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