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, April 30, 2006

two events, moderately different

Well, I’ve been keeping so busy with work and procrastination (browsing the web, reading about the Middle East mostly) that I haven’t had a chance to really do anything of particular interest for a while. No, that’s not true; “of particular interest to anyone else” would be more accurate. Everything’s been great for me: visiting friends every so often, dying eggs, walking along the beach, going to thesis readings and plays, getting a fishing job for part of the summer, gossiping with one of my best friends over the phone—all great stuff. But now I’m ready to post a couple of items of particular note, especially as they are accompanied by pictures, which I have been lax and lackadaisical about taking. Here goes.


My friend sb has been so overwhelmed by the work it takes to co-curate an exhibition that I’ve been fretting about whether she would pull every last one of her hairs out. I see her at work and she has that “wild look in her eyes," something halfway between a sugar-low and a creature going into the branding cage. I never really knew how much work it takes to curate a show, but apparently it takes quite a bit: organizing, selecting, encouraging, cajoling, advertising, getting a space, catering food, installing the work, repairing shelves that fall down, and so forth.

I volunteered to help out a bit, but time had it so I wasn’t able to. However and much to my relief, sb took me up on my offer to help serve food at the reception. She and the others working on the exhibition were generous with their thanks, but I was pleased to pitch in… I think I would have been annoyed with myself if there was nothing for me to do. So, I dressed up in all black and showed up to walk smiley-faced around the room and give people good lickings.

The catered food was wonderful; I got to taste some of the hummus and vegetables, artichoke dip, and roasted vegetables, but not the mozzarella with basil, tomatoes and bread, or any of the other food that disappeared in a lickety-split. Turned out there were a couple of errors on the food side of affairs: only 100 people were catered for, but the reception exceeded expectations and at least 200 people came through, many of whom showed up ten minutes early. Whoosh. The other food error was the assumption that people come to galleries to primarily look at the art, and a few snips of food per plate is sufficient. But man, these folks came to get dinner.

Reeeeee-reeeeee. Oink, reeeeeeeeeeee.

To wax off-topic for a while, I have to say I've never seen such gluttony—people piled their plates four layers high and came back for seconds. I wanted to don an English accent and say, “By jove, blokes, you musn’t have seen grub for ov’r a decade now.” Just a little note: by the time I was five years old, my momma had taught me to be polite and spartan on the first round until everybody had found something to eat. After that point, you check to see if anything’s left; if so, then you can be an oinker. Gallery protocol, m’lads n'ladies. I know I go to get a nip of food sometimes, but jeesh.

The worst, to continue on this bent, were the older folks, particularly the women. A couple came in wearing some crazy wigs (I swear one wig looked like a cow patty, grassy and gnarled on the flat-plop), and came back to the table for more than one massive helping within the first fifteen minutes. One women in a pink jacket even gave us shit on her third run for having run out of crackers for the hummus, and then went and snarled for her fourth glass of free wine. After this, she went to the desert bowl—which was a collection of Ghiradelli chocolates—and found herself a collection of about ten of them, which she took back to her table, ate one, and put the rest in her pocket.

My favorite moment was when a woman looked at the ceiling while backhanding a chocolate into her purse. I saw her from behind.

So, that was how I spent my rather intriguing evening: watching the voracious appetites of folks, some of whom, I might add, were very polite and decorous, taking an appetizer and grinning their thanks while inspecting the artwork around them.

To get back on topic, I will say that I was quite taken with the art. The theme of the exhibition was “navigation / negotiation” and was about how people with disabilities move through the world, negotiating both their physical and mental worlds, and navigating through the expectations, judgments, and curiosities of the people who view them.

My favorite piece was by a woman who has ectrodacytilism (commonly known as “lobster-claw syndrome”). She created a pair of wooden platform clogs that fit her feet, but with a huge dinosaur-like claw coming out of the top. She also had a gorgeous photograph of her standing in the shoes while poised as if ready to pounce. The title was “Armed and Dangerous,” and so I interpretted the photograph and shoes as partially being about adaptation and power. But a friend pointed out that the shoes recalled the different historical bindings of feet. This friend read the picture and shoes as being about pain. I think what I like about both the shoes and the photograph is that they are flexible enough to read either way.

Other art included a sheet with a print of a human on it and thousands of red hand-stitches over the body in a variety of sutures that recalled (for me) viruses and cells and cancers and platelets. The girl in the photograph here seemed to be pretty interested in it.

More art that caught my attention: a cross that was jeweled with lit prescription bottles along its surface, a series of photographs of a girl putting on her prosthetic leg and then clothing herself, another of the same photographer/model standing before the ocean on her one leg, with a swath of littered seaweed separating her and the water. A sculpture of a woman curled into herself and covered with thousands of definitions and articles on disability. And of course, quite a few other prints and objects that invoke what it means to move through a landscape as an “other” so defined by limitations and prescripted labels.

Okay, Chicago-ites. I am now going to make my plug. You missed the reception (not to mention seeing me dolled up in black, sashaying through the people), but you haven’t yet missed the exhibition. It lasts until June 12, and is at the Gene Siskal Center, free admission. It’s a worthwhile visit and will make you think about your body.

So, that was my evening. But I also got to enjoy being treated to dinner afterwards, partially on the tips that were collected from the niceys. And chatting with a couple of new friends who I haven’t had the chance to get to know yet. Always good times.

Derby Party

On a “slightly” different note, I also went to a derby party, put on by mr, Kentucky hostess extraordinaire. When I arrive a couple of hours after the start, the Mint Juleps had already been sucked down, but when I tasted from one of my friend’s, I didn’t fret about it too much. Can’t stand Bourbon, and I want my mint toothpaste separate from alcohol. So, I started with wine and went from there.

Luckily, I also ran into another MFA-er on the subway—a second-year who I hadn’t officially met yet—and asked her if she was going to the party. She said no, but changed her mind sometime around when she walked past her house. I am quite pleased she came because it meant I wasn’t the only one dancing by myself. Also of note in the dancing department are mr and lh. Not to mention mh, who can do the Roger Rabbit. I didn’t even know what the Roger Rabbit was before last night.

All in all, the race was a little short-lived: it ended around 1:30 when rk staged a coup and took 3/4's of the guests off to the nearby pub. But really, that’s what you get when you gather a bunch of writers together and don’t throw in enough graphic designers, mathematicians, film people, art history chics and psychics (haha). Personally, I go to pubs too often, but the chance to see folks dolled up in dresses, carrying snapguns, dancing, and wearing neat-o hats and stripy pants doesn’t come every day for me. So, I stuck around until the nightbell tolled.

Then I went back, rousted mr out of bed in her bathrobe, and collected some forgotten goods. Whoops.

Favorite quote of the evening: "I have perfectly-shaped breasts. It's true."

Friday, April 28, 2006

from surrealism class

we had to write "in between" two images. my images were: 1) a very proper old-style English estate aerial landscape; 2) a snail. i like the result.


The red roofs were lined, so perfect and bare, like someone had been there, disrupting the isolation with a leaf blower of sorts, pushing the residues into tidy little piles and then razoring them off the earth. [the rest has been back-storied for drafting purposes.]

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

a how-to guide...

Remember when I said we had to do an "instruction manual" for my letterpress class? Well, er's gotten on me (in a great story-critiquing email) about posting the results. The note of letterpressing abandonment in her voice had me fleeing to my camera to record the final results of my recent enslavement. I had fun with this one. heh-heh.

history card

This history for letterpress card wasn't actually done using letterpress. Instead it was color-printed from Kinko's, which took 1.5 hours to get and was messed-up in the end because they printed differently on my nicey paper than they did on their black-white proofing paper. Anyhow, I made this in Adobe Illustrator, which I had to learn rapid-fast in order to do this project. A fellow named Alex, who works in our department, gave me a 5-minute tutorial, very nice! And so, I was pleased with myself at the result, since it's my first go at "graphic design" on Illustrator.

proof that i'm working

This is a proof page (a test of the lettering without the actual printing ink or exact spacing, but instead using a carbon-copy on a proofing press) for a page of my final project for letterpress. This last project has me pulling my hair out under the stress of the question: where is all the time going to come from? The final book will be printed in black and blue ink (the fancy script in blue) on nicey paper.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Hey there folks and darlins'. Sorry I've been such an absentee blogger lately but, you know, it's them final weeks of school and honestly and truthfully, things have been good but quiet and mellow. Busy. I've been working on stuff most of the time, whenever I'm not procrastinating. So, here's a little bit of insertion material for one of Tahina's sections of Swallow, which seems to be growing. Remember, this is the raw guts (rough draft).

Gaudi buildingI already love this city, the ecstatic energy with which it moves, how the sidewalks themselves seem to run. Downtown, an outdoor market is packed with stalls. People bump and jostle for food or craft or maybe just for the sake of motion. Everyone bargains and the storetenders frown whenever a shopper gets too sly. I watch a young boy pocket an apple and he catches my eye as he walks away. A wink from a ten-year old. I am in place here, nothing more than another body moving through space. The smells line up in rows and then a short breeze catches the lines and blurs them. The sharp pinch of meat cooking, the roundness of melons sliced open and gleaming in the light that juts through the stall’s aluminum roofs.

All around us, a welter of buildings, a conglomerate skeleton of theory. Gothic arches writhe with swirling decoration and their ornate shadows create more than half the building’s heft. With the rotation of sun from the hills to the sea, time itself lengthens certain curves in the architecture and goes about condensing the rest. Every so often, I stumble upon another Gaudi, Barcelona’s biggest maker of fantasy. The bright immensity of his buildings makes eyes squint. People walk past these strange structures like starving creatures tumbling in from an arid plain. They gorge themselves on the fatty excess of his vision.

I have been in Barcelona twice before, back when our father, Taro, was still invested in our animation. How many places did he take us? I mark the scenery in my mind like it still exists somewhere, lost in the slate of moving bodies. Dad, I said, this is it. This is where I start. He didn’t even ask if I was sure, he was so excited to have a child who didn’t want to watch television. Yes, he said, you should go wherever you want. Was I only fifteen when I caught the plane from Barcelona to Tenerife? Yes, I was fifteen. After leaving Neecie crying and Fish looking blank, I flew away from Barcelona. I traveled by boat to Las Palmas and eventually found myself irrigating bananas up in the middle of mountains so steep that the farmers carved tiers out of the incline and balanced their houses on the brink of avalanche. I stayed there for four months until Taro wired the money for my flight back.

When I came back, Neecie, who was eleven at the time, had a homemade tattoo on her left shoulder, and Fish was collecting garbage from alleyways and gluing the pieces together into castles with runways. Taro had moved them into a squatter’s house, and most of the punk kids who lived there looked at my family like they couldn’t understand why someone would make their life so difficult. A German hippie, one of my father’s lovers, had taken an interest in Neecie and was showing her how to build a Mayan temple in the backyard with the stones that had fallen out of the building’s old kitchen.

“And if you position the left cornerstone in alignment with the hemispheric magnetism,” she said, “You get a sacred space that resonates with…”

I suggested to Taro that it was time to send us back to Muebla.

“Sure, kid,” he said, “I think your mom and the babies must miss you.”

“Don’t forget Cedra,” was all I could think to say to the look of windswept relief that hitched its way across his face. He had the look of a man already riding his bike down the slopes of some other nation.

The German hippie woman continued to sunbathe nude in the crumbling rubble of our temporary home. Every day, she shook out a bright red towel and settled herself on its coarse grains. Her white breasts caught the passing light of the city, and the blond bush of hair that sprouted between her legs seemed to grow and writhe as the time passed. I dragged Neecie and Fish to the top of the old building and we would look out across the vast rooftops, the jarring ropes of telephone wire, the sea off in the distance and the hills bellied up to our backs. We spooned into that geometric harbor, watched as the heat hit the decks of a million Spanish armadas. The light of that city, natural pastels: pinks and yellow, the sultry lure of pollution.

Fish would watch it with me, his hand in mine, and as time passed, he would settle down with his head in my lap and I’d roll my fingers through his matted hair. Never was much of a talker, that boy. Even less so now. Behind us, around us, every direction of motion, Neecie drew her ideas along the adobe cement of our rooftop. Every so often, she’d put down her chalk and go look off the edges down to the woman with her writhing blond fur. She’d sit there and stare at her, put her hand to her mouth and lean in.

“Do you think she has ever shaved her armpits?” she asked me.

“No,” I said. “It would probably mess with the star alignments.”

Neecie’s sharp snap of a head, her squinting eyes.

“Don’t be a jerk just ‘cause you don’t agree. You don’t know everything.”

“I know enough to see that she’s another person whacked out on her own possibilities.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Neecie,” I said. “We grew up in this crap. Look around you. Look at Fish’s clothes, for god’s sake. Nothing’s been washed for ages and Taro barely remembers to snap us up a few eggs for dinner. You have a goddamn ugly tattoo on your arm. How can that possibly resonate with fucking Universal harmonies?”

Neecie just sat down with a pinch on her face, the squint tighter and tighter down to her lips. Already she was getting chubby then, the only one in our family to pack on our grandmother’s weight. Her belly hung out of a semi-washed tanktop and there was a little duck waddle to her legs. She wasn’t traditional; Neecie was never traditional, but she remains to this day the most beautiful creature I’ve seen. Something coy and cunning about her smile, a wide-eyed fake innocence with lashes. She looked at me with that look of hers that means she will always disagree. Then she lay down on the concrete. After a few seconds she sat back up, took off her tanktop, exposing the white rolls of her near-breasts.

“I’m gonna be just like her,” she said. “She isn’t our momma. She doesn’t have kids, and if she wants to help me build forts in the backyard then I say she’s alright.”

Fish looked up at me from his place in my lap, and smiled. Such a pretty little smile it made me want to kiss him. For a few seconds he reminded me of Gustafo, our oldest brother, who had hit the tracks as soon as he turned sixteen.

Later that afternoon we all went over to the side of our rooftop and watched as the German hippie startled herself out of her cooling slumber. She picked herself up off her bleeding towel. I swear I could smell her, the scent of crotch and armpit sweat blurring along the skin. She pulled a loose shirt over her puckered skin and sat down on the temple she was creating with Neecie. Then she took a hand-rolled cigarette out of her shoe, lit it and took a long drag. She held the smoke in and then blew it out with a long exhalation followed by a few coughing rasps. The scent of pot came up quickly and I looked over at Neecie. She was looking at that German hippie girl like Jesus had been pried from the cross.

“Why do you like her so much?” I asked.

“She’s free.”

“She’s just naked and smoking pot, Neecie.”

“No, it’s more than that.” Neecie looked over at me. “You just don’t know because you weren’t here.”

The last half of her words landed like a conviction, and I knew something different at that moment: we are never free. Freedom is simply shorthand for owning up to responsibility. It was true, I had left them. I would leave them again. And every act of disappearance would be a betrayal. I looked down and Fish was watching me, and something so stark and tender fled across his face and then hid behind his little old man freckles. I held back from touching his cheek, and then we watched as the decks of all the city buildings floated in the pink haze like sailboats tethered tightly together.


I want to go look at that old building before I leave here. I promised Neecie I’d pick up a resonant rock for her. But I am not ready for this. I am ready for my morning and evening walks only, and the days sliding by as I look out the window. There’s not enough chalk in the world to keep the parts from sliding over each other. Everything flicks by in fragments, and I am scared, scared because it peaks out from the corners, glares down at me from the multiple eyes of my spider. Even the doorknob has a nose, the cobwebs a path to trace, and the squeaky springs of the bed a voice. I try to focus on my room, my breathing. I try to sift through and find only the place where I stand.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

it's official, the man is truly a dodohead

"I hear the voices*, and I read the front page*, and I know the speculation*. But I'm the decider* and I decide what's best*."

Historical Revisionism, in order of * placement:

*The voices? What voices would those be, Monsieur Bush? Swallow the round things in the white cup! Swallow them! Come on, am I going to have to rub your throat?

*heh. I knew it took him all day to do something. One page sounds about right.

*That you ate your mommy's other fetuses when you were still in the womb? ruff!

*Did he say this with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent? That would be sooooo cool.

*Try it on your kids, boy. Who are you to decide what's best if all you can do is read the front page. Go eat babies and leave the ethics/strategy to those who take their pills.

juvenile behavior

In a moment of pure honesty and infantilia, I have to admit that this is my favorite Wikipedia definition ever. In my naiveté, I didn’t even know there was such a term as freebuffing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

ahhhhhhhhh, the peasants

Since I'm a little tipsy on a night before I have to get up early and be a TA, I have the following question: why does this school use the acronym "EIS" instead of "ESL"? I mean, really, is there a distinction worthy of being made between "English for International Students" and "English as a Second Language"? Sometime SAIC is just a little silly. I can't help but wonder if they changed the acronym to mask the fact that they don't always hire trained ESL teachers to teach the classes?

Anyhow, I've been having such good gloriousness with the EIS students... they make up 90% of the kids that I work with at the Learning Center... that I thought I'd share.

Most of the students who are coming to see me are from one particular class, and I've been getting the feeling lately that ol' B, who teaches the class, is on low ebb for what she wants to read and accomplish. Lately her topics have been: describe your favorite place as a child, describe your most feared creature, and now, my favorite, describe your ideal mate and discuss whether you'd use a love potion if s/he isn't interested in you.

I've been getting a real kick out of it. Sometimes I even feel like I'm communicating with Ms. B via helping out with her students. But here are some of my favorite EIS moments, if you will.

*One student's most feared animal turned out to be the peasants lining the city streets, clustering in mobs and swarming at people for crumbs. These horrible peasants shit on statues, and make loud noises all night. Not to mention how when they lift their wings, hoards of maggotty lice drop down from their feathers. (It took me a few minutes, but peasants = pheasants = bad translation for pigeons).

*Another student described her dealer man.

*My favorite student (yes, tutors are allowed their favorites) said she "had no illusions about finding an ideal man," but nevertheless wants "an artist, preferably an architect or director of films who shares her artistic sensibility," but "isn't too easy to get because that's boring." It also so happened that her most feared creature is the butterfly. This is because their flying is so erratic that it's difficult to get out of their way. flutterflutter.

*Earlier in the semester a student, writing for an Art History class, showed me her draft about the famous Chinese Qin terra-cotta worriers. Apparently the worriers were found under the soil lined up in rows facing away from the divine King represented in the center. I think they were busy worrying.

*Oh, by the way, the favorite spot for 75% of the students will be: the backyard. It's near-inevitable. Although, I had one student who's favorite spot was under a desk near the trashcan.

That's it for right now, but I have to say, sometimes working with international students is enough to get me thinking about teaching ESL. Most of them don't seem to mind when I go into fits of giggles, just as long as I help them out in the long run and of course, become their silly-butchy-giggly American friend.

On a related note, I just recently had my astrological chart read for the first time. A new friend volunteered to do the job at an international dinner gathering of four (which ended up with a brown rubbery dildo that I couldn't quite bring myself to look at as its frontispiece, set right smack down in the middle of our dinner plates...probably another story). Here's the shocking revelation: my "gift" star is in the house of family, and my "problem" star is in the house of relationships. When I said "shit" to the latter, the chart-reader was quick to assure me that although it meant difficulty, it could be positive because anybody I worked through things with could provide richness of relationship. (sss-sss-sss. that was a giggle). Also of note: I am a born traveler, have healthier relationships & friendships with international folks, have the sign of "healing" associated with school/teaching, and my primary concerns and questions in this life have to do with questions about the meaning of life, metamorphosis, and Being. hmmmm... I feel the peasants surrounding me. Must go now.

fiction: Swallow

Some of this is rewrite, but most of it's addition. POV is Tahina, place is the hostel in Barcelona.


Six and a half days left, and I have locked myself in the room until night. Inside my body, the myelin has been under attack. I can feel it in the slow acts of balance. I perch on my bed and stare out the window, where the sky changes slowly slowly, and if I blink for a second it’s gone. Today has been draped, the sky’s morning nakedness eventually swathed in a muggy white. A trickle of sweat falls down the inside of my shirt, and I hold a piece of chalk in my hand.

This morning when I went out for my kilo of strawberries, I fell down the stairs. I could almost hear the crunch of my skin as I hit. With each crunch, I could see a new rock, a new ridge of cement, a new dustball stuck to the cement, a new crack in the wall, and even the insects peering from the cracks. I thought for a second I could almost see the stonemasons as they carried the stair stones and set them into place. Also, the carpenters who built the foundation, and the cement boy who poured bags of sand into the concrete mix. At the bottom I stayed still for a few seconds to review. Then I got up. Nobody had seen my descent.

There’s nothing more to it than that, which cheered me as I went shopping for my strawberries. A little fall, some crunches, nothing broken. I could see the outline of a few bruises rising on my shins, and I knew I’d find more along my hip when I got home. I limped a little, but as soon as I had my strawberries in hand after a price discussion with the open-market vendor, I felt better and the limp disappeared.

There's a self-help rule to be found somewhere in all that. I feel on the verge of seeing something. Some particular drift of light perhaps.

So back in the room, I decided to lock myself in for a while. I took a stick of chalk I kept in my backpack, a stick broken from quarry. The self-help writer’s little tool to dowse for all words and drawings and acts that which will lift us on up past primordial stupor. I took the chalk and marked a line on the floor of my hostel. This side, that side, me in the middle like a drunk trying to convince someone.

On one side of the chalkline: the spider that still crawled from corner to corner. My skin, numb on the thigh, but my tummy all full and round from the salad I heaped high with tomatoes and tuna fish and four squeezed cubes of lime. Cat hairs floating around the room from the breeze that drifts under my door. The hairs carry the scent of the mad hostel woman with her five cats that prowl and strip the walls of mice and spiders. She’s knocked on my door both mornings I’ve been here and asked me if I’m sure. Sure about what? All I’m sure about it the thrum in my uterus, somehow excited by the fever that carries me along. Outside the window, the constant sound—at night, brawling crescendos of prostitutes and johns. During the day, the cry of cars as they turn corners, and the voices of walking-vendors as they holler their wares. Helado, helado! Naranjas, fresca! Inside the window, the scent of things ripe, dusty tuna full and the strawberries, heating next to the window.

On other side of the chalkline: the history.


When I was finally diagnosed, it was halfway done over the phone. Halfway because the nurse was reluctant, but I was insistent. And halfway through my insistence, I realized why she was reluctant. So I went in and talked to the doctor, who was expressive and straightforward. He put everything in scientific terms so that I could see myself as a creation of vast intricacy and thus hope. I was stewing by that time. It had taken them far far too long to figure what was going on. Months of my hypochondria, months of returning in tears. “How can I be a hypochondriac,” I wanted to ask them, “when I hate you so much I’d almost rather die than come back.” But I had my revenge, if that’s what it could be called. It turned out that I was right.

When I was finally diagnosed, I left the doctor’s office and my day continued in a normal so intense it made me feel ill. After my hour lunch break, I went back to work, where I was filing papers in manila sleeves and alphabetically placing them. The fluorescent lights were bright overhead, and I opened drawers and closed them. My eyes had been blurry for three months. A counselor told me it was stress, but now I knew what was happening. I tried to clear the letters. I knew what they were from their shape. Around me, lawyers and their assistants brisked through the room, tossed files, stopped to chat. I was quiet, busy.

James came up to me at two and touched my shoulder. I stood up and looked at him in his crisp white shirt. Under his sleeves, two sweat marks were enlarging, and I wondered if some day this might halt his political aspirations. His tie was neatly arranged though, and his hair was brushed down in lines.

“Hi,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t avoiding you.”

“I didn’t think that,” I replied, standing awkwardly, not sure where to place my body. I was thinking so many other things.

“Yeah, well,” he said. “Thinks have been weird. You know. But I think about you all the time. It’s just not a good time right now.”

Everything about him hit me. And I thought I saw Arshwin’s form passing in the hallways. I thought I saw the bob of his head, his black hairs sticking up in the back even though he combed everything else down. But it was a blur, and I turned back to my work, turned back to the piles of envelopes and forms.

You don’t know me, I thought. What a normal, normal day.

“Tahina,” James continued. “I’m sorry. Don’t be angry at me. Let’s meet sometime this week, okay, and I’ll take you out to dinner. Anne’s going to be busy on Thursday, and we’ll just get a little time in, it’s the best I can do right now.”

I picked up a file marked Straton and opened the cabinet door with the S’s. A vast ridge, tan markings, little tabs on the top. A mountain ridge of actions. My eyes were blurry, my heart thwacked away at everything. Behind me, James touched my shoulder again. The orange carpet seemed to have a thousand odors: the cleaning liquid, shit from a judge’s shoe, and just a drip of coffee spilling. I held the chart in my hand, resisted opening it and reading it like a horoscope. What I always liked about filing at the county court were the stories. If I opened this chart, there’d be a thin outline: “Broke restraining order. 5 am: trying to break and enter.” And so on. But this meant a life.

The man in this life had a hard childhood. Just rough, not anything to really notice. Enough food on the table, certainly, but perhaps his father had disappeared and his mother had to work too much to be able to give her children attention. She came home every evening with her hair escaping from her ponytail. The rings under her eyes grew and grew. So the children divided lots: one became over-eager and ambitious to get a good job so he could come home and support her. He left to make good his dreams. But our criminal was left there with the mother. Eventually she started yelling at him, got angrier as her carpal tunnel gave her increasing pain. She couldn’t ever see a way out of it, that pain, the endless work, the need for food. And our criminal got surly in return. He was too young to understand how pain can make a person mean. So he ran away as soon as he was eighteen. He went from crappy job to crappy job and then accidentally knocked up a girl. Because it meant that nothing was ever going to get better, he started beating her. That’s his side of the tale, and it went predictably but urgently from there.

Each person, their own cliché, their own lies. And in the end, it was all distilled down into a two-page police report and the prosecutor’s notes. A manila folder, a metallic filling cabinet and four drawer full of S’s alone. But all they did was note the result, and slap down the judgment. I liked the idea of responsibility back then, letting a person face their deeds. Not that I don’t believe that anymore; it’s just that in that moment, filing into the ridge, my eyes were blurry and my body ached. I wanted to believe in help.

“Tahina,” James said again. But I was burying myself, putting as many folders between us as possible. The files flipped past my fingers, which suddenly seemed like red rags gripping to the side of a mountain. I knew who I wanted and it wasn’t James.

I left work that night, my body exhausted. On the drive home, I started counting the joints: the elbows, the ribs, the knees, the ankles. Each one of them seemed to have it’s own ache, and I still couldn’t focus my eyes. Only twenty-five, I could hear everybody saying, what a shame. There’s no answer to what I had, no clear and neat little solution. Multiple sclerosis causes a degeneration of the coating around nerve cells, my doctor said. And it’s unpredictable where it will lead.

I almost blew through a stop sign two blocks from my apartment. Two kids running across the sidewalk stopped in front of me as I screeched almost up to their hips. Their mouths wide-open O’s; we were for a second, no more, in the same place in the world. A world in which a non-abstract body gets hurt: a world without the I in it. But there’s was over after a second, because I stopped and then they could keep running. They could go home, play basketball, and maybe casually mention to their parents that they’d almost got hit by a car coming home. The biggest child grabbed the little one’s hand and pulled her the rest of the way to the other side.

At home, I sat on my bed, legs crossed, and pulled the telephone into my lap. I thought about calling Neecie first. But I didn’t want her to know just yet. I wanted her ignorance for just a bit longer. Needed it, the blank unaware when I went home. I could call my mom and tell her, but then everyone would know within a half-hour. Muebla would have them all perched at the table, and she’d be crying. It would all be far too strategic. A couple of other names, maybe my grandma. I smiled, thinking about my grandma.

“Why, mi nina,” she’d say. “That’s just nonsense.”

“No, grandma,” I’d reply. “It’s the truth. That’s what I have.”

Hija,” she’d say, “Don’t you contradict your poor old abuelita. You sit down right now. That’s it, get on your knees. You at home? Good, you get off that big bed and set your knees on the floor. You still have La Virgen I gave you? You look at her, our merciful mother, and tell her you need to get right with our Lord. You ask for her infinite mercy and forgiveness, tell her you need her. That’s all there is to it.”

“Yes, abuelita.”

But that wasn’t what I needed or wanted as I sat on that bed with the red phone in my lap. I couldn’t say how many times I prayed to La Virgen to help me when Auntie Midge, my father’s sister, was dying of cancer, her whole body turning yellower and yellower like a marshmallow that had gone to the microwave. She just puffed up and then crisped before exploding. I had never told grandma how it’d had changed me, that year. I hadn’t exactly lost faith; it’s just that I saw mercy a little differently. And I didn’t want to find myself suddenly on my knees because the world was tough. That was something I already knew.

I also knew who I wanted to call. I wanted to call Arshwin. I wanted to hear his low voice, so smooth like a jazz piano on the roll. I wanted to feel the skin of him, his arms around me. The way he loved me like we could heal each other with our flesh.

But he had placed himself off limits. He had asked me not to call him again until he called first. I tried to block out the way his face looked when he told me that. I picked up the receiver, pushed the buttons I would remember for the rest of my life. Holding the phone close to my ear with both hands, I almost wanted to pray to La Virgen: have mercy and let him pick up. But the phone just rang and rang with a little click on the end when the tone stopped. I hung up before his voice-mail went on, and rolled over onto my bed. I pressed my face into my pillow and bit it hard between my teeth. But nothing would come. It was just a normal, normal day.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

fiction installment

I've been procrastinating again. Avoiding the "novel attempt," which is driving me crazy because I'm impatient and it's going to take me years and years. Maybe just to nail one of the voices. No, just kidding. Sorta.

But to make sure I don't fall into a writing slump because I'm procrastinating on working on Swallow, I've gone back to an older piece and started revising it. This is the story that I applied to different schools with and got shot down on. I got shot down with it because it sucked massively. In order to make it not suck massively, I've whacked out about 90% of it, and taken what's left over and started tweaking and adding to it.

So, here's a rough draft of approximately 1/4-ish or more of what I see the final story being (depending on what I decide to do with it, which depends somewhat on how my advisor reacts to it, which depends quite a bit on how sulky and intransigent I get in our session, which depends a lot on whether she says it's succeeding [at being boring], or failing [at flying off the cliff-of-risk]). Oh, and it's in sections even if it is too long for a blog:

Every Six Hours

12:35 pm. Outgoing.
Wind rapslaps against sheet as Ted launches himself out of the harbor. He is a rubber band released, or a knee hit with a pinhammer.

It takes him thirty seconds to push off the end of the dock, where his sailboat normally sits, and an additional thirty seconds to find breeze. Up above, clouds whir northwest and a seagull slides down the sky like egg falling towards the pan. But Ted does not reef the mainsail. With one last tug, he snaps the sail’s end up against the pulley at the top of the mast, and ties off halyard. The canvas rattles loud. Ted sinks himself into the wind and waits for the world to tilt.

A yacht motors by with a smiling crew leaning against the rails. When the helmsman lifts his hand, Ted turns his head away and tightens the boom-vang. The boom pulls slightly downwards and the boat puts on an inch more speed. A light vee wave splatters up the fiberglass hull. Thick drops spit from the sheet, a few landing on Ted’s bare arm. The yacht captain finally drops his hand and Ted feels a twinge, lets the sheet out only slightly.

Things smell good, fresh air and the bristly scrub of salt. The sun-lightened hairs along his arm stand up straight where the water touches them, but lie down and flutter from side to side where they’re dry. Suddenly he has goose-bumps, suddenly they’re gone. He tucks his hat closer towards his nose.

Looking out past the breakwater, Ted gauges the space. Six near sailboats, a small race perhaps. A powerboat, zipping, nobody towed behind. Further out, a barge passing by, probably heading south to Seattle’s larger ports. The barge bellows in its own overbearing exuberance—no fog or clouds obscure its path—and its baritone resonates in Ted’s lungs. Other than that, water, open water, a bay speckled by islands, and a small city disappearing behind him. Ted sits tight against the tiller, and then reaches over and pops the first lid for the day.

1:32 pm. Outgoing.
Kevin falls out of his bunk, smacks his head on the ridging, and knocks over a pot that has been collecting the forward-hatch leaks. The water splashes across his legs and soaks into the molding carpeting.

“Fucking shit,” Kevin manages to spit out.

He storms down the ten-foot pathway to the cabin door, knocking the three other pots of water off their various perches. Might as well make everything wet and moldy, he thinks.

His place would not meet sailor standards: beer cans, Spam containers, and rotting plates of bread cover his table and counters. A pile of dishes distends from the sink as if a dumpster had ran from its entrails. Kevin’s clothes are strewn across the floor. With the water spilled across the pile of schlock, Kevin is quite satisfied that nothing could be further away from his previous life. He picks up a cigarette and his daily breakable and climbs out of the cabin.

Then he changes his mind, sticks his head back through the door and shouts, “Time for you to get the fuck out of my place.”

A bleary face pokes out from the V-berth. Devon’s hair sticks out on all sides, and Kevin curses to himself. Why, why, why?

“You serious?” Devon asks.

“Get out.”

Kevin didn’t mean to sleep with him, but tell that to the psychiatrist. Kevin remembers being drunk, and he remembers saying stupid things like “your tattoo is so unique,” when in reality the tattoo was just another skull and crossbones with the word ‘Mother’ stenciled below in Old English script. Kevin remembers taking the few drinks Devon had set before him, and he even remembers crowing Prince’s “maybe I’m just like my mother, she’s never satisfied” as they swerved down the dock at some ungodly hour. But he does not remember making the particular choice to sleep with the stupid asshole who liked to pee off the end of his boat at any odd hour of the day.

“Everyone does it,” Devon told Kevin when he complained one afternoon.

“Indubitably, dumbass,” he said. “But usually at night when nobody’s gonna see your dick spouting like some miniscule beluga.”

But there he was, this morning, drooling out the corner of his mouth onto Kevin’s pillow, his pillow.

Devon finally drops off the side of Kevin’s bunk and rolls over to grab his clothes.

“Don’t bother,” Kevin hisses. “Just get off. You’re only five spots down.”

“Fine.” Devon gathers his clothes and walks out the door past Kevin. At the side of the boat, Devon turns around, his face blank and eyes narrowed. “I had a nice time too.”

Kevin tilts his head and grimaces.

As soon as Devon’s gone, Kevin checks to make sure that nobody is nearby.

Every morning before work, Kevin gets up and looks around, checking to make sure that nobody has seen him in the early-morning halflight of the harbor. Sometimes he sees a curious face at the cannery behind his pier, a man pausing in the midst of pushing a cart of boxes, or a cigarette-drawn face glancing out behind burning ash, but they are only briefly interested and disconnect from harbor worries after only a few seconds. But if they look too long, Kevin glares and the spite in his eyes scares them off. He is going to continue as long as he can.

Shivering in the wind, feeling resentful of the morning hours that have disappeared, Kevin fingers the edges of his breakable, a dish from the rotting sink. It’s too late for today, he thinks. He tries to feel the right way to wrap his hand around the surface. Not this day. Or maybe just today, but this is the last time. A throw for a fuck-up. He feels himself growing red with the thought of Devon’s drool on his pillow. Checking one last time, Kevin flings his breakable as far as he can, trying to get it to the rocks of the breakwater.

The wind spins the plate so that it skips once on the water’s surface. Kevin watches it slowly, his eyes jumbling its path like in a stylized silent film. The breakable does not reach the rocks, but instead slaps down against the water and disappears. As always, there is the pure three seconds of satisfaction at another pointless disposal.

2:37 pm. Outgoing.
Caleb pushes his mother along the docks. Kerchunk, kerchunk, her wheels hit every crack in the planking. As they near his houseboat, his mother starts moaning at each thwack. He can just hear the hum of her voice from underneath the bulk of her tightened down coat. He stops and runs his hands through his hair. He is sweating. It was hard not to let her slide down the grated ramp to the docks, and for a few seconds it was more of an urge than something he was fighting. Caleb rolls up his sleeves, moves to the front of his mother’s wheelchair and squats down.

“We’re almost there, momma,” he says. “I’m sorry it hurts.”

Her rheumy eyes stare out from her puffy hood. Her nose is running and a crystal clear slime runs down her lip and disappears into the swaths of scarf at her chin. The left side of her face pulls downward with sloping freefall, and Caleb brushes a finger against her flushed cheeks, which are cold to his touch. She blinks her eyes, but doesn’t look at him. Caleb stops himself from stepping in front of her gaze, which is directed at the tin roofs over the covered boats.

“Are you ready to keep going? I’ll try to go slower.”

She keeps looking at the roofs, but blinks her eyes. Caleb tells himself this means she’s ready. He goes back to the handlebars and starts pushing again, trying to lift her front wheels when they approach a new board. But the boards are too closely spaced, and it’s either the front or the back wheels. Caleb continues very slowly, breathing in and breathing out through his mouth.

“Mmmmmmmaaa,” his momma hums as they hit another deep crack.

When they reach the boat, Caleb locks the brakes on her chair and then rushes through the door of his home. He grabs the chair that he placed near the entrance and takes it outside. Near the stern, which faces the breakwater, he unfolds it and blocks up its legs with a few boards he had gathered for the job. Then he runs back, collects the pile of blankets, and totes them outside too. When they are ready, Caleb goes back to the dock and carefully lifts his mother from her chair.

She is not too heavy, not very heavy at all. Even before, she seemed unrelated to him; it seemed impossible to imagine her reed-thin body as ever having produced something as large as Caleb. Now it comes in handy, and his thick hands grab tightly around her arms and legs as he lifts her on board. He maneuvers around the two crab-pots he thoughtlessly left on the deck, and he sets her down slowly in the chair. She moans again as he tucks the blankets around her—first the fleece, then the wool, then the down. When she is thoroughly wrapped up in blankets, Caleb bends down and rolls into a sitting position near her. The wind seemed to have picked up since the morning, and the pirate flag tied to his radio antennae cracks and then shudders.

“See, momma,” he says. “Doesn’t the air feel real nice?”

3:39 pm. Outgoing.
Trent lies flat on the dock and rubs his hands against the piling in the water. He can see little minnows below, and the water is a transparent green. Nearby, a cigarette butt swirls in an eddy. Trent reaches further down and finds the bumpy edges of the mussels he is looking for. He stretches out his fingers, circles as many as he can, and then gives a hard yank. He pulls the black cluster onto the dock.

“Okay,” he says to Ann. “First you get them like this, then you step on them.”

He stands up, lifts his leg and smashes his foot down. The shells break open with a crunch, and the brown-grey of their flesh splatters out. Ann’s eyes get wide.

“Does that hurt them?” she asks.

“Don’t be stupid. It kills them.”

Trent sits down and starts pulling out the innards and lying them along the edges of the dock. Ann watches him carefully, and then pulls a few of the mussels towards herself. She picks at the rims of the shells and lifts them close to her eyes, where she can look inside the broken holes. She expects a pair of eyes to be looking out at her, but all she can see are little globs and a pursed siphon.

“Do they ever have pearls, Trent?”

“Naaah. They’re not that type of shell. Only oysters got pearls.”

“Why?” Ann doesn’t think this is fair.

“I dunno,” he says and pauses. “Maybe they don’t have the little man inside.”

“Little man?”

Ann takes a glob of muscle out and pushes it onto her hook.

“Yeah, you know. The little man, the one who rolls the salt up into pearls. Just like us making snowmen.”

Ann wraps the mussel around and around and pushes it through the sharp barb several times. When she is done, Trent grabs the hook away from her and inspects her work. He purses his lips and nods his head sharply. “Good.”

Ann turns away from him and looks down into the water. She can see a fish roaming around down below her, but she doesn’t point it out to Trent, who will just say “yeah, whatever.” This is his new phrase and Ann doesn’t like it very much. On the piling, an anemone is thick and spongy like a fern that got blown up with water and then slimed by a slug. It washes around, and she sees a minnow float into its hands and then back out again.

“Do you think Daddy will come fish with us?” she asks.

Trent shakes his head and drops Ann’s hook into the water. He hands the line over to her, carefully spinning it onto the stick they have made into a pole.

“Dad’s busy,” he says. “You saw the boat; it needs lots of work.”

“Are we going to be here all day?”

“Just catch your fish, stupid.”

Trent lies down next to Ann, and their feet stretch halfway across the dock, Trent’s slightly further. The concrete below their stomachs is warm, and Ann kicks a sandaled foot upwards in the air. Their lines dangle two feet down in the empty water. A patch of seaweed drifts past, and Ann can hear the sound of their dad’s sander whirring away at the trimming on his boat.

“Trent?” she asks.


“Were you kidding about the little man?”

Trent giggles, dips his fingers in the water, and then flicks a few drops onto his sister’s face.

4:33 pm. Outgoing.
Four amply-bosomed seagulls select and shit. They have selected her boat for shitting, and they perch themselves in three various respites. Emily can name each of their chosen perches, and has come to expect them sitting there whenever she leaves her cabin.

The cleanest seagull, very white with a red-marked nose, always sits on the rail next to the forestay, and its white deposit just catches the front of the Advent and leaves a growing streak down the bow. The very biggest seagull manages the precarious perch on the boom just over the opening to Emily’s cabin. In this case, the degree of balance required for the seagull to sway with his talons scrabbling on the wrapped and covered mainsail is remarkable. Emily cannot interpret it as anything other than spite. Every day, she must be careful to keep the cabin door closed because whenever her back is turned, the seagull is aware. During these moments, it perfectly times and aims its release onto the cabin stairs, where Emily will inevitably slip on it and then mop it up later. The two youngest gulls, gossipers still mottled with their baby grey, sit on the small propane tank at the stern, with their butts facing into the boat so that their feces is firmly cupped into the Advent’s cockpit.

As she leans against the stairs down to her cabin, her eyes squeeze to near slits and Emily wonders at the word cockpit. She wonders if this word developed because cockpits so closely resemble a woman’s nether regions. The captain perches in the middle, she thinks, like some glowing clitoris rising skyward. This thought makes the young seagulls’ bathroom choice seem especially disgusting and appropriate.

Her lips slink upwards at the corners as she thinks about this, and she tucks the bb-gun closer to her thick breasts. Her finger rests tightly against the trigger. Before too long, Emily is busy contemplating the red eruption of feathers that will occur when she pops the beaks off their smug little faces.

5:37 pm. Outgoing.
Every six hours, the waters change and the structure of the entire harbor changes with it. The floating docks lift with the high tide to erase the black-grimed mussels that cover the pilings. As the docks and their boats rise, the shore of the city seems to sink into the earth, while the mountains and islands grow unexpectedly from the empty sky. The breakwater, separated by deep moat, lowers itself incompletely into swirling water, and without its height, the ships seem more important, less fleetingly weak. Wind whips sharper across the boats without the breakwater to hinder its entrance, and the boats rattle, almost proud in their stoicism.

But then, with the passing of another six hours, the harbor shrinks, the docks drifting downward to settle closer to the seafloor as the water flows out. In these moments, the harbor is at its quietest, the barrier between boats and world thick and unbreakable. The surge and pressure of water streams outwards and the currents drain the harbor of noise and wind.

Steve the harbor watchman carries a small tide-book so that each day he can measure the changes to come. Steve is hypnotized by the harbor’s special time—the back forth, back forth, the rotation of tides along the month’s track. Perhaps it is that Steve knows, quite entirely from experience, that minutes cannot capture that something the tide is capable of expressing perfectly. The folks who line the docks of the harbor, who each huddle in their unique ways on their boats, are pulled there by the very changeability of the water, the capture of time. Harbors suspend time differently: hung out in the salt air, dirtied and washed again, the seconds fall. Time stolen, time re-lived too frequently, time wasted and regretted, time shattered, time brought to standstill by bleak linings and the banality of dreams.

People come for the wind’s hurtle through the riggings, the repetitive clank of lines against the ship masts, the thought of endless chosen solitude, and the run of liquid under the boat. Drawn to the harbors with their horizontal piles of boats and boats, stacked repetitively outward into the ocean, with the piers creating a deniable sort of ligament, the heartbroken come to stay, to live, to beg the harbor nights for beer answers or Buddha light.

Steve wonders sometimes if he might be able to act differently, do something exactly right, if only he could understand more accurately the little lines of numbers: four columns per day, a moon next to each row, red highlighting the lowest lows. So he keeps notes in the margins of this book. Next to 12:33, a note from G-west. Next to 4:33, a note from Gate 2. One day he will compile, but for now, Steve walks tentatively down the solid planks and floating concrete, watching as the emotions blow right on through the riggings.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ideal turtle placement

So, my roommate had her cat flown back to town, and now there is a fuzzy little squeaker in the house. This is actually kinda nice, but the cat was prone to tormenting my turtle by: digging around his terrarium and uprooting his bamboo, trying to eat him, chasing him around and around the glass. So, I decided to try and find Sir Cedric the Entertainer a better home.

I posted an ad on Craigslist, and within three hours, I had received six emails and seven phone messages (three from the same mother, who's son I could hear practicing the tuba in the background, or at least that's what I assumed I heard). I decided to call the first dude back since, well, first come first serve, and he mumbled something about a heated pool.

Turns out, he did indeed have a heated outdoor pond, and a large terrarium for the winter, along with several other baby turtles. He seemed to know what he was doing, he wasn't practicing the tuba, and there would be company for the little tyke. So I agreed to give him the turtle.

He called me several more times, trying to arrange a pickup, and each time asking me why I was "giving up on the little fellow," which just about ripped out my heart strings. His fervor and whispy voice had me imagining him as this puny computer dweeb with an oversize pocket protecter with all his email addresses inserted in a little book inside it. But when he drove up...

...he came in an immense black pickup-semi-truck with double wheels, and the following phrase stenciled in pink on the side: "Cheri, my baby angel..." (with the dots). Inside, he turned out to be an immensely fat man wearing shorts. Wow, white legs. He had long greasy black hair, tufts of matted chest hair peering out of his shirt, and a golden chain on each wrist. Well, he didn't get out of the car, but he did show me a couple albums of turtle-pool pictures, give me his address for "visitation rights," and ask me one last time... "you sure you want to give up on the little fellah?"

Um, dude, you're the right man for the turtle-mommying job. And so long little fellah, sorry I had to give up on you for being a tiny boring turtle, but enjoy entertaining the other baby turtles.

some automatic writing - voice dev't

grass is something created, bred from soil gathered in fingernails that have spent too many months rubbing through the lice-ridden hair of another man’s monkey. the little something stuck in the craw. fictions I’d like to make true. truths I’d like to make fiction, and then rewrite, redraft, and trim up the edges. living in regret like it was its own land. a land with an always-grey sky, no matter how many suns shine. the grass is never greener, and yet the bridge gets walked across over and over again. that bridge with the little charred pilings.

and everything that moves underneath it is just water under another burnt bridge.

the land I live in is narrow, nothing exists off the path. the limbs that reach out are all tree limbs I’ve felt before. I could predict their daily blather. when pruned, they grow back thicker. when embraced, they still like to scratch. brambles and underbrush and squirrels and discarded frisbees, all planted, all plants like spies to gather. one can’t help be suspicious. and no matter how long the line goes, no matter how many drafts truth up the fiction like a turkey under the baster, there is no convincing one way or the other. if you preach peace, you’re a sucker and someone’s going to sucker punch. if you paint wasteland or future, the earth will grow absorbent to make your pigments translucent. yet all the ephemeral hallucinations carry their own kind of magneticism, and using the word broken, using the word ashamed, has its own kind of pleasure. the kind of pleasure that falling has, the pleasure of finding yourself in pain. because in that land, pain is the remembrance of something else, the only singular burnt bridge left.

living there is a kind of addiction.

when I'm sick I like to rework it, like to go back and tell myself to let go. because shoving off from land onto the rapids, or the crashcrash my very own surf has its own expectation, its own kind of swagger. there are sealegs to be had, and I run my tongue against the rivulets, the spray, the pouring grey rain. everything is orange on the sea, even if it’s reflection of my own tarnished coat. goodbye to the sand, goodbye to the driftwood, goodbye to the solid lands. just because some other place lives halfway across an uncharted ocean doesn’t mean homesickness can’t kill. just asked all the slaves who were chained to lumber, just ask all the broken backs. but I am different because I chose a new land, and pushed against the shore with these very same boots.

the surf is strong, the pull keeps pushing back.

sweet land, I wanted you to meet me, not sandwich me between the waves and my own vessel. the weather is moody, the stars dramatic, and all the cities in flames. I didn’t mean to be such a pyromaniac. there was something settling about gas tanks, something conclusive about burst, and all the streets were haunted, all the corners held faces. the nose of a doorknob, the smile of a draped cobweb, the flickering residual behind pa(i)ne. the vivisection of waters, the swivels of too many hips. cities hold too many realities; they gather like marbles to jostle, and I shot my two-penny catseye and wanted the chalk line to grow smaller.

just got tired of fighting the inevitable by myself.

so I lit my selves on fire, lit my regrets like steeped fags. even as I fanned with my right, I bucketed with my left, still wanting coexistence of fiction and non, still wanting someone to convince. but nobody could keep up with the dialogue I kept, nobody got a word in edgewise. nobody controls time like a clockmaker, and did you know if you erase bumps from a cog, the hand can circle even faster? do you remember sitting by the fire on a windy day? not the same kind of wind, but the changing kind, the cruelest mizzen mistral. no matter where one sits at the perimeter, eyes are bound to stream, and no matter what you tell yourself, the choke is just water under another burnt bridge.

but the land existed before the flames, a land solid as sap after a clockmaker’s personal 3,000 years.

I will shove off, I will shove off, the waves, I will shove off again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Sooooo… Bush hasn’t left his white playboy house to find hurtled journalistic-missiles yet. I’m a little confused. Just what is wrong with this nation? Partial answer: desperation.

Let me break it down, as far as I understand it.

Bush is under allegations of having declassified information for political purposes.

What he leaked was information used to discredit a former ambassador who simply suggested, prior to our little war effort, that the information we had regarding “weapons of mass destruction” was Incorrect.

We have since found that it was indeed Incorrect.

Thus, this scandal means that Bush used his clout to suppress Correct information that would have cast doubts on the purposes behind his warmongering. He used this nation’s PTSS, played upon our fears, and used rhetoric to coax people into a war under false auspices. Other people wanted to point out these false auspices. Once again, he breached security measures in order to mislead the public.

As a result:

A war with thousands and thousands of Iraqi citizen deaths.

Over 2,000 dead American soldiers.

Iraq, falling into a bloody civil war.

New Iraqi government shredding itself from within, abetted by American “diplomacy.”

No clear plan for how to stop Iraqi’s civil war.

The Middle-East destabalized as a result.

America quite possibly becomes the most hated aggressive-nation since Nazi-Germany.

Over a billion dollars of national debt.

Cutbacks in most social programs, including loans/grants to students in the arts (direct impact).

Halliburton completely rolling-filthy-rich in blood money. (See the stock increase graphs on this website.)


And now, all of this is directly connected to Bush’s willingness to lie to us. Of course, we eat it up in our fear. Now this has come out in court, and just how likely is it that Bush’s new Supreme appointees are going to give him the good spanking he deserves?

I don’t see anyone in front of the White House, screaming bloody bloody murder.

As a direct result, I am turning to the only thing besides writing and teaching that I am good at.

Charms and Hexes.

“I, jk, do hereby hex you, George Bush. May your genetalia wilt down to your knees and sprout the limbs of all the fetuses you ate when you were in your mother’s womb. May your own daughters poison you. May you sit in the third ring of hell with your head tilted upward, your mouth open, and the red skies pouring your own feces down to your full craven gullet.

“Cheney, you don’t get away. I hex you to the shotgun spray of all your cronies as they look back at you, lashed to the ship’s outhouse, from their leaky lifeboats. Down in nineth ring of hell, I hope Dante stumbles upon you and accidentally kicks you in your blue-lipped sneer.

“All of Bush’s advisors—Ashcroft, Gonzales, Rove, Rumsfield, Rice. I hex you to a lifetime of seeing yourself through the eyes of those who hate you the most. Don’t worry, the splattered mud of the eighth circle, nineth bolge will wait until all that is over.”

my hopes, goodish news

I've been fretting because I applied for the same position as many of my friends, and I wanted all of us to get it, nobody at the expense of the other. Despite this, I'm still pretty pleased that I got a TA position and will be teaching my own class next year at the Art Institute.

The title of this class is something around the idea of "Political to Personal, or Personal to Political." In this class, we're gonna look at the relationship of our personal lives, and art, to the public forum. I think I'll start with the annoying cliche, "The personal is political," and with the students, probe the extent of its truth and potential. I'm going to teach Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and also Love Medicine for the different ways in which the "public" inserts itself into the psyche. And of course, there will be a little chicken & egg discussion on how things move from global to internal or vice-versa.

Anyhow, I'm excited, and interested in any suggestions. I'm going to teach 3 papers and 1 group project, which will take place in the blogosphere. My overall goal is to leave corrupt politicians with a little less armroom due to 14 students entering the art world with more awareness of how they impact the world. And I also hope that I can start incorporating more agitation into my own fiction.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

will curious george dub get spanked?

Really, this is rather an intriguing question.

Pretty big scandal, but my bet is that the big money will slide through its own shit just like it were on a superfun slip-n-slide. Anyhow, you should read Juan Cole's outline of the events.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

reading again

so this is stress....

I just finished reading The Time Travelor's Wife (eg), which does not get my Kiss Fish Award. I mean, the plot was cool and stuff, a good idea, and followed through. But the cliche's were killing me! I just read it, I think, because I have about a million other things that I really really should be doing.

Like, really. Why do I always do this?

Monday, April 03, 2006

fictionaroony: the evolution of the blaaahgggg

I've been thinking lately about the evolution of the blog - perhaps it was m.lady's note that evolution is not just for apes and such. The thing is, this blog started as a travel-blog thingy that I wanted for my parents so that they would know that I hadn't bit the bucket down in Ecuador. No malaria, guerilla-warfare murderings, car crashings, heat strokes, and so forth.

But it really quickly turned into this means I have for getting myself writing, and getting myself back into the habit of processing my thoughts, feelings and experiences on paper. It felt like a relief, being and all that I hadn't written for quite some time, but I also started noticing certain things.

Like how it seemed as if my life became divided and then put back together. I started putting both fiction and nonfiction on my blog and they felt like two halves were finally starting to be sewn together, because everything in my head had been rustled up good (truth? what the hell is a truth?). I had taken to this habit of tabulating truth with dates and details, so that I could tell it apart from the lies and manipulations that my brain came up with. So, it seemed like this writing forum gave me a place to start marking back and forth between nonfiction and fiction, in order to really start to understand things just a bit better.

I wanted to keep it that way.

I also noticed, and still notice, along apparently with other people, that my nonfiction is stronger than my fiction. For me, nonfiction comes easier; I don't have to think about it too much, but just start writing after a little itch gets under my skin, and follow it through to where the itch stops. Fiction is harder - sometimes I think about it, sometimes I write it, sometimes I brood on it, and sometimes I wonder where the hell the plot is. And then where the details are? And also why are my characters less developed? Lots of questions come up in regards to comparing the many different types of writing that I do.

For awhile now, I've just gone with the theory that crafting my nonfiction was going to get me far in crafting my fiction. I find that I'm reading more nonfiction lately, and being able to access it more easily than fiction (which sometimes makes me feel crappy and sad and distracted). But the more nonfiction I'm reading, how odd, the more fiction I want to write. I like fiction better in general; it satisfies my urge towards creation, and so I decided to get good at the noting the detail and pulling stuff together, yaddah yaddah, in any way I can. But I think now that fiction needs be honed in a different sort of way. It needs everything that nonfiction does, but it needs it put together in a new order.

In an effort to start applying the realization that fiction needs something else, I think I'm going to try working on some different projects--you all (like, all 7 of you), especially er (haha), are responsible for keeping me honest to this resolution. Right now, having just read Aquamarine, which is f-ing stellar in characterization, I think I'm going to work on writing a few character sketches, and starting to combine my nonfiction and fiction. They'll be rough, but I'm okay with that.

Very okay. Sometimes you just gotta be weak at something and keep working on it until it comes through. Especially if it's what you want to do. So here's a character sketch for Fish, a fellow in my novel-attempt. Maybe I'll sketch him from different POVs too. But later.


During that slow edge of time towards graduation, Fish developed the habit of not lifting his feet.

He’d get up in the morning and shuffle his way to the bathroom, flush the toilet and then shuffle back to his bed. Despite the apparent lack of depth to his footfalls, he still managed to drag his feet in such a way as to make the whole house vibrate. It wasn’t that he was huge, but rather than he carried such a density within his tall limbs that he was capable of displacing a great deal of air and touching the floor with a sonic boom that had been created with the smallest of pressures. I often thought that if Fish ever decided to take up swimming, which he had avoided since childhood probably because of the expectant weight of his name, he would sink like mahogany and have to walk like a crane on the silt. He was just that thick in the bone.

Every morning, I’d wait dreamishly for it to come. I’d roll over in my sleep, just getting to the climatic finale, which I could never convince to come early due to an internal clock as rigid as a businessman’s wall. And then I’d feel it, fifteen minutes before my alarm: the thunk of the floorboards, fwump, fwump, fwump, right past my room and into the other. Always around the third thump, I’d wake solidly from sleep, each time wanting to beat Fish into a pulp. Fwump, fwump, fwump, the little ripples in the water next to my bed, and I’d bite my tongue, bite my arm, bite my pillow, roll around.

Once I flew out of bed, past the blissful sleeping figure of Cedra, threw open my door, and shouted, “Pick up your fucking feet!”

But Fish just lowered his head and kept shuffling past my room. I leaped out and reaching as high as I could reach, grabbed his shoulders from behind and tried to give him a good shake. He just slowed down temporarily, like a giraffe with a wayward baby hippo below him, and then shrugged off my hands with a jerk of his body. “Gerroff me.”

“Will you, for the love of God, please pick up your feet when you walk.”

His blank little look, the greasy badge of hair over his eyes. Even in his sleep he shed dandruff on his shoulders, and even in my fury, I wanted to brush it off.

“Please? Can’t you see how you shake the whole house?”

Fish kept hallucinating me, and then reached his hand up to the edge of his animal park boxer shorts, and lifted them up a hitch. His t-shirt straggled around his shoulders like a rag on the wash line. I didn’t feel I was gaining any ground; then he gave one of his grunts, turned around, and shuffled onwards towards the bathroom.

Watching his back, I could help but to picture the look of desperate incredulity on my face. I gave it up for a loss and turned around to go back to my bed and the ten minutes left on my alarm clock. Once there, I shuffled around and then felt guilty. Fish never said anything, never spoke, and seemed to only have a liminal touch on life in general. Perhaps it was cruel of me to try to take away his sounds, the way he had of moving objects around him with the fwump of his body.

Something about the boy was unusually gentle, and I never knew if he was going to drop five dollars on the table in front of me after I tried and failed to get a little gas money from Muebla. He had a way of doing things like this; bringing home a bottle of apple cider he had found from who knows where, or leaving a brand-new calculator on Kerri’s bedside table during that time when she was struggling with math. At the dinner table, he’d grunt and shovel food into his mouth like a deranged boar, but if a little object could be bought and left, Fish was going to notice. I couldn’t help thinking each morning, as I tried to reconstruct a solid dream-end, that perhaps it was all a front for his real plan; he was going to get up some morning with his silly falling apart jammy-boxers and fwump around the house with a handsaw and cut us up for not being able to get him to talk.

a question, non rhetorical

Hey folks, a q for you:

Do you think that one should keep a "date" s/he made--tentative plans made the same way as always (tentatively, like "let's do this" and "sounds good")--with someone s/he's just split with after making the tentative plans?

If not, how do you deal with the situation? Or alternately, how should one deal with it?

If yes, why?

I have my own opinions; I'll keep them to myself for the time being.

bestiary, entry 1

look closely for new speciesThe Speckled Bipolar Hyanerous, a species only recently discovered on the icy fields of Southern Zanatonia, is the largest member of Hyaenidae family, which also includes the Hyanerous’s much smaller cousins, the hyena and aardwolf.

Ranging in size from 10 to 12 feet long and 6 to 8 feet tall, an adult hyanerous can reach up to one-half ton, particularly after its Beltane feast. The hyanerous fur, while purple at birth, lightens to white with an ample speckling of sky-blue mottles—a pelt that allows it to blend into the glaciers upon which it spends most of its life.

Due to a mutated primitive streak polarity in the early embryonic hyanerous, this creature does not have a “head” and “tail” per se, so much as two underdeveloped faces that grow on the tips of long bushy protrusions resembling tails on both ends of creature’s torso. One of these faces lacks a nose, whereas the other, which is the dominant face and acts as the “front” of the hyanerous, has only a nose. The alpha-tail, as scientist Dudley Norton dubbed the benosed face, leads the bifurcated creature through the icy land entirely depending on its large olfactories. The beta-tail appears to function as a lookout, and although it has no esophageal pathway, its mouth is capable of making popping and clicking noises if ever it sees a danger. As the hyanerous is the largest creature in Southern Zanatonia, this is limited to avalanches, sudden iceberg formation, and an occasional enraged pygmy land-dolphin, which has no capacity to judge size and thus often ends up an aberrant meal for a bemused hyanerous.

The brain of the hyanerous is as doubled as its body, and although the hyanerous received its Latin genus and species (Hyanerous bipolarinia) due to its unusual bilateral symmetry, the description seems unexpectedly apt for the hyanerous’s personality as well. Occasionally the beta-tail appears to gain some cerebral leverage over the body and runs the hyanerous backwards while making disturbing clicking echoes and scratching at the glacier’s surface with its claws. French animal-psychoanalyst Androgena Breton has suggested this is not unlike the human condition of snow-blindness combined with an acute ennui.

The hyaneri social structure seems to closely resemble that of its relative, the hyena. The female is the dominant sex, and is female pseudo-hermaphroditic. Giving birth through the clitoris, the female understandably wants to abandon its pups at birth, and unlike its more patient cousin the hyena, gives over the job of raising its litters to the male members of it species. In contrast to the nomadic female, the genial and much smaller males live and raise young inside igloos, which they make by biting snow with the beta-tail, making round icicle-drops insides its cold fake mouth, and then depositing the snow into piles that gradually gather into an igloo. The younger members of the tribe appear to curry favor with their elders by burying penguin heads in the snow so that the beaks point upwards in a circle around the hyanerous igloos.

Emperor Penguins are the primary staple of the hyanerous’s diet. The hyaneri capture the penguins by stalking them on their monthly migrations, and then netting them in their large ejected stomach bladders. They will then carry the penguins, already digesting, back to the dens in these hardy waterproof bladders, which spring forth from their midsection whenever the beta-tail sees black and white. Unfortunately for the aberrant pygmy land-dolphin, it is also black and white, although considerably more bitter than emperor penguins.

This is currently all that is known about the speckled bipolar hyanerous, as they are cagey and wily in addition to being a new discovery. As a species, the hyaneri live up to their ferocious mien; old Zanatonia myths once disparaged by the Scientific Community held that a creature both wise and stupid liked to morph into crevasses to hide. As often turns out to be the case, perhaps these myths refer to an actual creature: “Whollie intrigued with its nostriles, the Zamata child lookied closier, hearied but a whooshe and a blow, and then simplie was disappearied.”

For my lovely Surrealism class (Surrealisma saica)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

goodie book

I just finished Carol Anshaw's book Aquamarine,
which gets my Kiss Fish Award.

Funny, serious, unpretentious. Worth Reading.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

once a guitar

once a guitar

a poem(ish) goes with this, but is not here.


If my EvilEx were here, she'd ask once again, "What'd you do to fuck it up?"

Since I'm allowing myself only the miniest of minipityparties--that is, doing my laundry, brooding, feeling a little pissed off and writing, I will start a list. Feel free to add, but realize that if you add, you're only allowed to add your own cockups. I don't need any more.

1. High Maintenance*
2. Competitive
3. Jealous
4. Not Jealous Enough
5. Not Sexy Enough
6. Brooding
7. Depressive/Depressing*
8. Combative
9. Not Combative Enough
10. Not Ready*
11. Too Slow
12. Too Fast
13. Whiney*
14. Quiet
15. Talk Too Much
16. Delicate
17. Defensive*
18. Suspicious
19. Too Gentle
20. Overconfident
21. Insecure
22. Dramatic, oh musn't forget the Drama
23. Fat
24. Zitty
25. Not Intellectual Enough
26. When it comes to it, a cost in a cost-benefit situation
27. Secretive
28. Nosey*
29. Vampiric
30. Too Intense*
31. Too Giving, like I'm desperate or something
32. Self-Aggrandizing
33. Manipulative
34. Prone to dance at Pity Parties*

* = More true than I prefer to admit

Okay, I'm off to do another load.

first of april

On the first of April, 2006, he sent her an email saying, "I want you back in my life. I want us to be one again."

Two hours later she replied, "I will always love you."

ramblings of a hinge

A lovely breach of time when a frightening creature—a griffin, or hippogriff, or dark clawed creature with shine—shared time and words, the two most precious stones, while curled up in flesh nearby.

Sometimes I think that chronology has it all wrong; the past is more like a creaky hinge that swings present and future into different angles that close and open on some vast undefined space. Without someone in my corner, I feel a bit like a layer of BBC News and a Narnia fawn stitched together with some extraordinarily old lies.
What is most true is poetic. What is most true is naked life. I can only attain this mode of seeing with the aid of poetic writing. I apply myself to ‘seeing’ the world nude, that is, almost to e-nu-merating the world, with the naked, obstinate, defenseless eye of my nearsightedness. And while looking very very closely, I copy. The world written nude is poetic. (Cixous, Rootprints, 3)
This morning I woke up a little sad, not sure I wanted to jump directly out of bed, but self-made espresso beats even the laziest of lazies. I got up and started the pot brewing, and as I looked out the window, I saw my landlord and his lover scraping up the leaves out under our sidewalk tree. He is the nicest of landlords that I’ve ever had, even going so far as to replace a bad refrigerator within a day of when we called him.

So I ran outside in order to give him our rent checks, thinking that if I was fast enough, my coffee would be steaming just as I came back. A sweet grin, an envelope handed over and I was running back in. I stopped to look at the pile of mail that had already found its way into the landing, and saw just the edges of a small manila envelope. I thought to myself: “That envelope is for you.” Then I was flying up the stairs to steam my coffee before it was too late, but halfway up, I wondered why I didn’t grab the envelope if I thought it might be for me. Strange sometimes when I have these little psychic realizations, because when I backtracked with certain knowledge, that piece of mail really was for me.

It was from my father, and I ripped it open knowing it to be another of his chapbooks.

I sat down after steaming my coffee, sitting next to my window, the window I love, and read the chapbook cover to cover, something I rarely can afford to do. The title was Pictures of the Dead and it’s the first of his chapbooks that Dad has dedicated to my sister and me. I was secretly pleased that he put her name first.

Inside, beside poems, were all these pictures of family, none of which (except for the cover), I have ever seen. My great grandfather and great grandmother, my grandfather who died when I was twelve, and a few of my grandmother who died before I was born. I was really startled to see how much my grandmother looked like my sister about the eyes, and somewhat around the face.

Somewhat odd, in all. I particularly liked these two pictures of my grandma; one in which she is standing on the running board of an old car with a tight little flapper hat with a sprig. The hat makes her head look minuscule and her nose enormous. And the one on the cover where she is wearing knickers and a hunting cap, with a rifle draped over her shoulder and a great big grin on her face. In that second picture, she is even standing a bit like me, but maybe that’s just my reading into the picture with a little bit of whimsy.

The poems in the chapbook were good, and I enjoyed reading them. Contemplations of nostalgia and growing old alone, solitary, a man without any easy peers. There was a poem that I guess was for me, although the latter lines confused me somewhat. My favorite was a bash on Billy Collins, and another one that made me giggle even though I rather like Faulkner:
"John Donne Reviews Faulkner"

‘Tis the concentration of poetrie
Makes it, though prose bee obnoxiovs
So poetrie more fo, by fimple uirtve
Of fvccincnesse, the banalitie
Of lengthie profe concealeth page-to-page,
The poet gets caught naked
At the fecond ftanza;
Yet vvielded in the hands of craftfmen
Two vvords must needs perform the vvork of eight
A dab of paint, a fvggeftiue ovtlyne vvill
Svffyce, if not fo, a vvoman’s beavtie myght
Plainlie best-reprefented bee, not by vvords
Botte anatomie: fliced, ordered, taxonimifed
In Latin, tomes vvith tranfparent ouerlays
Of organs vvill fvpplant pornografie
The circvitovs, uolvminovs inteftyne
So thvs difplayed mvft fvrelie bee as proofe
That more is better.
The middle-English always gets me, so I really don’t know what the poem is saying, and I think that it’s nonsense at some points, but I quite like the fact that he has John Donne write the word pornography into a review. Infantile, I’m sure, but it gets me.

Anyhow, it was a contemplative morning.
What is most true is poetic because it is not stopped-stoppable. All that is stopped, grasped, all that is subjugated, easily transmitted, easily picked up, all that comes under the word concept, which is to say all that is taken, caged, is less true. Has lost what is life itself, which is always in the process of seething, of emitting, of transmitting itself. (Cixous, Rootprints, 4)
I mentioned spring break before, and then erased it, and now I’m mentioning it again.

It was a really nice four days, particularly the day that b and I rented a car and took off for the north. A day intense and typical of the friendship- dating- something-in-between- connection- words- movement- everything that we have/had.

That day, we went and visited the beach up in Waukegan. The port there was completely empty, not a slip with a boat in it, but trains and trash for the plenty. b and I walked along the water, and then over a stream, where I found a cellphone with a smashed out frontispiece filled with mud. We then went over the train tracks, where a derelict building at a 65-degree slant was sitting, and underneath an overpass.

A pile of rocks and a burned out fireplace suggested a passing home, and bricks lined the entryway, as if some day in the past that place wasn’t an underpass, but a road worthy of bricks and a landing. I wanted to pry out the bricks and build some kind of garden path with them; they were the most beautiful things, deposited in the middle of a dusty road so empty that the tree branches hadn’t even been cleared for quite some time.

After this, we ran into an omen-ous dead seagull and it scared b, so we left.

how can I talk about it, that day, from here: wanderings, the dire bones of a supermarket, getting lost and lost again. I drove like I hadn’t driven a car in months and was lusting after wheel. I wanted to get away from Chicago, which I love but has been making me feel surrounded, like no matter where I go, there’s going to be a tall skyscraper with hundreds of people like me pouring out of its closed mouth. Living in a city is an exercise in closeness, everywhere you go, everything is about people. There is nothing else but people. Even the trees are about people. The grass, the flower beds, the water: people.

I’ve been missing Alaska, I think, the way you go outside and absolutely nothing is about people; it’s just about being in landscape, and everything out there is being, the folks who live there as well. We blend in, and move through the trees and shore and water and hills as best we can, but nothing is about us, so you have to get used to being small, and there’s something of a relief in being small, like you can’t get to thinking that the things that happen to you are bigger than a passing moment.

So, when I drove and drove away from Chicago, I think that’s what I was looking for. The sense of other. No buildings or anything.

b and I tried to find a state park, but it took us a long time and when we found it, it was all closed up for the winter. So we got in a fit of rage and parked the car in a lot that said “no parking,” and stepped over the gate that wanted to keep us out. Inside, we found an archery range, something I’ve never seen before. It had a tower and hale bales and swingy-moving targets. I found an arrow and we found a picnic table with a pile full of charcoal for us to trace our faces in.

A pitched human battle in leaves with no underbrush, swords hewn from the fallen limbs, we re-entered imagination and found Excelsior in our hands. I stood on a stump and leapt high to avoid the onslaught, wondering what would happen if I were whacked on the hand in earnest. Except that's not what it was. What it was happened to coincide with a pitched exploration of sexual incompatibility. When we trapped each other via sword point against a tree, it wasn't what either of us wanted.

Later, a beer in an old pub with a worn women Sharp and Not Beaten behind the bar. I liked her and the conversations of gossip that we were outsiders too. b got carded as a youngin’ after having it suggested that she drink a soda-pop. We played two games of pool and had a local say hello and ask b how she was doing, like he might pick her up and change his life if he just was friendly enough. Outside, it started to snow and the snow fell for two inches and then slowly for the rest of the night.

When we were done with near-Wisconsin, we drove along the outskirts of the park and found the place where the gates were actually open. It was getting dark, but I wanted to see what we had missed: fields cloaked in snow and deer abounding (enough so that I almost hit one on the highway). Yellow-grey grass up to my thighs, and tree limbs wilting through the sunset. When we rolled down the window, only the geese could be heard, and we parked in a lot with overturned boats nearby and rolled down the windows

and listened. for as long as we could. curled up next to each other, in the back of a rented car, it was so much silence. the snow drifting lazy, birds echoing in the forest, I thought about all the quietness I miss, like I could just sit and sit and never move again.

I guess things just aren’t meant to stay that way. Not for very long.
the tectonic plates of life
have come together
while she was in the loo
the world was closed
she goes home
& gets ten hours sleep
alone: in the morning
wakes still hopeful
though she knows the script
her part: unspoken monolog

(M. Kenyon, Pictures of the Dead)
I went to a conference the next day, to see my favorite teacher from my previous school—a nail-eating comp director who I have to disarm every time I see her. She comes from the composition side of schooling, and sees me as the whimsical artist who probably wants to challenge the extent of her creativity, which I’ve never seen as divided from my own. Teaching, as far as I see it, is as near poetry as a job ever gets, but each time I see dq, I have to convince her from my side of the fence that all writing is seeking, and most of the things we seek are intangible, so why see walls where no walls should land themselves.

Being that I am also a creator of walls, I do understand where she is coming from though. Enough so that I enjoy talking with her, and re-meeting her each time we speak.

Anyhow, I liked the lecture she gave… she is doing ethnographic research on teaching habits… looking at how often college instructors, both those educated in pedagogy and those never certified as teachers, radically redesign the classroom. Interestingly, her findings show that instructors rarely radically revamp things, but most often dedicate themselves to “incremental” perfecting, or adjusting bit by bit whatever they started with. Which means the starting point is important, no? dq is also comparing this process to the process of being a student, of writing, and that is a metaphor I find most ingenious and I think proves my point about walls better than I ever do.
Human beings are equipped for daily life, with its rites, with its closure, its commodities, its furniture. When an event arrives which evicts us from ourselves, we do not know how to ‘live.’ But we must. Thus we are launched into a space-time whose coordinates are all different from those we have always been accustomed to. In addition, these violent situations are always new. Always. At no moment can a previous bereavement serve as a model. It is, frightfully, all new: this is one of the most important experiences of our human histories. At times we are thrown into strangeness. This being abroad at home is what I call entredeux. Wars cause entredeux in the histories of countries. But the worst war is the war where the enemy is on the inside; where the enemy is the person I love the most in the world, is myself. (Cixous, Rootprints, 9-10)
We went to the casino too. Its bright lights, its strands: walkways without pause, a place where playing is the action of choice.

We listened to the music and I heard the choreography of a pre-symphony warm-up. Something about the syncopation made me feel blurry and weak, and I wondered how we ended up there, and whether looking these things in the face is something that we need to do.

I decided that the only way to approach description would be to make a map and write the story of each person in front of a machine, each person leaning in to the blackjack, pushing chips forward, exchanging them in. Trading something—time, I guess—for a hopeful world of I-don’t-know. I mean, if you are going to spend hours playing a game, I don’t see how you wouldn't want a creation at the end.

That’s the very thing I don’t understand. I don’t understand how people can do a single thing that doesn’t make. Is that the commodifier in me? I don’t know; it’s not like it has to be bought and sold, or utilitarian, but that it’s a result, something tangible at the end of the night, to wake from a dream and find something lasting, or decomposing, for all the endeavor.

I get scared, very scared, when I finish a moment and find nothing at the end.

But today, although it also makes me sad, I just think that I think that chronology has it all wrong; the past is more like a creaky hinge that swings present and future into different angles that close and open on some vast undefined space.