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Paris is so serenely beautiful in August…


O.k., so we didn’t go to Paris, exactly; I snapped this picture at the San Francisco Arboretum, which we trotted through en route from Sonoma County back to Palo Alto before we went to Hollywood and Palm Springs. But I did sprawl in a fat armchair in our suitably rustic Guerneville cabin, reading nice yummy chunks of Adam Gopnick’s Paris to the Moon, while the overhead fan ticked and spun and I dandled my bare feet on a summer-warm wooden floor–though I didn’t pick up Gopnick until I had gulped down Harry Potter VI in one long deliciously torpid day, slowing only when it became clear that the book was ending, and I would never, ever read it for the first time again. Sandy keeps telling people how she woke up at 5:30 a.m. to hear pages rustling, and saw me up at oh dark-thirty, plowing through my Rowling. We did wineries, and we did arboretums, and we did beaches and shops and restaurants, oh my; but a two-book day: that’s a vacation.

School starts tomorrow, the second and final year of my MFA in Writing. I spent an hour this evening puzzling my way through the parking permit instructions. The website for the Department of Public Safety features a picture of a smiling woman. Why is she smiling? Did she get her parking pass already, or is she smirking at the man next to her who thinks he can park in Lot 7 with an evening permit?

I have reorganized my school binder, gathered up pens and highlighters, found my peechees (one for Tuesday, one for Wednesday), rustled up the timetable for tomorrow’s Student Mixer, and organized my textbooks on a shelf. Harold Brodkey, Joan Didion, Adam Gopnick (yes! that was a textbook!), Gretel Ehrlich, James Baldwin, and W.G. Sebald: running over the list, everything hits a high note–even sweeter than my jazz sax neighbor, now happily climbing up and down the scales as I write this–until I hit B flat with James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. I didn’t know anyone actually read that; I thought it was up there with Gravity’s Rainbow and Finnegan’s Wake–one more ornamental fruit of high literature. (The pictures are real purty, though.)

Well, one must suffer for one’s craft.

I have to turn in homework this Wednesday; I’ve been chugging away at improving an essay I worked on this summer. Tomorrow I plan to fall into my school pattern: up early, toting my mug o’ Peets french roast to the patio office; then with NPR in the background, work on My Craft until the MPOW work whistle blows. But tonight still feels like summer, a little bit, and so to make it all last a minute more, I think I’ll go in and watch a movie, if you please.

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