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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the most boring life in the world

yeah yeah yeah so I keep thinking about what to write, not just here but in general, and I guess I have stories to work on (perhaps too many, perhaps that's why I can't get started on any of them, or actually I'm started, but I can't get further on any of them) and I'm just about ready to sigh and roll my eyes and smack each of my cheeks I'm so fed up with myself and the state of my brain, but honestly, when you have the most boring life in the world (perhaps I just wasn't cut out for this bucolic deal), there's really not much to get the right kind of energy going. I mean, there's quite a bit out there intellectually that I'd likely be fascinated and intrigued by, but I can't seem to get up the energy to start following them, and I'm absolutely tired of exercising, going to the same dog park, and not seeing anybody outside my family and students except for one day a week, usually Saturday, well... actually that's not accurate. I see many, many people but I don't really have intricate conversations with any of them. I miss sitting down to coffee with people, and I miss doing art with people, and I miss hearing about art with people, and so forth. And now that I'm on the topic, and rest assured that I'm not on the topic, I'm in a basic quandary about the nature and appeal of blogs. Most blogs I imagine could be considered healthy - or at least many of them - and in particular those that appear to be 'healthy' are those ones that also have a topic. Like c2's blog, about meals and town-ramblings with quite a few pictures highlighting the specific appeal of such. My blog, on the other hand, seems to me to be just what a blog shouldn't be, which is random, scattered, about a number of things, and quite frequently dangerously personal. There's a bit of putting myself out on the line, a putting out there that I seem to scale back on every year as I realize that there are people out there, not very many people mind you, for whom this is the only 'interaction', as it were, they have with my life, and what they read here is the only part of me they let inside their mind, and so they on some level might know me quite intimately, but on quite a few other levels don't know me at all, but this is okay with me for strangers but when it makes friends into strangers as we try to reconcile the one with they other, I get nervous as this allows for a very strange dynamic that has started making me feel more and more exposed as I sense that some of the information I put out there could be used to manipulate, and not just manipulate me, but it could be for me to manipulate others, or others to manipulate others, and this is because for the most part I don't write too much fiction here. I try to be ethical and not talk about fights, romantic relationships, or other people's passions, but I reckon everyone could read this or that into my words. Take for instance the number of blogs I've 'banned' myself from reading over the years because I feel like either a) some message is being transmitted specifically to me, or about me, but subtly and hidden so that nothing can be discussed or addressed without the other person having recourse to saying b) I'm off my rocker and "reading into things." That's the problem, yes. Sometimes I "read into things," and sometimes I'm damn sure that I was meant to (poisoning), and other times I can't help wondering if I'm off my rocker, and so I 'ban' myself from reading and then in a few week's time, ignore my own ban. But for those of you out there who might have made it this far into the paragraph; this place isn't an adequate safety zone. I don't know how to say it, but to be honest, I just think blogs are trolls for attention, mine included, and it makes me increasingly uncomfortable to admit it, and increasingly uncomfortable that most of the attention it appears to get me is unacknowledged or unspoken, and the deal is that I wouldn't write this blog anymore were it not for two reasons. One, there are a couple of close friends/family out there who don't see me very often in the actual world, and this appears to be a jumpstart for conversation that occurs elsewhere. Two, if I take digital pictures, where are they supposed to go? So, I keep on going, but then ban myself from writing too much when I think that yet another one of my "friendships" is sinking into fiction via regular fantastical internet meetings. I think I hate the internet right now. My way of being on it is at least partially responsible for me having the most boring life in the world. The other part is I look around Bville, and look and look, and then I look further away, and try to imagine being out there, and I can't figure out what I want other than to live closer to real people. To have more people like NM, who refuses to read my blog (as I've always told her: thank god) and instead talks to me on the phone, in my life. And it's now noon, and I told myself I only had fifteen minutes for a mini-rant, and so this is the end.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Originally one of my plans for this quarter was to take a class called "eLearning for Educators" at the local tech college. Since so much teaching has turned completely or partially towards the internet, and since I'm on the nervous side of this transition (because I think in-person learning is better at catering to various learning modes, and that one-on-one interaction informs us more than any personae-popping web conversations are ever going to), I wanted to learn how to use online learning opportunities productively. Plus I thought it'd look good on a resume that has been focused away from pedagogy for over three years.

So, in December, I wrote an email to the teacher of the class I planned on taking, and asked her about who her students tend to be (from which disciplines) and how she approaches the topic, and so forth. She turned out to be very forthcoming and I was rather excited about the class. Unfortunately, it was under-enrolled and canceled.

So, I again wrote to the teacher and asked her if she had recommendations for alternative classes or learning forums. She gave me a couple of suggestions, one of which is her own blog, on which she is developing a series of posts discussing the resources of the web and how to put them to use. She's calling this series "Onramp to Social Learning" and since I know that a couple of you who read my blog from time to time are teachers, I thought I'd post the link here.

So far my favorite new learning from her posts (I've only read one post as of yet) has been Wordle. I'm not sure my interest has utilitarian motives, but try posting your blog's url into the feed! Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I hope it goes well & courageously

Sunday, January 18, 2009

in case you were wondering, "shut the fuck up" is always the best policy

Sorry. That wasn't for you. That's just my new motto.


Last weekend, for to celebrate my first week teaching, I took Herald down to Skagit during the floods and we took a walk in the Northern State Hospital park grounds, which used to be an insane asylum back before the seventies shut-down of asylums (in my birth year, heh). This place is a weird one; rumor is they practiced full frontal lobotomy and had a whole building dedicated to electoshock therapy. And at the far side of the place, there's a cemetery commemorating the people who died while living there. The creepy thing--there are no headstones; it's just an empty, green field, sown with the unknown. I guess the place used to be self-sufficient too, so most of the buildings are barns and silos and such, but all gone to disrepair.

I like the place. It's on the haunting side and the first time I visited it was during this past summer with my sister, with the sunset falling just as we were leaving and barn owls rustling off their perches to start hunting against the green and pink. My plan, I don't know why, is to take a series of pictures of the place. I also want to read more about it, and see if there's anything to add. Maybe / maybe not - it seems like it's already been represented and misrepresented, and what more could any piece of history ask for?

So, for now, here are some pics (many are a bit blurry because the bloody rain. I couldn't keep the water off the lens even with a plastic bag, my hands, and two lens rags. Herald was sniggering at me.).

Northern State Hospital
Northern State HospitalNorthern State HospitalNorthern State Hospital

Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital
Northern State Hospital


In other news, teaching is whupping my buns. It's back to reading, reading reading, and to top it off, I've lost some of my facility in the classroom--that easy pleasure in just being in there. Now I feel like I'm struggling to figure out what to say all the time, and I've picked up a few speech patterns that are not so spectacular. Like trying to explain in a variety of ways, failing towards the end, and saying: "Um. Yeah, that."

I'm a bit on the tired side, but it does feel great to be back at work. And I'm also trying to get myself back into a real writing habit, but that's going over like bog juice at a cocktail party. Maybe it's an okay place to start, but my brain just feels empty.


more skagit & swans, and no, they're not snow geese

Saturday, January 10, 2009

day off, skagit flood areas

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

stupid people & younguns

My mom was telling me about a patient of hers who recently ticked her off so badly she had to walk out of the room. Apparently the lady started their meeting by talking about how awful it was we'd elected a man "who wasn't even a citizen" because he was "born in another country," and when my mom protested (against one of the perhaps several issues in that statement she might have tackled) by saying "I don't think that's true. I believe he was born in Hawaii," the women said, "Ohhhhh no. He was born in Kenya, and his grandmother had to go get him there." My mom, once again said, "That's not true."

This particular topic being exhausted after a few more rounds of the same, the women then decided to make some tax structure suggestions: "We just need a flat tax. That's the only right thing to do." By this, she actually didn't even mean a genuine flat tax with equal percentages, but instead an exact dollar amount for everyone. You know, like, if we all just chipped in $50, guys, this whole problem would obviously be solved!

My mom was so disgusted she pretended she needed to go get something to continue her treatment. After she told me about this, I asked her if this woman was on Medicare (mom has lots of Medicare and DSHS patients), and she said yup. I told her she should have told the woman: "I almost want to agree with you because it would mean I'd never have to see you again."


My new crops of students are... unique... interesting... fine, just fine. And all lined up in rows in the classrooms looking straight forward at the board (which I hate).

My heart sank a bit looking at the first group - a bunch of very younguns, and sure enough, when I read their letters of introduction, about 1/2 of them are Running Start and only 2 of them are over 18. In the past, I've had a hard time with RS students because they're under so much pressure for A's that they almost can't pay attention to anything else. But when I read the sum total of this batch's Introduction Letters, I changed my mind and was happy to note that they are all quite excellent writers, and from a pretty diverse, nomadic background.

The second group is my second-quarter writing students and I was originally nervous and thrilled to be teaching new material. I'm going to teach a manifesto and public apology and bring in Colbert as a sample of "personae" and "ethos" in the rhetorical triangle. But then I got this batch's Diagnostic Writing, and they were almost all uniformly horrible - like monkeys throwing poo at the screen horrible. The gamut from sentence problems, to misreading my question, to rambling, to absolutely no description of anything. It's going to be uphill if I have to review the entire class before this one in the sequence before tackling the fun stuff. Ug.

Anyhow, still happy to have work. And overwhelmed by the change in my schedule. Herald is pissed, let me tell you. He's also very pissed off at the nasty, interminable rain, just like me. Grrrrr.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

And So It Begins

Me and HeraldoHello Friends and Frienemies alike,

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's 2009; when I was a kid, I thought I'd be dead (or in a nursing home) I'd be so damn old by that year. I couldn't really imagine myself past thirty, because every child knows thirty actually means senior citizen. Anyhow... on to business.

My Psychic Powers
If you're interested, I encourage you to call me, come on over, and get your 2009 Tarot reading for the new year. JW had hers while she was here and it was quite excellent, I must say. Plus, I bought myself a Tarot book and plan to sneakily read it in between all my other books (I'm still hatcheting away at Moby Dick at about 10 pages/month, and Summer in Baden-Baden at about 15 pages/month [and that book I owe back], and have started both Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine and Kafka on the Shore). So, pretty soon, I will have completely tapped into the mysteries and energy of the universe and will be able to discuss the paths with all. As I said, Happy New Year!

Teaching (feel free to skip this section if incessant rambling about teaching annoys you)
If all five of you hadn't noticed, I've mostly banned myself off the blog these days because I'm in an absolute dithering panic over class planning. I'm one of those people who is both a) a procrastinator, and b) a freak who feels most comfortable having a very solid idea what projects and readings, exactly, I'm going to be doing with my students. This time the two (a/b) collided, and fusion surely can't be too far off.

A solid idea of what is to happen is easy enough to achieve when I'm teaching a class I've taught before, because then the planning becomes figuring out what new readings I'd like, and how to deviate from an already well-established game plan. But with the new class I'm teaching, there's not even a game plan to deviate from, so I've been reading the course reader and trying to coax a class out of its subject tendencies and rhetorical strategies. You know, like looking at the slab of marble and trying to discern what's inside.

All slow going, and classes start this Monday. I am doing a bit better in that I know what my office number is (but don't have a key), have passwords to the servers (but am overwhelmed by the fact that there appears to be at least four, each with different purposes), have my faculty number which ought to let me photocopy (as soon as I get it translated into an ID), and can get into my school email account (which has no spam filter and thus had 150 messages waiting for me after being set up for a mere three days; I believe it will be bypassed for my professional gmail). But I also know which classrooms I'm in and can access the account that gives me my students' names. My late evening class appears to have a bunch of crazy non-European names; I'm excited. It also looks like I'm going to have mostly men, which will be a swap from the last course I taught, which only had one guy in it.

I love all the intricacies of who. Who will be in the classes, why are they studying there, how will we get along, and will they learn?

I did my traditional resolutions; it's one of my favorite parts of the New Years celebration - the opportunity to try something new, to start over even though technically nothing has changed but an abstract number. This year I came up with ten resolutions, and I will keep all but two to myself (for the sake of my pride, and the fact that only NM and JW get to know them all):
Write more letters.
Volunteer at least a bit.
So far, I'm par on course for the new year, and really happy and excited about this one. I think I'm going to get moving, moving moving finally... I think the bell has been rung and I'm back on the mat with a glitter in my eye, spinach in my gut, and bloody bulging meathooks lobbing their way through the air.

They ain't kidding when they say "when it rains, it pours" because I had friends from one moment to the other throughout the entire holidays... It was fabulous, and overwhelming. I felt a bit doofy, like I've forgotten how to communicate, or even how to have something intelligent to say (which I might not), and I also was at a loss as to what to do.

i.e. Thanks, Washington!

I brag constantly about how beautiful you are and then when someone comes through to take a peak and decide whether I'm making it all up, you snow and rain and snow and ice up and I can't take her hiking or happily to the beach. The roads were so crappy I couldn't even muster the energy to go up to the mountains and partake in some winter sports, not to mention that I still still still have those back problems and it effects how much I invest myself in activity, ug. But, WA - you didn't show your good side either!

Regardless, I had a wonderful time with my friends, and here's a list of the best parts to remind myself during the upcoming three months of winter, darkness and toil:
1) Working in the coffeeshop, quietly on either end.

2) Singing about dogs.

3) Simultaneous reading and show-watching, in the same room, so peacefully.

4) Walking in the dog park.

5) Drunk-dialing on NYs, everyone we both know whom we could think of at the time.

6) Walking around the harbor, through the seagull-eaten bobbers.

7) Santa stockings (at first I wrote stalkings, but it looked off).

8) Watching N be diplomatic with my dad.

9) Hearing about healthy, passionate love. (I guess it is possible!)

10) The voices, especially the laughs, listening to them.
But I must ask for three things in the new year from my friends: come visit more frequently, but space it out just a tiny bit so I can fully, fully luxuriate, and come visit in the sun. I also wish that N hadn't been so sad; I mean, it wasn't her fault and she worked so hard to hide it and be chipper for the parties, but it was frustrating to see a friend so... well... sad and hurt, I guess... and not be able to do anything about it. We all deserve better!

For those many of you I didn't get to see, including family: balleyhoo and kisses!

Is still adorable. He's very much a teenager - happiest at the dogpark, impatient with my studies, bitey (that will have to stop), playful, loves everyone, jealous, and sleeping behind me on his dog bed, with his paws up in the air and his belly surrendered. JW took the picture at the top of this entry, and I really like it - it cracks me up.

Later taters.

*Oh, and I know it's a horrible addendum but: Please Stop. This is hardly a glowing recommendation:
"Earlier, US Vice-President Dick Cheney defended the Israeli ground assault."