n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Sunday, January 29, 2006

surrealismo questions

burble stream negativefrom Surrealist Women, reprinted from the December 1929 issue of la Revolution surrealiste.

I. What sort of hope do you place in love?

II. How do you envisage the passage from the "idea of love" to the "act of loving"? Would you, willingly or not, sacrifice your freedom for it? Have you done so? Would you agree to sacrifice a cause which you had hitherto considered yourself obliged to defend, if it appeared necessary to do so in order to remain true to love? Would you be willing to forego becoming what you could have become if such was the process of your complete abandonment to the certainty of loving? How would you judge a man who went so far as to betray his convictions to please the woman he loved? Can such a condition be demanded? Can it be obtained?

III. Would you grant yourself the right to deprive yourself for a certain time of the presence of the one you love, knowing how much absensce can inflame love, yet recognizing the mediocrity of such a calculation?

IV. Do you believe in the victory of admirable love over sordid life, or in the victory of sordid life over admirable love?

My Own First-Thought Answers:
I. I place no hope in the noun called love. In the verb, all the hope I have.

II. How does this all fit into one category?

The passage must be like death: that light, the tightening ring, lingering pain and drifting awareness of time before: images, objects, folly. Within the margin of all passages, but this one in particular, Scylla gnashes at the idea, while Charybdis sucks every act back to her one center. A combination of spiral and the bird's eye path.

I would never sacrifice freedom for it. Ever. I have. To love as an act requires freedom. Which is why obligation or demand are mere mockings up front. If it were my own cause however, and no obligation, again: never.

Every movement is an act of abandoning what you could have become. Silly question.

And... we betray our convictions over and over again, betray ourselves, our words, our objects of love, the ground... on almost a daily basis. I wouldn't want to judge these men (or women); such is grace. But I might judge an act of love that betrays an act of love; perhaps because it betrays its reality. Yet, who ever knows what is obtained?

III. I hate to admit: I'm too passionate (impetuous) for calculation. Perhaps a failure of my logic, rather than any reflection, whether reverse or direct, of mediocrity.

IV. The only admirable love is the one that defies the sordid. The only sordid life is the one that betrays the act of love (admirable). I do not need faith to "believe" in either; haven't we all seen both? As for victory, lets leave that to war and games.

P.S. What betrayal or love do you suppose provoked the appearance of these questions in the last issue of a surrealist journal?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

thinking of the break

amusing myself with espanol

Ah, one of my sweet Ecuadorian students students forwarded this to me... evidence that chain mails occur in all languages. It's kinda dumb, but it amused me to translate (my favorite is the Pizza). Here we go:
Los hombres son....

Los mejores son ricos, calientes, con cuerpo y te mantienen despierta toda la noche (Pero donde estarán? Seguramente en paises muy alejados y el cultivo nacional bueno solo se le utiliza para exportación).

Dulces, suaves... y generalmente se van directo a tus caderas.

Crees necesitar uno pero no sabes para qué..

Llénalos de cerveza y te lo podrás llevar a donde tu quieras..

Solo sirven para reproducir...

Siempre están calientes y enredados en tu pelo....

Una vez que le has tomado la medida...son fáciles de pisar..

Siempre te dicen qué hacer y generalmente están equivocados.

Se corren a la primera lágrima.

Si no tienes cuidado...se te suben por las piernas.

Los buenos ya están ocupados y los que quedan son minusválidos o demasiado pequeños

Nada se puede hacer para cambiarlo.

Nunca se sabe cuando vienen, cuántos centímetros tendrá cuánto pueden durar.

Después de esparcidos, tardan un rato en ponerse duros...

Fáciles de obtener, baratos y nada confiables.

Llamas por teléfono y en media hora están calientes en tu puerta.

Nunca son lo suficientemente largas.

Friday, January 27, 2006

advice welcomed

I'm having schedule dilemmas again... yeah yeah, so what's new. So you, my friends and family, are going to weigh in on the decision if you so choose.

What I'm signed up for now is a streamlined schedule of classes that would all lead me down the path of producing a great deal of writing... focused writing... towards a novel. It consists of a surrealism class, a novel-writing class, and two one-on-one interactions with teacher-writers.

What I "want" to sign up for will probably make me go completely crazy and have no, and I mean no, spare time. In this hypothetical situation, I would get rid of a one-on-one teacher interaction (30 minutes a week, all about the writing I'd already be doing) and exchange it for a letterpress book-making class of monstrous proportions (6 hours in class and probably twice that amount out of class). The appeal: the book examples I saw were gorgeous handmade creations.

I could also potentially drop the novel-writing class for a "projects/process" class that might allow me to focus more on the book-making and less on the writing. This is a third option, by the way, to limit the degree of maniacal behavior. But I *should* be writing lots, as was pointed out to me by my "self-appointed SAIC writer grandmother."

So, the Q: Should I be focused or should I be manic//creatively-multitasking?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

resuming the lifestyle

new snowshoesOff in the background I can hear sirens rubbing the skin off of some dog’s ear—the second time of the evening. And yet, or maybe not even with a yet, I am grateful to be back to what I amazingly realized has become a home (away from der homehausen) for me. I arrived on time, but the plane took 45 minutes to taxi in due to ice, and by the time I picked up my embarrassing quantity of bags…

---A note is due here because I truly am embarrassed. After traveling to Europe with a 100lb bag on my back and discarding a good 50lbs of it in a kamikaze dumping run that left its entrails strewn from Berlin to Italy to Spain and back again, I decided that traveling light should become my forte. In fact, I traveled with ss around Europe with a pack that not only gained levity, but also became well-oiled and worn in like a dirt floor. I could pack that mother in just under three minutes and that includes sleeping bag, tent, clothes for 8 months including fuzzies for Pyrenees mountain weather, camera, cd-player without which I am not made for this world, knife, pictures, notebook, pots and pans, flea collars for those fleas that followed me from farm to farm, apparently mistaking me for some giant ruffian pooch with a desire to be bitten (ouch), and so forth. ss, if anything, was more of a pro than I, but the two of us together earned our laurels and carried our useful devices around on our backs like some great neo-ankylosaurs.

I’ve always been proud of this fact. Even with our packs filled to the brim with tourist detritus equipped for our family—including a great package of Venetian glass—we still came back from Europe with only about 100lbs each, which became ever so slightly less when my Cecina vinerose starts were confiscated (which made me cry). This means we did not have the two bags that many were allowed, but merely the one each.

Ever since then, I have become something of a baggage snob. If you are carrying more than one bag, a small bag if your voyage is under two months, or if one of your two bags does not contain a plethora of bribes or gifts for family, then you are somehow messing things up, and really quite badly. I always sneered openly at the folks who had to gate-check their obvious too-large bags, or who had rolling suitcases for the weekend conference nearby. One of my good friends once made the mistake of bringing a blow-up mattress, two boxes and a backpack on our overnight car-camping expedition, and I made fun of her for it until she indicated nonviolently all the things one might do with a nalgene bottle.

But alas, on my return home trip, I had so many bags that I had to call a friend to pick me up because I knew I couldn’t make it back on the subway with any degree of comfort. Of course, I might have sloughed my itinerant 12lbs right then and there as I manhandled the two rolling-suitcases (one precisely 50lbs), backpack (50lbs), messenger bag, and two poster containers across the trestle threshold into the car, but it didn’t quite feel worth it. Then, on my way out to the car, a cute guy laughed at me, and usually that doesn’t bother me, but he was very cute and had dreadlocks to boot… it was as if I were seeing my own sneer on the face of someone slightly more attractive, and I didn’t like it too much.—

…my friend had waited a good hour over what we had both expected. What this translated into was that she needed to take me along with her to her late-night Friday tutoring lesson, which fate had it, was for Russian and set in the downtown area.

So, we drove through increasingly slushy slush in rushy traffic until we got belatedly to the Sears tower, or some other tower, and met a much rained-upon and bedraggled Oleg (pronounced ah-leckg for those of you who think this name disgustingly blocky, which most lovely Russian names come across as in English. Take for instance Xenia, which sounds just wretched on our tongues, but is pronounced in a whisperish kseynya in its home language). We then felt sheepish enough to take him to some swank bar-place with dim lighting, candles, and plush leather chairs, where we offered him booze and watched, to my great interest, as he became very very nervous and acted like he thought we were going to get him drunk, tie him up, and have very kinky American sex with him. He turned down the first round of drinks, which bh and I were certainly not going to do without, and made nervous conversation with us for awhile before the authoritative bh informed him that we, including me, should speak in Russian and see what was needed or known.

Da bozhe moi, it’s been a good 8 years since I’ve spoken more Russian than “izvenite pozhalsta,” and so this was quite the moment. Outside, the slush turned to full-on snow piling on wet ice, and inside, I learned to my great chagrin that while I still understand a little bit of Russian, I speak it in a form of Spanglruss:

Me: Ya zabwilla pochtee todo de mi russo, no ya izuchala ruskuyu literaturu por tres anos en mi escuela.”

O: Tohzhe izuchala ispanski?

Me: Da! Como znayesh?

O: Skolka idea.

BH: Ha ha ha.

Yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you learn one language passably and another not so passably. But it was a fun conversation and I even remember the word for chess (shakmarti), and since it wasn’t technically my tutoring session, I could get up and go to the bathroom, or order another drink, or wander around. On the second round of drinks, Oleg finally capitulated, although it had come out in our conversation that he was only 20 years old. I considered this explanation for his extreme anxiety about drinks, when as I remember it, the Russians I hung out with in Petersburg never once turned down a single drink, and actually would insist on everyone having more rounds than was human(e)ly feasible.

After his one drink, quickly swallowed as the snow turned blizzardy, we all went outside and sluiced our way to the car. Oleg was quite charming and pretended that he didn’t know where his red-line station was so that he could flirt us all the way back to bh’s car. Bh’s word, which I don’t frequently use—peach—was rather apropos as a descriptor. And I, oh I, was very happy to be back where this sort of encounter happens and tall scrapers grow loudly.

Once at home (after a harrowing adventure on the snow-ice streets with me wondering if bh had had too much to drink, and distracting myself from the answer by pumping her about her family), I was happy to note that my humble abode was not broken into. Filthy and beyond utterly disgusting with dust-bunnies, stray hairs, refuse from our quick exodus from school, and globular accretions on our kitchen floor, true, but broken into, no. And this time around, the fact that my refrigerator has a habit of freezing its contents was a perk instead of an annoyance, because it meant that the milk that would have made me retch was instead safely encased and waiting for me to put it on the counter for my morning coffee.

---The Next

no snowparkingAh yes, after a long and only partially satisfying sleep on my thermo-pad, which had lost some of its charm after a month on a fluffy bouncy mattress, I was up and ready to mop the floor and tackle Chicago.

You know what I like around here? If I march around the streets all done up in my typical affair, feeling happy and smiley… people look at me. That doesn’t mean they like what they see, although some of the guys whistle or say hello or whisper things as I pass by, but it does mean that I feel seen. People look, and wow how it’s noticeable. I love this fucking city that sees me. I also love the Pacific Northwest that for some reason doesn’t see me (or Ecuador which saw me far too much, since I stuck out like some acromegalic), but it feels good to be in a place where I can walk around and realize that all my memories have been created by me, that they are light and jaunty, like me walking to Blockbuster and listening to music, like me on the subway, like me traveling to see friends or go to school. I get to start afresh here, make it what I want, and there’s nothing to run from (yet), and quite a bit to run towards.

***Musical Interlude, Joseph Arthur (religious but lovely)***
I don't know where we've been
Could you tell me where we are again?
And Jesus is my only friend
No one else knows who I am

I know I'll never make it on the cross
Spent my days looking for what my daddy lost
He was too proud to have a boss
Sold himself out then he couldn't afford the cost

No one knows how he felt
Hung himself in the county jail
There were those who said he would burn in hell
I don't think they knew him very well

Angel of love
Shine a light on us
I was born to be
Redemption's son
Angel of love
Shine a light on us
I was born to be
Redemption's son
I burnt my English muffin today. It lies like breaded charcoal out on my porch, but guess what? There was one right behind it. What an amazing thing.

When I think about it, my burnt English muffin is all my sister’s fault. The night before I came home she called me and said:

“Hey, I hear you’re coming home tomorrow.”
“Yeah! I can’t wait to see you. You going to be there tomorrow night?”
“Probably not.” (She was)
“Oh, that sucks, I’d like to see you. You wanna go out?”
“Sometime soon. Hey, do you have my toaster oven?”
“Oh, I have a toaster oven. Is it yours? Mom said it was just lying around and I could take it.”
“Well, I didn’t need it on the boat, but I need it now. Can you bring it?”
“Bring it?”
“Like in my suitcase?”
“Can’t you just go out and get another, or go to Goodwill or something for a new one?”
“Hey, I’ll buy one for you.”
“They’re pretty expensive. Why don’t you just bring home mine?”

(Imbedded within the subtext here is the fact that my sister thinks I’ve stolen far too many things from her. And maybe she’s right. Just a little. But I didn’t steal her toaster; mom gave it to me without knowledge that it would be coveted again. But that doesn’t dismiss the fact that I have, and grudgingly admit to, stolen the following items: her favorite Japanese-style shirt (returned), some stripy pants when I lost too much weight to wear my own (would have been returned if I hadn’t stained them, as is my proclivity), overalls (returned), other shirts, one or two cd’s, probably other things. I wish I didn’t have a history as a petty thief.)

“I burned some plastic on it.”
“How the hell did you do that?”
“Well, I didn’t think properly and was imagining it as more like a microwave, so I put a plastic plate in it.”
“I guess I can deal with that.”
“Oh, well, I scrubbed the plastic off. But it’s burned on the top.”
“How’d you do that?”
“My roommate put something on top and I didn’t notice.”
“I can deal with that too. Just put it in your suitcase.”
“You sure?”
“Okay then.”

So, now I’m using the oven broiler until I can get something more useful, but the problem with the broiler is that I am a f***ing space cadet and the broiler doesn’t automatically turn off like the toaster oven does. So, that means that I was happily reading away on my book when all of a sudden I was choking on smoke.

Speaking of smoke, I got to experience a great goodness hellishly wonderful bonfire before I left, and damn if I just don’t adore ee (who might be a baby-daddy unknown to him since I haven’t asked yet). I went out to his place where he was building an addition to his shop—one for blowing glass and fixing bicycles, a combination I didn’t ask too much about. The blown glass already created by his brother looked beauteous and I was seriously interested in learning how to do more.

We talked about blowing glass until the conversation shifted to building an amphitheatre and then on to the brother’s girlfriend’s slipping away, a sad topic that necessitated us going in and making homemade tortillas and macaroni and cheese with snails (escargot in a can). Actually a lovely meal, which set us up to drink a little more and go and try to wedge a fire out of the incredibly wet wood. It took some work and all, but finally started up, and I got to run back to the shop and fill a bag with wood chips (how do I think of these things, these random decisions like entering someone’s workplace and scouring the box underneath the chop-saw for leavings to cart back to a bonfire?), which sent up crinkling sparks. I spent most of the evening circumnavigating the fire and shoving the igloo-stacked shingles one-by-one into the fire when it seemed hot enough to accommodate another water-permeated piece. I made it back that night, thoroughly stinking of smoke and happy that I experienced a bonfire on my trip back home.

Back in Chicago home, my friends sb and js brought back Sir Cedric the Entertainer (my turtle), and he looked way healthier than when I left him, and then we went to watch a movie at a theatre called The Music Box. We saw this film “Café Lumiere,” a Japanese film of gargantuan quiescence, which apparently the reviews called indelible, but was closer to inedible. It was very very very very slow, and I thought after 25 minutes that I seriously was going to die and should walk out, but I was there with my goodfriends, but then all of a sudden, the female lead said nonchalantly to her adorable mother: “I’m pregnant,” and you could feel everyone in the theatre lean in, and one person laughed.

After that, the psychological buriedtext was slightly more palpable and I even could say I enjoyed it. The mother and father were hilarious – both avoiding talking about the “unwed pregnancy” issue, but in slightly different ways. The father used Brahmin like stoic silence and shared his potatoes with his daughter since “she liked them,” and the mother snipped at her in little phrases like “Your pot’s on the top shelf? Hmmmmmm. Your chopsticks are in a bottle? Hmmmmmm. Do you always borrow food from your landlady? I’m so ashamed.” And the boy who was wasting away in an artistic misunderstood stasis, flirted with the female character by ignoring her and recording his beloved train sounds on the subways. All in all, the antithesis of an action film, but with a little salvage work, it was not something to walk out of.

Oh, things are good, and this is far far too long so I’ll stop.


--I just got an email from fnewsmagazine that one of the artists I mentioned (Tomas Ochoa) in the September article I wrote about an Ecuadorian art museum “read my article on the web and liked it.” Not only this, but that he wants “to be in touch.” Holy crappola. I’m a superstar, I know it, I’m a superstar. Now, why would he be in touch?

--A box of books from er. The Pullman Series (The Golden Compass, The Cutting Knife, and The Amber Spyglass). Oh, thankyou thankyou thankyou, dear. I was meaning to call this next weekend anyways, and so you shall hear from me.

--I finally finished Pale Fire and despite the fact that it was a definite toughie, it was Worth It. What an odd, odd book, but it made me laugh and made fun of academia and was too smart for its own good, which makes it a winner in my book.

Basically, the novel is divided into two parts: one, a poem in four cantos, and two, the “comments” made upon the poem. The poem itself is 30 pages long, and the other 260 pages are made up of the comments, written by a man named Kinbote. The thing is that the poem is quite possibly one of the worse poems published on earth, whereas the comments are exceptional, extremely related to the situation of the poem but highly unrelated to the content of the poem, and done by a man who is brilliant and totally insane. And even better yet, both the writer of the bad poem and the writer of the comments are fictional characters of Nabokov’s crazy big brain.

If you want to read a bizarre account of creation, a twisted-into-Perfection rationale for writing fiction, and quite possibly one of the big-wordiest of novels I’ve ever read, go for this book. One of the things that bothered me a little was I couldn’t quite tell if Nabokov was belittling a man’s queer-sexuality or showing how its suppression and denial was partially the reason for his insanity. But other than that, it was complete brilliance and I love this sort of thing. That is, I do appreciate a book that makes me work for things. Griiiiiind.

I also read some of Barth’s short stories (some quoted below), which I also liked, but sometimes I felt like I agreed with his own belittling comments and just wanted him to tell a goddamn story. I liked “Lost In the Funhouse” best for this very reason – there was commentary and story both, and I just believe that narrative is beautiful in a short story. In case you’re wondering, both of these books are in line for the class I’m TA-ing in metafiction (which since many have asked before, and many will ask again: this is artwork that implies the act or process of art-making through its narrative or basic design. Adaptation is also on the syllabus and is perhaps the easiest example).

And finally on this note, I read a bit of Anne Calcagno’s stories to see if I would work okay with her on grad projects (she was my travel-writing teacher, and I’m unclear on what I ended up thinking about all that), and I very much liked her stories too. They are spartan but clear and serious; she hits the important stuff and then moves along, and I felt like she was paying attention to her words carefully. Her dialogues are funny and strange. Not that she isn’t wonderful in person, but I was surprised how a person’s speaking voice can be so different from their writing voice. I guess I should have known. Haha.

--My roomie is coming home from Hong Kong tomorrow. Yay LL. I have to go buy eggs so I can make a cake for her.


I have sitemeter on this blog, which I signed onto in order to ostensibly record the number of hits I get on this little web journal (I average 23 a day, with an average of a minute per visit). But surprise, this is not the best part of sitemeter. The best part is that I can see what search words people have used to turn up my site if they used, say, google blog search to look for a certain topic. Here's why this is my favorite part of sitemeter. Phrases used that turned up my site within the last hundred hits or so:

tongue thrust, how to stop
dirty barefoot wanker
moms teaching there doters how to fuck movies
exercises tongue thrust
brown coating on tongue
tongue thrust i just want to sleep
shnockered bean shooters
the tongue thrust book
busoms in bondage

Rock on! Is it naughty to spy so? Probably, but it's fodder for thought.

our courts, beloved

Recent news makes it looks like Alito is going to be confirmed. He seems to have the support of most of Senate and whatnot, and unless the Democrats decide to filibuster, which doesn’t look likely, he will be yet another conservative creep within our court system.

Since I’ve been unclear precisely what a filibuster is—besides a very cool word that means in my parallel universes: developing one’s bosoms, or cracking a good one on someone's noggin—I’ve done a little web research. According to some historian, it basically means yapping for such a long time that folks will do anything to shut you up. In other words, I employ filibustering on a regular basis, as do a number of people I know. I know it’s horrible that I didn’t know what this word meant exactly before this point, but all I remembered from US History (taught by one very beleaguered fellow in Florida) is that it’s something employed by the minority to make the majority think a little harder. When you consider it, this is a tactic long employed by the unempowered… employed really because they had to, since nobody was listening most of the time.

One thing that I learned from the above article is that the word came from the Dutch term for “pirate,” which I love even more. Is it coincidence that the US Navy recently apprehended a boat of pirates, now a moderately common phenomenon in poorer countries? Hmmmm. Maybe, maybe not.

As I understand it, the two biggest problems that some find with Alito is that he defers to presidential power (since it is oh so checked) too much, and that he believes in a firm interpretation of the Constitution as it stands. The second is what I find problematic, not that I hate the Constitution or anything, but what this stance seems to mean is not being willing to consider the Constitution as a flexible document meant to incorporate new concerns and problems. It means little activism is encouraged, and activism is what has helped women, minorities, and the unempowered to rise to the level of equality before the law. So basically, Alito would hopefully, if things were moderately okay, abide by the law, but not be willing to change the parts of laws that are unfair.

-Queer Interlude and Relevance-

So, for instance, if certain states decided to create a ban, out of thin air, on queer marriage, which as I see it, is completely unconstitutional, the folks who abide the letter of the law would make sure it is enforced in the court system and perhaps not overturned due to a modern America needing all its types of people treated with equality. This is not my only bone of contention, but the whole gay marriage thing highlights a problem I see in the States. Until queers are granted the right to make the colossally insane move of marriage, they are not deemed equal before the law, and what this translates to for many Americans, is the right to treat queers and indeed different folks, as inferior to the mainstream. Separate is not, as I think has been before debated, equal when you are talking about the law. And frankly, it seems that queers are too frequently made either scapegoats or exotic idols because of this system.

Personally, I agree with a friend about marriage; he believes that it should be removed from government interference altogether, and what should be implemented in its place is a system where people can choose “households,” which might be man and wife, or wife and wife, or friend and friend, or sister and brother, or father and son, or what not… and set up a system of tax breaks and protection for any people who decide to cohabitate and share resources and perhaps children. Granted, this would mean that many more people would qualify, but it would equalize a system that encourages people to marry for financial benefit. I hate to admit it, but I think marriage should be a private affair involving family, church or no church, and community, and should not be about the government’s stamp of approval.

When I was working with immigrants, I just saw too many women and men who had married for American citizenship, and suffered because of it. Mostly the women suffered; I saw women working three jobs to pay their “husband” back, or being forced into sex with their “husband,” or otherwise being taken advantage of, just because where they came from was economically or socially unlivable. If the marriage thing was sorted out, some sort of alternative to selling one’s body and often soul to another more privileged person (government sanctioned prostitution) would have to be created.

I know some folks might say, “Well, if they didn’t do the illegal move of marrying just for Citizenship, it wouldn’t be a problem,” but considering what the options are for so many of the women and men, that’s not quite fair. In fact, it is an argument that fits closely with abortion arguments (Well, if they just didn’t have sex. Or if they just had the baby), but is even worse because it involves someone’s lifetime and not just nine months. The people I’ve known who immigrate to the US do it rarely because they hate their hometown, but because they cannot find a subsistence of some sort there. This is another issue altogether and shouldn’t be coupled with a marriage sanction.

So, this is partially why I believe that some major revamping is needed on the whole marriage shit, rather than just granting queers the right to marry. But barring total revolution, it’s insane to say that some people have the right to dedicate their lives to each other and get financial//law benefits from it, and others don’t, just because the Bible tells us that the penis fits so nicely into the vagina.

---Back to the crux

In other words, I think Alito might not be the fellow to really look at the idea, morphing and changing with new light and acceptance, that the Constitution protects us all equally and should change to fit society. But unfortunately, it looks like Alito is going to win and I, with a bunch of other folks, will just have to wait to see what the next X amount of years are going to be like in the whole judicial side of our world. Great.

So, filibuster: please. Talk your little tongues off until the man gives a few more answers than he has.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

on the fly still

Back in Chicago
With Photoshop
Books to Read
Things to Write
Some Time to Use Wisely
Snow on the Ground
Turtle on the Table
Mopped Floor
Friends to See
City to Pace
12lbs to Sluff
Head to Calm
Letters to Write
Words: I Will be Back Soon

Thursday, January 19, 2006


----------------from Barth, "Echo"----------------

One does well to speak in the third person, the seer advises, in the manner of Theban Tiresias. A cure for self-absorption is saturation: telling the story over as though it were another's until like a much-repeated word it loses sense. This, a cathartic Tiresias himself employs in the interest of objectivity and to rid himself of others' histories--Oedipus's, Echo's--which distract him fore and aft by reason of his entire knowledge.
----------------from Attendé, "Making Things Up"----------------

As if by peculiar design, nothing she felt was of any consequence at all. Not only of no consequence, in fact her emotions had no bearing or relevance on reality; they did not change or effect one damn thing. Her love, nothing; merely the centerpiece of her mind, a means of constructing memory, a useless internal motion that did not exit her mouth (except by means of words, which hardly count), or act out upon her body. Her steps were not modified; she in fact did everything that took place afterwards precisely as she did them before, much in the same fashion that BC included violent acts of brutality, and AD ipso facto includes violent acts of brutality.

When she looked out at the world through her wide-opened eyes, she saw that while these feelings and thoughts that so gripped her, that taunted her night after night as she scrabbled at the bed covers and tried to compose, that fled around her body tripping lightly over veins and swimming through cytoplasm and riding neurons like roller-coasters off their skids, that while they truly composed her (and not the other way around), they had no bearing on anything else.

She wanted them to. She wanted her emotions to effect the way people treated her, the way they saw her, the way they spoke to her, and even better yet, the way they dealt with each other. She wanted emotions to mean something, to be verified as a scientific fact, which would point out that without love or sadness, no house would have a roof and no plant would grow and people would never touch each other. That her feelings, that their feelings, were in fact exactly the force (describable by laws or at least mathematical theories) that kept the world spinning along, dosey-doeing with chaos.

Perhaps, she mused, something had ripped free of itself, had broken right up and down. As if California had indeed separated from the rest of the reality (thus explaining the advent of one particular "I'll be back" governor). A moat had grown, deep down as China or whatever was underneath, and filled to the brim with murky brackish water which had flash-flooded down from unseen Arizona mountains, dragging along with it deer and lynx corpses with the fur wearing off in small patches. Into the moat it all went. And somewhere far within the hardwire of the earth, the things always unknown with no effect, a spark went up that electrocuted rabbit bones and black bear pink-mottled skin and even the staring green eyes of a two-year old girl who had been dragged out of her crib into the water before she could even look around for a nipple. Once electrocuted, crossing the moat became an exercise in dealing with slimy enlivened baby guts that broiled around in the fetidstench moat water and dared, yes dared, anyone to visit Hollywood-our land of dreams and dramatic creations.

Wouldn't the bonespur become unspoken, hidden and kept silent? Airstrips would disappear slowly, an evacuation of machinery, a cessation.

Yes, she mused, perhaps that is what had happened sometime in the past, who knows when, certainly before her time, since when she thought about it, her emotions had never made any consequential difference, and in fact had became mute and mulishly truculent. She went about her life, looking it over and deciding, moving her body and deciding, and continuing to run fabulous and neverbefore felt options through her head.

----------------from Barth, "Title"----------------

Wait wait. We're left with the following three possibilites, at least in theory. Horseshit. Hold onto yourself, it's too soon to fill in the blank...

The first is rejuvenation: having become an exhausted parody of itself, perhaps a form--Of what? Of anything--may rise neoprimitively from its own ashes. A tiresome prospect. The second, more appealing I'm sure but scarely likely at this advanced date, is that moribund what-have-yous will be supplanted by vigorous new: the demise of the novel and short story, he went on to declare, needn't be the end of narrative art, nor need the dissolution of a used-up blank fill in the blank. The end of one road might be the beginning of another. Much good that'll do me. And you may not find the revolution as bloodless as you think, either. Shall we try it? Never dare a person who is fed up to the ears.

The final possibility is a temporary expedient, to be sure, the self-styled narrator of this so-called story went on to admit, ignoring the hostile impatience of his audience, but what is not, and every sentence completed is a step closer to the end. That is to say, every day gained is a day gone. Matter of viewpoint, I suppose. Go on. I am. Whether anyone's paying attention or not. The final possibility is to turn ultimacy against itself to make something new and valid, the essence whereof would be the impossibility of making something new. What a nauseating notion. And pray how does it bear upon the analogy uppermost in everyone's mind? We've gotten this far, haven't we? Look how far we've come together. Can't we keep on to the end? I think not. Even another sentence is too many. Only if one believes the end to be a long way off; actually it might come at any moment; I'm surprised it hasn't before now. Nothing does when it's expected to.

Silence. There's a fourth possibility, I suppose. Silence. General anesthesia. Self-extinction. Silence.

Friday, January 13, 2006


For an "early Valentines present," my mother got cr a new flat screen tv, which honestly I have yet to watch something on (and so I have no opinion). Mum told me to send cr out to the car to find it, and commented that when he saw it, he would "go beserk." In terms of what beserkian characteristics cr demonstrated, he took one look at it and said with a black face:

"This is what caused the downfall of Rome."

To which I replied, "What? Widescreen TVs?"

"Well, yes," he said, "the sheer decadence of it all."

Ah, but two seconds later he was embracing downfall and carrying it within.

In terms of my own decadent "early Valentines present," I have New Boots with sheepfur on the inside of them. They are black, calf length, and I've been dancing around pretending to be Napolean Dynamite and being very very happy about the thought of Warm Feet in Chicago. My poor little toeses so very much hate being cold.

I've been painting the door. My mother calls the color "terra-cotta" and I call it "pink with brown." It looks pretty good so far. I like painting. I have paint on my face and I'm not interested in wiping it off.

Coming Home to Chicago--
In answer to a "few" folks' solicitous inquiries (a "few" as in lots and lots of people here, which makes me wonder if they want to get rid of me, and some people back in Chicago, which makes me wonder if they need to prepare for me, and some people in other states, which makes me wonder why they care), I will be returning to beloved Chicago on January 20th in the evening. That's a Friday. That's a week from today.

Yes, it is rather late. Yes, I am looking forward to it. No, I'm not going to come back standby earlier, because in true Holiday Fashion, I have to do some cat-dog-fish sitting. I just realized: not a winter holiday has passed in the last four years that I wasn't watching someone else's animals. I hope to get some writing done, because I'm having a hard time finding my way back into "fiction mode," and I also get to go to my fathers and scrub his nasty kitchen linoleum so that I might be able to afford February rent. So, this is where I'll be for One More Week.

But I miss you dreadfully, Chicago.

Compassion or Empathy--
I got into an interesting conversation last night about the difference between these two. We finally decided that empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else's place, and compassion is being able to show understanding and nonjudgement even for those things you can't feel from within someone else's position. I was startled by this conversation, and began to wonder whether it is possible to have empathy but little compassion, or compassion but little empathy.

According to the dictionary, always a limited way of thinking about such terms:
Compassion is "deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it." It comes from the latin root "compat" which means "to sympathize," and further can be broken down to com + pat, which means according to the dictionary "to suffer," but I reckon more accurately would be "with" + "emotion."

Empathy, on the other hand, is "identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives," or "the attribution of one's own feelings to an object." The "em" in this case would be "within."
Thus, the primary distiction would seem to be whether you are "with" or "within" emotion. Interesting, no? Also, when I think about it, "empathy" could be negative because it could mean projecting your own emotions in a "false attribution."

So, really, one could be short-suited on one, but not the other. I think I'm stronger suited in empathy (a positive thing for a writer), but admire compassion more. Up for discussion: any personal preferences?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

der homehausen


This place has become an inundation. Ever since I came home around the 18th of December, not a day has passed without rain. I suppose I deserve it; down in Ecuador, my summer residence, it didn’t rain except at night. Sometimes there was that light mist sprinkle when I was out on the coast mucking around barefoot on the coasts and wondering if I would ever be back to that particular sand in this particular lifetime. In Chicago, on the other hand, it does not rain frequently either, and when it does, it follows burst of storm, lightening, thunder, elements of dramatic uprisings.

Here, no. Here it simply rains. Not quite a drizzle, too vehement for that, but not ferocious and thunder. Outside, the sky turns a perpetual grey, and blue becomes one of those ephemeralities you think must have existed but you can’t quite convince yourself. For Christmas, my mother received a rain chain, not unlike the chain gang; however, this particular linkage makes light the task of moving water more slowly from gutter to copper pot, where a floating bronze fish peers out. Drop by drop, you watch things move around here, and the leaves are coated but saturated, the ground uncoated and thoroughly soggy with mud.

When this happens, I start feeling a little dreary with the blues, and remember things, brood a little, wonder what it is I’m doing here, not here with the rain, but here in my life, what it is I might offer.

To cheer myself up, I sit at home and drill holes in my mother’s cabinets, a task appointed me in order to add cabinet handlebars to my mother’s new kitchen shelves. And yes, it is fun. Measuring the spaces, marking with pencil, holding the drill firmly with pressure and backing each hole with a board to prevent the exit-burst, and then screwing in each handlebar with satisfaction at my clear achievement.

However, I got to feel a particularly evil five minutes. Because the screws weren’t long enough to go through the drawers, my mother had to go to the hardware store and find some a little longer. During this time, I thought I’d go ahead and get a head start and thus drilled all the necessary holes into the drawers. Unfortunately for me, when she got back, the handlebar I pulled out was one inch too short for the (twenty) holes I had drilled. A very evil five minutes of my life. However, I had just pulled out the wrong handlebar. So, really, drilling is an effective way of spending my bluesy time.

Remember when you went away from home for the first time years ago, and when you came back to visit the family, you had to spend the first X amount of time convincing your family (and realizing yourself) that you are a different person, more of a grown up? Coming home to Bville (or Alger where my mum’s new house is) is a bit like that in extremis, only I’m not quite sure what I’m proving or to whom I’m proving it. All I know is that I was barely alive last time I lived here. I was miserable and misery is as misery does. I think, when I come back, that I’m trying to prove I don’t care.

As my friend startled me with her advice last night: maybe my task right now is not to sort through my past.

To explain my love for this place however, let me point to the burn-bathtub that sits atop the algae greenery lump-pond in my parent’s backyard. Pictures from the backyard, which is about five acres, and a pleasant sort of place to put on rubber boots and a raincoat and a woolen hat and tromp around thinking green thoughts. There are tools lying everywhere, rakes and shoves, pile-pullers, tractors; tools on pebbles and sometimes I expand just thinking about them.

This land is green, you have to admit. The above pictures, replete with moss, strawberry vines, trailing flowers, succulents and nice rocks, is what I miss the third most about the Northwest, next to my family and the ocean. While I love Chicago, these little piles of greenery are not to be found as you cross the ice-encrusted streets on your way to the El. Looking up within the hand-sculpted metal-snake caverns, you are likely to see radiating stalactites, but you probably won’t see the plants overflowing the cornices and semi-hibernating in a temporary wait for the new season’s eruption.

Love you, Chicago, but you need more of this in amongst the marble architectural fetes of greatness.

These folks here are the ones I come back to. cr, my mother’s boyfriend, who wears these grubbers outside, and listens to jazz. Within the pink house, the old one, he works on Alcad and cusses out Verizon for having forced him to buy a satellite hookup for his computer. His job: to build little culvert add-ons to successfully shuttle our Pacific Northwest salmon to their little beading beds. But most of the time, he putzes around, builds my mother houses, moves rocks, walks around the property with his buddies, saws things, and rants about the dreadful state of the political, corporate, and social world.

In fact, the night before last, I was forced to turn off March of the Penguins because it “represented all that was evil in the world,” was “worse than video games,” was “only watched by people who drive SUVs,” and so forth to the point that I threw a little temper tantrum and said I didn’t want to watch some editorialized nature show that was certainly no worse than any of the nature shows I grew up on. True, Morgan Freeman’s voice was a little melodramatic, but really.

Fortunately for us all, cr is also an ardent and interesting conversationalist, loves The Leningrad Cowboys with a frightening passion, treats my mother very well, and always has the most screwball books imaginable to recommend to me.

My mother, literally on the other side of affairs, came into my room with a glass of brandy after the Penguin Showdown and asked why I slammed the door.

“I didn’t slam the door.”
“Oh yes you did.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to. I just don’t want to listen to that. My sister recommended the film and she doesn’t drive an SUV. In fact, her car gets over 40 miles to the gallon. So why should I have to watch a film while he’s trashing it?”
“Ah yes, he does that sometimes.”
“We watched Dodgeball last night and he adored it.”
“Who knows why he hates the things he does.”

True, true. My mother in the picture above is carting, you may or may not note, a bunch of beer bottles from hither to thither, and she buys them constantly and does not seem to mind too much, although sometimes she gets that “I’m a little disappointed” tone in her voice due to the expediency with which we empty out the mini-bar. I have to admit that since the New Year’s onset, I’ve gone without alcohol for a grand Single Day. But if you had a bar fully stocked with rum, coke, beer, wine, gin, tonic, and so forth… and you were working on Thriving in a spot where you had wasted a whole year feeling sad… wouldn’t you be tempted to become a lush?

Maybe not.

Nevertheless, my mother is a mensch, and not only provides the beer, carts it to the recycling and such, but also gives me tasks like drilling holes in her cabinets to keep me busy. Whenever I am feeling particularly empty, she reminds me via example of all that is like a subaltern-rivered well. The type that begins buying Christmas presents so early that she has to distribute them evenly across the land, then forgets about most of them, and starts finding them with greatest surprise three days after Christmas (so far I’ve had the post gift of gloves and a mini book-light). And although I’m twenty-nine years old, she still brings me lemonade and advil in the middle of the night when I am feverish and sad over old things that should fade away lightly.

Being and all that we have lots of trees, and my mother is a sucker for feeding anything that might want to come around, we get visited by woodpeckers. But that’s not it: blue jays of course, chickadees, red warblers, hummingbirds, sparrows, and everything else. If all goes well in the spring, the barn swallows will come back to nest in the breezeway, and their little gaping-mawed chicks will make screee-screee rasps that cr will converse with every time he goes outside.

In the meantime: woodpeckers love suet blocks, as the above picture minus bird will attest. Look at all that is missing. In particular, we have a little female Hairy Woodpecker coming around this year, in direct contrast to the male version that kept me company and inspired melodious raptures during the drizzling months of last year. This little one climbs on her suet block, intimidating all the smaller flitterers, and then spins and spins around while pecking out seeds that are held together by… yes, you guessed it… congealed vegetable lard.

Watching them makes me happy, and so I spy on them daily from one of the many large windows in the new joint. Oh, and by the way, I must mention that the birdfeeder is amongst my favorite of constructions around the place, put together as it is from white plastic pipes glued together, and not the twigging branches of our great and tangled foliage.

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale skull. Nurse tree. Enough said.


This whale skull was one of the most exciting presents of my childhood. An old fellow named Joe, who I guess was courting my mother up in Alaska and who always answered the question of “how are you doing?” with “getting younger every day,” had this beaked whale skull at his home. I admired it all two times I visited his little beach shack. Noticing how much I loved and examined it, Joe offered to give me the skull and help me go through with all the paperwork necessary for me to own it properly. (He was part Alaskan native, I was not). And so, that’s what we did.

In celebration of my acquisition, I decided to do a report on the skull for my 6th-grade science project. I read and wrote, wrote and read, and then decided that for full effect, the skull needed to come with me to class on that report day. Which mean that I carried that skull the ½-mile to my bus stop in the pitch dark, onto the bus (getting wedged temporarily on the stairs) and back to my seat. I then carried it through the hallways to class, and all I remember from then on was thinking: shit, this head is half as long as I am. Since I did not hit my growth spurt (which went four inches a year, for two years, in order for me to hit my 5’10’’ status) until seventh grade, I was quite right.

That Cuvier’s Beaked Whale skull is half the size I was in sixth grade, and every time I see it, as imbued with moss as it currently is, all I think about is carting it up an icy road and onto a bus. See, even then I was stubborn and nerdy both.

Within our backyard: little shoots and drownings and upspring. A nursery of seedlings, a neighbor that created a drainage system that empties all its contents on my mum and cr’s property. Solutions made, futures grown.

pileage, revisionato

Part of der homehausen exists in an innumerable collection of backyard piles. Yes, each and every one of the following piles collects, not quite entropostically (sic), but rather artistically, within the confines of our little Algerian acreage.

Down below these creations of pileage stands a brand new house of colors sculpted in the muscle endeavors of my family-without-me. I went to Ecuador: old pepto-bismol house. I came back from Ecuador: new tequila-chaser house. But back behind the whole housing situation, yes, thankfully, up back, things are just as they were, organically shooting from whence they began, but recognizable: the movings of everything that already was. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain.


Most thankfully, I am responsible for approximately one-half of this masterpiece of wooding. I take full responsibility for only my portion. If you look off to the right-hand side of this carefully constructed pile of wood, which I and the brolaw reclaimed from the entarped blue version of wood-care and carted downslope to under the aluminum awning, you'll see the vague shape of my work. Due to certain criticisms (asymmetrical construction), I carefully tied a piece of string from one end to the other, directly at the 24 inches mark, which denoted the in between of two and two. Afterwards, I took the back half of the woodstackage.

I acknowledge that you can't quite make out the back half of the woodstackage from either of above pictures, but I assure you that the two rows for which I was responsible are carefully stacked. In case you're wondering, which perhaps you are not, stacking requires particular attention to linearity, gappage, weight, slant, and dryness. Pedrito and I made the important decision to stack the wood from dry to wet, so you might note the change in dampness discoloration from the front (NE) to the back (SW), wherein the damp chose to be closer to the sea from which the eternal clouds that wet our grounds spring.

By the way, I've been reading far far too much Nabokov, in the particular hue and saturation of Pale Fire, a novel of Dickensesque wordiness, Austonian formalities, and postmodern experimentalism. And I must admit, in my perpetually inebriated state, that this novel has temporarily amused my unworthy brainspace and swathed my verbage with a highly masturabatory and playful coloration that is quite in contrast to my true hillbillian status.

So, to continue, post-admission: Pedrito and I built this very woodpile you see above, and the yang side of things is dreadfully wet and hopefully will dry by next year or so, and the yin side of things is deliciously dry and will warm our humble abode for this long, and highly seeped, winter. I feel a modicum of pride in this work, being and all that my typewriterly body ached for awhiles after having done some real work. All in all, it made me vow to join a gym where I might close my eyes and imagine myself in some feudal state of existence within which the products of my labor are exceedingly tangible, marketable, and definable in terms of success.

Oh, yes, we succeeded in this woodpile.

--- Linearity ---
In an earlier and clipped off version of these entries, I asked the following hypothetical question:
Is it natural for fathers to give eldest daughters over 300 pages of size-14 fonted, single-spaced, copyrighted at least three times per rough draft, paginated by how many pages total this father has written since he decided to become a writer (2,453), so that she might be able to peruse it and give nebulous "comments" about how everything is working? And by “comments,” does this father mean compliments? \Does he mean teacherly advice? Does he mean daughterly advice? Does he mean writerly advice? Should this eldest daughter suppress urges to slash 90% of what is written? Should she suppress urges to give up writing altogether and become a woodpiler? Should she find or create a full moon under which to hooooooowwwwl forlornly?…. And by "natural," I don't mean "normal," because normal has never been within the running, but by "natural," I mean... uhm, well, "acceptable," I guess.
Ah yes, an interesting question, and the answer: a life without woodpiles, splinters of houses we used to live in, is a life without memory.

My father, a man with his own piles, tatters torn up and yes, I reckon I understand some of the reasoning behind why he stays up until 4am writing, and then gets up at 6am to write further, forgets to eat, runs himself ragged trying to pack his days with enough creation to make up for the destruction of years wasted, forgotten and given to squanderers with charm. I can understand why he tabulates his endeavors by the whole instead of by the piece, and puts them together like the whole might be able to explain something the piece cannot. And perhaps I can even empathize with rough drafts copyrighted, like he’s stamping each attempt with the appropriated trappings of officialdom in order to create a kind of shield against theft. Perhaps he knows that theft comes in many forms, and even if nobody would ever think to steal his poems, maybe he knows that people sometimes steal language. So, I guess in a way I understand.

I still get frustrated, and yes, even the limited to two stories 60 pages of beginning, unrevised work is too much to ask a daughter to read, especially when the writing is peppered with Harlequin moments and wanker use of words. It makes me tired; I curl up on the couch and try to make it just through one story, but I’m having a hard time, sometimes it feels like a faith is leaving my own use of words. Comments from my dear friend suggested I ought to just tell him that this is one thing I cannot do, despite the fact that he is helping me with college (the first time I’ve depended on him). But I don’t feel this is right, I don’t know, I do want to help but I can’t do all the pages.

The problem is that my father is one of the two most self-centered people I know, with me falling ten minutes behind him and having to remind myself to Pay Attention Pay Attention Pay Attention to never be like that. And every so often, I have to remind him, squash him down and force him to Pay Attention to the people who need him to watch their lives. This weekend I had a fever and I called him to cancel a meeting and told him I was sick and he responded with “I’ve written my 9th short story, I stayed up all night, and…” and then when I called him on Sunday to tell him I felt better and could meet up with him, he said, “I’ve finished another short story and printed out two earlier ones and bound them and…” It feels like a moment to scream. Oh please oh please, let me always walk some line between being like that and losing my self.

The thing is, he can be so charming when he’s Paying at least some Attention, and that means listening to what he hears.

But let us, namely me, remember that a life without pileage is a life with no material to make forts. Yeah, forts, you know they are good things…

--- Slant ---
Are you a packrack? Does everything make the cut? Will they be stacked, in this case, on the very back of the property in order to annoy the neighbor, under roof, within tossed out bookshelves. Will hoses find boxes find saws find Volkswagen buses find buckets and coolers and tupperware boxes and electrical cords?

I like such things as these.

I’m not a packrat. I have very little and I carry very little and I get rid of what I have on a regular basis. But, I’m not a monk or anything, and I like getting presents and I must admit I’m very pleased to have five new shirts and a bunch of new my-own-books and lent-books and library-books and teaching-next-quarter-books including, in the order I’m reading them:
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pale Fire, Nabokov
Lost In the Funhouse, Barth
Freak Show (on freaks)
Coming Through Slaughter, Ondaatje
My Life, Hejinian
Exquisite pain, Calle
Book of Promethea, Cixous
An Apprenticeship or The Book of Delights, Lispecter
The Waves, Woolf
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Niffenegger
House of Leaves, Danielewski
City of Boys, Nugent
Half a Heart, Brown
Pray for Yourself, Calcagno
This is, in itself, a sign of the type of piles I create. I may not be a packrat, but everyone has their own materiality. For the past two years, I’ve had very little materiality and have read but a handful of books, mainly because I never could concentrate on them and they all made me cry or made my head hurt, and the only things that didn’t create that reaction were motion and work.

And so, I consider it a good sign that I’m wanting piles back in my life again. I will make clutters, or maybe organize the types of piles, or maybe re-sort, or something like that.

--- Dryness ---
This is the unstacked wood before we made something of it. This is where the dry stuff came from, note the blue tarp. Note the blackberry vine.

You may ask: Why have you been denying the piles for so long? Why were you so sad last year? Whatever happened to you?

The answer: Nothing much.
The answer: Honestly, not much. I broke, that’s all. I got torn down. I no longer live under the same roof, but I do live within, and I am happy. I go back and forth between feeling like a pile under tarp, and a pile blown with dynamite and squeezed by vines. But the truth is I’m a pile like every beautiful person I know out there. And these days, I feel sad and haunted; and light like some things just need to be shed and given their own space to be forgotten, tossed in the closet, walked away from like skates after winter, and approached later, when it’s really time to put them to a new order.

--- Weight ---
See here, this is something unseen in Chicago. This is something that should be everywhere. There should be piles; I get nervous never recycling and gather all the grounds and peels and eggshells and onion bits within my house, in little tupperware containers, until I remember there’s nothing I can do with them and just throw them away like they really didn’t count.

Out here, our wastebaskets--divided into multiples, look like this. The rinds on the one side, the branches sliced down on the other. And each will pass down, the first into a tight-packed goo that will leak and slime around and get buried with the newflowers and newtrees planted in spring. Rich rich rich. The second will drift and settle, piles of leaves added, bits of rocky dirt and mulched twig. We will then use this to rim and blanket the ground under new trees, to protect from weeds and drying soil.

I miss the sense that even the thickest layer of bullshit really just needs to be spread flat on the ground to make the land more fertile. It’s the stuff thrown away that becomes just another bag for the landfill.

--- Gappage ---
Look at that mulch. Just look at it, hoorah!

I cried quite a bit this weekend because an old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in months and months, and who hasn’t returned my email with anything but broken promises to call me, and who hasn’t given me her number so I can call her… was in town for two weeks and she didn’t call me until four hours before she was going back to another country. And she told me she had the wrong number, which was true, but she had means of finding me. And she didn’t. When we caught up through some other circumstances, I was so angry and feverish (I was developing a flu bug) that I could hardly look at her much less tell her where I’ve been.

And that’s just it; it takes a long time to see what people have done with themselves. There’s so much that happens from day to day, and sometimes you can’t talk to people, but you know that when they’re in town, you’ll see them in person because they are an “In Person” person, whereas others are telephone, or email, or blog, or whatever people. I think I told myself that this person was a friend who couldn’t write, but at least would spend time with me when she was in town again (I won’t have a chance to see her for a year now).

I don’t expect people to be what they aren’t any more, but I do expect them to be what they are. And it’s just too disappointing when they aren’t. I needed more time to see who she is, to hear her stories, and to think about sharing who I am now.

I’ve just had too many friends disappear, and I’ve had to stop talking to others for some pretty pointed reasons. And this always leaves that question of what it is I must be worth if it’s so easy to leave, or betray, or backstab, or write mean things to me, or make me feel crappy, or whatever it is that one feels they need to do.

But recently I realized: it’s just this one group of friends I believed in. Only one.

But it’s speckled by people I love. I just have to figure it out somehow. Part of me says walk away. Part of me says re-sort the pile. Part of me says it’s my fault. Part of me says the glass is half full. Part of me says: keep yourself safe, don’t go through that again. Part of me reminds myself of all those people, gobs and gobs who call me and spend time with me on my trip to Portland and Seattle and who watch my turtle, Sir Cedric, and who write me even when I don’t have time to respond. Who spend New Years with me and watch Blue Scholars rap and dance. And who call me to have movie nights, and who come over with salads and bread and wine, and pile into the hottub with me and make me laugh. And hug and cuddle with me.

Life is just unexpected… what you find, what you saw coming, what you never even saw. And sometimes I’m a fool about what I see when I look out there. All that material. And of course, shake things up enough and you never know what will grow.

Monday, January 02, 2006

five new years resolutions, elaborated

New Years 20061. Write Rough Draft of Novel. By rough draft, that’s exactly what I mean, all out there, but not edited or fretted over. Get the guts out. And yeah, I kinda know what some of it is that wants to be born, but don’t know what all of it is or where it’s going thank god. Oh, and this one also involves sending out a few pieces and letting them go.

2. This one is personal, and I’ll keep it to myself.

3. Be Healthier. Ah health, such an interpretable one. Since it is such, this makes the deal a little more flexible and amendable, and thus less easy to break. But in general, some of my ideas are: eat more greens; write every morning when I get up, even if I get up early; try to get some exercise, go on walks with friends (sb promised to show me some of the Chicago neighborhoods); drink less alcohol and that includes wine-night; regulate my sleep schedule better; laugh more often, in fact fit it in; do more drawing; make out with a few random strangers; find a couple of new projects and actually do them.

4. Be More Self-Sufficient. This means finding a job away from the Art Institute that actually pays me a living wage for something I’m good at. Less loans, more work. Make sandwiches to bring for lunch at school and no more going out for lunch downtown.

Nat With Me on New Years 20065. Continue Emitting, and Learning to Emit, Positive Rays. I like to think I help others, give whatever it is I can give, help people feel good about themselves, never tear anyone down. I think I’m pretty honest and have integrity and always search for what I can say to society as well as my self to make everything a little better. And so I resolve to continue learning how to do so: how to be more generous, less lazy, less self-centered, more accepting of radical difference, more proactive, less whiny, more forthright, and so forth.

manipulation conversation

--Oh yeah I guess, folks manipulate you soon as they got a chance.

--Yep. There should be a class, just to teach you how to not fall for all that shit.

--In this country, we’re especially stupid about that.

--Well, it’s ‘cause they set us up for it. I mean, nobody talked to me about how someone out there can just walk up and take that thing, that whatever thing it is you value the most, and then just start using it for something you never saw coming.

Maybe at first, you get a little flattered, or you think someone’s just trying to meet you on your own ground, trying to interact with you. They mention that thing, they talk about it and thrum the stuff you care about. Then before long, you want to know what they think. And that’s it, they control a part of you, the part that values that something. One minute they’re telling you you’re good at such and such, oh you demonstrate skill. The next minute, they’re telling you something to make you feel like shit. And they have the power to affect you with that because they found that thing you care about. Then before too long, you start hearing all their complements as condescension or a move to control you again, to get back on the in, if you tore yourself away somehow. If you said no, you can’t keep manipulating me for some end I can’t put my finger on.

Strange how as soon as you see it, it seems so obvious and hollow, and you’re just ashamed you ever trusted such flattery and tricks. But then you start doubting what everyone says, why they’re saying it, what they’re after.

They want a leg up? Use your resources, like maybe you wouldn’t mind helping if they just came out and asked, but no, they’re working you instead. Or maybe they’re after your acknowledgement. They want you to say… that person over there, they made me what I am today. So they can feel all proud of themselves, pat themselves on the back. Or who knows, maybe they want something else.

All you know is that it’s a teeth-grinding world out there, and people always after something. It’s a rare moment when you find someone who only wants you to be what is inside you to be, what you have your own vision for. I mean, folks who help you actualize your own voice instead of what they think your voice is.

I think that’s why I’m so damn stubborn these days, don’t share too much of my work, or what I’m shooting for, because I don’t want anyone to bend it again. That’s one of my resolutions, you know. Nobody will ever again use my writing to get to a part of me, to manipulate my perceptions of the world. I’ll just keep that part of me that thinks writing is the only reason to live.

--Hmmm, that’s not the only form of manipulation though: flattery. Fear is one of the biggest.

--Yeah, I guess so. But I’m not a coward. I take risks, always going to act on what it is I value.

I’ll help any person in the world, any last one, with their work. Tell them what I think, give away ideas for free. All my time, you know, and if they don’t like my suggestions, I won’t get my feeling hurt either. I’ve learned a lot from teaching, you just toss almost your whole heart out there and give it away, never ask for nothing back. And that’s the right way, as long as you keep that something you need to survive and keep it tucked away, percolation working spitting, not safe exactly because you gotta put your values up front too, but… rooted, rooted in something tough, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

But there’s such an awful lot of cowards out there, mistaking rooted and safe and risk and stupidity and trust and acceptance and passion and drama and I don’t know what. They keep their values inside until they rot, and take risks like cliff leaps where they’re gonna kill something, who knows what. Or they just sit up at home and tuck themselves in, invest in terrorism equipment and bottles of water.

I guess, I’d just rather be stabbed than go around worrying about a person with a knife, I guess.

--Yeah, fear is the biggest big business right now, manipulating it. Don’t know how all these folks falling for it. How Americans, who have everything in the world, come to be the biggest group of pussies ever. But you know what the worst is?


--When you realize you’re the one manipulating.

--Hmmmm. Yeah. Hard to figure that one out I guess. How to keep tabs on when you’re interacting and helping, and when you’re manipulating.

Lots of stuff in this life involves manipulating. Some of it’s the stuff of survival. Some just plain steps over the edge. Yeah, hard to figure.

Guess one of the best ways of stopping that is just never to want anything for myself. Hard to see when that’s acceptance though and when it’s despair.