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, March 25, 2012

I wonder how far the necrosis had advanced. It couldn't have looked too unlike a Star Wars fancy dress party hosted by the local morgue, for the inhabitants of the local morgue.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


January SnowDuring the night, from approximately 2 to 6am, the bridges to Vasilevsky Ostroff are raised, effectively severing the island from the rest of St. Petersburg.

A number of us lived on that island, although the ones who first come to mind are Big Jon, an older guy in our group whom I remember more for his having to go to the hospital for the lancing of a boil that happened to be situated on his ass, than for any other particular details about him – Jennifer the Crime Dog, and myself. All three of us lived on the same block: Jennifer the Crime Dog and Jon in apartments next to each other—Jon staying with an American Sasha and her Russian husband, and Jennifer with Rita and Armené, two Georgians who used Jennifer the Crime Dog’s room and board money to renovate the apartment while she was living there, driving her to pull little patches from her otherwise untrammeled hair. In the mornings, she usually woke with the smashing of plaster and hammering of soviet-grade framing, but once woke to discover in the bathtub a rooster, which was later slaughtered—the blood used to mark a cross on her forehead.

But I get beyond myself, because the point is that there we were, the three of us, the only people on the island or perhaps the whole of St. Petersburg, walking home at 1:55 am after the punk bands finished at the club and we tottered out half-ripe on cheap vodka, to be alone, in the mighty city with its upright wings stretching out overhead. Perhaps I remember the three of us as the sole inhabitants of that island because at night, at 1:55am, we were the sole inhabitants of that island, at least the part of it that was out under the curving bowl where the stars would be, if they were around in that soot-filled sky.

I made a habit of peeing in the alleys by the dumpsters and fixing these moments in my mind, with the mantra: always this moment, always remember this moment.


HopesWhat gets me about Chicago is that there is not a single tree there that has not been planted. If it were not for this fact, I think I would be sorely tempted to move back.

That is, I had a really lovely time, although I would say that it was both too short and too frantic. I had a lot of tension in me about returning back to a place I had loved so much, and felt so much a vibrant living part of. What if I returned, and continued being a ghost? More than that, I admit, was the very silly and yet persistent desire to not return in my current condition… I mean, the last Chicago had seen of me had been my lean and roughened hide, and I liked it that way. I liked the idea that somewhere out there, exists a place with a memory of the best version of me.

I admit, there were people I still specifically avoided on this trip because I did not want them to see me differently…

Chicago HouseBut mostly I did no such thing. And mostly it worked out just fine. I finally tracked down LH and slept curled up next to him, waking in the morning to his “What are you doing in my bed?” and with a sultry What, don’t you remember? I got to eat cheesy pizza dipped in ranch dressing at Exchequer with JS, which is such a mandatory ritual, a ritual more mandatory for not particularly loving cheesy pizza dipped in ranch dressing, only JS and her style of frenetic worry and occasional flippant defamation. NM and I stayed with LW, who was just as adorable as I remember, easy to have a crush on, easy to be intimidated by, just as easy to be comfortable and casual with. On our last night, she fell asleep with a Bresson movie flickering black and white in the background, her feet gentled up next to my exhausted and pleased body, and NM upstairs with the soft purr of Shitbird, the cat, who slept faithfully on somebody or another’s chest. I got to see BN, my beloved Beth, former teacher and on the top 5 for people I am glad the world has produced. And LC, when she saw me at a reading, when I lightly called her name as she sat down, who then looked around with gentle confusion until she saw me, bolted upright and burst into tears, rushing over to squeeze me into a hug.

I would pay people to react like that. In fact, I am thinking about doing exactly that, but here, back in Bville, where nobody would even dream of doing even a part of that. I think I would pay quite a bit.

At this reading, I got to see them… so many of the best teachers I’ve had, so many of the friends.

It’s awkward going back, no doubt, something easily legible in the distance between me and some of the people I used to know quite well, but never so closely that time doesn’t cause some consternation and difficulty. I got nervous at the question “Are you still writing?” Am I? Well, I’m not. But I’m also not Not Writing. That is to say, writing still takes up a lot of my mind and is still a significant part of my self-identity, but perhaps it would be safer to say: I am writing, but I spend more time missing you. Missing this Chicago place with all its people and surging energy, missing the flakes of snow that whistle around the stricken trees in their selected exxes. How can I write when my body aches to find a place like that, a little portion of land where someone can plant me, where I don’t just fall and fight just to make a little space to find sunshine.

Jess's bookBN made me feel less guilty, and all my friends with books make me feel more like writing. It’s something about books, their hard copy, that makes me feel this way. Whenever I hear of people publishing in journals, I feel almost the opposite, almost desolate, or hopeless. But when I get to touch their books, finger the cover and smooth my finger over the title and copyright date, it’s a different sensation entirely. I am happy for them, and I am happy for me. There is that.

Also, LW made me feel excited with ideas… we are supposed to start trading work, so now I just need to start thinking about what to write, a task that is impending anyways… In part because I am signed up to join NM’s reading series, which actually shows signs of finally starting up.

This brings me to my promised douchaside, which I promised when I made the very silly promise to try and represent my trip to Chicago. Okay, so there were some douchicles, but it wasn’t too douchilicious.

I practically walked into DP about five times… crazy considering that I didn’t even glimpse other people who I knew were attending the conference. DP, the former friend who betrayed our friendship way back in my college days, betrayed it in ways that are hard to explain and pointless anyways. We kinda made up, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, and ultimately I wasn’t worth her time, so she couldn’t be worth mine. I haven’t seen her in, well, eight years I think. And there she was, first on the sidewalk, then in the bookfair. I would spot her one aisle away from me, and so leave the room (the bookfair was the exact size of Uganda, though only half as violent), only to find her one aisle away ten minutes later. But we were only ever one aisle away, and never face to face, so though it felt strange, there never was that moment when we had to acknowledge each other, look each other’s eyes, and see a loss again. Because of this, when I came face to face with Janet D, who was a touch crummy to me re: this blog, I was very polite and made the detour into a smile and a thank-you when she directed me to some open seats. I felt almost a physical jonesing for reconciliation. Or maybe it was just some digestive processes triggered by cheesy pizza and ranch dressing.

The one real douchaster was via someone who I didn’t really know was on my douche list until, I guess, she was. A friend of EC’s, I have kept my distance, although more out of a polite desire to stay away from drama than because I have any ill feelings. However, she is also a friend of NM’s (Nat gains all these friends through channels I never understand) and N invited her to join her new reading series, in part hoping that this woman might bring an expansion of audience to the series. Actually, she was supposed to read at my one night of readings a couple years back, but no-showed, now that I think about it… although that hardly made me twitch or anything. Anyhow, N invited K to read, but has in the past “made it clear” that she has no interest in being friends with EC although she respects her and her work. Boy, this is getting round about. Anyhow, K shows up at this AWP dance party and walks right past me without a hello (we were once in a class together, in a group together too), goes up to N and requests that she be able to have EC as her co-reader in the series. Then, to boot, instead of doing what I would do were the roles reversed (politely but coldly say no), N putzes out a bright “Isn’t there someone else?”

To spell out why I see this as a douchaster, I ask a question: Why would K (and EC?) want to make me even more uncomfortable participating in Washington’s small inbred writing world than I already am? I feel lonely all the time, and lament not having a group of writers to frolic with, but then N starts to create one for herself, one that I might join if I wish, and all of a sudden it gets… well… small and inbred. It’s always interesting when you find people who are playing a game… but: kerpow! I’m not playing.

So, those were the douchenes. They happen.

CoopSpeaking of which, I am knee deep in theoretical chicken love. BN, in the brief time I had to talk with her, suggested that I might reconsider raising the chickens in my bedroom, a suggestion about which I sulked before considering its merits. Fine. They’re banished to the kitchen.

I have quite the lovely chicken book, and have been reading it in between reading the thousands of semi-trashy mystery novels that I have been using to distract myself from the grading and commenting I ought to be doing (right now). Some pieces of information that have afforded me either delight or deep contemplation:
  1. The door the chickens use to exit the chicken house is called the “pop hole.”
  2. Chickens continuously scour the sky for signs of predator, and have specific sounds and actions they (particularly roosters) make when something that may be a raptor is overhead.
  3. Chickens can be mean and will peck each other to death just for the hell of it. This is one of the biggest things to watch out for, apparently, with the chicks.
Anyhow, I am pretty close to being set up, but still have a bit of time… although it is nearly a month away when I get the chicks, it’s going to be a pretty busy month, what with finishing the quarter, getting my health squared away, going down to Austin to visit my grandparents, and then coming back to prep for spring quarter. I get my first set of chicks on April 6, which will include a Barred Rock, a R.I. Red, and an Australorp, plus maybe one or two more that are around. The second set comes on April 20 and includes three Orloffs, which I think are possibly the most adorable theoretical chickens I’ve seen and I already have names for them. I belatedly found out that I can’t put these two batches in the same area since (see #3 above), so I am going to have a small tub and a bigger tub… the small tub in the kitchen, the bigger tub in a room I have to clear out soon because it’s packed to the hilt… but it’s not heated so it’ll make for a good transition room… til they go out to their adorable mobile tractor coop, which I bought off craigslist rather than make myself, just because it was too damn cheap to turn down.

Chicken RunI went and bought most of the first supplies yesterday (my father, who went with me, making the observation that I could save myself a lot of money and just go buy eggs, phooey), and they had the first round of chickens and ducks already there. So. Friggin. Adorable.

Honestly, I know that the three Republican front-runners are Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, and that Limbaugh just called any woman who uses contraception a slut, and many people actually support these a-holes and think all sorts of cruel-hearted, lame-brained bubbles of thought, but when there are chicks in my near future, I have a hard time feeling anything but tenderness towards the world. Oh, chicks, thou art my fluff and down, my quill and gizzard, nay, my buttercup comb and barbicel! Thou shalt not be eaten by my beloved dog, thou shalt not engorge a local bald eagle! Thou shall thrive, and lay many eggs!

What else? Well, I have to grade and although I have attempted to convince Herald to take up the task, he is yet again disappointing me on this front. But I will say that AWP wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – more overwhelming with tons of people than anything. And I got lots of good books! By friends! That I now get to read! But I wouldn’t say that snottiness or obnoxious smoozhing was the main sensation of the place… I might even have to go in two years when it’s in Seattle.

So you can stop sulking, Herald. I'm home. In spite of myself, I came back.

Herald sulking

January SnowWaiting for the buses to come, waiting for the El, waiting for the subway to open, the weather to stop, the spin to fail, the last echo of the music to finish, the joints to unlock, the bladder to empty, the bridges to drop, the sounds of a city to begin again after they all halted somewhere between 2 to 6am, after the people returned home to click shut first the lower deadbolt, then the upper, turning the keys a random number of rotations before turning the self towards the radiator, peeling off gloves and hats, brushing the flakes of snow from eyelashes, and wavering hands over the ebullient heat. Outside there is nobody, not a single soul, until the city begins again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A O 10

So, I've set myself this writing task(... I've been thinking about it rather than writing so far...) where I describe the first time I met someone without referring to myself. And I realized just how self-centered I am!! Dude, it's hard to describe people who have mattered to me without talking about how they affected me, as if the only reason they are interesting and unique is because they did something that I took note of and felt affected by!

Anyhow, I dare you to try writing a piece that starts, "The first day I met you..." and then doesn't include reference to yourself.

Oh, and I've been laughing all day to myself due to an email sent to me by my beloved ER where she described the awesome spelling endeavors of my goddaughter. Kids are so perfect!

I promise to write at length this weekend about (a) everything you never knew you wanted to know about chickens, which I've learned entirely from books and so is entirely abstract at this point, and (b) my Chicago trip, and (c) all the friends I got to spend time with, and (d) the prevalence and recurrence of douche-bags or former douche-bags related to my douchey past on the streets/buildings of Chicago, and (e) how I alternate between fiercely loving NM and truly, absolutely wanting to wring her neck (ah, true bluff) and how this probably makes me a rotten friend sometimes.

Until then, parting is such sweet sorrow. In deed.

Today I was back after my short but lovely trip to Chicago, and half the students in my research class were missing. I admit I was, and am, irritated. And sent out a semi-irritated email.

Afterwards, one of my students contacted me to let me know her younger sister was in the children's hospital. And then passed away. Which accounted for her absence. She apologized for her late work.

Sometimes I am so aware of how limited my role is in this world, of how much I fail to connect, and how little I can do.

I don't feel guilty, precisely, but I do feel, sad. Life as ever more aware of the complicated lives around me, and how much I wish I could

Well, actually I do feel guilty.
There is more that I can do.
I know this.