from his nose. Drag him into the house.

Repeat two or three times, forgetting about the grill leftovers each time and panicking anew as the dog runs to his now-favorite spot in the yard.

At 5:07 the next morning, you will be woken up by the dulcet tones of the dog licking his lips frantically from his spot on his bed in the corner of your room, followed by a diabolical gurgling and gagging. The noise will bring you to your feet and have you fully conscious, grabbing the dog by his hind quarters and propelling him before you out of the bedroom, down the hallway and through the front door in no time at all. Standing in the front yard shivering in your pajamas, your glasses dangling from your ear, as the dog expels his previous day's treats on the lawn, it hits you:

You're awake!

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