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

Friday, August 28, 2009

why does this take me so long?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


So, I have at various points in the past tried to get certain buddies to do some version of this with me:
-Hey! You're a writer, I'm a writer, how about that!
-Yeah, how about it!
-So, you know, I'm trying to write...
-Yeah, I'm trying to write too...
-But I tend to procrastinate and get distracted...
-Yeah, me too. There's so much to life, it's so easy to get distracted...
-So, what say you we send each other pages we're working on?
-Yeah, I write three pages, send them to you; you do the same.
-It'll be like motivation or something.
-Sure, I'll get right on that.
And then nothing (from either of us). So: anyone out there willing to commit to a page-a-day writeathon?

Every day a page written, every day it's emailed to the other person(s), who makes a little mental check on the list, but does not read anything until asked. That way you're not committing to reading a damn thing, but you are pledging, committing, 100% promising to write a page every day, every day yet another page.

It can be anything: dissertation, novel, article, nonfiction, poem, etc.

Drop me a line if you're interested.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Day Fever

So, after the long wallowing rant post- last class, I am still alive and well... pretty clear on the same old fact that much of my panic & anxiety and career angst has to do with feeling insecure about the future without someone's shoulder to lean on. Something about shoulders that put life into perspective... ah, Bville, I may soon turn away from your bony limbs... such good family, such beautiful shores, so many neat people, so very few friends.


Anyhow, a question out of curiosity: Have you ever done something that was extremely generous or difficult, and the person you did this for never knew you did it, or if they did, never knew how difficult/costly the act was for you? If yes: Why did you do it? & Why didn't you tell them?


I returned to a book on the shelf today; don't know why - I have plenty of books I've never read that are waiting around, without having to return to old books. Except in this case, it was a collection of Russian literature written during Gorbachov's days, and within it is a short story that touched me when I first read it at 18, and - as I remember it - changed the way I approached writing.

Although I stopped thinking about the story so much after a bit, I do remember consciously trying to emulate the style of narrative in my first writing courses - never with much success or encouragement (from that god-awful teacher, Rick - no wonder). 'Course, I didn't find out until my narrative design class in grad school that the style falls under the category "modular" and is very effective for undermining chronological time and a stable sense of reality--two of the three characteristics I most admired about the style of "Left Behind" when I first read it. The third characteristics being the sense of connection between different characters and themes... the ability to run different stories separately and have them come together to make an idea more resonant, more powerful than any one person's story could be alone. Course, it's hard to write well, and for me has led to an erosion of the ability to write sequentially even when I want to, but you know... whatever.

Anyhow, I thought I ought to read the short story again, and am not feeling well today, so curled up on my bed with some vitamins, water, and the old book. Upon opening the book, an old pressed yellow rose fell out of the pages... I try to remember from where, or why I put it there, but only have a vague memory of deciding to do so, but not why.

Upon re-reading, I still see why "Left Behind" seemed so powerful, but I'm rather startled: it is a story about intense love, solitude, growing old, and writing... but I remembered it as a story about fantasy and family. I guess it's about all of those, but I read it completely differently this time (now that I'm almost 15 years older). Aside from the rather stark/simple language (always a possibility that this is due to the translation), which I also don't remember, Makanin's story prods at the pain of being broken up with, and of people drifting apart--never, ever to come together. And it's about the psychological turnings of loneliness (masked in such metaphors as being left behind, violence, convolute conversations, prospecting) and intimacy (spoken overtly of in the story as compassion, empathy, love, silence). It's fairly bleak at the same time as having some beautiful passages that give one the overall feeling that the only intimacy humanity actually has access to is the common experience of falling behind, and falling away. I'd say the story's pretty unrelenting too - in true Russian fashion, no happy ending.

I thought I'd put up some of my favorite parts:
I was astounded: I was convinced that Lera was fragile, tender, gentle, and shy in conversation--that's how I knew and saw her--it turns out, however, that with all that, she was also independent. (Glasnost 208)

And when, perhaps out of professional habit, I attempt an analysis, a belated and not completely reliable reevaluation of my transformed relationship with Lera, I also remember (painfully! and sharply!) above all else how my own words turned against me. I remember, I think, searching not for the meaning--what's the use of that meaning now--but for the feeling of those days, although why do I need that feeling, anyway? What's the use, if the lesson is unnecessary and the relived feeling does nothing but tantalize and beckon with its marvelousness when I try to capture not so much that time, which is already past, as my failure to keep up with that time. I don't love Lera, Vasily, and myself as we were then (although I do love all three of them) , as much as I love that time which I have left behind. (Glasnost 237)

The novel was drawing to an end, the last pages were being written. At night I'd leave the dorm--I couldn't sleep. I'd roam the lane of young poplars (now they're monstrous spires, piercing the sky and intolerably clogging the highway and the entire surrounding area with their white down); I'd walk, tired and overwhelmed, and have mental conversations with Lera; I complained, reproached her for her unfaithfulness, and at the same time told her that it was she, she who gave me the strength to write my novel, because I saw my mountains, my No Name and my wild rose bushes in a new light, because only now had I discovered what I'd loved. I'd talk to her, tell her how my novel was gradually being written, how a youth who "heard" chased after a gold prospectors' artel from one mountain to the next, and Lera would answer me, that Lera of old, would answer: "Yes, my dear, yes, yes." (Glasnost 253)

I was at an age when you burn novels or tear them up right on the street, but it was hard to tear up: either my hands got suddenly weak or the paper was resistant, so I just threw it away. (Glasnost 253)

But I was truly deaf, at times I couldn't see or hear. And it hurt. And I felt that it would be easier to submit to life, see its distorted features, illness, or even death, than to see this transformation. Her toughness and rudeness seemed inexplicable. I was silent and just grew numb, I felt sudden stabs of pain in my chest and heart; I felt so much pity for her and experienced a constant sensation of losing her, losing her. (Glasnost 258)

But still, something in me bent this way and that until it snapped very quietly, like a brittle wire. And somehow I all of a sudden said: "I'm leaving," and began to get packed. They saw me off quietly and kindly, as if I'd asked them. (Glasnost 259-60)

She pronounced her words as before. And, as before, was responsive in her silence. She was with me, which, of course, was the best testimony to the fact that that time was over and she was gone. (Glasnost 263)

Once, having fallen behind, Lyosha and his cousin Kolya saw a wolf on a hill up close. It had a broad chest and strong, unblinking eyes. It stood there, looking. Both boys passed right by him as they crossed the mountain. And somewhat humorously Cousin Kolya kept saying to the wolf: "You're a good dog. You won't hurt us... Good dogs don't hurt little boys." He said "dog," as if he were unaware of who was looking at them from the hill, he said "good dog," deceiving himself, Lyosha, the wolf on the hill, the valley, the rocks around and the clouds. (Glasnost 266)

Yesterday father said: "But I yell at you because I love you!" In the past years I've heard this famous word in a variety of combinations and with all sorts of connotations; however, this word, when said to one's own son in a telephone booth with shattered windows, in a Moscow suburb, in the dark, at three in the morning, then this word still has meaning. (Glasnost 268)
And okay, but I'm still working on a series of pieces about spiders, connection, place, etc... It's coming along. I pretty much know the next series of steps I'm taking. Some of my challenges are how to introduce texture to computer collage (avoid that slick chic vibe), and how to keep my computer from crashing on a 3' x 4' collage of Illustrator drawings and scanned maps, pictures, and photographs. Here is where I'm at on one set:

jk collage work*

And now I'm off to be a productive teacher.

from PostSecret

This was on this weekend's PostSecret. I love it super-alot, but I love the response to it more.

PostSecret: Card titled 'Inverse'
-----Email Message-----

I believe the graph axes were labeled opposite. Maybe this was an unintentional sign that the person will think or feel younger as they get older and encounter the most chances they've ever had.

(Quoted from PostSecret)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

bad teaching day

Okay, For starters. I'm in a job where I teach students not what I want to teach folks--which would be about imagining and re-seeing the world we live in, messing it through our writer brains intricately, i.e. teaching folks to see the details, the actual events of existence and the imagined characteristics of self and the elements of the world we actually care about; but not just some abstract entities we involve our intellects with because we think that's what will get us in, to toe the line, or maybe indicate that we've regurgitated some information that someone, somewhere, some particular entity wanted us to regurgitate because that's who our teacher or mother or boss is, but not who we are, because our lives are so potentially despondent that we and outsiders want to align our young minds into the intricate mechanisms they/we imagine the world to need on some kind of sci-fi level, or maybe creative level, but really it's more about our own wants and needs; no, no not any of that but because learning is instead some pure kind of thought where maybe we hope our students will win, yep, win in the intricate balancing job of thought versus living--really (hopefully without an ulcer) a realm where fantasy, heroism, character, story, and the immense diversity of facts and statistics and descriptions find way into a non-linear, non-self-centered understanding of existence, no no no, not any of that, but that dream I had last night with all of my students and all of my friends, all of us moving to Moscow, Russia, and dealing with the American Dream in exile, but no, not that, but what really they, us, students and individuals for themselves decide to achieve with our minds, our future imaginary children and pets and animal-children, and so thus teach Us (the ironic 'teachers') what a driven mind is actually fully capable of when it understands itself as both invested in and outside the story that will, in this instance, be told (which I dream of, in some kind of world, as being beyond my comprehension because it's so complex, smart, and tipping over with hope, compassion, and intelligent action that it leaves my cynical mind adrift in my own passive complacency)--but what I instead (it's not just instead but in tandem) teach them because it's supposed to get them somewhere (learning for self-profit vs. learning for progress, hopefully more than I, personally would every be able to teach). What a hyck, really, this teaching. What a fucking academic boner.

I feel more and more that what I do is simply for a paycheck, didn't feel that way before. And, as paychecks go, it's rather irregular.

I was working today to explore that very interesting facet of writing called "paragraphing" and I gave students this god-awful, simplistic, rendered-down three-sentence paragraph to compare with a more developed paragraph with definitions and development about the distinction between a fantasy realm and the specific reality it was related to. And my students yelled and critiqued the well-developed, published, factually-specific paragraph in favor of the abstract, dumbafied paragraph. I got flustered, angry, tempered my anger, tried to explain, then realized that I honestly felt like: if you can't see the value of specific thought versus abstract bullshit, what is it that I'm qualified/able to say to make you actually think? Then realized that this is my job. This is what I do. I ended up wondering what made me (me!) qualified to be that person who tries to get people to think.

But, yes, I'm pretty sure, I hope, I try, that is: I've always thought. It seems like a thing to do. I recognize that some think this way, and others think that way, maybe I even think a rather silly way, but I still don't have a clue how to get people to think in the first place, since, for me, it seems practical, ethical, crucial, rewarding, and ultimately more interesting than spouting.

I mean, I feel like I've had it. That I truly find trying to "open minds" and "create conversation" beyond my personal ability. I feel like when students, upon reflection, find blank discourse meaningful... that I have found the boundaries of language, and don't know what to say.

I'm really, seriously thinking about re-training options. New fields. I just don't know how to become a doctor and still be invested in art.

P.S. I know all my three readers are awesome, but I don't know if ya'll will have teaching suggestions on this one; how does one speak to a wide population about the similarity between greenhouse gasses and the gasses released in Nazi showers (for instance) when folks want to think about everything abstractly (I didn't even go so far as to use that comparison, but I wanted to...)...? I realize that my job is not to change the world, but I do think of the potential meaning of my job as related to my ability to teach folks to draw connections... and I'm having a problem moving beyond teaching anything but what my students come into class wanting--specifically--to learn. Is that really learning? Am I really a teacher? If I'm barely making enough to pay my loans, but also not making any impact whatsoever, what should I consider doing instead? Math, Science, Health and Engineering? Which career could a transition to that action that would actually make me feel relevant, helpful, heard, a superhero a la Wonder Woman or maybe just an unnamed Amazon wandering with worlds on her tongue and an island of exiles in her past? Certainly, somehwere, a meaningful adult vocation has an answer to my astrologicalish question...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Starting to Harvest

Here are a few new photos-- trying not to replicate the plants I put on last time too much:

Garden 8-14-09Garden 8-14-09


I'm not really sure how my cabbage is going to turn out. There are a few that look fabulous (like the ones below), but many of the others seem to suffer the most from the slugs' invasion, and quite a few of them are looking a little tattered... but I'm planning to make sauerkraut.

Garden 8-14-09
Garden 8-14-09
The corn seems to be coming along. I've never been able to watch it grow from this close up and it's a pretty fascinating experience - the tassels happen up top, and then the pits start sprouting cornsilk and the stalk just starts bulging. Oh, I do so love corn; I hope I have bunches and bunches!

Garden 8-14-09
I've got tons of spiders in the garden. We are very good pals these days. Maybe because I'm working on an artpiece about spiders, the Dalai Lama, facebook, and the universe.

Garden 8-14-09
Finally the Kentucky Pole Beans are in! I've been dying to know how they grow, and now I know: profusely and big. I'm going to can a bunch tomorrow - I can't keep up with them, even though they're quite tasty to eat.

Garden 8-14-09
Garden 8-14-09
Garden 8-14-09


And well, but I kind of wanted CC to be proud of my culinary experimentation (I wish she were around, so I could see how she would cook the stuff I would give her), and so I decided to take the harvest...,

Garden 8-14-09
And make something very delicious with it. I stayed simple with the beans & broccoli. But for the more complicated bit, I made a white cheese sauce and added the peas and basil (sounded like a strange combo - maybe disgusting, maybe perfect), which I then put over some whole-wheat noodles. The results were pretty good. Truthfully, the simple beans/broccoli was the best, but the basil and peas went together just fine!

Garden 8-14-09
Garden 8-14-09
I've also made my first batch of pesto, but didn't take pictures... next time.

dependent origination work

Other news is pretty spartan. It's been a weird week - house/dog- sitting for friends in F---dale. The house was dark, and I think I got a little depressed out there; I just holed up doing absolutely nothing but feeling dreary. I did hear from SSS, which was quite nice - the first extended conversation we've had in awhile, and some interesting gossip to go along with it! Hearing her voice cheered me up, but I was beyond tremendously glad that the friends came home a couple days early and I got to return to my humble home.

...It's going to be hard to convince myself to move someplace else when mom and cr's house and land is so lovely, and well, I get along so well with them. I think I was depressed in F---dale partially because I was lonely. Go figure... time to myself and I really didn't want it. Poor Herald was out of sorts too... he loves the dog that we were taking care of, but he just wanted to go back to his routine. Also, being out in F---dale, and trying to take care of two dogs, I didn't get to my studio and so felt panicked about my work. It's been so hard to get some kind of routine going, but I'm thinking I must have the starts of one because I kept wanting to be at the studio, plugging away on nothing of much consequence.

Speaking of which, I did the artwalk again, but this time nobody came. Hmmm... After an hour of nobody, I called mom and asked her to pop by so I wouldn't be so bored. She did for a few minutes, but then I finally gave up and left when one person wandered over from the gallery next door (which was packed... due of course to their advertising and networking, but I hoped some might wander the fifteen feet to my studio. Apparently a light, sign, and a pile of sock monkeys is not a visible enough draw to get anyone to wander in. Next time I'm going to have to advertise, although I was rather hoping to avoid expending my energy that way, instead just getting a few passersby. It's only a studio afterall, and not a gallery). But the one visitor I did get just walked quickly around for a few seconds, and then asked me how much I pay for studio rent. I'm pretty sure he was more interested in the space than in anything else, which irritated me, so I took off and wrote the experience off as a learning one. I wasn't done with the piece I'm working on anyway, and only had a draft up on the wall, along with older work, so...

Oh, and I've started teaching again - it's intense--a 12-week course packed into 5-weeks, so I'm back to the commenting mill.

Anyhow. I'm off to work again...


Herald's Deep Thoughts

Herald Angel"Oh Yes, the red does bring out my ear-tuft highlights, doesn't it."

Herald Angel"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Herald Angel"You're staring at me again, aren't you? Aren't you? I can tell. God, it's so creepy when you do that. Why me, Lord? Why me?"

Herald Angel"Man, what can I say? I really am just that hilarious. I even crack myself up."

I'm good at psychically tuning into Herald's frequency. Yup. Oh, and this is Herald's idea too (that is, he likes you like this).

Sunday, August 02, 2009

while you were astray, the boats sallied into the bay; the night was quick, the drums afloat... & the strange queer scent of the weak and day

So, my garden is at the point where going away for three days apparently makes a might bit of difference. I'm house-sitting starting this Friday and can use the cash, but am not looking forward to being away from my darlings... In the three days I was at the coast last week, this is what happened to make my jaw drop:

To get you started (I realize that few are as interested in gardens, dogs and babies as those who take the pictures... but hmmph!), two overall pictures, the first outside the garden (looking mostly at the flowers I planted along the perimeter), and the other inside looking at the cabbages, corn, sunflowers, lettuce, pumpkin, peas, etc, along the back wall.

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
The sunflowers you're looking at below - placed in the corners mostly, or to act as "tall things" along with the corn and beans to try to prevent the squashes from cross-fertilizing too much - have among them two that are over 10' tall. They grew three of those feet while I was away (one per day?!). And all of the sweet peas bloomed while I was away... all of them! The plan, which was to plant sweet peas at the doorway and here and there around the edges, was concocted to ensure a beautiful smell as I weed and harvest. It really works... the whole garden smells heavenly.

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
All of my peas look pretty much done. I harvested a ton of them, and there are a few left, but the plants look tired and done... so the pole beans took over. When I left, the peas/beans were pretty evenly spread; when I returned, I could hardly find the peas on the trellises, and all of the little flowers on the bushes turned into 5" beans.

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
On my buttercup squash and my cucumber plants below, I went from about 10 blossoms to about 10 squashes/cucumbers. The cucumbers should be ready to harvest in a few days... all 10 at once, plus the blossoms still growing on both plants. What in the world will I do with them all? To the library I go soon to try to figure it out... I don't have enough friends in B'ham to join me in eating - it's hardly fair! Anybody up for moving to WA?

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
My basil is totally ready to do a harvest on and make some pesto, and some pasta with freshness, and the corn all grew tassels while I was away (plus added about 6").

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
And I now have one large regular jack-o-lantern pumpkin, and about 15 mini white pumpkins (the photo below shows the largest white pumpkin, but there are tons and tons of the little suckers). I haven't a clue what to do with the white pumpkins... yet. Does anybody else out there know?

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
Technically, the montbretia bed below is my mother's but it's rapidly becoming my favorite flower (along with nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas, mock oranges, and honeysuckle). It's just such an intense and delicate orange... hard to resist. And the other flowers are from my patio pots. You can see behind them the new green/blue colors the studio I'm living in was painted a couple of weeks ago. Sweetness!

Garden 8-1-09
Garden 8-1-09
It all makes me happy, and I'm busy planning a summer-harvest party and a fall-harvest party to figure out a way to meet new people to feed.


a week of dens and iniquity and friendship and arguments I never thought two folks might have in a tent, far away

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek CampNothing fancy, nothing ritzy, nothing much deep. In the brainpan or body, either of those. I'm working on simplifying my syllabus, my teaching, my practices, my monkey thoughts. I'm rather pleased with yoga and the clear mind state it induces, and one of the realizations it's led me to is that what I'm doing is okay, that I'm okay, and that each step is just fine.

I'm not angry, nor do I blame the world, nor do I perceive myself as a victim of anything. I'm not narcissistic, nor am I the kind of generous selfless I wish I sometimes could be. I'm not anybody's perfect, and I don't blame myself for that, nor do I blame anyone else for not being anybody's perfect, but I do rather think we should all spend more time thinking of ourselves as pretty close to perfect just as we are... trying.

I've had a few intense arguments this past month, and am suddenly realizing that I don't have to take on other people's comments, brood about them, internalize, define myself by either my own or my loved one's perceptions. In the past, I have rolled and tossed in bed, have sobbed under my pillow at comments that probably were passing for those who said them, mainly taken them on like a second skin because they were uttered by people I care about and want the respect of. But now I am thinking, not really even wondering, but actually to the point of understanding, that sometimes description can be true without being definitive or worth a deep raking. Sometimes important observation can [metaphor here] without requiring [metaphor here].

I feel like, despite the crazy, the sometimes marvelous, sometimes painful, of this past week, I am feeling overall less anxious, more accepting of the steps it takes to make little movement, and excited about the months coming up. Proud of myself, proud of others, etc. Not so caught up in the past just because it's all around me, but... you know, good.


So, I went to the Olympic Coast with a Chicago friend who came to the Pacific Northwest to visit me/it. I wanted the week to be important and it was, but of course in ways unforeseen. It involved a hike along the Olympic Coast, and the shocking realization that 1) for myself, I have aged and what once was simple now involves steps; and 2) it's crucial to pay attention moment by moment to what is happening and adjust to it, rather than letting plans and hopes and "needs" take precedent. Likely that's oblique, but it's still a pretty fair couple of statements. I've also realized how very different people are, and how very much difference truly e/affects communication, words, reactions... everything.

We truly are individual - Us - and it is both a blessing and a call to conscious living.

Anyhew, here is the island across from our camp on three separate occasions--morning, dusk, and sunfall of one resting day of the three day backpacking trip to Scott's Bluff and back:

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek CampWhich one do you reckon is definitive?

And then the moondrop of the same evening:

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
The river otters hither and thithering along the creek next to our campsite:

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
A sea duck bathing in the creek at sunrise:

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
The chipmunk who liked our charred marshmallows (we dropped a few in the flames; they burned, but apparently not enough to stop being tasty):

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp
And a picture that seemed a pertinent part of the hike/visit:

Olympic Coast - Scott's Creek Camp

Also, tonight my grandparents came over and I had told myself I was going to the studio to work on prep for the class I start teaching this week, plus a nebulous self-evaluation (which I'm not sure how to write despite self-evaluating as a main life hobby), plus working on the art-stuffies I'm chewing about in hopes of achieving some/any-thing for the art-walk coming up. So I headed out after saying hello to the grandfolks, and was grudgingly dedicated to the idea of getting back into the work groove. But my car's tires are totally out and need to be replaced, so I took mom's car and neglected to take my keys which actually open my studio, so had to return after driving all the way to town, but then thought after driving the 15 mins back home to ostensibly pick up the keys to drive the 15 mins back (to work)... shoooot, this is a message that I need to spend the evening at home - a full day of homebody, and a visit with my grandparents.

Thus, after much much deep internal reflection, I decided to not return to town but to instead have dinner with the folks, and after two brandy snifters post-victuals, my grandpa and mother both got chatty and flooded with stories about extended family and people who lived and passed long ago, apparently in some pretty crazy ways (no artists, intellectuals, biologists, or inventors in this family), and tales of sailboat strandings, ditch deaths, well deaths post-childbirth-deaths, crazy mean schools and immigrations and new towns, historical family drunkenesses, and laughing with my grandma about the strange dark absurdity of many of the stories, plus my grandpa's Cockney accent as he described who was interesting, who was thrown at him for potential wives, getting letters about my crying mum and beers given to dying women in hospitals (the choice of light or dark - the signifier of impending leavings), and who precisely was "truly a bitch." He has a way of dropping adjectives snappy, unexpected, and punchline.

I felt like I had made the right decision for the evening. Staying home.

And tomorrow - work. As my sis would say: yeppers.

nicest thing anyone's said to me in a long time

Yah, it's true, you do take alot of patience. But you're worth every bit of it.