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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, April 19, 2012
the second trio
Labels: Kroshka and Nadezhda and Lolita
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Man, just thinking of revenge writing brings up ol’ times.
First, I would like to add two elements to the “sexy-mofo” list, after having continued to think about it and contemplate my sexy factor, which on a scale of 1-10 I’d place at a 1.75 right now. The two new elements being confidence and mystery.
You know, in jr. high one of my colleagues in battle was given the task, or took on the task, of assigning everyone their very own adjective for the eighth grade yearbook. My friend Robin was something like “shy,” which was once word enough to tilt her into full-blown rage—an emotion that on her resembled the appearance of a mug resting on a countertop. Another friend, Heather, received “vivacious,” or some other great word that began with a V, and was on cloud 9 until she stupidly decided to ask about reasons from the writer (who was, I believe, Balika, a name that means “Place Between the Mountains” in either native Alaskan or Norwegian, and who I still feel a moderate degree of animosity towards even after all the years and even armed with the knowledge that everyone is a heinous bitch to at least one other person in jr. high and high school, so she can hardly be held responsible for being that one person for me).
Heather was informed by Balika that after giving away all the obviously complimentary adjectives to her crew of popular kids, Balika started drawing randomly from the thesaurus and “vivacious” is what landed on our sweet Heather—strangely not entirely inaccurate, nor entirely accurate either.
The whole thesaurus aspect can’t be entirely true though, because Robin was called “shy” by many (just keep watching that mug!) and I received “confident,” which isn’t really a thesaurus word, and is one of those words that could potentially cut both ways. I choose, however, to take it as a compliment that I at least appeared confident to my secret arch-nemesis.
So, once upon a time, I was confident. Or seemed confident, which is almost as good as being confident. I’m not sure I appear confident any more, but I do realize that every person I have ever found even remotely sexy exudes a fair amount of confidence. This said, I also realized how I am drawn to mysterious sorts within whom you feel you’ll never touch the blessed shore.
I do realize, by the way, that talking about sexiness is a bit like griping about an ex- because everyone is bound to get their feelings hurt in some bizarre way. So I will add that I find a great number of people sexy as all hell, even a great number of people who I am not sexually attracted to. I enjoy having sexy friends as much as I enjoy having sexy lovers because it means always having someone around to admire, which is one of those characteristics of life that keeps me afloat. So, if you’re reading this and feeling put out somehow by my list of sexy, you should realize—suddenly, like a flock of seeds bolting out the window on a breeze—that I find you sexy.
(p.s. I don't actually imagine my few readers worrying about this.)
After having skimmed over some of my past recent entries, I’ve decided to attempt to eliminate all actually’s, anyhow’s, and interestingly’s, while significantly reducing just’s, though’s, however’s, and other such qualifiers. [Actually,] They’re starting to annoy.
I promised to regale you with daily natterings about my chicks, but you should realize they are much better in person. In chickson.
They are doing well, and thriving so far beyond my expectations. I find that I am a fretful mother prone to imagining their death a thousand different ways. The first morning they were here, I awoke convinced that they’d suffocated in excess heat overnight. This probably from having once had a kitten that suffocated in excess heat overnight, back when I was thirteen or fourteen, something that I blamed myself for years because I heard it crying in the night, all night, and couldn’t figure out what to do and so ignored the poor blind mewlings of a kitten whose mother and siblings had already died, who didn’t know where to find succor, and who was passed off to a girl too young to have figured out the patience needed to keep it alive. And so it died, hot and scared and lonesome in the night, and I get to remember it when I think about responsibility and defenselessness.
Back to the chicks: they are still alive. I sometimes have panic attacks, especially when I realize I am getting three more next week, and feel that I am far too young and irresponsible to have the care of said chicks. But then I realize I am pretty damn old, and most of my friends have taken care of their actual human children, and I wonder what kind of panicky fretful mother of humans I’d make. I know for sure I would stay up part of the night gazing upon the soft inhaling face of such vulnerability. It is remarkable how much life clings to life, whether it is in children’s capacity to heal and thrive, or in my chicks’ tendency to race around the alder chips after each other, especially when one thinks the others have something tasty to vie for.
That aside, their names are Octavia, Mary Russell, and Flavia—from a sci-fi writer, a mystery book, and another selected by my mom from a mystery book. Octavia seems to recognize me as mother chick and calmly goes with me when I am working on their “handling”—to get them used to people and being held. Octavia opens her beak wide next to my mouth and seems to expect me to regurgitate some tasty bit of worm or beetle, and is willing to cuddle under my chin and act positively fuzzy. Flavia, by contrast, starts bleating as soon as she is away from the others, and refuses to cease until I return her to their pen, where she seems perfectly at home bossing the others around and demanding to be allowed to sleep under them if she so desires (typical redhead). Mary Russell is more neutral—an observing kind of chick, with a tendency to fall asleep all the time, including when I’m holding her or when she’s eating, or when she’s being picked on by the others. She sometimes flops down across the chips, comfortably stretching her limbs in sleep. They are quite perfect, and so far alive, uneaten, and rather hypnotic in their extreme birdiness.
Oh yeah, revenge writing. Good ol’ times.
I’ve been thinking about it lately. NM’s ex-girlfriend just recently published a ‘nonfiction’ piece about her relationship with N, clearly and overtly about N. I mentioned it before, because I reacted the wrong way when N told me about it, defending her ex’s right to write about her experience.
I was totally defensive, truthfully, considering that I had written on this blog about what happened, and also struggled with what was right to talk about here, and had even taken things down and put them back up in the difficult self-discussion about ethics and family/friends—a discussion that so often disgusts me when it shows up in the academia, when it seems to restrict what writers and artists are ‘allowed’ by politics and morality to imagine and produce. It is a part of a discussion that began when I was nineteen and sitting in a bathroom stall, responding to genuine concerns with a sharpie and carefully honed whetstone. And apparently it is a discussion that will never be laid to rest...
But with N, I realized I responded wrongly because it was out of my own selfish concern, rather than just saying “oh shit, I’m sorry” and letting her figure it out. I imagined, I think, N returning to her illness due to the pain of another betrayal-- returning to her mountaintop, returning to monologue and the attempt to control other people’s impressions, versions, and interpretations. None of which happened.
So I was all prepared when N brought it back up again, because the ex’s piece is out and readable, to say the right thing. To say “fuck her,” whether I meant it or not. But as it turns out, I meant it. I read the thing and it reads to me like clear revenge writing. How sweet to write a piece of revenge writing against someone who was sick and had a mental breakdown and then put her shit together with the help of doctors and friends, only without you, without the person who said they loved, not to say that it wasn't hard, but still... not so clear as that.
But then I started swirling… Just what makes something a piece of revenge writing? How do we recognize it? How do we avoid writing it?
Okay, so, I have written revenge writing. More than that, some part of me enjoys the idea of the pen being more powerful than the sword… the idea of you fuck with me here, in the real world where I am weaker and liable to cry when angry, and I will fuck with you there, where words are my companions and my fingers expressive in ways my lips will never be. I like the idea of formulating, over time, precise objections, ironic and sarcastic dressings down, ornate descriptions of ridiculousness, and so forth… revenge writings.
However, over time, I have developed varying ideas about revenge writing. Certainly anger is a powerful locus for inspiration. Certainly I imagine Martin Luther King Jr., sitting in his jail, feeding his anger into the word machine in his mind, feeding his outrage and powerlessness and, also, hope. I think that’s it—what one hopes to achieve with the revenge writing, what other emotions come together in its creation. Hopefully the good ones, like hope, to mitigate and transform.
But to speak to the different types and results of revenge writing I myself have written, in random order:
(1) Sometimes revenge writing is motivated out of a desire to prove a point about writing itself, to prove a teacher or critic wrong—a revenge against form, or prescription, or even criticism itself. As my friend AR, a writer who likes to break every last rule, might point out: this encourages us to the heights of revenge-creation because with anything less than the heights, we are proving nothing, except that our critics may be right. You have to be nearly perfect, nearly spot on, nearly completely innovative to get back at a person for something they’ve said about your writing.Well, it seems like this works out for some people. It seems like some people get published and are given that gleeful howl at the moon: “Told you!” But for me, two things happen when I write revenge writing of the latter sort:
(2) Sometimes revenge writing makes you resemble a pustular wound—spurting all kinds of toxic, infected pus that makes people cringe and avoid you.
(3) Sometimes the edge that revenge and anger gives you is like a whittling knife—a tool given to take the soft extra off the sculpture. But without an appreciation and perhaps love for the wood, for the sculpture, for the right amount, that knife can keep on carving until there’s nothing left—no truth, no lie, just nothing.
(4) Sometimes justice is trammeled, and writing about it allows you to give the issue air. To vent the reasons, the logic, the long suffering. To help start the process of healing.
(5) Frequently we really don’t understand. What happened was a knockout, a butt-kicking anti-miracle—seemingly explicable, unforeseen, and undeserved. Sometimes our revenge writing is revenge against fate, or entropy. It is created from a desire to understand, oh please god, understand what happened, and why me, and how can I avoid that ever again.
(6) But what happens when you don’t want to heal anything, but instead want to make someone else feel for you? You want to inform them of all the fucked up shit they’ve put on your doorstep. You want them to know the unknowable pain. You want them to take it all back, to repent and show up at your bedroom doorjamb, pulling at their hair and moaning in self-flagellation. You want them to justify your own decisions and responses, to tell you that you did it all right, or at least mostly right—you’ll give them that ‘mostly’ out of the selflessness created by the rigor of your suffering. What happens then?
First, I feel wracked with shame. And that shame turns to humiliation and regret. I always know right away if I’m going to feel this way, I always know when what I’m doing is not-quite-right—like when I went with a crew of petty girls to talk to the school counselor about a ‘disturbed’ girl. But the shame, humiliation, and regret takes years to develop, and even more years to release. Only when I’ve shed enough of my skin cells, can I ever feel different enough from the person who did that to not feel like crap.
Second, it turns my writing to shit. It can, honest to god, take a good piece that was doing interesting things and automatically make it a big steamy pile, which is always liable to happen anyways, so why give the writing one more incentive to decay?
Let me give you an example. Really, it’s the only example of Revenge Writing Gone Totally Fucked in my life, although I’ve dabbled in other ways.
It’s not actually all that complex. I was friends with this girl in grad school, DS. She was odd, dark, critical, [a mysterious, confident writer], and often mean in a number of clever and insightful ways that made me laugh and frequently turned out to be so true you had to wonder if she was telepathic. I was drawn to her, interested in her, admired her, and yet still a little repulsed by her—that mean streak had bite. So D was a lesbo like myself and though we weren’t the type to regularly go for each other, she had just broken up and decided she needed to sleep with pretty much everyone, and I had just broken up and decided I needed to sleep with pretty much everyone… If it hadn’t been for a previous flirtation-gone-wrong I had recently participated in, I probably would have jumped and found myself in some back alley in Kazakhstan three months later. But said flirtation made me cautious and so I deferred sleeping with her, which sent her into a rage. This rage was… how shall we call it… an ion storm—fundamental, yet invisible; I didn’t see it coming and had never faced this sort of thing before, and so I totally bleeped out when it caught me.
Yes, as you might have guessed, D—in an email—compared herself to Jesus, told me she was coming with the ‘sword’, and then went on to tell me that all the world was divided into vampires and angels (I am supposing it’s a metaphor), and that I was a vampire. She then wrote a three-page email describing how I was a vampire. The thing is, I was devastated, but too confused by the angel-vampire metaphor to admit I was devastated.
And so I fell into the pit of revenge writing: pustular wound first, then sneaky bullshit snark after, then turned a potentially good piece of writing into shit, which nobody ever told me about so I had to find out about later through reading from the skin of my new, still ashamed, self. The biggest ethical fuck-up was not that I wrote it, but that I took it to school, to a workshop that D was in and thus found myself in the kind of revenge writing that attempts #6 most directly.
And it never friggin’ works. You know why? Because crappy, shitty, humiliating, self-centered, defeated writing lacks the power to move people.
The epigraph to my tale is that I suffered for my revenge writing. Because I brought #6 to school, I was known as a girl given to pathetic revenge writing, and then when I had perhaps genuine cause to be writing revenge writing—when I was taken apart and barely held together at the seams—all my writing was perceived as revenge writing, whether it was or not, and it was mostly not. Letters I wrote that were meant to speak to #4, were #2. Stories that began at #5 became #3. Elements of entire coincidence became all forms of misread revenge. And then everything would shift to #1, simply because there was nowhere else to go—nowhere safe, nowhere loved, nowhere whole. Nowhere for writing to not be revenge writing.
Phhhhhhhhhrpt. The worst?! All over being called a "vampire," and being totally upset about it, for bat's sake.
To get back to N’s ex’s writing: I smell it. It is revenge writing, a la #6. It is not very well written—taking a horrifying experience and not seeking to explore its complexity, which kinda makes me mad. That experience was so hard, and hard to understand, huge, and so... normal in a way, it should remain complex—in form, in totality. Instead, this version removes outside characters who tried. It removes N trying. It doesn’t seek to understand or heal. Worst, it venomously gives out information about N’s childhood, traumatic experience, and life that are not the writer's to tell. And it uses second person, as if simplifying an experience with mental breakdown into a “handbook” experience will get at the heart, and take the heart out, make it less prone to hurt. But it doesn’t. And I felt sorry for N’s ex that this would be her try, her attempt to climb out of the experience. And I felt sorry for N that her past was stolen from her, her trust betrayed. And I felt thoughtful, about where I’ve been, and why I’ve written.
However, I realize, in principle I’m still not against revenge. Heh. Well, that's not actually true.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
And, as you can see, Herald is very interested. Perhaps too interested...
Operation Sexy MF
Well, yesterday was the start of the spring quarter and I have two research writing classes again… like last spring… and a pretty good schedule that I think might encourage me to get some writing, gardening, and exercising done as we wing our way towards my favorite season, which I feel certain is going to be gorgeous this year. Gorgeous, I tell you.
Speaking of which, I was just down in Austin for spring break, and the temperature was in the 80’s the whole time I was there, and we only had one day of rain, and all the wildflowers were blooming – bluebonnets, white prickly poppies, purple vetch, cactus flowers, and so forth. One day my mother and I took my grandparent’s car and rounded the hills to look at them all, and it was enough to take your breath away: deer and cattle, quite a number of goats and sheep, some small donkeys and large horses, and miles and miles of semi-arid lowland scrub, thin streams, and rolling bespeckled hills. If I didn’t know that 80 degrees in early spring gives way to 110 degrees in mid summer, I’d swear Austin was the utopic place to live.
One problem I did have with Austin though was actually with Texas… I’ve never seen such nationalism in my life, specifically Texas nationalism. Flags, bumper stickers (“Don’t fuck with Texas”), T-shirts, stickers, furniture with flags etched into the sides. I tried to think of any place I’ve been to before that was similarly decked out with reminders of statehood, and couldn’t think of one that came even remotely close. To me, it was quite scary – it seems pretty clear that Texas is Texas first and part of the U.S. or the wider world second, and it has no interest in listening to other people’s ideas or culture or political views or anything, not unlike a surly teenager or neo-nazi or religious jihadist. Maybe that is an incorrect impression, though, based on seeing a culture of tourism based entirely around cowboy attitude and one-liners. On the other hand, I don’t remember any of that as being true the last time I visited Texas, about ten years ago... Food for thought. I wonder if it has plans to secede? Heh.
Anyhow, the rest of Austin and the trip and the seeing of the grandparents was utterly marvelous. It was good to spend time with the folks, and I read my books like crazy and stretched out on the patio and collected sunshine vitamins.
The last day I was there I went out kayaking and fishing with my uncle, who had ventured down from Dallas. We got up moderately early, and met with an undulating sea of fog that burned off ten seconds after we hit the water. The water was extremely low in the river we were at (between two dams), and algae blooms were everywhere… so we didn’t catch much. Actually I didn’t so much as have a single nibble, but nevertheless enjoyed the endeavor, and the floating around, and the viewing turtles, kites, egrets, ducks and dolled-up children playing along the banks. Made me realize how much I need to do that kind of kayaking/fishing stuff more often! After all, I live five minutes away from a lake with fish, and I have a kayak, and there are fishing poles around… what the hell has been stopping me all these years!?
Speaking of which, I’ve decided to launch an operation to once again regain sexy. To locate the mojo. To impress the stars and comets. To get funky.
One of the pleasures of visiting Austin was seeing my buddy J and her husband F again. I haven’t seen F since their wedding, so it was really about time! I actually didn’t get to hang out with the two of them together, which feels a bit odd, but I did get to hang out twice with F and once with J before they succumbed to their independently jet-setting ways. J went off to book tour, and F went off to judge an inline skating competition… Yes, both of them are such hot stuff! Interestingly, talking to F in his car on the way over to my grandparents for bbq, I mentioned how tired I was of not being my excellently fit and trim self, and F knew what I was talking about and described it in an excellent fashion: you know, when you are walking down the street and catch a reflection of yourself, smile under your breath, and catch yourself thinking notttttt baaaaad!
Yes, precisely so! But it’s also about the mojo, the sexy, the sweet hot babe… which as everyone ought to know, is not just about the fit and trim. Actually, fit and trim is perhaps one of the least important aspects of sexy for me… well, no, that’s not accurate, but I’d place it no higher than the middle of the list of things I find sexy. And although I’m not sure everyone has the same concepts of sexy, and I certainly don’t think I have the same vision of sexy as those I’ve dated, I still have decided I should strive to exhibit more of the signs of sexy that I myself am attracted by:
If not fit and trim, then certainly active. God, active is hot. Someone who goes out and does shit, who knows how to shake a limb, or sneak out in the wee hours of the morning to jog or kick balls or swim or build or things like that. Someone who has a 1980s sweatband.
Not whiny. I’m kinda a fan of stoic. I strive after stoic, but am more like episodically stoic and frequently whiny as hell. The problem is that I have fairly consistent pain, and sometimes I feel singled out by god for that shit, being only a mere 35. However, perhaps the trick is to (a) work more with my excellent new naturopath to solve this problem, and (b) pain manage, and (c) stop the fucking whining, for heaven’s sake. And that goes for other dissatisfactions in my life too. By the way, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop whining here (Grannie!), because writing is not about sexy.
Writers and Writing. God, writing is sexy. Well, it’s not just the writing, it’s the having a project. I guess I find people with projects hot… and they can’t be projects that sit on the shelves (as mine seem to do lately), but projects that are actively being created – whether it is building a sauna (hot!), writing a story (sexy!), raising a child (rrrrwhrwrrrr!), teaching kids to make poems (hubba-hubba), or taking on the world (helllllo).
Dirt. What can I say, my ideal mate is probably a pig. Just kidding. Sorta. Anyhow, I really like people who can get in the dirt without needing to rush to the nearest faucet and lather themselves up with antibiotic soap. So, I find gardeners, sports freaks, and other grovelers sexy naughty beasts.
Generous of Laugh. There is nothing more gorgeous than a person with a gravelly, snurfy, explosive or enormous laugh. I’m pretty sure I could identify every person I’ve found sexy by their laugh alone; a recording, and I’d be like: oh, that’s SS or JS. I think I can sometimes become a goof simply because I’m angling to hear said sexy laughs. Mmmmmm, laughs.
Bulging Brains. Sigh. If I think about the number of people I find sexy who are arrogant asses with bulging brains, I start to despair. Why couldn’t I be more attracted to kindness or generosity? No, it’s bulging hot brains that are incessantly curious, learning, tackling obnoxiously intimidating founts of knowledge. Brains that want to know how to build natural waste water systems, solar generators, and complex theories of poetics. Brains that are busy plotting the salvation of the world while brushing teeth.
Dancers and Music Appreciators.
Sassy Hair, Interesting Teeth.
Tan, or Sweaty, or Wearers of Shorts or Old Man Pants.
Okay, now there are probably other attributes that I find sexy, but these are the ones that come to mind. So, of these, the only one I need not worry about honing as a personal attribute is the dirty part, or maybe the independent part. I am up to my needs in mud lately getting my garden started, and come in with all kinds of soil specimens swabbed across my face and under my nails. But I really need to work on active, fit and trim, not whiny, writing, laughing, dancing, sassying my hair, finding a tan or wearing old man pants, and bulging my brain a bit more.
I know that I am fully capable of all of those, as I have at some points of my life been extremely sexy (if I may say so, which I do).
But as F might put it, it’s been a long time since I’ve exchanged flirtatious glances with my reflection…
So I will be working on these skills, and will keep you up to date on the progress and strategies I develop along the way. Launchpoint: Bville. Launchdate: April. Launchgoal: Sexy MoFo.
So. Ahem. What else is going on then?
Well, spring quarter. Students seem fine.
I get my first set of chicks on Friday and will regale you with pictures of their perfection. I’ve got some of the names picked out, but if you have a particularly perfect chicken name that you’d like me to consider, just let me know. Also, I’ve decided that I’m going to have to build a chicken run, because while I was gone, all our dogs ganged up on a stray cat and ran it to ground, which really makes me think that loose chickens will probably be nothing more than an invitation for dog packing and feather maiming. So, I’ve started clearing ground…
(See picture to right)
I’ve also started clearing out my garden, which is pretty late as far as it goes, but it’s been so damn cold and wet here that I haven’t had an opportunity before. So, I’ve got to hustle, get a load of mushroom compost, and get a’planting soon. Right now, though, I’m just pulling out all the weeds and moss, of which there is plenty.
The rufus hummingbirds are back in the neighborhood, so it really must be spring.
I’m reading in Seattle, a week from this Friday. I haven’t yet written what I’m planning on reading, so yes, there is some panic involved. Regardless, I will go out on a limb and say: if you live in Seattle, you really should come!
Dammit. There was something else I meant to tell you ALL ABOUT, but I can’t remember it, and am now thinking about the reading I haven’t written, and so will probably go do that (or procrastinate).