Monday, May 31, 2010

like cold ocean to the face

We dance in and out of the waves, feet sickeningly cold as we scramble to warmer sands.

But one by one they dive, surface breathless, hair slicked back and mouths wide.

"Let's go, Dee! I'm coming with you!"

Knee-deep in the water and suddenly the waves curl higher--not this wave--no, not this one--too cold, too cold--"Let's go!"--we run--she pauses--I plunge--stand up with one triumphant fist in the air, the other clutching my bikini top.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Poker Faces, Roses With Thorns

"Do you ever miss competing?" Kayleigh asks out of nowhere today, face on the beam, looking at me.

"I do," I say.

"Can't you still compete?"

"Aren't there, like, alumni meets?" adds Maddie.

"I'm thinking about it," I say. "For old people like me."

"You're still so good," Kayleigh says. Then she adds, "And you're not old. You're nineteen."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carpe Diem, circa December 2007

I just found this list. Please note that it was made during a time of personal despair, as well as a defeatist, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality toward the standard Cortland student. Now I reflect on what I have and haven't accomplished.

Things I Can Only Do At College/Cortland:
(Edit: I'll include Southampton as "College," too.)

-get drunk and walk home (check)
-keep liquor around (yes, and then it skunked when I forgot about it - I'm clearly meant to be a heavy drinker)
-tumble on a sweet floor!!! (CHECK)
-visit Oswego (in October - ballin'!)
-visit Christina (check!)
-CWA/Transition mayhem (Fo' obvi)
-Radio! (Keep it locked)
-seduce a professor…(haha fail)
-play Mario Kart (of course)
-DATE a boy who is actually at school with me…(T-PAIN FTW!)
-go to Price Chopper (had a near-emotional breakdown when I had to throw out the frozen PC stir fry I brought home)
-explore random small towns (check)
-go skiing!/learn to snowboard! (fail, thanks to yet another injury!)
-attend crazy theme parties (indeed)
-attend cheap movies/bowling (yes)
-go streaking (does getting jumped upon by naked Deana count?)
-hook up with people that I don’t have to see ever again (lol)
-go to Cornell (si)
-go to random cultural events (indeed - thanks, Emeline!)
-sleep on a random couch (haven't we all?)
-learn to actually be a good cook (lol, burning a pot with boiling water)
-be independent (yes!)
-NOT have to fear running into certain people (I'm not sure what this was in reference to, but I think I succeeded)
-wake up and not remember what happened the night before (no, but many wonderful morning-afters at Southampton)
-drink more boxed wine (not the same without Jenny)
-become awesome at Spanish (yes! Espero :-)
-partake in linguistic research (check!)
-partake in open mics (yes!)
-experience far too much snow (emphatically yes!)
-read books like the Communist Manifesto and get ENLIGHTENED! (still working on said enlightenment...and reading material)

The boulevard is not that bad

I wake up from a dream in which someone's question is, "How should my head be?" and my answer is, "Thrown back in laughter."

Monday, May 24, 2010

This is the train to RonKONkoma.

Home thus far: I continue my breakneck speed of unpacking three bags a day, concoct possible PhD dissertations, make bucket lists, enjoy the outside air and sinking suns, imagine Shelter Island 10Ks. I keep moving. That's all I've ever really needed.

And if I ever get too lonely, there's a big city just down the tracks.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

She sees the man inside the child

As the classes stretch at Flip-Flop this afternoon, "Mysterious Ways" comes on the radio.

Young male gymnast, approximately age 6: "I know this song."
Rob: "Yeah? Who sings it?"
YMG: "U2."
Rob: "How'd you know that?"
YMG: "I'm an Irish boy."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"You really hit a home run today."

I want to keep today forever.

After the monsoons, we wake up to clear blue sky and warm breezes. Shower, straight hair, pink nails, stroll into Chancellors at the stroke of 9 a.m. We process. We sit and hear speeches. Mary Pearl makes mention of my student evaluations. More speeches.

Then I go up to the podium.

"I attended Southampton due to an e-mail I received two weeks before the Fall 2008 semester. At this point I was courting graduate schools the way high school girls court boys: say yes to all, lead them on, and then reject them one by one.

The e-mail from Southampton Residence Life was simple: We need Resident Assistants. Please apply.

So I did.

My two years at Southampton have embraced two very different worlds. On the one hand, courses with esteemed teachers who treat your work with respect, scrutiny, and humor. Brilliant classmates and fellow writers whose insights are often just as valuable as the teacher’s. I left each class with synapses on fire. From Roger Rosenblatt I learned the value of concise language. From Matt Klam, how even the darkest stories deserve a glimpse of light. From Lou Ann Walker, how to make one’s life story matter to others. From Stephanie Wade, how to be a teacher. I would rush back to the dorms ready to sit down and write the night away.

Then I would enter my building and, from within the depths, hear the call of the wild: 'Dude, man, where’s the beer?'

It was as if I was waiting my whole life to live among seventeen and eighteen-year-olds, chiding them for shouting at three in the morning, dumping their beer, being asked out on dates to avoid a write-up, coloring pictures and playing Scattergories on the weekends, and running around campus at night in the name of 'Humans versus Zombies.' Once in awhile, I’d get some writing done.

So where do these two lives intersect? Well, in rhetorical strategies to draw residents to my dorm programs, like writing 'Free Food!' in a bigger font. In petitions to protest of the cuts to Southampton. In the steps toward sustainability here, seeing that each motion forward, every recycled can, every sentence and word, brings the story closer to where it wants to go. And in the bushes with my Nerf gun, ready to fire at approaching zombies in the form of freshmen boys, knowing that while I ought to take many parts of life seriously, I don’t always have to be one of them. "

The feeling of nailing a routine in competition and nailing a reading are exactly the same.

As I walk back to my seat, the laughter and applause roll over me.


A personalized graduation ceremony. Knowing just about everyone there. Bob Reeves inviting my parents to come hang out at the conferences. And the ocean afterwards -- spinning around in the sand, throwing frisbees and falling down and blanket love. I haven't finished packing. Sand's still on my toes. Today is perfect.

speechwriting break

Kayleigh, age 11: "Diana, do you have a Facebook?"
Diana: "I'm not being your Facebook friend."
Kayleigh: "What! You mean if I friended you, you'd click no?!"
Diana: "Maybe when you graduate high school. Right now it's too weird."
Jenny, 10: "Will you be friends with my aunt on Facebook?"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About Water

Well, this evening was far less romantic than the prior post, and I look forward to never seeing some of these youngins again, but doesn't that go for all things?

Let's talk about:
-Flo Davies' SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION of the portfo'!
-Liz Wolff appearing out of the blue in my comments!
-The Thesis, Bound and Ready!

This is a nonsense entry, but after floods and elementary nonsense and chicken McNuggets for dinner at 12:30am, I suppose there's no real need for coherence.

I do, however, encourage you to participate in this!

You're a hot mess
and I'm lovin' it
Hell, yes!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't let the sun go down on me

It rains on Southampton as the kids pack up their cars for the last time from this place, carry boxes and cartons as their rooms lose color and texture. It rained on Move-In Day, too, water plastering the cheap ponchos to our skin as we raced from building to building, room folders held close, trying to keep cool. Rain like there was something the sky wanted to forget.


I feel quietly victorious when I write a poem, like something important has happened.

Monday, May 17, 2010

4'8" and rising

I have spent the years creating all sorts of selves. Sometimes I split into three or four in one day. Diana the public relations specialist who hands you your reimbursement check, Diana your semi-crazy coach, Diana your RA in pajamas and teacher in boots, Diana in circles around the track, Diana the secret actress, Diana of poetry fiction nonfiction playwriting screenwriting composition Spanish German literature history now future. Diana upside down, horizontal, writing, restless. Diana, countless.

I live for the balance of so many selves. I feel complicated when one starts to vanish and another takes the lead, one that had hung back watching and knows its time has come.

I want to forge new. That is the way to keep going. But sometimes I dip back.


Five o'clock sun on the Southampton High School track. I thought it was red when I came here for track meets in high school. Maybe I don't remember or maybe they did tear it up in the past six years, replacing earthy red with manly black. I ran the 3,000 here and wanted to fall asleep midway through. Won the 4x800 relay as anchor leg. Racewalked and ended an essay with the story. Pole vaulted for easy points because Southampton had no vaulters and Mr. Sullivan and one of Lauren's man friends had to hold the bar in place for us. High jumped. I had glorious and terrible jumping days but I don't remember these mats on the near side of the field for either.

I walk to them. One tape mark on the black rubber. Left foot first. A family bikes from the field onto the track, father, mother, son, mother's bike with a basket, her smile pleasant--isn't this a beautiful day?

There's a bar but I don't put it up. I remember rice cakes and nights in the high school gym, leaving gymnastics half an hour early to get here at 9:30pm, already tired, the gym lights too bright, jumping over the bungee cord with Jill, Lauren there laughing with us. The way we practiced before the sun shone on the field this way, before our uniform tank tops and short shorts were tanned to us, before we drove to Friendly's after the meet, exhausted but exuberant.

I run the old curve, take off my right leg, lift and arch and roll onto my shoulders. And again. And again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Class of 2010, or All I Want For Graduation Is...

In Ireland, I lost something I love: my 2004 Level 9/10 State Championships t-shirt. I e-mailed the hotel. No response.

After bombing the entire season beforehand, senior year rolled around and I realized it was possible to enjoy gymnastics once again. So I did, and qualified to States, and finished off my club career on a high note.

I know 2004 was quite some time ago. But if somehow a leftover T-shirt from that competition can be unearthed, you, yes, you, will be the indisputable hero of my life.

Let's do this!

Friday, May 14, 2010

An MFA, Flo Davies, and Blueberry Pancakes

Remember that soul-searching about the MA versus MFA? How each day I picked a different grad school and it was never Southampton? How my thesis, wherever I did it, would be creative nonfiction? And living in a dorm again? I remember Beth's pros/cons list for my grad school life. In the Southampton cons category was "weird bio major friends."


I found a freedom here that I never experienced at Cortland. At Cortland I had laughter and injuries and wonderful teammates, but I could only be real around a few friends and my PWR-ers, and that only came in the late-middle to the end. Maybe it was my existential crises, maybe it was just everyone around me who wanted to get wasted and stand in crowded bars every weekend. (Now, dancing with Emeline or throwing darts with Rachel as we tried to avoid our emo lives yet always complicated them further -- those were good nights at the bar!)

Maybe I came here expecting I wouldn't fit in. Twenty-two compared to seventeen and eighteen. What could we have in common besides being in the same place? How could they like me when I'd be the one pouring out their beer?

After crying and dancing with Deana, Sarah, Caralyn, nearly all of Shelter one night, being hit on by Jeremy, ice cream trips, weekend nights coloring and playing games, nights in Suite 1 with Dom, Dusty, Fernando Jason, Paul, LOU (so notorious), roaming in sweats and pajama pants, prancing outside for kickball and zombie attacks, Lauren living here, Deana and her tequila and vulgarity, this pretty fantastic boy I happened to meet, bursting into song whenever someone's statement triggers a lyrical connection--it's safe to say that I'm more a me here than I ever was there. "It's like Diana Gone Wild!" as Kim once said.

This year's been a bit of a letdown. The caliber of freshmen decidedly poor, the destructive derelicts outshining the intelligent, inquisitive ones. The "omg I'm eighteen and this is the first time I've ever drank!!!" The "omg I love weed!!!" So I've more or less hidden. In some ways, I wish I did more. At the same time, I had this thing called a thesis to do. So I suppose it balances. On the plus side, we've gained Flosef, Bryan the soon-to-be Escort, John who rivals Sassy Gay Friend, and beer pong with 21-year-old residents and Sean with his "cream soda."



At the end of the day, I want to write and to teach. My degree will let me teach. But I want life experiences that inform my stories and my wisdom. I will be better at both for living more.

On to the next adventure.


It's pretty awesome that my students gave me such high ratings.

Although I wonder what prospective employers who ask to see student evaluations will think when they read,"This class was good because it taught me to write good" or "let us no when things are due"...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

They call him Flipper

Love it, hate it, question it, check it out. Especially the final scene. You'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


You know times are tough when a shaman needs to sleep outside by the volleyball court to cleanse your school of evil spirits.


I wrote a poem today.

What would you do if it was about you?

I feel dangerous.

"Every something has a storm?"

I love dorm half-blackouts!


"You can tell by the sound of his voice if he's wearing clothes or not."


As per ProQuest/UMI, I had to pick one category to define my thesis.

It was difficult to pass up options such as "Baltic Studies," "Education, Tests and Management," and "Therapeutic Recreation." But I think "Literature, American" with an emphasis in "Sociology, Individual and Family Behavior" was spot-on, as were my six keywords:

-coming of age
-family dynamics

Uplifted yet? :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

midnight trains in miscellaneous directions

Let's not get too ahead of ourselves, but I'm pleased with the idea that there exist jobs I might actually want to do. Imagine: just a small-town girl...


Despite my lack of patience for pompous speeches and sitting around, I'm sad that we don't have a department ceremony. I would have enjoyed wearing the ridiculously shiny red gown.

I'm considering borrowing Regina's cap and gown and running around for a photo shoot.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

It's no secret that I'm as up and down as the South Ferry yesterday. Confused and anxious for a number of reasons, many of them surrounding graduation and its outcome.

However, last night's dream was a wonderful reminder of what's good in my life: I am not pregnant!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Tumbleweed Rolls in Flanders

Hannah, age 11: "Where did you get your sandwich? It looks SO GOOD!"
Diana: "School."
Hannah: "I'm going to your school!"
Diana: "You can't. It's closing."
The ladies: "Why?"
Diana: "Budget cuts."
Emily, age 9, nods knowingly: "I understand."

Friday, May 07, 2010

What do you read, my lord?

Mexico hath been brought to the book binder, a safe place and much less perilous than my bedroom.


I'm sure I will make changes. But upon rereading I felt good about a number of areas, most especially:

The Emotional Scenes.

I was quite terrified to write such beasts. I could already see the flood of tears, the gasps for air, the cries of "No!" ripping the night -- all the overwrought outbursts of grief.

Luckily, I realized that my characters were as afraid of experiencing emotion as I was to write it for them.

We went from there.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

That's my girl!

Hit it.

If all else fails, her dance on floor ought to be sassy!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It's all about soul (cinco de mayo)

One of the biggest challenges I faced in the tale of Mexico was getting in Nick's head. I knew he was skimming through life without disturbing the peace, but what else was going on? Meanwhile, Pete made perfect sense. I knew exactly how he felt toward everyone around him. His guilt. His flippant responses to most of life.

I did a loose "character biography" that would be better categorized as a freewrite inside of Nick's and Kristina's heads. I got so much out of Kristina that about one-third of what I wrote became a direct monologue. She was reckless and broken but always self-aware. Nick kept up the poker face. He came out in small anecdotes. Some scenes I never used, like his two-week "stoner phase" that ended abruptly when he was almost randomly drugtested for the NCAA. But I figured out why he was always so damn responsible by one brief line from his father. What it took to get him angry, and how he could control anything but those outbursts.

I think now that one difference between the ease and the struggle was that Pete and Kristina are realists. They expect nothing from the world. Nick should know better, but he still believes that life should be different.

May the Fourth

was a rousing success: mini Jedis, Spiderman celebration devices, kamikazes, epic dart fails, "I just got double-spanked!" and, dare I say it, some enjoyment from the birthday man himself?!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fast times at GSO

Excerpt from the best ad I've received this semester:

"We have a screened porch, garden, full kitchen, horseshoes, treehouse, fire pit, washer & dryer, WiFi, cable, a lovely dog named Stella, and many turtles."

Look at your life, look at your choices.

I've the strong suspicion that if I don't submit my thesis to the Graduate School immediately, I will go insane! Get excited!


Without glasses the world turns blurry moon deep blue to mint and then the first stretch of light.

The first day I took this road was just as sleepless. Move-In Day 2008 and at some point we went to get coffee for the other folks, my face exhausted from smiles and "I'm your RA!" Around the curve and suddenly the bay thrown wide open beside us, sun breaking off of a thousand choppy waves. Today at that same curve the sun opens the clouds and the waves dance and I am just as mesmerized.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

maps like calc b

I drive past the duck ponds and think that I could not have made better choices.