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2007-05-11 - 11:46 a.m.

Took today off. Last night, lying the other way on my bed, listening to loud headphone music, window open, I heard shots: Pop! Pop pop pop! Pop-pop-op-op-op Pop! It was about midnight. I ripped the headphone off of the ear closest to the window and looked. I didn't hear anything or see anything. Just the Amtrak line noise and traffic noise and maybe somebody laughing somewhere. No humanity of any kind: no screams or wails or shouts. I walked out of my room. My roommate was making tea. "Did you hear those shots?" I asked. "Sure did," she said. We talked about how they were two minutes ago and that there were still no flashing lights. And then we heard the helicopter coming. "And I was about to go outside, too," she said.

Had my last class of the semester on Wednesday night. It was one of the better ones I'd had. I had very little chatty problems or sort of rude talking out loud that sometimes comes with these workshops, which are, by nature much less formal. The first time I taught one, I had a guy--about my age--who was quiet the first few weeks but then began making what he thought were funny comments but were really just stupid and obnoxious. And I didn't check him right away and that was a stupid thing on my part because he got emboldened and by the end of the course he was almost out of control. I had to talk to him during breaks a few times but that was a last-ditch effort. This time, just a few chatters--one pair wrote notes to each other or drew pictures or some shit and I let them do it because they were quiet and as long as they're not disrupting class they can be as middle-school-y as they want to. Another pair chatted a touch but they were chatting about what the class at large was talking about, so I let them work out whatever the issue was on their own. Just gave them the silent "shhh" sign a few times. So, we read and critiqued two stories per student: 52 stories? That's a lot. I was surprised, but out of that number, six or seven have real promise. That's unusual and surprising.

Reading Zadie Smith's "White Teeth." She's funny. And smart. I laughed out loud yesterday. It's a big novel, with characters meeting and then chapters of the backstory of just before they meet. Lots of points of view. All kinds of British dialect.

Trying to write today and then a picnic or something outside with the girl later tonight, before cards. My big brother may join us after he gets off work. He bets a lot.

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