Sunday, December 26, 2004
So, Christmas was great. Off to Hong Kong tonight. Meeting my friend Liza there, leaving Brian behind for ten whole days. Strange. It'll the longest we've been apart in at least two years. But I get to eat tofu and noodles & visit museums with Liza, so bliss & fun for me.
I'll write more when I get back, I promise. Love to all.
PS: I hate flying.
Monday, December 06, 2004
No voice today. I had a cold most of last week, feeling *mostly* better, but can't talk, save for a high-pitched wheeze. It was kind of fun at first, playing mute, but it's gotten old.
So - tickets bought for home (for Xmas) & hong kong (for ten days post-Xmas). Two weeks notice given (hurrah!). Work schedule for next semester worked out with advisor.
Apparently I deserve this (folks keep telling me). Still, I feel perpetually guilty & undeserving, as if I'll be exposed as a fraud any moment and sent packing.
I do want an office. Brian and I have been looking at (artists') studio spaces online, and it seems like we could find some sort of shared workspace in SF for not too much ($145 - $200/mo -- albeit in semi-crime ridden areas). It all seems to good to be true. Could everything really be coming up Milhouse?
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Here's the latest villanelle revision (and how come not one of you pointed out that it was Leda with the swan, and not Europa?)
Leda walked along the wayside,
Wondering at the fair and fowl
Pulling feathers from her hair.
Inside her, Helen, Clytemnestra:
Smooth outside and dark within.
Leda walked along the wayside.
She lies awake upon her mattress.
It’s the smell, that dust she breathes
Pulling feathers from her hair.
Tramping slowly, gently - careful
Should her god-eggs fall and break
Leda walks along the wayside.
Helen grows up white and downy,
Standing on the walls of Troy
Pulling feathers from her hair.
Cursing Zeus, and Aphrodite
Who cast soft eyes to earth one day,
Leda walked along the wayside
Pulling feathers from her hair.
I'm sick -- sore throat & no energy. Slept all day. Too tired to write anything grammatical or interesting. Guilt blogging, really. I think I'm going to quit my jorb and throw myself at the mercy of the world. Feeling guilty that generous parents & patient boyfriend make this all possible. But really. For someone who advocates living as part of a community, I am stubbornly stuck on the idea of independence sometimes.
oof. Gonna go take a bath & eat some toast. Welcome to the 21st century. This is blogging. What hath the internets wrought?
Friday, November 19, 2004
We're being audited.
Couln't have happend during a better week (see the post below). Anyway. Just got home. Back to writing my presentation for tomorrow. Right now its something between a sermon and a lecture. A hellfire and brimstone examination of Greek Tragedy, poetry, modern-day mythmaking and (or course) Dante. In 40 minutes.
Monday, November 15, 2004
So, I'm gonna be a little busy for the next week or so. I've got a 40 min. presentation to prepare for this Saturday ('suffering, catharsis and transfomation'), ten pages due the following monday (new fiction for workshop), and a whole buttload of reading (how much is a buttload, you ask? A lot). And yes, I'm still working 40 hrs a week. At least.
But while I'm here: What's up with my near-pathological need to reach out to unpleasant people? What compells me to befriend the intolerable? Why do I go out of my way to do them favours, when I know full well that they'd never do the same for me, and are probably patting themselves on the back for pulling one over on ol' gullible? Is it the guilt I feel for dislking them? Is it a recognition of the unpleasantness within me? Misdirected charity? A need to be liked, no matter the source? A 'holier than thou' impulse to live by example? Or am I just a chum......p?
Friday, November 12, 2004
Monday, November 08, 2004
I'm not so happy with this one. But maybe y'all can offer some constructive criticism.
Europa walks along the wayside
Wondering at the fair and fowl
Plucking feathers from her hair.
Inside her, Helen, Clydemnestra
Grow inside an alabaster shell
Europa walks along the wayside.
At night she dreams of beaks, god voices.
She cannot bear to sleep on down,
Plucking feathers from her hair.
Moving slowly, gently - careful
Lest she break her wee god eggs
Europa walks along the wayside.
Helen grows up white and downy,
Standing on the walls of Troy
Plucking feathers from her hair.
Cursing Paris, Aphrodite,
And her fate born long ago --
Europa walked along the wayside
Plucking feathers from her hair.
Thanks to the eagle-eyed Tricia, I've substituted the phrase 'public discourse' for 'pubic discourse' in my post below.
But now I'm wondering - does this mean I've sold out? Why must we reign in our pubic discourse? Let me not to the marriage of behinds permit impediments!
I’ve been thinking about religion a lot lately (see below). It’s hard not to - faith is at the center of our public discourse, whether we’d have it or no. The news is riddled with rhetoric about ‘evil doers,’ ‘morality’, and some nonsense about restricting marraige in order to form a ‘decent society.’ Fire and brimstone have become a part our everyday lexicon.
One of the many insults inherent in this national talk of morality is the co-option of Chrtistianity. I find myself wishing I were more actively religious, a better whole-er person who could stand up for religion as a means to a more deliberate, conscious and humane way of living. Or I wish I could be completely atheistic, able to scoff from a safe and cynical distance.
I grew up in a fairly religious household. Prayers were said at every meal and before bed, and church the centerpiece of our Sundays. Bible verses were quoted in conversation, and theology discussed at the dinner table. We even sang hymns on long car trips. And it was good. My religion - my funny little late-20th century mishmash of beliefs - is important to me. It’s part of who I am.
The faith I was raised in is more 'love thy neighbor' than 'smite the sinner'. My mother ran meal programs and distributed food to the working poor. Every year, my father and his fellow Quakers would stand silently in the town square, witnessing for peace. I can remember being sternly scolded on the way home from school one afternoon for jokingly referring to my unmarried aunt and her live-in boyfriend ‘living in sin.’ My mother pulled to the side of the road and turned to look at me. “It’s not a sin. They love each other. A sin is something that keeps you from loving.”
Oh, and PS: for a glimpse of what I think the better sort of Christianity looks like, go click around over at 'Real Live Preacher'.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
So, this whole election thing. Sheesh. Where to start.
I'm going to pretend for a moment that the people who read this blog aren't just a small assortment of old college friends and family members, and take a moment to declare my little (still forming) system of beliefs.
Religion was a big factor in this election, and "moral values" were named as a key issue for voters in the exit polls. Well, I'm religious. and I struggle with 'what's right' every day. When your favorite author is Dante, you tend to think about the cosmic stuff.
But my religion is not George W. Bush's religion.
Now, I'm a little leery of trying to say what, exactly, George W.'s religion entails. I only know what I read in the papers, after all. But G.W.B. seems to believe in an unbending and punitive God -- one that divides the world into 'evil doers' and 'chosen.' One who doles out punishment and reward. If my God were at all like G.W.'s, well, ol' G Dub'd be a big ol' smite hole in the ground by now.
So what do I believe in? Uncertainty. Mystery. Perplexity. Like Will Durant, "I believe in God not as a God of vengeance in the skies, but as the creative will and power of life in the world." I believe that we are, each of us, called to live our lives in a way that moves the whole word forward. I believe that God is the force that calls us.
And yes, I have doubts. I hear that voice that tells me that organized religion is nothing but a source of strife in the world, that religion is a chemical fluke in our haphazardly evolving limbic brains. And I listen to that voice, from time to time. But I find comfort in my own little version of Pascal's wager: if I'm wrong, I might still better myself a little. I might even leave the world a little better than I found it.
I was raised by two very religious people. My mother is an Episcopalian, my father a Quaker, and both actively live their religion, so that through their lives they might create a better world. Growing up, I was given the choice of attending either service on Sundays, and as I got older, I tended towards Quaker meetings more and more. The branch of Quakerism that I grew up in is distinct from most Christian sects in that there is no priest, no preacher – no hierarchy within the church. Worshippers come to meeting on equal footing. More than that, meeting for worship is a communal experience, a Divine Comedy in which every participant is both poet and pilgrim, both Beatrice and Virgil.
The 'Religious Society of Friends,' as Quakers are properly called, took their name from a passage in the Book of John:
You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I call you servants no longer; a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends, because I have disclosed to you everything that I heard from my Father. . This is my commandment to you: love one another. (John 15: 14-17)
Thus we see the first cause of Quakerism: simultaneously giving power to the faithful (“I call you servants no longer”) and binding them to a community (“love one another”). Liberation is contingent upon regard for others.
The Quaker emphasis on community lies in the central doctrine of Quaker theology: the belief that a divine light is in us all but that, as Quaker historian John Punshon describes it,
It would be a mistake to regard it as a part of human nature, a personal possession, a fragment of divinity, our bit of God. The light is in all. . .but it is the same light that is in all. . . There are not many lights, but only one. . . Because it is common to all of us, the light calls us into unity with one another, into the community. . . So you could not practice the sort of religion George Fox preached in isolation” (Punshon, Portrait in Grey, p.50, 1986).
This faith does not have a category of 'Evil Doers'. This faith cannot tolerate the abuse and torture of prisoners anywhere. This faith does not contibute to the destruction of the environment. This faith has room for questioning, and nuance.
Eh. What do I know?
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
1. I woke up with a stomachache, but went to work anyway (demonstrating that noble perserverence... something something).
2. wore a red shirt
3. I studiously ignored the game, except for to very quick visits to Boston.com to see if it was over yet.
4. I moved to San Francisco (didn't hurt, obviously).
5. I wrote an only half-bulshit post over on Shaw's Blog (which I'd just finished when my mom called to tell me THE SOX WON THE SERIES)!
Monday, October 25, 2004
Look! A title! I don't know what came over me. Twenty-five cents to anyone (besides you, dad) who can tell me what song (or songwriter) that's from.
Know what I've noticed lately? My grammar is getting horrid. And my writing's worse. I think this might be a sign that the writing program I'm in is working. Or that my orange juice is irradiated. Which would explain why my brand new computer has been so slow lately.
In other news, I hate my last ten or so entries. I don't proofread my posts here, and it shows. I need to either start editing, or stop reading past posts. And that Edna St. Vincent Millay (ahem) homage that used to be posted below? Forget you ever saw it. Not fit for public consumption. Urg. Not that the other two are.
Ugh. The musty tea cozy of despair settles 'round. Lemon, anyone?
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Friday, October 22, 2004
But I'm busy.
So, join me in embracing mediocrity as I make my first foray into the world of poetry (Aaron& Tricia,you might want to look away). Here are some sonnets I've written for my poetic forms class:
Bargain Basement Poe
Freud tells us that love is a recalling
Of sweet unspoken needs by mother met;
When the heart, alight, is through love soaring
It rides a sniveling, poopy infant jet.
And Ovid sings of satyr Marsyas
Who by Apollo flayed, his outsides in,
Sensed the truth we know when love’s upon us:
We are not the masters of our skin.
I never had a kiss that I, rememb’ring
Could feel again as warm, and not corpse cold.
O warmth! O kiss-heat! Abet forgetting
(Forget that I will die, that you’ll grow old).
Just sit with me a while, infant lover,
Your sweet kinder-corpse hand in my own.
And tell me that our lives are far from over --
I need to call my mother. Where’s the phone?
Bargain Basement Shakespeare (the Earl Of Oggsford)
Shall I compare thee to a Tuber-rose?
Thou are’t not an age restricted product
Inhaled into an unsuspecting nose
(An odd feeling - nicotine in bile duct).
Your presence, though, at best disquieting
An untraceable tick’ling in the night
Lingers sweetly, preciously inspiring
A world at once asunder and aright.
Smelling rain, a memory of your sweater
Cheek to blue wool shoulder in the night
A promise to be here, in this moment
And a blessing, interrupting - Gesundheidt
From floating dust condens'd, the heart inspired
You -- though smokeless -- kindle smold'ring fire.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
You are Fish 'Tacos.' You might think you're
exotic and worldly-wise, but in reality you're
just a bunch of crap on toast. Repeat after
me: 'just because you put something in
quotation marks doesn't make it so.' And
'taco' isn't Spanish for 'toast.'
What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
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who says life is fair?
Friday, September 24, 2004
I read something in the Science Times once - nervous mice, the ones that don’t adventure out on their own in uncertain circumstances, are much more likely to die young than mice that are more nonchalant. Apparently being nervous does them in.
Apparently, there's a French version of the beatitudes that reads (roughly) 'blessed are the nonchalant.' Which actually might be closer to the Aramaic, which I understand translates closer to ‘blessed are the bendable’ than ‘bessed are the meek.’
Which means gymanasts alone will be saved.
Brian and I are watching The Secret Window. Maybe I don't want to be a writer after all.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Wasn't there a time when this was all simpler? Was there ever a time when rent wasn't a worry, when clothes and washing and food just somehow happened? When a girl could stay home and watch the pigeons outside her window?
How can on viva la vie boheme in San Francisco, where the rent on a studio in darkest Sunset is $900?
I need a benefactor. With low expectations.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Once upon a time, the gods were closer to the earth; once they walked among us and sat at our dinner tables. Their movements were discernible in the world: an old couple was turned to wood, their limbs eternally intertwined; a handsome boy, catching the fancy of a nymph, changed into a bug that lived forever.
As much as it could, the world made sense. People lived out their lives in the place they were born, or left their homes, more than likely never to return. Poets, called the Sons of Homer, moved from town to town, reciting stories and poems (there wasn’t much difference then) in exchange for food and shelter. It was widely acknowledged that they were blind, as Great Homer had been, though most of them were not. This paradox didn’t disturb anyone. These poets - blind but not blind - brought the world to common hearths and town squares: it was small, it was vast, it was knowable, but unknown.
ανδρα μοι ενεπε, Μουσα, πολυτροπον −
The man, O Muse, sing to me of that man, ever turning .
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Of course, the problem really is that my N Train ideas are just fleeting ideas, and even when they do form themselves into complete sentences, 't ain't enough to actually fill more than a centemeter or two on ze page.
Ok - here are all the ideas I can remember (save these for me, ok?):
Lessing's Lacoon - something to do with words and image. And symbolism. And being a German philosopher in the 189th(?) century. Friedrich II. Anyway - look over the scene in the Aneid.
Invocation of the muse/ Invocation of oral histories & stories passed down in the family (lets call it the "sing in me grandma" idea)
Excercise for self (or for my craft presentation next month?): go through canto one of Dante (or another canto that seems better) and find all the symbolism & brief refrences to other literature. Make a list (She-wolf, leopard, St Lucia, the selva oscura... all that). Write a story using one (or more) of them. Or trying to make my own.
Arma virumque cano - a man and his dog walk in to a bar. Gack. ever get a phrase stuck in yer head? This's been running about in my head all day .
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Word of advice: when you transfer money online from one account to another, be sure to hit the 'confirm and submit' button. Otherwise things go all screwey.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Monday, September 06, 2004
Joe Strummer... you've been through the cleansing
fire of punk, only to pick up a few venerial
diseases along the way. You're more of an
optimist when it comes to fucked-up genius.
But you can write wicked-deadly riffs and lycs.
Which fucked-up genius composer are you?
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Times I might have believed in magic:
1. When I was growing up, we would often spend a portion of the summer - anywhere from a week-end to a month - in a friend of the family’s summer house near a town called Tupper Lake. The house stood at the top of a hill. At the bottom of the hill stood a tall forest of pine trees. When the wind blew a certain way, the trees would sway in a disconcerting fashion. The summer I was eight, I developed a horror of this woods. At night I couldn’t bear to look outdoors, for fear of seeing the trees move against the starlit sky. In the morning, I would avoid looking at the trees, for fear that they had advanced during the night.
2. When I was very small, I can remember making a sandcastle (in reality, it was more a mound of sand, dumped out of a pail and patted into a rounded hump). In frustration, I tried to remember how to make rooms on the inside of the castle. I was convinced I’d done it before, and had made a home for a small farmer.
3. Walking in the woods with my dog, I thought I heard a noise. It sounded like a single note, played upon a flute or recorder. I quickly hurried home. Even in the suburbs, the sound was uncanny.
4. If my boyfriend goes to bed before me, I always have to turn on the light before I lie down next to him. Some primitive part of my brain is not convinced that the sleeping hump beneath the blankets is him, and needs reassurance.
5. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, I believe I can 'sense' the future.
Things I wish I haddn’t said:
1. To my mother (age 13): “Up yours.”
2. To an ex-boyfriend (age 19), when told he missed me: “Get a dog.”
3. To a prospective landlord (last week): “This storage space is so large, I could take in a family of refugees”
4. Numerous other things that require a lifetime of context for their true horror to show.
Things I saw this afternoon:
1. A wonderfully ancient woman meditating. Her face was unwrinkled, but she looked as if she’d seen eons pass before her.
2. A moth dying in a pond. Its wings seemed motionless, but a multitude of tiny ripples radiated out from it, evidencing a stuggle just below the surface.
3. Three grouse, hiding beneath a bush.
4. A bride and her bridesmaids, having their photos taken in the park.
Monday, August 30, 2004
In other news, I am now the proud owner of a !new! G4 ibook (this is my first real new-to-everyone-not-just-me computer ever - I'm very excited). Thanks to dadoo and mamita for the graduation gift!
Now to work on that application - there are two slots still oopen in the grad school program I've been procrastinating about appying to for the past few months. No excuses now.
So, in brief, here's what I haven't blogged about since blogger access was blocked from work:
One of my co-workers, discussing a recent news item: "I think emulation would be just about the worst way to go"
Another co-worker, upon learning that I am not a fan of the electoral college: "Well you don't understand the Bill of Rights then. And regardless, you have to agree that we were damn lucky Bush was president on September 11th" (I had to go outsided and breathe deeply for several minutes after that one).
Luckily, most of my life takes place outside of work. Dadoo has been visiting since Friday, and we've had great fun revisiting the city with him, and discovering new treats, like the fabulous (and free!) streetcar museum.
Anyway, c'est tout for now.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Living the middle class life in America, many of us tend to get complacent about physical danger. That complancency is occasionally shaken by some unanticipated event: a mugging, the violent death of someone we know, a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. 9/11 reminded us all just how imminent and unannounced death can be.
memoir: Write about a time when you or someone you know was in grave physical danger.
I just checked my teeth in the mirror of the green plastic compact I bought at Walgreen's last year when I decided it was time for me to start wearing makeup (I haven't started yet). One of my two front teeth is still slightly chipped. I say 'still' because the other one used to be more chipped, but I had it fixed.
'Grave physical danger' it wasn't. It was one of those stupid accidents that has you second-guessing your self for days: 'If only I'd stood up sooner, or not let the dog jump on me when we were playing, or had the sense to wear a mouth guard, like boxers do.' It happened easily, like chipping teeth were a natural progression in the life of a sheltered urbanite.
Brian and I were living in Chelsea. Not the fun hip Chelsea outside of New York, but rather the seedy/scenic yet chronically unhip Chelsea in-the-near-of-but-virtually-inaccessible-from downtown Boston. We got a dog, Bowie (aka Mr. Boo) because our neighbors had one that we loved and because we both like running our hands over warm furry things with brown limpid pools for eyes and easy, unedited grins. And it was good, most of the time. Mr. Boo (as we call him) was wiggly and full of energy, and bore a disturbing resemblance to one of those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. But he was also stronger than me, with a tendency toward misbehaviour ("he's one," I told Brian "he'll grow out of it").
Anyway, one morning, Brian and I were dancing (as me and Brian do, from time to time), and just as I bent over to shimmy at the dog, he (the dog) jumped up to meet me.
My two front teeth were only slightly chipped, but one had a hairline crack that in the ensuing weeks started to widen and shift. One visit to the dentist wasn't enough to repair the damage - ultimately, it took a surprise root canal and a porcelain implant over most of the tooth to make me whole seeming again.
The worst part was when the dentist had to file down my tooth in order to fit me with the implant. For some reason, he felt compelled to give me a glimpse of what I looked like 'before.' The memory of my flushed, anxious face, one tooth filed down to a smooth, un-toothlike nub, still haunts me.
Losing teeth has been a recurring nightmare of mine. For months - years now, actually - the remaining ding on my smile has been a source of mild horror for me - a reminder of the transience of all flesh (mine in particular) and the empty, hollow sound one's vanity makes when struck.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
So, this morning I awoke at 7:45 (from a lovely dream, natch) with the realization that, even if I left right then, I'd be late to work.
I shuffled to the baffoom and set about my morning ablutions, halfheartedly wracking my brain for some...any... not-too-overused excuse. Vauge abdominal distress? Done. Wracking headaches that mysteriously appear and disappear? They'll probably insist I get a cat scan if I drag that one out again.
And then it happens. I slip, just barely catching myself on the edge of the sink. An involuntary 'eep!' escapes my lips.
Brian rushes to the doorway - "You okay?"
"That was quite an 'eep!' you had there."
"Yeah? Well I was startled okay? I could've twisted my... THAT'S IT!!!!!"
Which is why I'm going to have to wear an ace bandage to work tomorrow. Send left-foot limpy vibes my way.
And find it comforting that I'm such a lousy liar. You, gentle reader, will never run afoul of my wicked, weary ways.
Friday, July 30, 2004
I'm sitting here trying to remember how the conversation I'm about to relay got started. Somewhere, somehow a door was opened. A doorway to someplace terrible. Like one of those space-bending Cthulu* stories. But more disquieting.
A bit of background here. As some of you know, I work as a secretary (excuse me - 'assistant') at a small brokerage firm here in San Francisco. It pays me bills, provides a paycheck, and is the kind of work I can forget about entirely when I walk out the frosted glass doors at 5:00.
Overall, I like the people I work with. Brokerage tend to have a bit of a frat house/locker room atmosphere, but I pride myself (to an extent) on being the kind of girl who can hear dirty jokes and ribald anecdotes without batting an eye. Words can't hurt me. And some of those jokes are pretty fucking funny.
Anyway, there's this one guy in my office. I'll call him Tom ('cause that's his name). If my lines are ever crossed, he's the one doing it. And the thing that gets me is that he has no freakin' clue where those lines are. I've met homeless transvestite schizophrenics with more tact. I'm not kidding.
So. Sometime today, I get cornered into a conversation with Tom. He's at my desk with no sign of leaving. We're having this stupid argument about the words 'awful' and 'offal.' Tom maintains that when people use the word 'awful' to mean 'terrible,' they really mean 'offal,' since awful really means 'awe-full,' or awe-inspiring. I am holding the line that while 'awesome' and 'awful' may have been synonyms once upon a time, the current usage of awful is fairly widely accepted. Plus, terror and awe are synonyms, form time to time.
Anyway. Somehow, this conversation takes a turn. And I do mean for the worse. I forget how or why, but suddenly, I see it coming - Tom's going to tell me an anecdote. About sex. And there's nothing I can do to stop him.
I turn my eyes toward my computer screen. Oh dear, he's going there. I make noncommittal noises. He's going into graphic detail. I'm trying not to look at him. Oh. No.
And then he laughs and saunters away, obviously feeling like he just told a great story. That he just showed his studly side.
Ugh. Cluelesness. God's gift to the truly offal.
* my spell check tinks Cthulu should be "cutely." How droll.
Monday, July 05, 2004
Friday, July 02, 2004
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Which is too bad, 'cause I've developed a new shameful habit: reading conservative Christian blogs.
One forgets about such things, holed up in San Francisco with her books and wacky neighbors.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
And I know that the pang I felt reading her post about gay pride was probably very similar to the pang she felt watching gay pride. Its hard watching someone you'd rather respect than judge engage in behaviour that makes your bowels clench.
Monday, June 28, 2004
There's a line in Inherit the Wind: "God created man in his own image, and man, being a gentleman, has returned the favor."
So goes one of the most frustrating day-to-day trials of religion. Everyone that lingers on the idea of, I dunno God? eternity? - whatever - be it me or Dawn Eden - wants a God that feels the way we do about the world. We feel love and we want it reflected back through eternity; we feel revulsion and we crave judgement raining from on high.
But that's the problem with our image of God. We're so quick to judge - millenia worth of survival instinct, I guess. But this quickness denys one central fact: we are not God, nor can we know the mind (for lack of a better term) of God (for lack of a better term).
There's the rub: the very idea of being right is blasphemy. And as much as I feel frustration and anger at reading some entries in Dawn Eden's blog, I know that that frustration and anger is mine, alone.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Now I know what you're thinking: 'nice' is a pretty tame ambition(or more likely you're thinking, 'who cares?' Whatever. It's my blog, and you'll think what I want you to think).
In Jr High we had to a silly class called 'health' where we learned about reproduction, birth control, and the importance of drinking enough water. I always hated those classes.
For some reason, in spite of my inherant egotism (see below), people always think (or at least thought, when I was 12) that I'm somehow lacking in self-regard (I'll say it for you: ha!). Anyway, at some point in the class we were asked (via mimeographed survey) what we thought our friends thought of us and what we wished our friends thought of us. I forget what I put down for the first question, but for the second, I wished my freinds would think I was nice.
Now, I didn't wish my friends would think me nice because I was - far from it. I was awful: mean, spiteful even, doing my best to enforce my end of the Jr. High-School pecking order (I wasn't cool, but I was cooler than some of the loosers I hung out with). And I knew it. I felt bad about it sometimes. I wished I were different.
The teacher called me to the front of the room. "Of course you're nice," she assured me, her face glowing with forced kindness.
"Ok," I smiled back, shyly.
But I'm not.
And its just as hard now as it was in Jr. High. So much easier to snark than to empathize. And part of me likes it that way - I mean, some people are just dorks, right?
Bleh. Nice by 2005. How hard can it be?
Monday, June 21, 2004
At least it's four o'clock - I can't seem to get anything done today, and my eyebrows itch. Mioght as well hit the gym and go home (although I'm not looking forward to benching with ichy eyebrows).
Friday, June 18, 2004
I know I am, really, I was just trying to guage whether or not anyone noticed. I mean, a certain amount of ego-centrism is de rigeur, isn't it?
Speaking of ego, I prefer the term "das Ich" to "the ego." So much more Freudian. What would Freud say about our need to make words more mysterious and impressive by putting them in Latin? Does removing the 'I' from ego obscure or reveal it? Do we put 'das Ich' in Latin to remind ourselves that 'I' is a refracted term, or are we just pretentious?
Can I speak without using the interrogative? Does it matter?
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Thursday, June 03, 2004
I wonder sometimes about love. All that I've read on love (or at least my interpretation of it) has pointed to an ideal, platonic form of love qua love, not the sometimes dusty, somtimes messy love we live with day to day. The same stones polished by rivers sit in dirt or moulder on dusty shelves.
Ever get so wrapped up in metaphor yo forget the truth exists?
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
I am an Asteroid.
I am a drifter. I go where life leads, which makes me usually a very calm and content sort of person. That or thoroughly apathetic. Usually I keep on doing whatever I'm doing, and it takes something special to make me change my mind. What Video Game Character Are You?
I actually was good at this when I started. I got compliments galore on my efficiency, my competence. But then I had the bright idea to go back to school. And work suffered (how could it not?) in spite of my attempts to keep my studentude out of the workplace.
And now, everythings a mess. And that familiar chorus has started to echo in my head, with every mistake made, with every overdue project tackled: but I don't even want to be here.
Am I applying to grad school because I want to go there, or just because I want to go?
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
And then it stops. I wake up in the middle of the night, seized with the memory of some past dorkilation, convinced that I've (literally or metephorically) pooped the bed. Bleh. Would that I could be manic forever.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Looks as though you've got your heart set on the
second Romana, as played by Lalla Ward! This
tempting Time Lady conceals her inhuman
cleverness behind a disarmingly enthusiastic
and girlish demeanor. She's an eclectic blonde
who loves to travel and enjoy herself, and if
you gaze too long into those summer-sky eyes,
she'll have you wrapped around her finger. Not
that you'll mind.
Which Lovely Doctor Who Companion Are You Ashamed To Admit Your Crush On?
brought to you by Quizilla
Why, you're ga-ga for Sarah Jane Smith, as played
by Elisabeth Sladen! Sarah is charming,
tolerant, loyal, wholesome, and quite
emotionally stable. Her courage comes and goes,
but when she bites back her fear there's not
much she won't face down.
Which Lovely Doctor Who Companion Are You Ashamed To Admit Your Crush On?
brought to you by Quizilla
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
It was a pleasure waking up this morning to clean sheets. And differently coloured ones. I don't know why, but more often than not, I'll just wash the same ol' sheets over and over. Going into the linen closet for the spare set (the washing machine in our building is busted) was a revelation. Blue sheets. Bluuuuuue.
I like the word busted. Busted.
I need to get to my Grad School applications. What's holding me back?
Actually part of me still doesn't beleive I have my BA - I haven't gotten my grades back yet. What if I really didn't do it? THey'd have told me by now, right?
I'm wearing a red leather skirt. Feels good. Oh, yeah.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
So, here I am, in mine kleine cubicle, listening to two of my co-workers bicker. One of them (a pretentious pooptart) keeps misusing words. My favorite today:
"I just have certain pre-requiems when I'm going into a relationship"
That doesn't bode well for his relationships, now does it?
I'm wondering now, though - does requiem have definitions (or homonyms) I'm not aware of? Am I the poop tart here?
Oh, I doubt it.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
I called in sick today - head cold combined with cough combined with ennui. I didn't realize it was Friday, though - I feel a bit guilty for having created a long weekend for myself. I guess as long as I'm not having fun, it's ok.
I'm thinking of
Grad School now. Here's what I'm scared of:
* failure (I'll go to school to learn, only to find that I'm unteachable)
* failure II (I'l go to school, only to find I'm irreprably lazy)
* isolation (I'll quit my job, and never talk to anyone but Brian again)
* failure III (I won't get in to the program of my choice)
* failure IV (I'll go to school, and still feel like I'm wasting my life)
* failure V (general, as yet unnamed failure)
And what do I want to get out of grad school, you ask? I dunno. I guess I just want to keep learning. Sure, I could do that on my own - but wouldn't it be great to just *focus* for a while?
I'm sorry, this isn't fun reading, is it?
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Monday, May 10, 2004
Friday, May 07, 2004
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Well, what is love? To me, love is, essentially, a strong undeniable feeling that an individual holds inside of them.
While Shaw's definition is a good one, I think that one of the interestings thing about love is that it is not held within us, but rather draws us out of ourselves. As Freud (my guy) points out:
At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that 'I' and 'you' are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact. (Civilization and its Discontents p 13).
Love, at its best, draws us out of our little ego-shell. Love for another pulls us out of ourselves, and, hopefully eventually draws us into a more universal concern for our fellows. I don't mean to be all Pollyanna Sunshine here, but its been my experience that love, as a workable lifestyle, is a constant experiment in living outside ourselves. The neccesary daily altruism lovers experience (when things are done in each other's best interest, not for one's individual needs and wants) brings about a transformation of self, so that over time a specific love for a specific person can transform into an overall general love (especially if you're Morman. Kidding).
Woke with a headache from strange and frightening dreams: Brian and I waiting in a tunnel for a train that never came. Sitting in a hotel room with a living-dead cat that I knew intuitively was pregnant.
Thirsty and tired all day. Co-worker (36) in a coma following a massive stroke.
Peas making me overheated and restless. Blehs like bookedns.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Anyway, I started wearing it sometime around then - which was I guess late high school for me. I can remember going for brunch with James, wearing the dress and my glow-in-the dark John Fluevogs, which were subsequently ruined by cat vomit. But they didn't fit anyway, as much as I wanted them to.
In college, I wore it a lot. On my second or third date with G, I was wearing it when he asked me how I managed such a delightfully small waist on a steady diet of beer and tater tots. I still don't have a good answer for that; at the time I just blushed prettily (as I was wont to do).
Today, Brian and I woke early (or I woke early, and darted around the house like a hummingbird until he got up, too. Then we went of a delightfujl morning walk: we started at the dog park (where we played with a lab mix named Pansy, a pit bull named Toro, and a pony-like Great Dane named Mojo). Then we wandered down to the Castro, where we are brunch (macaroni-and-corn pancakes with blood orange mimosas), bought canvas folding chairs, and went on to Delores Park.
It wasn't until Brian started to get a migrane (ow) that we headed home. And now I'm sitting in the dark quiet apartment, reading Karen Armstrong and writing to you, and thinking about my dress, which has parrots and flowers in it, and has started to look worn at the shoulders.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
When the bus finally arrived, there were enough of us to fill three busses. I stood, looming over a squirming toddler in his fathers lap, a man's elbo in my back and some woman squished up against my boob. The woman kept trying to make conversation with the toddler, then grinning up at me, as if to say 'aren't we great chums now that we've shared this adversity?.'
I smiled grimly, inwardly reciting a litany of complaints that, in sum, made me want to leave San Francisco, break up with Brian, and go live on an island somewhere where the only thing I'd have to do in the mornings would be to wipe the sleep from my eyes, pull a knit cap over my matted hair, and shake my fist at passing boats and seagulls.
Although, I guess I'd keep Brian, so long as he didn't keep eating all the Amaranth Flakes.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
I first read Pindar in High School, after stumbling across that quotation (which the Nietzschians among you no doubt recognize) in an academic journal.
Now I really had no business reading Pindar, Academic Journals or Nietzsche in High School. I was really too young, and on some level still regarded 'becoming who I was' as the quest for the most authetic punk-rock boots. And so the quotation nagged at me, a constant reminder of things beyond my ken.
Looking back now, I can see this was a my Tragic Flaw - I really had no idea who I was - I didn't really even understand the question, or how it might be played out in any real way.
But I'm at work now, and shouldn't be blogging.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
On the other hand, there's the whole 'Jews killed Jesus, you're all going to hell for not thinking what I think' thing (which also harkens back to a simpler time, when folks in power could expend it on stupidly huge demonstrations of force) is a bit hard to stomach, and a distasteful thing to endorse. And I hate gory movies.
Do I have a point? No.
But I do wonder sometimes about my own beleifs, in religion and politics. I'm so postmodern sometimes, I'm always looking for another angle, another way of looking. Maybe that's why I love Dante so much. His universe is more limited and knowable than mine, and it is his, entirely.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Heh. That reminds me. When I was a kid, I could never understand why I should just try to be good. Being good had no draw for me - I wanted to be better than good: I wanted to be Jesus. I can recall my mother, or some sunday school teacher, telling me about the second coming, me trying to act all casual, asking "could Jesus be a girl this time?" as if I had no designs on Mesiiah-ship myself.
Later, when I was about eight or nine, I the coming of the apocalypse was one of my biggest fears. I've always been a slacker.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Why do I get so annoyed sometimes? Is it anyone's fault but mine that folks just don't get what I'm on about?
As Shaw so kindly reminds me, even the most off-the-cuff blog entry finds an audience, and the less information said entry gives, the more likely its Rorsachification by the reader. I'm tempted to put the entry in context, but I'm never sure how much real life I want to expose to the internet world. So for now, Rorsachificate away.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
If we also set out to deprive the common man, [who has neither science nor art] of his religion we shall clearly not have the poet's authority on our side.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
|Which poem are you?|
Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda
Aw, you're a romantic. You believe in true love and all that sort of stuff. How cute are you? To you, love is incredible and amazing.
|Click Here to Take This Quiz|
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.
Could it be I've come into my own?
Monday, April 12, 2004
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Monday, April 05, 2004
. . Love which has its course barred, and fails to reach its fulfillment, acquires a particularly strong hold over the human heart. The sparks of a vital desire burst into flame at the very moment when the desire is finally blocked in its path. It is the obstruction which makes the wholly personal feelings conscious . . . [the lover] seeks the cause in his own personality (Snell, 1952, p 53).
Literary theorist Anne Carson takes this idea further, suggesting that formation of self also results from literacy. “Reading and writing change societies,” she writes,
As an individual reads and writes he gradually learns to close or inhibit the input of his senses, to inhibit or control the responses of his body, so as to train his energy and thought upon the written words . . . In making the effort he becomes aware of the interior self as an entity separable form the environment and its input, controllable by his own mental action . . . Literate training encourages a heightened awareness of personal physical boundaries and a sense of those boundaries as the vessel of ones self. To control these boundaries is to posses oneself. For individuals to whom self-possession has become important, the influx of sudden, strong emotion from without cannot be an unalarming event (Carson, 1985, pp 44-45).
Dante was the embodiment of this literate lover. In his youth, He fell in love with a young Florentine woman his own age. He wrote of his first encounter with this woman, "who was called Beatrice (she who blesses) by many who knew not what to call her" in his book Vita Nova, or The New Life. Dante described not only the inception of his love for Beatrice, but also the turmoil this love created within him.
Dante first encountered Beatrice when they were both nine years old. At the instant at which he caught sight of her, Dante felt his life changed, and his very soul cried out. First, "the spirit of life, which dwells in the most secret chamber of the heart," spoke these words: "Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi," (behold a god stronger than I, who, in coming, shall rule over me). After the spirit of life had spoken, the "spirit of the soul," which "dwells in the high chamber to which all the spirits of the senses carry their perceptions," called out "Apperuit iam beatitudo vestra" (now the joy and blessing which is yours has appeared). Finally, the "natural spirit," which "dwells in that place where our nourishment is supplied," cried out, weeping, "Heu miser! quia frequenter impedus ero deinceps" (Alas, poor me! For from now on I often will be hindered). The arrival of Beatrice announces the overmastering of Dante’s ego, of his basic appetites and desires; Dante is now beholden to something higher.
The literate mindset craves control, of self and of fate. For good or for ill, the literate mind would rather master the helm of its own fate than leave its course to external controls. Tragedy comes when we lose that control, or, perhaps more accurately, when we are reminded that control is no more than vain illusion.
In his Poetics, Aristotle defines the proper length of a tragedy as being sufficient for “the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, [to] admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad.” Notice here that a tragedy is defined as being any change in fortune, whether from good to bad, or bad to good. The change itself, the uncontrollable movement of fortune, is tragic.
But I could be wrong.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
The reptilian brain is 'so far from the mind that 'it doesn't even know the head exists.' Rationality only moves us so far. Dante must leave Virgil behind at the gates of Paradise. Aristotle's 'correct habit' wins out over logic.
Blogida blogida blofida. Happy anniversary, Brian
In the corner of my eye, I saw a woman, standing by the closet door. Pale, with dark hair and sort of faded clothes. I turned towards her, and there was nothing there. Not even a pile of clothes or a hanging bathrobe. 'Hm, a ghost,' I thought, turned off the alarm clock, and went back to sleep.
So there you go. Probably a dream, but maybe not.
- Hampshire, Thought and Action
Wrassling with moral judgement is such a tricky task. On the one hand, we each posess (barring mental illness or injury) a definite, immutable sense of right and wrong - the gut feeling that tells you murder is wrong, betrayal distasteful. On more day-to-day scale, we all have opinions - feelings that go deeper than feeling and define who we are in and of the world.
But moral judgement itself can be distasteful. I mean really - the whole gay marriage debate? "Our" condemnation of Islamic nations and other 'evil doers?' Can we have a philosophy - 'a moral philosophy' - that does not impose upon us value judgements in the guise of 'human nature?'
Why am I so simple?
Maybe I should go to bed.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Antonio Gramsci, The Study of Philosophy
It is common, in some Christian traditions, to begin any treatise with a confession. Usually a confession of faith, this serves as both an invocation of divine favor and a statement of purpose – an anchoring of the author in both tradition and belief. It is also a purgation – an ‘outing,’ as much as is possible, of the author’s conscious and unconscious prejudices.
I am a product of my age and station. I am a construct of history, reflecting in my thought and action more historical processes than I can imagine. Consciously anchored in western thought, the child of classical, modern and postmodern worldviews, I carry in me the thoughts, values and prejudices of 21st century, middle class America. It’s a funny heritage; an odd, if common, complaint.
Almost a year ago, I was riding the 71 Bus to work when I realized I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Sure, I was only two blocks from the Job I Now Hate, on time, even, for once. But my life, at twenty-six, was already shaping into something I had never intended.
I sat on the bus, trying to comfort myself. Many people are unhappy with their jobs, I reasoned. Surely, the sheer number of boring, dead-end jobs in the world is proof of that. And why should I feel that I deserved different? I had made the choices that led me here, dropping out of school again and again, disengaging from my studies when I was enrolled, flippantly and jadedly acting more like a rebellious teenager than the serious scholar I purported to be.
And that’s the idea that stuck in my craw: I had chosen to be there. Every choice I’d made, consciously or un, had put me on that bus. I don’t mean to sound as if I was truly lost. My life was not, whatever Thoreau might think, being lived in ‘quiet desperation.’ Overall, I had a happy, almost idyllic life. I had just moved to San Francisco, a city I love, with a man I love. We spent our weekends lolling in parks and reading, or exploring the city. My quality of life, though economically poor, was good. I was happy, in spite of being miserable.
But my feelings of discontent lingered. I felt in some essential sense unfulfilled. And I started wondering: how could my life be different? I accepted that choices I’d made had set me off a path I’d thought I was on. But what should that path have been? If my life was not where it should be, it followed that there was such a thing as where it should be. And I so decided to find it.
In a sort of natural progression I started to wonder about the purpose of life. Or perhaps more accurately life’s process – the way in which life should unfold. I knew in some essential way that the life I was living was not the life I intended to live. But how could I know the purpose of life, or of my life, if from where I was sitting, all I could see was that this was not it?
There are really only two weapons in the perpetual undergrad’s toolkit, and I called on both of them: I called in sick, and I turned to the Classics.
‘The Classics’ is obviously a pretty bread category – and while I would venture that the entire category is worthwhile (by its very definition, a classic is a book that is universally accessible and infinitely re-readable), I have chosen only two authors as my main focus for this particular endeavor. The choice of authors will seem odd no matter how I preface it, so I will declare my companions for this journey straight out, and explain my choices, rather than trying to justify them at the onset. So, without further ado, here are my travelling companions in this search: Dante Allegheri and Sigmund Freud.
I know: odd. But these two – whether you choose to call them philosophers or psychologists or poets - are both at least in part on the same journey I am. Both sought to define the parameters of a good life while exploring both the light and dark sides of the human psyche. Both endeavored to understand the mystery of human actions and desires, and the way these desires play out in the world of human endeavor. Both authors were educated in the same tradition as I (although I cannot claim to be as educated as either), and both represent in a very real way the progression of that tradition through the modern age. Finally, Dante and Freud both deal in a very real way with one of the essential prerequisites to living a life with purpose: knowing oneself.
If the Classics have taught me anything it’s that the purpose of life – even the process by which life should be lived – is too huge a question to confront without a systematic approach. So, in the Socratic spirit, let’s try and imagine how one might make the question smaller. What do we mean when we talk about life having a purpose?
While the question may seem large, the fact that we can speak of ‘the purpose of life’ would imply that there is a common definition. Now, just as when I say ‘dog,’ you may think of a Great Dane even though I am thinking of a Chihuahua, my definition of life’s purpose may differ significantly from yours. But the common tongue we use ensures that while our definitions may vary in specifics, the general meaning is the same; if I say dog, you will not think I am talking about a banana.
So, life’s purpose must in general be something that we can speak of with some assurance. But how can we go about defining it?
What might it mean to know oneself? This is not nearly as pleasant or noble a venture as one might believe at the onset. Seeking ourselves, we are thrust, like Dante, into a frightening underworld, teeming with the worst that is in the world and us.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Monday, March 29, 2004
"I cared for nothing but to love and be loved," he writes, "But my love went beyond the affection of one mind for another, beyond the arc of the bright beam of freindship. Bodiliy desire, like a morass, an adolescent sea welling up within me exuded mists which clouded over and obscured my heart, so that I could not distinguish the clear light of love from the murk of Lust" (Augustine, Confessions, Pine-Coffin trans., p 43).
Augustine, in other words, has found himself in Oscar Wilde's classic quandry: mind in the gutter, eyes on the stars. Love is the near-perfect embodyment of this paradox. It calls upon both the spiritual and beastial sides of our natures, driving even the most sainted to distraction, making philosophers of us all.
In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates argues that because we desire the good things we do not have, and because love is a manefestation of this desire, the object of ove is, by virtue of its being loved, good (I'm missing a trick in there, but its late & I'm free-associating). He further argues that the trick is to recognize the true object of desire - not perhaps the pretty face or the charming smile, but the echo of divine, eternal truth that lies behind it (this argument is getting Epicurian).
Anywho. Augustine recognizes this. "The life we live on earth has its own attractions . . . because it has a certain beauty of its own in harmony with the rest of this earth's beauty." However, "all these things and their like can be occasions of sin because, good as they are, they are the lowest order of good . . ." (Pine-Coffin, p 52).
So what is sin here? Not - perhaps - not doing good, but rather not seeing good when it is before us. The great 'morass' that Augustine struggled with is the first obstacle towards loving properly. Once that is recognized, however, there is the further difficulty of learning not to love, wheather through friendship of admiration, andything for its material, temporal value alone.
In Dante's Inferno, we see this process played out. In Canto V, Dante finds himself in the company of 'those who sinned in carnal things/ their reason mastered by desire." There, he meets Paolo and Francesca, who's desire - and the manner in which it played out - brought perdition (apologies to anyone who's read about this passage in my blog before - I tend to get hung up on it). Dante asks Francesca te relay their story. She tells how one day they read the story of Sir Lancelot, alone:
Sometimes as we read our glances joined
Looking from the book to each others eyes
'This one, who now will never leave my side.
Kissed my mouth, trembling. A Galeotto, that book!
And so it was he who wrote it; that day we read
No further." All the while the one shade spoke,
The other at her side was weeping; my pity
Overwhelmed me and I felt myself go slack:
Swooning as in death, I fell like a dying body.
Dante faints after hearing Francesca's story, overwhealmed by the tragic lovers' story. And well he should be. He is himself on a journey, literally through hell, goaded by Beatrice, his lost love. His journey mirrors the spiritual quest that both he and Augustine share - through lust and worldy desire to divine love and true transcendence.
A lover or a romantic poet (as Dante was in his youth) might argue that Paolo and Franscesca should welcome their fate - after all, what ardent lovers wouldn't choose to spend eternity anchored to one another? But what the swooning Dante (the pilgrim of the poem) was beginning
to recognize was that this paralizing, soul-tossing force is as constrictive as it was liberating.
Francesca's line, "that day we read no further" echoes Augustine's conversion in his Confessions. Augustine, having taken up his book & read, has a revelation that finally - after a lifetime of seeking - allows him to turn towards God. Francesca, by contrast, is brought down while reading - carelessly - of love. She is unable to move beyond her lust for Paolo, and is relegated for eternity to the hurricaine of Hell, bound to her lover, but unable to move forward. Is it any wonder Dante should swoon?
In Canto V, Dante is closer to Paolo and Francesca than he is to Beatrice and any Divine Truths. Later, in Purgatorio, Beatrice chides,
When from the flesh to spirit I ascended,
And beauty and virtue increased
I was to him less dear and less delightful
And to ways untrue turned his steps
Persuing false images of good
That never any promise fulfill
(Canto XXX, line 125 - Wordsworth translation)
Dante failed to realize that her beauty increased after death as she was freed from earthly trappings of beauty. Had Dante loved her for her true worth, he'd have saved himself a trip.
OOf. Moral absolutism is exhausting. Off to bed.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
I can't sleep.
Today was really pretty. Sun, flowers, green hills, the works. But I just had this, I dunno, shadow all day. Do you ever just have that feeling that the world just barely tolerates you? That everyone you encounter is just smiling woodenly at your no-longer-amusing antics, wondering when you got so bitchy and started sporting that lousy haircut?
I dunno. I'm just having one of those 'everyone hates me’ days. And as usual it’s a self fulfilling prophecy - the worse I feel the more distant and scowly I act. It's so self-centered. I'm grouchy, and I create the world in my image.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
I'd gone up to visit with my dad. We lived a good eight hour flight away - far enough that we didn't really visit as often as we ought - and I'd been meaning to visit my dad's parents for a good year or so before we finally made it out. I was scared, flying out, that they'd be horribly old - that I wouldn't recognize them. But when we finally got there, they seemed just the same - maybe a little older. And while grandpa was definitely a little off, he seemed at times almost normal. He knew right off who I was, and joked that soon I'd be taller than my dad, just like my dad now seemed taller than him - something I'd never noticed before.
That night I woke up to my grandfather in my room. He walked around, moving one thing and another, finally leaving a northwest coast stylemask on my bedside table.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
I need a way to write on a crowded train, or a longer commute. I keep having these great ideas - or at least they seem great on the N train from Embarcadero to Duboce Park - but by the time I get home, >plub< they're gone.
Working and schooling just don't mix. I'm not concentrating well on either.
Sheesh. I just did something totally out of character. The phone rang, and the caller ID said '800 Services' -which is what it usually says when its a telemarketer calling.
Now usually, I just don't answer. Or if I'm feeling frisky, I pick up the phone and start reciting the Illiad in Greek (hey - it sounds foreign, I can do it ad nauseum, and it gets some funny responses).
This time, I was going to let it ring. But something came over me - some weird improv instinct. So I picked up the phone and *yelled* "Love don't live here anymore, aiight?"
My housmate was scandalized. His boyfreind amused.
I don't know myself anymore. Heh.
Every morning, Brian makes me a latte and sends me off to work. And every other evening, I forget to take my coffee mug home with me. So every other morning, Brian sends me off with a different cup (the mathemeticians among you will have figured out by now that I have two).
Heute morgen, I was absorbed in my work and reached over to take a swig from my latte. But it was yesterday's latte, and it was not good.
There's a lesson in that.
Monday, March 22, 2004
I'm at work right now. I don't even want to get in to what I'm doin' for a living right now, 'cause its just depressing. And why is everyone I work with so Gd%&$ long-winded, anyway. Just talk talk talk talk talk all the livelong day. It's probably karmic retribution for all the ears I've talked off.
I kinda envy people who are actually having midlife (or mid twenties) crisises. I mean, I experience the odd bout of dicontent, but it never amounts to any sort of CRISIS. More's the pity - maybe I'd actually DO something.
Wanna know my biggest fear? Well, remember how on word, there used to be this auto-summarize function, where the computer would pick out your most oft-repeated or important seeming ideas, and create a paragraph out of them, thereby ;summarizing' your paper? Well, I worry that's what the afterlife is like - you're read a summary of your most overused ideas and phrases. And then Jean-Paul Sartre writes a play about them.
Actually, the ads up there at the top sorta provide that function, reflecting and refracting what your blog might buy, if it were really you.
Anyway, back to avoiding phone calls and working slowly.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
personality tests by similarminds.com
Monday, March 08, 2004
It wouldn't be too hard really - they belong to an old professor of mine, Geraldine. She still works at Marlboro, I have both her work and school addresses. Heck, I could even mail 'em out for free from where I work (dishonest, yet frugal). But I don't. And I haven't, for four years now.
In my last entries, I was wondering how one lives with a past that makes them unhappy. In my case, I know: I don't. Those books are a constant reminder that I didn't finish at Marlboro. That I left, thinking and saying that I'd come back, and that I never did. That, most likely, I never will.
I keep those books because, other than moving day, I can pretty much ignore them. Because the dead, inactive guilt I feel, knowing that they aren't mine and I've kept them, is easier to bear than the active aknowledgement of that guilt. Because leaving them up there and scolding myself for forgetfulness is easier than mailing them back and knowing that I'm not forgetful. Bluh.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Which raises another interesting question: is sin being untrue to yourself, or do you need to do something really bad for it to count against you?
Let me clarify: for the majority of my adult life, I've felt like (pardon my French) a fuck up. In the space of one year, at age eighteen, I went from straight-shooting golden child to that drunk girl at the party who should've left two hours and four beers ago. For the next few years, I carried this transformation round my neck like an albatross, approaching every new situation as the girl I never meant to be: flawed, fallible, and generally no good. I can't really say how much my diminished expectations of myself affected my behavior, but I do know that my expectation that I would spoil every good thing rarely proved false. Growing up is never easy, but its worse when you become someone that your 'real' self wouldn't like, never mind want to become.
Recovering from the shock of this metamorphosis has taken me . . . well, I'm still working on it. There's still the latent expectation in the back of my mind that my graduation - due, again, this spring, will never happen. That my papers, already more idea than actuality than they should be at this point, will never be finished. And that I will never be the woman I should have been.
But say I have finally cleared the mire of my early twenties, what then? For the longest time, when thinking of those times, I'd refer to myself (in my own private thoughts, never aloud) as 'the dead girl.' Dead, because she hopefully no longer existed, dead because at the time I was dead - dead to my senses, my own desires, dead to the larger scope of the life I should have wanted. The problem was, while this thought persisted, my 'dead years' expanded. Years I'd thought myself awake and alive became Dead Years in my memory, as my sense of who I would be further diverged from who I was and how I'd acted.
This is starting to sound horribly schizophrenic. I'm not the dead girl I was, nor am I the half-awake zombie who gave that girl her name. I am me. I was there the whole time. And growing up and moving on, I suppose, involves learning that I am the one who made those choices: the bad ones, the ill considered ones, and the ones I didn't even realize I was making at the time. But what are you gonna do? You live, you learn.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
by James Joyce
Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Brian and I rented a room at a seedy beachside hotel for Sunday and Monday nights (sure we live in San Francisco, but beachside is a novelty when you live on Haight St). It was just about the ugliest hotel I've ever stayed in, with dingy rooms, a boxy, ugly bathroom and a 'view' of the N Train, but its proximity to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach made it worth every penny of the discount rate. And spending time really alone with Brian (no housemates about, no housemates expected) was a forgotten and consummate pleasure. I really am a lucky girl.
Friday, February 13, 2004
Thursday, February 12, 2004
In The Divine Comedy Dante's words are weighted (no pun intended) by the wealth of detail he put into his stories. he describes, even down to the measurements the things he saw, making his hell as real and as vividly imagined as any other far off place that exists in space or memory.
This next bit is from Canto XXXI in the Pinsky translation of the Inferno. In it, Dante describes one of the giants set to guard the gates of hell:
To me his face appeared as long and full
As the bronze pinecone of St. Peter's of Rome
With all his other bones proportional
So that the bank, which was an apron for him
Down from his middle, showed above it such a height
Three men of Friesland could not boast to come
Up to his hair. Extending down from the spot
Where one would buckle a mantle I could see
Thirty spans of him. . .
Dante's detailed description of the afterlife gives it a reality beyond fable. The space is mesurable, the account measured. This is a place that matters, and every detail, no matter how sensational or insignificant, has its own wieght. This is no frivious vision, no flight of fancy. Here, every detail bears equal weight.
Of course, Dante didn't invent this sort of trancendental spatial descriptiveness. Witness John's description of the Heavenly City in the book of Revelation:
And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies four-square, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man's measure, that is, an angel's. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. ( Revelation. 21:15-18)
Luckily, my father's palaces of memeory are not so horrific as Dante's underworld, nor as awesome/awful as St. John's vision. But his labor flows from the same stream as Dante's.
We are all given to our own visions, and while our underworlds and palaces of memory are not as epic as Dante's or as Divinely inspired, they are our own, and the responsibity for their upkeep ours alone. And the walls are built of jasper, and pure gold, clear as glass.
So, for those of you who know of both my blogs, there will be some downtime over at the salon blog (http://blogs.salon.com/0003044/). My usual computer's waiting on a new ethernet card (I'm goin' wireless!), and until then, I'm on one of Brian's computers, and no Salon-blog-acesss for me (^$$%# proprietary software).
For whatever reason, this blogdoesn't get as much attention as it should. I got it so that I could blog from work if need be, but I guess, well, that doesn't happen much. My fear of getting caught outweighs my need to share my deep thoughts with the world.
One of the problems of blogging is (in my case anyway) reining in the ol' attention span. No matter how great I think my ideas are, or how excited I am to explore them, it seems like once I get into writing mode, the call of the wild internet makes me stray away from my own ideas, and into other people's. Or at least the hopes that I might find some. In the absence of recently-updated other-people's-blogs, I usually end up wandering aimlessly, reading anything that crosses my path. There's a certain magesty to the desperate way I avoid my own thoughts. Like I'm cursed to wander the earth like Cain until I get my BA.
But I digress.
Having left this blog alone for a bit, I hadn't read my own postings for a while - and was frustrated and a bit inspired by the post I mad about Sartre back in November.
Having read through No Exit since then (the full text is available online, if'n you care to look), I feel like a common theme in both Sartre and Dante is the need for movement from pure self awareness to a more social awareness.
I'm not sure if I've quoted this in this or any other blog before, but this quotation has become one of my favorite mantra's:
"The starting point for critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is knowing thyself as the product of the historical process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces without leaving an inventory."
Just as we cannot understand the current state of the world if we do not know its history, we cannot understand ourselves unless we connect with the world as it is, and our place within it.
For Dante, hell was the inability to look beyond oneself. For Sartre the tragedy of hell lay in the inabilty to see ouselves outside the reflection we can see in other's eyes. Hell is other people, sure, but it doesn't have to be.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Unless you're Buddist, death is forever.
At the time, it didn't do anything other than make me laugh. My faux-wise cyncism, unjostled by life's slings and arrows saw only humor. But there is a coldly succinct truth stated there: we are, each of us, only given one life.
So what to do with it? The question didn't have much urgency at seventeen. Teenagers feel nothing but raw potential, for good or for ill. Even adolescent angst has an immortality to it.
But still, the question is there, only gaining urgency as we age: what am I doing with my life? And its flipside: what should I be doing?