Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
Big Mouth?When we were in San Diego this summer, we went on a shark snorkel, during which we learned a great deal about marine life in the La Jolla Cove Nature Preserve. One tidbit: A man was arrested for nabbing a giant sea bass. According to our guides, the lifeguards help keep an eye on such shenanigans.
Here's what happened.
A loaf of bread, a glass of wine and thou beside me singing in the wildernessBeen here at Bread Loaf for over a week now, and have finally found time to blog. Today is our day off, midway between arrival and exhaustion.
Though I visited Bread Loaf last year, my experience this year has been wholly different. First, last year I was a "contributor," or paying student staying almost off campus, at the Homer Noble Farmhouse (Robert Frost's winter residence). This year, I'm on staff (you may call me Queen Christina, Bookstore Maven), and living in the Inn, right in the center of campus. Last year, I had a buddy -- Sarah came up with me, and we roomed together. This year, I'm rooming with a former waiter (scholarship student) and PhD candidate from Houston, who is also on staff.
The greater amount of responsibility has left me less time for all the events. My priorities last year were to wring every bit of information I could out of Bread Loaf, while this year I'm pacing myself more slowly. My current priorities are preparing for our workshop and making my bookstore hours, while squeezing in a few readings and craft classes.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Writer's Conference, a little backstory. Bread Loaf was willed to Middlebury College by was willed to Middlebury College in 1915 by Joseph Batell. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Bread Loaf's Writer's Conference. The conference was popularized by Robert Frost, who stayed in his cabin here in the Green Mountain National Forest until his death in 1963.
In the 1970's and early 1980's, the conference acquired a wild and free reputation; the modern definition of "Bed Loaf," however, is getting a nap between events. They do keep you running.
9:00 Open Lecture
10:00 Workshop (alternating days for Fiction and Non-fiction/Poetry)
2:30 Craft Classes (Optional)
4:15 Special talk, panel discussions, or reading
5:30 Blue parlor reading, special talk, or social hour
8:00 Faculty Reading
9:30 Staff/Scholar/Waiter Readings, or Socials
Add in four work hours a day, and you see why I've been missing too many fun things.
Working in the bookstore is a blast. Though the first few days were hectic -- putting up books and labels, learning to use the register and credit card machine -- the job has been rewarding. Not only do I get to meet and greet everyone, I get to read book jacket blurbs in the quiet moments, and have learned new, saleable skills that my MFA didn't give me. Somehow, I've never "done retail." All new experience adds value to my writing: it's all material.
This year, too, differs from last year in that Jon was able to come up for a couple of days. He rented the smallest motel room ever, where we've been cozying up for the last couple of nights. He's been seen around campus, mostly in the library playing on the Internet (another improvement to Bread Loaf is the expansion of the wireless network. So far, Jon's attended a reading, helped me out in the bookstore, partied at the Faculty/Staff social, and danced two whole dances at Bread Loaf's first Barn Dance. In his free time (when I'm off at classes), he's been in the library, reading.
All in all, it's been a fun time. I plan to post more specifics soon.
Interesting new writers I've met, with books out (as opposed to all the interesting unpublished writers I've met):
Doreen Baingana (Ok, I've known Doreen for a while, but she's here again.)
Dirty LaundrySo, another birthday all to myself, at least until tonight. It's far preferable to last year's birthday. Still, I'm doing laundry, and I'm tired of doing so much laundry because of the small wardrobe we have out here, so I'm planning a little shopping trip to UTC nearby, and may even head down into LJ Village for some funkier shops. I need tops and cool slacks for Vermont anyway... it's my birthday, I'm in Sunny So. Cal., and I'll shop til I drop.
I opened one gift this morning, a CD by Christina Milian, and have been listening to it all day. I especially like the second track. But the rest of my gifts will wait until Jon gets home. Then we're off to Rei Do Gado, a Brazilian churascaria in the Gaslamp Quarter, for a romantic dinner.
Meanwhile, doing the laundry will keep my hands from wandering toward the rest of my gifts. Jon wrapped them last night (good thing I married a procrastinator like me), and the pile's teasing me from the dining room table. The paper is lovely, but thin enough to see through on at least one gift. I've been so good I turned it over to save the surprise. Of course, that side was visible too....
YummiesWe've eaten at several local spots over the four weeks I've been here. Below is a compendium of reviews of the different restaraunts.
Yummy Maki Yummy Box
Within walking distance of our little nest is the best deal we've found on sushi anywhere. Family owned and operated, this little dive nestled in a tiny shopping mall serves some of the best sushi I've had.
Jon and I, seeking a respite from cooking, sought out YMYB. IThe tiny spot seated maybe 26 people, and was half full. This impressed me as a good crowd, as Jon and I tend to eat rather late. The clientele was mixed: asians and hispanics, families and couples, plus one larger group that resembled an after-work gathering.
Jon had eaten there before, but I ordered the Sashimi platter, while Jon had the more traditional Sushi and rolls platter. The tuna was so good we ordered extra yellowfin tuna and salmon sushi. And you can't beat the price with a stick.
Rock Bottom Brewery
Jon, B. and I went here on my first night in La Jolla. I arrived very late, and YMYB was already closed. We headed across the street to an old favorite.
Rock Bottom is the sort of pub/bar/american grill found just about anywhere across the country. Their beer list was short for a self-proclaimed brew pub, but the food was actually quite tasty. I had fish. Jon had steak. Too loud for a nice conversation. Good service. Average prices soared a bit at dinner; most entrees were between $12 and $22.
Old Town Mexican Cafe
Several people had recommended the Old Town Cafe in San Diego's historic district. While Sarah was here, we decided to give it a whirl. The long wait worked out well, as Sarah and I left Jon holding the buzzer to peruse the local tourist shops selling tees, candles, and funny magnets.
I have to say the Ceviche was excellent. Best I've had since Mexico. My main meal was tasty too. Service lagged, however, and we waited a very long time for even the standard water. In fact, by the time our waitress showed up, we'd devoured the salsa and chips, and were ready to order. Sarah was less enamored of her food, and did not react favorably, though we can't directly blame Old Town Cafe for her stomach upset.
Tomorrow, we're having a little birthday bash for two at Rei Do Gado (king of the bulls), a Brazilian BarBQ place recommended by our house cleaner, Su.