Sunday, December 28, 2008

There was this baby shower

And me and my mom were, nominally at least, in charge of throwing it. It has been a dicey Christmas around these parts, so we were not looking forward to the stress of the mingling.

But I'm glad we did it. It was a baby shower for an old, old friend--and she seems well. Plus, she is one of my three best friends from high school, and the other two showed up--and that was my favorite. They are all beautiful and accomplished, doing smart things and taking care of lovely families. After the shower, all four of us went to dinner. We drank margaritas and laughed and gossiped about the people we used to know... which leads me to a topic I'd like to re-address: Facebook.

I am obsessed with it. And we talked about it quite a bit. Because, as you may or may not have noticed, dear reader, people be gettin on facebook. Over the last three months, I have friended, de-friended, and re-friended many an old friend/acquaintance/lover. And, despite the ease with which we ridicule those-who-would-be-cyborgs, there is a certain seductiveness to the electronic drama that is facebook.

So, these four dear friends and I (one of whom I am in touch with again ONLY because of electronic things) discussed the benefits and drawbacks of good old FB. Below are a few of the highlights:

1) It is like an electronic grappling hook to the past--digging into memories and giving us some leverage.
2) It makes friendship seem easy.
3) It allows for virtual contact with people we might never have seen again.
4) The format (chat, status updates, messages) gives us time to seem clever and funny--sparring verbally with others who seem clever and funny.
5) It includes zombies.

1) It is like an electronic grappling hook to the past--digging into memories and giving us some leverage.
2) It makes friendship seem easy.
3) It allows for virtual contact with people we might never have seen again.
4) The format (chat, status updates, messages) gives us time to seem clever and funny--sparring verbally with others who seem clever and funny.
5) The unfamiliarity of the communication style makes us harder. We say sharper things more often because we are not standing next to warm human bodies. We need to learn the body-ness of this beast before we imagine ourselves to be experts.

{I was going to make all five be the same both times, but honestly, I'm pretty certain that zombies are an unmitigated awesome.}

This facebook juggernaut is a double-edged sword, pal. As unavoidable as it is slippery, it is a techne, a world-changing rhetoric. I am so thankful for FB in many ways--the reconnection factor (for about 5% of the people on there); the closeness of it (my students and I can communicate via FB in much cooler ways than used to exist); and the bendiness of it (that's right, I said bendiness). I am also wary of it.

But it sure does make for some yummy dinner conversation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

70 degrees and HD TVS

Some notes:

1) I am home in Dixie for Christmas, and it is good. There is snow in New York, but here, there is only 70 degrees and HD TVs.
2) My new favorite holiday phrase is Christmas zombie.
3) I have dear friends who send me poetical facebook notes. Thanks, J. You are truly a blessing.
4) Got my hair cut and colored yesterday, and now I look like a frakkin rock star. That's right. Be impressed.
5) I have chill friends who send me old (AWESOME) pictures of President-Elect Obama, and that makes me happy, too.

You know what he's thinking, right?

70 degrees and HD TVs, bitches.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've got a bone to pick with you... WHERE IS MY SNOW?


Sunday, December 14, 2008

What grace is given me

It's Hobbit Day in New York, and we are spending some time in Middle-Earth. A wonderful way to rest and rejuvenate at the end of the semester, Hobbit Day was sort of invented by several dear friends at Texas. Watching these movies, listening to the language, witnessing the gorgeousness of the imagery and the magnitude of such an undertaking--makes me happy. And sad, too.

Because I am missing Austin very much today. I miss my intrepid fellow-Hobbit freak and that tall Californian. I miss snarky comments about the mention of October in a story far from Julian calendars. I miss smiling summaries of the Lord of the Ring: "some super old guy falls down a hole; chaos ensues." I miss the comfort of Hobbit Day and the projector. I miss the crepes and the declaration that Samwise is, in fact, the MVP!

Here in NYC, Hobbit Day has taken on a different character, but the history is still there, coloring new faces, new scenes, new commentary with grace--both given and received.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Coming back home to you

In a week, I get to go home to this place, and I am very glad about it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Not too long ago,

In a galaxy not so far away, one of my [many] crushes told me, "james, you are a drag queen trapped in the body of a woman." And I could not agree more.

I don't know where the deviance began, really. It might have been with my early and heady love affair with words (most of which were penned and claimed by men). Or maybe it was the strong and powerful women in my life--who did all sorts of strong and powerful things while wearing awesome shoes. Perhaps it was John Missile, my toddler friend, whose ability to pee standing up (and completely destroy rooms in his parents' house without getting yelled at) made me so jealous that I turned pink.

Whatever it was, I was always interested in playing "both" sides, if you will. And I don't mean that in a dirty way (naughty reader), I mean it in a nimble way. I enjoyed (and still do) the surprise/dismay/disapprobation on people's faces when I did or said something that went against their soul-crushing, body-torturing, mind-numbing social restrictions.

Choosing a career in the academy, in a field dominated by men? That seems to be a part of the trend. Living alone in a bag "scary" city, and being pretty jazzed about it? Again, part of the trend. My relentless crush on Neil Patrick Harris? Totes.

Speaking of Doogie, here's another aspect of my drag-ness: I am drawn to people who are different varieties of bendy--sometimes out loud (like dear NPH), and sometimes more quietly... the people whom I most admire are almost always in disguise. And, contrary to most of Western philosophical thought, I don't think that's an automatic and unmitigated bad thing.

[Quick sidenote: of course, this isn't always easy, and there have been heartbreaks because of it. That being said, though, Breaking Big Rules and Being Heroic are intimately related. And, as we all know, heroes are sort of made to be broken. Poor heroes.]

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is some delicious bendiness:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sometimes, I put things off

And then, when I am sitting in my office, thinking about all of the things that I have put off, I get sort of sweaty and hyperventilate-y and nervous and heart-beating-too-fast-ish. This is a new development. I never used to be like this. And, honestly, it has only happened twice, really.

Makes me feel, I mean SERIOUSLY feel, for people who suffer from anxiety more often than not. It is a miserable, powerless, crushing feeling. And, luckily for me, it goes away after a little while--after I send off the first response I should send, and finish editing the paper I should edit, and apply to the summer workshop to which I ought to apply... and hear from dear friends who send me notes like this:

Deep breathing. Nothing can happen that is so bad that it would make you disappear.

Please, dear Universe, watch over our Small Symbolic Order.
Oh, and one more thing, dear Universe, please let that note be true.


Monday, November 24, 2008

I never knew that suitcases could melt

It is a rhythmic hissing sound.
Waves of steam,
Slipping out of the grate at the top,
Make a rhythmic hissing sound…
I like it, so I turned the television off
To listen.
The cat is suspicious of that sound;
Warmth and noise are signs of life to her,
And she is less-than-thrilled
About additional lives here.

I have thought about you quite a bit these last few days.
The combination of cold weather
And hissing devices,
Reminds me of that time
We were snowed in,
And so we drank really, really cheap red wine
And ate pasta
And made out
And laughed too much.
Every once in a while,
The apartment was so cold we could see our breath,
And we accidentally left a suitcase leaning against the floor-board
And the suitcase melted
Just a little bit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flu shots

So, the weather people at think that there may be snow in the forecast for beautiful Queens, NY... which I am excited about for a couple of reasons. First, several dear friends (Hello, E! I can't believe you're going to NCA without me!!!) are headed to San Diego this week for a conference, and I am not going. I am sad about that, mostly, but, the prospect of snow makes it feel not-so-sad. Second, snow (or even the chance of snow) means I get to put on my kicky red snow boots. And that is always a bonus.

Speaking of and red boots and snow and long-distance-friend-monitoring, my mom is totally stalking me. (Hi, Mom!) She sent me an email today in which she mentioned the location of my friendly neighborhood flu shot clinic. She found it on favorite website. I think that is sort of amazing and touching and creepy, all-at-once. Amazing and touching--because my mom is awesome and she is a master of the Interwebs and she cares about my health. Creepy--because it reminds me of all the things that people who are maybe not so interested in my health can learn about me via the Interwebs and zip codes. That's a heebie jeebie moment, right there.

I will get the flu shot, Mom. And thanks for all the stalking.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Man, am I sick

It is Friday night, and I am at home. My whole face sort of hurts. That is probably a bad sign. It's nights like these that make me glad for a couple of things, and, just for you (and the possibility of distracting myself from the possible sinus infection I am developing), I have compiled a list of the things for which I am grateful:

-Jane Austen books. I am re-reading them, and she still rocks.
-Tea with milk.
-Having a home and a family I look forward to seeing.
-Remembering/Looking forward to hearing your luscious voice.
-Not having any sort of stupid tattoo anywhere on my body. I have friends with cool tattoos ("agon," vampires, partnership rings, Tasmanian devil) and then I know some people with not-so-cool tattoos (and that shit is permanent).
-A job and a workplace that I love.
-Seeing a new movie tomorrow (I am taking my class to see "Synecdoche, New York." Stay tuned for a review).
-Smart, kind students with good questions.
-Thanksgiving with my favorite cousins.
-Good hair. Thanks for that, Mom and Daddy!
-Planning to see old, dear friends at Christmas. Thanks for that, Facebook!
-Wislawa Szymborska's poetry.
-Laughing out loud at "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," even in the midst of weird sinus face pain.
-Dearest E!
-Fresh-squeezed orange juice.
-Getting to see Katie on Sunday.
-G-chat buddies who keep me smiling, even when I am sick.
-The Pogues singing "Fairy Tale of New York." That is a good damn song.

Um. Sorry for posting another list. When I am more healthy and my face does not ache, I will be clever. I will tell you a story of love and loss and realization. Promise. Right now, I am going to have more tea. And then I am going to bed...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

True Story, Representative Anecdote-style

Scene: Early morning, the home of Team Wright. Our heroes, lying in bed, are just waking to a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning.

Mom: You know, Texas Tech winning yesterday isn’t going to affect Alabama’s standing in the polls. I mean, I recognize that they struggled against LSU, but LSU was national champion last year! That has to count for something… Right? Don’t you think that counts for something?!?!?!?

Daddy: (pause) And good morning to you, too, my love.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Drama, Facebook-style

So, thinking that I was all sneaky and ninja-like, I deleted someone from my friends list the other day. What was originally intended to prevent my apoplexy at her constant, Sarah Palin-loving, Obama-hating status updates became a little drama. She, somehow, discovered that I had deleted her, and emailed me. So... I had to explain to her, without the benefit of vocal tonality and eye contact, why. Well, maybe I didn't have to explain, but I felt like I ought to. I apologized, and then I said that I had done it because of the status updates. And then I sent another friend request to her, and she has ignored it... which leads me into the next phase of this post.

Some other (unmentioned) reasons for the delection.
a. History and Memory: We were never really friends when we lived next door. Why are we friends now? What does that even mean? I mean, a dear samurai-loving colleague tells me that this moment calls for warrior-mind: In this era of electronic anxiety (characterized by John Durham Peters), I am obligated to use my oratorical, electric skills to engage my electric friend.
b. Desire: I don't want to do that. Because we are not, and never really have been, friends. I don't wish her ill. She seems happy and healthy. Her family looks very nice in their pumpkin patch profile picture. And I that is wonderful. She seems to think that I am en route to Hell, but, in the whole white-Christian-Southern-Baptist sense of the world, I probably am. She mentioned, in her last message to me, that we can just agree to disagree--perfect. Done and done, little lady.
c. Laziness: Changing people is hard. Asking them to think = even harder. I try to do it all the time--as a teacher, as a debate judge, as a "friend," as a sister/daughter/lover/student. But where, exactly, do I get my mandate to do this? Who am I to tell these people with whom I come into contact that they are thinking about something in the wrong way, that, if they just take this class or read this book or listen to this song or walk this way, their world will be a better place? Maybe it's better to leave people in the pumpkin patch.
d. Authenticity: If there is a limit to the amount of energy I can expend on these changes, then I want to save it for the people with whom I am actually in love. Facebook and Myspace, as ridiculous as they may be in a variety of ways, have allowed me to reconnect with people I thought I had lost: My best friend from primary school, who made me the person that I am (and probably has no idea how much of an influence she exerted when we were growing up), reappeared in my life, THANK GOD, because of these "social networking" devices; friends from other phases in my life; people who see the world differently and accept our differences with kindness and elan; partners of friends; students; recent acquaintances--who may or may not turn out to be people who live in the pumpkin patch or people who sometimes step into the watermelon patch next door.

Perhaps I am a bad person. Perhaps I should be, as the samurai so frequently reminds me, constantly in warrior mind, and ready, at the drop of an obi, to engage various folks in vigorous clashes of wit and will. Perhaps I failed in my responsibility to the Other when I so ignobly slunk away from a facebook throw-down. Perhaps I am tired.

Whatever the case may be, I am looking forward to a break soon. I will go home. I will drink wassail with my mom. I will touch the hands and hug the necks and kiss the cheeks of dear family and friends. And I will practice warrior-mind, dear Universe, I promise.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Listening to Better Angels

First of all, let me just say how delicious the words "President-Elect Barack Obama" are.

Second, I am also a big fan of the awesome that happens at and around blogos. Right now, some folks are chatting about presidential fitness. Dear debbilicious mentioned that President-Elect Obama likes to play basketball. And, what with the selection of Rahm Emanuel (our very own, real-life Josh Lyman) to be Chief of Staff, and the marvelous-ness that is "The West Wing," I thought I would post this clip.

Please, please, please, dear Universe, may President Obama listen to his better angels.

Oh, and just btw, send Toby Ziegler to my house. Instantly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Here they are:

1) Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

2) Medea (Medea)--showing men of will what "will" really is.

3) Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)--clever women, being brave = awesome.

4) Crowley (Good Omens)--you seductive serpent, you.

5) Winnie the Pooh--um, der. He rocks.

6) Karl Oskar(The Emigrants)--I love Swedes who take care of things.

7) Betsy Trotwood (David Copperfield)--"Never," said my aunt, "be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you."

8) Hector (Iliad)--because nobody dipped his ass in a river to make him mostly-invincible, and he fucking fought anyway.

9) Nicolae Carpathia (Left Behind series)--Best. Antichrist. Evar.

10) Queequeg (Moby Dick)--head-peddling purple rascals are always invited to my house.

11) Tank Girl (Tank Girl)--because I want a tank.

12) Dr. Who (Dr. Who)--"First things first, but not necessarily in that order."

13) Alex Perchov (Everything is Illuminated)--"This is Sammy Davis Jr. Jr... She is Grandfather's Seeing Eye bitch. Father purchased her for him not because he believes Grandfather is blind, but because a Seeing Eye bitch is also a good thing for people who pine for the opposite of loneliness. In truth, Father did not purchase her at all, but merely retrieved her from the home for forgetful dogs. Because of this, she is not a real Seeing Eye bitch, and is also mentally deranged."

14) Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises)--everybody needs an ex-patriot martini every now and then.

15) Paul D (Beloved)--he traces Sethe's back and provides stability for Others even when he cannot provide anything of the kind for himself.

16) Jubal Harshaw (Stranger in a Strange Land)--I like his questions.

17) Ripley (Aliens)--She was not dipped into a river, either. And she suffers for it.

18) Mrs. Moore (A Passage to India)--You can take your idealism and stuff it, colonialist bitches. And, on the way to stuffing it, stop by the Marabar Caves for just a sec... ask the Universe how much she thinks of you.

19) Boromir (Lord of the Rings)--Because redemption is a marvelous thing.

20) Morpheus (Sandman)--thank you, Neil Gaiman, for your heroes.
CHORONZON: I am an anthrax, butcher, bacterium, warm-life destroying.

MORPHEUS: I am a world, space-floating, life nurturing.

CHORONZON: I am a nova, all-exploding... planet-cremating.

MORPHEUS: I am the Universe -- all things encompassing, all life embracing.

CHORONZON: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgement. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds... of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

MORPHEUS: I am hope.

Your Mission

Should you choose to accept it, is this: compile a list of your favorite fictional characters. My mom and I were chatting about this last night, and we came upon an interesting question. We have already put together our top books, but do we think the favorite characters and the favorite books will correspond?

I can tell you right now, none of Coetze's characters, as real and well-written as they are, are making it onto my list. Those bitches.

So, coming soon--james's top 20 fictional characters.
Go ahead, hold your breath.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lists of Things

One of my dear friends just asked me if I've given up on blogging. And, um, no--not really. I have been sort of lax in blogging, as of late. There were forms to complete, you see. And a debate tournament to judge. And a Halloween costume to construct (I was Goth Little Red Riding Hood, btw... the kind of Little Red Riding Hood who prefers her wolf-meat rare).

In light of my inattention to this blog, then, I thought I would provide you with another list. I know there are some who do not like lists. But I like lists. They make sense to me. And, coming from someone who is not-so-much good at structure, this is a big thing. So, following in the footsteps of another dear friend, I have composed a list of my top thirty favorite fictional books. (There are two short story collections--so I'm not following the novel rules super-strictly).

This was a fun challenge. I wandered around my house, looking at the various books I've collected. And I got to re-acquaint myself with old friends that I haven't seen in a while.

Books are markers, not only of the stories they tell and the meanings they provide, but of time: I remember the first book that ever made me cry--A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace; the first book that made me jump--"Misery" by Stephen King; the first book that turned me on--"The Vampire Lestat" by Anne Rice; the first book that made me feel longing--"The Great Gatsby" by FSF. (You'll notice which ones made the list--grin). They mark people. They mark places and things.

I am suspicious, as I have probably mentioned before on this blog, of people who do not read fiction. I think alot of that has to do with my absolute faith in imagination--the belief that imagined scenes, like these moments that mark us, are ways to negotiate the incommensurability of the things we know, the things we desire, and the things we have to do.

This is not necessarily a hierarchical arrangement. The first five are based solely on the numbers of times I've read and re-read them. Some of them are agreed-upon classics. One of them I had to buy in the "Romance" section--which was cause for some serious self-reflection. Some of them are spacy and some of them are sappy. And I'm okay with that--because this is my blog.

And these are my markers.

1) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
2) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
5) Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
6) A Room with a View by EM Forster
7) The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
8) Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
9) Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
10) Persuasion by Jane Austen
11) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
12) The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
13) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
14) Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
15) Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetze
16) Neuromancer by William Gibson
17) East of Eden by John Steinbeck
18) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
19) Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
20) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
21) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
22) Women in Love by DH Lawrence
23) The Call of the Wild by Jack London
24) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
25) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
26) Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
27) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
28) Not Her Real Name by Emily Perkins
29) Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis
30) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Overheard in NYC

Guy to friend: When Obama wins, I'm going to slap a white person.

--Central Park Bench

Overheard by: Lane

Hobo on subway to man in suit: Spare change? Anyone? Spare change for the homeless? You look like you worked for Lehman Brothers, you're excused.

--51st St

Overheard by: Kate

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh My God, Forms

Stress me out. My university requires that tenure-track faculty fill out these, um, tracking forms every fall. They're called Personnel Action Forms, and they consist of many little boxes into which the faculty member inserts information detailing her triumphs and tribulations over the last year.

There are letters and numbers denoting the different bits. The faculty member is required to include copies of the various articles, essays, and papers he has presented/submitted over the last year--which should be prefaced by some sort of index describing the projects. Cross-referencing and cross-listing are recommended.

It makes my head hurt. And it's one of those tasks that, interestingly enough, is dissertation-esque--which means that:
1) Sometimes, as you are filling out all of the forms (it's like a bureacratic 1AC for all the debaters in the house), you are alternately like, "I am awesome," and then, almost immediately, "What do I do? I do nothing."
2) It makes you forget, at times, that the point of academic work is not, in fact, ultimately all about the correct margins of the paper or the elaborate ritual that is parenthetical documentation.
3) You are not sure what the front should look like.
4) You have to show/explain it to different people who may or may not know what the hell it is you are talking about.
5) It is a cumulative project (meaning, you should be keeping the yearly records very clearly labeled and within reach, so you can just update them from year to year)--which sounds great, but if you are not good at organizing or storing things, you may need a glass of wine (or two) with lunch. Or breakfast.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things that Torture Me

Being far away from my family. People who claim to like Clarence Thomas. Loving high heels and knowing how (a) ridiculous and (b) dangerous, literally and figuratively, they are. Thoroughly cleaning my red chair/couch/bedspread/throw rug only to watch my stupid cat climb up on it for better fur dispersal. Inappropriate crushes that last far too long. Dentists. Knowing that I read something and forgetting (a) the author's name or (b) important quotations. Speechlessness in the face of inordinate stupidity/cruelty. The fact that I don't like many of the things that other academics like (baseball, opera, microbrewery beer). Missing you. The french horn that I sold 13 years ago. I loved that horn--and I should have kept it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Texas, 45 - Oklahoma, 35

Football Season.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Ought to Be

1) Grading speeches for the Public Speaking class.

2) Preparing a lecture for said class.

3) Grading lit reviews for the Discover New York class.

4) Locating "25th Hour" for that class.

5) Chicago-izing that damned essay.

Instead I Am

1) Listening to this song.

2) Dancing in my office a little bit (see the previous sentence).

3) Reading Kate Beaton's History Project. (Thanks for the rec, E).

4) Debating in my head which of the previous artists I would rather make out with.

5) Hahahahahahaha:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Think of this as an Appetizer Post

So, today is the last day of the Public Memories conference in Syracuse. It has been enlightening and interdiciplinary and conversational and delicious-martini-ful. And today I am taking the Greyhound to NYC with dear E; we were going to take the train, but the scheduling did not work out, so now we are hoi polloi-ing it back home, bitches.

When get home, I will post something more substantial about the things I got to see and hear. Right now, though, here are a few tantalizing tidbits:
1) New Crush! = Yummy Cultural Interventionist
2) Rejuevenated Crush! = Cara Finnegan continues to rock star her way through life.
3) Crush Maintained! = My dearest E--awesome as she ever was.
4) People who say that they have never been below the Mason-Dixon line are not my favorite.
5) Gumball machines are cool.
6) My love affair with Jean Baudrillard may be turning me into a disillusioned douchebag. And I'm kind of okay with that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On being the Rhetorical (Other) Woman

Sometimes, when people ask me what I study, I want to answer: Temptation. It is the reason, after all, that folks are so suspicious of rhetoric, right? I mean---who knows what dangers may lie behind those seductive turns of phrase, those alluring figures and forms? Luckily, it turns out, there are some people out there willing to investigate (with kindness and generosity) the slippery places between credibility, sincerity, irruptions, and success.

That being said, I was brought right up against the contemporary force of these historical suspicions at the beginning of this week. A student of mine, bright and sharp, is currently considering graduate school. He has never considered himself, in his own words, a reader or a student. And yet... he is fascinated by the life of the mind--presented and performed as it is by me and my two newbie colleagues here at school. He sits in our offices, chats with us about concerns, asks really difficult questions. All in all, he is a delight.

He is also a native New Yorker.

There is a surprising provinciality in the minds of many native New Yorkers. Often, the desire/belief in these minds is that they never have to leave this place to live a full, good life. They want to stay close to home and family--much, to my surprise, like people I have met in less urban places. But being born in NYC does not make you cosmopolitan, and I am constantly reminded of this.

So, my colleagues and I are talking to this young man about his options for grad school... mostly options that are elsewhere, considering his interests and the perspicacity with which he views the academic world. For a variety of reasons, he does not want to leave the city.

Anyway, over the course of our conversation earlier this week, he mentioned to me that another colleague (native Long Islander, former student of the school at which we both teach, pursuing a PhD at Fordham--in the city) had pulled him aside and said, "Now, I know james can be persuasive, but you need to make these decisions based on your own heart/needs/mind/conscience." --or something like that...

I was surprised and a bit dismayed by this sort of sneaky and, um, secretive exchange. And then my student went on to say, "Well, you know, you are quite a temptress."

And I was floored. Silent--which, dear reader, you must know is a fairly rare thing for me to be.

I am a rhetorician, and rhetoricians study temptation. In the practice of teaching/learning temptation, we get accused of various sins: only teaching method without ethics, only providing tools without ramifications, only offering reasons without reasoning.

We are Helen, leading the poor, poor Paris and the angry, mistreated Menelaus into distance, doom, and damnation.

And, apparently, grad school.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

After inviting myself to Thanksgiving dinner

at my favorite cousin's house, I received this image in my email-

because I have the most delicious recipe for "White Trash Veggie Casserole," if you want it. And, I should warn you at the outset, the term "veggie" is applied very loosely in the construction of this culinary delight. That being said, it is one of those dishes for which there are NEVER any leftovers.

Southern culture on the skids is yummy, people. I'm just sayin.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The news from Athens

is that black is funereal, after all. And Alabama is playing the best football I've seen them play in years (well, for the first half of the game, anyway). And I do mean years.

Games like that make me miss my grandparents. I mean, they both would have been ridiculously proud of the schools and the awards and the job and the life. But when I was three years old, I had a little red t-shirt that I wore all the time. My grandfather, an avid Alabama football fan, had gotten it for me. I loved that shirt. It read, "Hang on, Bear, I'm comin."


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello, Fenway!

How're things with you? I have been sort of busy lately--hence the sparse (and fairly unimaginative) posts. However, dear reader, there have been some pretty awesome developments over the last few days that I feel I should share with you. I don't want to be too obvious, but they rhyme with: I got to go to Fenway.

Go ahead. Be jealous.

Things to notice about the picture?
A) My kickin new Red Sox hoody.
B) The Green Monster
C) The fact that I am standing in fucking Fenway stadium.

It was a marvelous, last-minute trip. We rode the Fung Wah bus to Boston. For $15. Seriously. And then we had dinner at this great little Italian restaurant in the North End (I had the chicken saltimbocca--I am kind of an idiot for things-with-prosciutto-in-them). And then we went to Fenway, which was packed. All the seats were full, all the beer was cold, all the music was awesome.

My grandmother was a huge Red Sox fan. She believed, however, that she was bad luck for the team, so she stopped going to games later in life. I am hoping that it is not genetic, but my boys (especially Josh Beckett) did not look so good. I will have to test the theory and see another game. I am sincerely hoping that it is not genetic because Fenway is my favorite stadium, so far.

And Boston, with its lobster rolls and its long, flat vowels and its delicious water front is a place I'd like to visit again. Soon. For $15.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm thinking of buying a tractor

The white boots she's wearing when she's perched on top of the car? I want them. I will wear them while I drive my new tractor to school.

Also, thanks to D for the rec!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am the Champion, my friends

I totally won the first week of my football pool. And it was blind-ass luck, I'm not afraid to say it. But, regardless of the skill or fate or the gods or whatever, I won. And Winning is Awesome.

Yesterday was filled with academic bureaucracy and smarmy self-congratulation. Tomorrow, I go back to the normalcy of teaching and chatting with students. The day after that, reading-cleaning-being a grown up-cooking pasta.

But Today. Today, Oh Yes, I drank from the keg of victory. I talked trash via email and cell phone and blog. Today, I walked through the weird hurricane rain with my head held high and my turquoise shoes clacking triumphantly. So I just want to say "Thank You," to all the folks who made this possible.

To the trash talker-who said something stupid about my picks. Thank you.

To the underdogs, for making this triumph possible. I'm looking at you, North Carolina.

To the woman who organized the pool, on a whim and a kicky Excel spreadsheet.

And, most of all, to my parents. Mom--you make me realize the value of the moment. And, Daddy, your genetics lend themselves to my horrifying, borderline uncontrollable, and disconcerting competitive streak.

Hooray! Winning! Hooray!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Your mission

Should you choose to accept it, is this:

Help me figure out a way to get Jay Smooth to my house.

Seriously. We can do this, people.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


David Alan Grier, you look super hot in that ruffly, banana yellow shirt, dude.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Love You,

I Hate You,

Reasons I love you,
1) You are good for the planning of shoes, and things having to do with shoes generally excite me.
2) You are full of colorful maps. Maps are awesome.
3) You care about my allergies.
4) You provide me with many different ways to view and/or contemplate the shift of meteorological events. That toolbar at the top of your page is super-handy.
5) You make me feel as if I have some control over things that are, in fact, completely out of my control.

Reasons I hate you,
1) What is with that annoying lady dancing in the corner of your page? Something about credit and interest rates dropping? Jesus, she cannot dance. You should really speak to her about that.
2) Sometimes you are so wrong. And then my toes get all wet, or I am very sweaty. And that is demoralizing.
3) You frequently remind me that I am not in Cancun, and that is also demoralizing.
4) It is scary when you highlight things in red. I grew up in a place where tornadoes live, and red banners around weather alerts were never fun to see.
5) You make me feel as if I have some control over things that are, in fact, completely out of my control.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Deep Thoughts on the RNC

1) Like an Alabama football game, it's got elephant mascots, mindless cheering, hand-written signs, and lots of sweaty white people. Unlike an Alabama football game, it's got, like, three black people, square state accents, and only a few baseball caps.

2) Governor Palin reminds me of Kirstie "Amer-I-Can!" Alley's character in "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

3) Rudy Giuliani has the cutest little lisp.

4) I wonder if Vegas is working on an over-under for November?

5) This just in!!! Apparently, victory in Iraq is finally in sight. Phew--I was getting worried.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Marcie makes Californication worth watching

Meet the SoHo Hos

Hipster girl #1: I'm so hungover, I just want to be hanging out on a roof somewhere drinking a vodka soda.
Hipster girl #2: I don't want a roof, I don't even wanna drink. I want to be laying under the covers with an ice pack on my vagina, sobbing.


via Overheard in New York, Sep 2, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Got Your Meme Right Here

This is my new favorite blog, and I got the following list of memes from her.

1. My uncle once: rescued my dog from drowning.

2. Never in my life: have I voted Republican.

3. When I was five: I wore my Wonder Woman bathing suit every where.

4. High school was: pretty fun. My best friends made it doable.

5. I will never forget: a mnemonic device (using the fingers of your right hand) for the succession of rulers leading up to the Hanovers taught by my sophomore British history teacher--James, Charles, Cromwell, Charles, James, Whoops! the Glorious Revolution, William & Mary, and the Hanovers.

6. Once I met: the debate coach who got fired for mooning another debate coach.

7. There’s this boy I know: who makes me want to do very inappropriate things to him.

8. Once, at a bar: I got felt up by a drag queen.

9. By noon, I’m usually: ready for a sandwich.

10. Last night: I spent some time drinking martinis with a friend who needs to dump her asshat boyfriend.

11. If only I had: more faith.

12. Next time I go to church: I will think about how much I miss All Saints'.

13. What worries me most: is the inevitability of endings.

14. When I turn my head left I see: sunglasses with skulls on them, a once-lost-now-found Mother's Day card, empty water bottles, Steve.

15. When I turn my head right I see: a Young Guns Two poster.

16. You know I’m lying when: I use too many details to explain a simple situation. I am very bad at this.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: Adam Ant.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: a big fan of cross-dressing.

19. By this time next year: I will just be returning from a beach. Any beach.

20. A better name for me would be: Binky Griptite.

21. I have a hard time understanding: teachers who act like students are the enemy.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: get a degree in English.

23. You know I like you if: I touch your arm while we're talking.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: Mom and Daddy because they Rock.

25. Take my advice, never: miss an opportunity to tell the people you love that you, in fact, love them.

26. My ideal breakfast is: smoked salmon, good crusty bread, cheese, fresh tomatoes, red onions, mimosas, hot tea with milk.

27. A song I love but do not have is: "Paper Planes" by MIA.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: visit the Space and Rocket Center. It. Is. Awesome.

29. Why won’t people: stop watching Survivor?

30. If you spend a night at my house: you will be expected to pet the kitty.

31. I’d stop my wedding for: philosophical reasons.

32. The world could do without: Donald Trump.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: give up Facebook.

34. My favourite blonde(s) is/are: Marilyn Monroe and Daniel Craig.

35. Paper clips are more useful than: bludgeons.

36. If I do anything well it’s: conversation.

37. I can’t help but: wonder if people think I'm smart enough.

38. I usually cry: when I think too much about him.

39. My advice to my child/nephew/niece: Don't become a lawyer.

40. And by the way: you should come and visit me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's all the Rage

Or it's all the Ego.

Or it's both. Wait.

You decide.

Exhibit A: Policy debate coach moons other policy debate coach in heated argument over race or rules or winning or building bridges or something. Coach is fired, and debate program is suspended until further notice.

Exhibit B: Olympian kicks judge in the head after being disqualified. Olympian and coach are banned from WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) for life. Interesting sidenote: Olympian's name is Angel.

Exhibit C: Female professors are the new Mom. Interesting sidenote: This exhibit doesn't so much depict rage as it induces rage. Thanks to my boy, Y, for keeping me righteous and angry.

Exhibit D: Some company sells stuff for rafting.

Exhibit E: Dr. Demento song about people who talk at the theater.

Exhibit F: Rage-y poets wearing Awesome T-shirts.

Exhibit G: People watch Spike TV.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I was talking with an old friend the other night

She worries. I have many friends who do this--it's sort of a built-in reaction to stress. Now, I'm not gonna lie and tell you that I don't worry... Ha! Silly reader. What I am gonna tell you is that worry is not my first built-in reaction; anger is. Worry comes after I have some time to think about the rage.

Here's a reenactment:
(Scene opens, movie theatre, popcorn crunching, movie sucking. We see our hero, james, watching Crash.)

Next scene (our hero, contemplating life and art over a bowl of yogurt and fruit)
Voiceover: "Well, Crash sucked. Like super-suck. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that despite its nomination for Best Picture, it will not win because (a) Broke Back Mountain is so clearly superior in every way; and (b) Hollywood cannot reward itself for being stupid and white and racist ALL THE TIME."

Third scene (james and friend are sitting at the Alamo Drafthouse, watching the Academy Awards and enjoying various delectable bits. james, and the majority of the audience, have bet that Broke Back Mountain will win over stupid, obvious, self-rewarding, hateful, poorly written, Paul-Haggis-can-blow-me Crash. We see Crash named as the Best Movie of the Year. james slams her hand down on the table in front of her and says (loudly): Balls.

Final scene--james rants and raves about the idiocy of the award to all who know her and some who don't. Up until, um, right now.

The End

See? No worry. Just rage. Which, in this particular situation, is totally called for. My friends over at The Geek Prospectus agree.

Sometimes, though, I find myself wondering about the force (and justifiability) of my angry reactions. Like, I was just reading another dear friend's blog about marriage the other day. And, the post itself bothers me a little bit (dear Joshie is such a romantic), but some of the comments themselves really irked me more. Is it because some of the comments seem to come from the mouths of smug marrieds? Is it because, deep down, I agree with Joshie and am just turning into an asshole? A disillusioned romantic? A rage-aholic? Is it the number of married men (lots and lots!!!!) and women I've met who are false? Is it the water in Bayside? Do I, really and truly, Not Believe in Marriage Anymore (menacing music and drums), or am I just a cynic?

Maybe it's the water. It's rage water, like in 28 Days Later, but with less monkeys and biting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fans of the Doctor, please stand up

Some days are kinda good. And some are kinda bad. But recently, I was talking to a friend (who is a rabid Dr. Who fan and has made me one and I am eternally grateful for that) about bad days. And he quoted another rabid Doctor fan about the notion of bad days v. good days: "It could be worse. Your genocidal clone could be fucking the woman you love in an alternate dimension." Indeed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And now for the poetry of the jet-lagged

And for you? Some more thoughts on Japan. In haiku form.

Standing on a train
Filled with many short people,
I am a blond bitch.

What's that you say? I can't hear.
My ears are melting.

There are koi in there--
Koi the size of Volkswagens.
Watch your little toes.

No hunger exists
Like the foreigner's hunger,
Huge and uninformed.

At the temple we
Offer coins, dip our hands and
Heads in sweaty prayer.

Hot green tea, soy sauce,
Sticky rice and fresh tuna...
Thursday in Japan.

Bladerunner was Dark.
This place is thriving gardens,
Hidden shrines to Light.

Who doesn't love Rick Astley?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On being home

This place smells right. I have only been in this apartment for a year now, but I love it. It is good to walk into a space and know where everything is. I am jet lagged and my bag missed the flight so they're delivering it later this evening and there is no food in my refrigerator and a pile of bills-to-pay waits on the coffee table.

But I am home. The cat is here with me. The books. The candle that smells like ginger. The summer breeze outside. The late afternoon sun through my bedroom windows. The soft, familiar bed. The crazy screaming neighbors downstairs. The tragicomic citizens of Bell Boulevard. The first day of school in two weeks.

It is good to be home. I think I'll stay here for a while this time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hey, there, Mr. Bits

You should read Overheard in New York because it's alsome.

Below is a little tidbit just to give you a hint of the alsomeness provided (and gathered) by regular folks.

"At the End Of the Day, It's All About Big Bits"

(about the Sex and the City movie)
Woman #1 : Yeah, I never saw the series but I think I'll still understand the movie.
Woman #2: Oh, yeah. I watched the whole series 'til the end.
Woman #1: Which one's Carrie?
Woman #2: Sarah Parker is Carrie. Yeah, and she was with this guy for a loooooong time. A loooong long time.
Woman #1: Yeah?
Woman #2: Yeah, they call him "Mista bits."
Woman #1: What do they call him?
Woman #2: Mista bits.

--Downtown E Train

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hey, I could eat my weight in anago

I have always thought of myself as a fairly good traveler. I am good in new situations, pretty adaptable when it comes to schedules, and not-super-afraid of trying new things (food, music, words, whatever). But I must admit that I am somewhat defeated by Japan.

1) Body clock: Physically, it has taken a toll on me that I never would have predicted. Usually, at conferences, I have this super-powered energy allowing me to attend early panels, chat with people all day long, karaoke in the evening, close the crazy country and western bar, and then do it all again the next day. In heels. Here, though, mostly I sleep, or think about sleeping, or wish that I were somewhere that people sleep so I could too. My body feels heavier here--eyelids, feet, hands. I am moving more slowly. Today, for example, I got up early to finish my presentation (which went really well, btw, thanks for asking). Came back to the hotel to have a quick lie-down and slept for FOUR hours. Right now, at 11 PM, I am ready to sleep again. Jebus.

2) Weather: This is the hottest place I have been in awhile, and I lived in Austin for five years, people. The combination of time change and heat and humidity is a perfect storm.

3) Trip stats: Culturally, (and this is going to sound ridiculously obvious) this place is way different. On the subway, almost every time I ride it, I am the only Westerner. And the subways are crowded. Don't get me wrong. People are wonderfully friendly and helpful. The streets and trains and parks are beautifully maintained (but how weird is it that I'm kind of looking forward to the nasty dirty smelly NYC subway system--ahh, familiar stinkiness). There is such care that goes into the practice and process of living near other people. That being said, though, I am not a natural part of this picture. And that is sort of tiring. I know people who are huge japanophiles (there's probably a better word for that). I don't really know alot about the culture--don't watch alot of anime or read many Japanese novels (Murakami notwithstanding) or know very many of this words. The next time I come to Japan, I will do more prep work.

4) Food: Oh my god, I love eel. I have always preferred tuna in American sushi places, but the eel here (both unagi and anago) is unbelievably good. Like, hurt yourself eating plates and plates of it good.

5) Human contact: Tokyo is better experienced with someone else who speaks your language. Traveling in Japan by myself, as opposed to traveling in Europe alone, is a much lonelier experience, so the next time I come to Japan, I will travel with another person. Wanna join me?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hey, let's all wake up in the dead of the night and listen to the Pogues.

You know what would be awesome? Dancing to "Tuesday Morning." You know what would be awesomer? Being asleep.

I hate jet lag. But I love "Rob. And the Pogues. Therefore, right now, even though it is midnight here (and I was sleeping soundly), I am wide awake and dancing to this marvelous song.

Things could be worse, bitches.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hey, is that a passport in your pocket

Or are you just glad to see me?

So. I'm in Japan. How're things with you? Thoughts on Tokyo: It is Balls Hot. And it looks just like the monster movies. Which. Is. Awesome. The women dress super cool. I stick out like a pudgy, blond, American thumb. There are lots of gardens filled with frondy plants. The people with whom I've spoken are very kind and helpful.

First things first. Holy Debilitating Jet Lag, batman. Right now, it is midnight thirty where I live. Here, it's noon thirty. You do the math. The way that the jet lag is being communicated to my brain is weird--I do feel tired, but mostly I feel really heavy. Like gravity is stronger on this side of the world.

Second things second. I do not get to climb Mount Fuji. Which I am really disappointed about. The reasons that I do not get to climb Mount Fuji are many fold. Mostly, they start with my being an idiot making plane reservations. Who flies out of O'Hare on purpose? Um. Nobody.

My La Guardia flight was delayed for two hours. We chilled on the runway in our comfy economy seats. Then, when we finally got to O'Hare, we chilled on the runway for another thirty minutes--just enough time for my Japan Airlines flight #9 to take off sans me. After the initial breakdown, during which I sobbed my problems to a very nice United Airlines employee named Mr. Moy (and after learning that JAL does not transfer flights to United), I did some recon. Called my E and Z--who recently, conveniently enough, moved to suburban Chicago. They totally saved me. Came and picked me up. Gave me a bed and some yummy curry and bottles(!) of wine and played electronic password with me. And, it just so happened that dear M was in town that night--so Hooray! impromptu reunion! It was a delicious stolen season that I never would have gotten if I had been laid over in LAX. Jebus, I'm glad I was not stuck in fucking LAX.

Also, spent some quality phone time with trying to rearrange reservations here. They were wonderful and super helpful, but, alas, there were no more Mt. Fuji expeditions available. Boo.

Third things third. Just got back from Shinjuku, where I tried to meet up with my dear friends S and K. Sadly, that did not happen because S told me to meet them at the North entrance of the subway station. And there is no north entrance. So I felt just a little bit like Pee Wee Herman at the Alamo. Instead of meeting them, I wandered a bit. Bought a big ass bottle of water (which I made certain was water so as not to repeat my Amsterdam mistake of buying gigantic bottles of VINEGAR. Not-so-tasty.)

Fourth things fourth. It's nap time, bitches. I promise, I will only lie down for about an hour, and then I will get up, like the dutiful world traveler that I am. But my legs feel heavy, and I need to rest them.

Tonight--I'm going to the schwanky bar at the top of my hotel to drink martinis and contemplate night-time city views.
Next Post--descriptions of said martinis and night-time city views.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dog Bite Update

So I went to the doctor because the middle puncture wound is sort of red and hurty. He thinks it is infected, so he gives me a tetanus shot. And, because I am leaving for Tokyo on Monday, he is sending me to a surgeon to get the wound lanced. Awesome.

I am no longer so excited about the zombie-like appearance of the bite. I'm not gonna lie.

Monday, July 28, 2008


High school, for me, was fun. I'm not gonna tell you that it was perfect--it wasn't. There were heartbreaks and broken promises, there was disillusion and disempowerment, there were moments of being and moments of rage. But, on the whole, it was a good time, and most of that good time happened because of the close circle of friends to which I belonged.

There were four of us, and we spent, literally, every possible moment that we could together--writing notes during the day, going to each other's houses in the afternoons and on weekends, band trips (yes, I was in band--how surprised are you?) and family vacations and out-of-town concerts (We totally saw U2 in Birmingham from the FRONT ROW). After high school, we stayed friends... sort of. Everybody's off doing important things--and we see each other occasionally when we are home. Thanks to things like Myspace and blogs, we can keep in touch virtually, as well.

This weekend, one of our dads died. I say, "our dad," not to belittle the suffering of his three natural daughters and his devoted wife. I say "our dad" because we grew up, the four of us, with four different families to keep us on track. Because of the time we spent together, I think that sometimes our parents would get confused--and so, all of us became targets for parental direction, regardless of biology. It was infuriating. At the time. Now I look back and recognize that my high school days were filled with goodness because we moved in those love-filled, laughter-rich, safety-guaranteed spaces.

We are powerful, intelligent, brave women--mostly because we grew up in that universe.

So, Saturday, one of our dads died. He was a marvelous teller of stories--and he had a memory that seemed to be particularly designed to catch and keep the most ridiculous things high school girls can do. He was a devoted husband, a bemused father, a gleeful grandfather, a wonderful friend, a raucous debater, a trivia master, a die-hard Tennessee fan, and a good man. He was good at life, and he knew it. All of the people whose lives he touched are reeling from his loss.

This is my would-be eulogy for a man that I am glad I knew. We are better for having known you, Chuck, and we will miss you. Oh, yeah--and thanks for all the Doritos.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

And sometimes people get bitten by dogs

Um, so on Thursday, I got bitten by a dog. Here's a picture of the bite, right after the initial attack: Pretty gnarly, eh? I would just like you to know that I handled it like a champ. Aside from a little bit of crying, I totally cleaned up the wound and dressed it all by myself. Here is a picture of the wound today:

It seems to be healing nicely. And, in defense of the dog, he was not from around here (the sister of my downstairs neighbor was moving him to California). Woe betide Californians who are taking out the garbage some Thursday evening and come across this little guy:

The sister, on the other hand, I will not defend. Dogs who are being treated nicely and getting enough attention, mostly do not bite. And, if you happen to live with a dog who gets nervous and bites people, then you should leash that shit.

In Other News:
1) My dear friends, K & J, are in town from CA. We are doing many fun NYC things while they are here (not including getting bitten by dogs). Tomorrow, we see the Mets in Shea. Monday, we go to David Letterman (Simon Pegg from SHAUN OF THE DEAD is one of the guests, for real). And Tuesday, we see the Yankees.
2) Really really really starting to dislike Ninja Warrior. Why oh why did I think I should write about a favorite thing?
3) Tokyo is, literally, right around the corner. Dog bite and all, I am heading out of the country a week from Monday.
4) Saw "The Dark Knight" on opening night in a theater filled with Very Loud New Yorkers. The Awesome.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good in the Water

We slide.
Out of the water
Out of the sun
Into the shadows,
We are full of holes
And that makes us heavy.
We slide.
You are better on land than I am,
More familiar with the surprising terrain,
More comfortable amid canyons
And craters.
You are adept and agile,
Leaping from rock to rock
With abandon—anything
To keep from hearing the echoes
Behind you.
You must be fast to out run them.

I am better in the water
Where outlines blur
And the patterns of light are refracted—making small
Things large
And large things inconsequential.

Somehow, despite our varying abilities,
Amphibious or terrestrial,
We agree on several things:
First, that Echoes are scary—they remind us of the
Holes we crawled away from, they tie us to the
Things we wish we never knew;
Second, Shadows and Suns are more alike than people might suspect—
Both useful for secrecy or revelation,
As long as we apply them in moderation;
And third, to be Good in the Water,
All you have to do is stop breathing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stop what you are doing

Right now*, and watch this: Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog. Seriously. Watch it. Instantly.

Why are you still reading** this?

*Special thanks to E at over at The Geek Prospectus for the rec. Geeks rock.

**And you're still reading. Quit it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It is Saturday

And I am sitting in my apartment, watching Ghostbusters and eating Maggie Moo's ice cream right out of the container. Life is good.

In case you were wondering, these last few weeks have been chock-full of revelations and relaxations. Below is a list of some of those moments.

1) I think Not-blogging/Blogging may really affect my writing. I have been reading lots (preparing for the book chapter and the conference paper), but I have not written a thing in weeks. If writing is dinner, then blogging is like a good, cold martini--gets the mouth and mind ready for the meal.

2) Vermont is everything it's cracked up to be.

3) Ordering a coffee and a sidecar really does make one feel like Auntie Mame.

4) I am looking forward to school starting in the fall--I will bring you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

5) The hotdogs at Shea Stadium are better than the hotdogs at Yankee.

6) I seem to have misplaced my DVD of Eddie Izzard's "Dressed to Kill"--which is fucking tragic.

7) When somebody brings me flowers, my day always gets better.

8) Howard Frank Mosher, a guy who writes about the Kingdom (also known as the
northern part of VT--where my daddy is from), is awesome. I just read two of his books, "Marie Blythe" and "Northern Borders," and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

9) I think "When You are Engulfed in Flames" is my new favorite David Sedaris book. As a collection, it is pretty much stellar.

10) Wall-e is lovely. And I think it was the result of a drunken dare. Over sidecars and coffee on some Saturday night, some random said to the Pixar folks, "I'll bet you cannot make an adorable, touching, beautiful movie starring a robot. That doesn't speak. Whose sidekick is a cockroach. Seriously."

11) This is for E!: I've been thinking about your voicemail message the other day, and here's what I think. I think memory works in a reactive manner... Like, the same way that skin does--two functions:
a) Separation: in the process of creating a self, a collection of memories and recollections, memory works to separate things out from other things--creating and keeping the self intact and whole (most of the time). Which also might be why people with memory issues are so at-a-loss in the symbolic order.
b) Protection: the separation of self from other, through specific memories and (sometime) imaginative re-collecting, keeps the dangerous, self-splitting stuff out. Like skin, memory builds up around the soft, tender parts and becomes a kind of barrier--not completely impenetrable but better than being always-already-open--to the vicissitudes of world.

12) The view from the top of the Met is incomparable. You should see it. Call me, and I'll meet you there.

Friday, June 27, 2008

College Football in a Whole New Light

This (warning, these pictures are dis-turbing) site has re-done a bunch of Anti-Meth ads to relate to college football. The Alabama one is my favorite, but U-Dub (kinda rapey) is a close second.

Vocabulary Test

Can a woman who refers to other women as "fat girls" still be a feminist, or is she just an asshole?

My vote = Asshole. Or postfeminist. I get those two confused.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Boo Obama

I am disappointed in Barack Obama.

The death penalty is vile and should be abolished. Obama disagrees.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Hermeneutic of Superstition

Would be a great band name. I think it might also work as a philosophy for life.

So, I'm watching "Dawn of the Dead," like ya do, and I start thinking about my phone. My ring is Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," and people (well, Steve and E!) sometimes tease me about the message I'm sending when I answer every call with a superstitious wink. But... like casuistry (the application of general, ethical reasoning to particular situations--or--the recognition and application of contingency), superstition (depending on the source, mostly definitions of superstition read something like this: overly zealous and irrational beliefs, especially having to do with religion--emphasis on lack of thought and irrationality) has gotten a bad rap--mainly because of its reliance, it seems, on things outside classical reason.

But it's interesting to think about the outside-rational significance of little moments, the strange connections between our thoughts, our actions, and the particular events that make up our lives.

One example: today I was talking with a friend about the therapeutic effects of teaching. He had been thinking about a certain recent crisis in his life, and, on the day in question, class discussion just happened to include that exact situation as a theoretical point, a way to analyze and explore the topic of the day. As he was teaching the class, he said, he had to pause a couple of times--keeping the theoretical discussion and the actual situation separate in his head was more challenging a task than he had thought it would be. And that wasn't such a bad thing, he said. It kind of helped him understand the theory and the moment more clearly. The hermeneutic of superstition, in this case, allowed for a clarifying dip into both theory and practice.

Another example? A couple of weeks ago, I went to an AA meeting with my sister. It's called an "open source" meeting. Most AA meetings are closed, designed to increase and accentuate the feeling of safety-in-community for which AA is so lauded. But open speaker sessions welcome any and every person interested in learning more about the warp and woof of addiction. Anyway, the speaker that day was this cool lady, probably in her forties, talking about her life pre-, during, and post-realization that she is an alcoholic. Coincidentally, earlier that day, my sister and I had just been talking about some of the topics the speaker addressed (the differences between social and addictive drinking, the various definitions of "party" and "problem," the difficulties of "hanging out" in a culture so centered on mind-altering substances). The speaker's story, like many of the stories one hears from and about addiction, revolved around loss and redemption, failure and success--as well as the issues my sister and I had been talking about earlier.

These stories, these moments of clarity, are reasonable, at times. They are often, after the fact, easily designated as instances of rationality and enlightenment. But the mechanisms of the connections, the links between moments of clarity and our interpretation/reception of those moments, is not always a rational, causal thing. Sometimes, it's a mystery, and mystery--as much as it gets suspicioned and ogled and sliced out of our enlightened, reasonable world--can be a situation-saver... keeping us, perched as we are on the edge of the abyss, sane... mostly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I do not want to be in high school again

But I would kill for my high school butt.

My sister and I were looking through old pictures this morning (bad idea, captain), and now I am sort of melancholy. Not because I want to go back in time--that would be weird, and, honestly, if I could go back in time, I would go back to see Cleopatra and Caesar, or F Scott Fitzgerald, or the defeat of the Spanish Armada... Why spend all that cosmic energy to go back fifteen years?

That said, I do miss the girl I was ten, twelve, fifteen years ago. She had heart, and she was brave. I have a more diplomatic face now (I've been practicing, so I'm not quite as unhinged in argument), but I am pretty sure I've lost heart over these last few years. I guess that happens.

And now for something completely different:

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Feeling at Home

So, tomorrow I fly home to Alabama. Via Newark. Yech. I must say that American is going to get quite a bit of my money and irritation (and not necessarily in that order) during the LONG day of travel in store.

Regardless, I am looking forward to being home again... in a different home than this one. I sometimes wonder about the propriety of using that word, "home" to describe so many places (NYC, Austin, Huntsville). But, I think, if it feels right in my mouth when I say it, then it must not be an incorrect description, right? The things that seem to make the word feel right are the same in every place (people that I love, places to sit that are comfortable, food that is familiar and delicious, animals I want to hug)... That said, there are disparate things to get from each of these homes. (And, I wonder, when dear E! moves to Chicago this summer, will Austin still feel like home? I'm thinking maybe not.)

And, on an entirely separate note (perhaps, or there may be something about not-home that is working in this book), you should read A Practical Guide to Racism by C. H. Dalton (but actually by Sam Means, an Emmy-winning writer for the Daily Show). It is hi-larious and super-disturbing, all at one time.

The thing that keeps me coming back to Dalton's book, though, is the very very very thin line he walks. In order for this book to be effective, he has to be funny and sneaky. Similar to "America, The Book," this work is a disguise... a palimpsest for leftist thought/social critique. And it works because it makes you laugh and feel uncomfortable about laughing and think about the reasons that you're laughing and then tell your friends about laughing. There are multiple levels here, people.

Either way, here's a mental image for you: an Alabama blonde, sitting at a bar in a Mexican restaurant in Queens, reading a book called "A Practical Guide to Racism."


I'll take "Ways to Meet Scary People" for a $1000, Alex...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It is good to be home

I woke up this morning to a warm, summer breeze on my face and a soft kitty cuddled up beside me. This week is going to be another crazy one--tying up all the loose ends at school, getting ready for the next trip (I fly home on Saturday--whew!), loving on this stupid cat (who really missed me, despite her best efforts), and unpacking/re-packing suitcases.

I vow to take only three pairs of shoes. And pack lightly. By damn.

However, right now, we are sitting here on our red chair. Tea is brewing. The sun is up and the day is going to be gorgeous and long. I get to see my dear NYC friends whom I have missed.

It is good to be home.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thoughts from the Floor

So I've been sleeping/sitting on the floor of the Austin airport on and off all day. I got here (for what was supposed to be a 1 o'clock flight) about two hours early--because E! and Z were flying to Chicago to look for places to live. And, well, I needed a ride to the airport.

Since then, my flight has been delayed several times (it is now supposed to arrive at our gate at about 3:30, according to Doug, the very nice desk guy for JetBlue. Also, apparently, his uncle is a detective for the NYPD--I like to chat with people at the airport, in between sleeping on the floor and eating cheeseburgers.) Another interesting guy sitting next to me on the floor is from Buffalo. He told me about some kind of sandwich called a "beef on weck". He says that THE PLACE to go is called Charlie the Butcher's--so, if you are ever in Buffalo, and you want a big hunk of salty meat... there ya go. I kinda wish I had one right now.

Because the plane is almost here (Thank God!), I have decided to post some thoughts and observations from the floor here, just for you, dear reader.

1) Tater tots are superior in every way to french fries.
2) This is more of a guideline than a rule, really, but French horn players really are better kissers, more consistently, than other musicians. They are also pretty good with their hands (but not as good as drummers).
3) I can sleep anywhere when I am hungover.
4) When you are sleeping next to the gate, people flying to Boston are nice enough to tap you and make sure that you aren't going to miss your flight.
5) I look more like a Texan than a New Yorker, and I am OK with that.
6) Journals are dangerous.
7) I am much more likely to make out with someone who makes me laugh than someone who has a chiseled jaw.
8) The "Sex and the City" movie is better than I thought it would be. It's still no "Aliens" or anything, but it's better than I thought it would be.
9) Jesus, my feet are cold.
10) The University of Texas has taught me many things--some accidentally, some on purpose, some really really hard. But I made it through, bitches. With panache.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sitting in E!'s office, part deux

We talk alot. And by we, I mean, the people that I Know, the people with whom I work, and, um, me. I have been traveling for over two weeks now--living out of two suitcases packed with WAY too many shoes, lugging various plastic bags of toiletries from hotel to friend's house to hotel to friend's house, etc... Part of the travel was a conference. Part of it was a graduation. So, all of the time has been subsumed and saturated with interpersonal interactions that are different from "normal" life for two reasons: (1) These are people who don't meet all that often. Family and friends and colleagues who live in different parts of the country (and the world) and are, therefore, scarce; and (2) These events are always already amped up. I mean, c'mon! Graduation from PhD? And a conference in Seattle?--which is eons away from most of the people who are going there and is, actually, a really fucking awesome place to be. Seriously, these intense situations are so wonderful, and so exhausting bothatonce.

So, this is my conclusion from all the past two weeks of schmoozing and boozing and making out and laughing and dancing and conferencing and graduating: we talk alot. We talk about the papers we're presenting.
We talk about the papers we've presented at conferences past.
We talk about the crises we're experiencing.
We talk about the crises our friends are going through.
We talk about each other.
We talk about ourselves.
We talk about upcoming movies and books that we've read.
We talk about our children and our aging parents.
We talk about Tokyo.
We talk about coffee.
We talk about love and the (im)possibilities of our expectations for it.
We talk about the shoes we didn't pack
And the people we wish we could kiss
And the words we'd like to take back
And the aching feeling that this talk
This talk
This talk
Is the only thing keeping us going.

And it probably is.

But, that said, I am looking forward to returning home tomorrow. To seeing my cat (who does not talk) and sitting, with her, in our favorite patch of sunlight on the red chair in my living room.

I will scratch behind her ears. I will shut my eyes. I may turn my phone off. I WILL turn off the computer. And I will rest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am sitting in E!'s office

And she has told me to post something about being in a surly mood. I think that I am in a surly mood for these reasons:

1) Graduation and all the parties are over, so everybody has gone back to their regular programming. I hate endings.
2) It is as HOT as the sun in Austin today, and all of the cars that I have been riding in do not have functioning air conditioners. My dear friend TS once remarked about Austin--"You get used to the feeling of your own sweat." So, I am becoming reacquainted with the feeling of being very, very sweaty.
3) I have not actually finished either of the papers that I am presenting this weekend in Seattle, and I do not want to write them still.
4) I miss people I should not miss more than I should.
5) Stupid conventional expectations of "how things should be" are upsetting several people that I love alot.
6) There are several weirdly tall condo building in downtown Austin that were not there last fall. Austin, I worry, is rapidly becoming more and more like Dallas, south. Boo yuppie condos.

But, as I am typing this rather douchey post, I am thinking of the things that make me feel that the surly may be leaving pretty soon:
1) I am spending the afternoon with E!
2) Central air is delicious.
3) I am about to see a penis on the big screen--we are going to the Alamo Drafhouse momentarily to watch "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Also, there will be fried pickles.
4) This weekend will be filled with more wonderful reunions and dinners.
5) I just bought airplane tickets to visit my dear mom in June.
6) Tokyo, like a gorgeous beacon, stands ready and waiting.

So, all in all, this surly too shall pass.

I think.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Westbound and Down

Seriously, I woke up this morning (at 5 AM) (before the alarm) because I am so very excited about going to Austin. Also, I cannot get the Jerry Reed song out of my head--which is my fault, I'll admit.

Updates from the JetBlue waiting spot here at JFK:

-People are eating pizza at 8:30AM.

-Some dude wearing an Alabama t-shirt just strolled by. Roll Tide, big guy.

-Got felt up by the security people because I kept beeping when I walked through the metal detector thing. Realized, belatedly, that it was my IPod, carefully stashed in my decolletage. I keep things there--keys, phone, IPod, rings when I'm getting a manicure, credit cards, money. Not all at the same time, people...

-Now I kinda want pizza at 8:30AM.

-Am hoping that the Big Thunderstorms predicted in TX do not delay my flight. I love thunder storms except (a) when I am in a big steel tube in the sky; (b) I am wanting to go swimming at Barton Springs; (c) I am in a flood zone; (d) I am wanting to get to Austin on time.

-The second paper I am supposed to deliver at RSA is not even begun. That's professional.

-There is a man wearing jams.

-I packed nine (or possibly ten) pairs of shoes and four different books. I do not know where and when I will wear/read all of those things, but now, should that time arise, I will be prepared.

-People in airports are always so surprised when I smile at them. That is kind of sad.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This is Sparta

Alright, you people

I am leaving for Austin on Wednesday--for the long-awaited and much-deserved doctoral graduation ceremony on May 17. Super-excited!!!

But, as Jerry Reed put it so eloquently, I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there... Here are some of the things that need to get done before I leave on Wednesday morning.

1)um. laundry. Unless I do some laundry but-quick, I will be arriving in Austin nekkid. I miss my washer and dryer. Sigh.
2) Yeah, I should probably finish that paper. Despite my best efforts, I have gotten really excited about this Second Life thing for RSA, which is good and bad. The good: it will be submission-ready by the end of June. The bad: I also have to write a whole nother paper for a whole nother panel that I have not even begun. I'm thinking that one might be more like "Here are some thoughts, dear conference attendees, for your consideration."
3) Submit grades. Of course, students are coming out of the woodwork to find out why they did "all that work" for a "lousy B." So Monday is grade submission/grade-grubbing day.
4) Clean the house.
5) Get an extra key made for kitty sitter.
6) Decide how to pack for a week in humid, Africa-hot Austin and a week in This-is-not-my-beautiful-Spring-what-the-hell-it's-54-degrees-and-raining Seattle. Top priority = outfits that will go with new turquoise stillettos.
7) Watch "Zombie Strippers." My colleague just gave me a copy, and it is going to be awesome.
8) Call my godmother and make sure she knows which hotel we're staying in for the graduation.
9) Shop for thank you presents (to advisors and the office ladies) and Mom's day presents (for the Mom, of course).
10) Return/renew library books.

I am certain that there are things missing from this list. Never fear--they will get done--with all the panache of the Bandit and less runins with the law. Mostly.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

For Alex... and you

I just heard last night that an acquaintance of mine (a dear friend of several dear friends) died unexpectedly. He was wonderful--sparkly, witty, beautiful, and charming. And he was young.

And the news is awful, and I know my dear friends are suffering. So I am writing this post for three reasons:
1) Because a Great Light has gone out.
2) Because I am here in NYC physically, but I am with my mourning friends mentally and emotionally.
3) And because, if you're reading this post and I haven't yet told you today how much I love you, well then, I love you. And I'm glad that I get to be a part of your symbolic universe, if only for a little while.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I am thinking about Austin

And here are the top 11 things that I miss:

1) My dear E!
2) Barton Springs
3) Accidental suntan lines
4) Alamo Drafthouse
5) Caps Tuesday
6) Monday night/Blues night at TC's
7) Kao Soi at Madam Mam's
8) That cheap earring place on Guadalupe
9) Bats
10) Zack's mom's pool
11) Happy hour at Kyoto's

Mmmmmm, Austin...

Friday, May 2, 2008

In Honor of the Lusty Month of May

These are the shoes I will wear to my doctoral graduation, and it will be hot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I just saw

A preview for the movie Zombie Strippers.

No. I'm not kidding.
And, Yes, when it comes out on DVD (when oh when will that be?), I will place it at the top of my Netflix queue.

Let's hear it for thinly veiled moral allegories!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just So You Know

I do work sometimes. In fact, I have been percolating on my paper for RSA this weekend because I have GOT to get it to Michael this week. So, here is the breakdown:

Body of Paper
It will be a two-part essay, discussing the potential for a responsible historical rhetoric in Second Life. The first part will be the good (focusing on the explicit/out-loudness of the rules within-world): how there are very explicit rules and boundaries within the world, how there are certain explicit ways to adapt and change those rules, and how the level of play within-world allows for a delicious bendiness to rules/boundaries that are not allowed in First World, mostly. The second part will be the bad (focusing on the prescience of good old JB): how the rules of First World are bleeding into the Second (starting with the names themselves), how the simulational capacity to devour meaning within and without the means of production are making the explicitness of Second Life's rules obsolete, and how the infiltration of things like the IRS and Microsoft and the Gap demonstrate this.

Conclusion? You betcha!
Good = revolutionary potential by rhetoric (we make the rules, we write the rules, we kick out the griefers)

Bad = JB was right--and the griefers don't always look like mad-cap hackers. Most of the time, they are wearing suits.

That being said, I make time to take ridiculous quizzes, and here are the results from a quiz designed to measure my nerdiness:

80% Geek

Because, OF COURSE, Han shot first.