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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

summer is always busier

Me and HeraldI am amazed by how quickly the summer revs up and takes off before I even realize it, and then it ends. That's that and a new year begins. For me, the new year always begins in September... years of being in school followed by years of teaching in school has wound my circadian clock to meet its end-year pause in September. And like those clocks that barely spit out their last minutes as the coil loosens, everything tends to both speed up and spread out towards the end.

Ah, summer. I love it so friggin' much.


My sister and brolaw are periodically in town this summer... they first came for one day (enough to briefly visit during my first Artwalk at Jinx), then they went to visit the brolaw's folks, and then they came back while I was away in Portland but stayed a few extra days after I came back before they went away again to visit best buddies, and soon they will come back for a few days and then I will go away... to a wedding.


I'm very excited about my friend's wedding - it's been a long time since I've been invited and welcomed to a wedding for someone I adore, and in this instance I've been asked to be one of the "best people"... earlier JW asked me to promise to be one of her bridesmaids because she had found such an awesome guy that she knew, knew like that, he was her feller, and I was thrilled and told her of course! Of course! It helps that I really liked F, her then boyfriend now fiancé, and could well imagine him the one for her. He has cool sideburns and is very nice... check and check. So of course!

That is to say that apparently my feelings on marriage are erratic and illogical. When it's someone I love, suddenly the rite takes on meaning. But in its political and personal-to-me sense, marriage remains something I consider a vestige of feudalism or fundamentalism or something like that. I have SUCH BIG ISSUES with marriage, it's amazing. In particular, I have to say my big problems with marriage come up in its relation to government and regulation. I don't like the immigration bullshit that surrounds marriage, and I don't like the power divisions that surround marriage (it still blows my mind that in Illinois, neither member of a divorced couple can move away from Illinois and retain custody of the children without court permission, which as far as I can tell, locks women [supposedly men too though I haven't seen evidence of that] in a place where they might not be able to thrive, either in a financial or emotional sense), and I don't like the way marriage is legally used to divide the queer community from the 'legitimate' community. All of that stuff casts this huge gloomy pall over the whole institution for me...

...but when it comes to my friends and close relatives, I get all wiggly and joyful and romantic. I want to be a "best person". I want to be standing near JW and FS as they make their pledge to each other in front of the community of their loved ones. I want to be one of the members of that community who will continue to support them both individually and as a committed couple. I guess that's the non-hierarchical, non-regulatory, non-societal side of marriage... the part that's communal and emotional and illogical and a commitment to being in danger with someone else, and trusting the other to grow alongside your own growth. That part I really like.

And so, I will be missing my sister's last couple of days in town, and missing August's artwalk, and doing something that I imagine will make me feel very good and send me back happy for my friends and ready to do some work... at least I hope so... in my studio.


Studio work is slow. I am trying to up the amount of hours I spend here (I'm in the studio right now) per day, and the next challenge will be to spend less time working on image-work and more time slogging away on the writing. I've never written well in the studio, mostly only worked on image and project stuff, while writing in coffee-shops and my couch. But it's time that changed because this is a good space and I want new rituals and patterns guiding me. I feel so directed, oddly... I know exactly what I need to work on, and I think I know how to go about it... but am restless frequently, and cranky about getting started. But I will.


To help myself along to this end, which I think it might have done although I'm not sure, I went to my first writing conference... the Tin House Writing conference in Portland.

I was rightly excited to go, and feel like I learned just enough, and did just the right amount, and met just enough people to actually feel like I achieved something without feeling too overwhelmed. It was a really busy week though, starting each day at 8am with breakfast, morning lecture at 9, then workshops at 10, lunch at 12:30, two lectures from 2-4, student readings and happy hour 4-6, dinner 6-7, readings 9-10:30, then more drinks if you felt like sticking around and chatting. Add that to the prompts and exercises given in workshops and the reading of the manuscripts turned in by others in your workshop (2 a day), and it was really really busy.

Reed Collage muralAlso, because I wasn't able to afford the extra $550 it takes to stay on campus during the week, I ended up staying with my ex-girlfriend's former-stepmother (heh), who was awesome and kind enough to provide a very comfortable quiet space for me to stay in. The advantage to this was the peacefulness of the evening and morning hours; the disadvantage being the extra traveling time and also not being able to socialize with all the other writers and possibly find new writing friends to plod along with me in the great task of follow-through. But I can't complain too much because while the board was supposed to go along with the lodging, I was given a full meal ticket and got to discard the process of prepping my 3 meals every day in addition to everything else. I didn't question that mysterious meal card at all, and felt grateful all week.

Along with the conference, I also got time to hang out with my buddy AR, whom I haven't seen in about a year... it seems to me that while outward changes to her life are minor, the internal ones have been huge, and it was awesome to get caught up... and also my friend M. This was the first time I've seen M since his transition to M(male) from A(female), and it was pretty much the most intense four hours of the conference. I was relieved to see that he seems to be doing much better than he seemed to be doing for some years now - getting the help he needs. That's a little cryptic, but the A I knew always struggled slightly with what I assumed was bipolar disorder, and the M I heard about from mutual friends seemed to be struggling mightily with something that might be bipolar disorder or might be schizophrenia. I tend to still think bipolar, but you add that struggle to those of transitioning sex, dealing with new adult realities, and, as I found out at the conference, being diagnosed with HIV... well, you've got a cocktail for genuine breakdown.

And so it was intense, catching up, meeting the new person who has emerged at the other end. I felt really happy for M, that his life seems more stable and directed than it has been for awhile... and also really sad for him, the lines on his face -- heavy ones, sadness over the past, the nervousness he expressed (I was so gentle, really good I think), solitude, and maybe his sense of bafflement... at, you know, why it turned out this way, why him, why he's the only one of our crowd to not have gone on to grad school and found (what he must consider) our 'calling'... it must be hard to see that sort of thing from the outside, not knowing the difficulty so-called success also carries. Yep, I definitely felt like I was being felt out, tested, prodded a little for judgment or high-horsism. It was an odd feeling, but I didn't actually feel tested. I mean, M was testing for something that comes to me with ease, at least now, and at least much more than other things... like fitting in, which was the task of Tin House I felt most difficult to achieve. With M, I was comfortable, and just happy to hang out... and go to a somewhat bad reading with him.

Duck that attended the readingsMost of the readings were good ones though, as the duck who attended three readings might rejudiate (as opposed to refudiate). I was especially amazed by Antonia Nelson (though she was too quiet in her reading), Robert Boswell, David Shields, and the young poet Matthew Dickman.

Of the lectures, Robert Boswell's lecture on "Complex Moments in Literature" was my favorite - intriguing how he traced the thematic and narrative elements in various pieces, with each "horizontal" (time) or "vertical" (thematic) element setting up a distinct resonance and expectation in the readers. And how what he calls "complex moments," or moments that leave you spinning and crazy and gasping as a reader, come when the expectations/resonances on the horizontal and vertical planes cross each other (intersect) in unexpected yet inevitable ways. He used a geometrical analogy to explain it, and of course, I'm a sucker for mathematical analogies. It was, oddly, practical too... not just about admiring literature, but about considering how the momentum and ideas of a piece might come together in a plotted cataclysmic eruption that could really set your desires as a writer lava-coating and petrifying inside the minds of your reader.

I also really liked Antonia Nelson's lecture, which I thought I'd totally hate, but was intrigued by... because she gave a 10-step sequence to writing stories (and teaching story-writing too, now that I think about it). I think I liked it because though it was a tad more prescriptive than I like, it was more prescriptive of process than content. Although I'd have to say it was pretty traditional. But if you wanted to write a beautifully-written traditional piece, I think she gave a very cogent process to achieve it. I only think I'd object because it seemed to presume a uniform set of guidelines by which to judge the effectiveness of a piece... you know, set aesthetics, and if you wish to challenge the aesthetics (#9 in her steps to otherwise build a traditional format), then you have to rationalize your decisions against what the normative aesthetic seeks to achieve. That is, following her 10-steps, you start with the assumption that all good stories progress a certain way for 8 specific steps before the writer is allowed to contemplate whether another approach might work better. I don't know how to express my thoughts on this exactly, but it seems to me that challenging the default modes of story-telling is a parallel route that should dog every step of the process, i.e. questioning during each step whether an alternate route might actually be the choice you want to make rather than the one that acts as the default (though not forever, so you actually might make some progress forward). I mean, I think form is content and the two are impossible to separate on the petri-dish, so how can a story find its own perfect shape if one is following a pre-established route for at least 8 steps along the 10-step path? Well, I guess that's where I think I'd consider trying her process out because, well, her prescription might have to do more with revision and re-seeing than structure and content... which might leave an escape route.

Anyhow, I liked her lecture because it made me think and challenge both what she was saying and my own approach too. After all, my approach doesn't really work very well, now does it? Since I rarely finish anything to a point where I'm satisfied... whereas she does, because her stories are awesome (and she is sharp, like a spear poised near your eyeball, and intimidating). Hmph. So, I guess I'm always looking for amendments, rather than just defending my own beliefs. I think I will post her 10-steps as I remember them on the writing prompt blog too.

Other good lecturers: Steven Almond (on the emotional side of writing), Larry Doyle (on plugging away creating and learning from error even when nobody thinks you're funny or talented for the first 10 years of your writing career), Anthony Doer (sort of re: distinguishing being Moral from having morality... with the overall gist that every piece of writing participates in some kind of morality, no matter what, and mostly it's just dogmatic or unquestioning writing that actually sucks at being Moral), and Karen Russell (on maintaining credibility with one's readers while entering fantastical realms a la Calvino - which she called maintaining the "Kansas:Oz Ratio" (hilarious and perfect nomenclature). She was actually quite charming as a lecturer. And while I didn't adore her reading stupendously, I did enjoy her work... looking forward to reading it myself!)

Yeah, so. It was a good event. Good everything. A nice space away. My only complaint would be that it was very white (white workshop leaders, white readers, mostly white students, white format). But that's what other conferences are for, maybe? Hm. Awesome, kind, interested people though.


Back to my sister visiting: I HATE QUILTS!!! I want the sis and brolaw to go swimming with me, tubing, wandering, hiking, etc... but so far we've just hung out at home because the sis is making this sweet quilt for one of her best friends. I mean, I like the quilt, and admire the process, but am hoping I get a little time to do something with those two. I miss them so much all the time, and they're not coming back from Scotland for Xmas this year I guess, so this next week is it for a year. Not fair.

In part since the sis and Pedrito seem so cool. I like who they've become these past two years. I mean, I always have liked who they are, but there's something about (a) being abroad, (b) working your f**king ass off, (3) being homesick all the time, and (d) being far enough away from friends and family that one gets to redefine oneself... that makes a people new again often in better ways.

[Ah Chicago][Ah Scotland]

So I hope I get to hang with them soon. Without quilts.


Um, well... I need to get to work on a project I'm working on now. But I will say that I've still been having a nice time with SP. It's strange strange strange to be dating again (and somewhere along the way, we seemed to have slipped from "Going on dates" to "Dating"). She's going to AK for all of August though, which will be good for her financially and good for me time-wise (work work work work work work), but I'll miss her I think.

And I've been having a nice time with new friends too. I like having friends in Bville. Most of them are actually SP's friends who became mine too. But also a new buddy with whom I teach at the college - a woman who seems to adore hiking and her dog as much as I do, and who also has a poetic soul and a rough-tough mien. I've been so busy I've neglected some of the friendship aspect of life, but I feel good about it though. Here are some pictures from a beach campout I took with four of the new local friends, including SP:

Hidden Beachness

Hidden Beachness

Hidden Beachness

Hidden Beachness

Hidden Beachness
Summer is good. And I'm swimming every day now. Every damn day, I tell you... swimming all over the place. With Herald, of course.

why I love dogs in 9 photos

I like rocks too

Garden 7-21-10

These are some pretty washed out photos... too much sunshine, but I'm posting them anyways... updates to follow as everything grows.

The Cathedral Bed: Basil and Cucumber.

garden 7/21/10
An overview of the garden from the south side:

garden 7/21/10
Peas (I've got tons, come eat some):

garden 7/21/10
garden 7/21/10
Lettuce mix (right) and chard (left):

garden 7/21/10
Cabbage that is bolting now... how does one prevent cabbage from bolting? Grrrr.

garden 7/21/10
Overview of the garden from outside the stick-gate (look at those sunflowers!):

garden 7/21/10

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I think I might have gone a little loopy with all the people there the last Artwalk. Yep, it's official: there were at least 3x the amount of people visiting as the whole previous year combined. It was A] Intimidating, B] Bizarre, C] Inspiring (now I can't just stay with the same stuff!). At one point, I couldn't get through the people on the stairs to get back in after taking a walk-around to look at other folks' art. I think I'm going to have to arrange times with JW2 for one of us to be there while the other can go around town and look at other people's work if they want.

And my sister and Peter came early and were nice. They even shared their lemonade.
And my dad came around and stayed around, even after I burned the CD for him, which seemed to be his prime motivation to come by in the first place.
And after it all, SP and I had a hot link with sauerkraut and sat on the curb.

It's weird to be dating SP. Dating is weird. It is less weird than relationships though. Strange to realize that I haven't had a relationship since Rosario, though I've dated a number of people in between. That was the last time I used the word "girlfriend" though. Basically, "girlfriend" is a term that lost its meaning after S and R. Shit, love is weird too. I haven't told a person I've dated "I love you" since E. E kind of ruined that phrase for me. Anyhow, SP and I have discussions and differences of opinion on the terms that follow the various forms, variations, and stages of relationships... For me, I guess I'm almost... though not quite... at "We're dating" (moving on from the phrase "We go on dates"). For me, "girlfriend" is a term that comes a long, long time after "We're dating." I don't like the possessive nature of it. My.

Not a big fan of "My"

What's nice though, is trusting someone to do stuff with me sometimes. And what's also nice is the extra time in the morning, not taking off ASAP. And lastly, what's nice is knowing that there's someone in the same town, not related to me, who's willing to go out of her way for me. And the reciprocity of it... a degree of responsibility. Not too much though.

Anyhow. The studio opening was nice and weird. The hot link was nice only. And today I took my first swim in the lake for the summer. Herald and I spent a good hour paddling around and wrestling and swimming to get to the stick first and then fighting over the stick. And that... that was deliciously nice. The best.

I think it finally registered...

You just can't keep looking to the same situation for a different result.